In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!
Today we escort the third Metropolitan of our Orthodox Russian Church Abroad to the eternal life. It is not now time for us to make some kind of comparisons between these three hierarchs. I will allow myself in my allotted time a short word on the spiritual character of our reposed Metropilitan Philaret – that is, how he seemed to me to be.
I think that the words of the Savior, spoken at one time to children, "Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matt. 19:14), apply to him fully. Our Metropolitan had those particular character traits that are particular to those people who preserved them from their childhood – preserved that openness, that kindness, that tenderness, that, which favorably disposes one man to another. Vladyka possessed these traits in great measure, and this was felt foremost by the children and youth beloved by him.
And so Vladyka lies in his coffin. He departs for a life inhabited by the righteous.
Vladyka, with these especially gentle traits of his, led what one might consider a very difficult life, combining these traits with those of a man standing at the head of the Church.
And I would like to straightway speak my mind, and say that we are all guilty in his struggles. We all, who in one way or another relied on him, multiplied his already difficult duties, particularly strenuously coupled with his gentle and, in the best sense of the word, virginal characteristics, the sustainment of which for adults is often less than simple. We are all guilty of this. Those who transgressed, and those who did not stop the transgressors, and those who thought their business was to come to church from time to time and considered themselves Orthodox, let alone Orthodox members of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, as something special in Orthodoxy.
All of us, in one way or another, are guilty of not helping him, quite the opposite: we complicated the already difficult ways of Church life, that Church life which cannot be separated from all of the terrors of this world that occur around us. It is impossible that all of this will not penetrate the Church, and in some degree it has penetrated, for everyone who lives outside of the Church, like it or not, is to some degree filled with that atmosphere in which the modern world finds itself, and upon entering the Church, brings that atmosphere into the Church. How then is it to live as the First Hierarch of the Church in such circumstances?
And then, forgive me another candid word. The words of the Gospel come to mind, the words of the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who said once: "You have made my Father’s house a den of thieves" (Matt. 21:13). Do you and I not do the same thing? Of them I am chief. We clergy, we lay people, and everyone – each in his own right – have we not sinned before the departed First Hierarch and before our Church by our unworthy life, which carries on far from how it should, far from how we would like it?
Therefore, today it is proper for us not only to repent for our sins before the Church and Her First Hierarch. I think this insufficient. It isinsufficient to repent. We must promise, give an oath, that we will attempt to defend our Church and, consequently, ourselves as well; we must defend our internal selves, in every manifestation of our lives, from that which sullies the Church, which stains the Church, which makes Her, even in the smallest way, reminiscent of the words of the Savior, which I have brought just now to your attention.
For this reason we here, escorting the departed, stand in the doorway, awaiting a new head, a new First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Whoever he may be, he will need what our departed hierarch needed. Let us give him of our help. Let us not say, this is not my responsibility, I am no priest; while the priest says, this is not my responsibility, I am no bishop; while the bishop says, this is not my responsibility, I am not the First Hierarch.
Who is responsible then? One man? No matter what grace may be visited upon this man, it is beyond the strength of any one. It is the responsibility of the whole Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, of which we are the members.
Let us then not just call ourselves such, but let us right ourselves, for the sake of the Church, for the sake of our own salvation, for the sake of not calling ourselves Orthodox Christians, but being such. Let us not boast that we are better than all the other Orthodox Christians, we, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, but let us be whom we ought to be.
May the Lord God help us! Let us truly want this! Let us apply all our efforts to attaining this goal, not by our intentions alone, "with which," St. John Chrysostom notes, "even the road to hell is paved." Not by intentions alone, but with true deeds, for which our Church and Her new, future head, the First Hierarch, will be waiting.
"Orthodox Rus", 1985, #22.