The future Metropolitan Anthony was born on the day of St Alexei the Man of God, in the town of Vatagino in the Novgorod guberniya.
The Khrapovitsky family was one of the most ancient noble families in Russia. Vladyka Anthony’s grandfather, who spent his entire life at his estate in Vatagino, was renowned for his education and possessed a great library. Alexei’s father, Pavel Pavlovich, graduated from the Physics and Mathematics Department of St Petersburg University. His mother, Natalie Petrovna, was the daughter of a Ukrainian landowner and was likewise well educated. She loved to visit monasteries, prayed frequently at home and read the Gospel to her sons. Her neighbors considered her a holy woman. The Khrapovitsky family had four sons, of whom the future hierarch was the third.
When “Alyosha,” as he was known, learned to read, he became engrossed in his grandfather’s library. At first he looked at the pictures in magazines, then, under the influence of his mother’s Gospel readings, was drawn to spiritual books, then to philosophy. At the age of 9, he was sent against his wishes to a religious school. Alyosha started a school where he would be met with new impressions. For his first few years he longed for his native Novgorod, but by his third year he became so comfortable with school that he became the top student, a position he occupied until his graduation, at which he received a gold medal.
For his success and his profound piety, which he did not hide, Alyosha was a figure of authority for everyone, and no one dared insult him, and his sensitive heart was filled with great sorrow and frustration whenever he saw that his school was suppressing and suffocating a fellow classmate. At this time, Alyosha developed an empathetic love for his fellows, which in the future would be his main motivator and the prime thesis of his theological works, as well as his theological revelations, especially in his explanation of the dogma of Redemption.
Alyosha Khrapovitsky needed to pass an examination in order to enroll in Theological Academy. He was among 102 hopefuls, and finished in fifth place. When he saw his name on the list of accepted students, he could not believe his luck and blamed the teachers for negligence in testing him, a doubt which persisted until he was actually enrolled at St Petersburg Theological Academy.
The 18-year-old Khrapovitsky was now in direct contact with the spiritual world of Russia, which he decided to devote his life and work in serving.
The well-supported clergymen of the Russian capital also had somewhat of a caste system. Although the neighborhood of Kronstadt already boasted the rise of its saint, Fr John, he was a lone star among the clerical class. True, the capital had other prominent and selfless pastors, such as Fr Dimitry Sokolov, Fr John Polisadov and others, but the majority of clergymen were of a lower class and had little influence in the capital’s society.
As far as the general situation of the Russian Orthodox Church at the time, by the end of the reign of Emperor Alexander II, the Russian Church continued on the path which had begun with the revocation of the patriarchy under Peter I and led to the gradual stagnation of church life.
Protopriest Ioann Yanyshev was the Rector of the Academy at the time. His attitude, according to Vladyka Anthony, was truly Orthodox, and all his thoughts were based on the rules of Christian virtues and the perfection of the soul. Metropolitan Anthony preserved a loving memory of Fr Yanyshev and characterized him as standing head and shoulders above others in the Academy, which was divided into Fr Ioann’s supporters and his detractors.
On May 18, 1885, four days after graduating the Theological Academy at the age of 22, Alyosha was tonsured to monkhood at the Academy church and given the name Anthony in honor of St Anthony the Roman. On June 12, Monk Anthony was ordained to the deaconate, and on September 30, a hieromonk, and appointed a sub-instructor at the Academy.
In 1886-7, when he was still only 23, Fr Anthony was sent to teach homiletics, liturgics and canon law at Kholm Theological Seminary.
In 1887, he was elected Inspector in the Holy Scripture Department at St Petersburg Theological Academy, and in 1890, was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite and was appointed Rector of St Petersburg Theological Seminary, and only a few months later, to Moscow Theological Academy.
In 1895, he was transferred to Kazan Theological Academy. Two years later he was consecrated to the episcopacy, and in 1900, appointed Bishop of Ufa. In 1902, he was elevated to the rank of Archbishop of Volhynia, a cathedra he occupied until 1914.
At the outbreak of World War I, he was transferred to Kharkov, where he remained until the Revolution began.
In 1917, at the All-Russian Church Council in Moscow, Metropolitan Anthony was one of three candidates nominated to occupy the Patriarchal Throne, and received the majority of votes; however, God deemed the lot to fall to Metropolitan Tikhon, while Metropolitan Anthony was offered the cathedra of Kiev and Galicia, at the request of the clergy and laity.
As the Civil War worsened and contact between Russia’s south—which was not under Bolshevik rule—and Moscow weakened, a Supreme Ecclesiastical Administration was established under Metropolitan Anthony’s leadership.
In 1920, Metropolitan Anthony, together with the remnants of the White Army, left Russian territory and remained in Sremsky Karlovci, Serbia, for the rest of his days, where the Russian bishops were welcomed and given the chance to perform their hierarchal duties by King Alexander and Serbian Patriarch Dimitry, and after the latter’s death, by Patriarch Varnava, Metropolitan Anthony’s former student.
As the senior hierarch, Metropolitan Anthony also organized the Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority in Serbia for the dioceses abroad. The administration’s is considered a continuation of the activities of the previous administration in Southern Russia.
But in 1922, the SEA was dissolved, and, in accordance with Ukase No. 362 issued by Patriarch Tikhon dated November 7/20, 1920, (which only reached the hierarchs abroad in 1922 through Metropolitan Methodius of Chita), in August of that year, a Council was convened. This forum decided to established a Synod of Bishops abroad as the highest authority for dioceses located outside of Russia and controlled by an annual convention of its Council. Presiding over both the Council and Synod as its elder was Metropolitan Anthony.
The goal of these ecclesiastical institutions was to be the canonical leadership of the Russian dioceses abroad on a conciliar basis, and the unification of the weak, scattered dioceses of the world to preserve the interests of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Unfortunately, Metropolitan Anthony was not able to achieve this unity. Various political tendencies easily rent the wise, spiritual bonds which only the prestige of the Russian Orthodox Church could preserve, and which could prevent the departure from patristic teaching and traditions.
Metropolitan Anthony was beset by illness during his final years, and could not walk. But his sickness did not abbreviate his work in the administration and unification of the Church, nor his struggle against departure from Orthodoxy, nor his spiritual leadership against Bolsheviks and Bolshevism, nor especially his service to God and his preaching of Orthodox teachings and his living in accordance therewith.
In 1935, the 50th anniversary of Metropolitan Anthony’s pastoral and episcopal service was celebrated, and representatives of all the Eastern Churches were present. The Council’s parishes in America sent their humble dues to the eminent hierarch in the form of a missive which indicated the spiritual power of Vladyka Anthony: “, “Neither life’s tribulations, nor torturous deprivation in exile, not old age and illness have been able to triumph over your spirit; calamities did not diminish your faith; the enmity of men could not harden your heart; labors and traumas did not shake your will and did not break you.”
Alas, his physical strength was finally broken, and on August 10, 1936, at the age of 72, Blessed Anthony peacefully reposed in the Lord. He was buried in Serbia, in the Belgrade cemetery, under the Church of the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God, built in memory of the church of the same name in Moscow destroyed by the Bolsheviks.
Professor Zernov, in his brief note on the death of Metropolitan Anthony, wrote: “The contribution this remarkable person made to the Russian Church cannot ever be forgotten, an entire period of Russian Church history has now gone with his passing.”
Archimandrite Theodosius, former cell-attendant of Metropolitan Anthony for 19 years, bore witness: “Not once did Vladyka, in the face of all the difficulties he faced, miss a single evening or morning prayer rule, not one prayer before Communion.”
The future Bishop Gregory Grabbe, who was close to Metropolitan Anthony, wrote: “Metropolitan Anthony sang the praises of God his whole ascetic life, he sang in tireless prayer, he sang the services written for the saints, he sang his own compositions. Vladyka sang to God until his final days and preached with inspiration from the ambo.”
His talent as a writer on religious and moral topics was exemplary. His language was lively and accessible, despite his Slavicism, his logic powerful and persuasive, the subjects interesting and original.
In a political sense, he was a wise son of his Fatherland. He was an adherent of monarchy, first of all as a form of rule possessing a religious and historic foundation, and as a regime, one which freed our people from being dragged into political games.
He was truly “a continuation of the blessed path of the great Russian hierarchs, the tireless podvizhniki for the Russian Land and a man who suffered for the Russian people.”
Let us begin with his teaching about the dogma of Redemption, for which he was frequently assaulted on the grounds that he departed from the Orthodox concept on this matter. The dogma of Redemption is outlined in the fourth part of the Creed, as follows: “For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried.” Most of us have a good conception of physical sufferings. As a result, we tend to accept as the redeeming sacrifice of our Savior for our sakes only His physical sufferings on the Cross as a man. Metropolitan Anthony, without of course denying this, correctly states that many Christian martyrs happily accepted physical sufferings. It is natural to suppose that for Christ the Savior, it was not physical pains that were His main sufferings, but spiritual sufferings for the sins and faults of man. For from our own experience we know that many mothers and fathers endure great moral sufferings for the sins of their children, and, without a doubt, many would prefer physical sufferings if only they could keep their child from moral failure.
Teachings on Pastorship. Metropolitan Anthony viewed the pastoral service as a lofty mission demanding special preparation, a special spiritual predisposition and Divine grace. His articles, under the general rubric of “On Pastoral Theology,” are an entirely original course on the pastoral service. In these lectures he defends pastoral theology as a discrete science, saying: “Indeed, success in the pastoral service, which varies from person to person, is mainly from the inner life of the pastor, each of whom has a different one, but these differences do not exclude commonalities in the spiritual lives of good pastors. We see that even amidst individual differences, good pastors possess common traits which determine the effectiveness of their pastoral influence. This commonality can be described in specific scientific terms, which is the challenge of this field of knowledge.” Metropolitan Anthony felt that pastoral work, being a specialty, is not attainable for all ranks in the Church. “Priesthood is a mystery in which, through a bishop’s ordination, a priest is given from God the power to serve and perform the rites of Divine sacraments.”
The Church and the State. Metropolitan Anthony viewed the Christian Church as “a free union of human consciences,” for the administration or development of which one cannot use methods used for the establishment of civil societies or states, and consequently, the Church cannot possess civil authority. “The state,” said Metropolitan Anthony, “can have the most just human laws, the most virtuous and wisest leaders, yet they could never become part of the Church. Why not? Because the very concept of the state is that it acts through physical force, by which it must defend its laws here on earth through threat of earthly punishment… The state cannot but go to war; it cannot sacrifice itself, but must defend itself. The Church can and must pray for the success of civil endeavors which are for the good, pray for monarchs and invoke God’s blessings upon them, but can never, must never, fulfill its God-given role through government institutions; then it will cease to be a church, it will cease to be a union of human consciences, a kingdom not of this world, the servants of which will not use the weapons of the words of Christ; it will then have betrayed its ancient legacy, when the weapon of the Church was the voluntary and undefended spilling of the blood of the martyrs, it would then betray the legacy of the apostle that its armaments be nothing but the truth; its armor, righteousness; its shield, faith; its helmet, salvation; its sword, the word of God. These are the powers and means with which the Church struggles, whereas the state, even if it is a respected and Divinely-blessed union, is for the ancient man, for the earthly man, it can act benevolently towards the Church, that being in its own self-interest, but it cannot be the Church. “The minister of God is a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (Romans 13:4).
On the freedom of the will. The teaching that human happiness on earth is a naive goal (eudemonism) has already ceased to affirm that all human activity consists of direct satisfaction of its egotistical desires. This teaching gives to man the ability to undertake unpleasant actions, which appear to contradict egotism, yet still intended for the achievement of certain egotistical ends. The admission that there could be altruistic instincts amid egotistical natural desires, self-restraint and even self-sacrifice, was accompanied by the understanding that the final motivation for such actions is the satisfaction of passive needs in the spiritual nature, that is, once again, egotism.
Political viewpoints. Expressing his political views in various places and instances, Metropolitan Anthony said: “Neither Dostoevsky nor I had any intention to directly propose any fully-developed program of action for the reestablishment of normal life on the territory of our Fatherland… The rebirth of Russian life, a solid and long-lived renascence can occur only on the condition of the reestablishment of a proper attitude towards our lives and towards Rus in the minds of our leading figures… Russia can be destroyed, but Rus cannot be… We must all sense our unity in the Russian Land, with our history and with each other; we most all form a single flock of Christ, be children of one church and the subjects of one Tsar.”
If we care to use this exemplary teaching of Metropolitan Anthony to fulfill our staggering and perverted moral powers or not depends on our own will. But we must preserve our dignity by preserving the grateful memory of those Russian people who through their thoughts, labors or examples made a contribution to the spiritual treasury of the Russian people.
Eternal, bright memory for one such contributor, Metropolitan Anthony.