His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus' Address at a Reception for His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and All Ukraine
(Towards the 15th anniversary of his repose.)
From the Editors: Marking the approaching 15th anniversary of the repose of Metropolitan Laurus (Skurla) of blessed memory, who died on the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, 16 March, 2008, and with the grievous news of the expulsion of the many residents of Kiev Pechersk Lavra and the students of Kiev's theological schools, we offer our readers the address of the late hierarch delivered at the farewell luncheon hosted by His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir on the day of the Holy Spirit in 2007.
Your Beatitude! Your Eminences! Beloved in the Lord Pastors and Flock of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate!
First of all, I express to you my heartfelt gratitude, my very beloved brother and concelebrator, Your Beatitude Vladyko Vladimir, for your fraternal greeting, for your brotherly invitation to joint prayer to the One God, our Lord Jesus Christ, which we shared here on the feast day of the brothers, Saints Cyril and Methodius, unifying in the Mystery of Christ. By our joint celebration of the Eucharist, we have borne witness that we comprise one single body, one spirit, one Church, and that with us is the One Christ, our God (I Corinthians 12:12, 20; Ephesians 4:4).
This ancient monastery, a lantern of Orthodoxy for almost a thousand years now, even today serves as a solid pillar and source of hope for the Orthodox flock in these difficult and complicated times. The Kievan Lavra of the Caves, in its monastic life, its piety, its love for labor, the holy life of its monks, always had great influence upon all aspects of the life of Russia. The Lavra was always a wellspring of education, of morality and of hierarchs. The Lavra Chronicles, the Kievo-Pechersky Paterik and other documents served as spiritually-edifying centerpieces among Orthodox Christians for many centuries.
More than once was the Lavra subjected to fires, to looting, and its residents to oppression and persecution. More than once did its irreplaceable ecclesiastical and cultural treasures--the legacy of the people--suffer destruction and vanished, but Divine mercy preserved the Lavra for us as a guiding star towards salvation, and it reveals the podvig of its brethren in standing for the truth.
The spiritual bonds between the Russian Church Abroad and the Kievan Lavra of the Caves are unbreakable. Our future First Hierarch, His Beatitude Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), after the murder of New Martyr Hierarch Vladimir, Metropolitan of Kiev and Galic, was elevated to the cathedra of Kiev, with his residence at the Lavra, until his arrest by Polish authorities. He then left the Homeland at the end of the Civil War along with the masses of Russian refugees. Archimandrite Vitaly (Maximenko) of Pochaev, future archbishop and Abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, USA, on the day before the murder of New Martyr Vladimir (who shares his name with the Illuminator of Kiev), who laid the foundation of the baptism of our people in blood for Christ, concelebrated with him at his final Divine Liturgy on earth.
On this blessed day and hour of our spiritual communion, I express my wish that these bonds between Russia Abroad and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have a positive influence upon the future development and deepening of our unity and joint service to God and mankind.
Your Beatitude! Once again I express my heartfelt gratitude for your brotherly love and hospitality, and I raise my prayers to the Altar of the Almighty that He send down His Omnipotent aid and heavenly blessing upon your zealous labors for the glory of the Holy Church of Christ.
In good and prayerful memory of our joint prayer here, upon the Golgotha of Holy Martyr Vladimir, I ask that you accept this Crucifix as a gift.
From the Editors: After the address read by His Eminence, the members of the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia gave His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir the Crucifix along with an icon of St John (Maximovich) of Shanghai and San Francisco containing a portion of his relics.