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Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Pastoral Address by Metropolitan Anastasy

Today a memorial service was chanted after matins for the ever-memorable Metropolitan Anastasy who reposed on 9th/22nd May 1965. The following sermon by him was published in Orthodox Life, 1959, No. 6.

THE OPENING OF THE SOBOR OF BISHOPS OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OUTSIDE OF RUSSIA held during October 5th-18th, 1959.

Today we have heard the sacred words: “Today the grace of The Holy Spirit has brought us together". They are said not only with our lips, but with our hearts. Every good deed is the gift of God’s grace, and especially so is the Church Council - the Sobor. The Lord already has manifested to us a whole series of graces. Before we were able to meet together, it was necessary to make careful preparations. It was not an easy task to bring together the bishops from all parts of the world. 

The Lord God helped us to overcome all the difficulties, and we were able to gather here even in greater number than in former years. It was pleasing to the Lord that we should assemble not in some other place, but in a city which is the center and source of many political influences, where often the fate of the whole world is decided upon. It was favorable to the Lord that by this time we would be able to meet in this wonderful building, which corresponds to the significance of our task. 

We have come together at an appropriate time, when the Church is in need of showing a right path that is to be followed in these frightful times. Never before has our Church been exposed to such great danger as in the present time. It is with most intense fury that evil has struck at our homeland, Holy Russia. There in the sacred Kremlin, where the relics of the Moscow saints commemorated today repose, Satan has entrenched his throne, and spreads evil from there throughout the world.

If previously this evil was held separate by the iron curtain, now this iron curtain has fallen and the doors are wide open for its dissemination throughout the world. The Bolsheviks are especially endeavoring to spread their influence in this country, as in a main center, from where the struggle is being waged with them. We see how the flame of sacred faith is gradually dying throughout the world, and the number of believers is diminishing and everywhere corruption and evil grows increasingly. Everywhere the number of saintly persons is diminishing; pure, innocent living has become rare, and even children are committing heinous crimes. In vain is our culture called Christian. 

At the present time it is leading mankind into a condition of folly, where science has arrived at the revelation of such destructive means, that today the world is standing at the edge of a bottomless abyss, and nobody knows what is capable of taking place on the morrow. And so in these frightful days, the Lord has scattered us throughout the world in order that we could be witnesses of His Gospel and spread it everywhere. But the world does not want to forgive us because we are not of the world. For this reason the world hates us and in every way tries to arm itself against us. We have many enemies, on the right and on the left, because we carry on the spreading of this Sacred Word. We are weak, but the Lord has granted grace to us to keep His True faith in its purity, and we carry this sacred treasure everywhere for the salvation of mankind. There stands before us the very important problem of missionary activity, - and we must show ourselves to be worthy and be zealous in its promotion, asking the Lord to give us wisdom with his grace. 

Now the decisive days are approaching, for the world is coming close to the end of its existence. “His coming is close at hand...” and we must not only teach others, but ourselves also fulfill, following the examples of the Moscow saints, whom we have commemorated today. They stand before us as Orthodox Zealots, and we must follow their example, turning aside completely from the dishonesty of those who have now occupied their throne. Oh if they could but arise; they not only would not recognise any of their successions, but rather would have turned against them with severe condemnation.
 
With what zeal St Phillip would be set aflame against the weak-faith representatives of the Church, who indifferently look and see how the innocent blood of their flock flows, and yet do not condemn the enemies of the Church, but endeavour in every manner to flatter the atheists in authority. How the great adamantine Patriarch Germogen would have arisen in righteous indignation, seeng the hierarchy remain deceitfully silent at a time when atheistic propaganda is being circulated widely, forgetting that by their silence they are betraying God. Let us in every way turn aside from them, but at the same time let us arm ourselves with apostolic zeal. We must avoid as a pestilence every kind of contact with them. You know that these people with thoroughly burned consciences will never cease from waging war on us, although they constantly change their methods of warfare.

At times they openly attack and at times they utilise a circumventing maneuver in order to conceal their true purpose. Often they appear as angels of light, in order to delude even the chosen ones if possible. Unfortunately, many are not aware of this and fall victims into their nets. We have enemies everywhere, not only among them, but far beyond the boundaries of our church fortress. Catholics and Protestants arise against us. Protestants do no want to forgive us because we stand firmly on the rock of Orthodox Tradition. And for Catholics there exists one aim, our enslavement and subjugation, and for this reason all means are permissible. They do not desire to forgive us for our firm stand, and wish by every means to weaken our authority. 

And so we must today, more than ever, shield ourselves with the armour of faith, and ask God for wisdom, remembering the saying of the Apostle: “take care how ye walk in danger, not as fools, but as wise men”. We shall cherish these words, and we shall have but one purpose, to save the sheep entrusted to us by Christ. Let us look upon the ikons of the saints of Moscow and emulate them, let us gird ourselves in the armour of truth, and then the grace of God will not be taken away from us. We saw today a multitude of people who gathered for the Moleben prayer. What had caused them to be brought together? Again it was the grace of God. May it continue to manifest itself in action, and dwell within our Church Council (Sobor), which I declare opened.

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