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ANCIENT-ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS ABOUT THE HOLY PASCHAL TABLES AND THE CHURCH CALENDAR

ANCIENT-ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS ABOUT THE HOLY PASCHAL TABLES AND THE CHURCH CALENDAR

MESSAGE OF THE BISHOPS’ COUNCIL OF THE ANCIENT-ORTHODOX CHURCHTO ALL THE CHILDREN OF THE CHURCH LOVED BY GOD CONCERNING RELATIONS OF CHRIST’SCHURCH WITH ALL CIVIL POWERS AND AUTHORITIES

"Rendertherefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the thingsthat are God's

(Matthew 22:21) 

Concerning relations with state authorities we do not propose anythingnew but what was given to us by Our God, Jesus Christ, Himself, His holyapostles and their successors – the holy fathers. For, in this case, just aswith any issue, the only measure acceptable to us, the Christians, is God’sWord – the Holy Scriptures – interpreted by holy and wisdom endowed fathers andteachers of the Christ’s Holy Church. It is said: "For the word of God is quick, and powerful,and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder ofsoul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of thethoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). So, any human flesh willbe judged under God’s Word: "He thatrejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the wordthat I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).Thus, we shall listen [studiously] attentively to the very Word of the God spokenthrough Christ’s chief apostles: Peter and Paul: "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake:whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that aresent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that dowell. For so is the will of God… Honourall men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” (1 Peter 2,13-15, 17). «Let every soul be subjectunto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that beare ordained of God”. „Whosoever therefore resisteth the power,resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive tothemselves damnation.For rulers are not a terror togood works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power?Do that which is good, andthou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee forgood. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not thesword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath uponhim that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath,but also for conscience sake.For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers,attending continually upon this very thing” (Romans 13, 1-6).

It seems that everything is quite clear in theseapostles’ teachings, however, these very words of the Scriptures brought aboutnumerous debates among people. The reason for disagreement is that the readers usedtheir own interpretation, their own subjective experience and visions about theworld surrounding them as the basis for understanding of the Holy Scriptures.But Christ’s Church is different. The Church has no room for dissidence in theissues of religious dogmas, for everything was quite fully and quite long agodefined by holy religious teachers, thus, we heed only them to understand theauthentic meaning of statements made by the apostles.

While interpreting this apostle’s  the wise father and teacher of the Church, thereverend Isidore of Pelusium, in a message to a certain Dionysius, writes: “You wrote: what is the power but not from God? — and asked: is every governorput into a position of power by God? I shall answer to  this (and, please, do not be  angry for I shall not say somethingmeaningless): it seems to me that you either have not read the teaching of Paulor have failed to understand it. The Apostle Paul did not say: there are no governorswho are not from God but he spoke about the very fact of being a governor saying:for there is no power but of God.

Just as people have governors, and some are governors,and others are governed, it is not accidental, so that the peoples, just aswaves, were driven here and there, but, according to Saint Paul, it is the case of God’s wisdom.As equality usually fires up wars, so God did not allow for democracy butestablished a king’s power followed by numerous other powers. You may ask whatthey are. The governor and the subjects, the husband and the wife, the fatherand the son, the elder and the young, the master and the slave, the teacher andthe disciple.

And among the [unreasoning] irrational creatures onemay notice this same principle, as among bees which are subordinated to a queen’spower, among cranes, among herds of wild sheep. And even the sea itself is notwithout this godly subordination. For there too many of the clans are rangedunder one among the fish which make long expeditions from home. For anarchy, bewhere it may, is an evil, and a cause of confusion.Thus, even in the body He has not made allparts of equal honour, but He has made one less and another greater, and someof the limbs He has made to rule and some to be ruled. That is why, we maytruly say that this very case, meaning power, that is authorities and a king’spower, are established by God for society to be orderly.

But if some evildoer seizes this power illegally, wedo not affirm that he is put there by God, but we say that he will either vomitout his entire vileness as the Pharaoh and, thus, be subjected to severepunishment or bring to sense those who need cruelty as the king of Babylonbrought the Jews to their senses”(Book 2, p. 6).

So, blessed Theophilactus theBulgarian follows reverend Isidore. Explaining to the faithful the words of theholy apostle and the cornerstone of the faith Peter, the saint writes: „Governors appointed by kings and the very kings themselves are named humancreatures as they are either elected or [put] established by people, and theScriptures sometimes name them as creation and establishment, as, for example,in this place: “for to make in himself of twain one new man” (Ephesians 2, 15).So, it says, subordinate to civil governors but subordinate to God as Godcommanded. What did God command? „Render therefore unto Caesar thethings which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's“(Matthews 22, 21). Thus, if they ordersomething contrary to God’s commandments, disobey them. Thus Christ commanded; thusHis disciple commands. It is done accordingly for the pagans not to say thatChristianity allegedly brings about a downfall of life (civil), that it isallegedly the cause of disorder and commotion. „For the sake of God” – it isadded for the faithful as well. Some of them could say: this very Apostlepromises us the Heavenly Kingdom and, through it,ascribes great dignity to us. Why does he humble us by subordinating us to civilgovernors? Therefore if someone so declares, he should know, and say, that thiscommandment is not from me personally, but from God Himself. The Apostle Peterhimself [pointed out] stated to what governors we ought to submit ourselves,exactly to those to whom one is to pay homage. And he also adds the reason forit: firstly, such is God’s will; secondly, our submission to governors is aproof of our proper behaviour, and, even more, it humbles those who are not ofthe faithful. For when they slander us as do the proud and see that we are humbleand obedient, in what we should be obedient, they put themselves even all the moreto shame … Be obedient as those who are free who do not resort to freedom tocover up evil but as God’s servants. Pay homage not only to governors but toall, love your brothers, fear God, honour the king. Just as free men. JohnChrysostom explains these words in this way:“lest they say: wehave freed ourselves from the world, we have become the citizens of heaven; whyagain do you subordinate us to governors and order to obey them? Therefore, itis said: submit yourselves as free men, i.e. the faithful in the One who freedyou, but He also commanded submission. Because, by doing so, you show that itis not your use of freedom, under which you refuse to obey, in order to concealdeliberate evil, i.e. insubordination and disobedience”. It is possible to say withregard to this expression (as free men) something in a different sense. He is free in Godwho does not subordinate himself to anything immoral. It is natural to livehypocritically not for the one who is free but for the one who is a slave topassions, say, obsequiousness to men, or some other shameful passion. And God’sservants should be strange and alien to passions. Thus, nowadays, it is orderlyto be obedient to authorities in a kind-hearted and sincere way, without aversionto them and somewhat under compulsion, without any anger in the heart, withoutpretence of being sincere and simple, to be obedient not only outwardly butwith cordial inclination. And not to use your liberty for a cloak ofmaliciousness. To put it in a nutshell: trying to be simple and sincereoutwardly, as if under the cover of freedom, but, in trouble, turning out to behorrible and quite different to the outward appearance… He says fear God andhonour a king. If it is duly to fear God, who is able to destroy both soul andbody (Matthew 10, 28), so we should not subordinate ourselves to kings whoorder us to do something immoral. For the fear of God is able to defeat thehonour to kings, too, and when he is forced to do evil, he even deprives themof honour, as the saint said: «in his sight the evil doer is contemned”(Psalms 14, 4)».

This is what the godly Saint John Chrysostom writesabout secular authorities:»Without going one by one into the benefitsdone to states by the rulers, as that of good order and peace, the otherservices, as regarding the soldiery, and those over the public business, heshows the whole of this by a single case. For that thou art benefited by him,he means, thou bearest witness thyself, by paying him a salary. Observe thewisdom and judgment of the blessed Paul. For that which seemed to be burdensomeand annoying --the system of imposts--this he turns into a proof of their carefor men. What is the reason, he means, that we pay tribute to a king? It is notas providing for us? And yet we should not have paid it unless we had known inthe first instance that we were gainers from this superintendence. Yet it wasfor this that from of old all men came to an agreement that governors should bemaintained by us, because to the neglect of their own affairs, they take chargeof the public and on this they spend their whole leisure, whereby our goodsalso are kept safe”[1].

This is the teaching of the apostles. This is theteaching of the holy fathers. This is the teaching of the Church of Christ.

The Scriptures say: "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Corinthians 13:1), — thus,we have given a plentiful number of witnesses and evidence which are sufficientto any sincere Christian heart to understand the Church’s teachings on thisissue.

Because of this, by following the holy fathers, we certifythat authorities are God’s establishment, for the reason that «For since equality of honour does manytimes lead to fighting, He has made many governments and forms of subjection;as that, for instance, of man and wife, that of son and father, that of old menand young, that of bond and free, that of ruler and ruled, that of master anddisciple. … For anarchy, be where itmay, is an evil, and a cause of confusion». «Forit is in no small degree that they contribute to the settled state of thepresent life, by keeping guard, beating off enemies, hindering those who arefor sedition in the cities, putting an end to differences among any. For do nottell me of some one who makes an ill use of the thing, but look to the goodorder that is in the institution itself, and you will see the great wisdom ofHim who enacted this law from the first”[2].

We also testify that God who has establishedinequality and subordination of the smaller to the greater in the worldrequires from Christians voluntary and obedient submission to the governors inthe state, at work and in the family. However, submission should not be to merelyany order of a governor but must be accompanied by study and scrutiny of such anorder to ascertain its conformity with the Holy Gospel. Since, „when you hear: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which areCaesar's», know that it means allthose things which in no way harm the piety; anything against the piety is nolonger that of Caesar's, but impost and tribute to the devil”[3]. Thus, despite apersonality of a ruler, we are to submit ourselves to him, be he faithful orunfaithful, in everything which is not against the Christian faith and piety.For, even if a governor is not a Christian, but if he is guided in his acts andorders by morality, justice and honesty, it means, according to the Scriptures,that he is God’s servant in all charitable matters and we subordinate ourselvesto God Himself by submitting to such a governor. But if any governor, be hefaithful or unfaithful, rises up against any virtue and forces us to violateany, even the smallest, commandment of God, we are to oppose such an orderdecisively and firmly, and with boldness should put forward the words of theholy apostles to his immoral order: «Weought to obey God rather than men”(Acts 5:29). For only for the sake of God’s will and commandments we [should]are to [subordinate] submit ourselves to civil governing rulers and only in [just]precisely those things in which they subordinate themselves to God’s will, [subsequently]consequently, the will of a human being in no case may be greater for us thanGod’s will.

Even in our quite recenthistory we observe examples how, wishing to follow the will of the HeavenlyMaster, Christians disregarded the impious will of civil rulers. When Russian tsarsclaiming to be Orthodox Christians provided support to perfidious reforms ofPatriarch Nikon and unsheathed swords against those who rose against such unlawfulness,our ancestors preferred to leave their beloved Motherland where the OrthodoxFaith was subjected to abuse and to escape to other countries where their faithwas not infringed upon. The Scriptures say: „But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another” (Matthew10:23). And they fled just like their Master, Christ, Who Himself was afugitive in the land of Egypt[4]. They [ran away]fled to Lithuania and Poland.They [ran away] fled to Austriaand Prussia.They [ran away] fled to Turkeyand Egypt.And there, they fled further to places where God hid them away from theirpersecutors. And even there, in strange lands, our fathers created the pillarsof the Christian faith and until now we have remained faithful to theirheritage with gratefulness.

Further on, we also testify that, despite the factthat the power itself is God’s establishment, nevertheless, not all personswith powers are put in such positions by God and are pleasing to God butsometimes they are only permitted by God, for “if some evildoer seizes thispower illegally, we do not affirm that he is put there by God, but we say thathe will either vomit out his entire vileness as the Pharaoh and, thus, besubjected to severe punishment or bring to their senses those who need crueltyas the king of Babylon brought the Jews to their senses” (the reverendIsidore of Pelusium). That is, an impious governor will surely answer for hisungodliness, however, for some time, God may be patient with him, in the Handof God, as an instrument of punishment of disobedient, perverted and cruel-heartedpeople. It is the behaviour of people, from their attitude to God’s Laws which[determine] determines the way God rules the heart of such a governor, for itis said: „The king's heart is in the handof the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will” (Proverbs21:1). “If God blesses, He givesgovernors who honour justice… ButGod allows evil governors to bring [to sense] the sinners to their senses” (SaintTheodoret of Cyrus). And we should obey such evil governors in everything whichis not contradictory to Christian piety by our acknowledging their right forgoverning and pray for their correction and the salvation of their souls.

Our pious predecessors also teach us the same thing bytheir example, as, on the one hand, they addressed the civil authorities(heretics and persecutors) by pointing to their acts of injustice but, on theother hand, they acknowledged their power over themselves and prayed for themso that God would turn them to repentance and let their hearts hear the goodthings pertaining to His Holy Church.

Thus, for example, when the Russian Tsar AlexeyMikhailovich provided all possible support to the perfidious council ofreformers of 1666 our fathers testified to it at the council and to the tsarwith sadness in their hearts: „ThisMoscow Council held during the rule of Tsar Alexey is not similar to holy piouscouncils but, in its acts, is similar to evil heretical wily gatherings oftorturers as it was during the rule ofKing Anastasius and King Constantine Copronimus of Greece and the like, and itis not worthy of being named a holy council by us, the Orthodox Christians, butit should be named a gathering of the devil and murderers of the Christians“(deacon Theodore Ivanov. The Message related to the 1666 Council).

This notwithstanding, Tsar Alexey having likenedhimself to ancient Greek heretical kings, however, the defenders of the ancientpiety did not defy his state power but continued to pray him and obeyed him ashis subjects testifying to this fact in their letters and petitions.

Thus, in 1667, that is, after the Great Moscow Councilwhich adopted Nikon’s reforms and other various delusions, reverend Solovkimonks addressed the heretical king and persecutor Alexey Mikhailovich in thisway: „From the Heavenly King anointed overall kings to the Great Tsar of the entire Universe, Our King and Great PrinceAlexey Mikhailovich, the Sovereign ofentire Great, and Small, and White Russia we make obeisance to You – churchmenfrom Solovki monastery – cellarer the elder Azarey, and treasurer the elderGerontey, and priests, and deacons, and diocesan monks, and all rank-and-filebrothers, and altar boys, and all monastery workers” (the 5thSolovki Petition).

In 1668 Christ’s confessor, holy priest Lazarus in hispetition to the tsar wrote: “Our piousSovereign, Tsar and Great Prince Alexey Mikhailovich, anointed by God’s power… And may God of the world be with you andprotect you by His cross from any enemies, visible and invisible, for ever andever, amen”.

Like the holy priest Lazarus, martyr monk Abramius inhis questions and answers in 1670 testified to his attitude to the renegadetsar: »I pray with all my heart to GodAlmighty for the health of the tsar and for the welfare, safety, andstrengthening of his kingdom”.

Having spoken about recent times let us go back toancient times, the times of holy apostles, for the most illustrious in Churchhistory is the historic example of the service of God’s Prophet Daniel with histhree pious sons at the court of [Babylon] King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Fortheir violence God put His people of Israel under the power of King Nebuchadnezzar.King Nebuchadnezzar fully demolished the Old Testament Temple – "And he burnt the house of the LORD” (2Kings 25:9), «And all the vessels of thehouse of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD… allthese he brought to Babylon” (2 Chronicles 36:18) „and put them in his temple at Babylon” (2 Chronicles 36:7), “Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah thesecond priest, and the three keepers of the door… And the king of Babylon smote them, and put them to death in Riblah in theland of Hamath” (Jeremiah 52:24-27). The sons,faithful to God, submitted themselves in civil matters even to such apersecutor and destroyer of the Temple and even performed great state services,for [examples] instance, such as these holy men „Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah,Mishael, and Azariah” (Daniel1:6). “And the king communed with them;and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:therefore stood they before the king” (Daniel 1:19).And their exampleis especially a clear evidence of this truth, as, on the one hand, ProphetDaniel said addressing King Nebuchadnezzar: „Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath giventhee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory” (Daniel 2:37), but on theother hand, being a prisoner, Daniel observed the laws of the faith so assiduouslythat he avoided even the food from the table of the pagan ruler: “But Daniel purposed in his heart that hewould not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the winewhich he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that hemight not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tenderlove with the prince of the eunuchs” (Daniel 1:8,9). But when the paganking put his hand not only on the property and bodies of God’s servants butimpinged on their  very faith, the holymen openly, decisively, and fearlessly opposed the religious tyrant and opposedhim in a civil way even under a threat of death: „Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach,Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzarspake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do notye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?Shadrach, Meshach, andAbednego, answered and said to the king,O Nebuchadnezzar … Our God whom we serve is able to deliverus from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, Oking. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thygods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” (Daniel 3:13-18). AnyChristian should answer in this way to any governor who impinges on our holyfaith.

Seeing the example of the life of holy Prophet Danieland the holy youths we observe that only God’s will is of importance toChristians, however, it does not mean that Christians should keep away from apublic and political life of countries where they live. Nothing like that, onthe contrary, since God’s servant may be any governor acting under the truth,even if he is not [a faithful one] one of the faithful, all the more so, God’sservant may be an Orthodox Christian carrying the burden of power. We knownumerous examples from the history of the Church, both the Old Testament Churchand the New Testament Church, when God’s children served unfaithful governorsand such service did not hamper their life of piety. Such was Joseph at thecourt of an Egyptian Pharaoh and such was Prophet Daniel serving the [Babylon] Babylonian KingNebuchadnezzar, such was Saint George the Victorious who commanded the army of apagan Roman emperor, and such was Saint John of Damascus who was a minister inan [Arabic] Arab caliphate. And all of them not only kept their faith but,through the example of their lives, they caused respect for the True God in thehearts of [pageants] pagans by following Christ’s commandment: “Let your light so shine before men, thatthey may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew5:16). All Christians who have taken upon themselves the burden of a governor’spower should follow their example.

Finally, if a Christian may be the head of a family,undoubtedly, he may be the head of a state unless he needs to violate God’slaws. However, it is not a command but a permission for it is said aboutChristians: „For here have we nocontinuing city, but we seek one to come” (Hebrews 13:14) about whichChrist Himself said: “My kingdom is notof this world” (John 18:36).

The Lord definitely divided [the humanity] mankindinto peoples, tribes and languages but it is not a reward to humans but apunishment for impertinence revealed at the Tower of Babel when people blindedby their pride sought to be equal to the glory of God through scientific andtechnical progress, having forgotten that the mind, the ability for cognitionand creation are also given by God, [ too,] and are not a personal merit [and]or an achievement of human beings: „Andthe whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, asthey journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar;and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick,and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they formorter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top mayreach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad uponthe face of the whole earth. And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower,which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, Behold, the people isone, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothingwill be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us godown, and there confound their language, that they may not understand oneanother's speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the faceof all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name ofit called Babel;because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and fromthence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” (Genesis11:1-9). That is why the Scriptures say about God that it is “of whom the whole family in heaven and earthis named” (Ephesians 3, 15) for His will was to divide the humanity intopeoples and to grant a motherland to each of them.

But it was also a punishment from which our Saviourand Lord, Jesus Christ, came to save and saved us. For His initial will was notto have any divisions among people but to have an absolute brotherhood which isbuilt on the earth by Christ’s faith and „Wherethere is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian,Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3:11).

The Church testified to the same in the Orthodox Creed– we believe “in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church”.The Church is called Catholic „All truebelievers united by the holy tradition of the faith, collectively andsuccessively, by the will of God, compose the Church” (The Larger Catechism.Chapter 25, Page 119). That is why, all Orthodox Christians withoutdiscrimination for nationality or place of residence are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiarpeople; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out ofdarkness into his marvellous light; which in time past were not a people, butare now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtainedmercy.” (1 Peter 2:9,10).

The Scriptures call us strangers and pilgrims in thisworld and underline that all our thoughts should, first of all, be about theHeavenly Country: „Dearly beloved, Ibeseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which waragainst the soul” (1 Peter 2:11).

Saint Apostle is followed by the great master of theChurch, Saint Gregory the Theologian when he speaks about Christians: “My friend, every one that is of high mindhas one Country, the Heavenly Jerusalem,in which we store up our Citizenship. All have one family—if you look at whatis here below the dust—or if you look higher, that Inbreathing of which we arepartakers, and which we were bidden to keep, and with which I must stand beforemy Judge to give an account of my heavenly nobility, and of the Divine Image.Everyone then is noble who has guarded this through virtue and consent to hisArchetype. On the other hand, everyone is ignoble who has mingled with evil,and put upon himself another form, that of the serpent. And these earthlycountries and families are the playthings of this our temporary life and scene.For our country is whatever each may have first occupied, either as tyrant, orin misfortune; and in this we are all alike strangers and pilgrims, howevermuch we may play with names.[5].

But should we be absolutely indifferent to the countrywhere we live, to the fate of the people to whom we belong according to our physicalbirth? No, not at all! For it is said: „andseek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried awaycaptives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye havepeace” (Jeremiah 29:7). An example of great love to the people of commonblood was the Apostle Saint Paul: “I saythe truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in theHoly Ghost that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For Icould wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmenaccording to the flesh” (Romans 9:1-3). Note that the Apostle cares notabout bodily wellbeing or a political power of his kinsmen according to theflesh but about their salvation by gaining the Faith of Christ. And for thissake he is ready himself to forfeit salvation for his love was great.

Following these Heavenly words and examples the Church of Christprays to God every day „For this city,and for every city and land, and for the faithful who dwell therein”.

Nevertheless, since a Christian should care about anycity and any country where God has destined him to live, moreover, he shouldcare about a country which is most predisposed to accept God’s words. And oneof such countries, and even the first of them, without any doubt, is Russia,as during many centuries the entire Russian people were united and broughttogether by the light of the teaching of Christ the True Holy Orthodox Faith.Although, still in the XVII century, through the Church Schism, the devilmanaged to destroy the spiritual unity of the Russian people, to split themthrough the reforms of impious emperor Peter ideologically, politically andculturally, and later, in the XX century, make them follow alien gods, the veryhistory of the Russian people, its historical memory invariably testify to thegreat path from which the people have gone astray in negligence. But, as thepath is known, it means that it is possible to return to it, despite numerouslosses, for God is mighty and may resurrect even the dead as it is said “that God is able of these stones to raise upchildren unto Abraham” (Matthew 3:9).

Although, to great regret, the Russian people now livein the times  of moral and spiritualdecay, but the people may still return to the faith of their pious ancestorsand again become the torchlight for the entire world for which we all pray to Godexclaiming: „Glory be to [you,] Thee,  O lord, Who [care] dost care for  about] our Russian land[6],  and we call upon His Most Blessed and Holy Mother:“Our most Holy Mother, our assistant,make us strong against enemies like humble David. In ancient times [you saved]didst save this king’s city from alien tribes, [so,] likewise  now save our country, Russia, fromforeign invasion, from internal wars, from hunger and betrayal, and from lethaldiseases. For Thou the Bride of God art our protection and salvation[7].

We also pray to God through His ways to make it sothat the virtue of His children may be an example and an inspiration for allpeoples living spiritually among the resurrected and renewed Russian people.Since we all should be turned to the teaching of Christ but not throughviolence, but with the Word of God which is „quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing evento the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and isa discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). A support to the word should be our life according to God’s commandments andthe prayer for all people so that the words said by God may come true for allof us: “And other sheep I have, which arenot of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; andthere shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10:16). That is why theChristians should „Have your conversationhonest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers,they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day ofvisitation” (1 Peter 2:12).

But, is it possible in our bitterly sorrowful timeswhen it seems that apocalyptic prophecies come true? No doubt, it is possible,for it is said “that one day is with theLord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise… but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but thatall should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8,9), as „there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner thatrepenteth” (Luke 15:10), “but wheresin abounded, grace did much more abound (Romans 5:20).

And if God pardoned the ancient people of Nineveh who repented of theirsins, so, even more so, He may divert His anger from the Russian people againhaving adorned it with ancient godliness, the virgin faith of the holy fathers.

Will it happen? We do not know. Only God knows aseverything is within His power for it is said: „Except the Lord keep the city, he that keepeth it watcheth but in vain”(Book of Psalms 126:1). Our Christian case is not to guess about it, not totest God’s fortune but to act under the Divine Truth and to pray for dyingmankind so that the words of the Scriptures may come true also with us:  “AndGod saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented ofthe evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not” (Jonah3:10).

»Now unto theKing eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:17).

The city of Moscow.

The year of 7520, the 12thday of the month of December.

In the week of the holy fathers andin the memory of

Saint and Wonderworker Spyridon ofTrymithous and

Saint Alexander, Bishop of Jerusalem

Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia ALEXANDER

Bishop of Siberia SERGIY

Bishop of Low Volga SAVIN

Priest andrepresentative of

His Eminence Jacob,Bishop of Sion and Western Europe

GEORGIY (NOVIKOV)

Bishop of Upper Volga VASILIY

Bishop of the UkraineNIKOLA


[1]Saint John Chrysostom. Writings, volume 9,Book 2, Homilies 23: «On Obedience” Saint Petersburg, 1903, page 777.

[2]Ibid, page 778.

[3]Saint John Chrysostom. Writings, volume 7,Book 2, Saint Petersburg,1901, page 712.

[4]»The angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph ina dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee intoEgypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the youngchild to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother bynight, and departed into Egypt.And was there until the death of Herod” (Matthew 2:13-15)

[5]Saint Gregory the Theologian. Writings,volume 1, Oration 33, AgainstArians and Concerning Himself. Saint Petersburg: Soikin, 1912, page 488.

[6]From an ikos ofthe canon to the Feast of the Deposition of the Robe, July, 10th.

[7]Litia sticheronfrom the service to the Feast of Appearance of Tikhvin Icon of Holy Mother,June 26th.


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