Sergius was born early in the 14th Century in Radinezeh, Russia, a village near Moscow. It was a time of poverty and hardship in Russia brought about by war. It was also a time of spiritual activity in the Christian World. It was the time of Dame Julian of Norwich and other Mystics in England, and Catherine of Sienna in Italy.
When he was 20 Sergius and his older brother Stephan began living as hermits in the deep forest near their home.
After a time Stephan moved to a monastery in Moscow, but Sergius continued to live in the forest as a hermit. Learning of his deep spiritual knowledge other monks started to come to him for direction, and built their own cells. Eventually they persuaded him to become their Superior.
Early in his time as Superior Sergius instituted a reform by asking the monks to come together for prayer and other activities. There was some resistance to this. For the sake of restoring peace Sergius went into exile for a short time. It was not very long before the monks came to him and begged him to return as their Superior.
The news of Sergius’ accomplishments reached The Patriarch of Constantinople, Philotheus, who sent him a monastic charter. When Metropolitan Alexius asked him to become his successor Sergius declined. He also declined appointment as Bishop of Moscow. Sergius preferred to remain a simple monk. He was humble and gentle in nature, and mystical in temperament.
He was also generous towards others. He was eager to ensure that his monks should serve the needs of their neighbors. His devotion to the Orthodox Faith inspired many others to an equally intense faith.
Today’s Gospel reminds us that the purpose of a lamp is to be on a lampstand so that others can see the light that it gives. Inspired by the example of the faith of Sergius, may we show the light of God’s love, and let our faith be a guiding light to those whom we meet.
Sergius of Radinezeh
(14 May 1314 – 25 September 1392)
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