Moscow region, Sergiev Posad, Lavra, Academy

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“The main thing is the ability to love”: bishop of Orekhovo-Zuevo Panteleimon met with the MThA students

On March 10, Bishop Panteleimon, Chairman of the Synodal Department for Charity and Social activity, made a speech in the Great Hall of the Moscow Theological Activity. He told students about Synodal Department work and emphasized the importance of participating in the church social work.

Bishop of Zvenigorod Pitirim, Rector of the Moscow Theological Academy, thanked Bishop Panteleimon for making a visit to the Academy and noted the importance of such meetings:

Your Eminence, I am very glad to welcome you here, within the walls of the Moscow Theological Academy. Unfortunately, now we do not have a special subject that would give some basics of social activity to students, although there was one before. Therefore, it is very important that you, as the head of the Synodal Department for Church Charity, is going to tell future pastors about the work that our Church is currently doing in this field».

Bishop Panteleimon began his speech with some words about love. He said that social activity cannot be an analogue of a system because it is based on love coming from within. 

What is essential is that you get not only some academic knowledge, but also understand the main thing which is the ability to love. Social activity should be considered precisely from this point of view. You can not take it as a kind of care or just a type of activity. Genuine social service is the one which is done with love in someone’s heart».

Since the dawn of Christianity, church took care of member of its community. Apostles ordained deacons who helped people in their needs, raised money to support the poor, visited the diseased and prisoners.

Bishop Panteleimon also told about the importance of social activity in an everyday life of a priest and shared his pastoral experience of social activity done in the parish:

In the hospital church, where I have been serving for 30 years, everything started by itself. People who were ready to give help gathered together and the ones who were in need came and could get some support ... It’s good when such an activity comes naturally, when someone has a desire to do some work of love. As man is created in the way that the greatest joy for him is to give rather than accept. If we experience opposite feelings, it is an evidence that something is wrong with us. So it is important to make this joy a part of our lives and multiply it if possible. There, where the deeds of charity and mercy are done, the Lord Himself is present. And the main aim for a priest is to make other people understand this simple thing».

At the end bishop Panteleimon answered students' questions. 

Then, bishop of Zvenigorod Pitirim, Rector of the Academy, addressed students and encouraged them not to be afraid of those obstacles that might arise in the field of helping people.

Bishop Panteleimon:

It seems to me that the importance of priest’s service cannot be compared with anything else. Doctors, of course, are important as they heal the body, a president and a manager are important as they arrange our lives. But only a priest can help a person to defeat the evil in his soul, learn to love, save his soul from passions, sins, and help many other people to reach a salvation. By no means, the pastoral ministry should be a ministry of love. And he should share this love with others, educate them by his own example of sacrificial love and encourage others to do some charity work. However, the ministry of love is not primarily a pastoral ministry, as it considers all Christians. And therefore, it is highly important to learn more and put the social service theory into practice». 

Background information:

The Mission Department of the Moscow Theological Academy has a diaconia sector. 

The staff of this unit consists of undergraduates, graduates and students of an icon painting faculty of the Moscow Theological Academy.

There are at about 100 events and trips to social institutions held in an academic year. 

The purpose of this activity is to give love to people in need, to comfort them and to spread the Gospel Light with hope that the grace of God might once touch their hearts, support and give strength to overcome all life troubles. 

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