Archbishop ALEXEI

Archbishop Alexei: Eulogy of Archbishop Alexei at the Memorial Service for Metropolitan Anthony,

Delivered at Kremenetz Epiphany Monastery, 3/16 August 1936 (translation from Ukrainian)
A few days ago, in Sremskij Karlovtsi, Yugoslavia, a great lantern of faith and piety reposed in the Lord--the Eminent Metropolitan Anthony. It is not necessary to explain who he was, for the whole world knew him, and Orthodox people, wherever they may be, have for a half a century enjoyed the works and good deeds of this Father of the Church, who was imbued with the spirit of the prophets and the apostles.Now this star, great in its illumination, has departed from our ecclesiastical sky, and an unusual emptiness is left on this earth. Metropolitan Anthony occupied an honored place in the history of our Church in our day and it will be the work of future historians to illuminate from all sides his great meaning for the Orthodox Church. But even now we can say that this was one of the greatest bishops of the Orthodox Church to have been seen in the world over many centuries. With his whole being, the spirit of his writings, the character of his deeds, Metropolitan Anthony fully reminds us of the Holy Fathers of the IV century, although the characteristics of great bishops of other centuries were not foreign to him, either. In his was the zeal of spirit of St. Athanasius the Great, the fervor of St. Nicholas, the courage and power of St. Basil the Great, full of submission to God, indifference to material matters and the creative loftiness of St. Gregory the Theologian, the inexhaustible fruitfulness and inspiration of St. John Chrysostom, the generosity and unselfishness of St. John the Merciful, the clarity of understanding of the Holy Canonists Patriarch Photius and Patriarch Nikon, who was so loved by Metropolitan Anthony, the greatness of the Ecumenical Patriarch Joachim, the love for his fatherland and civil wisdom of Holy Metropolitan Alexei of Kiev. This was a great man who created an epoch, and so it is not surprising that he was also a source of “disagreement,” since some praised him to the heavens, and others did not even hesitate to use profanity in speaking of him. It is true that the dissatisfaction with Metropolitan Anthony stemmed from secondary matters of salvation, purely political and national, but this was enough to bring a great deal of grief to the reposed, since these questions spurred the passions of most people.
History proved to vindicate the political views of Met. Anthony and if, during his lifetime, those who were in positions of responsibility recognized the importance of the propetic warnings of the reposed, then neither he nor millions of his compatriots would have scattered to distant lands. As far as his national views are concerned, in the latter years of his life, Met. Anthony changed them in many ways, in accordance with the demands of the time and with the wisdom of some trends in national questions in daily life. If anything negative could still be found in the opinions of the late bishop, and in the means of his actions, he paid for them many times over in the sorrows of exile and for this reason, Met. Anthony now stands before us as a great teacher of faith and piety, a great theologian and an exceptionally kind person.

Met. Anthony was prepared at any moment to give his life for his faith in Christ, and he would have done so together with the other bishop martyrs, if not for the will of God, who summoned him, through good people, from the hell of faithlessness and godlessness. There are so many witnesses to his piety that one does not know where to begin. It is enough to say that he was the Abba (or teacher) of all the monks who, in theory, must be the keepers and examples of piety.

Orthodox theologians and pastors were educated by the works of Met. Anthony for a half a century, many of whom themselves went on to excel in theological writings and even more so in their work in the harvest fields of the Church. The method of the moral perception of the dogmas of the Holy Church developed by the late Metropolitan made accessible his works not only for theologians, which is why the scholarly influence of Metropolitan Anthony spread far beyond church schools and establishments. It is no wonder that he was the leading candidate for the patriarchal throne.

Thanks to his theological works, the late metropolitan was particularly authoritative abroad. It is there that he was first included among the pleiades of fathers and teachers of the Holy Church, and we were witnesses ourselves to the authority he wielded as an Orthodox theologian in the Orthodox East.

But maybe the greatest source of his popularity among the widest circles was his exceptional kindness and love towards people. His whole magnificent spiritual image glowed with kindness, he was like a wellspring of goodness. Who could refuse to take advantage of his love? Only those who did not wish to. It is enough to say that he could have become very wealthy, since he occupied high offices, and could have had great revenues from his writings, but he gave everything away, even borrowing from his cell-attendants for charitable purposes, and he died in poverty, living out his last days subsisting on the bread of the kindness of the Serbian Patriarch.

And so, if we wished to imagine the character traits of the ancient fathers and teachers of the Church, then Metropolitan Anthony, reposed in the Lord, truly gives us this most perfect image. It is not remarkable that his blessed repose shook the entire Orthodox world and evoked such deep sorrow. Indeed, after him, the world has become somewhat emptier, where once this great beacon brightly showed the religious-moral path to humanity.
Our Orthodox Volynia has reason to fervently respond to the general grieving over the repose of Metropolitan Anthony and join it whole-heartedly, since the late metropolitan nourished it for many years as the Archbishop of Volynia. It was here that he seemed to acquire the greatest glory, for his name was most often connected with Volynia. He was for a long time called “Anthony of Volynia.” But it is not in word but in deed that his service to Volynia earned fame for the eminent archpastor, and which departed with him into eternity. We speak here only of his archpastoral activity, expressed in his spiritual guidance of his flock, his frequent travels througout the diocese, his work on the renovation of our sacred historical sites, his love for our pastors and flock.

Visiting our parishes in Volynia now, we often see old antimensia on the holy altars. When it is noted that they should be replaced with newer ones, the reverend rectors show the signature of Metropolitan Anthony on them, and they say that it is difficult to part with such a holy thing, which bears the holy signature of the great archpastor. We understand this and now can explain the love of the archpastors of Volynia by saying that it was he who revealed our Volynian Orthodox traditions of the time of St. Vladimir, which he openly spoke of in his writings.
We are certain that not a parish in Volynia will be found that would not fervently pray for the late metropolitan, when they learn that he is no longer on this earth. May we begin this prayer, my friends, who have gathered in the archpastoral house of our cathedral city to perform the first memorial service in Volynia for the soul of the blessed bishop of the Holy Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Anthony. Today is his namesday. And if before we prayed for his health on this day, let our heartfelt prayers now be lifted for the repose of his soul in the abode of the righteous. Amen.

“Church and Nation,” Kremenetz Volynsky–“Church Life” No. 1, 1936

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