The day of St. Patriarch Tikhon's repose (murder) is approaching. Here is a
sermon given by Holy New-Martyr Fr. Valentine Sventitsky in the Church of St.
Pankratius, on the first day of Patriarch Tikhon's Repose; March 26 (O.S.)
In the Name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit!
A scary hour in the fate of the Orthodox Church has come upon us: his holiness Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus' has passed away.
Fortification in You, in Whom we have our hope, strengthen O Lord the Church.
We have become orphans. The Orthodox Church has become an orphan. No wiseman can express in such a way the honest truth, like a simple heart of a simple person can. This morning, when I was in a panykhida procession, some simple women came up to me on the street. One of them said: "How are we going to live now...why, we have simply lost our wings, he preserved all of us!" How did the Patriarch of All Russia preserve his flock?
Why did the lord guve us him as the first-hierarch of the Russian Church?
Truly, the LORD gave us him, for when at the Council a patriarch was being chosen, out of the three candidates Tikhon received the less votes. And after a prayer, when the lots were cast, the Lord revealed Tikhon to be the Patriarch of All Russia. What was he for the Russian Church? HE WAS HER CONSCIENCE.
In an era of common fall, of common lies, of common betrayel, selling out, stepping away, this was a man trusted by all. Everyone knew that this person
will not sell out on the truth! This feeling was in all of our hearts. In front of the throne of the Russian Church, this was a white candle. He had
nothing of his own; for him the Church was everything. This is what united the flock during difficult years of turmoil.
After three years, I recently saw the Holy Patriarch again. His door opened; I went into the reception room, and a fear ran through my heart. I saw
before me an icon: a living God-pleaser, just as the Church portrays them in its icons. This was an icon of word, life, love, spirit, faith, chastity.
No rumors and no lies, no evil could steal from the hearts of the believers this confidence in the spiritual greatness of the Patriarch.
The Holy Patriarch has died. From this loss, from this sorrow of the Church, our thoughts automatically turn to the fate of Orthodoxy. A week ago I again
was able to visit the Holy Patriarch in the hospital. Once I left from him, I remebered what was said everywhere during that time,- about the Pope of
Rome: will there be a French ambassador at the Pope's residence? One may think about this: what honor, how spectacular, what greatness. How this blinds! For, outward wealth is so blinding for servants' hearts! And here, the tiny room of the Patriarch of All Russia of the Great Orthodox Church, with a bed covered with a little gray blanket, and he himself, old, and in a
simple cassock, girded with a wide belt. And no ambassadors and no greatness! But, Christ was not in a palace of Roman emperors. He did not have where to place His head. Very clearly, it was felt that Christ is here, that here in this simple, humble and lowly setting was our Patriarch with Christ.
Greivous tribulation awaits the Orthodox Church and many temptations: there will be an increase of lies and iniquity. But lies will not become true if
the majority repeats them. Black will not become white from the fact that many consider it to be.
Let those who stay true to the Orthodox Church not be disturbed by the outward greatness of heretics, not in thier power, nor in their numbers. For the Lord has predicted this with a terrifying question: "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?" This was said by the same Saviour who gave a promise: "I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not
previal against Her." But that does not mean that when the Son of Man comes in His glory, he will find but a few disciples of His calling themselves Christians. On the contrary, and the Lord foretold this to us: He said that many will come then in His name and say "I am Christ!" and many will be fooled. A single, maybe, persecuted by heretics True Church, will then be
spoken evil of by those who call themselves Christians. False christs and false prophets will arise to seduce, if possible, even the elect. And lies
about Christ will be so tempting even for the faithful, even to those souls who give themselves over to Christ, that everyone must especially watch after himself, and especially pray, to not fall into temptation.
From the outward sense, in the canonical sense, the Patriarch's death does not bring about any difficulties. Until a council, a first-hierarch has been appointed by the Patriarch. Due to the absence of Metropolitans Kyrill and Agafangel, the authority of first-hierarch goes to the Place-taker of the
Patriarch: Peter. To recognize the higher Church authority- is a duty of Orthodox Christians, not depending on each person's own sympathies and
disagreements, for not recognizing the lawfully placed Place-taker of the Patriarch is only possible under one condition: a falling from Orthodoxy.
The outward, however, is not scary for us, but rather the inward. Our personal spiritual state is scary. Especially when amongst us are rumors; when there is no unity amon the Orthodox Christians themselves.
We will pray for the Holy Patriarch for his rest in "a place of light, a sweeter place, a more peaceful place." But at the same time we will feel that there, at the throne of the Most-High, he still protects and covers the Russian Orthodox Church. Due to his intercessions, the Lord will have mercy on His Church.
As long as we remain faithfull to Orthodoxy. Whatever temptations, whatever jolts await us, if we remain strong, then our loyalty to Christ will remain
strong. As long as we preserve our faith and unity with the true Universal, Apostolic Church. Amen.