"After my death our beloved Church abroad will break three ways .... first the Greeks will leave us as they were never a part of us ... then those who live for this world and its glory will go to Moscow ... what will remain will be those souls faithful to Christ and His Church." St. Philaret of NY 1985

St. Gregory the Wonderworker


Today the Holy Orthodox Church commemorates one of Her greatest saints St. Gregory the Wonderworker, bishop of the great ancient city of Neocaesarea.

When this holy hierarch first came to this big city, led by the Lord to carry out his archpastoral service, there were only seventeen Christians in the city, and all the other inhabitants were pagans.  But when the hierarch was on his deathbed preparing to give up his holy soul to God, there were only seventeen pagans in the city, and all the rest were Christians.  This, of course, was the fruit of his hierarchal labors, for he turned all those pagans to Christianity through the miracles he performed, of which there were many (and for this reason the Church calls him ‘Wonderworker’), as well as through his words, and, of course, as with all saints, through the example of his amazing holy life.  It should be said that in general, however, according to the testimonies of people who lived in those times when there were still many pagans, the latter turned to Christianity not just because it was preached, but also because they saw how the Christians of that time lived.  By their example, great numbers of pagans converted to Christianity.

The Apostle Paul wrote during his time that “the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16).  He would have even more reason to say so if he lived in our grievous times!  Truly, these days ARE evil.  Now it is the duty of every Christian to be a faithful son of the Church, and one would not be mistaken to say that in this given time, in our current situation, being surrounded by the heterodox on all sides, every Christian both can and should be missionaries.  But not everyone is capable of converting people to Christianity through words, since not everyone has such a gift of speech, but anyone can impart Christianity by leading a good Christian way of life.  Today it is everyone’s duty to try to be a faithful son of the Church by following the commandments of the Church, including those concerning fasting and observing the feast days.  Christians should follow all the commandments carefully and obediently, so that when others see their admirable example, they may also desire to follow a good Christian way of life.  The same Holy Apostle, in his epistle to his countrymen who did not live according to the teachings of the Church, wrote indignantly, “Because of you the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles” (Rom. 2:24), that is, the pagans see your disorderly way of life and mock God saying, “What kind of faith is this? What kind of god is this?”  But if the Christian lives in a manner worthy of his Creator, worthy of his faith, and worthy of his Church, then his very life is the best form of missionary work.

Let us remember this, brethren.  The Lord will ask each of us how we tried to serve our neighbor, especially in a spiritual way.  Every Christian who tries to follow a Christian way of life can become a missionary and draw other people to our wonderful Orthodox faith, for if words can edify, examples can attract.  This is another way to teach.  By seeing a good example, even someone who is indifferent to religion can be inspired and be converted, and become a true son of the Church.  Amen.

St. Philaret of New York, Sermons, Vol. I, pp. 183-185