"Everybody with ears to hear and eyes to see knows that contrary to the decree on the separation of Church and state, the Orthodox Church has entered into a close alliance with the state. And what state?... a state whose government aims at the destruction of any religion on the face of the earth, and the Orthodox Church before all the others, because it justly sees in her a basic world foundation of religious faith and a first-class fortress in the struggle against materialism, atheism, theomachism and satanism (practised, according to hearsay, by some members of the contemporary powers that be)..."
Quotations from Revelation (17.3,5,6; 12.6; 18.2) are cited and followed by a comparison of the current church situation with the apocalyptic scenario of the whore sitting on a red beast. The situation is particularly tragic, he says, because "it is not a lawless, schismatic woman who saddles a beast with profane names, but a faithful woman having an image of genuine piety. In this is the chief frightening aspect of that which has been occurring before our eyes, which affects the most profound spiritual interests of the church flock. The consequences are impossible to assess even approximately; but their significance is of a global character... for now the forces of Hades are attacking [the Church] with unprecedented power... How should we behave in these terrible moments of a new threat, advancing by Satan's counsel upon our mother, the holy Orthodox Church?"
He quotes Revelation 18:1-2 and 4, on the coming of an angel, whereupon Babylon and the great whore fell down. But he warns the recipient of the letter that he is not mechanically asserting that the present reality is the fulfilment of these apocalyptic prophecies: "I only trace a dotted line between the apocalypse and the contemporary church developments, which involuntarily direct our thoughts toward these prophetic images. Even in the Old Testament one can see how in some cases prophecies at first were fulfilled on a small scale only to be later expressed in a loftier and final fulfilment... Neither scholarship of the broadest possible scope, nor the deepest natural intelligence, nor the finest powers of mysticism can satisfactorily grasp God's secrets. [In the present Russian church developments] we come into contact with the final secret of the terrestrial existence of the Church and of mankind...
"... In the words of Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov,... whoever does not obtain the Kingdom of God within oneself will not recognize the Antichrist, and will inevitably... become his follower; he will not recognize the coming of the end of the world... Obscured by its terrestrial reasoning mankind will refuse to believe in the second coming of Christ altogether...
"There is no doubt whatsoever that the 'dark power' dominating today thinks, argues and acts in the style of such blasphemers... But isn't it possible that the contemporary churchmen... having entered into a relationship with the blasphemers of this world,... will treat the thoughts of my soul as nothing but 'madness, worthy of contempt'?
"Recently a bishop supporting Sergius' orientation threatened... that Sergius' opponents would become such a small minority as to be eventually reduced to one of a multitude of small sects. How pitiful is such an argument in defence of the newly born 'Soviet Orthodox Church'!... Has the bishop forgotten the multitude of apostolic prophecies on the reduction of faithand the dissemination of all sorts of false teachings in the latter days?...
"Pluralism and majorities are necessary for parliaments and parties but not for God's Church, which is the pillar and foundation of faith, independently of the above categories and even in contradiction of them.
"... Some two or three weeks ago... a blessed woman, when asked about Metropolitan Sergius and reminded that he was not a heretic, said: 'So what?... He is worse than a heretic. He has bowed to the Antichrist, and,if he does not repent, his destiny is in hell together with the satanists.'
"All this... forces the living faithful souls to be on the alert andto watch the picture of the woman saddling the beast with great attention. These people sense a new and unprecedented danger for Christ's Church and, naturally, ring the alarm bell. Most of them are in no hurry to make a final break with the church 'adulterers' in the hope that their conscience has not entirely burned out... God grant that it be so, but in the depth of my soul I have deep doubts, and yet avoid dotting the i's. Let... the Lord do this.And let Him also protect us from superficial haste as well as from a criminally indifferent sluggishness in this terrifyingly responsible situation into which we have been placed by the will of God's Providence."
In another document attributed to Vladyka Theodore, which was entitled "A Letter from a Bishop who has Departed [from Metropolitan Sergius] to a Bishop who has not Departed" and published abroad in 1933, the author writes: "The Russian Orthodox Church, by the Providence of God, has been placed, of necessity, to live in a realm of an entirely unusual sort (Rev. 2.13) which is initiating a new culture and civilization, is founding a new politicaland socio-economic order, a new way of life, a new understanding of family, anew and extraordinary personality on an atheistic and materialistic foundation... Enigmatic words of the Old and New Testaments which have hitherto been obscure have been rendered concrete before our eyes with marvellous clarity; and I, sinful as I am, make so bold as to maintain, on the bases of exegeses of the Holy Fathers which relate to passages from the Word of God, that on the territory of the Soviet Union the Orthodox Church has entered the eraof the 'falling away' - the apostasy (II Thess. 2.3), the sphere of influence of the harlot of the Apocalypse (Rev. 17) who is awakening to the universal activity at the end of the iron-clay period of the final human kingdom (Dan. 11.40-43).
"The recent past confirms our conviction and indicates that even nowthe time draws nigh when, for the good of the Church, we will have to renounce the legalization even of ecclesiastical communal organizations and returnto the pre-Nicaean forms of Church life, when Christian societies were organized and united, not by administrative institutions, but by the Holy Spirit.... [In the iconoclast period] the Orthodox Church was found in deserts, caves, tombs (St. Methodius), prisons, exile and grievous labors. And such tribulations for the Orthodox continued not for ten years, as now, but for one hundred and twenty years, with brief intervals of respite for Orthodoxy. And side by side with the impoverished Orthodox Church, legality and prosperity were enjoyed by the harlot-church which, through lawless obedience to the legal authority, obtained for herself a tranquil and undisturbed life."
From 1925 to 1927 Vladyka Theodore was in exile in the cities of Turgai and Orsk. From 1927 to 1929 he lived in Vladimir.
When he was living in Vladimir, he summoned to himself Archimandrite Simeon, who after the closure of the Danilov monastery lived with some pious sisters in Moscow. Fr. Simeon's cell-attendant Michael Karelin remembers life in Vladimir: "Fr. Simeon had a cell-attendant, Nun Seraphima (Lidia Sergeyevna). We often took batyushka out into the garden. The Danilovites came to us: Fr. Polycarp (Archimandrite Polycarp (Solovyov), deputy of the monastery from 1920 to 1927) and Fr. Stefan (Archimandrite Stefan (Safonov), deputy of the monastery from 1927 to 1930). Fr. Polycarp and Fr. Stefan served while Mother Hermogena and Fr. Simeon chanted. Batyushka Fr. Simeon was ecstatic - he was a great lover of chanting. Vladyka [Theodore] served in a very concentrated, serious manner. Between Fr. Simeon and Vladyka therewas an exceptional agreement and mutual love It was touching to see Vladyka talking with batyushka. They were as one soul
" Fr. Stefan had a cat, and played the fool a little. But Fr. Polycarp was always very inwardly collected. He knew the Holy Scriptures very well. It would happen that while Vladyka was talking with Fr. Simeon he would remember some passage in the Holy Scriptures or from the Holy Fathers
"'Abba,' he would say, turning to Fr. Polycarp, 'don't you remember?' And Fr. Polycarp would unfailingly reply"
These two deputies, Fr. Polycarp and Fr. Stefan, remained loyal to Archbishop Theodore. However, when Vladyka first instructed the brotherhood of the monastery not to commemorate Metropolitan Sergius in 1927, a part of the brotherhood were under the influence of the spiritual father Archimandrite George (Lavrov), a man of unquestionably lofty spiritual life, but who through his simplicity did not see the hidden danger for the moral condition of the children of the Church that proceeded from the actions and ideology of Metropolitan Sergius. And so by 1929 the brotherhood was divided into "commemorators" and "non-commemorators", and they did not serve together but took turns in the church with the relics of St. Daniel standing in the middle of the church and dividing them from each other. However, the disobedient part of the brotherhood still continued to recognize the authority of Vladyka Theodore and humbly made the prostrations which Vladyka prescribed as penances for those who continued to commemorate Metropolitan Sergius.
In 1928, according to Metropolitan Eleutherius of Vilnius, Vladyka Theodore was living in Samara or Saratov province, being forbidden to enter Moscow. It was in this year, according to one source, that, through Hieromonk Nathaniel, he signed the decisions of the so-called "Nomadic Council" of the Catacomb Church, which took place in various places between March and August, 1928.
It was at this time that the first traitors appeared in Vladyka Theodore's own circle. "In 1929," writes Archbishop Leontius, "as I was returning to Kiev, I again visited Metropolitan Sergius in Moscow on behalf of the leadership of the [Kiev Caves] Lavra. He was still more restrictedin his activities. At that time Archimandrites Pitirim and Sergius (Voskresensky) attended on Metropolitan Sergius. Archimandrite Sergius was a pupil of Archbishop Theodore. But now he was with Metropolitan Sergius in spite of the evident displeasure of Archbishop Theodore. Archbishop Theodore did not want him to remain in that circle, which was so abhorrent to him in all respects. But Archimandrite Sergius did not listen to the voice of his spiritual father from prison [from 1924 Vladyka Theodore was almost neverout of prison] and preferred the Moscow Patriarchate. Here, as was only to be expected, he immersed himself head over heels in the whole complex, unsavoury system of church administration, and also took part in contacts with the Soviet authorities in relation to church matters, which had a disastrous effect on the susceptible, ardent and gifted, but still not sufficiently morally grounded nature of Archimandrite Sergius..."
In this period, Vladyka Theodore emerged as one of the most clear-eyed and determined opponents of Metropolitan Sergius. He considered Sergius to be deprived of the grace of sacraments, and until his death himself sent the Holy Gifts to his spiritual children. For his principled defence of the persecuted, truly Orthodox Church against the sergianists, he was to pay dearly...
In 1929 Vladyka Theodore was arrested in Vladimir and sentenced to three years in the camps, and until 1932 was in Ladeinoye Polye in Svirlag.
The Path to Golgotha (1930-1937)
Vladyka Theodore wrote: "If the whole history of the life of man on earth from its cradle could by some miracle be unfurled like a huge scroll before our eyes, then each of us would, of course, see the words: 'Weeping, groaning and sorrow' written in fiery and bloody letters. And so this is the time when 'WEEPING, GROANING AND SORROW' have passed throughout the country."
And the sorrow was made incomparably deeper by the knowledge that the official Russian Church, in the person of its leader, Metropolitan Sergius, had betrayed the spiritual freedom and dignity of the Church for a mess of pottage. Nor was he to be moved from his position by the weeping and groaning of those who wrote to him from the prisons and exile. And so, writes I.M.
Andreyev, "after all those who openly protested had been 'liquidated' by the punitive organs of the God-fighting state, the True Orthodox Church went into the catacombs."
The Danilov monastery, being one of the main centres of opposition to Metropolitan Sergius and his betrayal of the Russian Church, was closed in 1930. Then the brothers moved from the monastery church of the Fathers ofthe Seventh Ecumenical Councils to the parish church of the Resurrection of the Word. Praskovya Emelyanova Machkina recalls: "Once, when the monks were already praying in the church of the Resurrection of the Word, the superior ordered that the authorities be commemorated. The warden, a simple woman,
objected: 'Vladyka does not allow this.' 'That is no concern of mine,' said the priest; 'I am the superior here.' They decided to go to Vladyka, who ordered them not to commemorate the authorities, otherwise they were no longer to call him their superior. But when Vladyka learned that the brothers were not obeying him, he sent them a penance: forty days of prostrations before the reliquary of Prince Daniel." Since the supporters of Metropolitan Sergius gradually gained the upper hand in the church of the Resurrection, Vladyka ceased to consider it as "his". So when he secretly came to Moscow from Vladimir to say goodbye to the relics of St. Daniel, and was invitedby the parishioners to serve, he said that they would first have to ask the permission of Metropolitan Sergius since this church was under his influence. Naturally, Vladyka did not want to secretly enter the church and start a service without the permission of the "masters", since this would more than likely end with his being denounced and arrested.
Vladyka's disciples and friends were scattered over the face of Russia, but remained faithful to his spiritual testament. Thus Archimandrite Simeon (Kholmogorov) had to move to Kirzhach, where he was arrested, and not only he, but also all those who helped him or nursed him there. His case was linked to that of Archbishop Theodore; they were both accused of counter-revolutionary activity. And he won his martyr's crown in the same year as Vladyka - 1937.
Hieromonk Arsenius (Troitsky) confessed another of Vladyka's disciples, the Monk Michael (Terpugov), as he lay dying in a strict regime camp in 1952. He wrote: "The confession of the dying Michael gave him the possibility of seeing how, in the unimaginably difficult conditions of contemporary life, in a time of revolutionary upheavals, of the cult of personality, of difficult human relations, of the official support of atheism, of the general reviling of faith, of the fall of morality, of constant spying and interrogations and the absence of spiritual direction, a man of deep faith could overcome all hindrances and be with God.
"Michael did not go towards God in a skete or a remote monastic cell, but in the hubbub of life, in its dirt, in the cruel struggle with the surrounding forces of evil, atheism and theomachism. He had practically no spiritual direction, only chance meetings with three or four priests and a joyful communication almost once a year from Vladyka Theodore, who tonsured Michael into monasticism, and then two or three short letters from him, and an ineradicable, burning desire to keep on going towards the Lord.
"'Have I gone along the path of faith, have I gone as I should towards God, or have I gone incorrectly? I do not know,' said Michael.
"But Fr. Arsenius saw that not only had Michael not departed from the path that had been mapped out for him, onto which Vladyka Theodore had directed him, but he had gone a long, long way along this path, catching up with and overtaking his teachers..."
In 1932 Vladyka Theodore was released from Svirlag and six months living in secret near Kashira returned to Vladimir. There he was tonsured into the schema with the name Daniel. In 1933 he was arrested in connection with the affair of the "Party for the Regeneration of Russia" and on July 24 was sentenced to three years in exile.
According to new information based on the protocols of his interrogation in 1937, Archbishop Theodore was sent to Zaraisk in 1934, where he had some correspondence with Archbishop Bartholomew (Remov), a close co-worker of Metropolitan Sergius. Then, in January, 1935, he was moved to Archangelsk, where he lived in the flat of another exile, Fr. Spiridon Piunkov. They lived together there for about a month, after which Fr. Spiridon moved to another flat while Vladyka remained in his flat. But they continued to meet until
May, 1935, that is, until the moment of Vladyka's transfer to Syktyvar.
There is some evidence from the protocols that at this time there took place a "Little Council" of Catacomb bishops in Archangelsk in which Archbishop Theodore took part. The hierarchs discussed an epistle issued by Archbishop Seraphim of Uglich in the previous year, in which Metropolitan Sergius was declared to be under ban for his actions since 1927.
In May Vladyka was sent to Ust-Sysolsk, near Syktyvar, a region that had been converted to the faith by St. Stephen of Perm and had been blessed by an abundance of churches and monasteries, but which was now covered by a multitude of camps and stained with the blood of innumerable martyrs and confessors. It had a dry, continental climate with long, very cold winters (the temperature sometimes dropped to -56 degrees) and short, hot summers (the temperature sometimes rose to 44 degrees). Vladyka lived in Tentyukov village, Desyatkov sloboda, near Ust-Sysolsk.
He lived one house with Alexandra Ipatyevna Koretnikova and Alexander Alexeyevich Alexeyev. A. Alexeyev worked as a stoker in some kind of clinic; he was a believer and behaved humbly. Earlier, Alexander had been a novice in the Danilov monastery and a cell-attendant of Archimandrite Simeon (Kholmogorov). The latter sent him to help Vladyka Theodore from the cityof Vladimir.
Vladyka was helped in exile by the Red Cross and by his sister, Elizabeth Vasilyevna Pozdeyevskaya.
In the same village there lived Blessed Alexander Sorvachev, whom many people went to for advice, and of whom one eye-witness wrote: "The road to Verkhnij Chov went through Tentyukovo and at the end of the village turned into a forest. Along the forest road moved a column of prisoners with guards on horses on either side. And in the same direction there wound lines of women whose husbands were suffering in the camps. Many were not allowed to correspond with or meet their husbands, so that some of the women went to Chov on the off chance, not knowing even whether their husbands were there, or whether they were alive. The local authorities had issued an order that these wandering women should not be given a place to sleep. The archives do not tell us where they spent the night, or beside what fires they shared their woes with each other. But during the nights legends were born concerning the contemporary fool-for-Christ, Blessed Alexander. He had the gift of prophecy, everybody knew that he could tell you the truth. He spoke about many things in an oblique way, but he always spoke definitively about the most important thing: whether a man was alive or not. And if some woman particularly pressed him, Alexander would be disturbed and almost wept: 'He is no longer alive, he has been killed!' - as if he saw the dead man with his own eyes."
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