Today many Christians look for excuses and blame the sinful surroundings for their bad deeds. They say: “We live in a world filled with temptations, with great challenges to our faith. How can we live like Christians?! That’s impossible!” But look, my dear ones, the Most Holy Theotokos proved with Her own example that in order to climb the ladder of virtues, we shouldn’t rely on the surroundings but rather on the purity of our heart, the prayer, the love! Amidst the dirt of this world She grew up like the most beautiful lily of our Lord. Although she lived in such unpleasant and dark surroundings, still that didn’t prevent Her from fully devoting Herself to God, with all Her thoughts, all Her heart, Her entire life. Her being lived for one thing only: My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. That’s actually the purpose of every human’s existence – to become a constant praise of our Lord, to make our souls a dwelling place for God.
(Extract from the Dormition sermon 2019)