12. Archbishop Pachomius Of Chernigov

Russia's Catacomb Saints

12
Archbishop Pachomius Of Chernigov
HIS BROTHER, ARCHBISHOP ABERCIUS, AND THEIR EPISTLE
Commemorated May 15 (†1938)


He who has acquired love, tastes Christ every day
and every hour and becomes immortal by it.
Love is much sweeter than life.  He who has
acquired love becomes clothed in God. 
   Saint Isaac the Syrian


There were three brother-bishops in the Kedrov family, native of the Viatka region.  The father, Peter Kedrov, was a church psalm-reader and gave his sons a good church unbringing and theological education.

The oldest son, Peter, the future hierarch-confessor Pachomius of Chernigov, was born exactly 100 years ago, in 1877.  He was serious, humble and meek by nature, pensive and church-oriented as he was growing up.  Having completed preparatory theological schooling, he entered the Kazan Theological Academy at the time when its rector was Anthony Khrapovitsky, the futrue Metropolitan and first Chief Hierarch of the Russian Church Outside of Russia.

The school spirit at that time was exceedingly fervent; it was truly one spiritual family, or rather a little army of monastically-minded students, and its heart was the young rector-bishop.  With unpretentious love he inspired his disciples with an unquenchable thirst for applying Orthodox truth to life, and this at a time when revolutionary ideas were making headway in the thoroughly Orthodox Holy Russia.  The students were thoroughly prepared, knowing well the spirit of the times, and were aflame to go into the world and teach the gospel of truth.  The Academy's church services, performed according to the Typicon, in which all took part, were a living fount of inspiration for the students.  Young Peter's part was the office candlelighter, which he fulfilled with the profound seriousness so characteristic of him.

Being a litttle too zealous in his religiousness, Peter decided to fulfill literally the Lord's commandment: If thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee (Matt.5:29), and one night he attempted to burn out his right eye with a candle.  His roommate at this time was Basil Maximenko, the future Archbishop Vitaly of Jordanville.  He was awakened in the middle of the night by the grinding of teeth of his roommate, who was trying in this way to endure the pain.  Seeing what had happened, he put up a cry and saved his comrade's eye.  However, the burns were so serious that it required surgery on eyelid and eyebrow, and the scar remained for the rest of his life.

In 1898 Peter graduated from the Academy, and Metropolitan Anthony tonsured him a monk, naming him Pachomius; upon his transfer to the diocese of Volhynia, Metropolitan Anthony took the young hieromonk with him, and here the latter did missionary work residing in the Derman Monastery near St. Job's Pochaev Lavra.  In 1911 he was consecrated bishop of Novgorod-Seversky, a vicar of Chernigov, and soon he was elevated to the see of the ancient Diocese of Chernigov itself, renowned for the holy relics of St. Theodosius, Bishop of Chernigov, who had been canonized in1896.  During the Revolution he took part in the council of 1917-18 and on October 30, 1917, delivered a report concerning the procedure of electing the partiarch; in this report he reflected the opinion of his preceptor, Metropolitan Anthony, whom he not only dearly loved, but whose pastoral zeal became engraved in his heart as well.

This pastoral awareness stayed with him his whole life.  This was clearly seen in his Epistle against the "legalization" of 1927 as well as in his pastoral activity in the period after the Russian Civil War.  When the White Army with his beloved Metropolitan Anthony retreated and the Red Army took full control of Russia, the country was in total collapse, with transportation paralyzed, but this did not stop the good shepherd.  With his archapstor's staff, Archbishop Pachomius visited all the churches in his diocese on foot!  Since the left bank of the Dniepr River, according to the new admininstrative division, belonged to the Chernigov diocese, he also had to visit the outskirts of Kiev, and thus he visited the Kiev Caves Lavra also.

While Archbishop of Chernigov, Pachomius was also the abbot of a local monastery where he resided.  The city of Chernigov was still living the life of Holy Russia at this time and righteous men and women roamed its streets; one of these was the fool-for-Christ's sake, Michael the Blessed.

In the world the righteous Michael was a highly respected civil engineer.  Once he was commissioned to build a large bridge.  The bridge was constructed according to his specifications.  One day this bridge collapsed, killing several people.  So profoundly was the engineer struck by the news of this tragedy, that he took off his expensive business suit and, putting on a long shirt, he left his home never to return.  He became a fool-for-Christ's-sake.  He ate very little, had almost no place to sleep, knelt whole nights in prayer, and spoke very little, saying only, "Repent."  The blessed Michael achieved great sanctity and frequently visited Archbishop Pachomius.  When he died in 1922, the whole city lamented his righteous death and took part in the burial performed by Archbishop Pachomius with bitter tears in his eye.  The mysteries revealed through this holy fool-for-Christ about the future of Russia and the whole world were undoubtedly shared with Archbishop Pachomius, for the latter was of kindred spirit and able to understand and hold the mysteries of God in his heart.

The same year the Communist authorities made many attempts to arrest Archbishop Pachomius.  One day they stormed into the cathedral while the Divine Liturgy was being celebrated in order to arrest him on the spot.  The crowd of believers, however, thronged straight to the altar and prevented for a time the arrest of their beloved Archpastor.  But the G.P. U. was not easily dissuaded from abandoning it s vicious scheme.  The Archbishop had a habit of remaining in the altar a long time after the service and this day, when only he and his cell-attendant remained, the G. P. U. agents burst into the sancutary and captured their holy victim.  Thus was Archbishop Pachomius arrested.  He was released only to be arrested over and over again.  All these arrests seemed to him to be a ceaseless sequence of nightmares which finally began to undermine his peace of soul.  About the same time, the Communist authorities throughout the whole of Russia began a blasphemous "investigation" of holy relics, opening the shrines of many saints with an attempt to prove "scientifically" to the public the assumed falsity of the saints' incorruptibility.  The movement produced frightful spectacles of sacrilege, evoking enormous protests and resistance by the people, many of whom suffered imprisonment and banishment.  But the "scientific investigators" were themselves put to shame, for they themsleves had to admit the incorruptibility of the relics, which they could not explain scientifically, and this was printed in all the newspapers.  The believing Orthodox rejoiced at the outcome, but the authorities nevertheless did their work: they placed the saints' relics in anti-religious museums as "mummies."  This campaign caused some conscientious bishops even to die out of desperate sorrow at the mockery of the saints, as happened with Archbishop Anatole of Irkutsk.

Archbishop Pachomius too had to suffer in this campaign.  The relics of St. Theodosius were required to be stripped and exposed to the public.  Usually the atheistic commission of "scientists" would shake and toss the relics, but Archbishop Pachomius stood his ground and, having put on epitrachelion and cuffs, did the unwrapping of the relics himself, shedding painful tears in the presence of a large crowd of believers, who wept and sobbed, seeing that the Communists would not leave even the dead alone.  The late Archbishop Leonty of Chile, a close friend of Archbishop Pachomius, has preserved for us a rare photograph of the opening of the relics of St. Theodosius of Chernigov, showing the grieving Archbishop Pachomius holding the relics, surrounded by his grief-stricken flock.  After this the relics were confiscated, brought to Perograd and exposed in an anti-religious museum together with dead rats and fossilized bones.  But the believers, having bribed the guards, secretly served catacomb services before the relics in the middle of the night.  Evidently in connection with this Archbishop Pachomius was arrested.

After his release in 1923 Pachomius could not return to his diocese but found shelter in the St. Daniel Monastery of Moscow, whose abbot was the last rector of the Moscow Theological Academy, Archbishop Theodore (Pozdeyev,) who still mangaed somehow to keep the school going.  Archbishop Theodore gave shelter to many banished bishops; at times there were as many as ten bishops living in the monastery, which after 1927 became a center of the anti-Sergian clergy.  Archbishop Theodore was in opposition even to Patriarch Tikhon over what he considered the latter's close contact with Communist government.  In this monastery the novice Basil, the future Archbishop Leonty of Chile, met Archbishop Pachomius and saw him taking part in a council with Patriarch Tikhon.  He even received a lettter from Archbishop Pachomius (which has been preserved) in which the confessor, giving his blessing, says that he doubts "that the Lord will make us meet again."

Archbishop Pachomius' younger brother Procopius, also a theologian, before becoming a monk was teaching the New Testament in the Vilna Theological Seminary.  Becoming tonsured with the name Abercius, he was soon made bishop of Zhitomir and resided in the Theophany Monastery there.  He was well received by his flock.  He was young with blond wavy hair, very pious, energetic, friendly, and looked full of life and health.  He was strong in faith, kind, accessible, and was really loved by all.  He always gave sermons.  He served with great solemnity, and liked to make processions over long distances, visiting towns and villages, singing all the way with all the people, giving sermons in which he openly indicated the path by which Chrisitans should go in those perilous times for the faith.  Soon, however, the processions were forbidden.  He also loved all-night vigils, ending at dawn, and had them often, gathering many people for them.  Then he was arrested, broken down, then released only to be arrested again after his co-authorship with his brother of the Epistle against the Declaration of Metropolitan Sergius, after which he was never heard of again.  In 1927 the infamous Declaration of Metropolitan Sergius with its "legalization" of the Church (under Soviet terms) gave the final blow to Orthodox believers, who had only rejoiced as long as the persecutions came from the outside but did not take hold of the Church's heart.  Archbishop Pachomius was one of the first to protest, writing together with his brother Archbishop Abercius, the important document, which was addressed not directly to Metropolitan Sergius but to the faithful in general.  It gives a thorough picture of the church conditions which resulted after the Declaration.

Shortly after writing this Epistle, Archbishop Pachomius was arrested and sent first to Solovki, then in 1931 to the slave-labor camp at Mai-Guba that was building the Baltic-White Sea Canal.  Prof. Nesterov, who was there at this time relates that Archbishop Pachomius arrived there almost an invalid, with paralysis of the facial nerves.  Because of his physical weakness he could not be used in the construction of the building and was therefore sent in 1932 to a camp for invalids at Kuzema; but even here he was sent out to physical labor which was very difficult for him: carrying water, baking bread, etc.

Prof. Nesterov relates an incident from this period which is very characterstic of the Archbishop.  One of the imprisoned professors was working in the office of the Kuzema camp as a scribe.  He had to compile a list in short order of those who had been sent to a different work point in the Kuzema camp and had to work all night.  The professor was tormented and irritable.  In the morning Archbishop Pachomius came into the office and asked the professor whether he knew where and when they were being sent.  The professor replied sharply: "You bother me, Vladika!" and added a crude comment.  Archbishop Pachomius humbly bowed down to his feet, asking forgivenss for irritating him by his question.  The professor became upset and in his turn asked forgivenss of the Archbishop for his crudeness.

In pesonal conversations with Prof. Nesterov, Archbishop Pachomius often condemned the policy of Metropolitan Sergius more sharply and catergorically than in his Epistle.   At this time the results of Metropolitan Sergius' policy had become clear, both with regard to the fate of the Church itself in general, and with regard to the banished bishops in particular.  In place of the promised legalization, the liquidation of churches and clergy was proceeding at an increasing tempo.  Bishops and priests languished in prison without any hope of liberation.  Exiles and arrests not only did not cease, but even increased.

Archbishop Pachomius recognized as head of the Church not Metropolitan Sergius, but Metropolitan Cyril, as was logical according to the instructions of Patriarch Tikhon.  And when a kind of Church was formed at the places of imprisonment, where an immense number of bishops, priests and believers were to be found, Archbishop Pachomius recognized as the head of this Church Metropolitan 
Seraphim (Samoilovich) of Uglich, who at that time was imprisoned and working as a scribe at the women's concentration camp at Mai-Guba.

In the absence of Archbishop Pachomius, all churches of the Chernigov Diocese commemorated Metropolitan Sergius until 1930, and those who followed their archpastor in refusing to accept the "legalization" had to go to Kiev, to the community of Abbess Sophia, to receive the Holy Mysteries.

The brother-bishops had another brother, Michael, who between the two wars was a theology teacher in Poland at the Kremenetz and Vilna Seminaries.  After the Second World War he became a monk and was consecrated bishop of Vraclaw, where he soon died.

The brother-bishops, Pachomius and Abercius, as their document clearly reveals, belong to the ranks of the confessors fo the true Orthodox Church of Russia in the 20th century.  Their epistle, while moderate in tone and even discouraging an immediate break in communion with Metropolitan Sergius (a break which they found it later necessary to make), is so precise in its diagnosis of the mistakes of the new church policy of Metropolitan Sergius that it seems contemporary with our own day, fifty years later, when the results of these mistakes are glaringly evident to everyone.  Above all, as with all the founding fathers of the Catacomb Church in Russia, the emphasis of the Epistle is on the spiritual freedom without which the Church can become merely another instrument of worldly powers.

The Epistle is not found in the ususal printed and manuscript sources of this period, but was preserved by E. N. Lopeshanskaya, the secretary of Archbishop Pachomius' vicar, Bishop Damascene of Glukhov, another ardent opponent of the Declaration.  She devoted her whole life to the preservation of Bishop Damascene's work and significance, and shortly before her death in San Francisco in 1972 was able to print this Epistle together with other materials on the "Bishop-Confessors" who opposed Metropolitan Sergius.


THE EPISTLE OF THE BROTHER BISHOPS

ARCHBISHOP PACHOMIUS OF OF CHERNIGOV AND ARCHBISHOP ABERCIUS OF ZHITOMIR

Document of Late 1927

It would seem that up until this time we have not been able to come to terms with the government, and we do not enjoy the rights which are supposedly provided by the laws of the Soviet Republic to every religion; and this not at all because our Church is counter-revolutionary.  Our archpastors and church laymen, who are languishing in the bonds of banishment and bitter labors, have not all occupied themselves with any kind of anti-government activity.  This is now evident to everyone. The true reason for the grievous manifestations is to be found in the fundamental divergence of our basic religious views on God's world and human life, on the aims and purposes of our earthly existence, with the Communist views which are placed by the Soviet government as the foundation of the life of its citizens: that which for us is holy and an indisputable truth, for the atheists is opium, superstition, deception, charlatanry, and perhaps even counter-revolutionary - for example, the idea of the Patriarchate, holy icons, holy relics, our holy Mysteries, and our Divine services, and the very faith in Christ crucified.  Thus, there is again confirmed for the whole world the eternal truth of the words of the great Apostle Paul, "The word of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but for us who are being saved it is the power of God.  We preach Christ crucified: unto the Jews a stumbling block, unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the pwoer of God and the wisdom of God ( I Cor. 1:18, 23-24).  We preach wisdom among them that are perfect: yet a wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, who are coming to nought.  But we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, hidden, which none of the rulers of this world have understood (I Cor. 2:6-8). Their minds have been blinded by god of this world (II Cor. 4:4); the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged (I Cor. 2:14)."  Thus, there can be no union between Church and State, when it has to do with our Orthodox Church and the Soviet Union, by reason of the fundamental difference in the basic views of one and the other side.  There is possible only a conditional agreement as to practical mutual relationships, solely on the foundation of the principle of the separation of Church and State.

In actual fact, can one even conceive the Soviet State in union with the church?  A State religion in an anti-religious State!  A government Church in an atheist government!  This is an absurdity; it contradicts the nature of the Church and the Soviet State; this is unacceptable both for a sincerely religious person and for an honest atheist.  However, they are trying to bring this absurdity into realization before our eyes.  Our present leaders of the church life, having a limited horizon, have begun to conduct a "new course of church policy."  But this new path wanders off into the old paths and and comes down to the attempt to organize a State Church as it was in the Russian Empire.

Already in the Declaration of Metropolitan Sergius and his Synod, which was published with a mocking and blasphemous preface in Izvestia on August 19, 1927, among other unfortunate assertions and expressions there was allowed something that testifies to the erasing by the authors of this most grievous document of the boundary between Church and State.  How is it possible for a sincere person to declare without qualification that the joys and sorrows of the Soviet Union, as our native land, are the same for the Orthodox Church?  The Soviet Union is a State, and such an identity of joys and sorrows the Holy Church cannot have with any government, and all the more with one that does not even conceal the fact that it would desire to liquidate every religion in general.  Being drawn into church politics, our leaders have forgotten the exhortation of the holy Apostle, "Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness and iniquity?  Or what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial?  Or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever? (II Cor. 6:14-15).

If the majority of archpastors, pastors, and laymen, reading these and similar expressions in the Declaration of Metropolitan Sergius, have not hastened to protest, it is out of fear lest a premature announcement call forth a division in the Church, and as a result of a hope that, in their activity, Metropolitan Sergius and his Synod will correct the mistakes which they have allowed on paper.  But, alas, reality has not justified our hopes.  One must keep in mind that in general, when there is a union of the Church with a State having at its disposal outward power and all means of purely physical activity, then at the slightest violation of the ideally just mutual relations, the suffering side will always be the Church; even the freedom of its inward life is easily violated in view of the usual striving of the State to turn the Church administrative institutions into the organs of its own government.  All the more, an anti-religious State which is unfriendly toward the Church, for which State certain of the unquestioned foundations of the inward life of the Church and its moral authority are superstitions, undeserving any attention-such a State, of course, will not stand on ceremony.  It will use the church apparatus (a servile Synod, accomodating leaders) for its political aims (which are not at all for the benefit of holy faith), and it will place the Church in a degrading position.  The principle of the spiritual freedom of the Church and the non-interference of the Church in politics will immediately be violated by such a State-something we have already seen in actuality.

This why Metropolitan Sergius, acting against the Soviet law concerning the "Separation of Church and State," has entered upon a very dangerous path.

And what is the result?  Now it has already become clear that Metropolitan Sergius and his Synod have fallen under the frightful pressure of the agents of the government, even in their own ecclesiastical activity.  Thus, the assignment and transfer of bishops is performed with the extremely close participation of the Soviet government; locally, the administrative and security organs watch to see whether the inhabitants accept the bishops who have been sent by the Synod of Metropolitan Sergius (the Orthodox bishops appear to their flocks under police protection), whether the name of Metropolitan Sergius is commemorated at the Divine Services, and whether there is a prayer for the government (a government that considers prayer as charlatanry and ridicules it).  Active church people who do not recognize Metropolitan Sergius are already being sent in banishment to Solovki, where the number of bishops grows every year; and even the question of the distribution and transfer of clergy is decided more by the Soviet government than by the church authority.  The archpastoral sees, despite the decrees of the Sobor of 1917-18, are closed down in great numbers, which weakens the Church; and the bishops who are assigned, when they come to their posts, are obliged first of all to report to the well-known government establishments regarding their intentions and plans for church work, and to receive from them guiding instructions.  The civil authority now has no need to use its own means to remove disagreeable church people; it simply gives a (secret) order for this to the Synod or to the local bishop.  Metropolitan Sergius is a total slave, an obedient instrument in the hands of persons well-known to us, the representatives of separate Soviet institutions, and he has totally lost his moral-church authority, despite the word of the Apostle (II Tim. 2:15); because, behind every one even of his ecclesiastical orders, for us who are frightened and suspicious, there is to be seen an instigation from "those who are without."  Besides this, our church administrative apparatus is placed in an impermissable nearness to the police organs in the Soviet government, something there has never been in the history of the Church and which cannot be tolerated.  In a word, such a degradation and spitting upon the holy Church has never yet endured.

But the holy Apostle Paul has handed down to us: "Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for it, that He might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but it should be holy and without blemish (Eph. 5:25-27)."  The church can be subjected to outward misfortunes, to persecutions and to difficult situations; but it cannot renounce its spiritual freedom and dignity.  On the contrary, in misfortunes it shines yet more within, and is constantly renewed. (II Cor. 4:16-17).  Such is the law of spiritual life, both of the individual Christian and of the whole Church of Christ; and for this reason we understand bonds and sorrows as the mercy of God, for the Lord crowns His faithful slaves for them (II Cor. 4:17).  But the Church will never agree to the degradation of the Holy Church, to the trampling upon its inward freedom.  One cannot give over the freedom of the Church and its dignity to be trampled upon, "only that they may not be persecuted for the Cross of Christ (Gal. 6:12)," in the words of the Apostle.

The legalization which Metropolitan Sergius and his Synod are striving to conduct is totally unacceptable and impossible, because it contradicts the Soviet laws (is unlawful, illegal), is contrary to the nature of things, to the nature of the Church and the Soviet State, and is contrary to reason, for it strives to join what cannot be joined.  Such a reform cannot be put into life practically, and quite evidently it is collapsing.  In regard to the Church, it is a criminal act, for it sells the freedom of the Church's inward life and blasphemously degrades her sanctity and dignity.

As a plan of the opponents of the Church of God and the Christian religion, the reform of Metropolitan Sergius is a logical measure, well thought-through (but not by him, of course), with the aims of bringing disorder into the Holy Church and destroying the religious life of the country. But an Orthodox Metropolitan and a Patriarchal Synod cannot support such ends.

But even if in the new church policy of Metropolitan Sergius there were not anything criminal or reprehensible with regard to the Church, still it would be necessary to reject it for this reason alone, that without having bettered the outward condition of the Church, to which it pretended, it has evoked great disturbance and scandal in the church people and, in general, in the majority of believers, from hierarchs to laymen.

The heart of a good shepherd naturally is pained from unbearable grief at seeing this shocking picture of great church desolation, which has already been half-accomplished by the hand of a leader of the Church.  We do not need such church reforms.  Let us rather again and again go into bonds and banishment, but only preserve the souls of the people of God who has been entrusted to us; for we shall all give a great answer for the perdition of our children.  "Woe unto the world because of occasions for stumbling; for it must needs be that the offences come; but woe to that man through whom the offences cometh" (Matt. 18:6-7, 10).  The holy Apostle Paul teaches: If you personally have an actual spiritual freedom and a higher understanding, so that what is outward does not disturb you, and even if you are correct in your acts which are unusual for the majority, still, if these acts disturb the weak conscience of a brother, beware lest your freedom serve as an occasion of stumbling for the weak and lest from your knowledge, your weak brother should perish, for whom Christ, died, and thus sinning against your brethren and wounding their infirm consciences, you sin against Christ. (I Cor. 8:9-13).

"So then let us follow after things which make for peace, and things whereby we may edify one another" (Rom. 14:15-20).  This the Apostle said with regard to food, but among us the question of general church life is considerably more important than the question of food and of our personal acts, and the occasion for stumbling in the spiritual area is much more crucial.  "Give no occasion of stumbling, either to Jews or Greeks, or the Church of God; even as I please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved" (I Cor. 10:24, 32-33).  This is the obligatory rule for all pastors of the Church-not to seek their own profit, but the profit of the many so that they might be saved.

The chief canonical foundation of the lawfulness of authority in the Russian Church, both of Metropolitan Peter and of Metropolitan Sergius (the latter while Metropolitan Peter is absent), is to be found in the fact that both the one and the other were called and supported in their temporary situation by the episcopate of the Russian Orthodox Church as a whole.  Apart from this, in our question it is important to remember certain personal qualities of Metropolitan Sergius.  He is an irreproachable monk, a modest, reverent archpastor, a profound church thinker, author of a theological book of exalted patristic spirit, The Orthodox Teaching on Salvation, a good teacher of future clergy in the theological academies, and a good and active churchman whom we all so revered and loved.  True, in his practical activity Metropolitan Sergius, having a weak will, always had need to depend on the stronger wills of his friends.  And when this support was taken away from him for any reason, he began often to waver and make mistakes from weakness of will. (Alas, in 1922 Metropolitan Sergius went even so far as to recognize the Higher Church Authority of the"Living Church.")  At the present time, Metropolitan Sergius not only has been deliberately deprived of his friends, but he has been surrounded by a pre-determined assortment of people, who have entered into his Synod not at his own choice.  Under the influence of this new environment and of pressure from "those without," after several confinements in the Moscow "inner prison," Metropolitan Sergius accepted his new "course" of church policy, which after a prolonged resistance he finally recognized as "correct" and obligatory for the Christian, and as answering to the needs of the Church.  It is not to be doubted, moreover, that in this undertaking of his, Metropolitan Sergius did not have any evil aims himself with regard to the Holy Church.  Of course, he hoped to achieve peace in Church life and the release of prisoners.  In a word, a trusting man hoped to arrange the outward prosperity of the Church (after he had fulfilled the demands made of him and after the promises given to him would be fulfilled), and he expected from this also the inward good order of religious life.

The very principle of Metropolitan Sergius' aim - the bringing of the outward forms of church life into agreement with contemporary socio-political conditions, as a true legalization - is in essence correct, and, we repeat, it is according to the Apostolic teaching in spirit.  But our weak-willed, though not badly-intentioned, leader, being subjected to insistent outward influence, did not hold firm within the ecclesiastical boundaries of this principle, having over-evaluated the significance of outward conditions for religious life, and chose as means for his correct aim not the confession of church truth, but rather personal cunning, lack of sincerity, and politics.  Having rasied such a weapon, unsuitable for us in church activity, Metropolitan Sergius has himself suffered from it, for the sons of this age are always more skilled than the sons of light in the use of this weapon.

But Metropolitan Sergius trusted in his own wisdom, in worldly means, instead of entirely hoping in the mercy and help of God, in the power of the Truth of Christ, having armed himself with the struggles of purity and confession and constant preparedness to endure sorrows and persecutions, by which struggles of the faithful the Chruch of God is adorned and eternally renewed, and not by the joys of life, as the Renovationists preach.  But worldly means of battle, being unsuitable for an active religious Christian, the Apostle Paul totally renounces and condemns.  He chastizes even the shadow of hypocrisy (Gal. 2:11-14) and commands all Christians to renounce lying and to "speak the truth each one with his neighbor" (Eph. 4:25; Col.3:9).  Metropolitan Sergius, establishing a mutual relationship between the Church and the Soviet State, has deviated in practice from the fundamental and correct idea which determines these relations; and having chosen worldly methods of activity, he has violated the tradition of the Orthodox Church regarding church politics; at the same time, he does not stand firm even on the basis of Soviet law.  And on such a false foundation, what good thing can be built?  But Metropolitan Sergius did not allow a stepping away in principle from the Truth, the Faith, and church teaching, and he has not violated the canonical order of the Church.  In any case his sin is not of a dogmatic or canonical character, but one of weakness in practice and of practical mistakes, of an incorrect direction of church policy and administrative activities.  But since his policy has turned out in its result to be harmful and degrading for the Church of God, it must be changed, corrected, or else the unsuccessful administrator must be removed, perhaps a penance must be placed upon him, but he should not be excommunicated from the Church as an apostate, and there should not be a break of canonical communion with him as with a heretic or schismatic before the judgment of a Council.

Although at the present time there is no possibility of assembling a full Council of bishops for the consideration of general questions (including the question of public policy and the relation of the Church to the State), still considering the mistakes and the unacceptable activities of the leader, the bishops can raise their voices, for these mistakes have already been sufficiently made clear.  The bishops are even obliged to step forth, and can even demand from the leader that he correct his mistakes and abandon the false path of worldly cunning in church matters.

To declare a premature break with the leader, or to refuse to participate in church government, to go into retirement; this would mean to leave one's flock during the misfortunes of the Holy Church, to go off to the side, giving place for the enemy, just so that one's own clean garments might console oneself with the midst of the general confusion, and so that one might console oneself with the thought that we are not participating in the sin of the leader.  But by this we commit the sin of insensitivity in the sorrows and sufferings of the Holy Church, while the responsibility for church life is not taken away from us.  In the Church, misfortunes of antiquity, a hermit of many years would leave the desert so as to serve for the pacification of the suffering Church.  The holy Apostle shows in himself a flaming desire to be united through death with Christ in the heavenly mansions, so as to live in the sorrowful flesh for the benefit of his flock (Phil. 1:21-26).  We have occasion to meet-whether before their bonds or after, and many times in bonds - with very many archpastors who have endured the contemporary trials or have sat out their terms, and we have conversed with them personally or are in correspondence with them, and with full assurance we can declare that they will never give their approval to the work of Metropolitan Sergius as it is now proceeding.  On the contrary, all with one accord say, with almost identical words, that they grieve and are greatly disturbed, even though they do not find it possible to break communion with Metropolitan Sergius.  But why do they not give their voices?  Why do they not manifest their protest?  Because they are isolated, and, as a result of this they are insufficiently informed, and they are not able to decide to express themselves in a final way without sufficient facts, all the more in that they know what significance will be given to their response.  The Declaration of Metropolitan Sergius is known to prisoners only from the press, and it causes disturbance, grief, and fear for the life of the Holy Church.  But how its reform is being carried out in fact-how can the prisoners and exiles in the Siberian tundra or the Ziryani swamps know about this?

But if the temporary substitute of the Patriarchal Locum Tenens will stubbornly continue in his scheme, and will not free his post, we will depart from him as a whole Church, for the episcopate has the right and the foundation to deprive him of the authority in which it clothed him for building up and not destroying (II Cor. 10:8) the life of the Church.  A man without will and not firm cannot guide church life in our times.  Metropolitan Sergius has not been able to fulfill the command of the Apostle, "Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time"(Col 4:5).  With those that are without he has been "unequally yoked" (IICor. 6:14), and he must correct his mistake.  But if he is not strong enough to do this himself, let him leave it to others, freeing his place as leader of the Russian Orthodox Church.  But if Metropolitan Sergius disobeys the voice of the Chruch and will stubbornly continue in his policy and pretend to the authority of the chief hierarch, then he of course will turn out to be a church rebel and schismatic.

Faithful laymen, like small children, with their own breasts are striving to protect from mockery and crude offenses their Mother, the Holy Church which to all of us is dearer than life and freedom.  But children are powerless.  The fathers must step forth.  You, archpastors and masters: upon you the Lord has placed the great responsibility for the fate of the Holy Church; to you has been entrusted its defense; you will give and answer to the Lord God for the souls of your spiritual children, for whom Christ died. to you is addressed the word of Christ, "I say unto you, My friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.  But I will warn your whom ye should fear: Fear him, who after he hath killed, hath power to cast your soul into hell; yea, I say unto your, fear him" (Luke 12:4-5).

The bonds of the servants of Christ serve to the greater success of the preaching of the Gospel, as it was also among the Apostles.  "Most of the brethren in the Lord, being confident through my bonds, are more abundantly bold to speak the word of God without fear.  I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.  For I know that this shall turn out to my salvation, through your supplication and the co-operation of the Spirit of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:14, 18-19).  May there be glory to Him in the Church unto the ages of ages.  Amen.

Note (by the authors): In 1905, on February 17, at a moleben in the St. Petersburg Theological Academy, Metropolitan Sergius gave a talk about the time when the civil law would cease to be a defense and a firm wall for the Russian Church.  "Then," prophesied our present leader, "they will demand of us not beautiful phrases, not memorized syllogisms, but spirit and life; they will demand faith, and flaming faithfulness, the penetration of the Spirit of Christ.  They will demand that we should write not with ink (and ink, it may be, borrowed from foreign inkwells at that), but with the blood of our own breasts.  Will we answer to these demands, will we hold up under this fiery trial, will we endure at this truly firghtful judgment?  After all, it is not our well-wishing leadership that will judge us, and not we ourselves, but the Church of God itself will judge us, the Orthodox people itself which has entrusted to us the Church's work, and which without any pity will turn away from us, will cast us out, if it finds in us only a 'whited sepulchre' and a 'salt which has lost its savor.' "

Now there has begun upon us the judgment of the Holy Church.  Will the well-founded prophetic words of Metropolitan Sergius be fulfilled?  And first of all, will they be fulfilled in him?


Editor's Afterword (E. N. Lopeshanaskaya)

No, his own prophetic words were not fulfilled in Metropolitan Sergius.  He remained unharmed in the midst of the storm which surrounded him.  He looked unfeelingly, indifferently on what was being done around him.  Under the blows of hammers, there fell the age-old, irreplaceable holy things of Orthodoxy in the Russian land.  Beyond the polar circle and in the sands of Turkestan vanished those whom he knew, with whom he studied, with whom he stood before the Altar, who going to Golgotha, cast at him the reproach of betraying the Church.  He outlived everything, even his own Declaration, which remained a piece of paper.

In the same way, the brother bishops, Bishops Pachomius of Chernigov and Abercius of Zhitomir, disappeared in the Soviet vastnesses.  Of them there remains only this Epistle.  He who will read it heedfully, entering deeply into every word, will clearly place before himself both their sufferings, and their flaming faith, and their unwavering firmness.  Their struggle is all the higher in that they saw ahead the ever more thickly gathering clouds, and the approaching great storm which was gathering against the whole Christian world.



III

HIS LAST YEARS

Concerning the last period in the life of this Church Father of the last period of Christianity, we have a detailed picture as recalled by his nephew, now an archimandrite living in America.  This testament is very characteristic of the inhuman times when the hated communism was being forced upon the middle strata of society-ordinary people who were trying to live peacefully and quietly, not harming anyone. 
"I was born in 1915.  My father was a priest as was my mother's father.  We lived in the Byatka diocese in the village of Kusin-Kubshinskoe.  My mother's brothers were the two future bishops, Pachomius and Abercius, whom we seven brothers later regretted that we never knew as we were growing up.  We went to the local schools.  There was an intolerable bias and repression promoted by the school system upon all children of clergy families, even though the churches were already closed and the wearing of the priestly garb was strictly forbidden.  Nevertheless, once they found out that someone was the child of a clergyman, there was no end to the prejudiced harassment of the absolutely innocent youngster.  This torment would stop only if the child would sign a statement renouncing his parents as 'enemies of the people.'  Such a statement was then publicized and the child himself marked for life.

"My father was arrested.  In his absence the authorities closed the church, boarded up the door and posted a bill announcing its closure to the believers.  In actuality this meant that the church was open to vandalism.  Then they released my father from the prison with the deliberate intent of bringing him to the steps of his desecrated church, so he could see with obvious pain the taking down of the bells which he knew were to be melted down for the purpose of making guns to kill people.  Thus, our church was destroyed.  Other churches were turned into garages, graineries, chicken hatcheries ...; chapels as a rule were turned into public lavatories.  Father stayed home since he had no right even to work.

"One day, my older brother Alexander confessed to my mother that in school they were demanding that he sign a paper renouncing his father.  If he refused he was to be expelled from the school.  Alexander had no intention of signing any such renunciation which he considered to be an unjustifiable betrayal of his father whom he so loved and respected.  To avoid the consequences of refusing to sign the renunciation, for the past week he had secretly gone to the woods when the other children went to school, returning home after school was dismissed.  But he knew he could not continue this any longer.  Mother told this to our father.  He called Alexander in to see him and said, 'Sit down, son.  Take a pen and sign the renunciation.'  My brother refused.  Then my father angrily demanded that he write and began to dictate the text of the renunciatiion himself...  Alexander broke down and began to cry.  Then my father began to beg him saying, 'My dearest Sashik, my darling boy.  I'm old and will soon be arrested and then die.  You have a whole lilfe ahead of you.  Be reasonable, my boy.  You must get an education and acquire a good position, for without it you will perish in this society.  I know that you love me; for my sake, sign this paper which will help you to get along.'  But my brother remained steadfast in his refusal to betray our father and would not sign the renunciation.  The next day he left home and we did not see him for many years.  Soon after this incident, my father, Priest-Martyr Vladimir Zagarsky, was arrested and exiled to Komsomolsk on the Amur River where he was put to work logging in order to drain swamps.  And he drowned there in 1937.

"Several years later, on one sunny day, we were all surprised by a visit - it was our Alexander!  He was healthy, happy, and brought us many gifts.  He told us that not wanting to betray his beloved father, he had left home and gone to a large city.  He was then 12 years old and he joined a group of homeless juvenile delinquents.  When he was picked up by the police, he gave them a different name and story about himself.  He was sent to a school as a legitimate Soviet citizen, received a good profession and now he had a good paying job, and was about to get married.  But he never betrayed his father.  What an inspiring example of honor and bravery-in a child!

"After the arrest of my father I also had to go to another town, to Yaransk where there were many schools.  I stayed there with my mother's brother-the widowed priest Nicholas, his son Boris, and my Aunt Vera, my mother's sister who had never married.  There I lived and went to school.  Not long after my arrival I noticed something strange: someone's steps were often heard pacing in the attic, but I was afraid to ask who it was.  I also noticed that my aunt carried food upstairs to the attic every day.  One summer day, when my cousin and I were playing in the loft of the barn, we heard a strange noise.  From the barn window we clearly saw that my aunt was being pushed out of the attic window by some large, bearded man.  We yelled out whether she needed help, but she quickly answered, 'No, don't let him see you.'  It turned out that she had brought up the dinner and this man had wanted to escape.  My aunt had prevented him from jumping out of the window and he had been trying to push her out of his way when we saw him.  But even after this we did not dare to ask her openly about him.  However, I pieced together what she later confirmed for me: it was my uncle Archbishop Pachomius.

"When in Solovki or the Mai-Guba prison labor camps, or wherever else he was tortured, he had experienced such indescribable torment that he had become a physical invalid, incapable of doing the work demanded of him by the cruel camp administration.  The condition put him on a list of veritable 'deadman's' status.  His soul could no longer endure the anti-human conditions, and he had a mental breakdown.  Of course, in such cases, the communists, in accordance with Lenin's directives, conveniently exterminate their victims so as not to be bothered with caring for them.  But in the case of my uncle it would only serve to advance the cause of world atheism to let a mad bishop loose, so that the very sight of him would discredit faith in God among simple people.  And so, to show how benevolent the Soviet Union is toward sick people, he was deliberately well-groomed and warmly dressed, and under a careful convoy accompaniment, my poor uncle was 'graciously' brought back to his family from the 'northern resort' to the silent astonishment of his brother and sister who received him and took care of him.  They placed him in the attic so as not to attract attention of the neighbors, lest he, 'a servant of the cult' be spotted and shot, bringing with it a long line of trying consequences. Aunt Vera took care of him exclusively.  He was locked up and until that day in the barn, I had never seen him.  Evidently, during his moments of sanity, he would realize what a burden he caused to his close ones and naturally wanted to escape.  It was in this state that I had seen him for the first time.  What a handsome figure he was though, tall, stately-a true innocent sufferer for the sins of the world.

"Meanwhile, another communist decree came out: throughout the whole of Russia: not a single person was permitted to possess any gold or silver; it had to be given over to the authorities.  Those citizens who would not hand over any such things voluntarily, risked an unceremonious visitation by a special search band which could break in at any time, day or night, and go through all one's possessions and confiscate anything at their whim.  Everybody, already totally robbed of anything that had any appreciable value, would nevertheless patiently bring in their watches, wedding rings, spoons, forks, etc., so as not to be terrorized.  One old lady, a school friend of my uncle Nicholas' childhood days, brought to him to hide her valuables so that she would have something to sell when times got even worse.  As a pastor he could not refuse her.  They were placed behind a brick in the fireplace. But the search committee came and found them.  My uncle was tried and sentenced to three years of imprisonment.  I witnessed the trial and was amazed at the absurdity of the case.  However, I understood full well that it was only a pretense in order to kill off good, honest people because they were a hindrance to the communist program of installing Satan's hell upon the earth.  My uncle, Priest Nicholas, was gone and lost forever, another new martyr in my family.

"Now it became too hard for Aunt Vera to care for my uncle, Vladika Pachomy.  One day she called me, and with tears and spiritual bravery, she said to me, 'Say goodbye to your uncle.'  She had decided to drive him to the town of Kukurka, near Kotelnik, and to place him in a mental hospital.  I remember this parting very well.  My uncle came down dressed in a warm overcoat with a black Mount Athos monastic cap on his head; he had a large black beard that had not yet turned grey.  He looked at me with a quiet gaze.  He did not bless me for we were afraid; he just embraced me and was gone.  A strange sweet feeling came over my heart; it settled in like some beautiful melancholy music that lingers on even though the sound has died long ago.  That was all I saw of my uncle New-Martyr Pachomius.

"Two months later my Aunt Vera received a letter from the hospital which stated: 'Your brother has died.'  My aunt cried silently for a long time.  Soon came the spring of 1937.  It was warm and sunny and many flowers were in bloom.  My aunt gathered her things together and went to Kukurka to visit the grave of her brother.  There was a hospital cemetery there and uniform crosses stood on the graves.  She found her brother's grave and there knelt down and wept for a long time.  A hospital nurse came along and asked the reason for her tears.  She told her that she was crying over the recent death of her brother.  'Oh, no,' said the nurse, 'the people here seldom die a natural death. Your brother was killed off like the rest; he was injected with poison.'  This is what my Aunt Vera told me upon her return to the bleak reality of our Soviet life.

"Many years later, already in South America, I met Archbishop Leonty who knew my uncle well.  In fact, he was my uncle's cell-attendant in a monastery in Chernigov.  He told me many things about my uncle-how he accompanied him to the all-Russian Council in Moscow (1917-1918) which elected Patriarch Tikhon, and how he met many holy hierarchs of God there: Archbishop Theodore of the Danilov Monastery and others.  He had many fond memories of Archbishop Pachomius and in recalling them his face lit up with happiness.  He told me that while in the Chernigov monastery where my uncle was abbot, they would often have walks together in the beauty of nature's bosom.  Once, walking somewhere in the monastery grove, surrounded by blossoming trees and flowers, singing birds and fluffy white clouds floating in the azure blue sky, he told his poetic cell-attendant that he should start learning by heart church service in preparation for the time, coming soon, when Christians will be deprived of everything; there will be no service books, no church utensils...., that he should learn by heart whole sections of Gospel readings, and be able to perform molebens and other services at the spur of the moment.  He presented him with his portrait and a touching inscription which I inherited from Archbishop Leonty and here I share it with all those who love the New Martyrs."

Here is what Archbishop Pachomius gave to one of his faithful followers, the young novice Basil, on May 24, 1923; it is a quote from his beloved St. Isaac the Syrian:

"Dear Vaya F.
'Paradise is the love of God from which Adam fell; and since then joy did not encounter him even though he labored and tilled the earth.'
'He who has acquired love, tastes Christ every day and every hour and becomes immortal through it.  Love is much sweeter than life.  He who has acquired love becomes clothed in God Himself.'
'The glory of the body is submission to chastity through the help of God.  A chaste body in the sight of God is worth more than a pure sacrifice.'
From St. Isaac the Syrian. Unworthy Archbishop Pachomius."

Sources: Archbishop Nikon's Biography of Metropolitan Anthony Krapovitsky, vol.I, p.188, vol.IV p.201. I.M. Andreyev, History of the Russain Church from the Revolution to our Days, Jordanville, 1950. Archpriest M. Polsky, Russia's New Martyrs, vol. II, pp.91-92, vol. III in manuscript. Archpriest M. Polsky, The Canonical Situation of the Russian Orthodox Church, Jordanville, 1948. E.M. Lopeshanskaya, Bishop-Confessors, San Francisco, 1971, pp. 10-25. Archbishop Leonty of Chile, Memoirs (manuscript). Irene Mashin, unpublished memoirs on Archbishop Abercius; Recollections of Archimandrite Anastassy of Bryte, California.