Sacred Fear of the Holy Things

Below the reader will find a beautiful excerpt from a sermon by St. Sebastian (Dabovich) For Holy Communion. The excerpt is from an old Orthodox Word. In our times, and I would suspect in any times too, it is of great benefit to remind ourselves of the manner in which the Saints speak about the Holy Mysteries and the area in which they are offered. Indeed, it is more than evident that the almighty grace of God sanctifies not only the gifts of the Eucharist but also the place, the temple, in which they are offered. This sanctification, according to St. Sebastian, is greater than what transpired with Moses at the burning bush on Sinai.

We are also rightly reminded of what awe we should be cultivating and maintaining in our hearts during the offering of the Mysteries. Indeed, may we cultivate such awe daily. Much spiritual cultivation is required, much training in spiritual discipline over one’s self. May St. Sebastian’s words inspire us to greater reverence and awe for the holy things of God.

Begin text

With fear of God and Faith approach ye to the life-giving Mysteries of Christ. In those sacred moments let be hushed within us all other thoughts, let be banished from our souls all other feelings, besides those unto which the Holy Church would elevate our spirits. Let us draw near with fear of God, faith and love, that we may partake of the life eternal.

That we may inspire within us that sacred fear, let us consider: Where are we now? Before whom do we stand? Unto what do we approach? Where are we? Moses, Moses, called God to His selected leader of Israel, draw not nigh hither; put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Since the place unto which God once descended has become sanctified, and to which the man who was called the friend of God could not approach without care, then how much holier is the place which is sanctified by such often repeated descensions of the Holy Spirit at the consecration of the terrible mysteries upon which even the angels look with fear.

Before whom do we stand? It is the God of unapproachable glory, from whose presence it was once that Mt. Sinai blazed and trembled; the God Almighty, Who spoke and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast; that which is not, He names a thing existing; He makes to die and He makes to live; He lowers into hell and raises up again; the Lord All-Holy, a jealous God, the God All-Righteous … It is true that God appears to us here in His body and blood, without external grandeur and glory, without terrible manifestations; for, were it otherwise, we would say as the Israelites had said: Let not God speak with us, lest we die.”

St. Sebastian (Dabovich), Sermon for Holy Communion.

Orthodox Word, Vol. 4. 1965

(Article title is my own for purposes of this blog.)

About the author

Husband, father, and Priest.

Schooling: Kharkov State University (Ukraine); Brownsville School of Ministry; St. Tikhon's Orthodox Seminary (M.Div.).

Author and illustrator of St. Patrick, Enlightener of the Irish Lands (Conciliar Press, out of print) and illustrator of The Life of St. Brigid (authored by Jane G. Meyer).

Proprietor and writer at the Inkless Pen Blog, at which, based on the foundation of the teachings of Orthodox Christianity, a wide variety of topics are addressed. Fr. Zechariah has translated some works by St. Dimitry of Rostov and New Hieromartyr Seraphim (Zvesdensky), these translations are also available on his blog.

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