27 February 2011

2011-02-27 Sermon by Archbishop Kirill of San Francisco and Western America at the First Annual Dinner (2011) of the Order of St Anna in the USA

2011-02-27 Sermon by Archbishop Kirill of San Francisco and Western America at the First Annual Dinner (2011) of the Order of St Anna in the USA

First Annual Dinner - 2011 of the The Order of Cavaliers of St Anne

Your Grace, Reverend Fathers, Ladies and Gentleman!

We are gathered together today to mark the establishment of a local chapter of the Order of Cavaliers of St Anne - an imperial order whose history reaches back to the 18th century - and which lives on today, as the Royal House of our Fatherland continues to pray and work for the peace and stability of the Church and the benefit of her people.

We are here today because the head of this House, Her Imperial Highness the Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, has seen fit to charge each of us with bearing the insignia of this Order in its various degrees. And this is what we are, each of us, called to recognise: not that we have merely been given some gift or recognition or title, but that we have been charged to take up and bear the virtues and witness encapsulated in an Order whose patron is a Saint, whose emblem is the precious Cross. An Order whose motto, inscribed even in its early imperial days in ancient Latin, reads «Amantibus Justitiam, Pietatem, Fidem» - that is, «To those who love justice, piety, and fidelity».

It is to those of such character that the titles associated with the Order of St Anne have traditionally been given, and as we gather together in receipt of its insignia and establish a chapter of its presence in these lands, we must hold first and foremost in our minds that it is these virtues to which we are called, and which we must strive to live out, if we are to be at all worthy of the Order into which we have been drawn.

We are charged to love justice, which is intrinsic to God's nature and an essential part of the relationship that the Lord calls each of us, as His children, to have with our neighbour. Our love of justice must be unequivocal, absolute, extended to rich and poor, wise and foolish, weak and powerful without any respect of person. It must be active, spurring us to emulate without shyness or hesitation the justice of God which did not leave the world to suffer in its sin, but offered itself 'for the life of the world, and for its salvation'.

We are charged to love piety - that is, not merely to offer a pretended devotion or superficial faith, but to foster in our hearts, and the hearts of all those with whom we have contact, a genuine love for God and our Holy Mother Church. This must be tied to our love of justice; for without piety, so-called justice becomes worldly, selfish, and destructive. Our Fatherland in the past century saw just how much damage could be done through attempts at justice and rule without piety, and we still see far too much of this throughout our world, even today. Our responsibility is to yoke our love of justice to a genuine faith, a true obedience to the Church, and a devotion to God that sees the witness of the Gospel as first among our responsibilities as Christian faithful.

We are charged, the motto of our Order also instructs, to love fidelity; that is, faithfulness, devotion and commitment to the truth. We should not debase this to an idea of 'loyalty': this is a worldly, secular term. There have been, all across history, men whose 'loyalty' led them, and with them countless thousands, into danger and perdition. Rather, fidelity roots our steadfastness in godliness and faith. We are commanded to love and to follow with unbending devotion all that God reveals to be true. We must remain faithful first of all to God and His Church, and through it all those whom He has appointed rightly to rule, to govern, to support and to foster our civil life. In this Order especially, we turn with devotion and fidelity to our Imperial House, which has suffered much in the previous century, but which we know to be called and charged by God with a unique and critical role in the life of our lands, our peoples, and our Church. We pray that God will preserve the Russian Imperial House, the Grand Duchess and Grand Duke George, for many years - unto His glory and our benefit and joy.

«Amantibus Justitiam, Pietatem, Fidem». These are the charges laid upon us as members of the Order of St Anne; they are virtues that should be inscribed in our hearts at all times. But allow me to conclude with one further reflection: When this Order was established, it was fashioned as a chivalrous fellowship of cavaliers - that is, of knights. Just what does this signify?

Throughout history, knights have been the leaders on the battlefield. They were soldiers, and more than this, knights were those who nobly and courageously led the battle, entering into the heart of danger, made strong by their depth of belief and devotion. And while those of us in this room are not, at this moment in life, called to the military battlefield, we are nonetheless charged to be strong in battle - the spiritual and social battles for those very things encapsulated in our motto: justice, piety and fidelity. These are virtues against which a very real war is being waged in our modern society, and in this battle we are called to bear strong witness, to act where action is required, to do what lies in our power, so far as God gives us strength. Let us remember, then, that unless we live this mission, unless we truly bear the responsibilities commanded by this Order, then we will never be worthy of the title of 'Cavalier of St Anne', no matter what emblems or insignia we may wear.

Let us, therefore, establish this local chapter of the Order of Cavaliers of St Anne in humility, as men and women who have been charged not with worldly glory but with a cross, who have been given not adulations but responsibilities. Let us pledge ourselves to honour that charge, to fulfil those responsibilities, and become worthy in some small measure of that which we have been given.

May God bless this endeavour, and may His grace and mercies rest upon you all.

Archbishop of San Francisco
and Western America

27 February, 2011
Burlingame, California
Church of All Russian Saints

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