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from The Acts of the Second All-Church Council

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  • stnephon@aol.com
    Dear brethren I received this from one brother and it was very edifying for my soul as I hope it will be for your to. Br hadzi stefan- Igor the serbian
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 11, 2001
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      Dear brethren I received this from one brother and it was very edifying for
      my soul as I hope it will be for your to.
      Br hadzi stefan- Igor the serbian
      brotherhood of st Nephon NYC
      from The Acts of the Second All-Church Council of the Russian Church Abroad,
      Belgrade 1939, pp 147-158.

      A consequence of the downfall of the Russian Empire was the rise of Rus
      Abroad. More than a million Russians had to leave their homeland and were
      scattered across the face of the globe. Living in new conditions, among other
      peoples, many of the Russians in the course of these years have managed
      almost to forget their homeland, their language, and their customs and to
      merge with the peoples in whose midst they reside. The overwhelming majority
      however, not only preserved their nationality, but even live with the hope of
      returning to the fatherland on the fall of the present government. At the
      present time Russians live in all corners of the world. There is not one
      corner on earth where there are no Russians in greater or smaller quantity.

      The important question is, "What is the spiritual outlook of the Russians

      A significant portion of the Russians that have gone abroad belong to the
      intelligentsia which in the last days before the revolution lived according
      to the ideals of the West. Although they were children of the Orthodox
      Church, confessing themselves to be Orthodox, the people of that class had in
      their world outlook strayed far from Orthodoxy. The main sin of these people
      was that their beliefs and way of life were not founded on the teachings of
      the Orthodox faith. They try to reconcile the rules and teachings of the
      Church with their western habits and desires. For this reason they on one
      hand had very little interest in the essence of Orthodox teaching, often even
      considering the Church's dogmatic teachings completely in essential, and on
      the other hand, they fulfilled the requirements and duties of the Orthodox
      Church but only in so far as this did not interfere with their more European
      than Russian way of life. This gave rise to their disdain for the feasts, to
      their going church for only a short time and then only to satisfy a more
      aesthetic than religious feeling and to a thorough misunderstanding of
      religion as the main foundation of man's spiritual life. Many, of course,
      were inwardly otherwise disposed, but they lacked the strength of spirit and
      the ability to display this outwardly in their way of life.

      In the social sphere this class also lived by the ideas of the West without
      giving any room at all to the Church's influence; they strove to rebuild
      according to western models the whole life of Russia, especially in the field
      of government. This is why in the last days an especially bitter struggle was
      waged with the government administration with the result that liberal reforms
      and democratic structuring of Russia became, as it were, a new faith. Not to
      confess this new idea meant that you were backward. Seized with a thirst for
      power and utilizing for this struggle with the monarchy widespread slander
      against the Royal Family, the intelligentsia brought imperial Russia to its
      downfall and prepared the way for a communist government. Then, unreconciled
      to the thought of losing the power which they had waited for for so long,
      they declared war on the communists, in the beginning mainly out of their
      resistance to ceding them power. The struggle against the Soviets involved
      large sections of the populace, especially drawing in the youth in a fervent
      uprising to reconstruct a "united indivisible Russia" which was the goal of
      their lives. There were many feats which displayed the valor of the
      Christ-loved Russian army, but the Russian nation proved itself still
      unprepared for liberation, and the communists turned out to be the victors.

      The intelligentsia was partly annihilated and partly fled abroad to save
      itself. Meanwhile, the communists showed their true colors and, besides the
      intelligentsia, large sections of the population left Russia, partly to save
      their lives and partly because ideologically they did not want to serve the
      communists. Finding themselves abroad, the Russian people experienced great
      spiritual shocks. A significant crisis occurred in the souls of the majority
      which was marked by a mass return of the intelligentsia to the Church. They
      filled many churches abroad. The intelligentsia took an interest in questions
      of spiritual life and began to take an active part in church affairs. A
      multitude of circles and societies was formed. Having religious enlightenment
      as their self-imposed task, their members studied the Holy Scriptures, the
      works of the Holy Fathers, general spiritual life and theological questions,
      and many of them became clergy.

      However, all these gratifying manifestations also had a negative aspect. Far
      from all of those who returned to the faith adopted Orthodox teaching in its
      entirety. The proud mind could not be reconciled to the fact that, up till
      then, it had stood on a false path. Many began to attempt to reconcile
      Christian teaching with their previous views and ideas. This resulted in the
      appearance of a series of new religious philosophical trends, some completely
      alien to Church teaching. Among them Sophianism was especially wide spread.
      It was based on the recognition of mans worth and expressed the psychology of
      the intelligentsia.

      Sophianism, as a teaching, is known to a comparatively small group of people
      and very few openly espoused it. None the less, a significant part of the
      immigrant intelligentsia was spiritually related to it because the psychology
      of Sophianism is based on reverence for man' not as the humble servant of
      God, but rather as a little god himself, without the need for being blindly
      obedient to the Lord God. The feeling of keen pride connected with faith in
      the possibility of man living by his own wisdom was quite characteristic of
      many people cultured by today's standards, who place their own deductions
      higher than everything and do not wish to be obedient to the churches
      teaching on all things, since their attitude is one of condescension. Because
      of this, the Church Abroad was rocked by a series of schisms which have
      harmed her up till now and have attracted even a part of the Hierarchy. This
      consciousness of a feeling of a personal worthiness is manifested also in
      social affairs where each person who has advanced a little among the ranks,
      or thinks he has, puts his own opinion higher than everyone's and tries to be
      a leader. As a result Russian society is split into innumerable parties and
      groups irreconcilably at odds with each other, trying to put their own
      program forward, which is sometimes a completely worked out system and
      sometimes simply an appeal to follow after this or that personality.

      With the hope of saving and resurrecting Russia by the realization of their
      programs, these social activists almost always lose sight of the fact that
      besides the acts of man in historical events, there moves the hand of God.
      The Russian people as a whole have committed great sins which are the reasons
      for the present misfortunes, namely oath-breaking (disloyalty to the
      government) and regicide (allowing the Czar to be murdered). Social and
      military leaders renounced their obedience and loyalty to the czar, who did
      not want internal bloodshed, even before his abdication forced it from them.
      The people openly and noisily greeted this deed, without any loud protest
      anywhere. This renunciation of obedience was a breach of the oath taken to
      the Emperor and his lawful heirs. On the heads of those who committed this
      crime fell the curses of our forefathers, of the Zemsky Sobor of 1613, who
      imposed a curse on those who disobeyed their resolutions. The ones guilty of
      the sin of regicide are not only those who physically performed the deed but
      the whole people which rejoiced when the Czar was overthrown and allowed his
      degradation, arrest and exile, leaving him defenseless in the hands of
      criminals, which itself foreordained the end.

      Thus, the calamity which befell Russia is the direct result of terrible sins
      and her rebirth is possible only after she has been cleansed from them.
      However, until now there has been no real repentance, the crimes that were
      committed have clearly not been condemned, but many active participants in
      the revolution continue even now to assert that then it was impossible to act

      By not expressing a direct condemnation of the February revolution, of the
      uprising against the Anointed One of God, the Russian people continue to
      participate in the sin, especially when they defend the fruits of the
      revolution, for in the words of the Apostle Paul, they are especially sinful
      who know, that they who commit such things are worthy of death and not only
      do the same but have pleasure in them that do them (Romans 1:32). While
      punishing the Russian people, the Lord at the same time is pointing out the
      way to salvation by making them teachers of Orthodoxy throughout the world.
      The Russian Diaspora has acquainted the four corners of the earth with
      Orthodoxy, for a significant part of the Russian immigration unconsciously
      preaches Orthodoxy. Everywhere, wherever Russians live, they build little
      refugee churches or even majestic cathedrals or simply serve in premises
      adopted for this purpose.

      The majority of Russian refugees are not aware of the religious tendencies of
      their intelligentsia and they are nourished on those spiritual reserves which
      they accumulated in the homeland. Large masses of refugees attend divine
      services, some of them actively participate in them, helping with the singing
      and reading on kliros and serving in the altar. Besides churches, church
      organizations have been established which take upon themselves the
      responsibility of maintaining the churches, also performing charitable work.

      If you look at the faithful who pack the churches on feast days, you can
      think that in fact the Russian people have turned to the Church and are
      repenting of their deeds. However, if you compare the numbers who go to
      church with the number of Russians who live in a given place, then it turns
      out that about 1/10 of the Russian population regularly goes to church.
      Approximately the same number attend divine services on great feasts, and the
      rest very rarely go to church. Others from time to time pray at home or have
      completely left the Church. The latter sometimes is a conscious choice under
      the influence of sectarian or other anti-religious influences, but in the
      majority of cases it is simply because people do not live in a spiritual
      manner; they grow hard, their souls become rough and sometimes they become
      real nihilists.

      The great majority of Russians have a hard life full of heavy spiritual
      feelings and material deprivations. Despite the hospitable attitude towards
      us in some countries, especially in our fraternal Yugoslavia whose government
      and people do everything possible to show their love for Russia and to ease
      the grief of the Russian exiles, still Russians everywhere feel the
      bitterness of being deprived of their homeland. Their whole environment
      reminds them that they are strangers and must adapt to customs that are often
      foreign to them, feeding on the crumbs that fall from the table of their
      hosts. Even in those countries where there is a benevolent attitude towards
      us, it is natural that preference should first be given to the country's
      citizens; but in the current difficult situations of most countries, often
      Russians can not find work. Those who are comparatively well provided for,
      nevertheless are constantly made to feel their lack of rights in the absence
      of organizations which could protect them from injustices. Although only a
      comparatively insignificant number have been completely absorbed into local
      society, it quite often happens that if they are, they are totally alienated
      as a consequence from their own people and country.

      In such a difficult situation in all respects, the Russian people abroad have
      shown a remarkably high degree of patience endurance and self-sacrifice. It
      is as if they have forgotten about their formerly wonderful (for many)
      conditions of life, their service to their homeland and the countries allied
      to them during the Great War, their education and everything else that might
      make them aim for a comfortable life. In their exile they have taken up every
      kind of work and occupation to guarantee for themselves some existence
      abroad. Former nobles and generals have become simple workers, artisans and
      petty merchants, not disdaining any type of work and remembering that no work
      is degrading, provided it is not associated with immorality. The Russian
      intelligentsia in this respect has manifested an ability, whatever the
      situation, to preserve their life's energy and to overcome everything that
      stands in the way of its realization and development, but it has also shown
      that it has lofty spiritual qualities, an ability to be humbled and to be
      patient. The school of refugee life has morally regenerated and elevated many
      people. One has to give honor and credit to those who bear their refugee
      cross doing unaccustomed work which is difficult, living in conditions which
      before they did not know or even think of, and with all this, remaining firm
      in soul they preserve nobility of spirit and ardent love for their homeland
      and without a murmur repent over their former sins and endure their lesson.
      Truly, many of them, men as well as women, are now more glorious in their
      dishonor than when they had glory. The spiritual wealth which they have now
      obtained is better than the material wealth which they left in the homeland,
      and their souls, like gold which has been purified by fire, have been
      cleansed in the fire of suffering and burn like glowing lamps.

      But with sorrow I have to note that by no means did suffering have such an
      affect on everyone. Many proved to be neither gold nor precious metal but
      reed and straw that have perished in the fire. Many were not cleansed and
      whitened by suffering, did not endure the test, and became worse than they
      had been before. Many were embittered and do not understand that, being
      punished by God, we must be consoled, remembering that there are no children
      that have not undergone punishment, that God in punishing us, is looking at
      us as sons and daughters who must be corrected by punishment. Forgetting
      about their previous sins, such people compound their sins instead of
      repenting, asserting that there is no use being righteous, that God does not
      even look at man's affairs since He has turned His face away from them or
      even that "there is no God." Considering in their imaginary righteousness
      that they are suffering innocently, these people have more pride of heart
      than the boastful pharisee, but often in their sins surpass the publican. In
      their bitterness against God they are in no way inferior to the persecutors
      of the faith in our homeland and by their way of thinking have become closely
      connected with them.
      For this reason some of their fervent opponents have become, even here in
      exile, their friends. They have become their open and secret slaves and try
      to lure their other brothers into the net. Others, in general, see no
      ultimate purpose of existence and consciously give themselves up to vices,
      or, finding no joy in anything, end their lives by suicide. Then there are
      others who have not lost faith in God or awareness of their sinfulness; but
      their will is completely broken and they have become like reeds shaken in the
      wind. Externally they resemble the former group we just spoke about, though
      internally they are different in that they recognize the foulness of their
      behavior. They cannot find the strength to fight with their weaknesses and
      sink further and further, incapable of doing anything, becoming the slaves of
      intoxicating drink or giving themselves up to drugs. It is truly pitiful to
      see how formerly worthy and respectable people have sunk to the level of
      beasts. Now they direct the whole meaning of their existence towards
      satisfying their weaknesses, their only occupation being to search for the
      means of fulfilling this goal. Already incapable of earning a living they
      look greedily for a hand out, and having received something they immediately
      set off to indulge their passions. The faith that seems to be hidden in their
      souls, if combined with self-condemnation, gives us the hope that not all of
      them are lost for eternity.

      There are others who, although better outwardly, are far from being better
      inwardly. They keep the outward rules of pious behavior but their consciences
      are dull. Sometimes they occupy a well paid position at work and enjoy good
      standing in the society where they have relocated. With the loss of their
      homeland they have lost the law of inner moral life. Penetrated through and
      through with self-love they will do the worse things to anyone who opposes
      their success. They are deaf to the suffering of their compatriots and act as
      if they have no connection with them. They are not ashamed to intrigue and
      slander others in order to lead them astray, choosing especially defenseless

      There are some that strive to deny that they have a homeland in order to gain
      favor in the eyes of the local community. As a rule these spiritually wasted
      people have no inner law which controls them and are therefore capable of any
      crime, as long as it is to their advantage and they are assured of not being
      caught. We are ashamed to say that in almost all the countries of the
      diaspora many crimes are committed by people with Russian names. This is why
      people have less trust in us and our name is ruined among the nations. The
      breakdown of morality is especially noticeable among families. Twenty-five
      years ago no one would have believed what is going on now.

      Marriage as something sacred has ceased to exist and has turned into an
      everyday transaction. Many notable couples happily , and inseparably married
      for many years have dissolved their marriage and entered into a new one. Some
      have done this because of passions, others for gain. Every imaginable reason
      is found to dissolve a marriage, some even lying under oath to gain their

      There is no permanency in marriage among the young or old. It has become
      quite common to hear of a divorce only a few months after a marriage. The
      slightest argument or disagreement is the basis for a divorce. This occurs
      because the consciousness that marriage is holy, has been lost. Church
      authorities have fallen into wide compromises in relation to the present
      generation and thus have made it easier to obtain a divorce. The extent of
      this unbridled leniency knows no limits, even avoiding the present rules.
      After a marriage is dissolved another is quickly formed and sometimes a

      Not able to satisfy all the demands of their lust by marriage in the Church,
      some ignore all Church and moral laws and do not bother to trouble themselves
      by asking the Church for a blessing. In countries where the civil law does
      not demand a church wedding we very often see people living together without
      the blessing of the Church, or obtaining a divorce without the consent of the
      Church, even when the marriage was performed in the Church. One easily
      forgets that there is no less a sin because an official, 'proper' name is
      given to something sinful and that a bond, not sanctified by the Church, is
      none the less, fornication or adultery. Many openly live together without the
      slightest concern about hiding their open dissipation. Some are joined
      together out of passion, others for the advantage gained from the marriage
      are joined together, and without the slightest shame appear everywhere in
      society together with their "live in" and dare to introduce them as their
      spouse. It is specially pathetic that people have begun to look at such
      occurrences with indifference, not expressing any negative opinions about
      them. Thus the number of such cases increases since there is nothing holding
      them back. According to Church rules people who fall into this category
      should be refused Communion for seven years or more; according to civil laws
      they should be restricted in their civil rights. That which was despised not
      long ago by society has now become commonplace even among people who come to
      church regularly and desire to take part in Church functions, which in such
      cases is forbidden by Church rules. What can we say of those who are even
      less influenced by the Church! How low has the morality fallen among our
      countrymen; one part coming to church out of habit and the other turning into
      the dwelling place of lower passions. They have given in to a life-style
      worse than the animals, they disgrace the name of Russian and bring down the
      wrath of God on the present generation.

      The future generation of children and young people will grow up learning
      immoral lessons from their elders. Besides this, the present generation sins
      before the future one in that it pays so little attention to the upbringing
      of children. Before, in Russia the raising of children played a great role
      whose influence became part of life. Now without this influence children can
      be raised well only if they are given special attention by their parents who
      are frequently preoccupied with their jobs. The entire community abroad is in
      the same state. Although in some places Russian schools have been founded,
      they do not always live up to their purpose and the majority of Russian
      children study elsewhere without any Orthodox training or the study of the
      Russian language. They grow up as strangers to Russia, never knowing her true
      wealth. In some places Sunday schools or other types of Russian school have
      sprouted up in order to give the children that knowledge which they cannot
      receive in native schools. We must admit sorrowfully that the parents show
      little interest in sending their children to these schools. Rich as well as
      poor parents are guilty of this.

      In past years, despite the difficult conditions for Russians, many have been
      able to acquire a comfortable existence. There are also some among us who
      were able to bring considerable sums out of Russia or had foreign capital
      previously and maintain it to this day. Although there are many among them
      who generously help their compatriots and generally support Russian affairs,
      most of them are only occupied with their personal business. They relate
      coldly to the plight of their compatriots whom they look upon with disdain.
      They are occupied with their wealth and their free time they spend on amusing
      themselves. Frequently they amaze the native population by their carefree
      attitude. They find it hard to believe that among the Russians there are
      people in need when the rich ones among them are annoyed when other Russians
      turn to them for help. Truly, if there was a greater national self awareness
      and understanding of the debt to one's homeland, then great things might be
      accomplished abroad. For now we have only a small part of what we could have
      and in fact many of our benevolent and educational institutions are
      maintained more through the gifts of local people than Russians. Because of
      this the majority of our institutions, which do not have enough means
      although there are enough Russians to help, are not cared for. The people are
      satisfied in using similar native institutions pouring their money into them.
      It is a disgrace that the majority of wealthy Russians frequently raise their
      children in native schools. These schools can do nothing for the children's'
      Orthodox outlook and appreciation of their homeland, even in the best of
      circumstances. The wealthy put no money aside for Russian schools, which
      could make up for the lack of national consciousness.

      Many parents are completely indifferent towards the future views their
      children. Many poor parents use scholarships and others who have money send
      their children to educational institutions which have as their goal the
      upbringing of children in a spirit completely antagonistic to Orthodoxy.
      Various colleges which have as part of their program some sort of religious,
      though not Orthodox, education are filled with Russian children, sent there
      either by rich parents who are interested only in the external side of
      education, or by poor parents who are gratified by the idea of free education
      for their children, and, therefore, turn over their children's' upbringing to
      the whims of the institution.

      It is difficult to say which children are more unfortunate, the above or the
      outcast children of the diaspora. The outcasts, having never known their
      father, cast away by their mothers, wander about the big cities begging for
      food and finally resort to theft for it. In the end they become professional
      criminals and fall ever lower morally. Many of them end up in prison or are
      executed. These will not have to give such an answer to God as those who have
      been educated in splendid colleges and then became the worst enemies of
      Orthodox Russia. One can foresee the time when out of the future diaspora
      workers against Orthodox Russia will come, who will strive either to turn her
      Roman Catholic or spread sectarianism within her boundaries. These are the
      people who remain outside of Orthodoxy and Russia and will secretly work
      against her. A significant part of those who are educated in native schools
      will apostatize and betray Orthodox Russia, though certainly not all. Not
      only will they be guilty, but even more so will their parents who did not
      guard them from such a path and did not instill in their souls a firm
      devotion to Orthodoxy.

      Striving to free their children from the cares of this life and therefore
      choosing schools which seem to them will give the children more security in
      the future, the parents pay no attention to the souls of their children and
      thus are guilty for their future falling away from Orthodoxy and the betrayal
      of their homeland. Such parents are greater criminals before Russia than
      their children. The children are won over to a new religion often at an
      unconscious age and then educated in a spirit hostile to Orthodoxy. Similar
      criminal types are those who leave the Orthodox Faith for another in order to
      assure themselves of a more comfortable lifestyle and a more lucrative job.
      Their sin is like the sin of Judas, their betrayal of the Faith for a better
      job or position is counted as the "thirty pieces of silver." Let not some of
      them affirm that their betrayal of Orthodoxy was due to the fact that they
      discovered Orthodoxy not to be the true faith and that they are serving
      Russia by confessing their new faith. Russia was founded and glorified by
      Orthodoxy and only Orthodoxy will save Russia. Those who betray Russia should
      be treated like the traitors during the hard times in 1612. They should not
      be permitted to reconstruct Russia or allowed back into her borders... Has
      not the diaspora become the source of a new infection which will return to
      the homeland?

      The moral state of the people in the diaspora would be hopeless if we did not
      observe, together with the facts presented, a greatness of spirit and
      sacrifice. Despite the difficult conditions in which the exiles live they
      find the means to build and embellish churches, support priests [though
      poorly], and partially support the needy. Though their hearts are hardened
      and they offer nothing towards the general good, they manage to set aside a
      considerable amount for the upkeep of these projects. There are still those
      among us who joyfully make offerings to the church out of their hard earned
      labors. Others out of their scarcity, what they can, this is counted as the
      "widows mite". Offerings are not only in terms of money but also in the
      tireless labors for the good of the Church and one's neighbor. Many bear such
      labors for various church and philanthropic organizations with zeal and
      dedication, or work independently. Burdened already by labors connected with
      making a living, they give up their free time, rest, energy and strength for
      these good deeds. Men bring to these labors their common sense and women
      their innate love.

      The concerns of Russians abroad embrace not only Russian needs in the
      diaspora but there are courageous fighters for the homeland preparing for its
      liberation. Some of these fighters even risk reentering Russia's frontiers,
      braving certain death. Love for the homeland has led many through severe
      trials which history will record as heroism.

      Much zeal and fortitude has been shown in the struggle for Church rights. It
      is heartening to see how dedicated to the Church and homeland are some of the
      youth, having never seen it though loving it wholeheartedly.

      Such examples, together with the unsilenceable voice of the conscience, give
      us the hope that there still remain those ten righteous men for whose sake
      the Lord was willing to spare Sodom and Gomorrah and who will show the way to
      the Russian Diaspora.

      Russians abroad have been given the light of Orthodoxy to shine throughout
      the world in order that the other nations, seeing their good works, might
      glorify our Father in heaven and seek salvation. In not fulfilling this task
      and even degrading Orthodoxy by our lives, the diaspora has before it two
      roads: either turn to the path of repentance and beseech of God forgiveness,
      renew ourselves spiritually, make ourselves capable of giving rebirth to our
      suffering homeland, or be finally cut off by God and remain in exile,
      persecuted by everyone, until finally, degenerating, we disappear from the
      face of the earth.

      Taken from The Acts of the Second All-Church Council of the Russian Church
      Abroad, Belgrade 1939, pp 147-158.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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