In 2017, we mark the centennial anniversary of the tumultuous events that would radically alter the historical course of the Orthodox Church throughout the world, particularly in Russia and North America. The main cataclysmic event that precipitated these changes was the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in late 1917.
And does not there arise in us the question of why the Lord united these two elect of His here on earth, if not because it was by one heart and by one mind that they lived, although in different times and circumstances—the same work they fulfilled, living on earth so as to unite themselves in eternity and on earth in the memory of the people? Let us look closer at their lives and draw from the fountain of ever-present living water which grants immortality to the soul.
Patriarch Tikhon captained the ship of the Church through the bloody storm of anti-ecclesiastical persecution inspired by the godless leaders of the communist regime, who had seized power in much-suffering Russia.
St. Tikhon’s Monastery is home to a rich history and a great many “treasures” of Orthodoxy, some known, some relatively unknown, which stand as a testament to the prayers and labors of our American apostle, St. Tikhon, and his continuing heavenly protection.
The key to St. Tikhon's greatness lies in his personality, his character. Prof. Zaichenko recalls: "By nature Bishop Tikhon was kind, responsive and unusually sensitive. In his character he was quiet, merciful, good-natured and always tried to preserve in himself serenity, a serenity which he transmitted to the souls of all those around him."
The supreme spiritual value--religion--was also overthrown. Faith in God was replaced with faith in atheism and materialism. The interests of the whole nation were reduced to the interests of the proletarian and peasant classes. Yet in view of the "backwardness" of the peasant class, the leading rôle was ceded to the proletariat. And since the entire proletariat was en masse also referred to as "comprehending little," the "dictatorship of the proletariat" was transformed into the Dictatorship of the Bolshevik Communist Party.
Patriarch Tikhon's nine years in America were important ones in the affairs of the Orthodox Church there. During this period the episcopal seat was removed from San Francisco to New York. During this period Bishop Tikhon became Archbishiop Tikhon, the first American Orthodox hierarch to bear that title. These years made a deep impression upon the future Patriarch himself, and as will later be pointed out, the knowledge of the life and religious ideals of American people he acquired there have been very influential in later events in Russia. America has no better friend in Russia than Patriarch Tikhon and he seems especially pleased to maintain his connection with Americans and things American.
“So, only now,” a thought struck me, “now something can be said to them, now they are capable of hearing it, for their souls have melted. But there in the hut there could be no thought of teaching.” I understood that we must first warm the sinful soul, and correct it only afterwards. His Holiness could do this—he greatly loved these sinful but miserable children of his. And he warmed them with his love.
The Patriarch was the spiritual leader of the Russian people during a very difficult time. He continues to be so during our difficult time in Russia—a time of schism, separation, and falls. The Church's duty in such trials is to inspire and unite the people for the sake of saving their native land, faith, and truth, serving for unification.