5-я международная конференция, посвященная наследию митрополита Антония Сурожского
I met a light on my path
Nun Anastasia (Methven)
Blessed be the Lord who made it
possible for me to meet this light on the path of my
Blessed be the day when I did meet
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourosz, who was to be a
loving and never fading light
on my path.
It was in 1975, two years after I’ve
arrived in England as an emigrant. It was on
a Sunday evening at the begining of Great Lent and
it happened on the occasion of a panorthodox Vespers,
when Orthodox Christians belonging to various
jurisdictions of the Orthodox Diaspora in Great
Britain, were coming to pray together at the Russian
Cathedral in London.
The moment I came into the church, I
felt the impact of the spirit of prayer and of the
warm and prayerfull presence of Vladika Anthony, who
was celebrating Vespers on that evening.
I was coming from outside and I was
still under the impression of the world of the big
city, the great desert, a world still very foreign
to me. But once I’ve
stepped in, I felt I am at home, in the house of the
Father. From then on I did not stop thanking God for
having led my steps towards that blessed shore of
At this at home I’ve
met Vladika Anthony, who was going to guide
my steps towards the light, and to the freedom of
the children of God.
He was a man of striking simplicity,
who knew to make you feel loved,
totally assumed and never judged. But the important
thing was that he was praying for you, praying with
you, and with him, you could learn how to pray in
spirit and in truth. One could even say that he
himself was a true school of prayer.
During difficult times, at times of
trials, maybe at moments of disconcert, he knew to
be close to you, to give you peace and a word of
consolation, guiding your steps with great care and
With a little story from his
personal experience, he was able to restore your
strength and confidence, he was able to give you
courage and peace, and finally to teach you
I remember how unhappy I was after
my mother’s death as I could not be in time in order
to be with her before her departure of this life.
When I confessed to Vladika my distress concerning
not being able to be by my mother when she needed me
most, he shared with me of his own personal
experience of the time when he was taking care of
his mother who was ill.
He told me that during the time that
he was taking care of his mother, having to go away
for a short while, in order to celebrate one of the
Lenten offices during Great Lent, he left his mother
on her own, but when he came back to her, she was
already gone, departed this life.
From his sharing with me of what he himself
lived at the difficult time of his mother’s death, I have
learned something that was a great consolation, and helped
me to overcome the difficulty of the that period.
He told me that those who loved each other
while on earth, are united in love for eternity, for in
love, there is no past tense.
Those who have loved each other on earth
will meet again in eternity, where the beloved one, prepared
a place for them. And if we wish that our beloved departed,
find their peace there where they are now, we must also find
ourselves this peace here on earth , the peace that Christ
Himself has given to us.
Now I would like to speak of a few things
that impressed me very deeply concerning Vladika Anthony: It
was his attitude to life, to death, the way he was living
his life, as a monk in the midst of the city of man, having
to face difficult situations, or bringing joy and hope where
there was no hope.
Confession was a special event in our life,
a moment of truth, of courage and of humility, when one had
to face oneself as one was.
It was to open wide the doors of one’s soul
in order to let the light get into one’s inner being. And
thus be able to see the dark corners of one’s soul. It was a
way of knowing the truth of oneself and repent. It was the
beginning of a journey back home in order to ask forgiveness
from the Father, as did the prodigal son.
Coming to confession on Saturday evening,
meant being prepared to wait, as there were quite few people
waiting for their turn to make their confession. Being aware
of our impatience, he suggested that we should spend this
time in deep silence while waiting for our turn, praying for
the person ahead of us, who during that very moment, maybe
is pouring one’s soul and one’s whole life in deep
repentance before God.
Confession was indeed a regenerating and a
life saving experience.
I remember the way he was listening to one’s
confession, when one was opening up one’s
soul to pour out one’s mizery in
repentance before God. His silent presence, his warm,
attentive, loving listening, his non judjemental attitude
and finaly his inspired answer was like a major healing
intervention. One would go away feeling resurrected and
healed in one’s most inner
Each suggestion and each advice he was
giving us, was a treasure of wisdom, a teaching experience
that one had to ponder upon and make it grow into one’s own
I believe it was born out of his deeply
lived encounter with his beloved Lord who by His Holly
spirit was continually inspiring him.
Because of this, when he was delivering a
sermon, one knew that it was coming from his personal
spiritual living experience, and that is why one believed
and trusted everything coming from him.
But there were always various things going
on whithin the life of the parish, which he was able to take
notice of and which he liked to use in his sermons. For
example, the day when a certain lady complained that
children were making to much noise in the church, he gave a
sermon saying: Wasn’t
the Lord saying to His Apostles ‚Let
the children come to me’? And otherwise if someone would
have been able to record all the thoughts going on in our
busy mind during the services, and transmit them through the
loudspeakers, would it not create indeed an incredible noise
filling the church?
On another occasion during Lent, on Good
Friday, while bringing the Shroud in a procession from the
altar to the middle of the church, a baby started crying so
loudly that one could not listen to the service and nothing
could stop him. Somebody went to the mother of this baby
asking her to take the baby out of the church, but she could
not do it. As a result, the baby continued to cry his heart
out and nothing could make him stop.
At the end of the service, Vladika Anthony
gave a sermon saying: “Christ has been crucified, today we
have been taking Him to his grave. The whole universe is
crying and the whole created world is lamenting through the
voice of this little baby and we couldn’t tolerate it”.
Speaking of his generosity and his lack of
possesiveness, I remember he never posessed a personal car
to take him around, he did not have a secretary and he used
an old typing mashine in order to type his letters as
answers to his spiritual children. I would like to ilustrate
this with a little story.
I once was given to read a book that was
already circulating in the parish since two years. Initially
it was Vladika who has lent it to one of the parishioners
who continued to lend it to other members of the parish
during all this time. But Vladika never asked for it back. I
am sure he was glad if it was usefull to someone, and he
didn’t really care if the book was
returning back or not.
People were bringing him presents or bags
with food that were left in the cathedral. He never kept
anything for himself, giving them away to other people who
When he used to live in the parish house he
used to receive people of the street, the
‘down and outs’, in order to feed them, put them up
to rest for the night as well as offering them a word of
cosolation and of hope. Very often this was done at the
expense of having no place to lye down himself for that
There were times when he would give an
appointment to see someone. He was allowing roughly about an
hour and a half for each person. During this time the
feeling one had, was that one was the only person in the
whole world that counted for him, and to whom he was giving
all his loving attention.
The regular talks given at the cathedral,
were always times of reopenings the eyes of our
understanding, and of our hearts, in order to receive a word
of truths, of wisdom and receive God’s
mercy and the Holly Spirit working its wonders in our
I remember one time at the beggining of a
talk, one could feel he was very tired, empty of any energy.
But one could see how gradually he was becoming more and
more alive, as the talk was going on, while the Holly Spirit
was filling his heart, giving him more and more strength and
I cannot describe how was a liturgy
celebrated by Vladika Athony of Sourosz of blessed memory,
as it is very difficult for such a living experience to be
expressed in words. I can only say that
during the holly liturgy, one’s heart was lifted up in such
a way that one could forget indeed of all the cares of this
world, while being filled with the joy of the resurrection
Vladika Anthony was for us ”the good
shepherd giving his life for his sheep”. He took us on his
shoulders and he carried us with love in his enlarged heart,
guiding our steps with great care and fatherly love towards
the shore of peace and to the freedom of the children of God
We may thank the Lord for the blessing and
great joy of having met him who has offered himself to us as
a living sacrifice, and has blessed us in so many ways.
May he be blessed, and may he rest in peace
with the saints.
Thinking of what he meant to us, and
remembering his precious advice concerning us in relation to
the beloved departed ones, now that he is nomore with us
here, I would like to quote his words
suggesting that from now on, we may live in such a
way as to prove that he has not lived in vain. In other
words, may all his loving sacrifices and the many seeds that
he has left in our hearts, bear fruits. May God help us to
With gratitude and prayers, to our beloved
Father, Vladika Anthony, whom we’l never forget, knowing
that he is and will always be with us.