Dear brothers and sisters,
I would like to thank all who have conveyed greetings on this feast of St Mark of Ephesus.
It was my good fortune that when the late Hegumen Seraphim performed my monastic tonsure, close to a quarter of a century ago, he decided that rather than give a completely new name, he would tonsure me in honour of St Mark of Ephesus.
To be named for St Mark Evgenikos is rather daunting, and I must admit that for years I misunderstood his zeal, as Father Seraphim and I showed such a narrow, negative and belligerent attitude (and resistance) towards the reunification of the Church Abroad with the Church in Russia.
With the passage of time, I came to understand that the primary zeal of St Mark was an affirmative one, and that it was precisely by his positive zeal for the Orthodox Faith and its purity that St Mark shone in the world in a time of apostasy, compromise and worldly expediency.
Yes, St Mark opposed falsehood and compromise, but he did not live to oppose; he lived to affirm the glory of the fulness of Orthodoxy, teaching others by this uncompromising life and demonstration of the True Faith. He looked to the Light, rather than dwelling on the darkness.
I often say to the faithful in confession, that the darkness can seem almost total, with only the tiniest glimmer of light challenging the tide of blackness, and we can easily reflect that darkness by negativity, spiritual and mental pessimism, defeatism and gloom – or, we can concentrate on that tiny living-flame and nurture it, knowing that the smallest glowing spiritual-ember or the tiniest spiritual-spark may set the world ablaze.
As we live surrounded by such seemingly expanding darkness and corruption – spiritually, politically, socially – the lesson of St Mark is for us not to be swallowed in the black deluge, but to keep the eyes of our hearts concentrating on the flame of Faith and Truth, no matter how small it may seem, joyful in the resurrectional-freedom of our baptism and reflecting this in an affirmative and positive spiritual-life.
Placards and protests may have their place, but it is first and foremost by living the fulness of Faith that we resist falsehood.
It is by humbly and quietly living in the Truth of Orthodoxy in uncompromising strictness, thoroughness and constancy that we will resist the schism and heresy that attack the Church, globally and locally.
It is by our zeal for God and Truth, that falsehood, heresy and schism will be defeated, as we become spiritual lamps burning with the flame of Faith, dispelling the darkness and illumining the world with the Light of Christ.
Let us imitate St Mark by living the spiritual life affirmatively, with uncompromising zeal and joy.
Hierarch of Christ, Mark of Ephesus, pray to God for us.
May God bless you all.
With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark