BY HIS EMINENCE VALENTIN, ARCHBISHOP OF SUZDAL AND VLADIMIR,TO PASTORS, MONASTICS AND ALL SPIRITUAL CHILDREN OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
"Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." (Mt. 5: 7)
"He shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy." (Jas. 2:13)
"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." (Jas. 2: 26)
Very important days for every Christian are beginning, the days of the Great Lent. Will they lead us to the open doors of repentance, the cleansing of sin, to the straight path leading to the radiant Resurrection of Christ and the inheritance of the Kingdom, which the Lord promised to those who love Him? Or we will remain friends of the world, and therefore enemies of God? Will we approach Him or separate from Him? Will we continue to say spiteful things and hate or we will restrain our tongues and cleanse our hands from filthy works? Will we subdue ourselves to the will of God about us and chase the devil and his filthy servants or will we continue in our self-will, hard-heartedness and duplicity, opposing our nothingness to the Will of the All-powerful? How long will we test the Lord's mercy and the Lord's long patience?
Man tongs for liberty and worldly delights. Was not this the liberty to oppose the Creator that once upon a time the snake-tempter made known to our forefathers in paradise when he gave them to taste the forbidden fruit? Is not this the liberty which gave birth to quarrels, murders, jealousy and treason which have happened throughout human history? "Ye lust, and have not: ye kill and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye asknot. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts" (Jm. 4: 2-3).
Why is not there the slightest relief for our worn out Homeland? The century has ended, the millennium has ended and yet the Passion Week of troubled times continues. There is no end to the physical and mental suffering and it is a very rare heart that does not constrict in expectation of new and harsher ones. But is it not that by these sufferings the Lord in His great mercy is calling us to come to our senses? If there is no end of misfortunes, it means there is no end of terrible sin which spreads throughout our Homeland.
And this sin is before our own eyes; it is visible and obvious, and many, who consider themselves Orthodox speak of it, even loudly... But no one wants to repent of it. This sin damages church life in which false teaching rules. Our endless miseries are a testimony to and the result of the continued persecution of the Truth. Is this persecution really already over? And is it possible that the general lack of love which took root and like a dark cloud settled over Russia is over with, as was predicted by the One, Who is Love Himself? However, the Passion Week of hard times may suddenly end for us not with the joyous Resurrection of Christ, but with the coming of the stem Judge-Christ.
The divine words which will thunder over us on the Last Judgment are not hidden from us: "And then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared to you from foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink: I was stranger, and ye took Me in: naked and ye clothed Me was sick and ye visited Me: I was in prison, and ye came unto Me... Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me... Then shall he say unto them on the left hand: Depart from Me, ye cursed. Into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels... Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of the least of these, ye did it not unto Me". (Mt. 25: 34-36: 40-41, 45).
But, not being afraid of the Lord's words, but frightened by crafty human words, the unfortunate traitors run from the right side to the left, for which there will thunder the everlasting sentence.
Why has the tiny Church Abroad been an unshakable stronghold? Because she was fulfilling the Lord's command of Love. During Metropolitans Anthony, Anastassy andPhilaret, the path of the Church Abroad was filled with the kind of love to which the ever memorable First Hierarchs and their children called the world, trying to address their conscience that it is impossible to eat, drink and sleep in peace in presence of the great sufferer - ^he-persecuted Russia. For the Church Abroad it was not the image alone, Christ Himself looked by the eyes of sufferers. The Divine Sufferer was crucified not in one of the little ones, but in the big multitude of Russian People. You know, all this happened at a time when the majority was looking for comfort. In its Epistle to the World Conference (in Genoa, 1921) The Church Abroad issued this appeal:
"Among the multitude of nations who received the right to a voice at the Genoa conference, only the 200 million Russian people will not be represented, because it is impossible to call those there its representatives - rather, its enslavers... Where was it ever heard of that the sheep would be represented by their annihilators, the wolves? If the sheep as yet unmauled by the wolves were to be asked what they want to improve their welfare, there would be a unanimous cry: take the wolves from us. This the sheep would say if they could talk; the same is true of the Russian people who have been beaten and terrorized to a point where they cannot raise their voices and are denied the physical possibility of being heard by enlightened Europe and the whole world.
"Peoples of Europe! Nations of the World! Have pity upon our kind, open hearted, noble hearted Russian people, who have fallen into hands of criminals. Do not support these against your children and grandchildren..." (ROCOR, Vol. I, p. 31-32)
This was the appeal of the Church Abroad. And the world...? The world behaved like the merciless priest and the Levite in the parable of the merciful Samaritan, who would not help the one who suffered at the hands of a gang of robbers. And inside Russia there are its own merciless priests and Levites who gave false testimony that nothing bad ishappening in Russia, no one is torn to pieces, there are no persecutions, but just the opposite - everything is fine.
This is exactly what the world wanted to hear, not wishing its comfort disturbed. The Church Abroad did not accept these rules, and tried to awaken its conscience. There were efforts to force her to be silent; she was threatened; she was insulted; her pleas for help were called political by those heartless people who themselves knew nothing but politics. But the Russian Church Abroad fearlessly did her duty, as a true instrument of Christ's loving heart.
"When we pray for forgiveness of the sins, asking for future enlightenment, let everyone of us take upon himself the load of his brother, so that united by faith and love, we, all of us, when the Lord will open the doors for us, we may enter our home as the unified flock of the Only Shepherd with the sacrificial wish to serve our own homeland and welfare of our people.
"May God bless every work and podvig [struggle] for the benefit of the Church and the blessed by Him construction of the Russian State," written and signed by Metropolitan Anthony in the Epistle from the historic Council Abroad in 1921 held in Sremski Kariovtsi" (ROCOR, vol.1)
Does the union, after an 80 year wait, proceed in this manner? Does not now, the Church Abroad, which always was on the side of persecuted, who mercifully tried to relieve their suffering, does not she now unite with those, who were indifferent at the Cross of the Divine Sufferer or were casting a lot for His garment? What does this share with the partaker of Christ's sufferings, of the faithful and unfaithful? Is the Church Abroad uniting with the Moscow Patriarchate in order to, according to Metropolitan Anthony's testament, "take upon itself the load of its brother"? Is it possible that the suffering brother will feel better because the spiritual leaders of the Russian Diaspora will joyfully celebrate on the secular paths and will hug Communists or bashfully cast down their eyes before them? Will they help in this way the "construction of the Russian State"... or will they through their treason, their friendship with heretics evoke the grave anger of God and double the suffering? Is this a merciful love?
Those who turn away from the suffering brother do not pay attention to the example of a more pitiful sufferer, from whom it is impossible to part - this is he who is doomed himself to everlasting sufferings, to torments and never ceasing shame. For a minute of power, for a minute of worldly goods, he paid with everlasting suffering and led others behind him... "Judas!... Judas!" - with such words some time ago our emigrants to America met one of the Soviet metropolitans. "Hosanna" is heard today in the speeches and epistles of the hierarchs from Abroad.
This is the humiliating role to which the current leadership dooms the Church Abroad! And all this should be the other way round. She should not be caught as a small bird, but she was to gather under her wings the dispersed children; it is not she who should go as a beggar with an outstretched hand to "world orthodoxy", but she was herself meant to give drink to the thirsty and feed the hungry from the riches of the immortal table, according to the example of the ever memorable First Hierarchs: Metropolitans Anthony, Anastassy and Philaret. Eternal memory and our humble gratitude to His Grace Bishop Gregory (Grabbe) who until the very end of his life tirelessly continued their podvig of love.
"The Church Abroad as ever continues to keep faith with the Russian Mother Church and has taken upon herself the lofty and at the same time difficult responsibility of the mission to preserve all the basics, traditions and grandeur of Russian Orthodoxy and Russian Orthodox Church and freely and openly speaks out all around the world in the name of the enslaved Mother Church and the exhausted captive Russians and other peoples in Russia.
"The truthfulness of the Church Abroad to the Russian Mother Church consists in fact that she always remained in the bosom of the Russian Church, but definitely and categorically never submitted and will submit to the uncanonical Soviet Patriarchate" (ROCOR, vol. 1, p. 38)
This is how the Church Abroad spoke when she indeed remained in the bosom of the Russian Church, and stayed in the Truth and Love.
The Patriarchate, without repenting and even more, without bringing forth the fruits of repentance, although outwardly no longer Soviet, has not ceased being uncanonical. The Church Abroad, uniting with her, herself exits from the Russian Church, shifts from the right side to the left, to the side of the merciless and cruel.
One of the witnesses to this is the harsh action of the hierarchs of the Synod of the Church Abroad in the 1994 toward the Russian faithful who trusted them.
Can one have any doubt, in the light of the latest events, that already several years ago the Synod of the Church Abroad was planning this unification with the Moscow Patriarchate and this in particular was the reason for persecution of the Russian Church, whose believers, clergy and episcopate were obstacles to this unification. This was the only "proof" of the crime. Therefore, they tried not only to get rid of the Russian Church, but also slander her every way possible.
Those who made the most effort to slander the Russian Church - we now see leading the movement toward unification with the Moscow Patriarchate. Is it not that the foreign leader of this movement beforehand put all his efforts into splitting the Church Abroad and the Russian Church? And here, among us, a certain person split away from the Russian Church, under the pretext of his faithfulness to the Church Abroad, when he said that "one should prefer the faithfulness to the living hierarchs', and not the Fathers of the Church, who long ago departed to another world." Now it is obvious that this person has gathered up for himself the dioceses from Siberia to Petersburg and Moscow, to hand them over to the Moscow Patriarchate as a trophy.
Why then, when we see where the action of these persons is leading, can we continue to believe in their slanders?
From the very beginning of this approach there was a hidden mistake. The true Russian Church Abroad, although never intending to unite with the uncanonical Patriarchy, never confessed herself to be "the only true one". She confessedherself as remaining in the bosom of the Russian Church, together with the Catacomb Church, which she respected and the Church of Martyrs and Confessors. Did anyone listen to her voice? There are many imitations the Catacomb Church, but nevertheless, there are stilt quite a few of her confessors living now, who are the glory and the cream of the Russian Church. For them the concept "of joining the Moscow Patriarchate" is equivalent to "leaving the Church". Why then do some fathers and children of the Church Abroad despise these witnesses of the Truth and Love and consider them as non- existent? Do they thus behave according to Truth and Love? Is their strange behavior toward their brothers in faith (if only they indeed are not hypocritically faithful to the Russian Church) - not a benefit to the enemies of God's Church, who rush to split Her apart, don't they add water to the mill of the dark powers and their servants? All this has already happened in the history of the Church.
"Among the highest hierarchs of the ROCOR there happened to be some ambitious hungry persons, who led by the dark powers and ailing with inexplicable ambition, who in violation not only of the church's, but of common human moral standards, departed from the Church Abroad, who broke apart her unity and betrayed their Mother - the Great Martyr Russian Church, and at the time of her most terrible perils.
"They have disturbed her unity at a time of approaching terrible confusion in Russia - the announcement of the Declaration by Metropolitan Sergius, when the much-suffering Russian Church was exhausted, in pain and drowning in the martyric blood of her faithful sons.
"Instead of moral support, instead of comforting, devoted filial words and attention, they either committed the deed of Cain, joining in free will the uncanonical Soviet Patriarchy, which entered into collaboration with the godless, criminal power, foreign to Russian and ecclesiastical-religious interests and in this way, together with the Patriarchy, participated in the bloody persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church and Her servants; or, in imitation of Pilate, who washed his hands, they joined the jurisdiction of another Local Church..." (ROCOR, vol. I, p.40).
Let us apply all our efforts not to obtain for ourselves a condemnatory sentence, not for a nearing of the end, but for the much suffering Russian land to still gain a time to shine with the joyous Pascha of Christ, as a promise of the endless, never aging Pascha in the Heavenly Kingdom.