Sermon on the Holy Royal Martyrs
Archimandrite Kyprian (Pyzhov)
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
By decree of the Council of Bishop of the Russian Church Abroad in early November of this year, it was decided to glorify the New Martyrs of Russia. This long-awaited event will soon take place to satisfy the persistent demands of many, many people of the Church, Russian Orthodox Christians, living both abroad in various countries and those who live in our Homeland, where wicked, cruel atheism reigns, now in its seventh decade. The Soviet state is possessed with hatred towards God and Orthodox Christianity and guided by dark forces. From the moment of its origin, right after the Revolution, unheard-of persecutions against the faithful began; mainly through attacks on the Orthodox faith as the sole bearer of the Truth of Christ and a powerful force resisting the spread of world atheism.
Faith in Christ in Russia, after its baptism, became the very foundation of Russian statehood, which developed in all facets of the life of the people, occupying a “fourth part of the earth” (Revelation 6:8). So in order to bring its plan into effect-the establishment of Communism through world revolution-the Soviets needed to quickly begin eliminating this obstacle, murdering with sword and hunger and starvation and (human) beasts those who believe in Christ, declaring them enemies of the people, political criminals and traitors, who were not afforded the slightest mercy or sympathy. Indeed, their destruction was viewed as a duty to the state.
The sickness of disbelief grew among the people long before the Revolution of 1917, it quietly spread throughout the body of Holy Russia, weakened by a bloody war. Infecting cities and then spreading into villages, this disbelief poisoned the worst element of society. The demands of the Revolution exploited this element, granting them broad powers to seek vengeance against believers. Bandits and hooligans, fervent and servile before the representatives of the International, which had just seized power, set upon innocent people, shooting some on sight, without trial or investigation, leaving orphaned children and infants to fend for themselves, to wander through the expeanses of their impoverished homeland, seeking crumbs of bread and a warm corner to sleep in, while others were sent to labor camps in frigid Siberia, where they filled prisons, where these innocent victims were mercilessly treated, subjected to sadistic torture during interrogation.
The greatest measure of suffering fell upon the clergyman, uncounted numbers were killed, for they were the pillars for the faithful and the main proponents of the ancient regime, who resisted the new state, which screamed in their bloody banners a slogan that never was fulfilled: “Freedom, Equality and Fraternity!” The servants of the Altar of the Lord were persecuted and killed, yet they proved to be true martyrs of Christ, boldly approaching death and torture, fervently confessing their faith, convincing their flock to submit to death for Christ, just like the ancient martyrs. Great courage and firmness were exhibited by our pastors as they were subjected to show trials, accused of counter-revolution and exiled to inhuman labor camps, whence they rarely returned. They continued to preach the Word of God and by their example of personal asceticism, taught patience unto death for Christ.
A special place amid the host of New Martyrs is occupied by the great Passion-bearer and sufferer for the Russian people, our Tsar-Martyr Emperor Nicholas II and his much-suffering Family. Where do they stand? It is not for us to determine where they are in the Kingdom of Heaven; that depends on Divine Will. Who suffered most of all? It is not for us to judge, but in the icon of the Host of the New Martyrs, he is placed in the center as the Anointed of God, as the preserver and defender of Holy Orthodoxy, occupying the first place in the earthly kingdom.
Many contradictory opinions have been rendered in connection with the glorification of the New Martyrs of Russia, especially of the Royal Family, from those who, though they are sympathetic, feel pressure from the opinion of society, including those who are not within the Church, or not very close to the Church, who nurture a superficial outlook on history, on the tragic death, and the forthcoming canonization. They consider the inclusion among the saints of the pious Russian Emperor and his Family, the Empress, the young Tsarevich and innocent Tsarevnas and their faithful servants, who were murdered, their bodies mocked and mutilated with the intention of hiding the crime, as merely a political assassination, a necessary collateral damage of terror. Some, out of reverence for the Royal Family, and venerating their holy memory, fear that the act of ecclesiastical glorification might spark new insulting attacks in the press and mislead the superficial, ignorant reader to criticize them.
Personally, for many years I had this same inclination, but I was finally convinced of the feebleness of these arguments, seeing the intolerance that the civilized West has towards the glorious past of Great Russia and the memory of the last Russian Emperor. What do the leaders of the hoped-for New World Order fear? Over 60 years have passed since the fall of Russia; the contemporaries of our Tsar, Emperor Wilhelm II, Emperor Franz Josef of Austria, the Turkish Sultan and other royalty and presidents, many political leaders of that epoch have long been buried and their places on the world stage taken by subsequent generations.
But the evil West cannot forget either the Russian Tsar nor the Russian Throne; even now in the world press and in movies, slanderous accusations appear, written by corrupt historians and writers who distort the depiction of the moral image of the Tsar and His Most-Pious Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, and of all of those who refuse to bow to the reigning, sinful world ruled by the father of lies.
As we see, the shadow of the murdered Emperor gives no rest to the criminal conscience of the graceless leaders of the world today, who try with all their might to trample into the mud the noble image of the Orthodox Royal Tsar and his Family, who fell victim to an international plot.
The scribes and Pharisees, out of jealousy, slandered, mocked and crucified the Son of God, and, achieving temporary victory, disgraced themselves and their descendants for all time; their followers, the rulers of today’s kingdom of Mammon, fulfilling their satanic goals, executed to one who on earth was the Restrainer of doom in the world. They shot the faithful Empress, the meek Heir, the virtuous Tsarevnas and their kind, selfless servants. The bloodthirsty executioners hacked the bodies of the martyrs, threw them into a coal pit, dowsed with kerosene and set them on fire. To hide their tracks, they filled the pit with earth, and, covering them with foliage, rejoiced at their well-executed by devilish plot, certain that the memory of the Tsar was forever erased in this world.
But decades passed, yet the memory of the murdered victims has not faded: the ruler of this age continues to try to absolve and justify the act of murder, desecrating and devaluing the memory of the last Russian Emperor, and the more slander that is spread about him, the more brightly does his gracious image shine, and the holy memory of him and those with him warms the hearts of believers. Those guilty of regicide will never be forgiven for their crime either in this life or the next, along with those who supported and sympathized with the murder of the Anointed of God without repentance.
The life of the Royal Martyrs and those who died with them in Alapaevsk, headed by Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna, her relatives, dukes and duchesses and their close ones, ended here on earth in fulfillment of the prophesy spoken by Christ the Savior Himself: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake… But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:9-10, 13).
Now let us pray for the repose of the Holy Passion-Bearers, killed 63 years ago in distant Siberia. Amen.
Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY
July 4/17, 1981