From the Editor of ROCOR Studies: The memoirs of Fr. Kyprian Kern contain the most remarkable portrait of Metropolitan Anthony. In these memoirs, as in a mirror, the inner world of Kyprian himself is presented, a world where Russian Culture, in its highest form, finds its expression in ecclesiality.
Fr. Kyprian succeeded in keeping a precarious balance. On the one hand, he portrayed the spiritual depths of Abba Anthony, who had intentionally given one and the same question to Fr. Kyprian in Moscow, in Ekaterinodar, and in Belgrade; on the other hand, his very love for Abba Anthony became the foundation of a critical approach toward those aspects of his preceptor which he could not accept.
In Fr. Kyprian’s narrative, one can feel the Russian Flight of the 20th century; the prominent Russian Walk through Torments. In these memoirs we meet a Russian Church Abroad that has found its reflection in the face of Fr. Kyprian, as well as in other clergy of similar character, a character whom some of us had privilege to encounter.
This translation is published in an abbreviated form in Divine Ascent: A Journal of Orthodox Thought, 9 (2004). Reprinted with the permission of Archimandrite Meletios (Webber) abbot of St. John of Shanghai Monastery in Manton, CA.
From the Author: I am now in a tiny medieval town in Brittany which has a 12th century castle, crooked streets, and houses with high slate roofs. The church bells ring from dawn to dusk, the streets are full of nuns and clergy. It’s a grayish autumn day. And so many of my circumstances and experiences have given me a feeling of intolerable dreariness as I’ve arrived to rest up in this God-forsaken place. Recalling some of my friends’ wishes that I write down my reminiscences, I took up my pen. Perhaps this is a premonition of approaching old age, or else it’s due to my being unaccustomed to sitting around without specific tasks in mind. And I have long ago come to the conclusion that the past is the only reality. Essentially, there is no present; it’s only the dividing line between the past and the future, a point in time without any dimension—almost a fabrication. And as far the future goes, it might not even come to pass, and if it does, it probably won’t be good— or at least it will be worse than the positive past, to which memory is constantly drawn. Our whole life experience teaches us this fact. This is why I only enjoy what’s in the past, in history….
So, in a word, I am straining my memory and venturing to go ahead with the oldsters’ business of writing my memoirs. I doubt that they will be chronologically consistent, especially since my childhood and youth are still, and probably forever, linked with memories that are too painful of those “accursed days” which separate from them my life in exile, i.e. in freedom. Thus I am venturing to write about personalities, encounters, and events, as I have remembered them rather than writing “The Book of my Being.”
Bless, O Lord! So I begin, and from now on come whatever God brings.
My first recollection of Metropolitan Anthony, who had such a powerful influence on my life and who influenced my development so much, goes back to my childhood. My mother, who was a particularly pious and believing woman, during my early childhood years, would spend the time away from her family obligations reading religious books and attending church and meetings devoted to religion and morality. She often met with religious figures and churchmen. In the summer, she would go from our estate either to Optina or Sarov, or to the Tikhon Hermitage in Kaluga province — or to St. Tikhon of Zadonsk or Metrophanes of Voronezh. In St. Petersburg she also liked to go on pilgrimages and take me with her to the Kazan Cathedral, to the Chapel of Our Savior in Peter the Great’s house, to Our Lady of Sorrows at the glass factory, and to other churches and monasteries.
Once my mother took me to the Pochaev podvoriye, where the miraculous icon of the Theotokos was brought from Volhynia. All I remember of this “pilgrimage” of ours is the overcrowded church, worshippers crowding around the icon, and the bishop blessing the people. He had a light brown, almost reddish beard. This happened to be Archbishop Anthony, who had brought the icon from Volhynia. That’s all I remember of our pilgrimage. Of course, I couldn’t even imagine then that this hierarch would thrice lay his episcopal hands upon me.
My mother bought there a small icon of the Pochaev Mother of God and blessed me with it. I had this icon with me when I was fleeing Moscow. But when I was in a train wreck while in the White Army, it was stolen by Red Army prisoners. This, however, did not sever my link with the Volhynian hierarch.
My first real encounter with Metropolitan Anthony took place in Moscow in 1918, during the All-Russia Sobor. After the Imperial Alexander Lyceum was ordered closed by Kerensky, because it was “an incubator of future excellencies” according to the revolutionary press, I transferred to Moscow University. As a law student I was already interested in Church affairs, read theological books, and attended services conducted by Patriarch Tikhon. I was even thinking of entering the Moscow Theological Academy. I was very interested in the way things were going at the Sobor. One of the law students, a refugee from Grodno named Father Michael (I forgot his last name) was able to obtain passes to sessions of the Sobor. At some point in the winter of 1917/1918 a few law students accepted this priest’s generosity and went to attend a session of the Sobor.
It was being held at the Diocesan House on Likhovoi Alley. I won’t describe the session itself—it’s all known well enough. Everything was essentially conducted by Metropolitan Arsenii (Stadnitskii) of Novgorod, who had piercing eyes and a harsh expression. Patriarch Tikhon was more of an “honorary” chairman. I remember my impressions of individual bishops: Metropolitan Kirill (Smirnov), the future confessor for the independence of the Church from Communist enslavement, Metropolitan Seraphim (Chichagov), Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodskii), who was later to become the follower of the Living Church of unhappy memory and then the Locum Tenens of the the patriarchal throne, 1 and Archbishop Anastassii (Gribanovskii), who stood out because of his grand style. I remember some prominent priests who were present at the Sobor—the Protopresbyter Lubimov, Father Khotovitskii, and Archimandrite (later the confessor archbishop) Hilarion, who was then the inspector at the Moscow Theological Academy. I recall secular figures as well, such as the famous Slavophile A.V. Vasiliev, and the professors Prince E. N. Trubetskoi and Kuznetsov. I have almost no recollection of Sergius Bulgakov, although I know he was pointed out to me.
This first session which I attended as a guest dealt with the critical question regarding the “sharing of the brotherly cup.” Certain members of the lower ranks of the clergy made strongly worded remarks from their seats, and careless words were thrown about….
When we were ready to go home after the session, it took me a long time to find my fur hat in the cloak room. My companions kept telling me to hurry. The attendants were besieged with people demanding their articles of clothing. I was waiting for my hat and in response to the impatient summons of my friends called back impatiently: “I’m looking for my chapeau wait a minute.” At that point someone’s hand rested on my shoulder. I didn’t pay attention, but when I turned I suddenly saw before me a wide graying beard, a white metropolitan’s klobuk and an unforgettable smile with intelligent and piercing eyes.
“What are you, a schoolboy or an officer?”
“Me? Huh?… Me? Well, no, I’m a student.”
The Metropolitan was already in the departing crowd, as my companions started pushing me, asking:
“How come you didn’t get his blessing? You really slipped up!”…
The next day, when I met Father Michael after Professor Novgorodtsev’s lecture, and thanked him once again for the pass to the Sobor, my classmates told him about the previous day’s incident with the Metropolitan. From our description of him the priest figured out who he was and noted:
“Well, you know, this was no accident. That was Anthony Khrapovitsky, a great catcher of souls into monasticism. You’re to be a monk, my friend. This was no accident.”
“What? Me a monk? What kinds of stories are you telling, Father?”
All of us laughed.
I got to see this hierarch in a white klobuk with a piercing gaze from intelligent eyes a few more times from a distance, both at the Sobor and during solemn services in various Moscow churches.
Two years went by.
There I was in Ekaterinodar. I was walking down Krasnaia Street wearing an English overcoat and a sailor’s hat. It was Sunday. The Liturgy had just ended in the cathedral, and people were coming out. I walked in. Some bishop was standing on the ambo wearing a mantiya and a white klobuk and was blessing the remaining worshippers. I walked up, as I remember, as a simple soldier last in line and got the bishop’s blessing. A gentle voice addressed me with the question:
“What are you? A schoolboy or an officer?”
I was struck by exactly the same question as at the Moscow Sobor, and I recognized Metropolitan Anthony.
“Not at all, Vladyko, I’m a volunteer.”
“Well, so that means you’re a soldier.”
Another two years or so went by.
Now I was in Belgrade, at the Russian church in the hall of a Serbian high school. Vigil was coming to an end. I was standing at the candle stand, a student at the Belgrade Law School. E. M. Kiselevskii, the kindly warden, bent toward me to ask me to send for a driver to pick up Metropolitan Anthony, who had been in the altar but, as I recall, hadn’t been serving.
When Mr. Kiselevskii and I were taking leave of the metropolitan by the carriage, I asked for his blessing. He looked at me with his smile and gently asked:
“Are you an officer or a schoolboy?”
I was wearing a field shirt with shoulder straps torn off, and my appearance gave no evidence of my social standing, but I was still amazed by that same question. Later I found out that the metropolitan did not ask such a question of all young people.
Father Peter Belovidov, the rector of the parish, told the Bishop Anthony that I help him around the church.
“Well, then, keep on saving yourself, my dear young man.”
Father Peter commented:
“You’ll be a monk. You know, Vladyka Anthony likes to draw young people into monasticism.”
I laughed, so far-fetched this thought seemed to me, but I couldn’t avoid thinking twice about the bishop’s three identical questions to me.
Around that time, when refugees were beginning to settle in Belgrade and other Serbian towns, Metropolitan Anthony moved more or less permanently to Belgrade, where the late Patriarch Dimitri of Serbia let him stay in one of the rooms of the old Patriarchate. Actually, it was then called the Metropolitanate, as it had been known before. This building dated back to the days of Milosh the Great—it was rickety, uncomfortable, and looked very institutional. There was a little house in the yard, a kind of older outbuilding (but, it seems, it is no longer standing) which was linked to some gloomy episodes in Serbian history. At one time, this house contained the body of the famous Karageorge, the leader of the first rebellion who was killed on the orders of Milosh the Great and who had founded the Karageorge dynasty. Tradition has it that the torso and head of Black George were brought there in a sack.
It was in this Metropolitanate, which was demolished when the new Patriarchate was built in 1931, in the last room of the lower left hallway, that Metropolitan Anthony lived for a long time with his famous cell attendant Fedya, who at that time was still Hierodeacon Theodosius, and later a hieromonk and an archimandrite. And it was in this room that I started visiting the bishop, got to know him better, and became a frequent visitor.
But prior to these frequent visits to the metropolitan, I once came to him for confession. This came about rather unexpectedly. One of my colleagues at the law school, whom the bishop had known as a child back in Russia, brought me to him. This confession was very significant and memorable for me. In the church of the at the Patriarchate, on the kliros, there I stood in the semi-darkness of late evening before the metropolitan, and I sensed at that moment his whole wonderful pastoral wisdom and spiritual experience. He was able to demonstrate in action, and to convey a sense of the whole power and depth of pastoral compassionate love, about which he wrote and preached so wonderfully. The mutual experiencing of sin was felt not only by the sinner, but by the confessor as well — this included all the pain of shame over the deed, all the compunction, the whole irreversibility of what had taken place. Metropolitan Anthony would hear confession without moralizing, without lecturing, without any squeamishness toward the sinner, but rather with profound compassion, a desire to help, and with the ability to provide hope for healing. For him, sin was not a juridical violation of rules, nor simply a fact or a sinful action, but mostly a pathological condition of the soul, a heavy moral trauma which required salvation and help. I can still picture next to me, in the faint glimmer of the vigil light, Vladyka’s wide beard through which a kind and gentle smile would run across, cavorting. I can just see the brilliance of his sharp and intelligent eyes underneath his high and wide forehead, and in addition to everything else his wonderful aristocratic face, that of an old boyar—a legacy of many centuries.
As far as I can remember, I didn’t mention my wish to become a theologian during that confession. I needed to finish law school, and there were about 15 examinations left. I didn’t want to quit what I had started. But even while yet a lawyer, I helped out more and more at the Russian church. At first, it was in the main hall of the high school on Negoshev Street, then in the shed at the Old Cemetery, where the Russian church was to be built later. I also helped E. M. Kiselevskii in making a portable iconostasis, in maintaining and improving a very modest but later more extensive sacristy, in bell-ringing, and in reading. Vladyka would come into our church more and more often, sometimes simply staying in the altar, and sometimes serving. Hierodeacon Theodosius, that very same cell attendant whom all the Belgrade refugees remember, would serve as deacon. A Ukrainian who sang tenor, and had the most incredible rough dark hair and beard, he had been a novice at the Kiev Monastery of the Caves and had served in the artillery. It seemed that he had hair growing everywhere, and that only the pupils of his eyes didn’t have hair growing out of them. He was also quite jovial, a great inventor of stories, laughed a lot, and was a perfect and loyal cell attendant. I’ll have more to say about him later.
I would arrive with a hired driver at the Patriarchate at the appointed hour, and pick up the Metropolitan and Fedia to take them to the Russian church. And on the way there, the Metropolitan would recount something or would utter some sharp and pointed remarks. Later on, while studying the history of Russian spirituality, and hearing reminiscences about Metropolitan Anthony from contemporaries, I found out about the incredible degree of charm which he possessed and which enabled him to capture effortlessly the hearts of young students of the Academy and seminary. There is hardly any dispute about this, for it would seem that everyone, both his friends and detractors, admits that he had this effect. But then, as a very young and easily excited student, subject to any influence, I certainly didn’t understand, and, more importantly, didn’t analyze this all-conquering charisma of his. I simply submitted to it completely. Very quickly Vladyka Anthony became my role model, almost my idol. I became infatuated with him, fell in love with him, and was vanquished by him. I believe that this also the experience of all those generations of seminarians and students who had the pleasure of studying under the Metropolitan’s guidance, who were saved by him from intoxication with the Revolution, from the vapidity of atheism, from the fruitlessness of rationalism. Many of them were drawn, if not to say enticed, into monasticism and were later part of a whole generation of learned monks and bishops. I did not avoid the fate of these young theologians who would meet and hold discussions with Anthony. I will explain the secret of this charm later on. At any rate, I’ll try to figure out what this secret consisted of for me personally—in other words, what Metropolitan Anthony gave me personally. But I’ll speak about this later, after I tell more about him as I recall various facts, encounters, words, and discussions with him.And so it happened that I became totally infatuated with this hierarch who was wonderful in appearance but, more importantly, in spirit. In appearance, he was of medium height and in those years already somewhat rotund. He had a very large head, measuring 64 or 65 centimeters. He had sharp, intelligent eyes that could be unpleasant in moments of irritation. He had a broad, thick, and almost totally white beard, which seemed to contain a playful smile. He never trimmed his beard or hair, and despised those priests or bishops who shortened their growth. His hands were aristocratic and not fleshy, as was the case with many obese bishops. His entire head was quite impressive. He had a distinctive and expressive face. His eyes primarily conveyed a burning intellect and that indefinable “Antonian” charm. At one point a certain Frenchman, a lover of fine arts, saw a photograph I had in Paris of Metropolitan Anthony without his klobuk sitting at his desk, and exclaimed in total delight, “Quelle superbe tete!” 2
His cassock fit him completely naturally. He wore Russian-style cassocks, but after a trip to Palestine he brought back a Greek-styled one which he liked and valued much more than the Russian one (I will have more to say about the Metropolitan’s Grecophile tendencies). Over his cassock, he most often wore a circular panagia depicting the Mother of God surrounded by Ural stones, a gift from his friend Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodskii), having the following inscription on the back, “To my dear teacher and friend, Matt. 25: 8 — i. e., what the foolish virgins said to the wise ones: “Give me some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.”
Sometimes he wore another panagia, given to him as a blessing by Bishop Michael (Gribanovskii) on his deathbed. This was an icon of the Savior, in a very non-iconographic style, with many stones around it and an inscription on the reverse side reading: “This panagia was worn by Met. Palladius, Met. Anthony (Vadkovskii), Bishop Michael, and Bishop Anthony (Khrapovitsky).” And on solemn occasions, as well as during services, the Metropolitan would also put on his Doctor’s cross made of turquoise enamel.
Yet somehow I recall Vladyka most often, most habitually, in his cassock with the invariable plain belt wound around it (he couldn’t stand embroidered belts). A golden chain from the watch which he kept in his side pocket was fastened to his buttonhole, for he didn’t wear wristwatches. This is how the Metropolitan appeared at his desk, looking through the morning mail, responding to a letter, or reading some book. And this is how he was at the tea table. I hardly ever remember him being alone. Usually besides him and Fedia there were theology students or visiting priests. Less frequently there were petitioners, while ladies hardly ever appeared at his tea table. Vladyka did not favor the female gender, referring to it with hostility, even sharpness.
I can still see a group of young students sitting around the samovar at Vladyka’s table, engrossed in discussion, listening to him intently, asking questions on theology, ecclesiology, pastoral asceticism. The Metropolitan’s stories about the past—mostly about the Academies, professors, or religious personalities—were always interesting and colorful. His characterizations were on the mark, and sometimes rather sharp, especially if the individual didn’t enjoy his favor. Theological and canonical explanations were very simple, authoritative, and revealed great clarity of mind. One could disagree with them (something of which I became very conscious when later I researched many subjects with a more critical mind), but they were always unusually clear and direct. He did not use expressions such as “in so far as,” “as if,” “somehow,” and the like. He didn’t stop to think while explaining something. He was especially clear in explaining Holy Scripture. In fact, at times he was too clear, even too primitive, but there was a sense that he knew this for himself and was certain of it. He had no sense of problematics. But what was most amazing about him was his textual knowledge both the New and Old Testaments. It seemed to me, and still does, that he had no need for parallels and concordances of the Holy Scriptures. He would find the most obscure texts without any trouble, and often, without looking in the Bible, he would simply give the chapter and verse of a prophecy, psalm, or epistle. His erudition in Scripture (as well as in canons and Church statutes) was striking. But later on I came to understand perectly that he lacked “scholarship”, i.e. knowledge of literature written about an issue. Upon withdrawing from the academy, he quickly lost touch with learning. The same, incidentally, was said of him by Archimandrite Hilarion (Troitskii) 3 , the New Testament Professor at the Moscow Theological Academy, who was later tortured to death in exile.
Later on, I heard a great deal about Vladyka from his former disciples, from those he had tonsured and worked with, regarding the famous gatherings of all the academic youth in the Dean’s quarters of the Moscow and Kazan Academies. They had been invited to “gulp the jam” which had been sent by his thoughtful mother from Vatagino, his Novgorod home. There was also talk regarding the no less renowned “teas in cassocks” at Pochaev in Volhynia, when students would congregate at Archbishop Anthony’s residence for summer vacation (among them were quite a few casualties— those expelled from Academies or seminaries). Young monks or even elderly bishops would all come to their Great Abba to stay awhile, seek advice, hold discussions, to be warmed by this great, abundantly loving heart, to be enlightened by the rays of his sharp intellect. It was here, at these tea-drinking gatherings, that some would find their faith strengthened, others would develop a desire for monastic effort, perplexing questions of spiritual life would be resolved, and dissertation subjects would come into being. And I remember perfectly that I felt myself fortunate, and still do, that I was a participant in these tea-drinking gatherings—albeit not in the Holy Trinity Lavra or in Volhynia, but merely in the threadbare refugee circumstances of a destitute Metropolitan which were yet ever so rich in their content. So much in my life changed later on—having matured, I changed my mind about much of what I had heard from Metropolitan Anthony upon reconsideration, critical evaluation, and re-evaluation. But I will never forget the actual spirit of these discussions. The very spirit of these spiritual “symposia” has reinforced a grateful memory of the “Great Abba” in my heart for all time. Sure, he was mistaken about so many things. But who could be said to have never made mistakes? Each student who came to him was given more attention from this elder than a titled, highly placed, and famous person would get from another bishop or professor. The Metropolitan would show interest toward any student right away. He truly loved young people, believed in them, and believed them. A young unpretentious heart would be forgiven the errors of dissolute youthfulness. A young and timid student would somehow unnoticeably be placed on a course of spiritual kinship close to the Metropolitan. And, perhaps, this might not have been a beneficial course for that particular young person.
Everyone would be addressed by their diminutives right away— Sereozha, Misha, Vania. No patronymics, no formalities. Sometimes nicknames were given as well. Thus, Vladyka started calling me “Kernushka” very quickly, which long remained in use among a certain group.
There was always a crowd at Vladykas. He would say himself that his cell was a barn for caravans. This was very cozy, but did not create the serious atmosphere of a scholarly dean, and even less so of a western titled prelate. He had little time and it would be spent on trivialities. Whose fault was that? Anthony’s, of course, with his repugnance for formalism, legal-ism, and officialism. And he was also, of course, the cause of that relaxed attitude toward holy orders, authority, and hierarchical submission, He would himself unwittingly spoil his young people through his casualness. Among those who were poorly raised this later created a certain ami-cochon attitude.
Several young students are sitting at the tea table, along with the rector of a Russian church who had come on business, or some priest visiting from a Serbian parish.
“Fedya, is there any sort of jam over there?’
“Sereozha, how come you’re so thoughtful? Maybe you’re in love?”
Poor Sereozha blushed a bright red.
“Why no… What do mean, Vladyka?… No, absolutely not”
“Well, then, tell me some brilliant idea.”
“I don’t have any brilliant idea, Vladyka.”
“No idea? Well, isn’t that sad. And Father S., why are your hands dirty and your hair uncombed? Maybe you want to be more ascetically oriented that way? You probably want to be saved no matter what?”
“Tell me, Misha, what are they teaching you in New Testament? Probably some Tubingen nonsense or stale theories of the unauthenticity of one epistle or another? So what’s the main idea of the Fourth Gospel?”
And then an interesting discussion commences on the text of the Gospel, on the holes in some Protestant hypothesis. Along the way, Sergei Trubetskoi gets in trouble for his “Teaching on the Logos.” All of this is ingested by youthful minds. We are in awe of the Metropolitan’s wisdom and clarity (I can now see that the clarity was much too great) and his understanding of the text of the Gospel. At that time, it seemed to be the height of theological wisdom. And thanks be to God for those initial lessons in theological edification.
He frequently spoke about Russian literature, with which he was very familiar, and as is well known, he highly esteemed Dostoevsky. He had seen him in person only once in his life, and because of this he repeatedly denied the opinion (that had appeared from somewhere) that Dostoevsky had used Anthony as a model for Alyosha Karamazov.
He could recite poetry, and he would do it the old way, with declamation. I remember how he once recited in front of me (we were alone), “I loved you, love could still be…”
Of course, he rejected Tolstoy as a publicist, controversialist, and a philosopher. He valued his artistic talent, but he could not forgive him his later writings. Anthony was so focused and monolithic that he would either completely worship someone or else brush that person away. And, of course, Dostoevsky was everything for him. I can remember even the following comment:
“The Bible comes first, then the Church statutes, and Dostoevsky comes third.”
I was bolder by then and I remember asking, “But Vladyka, where do the Church Fathers fit in?”
The Metropolitan gave a smart glance and, in his own way, smiled unforgettably.
In those days, I always dressed up in some kind of fantastic garb. I never liked European civilian clothes, and as a refugee I could hardly afford to have them made. I would wear a long Russian blouse, high boots (always well sewn), and I had grown some sort of disgusting little beard. Now I’m ashamed even to picture how I looked. Once I came to visit the Metropolitan.
“You know, Kernushka, you look just like a Slavophile. Orthodoxy, autocracy, populism. Well, well, keep on saving yourself. Have a seat. Would you like some tea?”
“No, thanks. I already had some.”
“You’re probably indulging in excessive asceticism, aren’t you? Don’t you know that’s forbidden in the canons of the Council of Gangra?”
“Why no, asceticism has nothing to do with it.”
“So, tell me, my dear young man, some incident from your autobiography.”
I blush, embarrassed, especially if there’s someone else in the cell.
“I’m reading a lot, Vladyka, but without any system and without any results, it seems. Just now I have read St. Basil’s “On the Holy Spirit”. And besides that, I read “The Fathers of the Church” by Philaret, and Harnack.”
The name Harnack elicited a disapproving glance of his intelligent eyes, but then he would say that everything should be read, that one should be familiar with one’s opponent and that nothing is dangerous to the Orthodox consciousness.
“Vladyka, here’s what the Theosophists say…”
What followed was an intelligent, unexpected, and devastating argument against Theosophy and occultism. He hadn’t gleaned this from textbooks, for those plain and simple arguments were not to be found in textbooks, but came from his clear and sharp mind, as well as from his knowledge of the Biblical text by heart—not just from book knowledge, but from having reasoned everything out.
As for me, I didn’t belong to the clerical class, nor to our Russian seminarian and academic scholastic world. And yet early on I became interested in Russian theological scholarship and our spiritual studies. From the very beginning of my student days in theological studies, I would read the available issues of old Theological Academy journals, and primarily the minutes of sessions of the Council of Academies, with professors’ critiques of academic dissertations, records of public debates about master’s theses, and the like. I was always attracted to that aspect of academic life, the laboratory of the mind and the whole process of the creation of a scholarly book, its treatment, critique, reviewing, and the whole piecemeal and determined training in scholarly creativity. During my childhood, I would with interest to stories of various academic disputes. I was fascinated, by the world of volumes, dissertations, reviews, and so on. Therefore, I wished to find out more about that world from Metropolitan Anthony, who had been dean of two of our academies and was a distinguished representative of our intelligent and learned episcopate. And Vladyka would provide quite a bit in this regard, but as usual he would do it in an “Antonian” manner, i.e. directly, pointedly, not at all broadly , and (as I discovered later on) in a very academically biased way. But it must be said that he always did it clearly, intelligently, and always in a distinctive and original way.
For we cannot ignore Metropolitan Anthony’s entire contribution to Russian spiritual scholarship, not forgetting, of course, all the harm he brought to it at a particular moment in the history of our scholarship. There’s no need to indulge in panegyrics to him. But neither should his significance be denied. Anthony was an era in history.
“So, my dear Kernushka, how old are you?’
“I’m twenty-three, Your Grace.”
“What year are you in school?”
“I just finished law school, and now I’m in first-year theology.”
“So this means you’ll have your theology degree at twenty-seven, right?’
“Yes, Vladyka, that’s what it looks like.”
“Well, I was already an Archimandrite and Dean of the Moscow Academy at twenty-eight.”
I was amazed and delighted then. Just think, an Academy dean at twenty-eight! Now, of course, I see how wrong this was, from the standpoint of academic seniority and just plain academic experience. This young, very talented monk, a brilliant lecturer, the inspired and highly educated Anthony Khrapovitsky was placed over the celebrated Muretov 4 , Lebedev 5, Golubinskii 6, Kliuchevskii 7 , and many others.
Anthony is a perfect example of this contrast, so typical in Russian culture. Brilliant and educated, with conviction, fresh faith, and confidence m the primacy of the Church and churchliness [tserkovnost‘] over everything, he acquired total power over the old school, with its traditions and the shadows of the two Philarets 8, Delitsyn 9, Kazanskii 10 , and Golubinskii. On the one hand, he brought in a new faith in the eternally living strength of the Church, in the renewing power of grace. He brought in a new blast of protest against any type of scholasticism, against Macarius Bulgakov, against rationalizing Protestantism and old school Latinism. He brought in a spurt of new life, representing a return to the Church Fathers, to liturgical theology, to Church Tradition. He called young people, who trustingly sought him out, to take up monasticism, to research the Church Fathers or biblical texts. He called these young people to renounce the pallid, insipid, and rancid poison of rationalism, positivism, the teachings of Pisarev and Dobroliubov. He called them to seek interest in life and its meaning in the Christianity of the Church Fathers, church services, monastic life, confession, and the elders. He would accept a seminarian and student who had been expelled for revolution and atheism, receiving him with open arms and instilling in his rebellious and already disillusioned heart faith in himself, faith in God, and faith in the authenticity of Christianity. With faith in the possibility of salvation for any person, even the most sinful, just as in Dostoevsky’s literature, he would thaw out this young man, show compassion for him in his sins, doubts, and falls, renew him through confession and communion, bring him to monasticism, and the priesthood, to service for the salvation of others who are just as fallen and fainthearted. He is actually able to demonstrate that it wasn’t Pisarev nor Darwin nor Renan nor Tolstoy who said something new that was believed to have long ago paled in Christianity, but that it was precisely the Church Fathers, our liturgical typicon, our monastery experience, the beauty of our feasts—all of this, and only this, that is new, living, and true to life, while everything else is decay.
And so this Anthony, a young 28 year-old archimandrite, was dean of the Moscow Academy, and as a 33 year-old bishop, he became Dean of the Kazan Academy. Then he became the young, zealous, and—in a church sense—almost radical Archbishop of Volhynia, an advocate of the patriarchate, of the Church’s freedom and her free establishment according to the canons, and a talented preacher against Renan and the Latin Unia. This same Anthony, who had tonsured more than seventy educated Russian monks, seminary deans, and bishops, did not recognize any historical approach to scholarship, opposing any textual criticism or comparative analysis. And this same Anthony, as a member of the Holy Synod, turned down some talented dissertations, and, together with Archbishop Dimitri, conducted an inspection and a sacking of our four Academies 11 . This same Anthony, while advocating the patriarchate and the independence of the church from the government, and dreaming about Nikon and Photius, rounded himself with the most sinister characters from the Union of Russian People 12 . He also demonstrated solidarity with the Russian Assembly 13 and supported a totally improper pseudo-patriotic movement in Volhynia. In gratitude for defending the local Jews against a pogrom, the congregation of the local synagogue presented Archbishop Anthony with a Torah scroll, which was very flattering to him, since Anthony enjoyed everything about the Hebrew Bible, everything in the Old Testament. At the same time, he categorically fought with progressive faculty members, publicly insulted liberal thinkers in his speeches, and responded to the collection Vekhi with what was essentially a political demand 14 . Such was Anthony—full of contradictions, full of inconsistencies. And in spite of everything, he was wonderful, unique, and brilliant. Anthony could be characterized, in his judgments and evaluations of theological books and scholars, as a dogmatist and moralizer opposed to any historicism and mysticism. Everything that was dogmatically clear and based on conciliar decisions, and everything that derived unquestionably from biblical texts and had moral application (such as his well-known moral underpinning of basic Orthodox dogmas) was dear to him, and he lauded and supported all of it. In contrast, everything historical or critical, anything based on precise and meticulous research, or on mystical intuition, was subjected to condemnation and hostility. To him, mysticism and khlystostvo 15were synonymous. Scholarly textual criticism, philological analysis, and the chronological comparison of events—all this qualified as Tubingenism, Harnackism, or Renanism. And it was all stamped with a choice expression, with which Vladyka was very generous.
He likewise qualified Russian professors and writers. He liked especially Kudriavtsev-Platonov, Karinskii, and Karpov as thinkers; for the New Testament, he preferred Archimandrite Hilarion, and Theophan the Recluse; he had less regard for Muretov, respectfully maintained silence about Glubokovskii, but did not approve of him. Almost all historians were rejected—he especially did not favor Golubinskii, Lebedev, and Subbotin. He also enjoyed pointing out scandalous details regarding the relationship between Lebedev and Glubokovsky (it was a known fact that Lebedev’s wife left him for Glubokovskii).
He was cautious, even mistrustful, toward Fr. Pavel Florensky, as well as to the whole orientation of the free theology of religious meetings and societies. They say that as the member of the Synod responsible for reviews, he wrote the following review of The Pillar and Foundation of Truth: “I read it in fourteen days, I read fourteen pages, didn’t understand anything, but I think that he can be granted a master’s degree.”
It goes without saying that he disapproved of Merezhkovsky and Rozanov. He made sarcastic remarks about Vladimir Soloviev, which at the time upset and stung me exceedingly. He thought much more highly of Kudriavtsev-Platonov than of Soloviev. I did not understand this at the time.
His attitude toward the Theological Institute was ambivalent. On the one hand, he highly valued the piety, orderliness, and churchliness at St. Sergius, but on the other hand he did not approve much of its theological scholarship. Of course, he was more than restrained toward Fr. Sergius Bulgakov. He had a personal fondness, and even felt some tenderness toward S. S. Bezobrazov (Bishop Cassian of Katan). He thought very highly of Professor V. V. Zenkovsky and considered him one of the most intelligent.
In general, his scholarly interests were limited to the area of the exposition of biblical texts, but certainly not of introductory material or isagogics, which he condemned as a German invention. He enjoyed dogmatics, as long as it was free of the scholasticism of Macarius or Philaret. He also sought, as is known, the moral meaning behind dogmas.
Such was Metropolitan Anthony in the history of Russian theological scholarship. He was a liberator from the deadening scholasticism of Macarius and Philaret, a propagator of the patristic spirit, a promoter of the ascetic ideal among the youth, and an inspirer of worship according to the rubrics, a promoter of plain singing, and iconography according to ancient and expressly Byzantine models. Believing in the simple and swift moral rebirth of the sinner and of an erring young mind, he was a protector of those cast out of seminaries and various “ne’er do well’s”. His seminary in Volhynia was at one time simply a refuge for various exiles. Formalism and officialdom were ontologically alien to him. He sought friendship with young people and attained it without any effort or importunity. Even his foes acknowledged his indisputable moral and pedagogical gift of winning people over.
This explains the great array of monks tonsured by the “Great Abba”. True, here among them some failures—precocious monks who had quickly became disillusioned with monasticism—and there were quite a few who had renounced their tonsure among them. His popularity among youth brought him also, of course, enemies on top. As soon as Philaret’s former Vicar Bishop Sergius (Liapidevskii) 16 was transferred to Moscow in place of Metropolitan Leontii, he quickly transferred Anthony to Kazan. This amounted of course, to exile. And it was known that this was done for Antonian “liberalism.” Anthony a liberal? He was definitely never a liberal, neither in politics nor in Church affairs, and he could not be one. Anthony came to dislike the dry and pedantic Metropolitan Sergius, and would say at times that if he ever has nightmares, they include Sergius Liapidevskii.
In his fascinating Autobiographical Notes, Archbishop Savva (Tikhomirov) of Tver writes about the unfavorable impression made by his unexpected transfer of the young but already celebrated dean Archimandrite Anthony from Moscow to Kazan. Thus, in one of his letters (to A..V. Gavrilov) Archbishop Sawa notes: “I would think that the transfer of the Dean of the Moscow Theological Academy hardly serves as a positive sign for him, and likewise the transfer of the venerable Dean of the Kazan Academy [presumably Archpriest Vladimirskii] from his teaching position to the chair of Scholarship Committee can hardly be considered a reward for his nearly half century of service to religious education. Amazing things are taking place before our eyes…”
On July 30, 1895 the Moscow Academy bade farewell to its young Dean, who had already gained the love of some and the enmity of others. He was presented with an icon of St. John the Theologian, speeches were made, and Fr. Anthony responded three times. The next day he paid a farewell visit to Metropolitan Sergius. The metropolitan said, “I love and respect you, but we are incompatible. You are a man of innovations and frenetic activity, while I am retrograde. You are filled with love, while I am a person of strict legalism. You are not right for the Moscow Academy, but do well in Kazan.” Having said this he kissed him farewell 17. On July 31, Archimandrite Anthony left for Kazan.
I would not be mistaken in saying that the period when Archimandrite Anthony headed two of our Academies was a remarkable era in the history of Russian theological scholarship. Our Academies, as well as all the schools in general, had such eras, which went down into history under the names of their leaders. Thus, the Moscow Academy had its Philaret era, and Gorsky era; the Kiev Academy had its Innocent era, the St. Petersburg Academy its Yanyshev period, and the Kazan Academy spent many years with the famous “Daddy” Fr. A. P. Vladimirskii as Dean who had also created his own era for Kazan. In the same way Anthony left behind his “Antonian” period in the history of two of our Academies.
Anthony’s actual appearance in Moscow needs to be recalled, and for this I will refer to the reminiscences of old pupils of the Moscow Academy. A certain Archimandrite Anthony (Karzhavin) was appointed Inspector 18 of the Moscow Academy. He later became Bishop of Tver and passed away on March 16, 1914. He was famous for two reasons, the first of which was that in his dissertation he had discovered two philosophers—Descartes and Cartesius—in whose systems he not only found a close similarity, but also a significant difference(!) In addition, being a morose and misanthropic formalist, he decided to “tighten the screws” on the Moscow Academy by instituting a system of passes for students going off campus, treating them with suspicion, pestering them, and lowering grades in behavior even for model students—simply as a warning, for “quiet foresight.” His tenure as Inspector ended dismally. Aftet being appointed Dean of some seminary he had to leave Sergiev Posad, some say, by night. He was replaced by the nondescript Archimandrite Peter. But it was the young Archimandrite Anthony (Khrapovitsky) who was appointed Dean of the Academy at that time, and right away he changed its whole atmosphere. He immediately won over the entire generation of students with his erudition, his mind, his love for services according to the Typikon, his eloquence, his knowledge of literature, and secular culture (in a good sense). The wall and spirit of formalism and mistrust established by Anthony Karzhavin disappeared completely. The Academy sighed with relief, sensing something unprecedented, something spring-like and enlivening. The off-campus passes were forgotten. Dean Anthony turned out to be the complete opposite of Inspector Anthony. He started inviting students to tea and frank conversations, creating an atmosphere of complete trust and cordiality. He himself believed in the power of regenerating pastoral love, and it was through this authority of love that he affected restless and easily addled students. Love for the Church’s Typikon, for services performed not with blind obedience to it, but sensibly and reasonably, immediately took hold at the Academy. Inspired sermons in the Gospel, and primarily moral subjects, enlivened the walls of the old Elizabethan “chambers” which the Academy occupied and which were permeated with the spirit of official piety and scholastic theology. An Academy versifier immortalized these neo-Antonian years with the following verse:
But now another Anthony has come around,
Those passes and awful rules, they no longer abound.
But lovingly he’ll teach us through services and talks alone.
Each Anthony has ideas of his own.
An old Moscow student, T. Teodorovich, has the following to say about Archimandrite Anthony’s period as Dean and professor: “The Dean’s lectures on pastoral theology burned with such an inner flame of spiritual zeal, with such a burning call to serve Christ and the Church, that their influence is unforgettable. Much was forgiven us, because it was understood and corrected from above, and thus life wasn’t ruined for any student. Some kind of mutual flame of warmth likewise eased our student relationships.”
And so, when Anthony, having been accused of “liberalism”, was transferred to Kazan by the dry formalist Metropolitan Sergius Liapidevskii, the lengthy period of “Daddy” Vladimirskii was followed by the no less famous Antonian period. Archimandrite Anthony took this as an ecclesiastical obedience and went on to implant that same spirit of trust in youth, compassionate love, and monastic effort in the Trans-Volga Region. He wrote on the ship to Kazan to that same former disciple from Moscow (Fr. Teodorovich), “I’m on my way to mess around with rebellious but affable students.”
After going into exile, he continued gathering the youth around him— primarily theology students, of course. We started coming to him, and would constantly meet him at services in the Russian church, and he made a number of visits to our student group at the Zernov family home. Later he would often reminisce about visiting us, and it was clear that he truly enjoyed being among young people. He would readily answer our questions and hold lively discussions with us, winning over many of us, if not everyone. And he maintained a good paternal relationship with just about all of the members of this group for a long time afterwards. Naturally, all this faded when the group changed its character, joining the so-called Student Movement, with which the Metropolitan clearly did not sympathize. Indeed, his ecclesiastical disagreement with Metropolitan Evlogii caused much irreparable damage. 19
Metropolitan Anthony was a very witty person. His sharp wit and even sharper tongue immediately found true and accurate characterizations, nicknames, and evaluations. His wealth of experiences and interesting life gave him an invaluable supply of memories. Quite often, his tongue spared neither individuals, nor their positions, nor lofty hierarchical rank. Unflattering details were often communicated about one or another professor or hierarch (frequently without basis or reason, I believe), and were unfortunately accepted by the inquisitive minds of young people who became used to this. They themselves, following Anthony’s example, would allow themselves his witticisms, embellishments, and pronouncements.
Metropolitan Anthony’s sharp tongue is also responsible for the rumors about the filthy language and off-color jokes for which his detractors reproached him. First of all, I must note that it was certainly not in everyone’s company that the Metropolitan permitted himself to loose his tongue in this way. I personally can hardly recall Vladyka ever telling such jokes. Even if such did take place, in no way was this evidence of his general depravity, perversity or impurity of mind. The Metropolitan was a very pure person—he didn’t tolerate fornicators, and strictly condemned those who practiced sensuality, such as women chasers, inebriates, etc. As for his famous utterances, these were reflections of the unbridled use of words and expressions typical of Russians rather than evidence of his depravity. True, it was well known that he could use the word “sensuality” in referring to love for sweets, chocolate, or preserves, and could say that sweeping the floor was a solution to the “sexual problem,” 20 and so on. Likewise, he could characterize the poor knowledge of God’s Word by a priest by saying that for such a person “the Word of God is not going well”, altering the meaning of 2 Timothy 2:9 (using the Russian meaning of ne v?azhets?a). He would also joke that Tula is the only Russian city mentioned in the Bible, because in the 11th Psalm it says “They make ready their arrow on the string (tula in Slavonic) that they may shoot secretly…” And he could also use the Slavonic word for “pride” in its vernacular Russian meaning of “diarrhea.” Of course, this isn’t what Metropolitan Anthony was most famous for. First of all, he was an exclusively ecclesiastical person (i.e., his values and judgment were exclusively of the Church). He evaluated everything from the perspective of the primacy of the Church—not of the government, progress, worldly prejudices, or anything else, but of the Church. And it is there in this connection, first of all, that Anthony’s image as a hierarch, a bishop, a clergyman emerges before me. I can’t help remembering how Metropolitan Anthony would serve.
First of all, his whole appearance is significant in this regard—his unruffled calmness, his boyar-like good looks. A certain amount of rotundity didn’t spoil the general impression. There was absolute certitude with regard to Church statutes and the order of worship, perfect rhythm and impassivity in serving. In both reading and liturgical exclamations he didn’t insert anything of his own. It was his feeling that personal intonation could only ruin the impression. The meaning of what is being read should speak for itself, and it can do so only if it’s not given any personal interpretation. He read sensibly, distinctly, and impassively, but not monotonously. The absence of any affectation made his manner of serving very meaningful, transparent, austere, and iconographically classical. He was a classicist in worship. One remembers him and regrets his departure, when seeing modern young priests who lack any sense of tradition and utter not a single word or exclamation simply, but instead add all kinds of mannerisms, affected expressions and emphases, aspirations, crescendos, slowing down or quickening of tempo, etc. How he could not stand these stylizations a la Fr. John of Kronstadt or some fanatical decadent. The Metropolitan epitomized sobriety itself in all respects—that was the source of his fear and rejection of mysticism. In mysticism he imagined khlystostvo—fanaticism, and artificiality. He experienced the content of worship services in total sobriety and transparency, and he let others experience it not in his own way, not in the “Antonian” or some other way, never imposing his understanding or experiences on others, but would allow them to penetrate into the inner meaning of expressions and texts through the substance of his words.
For this reason, he couldn’t tolerate the pathological pressing of fingers to the forehead for the sign of the cross. He would cross himself expansively, earnestly, and amply, without any hint of interrupting it with a prostration. And he couldn’t stand it when any priest would pray with eyes shut or head upraised, etc. “There he goes, acting wacky, putting on airs,” he would say. Neither could he stand kneeling—noting correctly that kneeling came to us from the West, from the Catholics. He advocated full prostrations, which were still practiced in the whole East and among Old Believers, whose practices he generally admired.
As the years passed, his impassivity in serving was attenuated by the gift of tears, which happened to him frequently, especially while pronouncing the Eucharistic Words of Institution, reading the Gospel, and sometimes while preaching. And then his face would become even more iconographic. In general, he looked like an Old Testament prophet.
If he were told about some fanatical priest, especially a young monk after whom various female admirers would pine, you could be prepared to hear momentarily some choice words regarding him. And God forbid, saying in addition, that this priest prays well or is a mystic. You would then hear, “Oh, he’s already started to Kronstadtize…” Or else, “So perhaps this priest is already resurrecting the dead?” And, “Why, isn’t he praying up in the air yet?”
“More than anything I fear the mad dog and the holy person” (What he meant by “holy” in this case is clear).
Without question the Metropolitan played a significant educational role in liturgical training. He had utmost style—inimitable and unforgettable.
It was clear how he must have gotten unnerved and irritated as he grew older, by priests who could not learn how to serve or read Slavonic properly, who didn’t know the Typikon. Thus, due to his directness and lack of restraint, one could hear during a service some very unflattering criticism of the mental capacities of a particular deacon or priest. Once a certain deacon, while reading the Epistle, read not only what was printed in black, but also the following rubrical instruction in cinnabar regarding the skipping the text: “Skip to Friday.” This was bad enough, but then he also put the stress on the first syllable of the word piatkU (changing it from “Friday” in Slavonic to the Russian “heel”). Clearly, this had nothing to do with the Epistle text and was laughable as well.
Another time, during the Week of the Paralytic, the reader at the kliros, a young theology student, not having realized that the refrain for the canon should be “Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee,” suddenly exclaimed loudly, “O Holy Paralytic, pray to God for us,” for which he earned a loud “You fool!” from the Metropolitan standing nearby.
I especially enjoyed listening to him read the six psalms or the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. This was done almost entirely by heart, and with incredible monastery-like impassivity in expression that, nevertheless, was not lacking in content. He had perfect knowledge of the Typikon, although, it is true, even he deferred to Bishop Gabriel Chepur, the unsurpassed liturgist. The Metropolitan would himself admit that no one knows the Typikon better than Bishop Gabriel—even the Old Believer experts.
Vladyka’s serving style was exemplary. From the past he had before him ideal models of serving, endurance, bearing, classical singing, and irreproachable reading. He had seen Metropolitans Isidore and loannicius as they served and had served with them. He had seen, known, served for and concelebrated with Metropolitan Anthony Vadkovsky, Metropolitan Flavian, archdeacons and protopresbyters at lavras and cathedrals, with educated servers and singers at our lavras and monasteries, Academies, and seminaries. Knowing the service and the Typikon, and earning the Metropolitan’s praise for this, was no small matter. If he mentioned that someone served well, or that he did a good job, this was the highest possible tribute. Even the Metropolitan’s poor musicianship didn’t stand in the way of the magnificence of his serving. With a good choir director it was always possible to conceal his lack of pitch or inability to begin intoning some entrance verse or magnification. And his musicianship was abysmal. He absolutely could not distinguish pitches and melodies. But, oddly enough, he possessed great musical taste and memory. He admired Znamenny and Greek chant and Weed Kievan Lavra melodies, which he strongly defended.
As for Bortnianskii’s concerts and Vedel’s “Open to Me the Gates of Repentance”—they would ruin the Metropolitan’s mood and he would not restrain himself from letting out some sharp comment regarding this style of singing for all to hear.
I remember one particular All-night Vigil at the Belgrade church, just before Great Lent. When the time came to sing “Open to Me the Gates,” the choir director, not knowing, or not figuring out, that Metropolitan Anthony would not appreciate his good intentions, distributed the music and gave the pitch for Vedel’s “Repentance,” which is known to be pretentious, concert-like, and totally inappropriate for church. The magnificent boyar-like Metropolitan, wearing a white klobuk and a panagia given him by Metropolitan Sergius, and his doctor’s cross, was standing at the left kliros among theology students and lovers of prescribed singing. His eyes flickered with kindness, while his beard revealed a smile.
“Pokaya-niya otverzi__ otverzi__ otverzi— otverzi-i-i-i.. mi dveri,
Zhiznodavche. Utrenyuet bo du-ukh may, utrenyuet bo du-u-ukh moy, dukh
may ko khramu, ko khramu svyatomu tvoemu,”and so on. The basses,
sopranos, altos, and tenors were all putting forth their best effort, all of them masterfully outdoing each other, in perfect orchestral and harmonic coordination, but without conveying any prayerful mood.
As soon as this performance began, the Metropolitan’s grumbling into his beard (a sign of displeasure) could be heard from the left kliros, followed by his tongue clicking (utmost disgust).
“M-m-m-m. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Such erotic singing. Disgusting.”
But the Lavra’s “The Unsleeping Theotokos in Prayer” would move him deeply. Later in his exile, he would have students with good voices sing it around the table and he would weep quietly, remembering Kiev, the Lavra, and all of the magnificence of the past. Or, he would ask them to sing some Greek or Znamenny hymn.
He would collapse in laughter, when I, having traveled to the East, would demonstrate to him the Greek chanting of various hierarchs with all the howling, nasal trills, roulades, pauses, and so on. He would laugh till tears came out.
He would enunciate with simplicity and perfect diction, and would demand the same of deacons and readers. He was very fond of his former Kharkov protodeacon, the famous king of basses, Fr. V. Verbitsky, one of Russia’s best basso profundos, who was then living in Serbia (in Zemun). He couldn’t stand it when one of the young deacons would “treat” him with Chesnokov’s fancy and pretentious litany “Let us Complete our Prayer”.
He enjoyed very much serving in Greek and would always observe this tradition in Russia at the Academy on the Feast of St. John the Theologian, or on the Day of the Holy Spirit, or the Feast of the Three Hierarchs. He rejoiced that we, the theologians of Belgrade, upheld this tradition outside Russia, and would serve with us on those days. He was a classicist in the sense of the word, being proficient in both Greek and Latin, and, of course, Slavonic, and enjoyed stumping us with some grammatical or syntactical question arising in Greek, Slavonic, or even Hebrew. He enjoyed tripping up young people on stresses and endings.
“Gore imeim serdtsa” (“Let us lift up our hearts”). His whole beard would display a wonderful smile, while his eyes flickered craftily. Now, you, Father, would of course spell it “imeem”, wouldn’t you?” Everyone at the tea table was on guard. The priest, a naive third-year student, agrees with him.
“Well, it’s nothing of the kind. It’s not “imeem” at all, but “imeim,” because it’s in the imperative mood.”
Or he would take “Tebye Boga Khvalim” (“We praise Thee, O God”). “Misha, you, of course, would spell tebe with a ‘yat’ ” 21Misha doesn’t suspect a trap and agrees with him as well. “It’s not tebe (with a ‘yat ) as in the dative case but tebe (without one) as in the accusative.”
Once I was corrected for an incorrectly placed supplementary stress mark in the case of a disyllabic enclitic in Greek!
At each hierachical liturgy he would say the bishop’s prayer “Look down from Heaven, O God” in three languages. First, he would say it in Slavonic, then Greek and finally Latin.
This always sounded very solemn and universally truthful.
When the Metropolitan returned from the installation of the Romanian Patriarch Myron, he started saying in Romanian, “Doamne, Doamne…” But this didn’t have that wonderful resonance and grandiloquence of the Latin version. The conclusion of this prayer sounded especially unbecoming, for the words “Thy right hand” were rendered as “driapta Ta”.
I must mention an amusing incident involving Vladyka in Palestine in connection with this same prayer. In 1924, the Metropolitan went to Jerusalem on mission business. He stayed in Damascus with his friend, the Patriarch Gregory IV of Antioch. Upon his return to Jerusalem from Damascus, the Metropolitan stayed there a little longer. It should be noted that from his first days in Jerusalem, even before his trip to Damascus, the Metropolitan had some “expert” in Arabic from among our compatriots translate this prayer into Arabic, so that he was able to learn it and say it at each liturgy after the Greek and Slavonic.
And so, upon the Metropolitan’s return from Damascus, Patriarch Gregory sent him an elderly Syrian metropolitan (Zakharia, I believe) to make a return visit. Our Metropolitan invited the Arab Metropolitan to concelebrate with him at our mission church on Sunday. The Arab thanked him, but didn’t serve. He remained in the altar and prayed while our Metropolitan served. It came time for the Little Entrance, followed by the Trisagion, which is when, as is known, the bishop pronounces that prayer with the cross and the dikirii. Anthony came out of the altar at the proper moment, and started in Greek: “Kyrie, Kyrie, epivlepson ex ouranou…” and so on. Then he said it in Slavonic: “Gospodi, Gospodi, prizri s nebese—”, and, finally, he started saying what he had learned in Arabic. Suddenly, incredible shock and even horror appeared on Metropolitan Zakharia’s face:
“Why, oh why is he speaking like that? Why is he speaking so poorly? Why so poorly?”
It turned out that our Metropolitan Anthony, without giving it a second thought, instead of “Look down from Heaven” was saying “Christ is Risen.” What is most surprising is that the Metropolitan had been saying these same words each Sunday for two months, and neither our dragoman, the exceedingly kind G. N. Haleby, nor anyone else showed any interest in what the Metropolitan had been saying—it made no difference to them. And this included intelligent Russians, our workers at the consulate and the Palestine Society, as well as others, all of whom were completely indifferent toward what was taking place in church and how it was being done.
Its no wonder that Anthony, in expressing sarcasm regarding the secularism of Russian intellectuals, would say that they don’t know the difference between a censer and a metropolitan.
I’ve already mentioned that Metropolitan Anthony was a classicist in terms of serving style, singing, and the Typikon. And, incidentally, he couldn’t stand moliebens after Liturgy, in the belief that the Liturgy is the crown of the whole liturgical day, while moliebens are the product of poor liturgical taste mediocrity.” Neither could he stand akathists in church, except Akathist to the Theotokos prescribed for the fifth Friday of Great Lent, which he would always read as part of his monastic rule. He is absolutely correct in noting that most of the Russian akathists are examples of the decadence of our liturgical tastes. In this he concurred with Metropolitan Philaret, whom he disapproved of in other respects. He had no use for kneeling prayers. And He didn’t care for Italian art in church, advocating instead the rebirth of ancient iconography, with which he was raised in his native Novgorod Province.
The Metropolitan would never become embarrassed by mistakes or slip-ups that he would accidentally commit (he would say that only the Pope of Rome thinks that he never makes mistakes). This indifference to his imperfections and to the potential reaction of critics constituted an immense and genuine humility. Actually, humility consists in part of the removal of one from the center of popular attention. Metropolitan Vladimir (Tikhonitskii) gave me a characteristic example of Vladyka Anthony’s simplicity and imperturbability. When Patriarch Gregory IV of Antioch was passing through Pochaev in 1913, Metropolitan Anthony arranged the consecration of Archimandrite Dionisii (Valedinskii), the future Metropolitan of Warsaw, as Bishop of Kremenets, to be his Vicar Bishop. This was a major, and never heretofore seen celebration in Volhynia, especially with the Patriarch taking part. So when, after the Little Entrance and the Trisagion, the consecration was supposed to take place, all of the hierarchs, probably unerved over the Patriarch’s presence, forgot about the candidate. Right after the Trisagion, they all went up to the High Place. Poor Archimandrite Dionisy stayed by the altar table, bewildered. All of a sudden, the booming voice of the Archbishop of Volhynia resounded throughout the altar
“Brothers, brothers, let’s hurry back—we forgot the consecration.”
This was done so simply, so unconstrainedly and calmly. I have no idea what Archimandrite Dionisii was thinking. But those who love to note portents everywhere kept this in mind with a dose of superstition, and later, during Dionisy’s tenure as Metropolitan, in their disapproval of his loyalty to dictator Josef Pilsudski, enjoyed recalling that “omen.” 22
1 will always remember the imperturbable silence and sober calmness which the Metropolitan exuded while serving. He would be driven mad by lliterate readers, singers, or deacons, and by theatricality, pomposity, affectation, and artificial emotion—in a word, everything that he disdainfully called “mysticism.” One had to see how he would read the domestic rule. This would be one of the best memories of him—joint prayer, joint reading of the rule before Liturgy with Metropolitan Anthony. First, “Fedya” would be reading compline with dizzying speed, and then the Metropolitan would follow with a canon or an akathist. He would read without hurrying, simply, distinctly, impassively, crossing himself fervently, beautifully, and properly. His eyes would be looking forward, with absolute calm, with a kind of special sobriety. I have no recollection of his eyes being shut, or of him adopting an artificial sugary tone or pseudo-tender emotion. And he would listen to the entrance prayers before Liturgy in precisely the same manner. When he would approach the local icons with his klobuk on his shoulder, he would bend slowly to the waist or, when it was allowed, to the ground (incidentally, there was great beauty in Anthony’s reverences to the ground, in spite of his girth and infirmities of old age), and would venerate the icon simply and without affectation.
Likewise, while being vested he would stand there with a sweet smile on his intelligent face, watching as the “students”—the various, Mishas, Seryozhas, and Vololdyas—would present him with his vestments, vest him, and serve with him. The elderly Protodeacon Verbitskii would say about him, and about his appearance while being vested: “What a guy! Just look at how he’s standing. Like a lamb being led to the slaughter!”
During Liturgy he would stand with austerity and reverence. And he would anticipate a favorite moment in the Gospel reading or the Eucharis-tic Canon with that same smile. Toward the end of his life, he would pronounce the Savior’s words with tears, and quite often his eyes would become moistened with tears while listening to the Gospel, especially the Passion Gospels. My Lord, how Anthony would read the first Passion Gospel! I can hear his voice even now: “Now the Son of Man is glorified.”
True, he could let loose with some comment or start clicking his tongue n response to some verbal blunder or incorrect stress or censing. But this vasn’t anger or irritation but simply an instinctive reflex, as could happen vith a good musician upon hearing a wrong note in an orchestra.
He was very much opposed to personal concoctions and violations of he Typikon, such as the use of “zhizn”‘ instead of “zhivot.” 23He criticized Sergius Stragorodskii’s revision of service books, (e.g., “the Master’s supper” instead of “the Master’s wandering”, and so on). He didn’t like when priests, instead of the prescribed reverences to the ground, Id kneel, or — God forbid — would get down on one knee. He would sometimes throw a sidelong glance and, clicking, say, “some priest.” In general he felt that onlymonks served properly (an exception was made only, perhaps, for Fr. Peter Belovidov, who was no less an expert than the Metropolitan when it came to the Typikon and services). He had no love for bishops who had been widowed as priests, and since there were quite a few of them in the Russian episcopate, he didn’t favor many of them. He asserted that widowed bishops don’t know the Typikon, that they were ready to bless the censer with two hands because “they made it to the episcopate.” He also didn’t like it when a bishop would make the exclamation “Glory to Thee, Who Has Shown Us the Light” before the Great Doxology at Matins with dikirii and trikirii rather than simply with upraised arms. Actually, this was not a Great Russian custom. I’ve seen Metropolitan Evlogii doing it that way, as well as western Russian bishops in general. Metropolitan Anthony, Archbishop Anastassii, and Bishop Gabriel never did it that way and disapproved of the practice, and all three of them were great masters of liturgical beauty.
Anthony was majestic at ordinations. He would perform this moving sacrament with total confidence (how many hundreds of priests and deacons were ordained by him!). Bending down to the ordinand’s ear, and covering his head with his omophorion, he would whisper to him (I remember this unforgettable moment as if it were today).
“Direct the eyes of your heart to the Lord’s altar, ask for the forgiveness of your sins and the granting of a blameless priesthood to you.”
And often, oh, so often, while reading the concluding prayer to the moving singing of “Kyrie eleison” his eyes would be filled with tears.
Later on I will describe my own ordination.
I have already said that Anthony was not a mystic and didn’t acknowledge mysticism in spiritual life. This is strange in view of his intelligence and his correct understanding of Church life. And yet it’s a fact. My explanation for this is that throughout his whole life he struggled against rationalism and scholasticism using a rationalistic method. Rationalism and moralism were the basic coordinates of his theologizing. Struggling against rationalism and abstract theologizing in school, he was introducing—in the form of a weapon—that same rationalism, only diluted by a moralistic understanding of dogmas and spiritual life. Strange as it may seem, this was nevertheless Vladyka’s basic weakness. Instead of juxtaposing mystical intuition and apophatic or even antinomic theology with the scholasticism of our seminary textbooks, he would rationalize and moralize to the utmost degree. Everything had to be clear for him in his responses to theological questions. I have already said that he totally lacked a sense of problematics.
In his moralistic understanding of dogmas he did, of course, enliven the arid and abstract scholasticism of Macarian dogmatics. For him, and through him for his audience, dogmas became living truths. He lived by them, just as the Church Fathers did. This was Anthony’s unforgettable virtue, but it was also his weak point, since not everything in spiritual life is limited to moral considerations. Moralizing easily leads to Protestant Puritanism and to a particular kind of Kantianism. And, strange as it may be, Metropolitan Anthony felt closer to Kant than to the mysticism of the Church Fathers. Much of Tolstoy (his moralizing) was more acceptable to Anthony than Soloviev’s vain attempts at mystical revelations. By saying this, of course, I am in no way associating Anthony with Tolstoy, whose secularism created an insurmountable void between them.
Mysticism was for Metropolitan Anthony almost the same as khlystostvo. He did not distinguish the genuinely churchly mysticism of our hesychast? from the unorthodox affectation of extreme Catholic manifestations of mysticism. It’s also curious that Vladyka was very cautious about the Jesus Prayer. “It’s better to pray according to the prayer book than to tug at beads and tc repeat the same phrase in the expectation of heavenly light.” This explains his extremely irreconcilable attitude toward name-worship. His participation, along with Archbishop Nikon (formerly of Vologda) in the rout ol Athonite name-worshippers is well known. What is significant here is not that Anthony arose up against extreme manifestations of name-worship originating from the dark ignorance of Athonite peasants, but his absolute failure to grasp the whole problem of the Name. Anthony was an extreme nominalist, and in that sense Plato was completely foreign to him.
T. A. Ametistov, a great admirer of Metropolitan Anthony and a mar who was theologically knowledgeable and had a very sharp and cynical mind, once said to Metropolitan Anthony at an idle moment in Constantinople regarding his attitude toward hesychasm, Palamas, mysticism, and so on, literally the following:
“So I’m imagining to myself, Vladyko, that you would meet St. John Chrysostom and St. Gregory Palamas, and here’s what you’d say: ‘So what’s the point, Bishop Gregory, for you to write stuff that’s neither understandable to people, nor that you yourself can explain clearly? Why don’t you follow His Grace John’s example? All that he has written is clear and applicable to life, and it all has a moral basis.’ ”
The Metropolitan’s integrity was particularly forceful in his view of the Church. He held that the unquestionably correct view of the Church’s unity was that the Church is one. There can be no other churches but the one true church. Any teaching that was not in agreement with this one Church – either with respect to Church teachings or to unity of dogmatic tradition, or with respect to the canons regarding the unity of the hierarchy established by God – was heresy, schism, and a self-proclaimed gathering.
Some might see this view as too simplified or narrow-minded. Metropolitan Anthony certainly distanced himself from contemporary ecumenical attitudes and was uncongenial toward them. The pain over the rupture of Church unity had created a feeling of brotherly love toward the heterodox which lead to such a breadth of tolerance, and to such dogmatic and canonical indifference, that the Church’s boundaries were no longer apparent. The difference between the hierarchy that God established and the self-ordained was not clear, resulting in a readiness for prayerful fellowship with anyone calling himself a priest, despite that person’s having no formal rights nor essential basis for ministry.
The Church’s mystery always remains a mystery. The basis of teaching about the Church is her perception that she is the mystical Body of Christ. Perplexities in understanding the Church will not be exhausted by formal catechetical definitions; for example, that the Church is a society of believers, united in one faith, etc. It is quite a jump from Metropolitan Philaret’s Catechism to the resolutions of Stockholm, Edinburgh, and Oxford 24 .
Metropolitan Anthony shared the viewpoint of the canons, conciliat resolutions, St. Cyprian of Carthage, and other Church Fathers in general. This same teaching is shared entirely by Roman Catholics as well whatever is not in agreement with the Church—founded on a unity of teachings and hierarchy—is not the Church. This is why the Metropolitan was so fond of the dissertation of Archimandrite Hilarion (Troitskii) and the teachings of A. S. Khomiakov.
Vladika always understood his prayer for the unity of the Church as a plea for the reconciliation of heretics and schismatics with the Orthodox Church. In this prayer he was close to the Roman Catholics. The Roman view was and is that the Church is one, for which reason Rome does not stand on an equal footing with Anglicans, Lutherans, and other Protestants. This is why Rome does not participate as an equal at ecumenical gatherings, but is present merely as an observer and as an uninvolved judge, making judgments not from the combinations and agreements of various errors, but from the viewpoint of a single, indisputable and never-changing Church position and Church criterion.
But Vladyka viewed Roman Catholicism in the same vein. For him, Rome was likewise heretical. He rejected everything about Catholics except for their right to be called heretics. For him, their sacraments were not sacraments. Their priesthood was not a true priesthood. Their hierarchy had no grace. He used a well-known aphorism that the Pope was a simple peasant.
In my opinion it is here that the Metropolitan failed to discern the basis of the ecumenical problem—that self-ordained Anglicans and schismatic Lutherans without bishops were one thing, but Rome was different. It had maintained the continuous apostolic primacy of its hierarchy, its patristic traditions, and its dogmatic unity. It had held to the communion of the saints, the veneration of the Mother of God (notwithstanding the development of a special cult with the teaching of the immaculate conception), and its sacraments (which we also recognize), along with the validity of miracles. As I see it, the true pain and wound in the ecclesiastical problem lies precisely in the question of our separation from Rome, not in our vain attempts to compromise or agree with the various self-proclaimed communities that have arisen out of Luther’s and Calvin’s breaks with the Roman Church.
Metropolitan Anthony did not distinguish between these two problems. He made the same judgments regarding the Latins as he did about Anglicans and Lutherans. The Metropolitan did not appreciate the urgency of the problem regarding Roman Catholicism and he disregarded I se and cautious study required to resolve it. By this I mean meetings conducted by genuine theologians in peaceful settings of unity, prayer and love.
But the state of “ecumenical” meetings today is deplorable, noisy gathering of all manner of activists lacking in theological authority, who meet without any common language of tradition or criteria, or any single plan or program. Attendees are people who are totally diverse in every way, placed on the same level—a Greek metropolitan, a liberalizing professor with a priestly title or simply a layman, an amateur church publicist lacking any claim to theological training, young students from Anglican colleges, young girls from nameless and mysterious world organizations, and official reviewers from the Intelligence Service. And all of them traveling at someone’s expense in sleeping cars and airplanes, staying in the best hotels, and announced by posters, brochures, speeches, meetings, etc. These meetings conclude with resolutions of some sort, premature recognitions of hierarchy and ordinations on the part of the Romanian Church or a liberalizing theologian from the Balkans—and all this in an atmosphere of international tension, a desire to guarantee one’s own boundaries and hastily acquired territories, a lust for oil and markets, and so on and so on.
This brand of ecumenism went against the late Metropolitan’s solid grounding in patristic and church tradition and it went against the thinking of Catholic theologians too, who could only look at this with condescension, awaiting a convenient moment at a point of dissolution of this artificial confluence in order to join some group of such activists to Rome. One could completely understand Vladika’s feeling of wariness and squeamishness toward all this noisy activity. But we can’t avoid regretting his total insensitivity toward the issue of separation with Rome. He placed Rome and Anglicanism on the same level.
The Metropolitan regarded the Church and its dogmas in terms of the ancient canons. In discussing the history of the Church, he always emphasized those past controversies and decisions that have been completely forgotten in modern times. He considered it possible to accept someone excluded by conciliar decision from ecclesiastical unity only through the established rites of repentance or chrismation. He was impressed by the fact that in the East among the Greeks (and among our Old Believers) there was still the exclusion from communion for three, five, seven or more years. He considered schismatics or heretics to be unquestionably outside the Church. For him, the Church was a mystical life of the sacraments, not a lifeless consistorial apparatus. As did St. Cyprian of Carthage he did not accept the term “re-baptism.” A heretic could only be baptized, not “re-baptized”, for there is no baptism outside the Church.
He enjoyed these ancient prohibitions of our canons regarding absolute uninvolvement in anything with schismatics or heretics. “Do not even partake of the common cup, even not to bathe together,” And whenever he would be asked the same question about salvation, whether or not various heterodox would be saved, he would respond, “…with God everything is possible.” While being incredibly merciful and condescending regarding personal sins and falls brought on by weakness (Dostoevsky’s influence), he was absolutely rigid and principled and narrow-minded to the extreme when it came to questions of confessionalism or church canons.
But Vladyka Anthony did not remain a consistent follower of his canonical principles. In Constantinople, at the beginning of the emigration, he disapproved of the plan by Archbishop Benjamin (Fedchenkov) to organize the Supreme Church Authority outside of Russia, which would be under the Ecumenical Patriarch. But later, under the influence of his gloomy political social circle he at first organized his own administration on Yugoslav territory with a Synod and a Council (greatly undermining the Serbian Church and provoking Patriarch Varnava’s great displeasure, which he mentioned to me a number of times), and then extended his rule over all of Europe and even the whole world, without any consideration of the canonical tradition regarding the prerogatives of the Ecumenical Throne 25 .
But I don’t intend to deal with this question here. I just wish to recall that the Metropolitan introduced an atmosphere of conciliar prohibitions, canonical decrees, etc. into the very provincial conflict of our emigre community. The Karlovci Synod deemed itself to be the only correct one, and as proof of its correctness and power, started forbidding, excommunicating, and, most important of all, uttering horrible things about the invalidity of sacraments performed in Evlogii’s churches and so on. How many souls were confused by this! How many hearts were denied the comfort of the Church for long periods! The Metropolitan was inconsistent and illogical regarding this issue.
He loudly proclaimed our emigre ecclesiastical conflict to be a schism and his councils the same significance as the ancient councils – but that was a time when people and circumstances were totally different in spirit and in culture. He looked for Athanasius and Gregory in the environment of our ecclesiastical divisions and was supported in his actions and ideas by poor advisers who later changed colors and betrayed him. Thus began these polemics, so memorable to all, and which were supported by appeals to the councils of the fifth and sixth centuries, conciliar decrees, and quotations from the Church Fathers.
The Metropolitan and the irresponsible advisers surrounding him spoke extensively about the absence of grace among the “Evlogians.” The Metropolitan conducted a second funeral (clearly, without the body) at the Belgrade church for the Empress Maria Fedorovna (mother of Nicholas II), since he considered a funeral conducted by Metropolitan Evlogii to be invalid. This memory alone is terrible! And it was at this point that I (already an archimandrite) had a major confrontation with the Metropolitan, since I refused to participate in this funeral, after which he rebuked me. He threatened that the late Empress would appear to me that very night like the Queen of Spades. I have to admit that the comparison was inappropriate and the spirit in which it was expressed was one of irritation. Jupiter was angry. But was he correct? Such was the attitude he took.
That he didn’t think that way himself is evident from the numerous conversations I had with him in private, in a peaceful and congenial atmosphere. Thus, for instance, when one of our former students had gone to Paris and was married there, one of the young people reported this to the Metropolitan and asked him if the person was married, or if this was a wedding lacking grace.
The Metropolitan, smoothing out his beard and frowning, said through clenched teeth: “How stupid. Of course, he’s married. A couple of old fools got into a fight, making a mountain out of a molehill.”
This really sums up Anthony with his inconsistency.
Even better evidence of his attitude was the scene of his “reconciliation” with Metropolitan Evlogii, who had come to Belgrade in 1933 asking for Anthony’s forgiveness. Those who were present would recall this scene with tears. Two elderly hierarchs were lying at each other’s feet, asking for forgiveness and demanding that each read the prayer of absolution over the other. This was truly a scene from an ancient paterikon.
But along with this, during this whole dismal period of the “schism,’ he would insist on “repentance” for the sin of “Evlogianism” and would demand that clergy coming from Metropolitan Evlogii’s jurisdictior renounce their errors, only then receiving them through penance.
Laying aside the actual question of the “schism” in its essence, i.e. if Anthony was right in disobeying Patriarch Tikhon’s decree, or was Evlogii who had accepted this decree but continued his submission to the Synod in Sremski Karlovci, subsequently leaving it and remaining in a false position after his rejection of Moscow, whose authority he had been constantly encouraging everyone to accept — I will only say that both Metropolitans were inconsistent. Evlogii corrected his situation only when he remembered that the Ecumenical Throne is the protector and head in Western Europe, beyond the boundaries of autocephalous churches (such as the Russian, Serbian, Greek, and Romanian Churches). This act of Metropolitan Evlogii was historic and unforgettable 26. It is regretful that toward the end of his life he was persuaded by advisors to rush off to Moscow, for which, however, he bitterly repented on his deathbed. Submission to Constantinople was the only possible and correct solution to our exilic church existence. Had it been decided upon early, or rather had it been the starting point back in 1920, there would not have been any schisms, temptations, blasphemous words, or disappointments.
I will say, finally, that Metropolitan Anthony, a man of the Church to the utmost, thought in terms of the canons, conciliarity, and patristic traditions, and started applying these principles to life. He applied them unconditionally and conspicuously, totally forgetting that the environment in which he was functioning had long forgotten all these principles and was completely untutored canonically. He did not take into account the historically changed conditions. He wished to subordinate a totally secularized society to the ancient canonical principles of the Church, Russians who were just awakening from a lengthy synodal hibernation simply could not handle canons and councils.
I have digressed somewhat from the chronological order of this account, so I will now return to the thread of my memoirs. In June 1925, I received my theology degree. It was time for me to seek a position. In principle I had already made two decisions: I was to proceed with teaching at a seminary and eventually become ordained to the priesthood.
I was the first Russian theology graduate from Belgrade University, and there weren’t even many Serbs in the program yet. Furthermore, there weren’t that many students aspiring to be religious scholars. I applied to the Ministry of Religion for a position as seminary instructor. The Serbo-Croat-Slovenian Kingdom had five seminaries—in Sremski Karlovci, Prizren,
Saraievo, Cetinje, and Bitola. The official who received my application asked which seminary I preferred, assuming that I would ask for either Karlovci, which was the Patriarch’s residence and was the closest to Belgrade (merely an hour and a quarter ride), or for Sarajevo, the very pleasant capital of Bosnia, whose seminary had an excellent reputation. He was quite surprised when I asked for southern Serbia (i.e. Macedonia, in plain language), and, specifically, Bitola.
I had given this a lot of thought, and what I wanted was to go as far as possible from Belgrade and spend time quietly in the backwoods, thinking over my acceptance of ordination. The second reason was that in Bitola I knew the seminary instructor Archimandrite Nicholas (Karpov), a former student of the Moscow Theological Academy, who was later to tonsure me a monk. Besides, I had some kind of inexplicable desire, going back to my childhood and the Balkan Wars, to live in a town with such an attractive Greek name meaning “Monastery.”
The application was accepted, but I had to wait a very long time. The ministries barely functioned during the summer, as the oriental principle of yavash-yavash (i.e., little by little, or in Serbian po laku-po laku) flourished to the utmost. Moreover around the end of summer there was a celebration in Cetinje on the occasion of the transfer of the relics of Negosh, the Metropolitan of Cetinje and a famous Serbian poet, author of “Crown of the Mountains.” All of the ministers, including the King himself left for the celebrations, and nobody could be bothered with appointing new seminary instructors.
I was bored and had nothing to do in my uncertainty. In addition, my Belgrade years had already passed—a certain page of my life had been turned. This had been a very bright and radiant page, but one that was past, and a new chapter had to be started. There was much in Belgrade that
burdened me, reminding me of things I wanted to forget. My friends were getting ready for a conference of student groups taking place at the Khopovo Monastery, which was connected to our whole life in Belgrade. I had decided not to go to the conference. Many interesting people were attending, such as Metropolitan Anthony, Mother Catherine, Fr. Sergius Bulgakov, Fr. Justin Popovich, and a great many of my friends. On Saturday I was standing in the altar of the Russian church during vigil. Suddenly I was told that Professor S. S. Bezobrazov of the Theological Institute in Paris, who had until then been living in Belgrade, wished to see me. He was on his way to the conference in Khopovo.
I was very glad that Sergei Sergeevich had come, as I liked him immensely. He said that the Theological Institute was offering me a chance to be his assistant in preparation for a teaching position in Liturgies. The offer was exceedingly tempting. I’d be getting an opportunity to prepare for a professorship immediately upon graduation and to live in Paris working in the company of Fr. Sergius Bulgakov, Professors Kartashov, Zenkovskii, S.S. Bezobrazov, and all of my friends from Belgrade, who were gradually moving to Paris. But on the other hand there was the application that I had already submitted to work in Serbia, the seminary, the little Macedonian town, the remoteness, and, of course, the absence of any link to Europe and, perhaps, a final break with everyone I had cherished all these years.
I had to make a decision. My initial decision about the seminary was bolstered by a feeling of moral obligation to repay the Serbs for what they had spent on me. I wanted to repay the Serbian people and the King in some manner for saving my life and giving me the opportunity to become a human being. But then there were the preparation for a faculty position in either Paris or Oxford, the opportunity to obtain a degree without delay, and life in the center of world culture and the Russian diaspora.
In the morning I decided to take the first train to Khopovo, and to ask the advice, first of all, of Metropolitan Anthony, Fr. Alexei Nelyubov, and Fr. Peter Belovidov, who were my spiritual guides and friends, as well as of Fr. Sergius Bulgakov, and my brother-in-law, who had also gone to the conference to hear and see the proceedings.
I made it to Khopovo, having walked the ten miles from the station, by the end of liturgy. As soon as it ended I was able to see all the necessary people, but I couldn’t settle on a decision right away. Essentially, only Fr. Sergius Bulgakov was for my going to Paris. Fr. Alexei was both for and against it. And I have to say that I totally shared his misgivings and his desires. Fr. Peter didn’t express a decisive “no,” but I knew that he did not sympathize with Paris, with the Theological Institute, or with my invitation to go there. My brother-in law was also reserved, but didn’t express his opinion so as not to constrain me. The final arbitrator, Metropolitan Anthony, was the only one left.
“Yes, yes, my dear. The Theological Institute has made you an offer. Of course, that’s where you belong, since you’re a man of learning and books. Of course, this is very good for you. But still, it would be better for you to do some teaching at an intermediate school, at a seminary. The seminary will teach you a lot more, both about life issues and about theological subjects themselves. At seminary you’ll have to teach Holy Scripture, History, Liturgies, etc., while at the Institute you’ll become a dry and narrow specialist. If you’ll be teaching history, then you’ll become an expert on Charlemagne, or on Arianism, and if you’ll be teaching dogmatics, you’ll start wotking on one particular issue and will end up withered away.”
It was hard for me to reach a final decision that day, but still, by evening, somewhat uncertainly, I told Fr. Sergius “no.” I know that he was very disappointed, since he liked me and wanted to see me in Paris.
I believe that the Metropolitan, who never did definitely give me his final opinion, was against my going to Metropolitan Evlogii. I also think that he wasn’t totally free in advising me. It later became clear to me that people close to me had expressed their wariness and reluctance toward my move to Paris. And I think as well, and, in fact I’m certain, that these people were right. Going to Paris then would not have been beneficial to me. I needed to complete my Middle Eastern journey, and I must say that Providence laid out a most important and fascinating route for me, which included Macedonia, Palestine, Egypt, and back to Macedonia. And later, when circumstances changed drastically, and when I attained maturity and underwent some change, I ended up in Paris at the very same Theological Institute.
That night I walked among the grapevines to the station with pain and bitterness, sensing that I had decisively turned my ship in a very uncertain direction, but that it would be in different waters for a long period. With this decision in Khopovo I burned my bridges. A month later I was appointed to Bitola and left for wild and unfamiliar Macedonia. It was still a land of bandits (kachaks), and the land of Leontiev, situated close to Greece. This was a special chapter in my life.
But now I’ll continue my tale of Metropolitan Anthony.
My departure to Bitola naturally lessened my connection with Vladyka. The new environment, the new activity, and new people pointed the course of my thoughts and interests in a new direction. Rather than meeting weekly with the Metropolitan in church and visiting him frequently at his apartment, I could only correspond occasionally with him. This was both difficult and awkward. I was somehow ashamed of bothering the old man with my immature letters and seminary concerns, especially since he would respond to each letter right away. But I still wrote him about the seminarians, the subjects that were being taught, and about the whole environment.
During the first year of my teaching, I had to take on moral theology, which always seemed to me to be a difficult subject for the instructor and an uninteresting one for the students. We did not have, and still don’t have, our own purely Orthodox system of moral theology. Everything boils down to a scholastic system and to a listing of virtues and sins with respect to God, neighbor, and oneself. Metropolitan Anthony disdainfully called it “sin-ology.” Our textbooks exuded boredom and dryness. No matter how many times this subject was taught, everyone had unpleasant memories about it. This subject could neither inspire nor enthrall. If the preaching of Christ and the apostles attracted thousands, if the example of the workers of piety of ancient Christianity gave rise to generations of followers and disciples, the courses at seminaries and academies brought on incredible tedium and stuffiness.
Solyarsky’s seminary course, the “System” of Bishop Stephen of Kursk, and the textbooks of Olesnitsky, Bronzov, and Yanyshev could drive away any desire to be moral, if this “morality” could be understood as Christian life and action. The giant tome by the Protestant theologian Martinson was no better. I wrote about all of this to Anthony, complaining to him and recalling his discourses and ideas. I recall that he recommended An Outline of Christian Moral Teaching by Theophan the Recluse. This helped me a great deal, for which I was very indebted both to the Metropolitan and to the Recluse himself, whom I generally don’t care for and who did not fascinate me (except for his wonderful commentaries on the Epistles). I especially like the fact that it presented not a scholastic understanding of virtues and sins as good or evil actions, but rather as conditions of the soul. At one point, when I was still a student, Vladyka Anthony said that 1 theology should be taught from the Philokalia. and the Lenten Triodian.This, of course, was a narrow view. These books are fine for asceticism, but moral theology is not limited to asceticism.
I was quite glad to be rid of the “moralka”, as my students called Moral Theology, in my second year of teaching at the seminary, and to stay with Apologetics, which I increasingly turned into religious philosophy. I also taught Greek, which I learned to love at that time intensely and for the rest of my life.
In extra-curricular matters I tried to follow Vladyka’s advice, because he had also been a teacher. I recalled his stories about his closeness to students and seminarians. Of course, the Serbian environment is essentially different from our Russian one. The Serbian seminarians did not have those attitudes which inspired the young Hieromonk and Archimandrite Anthony Khrapovitsky. These were the Balkans, which had just endured three wars— the Turkish War of 1910, the Balkan War of 1912, and the Great War of 1914-1918. But generally I tried to be guided by Vladyka’s advice. I adopted his faith in young hearts and minds. Of course, there was a vast distance between the “Great Abba” Anthony and the meager instructor. But I still made many lasting friendships with both Russian and Serbian seminarians. For a long time afterwards, I would meet my former students in Belgrade, or in a railroad train or some village, and I don’t remember any negative encounters.
I would remain in Bitola for Christmas, while for Pascha and summer vacation I would go to Belgrade. But I was so captivated by my new activity that I could hardly wait for summer to end and I would try to return to the seminary and to “my” Bitola, which had quickly become mine, two or three days early. This partly demolished city, which was full of Greek and Turkish memories, attracted me with strong bonds of love through its certain hints of Leontiev.
I first went from Bitola to Belgrade for Pascha of 1926. Archimandrite Nicholas came with me. I had already decided to be tonsured, and Fr. Nicholas was very supportive. I arrived at this decision upon thinking over my life during my student years as an emigre. But now, looking back, I will say that my decision had something to do with a certain amount of influence on the part of Anthony himself, and from conversations with Fr. Nicholas, and with my correspondence with Bishop Theophan of Poltava, who made me a recipient of his trust and love. Ascetical considerations were, of course, very significant. But probably the most decisive factor was my somewhat pessimistic attitude, which was inherent in me. A certain lack of taste for life appeared, a sensation of some kind of blandness and pointlessness. I now see that with such attitudes one doesn’t take decisive steps toward the priesthood, let alone toward monasticism. But at that time no one could have ever changed my mind anyway. As in many situations in life, I needed my own authentic experience rather than the advice of others, even if they were a hundred times wiser.
At any rate, I went to the Metropolitan during Holy Week and told him of my desire. I was sure that he would shower me with kisses right away and would be unspeakably delighted with my decision. How could it be otherwise? Aren’t we talking about Anthony? Not to tonsure a young man?
And as strange as it was, the Metropolitan, who never discouraged anyone from monasticism, told me to wait. How long? Well, at least a year… And so I returned to Bitola.
The winter of the 1926-1927 academic year was the last one of my secular life. In the fall, as I began the academic year, I didn’t know that I would finish it in holy orders. Until Christmas, I was still unsure of my future. It all happened almost automatically. The holidays were very lively, with the Russian community having many gatherings. This was a rather large community, thanks to the fact that the town and its surroundings drew in a large number of Russian engineers, doctors, teachers, surveyors, and just plain refugees. But I didn’t do much visiting, except for two or three homes—and even this was done reluctantly. The seminary fascinated me. I worked a lot on Greek, comparing service book translations with the originals, studied Holy Scripture, read Theophan’s commentaries on St. Paul’s Epistles, and ordered many books from Herder in Austria and from Foch in Germany, supplementing my education without any particular system at that point. By the way, I worked a lot on the epiclesis issue, about which I later wrote in Serbian journals as well as in my book The Eucharist, in 1946.
But after the Christmas holidays everything suddenly changed. It if something ruptured inside. And, most importantly, there was a growing sense that something had ended in my life—everything around me came uninteresting. Books, the church, and the seminary gave me a great deal, but it seemed to me then that everything would retain a certain emptiness. Had I not been in remote and snow-covered Bitola, but in Paris, with its interests in ecclesiastical scholarship, events would probably have taken a different turn. On January 17, which was the commemoration of St. Anthony the Great, I went into the Metropolitanate to see Bishop Joseph, with whom I had had a cool relationship at the time. I didn’t understand him, and he would offend me with his attacks against Russians. I was very nationalistic then, which was something that completely wore away later, after Jerusalem. He could see how I felt, and made me endure his attacks even more, while I withdrew from him. So, in a word, I went to the Metropolitan and handed him a request to be tonsured. He took this with irony, but accepted the request, gave his blessing, and even showered me with kisses. I asked to be tonsured at the Milkovo Russian monastery in the Branicevo Diocese. I wanted to be tonsured in an atmosphere of touching Russian traditions, melodies, and among my own people. Was this correct? Does it matter where and how one should renounce “the beauties of the world”? And was it a true renunciation?
My correspondence with Metropolitan Anthony, with Bishop Mitrofan of Branicevo, and with various vestment makers took up a lot of my time. I asked to leave early for Pascha. By the fifth week of Lent I was already in Belgrade getting fitted for my cassock and riasa, klobuk, and mantiia. Everything seemed predestined. Once a decision has been made, once everything has been said and set down on paper, the whole matter moves along and the choice that has been made must be followed.
I didn’t stay long in Belgrade, and left for Milkovo soon after. The night before my departure, in the habitual and familiar atmosphere in our apartment on Pristina Street, I recall being attacked by a spell of doubt, almost a protest. I was frightened, I wavered. I was sitting on my bed, and my friends could see that I wasn’t well. I remember how a compassionate soul, who always and everywhere looked over me and shared my pain, asked me uncertainly:
“Maybe it’d be better to wait? Maybe later—this summer or in another year?” “What difference will it make, if I take this step now or in another year? Since I need to do this, I should do it sooner.”
“Yes, my dear, but you can’t undo this. You can’t make such a decision in such a condition.”
That wasn’t an easy evening. But it, too, came to an end.
The following days in Milkovo were even more difficult. This was an almost unbearable moral torture. And since I don’t even want to think back to it, I’ll leave out the details.
In brief, here’s what happened. I was unusually depressed during the days before the tonsuring (five or six in all). I was seized by terror—literally, terror. What am I doing? Fool that I am, where am I rushing off to?
Besides the usual mood before being tonsured (many testify to this), which was a mood of uncertainty and doubt, I was seized by a dread of the communal life of a monastery. It wasn’t the prospect of renouncing everything and not being able to own anything in the future or of always eating Lenten food. It was the fact that living in a monastery meant being engaged in cheerless physical labor, it meant being surrounded by illiterate peasants, it meant being interested only in today’s meal, monastery news, tomorrow’s serving schedule, etc.
I was not accustomed to this world and to these interests, and didn’t wish to become accustomed. Physical labor was always repugnant to me. I was never able to weed the garden, get involved in mowing hay, harvesting grain, or planting potatoes. And in days gone by on the Seja I would be bored by the constant worried glances at the barometer to see if it was rising or falling, from all the talk about Zneika starting to limp, about the bay mare getting pregnant, Vesenok packing his withers, etc. I always enjoyed the country, but not as a slave to a farm and landowning agrarian routine. I always despised “summer residents” who can’t tell wheat from rye, who don’t know how to harness a horse or oil a wheel on a cart, and so on. But along with this I could never be enthralled by the earth, pigs, horses, or crops.
Neither was I ever a populist. Therefore the monastery, as a concentration of farming interests, as a world of peasanrs, was essentially foreign to me, which was true of Milkovo (except for Fr. Amvrosy, the abbot) and, I guess, most of our Russian monasteries, with the exception of the Optina Skete, where Church Fathers were translated and books were written. At that time, without thinking about what I later was to think, speak, and write, i.e. about the kind of monastery life that the Benedictines and Dominicans had, I felt this very deeply with my inner being and felt sick over it.Besides, and this is the most important factor, I had absolutely no experience of obedience in a monastery. As all Russian scholarly monks, I was accepting the tonsure straight “from my worldly nature.” I wasn’t taught by a single wise and consistent abbot. I hadn’t undergone that psychoanalysis which needs to be undergone by anyone who decides to venture upon the path of spiritual life and who hadn’t experienced the school of obedience in the garden, in the sewing room, in the kitchen, etc., which is necessary for us unskilled monks with “scholarly” credentials. I found myself in an excessively “crushed” environment. I both wanted it and disliked it in principle. I wanted the quiet monastery environment of a Benedictine monastery, with its library, with its scholars and intelligent priors, and with its own journal, a seminary within the same monastery, visits by various intelligent and scholarly prelates, abbots, and so on.
I spent these days before my tonsuring simply in a condition of hostility and hatred for this way of life — for the garden, the filthy cells, the conversations about what Fr. Makari said and what Fr. Iuvenali answered, rather than about the Holy Scriptures and Migne’s Patrology.
Between services in the cold church and work in the garden (it was late March) I walked around in the doldrums, dispirited, and, as I recall, calling upon God to somehow put an end to this torture. Let them tonsure me anytime and I’ll return right away to the seminary, where there are books and students, where I’ll be serving. I’ll start living in a new way.
Sergei Anisimov, a former seminary student of mine, was a sympathetic witness to all my tribulations. Several years prior to that he had himself been to Mount Athos, got to see the monasteries there, and had thought qite a bit about monasticism. Seeing my inner turmoil, and getting to the bottom of what was wrong with me and what had happened, he had a very deep compassion for me. I told him about my doubts, about my inner heaviness, about my rejection of this whole atmosphere and mostly this peasant mentality. He was a great help. But things followed their course.
Archimandrite Nicholas, whom Metropolitan Anthony appointed to perform the tonsure, arrived. Bishop Mitrofan of Branicevo, who wanted to be present at the event, was due to arrive on Friday of the sixth week of Great Lent.
I remember how I burned all my worldly “mementos” and memorabilia, from which it was hard from me to part. I see in this, as well, how incorrectly matters were proceeding. Ail of this was somehow contrived, external, not coming from within, and not a result of a process of inner maturation, experienced and forged in monastery silence.
Even now I recall that time with feelings of oppression and anguish. I can see how wrongly our Russian tonsuring procedure takes place away from a learned monastery, away from one’s own congenial atmosphere. Later on, from many conversations, from reading many books, the Church Fathers, ascetic anthologies, reminiscences, and so on, I came to understand how incorrectly we deal with this matter. And my later familiarity in the West with such monasteries as Solemme, Solchoire, Amais, and others has reinforced my view.
But enough of these details from my final day in the world. Compline began at the usual time, followed by Matins of Lazarus Saturday. Before that I had confession with my elder, Fr. Amvrosii. By the way, there was a temptation even here. Up until the last day I hadn’t yet selected a spiritual guide for myself in my new life. I had been thinking about someone entirely different, and fortunately God spared me from him, since later on our paths went in diametrically opposite directions. Fr. Amvrosy was a very simple person, having great integrity, full of kindness and acceptance of Anthony’s concept of the priesthood as compassion for one’s neighbor. He had graduated from Warsaw University in philology, and before that had been a seminarian.
The Great Doxology began. Then came the heart-wrenching and unforgettable strains of “The Father’s Embrace.”
I won’t describe the rite of tonsuring, which everyone knows.
Of course, I didn’t know my future name. I had wanted to be either Philaret, or Nicodemos, or Alexios. Actually, I was passive in my expectations here as well. I had no idea what destiny awaited me. Archimandrite Nicholas, a lover of unexpected names, wanted to name me Kuksha, and only the objection of Metropolitan Anthony, to whom he had told this before leaving for the monastery, spared me from this non-euphonic name. As it turned Anthony himself chose my name. He vacillated between Clement (in honor of Clement of Ohrid) and Kyprian.
He explained his choice himself. St. Clement, a disciple of Saints Cyril and Metethodius, had his see in Ohrid, very close to Bitola. And Serbian-born Kyprian was Metropolitan of Kiev.
“So, it all works out. Here’s a Russian who has come to the Serbs; he’s serving with them, and perhaps he might even become a Serbian bishop.”
The Metropolitan’s guess was quite correct.
In general, my life contains some very significant dates and heavenly protectors. I was actually born on the day of Saints Cyril and Methodius (May 11, old style), which is also the commemoration of St. Nicodemus, Archbishop of Serbia (d. 1325). This was also the date Constantinople was founded. My original name was Constantine, in honor of the founder of Byzantium and a native of Nis, which is now in Serbia. I was tonsured with the name of Serbian-born St. Kyprian, Metropolitan of Kiev and a disciple of Patriarch Philotheos and probably of Gregory Palamas, whose writings I worked on a great deal. And much of my life was spent in Serbia, and, in any case, my spiritual pursuits began there. Later, in 1933 Patriarch Varnava, who had liked and favored me, nominated me as a candidate for the Serbian episcopate, which I refused—for which he gently kidded and rebuked me afterwards. And quite often my Serbian friends would say to me in friendly discussions:
“Well, you Russians owe us one Kyprian. We gave you one of ours, who became your primate, and now it’s your turn to pay us back.”
And so, I heard spoken over me at the proper moment:
“Our brother Kyprian is tonsured…”
And so I became Kyprian, or, as I was more often called by simple Russians, Kuprian. But I could have been Kuksha.
I was tonsured on April 3, the feast day of St. Titus. At the proper niornent Fr. Nicholas addressed me with an instructional homily, which, in spite of my good memory, I have forgotten. But I do remember that the main theme was what we had talked about a number of times—namely, that there doesn’t exist, and shouldn’t exist, any learned monasticism. He decisively rejected this activity and in no way sympathized with my tendencies toward scholarly seclusion, toward the Benedictine way—needless to say, in an Orthodox incarnation.
This homily stung me at the time, but the situation was such that everything became forgotten in comparison with the moment I was experiencing. I was left by myself. It was a bit cold. I opened a small window by the kliros. The stars were twinkling and the apple trees were blooming. I can still sense their gentle aroma. I also remember very clearly that in the forest, right behind the altar, a nightingale was singing. This singing was intermingled with the sound of the deep Morava, flowing right beside the monastery. I shut the window. From time to time I would fix the burning lampada, wrap myself in my mantiya, and would straighten out my oversized klobuk, which kept sliding over my eyes. At midnight Fr. Nicholas and Fr. Amvrosy came in and, following the unwritten monastic tradition, sang “Behold, the Bridegroom Comes at Midnight” to me. I stayed alone until morning. I clearly remember one thing—I had a terrible desire not to live, I wanted death, and my soul was so inexpressibly at peace.
I stayed at the monastery only till the next day, which, to be honest, made me very happy. Along with Fr. Nicholas and Fr. Theodosius (Fedya) I took the daytime train to Belgrade. For vigil I was in my own Belgrade church. Archbishop Anastassy, who always appealed to me because of his great style, celebrated the vigil service. I had no idea that very soon my destiny would be closely linked with him.
Metropolitan Anthony remained in Karlovci. The question came up about my ordination to the diaconate. The Metropolitans cell attendant, the famous Fedya, conveyed to the Archbishop Metropolitan Anthony’s verbal wish to have me ordained at Liturgy on the very next day, i.e. on Palm Sunday. The Archbishop, however, being a strict observer of rules, refused to do this without a formal written request by the Metropolitan, for which I gave him a great deal of credit, since I always liked form and legality while disliking formalism and legalism. It was decided that I would go to Karlovci together with the same Fedya to have the Metropolitan ordain me with his own hand at Karlovci. We took the night train and made it to the patriarchal residence. I remember my first appearance to the Metropolitan as well.
He was already getting ready for bed. It was after midnight. Over his cassock the Metropolitan was wearing some sort of pink flannel pajamas, since it was still quite cold, which made Vladyka’s whole appearance domestic and cozy (and where did he get such pajamas, unforeseen by the Typicon ?!). I came up to him and “performed a prescribed metanie”, i. e. a full reverence. I was afraid of stumbling and getting stuck in the hem of my cassock, which was quite long, even for my height.
“Well, well, my dear. One, two… Looks like you didn’t get stuck in our new vesture. Oh, my dearest. So, what is your name, brother?”
“Sinful Kyprian, Holy Master.”
“Good, good. May you be saved in the angelic order. And are you happy with your name?”
“Yes, Vladyka, very happy. Thank you.”
“Good, good. So the Serbs gave us one Kyprian, and now we are also returning one to them.”
“Yes, Vladyka, but they gave us Saint Kyprian, and look what we’re giving back to them.”
Vladyka inimitably smiled in the Antonian manner.
“And do you know that Fr. Nicholas wanted to name you Kuksha? But I stood up for you. So this means you’re happy?”
But in spite of my rejection of the Milkovo style and my joy over leaving that un-Benedictine atmosphere, I still had a feeling gnawing at my heart of a certain discomfort, a rebuke that I hadn’t stayed in the church the prescribed three days. I told this to the Metropolitan.
“Well, that’s all right. It was the same with me. And so I’m spending my whole life pushing my way through the crowded marketplace. And that’s how you’ll be spending your monasticism in the world.”
I didn’t understand then how difficult this would be, and how poorly I would be spending it.
“So tomorrow I’ll be ordaining you as hierodeacon. Only tomorrow before liturgy you’ll have to go to His Grace Maximilian and get his blessing. And right now, go with Fedya to read the monastic rule.”
In the morning I saw the Patriarch’s Vicar, Bishop Maximilian (Khaidin), and at the appointed time at liturgy, in St. Nicholas Cathedral, I was ordained hierodeacon. It’s customary among Serbs for the newly-Or dained to say not the litany “Having partaken…,” but the Litany of Supplication before the Lord’s Prayer, i. e. “Having remembered all the Saints….” I said the litany without a hitch, which later brought the Metropolitan’s praise.
“It’s as if you’ve been serving as a deacon for many years. You said it confidently and well.”
I was afraid of having some problem with the choir, such as not being on pitch or making some musical gaffe, but here, too, everything went well.
Walking through the royal gates was awesome. But, in general, my ordination to the diaconate didn’t leave me as shaken as did my tonsuring, and even more so, my ordination to the priesthood. I was still living with the memory of the quiet night following my tonsure. There was no more trace of the doubts and agony of the final days before I was made a monk. My heart was calm, and even empty. There was a feeling that something had passed by, something had poured out of my heart, and something new had commenced. My desire not to live continued. And I think that had I encountered death in those days, I would have done so easily and without any doubts.
After liturgy the vicar bishop invited me to sit at the Patriarchs table as well. This was a rather perceptible contrast—dinner at the Karlovci Patriarch’s table as compared with the poverty of Milkovo, and with those promises that I had just given. I can’t avoid lingering over the atmosphere at the Sremski Karlovci patriarchal residence. Prior to that I had never been inside this palace, viewing it only from the outside. I had never gone beyond Metropolitan Anthony’s quarters. The yard of the estate contained the “Old Patriarchate”, which was much more modest and cozy, while the large palace with its gaping corridors, colonnades, stairs, sculptures, private quarters, etc. did not conform to the idea of a bishop’s residence. I have no idea what the residences of the Metropolitans of St. Petersburg or Kiev in their lavras looked like, but I can assume with confidence that they lacked such worldly splendor, furnishings, and luxury. It was here that the Hapsburgs decided to flatter the Orthodox and curry favor with a large portion of their citizens, many of whom were immigrants to their lands fleeing Turkish brutality. The great migration of Orthodox Serbs took place, as we know, over the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries during the time of the Patriarchs of Pec, Arsenius III Charnoevich, and Arsenius IV Shakabent. The Hapsburgs set aside Mount Frus in Srem for the establishment of a “Serbian Mount Athos.” Over fifteen monasteries were built on the picturesque plains and on the sides of this attractive, forest- and grapevine-covered mountain, which is actually a low-lying extended hill about 25 miles long. Men’s monasteries flourished there with bountiful properties, exemplary farming, beautiful furnishings, and well-stocked libraries—all in solidly constructed buildings with vaulted cells. All this has been preserved to this day. Only one thing was lacking – monks. This wasn’t a desert, these were empty buildings. At best each of these three-story monasteries contained an abbot and one or two novices. This was pitiful testimony to past wealth and the flowering of spiritual culture.
The focal point around which these monasteries flourished was the Patriarchate in Karlovci. There, what caught the eye wasn’t simply wealth, was the palatial splendor. The Patriarch’s quarters on the second floor were overburdened with resplendent and luxurious decorations. The rooms of individual metropolitans and bishops who would come for church councils, as well as the refectory, were also amazing in their decor. The refectory contained a very wide dinner table covered by a tablecloth with woven coats of arms. The dishes and crystal had patriarchal coats of arms, and there were uniformed menservants. Exquisite food and fine local wines were served. After a meal, coffee was served in the adjoining room. There was, of course, no monastic atmosphere.
Bishop Maximilian was very hospitable and friendly. He received his guest like a host who had been raised in this palace and probably didn’t give this courtly decor a second thought. After the meal Fedya, with the vicar’s permission, showed me the whole palace, starting with the small chapel and concluding with the throne rooms and the Patriarchs reception rooms. I only remember that there was a blue, a red, and a yellow room, as well as a smoking (!) room, and everything was like that. Staring from the walls out of golden frames were former patriarchs from the Hapsburg era wearing riasas out of watered silk and red beanies like Catholic prelates, and all of them with medals.
Later on, already as an archimandrite, I often visited this palace to see Patriarch Varnava, who liked me, paying me special attention and even nominating me to be his vicar. Unlike Patriarch Dimitri, who hadn’t liked the Karlovci palace, he came there often, stayed there for long periods, and this splendor apparently encouraged his imperial tendencies. But I always felt uncomfortable in these luxurious and resplendent quarters. It was first of all obvious that this decor was inappropriate for an Orthodox hierarch, and with its lack of spirituality did not conform to the asceticism and monastic humility which in our understanding are attributes of a hierarch. I don’t know if these attributes were always present at the Metropolitan’s quarters and at the Lavra, but I do believe they didn’t have the pseudo-palatial style of Karlovci.
Translated by Fr. Alexander Lisenko
- Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodskii) was never part of the “Living Church” group, which was organized by V. D. Kransnitskii within the renovationist movement, and which was very hostile toward learned monasticism. On June 3/16, 1922, as Metropolitan of Vladimir, he issued a declaration recognizing the canonicity of the renovationist leandership. In September, 1922 he issued a protest against decisions made by the “Living Church” group, and warned of a break in Church relations with its members. In December, 1922, the renovationists sent a new bishop, Seraphim Ruzhentsov, to Vladimir, confirming Bishop Sergius’ final break with them. On August 28, 1923, Bishop Sergius reunited with the Russian Orthodox Church. On that day, dressed as a simple monk, he offered repentance before the Holy Patriarch Tikhon at the Donskoy Monastery. ↩
- What a delightful head! ↩
- Hieromartyr Archbishop Hilarion (Vladimir Alexeyevich Troitskii) (1886-1929) became archimandrite in 1913, and was consecrated Bishop of Vereisk in 1920. He died of typhus in the hospital of the Leningrad “The Crosses” Prison. ↩
- Mitrofan Muretov, (1850-1917) taught at the Moscow Theological Academy. ↩
- Alexei Lebedev (d. 1910) taught Church History at the Moscow Theological Academy. ↩
- Evgenii Golubinsii (1834-1912) was a full professor “in ordinary” at the Moscow Theological Academy and an academician. ↩
- Vasilii Kliucheskii (1841-1911) was an academician of the Imperial Academy of Sciences “in ordinary”, a Doctor in Russian History, and a full professor “in ordinary” of the Imperial Moscow University and the Moscow Theological Academy. ↩
- Philaret (Drozdov) (1821-1867) was Metropolitan of Moscow, and Philaret (Amfiteatrov) (1779-1857), Metropolitan of Kiev and Galicia. ↩
- Archpriest Peter Delitsyn (d. 1863) translated works of the Church Fathers. ↩
- Peter Kazanskii (1819-1878) was a professor at the Moscow Theological Academy. ↩
- This refers to measures aimed at reforming the Theological Academies undertaken by the Holy Synod between 1908 and 1912. First, there was an inspection of the Theological Academies, with Bishop Dimiti (Kavalnitskii) of Cherson inspecting the Moscow and St. Petersburg Academies; Archbishop Arsenii (Stadnitskii) of Pskov inspecting the Kazan Academy; and Archbishop Anthony (Khrapovitskii) of Volhynia inspecting the Kiev Academy. As a result, the statute of the Academies was revised and the faculty members came under review. The new statute gave great priority to religious training and discipline. Students and professors were obliged to attend all services regularly and to observe the Church fasts. The role of diocesan bishops in making personnel changes was increased, and a goal was set to decrease the number of secular instructors. These efforts by the Holy Synod to reform the Academies led to the dismissal of many professors. Liberals referred to this as “the sacking of the Theological Academies ↩
- This was a political organization of Monarchists founded in October 1905 to combat revolution and to promote the restoration and defense of czarist autocracy. ↩
- This was a Monarchist culture-promoting society founded in St. Petersburg on January 26, 1901. ↩
- Vekhi (Signposts ) was a collection of articles published in 1909. The authors (P B. Struve, N. A. Berdiaev, S. K. Bulgakov, M. O. Gershenso Izgoev (A. S. Lande), B. A. Kistyakovksii, and S. L. Frank) came together in criticizing political rationalism based on materialism or positivism and asserted the necessity of a religious-metaphysical worldview. Archbishop Anthony’s letter to N. A. Berdiaev is in the second volume of his letters. ↩
- Refers to Khlysty, a radical mystical sect that had existed since t mid-18th century, and called itself “The People of God.” (trans.). ↩
- Metropolitan of Moscow from 1893 to 1898. ↩
- Autobiographical Notes, v.2, p.496 ↩
- Equivalent to Dean of Students. ↩
- Metropolitan Evlogii Georgievskii of Western Europe (1868-1946). At the 1921 council of emigrated bishops, clergy delegates, and laity in Sremski-Karlovtsy, Archbishop Evlogii, along with 33 council members, issued a written declaration stating that the introduction of the monarchy issue, including mention of the dynasty, into the council agenda bears a political character and as such is not subject to discussion by the council. Metropolitan Anthony, on the contrary, asserted that the issue of the dynast)’ was not political but purely ecclesiastical. The views of the bishops at the council were divided evenly, while the majority of the laity supported Metropolitan Anthony. After Patriarch Tikhon’s decree dissolving the Supreme Church Authority created by the Karlovtsy Council, Metropolitan Evlogii, who had been appointed Exarch, agreed with the other bishops to create a Synod presided by Metropolitan Anthony as the senior hierarch. Subsequently, the differences between Metropolitan Evlogii, who didn’t consider himself to be canonically subject to the Synod, which he actually recognized as merely an advisory body, and Metropolitan Anthony, who presided over the 1924 Karlovtsy Council which issued the decision dissolving the autonomy of the Western European Metropolitanate, came to a head. The implementation of this decision was postponed until its confirmation by the Patriarch, but in June 1926, at the next Karlovtsy Council, it was carried out. In 1927 Metropolitan Evlogii and his Vicar Bishop were suspended by the Council of Bishops Outside Russia at Karlovtsy. Evlogii, the clergy and parishes of the Western European Diocese did not accept these decisions. ↩
- “Floor” and “sex” are the same word in Russian, (trans.) ↩
- ] Refers to the initial vowel. The “yat”‘ was by then archaic in Russian. ↩
- Metropolitan Dionisy (Valedinskii) of Warsaw (1876-1960) was pressured by the Polish government to become Metropolitan of Warsaw (1923-1948) after the murder of Metropolitan George (Iaroshevskii). He displayed servility and compliance toward the Polish government, which conducted a policy of cultural genocide and was preparing a forceful conversion of Orthodox to Roman Catholicism. In 1925, in violation of canonical norms, without the approval of the Russian Orthodox Church, he received a blessing to establish an autocephalous church in Poland from the Constantinople Patriarchate. In August 1948, he sent a letter of repentance to Patriarch Alexis I of Moscow and retired a few months later. Soon after that the Moscow Patriarchate granted canonical autocephaly to the Polish Orthodox Church. ↩
- In Slavonic “zhivot” means “life”, but “stomach” in Russian. “Zhizn ” is life” in Russian. ↩
- The first all-church Life and Work conference of the ecumenical movement was held in Stockholm in 1925. The second all-church conference of this movement, creating the World Council of Churches and unifying all ecumenical movements, was held at Oxford in July 1937. The Faith and Order conference of the ecumenical movement, which likewise agreed to the creation of the World Council of Churches, took place in Edinburgh in August 1937. ↩
- This refers to the claims of the Patriarchs of Constantinople to have jurisdiction over all Orthodox parishes outside the canonical territories of local Orthodox Churches. ↩
- Until 1930, Metropolitan Evlogii was in the jurisdiction of the Patriarchal Locum Tenens Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodskii). In 1931, the majority of parishes in the Western European Metropolitanate headed by Metropolitan Evlogii were received into the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople, who gave the title of Exarch to Metropolitan Evlogii. ↩