Metropolitan Anthony Has Been an Epoch in the Life of the Russian Orthodox Church

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

Well-known Moscow hierarchs, who personally knew the reposed Metropolitan of Sourozh, share their reminiscences of their meetings with His Eminence, speak about the significance of the recently departed eparch of God.

Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov), father superior of the Moscow Sretensky monastery:

Metropolitan Anthony has been an epoch in the life of the Russian Orthodox Church of the 20th century. By God’s grace I had the chance to meet him several times in Moscow in early 1980s. Each contact with him made an indelible impression, he was an eparch of God, and I doubt, if there will be any eparch like him. He was absolutely approachable, merciful, kind-hearted, caring about everyone he met on his way. You probably know, in the last years of his life Vladyka Basil (Rodzianko) was his spiritual son. Metropolitan Anthony tonsured him a monk, prepared him for bishopric ministry in America, and when Vladyka Basil, knowing that he was going to be a bishop, asked Metropolitan Anthony: “How can I keep the monastic vow of obedience if I myself will be bishop and will have to manage people and they will obey me, whom should I obey then?” Metropolitan Anthony answered him then: “Obey everyone who comes on your way, certainly, if he does not demand from you something against God’s will”. So listening to his spiritual father Bishop Basil diligently obeyed everyone whom he met. I believe, this trait, this spiritual labour was also characteristic of Metropolitan Anthony himself. He was already in advanced age when we met, and from time to time I had to ask him to make a speech somewhere, meet with somebody, even come and bless an apartment, talk with people, and I do not remember that even once he refused, though he was Metropolitan and administrator of British diocese and one of the most revered hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Several years ago it was painful to hear that people, who had come to the Church just a short time before, criticized him, sometimes in a nasty, vulgar form. Vladyka Anthony knew about it and took it with humbleness, as it becomes a monk. It was strange, to say the least of it, to see people who had done nothing yet for the Church, for salvation of their soul, reproving this eparch of God, scoffing at his name. Metropolitan Anthony has done a lot; his life still awaits our true appreciation. He led tens, or perhaps hundreds of thousands of people to the Orthodoxy. He helped many of us to get a new, different look on the Church, get free from many blinders that were inevitable for quite a few of us, raised in Soviet time.

May his memory be eternal. May he enter the Kingdom of God. No doubt grateful memory of Metropolitan Anthony will always stay in our hearts.

Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, deputy chairman of the Department for External Church Relations:

Great hierarch of our Church passed away, a man, who guided the faithful in Great Britain, in Europe and in all Russia. Ministry of Metropolitan Anthony was very special; it was an apostolic, missionary ministry. Having started from a small parish he built a diocese in England that united both Russian people of different generations and various origin and people in many countries of the world, who had nothing to do with the Orthodoxy before they met Metropolitan Anthony, who had no Orthodox background. Among his flock there are many people born in the native English milieu, who were Anglicans or Catholics, but who converted to the Orthodoxy and became an organic part of the Universal Orthodox Church. And we cannot but remember that in 1970s and 80s, very hard years for our Church, when spiritual thirst of our people was great, but due to the circumstances very difficult to quench, talks of Metropolitan Anthony on BBC, his books, sermons, that reached Russia, helped our people a lot, helped those who tried to understand the Orthodoxy better. Under those difficult circumstances of lack of spiritual literature, absence of Orthodox press, radio and TV, sermons of Metropolitan Anthony played an important role: people had a source of God’s word, source of church preachment, source of knowledge about their faith. So Metropolitan Anthony carried missionary, apostolic ministry, in the West and in Russia, and this ministry will never be forgotten by the Church. On these days I appeal to all to pray for the repose of the soul of recently departed Metropolitan Anthony. I think our whole Church will pray. Like people will pray in many other Orthodox churches in different countries of the West, in different Slavic countries, where people knew and revered blessedly departed Metropolitan Anthony.

Archpriest Maxim Kozlov, Rector of the church of St. Martyress Tatiana at the Moscow State University:

The decease of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh is no doubt a grievous loss for the whole Russian Orthodox Church. Metropolitan Anthony combined a high hierarchal dignity with a genuine highness of life, with the dignity of holiness. That is why during the last years when we heard any statement by Metropolitan Anthony, his sermons and estimation concerning topical church issues, we could not take it indifferently, we knew that his each word proceeded from genuine love in Christ, love to God, to the Church, to the whole God’s people. There are few such people, they are always few to be seen in the Church, but life becomes harder, when we lose them one after another, those who served us as spiritual beacons, spiritual guides. But we believe Vladyka Anthony will pray for us in the Kingdom of God. We believe God will grace him with repose together with the saints, and as he gave himself up to the ministry for the Mother-Church, so now he will intercede for us, who live in our Motherland, for the spirit of Christ’s love to persist in the Orthodox Christians, so that the verses of the Gospel “by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another”, that he reminded us of so often, would live in our hearts. Let us hope that he will pray also for the Orthodoxy in the country where he lived so long and laboured major part of his life for the establishment of the Church, that is in England, to become a real Local Orthodox Church, where all people will be united: those born in England, emigrants from Russia and other countries. It will be our best sign of gratitude to Metropolitan Anthony – Local Autonomous or Autocephalous Orthodox Church. Let us pray to His Eminence Anthony with hope that he prays for us, knowing that saints do not leave us without their care even after the end of their earthly life. This is our main consolation today, though for those who knew and loved Metropolitan Anthony, who read his books, who listened to his sermons, life will be harder. Our dear father, God’s hierarch, pray for us to the Lord! Amen.

Archpriest Valentin Asmus, Rector of the church of the Protection of the Virgin in Krasnoe Selo:

Metropolitan Anthony made an epoch. His almost 90-year-long life has just ended; it fell on the years, which we perceive now as elder times. He was born before the Russian revolution, he never lived under the Soviet power besides his short visits to Russia, all his life he used old orthography. He was a representative and a preacher of the orthodox Russian tradition, acquired by him from old Russian common parsons, who by God’s will found themselves outside of Russia. At the same time he was a surprisingly contemporary person. Having met the living and loving Christ when a teen, he did not close Christ’s love in the depth of his heart, as it is often typical of us, pessimists and ones of little faith, to be honest. With boldness and confidence he witnessed about the Saviour everywhere and to everybody, and quite often his testimony turned the person’s life over, led a hopeless soul into the arms of the Father. He spoke to our contemporaries, who faced many problems unseen earlier, with love, mercy, deep understanding, and together with them he sought Christian solution of the problems. He never said authoritarian and often false words “The Church teaches” instead of the honest and humble phrase “I believe”, because it is a fact that we do not find answers to all questions in the age-long Church tradition. Having succeeded to combine Church Tradition and modern life in his ample and unique personal experience, Vladyka Anthony was servant of God, priest of Christ, pastor of worded sheep. He never joined any party, at times was unwanted by all existing parties. Ecumenists who believe that Russia will become a civilized country only after receiving a visit of the crowned countryman of Marina Mniszek, do not like him, because many times he witnessed about their aggressive, proselytical goals of the Catholic Church in Russia, however our traditional anti-Catholics also got a treatment from him at times. I remember he was going to the Moscow Theological Academy and somebody asked him: “What are you going to speak about?” “Unfortunately about the Catholics”, he answered. “But why unfortunately, you have always shown quite a definite anti-Catholic attitude?” Vladyka answered: ”Well, I am certainly against Catholicism, but I have to defend the Catholics against those”.

So he understood too well, that primitive anti-Catholicism based on the outdated textbooks of the 19th century, which still at times reveals itself, is very dangerous, since it does not stand the encounter with life. And indeed, we witnessed the events that convinced us of Vladyka Anthony’s rightness: those laymen and clergy who had a strong anti-Catholic attitude, after the first actual encounter with the Catholicism, when they found out that Catholics do not worship the Pope as God, came to a crisis and were likely to become Latinophiles.

In many things Vladyka Anthony showed wisdom that revealed itself in a paradoxical way. He spent himself for the ministry to God and people. Once he was talking about his internal personal problem to a close friend and the latter asked him: “Why can’t you ask God to solve this problem?” And Vladyka answered: “I’ve got a bargain with Him: I ask nothing for myself”. That is the way he was – he asked for nothing for himself, only for the others. That was his intercession before God, his ministry to people, it is like this, that we will remember him and he will stand before God, this time face to face. When the daughter of a good acquaintance of Vladyka Anthony died he directed rather strict words to the broken-hearted women: “Do not disturb her in her joy with your tears!” So we too are sad seeing Metropolitan Anthony off and naturally grieving over his departure, for it is a sorrowful event for many, not only those who knew him personally, such are not so many in Russia, perhaps only in Moscow and few other cities he had the chance to visit in his time, but he was heard on the spread of the great Russia, which was called earlier Soviet Union, and people listened to his sermons on the radio, for he often moderated religious programs of the BBC. People grieve over the departure of this great pastor, but our grief and sorrow is mixed with joy and hope, that not only we pray for the repose of recently deceased Metropolitan Anthony, but he has also boldness to pray for us.

Prepared by Dmitry Safonov

8/31/2003

×