The eighth conference dedicated to the spiritual legacy of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh was held at the House of the Russian Diaspora named after Alexander Solzhenitsyn in Moscow on September 17–19, 2021. This year the theme of the conference was: “Crisis: Judgment or Opportunity?” Among the speakers were well-known clergymen, scholars, publicists, along with those who personally knew Vladyka Anthony and were in contact with him. A journalist of Pravoslavie.Ru recorded the most interesting fragments of speeches dedicated to the ever-memorable Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh.
Archpriest Christopher Hill, Moscow:
Vladyka Anthony appreciated freedom; he respected and protected it. Vladyka himself was free, and this freedom manifested itself primarily in his spiritual life—he was not burdened with anything earthly. Vladyka had a unique quality: He easily found a common language with everybody. When you were having a conversation with him you were the whole world, the whole universe. Few of us can speak with other people in this way because each of us has a lot of thoughts and concerns that prevent us from being absolutely free. For Vladyka Anthony any person who came to him was always the dearest and closest to him, and all his attention was devoted only to that person.
Vladyka was always self-disciplined and concentrated. He prayed and saw the image of God in every human being. He was modest in everyday life and didn’t like pomp and luxury. I recall how one day I helped him in the altar during his service at the Russian Dormition Cathedral in London. I noticed that he wasn’t wearing the magnificent vestments traditional for Orthodox bishops—instead of a sakkos he wore an ordinary deacon’s sticharion, and his miter was made of papier-mâché and plastic beads.
Gillian Crow, London:
Being in contact with Vladyka Anthony, I felt his faith and support and was confident in the correctness of everything he said. He always answered my questions with wise advice. Through him I felt God’s love and care for people.
He once told me jokingly that Orthodoxy begins with the feet when you learn to stand through the long services. Then it reaches the stomach when you start fasting, and next reaches the heart. After that Vladyka added with a smile: “And in some people it even reaches their heads.”
Vladyka Anthony’s parish was multinational, and he always said that we should all be one. He himself created such an atmosphere. Vladyka always spoke about the beauty of Orthodoxy: About how beautiful churches, icons, theology, church services and the whole of God’s creation are. But above all, Vladyka saw beauty in people and taught us all this vision. Despite all our shortcomings and blunders, he saw the image of Christ in each of us.
Now it’s eighteen years since Vladyka reposed, and we must convey to each other his understanding and vision, and our memory of him.
Frederica de Graaf, Moscow:
The personality of Vladyka Anthony, his books, his way of thinking, show us the inner freedom of man, of which he was a living example. He used to say that we always need to be with Christ; we need to pray, knowing that Christ is alive and hears us—only then will we have confidence, and there will be no fear of difficulties and death itself. In this case, there will be no crisis, which we are talking about today. In my opinion, the trouble is that for most people the Resurrection of Christ is not a reality... This is a real tragedy.
It seems that our common main problem is that we live outside ourselves. We are completely immersed in the digital world and gadgets. Nobody sees what is happening in front of them. We are afraid to look inside ourselves. Vladyka often said with pain that modern man doesn’t want to know God, be in contact with Him, and go to meet Him. And this is a real disaster... Not only young people face this problem. We shouldn’t be afraid! We need to believe, we need to turn to Christ. Vladyka used to say that with shining eyes alone one can show faith—a living faith in Christ.
Kelsey Cheshire, London:
Vladyka Anthony was deeply convinced that crisis and suffering can reveal to us things that we otherwise wouldn’t have seen, and give birth to a new life—of course, provided that we have courageously accepted these trials. Vladyka always said that it is necessary to overcome pain, we must endure it with patience and courage to the very end, regarding it as an exercise for growth; learn to cope with small difficulties in order to endure harder trials later.
At difficult moments, on Vladyka Anthony’s face one could see courage, concentration and will, which was so strong that it even frightened one. But at the same time, his face reflected pain, about which Vladyka used to say that he would endure it in its entirety, in all purity and acuteness; that he would allow this pain to plow him to the very depths, but wouldn’t let it stain his soul with hatred and darkness.
Vladyka also used to say that without love, suffering means nothing; and to love is much more difficult than to endure suffering because love always presupposes voluntary action, in contrast to suffering, which is passive. A great deal of suffering fell to Vladyka’s lot, but it was always quite obvious that whatever the tragedy, love would triumph. And Vladyka treated everyone with love.