Gennadius(Sekach), Schema-Metropolitan 5 of 6

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The newspaper quoted a woman who had lived for two months at one of the monasteries as telling the court that she had helped finance trips round the country to recruit more monks and nuns. Sekach and his assistants were constantly travelling, bringing back young men and girls. They took the tonsure and then left again, the woman, Maria Matsepuro, told the judges.

Vladyka Gennadius was sentenced to four years in prison. On the eve of his sentence he saw a vision. Vladyka Seraphim (Pozdeyev) appeared to him and offered him two and a half fish. The meaning of the vision became clear when he returned home after two and a half years in prison...

Without Vladyka Gennadius the discipline at the monastery deteriorated. There were quarrels between the monks and the nuns, and the absence of the powerful but kind hand of Vladyka was evident everywhere. The disturbances in the monastery were revealed to Gennadius, and he wept more about them than about his own sufferings.

Hieromonk Yu. and Nun M. heard from an informant in the police that Gennadius was being taken to prison by plane, and they decided to go to the airport to say goodbye to him. It was the eve of the New Year, 1975. The weather was clear and sunny. But when the plane was about to take off, the airfield was suddenly enveloped in fog. An agent of the KGB came up to them and said:

"Do you want to see your priest?"

Mother M. was so frightened that her hands shook.

"We do."

"Go on then, only not for long."

Vladyka looked exhausted and weak. Next to him stood a Kalymyk, a man whose face was marked by the presence of strong passions. At first he humbly asked Vladyka's prayers. And he even gave him some presents, saying:

"Only pray for me."

But when he saw Mother M. approaching he grinned and said:

"Look, they're taking you to prison, father, but I will return and defile all your girls."

Gennadius wept and replied:

"I beseech you, cut off my head if you want, but don't touch my sisters."

Besides M. and Yu., the relatives of other prisoners had gathered at the airport to say goodbye to those arrested. When they saw the weeping elder they were moved and disturbed:

"Okay, our people are hooligans, but what has this old man done? Why are they humiliating him?"

The noble appearance of the elder touched the hearts of these people, weeping though they already were over the fate of their sons and husbands.

"Forgive me, Father Gennadius, I'm overcome by sorrow. Tell me the sins that I must repent of."

"Be patient, my child, the way is forced open by long-suffering. And attach no significance to human affairs - they are passing..."

The prison in Tbilisi (according to another source, the town of K.) was situated in a four-storey, pre-revolutionary building. It was a special prison from which people were brought out, as a rule, on stretchers. No parcels were received at this prison. The prisoners were tortured. Terrible injections were given, and blood flowed in streams. Some did not last even a week in it. They brought in a healthy middle-aged man, and he was brought out as a corpse..

Nun. M. and Nun E. came to the prison and tried to help him. (Nun M. came so frequently to the prison that she was nicknamed "the pope's wife".) However, they were only able to speak to him through glass, and all their conversations were monitored by the prison authorities. They often had to spend the night in stations. Sometimes the police would come up, check their documents, and on learning their business, let them continue their journey without paying.

Matushka E. relates that Nun M. and Nun O. once managed to bribe a Chuvash jailer. He said to them:

"I'll take you to his room and open the door, and you can have a look at him."

They looked into the room and saw that Vladyka Gennadius was sitting in pools of blood. Every time the authorities interrogated him they would beat him up. He himself related that the prison administration tried to shoot him in the head:

"But how accurately they had learned to shoot! The bullet grazed my head, removing some skin, and passed on. After this shot I fell unconscious. When I came to, I saw that they had cut a toe off my foot, and the spade with which they did it was lying next to it."

There were traitors among Vladyka's flock. Abbess V. was in charge of twelve thousand roubles which Vladyka had given her to buy a house for a Catacomb skete. On seeing her in prison Vladyka asked her to give back the money so that he could buy his freedom - he had already been offered a "business proposition" in prison. However, Abbess V. refused, saying:

"There is no money."

But soon she bought herself a house in Zelenchuk... When the Abkhaz police heard that Gennady had been willing to pay, but V. had not handed over the money, ten of them drove up to the house, raped her and seized everything that was in the house. But V. hardened her heart and did not repent. So Vladyka deprived her of her position. From this time V. wandered from place to place, shaking all over...

After Vladyka's arrest the authorities interrogated and threatened many of his monks and nuns. And other traitors were found among them. But they derived no profit from their treachery. One nun, after providing the authorities with a denunciation, was repeatedly raped in the interrogator's office. Hieromonk D., who had served in Vlasov's army and suffered 25 years in Stalin's camps before being ordained by Vladyka Gennadius in 1972, also gave in. But there were those who remained faithful - and the interrogators, respecting their courage, did not touch them...

Once the prison authorities gave Vladyka a loudspeaker and told him to declare in the hearing of all the prisoners that God did not exist.

"Will you say it?" they asked him.

"I will," replied Vladyka Gennadius.

He took the loudspeaker and declared to the prisoners that God did exist, and called on them to believe in Him. The prison authorities went into a rage and threw an ink-pot at Vladyka.

Since Vladyka was a "minister of the cult", he was allowed to wear a beard and long hair, but not a cassock. Like everyone, he wore pyjama trousers and a jacket. However, since he was so old and sick (he had an illness of the legs and could hardly walk), he was exempted from prison work and was not searched. Moreover, he was allowed to receive parcels - which he secretly distributed to his fellow prisoners. He himself could not eat the prison food because it usually contained meat. So he had to feed himself separately from the other prisoners. He would collect the cabbage leaves which were thrown away in the preparation of the common meal and boiled them. The authorities allowed him to do that. They even allowed him to plant potatoes by the prison fence. When the potatoes began to sprout, Vladyka would immediately dig them up, boil them and and eat them.

According to the command of the KGB, Gennadius was put into the same room with the common criminals, who were ordered to humiliate him with the express purpose of later having material with which to slander him and intrigue against him. This was called "operational work", and the room in which it took place was called the "press-hut". However, Vladyka Gennadius knew how to play the fool for Christ's sake and humble himself. He voluntarily offered to clean the prison toilets and covered his whole body with excrement. The stunned inmates did not approach the smelly bishop...

Later Vladyka Gennadius would say:

"What is Gennadius? Before I was Gennadius. But now what am I? Now I'm - shit."

And yet a fragrance came from him. The grace that was in him was so great that he and those close to him washed only once or twice a year - and yet his spirit-bearing body, purified and transfigured through suffering, was clean. For of Vladyka Gennadius it could be said, as it was said of the apostles: "Through us the fragrance of His knowledge is made manifest in every place. For we are unto God a sweet fragrance of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one we are the fragrance of death unto death; and to the other the fragrance of life unto life" (II Cor. 2.14-16).

The prisoners somewhat softened their attitude to Vladyka after he began to heal them. They often suffered from various illnesses - stomach illnesses, etc. Vladyka Gennadius gathered various herbs, boiled them and gave them to the prisoners, after which they recovered. He would distribute these herbal broths in bottles.

"Hey, pope, have you got something for me to drink?" the criminals would ask him.

"I have, here you are," replied Vladyka and gave the sick man a bottle of herbal broth.

Receiving as they did constant help from him, the criminals stopped pulling out his hairs and cruelly mocking him. But he was still surrounded by demonic people. Vladyka Gennadius' sufferings were indescribable...

While in prison, Vladyka Gennadius would constantly pray to St. Sergius of Radonezh for help.

"Father Sergius, if I get out of here, I will go to you at the Lavra before I die," he promised.

And he kept his promise. He arrived at the Holy Trinity - St. Sergius Lavra on the day of the saint's feast. Already old and sick, he was accompanied there by Vadim Abramov, the future Bishop Vladimir.

When Vladyka was in prison in Tbilisi, he was seen in a dream by a believing woman who knew him called Natalya. She saw him standing in the factory in which she worked holding a prayer rope in his hands.

"Are you praying?" she asked him.

"I am praying," replied Vladyka. "Here - take it and try," he added, handing her the prayer rope.

"But it's probably difficult," she said.

"Not at all, take it," he reassured her.

Now just before this dream Natalya had been wondering whether Vladyka was praying in prison. When he came out of prison and they met, she told him about the dream. He immediately gave her a prayer rope and blessed her to pray on it. Later she became Nun V.

It is interesting that in this dream Vladyka Gennadius appeared to her with exactly the appearance he had at that time - that is, with clumps of hair missing from his head and beard.

Nor did Vladyka help only the prison inmates. Once a tunnel was being bored through a rock, and the prison authorities joyfully decided to go through it. But Gennadius warned the head of the prison:

"Don't get on the train. You'll hurt yourself."

The head of the prison followed this advice and thereby saved his life: the train crashed in the tunnel.

IX. METROPOLITAN MALKHAZ OF KUTAISSI

The head of the prison was able to return the favour. Once, on the eve of Pascha, he came into the room where Vladyka was sitting and called him for interrogation. Having locked the door, he informed him that he was inviting him to a secret service.

"A Paschal service?" asked Gennadius in amazement: "Are you a believer?"

"Not only I, but the whole of my family."

"But where can I serve?" (At first he had decided that this must be yet another provocation!)

"Let's go," said the prison chief, and led his prisoner along an underground corridor.

They walked for a long time. Gennadius could hear shrieks coming from the neighbouring rooms: they were torturing prisoners. Peeping in, he counted twelve corpses lying beside each other, with terrible instruments of torture next to them... He looked into the face of the prison chief. It expressed disquiet: "Well, what can I do?"

Finally, after passing through many corridors, staircases and basements, they came into the last block and into a small hidden room. There, fully vested and ready to start the Paschal service were twenty-five prisoners: all the clergy of the Georgian Catacomb Church. Gennadius could not believe his eyes. He was literally struck dumb with amazement. The hierarchs were standing in full hierarchical attire with mitres and staffs. A church in a prison? With all the church utensils, burning incense, an altar, Royal doors, a Gospel, icons, crosses?! Unbelievable! Gennadius thought he was in a deep sleep, he even touched his rotting leg with his hand. The leg gave off a terrible pain, from which he understood: it was true.

It turned out that every year the believing prison chief, one of the secret Nicodemuses of the Brezhnev years, arranged services in the secret church on the great feasts. Noone knew about it except him, his wife and the hierarchs. The prisoners were brought into this room under the guise of an interrogation, and were then given vestments. Among them was Metropolitan Malkhaz (Michael) of Kutaissi, the nephew of the Archbishop Simeon whom Vladyka Gennadius had sheltered in his youth, stood out particularly by his great height, his simple, but beautiful face, transfigured by suffering, and his sorrowful but indomitable big blue eyes. He had been St. John of Kronstadt's secretary, and then, after the death of the great pastor, Patriarch Tikhon had drawn him close to himself. Malkhaz had not compromised with the authorities, and had been in prison without a trial or investigation for forty (according to another source, thirty) years. On learning that Gennadius had risked his life to bury Archimandrite Alexander (also a Georgian), he was very touched and grateful.

Not having met a single recently arrested clergyman for so many years, the hierarchs asked Gennadius:

"Are there still believers in the world?"

"There are," replied Vladyka. "About half are believers and half not."

And he went on to say that the Catacomb Church still existed in the world.

This gave them great joy. Then Metropolitan Malkaz said:

"They'll never let us out of here alive. But you are a simple, uneducated person, they'll let you out. And it is the will of God that you should be instead of us."

The hierarchs nodded their heads in agreement. And after the Paschal Liturgy Metropolitan Malkhaz and two hierarchs raised Vladyka Gennadius to the rank of metropolitan.

Then Vladyka Gennadius said:

"I can't live any longer in one place," he replied. "It is very difficult for me. I am old. Where shall I die?"

In reply Metropolitan Malkhaz uttered the prophetic words: "You will die in a small peasant house, with two windows looking out onto a street, and next to a river." (According to another source, he said: "You will live for a short time in a remote place by a mountain river, and then you will come after us.") And in fact Vladyka Gennadius died in a small house at the foot of a mountain past which a small mountain river was flowing...

Then Vladyka learned that the hierarchs had not been idle in prison: they had secretly baptized three hundred people, including the prison chief. Nor had they simply been baptized. The conditions of the prison led many to deep repentance for their sins...

After two years and eight months in prison, Vladyka was released early because of the illness of his legs, and because the radio station "Voice of America" had heard about his imprisonment and taken up his cause. He was released on the Feast of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God, 1977. The joy of his flock was boundless.

However, when he recounted his meeting with Metropolitan Malkaz and the other hierarchs, many people did not believe him, saying that he had made it up and had appropriated to himself the title of metropolitan. Even those closest to him did not believe him, thinking that he had taken it for the sake of human glory. Once, after Communion at the Divine Liturgy, he came out of the altar and said:

"Look, I have just tasted of the Body and Blood of Christ, and I stand holding the Cross by the altar. Do you not believe me? How can I lie in such a position?"

And he explained that there had been no opportunity to invite witnesses into the prison, nor had it been possible to collect signatures on a piece of paper.

While Vladyka Gennadius was in prison, his disciple, Vladyka Gregory wandered around without any fixed place of residence. At one time he was living with two nuns in their house in a place called Gryazi. However, the devil put it into the mind of one of the nuns to suspect Vladyka Gregory, and she tried to expel him from her house. Before leaving the house, Vladyka sorrowfully stood up to pray in front of the icon of the Mother of God. While he was praying the second nun (who is still alive and recounted this story) was looking at him and noticed with amazement that huge tears were flowing from his eyes - tears the size of ten-kopeck coins. The drops were so big that they splashed as they fell on the floor. Gregory left, but a month later the nun who had expelled him was found to have cancer of the tongue. They gave her radiation therapy but it did not help. Her tongue began to peel off in lumps until the bone itself was exposed, after which she died...

X. THE LAST YEARS

After being released from prison, Vladyka Gennadius returned to Novy Afon. The local chief of police told him:

"You won't be allowed to live here. Leave."

And indeed, the local newspapers began to come out with stories of monastics gathering for secret services, etc. A fresh arrest seemed imminent. Once a man with a gun tried to climb in through the window of Vladyka Gennadius' room.

So he went first to the town of Eliste, where he and Vladyka T. bought a house. However, fearing a fresh arrest, the bishops decided to sell their house in Eliste and move to Vladyka T.'s homeland, where his sister had already registered a house in their name, and some nuns were already living. However, the local authorities already knew about Vladyka T. from his father, who had been shot for his true faith in God. So the bishops were not allowed to spend even one night there and had to return to Eliste.

Then, on the advice of the blessed elders, to whom it was revealed by the Spirit that they were intending to poison him, they moved again twice, ending up finally in a remote corner of Russia where a community of Catacomb nuns had already been struggling from some years.

Of this place Schema-Monk Nicander, who had the gift of prophecy (a blessing from St. John of Kronstadt), said:

"The Mother of God passed through the air over the mountains of S. Her throne is there."

It was in this fragrant corner of Holy Russia, which outwardly seemed damp and unremarkable, that the soul of the persecuted metropolitan found rest.

Once, in 1979 or 1980, Vladyka Gennadius fell seriously ill. Thinking that he was going to die, he asked to be tonsured into the great schema. But it was pleasing to God that he recover. The holy Martyr Eudocia appeared to him and said:


End of part 5
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