Monachos.net, a great resource, has published a new translation by St. Tikhon, Metropolitan of Moscow, delivered in 1907 at the New York cathedral on the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. Monachos.net describes this as “the saint’s ‘farewell homily’ to his flock, before departing the United States, and contains important reflections on missionary zeal as well as touching reflections by St. Tikhon on his work in North America.”
Isn’t it interesting that St. Tikhon was calling for the Orthodox to evangelize America in a serious way more than 100 years ago? He closes the sermon by recognizing that some of his flock found “shelter, work, and well-being” in America and all “received the freedom to profess the right Faith in your liberal land.” St. Tikhon exhorts us:
But it is not enough, brethren, only to celebrate “The Triumph of Orthodoxy.” It is necessary for us personally to promote and contribute to this triumph. And for this we must reverently preserve the Orthodox Faith, standing firm in it in spite of the fact that we live in a non-Orthodox country, and not pleading as an excuse for our apostasy that “it is not the old land here but America, a free country, and therefore it is impossible to follow everything that the Church requires.” As if the word of Christ is only suitable for the old land and not for the entire world! As if the Church of Christ is not “catholic”! As if the Orthodox Faith did not “establish the universe”!
Furthermore, while faithfully preserving the Orthodox Faith, everyone must also take care to spread it among the non-Orthodox. Christ the Savior said that having lit the candle, men do not put it under a bushel but on a candlestick so that it gives light to all (Matt. 5.15). The light of the Orthodox Faith has not been lit to shine only for a small circle of people. No, the Orthodox Church is catholic; she remembers the commandment of her Founder, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature and teach all nations” (Mark 16.15; Matt. 28.19).
We must share our spiritual richness, truth, light, and joy with others who do not have these blessings. And this duty does not only lay upon the pastors and the missionaries but on the lay persons as well, since the Church of Christ, according to the wise comparison of the Holy Apostle Paul, is the body, and every member takes part in the life of the body. By means of all sorts of mutually binding bonds which are formed and strengthened through the action of every member according to his capacity, the great Church body receives an increase unto the edifying of itself (cf. Eph. 4.16)