Peter (Lukianov) of Cleveland
are Our First Hierarchs, Such is Our Church Abroad"
From the Editors: On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the
death of Metropolitan Anastassy of blessed memory, we offer our
readers a sermon delivered by then-Hegumen Peter (Lukianov) at Holy
Trinity Monastery Cathedral in Jordanville on May 9/22 1995, when
he was the Dean of Holy Trinity Seminary, on the 30th anniversary
of Metropolitan Anastassy's death.
Christ is Risen!
There are phenomena in the history of the Church which do not lose
their meaning, even when they cease to exist themselves. For instance,
there was Byzantium, with its glorious capital, Constantinople,
which the Slavic peoples justly called Tsargrad [the "Royal
Byzantium ceased to exist long ago, and its capital, Constantinople,
has been under the Turkish yoke for over 500 years now. But despite
this, how much these names—Byzantium, Constantinople—say to the
Orthodox heart, to the Russian heart; Byzantium with its Ecumenical
Councils and the warriors of Holy Orthodoxy, one of whom, St Nicholas,
we commemorate today; Constantinople, its Cathedral of Hagia Sophia,
the Divine Wisdom. How much these names alone speak to us: Constantine
the Great, Empress Helen, St John Chrysostom, Patriarch Photius
and others; they mean so much for us Russians, that the wisest of
our women, Grand Duchess Olga, was baptized in Constantinople.
All this is because Byzantium was not only a state, and Constantinople
not only a city. Both Byzantium and Constantinople represented,
and still represent, an ideal; they were and continue to be symbols
of the blossoming and grandeur of Christianity.
Lately we have heard a great deal of criticism of our Russian Orthodox
Church Outside of Russia, but this does not trouble us. This is
because the Russian Church Abroad is not simply some grouping of
Russian ÎmigrÎs. The Russian Orthodox Church is first of all a Church;
the Russian Church Abroad is a specific ideology; the Russian Church
Abroad is a symbol. And this idea, this symbol, has already entered
into the annals of the history of the Church.
Just as the glorious names of Constantine the Great, St John Chrysostom
and many others are inseparable from Byzantium, so the names of
the glorious founders and first hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad
are inseparable from her: Metropolitans Anthony and Anastassy of
Today we mark the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Metropolitan
Apostle Paul writes: remember thy elders. Heeding the call of the
great apostle, today we also prayerfully, and with thanks to God,
remember our late bishop.
Alexander Gribanovsky, the future Metropolitan Anastassy, was born
in 1873 on the Transfiguration of the Lord in Tambov guberniya in
the family of a humble country priest, Fr Alexei and Matushka Anna.
Vladyka Anastassy remained humble throughout his life. One can say
that he is a contemporary of ours, but we know little of his childhood.
We know that he studied in the Tambov religious schools and finished
Moscow Theological Academy, where he was a student of Metropolitan
In 1898, Archbishop Alexander of Tambov tonsures Alexander Gribanovsky
as a monk with the name Anastassy, in honor of St Anastasius of
Sinai, and three days later, on the feast day of St George the Great
Martyr, ordains him a hierodeacon. From this day on the clerical
service of Vladyka Anastassy begins, which will continue no less
than 67 years, of which 59 were as a bishop.
The consecration of Vladyka into the episcopacy was held in 1906,
on the feast day of SS Peter and Paul, at Uspensky Cathedral in
Moscow (I recall how Metropolitan Anastassy, during the celebration
of his 50th anniversary as bishop in California, he recounted this
event. He remembered Moscow, he remembered how a special place was
set aside for his mother in Uspensky Cathedral).
As Vicar to Holy New Martyr Metropolitan Vladimir, Vladyka Anastassy
was already renowned as an eloquent preacher. While still a young
bishop, he is given the honor of delivering a sermon during the
glorification of Holy Martyr Ermogen, Patriarch of Moscow.
In Moscow, Bishop Anastassy becomes acquainted with New Martyr Grand
Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna. Vladyka later honors her memory with
The troubles in Russia find Archbishop Anastassy in Bessarabia,
where despite pressure from the emergent separatists, he remains
loyal to the Russian Church, for which he must leave Kishinev and
move to Constantinople. He then spends 10 years in Jerusalem, and
then he goes to Belgrade, where, after the death of Metropolitan
Anthony in 1936, he becomes his successor (with us today is Archimandrite
Mefodii from the Holy Land with us; Fr Mefodii was ordained hierodeacon
by Vladyka Anastassy at the very Life-bearing Sepulcher of the Lord).
Metropolitan Anastassy manned the helm of the Russian Church Abroad
wisely for 29 years, through terrible storms and travels. We feel
that it is a particular honor that Vladyka, even during his lifetime,
chose our monastery as the place of his eternal rest, requesting
that he be laid to rest beside his beloved Vladyka Tikhon (Archbishop
of Western America and San Francisco, who died in 1963). We believe
that our late bishop, standing before the Divine Throne, prays for
us now, for his flock abroad.
Such are our First Hierarchs, such is our Russian Church Abroad.
Pravoslavnaya Rus', 1995