Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
1974, April 14
In the name of
the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.
radiant night on which we celebrate the victory of life over
death, the triumph of life, when no sorrow remains
unconsoled, no tears undried, when the heart rejoices in the
victory of God, I turn to you, the congregation, the bishops,
the pastors and the faithful children of the Russian
Orthodox Church in Western Europe, with a message of
farewell. In fulfillment of my own wish the Holy Patriarch
has released me from the office of Exarch of Western Europe.
I remain as before ruling Archbishop of the Surozh diocese Ч
Archbishop of Great Britain and Ireland. For the last time I
want to say a farewell and a greeting to the widely
scattered flock the Lord has entrusted to me.
years ago during the terrible days of the early emigration a
small number of Russians remained faithful to the Church of
the Russian Patriarchs we did so for two reasons. Firstly,
because in those days the Russian Church was in a terrible
and poverty-stricken state. The destruction of the churches,
the persecution of believers, suffering and sorrow engulfed
the Russian faithful. Those whom the terrible events of the
Revolution forced to remain outside our country as outcasts
and orphans, longing for the mother country and the mother
Church, were perhaps more conscious than ever of being
united. Their love, devotion and loyalty rose to perhaps
unprecedented heights. Russians had no wish to leave the
Church which had been their mother, which had borne them in
Christ, and which was then bearing a heavy cross of sorrow.
Neither did we wish to be divided from the Russian faithful.
Divided by circumstances and events, we remained one at the
Throne of the Lord, in the sacraments of the Church, living
__ here as exiled Russians, yet blessed by the prayers of
our mother-land and our mother Church. Many, many years have
passed since then. The circumstances of our lives in the
West, the position of the Church in the Soviet Union and the
condition of the faithful have all changed. But the links
which then held us together Ч of love, loyalty, devotion, of
the heart which never forgets Ч have not weakened. The
Patriarchal Church abroad has striven and strives with all
its might to be one with the Church in our motherlands. And
we rejoice that no forces, no obstacles have been able to
divide us one from another.
One of the
ChurchТs hardest and most dangerous temptations is to
confuse the earthly with the heavenly: to confuse love and
loyalty to the motherland with love and loyalty to Christ
and the Kingdom of God. The Lord has placed us who lived
abroad in an unprecedented position; our hearts, our minds
and actions may be conditioned entirely by our love for our
country, and by out love of Christ and the Kingdom of God,
nevertheless we are free from the temptation of confusing
the earthly and the heavenly. The Church is our heaven on
earth. Now as before perhaps more than ever before, we
understand the distinction between the heavenly and the
earthly. People of every conceivable nationality and
political and social condition are and always have been
united in the Patriarchal Church. We have nothing earthly in
common. What unites us is only the purity of the Orthodox
faith, the unity of the sacraments and our allegiance to the
Church which gave us Christ and gave us life. The early
Christians in the first centuries had nothing in common but
their unity in Christ. They belonged to an infinite variety
of classes, nations and tongues. But Christy their God was
one, and the same Spirit moved in their hearts and their
lives. It is the same with us today. The parishes of our
Patriarchate are not composed of Russians only; there are
fewer and fewer Russians, and those lean ever closer to the
grave as old age undermines them and death takes its toll.
Their descendants of the second, third and fourth generation,
while loving their distant and unknown country, become more
and more the children of their new motherlands of the West.
And we are joined daily by more and more of our western
brethrens to whom the Russian diaspora, the Russian Cross,
Russian death and suffering have brought Orthodoxy, the true
profession of faiths the full life of the Church.
We are parting
now, and my last word is about this unity. Preserve this
unity with the Russian Church, with the mother Church.
Preserve unity amongst yourselves, all of you who have come
from the four corners of the earth and gathered together in
the life-giving inspiration of the Holy, All-Creative
Spirit, the Spirit of God. For all of us, Russians and
non-Russians, what happens on Russian soil is of vital
importance. We cannot think without gratitude and awe of the
country which provided the people who gave the Orthodox
faith to generation after generation, nation after nation.
We cannot think without awe and reverence of the Church that
has survived the dreadful test and remained as faithful in
peace and glory as in persecution and horror.
happening in Russia is not a metaphysical encounter, not a
speculative confrontation of differing ideologies, a
confrontation between God and godlessness, faith and
anti-faith Ч but a confrontation of living people, carriers
of faith and carriers of faithlessness. Let us pray for all
of them that God may grant the former enlightened, powerful,
illuminating faith, and the latter, through them, in joy or
sorrow, to meet God the Living Saviour.
I call on
everybody, both the children, the brethren of our Exarchate
of Western Europe and those who are not yet part of it, to
become as one, to unite in one prayer, one love, that the
Lord may triumph, that God may triumph in our hearts, in our
lives Ч in other words, that all-conquering love may reign.
Video: EASTER, 2001. (2H 6M)
Metropolitan Anthony Library