Below is a translation from Russian of a word from St. Dimitry of Rostov. He speaks of the famine to hear the Word of the Lord. I found his words first and foremost a challenge to myself and from there I thought it profitable to share them with my readers. I find it worthy to note that he, in true Christian manner, gives preeminence to incorruptible and spiritual realities. May we remember that even if we are well stocked with physical bread and yet are not feeding on the Bread of Life then all the physical precautions will be of no avail. Begin translation –
“From the beginning of the world, our Lord God has sown His Word in the heart of mankind. First through the forefathers and prophets who proclaimed the Word of God, and then He Himself was incarnate of the Most-Pure Virgin Mary appearing on earth and dwelling with people. He traveled to cities and towns teaching and proclaiming the good tidings of the Kingdom of God. In the end, He sent His apostles to the nations to sow the seed of the Word of God; after the apostles, He established teachers in the Church. This calling has come down to our day – bishops and priests, that they would sow the spiritual seed, the Word of God, in our hearts.
But what of our unfortunate times?! Today this sowing is completely neglected. The Word of God is altogether abandoned. No one cares for his soul, nor for the soul of his neighbor – that the soul would not be presented empty before God at the final harvest. I do not know what to lament more, the sowers or the ground, the priests or the state of humanity’s heart, “No one labors for the good, no not one” (Rom. 3:10).
The sowers do not sow, and the ground does not receive, the priests are careless, and the people wander in error. The priests fail to teach, and the people are in ignorance; the priests do not preach the Word of God, and the people do not hear, nor do they even want to hear. On every side is nefarious harm – the priests are careless in their duty, and the people are without understanding. The pastors are lost, and the sheep who follow them do not know where to go; the blind lead the blind and they both fall into a pit (Cf. Matt. 15:14).
In times past, God was angered by the Hebrew people and said, “I shall send a famine across the land; not a famine of bread nor a thirst for water, but a famine to hear the words of the Lord … men will scurry about seeking to find the word of the Lord, but they will not find it” (Amos 8:11-12). I know that the ignorant will not count a famine of hearing the Word of God a great chastisement. O uncomprehending ones, do you not know which is greater, the soul or the body?
Which food is more worthy of honor and is more profitable for mankind: the corruptible or the incorruptible, the fleshly or the spiritual? Which loss is more grievous, a dearth of bread or the Word of God? A famine of bread is terrible; yet a famine of the Word of God is far worse. Bread only strengthens us for temporal life, but the Word of God prepares us for eternal life. Any person in this world can make physical bread, but not just anyone can proclaim the incorruptible Word of God.”