Orthodox America

   The Cry of the New Martyrs

I was in prison and ye came unto me (Matt. 25:36)

Martyrdom is the most powerful apology for Christianity. Fr. Dimitry Dudko

"How Long, O Lord!"

"And when will they glorify the last emperor, Nicholas Alexandrovich, over there? We are waiting. We pray to him."

This question greeted a Russian woman from America who was visiting St. Peters burg not long ago. The question was asked by two pilgrims at the site of the church known as "the-Saviour-on-the-Blood", built over the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated. This was not the first time such. a question had reached the ears of the West. For many years now the persecuted Christians of the Soviet Union have begged their "free voice," the. Russian Church Abroad, to glorify the countless thousands of martyrs slain by the godless authorities, whose blood sustain the suffering faithful of today.

Appeals by Frs. Dimitry Dudko and Gleb Yakunin, only serve to underscore the entreaty of those whose kinship to the new Russian saints goes much deeper than mere nationality. Indeed, who is more worthy of being called "fellow-servants" (Rev. 6:11) than those laboring under the same yoke of the God-hating communist regime? Glory to God that with the glorification of Russia's New Martyrs and Confessors we in freedom have at last answered the desire of their hearts. May this glorification serve to strengthen those who are now walking on the paths of martyrdom and confession.. And may it bring to the attention of the world, not only the horrors of past years of persecution and torture, but also the sufferings which Christians are forced to endure at the present time. How many of those languishing today in concentration camps and psychiatric "hospitals" of torture, would not welcome execution by a firing squad? But the communists of today prefer to apply the test of endurance -not for days or weeks, but years, a very slow and painful martyrdom. The powerful example of the glorified New Martyrs has helped to sustain Orthodox Christians today on this difficult path and has given them courage to accept their fiery trial. This courage to accept God's will in everything is well expressed by the words of one of today's confessors, Gennady Shimanov:

"God's will be done in everything! Let them drive me out of my mind, or leave me in my senses, all is well and good under the High Heaven. I accept everything that God sends, as a child accepts from the hands of his father: sweetness and bitterness; reason and madness; light and darkness; any evil and every good." ("Notes From the Red House")

What a simple and powerful confession of faith! Truly, Russian Orthodox Christians today have grown strong, nourished by the example of their martyred brethren. Their faith is simple and fearless, typified by the example from the visit to the church of the Saviour-on-the-Blood":

"There was a wrought iron barrier preventing access to the canal, the water and the site of the assassination. However, there was a gap in the iron fence, narrow, but wide enough to squeeze through. We forced ourselves through and were confronted by he sight of the flowers and three women... We talked a bit and discovered that, amazingly enough, the barrier of wrought iron had been erected by the regime to prevent people from making pilgrimages to the site! But a certain Auntie Dusia came from her factory and cut through the metal. How simple everything is in this world when one had God's help."[1]

If only we in the free world had the courage and the determination to cut through the Iron Curtain as boldly as Auntie Dusia cut through the fence! Surely, the example of the newly-glorified martyrs should strength- en us also. Do we not hear their voices crying, "How long, 0 Lord?" and imploring us to help those suffering in their much-suffering homeland. Let us be moved by their cry and beg God that we too may become fellow servants and brethren in Christ, not only ; in name, but in deed!

[1]"What Do They Expect From Us Over There?" by Ludmilla Koehler, Orthodox Life,3/81.