Commencement Address 1969
The Twenty-Second Commencement of Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary
15 June 1969
Address of Archbishop Averky Rector of Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit:
We have gathered here today to celebrate the completion of the twenty-second academic year of our Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary. A few more of her sons are receiving their diplomas of theology, and we hope that the years which they spent within the walls of the monastery and seminary will not be without influence on the rest of their life, that they will, in one capacity or another, in the future serve the great work of the Church of Christ on earth, which especially now is in such need of true and faithful servants.
We are filled with the greatest thankfulness of the Merciful Lord, Who still bestows His benefits upon us, in spite of the truly horrible things which are being done during our times in the world, and which, in the most recent times, have begun to occur in this land, which has given us refuge. I have in view the student disorders which especially remind us of what occurred in our helpless homeland before the revolution of 1917. And may the Lord keep this land from the bitter fate which overtook our homeland!
A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump (I Cor. 5:6), the Word of God teaches us. And we would wish that our seminarians would be this "little leavening" which would bring about the healing spiritual beginning of true Christian faith in the contemporary world, which is perishing in its madness. We would wish that they, as true disciples of Christ, would be, according to the measure of their strength and abilities, "the light of the world", and the "salt of the earth", according to the words of Christ (Matt. 5:13-14). It is for this goal that we live and labor, training and teaching them.
This is not the first time that our graduation has coincided with the great day for the heart of every Orthodox Russian, the celebration of the memory of All the Saints Glorified in Russia. And this is very significant! This should remind our seminarians that they go through our seminary in order to cultivate within themselves the spirit of Holy Russia, which once was fragrant with holiness, and also in order to prepare themselves to be the restorers of this Holy Russia, now defiled and mocked by the devil, for without Holy Russia there will never be peace and prosperity in the whole world, and this world, in its entirety, will rapidly go to its end, of which Holy Writ clearly teaches us, and we already observe the clear signs of this in our times.
I sincerely greet all who gathered here for this, our modest celebration – both the monastic brotherhood, which by its labors gives the possibility for the existence of the Seminary within its walls, the fathers and professors who teach, so zealously and without thought of remuneration laboring at the task of training and teaching seminarians, and also the officials of the Department of Education, who are always so well disposed towards us; I also sincerely greet all our honored guests and pilgrims who have come to share with us in this our school's celebration.
My special greeting to our students, who are now receiving the diploma of Bachelor of Theology. Do not rejoice over the fact that you are receiving a document which will help you in arranging your life, but rejoice that you have communed at the unwaning source of Orthodox-Christian culture, that you have received at least the most basic theoretical knowledge for serving the Church of Christ, and you can, if you wish, enter on the path of the most important and greatest service in the world, the service of the pastorate. Do not force us to be disillusioned about you and to regret that we vainly spent our time and efforts and material resources for your training and education. But follow rather the example of those who, after graduation from our seminary, now bear with honor the banner of pastoral service and console us with their good reputation among the flock entrusted to them. Our Church is in such a need of good pastors now; become such, and in this the Lord Himself will undoubtedly help you, if only your striving will be to serve His holy work sincerely on the earth. And fear the condemnation of the lazy and evil servant of the Gospel parable who, on receiving the talent from his lord, buried it in the earth (Matt. 25:24-30).
Seminarians, who still have to continue your studies, do not waste the precious time which you are spending here. Remember that what you can obtain here for your spiritual training and education, you, perhaps, shall not receive at any other time or place. Attend the services in the monastery church as often as possible; take an active part in them by reading, singing, and serving in the Altar! Attend to the lessons given you with all diligence, regularly attending all the lectures of the professors and studying in your rooms, reading the necessary books and source materials. Remember that the usual frame of mind and merry pastimes of contemporary, decadent youth are in no way proper for you! You have come to a monastery in order to study in a theological school; conduct yourselves accordingly! And may God help you obtain here that incorruptible wealth of the treasures of our Holy Orthodox Faith, which you will never again find in the contemporary, morally-decadent world.
All our dear guests and pilgrims: We seek your help, your cooperation in our great task of preparing new pastors for our Church. Help us, each one as best you can! Find truly worthy candidates for entering Seminary and send them to us. But, of course, we need persons sincerely dedicated to our Holy Faith and the Church; send us such as these, but not persons who have no serious interest in these things. If there will be no replenishing in our ranks, our Church can very soon come to be entirely without pastors. Help us! Be our co-workers!
Orthodox Life, St. Job of Pochaev Press, Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, New York, May-June 1969 #3, pp. 6-9