July 4/17 Has Not Ceased To Be a Day of Repentance
The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad began to speak of repentance at its first Sobor [ = Council] in 1921. For that reason, we will but briefly point out here some of the root issues, without the proper understanding of which it is simply impossible to come to complete repentance.
Revolution is God's chastisement [of man] for [man's] transgressions against His commandments and laws. And regardless of where we might seek for the causes of the great woe that befell Russia -- and of the universal profound distress afflicting the entirety of life in the world today; -- regardless of where we might seek the traces of those transgressions, we will be able to find indicators of those reasons in one place only -- in Holy Scripture. The sufferings of the Russian people provide us with an example of what the reasons for their suffering are:
"And all nations shall say: wherefore hath the Lord dealt thus with this land? How great is the ire of His wrath! And they will say: by reason of their having abandoned the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers...." (Deut. 29, 24-25)
The laws of God are eternal, and [man's] violation of them inevitably brings about definite consequences:
"Hear, O earth: I will bring ruin and destruction upon this people, the fruit of their intentions; for they did not hearken unto My words and did reject My law." (Jer. 6, 19)
According to the words of the Most-Blessed Metropolitan Anastasii, the misfortunes of the world are the result of its violation of the laws of creation established by the Lord; of the substitution of man's contrivances for the clear, precise and goodly commandments of God; of the removal from the world of Him who restraineth. But the greatest good, as well, is also reflected in such laws of God, for "when Thine judgments are carried out upon the earth, then shall those dwelling in the world learn righteousness."(Is. 26, 9)
The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, throughout the course of many years, has preserved, in the Russian Abroad, the remembrance of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, calling the Russian people -- both in the Diaspora and in the Homeland -- to repentance for the sins of apostasy from God and of regicide.
It was through the initiative of the higher clergy that, in remembrance of the victims of the bloody bol'shevick revolt, so-called Days of Irreconcilability were observed in the Abroad, at which were commemorated, both in sermon and in church prayer, all those who had been murdered by the theomachic regime. The day of the evil act in Ekaterinburg became the day of Russian grief and sorrow. On this date, in the Orthodox temples of the Russian Diaspora, universal panikhidas for the Royal Passion-Bearers were served; and for the sake of greater repentance, still, a strict fast was decreed. Everything had to serve to remind one of the nationally universal sin of regicide -- which, in the words of St. John of Shanghai, was like the free-will acceptance of deicide by Israel: "Let His blood be upon us and upon our children." (Matt. 27, 25). Wherefore St. John taught that that sin will lie upon [us] all, until such time as it is washed away by a confession of the crime and by the moral regeneration of the Russian people.
In 1981, the Hierarchichal Sobor of ROCA effected the glorification of the sobor [ = synaxis (gathering)] of the New Martyrs and Passion-Bearers of Russia, among the multitude of which holy Tsar'-Martyr Nicholas occupies an especial place, together with his Family. On that day, there were manifested to the Russian Orthodox Church and people new heavenly Intercessors, to whom heartfelt prayers began to be lifted up for the deliverance of [our] tormented fatherland. These prayers were heard; and, through the petitions before God of [our] new Russian Saints, the communist power collapsed in Russia a scant ten years later. Now, temples and chapels in honour of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia are being built in our greatly-suffering Motherland; the honourable reclics of the Passion-Bearers are being recovered and their glorification is taking place -- now, already, in the Russian Land. Today, in Rus', a multitude of miracles is being manifested from the ikons of holy Tsar'-Martyr Nicholas and his Family, through the wondrous witness of their heavenly intercession on behalf of both the Church and the people.
It should be noted that all the above-indicated acts, both as regards the careful preservation of the memory of new Russian Passion-Bearers, so also as regards their glorification, always issued from the lawful hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile, with the prayerful support of the Russian people dwelling in the Diaspora. On the other hand, the sense of repentance for the sins of theomachy and regicide cannot be pinned to some specific date; it must accompany the prayer of each and every Russian Orthodox Christian on a daily basis. Not for naught is the "Prayer For the Salvation Of Russia" read at each and every Liturgy in the temples of ROCOR. But one should not become habituated to it [to the point of indifference]. In reading this prayer, we should focus ourselves internally, saying to ourselves: "attend," so that this prayer, too, might proceed from our hearts, as well. Despite the fact that the Tsar'-Martyr, his Most-August Family, his kinsmen (the passion-bearing Grand Dukes), and his faithful servants have been glorified by our Holy Church, the date of 4/17 July should not cease to be for us a day of penitential vigilance. For it is the specifically repentant mood that is the genuinely Christian mood. On this day we should examine in detail whether we actually are, in our lives, the faithful subjects of Tsar'-Martyr Nicholas [and] of Holy Rus'.
Thus, the Russian historical dates of 25 October and 4 July should remain in our memory as dates of grief and shame, the which it is possible to wash away only through tears of repentance. Let us gaze into our hearts. Let us compare the life-principle to be found therein with the ideals of Holy Rus'.
-- The Editors of "Pravoslavnaya Rus'" ["Orthodox Rus'"]