Sermon by Archbishop Alypy (Gamanovich) on the feast of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia
We heard today’s Gospel reading on the persecution of the Church of Christ and the faithful.
Persecutions are always alike. If we take, for example, the persecutions of the Roman Empire, they were periodic, yet the persecutions of the godless state, which lasted over 70 years, especially in the beginning, were unrelenting. These persecutions crashed down upon the Russian Church first and foremost, the hierarchy, the priests, and then the laity. The first to be killed was Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev, then Veniamin, Metropolitan of Petrograd, and Patriarch Tikhon was given rest until he was finally poisoned.
Foreseeing the difficult times ahead, the Patriarch designated four replacements (locum tenens—ed.): among them Metropolitan Agafangel of Yaroslavl and Metropolitan Kirill of Kazan, who were already exiled. The greatest responsibility lay upon Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsa, but he was also harassed.
It would be proper here to recall a miraculous event in the life of Metropolitan Peter.
As he was being transported to exile, he was pushed out of a train car at full speed, believing that he would be killed. But along the railroad track was a great deal of snow, and he was unharmed, though he was lightly dressed in a cassock, and was in danger of freezing to death. He then noticed a bear approaching him. This scared him at first, but running away would be futile. But when the bear approached, he lay down before him. Seeing that the beast was not aggressive, he lay down next to his warm belly, then turned to the other side. When daylight broke, he heard the call of roosters, quietly arose so as not to disturb the bear, which suddenly came to his feet and went on his way.
Metropolitan Peter wrote to his sister about his survival, but the secret police learned of this and sent him even further into exile, finally tortured and executed.
The Russian Church Abroad added the names of all those who were martyred by the Soviet state, in a sense authorizing them to pray for the suffering Russian land, and the Soviet state soon started to crack, and finally, to everyone’s amazement, collapsed. The Soviet Union dissolved, but the evil it had committed has still not faded.
But now, thanks to the zeal of Metropolitan Laurus, we are in unity with the Moscow Patriarchate. Now, with combined efforts we can pray to all the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors, that by their prayers, normal life would return to our common Homeland, and may the Lord help us in this. Amen.
Chicago, 3 February 2013