With the blessing of His Holiness Kyrill, Patriarch of Moscow & All Russia, and in connection with the approaching observance of Temperance Day on September 11, 2021, the below Epistle of His Holiness ought to be read aloud in the churches and monasteries of the Diocese on that day after Divine Liturgy.
Beloved in the Lord Eminent archpastors,
reverend fathers, dear brothers and sisters!
Today the Church prayerfully commemorates the death of the Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist of the Lord John, beheaded by the sword at the command of King Herod.
The Gospel narrative details the circumstances of this event, offering each one of us a chance to consider the reasons for this wicked act, which transpired during a festal banquet, when the drunken king ordered the great righteous one, blamelessly cast into prison, to be executed (Mark 6:14-28).
Turning to the experience of the Holy Fathers, who dedicated their lives to spiritual warfare, we see how attentively they behaved toward preserving their reason, how they strived to govern themselves according to the instruction of the Apostle Peter: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (І Peter 5:8). It is namely the virtue of temperance, that is, spiritual vigilance, that allows man to identify and sever sinful thoughts, to look at oneself and the surrounding world in the light of God’s commandments, not submitting to temptation and not falling prisoner to the passions.
Let us turn our mind’s eye inward, let us consider to what extent we can evaluate our every step, avoiding rash acts and hasty promises. It is especially important to preserve this ability now, during the pandemic, when our relatives and friends face physical ailments and financial hardships, often desiring to be delivered from fear, uncertainty, and loneliness by any means, including with the help of alcohol.
A great responsibility lies upon us today as Orthodox Christians, who from the baptismal font have been called to show an example of a good and pious life, a sober and discerning disposition to all that transpires, and an active love for others.
Through the prayers of the honorable and glorious Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist of the Lord John, may the Almighty Lord help us to find true joy in communion with Him in prayer, in the doing of good deeds, in serving our neighbors, that, according to the word of Holy Scripture, we might truly become living temples of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19).
Patriarch of Moscow & All Russia