On this day, the Sunday before the beginning of the Lenten Triodion, we commemorate the repentance of the tax-collector, the Holy Apostle Zacchaeus, who desired to behold Christ.
The Holy Fathers placed today's commemoration here to prepare us, little by little, for dawning season of Great Lent. Knowing that we are basically slow to exhibit a desire for repentance, the Holy Fathers, by Zacchaeus' example, teach us in these preliminary weeks the need to recognize our sins and our need to turn away from them.
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!
On November 1, 1981, a most great event maybe even global is scale took place at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign in New York: the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia glorified that is, canonized as part of the host of saints the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, who suffered in our tormented Homeland during the great persecution upon the Church for their faith, a persecution the world had never before seen.
From all the countries of the Russian diaspora, the limitless expanses of the United States and Canada, from the nations of Europe and South America and even Australia, Russian people traveled to New York in order to participate in this great celebration.
We, the Russian Church Abroad, glorified the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors not because they were in need of such recognition. For even without our glorification they received from God the eternal crowns through their suffering. But we glorified them in order to bear witness before the entire world of their podvig and their faith, to confess our love for them, and to state that we are spiritually united with them, that we are in need of their help and prayerful intercession.
'Archpriest Michael Polsky, The New Martyrs of Russia, Montreal: Monastery Press, 1972.
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PREFACE OF THE PUBUSHER
"And when he had opened the fifth seal,
I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God,
and for the testimony which they held.” (Rev. 6: 9).
We are publishing the book, “The New Russian Martyrs” on the occasion of the fiftielh anniversary of our Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Since we represent the free part of the Russian Church, we consider it our sacred duty to act as the voice of all those who have been, and still are being, martyred and persecuted by the Communists, for confessing their belief in God.
Moreover, we have, in the number of our faithful here in the free world, tens of thousands of living witnesses to the persecution of the faith in the USSR. These are people which did not return to the homeland after the second world war and who, to this day, thank God for that freedom which they enjoy here in the west. Many of them bear upon their own bodies, scars from wounds and tortures as sacred imprints of their suffering for Christ.
Bishops' Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in 1981.
The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad celebrates the memory of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, the Sunday nearest to the anniversary of the martyrdom of Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and Gallich, the first bishop killed during the Bolshevik Revolution. On November 1st 1981 the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, under the presidency of Metropolitan Philaret, glorified all the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Bolshevik period. This epistle to the flock was delivered on the ocassion of the glorification of the New Martyrs of Russia. In it, the Bishops of the Church Abroad express the unity in spirit with the new martyrs and the catacomb church. - Edit.
To the Children of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Homeland and the Diaspora
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
As we celebrate the Epiphany, we remember how God revealed himself as the Trinity, that Jesus appeared to the people as Christ. Where did Christ appear Hos did He begin His mission? Did He enter a great city and reveal Himself in His glory? Did He ascend a great mountain as many thousands of people beheld Him from below, wondering at the miracle? No! Christ went into the wilderness, to the Jordan River, where John was baptizing the people. John preached repentance, and called upon sinners, in a sign of repentance, to be baptized in the Jordan. And it was as a sinner that Christ came and asked for baptism. Yet He had no sin. John was afraid: “I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). Adam sinned through pride, he wished to elevate himself, to become like God. But Christ cam to fulfill the truth of God, to correct Adam’s pride through humility. Christ entered the water and received baptism from His servant. Trembling, John placed his hand upon his God and Master, and Christ humbly bowed His head. Christ’s humility opened up the heavens, and the voice of God the Father boomed forth: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). This is My Son, Who humbled Himself in order to fulfill My will, My true Son, Who humbles Himself in order to elevate mankind. Christ’s meekness opened the heavens and revealed to mankind the Trinitarian nature of God.
David indicates that our Lord Jesus Christ has no genealogy with regard to His divinity (Ps 110.4), Isaiah says the same (Isa 53.8), and later so does the Apostle (Heb 7.3). How can the descent be traced of Him “who is in the beginning, and is with God, and is God, and is the Word and Son of God” (Jn 1.1-2, 18)? He does not have a Father who was before Him, and shares with His Father “a name which is above every other name” and all speech (Phil 2.9). For the most part, genealogies are traced back through different surnames but there is no surname for God, and whatever may be said of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, They are one and do not differ in any respect.
Today we celebrate the memory of one of the greatest saints of the Church of Christ, our holy father Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra the Miracle-Worker, who as no one else has been revered by all at all times and peoples of the world, not only Christians, but even Muslims and pagans.
“I see, brethren, a new sun rising above the earth and bringing sweet consolation to the sorrowful and suffering,” said the Bishop of Patara as he ordained Nicholas to the priesthood. “Joyous is the flock which will be under his ministry; he will strengthen them in faith in the Lord, he will guide them in goodness and piety, he will be an earnest helper to all those in need.”
St Nicholas’ entire life was a brilliant fulfillment of these prophetic words of the visionary bishop. St Nicholas burned with a passionate faith in God since his youth, being a strict, unbending zealot for the purity of Orthodox Christianity; he was a severe ascetic, in constant vigil, fasting and prayer; forgetting himself, he generously helped the needy, consoled the suffering, defended the innocently condemned; strengthening and guiding those who faltered in the faith; he never tired of performing all sorts of Christian acts of love and mercy to others.
Andrew bears crucifixion inverted,
Appearing truly and not as a shadow with feet upwards.
On the thirtieth Andrew the First-Called endured the cross.
Andrew was from the city of Bethsaida, the son of Jonah, and brother of Peter the Apostle. He was the first disciple of John the great Forerunner and Baptist. Later, when he heard his Teacher say, while pointing to Jesus Christ, "Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world," he left the Forerunner and followed Christ. And to his brother the Pre-eminent Peter he said, "We have found the Messiah." With these words he drew Peter towards spiritual eros for Christ. And there are many other things that are found in the divinely-inspired Scriptures regarding this Apostle.
The Holy Church now celebrates one of her great feasts -- a radiant and joyous event in the life of the Church. This is the entry into the temple of the Most-Blessed Virgin Mary, when her holy and righteous parents brought her into the holy temple when -Vie was still quite a three-year-old little Maid, in order to dedicate Her there to God according to the promise that they had given. Many, of course, know in what the essence of this feast consists.
I will point out some details, which are perhaps not known to all: First, when they brought Her into the temple, there also went with her maidens, little girls, with candles, accompanying Her with the chanting of Psalms, so that there went through the streets of Jerusalem a ceremonial procession, to which doubtless also other people joined. Finally, when they came to the temple of God, the Chief Priest, Zacharias, himself went out to meet them, knowing about the promise of the righteous parents. But here all were struck by the fact that -- while he was still at the top of the steps of the temple, and the steps were many, and they were tall -- the holy and pure Child, without any support, all on her own, climbed up all the steps. And then, overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, the chief priest Zacharias did that which at [any] other time he never would have done: he brought the maiden Mary into the Holy of Holies. Now one must bear in mind that a person could not approach the Holy of Holies. Even the priests could not enter therein. And only one day a year, on the so-called day of atonement, did the chief priest enter with sacrificial blood, as though offering sacrifice on behalf of the whole people. But this was not the day of atonement; on this day the Chief Priest could not go into the Holy of Holies, but, illumined by the Holy Spirit, he went in -- and he brought therein the Maiden Mary, and She, as tradition says, remaining in the temple continually, stayed in the Holy of Holies and there an Angel brought Her food and conversed with Her. Therefore the holy fathers said that when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Her -- an already nearly grown young woman -- in Nazareth with the word of the annunciation, not the very appearance of an angel frightened or disturbed her. She was used to converting with angels -- otherwise it was an unusual greeting with which the heavenly Messenger addressed her.