September 25:Sergius Abbot of Holy Trinity, Moscow, 1392

Welcome to the Holy Women, Holy Men blog! We invite you to read about this commemoration, use the collect and lessons in prayer, whether individually or in corporate worship, and then tell us what you think. For more information about this project, click here.

About this commemoration

To the people of Russia, Sergius is a national hero and their patron saint. He was born at Rostov, about 1314.

Civil war in Russia forced Sergius’ family to leave the city and to live by farming at Radonezh near Moscow. At the age of twenty, he and his brother began a life of seclusion in a nearby forest, from which developed the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, a center of revival of Russian Christianity. There Sergius remained for the rest of his life, refusing higher advancement, such as the see of Moscow, in 1378.

Sergius’ firm support of Prince Dimitri Donskoi helped to rally the Russians against their Tartar overlords. Dimitri won a decisive victory against them at the Kulikovo Plains in 1380, and laid the foundation of his people’s independent national life. Sergius was simple and gentle in nature, mystical in temperament, and eager to ensure that his monks should serve the needs of their neighbors. He was able to inspire intense devotion to the Orthodox faith. He died in 1392, and pilgrims still visit his shrine at the monastery of Zagorsk, which he founded in 1340. The city contains several splendid cathedrals and is the residence of the Patriarch of Moscow.

The Russian Church observes Sergius’ memory on September 25. His name is familiar to Anglicans from the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius, a society established to promote closer relations between the Anglican and Russian Churches.

COLLECT

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us, we pray thee, from an inordinate love of this world, that inspired by the devotion of thy servant Sergius of Moscow, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we, inspired by the devotion of your servant Sergius of Moscow, may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Lessons

Proverbs 4:1–9

1 John 2:15–17

Luke 8:16–21

Psalm 87

Preface of a Saint (2)

Text From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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7 Responses to September 25:Sergius Abbot of Holy Trinity, Moscow, 1392

  1. Michael Hartney says:

    This is a completely new set of readings and Psalm.
    For whatever reason they are all changed, the new ones seem to fit together well.

    He needs a ‘He died in 1392.’ statement.

  2. Leonel L. Mitchell says:

    Sergius, Patron Saint of Russia, is certainly a significant feast. The bio is fine and the propers are appropriate, although I don’t find them better that the dirrerent set which were in LLF .

  3. Leonel L. Mitchell says:

    make that word “different”

  4. Fred Fenton says:

    I don’t see why our calendar should be bloated with commemorations like this one. A history lesson about a 14th century Russian monk “mystical in temperament” holds little inspiration or guidance for Christian life today.

  5. John LaVoe says:

    September 25:Sergius Abbot of Holy Trinity, Moscow, 1392
    .
    It would be nice to know the brother’s name, if we have it. (“he and his brother began a life of seclusion…”)
    .
    (“refusing higher advancement, such as the see of Moscow…”) “Such as” – this phrase sounds hypothetical rather than factual. “Including,” instead of “such as,” might sound more indicative.
    .
    (“He was able to inspire intense devotion to the Orthodox faith.”) Do the Orthodox really have a “faith” of their own, or do we mean, “the Orthodox tradition,” “the Russian Orthodox Church,” or simply, “Orthodox Christianity”?
    .
    Closing with a paragraph about an Anglican Fellowship leaves the spotlight on us rather than on Sergius. Shouldn’t we close with something about Sergius, incorporating the Anglican Fellowship information into the previous material?
    .
    (“The Russian Church observes Sergius’ memory on September 25.”) Funny coincidence! That’s when Episcopalians observe it, too. (Is the point of this statement that for the Russian Orthodox Church, this feast is a major event rather than a minor feast? If so, we should say it more directly.) It would seem odd to read, “The United Methodist Church celebrates Christmas on December 25” — as if that were somehow unique among Christian practices.

  6. Nigel Renton says:

    Of all the bios I have read lately, this one most urgently needs correction, IMHO!

    To avoid confusion, it might be wise to show his name as “Sergius of Radonezh”. There are at least two other Saints named Sergius in the RC calendar, including a Pope.

    The reference to “Zagorsk” in paragraph 4 has been out of date since 1990. The current name of the city is Sergiyev Posad. (Because of that name’s religious connotations, the Bolsheviks twice renamed the city, the second time naming it after a hero of the revolution. The name “Zagorsk” is as dated as “Stalingrad” and “Leningrad.). It would be helpful to explain that Sergiyev Posad is some 43 miles northeastof Moscow.

    I recommend that when Sergiyev Posad is first mentioned, it be followed by “(known as ‘Zagorsk’ in the Soviet era)”.

    It would not be clear to the reader, who has heard of Moscow but not of Sergiyev Posad, whether the reference to “The city” in line 5 of the fourth paragraph refers to Sergiyev Posad or to Moscow. (It is to the former.) Use :”city of Sergiyev Posad”, or change the first word to “That” for clarity.

    I am frustrated by the vagueness of “several splendid cathedrals” in the penultimate line of paragraph four. I know of two, but “several” means “three or a few more”. Let’s find out the current number: some of the cathedrals in the Moscow area have been destroyed or turned into museums.

    • John LaVoe says:

      I don’t see how dropping in the information about other anonymous cathedrals contributes to the commemoration of Sergius in the first place. It’s distracting and irrelevant, in addition to being vague. The bio would be better without mention of other cathedrals.

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