On December 18, the eve of the memory of St Nicholas the Wonder-worker, archbishop of Myra, the chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of Moscow Patriarchate, Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, who was on a pastoral visit to Thailand, met with the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church, who serve in the Asia-Pacific region.
The meeting, held inside the St. Nicholas Church of Bangkok, was attended by clerics, who served parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate in China, Thailand, Mongolia, Indonesia, Singapore and other countries in the region. Among the participants were Abbot Oleg (Cherepanin) - representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in Thailand, Archpriest Dionisy Pozdnyaev - rector of the Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Hong Kong, Fr Alexis Trubach - rector of Holy Trinity Church in Ulan Bator, Hieromonk Ioasaph (Tandibilang) -rector of the Church of the Holy Prince Vladimir, Equal-to-the-Apostles in Jakarta (Indonesia), Fr Alexander Dondenko - a clergyman of the Dormition parish in Singapore, and Fr Daniel Wanna - a clergyman of St. Nicholas' parish in Bangkok.
Addressing the gathering, Archbishop Hilarion thanked them for their hard work for the benefit of the Church of Christ. "Your service is of particular significance for our Church, - emphasized the Archbishop. - This is truly a missionary and ascetic ministry, which takes place in difficult conditions - not only climatic, but also psychological and spiritual. You live under conditions resembling closely those in which the apostles lived and served. This imposes a special responsibility on you, but at the same time it requires special inner strength. Not every priest is able to endure the conditions in which you find yourself.
Priest bearing obedience far from the homeland, further noted DECR chairman, is called to a special spiritual vigilance and sobriety, must constantly work to improve himself: "Your service should not and can not depend on your inner or spiritual state. Whenever you are to serve according to your church's schedule, you must come and serve whether you wish it or not, whether you are in low or high spirits. It requires a special inner core that will help you regardless of external circumstances and internal emotions to bear the great cross of pastoral ministry. You must always be alert, you can not afford to relax because every one of you is responsible for the souls entrusted to you by God himself, and at any moment you must be ready to help those who need help.
Asked about how the priest must maintain his spiritual zeal, Archbishop stressed the centrality of the Divine Liturgy in the priestly ministry: "The service of the liturgy is the spiritual source from which each of you must draw strength to serve the Church. During the Liturgy the bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ the Savior. But when we pray for this miracle to happen, then we turn to God the Father with the words: 'Send Thy Holy Spirit upon us and upon these offered gifts'. And with our prayer the Holy Spirit descends not only on bread and wine, but on each one of us, transforming the ancient man into new healing our deceases, and giving us His Divine grace. "
Another source of spiritual strength is, according to Archbishop Hilarion, the regular reading of Scriptures and patristic writings: "The Holy Fathers several centuries before us went the way that today we are trying to go. That is why their writings always remain valid. Church fathers share with us their spiritual experiences, tell us about the temptations and trials, through which they passed and through which we pass today. Books of the Fathers can be our spiritual guidance, particularly necessary for the priest who is far away from his brethren and is often deprived of opportunities to consult with more experienced clerics".
During the meeting, the chairman of DECR answered numerous questions from the assembled clergy, telling them, among other things, the decisions of (Inter) Orthodox preparatory meeting held on 10 — 17 of December in Switzerland.
In turn, the clergy, serving in the Asia-Pacific region, told the Archbishop of the needs of the Orthodox faithful in the region and of efforts undertaken by missionaries to spiritually enlighten the Orthodox flock. In particular, Archpriest Dionisy Pozdnyaev shared about the ongoing work on the translation of books of modern Orthodox theologians into the Chinese language.