On Wednesday 29th April,1998 clergy and faithful members of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia were shocked to learn of the sudden death of one of the most outstanding theological writers of our times, Archpriest Lev Lebedeff. Fr. Lev had flown from his home in Kursk to New York at the Metropolitan's request to address the Bishops' Council which was due to meet the following week. Shortly after his arrival at the Synod headquarters in New York City he went to his room to rest and died in his sleep.
Fr. Lev's writings regularly appeared in Russian in our Church's most serious publications, particularly "Russkiy Pastyr" ("Russian Shepherd"), published in San Francisco, to which he was a regular contributor. Taking copies of this journal from the shelf at random one finds lengthy articles in almost every issue providing in depth analysis of the most varied problems: "The spiritual essence of modern business and commerce," "The ontological basis of Church symbolism" "The nature of the Church and its hierarchy." They are less well known to our English speaking readers, probably due to their demanding nature and lack of suitable translations. Recently the editor of "Russkiy Pastyr" asked me to translate an article of his on pastoral problems into English, which I was unfortunately unable to do due to time constraints.
The following articles are presented as a tribute to the departed archpriest. It concerns matters which are currently of great concern to our Church. They will repay close and careful reading. Fr. Lev never approached any subject through superficial arguments or slogans. Almost certainly, everyone will find something to disagree with! Particularly worthy of note is his comment that some of the problems facing the Church today, after all the havoc wrought by the Soviet system in Russia, are simply too complex to be addressed by the ordinary human mind, and can only be resolved through the special help of Divine grace. One is also left with a profound sense of our calling to be the "People of the Church," which is something that hopefully will remain with the reader long after the present controversy has subsided.
In translating the articles (all except the first, was translated by Fr. Christopher Ed.) I have used the accepted initials ROCA (Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, which is the same as Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia) and MP (Moscow Patriarchate) wherever the author has done so. I have eliminated much of his use of italics and exclamation marks, which are not
as widely used in English as in Russian.
Protodeacon Christopher Birchall
3rd May 1998
ArchPriests Konstantin Fedoroff & Lev Lebedeff
A reply to the "Epistle of the Local Council: 'To the Pastors, Honourable Monks and Nuns, and ALL Faithful Children of the Russian Orthodox Church'."
Your Holinesses, Respected Archpastors:
The "Epistle of the Local Council," which was printed in Moscow Church Herald, No. 13, 1990, was addressed to "all faithful children," i.e., in part, to me, which means that it is possible for me to reply; which I make bold to do, and send to you. In particular, I will speak to that part of the "epistle" which refers to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (henceforth, the Russian Church Abroad).
I know that many of you, reading my reply, will say, "but the same is true of you, Fr. Lev." I want to emphasize that in this reply I am not discussing the moral sins of any hierarch, but the ecclesiastical posture of the Moscow Patriarchate. In the history of the Church, there have been times when, to the defense of Orthodoxy, came not only holy and righteous people, but also sinners like me.
As is generally known, the "epistle," overall and what was said specifically about the Russian Church Abroad, was not written on the initiative of the Local Council, and not all the members of the Council agreed with it.
Here is more proof that this particular council was not free, but subservient and consciously compromised; as has been every council held during the past 70-year period of Russian history. Therefore, we should have gotten used to this. And some already have. But...no. At the beginning of "perestroika" and "democratization" and "glasnost", we started to have the illusion, and the hope, that our church councils would represent the actual thoughts and wishes of the Russian Orthodox Church, not the secret directives of administrative bodies outside of the church.
Moreover, finally one can raise objections to the Council in general, without singling out sections of the "epistle", insofar as the latter throughout reflects the overall intentions of the upper echelons of the hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate. Because the initiative for the "epistle" came from them. Therefore, in my reply, I will utilize the notion of an "inner circle" within the hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate. To it I address my reply.
This "inner circle" begins its reproaches in its address to the Russian Church Abroad with the assertion that the latter "is not in communion with the Moscow Patriarchate, nor any other local Orthodox Church." It is interesting to know - why not? You yourselves, respected Archpastors, very well know - why not? Why not tell the people candidly? Not far below, I will attempt to fill in this blank.
But for now, let's begin with what the authors of the section of the "epistle" at hand are saying: that there are two churches, the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Church Abroad; which is trying to establish parishes "on the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate." It seems that to take such a stance comes either from incredible stupidity, or incredible hypocrisy and Pharasaism.
We don't have, and we never had, two Russian Orthodox Churches. There always was, and is , and will be, the one-and-only Russian Orthodox Church. In connection with the well-known historical (and canonical) circumstances following the "Declaration" of Metropolitan Sergey (Strogorodsky) in 1927, the Church within the borders of the Fatherland came under the supervision of one church administration, and the Church Abroad, under another. Within our Fatherland's borders, there was the Moscow Patriarchate, whose hierarchy declared itself to be in accord with the open enemies of God, separated itself from Holy Orthodoxy, and since 1960 has entered into heresy, inasmuch as it has accepted the ideology and practices of the ecumenical movement, as promoted by the protestant World Council of Churches.
The Russian Church Abroad, led by its holy Synod and its First Hierarch (currently, Metropolitan Vitaly), has remained in the fundamentals of Holy Orthodoxy, and is preserving in purity both Orthodox teaching and the Church canons, not at all accepting ecumenism and modernism, to say nothing of making compromises with atheists. From this it is clear what any Orthodox person - the child of the Russian Orthodox Church - both he living abroad and he within the bounds of the Fatherland - would himself freely choose; which of these he would choose to rule the Church and to subject himself to.
There's where the truth is to be found! And it is perfectly proper that the Russian Church Abroad has finally been given the possibility to accept all those who wish to come under the spiritual/canonical authority of its hierarchy.
The higher echelons of the hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate are accusing the Russian Church Abroad, as if by its actions it were creating a "schism" and rift within the "canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate," dramatically cautioning all of us with the words of the apostle to avoid the bringers of divisions and temptations, and citing also the "holy canons" of the Church. God is righteous! Shouldn't the high hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate be ashamed to speak of "schism" and "holy canons"!
Will you, archpastors of the Moscow Patriarchate, speak of schism, when it is precisely you who instigated this schism, when you blessed the communist regime (which showed itself to not even be "communist") as the way to the "bright future"; and afterwards introduced the heretical ideology of ecumenism? Will you speak of "schism", when you yourselves have already made a schism, rending the Robe of Christ, by setting up the Ukrainian and Belorussian Orthodox Churches in the very bosom of what was the single Russian Orthodox Church (or Church of the Moscow Patriarchate), which in and of itself was the basis of the division of a single race into three fraternal Slavic peoples?
Should you be reminding others of the "holy canons" of the Church, when you have knowingly violated many canons out of fear of reprisals, and have expelled from your ranks and from the Church those who forbade joining together in prayer with heretics; and have participated in so-called "ecumenical prayers"?
I won't divert your attention to the consideration of the canonical rules. And I won't demonstrate to you that ecumenism is the "heresy of the 20th century", as this has already been clearly and exhaustively demonstrated by one of the most prominent theologians in contemporary Orthodoxy, Archimandrite Justin Popovich (cf. his book, The Orthodox Church and Ecumenism, Solunh, 1974), and by the wonderful American Orthodox ascetic, Hieromonk Seraphim (cf. his book, Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, Platina, Calif., 1979) , and by many other faithful Orthodox.
In general, you should not speak of "holy canons", when you have often, openly disclaimed their divine inspiration, regarding them as merely historical - rules of human discipline; keeping steadfastly one type only out of them all: absolute obedience to the bishop. It is not for you, higher bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate, to talk about canons, when some of you (with the consent of all) have bound yourselves up in government service, and take the greatest delight in being allowed to sit in the highest "organ" of Soviet government, underneath the canopy of red cloth with its pentagrams and hammers and sickles, and the likeness of the baldheaded leader - which is the ensign of the ideo-political criminals in the 20th century.
Maybe from your point of view, all of these things can be fit into the frame of reference of "differing theological approaches" (to what?! to whom?!), but what about "differences of opinion" with the texts of Apostle Paul? All of you theologically erudite people, you've all read the writings of Apostle Paul. Is it for me to remind you what he says about heretics, how they must be separated from us (in addition to those who foster "schism and temptations")?
And even worse, are your shameful, apparently hypocritical words in the "epistle", when you, the highest level of the Moscow Patriarchate, call to remembrance the "blood of the martyrs and tears of the confessors", which have bathed the much-suffering Russian land in the last 70 years.
For until the most recent times, you have obediently toed the line of the lying, atheistic propaganda, which said that there weren't any martyrs of the faith: only political enemies of the Soviet regime. Even to date you have not glorified them in the choirs of the saints. But the Russian Church Abroad glorified these martyrs and confessors as early as 1981.
And here is the point of the "epistle" which most especially underscores the falsity of the whole audacious document. Not without a reason did it come to be that the Church Abroad is not in communion with a single local Orthodox Church. The time has come for us to tell - why. None other than the Moscow Patriarchate, relying on the backing of the power of the Soviet government, demanded, with ultimata, in the councils of the local Orthodox Churches, the denial of the canonicity of communion with the Russian Church Abroad, as long as it remains separate from the Moscow Patriarchate. They don't want to be united with them, and they are right! The Russian Church Abroad preferred to be left by itself, for the very reason that the other churches have gotten themselves caught up in the ecumenical movement, and worse things, besides.
Thereby, the Russian Church Abroad has been left, in fact, as the solitary stronghold of Holy Orthodoxy in the world; of the traditions and legacies of Holy Russia! Honour be to her, and praise! Because not to her, but to you, high pontiffs of the Moscow Patriarchate, do these words pertain: "the sin of causing a division in the single Body of Christ is not cleansed even by the blood of martyrdom."
But aren't you aware, you high bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate, don't you know that we, the ordinary clergy and many simple believers, understand this clearly and see it? Or do you think that we are all idiots? I don't think so.
I think the situation is a little different: being utterly absorbed in the lies of this world, you cannot keep from lying at every turn. You have the feet where the head should be; have proclaimed light darkness; lies truth, and have clearly shown to all of us, and the whole world, that you serve not Christ, but the devil, "for he is a liar, and the father of lies".
Archpriest Lev Lebedeff
June 21, 1990
I. What is happening?
Something that seems very strange at first sight! In our days within the bosom of the ROCA a move towards gradual rapprochement with the MP has made its appearance, admittedly, so far, just by way of dialogue, and this notwithstanding the fact that to this day the MP has not renounced a single one of its fundamental principles, which for 71 years have made any dialogue with it impossible for the ROCA.
How is it that this move towards dialogue has been able to make its appearance now within the ROCA? People usually cite the fact that communism has collapsed in Russia and the MP has become "free." But here it has also become clear that in these new "democratic" conditions the MP freely preserves everything that it has stood for since 1927, which is:
1. Serving, "not through fear, but as a matter of conscience," the mighty
ones of this world, whoever they may be, in the guise of serving Christ
(this is Sergianism);
2. The heresy of ecumenism, both as an ideology and as the practice of
joint prayer with heretics, which subjects the Orthodox participants in such
prayers to expulsion from their holy orders and excommunication from the Church;
3. Failure to recognize the Royal Martyrs and fully to recognize the New
Martyrs and Confessors of Russia.
To this has now been added the scandalous commercial activity of the MP and
its ties with the world of crime.
Knowing and seeing all this, how is it possible for Russian members of the ROCA to seek dialogue with the MP? Some of the motivations for this were very clearly discerned and expressed by Vladika Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany. In his presentation to the "Round Table" (concerning the relations between the ROCA and the MP) at the beginning of 1996 he said that for certain Russians living outside Russia "national interests take priority
over those relating to the Church." These people want union (with the MP - Fr. L) only because they are Russian, or think that they are Russian... But this cannot take priority over the Church, or over the values of the Church. I can understand and share in this pain, pain for one's people. But if this people is held in the clutches of a monster, which is swallowing it up, then I must try to tear away from it at least the hands and feet that I can grasp
hold of..." ("Messenger (Vestnik) of the Diocese of Germany," No. 2, 1996.) These are magnificent words! They perfectly express the position of the ROCA towards Orthodox people in Russia, who are truly being swallowed up by a monster, which has two paws - the atheistic government and the ever compliant Moscow Patriarchate! In the same presentation, a little earlier, Vladika Mark gave this warning: "Our Orthodox Faith is not a dowry of Russianness.. In the exaggeration of the national element there lurks a great danger for all the Orthodox Churches, where this element of nationalism can easily come to eclipse questions of faith."
III. Who initiated it?
However, at the very same time, in 1996, a dialogue was already taking place in Germany under the direction of Archbishop Mark between the clergy of the Church Abroad and the bishop and clergy of the Moscow Patriarchate. In private conversations the same Archbishop Mark explained this as follows. Now the ROCA is encountering serious problems. Our Church is called Russian,
but there are less and less Russians in it and the majority of our bishops are men of advanced years; we must keep the Church Russian, otherwise we will have to call it the Eskimo Church, or something else, which will be completely absurd. Here Vladika Mark emphasized that his education had instilled into him a love for Russia.
How these thoughts are to be reconciled with those quoted previously, which he himself expressed at the Round Table, can be explained by nobody other than Vladika Mark himself. A year later, in his official explanation of his new policy of dialogue with the MP, in his article "The strength of the Church is in the unity of faith and love" ("Vestnik of the Diocese of Germany," No. 4, 1997), Vladika Mark completely confirmed what he had been saying in private conversations. Thus, answering his own question as to what unites us (with the Moscow Patriarchate) he wrote, "We are united by the people of God, which we have been ordained to shepherd and to lead along the path to salvation..." "We are all (i.e. the ROCA and the MP - Fr. L.) responsible for the enlightenment of the once Orthodox Russian people, as well as for its descendants outside Russia, and also for those who have accepted the Orthodox faith as a result of the missionary activities of Russian emigrants. Under these circumstances slandering the Church Abroad by declaring it to be "schismatic" does nothing to help the healing of the wounds of the Russian Church..."
Here, it seems, is the main reason why, despite everything, a bishop of the Church Abroad has entered into dialogue with those who are the source of this slander against the Church Abroad (i.e. with the slanderers): it is the "once Orthodox Russian people," inasmuch as it supposedly "unites" the ROCA and the MP.
Here we must admit that we are faced with a predominance of the "national interest," or "national element," even though closely intertwined with the values of the Church. It cannot possibly be denied that people of non-Russian nationality can have a sincere love for Russia and the Russian people. But the question as to why, of all the bishops of the Russian Church Abroad, it is Vladika Mark who is the most concerned about preserving its Russianness and generally about the situation of the National Church, is one to which there is no satisfactory answer.
IV. The People of the Church
Vladika Mark chose his words well when he used the expression "the once Orthodox Russian people." This expression presupposes that now the Russian people is not Orthodox. And this is quite true. So how can it unite the Orthodox Church? Let us look a little more closely at the actual state of affairs.
It is a long time since a Russian people united in the Orthodox faith and the Russian Church has existed in Russia. In the present conglomerate of Russian speaking population most people are atheists, but there are also fair numbers of Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, followers of Hare Krishna, Satanists, and Pagans. These are all ethnically Russian people, who are well aware of Orthodoxy, see Orthodox churches before their eyes and now have
every opportunity to read from a wide array of edifying Orthodox literature, but consciously do not wish to be Orthodox. Neither the hierarchs of the MP, nor, certainly, the hierarchs of the ROCA can be "responsible" for such people. The Church bears no responsibility for those who consciously remain outside the Church. So the supporters of dialogue with the MP cannot be
referring to that "unchurched" part of the Russian speaking population.
Certainly, another concept is also used in the aforementioned article by Vladika Mark - that of the "People of God." One might suppose that this refers to the believing Orthodox people, the People of the Church.
The People of the Church outside Russia and in the bosom of the ROCA is the flock of the ROCA. The MP makes no claim to it, bears no responsibility for it, and can take an interest in it only with a view to creating a new schism in the ROCA. The People of the Church in Russia in the bosom of the MP is the flock of the MP. This flock has nothing whatever to do with its kinsmen after the flesh living outside Russia; this flock is completely faithful to
the hierarchs of the MP and usually has a hostile attitude to the Church Abroad, or at best one of indifference. For this People of the Church in the bosom of the MP the bishops of the Church Abroad clearly cannot bear any responsibility. It is the MP that bears the responsibility.
So where is the "People of God" which "unites" the ROCA and the MP? Nowhere! Such a people simply does not exist; it is a myth, an illusion.
To add further clarification we must bear in mind that only in the 1920's and 1930's, when masses of the real, old, and therefore Orthodox, Russian People, brought up before the revolution, were still alive, although rapidly dying out in the repressions, and with them there were multitudes of real priests and many bishops faithful to Christ, although many of them were already in prisons and in exile; only then was it still possible to say that in Russia there was a People of the Church common to both the ROCA and the MP. But after 1945 there is no such people. The USSR became inhabited entirely by another, new, "Soviet people." The part of it which had faith was also, with small exceptions, fundamentally also completely Soviet in nature, in everything except atheism; it was in accord with its "native" Soviet government, its "native" party, and with its "native" Patriarchate
which was at one with the party, and which to this day it considers to be its Mother Church.
V. The Mother Church
The concept of the "Mother Church" is also being used by the members of the ROCA who have begun dialogue with the MP. But with them this concept gives rise to complications and leads to unimaginable confusion and contradictions.
At first Archbishop Mark put forward an idea, or an image or metaphor, which we can recognize as a real contribution to our ecclesiastical thinking. In his Round Table presentation in 1996 mentioned above, describing our disagreements with the MP, he said, "We have clearly delineated the areas where we do not agree. One of them is what is known as Sergianism, i.e. that through which that part of the Russian Church, the MP, was conceived." A year later, in his article "The strength of the Church is in the unity of faith and love" Vladika Mark wrote, "The Russian Orthodox
Church is our common (with the MP - Fr. L) Mother Church; this goes without saying. However, by "Mother" we understand "that which gives birth." The governing structures of the Moscow Patriarchate such as they have been from 1927 to the present in their relationship with the Russian Church Abroad cannot make any claim to be called the "Mother" which has given birth to it."
In this extract it is not entirely clear why we are concerned only with the relationship of the MP's governing structures with the ROCA, and not with Christ, and with God's truth. But let us focus our attention on the most important aspect. The image, or metaphor, of conception and giving birth is very accurate and lets us see everything in its proper perspective. Using this excellent metaphor, we can clearly see that the Russian Church Abroad
is the direct, natural continuation of its Mother, the Russian Orthodox Church, such as it was from the beginning in Russia up to the revolution and even up to 1927. And then the Moscow Patriarchate was truly "conceived" and "born" by what had fallen away from God's truth and from the Mother Church - by Sergianism.
From this follows irrefutably what the Russian Church Abroad has always said - that the Sergianist MP is not the continuation (or daughter) of the Mother Russian Orthodox Church, that the MP is a Bolshevik forgery of the Church. Consequently the ROCA and the MP do not have a common Mother Church. Their "Mothers" are different.
VI. The logic of the dialogue
But to make a declaration of this nature to the representatives of the MP participating in the dialogue would immediately make the dialogue impossible and meaningless. A "dialogue of love" requires playing at "equal rights," requires that we recognize the other side as being just as "correct," "valid" etc. This is the inevitable logic of any ecumenical "dialogue of love." So, once he had entered into the dialogue, Archbishop Mark inevitably found himself forced to submit to this purely ecumenical logic.
We cannot help noting that in the above-cited extract from the April 1997 article it is no longer said that the MP was "conceived" by Sergianism, it is said only that its "governing structures" cannot be called the "Mother Church," which is synonymous with saying that the ROCA and the MP have one, common Mother Church... However, this is still an almost imperceptible slide into the realm of untruth. The headlong rush into this realm took place in December 1997 and was vividly expressed in the joint "Declaration" of the participants in the 9th conference of representatives of the ROCA Diocese of Germany and representatives of the MP.
The untruth begins with the heading: "Declaration of the participants of the ninth conference of clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate and Church Abroad) on the territory of Germany." So the heading immediately asserts what is supposed to be the ultimate conclusion of the dialogue: that the MP and the ROCA are one - one and the same Russian Orthodox Church. The heading further asserts that this is a conference of no more and no less than the entire Moscow Patriarchate and Church Abroad (on the territory of Germany). How pretentious and deceptive this is! The Primate and Synod of the ROCA had not empowered the clergy of the German Diocese to represent the whole Church Abroad and express the opinion of the whole Church. The further one reads, the worse it becomes. It appears that the two sides have achieved "mutual understanding" and hope for a "fruitful broadening of the path on which we have set out." What is the basis for this mutual understanding and these hopes? They are based on the following:
1. Archbishop Mark and his clergy recognize themselves as children of the one (together with the MP) Russian Church;
2. above all, "they recognize the positive (!) development of Church life" in the MP, - they recognize that the one Mother Church in its "spiritual foundations" "is manifested in the spiritual life both in Russia" (in vodka sales?) "and outside Russia";
3. "they have agreed" and note that "the grace of the sacraments, priesthood and life of the Church (!!) in the MP are not in question";
4. "They recognize the essential fullness of Church life" in the MP (despite its unshakable Sergianism, the ecumenical heresy, and the ties to the Mafia!)
Such are the fundamental ideas of the "Declaration." And there is not a single word about the fact that the ROCA and the MP were "conceived" and "given birth to" by different "mothers." However there is an admission that
"the problems which still exist between us... do not constitute an absolute impediment to Eucharistic communion."
What can you call all this? Let each reader chose the right word for himself.
VII. The reasons for the fall
We have already pointed out one of the reasons for this headlong landslide into utter untruth: it lies in the logic of ecumenical "dialogue." We cannot help recalling the explanation given by some of the Fathers that the first mistake of our ancestor Eve was that she engaged in any conversation (dialogue!) at all with the serpent - the liar and slanderer (for he began immediately with a slander: "Is it really true that God has forbidden you to eat from every tree in Paradise?"). Vladika Mark, as we have seen, has also
testified to the slander against the Church Abroad uttered by the MP. It must be said that notwithstanding the "conferences" on the territory of Germany, the MP is continuing to utter its slanders among its own flock. But outside it, in "conferences" and "dialogues" in foreign territories the representatives of the MP wallowing in ecumenical ideology and psychology are always ready to recognize the "grace" and "fullness" of Church life not only in the ROCA, but in any group you like - in Christians of any confession, and now also with Moslems, Jews, Buddhists and pagans. For the MP such compromises of their conscience have long been commonplace in their multifarious "dialogues of love." But how is it possible for educated and well-tried theologians of the Church Abroad to start following this same ecumenical path?
The answer to this can be traced to the very recognition of what is "ours" as being "yours" and what is "yours" as being "ours." This immediately recalls Metropolitan Sergius's "Declaration" of 1927. Even the formal motivation is the same - "saving the Church" (the Church Abroad) which is growing fewer both in its total numbers and in its numbers of ethnic Russians. It is not just for its own sake, but for the sake of the Church that our supporters of dialogue with the MP have entered into this inadmissible dialogue with its enemies. And once they started talking they
have suddenly "seen the light" and come to realize that these people are not our enemies at all, but our "brothers," members of the "same, " or even "one and the same" "Mother Church."
Can it really be that Vladika Mark does not want to understand, or does not understand, what Sergianism is? It would seem that he really does not want to, or does not understand that which he openly admits. In his presentation to the Round Table in 1996 he said: "They (the representatives of the MP - Fr. L.) moved immediately from Patriarch Tikhon to Sergius and tried to
explain all the actions of Metropolitan Sergius on the basis that Patriarch Tikhon had already laid out this path out beforehand. To a certain extent this is true, in fact to a larger extent than I had realized. (The MP has opened the eyes of a bishop of the ROCA who did not know Soviet history - Fr. L.). But fundamentally, it is not true. Where the line is to be drawn here, we have not yet clarified for ourselves, but I think that we are on the way towards it."
If we have still not clarified such an important question for ourselves, how can we enter into dialogue with the MP, which is more experienced in Sergianism and skilled in lies? It is hard to accept that such an admission of ignorance is correct. In the ROCA it has been clarified long ago based on fundamental principals where to draw the line between concessions and compromises, which were made by Patriarch Tikhon, and full scale fraternization with antichrist, in which Sergius engaged together with his unlawfully constituted synod.
Under pressure from the Bolsheviks Patriarch Tikhon certainly gave way within certain limits. Usually this is defined by the concept of simple civil loyalty to the Soviet government, which is to say, loyalty understood as renunciation of any political struggle against it, recognizing it as a competent civil authority. On this basis, in his famous "Statement" to the
Supreme Court of the RSFSR of 16th June 1923, Patriarch Tikhon repented of his "acts against the state system" and wrote: "from henceforth I am not an enemy of the Soviet government." But when he was later sadly asked why he had said this, his Holiness replied: "But I did not say that I was its (i.e. the Soviet government's) friend."
"Not an enemy, but yet not a friend," - this was the formula for drawing the line. And Patriarch Tikhon stood firmly on this line and did not yield a further inch to his very death. It is well known and has long since been proved that Patriarch Tikhon's so called "Testament" ("Testamentary Epistle") of 1925 is a forgery, fabricated by Tuchkov. The Bolsheviks very
much wanted the Patriarch to issue this letter, they even wrote the text for him, but he did not issue it. He died!
In the 1927 "Epistle" or "Declaration" of Metropolitan Sergius
(Starogorodsky) something immeasurably greater than simple "civil loyalty" to the Soviet regime is asserted. This is not simply a "crossing of the line" in the form of further concessions or heaping praise on the government, albeit false and hypocritical, but nevertheless explicable - i.e. it is not simply an "adaptation" as Vladika Mark calls it. The Declaration contains a deeply embedded renunciation of serving Christ on the part of Sergius and his unlawful Synod; and this in order "not out of fear, but as a matter of conscience," as he here expresses it, always to serve only the enemies of God or antichrists, in a spirit of complete unity with them! It was not enough for Sergius to say, "Your joys and successes are our joys and successes, and your failures are our failures," - he went on to enumerate the "blows" directed against the Soviet Union which he, Sergius,
categorizes as "blows against us," i.e. against his "church": "The war, the boycott, any national disasters or simply murders "like the one in Warsaw"." This murder in Warsaw was the murder by B. Koverdaya of the Bolshevik Voikoff (also known as Weiner), who was one of the principal organizers of the murder of the Imperial Family, which fact was well known then, in 1927. So Sergius let the Bolsheviks clearly understand that he and his entourage were at one with them in all their evil deeds up to and including regicide. This is how it later proved to be. And so it continues to this day. In the guise of serving Christ the MP, "not out of fear, but as a matter of conscience" serves the mighty ones of this world, whoever they may be, being always at one with them in everything.
So it is one thing not to resist (where this is impossible) the regime of antichrist, as something allowed by God, and quite another to enter into complete union with it, approving all the deeds and misdeeds of this regime, as if it were something blessed by God.
Is it really not clear where to draw the line here? The Bolsheviks, who were really just like werewolves (their words and slogans said one thing, but in practice everything was intentionally the opposite) tried not only to make the Church obedient, but to create a Church organization in its own image and likeness - in other words, also a werewolf, where in the guise of
serving Christ it was really antichrist who would be served. And this is just what they did. But it was not through Patriarch Tikhon, but through Metropolitan Sergius. This is the very nature of the MP to this day, and it cannot change what it is.
This terrible nature of Sergianism and the MP was known and sensed by the ROCA from the very beginning. On this subject there is the very well known letter by Bishop Victor (Ostrovidoff) of Isha written in October 1927 and published many times since, in which he defines the essence of Sergianism as expressed in the Declaration to be a "mockery and desecration of the Holy Orthodox Church," as "renunciation of the Saviour Himself," and as "a sin no less than any heresy and schism, but in fact incomparably greater, since it casts a man directly into the pit of perdition." This pit of perdition was "conceived" by the Moscow Patriarchate, not by the Russian Orthodox Church, with which the MP deceptively numbers itself, but from which it has really taken only its outer wrapping, its clothing - its mask.
Both this letter by Bishop Victor and a great multitude of other opinions by the most authoritative hierarchs and clergymen about Sergianism and the MP were very well known to our present supporters of dialogue with the MP. Just as they knew of the anathema against ecumenism, ecumenists and all who enter into communion with them which was proclaimed by the ROCA in 1983. So how could our conference participants, before the MP has renounced Sergianism and ecumenism, declare that the grace of the sacraments and the very life of the Church in the MP must not even be called into question and that they do not see any "absolute impediments to Eucharistic communion" between the ROCA and the MP?
VIII. The sacraments
If there are indeed no questions about the Church life of the MP, because it is not life, but a steady disintegration of Church life, then the presence of grace - the validity of the sacraments - of the MP always has been and still is very much in question!
On this question arguments among the Orthodox began in 1927 and continue to this day. There is the well known letter of 1934 by the Holy Hieromartyr Metropolitan Kyrill (Smirnoff), in which he writes that the sacraments of the Sergianists are validly performed but they can be unto salvation only for people "who approach them with simplicity of heart, not suspecting anything untoward in the Sergian order of the Church." For those who celebrate these sacraments, and also for those who know about their apostasy and nevertheless, ignoring the truth, approach them, these sacraments are performed "unto condemnation."
Apparently it is these thoughts that Archbishop Mark has in mind when he calls upon us to "look closely" at the "irreproachable ecclesiology" of Metropolitan Kyrill ("Messenger of the German Diocese" No. 4, 1997). However, this ecclesiology is far from irreproachable, it received numerous "reproaches" even then, in the middle of the 1930's. The Hieromartyr Metropolitan Joseph (Petrovykh) asserted the opposite: that no sacraments are performed by the Sergianists, that they are invalid. Many bishops in prisons and exile supported his point of view, as did all the bishops of the Catacomb Church of Russia. Finally, in 1937, shortly before his martyr's death (by shooting) together with Vladika Joseph, Vladika Kyrill of Kazan wrote that since enough time had elapsed since the Declaration of 1927 and Sergius had shown no repentance, "the Orthodox have no part or lot with him." Our hieromartyrs did not then know that the World War would take place, that the year 1943 would come when great multitudes of people in Russia would turn to God and to the Church out of fear, and Stalin would immediately make it possible for the Sergians to create a network of diocesan administration throughout the country, and to open up to 20,000 churches. The people who poured into these churches were to a large extent already "Soviet," they knew nothing about the Declaration of 1927, and they were sincerely seeking Christ. Due to the speed with which this was being organized the Sergians were forced to appoint a good number of decent men as bishops, and these bishops conducted church affairs in the spirit not of Sergius, but of Patriarch Tikhon. Hence for many people the question of the validity of the sacraments in the MP again became - a question. The question became more acute when the heresy of ecumenism made its appearance in the MP in the 1960's. In our days it is the subject of heated discussions among members of the ROCA in Russia. Opinions are divided: some take the position enunciated by Metropolitan Kyrill in 1934, while others take the position of Vladika Joseph and the Catacomb Church. There is no sign of agreement. It is clear that only a special Council (Sobor) of the ROCA is competent, using the formulation "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us," to resolve this question, which is too complex a matter to be addressed by ordinary reason. So no group of members of the ROCA has the right to declare in the name of the whole Church that the grace of the sacraments of the MP "is not in question." It is! Just look at the questions!
Even if we accept Metropolitan Kyrill's 1934 ecclesiology it appears that in the MP the sacraments act not for salvation but for the condemnation both of the celebrants and for the great majority of those who know (and by now they know full well) of their apostasy and their heresies, and still receive the sacraments from them. Then even here there can be no Eucharistic communion between the ROCA and the MP, since communing with the members of the MP would mean partaking in their condemnation, and such communion would turn into a consuming fire for all eternity. Hence it follows that without trampling on his own conscience Archbishop Mark cannot, even from considerations of "diplomacy," recognize the "positive nature" and "fullness" of Church life in the MP.
IX. Where is the real Russian Church now?
The answer already seems clear. But on the way towards it stand some historical and canonical misconceptions which the supporters of rapprochement with the MP often latch on to, and which therefore need to be completely laid to rest.
Ever since 1921, in all its official documents the ROCA has declared itself to be just a "part" of the Church of Russia, temporarily self-governing in the conditions of the Diaspora, until the fall of the Bolshevik regime in Russia. This was completely correct until 1937 - i.e. during the period when many real Russian bishops were still alive, not having recognized Sergianism, in prisons and exile, and also, as we have said above, a significant part of the genuine Orthodox Russian people was still alive, and consequently there was still hope that if, at that time, the Bolshevik regime were to fall, the ROCA would immediately unite with the liberated bishops and the liberated Orthodox in Russia, Sergius and his unlawful "synod" created by the Bolsheviks would be condemned and abolished, and the Russian Church would again attain to full unity.
But what happened was different. All the non-Sergianist bishops had been physically destroyed by the end of 1937. By 1945 in other ways the entire genuinely Orthodox people had also been destroyed. What replaced it was the "Soviet" people that had been artificially cultivated since 1918, the believers among which, with minor exceptions, were already completely faithful to the Sergianist pseudo-patriarchate, as to their "Mother Church."
Once this situation had come about the view of the ROCA as "part" of the Russian Church was already incorrect, or not entirely correct, if we take into account the fact that the ROCA really perceived her unity as being with the catacomb communities in the USSR. In our days, and most especially since the MP fell further into the blatant heresy of ecumenism in the 1960's, and since by the middle of the 1970's the few remaining people brought up before the revolution had all departed this earthly life, the view of the ROCA as a "part" of the Russian Church has become completely incorrect.
Now the ROCA is not a "part," but the one and only lawful Russian Orthodox Church in all its fullness! In full unity with it are those communities in Russia which have united to her of their own free will since 1990, as well as those few catacomb communities which joined it once their canonical basis had been clearly established. The reason for this situation, paradoxical though it appears at first, has already been pointed out. The ROCA naturally preserves and is a continuation of everything that was supported in Russia by the Orthodox Church (the Mother Church) up to 1917 and even up to 1927.
The MP bears no relationship to this Mother Church since, as we have already said, it was "conceived" and given birth to by Sergianism in its betrayal of Christ; this is the "Mother" of the MP. And if sacraments are still celebrated in the MP, then this is God's mercy to those simple souls, who alas are very few, who go to the churches of the MP, "not suspecting anything untoward," as if to Christ Himself.
"The Church is not tied to a particular place," said Patriarch Nikon in the 17th century. It is not, we would add, a Church of a geographic territory. The Church is first and foremost the believing people lead by its bishops and clergy. So wherever Russian people of the Church live by the tenets of the Russian Church such as it was from the beginning up to 1927, there is
the Russian Orthodox Church in all its fullness of grace.
However, as a result of a certain mental inertia, as well as understandable patriotic feelings, many Russians outside Russia have still not yet grasped what has happened, and still will not believe that the genuine Russian Church and Russian people, with the exception of the few communities mentioned above, no longer exists in Russia, and so they cling on to their conception of the ROCA as a "part" of the Church of Russia.
It is precisely this inertia, incomprehension and naive patriotism which are now being exploited by the supporters of dialogue and rapprochement with the MP, while they also draw inspiration and open support in their efforts from the cunning MP.
They attempt to pass off their wrong action as something holy and make haste in advance to insure themselves by asserting that it is only the "enemy of our salvation" and also certain anonymous "forces" that are interested in deepening the confrontation between the ROCA and the MP. Even people with a sincere zeal for Orthodoxy can, in the view of Archbishop
Mark, involuntarily become tools of these "hostile forces."
A very feeble defense! We can and, it would seem, we must say to Archbishop Mark: "Respected Vladika, there are far more enemies of our salvation and various "forces," both open and secret, whose interest is first and foremost in destroying the Russian Church Abroad. For in her is truth, in her is the voice of genuine Orthodoxy. In our times they are trying to destroy it by way of schisms. And the latest schism is now being created by you. You could not have failed to realize that your words and actions directed towards rapprochement with the MP would bring about a division, so far only on the level of ideas, within the ROCA, a division between those who support and those who oppose your position. So you have preferred unity with the apostate and heretical MP to inner unity with the Mother Church which gave
you birth - the Church Abroad. This is your decision! But do not attempt to pour oil on the fire by deliberately accusing all those who disagree with you of hindering God's work. It is they who are doing God's work."
X. The last word on "dialogue" and "love"
So the dialogue initiated by the representatives of the Diocese of Germany of the ROCA with the representatives of the same diocese of the MP is, we are convinced, purely ecumenical in nature, although the participants on the ROCA side are far from sharing the ecumenist ideology. As in the ecumenical movement, in this dialogue much is said of the division of the Russian Church into different parts, as a result of which it is essential to overcome this division with love. And even when this suddenly occurs to those involved in the dialogue and they try to escape from blatantly ecumenical categories of thought, they find themselves forced to repeat the same thing that the ecumenists say, which is that although the Church is visibly divided, it is invisibly, somewhere in its deepest essence, nevertheless one... So our participants in the discussion with the MP have fallen into the ecumenical trap which they have laid for themselves.
But still, how are we to treat the MP, should we really not speak to them at all? In fact the dialogue between the ROCA and the MP has been continuing since 1927, without breaking off for a single day! And, by contrast with Vladika Mark's dialogue, this is a real dialogue, full of genuine love on the part of the ROCA, and does not involve playing at "equal rights."
In countless books, articles, sermons and letters the ROCA has called upon and continues to this day to call upon the MP to really repent, before God and its own People of the Church, of the sin of Sergianist apostasy, and put an end to it; and of the ecumenist heresy, and to put an end to it as well. It calls upon it, after cleansing itself through this repentance, to join in the glorification of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia already initiated by the ROCA, and only after all this, to think about holding a common All-Russian Church Council.
These appeals have varied in tone between calmness, anger, exhortation and reproof. But they have always been filled with pain for Russia, for its deceived Orthodox people, and in this pain is real love.
Only in this way can the real Orthodox Church, as the Body of Christ, and whose head is Christ Himself, talk to, and carry on dialogue with, those who have fallen away from it. This has been in the very nature of the Church from the beginning. Here for example is what that well known defender of Orthodoxy, St. Maximus the Confessor, said in the 7th century: "I do not desire heretics to be tormented and do not rejoice in their evil - God forbid! But I rejoice the more so in their conversion... I have not so far lost my reason as to value mercilessness above love for others... But despite this I say that heretics cannot be helped by confirming them in their insane beliefs, here one has to be blunt and uncompromising. For I call it not love, but hatred for one's fellow men and a falling away from Divine love when anyone confirms heretics in their errors, leading to the inevitable perdition of these people." This is why the ROCA has never confirmed the MP in its errors by hypocritically recognizing its "lawfulness" and "fullness," the "grace of its Church life," or that it is supposedly a "part" of the one Russian Church, for the inevitable perdition of whatever is still alive in the MP.
To this day the MP has responded to this blunt and uncompromising approach only with cunning, lies, slander, deception, intrigue and attempts to create schisms in the ROCA. How the MP will respond in the future is for it to decide. So the dialogue is not finished, it continues. And this is the only kind of dialogue that is possible, not an ecumenistic dialogue of false, deceptive "love". As I was finishing work on this article, I received two documents: a letter from Archbishop Mark to the members of the Synod of the ROCA dated 30th January / 12th February 1998, and his Lenten letter to his flock dated 17th February / 2nd March 1998. The Lenten letter notes that the activities of Vladika Mark, especially the "Declaration" of the participants of the 9th conference in December 1997, had "stirred up a storm" within the Church Abroad. However, in both documents Archbishop Mark blames anyone and anything except himself. He retains all his views on the need for rapprochement with the MP. At the same time he writes of the desirability of open discussion of all these problems. It is a sorry sight to behold a bishop of the Church Abroad being increasingly "swallowed up by the monster" of the cunning and lies of the Moscow Patriarchate. Are there any "hands and feet," which, to use his vivid expression, "we can still grasp hold of," in
order to tear Vladika out of the clutches of this monster? And who is there that could do it?
Archpriest Lev Lebedeff
Great Lent 1998
1. THE PERIOD WE ARE LIVING THROUGH
The world and humanity, plunging ever deeper and more rapidly into the state of Sodom and Gomorrah, are moving inexorably towards completion of the new Tower of Babel of the "new world order" - in other words, towards Antichrist. After him will follow the Second Glorious Coming of Christ. This is the essence of the point in time through which we are living.
2. THE POSITION OF ORTHODOXY
Against the background of these occurrences and in the context of them it is especially sad to see the majority of the once Orthodox local Churches being actively drawn into this world wide construction process through the ecumenical and interfaith movement, and drawing their flocks into the Ziggurat of this new Babylon. The only significant island of God's truth still left in the world is the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia ("ROCA"). Some of the Old Calendar groups in Greece, Romania and Bulgaria, as well as individual zealots of Orthodoxy in other countries have become smaller islands standing firm in the truth.
3. THE POSITION OF THE MOSCOW "PATRIARCHATE"
The Moscow Patriarchate ("MP"), which was unlawful (uncanonical) in its very origin, is by its nature an ecclesiastical organization which, since 1927 and in the guise of serving Christ, has been actively serving Antichrist. Therefore it is far from surprising, in fact it is completely logical, that now the MP is actively taking part in constructing the Babylon of the new world order; this was stated precisely and accurately in the "Appeal" dated 30 October / 12 November 1997 from the Conference of ROCA Bishops in Russia held in Yalta.
The occasional outbursts of anti-ecumenical sentiment within the MP as well as protests by individual members of its clergy against countless other acts of departure from the truth are nothing more than the feeble convulsions of an organism that is dying or already dead.
All this is attributable to the fact that the present Russian speaking population of the Russian Federation, including that part of it which professes the Orthodox faith, is in a state where it completely "believes a lie." This is to be typical of people in the times of Antichrist and is described by St. Paul as God's punishment "because they received not the love of truth" (II Thess. 2, 10-11).
4. THE POSITION OF THE RUSSIAN SPEAKING POPULATION OF RUSSIA
The entire Russian Orthodox people (including some 80 million people in the central part of Russia alone), together with Holy Russia itself, was in large measure physically destroyed during the period from 1917 to 1945 - in just 28 years! Thus it was that the Lord granted the Russian People, through crucifixion on the Golgotha of history, to attain to a victorious resurrection in the Jerusalem on High of the Kingdom of Heaven, thereby removing this people from the contemporary historical process. At the same time starting in 1917 a new "Soviet people" was artificially cultivated in the USSR - a "new historical community" as the party and government of the USSR expressed it in 1977.
But when put to the test this "new Soviet people" proved to be not even a people, since it has no sense of its own unity, but a conglomerate of Russian speaking population, and it has completely gone to pieces since 1991. Therefore, with the exception of a small remnant of Russians living abroad, at the present time the Russian people no longer exists on this earth.
5. THE STATE OF THE RUSSIAN SPEAKING BELIEVERS
The Russian speaking believers in Russia are characterized by a predominance of earthly interests over spiritual, by an underhand, dishonest psychology, by "believing a lie," and by "the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable" (Rev. 21,8). Magic and sorcery have spread to an extraordinary degree. Nobody seeks Christ and His righteousness: each seeks only "his own." What really proves this is that since 1990-1991, in circumstances of real freedom of conscience in Russia, the Russian speakers have not turned en masse, as an entire people, to the Church and to Christ.
A certain insignificant revival of faith and a trickle of young people into the Church has taken place, but now even this is on the wane. If we go by the statistics, at the present time in the Russian Federation there are no more than 15-20 million Orthodox believers, and only half as many regularly attend church. According to the data of the MP, while as recently as 1993 voluntary donations from individuals made up 43% of all the "patriarchate's" revenues, in 1997 they represented only 6%! The "patriarchate" obtains the rest from usurious money-lending, trading in oil, vodka and tobacco and from other forms of "business," as well as from poorly understood foreign sources.
It is sometimes said that in Russia there is no small number of good, fine people. But the same could be said of the Catholics and Protestants in any western country. It is also said that in Russia even now one can find, even in the bosom of the MP, pious people zealously struggling in prayer and fasting. But it is important to understand that these are not the first rays of sunrise, but the last rays of the sunset. On a rubbish dump you might find antiques, icons and even things made of gold, but still it is not a palace and not a temple, but just a rubbish dump.100 years ago, in 1899, Vladika Anthony (Khrapovitsky) wrote of the "unchurched" part of Russian society of his time: "It is no longer a people, but a rotting corpse, which takes its rotting as a sign of life, while on it, or in it, live only moles, worms and foul insects... for in a living body they would find no satisfaction for their greed, and there would be nothing for them to live on" (Talberg, "History of the Russian Church," Jordanville, 1959, p. 831). At the end of the last century and the beginning of our twentieth century this rotting part of the Russian population made up about 5 - 6% of the total. Now, at the end of the twentieth century, in Russia it constitutes 94 - 95%. The entire Russian Federation taken as a whole is a "rotting corpse."
6. THE POSITION OF THE ROCA IN RELATION TO THE MP
One cannot but admit that the apostate, heretical and criminal state of the overwhelming majority of the MP hierarchy corresponds entirely to this state of society as a whole; it is one of the "moles" or "worms" greedily devouring whatever it can still find to devour in the rotting corpse. Under these circumstances what can the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia have in common with the Moscow "Patriarchate"? Nothing! Hence it follows that any kind of "dialogue" or "conference" with the MP with the aim of clarifying "what divides us and what unites us" is either an abysmal failure to understand the essence of things or a betrayal of God's truth and the Church. What divides us is literally everything! And what unites us is nothing, except perhaps the outward forms of church buildings, clerical vestments and the order of services (but not in all respects even here).
Therefore it is necessary to realize clearly and confirm officially that now the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia is not a part of the Church of Russia, but the only lawful Russian Church in all its fullness!
We must also understand that this is realized by the Moscow "Patriarchate." This is the reason why it is seeking to be recognized just as it is (without rejecting its apostasy and heresies) by the ROCA. Such "recognition" of the MP by the ROCA would provide the MP with the appearance of legitimacy in the eyes of the entire world. But this cannot be allowed to happen.
The ROCA must renounce its dreams and illusions regarding the "rebirth of Russia." Unless there is to be some extraordinary and unpredictable intervention of God in earthly affairs, and assuming that by His permission and providence everything continues in the same direction as at present, then Russia is finished. May God only grant that through excessive attachment to Russia the ROCA will not plunge together with it into the abyss of perdition. Now it is necessary just to "hold fast to that which you have." And if one's soul still suffers pain for the Russian speaking population of Russia, then it is only through constant and firm reproof of the MP, and not through making advances towards it, that it is possible to save those in Russia who still seek salvation and are capable of accepting it.
It is therefore essential to return to the uncompromising attitude towards the MP which was taken by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia from the beginning. And it is quite wrong, under the pretext of "the good of the Church" and "operational efficiency," to undermine the authority of a Primate of the ROCA who is capable of distinguishing truth from falsehood and of "discerning the spirits."
Recently the ROCA has been afflicted by a whole series of disasters one after the other. The murder of the guardian of the miraculous Myrrh-streaming Iveron icon was especially terrible. Remember that the miraculous flow of holy oil from it began in 1982. Just before that the ROCA had glorified the Holy New Martyrs of Russia, lead by the Royal Family, among the choir of the saints, and in 1983 the anathema was proclaimed against the heresy of ecumenism. It is clear that the flow of holy oil from the Iveron icon was a sign of God's approval of the ROCA for its firm stand in the truth against all kinds of falsehood, including the falsehood of the MP. But now it is after the very indecisive resolutions of the Bishops' Council of the ROCA in 1993 and 1994 and the subsequent steps taken by some of our hierarchs towards rapprochement with the MP that these disasters began, one after the other - disasters which bear witness to the withdrawal of God's beneficence towards our Church, because of its deviation from the truth. How many more disasters do the supporters of fraternization with the criminal and heretical MP wish to bring down upon us?
Christ is Risen!, Christ is Risen!, Christ is Risen!
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Today we have held the funeral of an outstanding pastor of our Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and prepared him for burial and for his eternal repose in the Heavenly Kingdom.
Through his death each Orthodox Christian, even the most insignificant person in society, always leaves some kind of spiritual lesson and edification. For each Christian, if he is in some measure a Christian, fulfills at least one word of the Gospel in his life. How much the more does this apply to such an outstanding pastor as was Father Archpriest Lev Lebedeff, who lived his whole life in full view of all! He has left us a remarkable example and spiritual lesson.
We are all sinful people. We are all, without exception, given over to passions, or vices, but with most of us our passions overtake us and often darken our reason and the feeling powers of our hearts, to such an extent that we lose our objectivity and our view of the world becomes somewhat distorted.
Father Lev Lebedeff was no stranger to human passions and we all know this. He did not conceal it, but he had a special gift of the Holy Spirit and this passion of his in no way clouded his reason or the powers of his heart. He always saw exactly what was right and what was not right, truth and falsehood, and he expressed his thoughts boldly and openly. This is a very rare gift of God, when a human passion is quite unable to affect the human thought processes and the feeling powers of the heart. Fr. Lev Lebedeff preserved this special gift of God throughout his life. This is why we listened to him. And this is why we considered him to be a most worthy pastor. So may God grant us to receive even a tiny fraction of this gift - to receive God's gift of seeing truth and falsehood and their utterly opposite nature in full clarity.
Most Reverend Bishops, that is exactly what I wish with all my heart for all of us. Amen.
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