THE HEAD OF RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OUTSIDE RUSSIA: THE EXAMPLE OF OUR NEW MARTYRS SHOWS HOW TO LIVE UNDER THE CONDITIONS OF PERSECUTIONS

The First Hierarch of Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia metropolitan Hilarion (Capral) about the actions of Constantinople, church dissent, enduring persecutions and spiritual relations with Ukraine.


Photо: www.ru.hts.edu

— Master, how do the actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, admitting secessions, who trenches on the power of the whole Church, seem to be from abroad?

— We ruefully and with bafflement oversee the actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, that demonstrates the impact of the high and mighties and the disparagement to the truth of Orthodoxy on the Holy Land for us in Ukraine. And also, the total absence of pastoral lead-up from Constantinople to Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is led by His Beatitude Metropolitan of Kiev and of the whole Ukraine Onufriy, surprises us.

After all, by legalizing secessions and striving for the acknowledgement of them from Local Orthodox Churches, the Patriarch Bartholomew actually separates not only the majority of our faithful brotherhood archpastors to Saint Orthodox, the clergy, the monks and the believers of Ukraine, but he separates us too. It’s not understood why the Patriarch Bartholomew and his Holy Synod hurried with this kind of individual decision, made without advice from the Russian Orthodox Church and other Local Orthodox Churches. The estimation of cancelling the tercentenary document with attempts to justify their invasion on the territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church seems at least ridiculously and irresponsibly.

Nevertheless, we try to pray about him and his surrounding to let God enlighten, teach and bless them, in addition asking divine help to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy and to the whole Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is the one Christian and canonic on the territory of Ukraine.

— On the territory of Ukraine persecutions of Church to one degree or another have been continuing since the revolution in 1917th year. How in this context is the memory of new martyrs important for us — like the example of stamina in the most difficult conditions?

— Kindly, the example of new martyrs and confessors shows how to live under conditions of persecutions. When a man holds the strong belief in God and with his whole heart hopes in His guidance, he learns the patience, the humbling and the calm bearing of confusion, plus his neighbors catch these attributes. This kind of man will always act in evangelical way. Let’s remember the martyr act of Metropolitan of Kiev and of Galicia Vladimir (Bogoyavlensky) who prayed for the forgiving of his murderers and who blessed them before the execution. The remote relative of St. Vladimir, His Beatitude Anastasius (Gribanovsky), who was the second in succession Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, called him as «the marshal of god-crowned regiment» of new passion bearers and confessors of Christ. Just imagine which enlighten blessing the clergy and believers of that time received, when they found out about the example of new priestly martyr Vladimir and about his calm praying attitude to the persecutions and persecutors! We also should remember the example of St. Patriarch-Confessor Tikhon of Moscow who was shunned by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, like His Beatitude Onufriy today. St. Tikhon took villainies, which were arranged during the times of persecutions, as God’s connivance remembering the words of the Psalmist: «…Suffer the Lord, be of good courage, and let your heart be strong, and suffer the Lord». That’s why the most difficult for us now, and in the same time the main thing, is to follow their example and strongly stay in the faith, to accept the Hand of God with the humbling and the gratitude, knowing that He leads us to eternal life, sincerely praying for both persecuted and persecutors. We need to hope that this prayer and this behave will attract God’s mercy.

— You were made as rassaphore with the name Hilarion in the honor of reverend Hilarion, the ascetic of Pechersk. Do you feel in this connection some especial attitude to the Kievan land?

— Definitely! The icon of my patron saint reverend Hilarion, the ascetic of Pechersk, with parts of his saint hallows are placed in my monastic cell. This icon passes to the middle of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign in New York for  the veneration in the day of memory of this saint. Arriving in Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, I always go to his shrine asking for his help. Of course, I have a reverential attitude to the larvas of Kiev-Pechersk, Pochayna and Sviatohirsk, and also to another relics in Ukraine. My relatives live in this country, and I try to visit them, and always keep contact.

The fraternal bonds, which connect our Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, promote this way of attitude to the Kievan land. Firstly, Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco, who was born in Adamovka village 125 years ago, lived and studied in Kharkov, where he met the future His Beatitude Metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitsky), who led the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in 1920th. Secondly, it’s known that Metropolitan Anthony served in Kievan metropolitan cathedra after the death of Vladimir Bogoyavlensky. When I talk about priestly martyr Vladimir, I remember also the head of the typographical brotherhood in Pochaev the archimandriteVitaliy Maksimenko, who died in the rank of archbishop in a foreign land. Exactly he renewed the typographical brotherhood in Pochaev abroad and arranged the silent accommodation in the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York. Master Vitaliy couldn’t tell without tears about the last acathistus to Most Holy Mother of God, which was made by Metropolitan Vladimir in Kyiv Pechersk Lavra. Back then, the archimandrite Vitaliyserved to the Metropolitan Vladimir on this acathistus, and he was touched how Archpastor prayed in the last days of terrestrial life. It’s reflected in Mother’s ninth hymn of canon of servicing for new martyrs which was made in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in the year 1981 by archpastor Anthony Medvedev, the penitent of master Vitaliy: «Oh, All-Hymned Mother! Even though Your Great church of Pechersk went smashed by evil, where the priestly martyr Vladimir, which days approached to end, reading with much fondness the acathistus, prayed for You, but Your mercy won’t fall into decline to confessing people unto the ages of ages. Rejoice, the Happiest, not leaving us in Your Assumption!».

The archimandrites Dmitriy (Biakay) and Nectarios (Chorbonyl), who served in our mission on the Holy Land, and the archimandriteGelasia Mayboroda, who died as the clerk of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign in New York, as many other personalities of russian emigre community, were hailed from Kievan Rus, and personally knew numerous of martyrs and confessors. I had the pleasure of meeting ones and others devotees, who highly kept Saint-Rus holy banner in dispersion, fondly remembering their mothership, its martyrs and other holy men.

But not only the past stirs up the especial attitude to Ukraine in ourselves. Todays monastic, primatialand confessional deeds of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy stir up the feelings of love and respect to His Beatitude and to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church led by him, which is the true successorof that Church, which, after washing in Dnieper laver, accepted the Orthodox Faith of our fathers.

— What can unite the believers today?

— In the Great Lent the synodic lenten act of the whole Church unites the believers, which each of them bears to the best of their abilities, and after that — the Easter Joy about Resurrected Christ. We called on living by this joy. That’s why the Easter is called «The Feast of feasts and the celebration of celebrations», and it always stays higher than other twelve feasts. Basically, the apostolic fathers write that the most ideal condition of human soul is the connection of conditions of tensions of Great Lent and of pathetic joy of radiant night of Easter. So, as I think, if each of us tries «to work for God with fear», jointly and patiently bears our common cross of confession, and together «be joyful reverently», «enjoying ourselves because Christ is risen», so, that’s all will strongly unite us. Let it be!

— What challenges do modern peapleface?

—  In my view, the hardest challenge of our time is the integralsecularization of society, which puts out people from saving lap of the Christ Church. Some humble so easy with this fact, enjoying some welfares for their lukewarmness, others try to fight with that by the active aspirationto God, evangelizing not so much their words as their life. The last ones spark the people and keep them in the Saint Orthodoxy.

Who, between all holy men, is the example to follow for you?

—  As archiereus, who lives and brings to fulfillment his service as far as possible in difficult foreign conditions, I would say that St. JohnMaksimovich successfully fought the secularization of society started back then, combining in himself various services of a holy men: prophetical, apostolical, saint, martyr, and reverend. He knew fully well the saints’ lives, remembering details from life of even not famous devotees, and tried to emulate them. Exactly in such a way, by bringing to fulfillment prophetical, apostolical and other saint services, he, with God's help, managed to attract, calm, enlighten, strengthen and unite numerous believers, who in 55 years after his repose (1966), continue to numinously venerate his memory. Exactly he’s the example to follow in our hard times!

— What would You wish to the believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church?

— I good-heartedly and with fraternal affection wish them putting through all crises, which will rise them spiritually, which will renew all strengths of the People of God and will open others’ eyes on the God’s Truth!

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