Hieromartyr Benjamin, Bishop Of Rybinsk

Bishop Benjamin, in the world Basil Konstantinovich Voskresensky, was born in 1871 in Ekaterinburg province. In 1906 he finished his studies atthe Yaroslavl theological seminary. In 1892 he entered the Moscow Theological

Academy, and graduated in 1896 with the degree of candidate of theology. He was ordained as a hieromonk in the same year. Then he taught in the Yaroslavl theological seminary. On September 26 / October 9, 1921 he was consecrated Bishop of Romanovo (Tutayevo), a vicariate of the Yaroslavl diocese. At the beginning of the 1920s he was condemned by the Soviet authorities, and on

June 11, 1927 he was arrested in the city of Tutayevo for "monarchist agitation". On September 23, he was sentenced to three years' exile in Kazakhstan. From 1927 to 1930 he was counted as Bishop of Rybinsk. From 1927 (according to another source, from 1930) he was again Bishop of Tutayev.

Vladyka Benjamin was considered to be a great man of prayer, an ascetic elder and a clairvoyant. He had many spiritual children.

The dean of the churches of the city of Rybinsk, Protopriest Flegont

Nikolayevich Pongilsky, demonstrated great care for the exiled Vladyka. In 1928 he sent him 1000 rubles, which was the offering of faithful Christians. Fr. Flegont was born in 1871 in the village of Karayevo, Uglich uyezd, Yaroslavl province, in the family of a priest. He finished his studies atthe Yaroslavl theological seminary and served in the church of the Mother of God in Yaroslavl. He belonged to the local Josephites and on September 7, 1929 was arrested in connection with the True Orthodox Church. On January 3, 1930 he was sentenced to three years' exile in the north. He was releasd on August 8, 1933 and returned to Yaroslavl.

During his exile (probably at the beginning of 1929) Vladyka Benjamin separated from Metropolitan Sergius. On June 16, 1929 he wrote to Fr. Flegont: "Metropolitan Sergius has begun an undertaking that is complex and difficult in its spiritual basis. Aiming to legitimize the civil situation of the Church in the contemporary State, the metropolitan has done something

without precedent in the history of the Church - an experiment in joiningtwo mutually denying elements - the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of atheism, the Kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of antichrist. Metropolitan Sergiushas always been noted for his well-known suppleness of mind. Here he has taken this suppleness beyond its measure and become its victim.

"The declaration has placed the Church in a position in relation to the contemporary State that she cannot accept while remaining the Church. Our

State has openly, in front of the whole world, inscribed on its banner atheism and the struggle with religion, with Orthodoxy in particular. It is a struggle until final victory, until the complete death of religion. The Church can never say to such a government: 'I am with our government', and to the atheist people: 'I am with our people'. The Church can never say: 'the joys and successes of our civil homeland are our joys and successes, and its our failures - our failures.' Our Christian homeland under the leadershipof the God-fighting government is being systematically and swiftly reconstructed. It is already something new, its building in all branches of its life is atheist and antichristian, an atheist homeland is being formed. The joys and successes of its atheist construction cannot be the joys of the Church. The concept of the homeland is complex. It is composed of geographical, national, political, social, everyday and religious elements. Of these only one has so far remained untouched for us - the geographical. And not even that entirely. Atheism is defiling even the land. The atheist homeland is no longer a sacred homeland. For the Christian it has ceased to be the homeland. The Christian cannot call the atheistically constructed homeland his homeland, and still less can he rejoiced in its joys and successes. The joys and successes of the atheist homeland strengthen the atheism of the homeland and for that reason cannot be the joys of the Christian.

"Metropolitan Sergius, by standing up next to atheism and the God-fighting government, by assuming to himself the joys and successes ofthe atheistically constructed, God-fighting homeland, has 'bowed' the Church of Christ under a foreign yoke with unbelievers. They say: it is possible to

distinguish the civil element from the religious. That is either an erroror a sophism. Socialism understood in an abstract sense is a purely economic

system. For that reason many think that it is possible to construct economic life without touching on religion at all. That is absurd. When the unbeliever constructs life, he will not be able to take only a part of life for his purely economic construction. He will unfailingly strive to take the whole of life for irreligious construction. The unbelieving builders are generous in their promises of complete religious freedom, that is, they are very loquacious, promising to present a certain part of life for any religion so that the whole of the rest of life may be filled with an exclusively irreligious content. But such promises are unacceptable, first, because of their very nature - their irreligiosity,.. and secondly, they will never be fulfilled by the unbelieving builders of life.

"But let us imagine an atheist government that is ideally tolerant towards religion. That does little to change the situation. The Christian, like the believer of any other religion, can never be satisfied and reconciled with atheist government.

"He knows that 'if the Lord builds not the house, they labour in vain that build it'. Therefore the irreligious tone of life, even if it is most tolerant of religion, is unacceptable as a matter of principle for the Christian and for a person of any other religion.

"Our State is carrying out the first experiment in the world; a similar process, at a lower level, is taking place in other States - there where there is separation of the Church from the State.

"The atheization of mankind is growing. Its limits are unknown. The ideological exodus for the Christian in the atheist State is a departure from the world, but there is nowhere to depart to. It is left to the Christianto sorrow and suffer, to submit to reality. He does not submits ideologically, but preserves his principles as holy objects"

In exile Vladyka Benjamin was arrested again, and by a decree of the

Kazakhstan OGPU dated September 10, 1931 was condemned to ten years in the camps. On October 5, 1932 (new style) he died in prison near the city of Krasnovodsk in Turkmenistan while he was being interrogated.

(Sources: M.E. Gubonin, Akty Svyateishago Patriarkha Tikhona, Moscow: St.

Tikhon's Theological Institute, 1994, p. 968; Russkiye Pravoslavniye Ierarkhi, Paris: YMCA Press, 1986, p. 23; Ikh Stradaniyami Ochistitsa Rus', Moscow, 1996, p. 64; V. Shkarovsky, "Novomuchenik Arkhiepiskop Veniamin i

yego ispovedaniye", Pravoslavnaya Rus', N 14 (1587), July 15/28, 1997, p.6; N 18 (1591), 15/28 September, 1997, pp. 6-7; Iosiflyanstvo, St. Petersburg: Memorial, 1999, pp. 279, 351; Bishop Ambrose (von Sievers), "Episkopat Istinno-Pravoslavnoj Katakombnoj Tserkvi 1922-1997g.", Russkoye Pravoslaviye, N 4(8), 1997, p. 5; Za Khrista Postradavshiye, Moscow: St. Tikhon's Theological Institute, 1997, p. 237; I.I. Osipova, "Skvoz' Ogn'Muchenij i

Vody Slyoz", Moscow: Serebryanniye Niti, 1998, pp. 256-257)

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