After my death our beloved Church abroad will break three ways ... first the Greeks will leave us as they were never a part of us ... then those who live for this world and its glory will go to Moscow ... what will remain will be those souls faithful to Christ and His Church. ~St. Philaret of NY


No to homo wedding cakes

USA Supreme Court ruling in favor of religious freedom

Five Things to Know About the Baker Case

Jack Philips, a Denver baker who declined to create a custom cake for a same-sex wedding, got some good news today from the United State’s Supreme Court when they ruled that the state of Colorado violated the Constitution in the way they treated him.
The case arose out of a familiar set of facts. Six years ago, Jack Phillips was approached about making a cake for a same-sex “wedding” at a time when same-sex marriage didn’t even exist in Colorado. He declined, citing his beliefs about marriage and emphasized that he serves all people, but he does not participate in all events or communicate all messages.  Unfortunately, his kindness in standing on his conviction was not satisfactory.
After a complaint was filed with the Colorado Human Right’s Commission, the commission, among other things, told Jack he could not bake any wedding cakes at all and sent his employees (most of them, family) to government re-education programs that told them why Jack was wrong to do what he did.

...the commission sent his employees to government re-education programs...

In reaching their decision, the Supreme Court highlighted the hostility the commission showed toward Mr. Philips and his beliefs, saying that the commission failed their constitutional obligation to religious neutrality.
While there’s certain to be a lot of chatter about this case for quite a while, here are a few things worth remembering.
  1. Jack won: In many circles, the conversation about this decision immediately focused on what the decision didn’t do. But let’s not forget the outcome in all the speculation. Jack won! For all the real challenges we are facing, and all the real threats to religious freedom, a supermajority of the Supreme Court stood for the proposition that America still aspires to be a pluralistic society where people are free to have different ideas without being punished by their government.  This is good news and we should celebrate it.
  2. The left’s goal of “Punishing the Wicked” is unconstitutional: After the Supreme Court invented a right to marry someone of the same gender in 2015, many on the left interpreted it to mean that they had triumphed.  They convinced themselves that the decision established, once and for all, the idea that homosexuality and heterosexuality are morally equivalent in all respects and that any suggestion otherwise was bigotry.  As a result, they spoke openly about the need to “punish the wicked” (that’s all of us) and use the leverage of government at every level to do so.  In today’s decision, the court emphasized that people on both sides of the debate over marriage have rights and dignity interests that governments at all level are obligated to respect.
  3. It wasn’t a narrow decision: While many headlines discussing this case emphasized on how “narrow” the decision was, those headlines were an attempt to minimize the significance of the 7-2 decision. When justices Kagan, Kennedy, and Gorsuch come together on an opinion, it’s not narrow.   The idea that government should be able to harass “religious bigots” however they want is mainstream in the progressive circles that drive the left’s political agenda. The fact that mainstream progressives are now too extreme for Breyer and Kagan is all you need to know about how far left the left has gone.
  4. We still don’t know if custom cake art is constitutionally protected speech. The majority opinion in this case essentially boils down to this.  “There are a lot of fascinating legal questions this case raises that we don’t have to answer because the Human Rights Commission in Colorado is run by a bunch of bullies.” As a result, the Court never decided the more fundamental question of whether forcing someone to do custom cake art for a same-sex wedding violates the Free Speech of the cake artist.  This question has implications far beyond bakeries.  Here in Washington State, Barronelle Stutzman and Arlene’s Flowers are asking the same question about custom floral arrangements.  In similar cases, calligraphers, videographers, and t-shirt printers are still wondering whether governments can force them to communicate ideas they disagree with.  Based on the concurring decisions, we know that Thomas and Gorsuch are eager to say that expressive art like custom cakes is constitutionally protected speech and that Sotomayor and Ginsberg are keen to say that it is not.  How do the other five Justices feel?  We’ll have to wait and see.
  5. There are no losers in this decision. While the bullies at the Colorado Human Right’s Commission lost this case in a legal sense, the outcome is a win for everyone who values individual rights.  Even if we don’t share Jack Phillips convictions about what marriage is, there are other issues that we have equally strong beliefs about.  If Jack is free to decide for himself what events he participates in and what messages he communicates, then so is everyone else.  This means that the Democrat baker won’t have to create the #MAGA cake if he doesn’t want to or the lesbian print shop won’t have to create a flyer critical of same-sex “marriage” for a fundamentalist customer if she doesn’t want to.  Yes, freedom creates opportunities for people to do things we don’t like, but its a lot better than the alternative.
Special thanks to our friends at the Alliance Defending Freedom, who represent people like Jack Phillips for free and defend the religious freedom rights of all of us, as well as Washington’s own Kristen Waggoner who argued Jack’s case on his behalf at the United States Supreme Court and secured today’s victory.
But under no circumstances should anyone get comfortable.  Today’s decision is a good step in the right direction, but the struggle to preserve religious freedom for generations to come is just getting started.


Fr. Victor's email HACKED

Notice the "reply to" address is different from the sender address.  ~jh

Union Woes ROCOR-MP increased financial debts

C o l o r f u l    Q u o t e
o f    t h e    D a y

 "Calling now to the members of ROCOR-MP to come out of the MP, is like calling a rabbit to return from, to come out of, the stomach of a boa constrictor which has already swallowed it.

 It's over/too late!, - the rabbit has already been digested and has become a part of the body/flesh of the boa constrictor"

~ Vladyka Agafangel    2018July27

Machine Translation with human grammatical corrections and clarifications.

 ROCOR-MP: its clergy and its 'financial exchange' with the MP – since the union debts have sharply increased.
Yury Soldatov  2018 July 27 

     Both the  clergy and the ROCOR believers who joined the Moscow Patriarchate in 2007 are concerned about the further fate, financial and otherwise, of the metropolia/ROCOR/MP in connection with its difficult material situation.  After the 2007 union, the incomes in ROCOR/MP fell, while the expenses for the necessary repairs, administration, publications and the continuation of missionary activity, have been ... growing larger.  In addition, inflation is growing and the dollar's value is falling.  ROCOR/MP believers are worried by rumors that the Metropolitanate of the ROCA-MP, although it became part of the Moscow Patriarchate, financially no longer has, as it had in the past, the means to support its needs.  Also, the rumors about the 'transfer of funds' [sucking off of its monies]  from foreign financial institutions [i.e. from the 'foreign' ROCOR/MP] to the Russian Federation, are disturbing.  Many are interested learning,  who exactly is guilty of this situation?  It causes the ROCOR/MP  flock to distrust its clergy.

     Both priests and believers in the parishes have recently learned how and by whom financial savings were transferred to the Russian Federation, for what reason it happened, who made the decisions, and also they have learned that it is not yet possible to make use of for themselves, or return to them, the transferred  savings which have been sent to Russia.

     The amount of information publically available about what has been transferred to the Russian Federation is a 'different' story, but only a few members of the ROCOR/MP Synod and its treasurers, know for sure, how much ROCOR/MP had invested in the shares, which now are not as easy to implement/gain access to by them,  as it could have been done within  the US, where, in extreme cases, it is still possible to be returned/recover  the funds back, albeit with a partial financial loss.

     Having shares and using them as property/collateral, one can make loans from financial institutions, with a extra payment of additional interest.  Due to a lack of material resources in many places of the Foreign-Metropolia-ROCOR/MP, there were difficulties with the necessary restoration work and the normal ongoing required physical building-upkeep in monasteries, cathedrals and temples.  Also there are no financial resources for the preparation/training  of the clergy.  The foreign metropolis, the ROCOR/MP, is the smallest within/under  the Moscow Patriarchate; so now the Synod of the MP does not pay much attention to it or care about its problems.  It is not in the interests of the Kremlin's pro-communist authorities who are more eager to introduce their agents into other countries.... than to help 'foreigners'-ROCOR/MP to save their souls and to preserve their storage of their spiritual and cultural values of old pre-communist Historical Russia.  Against the spiritual and cultural values of the people, the Kremlin's ruling  government, since the 1917 revolution, has fought/struggled to take and to keep its power and monies.  And it will continue to do so, as long as there exists an ungodly communist government there, no matter what new relabeled official name it calls itself or its agents.

     Before the 2007 conclusion of the union of [part of] the old ROCOR with the MP, both the current neo-communist government and the patriarchate were interested in the ROCA, its museums and in the various organizations of 'foreigners'/Russians in diaspora, wishing to take from them, everything from them, the  Russians in the diaspora, and to put it all under their control.  The seduction of the clergy and of the influential people in Foreign Russia/the old pre-2007 ROCOR, was shrewdly planned by the communist rulers in a devilish manner.  In the Holy Trinity Monastery, at Jordanville New York, USA,  the implanted agents had begun to claim and to suggest that it would be good for those elderly ROCOR clergy in retirement, to have a haven near the monastery - best of all, built on the monastery's land 'beyond the far lake'.  There, to transfer from the road at the Jordanville monastery's guest-hotel, and at that location, to build there  a home for the elderly.  One should hire a gardener to spray/pollinate the apple trees, which have gone wild and do not produce as much fruit as before.  Across the road, then build a new building on the site of the now collapsing building - the dormitory of the seminarians.  In the monastery itself, make an extension to the chancery/'concellarium' and an added new vast storage area.  Similar plans for expanding church activities, for ROCOR/MP, were mentioned also in Australia.  In Germany, it was also suggested that there are needed improvements which should be made to the Munich Monastery, for the current training of the future ROCOR/MP clergy for all European countries.  And under 'The Synod' [the headquarters in New York city] itself, it would also be good to make necessary improvements.  To implement the plans discussed, large financial resources are needed, [it was warned] and as their source was indicated the possibility of placing/transferring ROCOR monies to the Russian Federation, where only in one month it would be possible to receive interest income from five to ten percent.  This would help, they said, in the restoration of the Russian Church and of the 'new not-Soviet' Russia, and extensive work was thus begun in the Abroad/ROCOR/MP.  The Kremlin rulers and the MP, under the guise of [i.e. taking advantage of] the  patriotic and missionary feelings, of Russians in diaspora, created a bridgehead among the Zarubezhye ('Old Emigration') of diaspora Russians, among Russian emigrants...  for the seizure/taking of their resources by Russia.  This goal of  the Kremlin and the MP was achieved.  And, after the seizure was accomplished,  interest in Russians overseas almost ceased.  What can the enslaved part of the Russian Orthodox Church offer to the rulers of the Kremlin and the MP?

     She - The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia – already gave away everything that she had, including her precious  canonicity that had been preserved in it so very carefully since the time of St. Patriarch Tikhon!

     Treacherously, the ROCOR/MP handed over to the pro-Soviet regime all her documentation and archives.

     Betrayed even as obedient slaves, according to the canons of the Church, were many old-ROCOR clerics who believed in/trusted  their spiritual leadership and their duty of obedience to higher episcopal authority, in their sincere devotion to the Holy Church.

     What can the ROCOR/MP Synod, headed by Metropolitan Hilarion-Kapral, and the ROCOR/MP believers living in Western Europe, America, or Australia, the Middle East and Asia, do now?

What can ROCOR-MP do now?

     The best thing for them, for the sake of themselves... is for them to return to the path of Truth to Christ and His Holy Apostolic Church, and for them to simply forget about the losses of their past material properties or wealth, considering such material losses... as if.... they were all 'a business loss',  and to start over.... the work that the Savior bequeathed: by declaring their independence from the Moscow Patriarchate and from the government of the Russian Federation, on the same grounds as the past noble ROCOR Metropolitans Anthony, Anastasy, Filaret and Vitaly had done  at the time of ROCOR's  First Hierarchs, before the pernicious union of 2007 was adopted.  The Lord will help them, as He has done before, to unite the believers and the entire faithful of the ROC-abroad around  ROCA, and it will forgive the shepherds tempted by material opportunities and who got lost in the affairs of this fallen evil world.  They should not listen to the deliberately-spread communist-propaganda rumors, about the inevitable collapse of the capitalist countries, as the deceased Vladimir Ilyich falsely prophesied, and now his faithful follower in his communist plans, Vladimir Vladimirovich, who two years ago in an interview stated that he, like 20 million others, was in the Communist Party and the KBG, himself being a convinced communist, and that he did not destroy his party membership card.  The party broke up, Putin said, but he loved the ideas of the CPSU [Soviet Socialist Union] and its code/scheme plan, for building peace [i.e. utopia].  So, as we see from this and other public confessions of the "leader" - he, [Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin]  as before, remains loyal and true to his communist ideas and to his faith in the triumph of communism throughout the world, and he does everything he can do possible, for this cause, including undermining faith in the governments of other countries which are not in the sphere/under the influence/domination of his Russian Federation.  Therefore, one can suspect that panic-creating rumors about the possible financial and political situation in Western countries, are not so deplorable [in reality] as they are described by some experts and correspondents who are exposed to such false disaster-influences and rumors.  The fact that he [Vladimir V. Putin] and the other Communists took a big part in the seduction of the ROCOR clergy into that 2007 union with the MP, is undoubted among the foreigners who know as well the truth regarding the real purposes for which this was accomplished, and what they [the current neo-communist rulers of Russia] wish to achieve in the future.  And since their work is directed against Christianity, the only way for believers is to rally around the Church of Christ to fight evil.

     As for other Orthodox believers who are anti-MP, [those in the various 'fragment' Russian diaspora 'fragments'...or those inside of the Russian Federation too] who will not join the MP,or wish to flee from it, they should not listen to any rumors, but rather pray to the Savior for the return to the ROCA of believers seduced by their spiritual leaders in 2005 and who continue to take care of/supervise their salvation.  Instead, move rather to the Church [ROCOR] which, although it is not so numerous in membership as compared to its composition previously, and which, according to the diabolical precept, as well as it was done before by the Kremlin, which has spread rumors about the cessation of its salvific activity. [i.e. The MP claims that only it is THE sole canonical Russian Church and thus it alone has grace/is salvific, while all those others, such as all ROCOR-'fragments' are schismatics and without grace and non-Orthodox.]  ROCOR throughout the world continues to spiritually nourish its flock, because believers know that the Church of Christ will be in this world until the end of the age, that is, before the arrival/Second Coming  of the Savior.  For true Orthodox, the possession of property and financial savings is not important, it does not matter to them whether the communist Kremlin will return material assets transferred under its orders and to its control, or in what condition the financial market will be in Russia and what will be the price of shares in New York or other world-wide stock exchanges.  It is important for believers to be in the True Church, in which they teach that which the Saviour taught, His Apostles and then the Saints in the Catacomb Church in the USSR and in Foreign Russia/ROCOR, since the time of St. Patriarch Tikhon.

A Sticheron Vespers St. Gabriel

Synaxis of the Holy Archangel Gabriel 
13/26 July

Great Vesper tone IV special melody, "Thou hast given a sign..."
last sticheron on "Lord I have cried..."

Quell the ragings of the Moslems that often beset thy flock;
cause the schisms of the Church to cease;
calm the surging of the countless temptations;
from perils and evil circumstances 
deliver those who with love honor thee
and have recourse to thy protection, 
O Gabriel, supreme commander, intercessor for our souls.
page 214 July Menaion

related post:

Interview with Grand Duchess Elizabeth

From Inside The Russian Revolution
by Rheta Childe Dorr
New York, The MacMillan Company
A reprint of this book is available from the Ayer Publishing website.

An American Interview with Grand Duchess Elizabeth in 1917


The House of Mary and Martha 

On the afternoon of the day when Nicholas II, deposed emperor and autocrat of all the Russias, with his wife and children left Tsarskoe Selo and began the long journey toward their place of exile in Siberia, I sat in a peaceful convent room in Moscow and talked with almost the last remaining member of the royal family left in complete freedom in the empire.  This was Elizabeth Fyodorovna, sister of the former empress and widow of the Grand Duke Serge, uncle of the emperor.  The Grand Duke Serge was assassinated, blown to pieces by a bomb, almost before the eyes of his wife, by a revolutionist on February 4 old style, 1905.  He was killed when going to join the Grand Duchess in one of the churches of the Kremlin in Moscow.  She rushed out and saw his mutilated remains lying in the snow.  The Grand Duchess Serge had long been known as a noble and saintly woman, and her conduct following the horrible death of her husband perfectly illustrates her character.  She besought the Czar to commute the death sentence passed upon the assassin, and when he refused she went to the prison where the wretched man waited his death, gained admission to his cell, and almost to the end prayed with him and comforted him.  No children had ever been born to her, and after the event which cut the last tie that bound her to the life of royal pomp and glitter she retired from society and gave herself up to religion.  As soon as possible she became a nun.  Her private fortune, to the last rouble, investments, palaces, furniture, art treasures, jewels, motor cars, sables and other fine raiment were turned into cash and the money used to build a convent and to found an order of which she became the lady abbess.  The Grand Duchess Serge literally obeyed the edict of Christ to the rich young man: "Sell all thou hast and give it to the poor.”

The Convent of Mary and Martha, of the Order of Mercy in Moscow, is a living token of her great sacrifice.  Here for the past eight years she has lived and worked among her nuns, at least one of whom was a court lady, and many of whom are women from the intellectual classes.  Some of the nuns were from humble households, for the order is perfectly democratic.  Every one who enters the House of Mary and Martha does so with the understanding that her life is to be spent in service, spiritual service such as Mary of the Gospels gave, and material service such as the practical Martha rendered her Lord.  The somewhat dreamy and passive Russians will tell you that Elizabeth Fyodorovna's convent is one of the most efficient institutions in the empire, and they usually add: "They say she makes her nuns work terribly hard.”

When the days of revolution came, in February, 1917, a great mob went to the House of Mary and Martha, battered the gates open and swarmed up the convent steps demanding admission.  The door opened and a tall, grave woman in a pale silvergray habit and white veil stepped out into the porch and asked the mob what it wanted.

"We want that German woman, that sister of the German spy in Tsarskoe Selo," yelled the mob.  "We want the Grand Duchess Serge."

Tall and white, like a lily, the woman stood there.  "I am the Grand Duchess Serge," she replied in a clear voice that floated above the clamor.  "What do you want with me?”

"We have come to arrest you," they shouted.  "Very well," was the calm reply.  "If you want to arrest me I shall have to go with you, of course.  But I have a rule that before I leave the convent for any purpose I always go into the church and pray.  Come with me into the church, and after I have prayed I will go with you.”

She turned and walked across the garden to the church, the mob following.  As many as could crowd into the small building followed her there.  Before the altar door she knelt, and her nuns came and knelt around her weeping.  The Grand Duchess did not weep.  She prayed for a moment, crossed herself then stood up and stretched her hands to the silent, staring mob.

"I am ready to go now," she said.

But not a hand was lifted to take Elizabeth Fyodorovna.  What Kerensky could not have done, what no police force in Russia could have done with those men that day, her perfect courage and humility did.  It cowed and conquered hostility, it dispersed the mob.  That great crowd of liberty-drunk, bloodmad men went quietly home, leaving a guard to protect the convent.  It is probably the only spot in Russia to-day where absolute inviolability may be said to exist for any members of the hated "bourju," as the Bolsheviki call the intellectual classes.

On the August day when I rang the bell of the convent's massive brown gate I did not really know that I was to see and speak with the grand duchess.  Mr. William L. Cazalet, of Moscow, the friend who took me there, doubted very much whether I could be received thus informally, without a previous appointment.  The gravity of the times, and especially the situation of the Romanoff family, placed the Grand Duchess Serge in a position of extreme delicacy, and Mr. Cazalet said frankly that he expected to find her living in strict retirement.  The best he could promise, he said, was that I should see the convent, where one of his young cousins was a nun.

The convent, which is situated in the heart of Moscow, is a group of white stone and stucco houses built around an old garden and surrounded by a high white wall, over which vines and foliage ramble and fall.  A key turned, the brown gate swung open to our ring and we stepped into a garden running over with the richest bloom.  I remember the pink and white sweet-peas against the wall, the white madonna lilies that nodded below and the carpet of gay verbenas that ran along the pathway to the convent door.  There were many old apple trees and a forest of lilacs, purple and white.

In her small room, combination of office and living room, we were received by the executive head of the convent, Mme. Gardeeve, for many years the intimate friend of Elizabeth Fyodorovna.  Like the grand duchess she had had a life full of tears and tribulation, in spite of her rank and wealth, and when the grand duchess took the veil she followed her example and became a nun.  The business of the convent is transacted under her direction, and most ably, I was told.  Efficiency and ability are written in every feature of Mme. Gardeeve's fine face, in her crisp, clear voice and quick though graceful movements.  Her enunciation was a joy to hear, an especial joy to me, for I have difficulty in understanding the rather indistinct French spoken by the average Russian.  Mme. Gardeeve's French was of that perfect kind you hear spoken in Tours more often than in Paris or elsewhere.  I understood every word.  Woman of the world to her finger tips, Mme. Gardeeve wore the picturesque habit of the order with the same grace that she would have worn the latest creation of the ateliers.  She smiled and chatted with Mr. Cazalet, who is very well known in the convent, and was most kind and cordial to me.  After a few minutes' conversation my friend said to her that I had told him some extremely interesting things about public schools in America, and he wanted me to repeat them to her.

So I told her something about the extraordinary experiments that have been worked out in Gary, Indiana, and the work that was being done in New York and elsewhere to give children, rich and poor alike, the complete education they merit.  As I talked she exclaimed from time to time: "But it is excellent!  I find it admirable!  The Grand Duchess should hear of this!”

I said hopefully that I would like very much to meet the Grand Duchess and she replied she thought it might be arranged.  Not to-day, however, as the Grand Duchess's time was completely filled.  How long did I expect to remain in Moscow?  A week?  It could certainly be arranged, she thought.  Meanwhile what would I like to see of the convent?  Everything?  She laughed and touched a little bell on the desk beside her.  A little nun appeared and Mme. Gardeeve handed me over to her with orders that I was to see everything.

I saw a small but perfectly equipped hospital, with an operating room complete in all its details.  The hospital had been devoted to poor women and children before the war.  Now most of the wards are filled with wounded soldiers.  I saw a room filled with blinded soldiers who were being taught to read Braille type by sweet-faced nuns.  Blindness is bitter hard for any man, but for illiterates it must be blank despair.  I saw a house full of refugee nuns from the invaded districts of Poland.  I saw an orphanage full of slain soldiers' children.  I lingered long in the lovely garden where nuns were at work, some with their habits tucked up, among the potato rows, some pruning trees and hedges, some sweeping the gravel paths with besoms made of twigs, some teaching the orphan girls to embroider at big frames, to knit and to sew.  They made a fascinating picture, and I could hardly leave them even to see the church, which is one of the most beautiful small gems of architecture to be found in Europe.  I never really saw that church at all, as it turned out, for just as we entered and I was getting a first impression of its blue and white and gold beauty, a messenger hastily opened the door and said that the Grand Duchess wanted to see me.

We went back to the convent and I was taken to a tiny parlor, which is the private retreat of the Lady Abbess.  It is not much bigger than a hall bedroom, and it gave the same general impression of blue and white and gold that one sees throughout the place.  There were many books bound in the lapis blue which seems to be the Grand Duchess's favorite color; a few pictures, mostly of the Madonna and Child; some small tables, one with Stephen Graham's book, "The House of Mary and Martha," held open upon it by a piece of embroidery carelessly dropped.  There were easy chairs of English willow with blue cushions, and a businesslike little desk crammed with papers.  Everywhere, in the window, on tables and the desk, were bowls and vases of flowers.  Every room in the place, in fact, was filled with flowers.

The door opened and the Grand Duchess came in with a radiant smile of welcome and a white hand outstretched. "I am so glad to find that I had time to meet you to-day, Mrs. Dorr," she said, in a rarely sweet voice.

"Your highness speaks English?" I exclaimed in surprise, and she replied, waving me to a comfortable armchair: "Why not? My mother was English.”

I had forgotten for the moment that the Grand Duchess and her younger sister, the former Empress of Russia, were daughters of the Princess Alice of England and granddaughters of Queen Victoria.  Russia seemed to have forgotten it also and to have remembered only that the father of these women was the Grand Duke of Hesse and the Rhine.  The Grand Duchess added when we were seated that when she was a child at home they always spoke English to their mother, if German to their father. "I welcome an opportunity to speak English, because if one is wholly Russian, as I am, and especially if one is orthodox, he hears little except Russian or French."  Then she said, with another radiant smile: "Tell me what you think of my convent.”

I told her that I felt as though I had stepped back into the glowing and romantic thirteenth century.

"That is just what I wanted my convent to be," she replied, "one of those busy, useful medieval types.  Such convents were wonderfully efficient aids to civilization in the middle ages, and I don't think they should have been allowed to disappear.  Russia needs them, certainly, the kind of convent that fills the place between the austere, enclosed orders and the life of the outside world.  We read the newspapers here, we keep track of events and we receive and consult with people in active life.  We are Marys, but we are Marthas as well.”

The Grand Duchess's interest in the outside world is patent. She asked me eagerly to tell her how things were going in Petrograd, and her face saddened when I told her of the riotous and bloody events I had witnessed during the days of the July revolution, scarcely past.  "Times are very bad with us just now," she said, "but they will improve soon, I am sure.  The Russian people are good and kind at heart, but they are mostly children-big, ignorant, impulsive children.  If they can find good leaders, and if they will only realize that they must obey their leaders, they will emerge from this dreadful chaos and build up a strong, new Russia.  Have you seen Kerensky, and what do you think of him?”

I replied rather cautiously.  Like every one else, I still hoped that Kerensky would succeed in getting his released giant back into its bottle, and I did not want to unsettle any one's confidence in him even to the extent of an expressed doubt. Kerensky, I told her, was greatly admired and liked, and I hoped he might prove the strong leader Russia needed in her trouble.

"I hope so," replied the last of the Romanoffs, "I pray for him every day.”

The bells of the little church chimed the hour softly, and the Grand Duchess paused to cross herself devoutly.  "I want to hear about those wonderful public schools of yours," she said, "but first tell me what America is doing in war preparation.”

As I talked she listened, nodding and smiling as if immensely pleased.  The great airplane fleet in course of construction seemed to amaze and delight her, and when I told her of the conservation of the food supply and the restriction of the manufacture of alcohol she fairly glowed.  "America is simply stupendous," she exclaimed.  "How I regret that I never went there.  Of course I never shall now.  To me the United States stands for order and efficiency of the best kind.  The kind of order only a free people can create.  The kind I pray may be built some day here in Russia."  And then she made her one allusion to the deposed Czar.  I did not know that at that minute the Czar was on his way to Siberia, but it is very probable that she knew it.  She said: "I am glad you are going to protect your soldiers from the danger of the drink evil.  Nobody can possibly know how much good the abolition of vodka did our soldiers and all our people.  I think history should give the Emperor credit for his share in that act, don't you?"  I agreed that the Emperor should receive full credit for what he did, and I spoke with all sincerity.

Elizabeth Fyodorovna kept me for nearly three quarters of an hour talking to her about the Gary schools, which she is eager to see in Russia; about American women and their part in the war, and about welfare work for children, especially for tubercular and anemic children.  "It is wonderful," she said with a sigh.  "I can scarcely help envying you sinfully.  Think of a great, young, hurrying nation that can still find time to study all these frightful problems of poverty and disease, and to grapple with them.  I hope you will go on doing that, and still find more and more ways of bringing beauty into the lives of the workers.  How can you expect workmen who toil all day in hot, hideous factories or on remote farms, with nothing in their lives but work and worry, to have beauty in their souls?”

She wanted eagerly to know about the women soldiers, and said that she greatly admired their heroism.  What was their life in camp like, and were they strong enough to stand the hardships?  The Grand Duchess Serge is a good feminist and she agreed with me that in Russia's crisis, as in the situation in all countries created by the war, it had been completely demonstrated that women would have henceforth to play a role equally important and equally prominent as that of men.

They would have to share equally with men in the successful operation of the war whether on the battlefield or behind the lines.  She had always had a special devotion to Jeanne d'Arc and believed her to have been inspired by God. Other women also had been called of God to do great things.

"I am glad you like my convent," she repeated as we parted.  "Please come again.  You know that it does not belong to me any more, but to the Provisional Government, but I hope they will let me keep it.”

I hope they will. The House of Mary and Martha, with the beautiful woman in it, is one of the things new Russia can least afford to lose.


• pdf link added to ROCOR History blog
        ROCOR Directory 1983–1984  +
        Russian Presence in Palestine 1843–1970 (summary)

Death found them all fully mature for eternity

Link shared with us by Matushka Irene Dutikow
Subject: article of the Romonov family

The article was compiled in 2006 by unknown person,  Reference sources are all solid.  The first source listed is this sermon is found in Orthodox Life magazine, translated by Seraphim Johnson.  Metropolitan Anastasius, "Homily on the Seventh Anniversary of the Martyric End of Emperor Nicholas II and the Entire Royal Family", Orthodox Life, vol. 31, no. 4, July-August, 1981  I checked and could not find the exact article online, but there is a different translation here, which appears to be complete.  (The paragraphs start and end the same in both translations, but I did not comb through word by word.)

Death caught them fully prepared for eternity
This homily was delivered by Metropolitan Anastassy on July 4/17, 1925 after a requiem liturgy on Golgotha in Jerusalem

Seven years have passed since the day of the death of our Royal Martyrs (this homily was delivered in 1925 – Ed.), and we bring forth upon this world-wide altar table the Bloodless Sacrifice in their memory.

The prayer of love is our constant duty before them and their great sufferings, which culminated with the cruel execution of the entire Royal Family in that bloody night in Ekaterinburg.

The great battle between good and evil continues, and it has demanded of Russia such terrible sacrifices.  The name of the late Tsar will continue to stand before us as a “sign spoken against.”

Even as tears of sorrow are evoked in one person at the mention of this name, another is brought to a frenzy and he furiously casts poisonous barbs at him.  Are not such people vindictive against the martyred Tsar because even though his blood was spilt, they cannot justify the crime in any way?

All the contrivances of the killers of the Tsar proved too feeble to darken his moral image—the image which serves as a measuring stick of true human dignity—whether one sits on a throne or ekes out a pitiful living among the lowest of this world.

It is well known that people, just like precious metals, are revealed through fire.  The late Emperor passed through both forms of temptation that mankind is subjected to on earth: the temptation of lofty position, glory, happiness, and also the temptation of insult, deprivation, and physical and emotional suffering.  It is difficult to say which of these two paths of tribulation is more dangerous.  It is hard for a person to endure the notion of his superiority over others and to bear the intoxicating effect of greatness, glory, wealth, which almost always come to him along with their all-corrupting companion, the temptation of pride. No less moral strength is required of us in order to preserve peaceful grandeur of spirit as we face sorrows and misfortunes, when the human heart unwittingly harbors anger towards the whole world, or falls into depression.

The position of a king, especially an absolute sovereign, contains within it more danger, since in his hands is the fullness of power and might, and the earthly benefits this brings, which would seduce the majority of mankind.

For the ruler of millions of people, there is almost no conception of “impossible,” and his wishes are given creative force. It is no wonder that sycophants often ascribe almost divine properties to the great and the glorious.

The temptations of royal power are so great that they gave rise to a wise custom in ancient Byzantium: amid the noise and glitter of coronation ceremonies, when the elated crowds applauded their king, their crowned sovereign, as though to a demigod, pieces of stone were presented to him so that he would select a material for his tomb, or a sack of ashes to remind him that he will become as earth and dust, just as every other mortal.

The throne of the Russian Tsar when Emperor Nicholas II occupied it was so lofty that it was visible to the whole world; but its brilliance did not blind the late Tsar for even a moment. He did not become drunk with power and did not ponder his fleeting greatness; to the contrary, he felt drawn to the lowly of the world and could not overcome his own feelings of humility, which frequently hindered his ability to express his will to the degree demanded by the times.  Nurtured from his childhood by the peace-giving spirit of Orthodox Christianity, the Tsar-Martyr was always meek and humble and soft of heart, “a bruised reed did he not break, and smoking flax did he not quench.”  Peace and love were the main elements of his soul: he began his peaceable and seemingly blessed reign by calling for peace in the entire world, and when he was first forced to draw his sword to defend Russia from external enemies, and then from internal enemies, his heart could not but ache with pain.

Untested yet by experience, the Tsar constantly grieved that his benevolent intentions were dashed against the obstacles of life’s contradictions. Power was revealed to him to be less a joyful opportunity to spread goodness, than a bitter necessity to fight evil (Romans 13:1-4), and, suffering in his heart, with patient submission, he bore the burden as a duty laid upon him from on high.

The Tsar spent his moments of repose within the circle of his loving family, who lived according to the ancient Russian daily way of life even amid the surrounding splendor.

The lofty, self-sacrificing attitude burning in the heart of the Russian people at the outset of the world war once again gave the Tsar wings. Inspired by this holy fire, his soul merged with that of his subjects, and as the expression of his people’s desires, became the true Leader of the Fatherland.

These were doubtless the happiest days of his reign, when the legacies of his homeland’s history were unfurled and he sensed in his heart the mysterious voice calling upon him to manifest the lofty call of the Russian nation.  Patiently enduring all the misfortunes of war, he went boldly forth towards the glorious triumph of truth and peace.  But alas! The time had come only to demonstrate that we were not prepared to meet the lot cast to us.  The people did not endure the great tribulations to the end and were not crowned with victory.  Enticed by the spirit of seduction and temptation, they strayed from the narrow road of podvig that the hand of Providence had set them upon and chose instead the broad road of willfulness and lawlessness.  In drunken madness, they mercilessly set out upon the destruction of all the sober foundations of social life and then, the Restrainer, that is, the Tsar, as the source of power and the main pillar of civic order, was taken from them.

Just like Job, on whose feast day the Lord deemed the Tsar would be born, the latter likewise lost glory, wealth and his reign, and his friends, in an instant.

Only a very few of his friends then wished to drink of the same cup with him and remained true to him to the end; others, thought they sympathized with his plight, did not dare to speak of this openly, lest they be ostracized by the crowd; most of his former friends, who were often much favored by him, denounced him “for fear of the Jews” and instead of consoling him, sent their recent benefactor words of criticism for having deserved his own fate.

The Lord only left the Passion-Bearing Tsar a single consolation which He did not grant Job–his loving and selfless family, but alas!  They were to share with him only humiliation and sorrows, and for this reason sometimes they served as additional causes for his suffering.

The worst of all sorrows that suddenly befell the Ruler of All Russia was doubtless the loss of his personal freedom, that most treasured of all blessings, which millions of his subjects enjoyed and which God did not deprive of Patriarch Job, the Old Testament man of sorrows. Imprisoned and under watch, the Tsar had to endure this sorrow of the brutality of human ingratitude.  People who had so recently trembled at his very glance and hoped to catch the briefest of his smiles, as a living ray of sunlight, now subjected him to the lowest degradations, mocking not only him and the Empress, but even their young children, whose tender purity was enchanting, whose souls had to suffer for an especially long time, for this was their first contact with evil and falsity of this world.  Every day, every hour these brutal keepers invented new forms of mental anguish for the helpless Royal Family, and yet they heard not one word of admonishment from the mouths of the regal victims.  They emulated the One of Whom it was said “when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not” (1 Peter 2:23).  They only spoke of their sufferings to God and before Him only did they pour out their hearts.  The sense of abandonment which gripped them did not cool their love for Russia; forgetting their own sufferings, the royal prisoners continued to the end of their days to suffer inseparably with their people.

The very act of abdication from the throne was on the part of the Tsar an expression of his lofty self-sacrifice for the sake of his fervently-loved Fatherland.

While foreign kings who had, in England and France, experienced the same fate by Divine Providence, they would not abandon their thrones without a bloody battle, but our late Emperor was foreign to any thought of defending his power from the sole desire to rule.  “Are you certain that this will serve to benefit Russia?” he asked of those who, ostensibly in the name of the people, requested that he abdicate from his inherited rights.  Receiving a positive response, he immediately removed the burden of royal power from himself, lest even a single drop of Russian blood spilt during a civil war, which would be his sole responsibility.

By this wise, historic question, the Tsar forever removed from himself any responsibility for his decision and it fell upon those who first raised their sacrilegious hand against him.

As they approached their final days, these noble sufferers, with genuine royal greatness, as we see from their last letters, rose higher and higher above this world, towards the strength of faith of holy confessors, with martyric benevolence and with utter forgiveness of their enemies.

Death caught them fully prepared for eternity; yet the very surroundings of the sudden execution must have inflicted even more suffering upon them.  For the young royal children, who were to fade in the very prime of life, the thought of a violent death was especially horrifying because they were facing it for the first time in their lives, and the very sight of those heartless executioners must have been shocking.  The hearts of their parents were torn to pieces from the thought that—because of them—their absolutely innocent children were being led to slaughter, and these unfortunate royal parents, like the Holy Martyr Sophia, endured death time and time again, dying inside together with each of their children.

History will someday reveal the details of this terrible night which are yet hidden from us now, and the tears of loving joy will often spill over the podvigi of our new great Passion-Bearers, whom the Lord smelted like silver, seven times, in order to obtain them as worthy unto Himself (Wisdom of Solomon 3:5-7), and will crown them with even more glorious diadems than the crowns of kings.

The world shook in horror at the sight of the atrocity at Ekaterinburg.  Only the evil-doers themselves continued to spew unquenchable hatred, even after the execution, persecuting their victims, weaving a thorny network of bitter slander around them.  Fortunately, time—the indifferent judge of human deeds—will every day continue to denounce the slander, revealing the image of the late Tsar and Tsarina in the light of truth.  Now no one dares to say that they could have ever even thought of betraying Russia, or that the sanctity of their family hearth was darkened by even a fleeting shadow.  No one could now dare lay the blame of all the sufferings and horrors crushing our Homeland at the feet of Emperor Nicholas II, for the guilt of this lies truly upon the entire Russian nation and upon each one of us in particular.

This genuine suffering sovereign could not be responsible that his fate was to rule such a gigantic sovereignty at a crucial moment in history when no natural human power could withstand the opposition of the evil, destructive elemental force, accumulated by the sins of many generations, and unstoppable like the lava of an exploding volcano.

The measure of spiritual gifts the Tsar possessed with which he served God and mankind was likewise granted from above.  Not everyone is born a genius, but each must work and increase his God-given talents to the extent possible.  Who can accuse the Tsar, now reposed in the Lord, that he did not fulfill this Gospel commandment?  Who does not know that he was a tireless worker upon his throne, always zealous for the successes of his country, protecting its dignity and safety over the course of his 23 years of rule, until he finally lay down his soul for it in the end.

If the Tsar, striving as always for lofty goals, did not find the corresponding means to manifest them, if he often thought more highly of his advisors than they deserved, and experience at times frustration and indecision in the face of the looming danger, this only proves that he was a human being.

Who has the right to judge one human weakness or another, his willful and unintended sins, except the One Who entrusted him with the throne and sent him into such great cleansing tribulations, which were “heavier than the sand of the sea” (Job 6:3)?

The great martyric podvig of the Russian Tsar Nicholas II almost has no equal in the history of recent centuries, and only here upon this terrifying and mysterious Golgotha can we make sense of the sacred meaning of the cross placed upon him and upon his entire family from above.  This Golgotha is the global altar, and it is the place of judgment of the entire world.

Since Divine love and truth have joined together here, in order to tear asunder the manuscript of human sins, Divine Providence is revealed to us from the heights of Golgotha, weighing the fates of individuals and of entire nations.  From here, all the blood of martyrs cries out to heaven and invokes God’s wrath upon some, and bestows grace upon others.  Here is the wellspring of judgment and of mercy to the peoples of the world.

Filled with sorrowful bewilderment, the Most-Pure Mother stood here with the Myrrh-Bearing Women and with St John the Theologian, beholding the King of Glory crucified on the Cross.  Pierced with sorrow, too, from the height of this holy place we gaze upon crucified, humiliated and bloodied Russia, and on behalf of the entire Russia people, we pray to Him in Whose hands rests the entire world: O Lord! If it is for the purification of the entire people that the sacrifice of the first of their sons and the Leader of the Russian Land was required, then it has been brought forth.  If the resolution of our common sins must occur with the spilling of innocent blood, then it even now pours forth to You from the wounds of the Royal Children, pierced, young and pure like sinless lambs, and other passion-bearers like them, whose names only You know.  We bring to You for the sake of redemption, too, the pleas and cries of all the Russian people wallowing in deathly sufferings, and these Russian tears of love which for the centuries poured from Golgotha.

We beseech Your mercy and call upon Your eternal truth, combined in the unspeakable mystery of the Cross raised by Your Divine Son.

Arise, O God, judge Thou the earth; for Thou shalt inherit among all the nations. Amen.

Read on July 4/17, 1925, after the funerary Liturgy at Golgotha in the Church of the Resurrection of Christ in the Holy City of Jerusalem. 

 Matushka Irene also shares this link to a large collection of rare photos