On September 11, 2010, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations (DECR) and rector of the Ss Cyril and Methodius Institute of Post-Graduate Studies (CMI), celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the church of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist in the Patriarchal Metochion of the Wonder-workers of Chernigov.

There are two churches in the Metochion and a three-storey building in which the Institute will be accommodated after the restoration work is over. On August 18, 2010, Metropolitan Hilarion was appointed as dean of the Chernigov Metochion by the decree of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. 

After the liturgy, Father Mikhail Nemnov, a cleric of the church, addressed Metropolitan Hilarion, saying how happy the Institute’s congregated faculty and students and the Metochion’s clergy were over the celebration of the first hierarchal liturgy since the church was opened in Chernigov Lane in the early 90s. He also stressed Metropolitan Hilarion’s great experience as church rector since he had been rector of four parishes in the diocese of Vilnius and the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Kaunas. Upon his return from the service in Western Europe he has become rector of the church of Our Lady the Joy to All the Afflicted and now he is dean of the churches in the Chernigov Lane.

Speaking in response, Metropolitan Hilarion greeted the congregation on the occasion of the patronal feast and spoke about St. John the Baptist’s mission of reminding people of the absolute spiritual and moral law which is the commandment of God. ‘It is only the Church, in this era of apostasy and disregard for basic spiritual and moral values, that reminds people that there are absolute values, God’s commandments which are immutable law and that each who violates these commandments, even if he is not a criminal under human law, is a criminal in God’s justice’. 

‘Preaching these spiritual and moral values not so much by words as our way of life, we will emulate St. John the Baptist who was faithful to the divine truth to the end. We will emulate the numerous saints who suffered for the truth, including Ss Theodore and Michael of Chernigov, who became passion-bearers to avoid violating God’s commandment. If we look at the life or death of these saints, we will see that they not always died for the Church or for Christ. And St. John the Baptist died not for God or His Church but for God’s truth, for the spiritual and moral law that all people should live by. And our passion-bearers, too, died if not for Christ then for His commandments, which is essentially the same. That is why the Church glorifies them and we ask their help in our efforts to follow God-ordained way leading to the Heavenly Kingdom’. 

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