Today (March 2/15, 2017) marks the cen­ten­ni­al of the forced abdi­ca­tion of the Divine­ly anoint­ed Tsar Nicholas II and the demise of the Russ­ian empire. Below we share with our read­ers the epis­tle of the Syn­od of Bish­ops of the Russ­ian Ortho­dox Church Abroad mark­ing this trag­ic date. Through the prayers of His Most-Holy Moth­er, of the Holy Roy­al Mar­tyrs, and of all the New Mar­tyrs and Con­fes­sors of Rus­sia, may the Lord God con­tin­ue to pre­serve the Russ­ian land in its redis­cov­ery and reestab­lish­ment of the Holy Ortho­dox Faith among the peo­ple!


NEW YORK: March 10, 2017

Epistle of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia on the 100th Anniversary of the Tragic Revolution in Russia and Beginning of the Godless Persecutions

Beloved in Christ Broth­ers and Sis­ters:

Tsar Nicholas II looking out of the window of the imperial train.

Tsar Nicholas II on the day he abdi­cat­ed the throne while strand­ed on the Impe­r­i­al train in Pskov.

This year the entire world, espe­cial­ly we all, remem­ber the great tragedy of the 20th cen­tu­ry which dis­rupt­ed the fates of mil­lions of peo­ple. This calami­ty lit­er­al­ly touched the lives of every Russ­ian fam­i­ly, wher­ev­er they may have been. We remem­ber now the hun­dredth anniver­sary of the bloody and destruc­tive rev­o­lu­tion in Rus­sia. As a result of the government’s and mil­i­tary leadership’s betray­al, the Tsar was forced to abdi­cate the throne, lead­ing to unavoid­able con­se­quences: the demise of the state, the mar­tyric death of the Tsar him­self and of his Most August Fam­i­ly, the bru­tal internecine war, and the per­se­cu­tion of the Ortho­dox Church and of faith in God as nev­er before seen in Rus­sia.

In 1909, Pyotr Arkadievich Stolypin declared: “Give the gov­ern­ment 20 years of peace, inter­nal and exter­nal, and you will not rec­og­nize the Rus­sia of today!” Alas, the Russ­ian Prime Min­is­ter was only to live anoth­er two years. He was killed in the pres­ence of his Sov­er­eign in a the­ater in Kiev in 1911.

The fact that Rus­sia was mak­ing enor­mous strides for­ward was rec­og­nized far beyond the bor­ders of our Father­land, even so far as the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca. In Novem­ber of 1914 the mag­a­zine Nation­al Geo­graph­ic pub­lished a note­wor­thy issue devot­ed to Rus­sia. Com­pre­hen­sive social and eco­nom­ic analy­ses of the day assert­ed that, by the date tar­get­ed by Stolypin, all key indi­ca­tors of eco­nom­ic growth would show that Rus­sia had achieved such a lev­el that she would become unstop­pable. Rus­sia was hin­dered only by a rev­o­lu­tion orga­nized and sup­port­ed by the West­ern nations. Our Father­land was not giv­en even 20 days of peace. It is impor­tant to note that the con­stant den­i­gra­tion of Rus­sia on the part of “West­ern civ­i­liza­tion” we see today exist­ed a hun­dred years ago and, in fact, much ear­li­er. The world despised the Russ­ian Empire, the heir to Holy Ortho­dox Rus. Nei­ther [the Empire’s] adher­ence to its alliances nor the unceas­ing will­ing­ness of the Russ­ian Tsars for coöper­a­tion could change that. The renowned British states­man, Lord Palmer­ston, suc­cinct­ly stat­ed: “How dif­fi­cult life is in the world when no one is at war with Rus­sia.” He was refer­ring to the mid-19th cen­tu­ry, but sad­ly it went unheed­ed.

Illustraion of Tsar Nicholas II in full imperial regalia

New­ly-crowned Tsar Nicholas II in full impe­r­i­al regalia

In the begin­ning of the 20th cen­tu­ry, St Makary (Nevsky), Met­ro­pol­i­tan of Moscow and Kolomen­sk, cau­tioned: “We are now expe­ri­enc­ing times of trou­ble. Rus­sia has sur­vived peri­ods of tribu­la­tion, but they were nev­er as dan­ger­ous as today. Then, every­one was for God, every­one wished to know His will, but today it is dif­fer­ent. Then they sup­port­ed the Tsar. Today that has changed. Today we hear blas­phe­my against God and plots against His anoint­ed one…”

The edu­cat­ed class­es in Rus­sia, raised in so-called “West­ern­iz­ing” tra­di­tions, pushed Rus­sia with almost sui­ci­dal relent­less­ness into the abyss, push­ing the Russ­ian peo­ple in every way pos­si­ble to reject their faith, their Tsar and their Father­land. One can­not help but remem­ber the words of the Psalmist David: The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God (Pm 13:1 LXX).

But even in the dark­est times of per­se­cu­tion, the Lord did not aban­don His peo­ple. Thus, this year we mark anoth­er no-less-impor­tant 100th anniver­sary-the restora­tion of the Patri­ar­chate in Rus­sia. This hap­pened pre­cise­ly when an inter­ces­sor and suf­fer­er for the entire Russ­ian Church was espe­cial­ly need­ed. The enthrone­ment of St Tikhon, Patri­arch of All Rus­sia and Con­fes­sor, took place on Novem­ber 21/December 4, 1917, in the Uspen­sky Cathe­dral in Moscow’s Krem­lin, on the feast day of the Entrance into the Tem­ple of the Most-Holy Moth­er of God. But even ear­li­er, on the very day of the abdi­ca­tion of the Anoint­ed of God, Tsar Niko­lai Alexan­drovich, the mirac­u­lous “Sov­er­eign” Icon of the Moth­er of God was revealed to our peo­ple on March 2/15, 1917 as a sign that the Most-Pure Queen would not aban­don her care for the suf­fer­ing Russ­ian land, which from days of old was known as the House of the Most-Holy Moth­er of God.

Now, when in the words of His Holi­ness Patri­arch Kir­ill of Moscow and All Rus­sia, “The Lord has replaced wrath with mer­cy towards Rus­sia,” all Russ­ian peo­ple are Divine­ly grant­ed the oppor­tu­ni­ty of return­ing to their Ortho­dox Chris­t­ian roots. We must now make sense of our his­to­ry and under­stand the rea­sons why Rus­sia fell into such ter­ri­ble tribu­la­tion. One of the rea­sons for those trag­ic times was the apos­ta­sy and neglect of faith in Christ, and the rejec­tion of the Divine­ly-ordained gov­ern­ment. We must not under any cir­cum­stances jus­ti­fy the actions of those respon­si­ble for the dead­ly rev­o­lu­tion. A sym­bol of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion of the Russ­ian nation with the Lord would be to rid Red Square of the remains of the main per­se­cu­tor and exe­cu­tion­er of the 20th cen­tu­ry and the destruc­tion of mon­u­ments to him. They are all sym­bols of cat­a­stro­phe, tragedy, and of the destruc­tion of our God-giv­en Sov­er­eign­ty. The same applies to the cities, regions, and streets which to this day are stripped of their his­toric names.

Dur­ing those times of trou­bles, the Russ­ian Church Abroad always deemed it her sacred duty to express the full truth about Russ­ian his­to­ry, which was impos­si­ble to do in the Father­land, and to remind the Russ­ian peo­ple of the path of the Cross of the New Mar­tyrs.  This is not a polit­i­cal mat­ter, as some might insist, but a mat­ter of spir­i­tu­al con­science. Tru­ly, we must know to the fullest extent pos­si­ble the his­to­ry of the ascetic, self-deny­ing strug­gle of the Holy New Mar­tyrs and Con­fes­sors of Rus­sia. Then, we hope, every Russ­ian per­son will fol­low the com­mands of his own con­science and come to the con­clu­sion that in his God-pre­served nation, there is no place for the sym­bols of the god­less state and the names of mil­i­tant athe­ists.

Ten years ago, dur­ing the great con­se­cra­tion of the church on the Buto­vo field, Met­ro­pol­i­tan Lau­rus of blessed mem­o­ry, address­ing all those in atten­dance, said, “The land here is abun­dant­ly soaked in the blood of the mar­tyrs, and it is plant­ed with their bones; may it be as an altar unto Christ our God. The Prophet said long ago about the per­se­cu­tors of the Church of Christ: I have seen the ungod­ly in great pow­er, and flour­ish­ing like the cedars of Lebanon, then I went by, and lo, he was gone: yea, I sought him, but his place could nowhere be found (Pm 36:35–36 XXL). May their mem­o­ry be wiped away in the hearts of men, and the Church of Christ estab­lished for­ev­er in the Russ­ian land!”

We call upon our entire flock, along with all Ortho­dox Russ­ian peo­ple in the Father­land and in the dias­po­ra: pre­serve as the apple of your eye the gift the Lord has giv­en us-the holy and sav­ing Ortho­dox Chris­t­ian faith, remem­ber always the words of Christ: Seek ye first the king­dom of God, and His right­eous­ness (Mt 6:33). Amen.

With love in Christ,y

+ HILARION,
Met­ro­pol­i­tan of East­ern Amer­i­ca and New York,
First Hier­ar­ch of the Russ­ian Ortho­dox Church Out­side of Rus­sia.

+ MARK,
Arch­bish­op of Berlin and Ger­many.

+ KYRILL,
Arch­bish­op of San Fran­cis­co and West­ern Amer­i­ca,
Sec­re­tary of the Syn­od of Bish­ops.

+ GABRIEL,
Arch­bish­op of Mon­tréal and Cana­da.

+ PETER,
Arch­bish­op of Chica­go and Mid-Amer­i­ca.

+ NICHOLAS,
Bish­op of Man­hat­tan,
Deputy Sec­re­tary of the Syn­od of Bish­ops.

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