On April 8, 2010, the House of the Russian Diaspora in Moscow hosted the Third Annual Memorial to Metropolitan Laurus, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, who died in 2008.
Why are we holding a third memorial evening for him? Yes, Vladyka stood at the center of a historic event, the reunification of the two parts of Russian Orthodoxy, and yes, he was an eminent and wise archpastor. Yet in our spiritually-impoverished times, Diogenes might once again need to leave his tub, and, lantern in hand in broad daylight, set out to seek an honest Man. This is exactly the type of Man, with a capital M, that Metropolitan Laurus was—a worthy Man!
EPISTLE OF THE FIRST HIERARCH OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OUTSIDE OF RUSSIA, HIS EMINENCE METROPOLITAN HILARION OF EASTERN AMERICA AND NEW YORK, TO THE THIRD ANNUAL MEMORIAL TO METROPOLITAN LAURUS, MOSCOW
Christ is Risen!
To the honorable attendees of the Memorial to the late First Hierarch of our Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Laurus, it is with heartfelt joy that I greet you and invoke the Lord’s blessing upon your Third Annual Memorial in his honor. Those of us who had been near this eminent and wise bishop of God are happy that there the interest in Russia in his persona and his deeds has not waned after his death.
I am certain that it is no accident, for it was pleasing to God that Metropolitan Laurus as well as the late Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia stood at the center of the historic event—the reestablishment of unity between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.
But besides that, Metropolitan Laurus was in today’s world an epitome of a meek and wise, a kind and fair, an accessible and noble bishop of God, who possessed the spirit of Christ’s Apostles, the spirit of the first disciples of the Lord, who dedicated his entire life, without exception, to serving our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Orthodox Church. “Honor thy teachers,” Holy Scripture tells us, and your annual evening honoring Metropolitan Laurus fulfills this commandment. Remembering the lives of the righteous, we ourselves are inspired towards leading a worthy, Christian life.
Unfortunately I could not attend your event, but I support you in prayer in your good initiative and ask your prayers as well.
+Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York
The practical goal of our evenings is to gather information culled over the previous year on the memory of Metropolitan Laurus. This year, gathering at the House of the Russian Diaspora are writers, journalists, artists, poets, directors, and church and social figures, who, in their articles, sermons, paintings, prose and films, preserve the memory of our dear Vladyka for posterity.
Films clips on Metropolitan Laurus established a special mood. Vladyka gazed down upon us from the big screen, he spoke, smiled, grieved, pondered and gave advice, just as he did during his lifetmie. But in the eyes of God, there are no dead, and one could sense that spiritually, Vladyka is with us.
Suddenly I was informed, as a director of the event, that Metropolitan Laurus himself was present! A woman insisted that she saw him at the entrance to the auditorium, simply garbed, drawing no notice. This woman had never met Vladyka in person, but when she saw the film about him, she had no doubt—she saw him! I was stunned. What is one to make of this? I prayed, and decided to announce what the woman told me. For if the Lord said, that where two or three gather in His name, He will be present, then certainly a righteous person could come to those who have gathered in his memory. Only God knows for sure.
Whatever the case may be, for us, the organizers of the event, it became a great source of consolation and support.
It is time, of course, to record such instances, and, if it pleases God, they may become a foundation for the case for canonizing the Metropolitan. For the fact that he was a righteous man, I think, no member of the Church can doubt.
Another similar event was attested to by Ilya Rybakov. Some people were saved from catastrophe after praying to Metropolitan Laurus, who miraculously appeared. I had already known of this, it has been already been documented, and I hope the time will come to talk about it in detail.
But back to the topic. The greatest miracle in our busy, commercial and masqueraded days is a man of God, that is where the power of the persona of Metropolitan Laurus lies.
This concept is illustrated by a brief note by my sister Anastasia:
"Dear guests! Today we have gathered in this auditorium, all of us different. And I wish to talk about feelings. Each of us had a reason to come here today. This could be curiosity or simply the need to, but I would like to believe that it was a call of the heart. You will see why…
And so, about our dear Vladyka Laurus.
The Lord guided my life in such a way that in 1996, I met Vladyka Laurus in America, at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville. Then he was Archbishop of Syracuse and Holy Trinity Monastery.
As a 15-year-old then, I had a great deal of respect for all clergymen. But I admit that it was only mentally; my heart was still unmoved. Then, in the years that followed, when I would come visit my brother in Jordanville, I happened to discuss spiritual matters with Vladyka, and often these were recollections of the White Army’s efforts and the podvigi of the emigration. You know, it is pretty difficult to understand what all this meant, having been born in the Soviet Union, and coming of age during perestroika. I think that Vladyka saw the confusion in my eyes and once said: “God never gave anyone two hearts, so you cannot look in two directions at once.” And I understood what he meant. This was regarding the truth of Orthodoxy. It was a very serious thing.
Every meeting with Vladyka ended with a kind smile, we shared little gifts and talked about when we would meet again. A very pretty picture. But I always felt like crying. I kept wondering why. Once I felt it and understood. Vladyka, whenever he spoke with someone, felt the conversation with his heart. There was an invisible light and warmth that he exuded—this was the result of working with the heart. There will be many reminiscences about Vladyka Laurus. Mine is about his heart. His LOVING heart, which could empathize and forgive!”
Christ God, repose with the saints our dear, kind, merciful and kind Abbot, Metropolitan Laurus, and by his holy prayers, have mercy on us sinners.
Monk Vsevolod (Filipiev)