In accordance with a decree by the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, Toronto, Canada, will host celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the ascent to the Russian throne of the Romanov Dynasty on September 4-8, 2013. Initiator of this event was His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada, so the main celebrations of one of the key moments in Russian history will take place in Canadian Russia.
- Vladyka, why was this part of the Canadian Diocese chosen for this honor, and Holy Trinity Church in Toronto in particular?
- The request was submitted by the parish itself through its rector, Mitred Protopriest Vladimir Malchenko, Dean of Eastern Canada. Holy Trinity Parish in Toronto, by God’s mercy, today has the most parishioners of any church in the Church Abroad. It has a real Muscovite scale, like churches in the Fatherland: on a Sunday Liturgy there can be up to 500 worshipers, and more on holidays. The church’s decor and frescoes cannot be praised highly enough, and a general renovation project was recently completed. The “Henry Street parish,” as it is often called, has a long and glorious history. Today the heart of the parish consists of those who have come to Canada recently, from all points of our Fatherland, and there is a genuine interest of these members of the flock in the fate of Russia, which I would even say is providential.
I would add that Toronto is where Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna Romanova was laid to rest, the sister of our last Tsar. We hope to perform a pannikhida at her grave. All this was taken into consideration, and in the end of 2012, I submitted this appeal from Toronto for consideration by the Synod of Bishops. The request was granted. The parish established a special committee, which began to organize the celebrations: it began in early spring, and the events will take place in September. So far, thank God, everything is going smoothly. I note, by the way, that there will also be a meeting of the Synod of Bishops in Toronto at the time. A detailed list of all planned events has been published.
- The 300th anniversary of the House of Romanovs (which was the last great nation-wide event before Russia’s Second Time of Troubles) was widely celebrated. But the 400th anniversary of this dynasty, after almost a century since the collapse of the Russian Monarchy—why is this so important for us?
- We cannot forget who we are, either in the Fatherland or abroad. Incidentally, while the memory of Holy Orthodox Rus, the Russian Tsars, Anointed of God, the divinely-appointed Monarchy, was literally burned out of the people, the Russian diaspora never forgot the Russian Monarchy. The monarchist ideal, the rejection of which led first to the February Revolution, then to the October Revolution of 1917, did not fade away in the diaspora. Actually, the number of adherents to the monarchy was small at first, because in pre-Revolutionary Russia there were few monarchists in any of the social classes, especially among the educated—or at least those who considered themselves such. Still, by Divine Providence, many, many Russians, having lived abroad for a few years, began to abandon the progressive liberalism and other such errors so common among the intelligentsia. This return to their roots first of all almost always involved a return to the Church, the self-awareness of their Russian Orthodoxy. As far as one could tell from the sentiments of the so-called “second emigration,” something similar was beginning to happen in Russia, too. People began to sense loss, the waste of true moral values. Anyway, even long before the glorification of the Royal Martyrs, July 17, new style, the day of the murder of Righteous Tsar Nicholas II Alexandrovich and His August Family, was designated by our Church Abroad as a day of strict fasting, and pannikhidas were performed everywhere for the murdered Anointed of God. That is how the realization began that the Second Russian Time of Troubles was not the result of unsuccessful, erroneous politics, clever conspiracy by external and internal enemies of the Fatherland, etc, but Divine punishment for general apostasy from Divinely-established Rule. Naturally, there were beastly, fateful mistakes, and conspiracies did unfold. There was “betrayal, cowardice and deceit” everywhere, as we read in the journal of the Holy Royal Passion-bearer Tsar Nikolai Alexandrovich. But that was the crux of the matter, that because of our apostasy from the will of God, we could not escape those mistakes, or correct them, and did not find the strength to resist these conspiracies. We rejected the Anointed of God, and the Lord withdrew from us until we came to our senses. Actually, when the “Restrainer of evil” was taken away from us, the whole world was engulfed by a wave of evil. Today, in the words of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the Lord has replaced wrath with mercy towards Russia, and we must especially remember this and say to ourselves: “Cause me to know, O Lord, the way wherein I should walk.”
- Legally, Russia remains a constitutional monarchy, which could not be canceled either by the Tsar’s abdication nor moreover by the decree by the Kerensky government dated September 10, 1917, in which Russia was declared a republic. What lies ahead for Russia in your opinion, Vladyka?
- We must strive to reestablish the Divinely-established sovereignty in Russia, in all its fullness. You mentioned a constitutional, limited monarchy. This limitation does not come from God, but from man. But even a symbolic, almost ritual monarchy, like in Great Britain, still evokes a sense of respect and good will among people, even those who are alien to the idea of a monarchy. Why is this? Because all creatures sense their Creator, though we may resist and reject this feeling. We must move towards the understanding that the Divinely-established monarchical order is the only one able to resurrect Russia as Holy Rus. Everything else, whether a “liberal” government, or what they called the “Red civilization,” whose evil symbol is still not buried in the past and continues to desecrate the main square of the nation, all this was already tried by us on our own flesh and spirit, and only led us from one time of troubles to another. The constitutional Russia approached the First World War with the best economic indicators, it seemed great and powerful. Today we know what happened only three years later. Soviet Russia neared the last decade of the 20th century as a true superpower. Only one or two years later, the Third Russian Time of Troubles arrived. But by God’s grace, during that period of collapse, the Russian Orthodox Church rose and strengthened, which Her enemies, out of spiritual blindness, deemed was utterly destroyed and lacked any influence. The understanding by the whole people and by each of us individually of the need for a Divinely-established Monarchy for Russia is a complex process, and a sore point. But maybe, as we tire of contemplating the world’s political corruption and cruelty, we can more easily recognize that only a Sovereign Tsar is incorruptible, only he has no need for underhanded political intrigue, has no interest in any lobbies, but by the very essence of his service cannot sacrifice the interests of his nation to her foes. It seems that the time is ripe for such an understanding. Today’s Russian President, whom I have had the honor of meeting, has a true sense of the royal path of state-building, which is leading Russia out of the abyss in which it almost perished “from mutual quarreling out of despair” (the words of Hieromartyr Metropolitan Veniamin of Petrograd). Especially encouraging is how the President strives to find a variation of the Symphony of Church and State, without which the reestablishment of Holy Russia is impossible in principle. These views of the President of Russia found expression in the important historic role he played in the God-pleasing effort of restoring Russian Church unity in 2007. One can only regret that some who call themselves zealots of the Russian Church and patriots of Historic Russia who resisted this unity try to sabotage it, even resorting to slander and other such methods. In the end, all these “zealots” and “patriots” know not what they do, and they are among the most extreme haters of the Russian Church, of the Russian Orthodox people and Russian statehood.
By the way, when discussing external politics, let us not forget, too, that for the first 130 years after declaring independence, the United States and Imperial Russia were not only strategic partners, so to speak, but the closest of allies. Catherine the Great’s Russia rejected an offer to intervene in the War of Independence, the Russia of Paul I, “the Knight Tsar,” helped develop and deepen Russian-American economic ties, and the Russia of Alexander II, “the Emancipator,” supported President Lincoln and prevented the United States from collapse. May God grant that we return to this friendly division between two great powers.
As far as the restoration of the Monarchy is concerned, when the Lord allows the prophecies of St Seraphim of Sarov, St John of Kronstadt and other saintly fathers to be fulfilled, then we can hope that a Pomestny Zemsky Sobor [National Council of the Land—transl.] to be convened, as it was in 1613. On this Council, of course, it would be improper and even impossible to insist that it limit itself to any specific dynasty. This Council, which we do not yet dare speak of, will summon—I repeat, summon, not elect—“by the voices of its delegates” the one whom the Lord will entrust the protection of the Russian Land.
- May your words be fulfilled, Vladyka. What awaits those who go to Toronto?
- This will be a Church-wide celebration, for the entire Russian Orthodox Church, both in the Fatherland and abroad. This will be the only such celebration, not just for the Church Abroad, but for all of Russia. My Canadian brother hierarch, the head of the Patriarchal Parishes in Canada, His Grace Bishop Job, will participate. Other representative bishops of the fraternal Churches who serve in Canada are also invited. We expect guests from all over North America, and we hope from Russia. I already mentioned that the Synod of Bishops will be convening. We are in one of the most picturesque regions of “Canadian Russia”—Ruskoka youth camp on the Muskoka River. There is a splendid wooden church there built in the traditional Russian style, dedicated to Tsarevich-Martyr Alexei Nikolaevich. Our celebration will be graced by the presence of miracle-working icons: the Hodigitria [Protectress—transl.] of the Russian diaspora, the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign” and the Icon of the Mother of God “Softener of Hardened Hearts,” from the Fatherland.
I expect that everyone who has the opportunity will want to bear witness to this truly historic event.