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Sayedna Silouan visits St. Botolph's parish, London, 24th March 2024


On March 24th, the Sunday of Orthodoxy, His Eminence, Metropolitan Silouan, visited the London parish of St. Botolph. Sayedna, accompanied by Fr. Boniface Carroll and Dcn. Dmitry Ismagilov was welcomed by Fr. Alexander Tefft - the parish priest - and a loving community of the faithful. The day began with the Orthros, followed by the hierarchical Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great. At the end of the Divine Liturgy, the clergy and faithful joined in the procession with the holy icons to celebrate the triumph of the Orthodox Faith over the heresy of iconoclasm.

 

In his homily, Metropolitan Silouan emphasised that salvation is not only a matter of the mind; salvation does not rest only in knowing correct doctrine. Rather, a faithful Orthodox person must combine the knowledge of doctrine with the practice of an Orthodox way of life. The core of this way is “metanoia” - repentance. The doctrines are important, and it is good if we know and understand them as Christians. However, without repentance, they are useless for our salvation. Upon our repose, Christ will not ask us at the gates of Heaven if we are Orthodox, but he will ask if we repented of our sins. In the modern age of social media, it is easy to get caught up in useless online doctrinal debates. The danger lies in falling prey to ideologies, abandoning the salvation of our souls, as those debates foster anger instead of love. Sayedna called on the faithful during Lent to focus on repentance. The first step is always to contact the priest and schedule a confession. Repentance is reinforced by prayer and completed in partaking of the Holy Mysteries. To win as an Orthodox Christian is to be saved; it is not to win in the online debate. Without repentance, it is impossible to win the race. 

 

At the end of the Divine Liturgy, Sayedna informed the parishioners that he asked Fr. Alexander Tefft to take a medical leave of absence for the duration of Great Lent. Father Alexander faithfully served the parish of St. Botolph for 16 years without taking any rest, or missing a single Divine Liturgy. Metropolitan Silouan thanked Fr. Alexander for his tireless service to the Church and emphasised that he must rest to continue ministering to the faithful: “We need you, Father Alexander, and we need you strong”. During Fr. Alexander’s absence, services at St. Botolph will be celebrated by Fr. Boniface Carroll, whom Sayedna thanked for stepping in to help the community. Sayedna emphasised that parishioners need to care for Fr. Alexander by not disturbing and avoiding contacting him. For any parish matters, they should contact the Metropolitan directly. Finally, His Eminence emphasised the necessity of ordaining a deacon in the parish who could assist Father Alexander in the ministry and eventually become his assistant priest and successor. He called on the faithful to pray and consider seriously if one of them wants to offer themselves to the Church.

 

The hierarchical visit finished with a fasting but tasty lunch and an open conversation with the Metropolitan. Sayedna Silouan thanked the faithful for the warm reception and wished them a fruitful Great Lent in repentance and preparation for Pascha.



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