“Behold the handmaiden of the Lord.” With these words, the Most-Pure Virgin Mary ended her conversation with Archangel Gabriel, in which he told her that she would become the Mother of God. Some of our contemporaries now express pious surprise: how could she give her consent, for it implies that she recognizes her ability to become the Mother of God. How could she agree? How could she not decline? Yet these questions are incorrect, for one must discern between consent to recognize her ability and consent to obedience. Yes, she gave her consent, not because she deemed herself capable, but because she admitted being the servant of the Lord.
On this day we commemorate all the holy men and women who have shone forth in the ascetic life.
The God-bearing Fathers, having made us ready for the course of the Fast by gently instructing us by means of the two preceding Sundays, have thus led us away from luxury and satiety. They have instilled in us the fear of the future Judgment and purified us in advance – as is right – by means of Cheesefare week. Furthermore, they have wisely inserted the two intervening weeks of partial fasting so as to prepare us little by little for the full fasting which will begin next Monday.
What a tender scene the Meeting of the Lord shows us! The venerable elder Simeon, holding the infant God in his hands, on either side of him are the righteous Joseph and the Most Holy Mother of God. Not far away is the Prophetess Anna, an eighty-year-old faster and woman of prayer. Their eyes are all directed toward the Savior. Their attention is absorbed by Him and they drink in spiritual sweetness from Him, which feeds their souls. You can judge for yourself how blessed was the state of these souls!
However, brethren, we are called not only to think about this blessedness, but also to taste it in reality, for all are called to have and carry the Lord in themselves, and to disappear in Him with all the powers of their spirit. When we have reached that state, then our blessedness will be no lower than that of those who participated in the Meeting of the Lord. They were blessed who saw it; we shall be blessed who have not seen, but believed. Pay attention. I will show you briefly how to achieve this. Here is what you should do.
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.
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
'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.
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.