The Holy Apostle Paul writes to the Romans, "For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified." And thus it is that only those who are actively striving to fulfill the two great commandments of the law--to love God with all one's heart, soul, and mind, and to love one's neighbor as oneself--can be accounted worthy of the gift of salvation and eternal life in God's heavenly Kingdom. It is, indeed, only by fulfilling in our everyday, practical lives that law of love which God has inscribed within the hearts of believers that we may hope to become partakers of the Divine Nature, inheritors of that eternal and unfading glory which God has in store for those who love Him and abide by His commandments.
But what is love?.... Our Lord Himself assures us that if we do really and truly love Him, we will keep His commandments. As St. John the Theologian writes in his gospel, God is love. And so it is that if we truly love God, we will be ever vigilant to keep His commandments of love, to do nothing that might in any way offend Him. And this is so not because we fear "breaking" the law and being "sentenced" to hell. Unlike Judaism, the Christian Faith is in no sense legalistic. It is, rather, a relationship we experience in and through the Church with a living Person: our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ, Who is the eternal Son of God and One of the Holy Trinity. Genuine love, however, is not an emotion, a warm and fuzzy feeling. It is, above all, a commitment to remain faithful to the object of our love, despite the consequences. And there is no greater love than the willingness to lay down one's life for the sake of the beloved--whether it be Jesus Christ Himself, or that spouse to whom we have committed ourselves in the Mystery of Marriage.
Today we commemorate the feast of All Saints of Russia, and indeed, innumerable are the vast array of saints who have shone forth in the Russian land, beacons of holiness for all Orthodox Christians throughout the inhabited world. It has always been somewhat of a quandary for me, however, to differentiate the saints of Russia from the totality of saints commemorated on the feast of All Saints. For truly, no nation on this earth has a monopoly on sanctity. Even the secularized, Masonically inspired land of America has produced a handful of saints. Nevertheless, I do firmly believe (though there are those who consider this to be a spurious claim) that Russian is (according to the ancient Chronicles) the Third Rome. The first Rome fell to the barbarians in the Fifth Century, while the Second Rome--Constantinople--fell to the Turks in 1453. Following this catastrophe, it was Russia alone who can claim the distinction of being the Third Rome... and we can rest assured that the shall never be a fourth.
It has therefore been given to Holy Rus to proclaim the final word to the world in these final times, before Christ returns to judge the living and the dead. Significant it seems to me is that a law currently pending within the Russian Duma would restore as the national anthem God Save the Czar, to replace the current, Soviet-inspired anthem. According to prophecy, the God-blessed monarchy will indeed be restored before the final revelation of the Antichrist, and at that time, our father among the saints Seraphim of Sarov will be resurrected in order to proclaim to all who have ears to hear the truth of the Orthodox Faith--that though sincere repentance, many of the faithful might be numbered among the elect--strengthened by God's grace to faithfully endure the manifold trials and temptations appointed for those Christians of the final days who are destined to endure unto the end, receiving crowns of glory in God's heavenly Kingdom.
You and I, dear friends in Christ, have not yet been called to endure with Christ the sacrificial suffering of the Cross. We have become soft, lulled into a potentially deadly sleep, paying lip service to the possibility of martyrdom, but not in the least comprehending what this would entail. But we can rest assured (as Father Seraphim of Platina assures us): that which began in Russia will end in America. The question is... are we truly prepared to endure those temptations and tribulations that we will undoubted face us in the days ahead? If the answer is no (as it surely is for most of us), then let us fervently beseech all the saints who have shone forth in the Russian land--that vast cloud of witnesses--that through their holy prayers we might endure unto the end those trials and tribulations God has appointed unto those who love Him.