Orthodox America

   Ye Faithful Rejoice

by Fr. Alexey Young

Throughout the world, as with purple and fine linen, Thy Church is adorned with the blood of Thy martyrs... (Troparion, Sunday of All Saints)  

O suffering believers of the Soviet Yoke; your voices have been heard!

Once again the free part of the Russian Orthodox Church pre- pares to speak for those of you who have been silenced by the atheists: on November 1 (October 19, old style), the bishops of the  Russian Orthodox Church Abroad will solemnly glorify the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia  All those who have suffered for the Faith since the Revolution will be entered into the great calendar of saints-those who have pleased God by their lives and deaths, those who, in the words of 5t. John Chrysostom, "received an unjust death and through it entered into communion with all  the saints”  Ever since the time of Christ there have been martyrs; there has never been a time when some part of the Church of Christ was not suffering. And, just as those in Alexandria prayed for those suffering in Rome during the first persecutions, we in the free world pray for those suffering in the Soviet Union during these  last persecutions, for it is the blood of martyrs that nourishes and  gives life to the whole Church. Until recent times, Greek Orthodox Christians suffered under the Turkish Yoke, yielding up a rich crop of wonderful martyrs; now it is the turn of Russia. Tomorrow, perhaps, it will be the turn of Orthodox Christians in the free world.  

The fearless and consistent 'witness of our free bishops, ever since the historic declaration of Patriarch Tikhon on November 20, 1920, has been that the persecuted Russian Church is divided into the Catacomb Church (sometimes called "Tikhonite," after Patriarch Tikhon) and the official state Church under the Moscow Patriarchate (sometimes called the "Sergianist Church," after Metropolitan Sergius; see footnote on page 10), an enslaved pup- pet Church which has been betrayed over and over from within and without. And in the West, in freedom, there exists the exiled portion of that Church, our Russian Church Abroad, which alone can speak for the suffering Church in the Soviet Union. No wonder that throughout these long years Orthodox Christians in Russia have besought our Russian bishops outside Russia to do openly and publicly what they could do only secretly to proclaim the sainthood of the New Martyrs!  

"The stream of blood of the New Martyrs of Russia has been  flowing already for over 60 years-but who prays to them?" asks  Fr. Roman Lukianov in his moving address, "The New Martyrs of Russia."** Glory to God that the day of their glorification draws near, for their martyric witness is certainly the most inspiring phenomenon in 20th century Christianity  

In laying down their lives for Christ, these New Martyrs and Confessors provided the soil which gave rise, and sustains to this day, the Russian Catacomb Church which has brought forth fruit a hundredfold. In 1975 our bishops wrote to the much persecuted members of this part of the Church:   

"We reverently bow down before your exploit and say to you as younger brothers: You are the light of the contemporary world which has gone astray in lies and sin; you are the salt of the  earth; you are those 'ten righteous ones' for whose sake the Lord endures our sins.  

The example of these New Martyrs likewise gives courage to those in the Moscow Patriarchate who have begun to speak out against the betrayal of the Church. In the hope that they would come to confess the Faith even more fully, our bishops addressed them with the following encouraging words:  

"We kiss the Cross which you also have taken upon yourself, o pastors who have found the courage and the power of spirit to  be open accusers of the faintheartedness of your hierarchs who have capitulated to the atheists, to be fearless gatherers and instructors of those who seek spiritual food." Finally, to those of us in the free world, it has become obvious that America is rapidly moving   toward some terrible moment of crisis similar to what happened\n Russia just before the Revolution.  The prophecy of a recent righteous one, Elder Ignatius of Harbin (+1958), comes closer and closer to fulfillment: "What began in Russia, will end in America!" If we are to survive as Orthodox Christians we must have examples, heroes, saints of our time, who will inspire us in the terrible days that lie ahead. The New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia are precisely such examples!  

As the free part of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Church  Abroad has the sacred duty to speak for those members in bonds. It is both a privilege and a joy to fulfill this duty by the  forthcoming Glorification of the New Martyrs and Confessors. May the whole Church rejoice and be exceedingly glad. And to those of our brethren suffering under the yoke of the God-hating communists, let us say:  Rejoice! you who bear the Cross in Russia. Not for the first  time have we heard your voices pleading for the recognition of  these new saints. Not for the first time have your prayers ascended to heaven imploring us to again be your voice. Not for the first  time, nor for the last, have your tears, mixed with blood, watered the Russian soil and nourished the very soul of Orthodoxy throughout the world. Brothers and sisters: your prayers are answered; your tears, and your blood, are not in vain! Remember the Saviour's words of encouragement for those whom the Lord has judged to be on this earth in the last days of its existence: "Then look up and lift up your heads ,for your redemption draweth nigh" (Luke  21:28)!  May the prayers of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Soviet Yoke strengthen our bishops and clergy and give courage to all the faithful in the frightful times that await us, and  intercede  for our souls!   

Fr. Alexey Young