Moscow - - 20081209 -  Russia's political leaders joined prelates of the Orthodox Church on December 9 at the funeral of Patriarch Alexei II. The deceased Patriarch's success in restoring the prominence of the Russian Orthodox Church after decades of Soviet repression was confirmed by the presence of President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at his funeral in Christ the Savior cathedral. Medvedev had ordered regular television programming suspended during the funeral and the burial service at Epiphany cathedral.

Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, the chief ecumenical official of the Moscow patriarchate, presided at the funeral. On December 6 the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church had elected Metropolitan Kirill as the "patriarchal locum tenens," or interim head of the Church following the death of Patriarch Alexei II the previous day. At least six months must pass between the death of a patriarch and the election of his successor. Since 1989, Metropolitan Kirill has served as the Russian Orthodox representative in ecumenical dialogues as chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate. He recently wrote a foreword to a book by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state.

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Teachings of Christ

“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 ESV)

Holy Angels

O Supreme Leaders of the heavenly armies, * we, who are unworthy, ever beseech you, * that through your prayers you may surround us * with the shelter of the wings of your immaterial glory, * watching over us who fervently fall down and cry out: * “Deliver us from perils, * for you are the commanders of the Powers on high!” (Troparion - Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

O Supreme Leaders of the armies of God * and ministers of the Divine Glory, * princes of angels and guides of men, * ask for us what is expedient for us and for great mercy, * for you are the leaders of the Bodiless Hosts. (Kontakion - Tone 2)

Random Proverb

"The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing." (Proverbs 9:13 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Let us go forward with the heart completely attentive and the soul fully conscious. For if attentiveness and prayer are daily joined together, they become like Elias' fire-bearing chariot, raising us to heaven. What do I mean? A spiritual heaven, with sun, moon and stars, is formed in the blessed heart of one who has reach a state of watchfulness, or who strives to attain it.

St. Philotheus of Sinai