Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

Their Legacy Is On Our Shoulders

JUBILEE EPISTLE
of His Eminence HILARION,
Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad,

on the Occasion of the 800th Anniversary of the Birth
of the Holy Right-Believing Great Prince Alexander Nevsky
and the Centennial of the I All-Diaspora Council

Greet­ing my beloved in the Lord broth­er-arch­pas­tors, rev­erend fathers, and our dear broth­ers and sis­ters with love and a feel­ing of rejoic­ing in the Moth­er of God, I sin­cere­ly con­grat­u­late all of the arch­pas­tors, cler­gy, and laity with both the approach­ing cel­e­bra­tions of the 800th anniver­sary of the birth of the Great Prince Alexan­der Nevsky and the cen­ten­ni­al of the I All-Dias­po­ra Council!

What excla­ma­tions are befit­ting for this jubilee year? Of course, the excla­ma­tions of the lips of us sin­ners are by them­selves insuf­fi­cient to worthi­ly glo­ri­fy the labors and mem­o­ry of the Great Prince Alexan­der and the good vine­dressers of Christ’s Vine­yard in Ser­bia, who 100 years ago offered a warm canon­i­cal haven to the Most Blessed Met­ro­pol­i­tan Antho­ny (Khrapovit­sky) of Kiev & Gali­cia, the arch­pas­tors, pas­tors, and flock of the Russ­ian Church Abroad and, with the ven­er­a­ble hands of the Emi­nent mem­bers of the Syn­od of Bish­ops of the Ser­bian Ortho­dox Church, which met at the end of August 1921, blessed them to secure their eccle­si­as­ti­cal life beyond the bor­ders of Rus­sia and pas­toral­ly nour­ish the Russ­ian refugees.

In this spe­cial year of the 800th anniver­sary of the birth of the Holy Right-Believ­ing Alexan­der, that wise diplo­mat and ruler, and the cen­ten­ni­al of the I All-Dias­po­ra Coun­cil – which took place from Novem­ber 21 to Decem­ber 2, 1921, in Srem­s­ki Karlov­ci – the Russ­ian Ortho­dox peo­ple liv­ing in the Dias­po­ra are called to inten­si­fied prayer, the doing of good deeds in all respects, and a pri­vate exam­i­na­tion of the tablets of his­to­ry, so that, by draw­ing from it much-need­ed strength and inspi­ra­tion, they might con­tin­ue in for­ti­tude and renew­al of spir­it the patient bear­ing of their life’s cross. We cel­e­brate anniver­saries in our lives and hon­or the jubilee cel­e­brant; so must we also unite our­selves in one com­mon assem­bly and with great zeal con­firm our­selves in Holy Ortho­doxy, by no means sham­ing the mem­o­ry of the Ven­er­a­ble Prince and of our ever-mem­o­rable fore­bears in the Dias­po­ra, or the hon­or of our dear Moth­er – the Local Russ­ian Ortho­dox Church.

Call­ing to remem­brance the aus­tere and ardu­ous life of the Right-Believ­ing Alexan­der, whom the chron­i­cler laud­ed as “mer­ci­ful beyond mea­sure,” and the bless­ings bestowed by God through him, let us gath­er in spir­it around this holy war­rior for Ortho­doxy, in order to hon­or his holy mem­o­ry, remem­ber his life, and learn and spread his lega­cy. May his name be on the lips and in the hearts of all, from the com­ing sum­mer cel­e­bra­tions (August 30/September 12) to his win­ter feast day (Novem­ber 23/December 6). Let us make a vow before his sacred icon to pre­serve, accord­ing to the mea­sure of our mea­ger strengths, the Faith of our fathers, the Church, and our nation­al­i­ty as gifts from God.

Com­mem­o­rat­ing the mul­ti­tude of Russ­ian Ortho­dox peo­ple who found them­selves in for­eign lands and find­ing there a place of rest, I offer a deep bow of grat­i­tude to His Holi­ness, Patri­arch Por­fir­i­je, and the Ser­bian Ortho­dox Church which he heads, and with which we have shared fathers and pre­cep­tors, as the ever-mem­o­rable Met­ro­pol­i­tan Amfilo­hi­je (Radovic; +2020) of Mon­tene­gro & the Lit­toral expressed when he addressed the IV All-Dias­po­ra Coun­cil in 2006. Our Church­es are con­nect­ed with tru­ly fra­ter­nal bonds, a fact attest­ed to by the spe­cial rela­tion­ships between the hier­ar­chs, cler­gy, and faith­ful of our peo­ples. The Most Holy Patri­arch Var­na­va (Rosic; +1937) of Ser­bia often attend­ed var­i­ous Russ­ian gath­er­ings, memo­r­i­al evenings, and émi­gré cel­e­bra­tions, but he always paid spe­cial atten­tion to the “Soci­ety for the Care of the Spir­i­tu­al Needs of Rus­sians.” In his address at his Patri­ar­chal enthrone­ment, he said: “We, cel­e­brat­ing the glo­ry of our Church, our Patri­ar­chate, must remem­ber that the Russ­ian Church par­tic­i­pat­ed with us today in the per­son of His Emi­nence, Met­ro­pol­i­tan Antho­ny, the great the­olo­gian. I bequeath you to com­mem­o­rate the Ortho­dox Russ­ian peo­ple, which is suf­fer­ing, per­se­cut­ed by the antichrist.” Regard­ing the ele­va­tion of the Most Holy Patri­arch Var­na­va to the Pri­ma­tial Throne, Met­ro­pol­i­tan Antho­ny, in addi­tion to all of his oth­er state­ments, also wrote: “His mind and heart con­tain with­in them­selves the pos­i­tive influ­ences of Yugoslavia, Rus­sia, and Greece. I was well acquaint­ed with him dur­ing my time as Arch­bish­op of Kharkov; we lived in one apart­ment togeth­er, and we per­formed the divine ser­vices reg­u­lar­ly, alter­nat­ing one after the oth­er.” Arch­priest Peter Belovi­dov, who enjoyed the love and respect of both Rus­sians and Serbs in Bel­grade, once pre­sent­ed the Most Holy Patri­arch Var­na­va a white klobuk after Divine Litur­gy in one of the Russ­ian church­es, say­ing: “Accept, Most Holy Mas­ter, this white klobuk as a sign of the sin­cere ded­i­ca­tion and noble love of the Rus­sians.” In response, His Holi­ness clar­i­fied that the white klobuk is the attire of Russ­ian met­ro­pol­i­tans, the col­or of which sym­bol­izes puri­ty, while the dia­mond cross is the cross of the suf­fer­ings of the Russ­ian Church.

Remem­ber­ing with love the his­toric path of the Russ­ian Church Abroad and the cher­ished names of the holy fathers we share with the Ser­bian Ortho­dox Church – the Most Holy Patri­archs Dim­itri­je and Var­na­va of Ser­bia, the Most Blessed Met­ro­pol­i­tans Antho­ny and Anas­tassy, the Holy Hier­ar­chs John (Max­i­movitch), Niko­laj (Velimirovic), and Mar­dar­i­je (Uskokovic), Ven­er­a­ble Justin (Popovic), Schema-Archi­man­drite Ambrose (Kurganov), and many oth­ers, I humbly ask all of you to fer­vent­ly pray for the sal­va­tion of the Christ-lov­ing and cross-bear­ing broth­er-nations of Rus­sia and Ser­bia, “whose faith fol­low” (Heb. 13:7).

I call on all of our cler­gy, parish­ioners, and wor­ship­pers to mark this time with all man­ner of good deeds. Let each one add his par­tic­i­pa­tion to the cel­e­brat­ed jubilees, be that by donat­ing his labors, time, or resources to the parish church, to the monas­ter­ies, to the Syn­od of Bish­ops of the Russ­ian Church Abroad or oth­er Church insti­tu­tions, to sup­port our elder­ly, to edu­cate our chil­dren in parish schools, or to eccle­sio-social orga­ni­za­tions that do impor­tant work with our youth. Let every­one take an inter­est in the deep wealth of our his­to­ry. Let every­one turn reg­u­lar­ly in prayer to the Great Prince Alexan­der and ask his help and inter­ces­sion, at the same time remem­ber­ing the depart­ed founders of the Russ­ian Church Abroad, who defend­ed Ortho­doxy in the most try­ing of cir­cum­stances. Their gazes are direct­ed at us, their lega­cy is on our shoul­ders, and thus we have an oblig­a­tion to under­take this labor. All of this will be the glo­ri­fi­ca­tion accord­ing to each one’s abil­i­ty of the great com­man­der of the Neva, and accord­ing to our zeal the wor­thy atten­tive­ness owed to these sacred jubilees.

May we be aid­ed in this by the Most Blessed Vir­gin Theotokos, who “in her dor­mi­tion for­saketh us not.” Amen.

Ask­ing your holy prayers, I remain yours with love in the Lord,

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

Dor­mi­tion of the Most Holy Theotokos 2021 A.D.