Metr.Philaret's Letter to a Nun at Lesna Convent (Part 2)
- St.Metropolitan Philaret's letter to a nun at Lesna(part2):
Here are some more voices from antiquity. Saint Peter of Alexandria saw the
Saviour in a torn robe -- the Lord was clutching it in His hands. The
hierarch made so bold as to inquire: Who has rent Thy garment O Saviour?
There followed the mournful and indignant reply of the Saviour: Arius the
madman - he has separated My sheep from Me which I have purchased with My
In the lives of the saints it is related that the righteous Gregory once had
a revelation. He beheld the future Dread Judgment of Christ. And at that
judgment the Lord summoned Arius to Himself and threateningly asked him: Am
I not the God-man Christ, equal in Divinity to the Father and the Holy
Spirit? How is it that you reduced My Divinity to the level of creation an
have brought this assembly deceived by you (the followers of Arius) to
What do these terrible words tell us? That the heretic leads his followers
to eternal torment!... We have already seen that - not according to the
present spineless reasoning, but according to the teachings of the Holy
Fathers - schism is just as terrible an evil as heresy, and that obviously
the end of it will be the same. I do not dare to pronounce judgment on our
contemporary founder of schism, Metropolitan Evlogy; but I fear for his soul
and I fear for all those who have been deceived by him and his successors
and have been carried away into schism.
And I cannot understand the position taken on this issue by the late
Vladyka John - a true minister of God and a man of God. Why didn't he "dot
the i" from the very beginning and explain to the Evlogians the total
falsehood of their path and position? For it is precisely because of this,
because it was not stated at once and clearly where the truth is and where
falsehood (for two truths there cannot be), where is white and where is
black, where light and where darkness, which path is correct and which
incorrect - there would not now exist this "inter-jurisdictional hodgepodge"
and the position would be clear.
The fact, that many from among the "Orthodox" indiscriminately attend
whatever church, what does it tell us? Why simply that people do not hold
the truth dear. For this very reason they don't bother giving the matter
much thought. "The services are identical, everything is the same - what
need is there to philosophize?" Or, as our Fr. John Storozhev in Harbin (the
last spiritual father of the murdered Imperial family), one of the best
pastors of the Diaspora, used to say with poignant irony: "the bells ring:
the popes serve; the singing is good - what more do you want?" To which may
be added the oh, so familiar: "After all, God is one!"...
If only people loved the truth and cherished it - would they really be
content with such indifference? No, and a thousand times no! Their soul
would ache, and it would not rest content until it had discovered where is
the truth, which can only be one - for two truths cannot be. How correct
Vladyka Nektary is when he always affirms: there is no such thing as
"different jurisdictions"; but there is only the Orthodox Church Abroad, and
outside of her are schisms and heresies.
Now I should like to cite a contemporary authority, one not ancient, but an
authority before whom we all must bow. This, of course, is that great "Abba
of all abbas", His Beatitude, Metropolitan Anthony [Khrapovitsky].
Vladyka Anthony, when presenting the abbess; staff to Abbess Paula, said to
her: "Be condescending to all, know how to converse with those weak in faith
and with scoffers. Behave wisely with heretics, but never agree with them
that they supposedly have the grace of the Holy Spirit; know that the Roman
Catholics, the Mohammedans and all other heretics are without grace." And we
have already seen that the Holy Fathers equate obstinate and prolonged
schism with heresy. Consequently?...
A quotation from a paschal encyclical of Vladyka Anthony's (1934):
"The present age is rich not in ascetical feats of piety and confession of
faith, but in cheating, lies, and deceits. It is noteworthy that several
hierarchs and their flocks, for the most part Russians, have already fallen
away from Ecumenical unity, and to the question: "What dost thou believe?",
reply with references to self-proclaimed heads of all sorts of schisms in
Moscow, America, and Western Europe. It is clear that they have ceased to
believe in the unity of the Church throughout the whole world and do not
wish to admit it, attempting to bear calmly the refusal of the true Church
to have relations with them, and imagining that one can supposedly save ones
sould even without communion with Her... Those who have cut themselves off
from Her deprive themselves of the hope of salvation, as the Fathers of the
Sixth Ecumenical Council teach concerning this, having recognized the
renegades as being totally devoid of grace , according to the word of
Christ: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an
heathen man and a publican."
"Unfortunately, some Orthodox laymen, even, alas, many priests (and
hierarchs) have subjected themselves to this state of gracelessness,
although still retaining the outward appearance of the church services and
the apparent performance of the Mysteries."
Ponder those last words of the great Abba: the apparent performance of the
Mysteries... What horror! But these his words concur totally with my own
conviction regarding the gracelessness and inefficacy of schismatic
When at the Sobor I cited these words of Vladyka Anthony in support of my
conviction, the hierarchs received them in silence - Vladyka Anthony [of
Geneva] likewise held his peace. While Vladyka Filothei thanked me on behalf
of the entire Sobor for such and exceptionally important explanation.
Peace and God's blessing be with you. May the Lord and His Most-pure Mother
preserve you and the Holy Convent in health and prosperity!
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