In a sermon at his nomination as Bishop of Brisbane, the future metropolitan said: “There is hardly anything specially worthy of note in my life, in its childhood and young years, except, perhaps, a recollection from my early childhood years, when I as a small child of six or seven years in a childishly naïve way loved to ‘play service’ – I made myself a likeness of a Church vestment and ‘served’. And when my parents began to forbid me to do this, Vladyka Evgeny, the Bishop of Blagoveschensk, after watching this ‘service’ of mine at home, to their amazement firmly stopped them: ‘Leave him, let the boy “serve” in his own way. It is good that he loves the service of God.’” In this way was the saint’s future service in the Church foretold in a hidden way already in his childhood.
In 1920 the family was forced to flee from
the revolution into
In 1927 George graduated from the Russo-Chinese Polytechnical institute and received a specialist qualification as an engineer-electrical mechanic. Later, when he was already First Hierarch of the Russian Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), he did not forget his friends at the institute. All those who had known him, both at school and in the institute, remembered him as a kind, affectionate comrade. He was distinguished by his great abilities and was always ready to help.
After the institute he got a job as a teacher; he was a good instructor, and his pupils loved and valued him. But his instructions for the young people went beyond the bounds of the school programme and penetrated every aspect of human life. Many of his former pupils and colleagues after meeting him retained a high estimate of him for the rest of their lives.
Living in the family of a priest, the future metropolitan naturally became accustomed, from his early years, to the church and the Divine services. But, as he himself said later, at the beginning there was in this “almost nothing deep, inwardly apprehended and consciously accepted”.
“But the Lord knows how to touch the human soul!” he recalled. “And I undoubtedly see this caring touch of the Father’s right hand in the way in which, during my student years in Harbin, I was struck as if with a thunder-clap by the words of the Hierarch Ignatius Brianchaninov which I read in his works: ‘My grave! Why do I forget you? You are waiting for me, waiting, and I will certainly be your inhabitant; why then do I forget you and behave as if the grave were the lot only of other men, and not of myself?’ Only he who has lived through this ‘spiritual blow’, if I can express myself thus, will understand me now! There began to shine before the young student as it were a blinding light, the light of a true, real Christian understanding of life and death, of the meaning of life and the significance of death – and new inner life began… Everything secular, everything ‘worldly’ lost its interest in my eyes, it disappeared somewhere and was replaced by a different content of life. And the final result of this inner change was my acceptance of monasticism…”
In 1931 George completed his studies in
Pastoral Theology in what was later renamed the theological faculty of the Holy
Prince Vladimir Institute. In this faculty he became a teacher of the New
Testament, pastoral theology and homiletics. In 1936 his book, Outline
of the Law of God, was published in
In 1930 he was ordained to the diaconate, and in 1931 – to the priesthood, serving as the priest George. In the same year he was tonsured into monasticism with the name Philaret in honour of Righteous Philaret the Merciful. In 1933 he was raised to the rank of igumen, and in 1937 - to the rank of archimandrite.
“Man thinks much, he dreams about much and he strives for much,” he said in one of his sermons, “and nearly always he achieves nothing in his life. But nobody will escape the Terrible Judgement of Christ. Not in vain did the Wise man once say: ‘Remember your last days, and you will not sin to the ages!’ If we remember how our earthly life will end and what will be demanded of it after that, we shall always live as a Christian should live. A pupil who is faced with a difficult and critical examination will not forget about it but will remember it all the time and will try to prepare him- or herself for it. But this examination will be terrible because it will be an examination of our whole life, both inner and outer. Moreover, after this examination there will be no re-examination. This is that terrible reply by which the lot of man will be determined for immeasurable eternity… Although the Lord Jesus Christ is very merciful, He is also just. Of course, the Spirit of Christ overflows with love, which came down to earth and gave itself completely for the salvation of man. But it will be terrible at the Terrible Judgement for those who will see that they have not made use of the Great Sacrifice of Love incarnate, but have rejected it. Remember your end, man, and you will not sin to the ages.”
In his early years as a priest, Fr. Philaret was greatly helped by the advice of the then First-Hierarch of ROCOR, Metropolitan Anthony (+1936), with whom he corresponded for several years.
He also studied the writings of the holy fathers, and learned by heart all four Gospels. One of his favourite passages of Scripture was the passage from the Apocalypse reproaching the lukewarmness of men, their indifference to the truth. Thus in a sermon on the Sunday of All Saints he said:
“The Orthodox Church is now glorifying all those who have pleased God, all the saints…, who accepted the holy word of Christ not as something written somewhere to someone for somebody, but as written to himself; they accepted it, took it as the guide for the whole of their life and fulfilled the commandments of Christ.
“… Of course, their life and exploit is for us edification, they are an example for us, but you yourselves know with what examples life is now filled! Do we now see many good examples of the Christian life?!…. When you see what is happening in the world,… you involuntarily think that a man with a real Orthodox Christian intention is as it were in a desert in the midst of the earth’s teeming millions. They all live differently… Do you they think about what awaits them? Do they think that Christ has given us commandments, not in order that we should ignore them, but in order that we should try to live as the Church teaches.
“…. We have brought forward here one passage from the Apocalypse, in which the Lord says to one of the servers of the Church: ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Oh if only you were cold or hot!” We must not only be hot, but must at least follow the promptings of the soul and fulfil the law of God.
“But there are those who go against it… But if a man is not sleeping spiritually, is not dozing, but is experiencing something spiritual somehow, and if he does not believe in what people are now doing in life, and is sorrowful about this, but is in any case not dozing, not sleeping – there is hope that he will come to the Church. Do we not see quite a few examples of enemies and deniers of God turning to the way of truth? Beginning with the Apostle Paul…
“In the Apocalypse the Lord says: ‘Oh if only thou wast cold or hot, but since thou art neither cold nor hot (but lukewarm), I will spew thee out of My mouth’… This is what the Lord says about those who are indifferent to His holy work. Now, in actual fact, they do not even think about this. What are people now not interested in, what do they not stuff into their heads – but they have forgotten the law of God. Sometimes they say beautiful words. But what can words do when they are from a person of abominable falsehood?!… It is necessary to beseech the Lord God that the Lord teach us His holy law, as it behoves us, and teach us to imitate the example of those people have accepted this law, have fulfilled it and have, here on earth, glorified Almighty God.”
Fr. Philaret was
very active in ecclesiastical and pastoral-preaching work. Already in the first
years of his priesthood he attracted many people seeking the spiritual path.
The Divine services which he performed with burning faith, and his inspired
sermons brought together worshippers and filled the churches. Multitudes
pressed to the church in which Fr. Philaret was
serving. All sections of the population of
Fr. Philaret immediately understood the condition of a man’s soul, and, in giving advice, consoled the suffering, strengthened the despondent and cheered up the despairing with an innocent joke. He loved to say: “Do not be despondent, Christian soul! There is no place for despondency in a believer! Look ahead – there is the mercy of God!” People went away from him pacified and strengthened by his strong faith.
In imitation of his name-saint. Fr. Philaret was generous not only in spiritual, but also in material alms, and secretly gave help to the needy. Many homeless people turned to him, and he refused help to nobody, except in those cases in which he literally had nothing left, when he would smile guiltily and say: “Nothing, my dear!” But then he would find a way out – and give away the things he was wearing.
Following the example of the holy fathers, Fr. Philaret did not teach others what he himself did not do. He himself, like the saints, whom he called on people to imitate, accepted everything written in the Holy Scriptures and the patristic writings “not as something written somewhere to someone for somebody,”, but as a true guide to life. He was exceptionally strict with himself and conducted a truly ascetic style of life. He had a rare memory, keeping in his head not only the words of the Gospel and the holy fathers, but also the sorrows and woes of his flock. On meeting people the holy hierarch demonstrated great interest in all sides of their life, he did not need to remember their needs and difficulties – he himself developed the subject of conversation that interested a man, and gave ready replies to the perplexities tormenting him.
Confessor against Paganism
1931 until 1945
The question of the admissibility of participating in such ritual venerations was discussed at the diocesan assemblies of the Harbin diocese on September 8 and October 2, 1943, in the presence of the hierarchs of the Harbin diocese: Metropolitan Meletius, Bishop Demetrius and Bishop Juvenal (Archbishop Nestor was not present). According to the witness of the secretary of the Episcopal conference, Fr. Leonid Upshinsky, “the session was stormy, since some objected that… Amateras was not a goddess but the Ancestress.” It was decided “to accept completely and direct to the authorities” the reports of Bishop Demetrius of Hailar and Professor K.I. Zaitsev (the future Archimandrite Constantine), which expressed the official view of the episcopate that participation in the ritual venerations was inadmissible.
March both vicars of the
On May 2, an Episcopal Convention took place (Archbishop Nestor, as
usual, was not present), at which this position was confirmed. Several days
later, Metropolitan Meletius presented the text of
the Episcopal Convention to Mr. Kobayasi. Kobayasi demanded that he give a written promise not to
raise the question of venerations until the end of the war. Metropolitan Meletius asked that the words “if there will be no
compulsion to venerations” should be added to the text. Vladyka’s
demand again elicited a quarrel. However, in the end Kobayasi
gave in. On August 31 the
An important influence on the Japanese in their eventual climb-down was the courageous confession of Fr. Philaret. The Japanese seized him and subjected him to torture. His cheek was torn and his eyes were almost torn out, but he suffered this patiently. Then they told him: “We have a red-hot electrical instrument here. Everybody who has had it applied to them has agreed to our requests. And you will also agree.” The torturer brought the instrument forward. Then Fr. Philaret prayed to St. Nicholas: “Holy Hierarch Nicholas, help me, otherwise there may be a betrayal.” The torturer commenced his work. He stripped the confessor to his waist and started to burn his spine with the burning iron. Then a miracle took place. Fr. Philaret could smell his burning flesh, but felt no pain. He felt joyful in his soul. The torturer could not understand why he was silent, and did not cry out or writhe from the unbearable pain. Then he turned and looked at his face. Amazed, he waved his hand, muttered something in Japanese and fled, conquered by the superhuman power of the confessor’s endurance. Fr. Philaret was brought, almost dead, to his relatives. There he passed out. When he came to he said: “I was in hell itself.” Gradually his wounds healed. Only his eyes were a bit distorted. And the Japanese no longer tried to compel the Orthodox to bow down to their idol.
Confessor against Communism
1945 the Soviet armies defeated the Japanese army; later the Chinese communists
took control of
50,000 Russian citizens of
Metropolitan Valentine of Suzdal writes: “I remember the year 1956, the Dormition men’s monastery in Odessa, where I was an unwilling witness as there returned from the camps and prisons, having served their terms, those hierarchs who returned to Russia after the war so as to unite with the ‘Mother Church’ at the call of Stalin’s government and the Moscow patriarchate: ‘The Homeland has forgiven you, the Homeland calls you!’ In 1946 they trustingly entered the USSR, and were all immediately captured and incarcerated for 10 years, while the ‘Mother Church’ was silent, not raising her voice in defence of those whom she had beckoned into the trap. In order to be ‘re-established’ in their hierarchical rank, they had to accept and chant hymns to Sergianism, and accept the Soviet patriarch. And what then? Some of them ended their lives under house arrest, others in monastery prisons, while others soon departed for eternity.”
At this time Fr. Philaret
was the rector of the church of the holy Iveron icon
Soon Fr. Philaret
read in the Journal
of the Moscow Patriarchate that Lenin was the supreme genius and benefactor of
mankind. Fr. Philaret could not stand this lie and
from the ambon of the church he indicated to
the believers the whole unrighteousness of this disgraceful affirmation in an
ecclesiastical organ, emphasising that Patriarch Alexis (Simansky),
as the editor of the JMP, was
responsible for this lie. Fr. Philaret’s voice
sounded alone: none of the clergy supported him, and from the diocesan
authorities there came a ban on his preaching from the church ambon, under which ban he remained for quite a long
time. Thus, while still a priest, he was forced to struggle for church
righteousness on his own, without finding any understanding amidst his
brothers. Practically the whole of the Far Eastern episcopate of the Russian
Church Abroad at that time recognised the Moscow Patriarchate, and so Fr. Philaret found himself involuntarily in the jurisdiction of
the MP, as a cleric of the
Such a firm and irreconcilable position in relation to the MP and the Soviet authorities could not remain unnoticed. Fr. Philaret was often summoned by the Chinese authorities for interrogations, at one of which he was beaten. In October, 1960 they even tried to kill him…
As he himself recounted the story, at on a Sunday morning Fr. Philaret got up from bed because of a strange smell in his house. He went to the living-room, in the corner of which was a larder. From under the doors of the larder there was coming out smoke with a sharp, corrosive smell. Then he went to the lavatory, poured water into a bowl, returned to the larder and, opening the doors, threw the water in the direction of the smoke. Suddenly there was an explosion and a flash. The fire burned him, while the wave of the explosion lifted him up and hurled him with enormous force across the whole length of the living-room and against the door leading out. Fortunately, the door opened outwards: from the force of his flying body the bolts were broken, and he fell on the ground deafened but alive. On coming to, he saw the whole of his house on fire like a torch. He understood that the explosion had been caused by a thermal bomb set to go off and burn down the house at a precise time.
During this night, at about , a certain Zinaida Lvovna, one of the sisters of the church of the House of Mercy, came out of her house, which was situated opposite the church across the street, and saw some fire engines in the street near the church – but there was no fire. This unusual concourse of fire engines surprised her. About two hours later, when the sound of the bomb awoke her, she immediately went out into the street and saw the fire, which the fire-fighters had already managed to put out. Fr. Philaret was standing on the threshold of the church shaking from the cold and suffering from burns and concussion. Zinaida Lvovna immediately understood that the fire had been started by the communists with the purpose of killing Fr. Philaret. She quickly crossed the street and invited him to enter her house.
But the Chinese firemen, on seeing Archimandrite Philaret alive, accused him of starting the fire and wanted to arrest him. However, the quick-witted Zinaida Lvovna quickly turned to the chief fireman and said: “It looks like you put your fire engines here in advance, knowing that a fire was about to begin. Who told you beforehand that about the fire?” The fire chief was at a loss for words and could not immediately reply. Meanwhile, Zinaida Lvovna and Fr. Philaret went into her house. She put him in a room without windows because she knew that the communists might enter through a window and kill him.
The next day, some young people came early to the Sunday service, but the church was closed, and the house in which Fr. Philaret lived was burned to the ground. The twenty-year-old future pastor, Fr. Alexis Mikrikov came and learned from Zinaida Lvovna what had happened during the night. He asked to see Fr. Philaret. Immediately he saw that the saint was extremely exhausted and ill. His burned cheek was dark brown in colour. But the look in his eyes was full of firm submission to the will of God and joyful service to God and men. Suddenly Fr. Alexis heard him say: “Congratulations on the feast!” as he would say “Christ is risen!” Tears poured down the face of Fr. Alexis in reply. He had not wept since his childhood, and here he was, a twenty-year-old man, on his knees before the confessor, weeping and kissing his hand.
As a consequence of the interrogations and burns he suffered, for the rest of his life Fr. Philaret retained a small, sideways inclination of his head and a certain distortion of the lower part of his face; his vocal chords also suffered.
Two months passed. Fr. Philaret again began to serve, and within half a year he was able to live on his own in a separate maisonette above the church. But then he again went to Zinaida Lvovna. The reason was that he had gone into his cell after the service, but suddenly saw two big boots sticking out from under the curtain. Understanding that an assassin sent by the communists was standing there, he went to the chest of drawers, took something out to divert attention, and then quickly left the cell, locking it behind him. After this a Chinese policeman came to Zinaida Lvovna and asked her why Archimandrite Philaret did not sleep in his cell. She immediately understood what he was on about, and replied: because of his physical weakness.
Soon after this Fr. Philaret, through his spiritual sight, discovered a portrait of satan under the altar in the church of the House of Mercy. The portrait was immediately removed…
On March 29, 1962 the Hierarchical Synod of the Russian Church Abroad “heard a letter of Archimandrite Philaret (Voznesensky) to the president of the Synod on his arrival in Hong Kong and his repentance over the fact that in 1945 he had entered the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, and also a penitential declaration signed by him in accordance with the form established by the Council of Bishops” in 1959.
The form in question was as follows: “I, the undersigned, a former clergyman of the Moscow Patriarchate, ordained to the rank of deacon (by such-and-such a bishop in such-and-such a place at such-and-such a time) and ordained to the rank of presbyter (by such-and-such a bishop in such-and-such a place at such-and-such a time) and having passed through my service (in such-and-such parishes), petition that I be received into the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.
“I am sincerely sorry that I was among the clergy of the Moscow Patriarchate, which is in union with the God-fighting authorities.
“I sweep aside all the lawless acts of the
“While striving to guard my flock from Soviet falsehood and lies,” recounted the saint, “I myself sometimes felt inexpressibly oppressed – to the point that I several times came close to the decision to leave altogether – to cease serving. And I was stopped only by the thought of my flock: how could I leave these little ones? If I went and stopped serving, that would mean that they would have to enter into service to the Soviets and hear prayers for the forerunners of the Antichrist – ‘Lord, preserve them for many years,’ etc. This stopped me and forced me to carry out my duty to the end.
“And when, finally, with the help of God I
managed to extract myself from red
Soon Fr. Philaret
In his sermon at his nomination as Bishop Archimandrite Philaret said to the Archpastors who were present:
“Holy Hierarchs of God! I have thought and felt much in these last days, I have reviewed and examined the whole of my life – and… I see, on the one hand, a chain of innumerable benefactions from God, and on the other – the countless number of my sins… And so raise your hierarchical prayers for my wretchedness in this truly terrible hour of my ordination, that the Lord, the First of Pastors, Who through your holiness is calling me to the height of this service, may not deprive me, the sinful and wretched one, of a place and lot among His chosen ones…
“One hierarch-elder, on placing the hierarchical staff in the hands of a newly appointed bishop, said to him: ‘Do not be like a milestone on the way, that points out for others the road ahead, but itself remains in its place…’ Pray also for this, Fathers and Archpastors, that in preaching to others, I myself may not turn out to be an idle slave.”
On May 14/27, 1964, having been for many years First Hierarch of ROCOR, Metropolitan Anastasy, for reasons of health and age, petitioned the Hierarchical Council for his retirement. The question arose who would be the new First Hierarch. Some members of ROCOR wanted to see the holy Hierarch John (Maximovich) as their head, but another part was very opposed to this. Then, to avoid any further aggravation of the situation, and a possible scandal and even schism, the Hierarch John removed his candidacy and suggested making the youngest Hierarch, Bishop Philaret, First Hierarch.
This choice was supported by Metropolitan Anastasy: Vladyka Philaret was the youngest by ordination, had mixed little in Church Abroad circles, and had not managed to join any “party”.
And so Bishop Philaret
Almost immediately, in his 1965 Epistle “to Orthodox Bishops and all who hold dear the Fate of the Russian Church”, Metropolitan Philaret made clear his completely uncompromising attitude to the Moscow Patriarchate and his great love for the Catacomb Church. In view of the continuing relevance of his words, when the gracelessness of the Moscow Patriarchate is understood by few, we quote it in full:
recent days the Soviet Government in
“We, on the other hand, call to mind in these days the beginning of the way of the cross for the Russian Orthodox Church, upon which from that time, as it were, all the powers of hell have fallen.
“Meeting resistance on the part of Archpastors, pastors, and laymen strong in spirit, the Communist power, in its fight with religion, began from the very first days the attempt to weaken the Church not only by killing those of her leaders who were strongest in spirit, but also by means of the artificial creation of schisms.
Thus arose the so-called ''
“The second attempt, after the death of Patriarch Tikhon and the rest of the locum tenentes of the patriarchal throne, Metropolitan Peter, had greater success. The Soviet power succeeded in 1927 in sundering in part the inner unity of the Church. By confinement in prison, torture, and special methods it broke the will of the vicar of the patriarchal locum tenens, Metropolitan Sergius, and secured from him the proclamation of a declaration of the complete loyalty of the Church to the Soviet power, even to the point where the joys and successes of the Soviet Union were declared by the Metropolitan to the joys and successes of the Church, and its failures to be her
failures. What can be more blasphemous than such an idea, which was justly appraised by many at that time as an attempt to unite light with darkness, and Christ with Belial. Both Patriarch Tikhon and Metropolitan Peter, as well as others who served as locum tenens of the Patriarchal throne, had earlier refused to sign a similar declaration, for which they were subjected to arrest, imprisonment, and banishment.
“Protesting against this declaration—which was proclaimed by Metropolitan Sergius by himself alone, without the agreement of the suppressed majority of the episcopate of the Russian Church, violating thus the 34th Apostolic Canon—many bishops who were then in the death camp at Solovki wrote to the Metropolitan: ‘Any government can sometimes make decisions that are foolish, unjust, cruel, to which the Church is forced to submit, but which she cannot rejoice over or approve. One of the aims of the Soviet Government is the extirpation of religion, but the Church cannot acknowledge its successes in this direction as her own successes’ (Open Letter from Solovki, September 27, 1927).
“The courageous majority of the sons of the
“But a schism nonetheless occurred. The minority, accepting the declaration, formed a central administration, the so-called ‘Moscow Patriarchate,’ which, while being supposedly officially recognized by the authorities, in actual fact received no legal rights whatever from them; for they continued, now without hindrance, a most cruel persecution of the Church. In the words of Joseph, Metropolitan of Petrograd, Metropolitan Sergius, having proclaimed the declaration, entered upon the path of ‘monstrous arbitrariness, flattery, and betrayal of the Church to the interests of atheism and the destruction of the Church.’
“The majority, renouncing the declaration, began an illegal ecclesiastical existence. Almost all the bishops were tortured and killed in death camps, among them the locum tenentes Metropolitan Peter and Metropolitan Cyril of Kazan, who was respected by all, and Metropolitan Joseph of Petrograd, who was shot to death at the end of 1938, as well as many other bishops and thousands of priests, monks, nuns, and courageous laymen. Those bishops and clergy who miraculously remained alive began to live illegally and to serve Divine services secretly, hiding themselves from the authorities and originating in this fashion the
“Little news of this Church has come to the free world. The Soviet press long kept silent about her, wishing to give the impression that all believers in the
“But then, after the death of Stalin and the exposure of his activity, and especially after the fall of Khrushchev, the Soviet press has begun to write more and more often on the secret Church in the USSR, calling it the ‘sect’ of True-Orthodox Christians. It was apparently impossible to keep silence about it any longer; its numbers are too great and it causes the authorities too much alarm.
“Unexpectedly in the Atheist Dictionary (
“’Striving to fence off’ the True-Orthodox Christians ‘from the influence of Soviet reality,’ chiefly of course from atheist propaganda, ‘their leaders... make use of the myth of Antichrist, who has supposedly been ruling in the world since 1917.’ The anti-Christian nature of the Soviet power is undoubted for any sound-thinking person, and all the more for a Christian.
“True Orthodox Christians ‘usually refuse to participate in elections,’ which in the
“Honour and praise to the True-Orthodox Christians, heroes of the spirit and confessors, who have not bowed before the terrible power, which can stand only by terror and force and has become accustomed to the abject flattery of its subjects. The Soviet rulers fall into a rage over the fact that there exist people who fear God more than men. They are powerless before the millions of True-Orthodox Christians.
besides the True Orthodox Church in the
“The part of the Russian Church that is abroad and free is called upon to speak in the free world in the name of the persecuted Catacomb Church in the Soviet Union; she reveals to all the truly tragic condition of believers in the USSR, which the atheist power so carefully hushes up, with the aid of the Moscow Patriarchate, she calls on those who have not lost shame and conscience to help the persecuted.
“This is why it is our sacred duty to watch over the existence of the Russian Church Outside of Russia. The Lord, the searcher of hearts, having permitted His Church to be subjected to oppression, persecution, and deprivation of all rights in the godless Soviet State, has given us, Russian exiles, in the free world the talent of freedom, and He expects from us the increase of this talent and a skilful use of it. And we have not the right to hide it in the earth. Let no one dare to say to us that we should do this, let no
one push us to a mortal sin. For the fate of our
this sacred obligation. No one can understand better than we what is happening in our homeland, of which no one can have any doubt. Many
times foreigners, even Orthodox people and those vested with high ecclesiastical rank, have made gross errors in connection with the
“We shall not cease to accuse the godless persecutors of faith and those who evilly cooperate with them under the exterior of supposed representatives of the Church. In this the Russian Church Outside of Russia has always seen one of her important tasks. Knowing this, the Soviet power through its agents wages with her a stubborn battle, not hesitating to use any means: lies, bribes, gifts, and intimidation. We, however, shall not suspend our accusation.
“Declaring this before the face of the whole world, I appeal to all our brothers in Christ—Orthodox bishops—and to all people who hold dear the fate of the persecuted Russian Church as a part of the Universal Church of Christ, for understanding, support, and their holy prayers. As for our spiritual children, we call on them to hold firmly to the truth of Orthodoxy, witnessing of her both by one's word and especially by a prayerful, devout Christian life.”
Confessor against Ecumenism
The new metropolitan faced a daunting task. For he had, on the one hand, to lead his Church in decisively denouncing the apostasy of World Orthodoxy, communion with which could no longer be tolerated. And on the other, he had to preserve unity among the members of his own Synod, some of whom were in spirit closer to “World Orthodoxy” than True Orthodoxy…
While Metropolitan Philaret
was first-hierarch, ecumenism finally showed its true face – the mask of a
terrible heresy uniting in itself all the earlier heresies and striving to
engulf Orthodoxy completely, destroying the very concept of the
At this critical point the Lord raised Metropolitan Philaret
to explain to the ecumenist Orthodox the essence of the danger into which they
were falling. In the first of a series of “Sorrowful Epistles”, on December
2/15, 1965, he wrote to Patriarch Athenagoras
protesting against his action: “The organic belonging of the Orthodox to the
union of the contemporary heretics does not sanctify the latter, while it tears
away the Orthodox entering into it from Catholic Orthodox Unity… Your gesture
puts a sign of equality between error and truth. For centuries all the Orthodox
Churches believed with good reasons that it has violated no doctrine of the
Holy Ecumenical Councils; whereas the Church of Rome has introduced a number of
innovations in its dogmatic teaching. The more such innovations were
introduced, the deeper was to become the separation between the East and the
West. The doctrinal deviations of
In his second
Epistle, written in 1969, Metropolitan Philaret said
that he had decided to turn to all the hierarchs, “some of whom occupy the
oldest and most glorious sees”, because, in the words of St. Gregory the
Theologian, “the truth is betrayed by silence”, and it is impossible to keep
silent when you see a deviation from the purity of Orthodoxy – after all, every
bishop at his ordination gives a promise to keep the Faith and the canons of
the holy fathers and defend Orthodoxy from heresies. The holy metropolitan
quoted various ecumenist declarations of the World Council of Churches (WCC)
and clearly showed, on the basis of the patristic teaching and the canons, that
the position of the WCC had nothing in common with Orthodoxy, and consequently
the Orthodox Churches should not participate in the work of this council. He
also emphasised that the voice of the MP was not the voice of the
ROCOR’s Archbishop Averky commented on this decision: “Now, even if some entertained some sort of doubts about how we should regard the contemporary Moscow Patriarchate, and whether we can consider it Orthodox after its intimate union with the enemies of God, the persecutors of the Faith and Christ’s Church, these doubts must now be completely dismissed: by the very fact that it has entered into liturgical communion with the Papists, it has fallen away from Orthodoxy [emphasis in the original] and can no longer be considered Orthodox…”
Metropolitan Philaret agreed with this judgement; and on March 31, 1970, under his presidency the ROCOR Synod passed the following resolution, which for the first time in the history of ROCOR defined the MP as not only schismatic, but also heretical: “to consider the decision of the Moscow Patriarchate granting Roman Catholics access to all the sacraments of the Orthodox Church as in violation of the holy canons and contrary to Orthodox dogmatical doctrines. Entering thus into communion with the heterodox, the Moscow Patriarchate estranges itself from the unity of the holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church. By its action it does not sanctify the heretics to whom it offers the sacraments, but it itself becomes part of their heresy.”
Eighteen months later, on September 15/28, 1971 a decree of the
Hierarchical Council confirmed this decision: “The lack of accord of the decree
of the Moscow Patriarchate, concerning the granting of communion to Roman
Catholics, with Orthodox dogmatic teaching and the Church canons is completely
clear to any person even slightly informed in theology. It was justly condemned
by a decree of the Synod of the
The metropolitan wrote a third “Sorrowful Epistle” on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, 1972. In it he noted that although in the last two years hierarchs had made declarations about the heterodoxy of the ecumenical movement, not one Orthodox Church had declared that it was leaving the WCC. His aim in writing this fresh epistle was “to show that abyss of heresy against the very concept of the Church into which all the participants in the ecumenical movement are being drawn”. He recalled the threatening prophecy of the Apostle Paul that to those who will not receive “the love of the truth for salvation” the Lord will send “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie. That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (II Thessalonians 2.10-12).
fourth Epistle, written in 1975, was devoted to the so-called “Thyateira Confession” of Metropolitan Athenagoras
[of Thyateira and
no conversion took place, and the ecumenical impiety continued to pour out. And
so the saint continued to explain the danger of the new heresy, which
encompassed all the old heresies into a heresy of heresies. Thus while
telling about the zeal of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, who slapped the face
of Arius when he blasphemed against the Son of God, Vladyka said: “O how often we do not have enough of such
zeal when it is really necessary to speak for the insulted and trodden-on
truth! I want to tell you about one incident that took place not long ago and
which it would have been difficult even to imagine several years ago – and now
we are going further and further downhill all the time. One man came from
“But that’s not the main horror. The Jewish people has opposed God for a long time… - so there’s nothing surprising in this. But the horror was that when he said this everyone was silent. Later, a man who had heard this terrible blasphemy asked the ‘Orthodox’ protopriest: ‘How could you keep silent?’ He replied: ‘I didn’t want to offend this Jew.’ It’s wrong to offend a Jew, but to insult the All-Pure Virgin Mary is permitted! Look at the state we have come to! How often does it happen to us all now that we do not have the zeal to stand up, when necessary, in defence of our holy things! The Orthodox cleric must zealously stand up against blasphemy, just as the holy Hierarch Nicholas stopped the mouth of the heretic… But now, unfortunately, we have become, as the saying goes, ‘shamefully indifferent to both the evil and the good’. And it is precisely in the soil of this indifference, of a kind of feeling of self-preservation, that the heresy of ecumenism has established itself – as also apostasy, that falling away which is becoming more and more evident… Let us remember, brethren, that Christian love embraces all in itself, is compassionate to all, wishes that all be saved and is sorry for, and merciful to, and loves every creature of God; but where it sees a conscious assault on the truth it turns into fiery zeal which cannot bear any such blasphemy… And so must it always be, because every Orthodox Christian must always be zealous for God.”
In addition to issuing his “Sorrowful Epistles”, Metropolitan Philaret and his Synod took concrete measures to guard his
flock against the heresy of ecumenism. It was especially necessary to make
clear that Catholics and Protestants were not inside the
This re-establishment of the canonical norms in relation to the reception of heretics increased the prestige of ROCOR among all those seeking the truth of Orthodoxy, and many converts from western confessions, as well as Orthodox from other, ecumenical jurisdictions, sought refuge in the ROCOR. By the 1970s ROCOR under Metropolitan Philaret’s leadership was not only a global jurisdiction geographically, but was well on the way to becoming global in its membership, too.
While rebuking the apostasy of the “World Orthodox” who took part in the World Council of Churches, Metropolitan Philaret was zealous to establish relations with other truly confessing Churches. Thus in December, 1969, under his leadership, the Synod of ROCOR officially recognised the validity of the ordinations of the “Florinite” branch of the Greek Old Calendarists. And in September, 1971 communion was also established with the “Matthewite” branch of the same Church.
On September 20, 1975, Metropolitan Philaret wrote to Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kition, the leader of the Old Calendarist Church of Cyprus: “From the beginning our Russian Church has known that the calendar innovation was unacceptable, and has not dared to move this boundary set by patristic tradition, for the Ecclesiastical Calendar is a support of the life of the Church and as such is fortified by decrees of Holy Tradition.
“However, it is obvious to all that the calendar innovation caused a schism in the Greek Church in 1924, and the responsibility for the schism weighs exclusively on the innovators. This is the conclusion that will be reached by anyone studying the Patriarchal Tomoi (as that of 1583) and taking into account the wretched and self-evident fact of the schism and the frightful punishments, persecutions and blasphemies which those who have cleaved to the patristic piety of Holy Tradition have undergone.
“Thinking in this way, our Holy Synod has decreed that we ‘flee’ concelebrations with the new calendarist modernists. We do not concelebrate with them, nor do we give permission or a blessing to our clergy for such a concelebration. In order to assure you of the truth of what we say, we inform you that whenever a community in the diaspora is received into our Church, they are required to follow the patristic Calendar of the Orthodox Church…”
1977 the metropolitan received under his omophorion
fourteen priests of the
The decision of the MP to give communion to Catholics put the other
Russian jurisdiction in
This deal, which was recognized by none of the Local Churches and was to the advantage, in the long run, only of the MP and the KGB (it was engineered by the KGB General Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad), was made public in December, 1969 – just at the moment that the patriarchate announced that it had entered into partial communion with the Catholics. Thus the former Metropolia found that it had been granted autocephaly by a Church that was now in communion with the Catholics. Naturally, this dealt a death blow to such anti-ecumenist opinion as still existed in that Church.
In 1971 the ROCOR Council of Bishops passed over the heretical aspect of the matter, and concentrated on the illegality of the church that had given the autocephaly: “The Council of Bishops, having listened to the report of the Synod of Bishops concerning the so-called Metropolia’s having received autocephaly from the Patriarchate of Moscow, approves all the steps taken in due course by the Synod of Bishops to convince Metropolitan Irenaeus and his colleagues of the perniciousness of a step which deepens the division which was the result of the decision of the Cleveland Council of 1946 which broke away from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
“The American Metropolia has received its autocephaly from the Patriarchate of Moscow, which has not possessed genuine canonical succession from His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon from the time when Metropolitan Sergius, who later called himself Patriarch, violated his oath with regard to Metropolitan Peter, the locum tenens of the patriarchal throne, and set out upon a path which was then condemned by the senior hierarchs of the Church of Russia. Submitting all the more to the commands of the atheistic, anti-Christian regime, the Patriarchate of Moscow has ceased to be that which expresses the voice of the Russian Orthodox Church. For this reason, as the Synod of Bishops has correctly declared, none of its acts, including the bestowal of autocephaly upon the American Metropolia, has legal force. Furthermore, apart from this, this act, which affects the rights of many Churches, has elicited definite protests on the part of a number of Orthodox Churches, who have even severed communion with the American Metropolia.
“Viewing this illicit act with sorrow, and acknowledging it to be null
and void, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of
Russia, which has hitherto not abandoned hope for the restoration of
ecclesiastical unity in America, sees in the declaration of American
autocephaly a step which will lead the American Metropolia
yet farther away from the ecclesiastical unity of the Church of Russia.
Perceiving therein a great sin against the enslaved and suffering
The Third All-Diaspora Council
the Third All-Emigration Council of ROCOR took place in the monastery of the
Holy Trinity in
Here the metropolitan was hinting that
faithfulness to the dogma of the
In his address to the Council, entitled “Our Church in the Modern World”, Anthony of Geneva declared: “By the example of our First Hierarchs [Anthony and Anastasy] we must carefully preserve those fine threads which bind us with the Orthodox world. Under no circumstances must we isolate ourselves, seeing around us, often imagined, heretics and schismatics. Through gradual self-isolation we will fall into the extremism which our metropolitans wisely avoided, we will reject that middle, royal path which until now our Church has travelled… By isolating ourselves, we will embark upon the path of sectarianism, fearing everyone and everything, we will become possessed with paranoia.”
This somewhat hysterical appeal not to separate from the World Orthodox
at just the point when they were embarking upon “super-ecumenism” was
criticised by Protopresbyter George Grabbe: “The report does not mention to the degree
necessary, maybe, that life goes on, and the sickness of ecumenism deepens and
widens more and more. Condescension, oikonomia,
must under different circumstances be applied differently, and to different
degrees. In doses too great it can betray the Truth.” Then Archbishop Anthony
Another important issue that divided the hierarchs was the attitude that needed to be taken to the Moscow Patriarchate. In 1971 the MP elected a new patriarch, which drew two resolutions from the Hierarchical Council of ROCOR. The first, dated September 1/14, declared: “The free part of the Russian Church, which is beyond the frontiers of the USSR, is heart and soul with the confessors of the faith who… are called ‘the True Orthodox Christians’, and who often go by the name of ‘the Catacomb Church’… The Council of Bishops recognizes its spiritual unity with them…”
The second, of the same date, is called “Resolution of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia Concerning the Election of Pimen (Izvekov) as Patriarch of Moscow”: “All of the elections of Patriarchs in Moscow, beginning in 1943, are invalid on the basis of the 30th Canon of the Holy Apostles and the 3rd Canon of the 7th Ecumenical Council, according to which, ‘if any bishop, having made use of secular rulers, should receive through them Episcopal authority in the Church, let him be defrocked and excommunicated along with all those in communion with him’. The significance that the Fathers of the 7th Council gave to such an offence is obvious from the very fact of a double punishment for it, that is, not only deposition but excommunication as well, something unusual for ecclesiastical law. The famous commentator on Canon Law, Bishop Nicodemus of Dalmatia, gives the following explanation of the 30th Canon of the Holy Apostles: ‘If the Church condemned unlawful influence by the secular authorities in the ordination of bishops at a time when the rulers were Christians, then it follows that She should condemn such action all the more when the latter are pagans and place even heavier penalties on the guilty parties, who were not ashamed of asking for help from pagan rulers and the authorities subordinated to them, in order to gain the episcopate. This (30th) Canon has such cases in view’. If in defence of this position examples are given of the Patriarchs of Constantinople who were placed on the Throne at the caprice of the Turkish Sultans, one can reply that no anomaly can be regarded as a norm and that one breach of Canon Law cannot justify another.
“The election of Pimen (Izvekov) as Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia at the gathering calling itself an All-Russian Church Council in Moscow the 2nd of June of this year, on the authority of the 3rd Canon of the 7th Ecumenical Council and other reasons set forth in this decision, is to be regarded as unlawful and void, and all of his acts and directions as having no strength.”
attitude to the MP was complicated by the phenomenon known as “the dissident
movement” in the
One of the most famous dissidents, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, had been
expelled from the
This position eminently suited those hierarchs of ROCOR, such as Anthony of Geneva, whose attitude to events in Russia was dictated as much by political as by spiritual or ecclesiological considerations (many West European members of ROCOR, such as the future Archbishop Mark of Berlin, belonged to the NTS, a secret anti-communist political party which was infiltrated by both the KGB and the CIA). They were sincere anti-communists and despised the kowtowing of the MP hierarchs to communism, but would not have dreamed of denying that the MP was a true Church. In other words, their opposition to the MP was political and patriotic rather than strictly ecclesiastical and dogmatic.
the opportunity presented by Solzhenitsyn’s speech, Archbishop Anthony of
The following is an extract from Protocol ¹ 3 of the ROCOR
Council, dated October 8/21, 1974: “Bishop Gregory says that to the question of
the existence (of grace) it is not always possible to give a final reply
immediately. The loss of grace is the consequence of spiritual death, which
sometimes does not come immediately. Thus plants sometimes die gradually. In
relation to the loss of grace in the Moscow Patriarchate, it would be
interesting to make the comparison with the position of the iconoclasts,
although the sin of the Patriarchate is deeper. The President [Metropolitan Philaret] says that we cannot now issue a resolution on
grace in the Moscow Patriarchate, but we can be certain that grace lives only
in the true Church, but the
Voices were heard at the 1974 Council arguing for union not only between
the ROCOR and MP dissidents, but also between ROCOR and the
Conflict in the Synod
The divisions that were beginning to emerge between Metropolitan Philaret and the majority of other hierarchs were expressed by him in a letter to one of his few allies, Protopresbyter George Grabbe, the Secretary of the Synod. Describing a meeting with the hierarchs, he wrote: “I saw how truly alone I am among our hierarchs with my views on matters of principle (although on a personal level I am on good terms with everyone). And I am in earnest when I say that I am considering retiring. Of course, I won’t leave all of a sudden, unexpectedly. But at the next Council I intend to point out that too many things that are taking place in our church life do not sit well with me. And if the majority of the episcopacy agree with me than I will not raise the matter of retiring. But if I see that I am alone or see myself in the minority then I will announce that I am retiring. For I cannot head, nor, therefore bear the responsibility for that with which I am not in agreement in principle. In particular, I do not agree with our practice of halfway relations with the American and Parisian schismatics. The Holy Fathers insistently state that long and obdurately continuing schism is close to being heresy, and that it is necessary to relate to stubborn schismatics as to heretics, not allowing any communion with them whatsoever (how Vladyka Anthony’s hair would stand on end at such a pronouncement! But I remain unyielding)… There are very many other matters, too, in particular about Solzhenitsyn, concerning whom I continue to remain more than just cautious…”
Another important dissident was the
In 1979, in response to a series of protests by Fr. Demetrius against
what he saw as excessive strictness on the part of ROCOR towards the MP,
Archbishop Anthony, breaking the rule imposed by Metropolitan Anastasy and reasserted by Metropolitan Philaret
that ROCOR members should have no contact, “even of an everyday nature”, with
Soviet church clergy, wrote to Dudko: “I hasten to
console you that the part of the Russian Church which lives in freedom beyond
the bounds of the homeland, has never officially considered the Moscow
Patriarchate, which is recognised in the USSR, as graceless…. We have never
dared to deny the grace-filled nature of the official church, for we believe
that the sacraments carried out by her clergy are sacraments. Therefore out
bishops received your clergy into the Church Abroad in their existing rank… On
the other hand, the representatives of the
However, in 1980, Fr. Demetrius was arrested, which was closely followed by the arrest of his disciples Victor Kapitanchuk and Lev Regelson. Then Dudko issued a recantation on Soviet television in which he confessed that his “so-called struggle with godlessness” was in fact “a struggle with Soviet power”. Regelson confessed to having “criminal ties” with foreign correspondents and of mixing religious activity with politics, while Kapitanchuk also confessed to links with Western correspondents, saying that he had “inflicted damage on the Soviet state for which I am very sorry”. Both men implicated others in their “crimes”.
Metropolitan Philaret had been proved right – although many continued to justify Dudko and denounced the zealots for “judging” him. But it was not a question of “judging”, and nobody rejoiced in the fall of the dissident. It was a question of the correct discerning of the boundaries of the Church and the correct attitude to those struggling outside it.
The metropolitan wrote that the tragedy had overtaken Dudko because his activity had taken place from within the
Moscow Patriarchate – that is, “outside the
Another important cause of conflict between Metropolitan Philaret and Archbishop Anthony of
In connection with the Serbian issue Metropolitan Philaret wrote to him: “I consider it my duty to point out to you, Vladyka, that your assertion that we must thank the Serbian Church for her treatment of us, I fully accept, but only as regards her past – the glorious past of the Serbian Church. Yes, of course, we must holy the names of their Holinesses Patriarchs Demetrius and Barnabas in grateful memory for their precious support of the Church Abroad at that time when she had no place to lay her head.
“There is no denying that a certain honour is due the
“How can there be any talk here of a special gratitude to her? Oh, if
“How dangerous are compromises in matters of principle! They render people powerless in defence of the Truth. Why is it that the Serbian Patriarchate cannot resolve to sever communion with the Soviet hierarchy? Because she herself is travelling along the same dark and dangerous path of compromise with the God-hating communists. True, she has not progressed along that path to the extent that the Soviet hierarchy has, and she attempts to preach and defend the faith, but if the shades and nuances here are quite different, yet, in principle, the matter stands on one and the same level”.
Metropolitan Philaret was the humblest and meekest of men. However, when it came to matters of the faith, he showed no partiality to anyone. Thus in 1970 Archbishop Averky of Syracuse and Jordanville, who was a zealot for the faith and close to the views of the metropolitan, permitted Monophysite heretics to serve in the Jordanville community’s church out of “pastoral condescension”. On hearing of this, the metropolitan ordered the church to be immediately closed and re-sanctified as having been defiled by heretics. Then, in a letter to Archbishop Averky, he pointed out all the anticanonicity of this act, emphasising that it could be justified by no economy and expressing the fear that the faithful children of ROCOR would turn away from her if similar incidents were repeated…
Sorrows and Joys
Metropolitan Philaret had to suffer many slanders and attacks, even physical ones. Once a certain archimandrite in his presence declared to the other hierarchs that it was necessary quickly to remove “such an unfitting Metropolitan”… Again, in 1977, to a layman who was protesting against the ecumenist activities of Archbishop Anthony of Geneva, he said that while he agreed with his protest, he could do nothing to help him because he had a gun at his head – and at this point he formed the fingers of his right hand in the form of a revolver and pointed it at his temple.
another occasion, the holy hierarch came to
According to Fr. Alexis Makrikov, several
attempts were made on his life. One took place when he was returning by ship
from the Lesna convent in
In spite of the opposition of individual
bishops and clergy, as well as the enemies from outside the Church,
Metropolitan Philaret was loved by the broad masses
of the church people. As during his life in
He taught people true humility and repentance: “Sometimes people say about themselves: “Oh, I’m very religious, I’m a deep believer,” – and they say this sincerely, thinking that can in actual fact say this about themselves with good reason… From the life of the Church we see that those who really had true faith always thought about themselves and their faith in a very humble way, and always considered and were conscious of themselves as being of little faith… He who really believes does not trust his faith and sees himself as being of little faith, who in essence does not have the true faith thinks that he believes deeply…
“We see a similar ‘paradox’ in the moral, ethical and spiritual evaluation of a person;… righteous men see themselves as sinners, while sinners see themselves as righteous.
“… In the soul of a sinner unenlightened by the Grace of God, who does not think about the spiritual life, who does not think about correction, who does not think about how he will answer for himself before God, everything has merged together, and he himself can make out nothing in it; only the all-seeing God sees the pitiful condition of the soul of this man. But he himself does not feel it and does not notice it, and thinks that he is not that bad, and that the passages in the Gospel that talk about great sinners have no relationship at all to him. Perhaps he does not think of himself as holy, but he supposes that he is not that bad…
“Those who were pleasing to God thought of themselves in a completely different way and saw themselves and their spiritual nature in a completely different light. One ascetic wept all the time; his disciple asked him: ‘Father, what are you weeping about?’ ‘About my sins, my son,’ he replied. ‘But what sins can you have? And why do you weep over them so much?’ ‘My son,’ replied the ascetic, ‘if I could see my sins as they should be seen, in all their ugliness, I would ask you to weep for my sins together with me.’ That is how these extraordinary people spoke about themselves. But we, being ordinary people, do not see our sinfulness and do not feel its weight. Hence it turns out as I have just said: a person comes to confession and does not know what to say. One woman arriving for confession just said: ‘Batyushka, I’ve forgotten everything.’ What do you think: if a man has a painful hand or leg or some inner organ, and goes to the doctor, will he forget that he has a pain? So is it with the soul: if it really burns with a feeling of repentance, it will not forget its sins. Of course, not one person can remember all his sins – all to the last one, without exception. But true repentance unfailing demands that a man should be conscious of his sinfulness and feel sincere compunction over it.
“We pray in the Great Fast that the Lord grant us to behold our sins – our sins, and not other people’s. But it is necessary to pray about this not only in the Fast, but at all times – to pray that the Lord may teach us to see ourselves as we should and not think about our supposed ‘righteousness’. But we must remember that only the mercy of God can open a man’s eyes to his true spiritual condition and in this way place him on the path of true repentance.”
During the period of service of
Metropolitan Philaret as first-hierarch of the
Russian Church Abroad many new saints of God were glorified by the Church
Abroad: Righteous John of Kronstadt (in 1964), St.
Of these canonizations the most
significant was that of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia. Unlike
the seemingly similar act of the MP in 2000, this act did not confuse true
martyrs with false, true servants of Christ with sergianists
and traitors. Its influence within
In 1982 a great miracle of the mercy of God was revealed – the wonder-working icon of the Iveron-Montreal icon of the Mother of God, which in the course of fifteen years unceasingly emitted myrrh until its disappearance in 1997…
The Anathema against Ecumenism
Time passed, and it became clearer and clearer that it was impossible for the Orthodox to have any kind of communion with the “churches” of World Orthodoxy, let alone be in them. In 1980 the ecumenical press-service (ENI) declared that the WCC was working out a plan for the union of the all Christian denominations into one new religion. In 1981 in Lima (Peru) an inter-confessional eucharistic service was devised at a conference during which Protestant and Orthodox representatives in the WCC agreed that the baptism, eucharist and ordination of all the denominations was valid and acceptable. But the greatest scandal was elicited by the Vancouver General Assembly of the WCC in 1983. Present at it were representatives of all existing religions, and it began with a pagan rite performed by the local Indians. Orthodox hierarchs took part in the religious ceremonies together with representatives of all the world’s religions.
The ROCOR Synod was also meeting in
Then the Synod anathematised ecumenism, declaring: “To those who attack the Church of Christ by teaching that Christ’s Church is divided into so-called ‘branches’ which differ in doctrine and way of life, or that the Church does not exist visibly, but will be formed in the future when all ‘branches’ or sects or denominations, and even religions will be united in one body; and who do not distinguish the priesthood and mysteries of the Church from those of the heretics, but say that the baptism and eucharist of heretics is effectual for salvation; therefore to those who knowingly have communion with these aforementioned heretics or advocate, disseminate , or defend their new heresy of Ecumenism under the pretext of brotherly love or the supposed unification of separated Christians, Anathema.”
The Anathema against Ecumenism was seized upon with delight by the True
Orthodox not only in ROCOR, but also in
The opponents of this decisive break with “World Orthodoxy” said and say much about the “invalidity” of this anathema – to the extent of saying that the hierarchs of ROCOR accepted no anathema at all, but that certain “evil-minded people” simply introduced it into the text of the Acts of the Council. However, this seems improbable: after all, none of the hierarchs later renounced the anathema (in fact, it was reaffirmed in council in 1998), none of them said that he had not signed it; the anathematisation of ecumenism was introduced into the Synodicon of the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy…
Thus the work of Metropolitan Philaret’s whole life found its highest expression in a historical act having universal significance for the whole fullness of Orthodoxy – in the official anathematisation of “the heresy of heresies” and the apostates of our age. It is evident that no exhortation directed at the “Orthodox” ecumenists could have any effect, and a very powerful cauterisation was necessary in order to halt the general infection.
In one of his sermons, while speaking about those who transgress the teaching of the Church, he explained the significance of the anathema: “The Church declares that they have cut themselves off from communion with the Church, having ceased to listen to her maternal voice. And this is not only for the information of others, so that they should know this, but also for the good of the excommunicates themselves. The Church hopes that this threatening warning, at any rate, will act upon them…”
“The distinguishing characteristic of our time,” he used to say, “is that people are now more and more possessed by indifference to the Divine truth. Many beautiful words are spoken, but in fact – in reality – people are completely indifferent to the truth. Such indifference was once displayed by Pilate, when the Lord stood before him at his trial. Before Pilate stood the Truth Himself, but he sceptically declared: “What is truth?” – that is, does it exist? And if it does, then it is a long way from us, and perhaps does not exist. And with complete indifference he turned away from Him Who announced the truth to him, Who was the Truth Himself. And now people have become similarly indifferent. You have probably more than once heard supposedly Christian words about the union of all into one faith, into one religion. But remember that what lies behind this is precisely indifference to the truth. If the truth were dear to a man, he would never go on this path. It is precisely because the truth is of little interest to everyone, and they simply want somehow to make simpler and more convenient arrangements in matters of the faith, too, that they say: ‘Everyone must unite’…
“Brethren, we must fear this indifference
to the truth. Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Apocalypse clearly indicates to us
how terrible indifference to the truth is. There he turns to the Angel standing
at the head of the
“Let us remember that this indifference to the truth is one of the main woes of our age of apostasies. Value the truth, O man! Be a fighter for the truth… Place the truth higher than all else in life, O man, and never allow yourself to decline in any way from the true path.
“… There are now many attacks on the Church Abroad. Not one Church is reviled as much today. And the servers of other Churches are not reviled as much as the servants of the Church Abroad. What does this mean? This is the most reliable sign that our Church stands in the truth, and therefore every lie, every unrighteousness has taken up arms against her in war… She stands in the truth and preaches this truth, announces it and defends it – hence all these attacks on her.
“Let us remember and value the fact that you and I belong to the
Repose and Miracles
The holy hierarch Metropolitan Philaret passed
away to the Lord on November 8/21, 1985, on the day of the Chief Captain of the
Heavenly Hosts, St. Michael. In his typewriter after his repose was found a
sheet of paper with the following words of the Lord addressed to the angel of
thirteen years passed, and it was arranged that the remains of Metropolitan Philaret should be transferred from the burial-vault under
the altar of the cemetery Dormition church of the
Holy Trinity monastery in Jordanville into a new
burial-vault behind the monastery’s main church. In connection with this, it
was decided, in preparation for the transfer, to carry out an opening of the
However, the reaction of Archbishop Laurus to this manifest miracle was unexpected: he ordered that the coffin with the relics be again closed…
the eve of the reburial of the relics, November 20, at the beginning of the
fourth hour of the day, the coffin of the holy hierarch was taken from the Dormition church to the monastery church of the Holy
Trinity in a car. The pannikhida was served by
Archbishop Laurus and 20 clergy. None of the other hierarchs
of ROCOR came to the translation of the relics of the holy hierarch Philaret (only Bishop Gabriel of
Several miracles have been recorded since the repose of Metropolitan Philaret.
Matushka Tatiana Fyodorov, the wife of Protopriest Constantine Fyodorov, writes: “During the time of the church troubles shortly after Metropolitan Philaret reposed, my husband was suffering very much over it. Hearing both sides of these sad situations finally ‘got to him’. He prayed to Metropolitan Philaret about it. He was very tired and fell asleep. He had a dream that he was in church, fully vested for the Divine Liturgy, and was told that Metropolitan Philaret was coming unexpectedly. He prepared to meet the Bishop with the Holy Cross on the plate. The altar boy gave Metropolitan Philaret the staff and Metropolitan gave the altar boy his staff. Metropolitan was looking very radiant and young. Then Fr. Constantine put the plate with the Holy Cross on the analoy, which is not customarily done, made a full prostration before the metropolitan and said: ‘Vladyka, it is so difficult for me.’ The metropolitan answered: ‘Yes, I know. But you, Fr. Constantine, should think less and pray more.’ Father tried to get up from the prostration but the metropolitan pinned his head down with the staff. At that moment, Father woke up full of joy and peace, but with a headache where the staff had been placed on his head. Since than, he feels Metropolitan is looking after him, and is always there to help.
“In December of 2005, soon after the
Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the
The following six miracles were collected
by Nun Cassia (Senina), the author of the first
published life of the saint (to which this life
owes much) and of a forthcoming book entitled Fiery Pillar. Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky) of
1. The account of Protodeacon Christopher Birchall (
2. The account of Priest Stephen Allen (USA). Above my desk a photograph of Metropolitan Philaret has been hanging for a long time. I attached no particular significance to it. But suddenly I had the thought that I should light a lampada in front of it and pray to Vladyka. Several days later I was informed that his incorrupt relics had been uncovered in Jordanville. And now I always pray to the holy hierarch Philaret.
3. The account of Protopriest Constantine Fyodorov (
The account of Elena Kudryavtseva (
The account of Nun Cassia (Senina) (
The account of Irina
The following miracle was accomplished through the prayers of Metropolitan
Philaret took place on the feast of St. Stephen,
Nun Ipomoni (which means “patience” in Greek) suffers from very severe asthma attacks. On this day, she had the most severe attack yet and suffocated. For 20 minutes she did not breathe and her body was without any sign of life. Now it should be noted that a few days before this, the 10 nuns in this monastery led by Schema-Abbess Euphrosyne had earnestly prayed to the Lord to give them the fear of God.
During the 20 minutes that she was
clinically dead Nun Ipomoni met several demons in a
dark tunnel; they got hold of her and were trying to drag her to hell. It was a
most terrifying experience. After 20 minutes, Matushka
Euphrosyne anointed her dead body with oil from the lampada in front of the icon of Metropolian
This whole incident has had a very beneficial
effect on all of the nuns. Their prayer to receive the fear of God was
answered. And they ardently thank God and his great hierarch, Metropolian Philaret of
March 22 /
Birthday of Metropolitan
(Sources: Tatiana Senina,
“’And his lot is among the saints…’”, Vertograd-Inform
(English edition), ¹ 15, January, 2000, pp. 6-24; Monk Vsevolod
(Filipiev), “Mitropolit Filaret: k dvadtsatiletiu co dnia konchiny, 1985-2005”, Pravoslavnaia Rus’, ¹ 22
(1786), November 15/28, 2005, pp. 1-3; Bishop Gregory Grabbe,
Pis’ma (Letters), Moscow, 1998, pp.
14-15; Tserkovnaia Zhizn’, ¹1,
1962; Protopriest Alexis Mikrikov,
“Unia s MP privedet k dukhovnoj karastrofe” (The Unia with the MP will lead to a spiritual catastrophe), http://metanthonymemorial.org/VernostNo34.html;
Monk Benjamin, Monk Benjamin, “Letopis’ Tserkovnykh Sobytij Pravoslavnoj Tserkvi nachinaia s 1917 goda” (A
Chronicle of Church Events of the Orthodox Church beginning from 1917), http://www.zlatoust.ws/letopis.htm; Metropolitan
Valentine of Suzdal, Nativity Epistle, 2000/2001; Ivan
Ostroumoff, The History of the Council of Florence,
pp. 193-199; Archbishop Averky, Sovremennost’ v svete Slova Bozhia. Slova
i Rechi (Contemporary Life in the Light of
the Word of God: Sermons and Speeches (1969-1973)), Jordanville: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1975, vol. III, pp. 216 ; Fr.
Alexey Young, The Russian Orthodox Church Outside
 Matushka gives the following account of this miracle: “When living in