A Corner of Holy Russia
The day of the Pentecost, or the day of the Trinity, as it is known
among our people, is the feast day of Holy Trinity Monastery in
Jordanville, NY. A great number of worshipers always gathers at
the monastery on this holiday—usually several hundred from all over
North America, in recent years, many have traveled from Canada as
well as California, and frequently from South America and Europe.
Not unheard of also are visitors from Australia and New Zealand.
Their impressions from what they see and hear at the monastery,
beginning with the divine services according to the ustav
[monastic rule] and from their contact with the daily life of the
brethren and contact with them, inspired these visitors to grant
Holy Trinity Monastery an expressive epithen: "A Corner of
Holy Russia," a name that has spread throughout the Russian
Of course, this is high praise for the monastery, which must encourage
the brethren not to pride themselves, but to try with all their
might to become worthy of the designation. This label also clearly
shows what believing Russians scattered throughout the whole world
see as the main value of Holy Trinity Monastery.
Here they see the spirit, tongue and traditions of old Russian monasteries,
which at one time adorned our homeland, Holy Russia. Holy Russia
is not a dream, not a fiction, as some enemies of our Orthodox fatherland
purport, and even some "Ivans-who-forgot-their-family,"
along with hostile foreigners. Holy Russia was, she lived and continues
to exist in the souls of many Russians who did not abandon their
Russian names, nor anything holy from their Russian past. This is
not sinful "nationalism" or "mere politics,"
alien to the Church and to religious life, as some false wise men
today teach, rejecting the right of the Russian Church to exist
outside the borders of our fatherland, enslaved now by brutal atheists.
Morbid and truly sinful nationalism, often called "chauvinism,"
was always profoundly alien to the soul of every true Russian Orthodox
person. Love for Russia, for the Russian people, for our centuries-old
history is closely bound with love for the true Christian faith—Holy
Orthodoxy, which bred the Russian people and gave them the truly
great Orthodox culture, which the finest, most lofty-minded individuals
throughout the world venerate. The Russian person, ever since the
days of the Illuminator, Holy Grand Duke Vladimir, Equal-to-the-Apostles,
so deeply absorbed the Orthodox faith into his heart that for him
"Orthodoxy" and "Russianness" became virtually
synonymous. It was the careless, overt rush towards the West, which
had long ago fallen away from Orthodoxy, that caused the fatal crack
in the consciousness of the Russian person, and finally led to the
bloody disaster which befell the Russian Land.
The scattering of the Russian people throughout the world, of course,
is providential. Only now has the West begun to become acquainted
with the holy Orthodox faith and the Church from Russian ÎmigrÎs
who have not lost their faith and did not abandon their Russian
Church in distant lands. And here we see with great joy the acceptance
of Orthodoxy by foreigners and those of other religions. Yet here
also is a great danger which is important to remember and guard
The main good deed of the Orthodox Christian faith is humility.
So in order to become truly Orthodox—in spirit, and not just formally—Orthodoxy
must be accepted with humility, not with a feeling of one's own
"goodness," not by puffing up one's worth with egotism;
on the contrary, with the recognition of one's own nothingness,
one's own profound sinfulness and with the earnest desire to learn,
so that one could become Orthodox not only in name but in spirit.
For this, one must immerse oneself in the true spirit of Orthodoxy—unmodernized,
unreformed, true Orthodoxy.
This is difficult for those people of other nations who accept Orthodoxy,
since they were born, educated and lived their entire lives in an
entirely different environment, possessing another spirit more or
less alien to Orthodoxy. This is why for a foreigner converting
to Orthodoxy, it is very important not only to refrain from derogating
the thousand-year history of Russian Orthodox culture with its language
and daily life, but on the contrary, to study it and draw nearer
to it. For remaining locked within one's own national culture, and
remaining aloof from Orthodox culture and daily life, he cannot
learn about Orthodoxy and cannot become truly Orthodox in spirit,
which is the most important thing, because Orthodoxy is not simply
a set of bare dogmatic truths, but spirit and life, as the Lord
Jesus Christ Himself taught about His Divine teachings (John 6:63).
Here it is very important to note what a powerful positive effect
Russian culture can have: many foreigners who become interested
in Russian culture and study it approached Orthodoxy and themselves
often became Orthodox—and very zealously, even more than many Russians
And the reverse is true: the Russian Orthodox Christian who loses
his "Russianness" often loses his Orthodoxy, easily betraying
it and taking on another religion, or losing his faith altogether,
which we have often come to see abroad. Those who have lost their
identity in other countries, who lost their Russian "face,"
melding with their environment, either abandon the Orthodox Church
completely or preserve only a purely formal adherence to it, becoming
more or less alien to the Holy Orthodox faith, its spirit, its centuries-old
norms, customs and traditions.
It is very characteristic also that foreigners who convert to Orthodoxy
and study Russian Orthodox culture with condescension, with the
feeling that they, non-Russians, can dispense with it, often end
up straying, inventing their own "Orthodoxy" and creating
"sects" in which nothing Orthodox remains except the name.
Such instances are well known to us.
As a result of all of the above, it is exceedingly important for
us to preserve our Holy Trinity Monastery, specifically as a "corner
of Holy Russia," for if it ceases to be that, eventually nothing
of Orthodoxy will be left either, and it will truly be as "salt
that has lost its savor." May this never be!
But the danger is great! The elder brethren who still remember our
old Holy Russia and keep the spirit of Russian Orthodox culture
to one degree or another are growing old and weak and are departing
for the other world, and there are few to replace them, too few
for the great internal and external mission which Holy Trinity Monastery
selflessly performs, seeking not its own interests and benefits,
seeking only the victory of the true faith and of the Church in
today's godless world—it strives for the triumph of Holy Orthodoxy,
the only thing our monks selflessly and wholeheartedly strive for.
Now on this, our great feast day, we turn to all the Russian Orthodox
people for whom our holy Orthodox faith is dear with the fervent
appeal to join the ranks of our clerical warriors fighting for holy
Orthodoxy, to fill the ranks of our monastic brethren, who possess
true zeal for the glory of God, for Christ our Savior and the true
faith in Christ and good will; selflessly, "not seeking their
own," to serve our Holy Church, the true Orthodox Church, in
the midst of this horrifying spiritual darkness which is enveloping
the entire modern world.
From Iz poucheniya na prazdnik Svyatoy Troitsy [Sermons
on the Feast Day of the Holy Trinity] (1975)