A Unique Phenomenon: On Righteous John of Kronstadt

Metropolitan Philaret, born March 22, 1903 in Kursk, Russia was the first hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia from 1964 until his death in New York City on November 21, 1985. Having fled communist Russia with his family through Manchuria in 1920, he was appointed primate in the same year that the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad canonized St. John of Kronstadt. St. John was later canonized by the Moscow Patriarchate in June, 1990. We commemorate the Moscow Patriarchate’s glorification of St. John of Kronstadt today.

When we get acquainted with the life of the holy Righteous John of Kronstadt, we see at first that he began his life as do many pastors of the Church. He was born into the poor family of a modest chanter, experienced poverty and want, and finally took on the sacred dignity of the priesthood and began his work in God’s field. What was his secret? How did he, having begun his life as pastors of the Church usually do, become such a spiritual giant, a colossus of the spiritual life, the likes of which have been few not only in Rus’, but in the entire universal Church in general?

We must remember how difficult his podvig was! Our great righteous ones, such as St. Sergius, St. Seraphim, and others departed from worldly noise and commotion, but Fr. John’s entire life, entire pastorship passed among the masses of the people.

But he himself indicated what was the key, what his path was. Having begun his modest service as an ordinary priest in the Kronstadt Cathedral, he directed all his attention and strength towards what we call the “inner man.” He himself later said that he had firmly decided from the first day of his ministry to always observe himself, to always delve deeper into himself, and to always control himself. Examining himself thus, he tried to cut short every sinful desire and every impulse towards sin, as soon as he noticed them in his soul.

Here we can see at once how much he is not like us, great sinners. What sins, what temptations hold sway in our souls! How powerless and weak we are when we have to conquer sin, because we did not take up battle against it in due time, and when it has already mastered our soul, then it is too difficult to overcome and drive from our souls… But as soon as Fr. John noticed sinful movements within himself—for he had them—he was a man, like us—he immediately halted them and entered into a fierce struggle with the enemy and tempter. And the enemy immediately noticed that an absolutely unusual servant of the altar stood before him, and he began to attack him so that others would see. One minister of the Church who often served together with Fr. John at the beginning of his ministry has said, “How many times I saw how Fr. John was fettered by the enemy while serving: His face would darken during prayer, he would stop, stand motionlessly, and it was clear that some terrible battle was going on. But he would call upon the name of the Lord, and he would become entirely lucid, shake off the enemy’s fog, and briskly and cheerfully go, in the grace of God, to perform his service.” Waging such a battle with his sinful urges and with the enemy of our salvation, Fr. John began to quickly grow spiritually.

And there was a moment where he turned into a wonderworker, first of Kronstadt, and then of all Russia. We know how his fame has crossed the borders of Russia, because requests were brought to him from literally all the ends of the earth to pray with his powerful and bold prayers at the dread throne of the Lord of Glory. We have had many great Russian righteous ones who worked many miracles, but such a sea of innumerable miracles that surrounded Fr. John in the second half of his pastoral life was a unique phenomenon! No wonder his admirers and spiritual children would say that it reminded them of the Gospel times. As miracles were performed around the Savior, so there was around His faithful servant an unceasing flow of miracles!

Such a man of prayer and wonderworker the Lord sent to the Russian people before the most disastrous times. Fr. John warned us, sounding the alarm. He spoke about it all the time in his homilies in his last years. He would say, “Russians, defend your good and God-fearing tsar. If you defend him, then Russia will be strong and glorious in the fear of enemies and the joy of friends for a long time still. But if you don’t defend him, they will kill your tsar, and Russia, and they will dishonor you, and take your very name from you!”

How terribly his prophecy came true… The Russian people did not listen to the great prophet and clairvoyant, whom the Lord sent to our Motherland and our people, and that terrible grief descended upon Russia that continues to this day. But we believe in the prayerful assistance of our great intercessor! Fr. John never denied anyone his pastoral prayers while he was yet living on the Earth. Now, when he is at the dread Throne of the Lord of Glory, he stands in glory with the great saints of God, and, of course, he has not forgotten us and has not forgotten our poor Motherland, and intercedes there with his fiery prayer. By his holy prayers, may the Lord finally send our suffering people the desired deliverance from all of these sorrows, from this turmoil, from this atheist yoke. Amen.

Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky)
Translated by Jesse Dominick



See also
The Vision of Our Holy Father John, Wonderworker of Kronstadt The Vision of Our Holy Father John, Wonderworker of Kronstadt
St. John of Kronstadt
The Holy and Righteous John of Kronstadt recalled this vision, which he had in January of 1901.
“I still marvel at the power of his prayer.” St. John of Kronstadt “I still marvel at the power of his prayer.” St. John of Kronstadt “I still marvel at the power of his prayer.” St. John of Kronstadt “I still marvel at the power of his prayer.” St. John of Kronstadt
Father John Sergiev breathed fresh life into Russian spirituality, making it predominantly Eucharistic. With eldership on the wane, this age-old Russian form of religious piety prophetically bequeathed by Father John of Kronstadt determined the existence of the Russian Orthodox Church for many years to come.
Miraculous Help from St. John of Kronstadt Today Miraculous Help from St. John of Kronstadt Today
Olga Rozhneva
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My heart froze. I asked her myself how my son is. The doctor answered, “Mama, there must have been some mistake with your son. It can’t be explained any other way.
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I lowered my eyes, while he continued to look at me, looking straight into my soul. He began to talk. I cannot even hope to reproduce all that he said. He spoke about my hut being like paradise, because wherever there are children, all is light and warmth there, and that I should not trade this paradise for the smoky atmosphere of a bar. He did not accuse me, – no, he kept excusing me, only I did not feel like being excused… He left, while I just continued sitting there quietly… I didn’t cry, although my soul was on the brink of tears. My wife kept looking at me… And ever since that time I became a decent man again…”
My Life in Christ My Life in Christ
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"In this warfare I have come to know the immensity of God's long-suffering to us; for He alone knows all the infirmity of our fallen nature, which He mercifully took upon Himself, except for sin (I Peter2:22; Isaiah 53:9; I John 3:5; 4:10; Hebrews 4:15), and therefore He commanded us 'seventy times seven' times to forgive the sins (St. Matt. 18:22) of those who have fallen into them; and He has surrounded and continued to surround me everyday with the joys of salvation from sin in peace and expansion of the heart. The Divine mercy which I have experienced and the perpetual nearness to me of the Lord confirm me in the hope of my eternal salvation and in that of those who follow and hear me to salvation, according to the word of the Scriptures, 'Behold I and the children which God hath given me'"
The Law of Love The Law of Love
St. John of Kronstadt
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Thus, the measuring stick of relationships to others is simplicity and sincerity, good will, and love for all—this is the best side of relationships to others. But not rarely, the nature of relationships to others is cunning, suspicion, dislike, rudeness, envy, extreme selfishness, self-seeking, partiality, vanity, ambition, vainglory, sensuality, or extreme haughtiness; that is, a high opinion of one's self, which seeks to humiliate others.
Anthony6/14/2018 5:58 pm
Tragically what St. John's prophecies were to Russia are Patro Kosmas o Aitolos and Ayios Paisios' prophecies to the Hellenic Motherland and little Kypros. And like the Russkies laughed at St John, so too are our stupid jackass compatriots laughing at our saints' prophecies about the hardships that await us. " Where's your Paisios and his prophecies" they mock. Not realising 1000 years is a day to God and vice versa. And if we would all just repent, then those horrors that are hurtling towards us could be averted. But sadly only when evil hits will our nation wake up. Just like the Russkies. But by then we will be paying the wages of our sins.
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