Memory of Protodeacon Nikolai Porshnikoff
The history of the Russian Orthodox Church, in her rituals, offers
an especially grand figure: the Russian Orthodox protodeacon of
the hierarchal service.
Russian writers before the revolution tried to colorfully paint
the pious image of these servants of the Church of God, who, with
their thunderous voices delivering the holy truths of the Gospels
and the inspired appeals of the litanies, shook the very walls of
the temple of God.
The great Russian writer N.S. Leskov, in his work "Soboryane"
incarnated in Russian literature the unforgettable image of Deacon
Akhilla, drawing together a pious appearance and soul, Christian
faith and humility and a kind heart responsive to all those in sorrow.
The history of the Russian Orthodox Church inscribed in her pages
before the revolution the finest examples of "Christ's deacons,"
the famous Protodeacons Rozov, Malinin, Bystrov and Zdikhovsky.
In Irkutsk, Eastern Siberia, live the memories of the protodeacons
known throughout all of Siberia—Slovtsovskii, Evtifeev, Zapletaev,
Troitskii and Ivanov, and from the city of Vladivostok in the Far
East: Ostrovidov, Plaksin and Kut'rev.
Nikolai Porshnikoff intones the great prokeimenon during the great
Paschal vespers at the Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy
of All Who Sorrow" in San Francisco. Behind him is Archbishop
Anthony (Medvedev, +2000) of blessed memory
To this glorious family of protodeacons belongs the now-reposed
Protodeacon Nikolai Porshnikoff, who began his service to the Church
in Harbin, China, at the church of the "House of Mercy,"
where he was the staff-bearer of Metropolitan Nestor (Anisimov,
+1962). At the beginning of the 1960's, the future Protodeacon Nikolai
studied at the seminary of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville,
NY, where, wishing to emulate St Seraphim of Sarov, secretly prayed
upon a rock in his cell. They only learned of this after his departure
from the seminary, when several seminarians who were preparing to
move in to his room had to remove an enormous rock, which Nikolai,
possessing great physical strength, brought into his cell himself.
At the wedding of the future protodeacon, performed by the clergy
of the Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow"
in San Francisco, St John (Maximovich, +1966), though he did not
serve, at the appropriate moment, kissed the altar table, emerged
through the royal doors, approached the groom and bride in his minor
episcopal vestments and mantle, and, placing upon their heads the
crowns, read the sacramental prayers of matrimony: "Lord our
God, with glory and honor I wed." In 1963, he was ordained
by St John into the deaconate in the Cathedral. Many long-time parishioners
remember how the young Deacon Nikolai wept when he greeted the coffin
of St John when it arrived in San Francisco from Seattle, where
the man of God suddenly died while accompanying the Miracle-working
Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God on its travels.
His pious appearance, the powerful and magnificent, cathedral-filling
voice of the reposed gives us the right to include him in the Pleiades
of the aforementioned protodeacons, the servants of the altar of
God. In the person of the reposed, a worthy representative of the
sacred ranks of the deaconate departed, whose voice imparted solemnity
in prayer; in his person also, an Orthodox Christian of deep faith
departed, too. For me, as a former altar boy, it was always a joy
to hold the service book for Archbishop Anthony (Medvedev, +2000)
of blessed memory while he served, the deaconate being led by the
pious Fr Protodeacon Nikolai. My heart was warmed by their piety
and prayerfulness, the profound faith and humility with which they
served divine liturgy. Protodeacon Nikolai's knowledge of books
always struck me; he loved history and especially the history of
our Russian Church.
Despite his sickness, which had prevented him from serving for several
years, Protodeacon Nikolai bore his cross without grumbling, finding
consolation in his submissiveness to the will of God, and in prayer.
May this obedience to God's will strengthen and unite us in prayer
for the repose of his soul. May God grant the Kingdom of Heaven
and eternal peace to the newly-departed Protodeacon Nikolai!