Fr Tikhon recounted the story of how a certain man, Sergei, has been a criminal, and pretended to be a monk, and called himself Fr Augustine. Eventually, his criminal acts of theft and impersonation came to light.

Sergei did seek redemption, and served time for his criminal acts. Eventually, God’s Mercy continued to shine on him, and he was even ordained and became Hieromonk Fr Vladimir, who pastored a parish.

However, Fr Tikhon told us through the book with sadness, that Fr Vladimir was brutally murdered, when he came into contact with the underworld.

In our lives, God’s illuminating Mercy shines on us continuously, every moment, every day, without fail. In our own delusions, we turn our backs on God, and in our limited faculties, see only darkness, and even lament that God is absent in our lives. But the reality is that God has never left us, and that He is right here with us, without fail, throughout time. It is only our blindness that prevents us from seeing this illumination, this mercy, this constancy, from God.

And when we falter and fall, God does not give up on us. To our dying breaths, God is with us, right with us. When we falter, our redemption is found when we begin to humbly repent and pray to Him. It is a constant struggle (podvig) that we will strive to go through, to continue to always seek reconciliation and healing from God. We are not to give up, until we die and utter our last breath. The holy elders often remind us that they, saints as they are, have always lamented that they had not repented enough, or prayed enough. Those were kind reminders to us to never let our guards down (Thessalonians 5:3), and to repent, and to pray, all the time till the end. And while we do that, we continue our journey of redemption and reconciliation back with God (2 Timothy 2:1-6).

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

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