ON THE RUSSIAN CHURCH ABROAD


Archbishop Averky of Syracuse

For us Russian Orthodox our membership in the Russian Church Abroad is a vivid symbol of our penitential turning to God and to the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God, for only that church can now provide the grace to give us strength for such a penitential approach and far its reinforcement. This is why we must take such care to preserve our Russian Church Abroad and not permit it to be weakened or to turn aside to "other ways." Unfortunately not everyone understands this sufficiently clearly and not everyone properly and completely values the whole great meaning of the existence of our Russian Church Abroad, even among those who belong to it.

Why does our Russian Church Abroad exist, so alone spiritually in the modern world? What is the ideology which makes it so alone?

The essence of the ideology of the Russian Church Abroad consists of its complete and uncompromising refusal to accept that worldwide Evil which has spread widely over the face of the whole earth and which has subjugated to its control, to a greater or lesser degree, all aspects of human life, not excepting religious and church life.

Atheistic Marxism-Communism, or Bolshevism, the struggle with which is the chief task of all national-minded Russian patriots, is just one of the offspring, one evil result of this "worldwide evil." To struggle only against it means just to cut off the branches without noticing the trunk and roots which gave birth to them and nourished them.

Unfortunately, many of us: see only these branches, paying no attention to the trunk and roots. Even mare: this root source of the "worldwide evil" seems to some quite inoffensive, even favorably inclined toward us and our church, and many of us are ready to look to it for aid for, ourselves and for support in the struggle against Communism.

What pathetic naïveté only it is not conscious betrayal! It is long since time to understand and recognize all of this! This necessary vision and clear recognition is prevented most of all by material dependence and the loss, for this or other reasons, of spiritual freedom.

This is why our Russian Church Abroad must value above all its spiritual freedom, that freedom which was given to the faithful by the Church's Founder-Christ.

More than anything on earth we value our church's freedom. This is not at all because we do not have "love," as we are so superficially accused by the "ecumenists," who are themselves too full of "love" for the enemies of the pure and unadulterated Truth of Christ and, sometimes, even for open enemies of our holy faith (only for us, their brothers by blood and faith, have they no love!). Rather, it is because we have a love of the Truth; because we firmly believe (having none of the doubts the ecumenists obviously have) that our Holy Orthodox Church is, as the Word of God teaches, the "pillar and ground of the Truth" (I Tim. 3:15); and because we desire, as commanded by the holy Apostle, to "walk in that Truth" (II John 4) and, following the warning of the great Father of the Church, St. Gregory the Theologian, we do not want "to become betrayers of the teaching of the faith and of the Truth," "communing of the leaven of the Evil One and joining ourselves to the plague-ridden...apostates from the Truth" (cf. Works of St. Gregory, Part I, p. 192 [in Russian]).

At the root of the ideology of the Russian Church Abroad is a fervent and sincere intention-whatever might happen, regardless of any contemporary evil influences and tendencies-to remain faithful to God's truth; to remain totally devoted to the Founder of the Church, Christ the Savior, and to the teaching of the Gospel on faith and piety which He brought to earth without any human corruptions or distortions; and to preserve the full spiritual freedom which Christ gave to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church which He founded on earth for men's salvation.

The Russian Church Abroad is dear to us beyond any price, but only insofar as it actually remains the lawful heir of the previous Russian Orthodox Church-the unswerving and faithful preserver of the God-given Apostolic teaching on faith and piety, a zealous follower of the traditions of the Fathers, the Sacred Canons, and all the pious ordinances and traditions of Holy Russia. The sacred motto of our Church is that of the great confessor of Orthodoxy, St. Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria: "We must not serve time, but God."

In the midst of the general, mass, already self-perpetuating movement "Forward! Forward! To the Antichrist!" (although it might not be expressed so openly) for us members of the Russian Church Abroad the age-old motto of the true Church of Christ remains in full force: "stand fast...remain unmoved!" (cf. the words of Bishop Theophan in On Orthodoxy with Warnings about Errors Against It [in Russian], p. 7).

Why is this so?

"Human teachings," writes this same Bishop Theophan, "are always reaching out to what is new, growing, developing; and this is natural, for they do not have the truth, but are just seeking it. And let them seek it, as long as they find something stable. For us both the truth and the way to the truth have been defined once and for all. We possess the truth, and all our efforts are directed toward its assimilation, not its discovery" (Ibid.).

This is why we are not going in the same direction at all as any "modernists" and "ecumenists." Our gaze should not be directed "ahead," but "backwards"-to the earthly life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to the Divine teaching He preached on earth nineteen centuries ago, to His act of redemption, His glorious Army of Martyrs, to the Holy Fathers and Teachers of the Church, to the establishers of the true faith, to the righteous ascetics, those "angels in the flesh," and, for us Russians, to the ideals of Holy Russia ...

For us "forward" is only the constantly spreading "Apostasy" predicted by the Word of God and the Holy Fathers of the Church, and its crown-the Antichrist, of whose near arrival so many already are so openly speaking; but after that will come the shining triumph of our Faith: the Last Judgment, the eternal torment of sinners and the eternal blessedness of the righteous.

This is our ideology; this is the genuine (without evil or deceit) Orthodox view of the world to which our whole Russian Church Abroad should hold in order to justify its existence on earth, not to become the "salt which has lost its savor."

Whoever thinks otherwise, whoever is inclined to "march in step with the times," consequently, has already entered into some sort of compromise with the "evil of this world," leading to the Antichrist, and is not really a member of our Russian Church Abroad, even though he formally continues to belong to it.

From Stand Fast in Truth, the Works of Archbishop Averky, published by St. John of Kronstadt Press and distributed in part on the Internet by the Brotherhood of St. Niphon, New York.





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