Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Life of Metropolitan Anthony

The following consists of an excerpt of a translation I made a few years ago of a speech by the late Metropolitan Laurus about Metropolitan Anthony:

The Most Blessed Metropolitan Antonii was born on March 17, 1863, on the commemoration of St. Alexis the Man of God. The boy was named Alexei in Baptism. His birthplace was the village of Vatagino, Krestitsk County, in the Novgorod province.

His father, Pavel Pavlovich, hailed from the ancient noble line of the Khrapovitskii; and his mother, Natalia Petropvna, nee Verigina, was the daughter of a Little-Russian landowner from the Khar’kov province.

One of the young Alex’s characteristics was that from childhood he strove towards God and the Church, and was interested in purely religious questions. This was the influence of his mother’s piety, which he inherited from her in childhood.

When it was time for Alex to go to school, the Khrapovitskii family moved to Petersburg. When Alex was nine years old, he asked his parents to enroll him in a theological school, but his parents enrolled him in a public school, which he successfully completed with a gold medal. Alex was eighteen when he finished high school, and his parents and relatives hoped that he would enter law school or the Tsarkosel’skii Lycee, but he announced his desire to enter the St. Petersburg Theological Academy. He informed his parents categorically that he would enter the Academy.

The Rector of the Academy at that time was Archpriest Ioann Ianyshev. There were also other outstanding professors such as V.V. Bolotov and many others.

At the Academy the student Khrapovitskii began to have a good influence on his fellow students. He concerned himself with the Academy church and attracted students to a greater participation in church services. With the Rector’s permission, a preaching circle was formed and the student Alexei Pavlovich’s first sermon attracted the attention of the administration, which published it.

When Alexei Pavlovich graduated to the third year of the Academy, Bishop Arsenii (Briantsev) was assigned as Rector and, after another year, Archimandrite Antonii (Vadkovskii) was assigned as Inspector. Archimandrite Antonii was known for his brotherly love and meekness, and the students loved him. Those who were more monastically inclined gathered around him. The spiritual life of the Academy changed noticeably, with two friends standing in the center: A. P. Khrapovitskii and Mikhail M. Gribanovskii, who later became bishop of Tavria.

The student Alexei Pavlovich Khrapovitskii completed his studies in 1885. Soon thereafter he was tonsured a monk with the name “Anthony” in honor of St. Anthony the Roman. Shortly after, on June 12, he was ordained a Hieromonk and assigned the duty of Assistant Inspector of the Academy.

The young Hieromonk Antonii began to teach in the Academy not in a scholastic, formal way, that the Church was just some kind of institution; instead he taught in a vivid manner that the Church is life in the Holy Spirit, in the Mysteries, that the Church is of the Eucharistic, and that the Eucharist is of the Church, for it is only in the Church. For Fr. Antonii the Church was everything, that from which everything in life receives its existence and meaning. Outside the Church nothing has justification or meaning.

After teaching at the St. Petersburg Academy, Fr. Antonii was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite and assigned as Rector of the Moscow Theological Academy. He was twenty-seven years old. Here he breathed into a school deadened by routine a new faith in the pre-eminence of the Church. He returned to the school its life, spirit, and meaning. The school immediately revived in this faith in the Church and church life pulsated like a vigorous spring in the walls of the Moscow theological schools.

Fr. Antonii remained as Rector for five years at the Moscow Theological Academy and afterward was transferred to the Kazan Theological Academy as Rector at the beginning of the 1895-96 academic year. In September 1897 Archimandrite Antonii was consecrated a bishop.

In his view Bishop Antonii was a great Slavophile, of one mind with Aksakov, Khomiakov, Dostoyevsky, and other clear spokesmen of Russo-Slavic thought. However, Slavophilism was not valuable in and of itself for him, but only as a means for preaching Orthodoxy. This is the fundamental meaning of Vladyka Antonii and Dostoevsky. Orthodoxy is that new word which Slavdom, with Holy Russia in the forefront, must proclaim to the world. It must proclaim it with humility, serving all nations in meekness and evangelical truth.

Vladyka Antonii felt that the Russian, Serbian, and Bulgarian peoples could be great only if the goal of their existence became the collective realization of the evangelical commandments. To the degree that a people are filled with the eternal evangelical truth and righteousness, to that same extent they exist, and become and remain eternal.

Without exaggeration one can say that Vladyka Antonii’s ecclesiastical spirit had a universal character. He related with great love to the ancient Churches of the Orthodox East and attached great significance to the Great Russian Church’s close ties with them. Vladyka never limited Orthodoxy to its Russian form. Already in the Academy and in his Volhynia seminaries he took those Greeks, Serbs, Bulgarians, Arabs, and Romanians who came to study with us under his patronage with great conviction.

During the memorable year of 1913, at the celebration of the House of Romanov, it was namely by Metropolitan Antonii’s initiative that Patriarch Gregory of Antioch was invited to show the Russians the long forgotten Patriarchal Liturgy, and in the person of an Eastern Patriarch. The Metropolitan liked to serve in Greek, and almost always pronounced a few exclamations in Greek, sometimes serving the entire service in that language.

During all the years of his life in the emigration, Vladyka Antonii maintained friendly correspondence with the Eastern Patriarchs, sending them greetings on Pascha and the Nativity, and responding to all the most important events in the lives of the ancient Eastern Patriarchs. Through his enormous authority in the Orthodox East, Metropolitan Antonii was a stumbling block for many reformers of Orthodoxy. His voice, as the voice of the ecclesiastical conscience, unceasingly reminded others of the unalterable nature of the holy canons, and his zeal for the purity of Orthodoxy forced him to raise his voice before the heads of other Churches. In his epistles, Vladyka Antonii warned the Eastern Churches against recognizing the “Living Church” created by the Bolsheviks, and it was largely by his influence that some of the Eastern Churches did not accept the New Calendar and other non-canonical reforms, which were proposed by the Constantinople Patriarchate under the influence of the modernist spirit which infiltrated that Church after the First World War.

Vladyka Antonii fully manifested his deep ecclesiastical spirit, his fidelity to the ideals of the Slavophiles and Holy Russia, and his care for universal Orthodoxy when assigned as bishop of the see of Volhynia. After having quickly acquainted himself which the Volhynian clergy, flock, church life, and the order prevailing in Church institutions there, Vladyka first and foremost set about reorganizing the ecclesiastical administration. Bishop Antonii paid close attention to ensure that services were performed according to the typikon. During Great Lent he served every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; and beginning with Lazarus Saturday, he served every day until St. Thomas Sunday. He unfailingly preached at every Liturgy.

By his example, Vladyka Antonii was a model of a true “Good Shepard” Thus he opened the doors of his episcopal residence for all and at all times. He received everyone who turned to him with love and kindness, which in turn opened people’s hearts to him. The clergy felt him to be a true father who guided with wisdom and self-sacrifice, without complaint, one who willingly increased his struggles.

Vladyka Antonii paid special attention to missionary work. There were two diocesan missionaries under him in Volhynia. Religious lectures and discussions were organized in the hall next to the diocesan building.

As for the villages and provincial towns, missionary church processions from the Pochaev Lavra, led by Archimandrite Vitalii (Maksimenko), were organized with abundant missionary means. Local missionaries led church processions from Zhitomir. A few thousand peasants usually took part in these church processions, which were accompanied by divine services, missionary talks, and the distribution of Orthodox literature.

As a scholarly, educated archpastor, Bishop Antonii was concerned with educating the clergy and flock entrusted to him. Due to a lack of priests, Vladyka strove to attract suitable people from among the ranks of the laity. To facilitate this work he founded a pastoral school in the name of Fr. John of Kronstadt. The daily life of the school resembled a monastery as much as possible. All the instructors were clergy and the students wore cassocks. At that time in Russia there were no schools in Russia for the education of the lower clergy: cantors and deacons. Vladyka Antonii petitioned the Holy Synod for permission to open a two-year school for cantors, deacons, and assistants to priests for catechism instruction. The first such school was opened in 1911.

Vladyka Antonii also paid the same attention to educating the people. Thanks to measures adopted by him, the number of ecclesiastical schools in Volhynia reached 1600, almost double the average number of schools in other dioceses. Vladyka Antonii gave special attention and care to the organization of the holy place of the Russian Church, the Pochaev Lavra. Until Vladyka’s assignment to the see of Volhynia, the Lavra had only a local, provincial significance. The spiritual life of the Lavra was not elevated; it was not coenobitic. However, during the hierarchal service of Vladyka Antonii, Pochaev Lavra was quickly transformed. Three sketes were organized close to the Lavra: Holy Spirit, Zagaetskii, and St. George. Though the efforts of Vladyka Antonii, the relics of St. Job of Pochaev were solemnly brought up from the crypt and placed in a beautiful reliquary for public veneration. In fact it was Vladyka Antonii who petitioned the Holy Synod for permission to establish the feastday of the uncovering of the relics of St. Job, on August 28. It was in his time that the heated Holy Trinity Cathedral, later called “Antonii’s,” was built. During his time a printing brotherhood was established in the Lavra, which continues in the printshop of our Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville.

In 1906, through the labors of Vladyka Antonii, the restoration of the ancient Volhynian holy place, the St. Basil golden-roofed church in Ovrych, was begun. The building was completed in 1911. The Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II was present at the consecration.

Another important ecclesiastical matter, which pained Vladyka Antonii’s heart, was the matter of the revival of Orthodoxy among the Russian population of Austro-Hungary. The government and Uniate clergy of Austro-Hungary tried with all their might to halt the return of the Carpatho-Russians to the bosom of the Orthodox Church.

For an explanation of the true condition of the Orthodox in these areas Vladyka made a secret trip to Bukovina under the name of an archimandrite. Vladyka Antonii fought the Unia both by the printed word and in sermons; he frequently returned to this theme. He strove will all his might to undermine the incorrect view on the Unia established in Russia, that the Unia was Orthodox, only commemorating the Pope. With deep sorrow and vexation he said: “They simply cannot accept the simple truth that the Unia is a full integration into the Roman Catholic Church, with the acknowledgment that the Orthodox Church is schismatic, the acceptance of all Latin saints, and the condemnation of Orthodox Saints as schismatics abiding outside the true Church…” Vladyka Antonii spread this true view on the Unia widely with characteristic decisiveness in his sermons, epistles, and talks. Then he outlined it in a special brochure: "Conversations of an Orthodox with a Uniate Priest About the Errors of the Latins and the Greek-Catholic Uniates.”

Vladyka Antonii, seeing the abnormal situation of Church life in captive Carpatho-Russia, appealed to the Ecumenical Patriarch, Joachim II, with a request to receive the Orthodox Galicians in Carpatho-Russia under his omophorion, since the Russian Synod, due to political reasons, was not able to extend its influence there. The Patriarch willingly agreed and assigned Vladyka Antonii as his exarch in Galicia and Carpatho-Russia. The Galicians often made pilgrimages in large groups to the Pochaev Lavra after completing their work in the fields, despite great hindrances in crossing the border, sometimes even endangering their lives. Many Carpatho-Russians and Galicians enrolled in the Volhynian Theological Seminary. Among them was the future hiermartyr of the Carpathian land, Maksim Sandovich. It was Archbishop Antonii of Volynia, in fact, who ordained him a priest in 1911. After ordination, Fr. Maksim chose difficult missionary labor among his Russian neighbors in Lemkovschina, where he was crowned with martyrdom.

The spontaneous advance of the Orthodox movement in Carpatho-Russia aroused repressions from the Austro-Hungarian government. Persecution grew, and soon Vladyka Antonii was forced to defend the persecuted Orthodox Christians. In 1913 he published a “General Epistle,” in which he described all the misfortunes and persecution of the Orthodox population in the western regions. When massive arrests and torture of the Orthodox occured, and ninty-four Orthodox were prosecuted in Siget, Vladyka Antonii complied a special prayer and petitions for the litanies which were to be read in all the churches of the Volhynia Diocese for the duration of the trial, lasting two months.

In remembering Metropolitan Antonii, we especially want to note the labors he bore for the benefit of Orthodoxy and the Russian people in the western regions and Carpatho-Russia, when he defended the persecuted and oppressed Russian Orthodox people. His was the only voice heard in defense of the persecuted, not only in Russia, but in all of Europe.

In this short paper we have attempted to present to our listeners an image of Vladyka Antonii (Khrapovitskii) as a scholarly archpastor, a great Church activist, and a zealous hierarch concerned for the needs of both Russian and universal Orthodoxy. In conclusion, I would like to offer testimonials about Vladyka Antonii from outstanding contemporary Church figures.

His Holiness, Patriarch Varnava of Serbia, in his eulogy at the burial service of the Most Blessed Metropolitan Antonii, writes:
The name of Metropolitan Antonii is connected with an enormous period of the development of great spiritual strength in the Russian Church and the Russian people, of Russian Orthodox theological thought, and Russian Church literature. I have already spoken of, and again repeat, that Metropolitan Antonii must be placed in the same ranks as the great hierarchs of the first centuries of Christianity.
Archimandrite Justin Popovich writes:
What is the mystery of Blessed Metropolitan Antonii? It is his boundless love for Christ. Examine any thought, or feeling, or desire, or action, and everywhere you will find as his creative force his boundless love for Christ. The endless love for Christ of Metropolitan Antonii when turned to the world was revealed as a grace filled love for Man. His moving love for Man is nothing more than his prayerful love for Christ, shed among people. He is boundless in his love for people because he is boundless in his love for Christ. One does not error in saying that Metropolitan Antonii of blessed repose was a unique patristic manifestation in our time. He passed though our stormy age with evangelical meekness and apostolic fearlessness, like the Church Fathers Athanatius, Basil and Gregory passed through the fourth Century.
Archimandrite Kiprian (Kern) writes :
Filaret of Moscow overcame with his wisdom; Bolotov and Glubokovskii overwhelmed everyone with their colossal weight of their erudition and mastery of the scholarly science; John of Kronstadt above all was a man of prayer; but Antonii conquered and captivated the youth by the power of his moral influence. He unnoticeably, somehow automatically, captured young souls by the power of his pastoral influence, his co-suffering love. He not only preached this love but was also its realization. Antonii was the embodiment of morality and conscience. If one demanded of a critic who had an unimaginable shortage of time to summarize a characteristic of the Metropolitan in one and only one word, then I would without wavering, with complete conscientiousness of my responsibility for the word say, 'Antonii is Church life.'
Here, in conclusion, I would like to emphasize again that the Most Blessed Metropolitan Antonii, living abroad, despite refugee conditions, had an enormous influence on the youth in the Russian Church who found themselves in exile after the Revolution and, thanks to his influence, many entered the service of the Church.

Here are the names of a few:

St. John Maksimovich; Nikolai Pavlovich Rklitskii, the future Archbishop Nikon, who compiled the complete life of Vladyka Antonii; Archbishop Serafim (Ivanov); Archbishop Antonii (Sinkevich); Georgii Grabe, the future Bishop Grigorii; Mitrofan Znosko, the future Bishop Mitrofan; the Bartoshevich brothers, Bishop Leonitii and Archbishop Antonii; Archbishop Antonii (Medvedev); and many clergy who had the opportunity to study because Metropolitan Antonii helped them financially and spiritually guided them — all they became servants of the Holy Church of Christ.

Indeed, the Most Blessed, Ever-Memorable, Vladyka Metropolitan Antonii was all things to all men, according to the words of the Apostle. Amen.

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