Orthodox America

   Metropolitan Joseph

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Metropolitan Joseph was an out standing Spiritual figure and staunch defender and propagator of the Orthodox philosophy of life who, like St. Mark of Ephesus, was raised up by God at a critical time in the history of the Russian Church when the godless authorities tried to force the soul-destroying "legalization" of the Church. He was a prolific ecclesiastical writer; in 1905 he published a whole book composed of brief spiritual reflections entitled "In the Father's Embrace". In the following excerpt one can sense his sensitivity and precise insight into spiritual questions as well as his premonition of what the future held:

"Intense sorrows, like gold in the furnace, purify the soul, give it life, fortify and temper it A man becomes less sensitive to his everyday sorrows and sufferings on earth, becomes calmer, more balanced, looks at the world more seriously and soberly, be- comes less attached to the earthly, thirsts more for the heavenly, the eternal, the. unending.

In his speech upon being consecrated bishop in 1908, he indicated prophetically the course that the Church was to take. When Metropolitan Sergius by his Declaration began to reveal himself as a wolf in sheep's clothing, Metropolitan Joseph proved to be a true shepherd, leading the faithful members of Christ's Church into the saving enclosure of the Catacombs. So powerful was his influence and example that all who followed him came to be called "Josephites". His leadership of the Catacomb Church provoked the wrath of the atheist regime. For the rest of his life Metropolitan Joseph was forced to endure prisons and banishment; he lived in a shed with pigs and served Divine Liturgy in underground tunnels. Truly, here was a pastor who literally fulfilled the command of his Chief Shepherd to lay down his life for the sheep. In 1938 Metropolitan Joseph was executed for the "crime" of encouraging wandering priests. He remains for us as a guiding light of unadulterated and otherworldly Christianity.