Lessons in Humility from a Fervent Man of Prayer

The Memory of Metropolitan Evlogy (Smirnov; † 7/22/2020)

His very name is translated as “blessing.” He was always sent to the most difficult sites on the Church front. He raised Moscow’s Danilov Monastery from the ruins—the first monastery handed over to the Russian Orthodox Church after the tumultuous years of Soviet authority—then he revived Optina Hermitage from the same desolation. Then he spent three decades peacefully ruling the Vladimir and Suzdal Diocese, which he received in a difficult state of division.

On July 25, our Church bid farewell to an epochal man, a metropolitan who could easily kneel in the middle of a working day just to teach humility to his employees and spiritual children—Vladyka Evlogy (Smirnov).

The newly-departed is here remembered by Matushka Tatiana Oganyan, the choir director of the Episcopal Choir of the Holy Dormition Cathedral of the Vladimir Metropolia.

For those who pray, everything happens in time

Metropolitan Evlogy (Smirnov) Metropolitan Evlogy (Smirnov)     

When Vladyka Evlogy was consecrated for the Vladimir Cathedra, the Vladimir-Suzdal schism was flaring up. The hierarchy didn’t set any easy tasks for him. He didn’t act by resolutions or speeches, but by prayer. This was his main weapon. The feeble works of our hands will never be able to do what the Lord can do when He is asked simply and meekly. Our archpastor lived by hope.

I remember, the issue of the transfer of some relics was being resolved. Some court cases had already been won against the schismatics, but there was no result. Vladimir Leonidovich Gorlanov, the head of the Vladimir Department of Federal Property Management, came to Vladyka:

“Vladyka, we’ve done everything within our power,” and then, after a pause, he added: “We need an akathist…”

“Yes, yes, we need an akathist!” our hierarch said, immediately becoming animated. “Let’s read an akathist!”

And indeed, everything was resolved.

People from all over would come to Vladyka with requests for prayer; from Moscow, and from Ukraine—especially when the war began there. Then they would report that miracles happened: Bombs fell nearby, got stuck in the ground, and—didn’t explode.

“Maybe you can talk about it on the radio…” they said, trying to add to the effect.

“And how do you envision this? That I should advise everyone to impose a fast upon themselves? And what can I promise? Prayer. Our monastery will serve nighttime services in all four of the fasts, and I will pray with them as much as I can.”

And while people were being killed in eastern Ukraine, every monastery of the Vladimir Diocese served nighttime Liturgies, at which the bishop himself often prayed.

Then, a year later, a car suddenly stopped in Vladimir at night. The window rolled down, and the surprised traffic cops were baffled by the question:

“How can I find Archbishop Evlogy?”

Of course, everyone in our city knows Vladyka. It was no problem to answer.

“It’s probably not the best time right now…” was the only thing the officer could say.

“But we really need to see him. We’re from Kiev.”

They were somehow persuaded to wait until morning. But their very appearance at night is symbolic. These were completely different people, who appeared exactly when the shooting stopped, which Vladyka Evlogy had been praying for all these years together with the brothers and sisters of the diocesan monasteries, especially at night.

“Well, of all things! Greetings have come from Kiev,” he said laughing, during trapeza.

They brought him an icon and a box of Kiev Evening candy.

With Vladyka, everything was always on time. He prayed and he prayed, and then he’d suddenly get up, go somewhere, and right at the very last moment, he’d manage to do to something that would be almost inconceivable later.

So he suddenly found himself in Kiev, and just before the death of His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir (Sabodan) managed to give him a particle of the relics of the Holy Prince Andrew Bogolyubsky and receive from him the relics of the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Vladimir.

“This is our saint,” the Vladimir hierarch mentioned.

But Vladyka Vladimir couldn’t immediately bring himself to say this.[1]

“No, I can’t,” he balked.

Vladyka Evlogy accepted it: Then never mind. And just before leaving, he received the sacred relics so long-awaited in our land.

What is love?

“How good you have it,” pilgrims sometimes would say to us, “that you have such a person to talk with, to draw grace from.”

It was often enough just to look at Vladyka. There was nothing grandiloquent in his talks. He spoke simply, but always on spiritual topics. He knew what needed to be said to who and when. You just sit and listen, and he would tell some stories… They would seem to be some abstract tales, but they freed you internally!

Sometimes people would start practically interrogating Vladyka. They would ask about this and that—such a hunger people have, so many questions sometimes pressed their souls. I remember one time indicating with my eyes: “Not too often.” Vladyka had just started telling them something, and they just wanted to hear their own voices. But this doesn’t happen with the Lord. If you always turn everything back to yourself, it is, in the end, disrespect for Him Who is always with us, everywhere. We just have to be able to listen, to discern His will in the circumstances of life. Vladyka taught this.

Sometimes he would suddenly start talking about himself. He himself tried to do everything in his life by obedience. Just as he was used to obeying his parents, so he later revered the patriarchs. For example, when he was already a novice in the [Holy Trinity-St. Sergius] Lavra, and was home on leave after serving in the army, and his mother wouldn’t let him go back to the monastery for a long time. She was alone then. There were ten kids in the family, but they were all dispersed—some to school, some to jobs appointed for them, as was practiced then—to various corners of Russia. Then her roof started leaking and it needed to be fixed. And there was always some work around the house requiring a man’s help. He was so eager to get back to St. Sergius! But he reconciled himself to it. Then, one morning he got up, walked out of his room, and his mother was standing there with an icon.

“Well, that’s it, son, go!” she blessed.

And he quickly took off for the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra!

Otherwise, if you’re not used to listening to your parents, how will you listen to God? Some people have good intentions and are eager to restore churches, then suddenly they have nothing but temptations and discord… But he just decided to labor on his own.

Tatiana Oganyan Tatiana Oganyan If you analyze what’s happening—which Vladyka was able to do—it’s obvious: Obedience is the pledge of salvation, the beginning and crown of love.

“Vladyka, what is love?” someone once asked him. “Where is it found?”

“Well, here we have love,” he said, nodding at me as the choir director (I nearly fell through the floor). “I need her skills, and she also needs me for something.”

I was taken aback, and I sat quietly, waiting for what would happen next.

“We need to help people give and increase their talent,” Vladyka explained, “and support each other’s desire to share.”

This is something completely different—not about how people just use each other. Nurturing love—this is what we need to take care of first.

“We have to be thankful! Always give thanks when someone gives you something. If you didn’t thank a person, you didn’t thank God. And thanking God is the most important thing. He is, after all, our first example in obedience.[2]

The bishop on his knees,
or how does it feel to always be in touch with God?

Vladyka’s words were unquestionable. You know, sometimes someone might say everything correctly, and you listen and think: “And do you live up to this?” With Vladyka Evlogy, this never happened. He was constantly working on himself internally. It was constant self-polishing. He didn’t come to our cathedra the same way we remember him in the last five years. He was like the sun—“a man of fervent prayer,” as our current ruling hierarch, Metropolitan Tikhon said of him.

Vladyka was changing before our eyes, and nothing that happened around him was static. By the end of his life, there was already such a condensation of faith and love that they were as if physically felt around him. And he was enkindled with this power of the heart. He was always good-natured. No matter who came to see him, he received everyone like Christ, with such joy! Whatever was in the soul of the person: baptized, unbaptized, whatever he’d done in his life, maybe a sectarian—it didn’t matter. Everything was somehow miraculously renewed under the influence of Vladyka’s love and prayer.

It is said: Where a demon laughs, God gives a gift. Even some falls will ultimately disgrace the enemy of mankind, because they can make a that person understand what it means to live in the love of Christ.

Vladyka never condemned anyone. He could talk about even some difficult situations without condemning anyone! This has to be learned. You could come in all upset and talk with him, and absolutely no negative thoughts about the person who tormented you would remain.

“We have to pray for him. It’s difficult for him. We have to help him with our prayer,” Vladyka would say. “But condemnation only leads to sin and darkness. By it, we condemn ourselves first of all.”

He was already weak from ailments:

“So, Tatiana? Everyone has their cross. We have to bear it,” was all he said.

He worried for everyone. He simply prayed thousands of people out of the most hopeless situations. It seemed their lives were ruined, and then everything would suddenly work out in the best possible way.

No one, he taught, should be denied the opportunity to become a different person. You just pray for him, and the Lord is in control.

“Vladyka, what should I do?” I would say again in my cowardice, “It happened sometimes…”

“This!” he would say, dropping to his knees. “Forgive me, bless me.”

You look at the bishop kneeling, and you drop to your knees and repeat after him. Then what questions would arise!

And as you floated away up the stairs, he would stand there accompanying you from the doorway with his gaze. You would turn and see him with that expression on his face as if to say:

“And who will pray for me?”

We think that everything comes easily to people like him. We get used to enjoying the grace. But the enemy launches an attack on them! They get it from their own people, and from others… And you’ll see what I mean if you just relax your own internal struggle.

One of the clerics here was pestering him; he was a good man, but how much trouble he gave him!

Something had to be taken to Moscow, and Vladyka called late in the evening. I drove over. I sat down and saw his arm in a cast (he’d gotten into an accident the day before), and he explained:

“Just imagine, I’m driving and I’m thinking: ‘How he torments me! The feast is coming soon, and I really don’t want to go to his church and serve…’ Then suddenly a car comes flying at us, and we slammed into it. I broke my right arm. There you go, all your desires fulfilled! Right there! And immediately the first thought I had was: ‘So how can I condemn such a priest?!’ I immediately understood everything. You don’t want to serve with him? Don’t serve! You want something else—there you have it!”

This is how he spoke with God. Answers came instantly. It’s better to enter into Paradise with a broken arm.[3]

It’s about to begin!

Vladyka would tell those of us on the kliros:

“The kliros prays twice. It doesn’t just pray in the soul, but also encourages others to pray. After all, we’ll be singing in the next life. They don’t talk there. They sing there. How I envy you, since you can already sing here!” And he would encourage us: “Sing! Sing!”

And after something like this, when the Kingdom of Heaven is revealed to you, how could you sing poorly?

And how we would sing! And what begins here! Only later did we understand that the bishop did everything correctly. He raised us, peeling away, exfoliating everything extraneous, everything dead—everything unsuitable for the Kingdom of Heaven. And how we fought against it; it was painful! He was looking out for our salvation, and we were revolting against it.

Vladyka blessed us to go to international festival competitions then. We were returning one time from Belarus. It was already our fifth victory. Wherever we went, we would take the grand prize. Of course, we realized it was Vladyka praying for us, but then what was it like for us?! We got on the train, and fell silent.

“What are we going to do now?” I said, fidgeting nervously with my blouse. “How can we tell Vladyka?”

“Matushka, maybe we won’t tell him?” someone said, clearly throwing up their hands at yet another stroke of luck.

“Well, how could we not tell him… He’ll ask.”

“Well, say: ‘We did good. We participated…”

“And he’ll say: ‘Participated?’” taking an interest. “But I can’t lie.”

“Well, tell him cryptically, somehow,” the saddened singers said, hanging their heads.

It was all completely serious!

“We’ll say we won again… And it will begin!”

We were all sitting, tensely thoughtful. All around us, however, everyone was relaxed or frolicsome, as is usually the case on trains, in this gap between the determining spaces of the flow of life. They travel, chatter, rest, and read.

But we had our expectation:

“Oh, we’ll have to be humbled again…”

The Episcopal Choir The Episcopal Choir     

You can’t imagine what usually awaited us after all these triumphs on the schedule. So we arrived, and I… didn’t go see Vladyka. Saturday morning, I relaxed a little. Then it was time for Vigil. The anointing began, I went up, Vladyka ran the brush across my forehead, suspiciously slowly this time. And I was trying with all my might to pretend that nothing was going on, that nothing even happened…

“Well?” he asked, reading on my face exactly what the choir had decided together. “How was the trip?”

“Good,” I admitted.

“What do you mean by ‘good?!’” he asked in such a threatening tone. “What was the outcome?”

I could barely force myself to raise my eyes, with a look as if we had scored a two out of ten.

“Vladyka, forgive me, first place again…”

He didn’t even smile, as would have been expected by our worldly standards. His brow furrowed even more: Aha, that means...

“Fine, congratulations. Joyous feast,” he said and turned away.

And I plodded my way up to the choir. They had seen it all.

“Well?” they asked, hurling themselves towards me.

“That’s it,” I said. “It’s about to begin!”

That’s how it always was! We’d basically sung more or less tolerably, and here we go again!

“That’s it, Tatiana,” His Eminence said, calling me. “Let’s switch to Obikhod. Here’s the music.”

There was music for three voices, inattentively copied out by someone—something unimaginable for those who know what singing is.

“Vladyka, uh, this is the most…” I said, looking more closely.

“No, no, enough of that… All of your melodies are there. Here, this is your music! Our blessing to you,” he said, blessing with both hands. “Now sing!”

By this point, I barely understood what we were really talking about. I had my hands folded to receive a blessing. I took the music and went back to the choir.

We copied the pages. It was awful, of course! For a mixed choir to sing something written just for men… Experts will understand… And Vladyka said as he walked away:

“Sing it how it’s written!”

“Yes, yes,” I agreed, leaving the office I once so desperately entered.

And so we started to sing. It was some kind of enchanting wildness. We sang and we sang. The singers were exhausted.

“Matushka, this is impossible!” they said, practically pushing me out. “Go tell the bishop!”

“No, no,” I said, conducting. “It’s our obedience.”

And it all continued. And it seemed so long, excruciating to the point of impossibility; all according to the theory of relativity. The coefficient of these prolonged torments already seemed off the scales. In a sense, it was an image of hell—when we’re not ready to obey. And we sang like that just for a week.

“Tatiana, the feasts are coming up here. There will be guests,” Vladyka said, beckoning me once after a service, and exhaling: “Well, what other music do you have?”

I stood there, staring incomprehensibly: What music could we use other than that which we were blessed to use?!

“We have this music here,” I said, thinking about how to put it. “Well, what other music do you have?! Sing something else! Not what I gave you! Sing this music. And then we’ll see…” he concluded, speaking like a hierarch.

I crossed myself: “Glory to Thee, O Lord.”

And that was it. We didn’t have to prove anything to anyone: “No! We’re all professionals! We have to do this, and nothing else!” Everything was resolved by itself. No need to squabble, because it became clear to everyone with time: Vladyka did everything solely for our sakes. He was nurturing humility, which is a pass into Paradise. Of course, it could have all lasted longer. But the point is to give leaven, just to give us a taste for the spiritual; to let you feel something different—and then decide for yourself! The Lord cannot but send trials.

And there were many such moments. Only with more or less success—a real poison. The bishop would immediately clip all our wings: no more trips. It was for our humility. That was it. You’d sit and murmur… But then the realization would come again: “You just have to be patient…” This is the only way the passions will fly away, unable to withstand the constancy of a person under obedience.

That’s the kind of example Vladyka was for us, and that made it easier to obey. Under such conditions, it’s doable for even the most obstinate. Later, you yourself rejoice in all this training: Oh! Punished again. You can learn something. So why sit around idly vegetating in this world? Everything here is perishable. We need to get there, to Heaven.

But, by the way, all this scolding ended for us later. What a priceless experience, that must be valued while it is still exists! Everyone who has been truly obedient knows that this is the best time! But then, for some reason, Vladyka suddenly stopped humbling us. He just taught us in this school of his, and then let us go out for free swim in this regard. Suddenly he was so happy for us when we won again…

If you serve this way, then everything else will follow

Metropolitan Evlogy Metropolitan Evlogy It was a pleasure to serve with Vladyka Evlogy.

I remember when the Patriarchal Choir from Christ the Savior Cathedral, under the direction of Ilya Borisovich Tolkachev, came to visit us in 2018. They really wanted to serve with our hierarch and sing antiphonally with our choir. It was an historical service. Thirty-five of them came. They stood in this large group down below and we were in the choir loft. Of course, every choir sings in its own way, the way it’s used to, and we hadn’t practiced anything with them. And so we sang the greeting of the hierarch, and then they started the Liturgy. After “Only-Begotten Son…” we sang together again, and then we alternated, adapting on the fly.

Vladyka served in such a way that he somehow covered, united, and led everyone into a prayerful stream. And the service flowed in an atmosphere full of grace. All the singing at Vladyka’s services was always subordinated to prayer. It was an ironclad school. It wasn’t about performing or showing off—this was all nipped in the bud! We sang so as not to interfere with prayer. Vladyka always taught us this: “Singing should accompany the service, helping people pray.” But we were not to take on any aspect of theatricality or performance: “Just listen to the voices we have! And how well we have learned everything!” A church is not a concert venue.

So we sang with the Patriarchal Choir, all very smoothly and harmoniously. At the end of the service, the deacon came to tell us:

“We don’t even know who’s singing when anymore.”

Then Ilya Borisovich came up to where we were. We thanked each other so warmly, and he was so happy!

“This is the first time in my life I’ve been at such a service!” he suddenly blurted out. “That was something extraordinary. How lucky you are.”

You should have seen their choir singers. Their faces were so illuminated with joy; those smiles, eyes wide. They were so nourished by this conciliar prayer of ours, so clearly felt at Vladyka’s services, that they were simply in spiritual ecstasy—like in Heaven, which is what a church is called to be.

Sometimes you didn’t even need to say anything. Vladyka simply served, but he served in such a way that you were completely gathered—your mind, your heart, your will—into a single whole and brought back to God. The way he prayed, he brought everyone along with him. This concentrated movement of the service simply picked you up and somehow wonderfully transported you somewhere you’d never been before, but you were incredibly happy to be there.

Even people who were very far from the Church who happened to attend one of Vladyka’s services could no longer call themselves non-believers after that. They simply couldn’t bring themselves to say it anymore. It would have been a lie—they’d seen something genuine. I often heard:

“I just came in to light a candle. I had somewhere to be then, but the service was so… Everything in my soul turned over.”

And next thing you know, they’re parishioners!

“That was it,” they’d say. “After that, I just stayed.”

The Body of Christ lives in unity

Sometimes the wonderful Fr. Matthew (Mormyl) would come visit us too. He was like a comet! These were all such unforgettable people and encounters!

I was following him up the stairs, but his legs were in pain, and he surmounted step after step so slowly, stopping after each one. He asked me about something, and seizing the moment, I myself content, pestered:

“Fr. Matthew! Can you tell me what’s wrong with me?”

He had such strong hands, and turned around and shook me by the shoulders:

“Tanechka! You have everything! And you have Vladyka!”

What services we had with Vladyka! How they felt this rhythm of worship, all the exclamations, and the answers to them—this dialogue between the altar and the kliros, when all the people are prayerfully involved! And it’s actually rare when you can hear this dialogue like this, when you’re fully penetrated by it. How often everything falls apart: the altar doing its own thing; the choir doing its own thing; everyone in the church standing by themselves. But the Body of Christ lives in unity. We are called to embody His life, the life of Christ in abundance, that it might sanctify everything outside.

The kliros is not just a gathering of people who showed up, who were put into groups, who know music, who mutter to themselves, and then everyone goes about their own business. It’s not just some business among others, but a state—you come and participate in the service. And every parishioner, each in his own way, experiences what is happening here.

I first felt this deeply at our Vladimir Cathedral when Vladyka Evlogy was serving and Fr. Matthew was singing and conducting. It was some kind of cosmic symphony: the exclamation from the altar, the answer from the choir, and the people entering into this action of the Incarnation of God, the sufferings on the Cross, and the Resurrection of Christ, when they sang the Creed and then the Our Father.

It was a power that changed everything all around, a fiery flame of prayer offered and received deep within the soul. And the Spirit of God soars everywhere, and everything that was dark and formless within you is transformed. It was the air of some new Heaven. When I heard all this and experienced it, it turned everything around, of course—everything in my life fell into place.

God first, and the rest in its own place.

I quite understand those who remained in the Church forever after coming to such a service. We had an amazing opportunity to adopt this schooling from Fr. Matthew (Mormyl) thanks to his co-service with Vladyka Evlogy. It’s like acquiring the whole world—worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve (Mt. 4:10).

We were in Penza once for the feast of a New Martyr, Hieromartyr Innokenty, who had the same last name as Vladyka: Smirnov. There were three hierarchs serving, including Vladyka Longin of Saratov and Volsk. We sang Vigil and Liturgy. As soon as we began to sing, Vladyka Longin appeared on the kliros:

“Who are you?”

He had such a sharp eagle eye; I felt timid:

“We’re from Vladimir…”

“No, it’s better to tell me who inspires you: Fr. Matthew or Vladyka Evlogy?!”

Our Vladyka wasn’t with us.


“Listen! It’s simply amazing! I heard all these intonations, this music…”

He came to us like this four times throughout the service.

The service is the center of everything

This was all training for us from Vladyka and his equally great co-strugglers and concelebrants. Many, including hierarchs, would come to serve with Vladyka Evlogy. We always sang the stichera with the canonarch unhurriedly. Vladyka taught us that the most important thing was to convey the meaning. We did a lot of work on the stichera, trying to maintain this tradition of intelligible singing—not just to “sweep” over something: “They won’t understand anyways.” But the singer should understand first and then convey it to others—this is his cross!

“The kliros prays twice,” Vladyka never tired of reminding us.

It is our job to make this understanding penetrate into our souls and then share it with everyone. This is the task, not to draw it out and make it enthusiastically showy.

There, in the stichera, can be found the life and edification and all the riches of our life in Christ. It is that pearl that you would sell everything to acquire (cf. Mt. 13:45). If you understand the services and participate in them this way, then everything opens up to you in a completely different dimension. If this befitting reverent attitude to the services is inculcated—and Vladyka carefully cultivated it in us—then everything is different: The whole world is here, and the service is the center of everything.

So, Vigils are the same. How are they different? Precisely by the content of the stichera, and perhaps the canon. That’s it. This is where the uniqueness and unrepeatability of every service is. No other service will be the same.

Services were always long with Vladyka Evlogy—three or four hours. And we were so used to it that we didn’t even understand how it could be otherwise. Our All-Night Vigils began at 6:00 and lasted until 9:00 or 10:00. Vladyka simply lived by the Divine services, and we all lived. It was somehow organic. We couldn’t imagine it otherwise: when everything is running, skipping, abbreviating, cutting: “What’s the point of this?”, “This is long,” and so on.

One day, a seemingly venerable hierarch came to us:

“You know, I don’t remember such a service ever before, anywhere,” he suddenly began to think aloud. “I didn’t know it was so interesting. Honestly!” he said laughing, with eyes full of surprise. We prayed for four hours! I couldn’t even have imagined this” (although he was already sixty). “If someone had told me yesterday that today they’d make me stand here for four hours in a row, I would have immediately protested: ‘I can’t! I’ll fall over. It’s not possible.’ But I didn’t even notice how the time flew by. I was listening to the stichera, and everything else happened by itself.”

Many people reacted this way to Vladyka’s services.

Vladyka Evlogy wanted to fit everything into the services! There could even be up to three homilies in a service, to allow someone to give a word: One of the guests would always share something innermost. This transmitting and mutual enrichment of traditions was always very important for Vladyka. Something from the instructions or lives of the saints would always be read before the polyeleos. He tried to highlight those saints whose memory was celebrated on a given day but to whom the service wasn’t dedicated. In other words, it was always the conciliar unity of the universal Church, triumphant in Heaven and waging war with sin here, where everyone participated and prayed together with everyone. With the Lord, no one is forgotten. Let’s say St. Procopius suffered on this day—how can we not learn about this saint, not honor his memory? And so we served and we served, and if afterwards we also gathered at the table after all these long Vigils and Liturgies, then Vladyka would sometimes quite sincerely conclude:

“I don’t want to leave. Should we go sing something else? Serve some more?”

And this was completely in the spirit of the community of his flock. Someone would say:

“Let’s go!”

So after tea, we’d have an akathist too.

Many would tell us:

“You’re living in Paradise here!”

Fr. Daniel (Sarichev)’s plan
for getting in to see the bishop

And I fell into this Paradise, you could say, like a thief. When Vladyka Evlogy had just been appointed to us in Vladimir—in the early 1990s—I had an extremely difficult situation with a relative. I turned to Fr. Daniel (Sarichev) in the Moscow Donskoy Monastery.

“Batiushka, it’s like this and that,” I said, “please pray…” and then suddenly: “Should I go see some elder?”

He gave me quite a look, he himself already over eighty:

“What other elder do you want?!”

“I don’t know; everyone goes to see them… I would like to ask what I should do. It’s such a difficult situation.”

“She’s going to go! He’s sitting there on the second floor, and she’s going to go!”

“Who is sitting where? On what second floor?”

“In the diocese!”

“Who’s there?” I thought, “we don’t have any elders.”

“You have an elder sitting on the second floor there!” Fr. Daniel said, not letting up.


“In the office?” he said, taking on a serious look.

“The bishop?”

“There you go!”

“So he’s an elder?” (Vladyka Evlogy was only fifty-some years old then).

“What did you think?!”

“So what should I do then?”

“Look, that means,” Fr. Daniel said, beginning to busily tell me a plan for getting in to see him. He himself was so small and old already, but so effervescent and cheerful in temperament. “Go there. Go through the door. Go down the hall, and everyone will ask you: ‘Where are you going? What is your question?’ No one will let you go see him! Don’t turn around, but make a run for it, right to the second floor. Don’t announce anything to anyone but go straight into the office!”

“What are you talking about?! How?!” I said, staring at him.

“Listen to what I’m saying! And tell him everything as it is. And he will do everything for you!!”

So I went to the diocesan administration. I was walking down the hall. I flung open one door, two doors, and it all started just like Fr. Daniel had warned:

“And where are you going?”

I kept quiet and just made a run for it.

“What’s your question?” I heard.

But I headed straight for the second floor. I went in, and the secretary got up to meet me:

“Where are you going?!”

“I’m going to see Vladyka!” I said over my shoulder, closing the door to his office behind me.

I just stood there.

Vladyka was writing something and looked up at me. “And what will happen now!”

“Master, bless! I’m from Fr. Daniel,” I reported, cheerfully explaining how he taught me to get here.

“Ahhh,” Vladyka said, smiling even before my story, apparently understanding immediately what was what and why, from the mere mention of Fr. Daniel.

I was already outlining my question to Vladyka, as I’d been instructed. And he truly did settle it all, although it was no simple problem. And it wasn’t resolved immediately, but precisely as Vladyka said it would be.

So I stayed with him. That’s how it happens, when God turns even our difficulties to our advantage!

The image of the gathering of Rus’

Holy Dormition Cathedral in Vladimir Holy Dormition Cathedral in Vladimir     

In July, the Vladimir land celebrates the memory of many of our holy icons and saints: the Bogolyubsky Icon of the Mother of God, then the memory of the holy Right-Believing Prince Gleb, our countryman, followed by the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, the Synaxis of All Saints of Vladimir… Vladyka “fled” the hospital just to serve some more.

In recent years, especially when the conflict in Ukraine flared up, and then with the talks about autocephaly, every service—whether morning or evening—would begin with the prayer, “To our Most Holy Lady Theotokos…”. Sometimes he prayed for quite a long time. The Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God is the Theotokos’ prayerful shield, protecting the center of Russia—it is an image of the gathering of Rus’.

And they would tell him about his treatment:

“Vladyka, you need to…”

And he would talk about the services:

“We will pray until the feast of the Kazan Icon, and if I don’t die, then we’ll go to the hospital on the 23rd.”

The thing is that much of what happened to Vladyka Evlogy towards the end of his time on earth, everything he said, was later revealed in some prophetic perspective.

Our current ruling hierarch Vladyka Tikhon went to see Vladyka Evlogy to urgently ask him not to refuse treatment. Vladyka Evlogy suddenly brought the Icon of the Mother of God of Three hands to him. And today, on the feast of the Three Hands Icon, they’re burying Vladyka Evlogy…

Then he went to the hospital on July 13 out of obedience. But he died immediately after the feast of the Kazan Icon. That is, Vladyka Evlogy knew everything ahead of time. The Lord revealed his time to him.

Everyone, of course, intended to do something, to somehow undertake and solve something in a human way, from the best of intentions. The doctors also tried to reassure us. But when I went to see Vladyka again on July 7, he suddenly offered to me:

“Well? Shall we say farewell?”

“What do you mean, Vladyka?” I said, not agreeing. “You’re about to go to Moscow,” I said.

He was already so weak physically. I told him everything would be okay. And he started telling us about things that were going on:

“You need to carry your cross.”

This is how all his final conversations went.

“Let us say farewell…”

He used to reflect:

“How weary I have grown of all this fuss. I’m so tired”—his face so bright, his gaze far away, as if he were already looking toward the place where he has now gone—to the Lord, where they don’t speak, but sing.

“Life doesn’t stand still, but extends into time like a speeding arrow,” he wrote in his spiritual journal, “and invariably passes into eternity.”


[1] Met. Evlogy is stating that St. Vladimir is their saint, that is the patron saint of the city of Vladimir, which was named after St. Vladimir. Met. Vladimir probably hesitated because in Kiev, people have recently accustomed themselves to viewing St. Vladimir as being only their patron saint.—OC.

[2] The Russian literally reads, “our Head Novice,” as the word for novice (послушник, poslushnik) literally means one who listens or obeys.—Trans.

[3] By this the author does not mean that it was better for Vladyka to break his arm than to serve with that priest, but rather that it’s better to have the broken arm if it leads him to repentance.—OC.

Tatiana Oganyan
Translated by Jesse Dominick



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