JORDANVILLE, NY: October 9, 2006
A Fourth Theological Conference is Held at Holy Trinity Seminary
A fourth annual theological conference was held at Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, NY, on October 6-7. These conferences have become a tradition now, earning rightful interest not only abroad but in Russia as well. Greetings were sent by Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia; the Rector of the Moscow Theological Schools, Archbishop Evgeny of Verey; and the President of the Russian Cultural Foundation, Nikita Sergeevich Mikhalkov.
This conference was devoted to the eminent hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), and was scheduled to coincide with the 70 th anniversary of his death. The great figure that was Metropolitan Anthony—theologian, public figure, hierarch—always drew and always will draw the attention of church and lay scholars, all those concerned with the fate of Russia and of the Russian Church. For this reason, the fourth theological conference held at the Seminary this year evoked such genuine interest and enthusiastic response. In addition to speakers from among the teachers at Holy Trinity Seminary, there were lecturers representing such renowned academic establishments as the St Petersburg State University; St Petersburg State Technical Institute; the Russian State Archives of St Petersburg; the Moscow Theological Academy; and St Tikhon Orthodox University. Among the establishments abroad represented by lecturers were St Olaf College; Smith College; the University of Albany; and the Pontifical Oriental Institute.
It is encouraging to note the attention given to the Colloquium by the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Participating directly in the event were the First Hierarch of the Church Abroad, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus and His Grace Bishop Michael of Geneva and Western Europe. His Eminence Vladyka Laurus spoke about the seventieth anniversary of the blessed repose of Metropolitan Anthony, while Vladyka Michale read a speech entitled "Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky and His Thoughts on Dostoevsky as a Preacher of Resurrection."
The celebration of the anniversary of the death of Vladyka Anthony assumed not only a scholarly but a prayerful character. On Saturday, September 24/October 7, Divine Liturgy was celebrated at Holy Trinity Cathedral, after which a pannikhida was served in memory of Metropolitans Anthony and Anastassy, at which the Conference participants, monastic brethren and worshipers prayed.
In their lectures, the conferees tried to embrace all the many facets of the work of Vladyka Anthony and evaluate his broad spiritual, theological and ecclesiastical legacy.
Many speakers fairly noted that such eminent figures as Metropolitan Anthony will always be viewed differently not only by their contemporaries but by their successors, and these views depend not on the actual actions, thoughts and expressions, but often by the politics of the critics themselves. Indeed, the figure of Vladyka Anthony is viewed in various ways. Along with the recognition of the great positive role this prominent archpastor played in the life of the Russian Church and Russian State, we see assaults and accusations often falling to the level of banal cliches. Disproving such errors, clarifying the true purpose of one or another expression or action of Vladyka Anthony was one of the goals of the organizers and participants of the Conferences.
The lectures were devoted to practically every aspect of the work of the great archpastor.
At the age of 27, appointed Rector of Moscow Theological Academy, Archimandrite Anthony introduced a completely new spirit which emancipated the Academy from deadening scholasticism and formalism. Even then, the future Russian hierarch proved himself to be a devotee of learned monasticism, a proponent of active, informal communion within student and academic circles. The young rector helped create a student group of preachers who spread the Word of God among the common people. The scholarly and ecclesiastical life of the Academy during the rectorship of Fr Anthony acquired a completely different character. The teachers and students developed a sincere love for the young rector. Among the students of Archimandrite Anthony were a plethora of eminent archpastors and pastors of the Russian Orthodox Church, many of whom were later crowned with martyrdom. A defining trait of the future bishop, a conviction he held fast to throughout his life was his profound churchliness. He measured all his thoughts alongside this ideal, all his words and his actions, all the political and ecclesiastical events of his day. Without this in mind, it is impossible to understand and properly assess the great persona of the Russian hierarch. One other trait that Vladyka possessed was the complete absence of any vainglory or careerism. He expressed his opinions in a straightforward manner, without consideration of any consequences they may have on his future advancement. He often defended the Academy's professors who fell to disfavor in the eyes of the church hierarchy. Later, as an archpastor, Vladyka Anthony also boldly spoke out on church-state relations and the role that the Church should play in society, for which he earned respect and authority in patriotic circles and the enmity of the court aristocracy.
A series of lectures were devoted to the work of Vladyka Anthony while on the Volhynia Cathedra. As an archpastor, Vladyka Anthony found a broad arena in which to apply his talents and energies. Here, his church and social efforts blossomed. It was in evidence everywhere. The archpastor of the Volhynia region showed himself to be a zealot of spiritual and civil education, a builder of churches, a fighter for the rights of the oppressed Orthodox Christians of Carpathia and Kholm. A wise and ardent bishop, Vladyka Anthony cared for the pastors of the diocese entrusted to him, he enveloped the clergymen and monastics of Volhynia with love and care.
The conferees did not avoid polemical questions which still invoke discussion around the image of Vladyka Anthony. Several lectures were devoted to Vladyka's attitude towards the Jewish question, the Imyaslavtsi ["Name-praiser" sect] movement, his relationship with Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky), his understanding of the dogma of Redemption.
It was emphasized that along with his Slavophilism, his deep love for authentic Russian Orthodoxy, his sympathetic view of the Old-Believer services, his profound knowledge of the life of the Russian people, Metropolitan Anthony's Orthodoxy was not narrowly nationalistic, but genuinely universal. As a bishop in Russia, later as Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, Vladyka had the widest contact with the Orthodox bishops of the East, enjoyed their unbounded respect and great authority. Also, new facts were presented on the participation of Vladyka Anthony in negotiations with the Anglican Church and his role in the organization of protests against the persecution of clergy and faithful in Soviet Russia.
Several presentations touched upon the difficult topic of the position of St Patriarch Tikhon and Metropolitan Anthony in the tragic period of the Civil War and the early years of the emigration.
Other lectures were devoted to the ecclesiastical and political work of Metropolitan Anthony in the 1920's and 1930's as the Head of the Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority and then Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Specifically, Metropolitan Anthony's attitude towards the ukase of Patriarch Tikhon on the closing of the Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority and his efforts in connection with the church schism in the diaspora, and also the attempt to convene an All-Diaspora Council in 1923.
Protopriest Theodore Shevtsoff then shared his reminiscences of Vladyka Anthony. As a boy, Fr Theodore lived with his parents in Sremsky Karlovtsi and served as an altar boy under Metropolitan Anthony. He preserved these memories warmly throughout the years and communicated them with ardor.
Concurrent with the Conference was an exhibition entitled "Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), Archpastor of the Russian Diaspora." Displayed were unique items, including the mitre and panaghia of Vladyka Anthony, rare books he owned, publications of his works, original letters and ukases, and a large collection of photographs. The exhibition was housed in the Seminary Hall and was an illuminating complement to the scholarly lectures and speeches.
As noted by Deacon Vladimir Tsurikov, Deputy Dean of Holy Trinity Seminary and an organizer of the historical-theological conferences, this event was noteworthy not only in the life of the Seminary but for the Russian Orthodox Church as a whole.