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Part 2: The Restoration of the Orthodox Way of Life

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  • byakimov@csc.com.au
    Part 2 of 2 The Restoration of the Orthodox Way of Life by Archbishop Andrew of New-Diveyevo This is dedicated to the memory of the late Dr. Anatole P.
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 30, 2003
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      Part 2 of 2
      The Restoration of the
      Orthodox Way of Life

      by Archbishop Andrew of New-Diveyevo

      This is dedicated to the memory of the late Dr. Anatole P. Timofievich,
      the Convent's spiritual co-struggler and physician since its very

      In recent years Archbishop Andrew, founder of New-Diveyevo Convent in
      Spring Valley, New York, where the memory of St. Seraphim is sacredly kept,
      has deservedly been given much honor, especially in 1971 on the 50th
      anniversary of his ordination as a priest, and in 1973 on his 80th
      birthday, when he was elevated to the rank of Archbishop. Many came to him
      just to receive his blessing, knowing of him as a kind of "last Russian
      Orthodox Elder," and hoping to obtain through him some contact with the
      genuine tradition of Orthodox spirituality which is fast dying out today.
      And to be sure, he was a living link with the Holy Fathers in a literal
      sense, for he was a disciple of the last two Optina Elders, Anatole and
      Nectarius, and it was under his epitrachilion that the last Elder,
      Nectarius, died in 1928. But it is not for this that he is most important
      to us today; it is rather for his teaching, received from these holy
      Elders, on how to survive as an Orthodox Christian in the anti-Christian
      20th century.

      This teaching, while solidly Patristic, is not a teaching from books, but
      from life. The four excerpts from his writings that are presented below
      tell the main events of his life, which is one of great trials and
      sufferings, taking place in conditions of revolution, anarchy, arrests,
      catacomb services, exile, bombings, evacuations. But in these sufferings
      alone?as helpful as they are to spiritual life?is not to be found the key
      to his teaching; others have suffered similar trials fruitlessly. In every
      place where historical circumstances have driven him?Kiev, Berlin,
      Wendlingen, New York State?a close-knit Orthodox community has formed
      around him; and this is closer to a key to understanding his teaching. Such
      communities, rare today among Orthodox Christians, do not arise
      spontaneously, but only in especially favorable circumstances, if there is
      present a conscious Orthodox philosophy of life. This conscious Patristic
      philosophy is what, most of all, we can learn from Archbishop Andrew. Let
      us try to set down here the main points of this philosophy?which, of
      course, is not a "systematic" philosophy based on abstractions, but a
      living philosophy derived from Orthodox spiritual experience.

      First, Orthodoxy is not merely a ritual, or belief, or pattern of behavior,
      or anything else that a man may possess, thinking that he is thereby a
      Christian, and still be spiritually dead; it is rather an elemental reality
      or power which transforms a man and gives him the strength to live in the
      most difficult and tormenting conditions, and prepares him to depart with
      peace into eternal life.

      Second, the essence of the true Orthodox life is godliness or piety which
      is, in the definition of Elder Nectarius, based on the etymology of the
      word, "holding what is God's in honor." This is deeper than mere right
      doctrine; it is the entrance of God into every aspect of life, life lived
      in trembling and fear of God.

      Third, such an attitude produces the Orthodox Way of Life which is not
      merely the outward customs or behavior that characterize Orthodox
      Christians, but the whole of the conscious struggle of the man for whom the
      Church and its laws are the center of everything he does and thinks. The
      shared, conscious experience of this way of life, centered on the daily
      Divine services, produces the genuine Orthodox community, with its feeling
      of lightness, joy, and inward quietness. Non-Orthodox people, and even many
      not fully conscious Orthodox Christians, are scarcely able to imagine what
      this experience of community might be, and would be inclined to dismiss it
      as something "subjective"; but no one who has wholeheartedly participated
      in the life of a true Orthodox community, monastic or lay, will ever doubt
      the reality of this Orthodox feeling. When Archbishop Andrew tells of his
      lifelong?and successful?search to find and even create the lost "quietness"
      of his Orthodox childhood, he expresses the desire of everyone who has
      drunk deeply of Holy Orthodoxy to find the place, create the conditions,
      and acquire the state of soul wherein to live the full and authentic
      Orthodox life, one in mind and soul with other similar strugglers. Even if
      this ideal is seldom attained in practice, it still remains the Orthodox

      Fourth, without a constant and conscious spiritual struggle even the best
      Orthodox life or community can become a "hothouse," an artificial Orthodox
      atmosphere in which the outward manifestations of Orthodox life are merely
      "enjoyed" or taken for granted, while the soul remains unchanged, being
      relaxed and comfortable instead of tense in the struggle for salvation. How
      often a community, when it becomes prosperous and renowned, loses the
      precious fervor and oneness of soul of its early days of hard struggles!
      There is no "formula" for the truly God-pleasing Orthodox life; anything
      outward can become a counterfeit; everything depends on the state of the
      soul, which must be trembling before God, having the law of God before it
      in every area of life, every moment keeping what is God's in honor, in the
      first place in life.

      Fifth, the greatest danger to the Orthodox way of life in modern times is
      what Archbishop Andrew calls "humanism"?a general term encompassing the
      whole vast intellectual (and now also political) movement which has as its
      ultimate aim to destroy Christianity and replace it with a this-worldly,
      rationalistic philosophy in which man, in effect, becomes a god unto
      himself. The manifestations of humanism are many, from the Renaissance in
      the West and the heresy of the Judaizers in Russia in the 15th century and
      before, through the brazen atheism and Revolution of the 18th century, to
      Communism and every other philosophy in our own day which places the
      ultimate value in this world and leads men away from God. Humanism takes
      possession of men in various ways, not usually by a conscious intellectual
      conversion to it, but more often by laxness and unawareness in spiritual
      life. The Orthodox answer to this danger?whose ultimate end is the reign of
      Antichrist?is a conscious Orthodox philosophy of life.

      This teaching is profound, and few perhaps are they who are capable of
      following it to its end; this living link with a time and a tradition much
      richer than our own is no longer with us in the flesh. But his teaching
      must not die with him. By God's Providence, the celebrated writer
      Solzhenitsyn came this year to New-Diveyevo, and Archbishop Andrew took
      advantage of this opportunity to communicate this teaching, even if in the
      briefest form, to him, a typical example of the awakening?but still
      unformed?religious consciousness in Russia today. But this teaching is not
      only for Russians, who either have known Orthodoxy thoroughly incarnated in
      life, or else (like Solzhenitsyn) are drawn by their blood with longing for
      something their ancestors had; it is the teaching of life for all conscious
      Orthodox Christians.

      Let those who deeply love and treasure Orthodoxy now take this teaching
      and?even as Archbishop Andrew did with the teaching of his beloved St.
      Tikhon?live by it, and thereby regain and restore even in our barbarous and
      anti-Christian times, the Orthodox Way of Life.

      The Restoration of the Orthodox Way of Life


      (Excerpts from the address of Archbishop Andrew on the day of his
      ordination as bishop; Orthodox Russia, no. 5, pp. 6ff.

      I grew up in a pious family.... I was surrounded by that Orthodox way of
      life which for generations had been created by Holy Russia. In our family,
      life proceeded according to the church calendar, according to the yearly
      church cycle. Feast days were as it were the signposts of life. At home
      there were constant Divine services, and not only molebens, but all-night
      vigils also.

      A strong impression was made on me by the early-morning Divine services, to
      which our mother took us and to which we went no matter what the weather,
      fall and winter: After these Divine services one always felt a kind of
      extraordinary inspiration, a kind of quiet joy.

      Our family was wealthy.... And the religious outlook with which our life
      was penetrated was naturally reflected in deeds also: we participated in
      the building of churches, set out tables with food for poor people, sent
      donations to prisons, hospitals, work-houses.

      Of course, there were also sorrows, and illnesses, and deaths. But they
      also were accepted in the light of Christ. The awareness that "Christ is
      risen, and the life of man will be in the Resurrection of Christ" helped us
      to bear our misfortunes and reverses. Everything was experienced lightly
      and joyfully, without the strains so characteristic of many people.

      This feeling of joy, this Christian way of life, were characteristic not
      only of our family, but also of the society which surrounded us.

      After the Revolution of 1905, in place of the hopes and agitations there
      came disillusionment and desolation. People became as it were closed in on
      themselves. They were occupied with empty things, with little egoistic
      interests, visits, concerts, the theater. In human relations dryness and
      officialness reigned.

      And I [attending the St. Petersburg Polytechnical Institute], coming up
      against this cold alienation, this desolation, for the first time
      experienced a feeling close, if not to despair, then to despondency, and my
      soul cried out: "I cannot." Why did my soul cry out? Why did this cry burst
      out?"I cannot"?

      I felt that I could not live as people around me were living. I felt that I
      was lacking that life, that Orthodox way of life, which had surrounded me
      in my childhood and youth, that lightness of heart which I felt. I had the
      impression that I had been deprived of the air which I had breathed.

      I had to have life. And I began to seek....

      [The lectures on Dostoyevsky of a certain professor] revealed sides of life
      which I had somehow not recognized earlier.... I became acquainted with a
      Christian student group. But this group did not satisfy me. It was
      inter-confessional. But I, raised from childhood in the conditions of the
      Orthodox way of life, needed precisely the confessional way; I needed the
      Sacraments, the feeling of sanctification, prayer.

      All this was given to me by Archpriest John Egorov.... He became the leader
      of a group of students who had left the Christian student group. I spent
      five years in his "school," where there were 25 of us students, and for me
      there was opened up the elemental reality of the life of Christ's Church,
      by which Holy Russia had lived. I understood that the Divine services are
      not merely a ritual, but that in them are revealed the dogmas of faith.
      They are the foundation of man's reception of Divinity.

      Then, the examination and study of the works of the Fathers of the Church
      and the Patristic writings revealed to me the paths of life.

      When I had gone through the whole course taught by Fr. John, I had
      literally come back to life. I sensed the elemental power of Orthodoxy, I
      sensed that air of life which it gave. I understood in what this life
      consisted. I came to know that freedom of conscience which we receive
      through the Sacrament of Repentance.

      After this preparation I came, in fact, upon an Elder?Fr. Nectarius,
      disciple of the great Elder Anatole of Optina.... Elder Nectarius showed me
      my path, the path of pastoral service, and prepared me for it with the help
      of his disciple, Fr. Vincent. He taught me that the confession of faith
      must be in godliness. The Divine must enter into every side of our life,
      personal, family, and public. And so in 1921 my pastoral activity began in
      my native Romny....

      I was soon deprived of my flock and sent to Kiev under surveillance. There
      it was very difficult for me at first, but then I became close to a group
      of outstanding Kiev pastor-ascetics, who became my instructors and friends.
      Their activity and battle for human souls took place during the frightful
      time of the revelling of the atheists, against a background of demonic
      carnivals, in the heat of persecutions against the Church and believers, of
      massive arrests and executions. And all of them gave up their lives for
      what was already in my heart?for the quiet which I had experienced in
      childhood, for inward life, for strengthening oneself in faith, for the
      Orthodox way of life, for Holy Russia.

      God had mercy on me then and delivered me from prison. On my shoulders lay
      the heavy responsibility to continue the work of the martyred ascetics....

      The Germans came to Kiev?. Churches were opened. The Lord helped us to
      re-establish the Protection Hospital Convent, in the church of which I
      became priest. Again one had to help people, feed them. We managed to
      re-establish the hospital, a home for the crippled and aged. But the famine
      was not only bodily, but spiritual as well. People who had been starved for
      the Church, for the Orthodox way of life, streamed into the churches. One
      had to quench their hunger. Then, after two years under the German
      Occupation, we had to throw everything over and be evacuated. The Soviets
      came. Together with a group of people close to me, I ended up in Berlin. I
      was assigned as chief priest of the Berlin cathedral. For the course of
      nearly two years, under ceaseless bombings, Divine services were celebrated
      every day in the cathedral. The Lord helped us to preserve the Divine gift
      of the Eucharist of Christ so as to strengthen and confirm in faith the
      souls of our Russian people who had fled from Communism or who had been
      brought by force to Germany. The church was constantly filled with Russian
      youth, who for the most part knew neither their homeland nor God nor the
      Orthodox way of life, but now instinctively were drawn to the Church, to
      Christ. One had to help them, caress them, teach them, instruct them.

      But the war was approaching its end. Again one had to be evacuated?this
      time to Wurtemburg, to the small town of Wendlingen. There, in the
      difficult period which set in after the capitulation of Germany, being in
      constant fear of repatriation, our small group, under my guidance, erected
      a church and immediately instituted the Sacrament of the Divine Eucharist.
      And we began again to create a quiet order of life, to create the Orthodox
      way of life. The Divine services were celebrated daily, life proceeded in
      godliness from Sunday to Sunday, from feast to feast. All around there
      blustered passions, animosity, an animal like battle for survival. Many
      began to look on us as naive people who were not living in accordance with
      the times. But we lived, lived in God. Little by little, the attitude
      toward us changed. Pilgrimages began. People who had gone to the depths of
      despair found peace of soul and a quiet joy with us and went away
      enlightened and calmed.

      And then a new move?to America. And again one had to begin everything from
      the beginning. In the autumn of 1949 Archbishop Vitaly [of Jordanville] and
      Archbishop Nikon entrusted to me the establishment of a women's monastery
      wherein to gather together nuns scattered in various countries of the
      Diaspora, and to establish for them the quietness of Christ and the
      Orthodox way of life. This assignment seemed beyond our powers. But the
      idea of establishing here, in America, a little corner of the Orthodox way
      of life, saturated in that elemental power of the spirit by which I had
      lived and breathed since childhood, took hold of me, and I agreed, trusting
      in the help of God. And the Lord did not abandon us.

      Nuns were gathered together. About a thousand D.P.'s were brought over from
      Europe, of whom a significant number settled around the monastery and
      formed, so to speak, a large Orthodox family.... Most important, the Lord
      helped to create in New-Diveyevo that which had filled my soul from
      childhood. In the conditions of emigration, when the Russian people,
      confused in the midst of foreign conditions of life and non-Orthodoxy, were
      caught in the whirlpool of fate, the Lord helped us to establish in
      New-Diveyevo the Orthodox way of life, a church atmosphere of the quietness
      of Christ and of godliness; to establish Holy Russia in a foreign land.

      But it is not yet enough to establish a monastic life; one must preserve
      it. For there is always the danger that life can be converted into a
      hothouse, a greenhouse, where it will be supported by artificial warmth,
      and as soon as the source of warmth ceases to operate, life will perish.

      Therefore, there must be a constant source of life. Just as the earth and
      its vital juices constantly nourish vegetation, so our life also must be
      ceaselessly nourished by that elemental power which the Church of Christ
      gives, which is incarnated in the Orthodox way of life, in the Divine
      services, in fastings, in prayers, in vigils, in all that which embodies
      our Holy Russia. This is the elemental power which places in the mouth of
      the man who is leaving his earthly existence the last words, "Into Thy
      hands I commend my spirit," and gives him the possibility to depart into
      eternal existence with the name of Christ.


      (Translated from the article "Orthodoxy, Bolshevism, and Our Emigration,"
      in Orthodox Russian, 1969, no. 18, pp. 3ff.)

      In America there is no Stalin, no Communism, no persecutions against the
      Church. Therefore, emigrants who do not know actual spiritual life might
      think that Orthodox life in America should be an ideal of Orthodox life and
      that one should live just as the old Russian emigrants live here. But have
      our Russian emigrants found here what is the true ideal of the
      Christian?godliness, the acquisition of peace of heart through repentance?
      Have they found that elemental reality which the Church should be and with
      which a man departs into eternal life?sanctity, purity, sobriety?

      Alas, it seems to me that the life not only of non-Orthodox Americans, but
      of Orthodox Russians as well, proceeds not according to the laws of the
      Church, but according to the principles of humanism. Very many of those who
      consider themselves Orthodox are actually Christians only in form, but they
      live according to their own understanding, complying only with the commands
      of their flesh. American life, with its satiety and comfort, acts
      extraordinarily in favor of the acceptance of humanism. And therefore it is
      not astonishing that laymen often make demands to their pastors to go "in
      step with the times," and the pastors often fulfil these demands....

      But the religious-moral foundations do not change; why, then, should
      priests change? Against contemporary man the same temptations, the same
      passions and seductions battle that tempted men a thousand years ago. Sin
      remains sin forever, and not a jot or tittle of the law of Christ changes:
      "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words shall not pass away. Seek ye
      first the of God and its Kingdom righteousness, and all else will be added
      unto you." The most important thing is to create a pure heart and keep it
      that way. Here there can be no talk of reforms. The Lord Himself has
      already given us everything needful in His Church.

      But here the question arises: how can we apply to ourselves this wealth
      given by the Lord? Let us turn to the history of the Church at a time when
      humanism was striving to supplant true Christianity and replace it with an
      outward, false Christianity [the 18th century]. Then it was that the Lord
      raised up a hierarch who gave us for our life the method of true
      Christianity. In the On True Christianity of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk you will
      find everything needful for the inward life of man. St. Tikhon speaks of
      the Word of God, which must be incarnated in life, of spiritual wisdom, of
      the human heart, of sin, of repentance, of Christian good deeds, of the
      holy Church, of the duties of a Christian. In our emigrant epoch humanism
      manifests itself with fearful power. Our church lie proceeds for the most
      part outwardly; inward life is being forgotten. The slogan of humanism in
      our times is again: "Appear to be a Christian, but live according to the
      laws of the flesh," and involuntarily we ask ourselves the same tormenting
      question, which stands always before us: What should we do? The work of St.
      Tikhon, On True Christianity, is the answer to this question.

      This work of St. Tikhon became the foundation of my whole pastoral life. In
      1921, in blessing me for pastoral work, Optina Elder Anatole told me: "Take
      the On True Christianity of Tikhon of Zadonsk and live by its directions."


      (From a sermon delivered at a priests' conference at Holy Trinity
      Monastery, Jordanville, New York, in 1966; Orthodox Russia, 1966, no. 19,
      p. 8)

      What to do? With such a question I appealed in 1921 to an Optina Elder....
      After going through the frightful revolutionary years of 1917, 1918, and
      1919, when everything was collapsing and being destroyed, I came to a state
      which was simply pathological: why fight when everything is coming to an
      end? My outlook was transmitted to my close ones. The Revolution, the chaos
      as it were, confirmed my words for those around me.

      I became a priest, but the conditions of my soul remained the same. And
      thus it was that I went to Optina to the Elder with the question: What to

      The most important thing the Elder [Nectarius] told me was this: "The
      Church of Christ goes as it were on a railroad track. The path of the rails
      is known, it is defined, but you and I must pay attention to what happens
      in the coach which is on the rails. In the coach occurs the personal life
      of a man. A man goes in and out of the coach, and there will be an end to
      the rails, but the end of each person is separate: one leaves the coach
      earlier, another later, and here it is that Christian godliness is

      "The dogmas of faith, faith itself is revealed to us, and none of us doubts
      it; but the confession of faith must be in godliness. 'No one is good save
      God alone'?this is to hold what is God's in honor. It is the Divine that
      must be our concern; it must enter into all sides of our life?personal,
      family, public. Godliness is disclosed to us by the daily Divine services.
      At the daily Midnight Service is read the 17th Kathisma, which is a
      disclosure of God's righteousness by the Prophet David to his son Solomon.
      And the Church offers the 17th Kathisma in order to reveal our inward
      being. One of the methods for godliness is given by the Holy Church in a
      spiritual exercise which trains our mind to the remembrance of the Name of
      God?'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us.' Monastics are given
      a prayer-rope, but for a priest in the world the prayerful remembrance of
      his spiritual children can serve for training in the remembrance of the
      Name of God."

      And so: What to do? The Elder said: "Live in such away that what is God's
      will be in honor; and the first, the chief thing is your mind, which must
      be in God."


      "For a hundred years Noah called people to him, but only the dumb animals
      came." ?Elder Nectarius of Optina

      On July 22, 1975, the Russian writer A.I. Solzhenitsyn visited Archbishop
      Andrew in New-Diveyevo Convent and talked with him for more than an hour.
      Archbishop Andrew greeted Solzhenitsyn, who was then already known
      world-wide for his flaming anti-Communist talks, with the following brief
      address (translated from Novoye Russkoye Slavo, July 24,1975, p. 2):

      Dear, deeply-respected Alexander Isaevich:

      I have thought much, and am thinking much, about you; and involuntarily,
      while thinking of you, there arise before me two places in Sacred
      Scripture. One is from the Old Testament: the image of righteous Noah. It
      was revealed to him by God that there would be a world-wide flood which
      would destroy all those who remained in ungodliness. But for the salvation
      of those who would remain in godliness, those who still preserved all that
      is God's in honor, God commanded Noah to build an ark. And Noah began to
      build an ark, and at the same time to call the people to repentance....

      But the sky was clear, not a cloud; the whole of nature, as if indifferent
      to the sins of men, remained solemnly quiet. Men heard Noah, but shrugged
      their shoulders and went away. The building of the ark was finished, but
      only the family of Noah entered it. They entered the ark, not yet to escape
      the flood, but to escape the ungodliness which was everywhere.... And
      finally the rain came; the water began to rise and inundate everything. Now
      the frightened people hastened to the ark, but the doors closed by
      themselves, and no one else was able to enter....

      Thinking of you, I involuntarily presented to myself this magnificent
      figure of Noah calling the people. Thus you also, my dear one, are calling
      people from the ungodliness of Communism! They hear you, they applaud you.
      They heard Noah also and, it may be, expressed their enthusiasm. Yes, they
      heard... but they did not obey, and perished!

      Noah called men from something, from ungodliness. But he also called them
      to something: to godliness, and to a concrete godliness: to the godliness
      which was in the ark. And here I recall another place in the Sacred
      Scripture, the Epistle of the Apostle Peter: This they willingly are
      ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth
      made of the water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being
      overflowed with water, perished. But the heavens and earth which are now,
      by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of
      Judgment and perdition of ungodly men (II Peter 3:5-7).

      If all this is to be destroyed thus, then what a holy life and godliness we
      must have! This is what the New Testament Ark is: godliness, preserving
      what is God's in honor!

      In your recent address you said that you were born a slave. That means that
      you were born after the Revolution. But I saw everything that happened
      before the Revolution and what prepared it?it was ungodliness in all forms,
      and chiefly the violation of family life and the corruption of youth....
      With grief I see that the same thing is happening here also, and indeed in
      the whole world. And it seems to me that your mission also is?to call
      people from ungodliness to godliness!

      And the source of godliness is Christ!

      Originally published by St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1976. This is
      copyrighted and reprinted with the kind permission of St. John of Kronstadt
      Press. This article is in print in booklet form through this Press. The
      booklet is very nicely printed and adorned with numerous photos and
      illustrations. It is well worth adding to one's parish book table or
      pamphlet rack.

      Archbishop Andrew highly recommened On True Christianity by St. Tikhon of
      Zadonsk. Unfortunately, this has not been translated into English. However,
      there are some very good works that are quite similar, including one by St.
      Tikhon entitled Journey to Heaven, or Counsels on the Particular Duties of
      Every Christian. Also one should consult these two classics by St. Theophan
      the Recluse: The Spiritual Life and How to Be Attuned to It and The Path to
      Salvation. All of these are available from St. John of Kronstadt Press or
      any good Orthodox bookseller.
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