St. John the Baptist Parish, A Parish of the Russian Orthodox Church, Canberra, Australia

Moscow of the Tsars

Ivan Lukash

Do thou, O sun, me resurrect.
And grant that I, in Holy Rus',

Might see at least a single dawning.

-- Prince Odoyevskii

DURING cheesefare week, on the last Sunday before Maslenitsa ["Shrovetide"] the Dread Judgment was enacted in Moscow.

This enactment served as the introduction to the days of Moscow's great repentance and merciful-heartedness, of her bountiful benefaction and kindness.

The beauty of Moskovia and, perhaps, all the beauty, power and light of that Russian spirit which still respires within us, all stem from those days of the astonishing kindness of Moscow, over three centuries ago...

On the Sunday before Maslenitsa, the Patriarch of Moscow, with a multitude of clergy, to the accompaniment of the singing of stickhiras, carried out the mystical enactment of the Dread Judgment.

The singing would grow still; all would drop to their knees. The Patriarch alone would approach the image in his dark-violet mantle and white cowl. The Patriarch would wipe the image with a towel.

We, their descendants, find to be incomprehensible and strange that which our ancestors understood, as the Patriarch, at dawn, with all Moscow silent, would wipe the image of the Dread Judgment, in order that the coming Judgment of God might be revealed, passing the more clearly before the gaze of every soul.

And prior to the Patriarch's wiping the image with the towel, the Tsar' of Moscow was already beginning days of penitence and kindness. Some three hours before dawn, the Gosudar' [Sovereign], passed through slumbering, darkened Moscow, quietly going about, on foot, to all of Moscow's prisons, stockades, orphanages, poor-houses, where the wounded lay. There, from his own hands, the Gosudar' distributed largesse and granted freedom.

Thus it was, almost 400 years ago, in that Moskovia which everyone who was not too lazy to do so would buffet, calumniate, and label barbaric. But if one compares that ancient nation of our fathers with what is going on in today's kingdom of corpses, -- then that four-hundred-years-old Moscow, where the Gosudar' himself went around to beggars, to orphans, to the suffering, would appear, to one of her descendants, to be the Kingdom of Heaven...

On the day of the enactment of the Dread Judgment, in the palace of the Gosudar', in the Golden and Dining Chambers, huge tables would be set, and the Gosudar' would invite the entire brotherhood of the poor to be his guests. The sublime exaltation of the humane Christian image of Moskovia during those feasts of the poor with the Gosudar' himself is altogether amazing. This kind-hearted custom was established in Moscow after the Time of Troubles. The nation of the fathers was already then, as it were, discovering the wondrous and unusual solution to all of society's contradictions, and was establishing the wondrous kingdom of peace and justice with its Gosudar' and Patriarch, Zemskii Sobor [Land Council] and customary charity.

"I foresee the re-establishment of a mighty Russia -- [a Russia] yet stronger and more powerful [than she is today]. Remember that it is upon the bones of martyrs just such as these that a new Rus' will be erected, as on a firm foundation; and yet, she will be fashioned after the old model and firm in her faith in Christ [our] God and in the Holy Trinity! And the Church will be as one, in accordance with the testament of Prince St. Vladimir! The Russian people have ceased to understand just what Rus' is: she is the foot-stool of the Lord's Throne! The Russian must realize this and thank God for the fact that he is a Russian."

-- Holy and Righteous Ioann [John] of Kronstadt

"Communing with great Russian literature (and culture, in general) with its eternal humaneness and principled values, can be but beneficial for each person in expanding his horizons; and in those people who are capable of thought, it will even tend, in the final analysis, to stimulate them toward justice and liberty."

-- Vladimir Rudinskii

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