MUNICH: March 2, 2009
The German Diocese’s Vestnik Devotes an Issue To His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II
The year’s first bi-monthly issue of Vestnik [The Messenger] of the German Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is devoted to how the Orthodox Christians of Munich preserve the memory of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II.
Not long before his repose, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church celebrated Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia in Munich.
The magazine published the text of a letter written by His Holiness on December 3, 2009, to His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany after his return to Moscow, in which he fondly remembered his first Patriarchal service in a church of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
“Once more I am convinced how Providential and important it was for Holy Orthodoxy that the Act of Canonical Communion was signed on the feast day of the Ascension of the Lord, May 17, 2007, in Christ the Savior Cathedral. We now feel the fullness of unity of the Russian Orthodox Church, as we stand together before the Altar-table of God and are bound in prayer with one mouth and one heart,” wrote His Holiness.
Vestnik also published the sermon delivered by Archbishop Mark in Munich’s Cathedral two days after the repose of His Holiness the Patriarch, on December 7, 2008, in which he says that the unity of the Russian Church was the manifestation of the “hopes and life’s path” of the late Patriarch. The two services celebrated by His Holiness Patriarch Alexy in the Cathedral of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia allowed us, not for our worthiness but by Divine mercy, to be graced by the presence and prayers of this great Russian hierarch,” noted Vladyka Mark.
Vladyka recalls that “the Holy New Martyrs accompanied us in our reconciliation,” and that “our gradual unity was manifested through the understanding and patient participation of His Holiness.”
Archbishop Mark ponders in his sermon how he and other bishops were personally drawn to Patriarch Alexy II: “We were united with him first of all by the New Martyrs, for the process of reconciliation with the Church in Russia began when we accomplished what we had spoken of for decades, when, in 1981, we glorified the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia. When this host of saints was canonized in Russia in 2000, then for us hierarch and priests, for the flock of the Russian Church Abroad, it became clear that many of the old reasons for division which lasted until then had fallen to the wayside.”
After the divine services performed by His Holiness Patriarch Alexy in Munich on November 30, 2008, Vladyka Mark noted that he “neglected his health” and, despite the warnings of his doctors in Munich, continued to administer the Holy Gifts to the flock at the Cathedral for a long, long time. The hierarch stresses that Patriarch Alexy did not wish to upset convention and so took into account “many of the particularities in our divine services and traditions,” for instance, “that our Epistle and Gospel are read in two languages—Church Slavonic and German.”
The magazine also printed the following words about His Holiness: “He administered the Holy Gifts, he gave us the holy Eucharistic vessels to us as gifts, he shared with us his greatest consolation. His heart had desired—probably for his entire cognizant life—to see our ecclesiastical unity. Finally, having witnessed it, culminating at the Chalice of Christ in a cathedral of the Church Abroad dedicated to the Holy New Martyrs of Russia, and thereby having been given final ‘proof,’ his heart once again entrusted itself and the entire Church of Russia into the Lord’s strong hands.”
Vestnik also published a few photographs with brief captions of Munich and its Orthodox Christians bidding final farewell to His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II: “many were left with the image of a hand slowly rising, then offering a blessing…”