Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

7014Re: WAY OF THE ORTHODOX - Fr. Michael

Expand Messages
  • maureengirard
    Dec 4, 2002
      Thank you for posting this. So many of those we loved are gone.

      -- In orthodox-synod@y..., byakimov@c... wrote:
      > GREAT Theologian, Teacher, Pastor
      > Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky
      > + October 22/November 4, 1988
      > A gentle light of our Church has gone Fr Michael Pomazansky.
      > benevolent, wise, full of love--he was not extinguished, he
      > away. He went there where there is neither sickness nor sot
      row, nor
      > sighing, but life everlasting.
      > Each righteous person has some distinguishing virtue. Fr.
      > was characterized by a bound less humility. A
      protopresbyter, a
      > well-known theologian of our Church, a gifted instructor,
      the author
      > of many articles, four books and a textbook on dogmatics,
      the last
      > remaining graduate of the Russian Theological Academy
      abroad, Fr.
      > Michael lived oblivious to all this. Fulfilling all that was
      > required of him in accordance with the Gospel, he always
      > himself to be "an unprofitable servant."
      > Humility came to be a virtue natural to him, although it was
      > doubtless acquired through no small effort. It is very
      difficult for
      > many people to humble themselves, while for Fr. Michael it was
      > painfully difficult to be in authority, to tell people what
      to do.
      > The acquisition of profound humility was the fruit of Fr.
      > whole life, whose roots went deep into the good soil in which
      he was
      > born and grew up.
      > Fr. Michael was born November 7, 1888, on the eve of the Feast
      > Archangel Michael, in the jubilee year of the 900th anniversary
      of the
      > Baptism of Rus', in the village of Korist, in the province of
      > His parents came from a long line of clergy. His father,
      > Ioann Pomazansky was the son of a priest, Ioann Ambrosievich,
      who in
      > turn was likewise the son of a priest; in the records of the
      > of the Kiev Theological Academy, Fr. Michael found a relative
      > hailed from the time of the Napoleonic War of 1812. Fr.
      > mother, Vera Grigorievna, borb Kachin, was the daughter of a
      > protodeacon in the city of Zhitomir who later became a parish
      > Fr. Michael's childhood was spent in the simple village milieu.
      > priest in those days served his parishioners both as a judge,
      as a
      > doctor, as a spiritual father and as a counselor. His
      grandfather was
      > respected by his parishioners, who also feared his strictness:
      > men wouldn't walk in a crowd down the street singing worldly
      songs; and
      > older men...if he saw someone with a pipe-better hide or put
      the pipe
      > in a pocket, even if it burned a hole... "Even so, grandfather
      > sensed the breakdown of morality and the whole way of life, and
      he was
      > often heard to say, as if without any reason, 'Something's
      going to
      > happen, some thing's going to happen,' i.e., something dreadful
      > us ahead."
      > "Village life is simple," wrote Fr. Michael, "and it gets
      > without fanciful amusements. In the summer a young boy rides
      > the yard on a stick, prodding himself along with a little
      > whip: and when he grows up a bit, it's up on the back of a
      work horse
      > without a saddle or off to the field on the bare boards of a
      > "...What is it in a priest's family that primarily occupies a
      > attention? Church. In going to services, father would always
      take me
      > with him. It was still dark in the yard; I would walk along
      > narrow dike beside the pond after my father to matins;
      vespers was
      > usually served in the evening. People, would gather quietly in
      > church; behind your back you would hear only the whisper of
      > praying before the service began. It was freezing, and in the
      > half hour my legs would grow numb, but with the breathing of
      > people the church gradually warmed up. A group of older men
      sang. The
      > people stood in order: men to the right, women to the left,
      > people in front according to age. It was an old church,
      rather small,
      > dedicated to Saint Dimitri of Thessalonica, and it was
      painted in
      > light tones pleasing to the eyes of a child."
      > At harvest time there was much work to be done in the fields.
      > childhood Fr. Michael grew accustomed to work. "Once," he
      > "I had to take some entrance exams. It was during haymaking
      and every
      > day I was busy in the fields gathering in the hay. I was
      faced just
      > then with an exam on the New Testament. When the day's work
      > finished my father called me; he gave me a copy of the New
      > and told me to read a certain chapter. Afterwards he talked
      to me
      > about what I had read and we went to rest. At the examination
      > question that fell to my lot was on this very chapter."
      > When he was nine years old, Fr. Michael was sent to a
      > school seventy versts from home. These first independent
      steps of his
      > life were difficult. He came to know a schoolboy's griefs and
      > his acquaintance with the world, at times foreign and cold. In
      > recalling an episode from his first days at the school, Fr.
      > wrote:
      > "My coat was still that of a child; it had a cape attached to
      > shoulders. It was cold and I put it on. From behind the
      monitor came
      > up to me with a large pair of scissors and without saying a
      word cut
      > it off--I obviously looked foolish in it and just as silently
      > off with it. I felt this unjust redress terribly insulting.
      > I sensed then that together with this cape my past had been
      cut off
      > from my--my childhood and the only world which I had known
      > than. A new stage in my life began, still strange to me The
      > Volhynia stayed behind, while in front stood the as yet
      > stormy and cruel 20th century."
      > Upon completing secondary school, Fr. Michael entered the
      > seminary where he attracted the particular attention of
      Bishop [later
      > Metropolitan] Antfony Khrapovitsky, who left in his heart
      traces of
      > his broad social, intellectual and moral influence. At every
      > opportunity, even during school breaks, Fr. Michael and his
      > classmates would hurry to the Zhitomir cathedral to listen to
      > sermons of their abba. Once I witnessed someone accusing
      > Anthony of "heresy" in front of Fr. Michael. Meekly but
      firmly, he
      > replied: "We will not have our alpha degraded." And so to the
      end of
      > his days Fr. Michael preserved great respect for Vladika
      Anthony as
      > his abba. When, after graduating from seminary Fr. Michael
      > Volhynia, he continued to maintain contact with Vladika
      > through correspondence. It was with Vladika Anthony's help
      that in
      > 1914 Fr. Michael received a position as a teacher of Church
      > in the Kaluga Seminary.
      > From 1908 to 1912 Fr. Michael taught in the Kiev Theological
      > There in Kiev he took graduate pedagogical courses. In 1913 he
      > married Vera Feodorovna Shumsky, the daughter of a priest,
      who became
      > his faithful and inseparable companion on their long path
      together in
      > life. After a brief stint on the missionary field combating
      > sectarianism-through which he formed a life-long attachment
      to the
      > study of the New Testament--Fr. Michael taught in the Kaluga
      > Theological Academy; his time there coincided with the First
      > War. The Revolution and the consequent closing of
      > ins0tutiens obliged him to return to his native Volhynia.
      > The bloody revolutionary upheaval affected his part of the
      > and his family. At the time of the Revolution Fr. Michael's
      > were away visiting their daughter, who during the War had
      moved with
      > her children beyond the Dniepr. When they returned they found
      > place of their house a pile of ashes. But this was far from
      the final
      > trial which visited Fr. Michael's close ones. In the fall of
      > "...father sat home alone at the table; he was reading
      > Macarius' Dogmatic Theology. Mother had not yet returned from
      > shopping trip to the town of Ostrog. Suddenly two men walked
      into the
      > house, one with a revolver, the other with a rifle supporting
      > bayonet; the one shot my father in the chest while the other
      > him with his bayonet, and with the words "It's finished,"
      they both
      > turned around and hid themselves in the dark behind the door
      > with blood, my father was still able to run out with a shout
      into the
      > yard. Just then my mother drove up, some people came and they
      > to put my father into the cart. The horses were turned around
      > they rushed to Ostrog---a two hour drive. There he was laid
      in the
      > hospital. In the middle of the night everything was done to
      save his
      > life, and he pulled through. His hemp shirt (father did lot
      > linen), painted red with blood, was kept by my father in
      memory of
      > his ordeal."
      > Once I brought Fr. Michael the second volume of Fr. Michael
      > New Martyrs of Russia. He read it carefully, especially the
      > about the married clergy of the Kievan diocese, and
      discovered there
      > many classmates, teachers, friends and acquaintances. In his
      > characteristic humility, he found even here a source for
      > self-reproach: 'They all suffered, became martyrs, but what
      have I
      > done; I merely burden others with my existence, and am of no
      use at
      > all." And yet Fr. Michael suffered no less than these
      others, only
      > his cross was different. In his youth he pulled a facial
      nerve. Only
      > those who have experienced the pain caused by nerves can
      > what this means The nerve sometimes hurt for several days in
      a row,
      > with only brief periods of respite. At times the pain was so
      > that Fr. Miehael, unable to bear it, banged his head against
      > wall in an effort to suppress it. I used to find him in such
      > state; he was a living martyr. 'This is a result of my
      sins," he
      > would say; never did he utter a word of complaint
      > From 1920 until 1934 Fr. Michael taught Russian philology,
      > literature, philosophical dialectics and Latin at the
      Russian lycee
      > in Rovensk. During those years he worked closely on
      > publications. This was not easy in view of the persecution
      which the
      > Catholics were raising at that time against the Orthodox. It
      was a
      > time when churches were destroyed or taken over by the
      > Fr. Michael reacted with a strong article against
      Catholicism, but
      > the entire issue of the magazine which carried his article
      > confiscated by the Polish gendarmes and the author himself
      > under surveillance. Later Fr. Michael edited two church
      > The Word and Sunday Reading.
      > In 1936 Fr. Michael entered the priesthood and joined the
      clergy of the
      > Warsaw cathedral as the first assistant to the rector, a
      position he
      > held until June, 1944.
      > The circumstances of my life were arranged in such a way,"
      wrote Fr.
      > Michael in his testament, "that the first half of my public
      > took place in the worldly arena, in schools, while the
      second took
      > me into the ecclesiastical arena, into the priesthood. In the
      > worldly arena I experienced offenses, but in the priesthood
      I met
      > only with kindness and at times even acts of love."
      > After being evacuated from Warsaw and after the war, Fr.
      > lived in Germany, in Munich, where he was editor of the
      > publication Church Life and secretary of the missionary
      > During the German blockade of Warsaw Fr. Michael had
      contracted a
      > lung disease which flared up periodically, hampering his
      capacity to
      > work. By reason of his ill health Fr. Michael tried to
      decline the
      > obediences laid upon him, but in response Vladika Anastassy
      said to
      > him: "You must, therefore you can." The Metropolitan served a
      > before the wonderworking Kursk Icon of the Mother of God, and
      > Michael's health rapidly improved.
      > Obedience gives birth to humility. Fr. Michael always regarded
      > himself as an obedient child of the Church; wherever the
      Church sent
      > him there he went, not choosing for himself his own paths. It
      was a
      > principle he held to the end of his life. When he was already
      > years old he continued, at the request of Vladika Laurus, to
      > articles, dedicated to the millennial jubilee of our Church.
      His eyes
      > protested, long intermissions were required, but the work was
      > completed, and two new articles dedicated to the jubilee of
      > Baptism of Rus' are to be published posthumously.
      > Like St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Fr. Michael could find everywhere
      > "spiritual treasures"--in the surrounding nature, in the
      details of
      > daily life, in his meetings with people, he could find the
      > side of everything and the means of going from an earthly to a
      > heavenly contemplation. Clearly, it was for this reason that
      he was
      > so fond of St. Gregory the Theologian, whom he never tired of
      > reading. During our walks together he said more than
      once: "One can
      > learn to love the Creator through nature, because He created
      it with
      > love." Fr. Michael was a contemplative, a theologian, a doer
      of quiet
      > and warm mental prayer. He likewise had a spiritual affinity
      > Bishop Theophan the Recluse 'I understand Theophan the
      Recluse, why
      > even on Pascha he didn't quit his seclusion; for me it would
      also be
      > easier to celebrate Pascha alone in my cell, in quietness to
      > experience the joy of the Paschal night"
      > Upon his arrival in America in 1949, Fr. Michael was
      appointed by
      > Archbishop Vitaly [Maximenko] as an instructor at Holy Trinity
      > Seminary. Fr. Michael and his matushka arrived on the eve of
      > feast of St. Job of Pochaev, the heavenly patron of his native
      > Volhynia. The monastery's early years were financially
      > these were years of building. And it wasn't easy for Fr.
      Michael and
      > his matushka. They settled in a house purchased by the
      monastery in
      > Jordanville. The house came to serve as the monastery guest
      > and Matushka and Fr. Michael took upon themselves the
      ministry of
      > hospitality. Fr. Michael became involved in the seminary
      where he
      > taught Greek, Church Slavonic and Dogmatic Theology. He
      dedicated 66
      > years of his life to the work of teaching. Not infrequently
      > students of his who remembered him from Rovensk would come to
      > monastery and with tears would greet their now aged former
      > and thank him for his unforgettable lessons of kindness,
      warmth and
      > wisdom. And indeed, Fr. Michael was a brilliant teacher.
      > there were no discussions during his classes, not because he
      > allow them but because no one wanted to interrupt his lively,
      > satisfying discourse. Fr. Michael talked about the dogmas of
      > Church; he spoke simply, humbly and exhaustively, so that any
      > questions fell away of themselves, and if not, they found
      > satisfactory answers---although Fr. Michael would frequently
      > "There is a great deal that is concealed from us and we cannot
      > comprehend everything." His lecture progressed as though he
      > reading a music score: he began with a theme, developed it,
      > it to a conclusion, placed a period...and the bell rang
      signaling a
      > change of classes.
      > After the illness of his matushka, Fr. Michael moved into the
      > monastery where he lived as one of the brethren. He always
      tried to
      > be unnoticeable, and for this reason he chose a semi-secluded
      > he knew only his cell, the church, the seminary building and
      > refectory. And for the last seven years of his life it was
      only the
      > church and his cell. He led an ascetic life. Once, during the
      > week of Great Lent, I asked him: "Batiushka, what shall I
      bring you
      > to eat?" "Nothing is necessary; I would like just as the
      > 'Thc brothers are eating potatoes." "No, thank
      you..." 'Nevertheless
      > I brought him two baked potatoes. The next day I asked again,
      > "Batiushka, what shall I bring you?" 'Thank you, nothing; I
      > have a potato left over from yesterday's dinner."
      > St. Nilus of Sainai said: "If you are a theologian you will
      pray in
      > truth; and if you pray in truth, then you are a theologian"
      > (Philokalia, vol. II, St. Nilus ยง61). It was from prayer that
      > Michael drew the source of the enlightenment of his mind and
      > through prayer, which draws upon us the cleansing grace of
      the Holy
      > Spirit, he became a theologian; having cast aside the decayed
      > garments of the old man, he was able to bravely set out upon
      the sea
      > of theology. I often came upon him in prayer and, the door
      > ajar, I was involuntarily arrested by the sight of his noble
      > countenance. His gaze was open and shining, his lips
      whispered words
      > of entreaty and gratitude. He knew many prayers by heart. He
      > usually leave vigil before the First Hour, and on the way to
      his cell
      > would recite the entire First Hour by memory. The same was
      true when
      > he was late for the midnight office; on the way to church he
      > recite morning prayers.
      > Prayer made Fr. Michael a theologian, but he himself always
      > such a title: 'The Church knows only three thologians--St.
      John, St
      > Gregory and St. Simeon the New Theologian; any others are
      > When Fr. Michael missed any daily services in the church, he
      > read them in his cell; in addition he daily read from the New
      and Old
      > Testaments the first often in Greek or Latin, and this he
      > until the last years of his life
      > A great deal could be written about Fr. Mi chael's meekness
      > compassion. I remember how one winter day I turned from
      > graves and stopped in to check on Fr. Michael. And here he
      > means for self-reproach. "I am good for nothing; I am of no
      use to
      > the monastery whatsoever. just a burden to the brothers:
      they'll even
      > have to dig my grave. If only I don't die in winter; if only
      not in
      > winter! It's so difficult to dig in winter"! And for a long
      time he
      > dwelt on this thought, sincerely distressed
      > It was difficult for him at times to accept another's
      service. He was
      > bothered that someone should have to clean his cell or do his
      > laundry. "Ah, my dear, ah, my dear, forgive me, forgive me;
      > forcing you to dig about in my dirt!"
      > He tried to give me money for my services, but I refused. This
      > grieved him, something of which I was senselessly unaware. I
      would go
      > into his cell and batiushka would be standing with an awkward
      > his eyes cast down, and smile meekly. I already felt
      something; was
      > not quite right. And then he would make a move to pull out
      the drawer
      > of the table, and again he would pull it out further, and
      there lay a
      > wallet with some money. Finally, overcoming his shyness, he
      > begin to offer me money Once he found a way out of this
      > situation, a solution characteristic of his meekness. I
      should add
      > that I was at that time a mere novice with scarcely a beard.
      I came
      > into my cell and found on the table an envelope on which was
      > in a familiar hand: "From Michael to Alexis. On the occasion
      > summer's end"; it held some money. I hae kept that envelope
      to this
      > day as a memento of Fr. MichaePs humility and love.
      > It is a rare person who can live in a monastery without
      > the bitterness of offenses. Fr. Michael was such a person. In
      > testament he wrote with perfect sincerity: "...on the part of
      > monastery brethren I cannot remember a time when I was
      grieved by
      > anyone. I write about all this not for the sake of some
      tradition, as
      > happens when people leave this life, but on the strength of
      > experience, and that is there is a real difference between the
      > outward affection of the "world" and the outward severity of
      > Church's way of life, between the real coldness of a world
      rich in
      > earthly goods and the hidden inner warmth of the life of the
      > which is scorned by the world. Within the confines of the
      > light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendth it
      > I do not recall a single instance when Fr. Michael judged
      someone or
      > reacted negatively towards someone, or even once became angry
      > irritated at my at times inattentive care of him. If I did not
      > remember myself to bring him dinner or do his laundry, I
      could not
      > expect a reminder from him.
      > At the last, from September 1988, Protopresbyter Michael was
      > frequently in church Until that time, on feast days he was
      > from the seminary building to the church and he attended the
      > all-night vigils and the Divine Liturgy and usually partook
      of the
      > Holy Mysteries. During the last months he was unable to go to
      > and he communed in his cell.
      > In the final days of his earthly life Fr. Michael suffered
      > cancer of the prostate destroyed batiushka's strong organism and
      caused him
      > acute pain. Someone was constantly at his bedside: his daughter-m-
      > Natalia Sergeyevna, Fr. Andrew Erastoy, Brother Theodore Korolenko,
      and in
      > the final days seminarians and the servant of God Alexandra
      Listmenko. From
      > October 26 Batiushka's condition worsened; he began at times to
      lose his
      > mind. But even in such a state he would utter words so
      characteristic of
      > him: "Beloved, dear ones"! And he would look at you with the kind,
      > eyes of a child. He imagined that he was back in his native
      Volhynia, among
      > the fields and horses, in the church there, among his close ones.
      > alleviated his sufferings; his face would brighten and take on the
      look of
      > a child, reflecting his soul--it was the soul of a pure youth, who
      > leaving a sorrowing life and returning to his father's home, where
      there is
      > neither sickness nor sorrow nor sighing, but life everlasting!
      > On Friday October 22/November 4, at 6:30 in the morning the
      feast day
      > of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, I came into Fr.
      > cell and found that he had reposed; his forehead was still
      > Batiushka died alone. He had always served me as an example of
      > meekness, humility, prayerful recollection and abstinence--
      > monastic activities to which I can only aspire. And he died
      in a
      > monastic way with no one around, Soon came Fr. Cyprian and
      Fr. Luke.
      > They immediately dressed Fr, Michael and took him in a wooden
      > into the lower church of St. Job. For five days Fr. Michael's
      > lay there in the church where the Gospel and the Psalter were
      > continually on behalf of his soul. Archbishop Laurus
      performed the
      > funeral service on November 9. Present at the service were
      > Fr.Michael's former students--Fr. George Larin, Fr. Vsevolod
      > Fr. Gregory Kotliarov, Fr. Ioasaph Yaroshchuk, Fr. Victor
      > and Fr. Andrei Papkov.
      > May the memory of this unforgettable pastor and teacher be
      > M.B.
      > (Translated from Pravoslavnaya Rus', 11/14/88)
    • Show all 2 messages in this topic