Protopriest Alexander Krassovsky (Santa Rosa, CA):
“Vladyka Anthony Was a Great Man of Prayer Who Basked in Divine Services”
(Towards the 60th Anniversary of the Episcopal Consecration of Archbishop Anthony [Medvedev])
From the Editors: On November 18, 1956, Archimandrite Anthony (Medvedev) was consecrated Bishop of Melbourne, Vicar of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand. After the death of St John (Maximovich) of Shanghai and San Francisco, the Vladyka Anthony was appointed to the Western American Diocese. Today, the spiritual children of the late archpastor prayerfully remember him not only in the Western American and Australian Dioceses, but throughout the Russian diaspora. Below is an article by Protopriest Alexander Krassovsky of Santa Rosa, CA, who knew the late Vladyka Anthony well.
Fifteen years ago, on September 10/23, 2001, the spiritual father of the majority of clerics of the Western American Diocese, Archbishop Anthony (Medvedev) of blessed memory reposed in the Lord.
During his thirty-two year service, I was under the omophorion of Vladyka Anthony first as a Subdeacon, then deacon and finally as a priest. Over the years, a great many memories have accumulated about our dear Vladyka, but I would like to note only two of the most important traits he possessed, which are a source of inspiration for me and many other clerics of our diocese.
Vladyka Anthony was a great man of prayer who basked in and breathed divine services. Of course, Vladyka often celebrated Divine Liturgy, I will return to this later, but when he did not himself perform all-night vigil, which would happen on an average Saturday, he was always singing and reading on the kliros like the choir director in a monastery. How often I would enter the cathedral while visiting the city on some other matters, and Vladyka was there on the kliros. When he served on Sunday, there were times when he would be late for the hierarchal greeting, because he had not yet finished reading his prayer rule at home. Abridging or omitting the prayer rule, whether before Liturgy or his daily prayers, was unthinkable for him.
Those of us who were fortunate enough to celebrate Divine Liturgy with him cannot express in words the piety, the prayerful mood, the feeling of grace that we felt during the service. Despite the fact that Vladyka had celebrated thousands of Liturgies during his long years of service to the Holy Church of Christ, there was nothing automatic or formal in the performance of his services. This was especially palpable when he performed the Holy Eucharist. He uttered every word with profound faith, with fear and trembling. We could barely breathe when he read the prayers of the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist, for we saw in his eyes that the very Lord God Himself was upon His altar table.
It was during just such a service when Vladyka, suddenly expressed the depth of his understanding of Christ’s love and how his soul was infused with this Divine love. I don’t recall what holiday it was; Vladyka Anthony was celebrating Liturgy while I served as a Subdeacon. Vladyka had a rule that while the Royal Doors were open, altar boys could not cross from one side of the altar to the other behind the altar table (the cathedral had a hidden passageway behind the sanctuary. “Unnecessary movement disturbs the prayers of the people,” Vladyka would say. Serving as an acolyte that day was the senior, universally-respected Peter Petrovich Gubin, who, momentarily forgetting this rule, walked behind the altar table to the other side while the Royal Doors were open. Vladyka uttered a stern rebuke, and Guvin realized what he had done, uttered an apology and returned to his place. Liturgy continued calmly. Then came the time when the clergymen partook of the Holy Gifts. Vladyka Anthony as usual partook of the Piece of the Holy Body into his hands with trepidation and read the prayer before receive the Eucharist. Suddenly he falls silent, carefully returns the Body onto the diskos and leaves the altar. I immediately followed him, thinking that, God forbid, he fell ill or something. Vladyka hurried through the back passageway, reaches the ponomarka, where Subdeacon Peter was sitting. I will never forget this--even now it brings tears to my eyes—the Ruling Bishop of the Western American Diocese, regular member of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, fell on his knees before the old Subdeacon and asked for his forgiveness. Peter sprang to his feet and returned the prostration, and only after kissing each other’s cheeks, Vladyka Anthony permitted himself to return to the altar and partake of the Holy Gifts of Christ.
By Divine mercy, I was a witness of many such moments, and feeling unworthy of praising my spiritual father myself, thank God that He sent us such an example of Christian piety and pastoral love. May the All-merciful Lord preserve in peace the bright soul of our dear Schema-Archbishop Anthony, and through his prayers grant us the strength to emulate the late archpastor even in the feeblest way we can.
Vesna dukhovnaya [“Spiritual Spring”] (journal of the Western American Diocese, No. 2, 2015.
"Весна духовная" (журнал Западно-Американской епархии), № 2, 2015 г.