Friday, April 24, 2009

The Spiritual Testament of Metropolitan Philaret


His Eminence, Metropolitan Philaret of Eastern America and New York, was the third First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. He was born Georgii Nikolaevich Voznesnsky on March 22, 1903, in Kursk. Upon seizure of power by the Bolsheviks and the onset of the civil war, the Voznesensky family fled to Harbin, Manchuria. His father, a priest, took monastic vows with the name Dimitry after the repose of his wife and was elected Archbishop of Hailar. The future Metropolitan graduated from the Russian-Chinese Polytechnic Institute in 1927 with a degree in electrical engineering. He then began classes in theology at the Saint Vladimir Institute, from which he graduated in 1931. He was tonsured with the name Philaret and ordained in December of 1931. In 1937 he was elevated to the rank of archimandrite and served in various capacities in the Diocese of Harbin. During this time, when Harbin was under Soviet occupation, he refused to take a Soviet passport. In 1962, at the onset of Chairman Mao’s “Cultural Revolution,” Archimandrite Philaret was permitted to leave Harbin. He traveled at first to the then British Crown Colony of Hong Kong and, after a short time, to Australia. On May 26, 1963, he was consecrated Bishop of Brisbane and vicar to Archbishop Sava of Sydney and Australia. In the following year, 1964, Bishop Philaret, although the most junior of the bishops, was unanimously elected the new First Hierarch. In 1974 Metropolitan Philaret presided over the Third All-Diaspora Council, held in Jordanville, NY. Metropolitan Philaret became an outspoken opponent of ecumenism, issuing a series of three “Sorrowful Epistles” between 1969 and 1975. He reposed on November 21, 1985, and was buried at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY. In 1998 his relics were discovered to be wholly incorrupt.

The following is my translation of his spiritual testament, found in his typewriter after his blessed repose:
Hold that fast which thou hast (Rev 3:11).
These words, taken from the sacred Book of the Apocalypse, have a particular significance in our time, in our greatly sorrowful, evil, temptation-filled days. They remind us of that priceless spiritual wealth that we possess, as children of the Orthodox Church.

Yes, we are rich. This spiritual wealth is that which the Holy Church possesses, and it is offered to all her faithful children. The teaching of the Faith, of our marvelous, salvific Orthodox Faith; the countless living examples of the lives of people who have lived according to the Faith, according to those lofty principles and rules that the Church offers us. Those who have attained that spiritual purity and exaltedness that is called holiness; the beauty and majesty of our Orthodox Divine services and a living participation in them through faith and prayer; the plenitude of the grace-filled spiritual life that is open to each and every one, and, crowning it all, the unity of the children of the Church in that love of which the Savior said: By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another [Jn 13-35].

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