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1986 (4) Epistle Metr. Vitaly

from Orthodox Life Vol. 36, No. 4 July-August 1986

Epistle

To the Beloved Pastors of Our Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
and Our Pious Flock

The ark of our Church has entered the stormy sea of life.  The blows of frenzied, cruel waves now cause its entire frame to quake.  The sea itself is filled with perilous submerged reefs.  We are hemmed in on every side.  In the local press, abusive articles directed against the Synod of Bishops are constantly appearing.  The Soviets are attempting to negotiate with the Israeli government, so that, in exchange for easing Jewish emigration, it would receive all the Russian property in the Holy Land without exception, including our possessions as well.  The most absurd rumors are being circulated throughout the emigration: our entire episcopate is being accused of factionalism, while at the same time they accuse us of fanaticism, intolerance, and backwardness; others, on the other hand revile us for supposed liberalism, for infidelity to the sacred canons.  They avidly watch our every step, our every move; they listen to our every word, thinking to find for themselves fresh evidence on which to base accusations against our Church and her archpastors and pastors.  In the future, in all probability, we can expect organized slander against the entire hierarchy and against each bishop individually.  I will answer all of this clamor with the words of the holy Apostle Paul, which I cited in my eulogy at the burial of Metropolitan Philaret: "By honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as chastened, and not killed, as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things" (II Cor. 6:8-10).  In these words the Apostle Paul described the characteristics of the eternal path of the true Church of Christ, and we are happy to walk this path.  We give thanks to the Lord for all things – for slander and for praise, for threats and even for the coarsest abuse.

To console all the faithful children of our Church, I affirm that I am speaking the truth, as before the Lord our Chief Shepherd Himself, when I sat that our entire episcopate is faithful to Christ and His Holy Church; we are all as unanimous and united as ever; all of our faithful clergy, not stinting in their efforts to labor selflessly in the field of Christ, are honorable and in concord; and the grace of the Holy Spirit has not deserted us in His holy gifts of serene joy and repose of soul, despite the sea which rages around us.  Our Church enjoys internal and external freedom, such freedom as it has possessed but rarely in nearly its entire history.  Let us thank the Lord over and over again that by His almighty aid alone we are able to utilize this great gift of freedom, without bending our knee to the dubious values and powers of our age.

And you, our flock beloved in Christ, we ask, we beg you, to intensify your struggle of prayer, to keep unfailingly all the days of fasting prescribed by the Church, to pray for us, your archpastors and pastors, and to trust us.

Your well-wisher and unworthy intercessor,

Metropolitan Vitaly,
President of the Synod of Bishops
of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

1990 (4) Raising Children in Honesty

Raising Children in Honesty
By Hieromartyr Vladimir, Metropolitan of Kiev

“A lie is a foul blot in a man, and yet it will be continually in the mouth of men without discipline” 
(Ecclesiastics 20:24).
“The manners of lying men are without honor: and their confusion is with them without ceasing” 
(Eccles. 20:26).

    Among the virtues which must be planted in the hearts of children with special persistence, honesty has an important and fundamental place.  By “honesty” we mean a feeling of love for the truth and repulsion from falsehood.

    After obedience, this virtue should be given second place.  If falsehood is the root of all vices, then truth is the beginning and foundation of all virtues.  For this reason the majority of parents’ attention should be directed toward planting and cultivating honesty in their children.  How should parents nurture the virtue in the souls of children?

    A feeling for truth and the desire to attain it is innate to every person, and therefore to every child.  True, because of sin it is weakened; but nevertheless it is not completely extinguished.  This striving toward truth manifests itself in the child's inquisitiveness.  The child asks about everything, and all that adults say to him, he accepts as total truth until he has been deceived.  The innocent, uncorrupted child does not know about falsehood or hypocrisy; on the contrary, he blushes not only when he has told a lie out of negligence, but even when he hears a lie from the lips of another.  The feeling of truth is planted in the hearts of children by God Himself.  To man  is left only the necessity to adhere to this natural voice - to  nurture it and  strengthen it.  This is mostly the duty of the parents.  How can they do this?  They must first from the cradle plant a deep, pious love for the truth, and secondly, nurture in the child a deep hatred for and an aversion to all falsehood.
     a) The first task compels parents to teach their children to love truth on a religious basis, that is, as a result of their loving God and submitting to Him.  Children must love the truth, because God (who is the unchanging truth) wants us to speak the truth and because He hates all falsehood.  Only that love for truth which is based on faith in God and profound respect for Him will withstand all tests.    
  b) The second task requires that parents interact with their children with frankness, showing that they have full trust in them.  Believe every word of theirs until you notice a lie.  Don’t demand proofs, oaths, or swearing of what they say; be satisfied with the Gospel saying, “let yes be yes and no be no.”   If, however, you have a firm reason to doubt their words, then on this first occasion, don’t let them see that you don't believe them.  Try to be absolutely sure that they have lied.  When you are certain that they have not told the truth, then call them, whether you are the father or the mother, and seriously and sternly, but with love, look them in the eyes and say: "God forbade lies.  He is everywhere and knows not only all our deeds, but all the secrets or our thoughts as well.  Deceiving lips are repulsive to God.”  The blushing that will show on the faces of the children will compel them to admit to the lie and will serve as a lesson for the future.
     c) Parents must also lake care to show their children love and piety for truth by their own example.  Be honest and without hypocrisy in all your actions and words.  Above all, show yourselves to be friends of the divine truths of religion and faith.  Avoid indifference in faith, and especially be careful not to show by example that your private life has nothing to do with faith.  Unfortunately, in contemporary conversations, one hears frequently the spirit of lies in the very "holy of holies"!  If you allow yourself to express these thoughts in front of your children, you not only banish the love and piety of religion from their hearts, but you also kill all feelings of truth in them.  If it really does not matter to God whether we have a correct or a false understanding of His essence, or whether we confess the true faith or a false faith, then why should we be concerned about truth in everyday life?  And if he who willingly dabbles in false religions and rejects the revelation of a perfect God is just as pleasing to God as one who confesses the true faith, then why should truth have such great value?  If, finally, those who say that there is no divinely revealed religion are correct, and if the true God found it not worth His trouble to reveal to us the truth in our dealings with the most important questions of life, then how can one demand of a person (even more so from a child) that he speak the truth in minor situations?  This is why, Christian parents, that for your children to love the truth, you must inspire them before all else to love and respect divine truth.  Lock up your hearts and the hearts of your children from indifference to religious subjects.  If your children notice that you light-mindedly approach religious truths and that you do not believe the Word of God, what hope do you have that they will not have the same approach to truth?  Show, therefore, love of religious truths yourselves.  Nurture it in the hearts of your children.

    In all other aspects of your life, be truthful and fair.  Flee all falsehood, cunningness, hypocrisy in your dealings with others.  If your children see that you allow trickery in your dealing with others, that you resort to slyness, to setting snares, that you are hypocritical and treacherous; if they notice that you are pretending in front of friends, but that in your soul you abhor them and laugh behind their backs, then soon your children will become no better than you.  If, on the contrary, in all aspects of your life you reveal that you turn away from falsehood and hypocrisy, from lies and treachery, then your children will carry truth in their hearts, and not have lies or treachery on their lips. 

    Raising children to love and to honor truth is not easy because we must persistently fight against lies and falsehood. To assist us in this endeavor, these four rules may be of help:    
  1) Teach your children to hate lies from a religious perspective by turning their attention towards God.  Your children must run from lies not out of fear of punishment if caught, but as a result of their realizing that God forbade lying and that every lie is a sin before God.  Show your children how repulsive lying is to God by referring to the words of the Holy Scripture: “A lie is a foul blot in a man...” (Eccl. 20:24); or "lying lips are an abomination to the Lord…" (Prov. 12:22).  Help them to realize that lies have been the work of the devil from the first time he deceived Adam and Eve in paradise, wherefore the Savior Himself says: *'for he is a liar, and the father thereof" (John 8:44).  Therefore, teach your children that when they lie, they imitate Satan and become like him.    
2) Don’t allow in your children even the smallest falsehood.  If a child makes a mistake and immediately and honestly admits it, then forgive him, "no questions asked."  If the mistake is serious, then lessen the punishment, but tell him that the punishment is lessened because he immediately admitted to his mistake.  However, you should not be too lenient, so if the child has a tendency to lie, then he does not take advantage of your leniency.  If, on the other hand, the child has done something malicious and denies this, then you should double the punishment, saying that it is not only for the transgression, but for the lies as well.  If the child out of revenge or hatred says something abusive about someone else, slandering him, then for this he should not only be given the usual punishment for the offense, but he must also admit to the offence in front of all who heard it.  The moral Christian law demands this.
  3) It is imperative that parents neither lie, nor deceive anyone else.  Don't allow your children to be deceived by those older than them whether they be brothers, sisters, maids, or friends, etc.   How often it happens that to stop a child crying or to calm him, the parents trick him or scare him or make promises that they never keep!  This causes great harm!  The child soon understands that he is being tricked, and his faith in the words of his parents and his feeling for the truth suffers and wanes.
     4) Don't create a situation in which your children are compelled deliberately or unintentionally to lie.  This is done inadvertently when the father or mother for some reason austerely and angrily, sometimes even with a belt in hand, comes up to the child saying: "Tell me who did this!” or: “I’ll belt you, if you did this!" etc.  Is it surprising that the frightened child will lie?  And what of those parents who laugh at the lies of their children or compliment them because they so wittingly and cunningly lie?  Worse still, what can we say about those parents who teach their children to lie to administrators or teachers in order to get out of trouble and to escape penalties.  These parents, if they even deserve the name of parents, are the tempters of their own children.  What surprise is it if these children, as a result of their upbringing, slander, deceive, and rob?  Experience shows that those who think lightly of lying won’t think twice about cheating and stealing.

    Here, my Christian readers, are rules which can be helpful in raising children in the feeling of love and piety toward truth as well as instilling a deep repulsion and hatred toward falsehood!  Teach your children to love the truth primarily by example of your love of truth in all your actions and words.  Teach them how repulsive and vile lying is in the eyes of God.  Don’t stand for even a grain of falsehood from the mouths of your children; but don’t deceive them yourselves, and don’t allow others to deceive them.  Take heed, finally, not to, intentionally or unintentionally, direct them toward falsehood.

New Hieromartyr Vladimir of Kiev (“The Voice of the Church” No. 7-8, 1914)
ORTHODOX LIFE, Vol. 40, No. 4 July-Aug., 1990 pages 43-47.




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Fr. John of Kronstadt

from Orthodox Life magazine 1955 (4)

LIFE, DEEDS AND MIRACLES 
OF THE EVER-REVERENCED FATHER JOHN OF KRONSTADT. 

"The righteous themselves do not want glory; but we, who are as yet in this life need remembering them, so as to imitate them."
      (St. Basil the Great). 


Rev. Father John of Kronstadt, Russia's great righteous man, incomparably endowed with the gift of prayer, and with miraculous power, was born on October 19, 1829, at Soora, a large village in Pinejsky ouiezd*), government**) of Archangelsk, in the far North of Russia.  His father, Elias Sergiev, reader at the villiage church, and his mother Theo- dora, were people of very modest means.  They named their son John, for he was born on the day when the Holy Or- thodox Church was observing the memory of St. John of Rylsk. 

ouiezd*) – administrative subdivision.  corresponding to U.S. county, but usually larger.
government**) – administrative division in Russia, roughly corresponding to a State in America, or to a province in European countries.

In his early years, the boy, delicate in health, was slow in learning, which made him unhappy.  This feeling stimulated him to offer especially fervent prayers, asking God’s help. And miraculous help did not fail him. After one of those fervent prayers, deep in the night, the boy suddenly felt as if he were violently shaken; as if a curtain fell from his eyes, «as if the mind opened up in his head», he felt great ease and happiness. From then on he began to study very well. He became one of the best pupils in the grade parish school, graduated at the top of his class from the Archangelsk Theological Seminary, and was admitted on a Government scholarship to the St. Petersburg Ecclesiastical Academy. At this time, his father died, and his mother remained in extreme poverty. The loving son felt great concern over her state. Having found work as a copyist, he sent to his mother all he earned — 10 roubles a month, — and was happy he could thus support her. 

While studying at the Academy, John contemplated taking vows, and devoting himself to missionery activities among the natives of Siberia and Alaska. But, observing the life around him, he soon felt that the “savages” in civilized Petersburg needed not any less to be enlightened with the light of true Christian faith, than the natives of Siberia or Alaska. Meditating on which course to take, he had again one of the visions he had formerly as a child: In a dream, he saw himself being priest of St. Andrew Cathedral in Kronstadt, and accepted this dream as divine guidance. Having gradu- ated from the Academy, he married Elisabeth, daughter of archpriest Constantine Nesvitsky, to comply with the custom of the Eastern Orthodox Church which requires that secular priests be married. This marriage was, however, fictitious, needed as a cover of his selfless pastoral work. In reality, he lived with his wife as with a sister. “There are many happy families even without us, “ he said to his wife. «As to us, Liza, let us consecrate ourselves to ministering to God», And until the end of his days, he remained a virgin.

John was ordained priest on December 12, 1855, and was appointed to St. Andrew Cathedral in Kronstadt.  When he first entered the Cathedral, he was deeply moved, for it was the same church he saw in vision, when he was a child.  Since then, Father John lived and officiated in Kronstadt, so that his name —Sergiev —was almost forgotten, and he became generally known as Father John of Kronstadt. 

Kronstadt was the place to which the immoral and vicious persons were deported from St. Petersburg, the capi- tal of Russia. There were, besides, many unskilled workmen employed in the docks. These people lived on the outskirts of the city, in shacks and dugouts; many of them were beggars and drunkards. It was among them, that Father John began his ministry. Daily would he go to their wretched dwellings, would talk to them, comfort them in their miseries. He nursed the sick and helped the needy giving away all he had, so that many a time he would come home without part of his clothes, or even without shoes. By the strength of his compassionate love, Father John would restore to these poor people the human likeness which some of them had lost long since, and would make them men again. They, “the scum of the population”, were the first who “discovered” the saintliness of Father John. The discovery was soon accepted by all the faithful in Russia. 

But not only materially would Father John help the needy; not only morally would he, with his pastoral word, lift from the abyss of degradation. Soon was divulged in him the wonderful gift of miraculous power that made him renowned all through Russia, and even abroad. There ex- ists an exact record of Father John's first miracle, as he him- self told it to his fellow-priests. The narrative reflects deep humility: Father John recognized in this miracle “a new duty to God — to pray for those who will ask for his prayers”. And, through his prayers, many wonderful miracles were performed. The most severe diseases, when medicine could but admit its impotency, were cured by the prayers, or by laying on of hands of Father John. The healings would take place in privacy, and in the presence of multitudes of people as well. Quite often, healing would be performed in absentia. It was sometimes sufficient to write or wire to Father John, and miraculous healing would follow. Father John would heal alse Mohammedans and Jews, as well as foreigners who would address him from abroad. 

Soon, all the faithful Russians began flowing to the wonderworker.  Thus began the second period of his life, of his deeds.  At first, he himself would go to the people in one city only. Now, the people came to him, and came from every part of Russia. Thousands of people would come daily to Kronstadt, wishing to see Father John, and to receive help from him. Still many more would seek his help through the medium of mail or telegraph: the Kronstadt post office had to open a special department to handle his correspondence. With letters and telegrams, large sums of money would come to Father John for the charities. They can be estimated approximately only, for Father John would distribute the money right after receiving. According to the most conservative estimate, not less that one million roubles a year would pass through his hands. With this money, Father John would feed up to one thousand destitute persons daily. He established in Kronstadt a work shelter with a school, a church, workshops, and an orphanage. He founded in his native village a nunnery, and built a large stone church. And in Petersburg, he built a nunnery on Karpovka, where he was later buried. 

It is hard to appreciate the hardships and greatness of his deeds, without knowing how Father John spent his days. He used to rise at 3 a.m., and prepared himself for cel- ebrating the liturgy. About 4 a. m., he went to the Cathedral for the matins. Here, crowds of pilgrims would await him, to receive his blessing. There would also be many beggars, to whom Father John would distribute alms. At the matins, Father John always read the canon himself, considering this reading as very important. Before the liturgy, there was confession. Because of great number of people coming for confession, mass confession was instituted. These mass con- fessions produced an everlasting impression on every one present. Many would confess their sins aloud, unhampered by the presence of others. St. Andrew Cathedral, which could hold up to 5,000 people, was always filled to capacity, so that the communion lasted very long, and the liturgy would not end before noon. During the service, letters and telegrams would be brought into the altar, where Father John would read them, and pray for those who asked for his prayers. After the liturgy, Father John, followed by thousands of people, de- parted to Petersburg to visit the sick, and only seldom would he come home before midnight. It is most probable that on many nights he did not have time for sleep at all. To live and work like this was possible, of course, only with help of God. The very fame of Father John was for him the greatest and heaviest burden. Wherever he would go, his presence would always draw a crowd of people, striving, but to touch the worker of wonders. People reverencing him, would even run after his speeding carriage, grasping the wheels, disregarding the danger of being maimed. 

On request of the faithful, Father John had travel to different towns of Russia. These journeys were real triumphs of the humble minister of Christ. Crowds numbering tens of thousands would meet him, and every one would be filled with sincere faith and reverence, with fear of God, and with the desire to receive the healing blessing. When Father John traveled on a river boat, crowds of people would run along the banks. When the steamer would come near, many would kneel. 

Father John was a remarkable teacher. For 28 years, he taught religion at the high school and at the city grade school. His lessons would leave an ineffaceable and unforgettable impression on his pupils. But later, he had to discontinue teaching, for it was impossible to combine teaching with the task of pastoral ministry, which the great righteous man humbly took upon himself as an act of obedience to God. 

Father John also was a remarkable preacher. He preached simply, and mostly without preparation, extempore. He did not strive for impressive words or original expres- sions, but his sermons were distinguished by extraordinary vigor, penetration, and exceptional theological learning, and at the same time were easily understood by the simplest of the common people. 

Being extremely busy with his pastoral work, Father John, nevertheless, found time to keep a kind of spiritual di- ary, where he recorded daily the thoughts which would cross his mind during his prayer and contemplation, as a result of «illumination of the soul with Divine Grace that would be granted to him by the Holy Spirit». These thoughts were compiled in a remarkable book, published under the title: «My Life in Christ», The book is a true spiritual treasure, and can well bear comparison with the inspired works of the great ancient fathers of the Church, as well as of Christian ascetics .In the complete edition of works by Father John, published in 1893, «My Life in Christ» makes three vol- umes, over 1,000 pages total. This is a unique diary, which reflects spiritual life of the author. It will forever bear witness as to how this great and just man lived, as well as serve as a guidance for those who want to be Christians in deed and not in name only. 

Another remarkable memorial of the saintly person- ality of Father John, which contains inexhaustible material for instruction, is the collection of his sermons in three volumes, about 1,800 pages in all. Many more works of Father John were published in separate volumes. All his books and ser- mons truly are an emanation of the Holy Spirit, revealing to us the inexplorable depth of God's wisdom. Their wondrous originality is amazing — it appears in exposition, in thought, in feeling. Every word comes right from tne heart, reflecting deep faith and warmth. In thoughts — amazing depth and wisdom; wonderful clearness and simplicity in everything. No superfluous words, no highsounding phraseology. One cannot just “read” them — one must read them over and over again. And every time one will find in them some- thing new, something alive, something holy. 

"My Life in Christ" attracted general attention almost at once after its publication. It was translated into several foreign langauges. and become a favorite book of the ministers of the Anglican Church. 

The basic thought of all works by Father John is the need of sincere and fervent faith in God, and of living in accordance with this faith: in constant fight with one's passions and lusts; devotion to the faith and to the Eastern Orthodox Church, as the only one that saves. 

With regard to his fatherland — Russia, Father John revealed in himself the likeness of a mighty and awe- inspiring, prophet of God, preaching the truth, reproving falsehood, entreating to penitence, and predicting the com- ing wrath of God for the sins committed, and for apostasy from God. Being himself model of meekness and humility, of love for every human being, whatever be his nationality or religion, Father John regarded with greatest indignation the atheistic, materialistic, and liberalistic trends which were undermining the faith of Russian people, and break- ing up the millenial political organization of Russia. The events of the bloody Russian revolution, and the victory of the godless and man-hating communism, have demon- strated how right was Russian’s great righteous man in his awe-inspiring warnings and prophetic visions. 

Father John passed away on December 20, 1908, having foretold the day of his death. His funeral was attended by tens of thousands of people, and many miracles took place at his grave during the funeral, as well as afterwards. The funeral procession was quite an unusual one. Crowds of weeping people stood along the way in Kronstadt, in Oranienbaum, and from the Baltic Railway Terminal to the St. John Nunnery in Petersburg. Never before have there been such crowds at any funeral. The procession was escorted by the Army, with Colors flying, and military bands playing the hymn "How Glorified is Our Lord in Zion." The funeral service was conducted by three Metropolitans. Those who had kissed the hand of the deceased, witnessed that the hand did not grow cold, nor turned rigid. During the funeral services, many people wept, feeling as if they had lost one of their own parents. However, the Requiem Mass did not convey any sadness; it was reminiscent more of the brightness of the midnight Easter service, and the further the service proceeded, the more was the festive mood of the worshippers growing and expanding. It was being felt that some benevolent force emanated from the coffin, and filled the hearts of those present with a kind of unearthly happi- ness. It was clear to everyone that the deceased was a saintly, a righteous man, and that his spirit was moving unseen in the church, embracing with love and tenderness all those who came to render him the last homage.  

Father John was laid to rest in the chapel-sepulcher that was especially built for him on the basement floor of the Nunnery on Karpovka, which was founded by Father John. The walls of the chapel and the iconostasis were exquisitely finished in white marble. The tomb, likewise, was of white marble. 

Upon the prayers of Father John, many miracles came to pass, and are taking place even up to now. No one among the faithful has any doubt as to his sanctity, and the general desire is that he be canonized, — that the Church would of- ficially recognize his being in the saints. This forthcoming celebration of the canonization of Russia’s great righteous man will, indeed, be a great triumph of the Holy Eastern Orthodoxy. 


Bishop AVERKY.

PDFs from Library of Congress

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🔸Orthodox Life    1951 (1)     January-February
      ––––––––––––––––––––
     275.6 MB
Canon for Sunday of the Prodigal
Church is One by Alexis Stephanovitch Khomiakov
A New Religion by Chrysostomos H. Stratman
Children's Section. A Scion of the Tsar
Father John of Cronstadt. My Life in Christ


🔸Orthodox Life    1951 (4)     July-August
      ––––––––––––––––––––
     182.5 MB
An Orthodox Mission in America
Bp. James Address on his Nomination
Metr. Anastasy Address on handing Staff to Bp. James
Some Notes Russian Church Singing by A. Swan
Assumption by St. Dimitri of Rostov


🔸Orthodox Life     1951 (6)     November-December
      ––––––––––––––––––––
     320.6 MB
Canon for Nativity
Church of Christ's Nativity by A Gavrilova
Woman as a Symbol of Christ by Bp. Nikolai
Unceasing Prayer by St. Gregory Palamas
Indication of the Way by Bp. Innocent
Father John of Cronstadt. My Life in Christ