ROCA Directory USA

This is a Directory for English-speaking Americans. If others also find it useful, that is all the better.

We are still making progress in the aftermath of the shipwreck of the most sad Signing of the Act of Uncanonical Union. The first purpose for this Directory is to help refugees make a connection with the Church, for those who have chosen to stay with ROCA, but are just out there "homeless" because there is no established ROCA parish in their neighborhood. These folks are encouraged to study the directory and select a parish to join "long distance" until more suitable circumstances are available, or until better arrangements can be made.

We need a spiritual father, and we need a place to tithe. This is the order Christ has established in His Church for our benefit. Your parish priest (or 'spiritual father' if you prefer to use that term) will then commemorate you at the altar, and you will be officially one of those "absent for honorable reasons."

For those already connected to a parish (or in the process) and doing Reader Services, please let us at least list your city/state in the Directory. It is encouraging to others, and also useful to people who are traveling or thinking of moving.

And then what? Once your "connection" is established, once you have a "home-base," then it is just one step at a time, first things first. With Great Lent upon us, many are now thinking of making Confession and receiving the Holy Mysteries. Maybe some can plan a pilgrimage to a ROCA parish or a Sister Church. Some may eventually gather enough people to form a Mission Parish and even possibly raise up a priest from among themselves. Others in smaller groups may start collecting money to fund the transportation costs of a "traveling priest" which is a real possibility for the future. For some the only workable solution may be to move, but it is really too early to know this yet for sure.

We trust God and look to Him to show us what to do. He has already shown us what NOT to do. Which is NOT to go along with the Laurus schism. We might be small in numbers, but we are crystal clear on that.


Stalin's Death

Death of Sinners is Evil

March 1953

Stalin suffered a cerebral hemorrhage while he was alone in his quarters. This was after a drinking dinner party that had lasted until nearly dawn. He was found paralyzed the next day and unable to speak. He remained in this condition for three days until he died.

Joseph Stalin died in an atmosphere of fear and paranoia which he had created. His doctors, his "attachments" (attendants), and his family were all filled with dread. The doctors' hands trembled when they attended him. Deputy Prime Minister Beria, the closest to Stalin of his inner circle, would appear gleeful when Stalin looked near dead; but then when Stalin would regain consciousness Beria would run to kiss his hand. The rest of his surrounding "attachments" feared for their own safety, that they would be blamed. His drunken son shouted accusations through the hall. His daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, describes his death thus:

"'Father was dying horribly and hard.. His face went dark and changed... his features were becoming unrecognisable. The last hours were nothing but a slow strangulation. The lack of oxygen became acute. The death agony was horrible. God grants an easy death only to the just. He literally choked to death while we watched. At what seemed like the very last moment he suddenly opened his eyes and cast a glance over everyone in the room. It was a terrible glance, a horrid look, insane or perhaps angry and full of the fear of death. ..Then something incomprehensible and terrible happened that to this day I can’t forget. He suddenly lifted his left hand, and sort of either pointed up somewhere, or shook his finger at us all, as though he were pointing to something above and bringing down a curse on us all. The gesture was incomprehensible and full of menace. The next moment, after a final effort, the spirit wrenched itself free of the flesh."

Svetlana's description of the death bed scene is in her book. 

Apparently there is good reason to suspect that Stalin was murdered. Officially the cause of death was a brain hemorrhage. But he also vomited blood. The hemorrhages could have been caused by a certain tasteless rat poison that causes hemorrhaging and weakening of the blood vessels which in turn causes strokes. 

Also extremely suspicious is that the night he had the stroke, he reportedly told his "attachments" to not bother to guard him that night - for them to go to sleep. The directive was passed to the guards through the main attendant, the only one to actually hear Stalin give the order. This was the first time ever anyone had heard of such an order from Stalin. And it was entirely out of character for Stalin who usually taunted the guards to keep them fearful of falling asleep. 

Just prior to Stalin's death he and Beria, the closest to him of his inner circle, had begun to plan a new purge, which would have removed most of the older party leaders such as Molotov from their positions. The Molotovs, husband and wife, survived only because of the Leader's death. Yet they both went on praising him for the rest of their days. According to Molotov, his wife 'not only never spoke ill of Stalin, she couldn't bear to hear anyone else speak ill of him.' 

It's a remarkable fact that masses of people felt bereft at the great dictator's demise. Hundreds of people were crushed to death at his funeral. 

Three years later in 1956, at a closed session of the Twentieth Party Congress, Khrushchev made a 4-hour speech about Stalin's crimes and his "cult of personality."


From Joanna's Notepad:

More of the same as above, Google Search: STALIN, "DEATH AGONY"

Selected sites from other Google Searches:

Heterodox, but still informative

Stalin Murder Evidence

Stalin's Cannibalism

Stalin's Psychic

post moved

post moved

Devils Look Upon In Amazement

The Sunday of the Last Judgment
Excerpt from book Ecumenism-Path to Perdition appropriate for today.

... In 1993, pseudo-Metropolitan Kirill (Gundyaev), while enjoying himself at a Christmas party organized by the Central Television in Moscow was asked the following mocking question by a certain reporter: "What do you think of the Last Judgment and Resurrection? I do not believe in them," replied laughing: "And neither do I" [footnote #481].

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Servant Eugene's 40th Day Pannikhida


On The 40th Day of the Passing, of The Servant of God, Eugene L. Magerovsky, a Panihida will be served on Thursday 26th of February (new calendar date), 2009 at 1PM in the St. Sergius of Radonezh Church at the Tolstoy Foundation Center, 104 Lake Road, Valley Cottage, New York. After the panihida, there will be a memorial meal at the main house of the Tolstoy Foundation Center.

This notification is on behalf of: The family, the friends, and by The Association of Russian American Scholars in the U.S.A., and by The Russian Expert Commision Abroad, and by The Administrative Council of the North American District of The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA).

MEMORY ETERNAL! VECHNAYA PAMYAT! to our dear departed fellow church worker, and brother in Christ, the truly noble and heroic Servant of God, Dr. Eugene L. Magerovsky. May you dear brother Eugene, indeed, REST WITH THE SAINTS! Amen.

Why Did We Fall For It?

What can the present spiritual state of the clergy and laity of ROCOR (L) be compared to?

... It can be compared to being caught in a snake’s mouth; as a snake does not swallow its victim at once, but does so gradually. At first, it waits out its prey, allowing the prey to become accustomed to it being “harmlessly” near by, then it hypnotizes its prey, breaking down the prey’s defenses. Finally, it suffocates the prey and begins to consume it, piece by piece. This analogy to nature may seem curious, but this is exactly the spiritual state all of ROCOR(L) finds itself in, as if under deep hypnosis and “willingly” being swallowed by the “red dragon” and its “temptress church” the Soviet Patriarchy ...

Abp. Tihkon noted this in 2006. I still wonder, why did we (most of us) fall for it? And our teachers and leaders suddenly became strangers to what they knew and taught before? Did Jezebel put a spell on the city? Why was I spared? Or am I next?"-jh
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"You Must Not Exist"

Excerpt from an article in Orthodox Life (Jordanville 1994):

... Why does the Moscow Patriarchate yearn for union with us?

1) As long as our Church exists the Moscow Patriarchate will not rest. Even if only one parish of our Church openly existed in Russia, it would give the Moscow Patriarchate no peace. In the province of Novgorod one parish came under the omophorion of our Church. A Dean of the Moscow Patriarchate sought to evict our community out of the church building. Our priest and parishioners began to offer alternatives regarding usage of the church. They spoke of freedom of conscience, of the possibility of coexisting communities and finally of a court process to resolve the property dispute. There was only one answer: "You must not exist."

Same article in another place says:

... But the new politics of the Moscow Patriarchate really stem from the fact that it has no firm principles. The key question for them is one of power. It is not important to them whether a priest is involved in shady business dealings or purely church activities; whether he is ... or ... The main thing is to commemorate Patriarch Alexis. ... one condition: commemorate Patriarch Alexis. This is a form of Papism.

Same article in another place says:

...The Moscow Patriarchate is closely tied with some apostate churches and also heterodox confessions. The latter pay little attention to us now, but if we become a part of the Moscow Patriarchate the Patriarchate will be pressured to force us to be silent - we will lose the ability to be the free voice of Orthodoxy. We will also lose our spiritual succession and unity with part of the Heavenly Church - the assembly of New Martyrs of Russia who rejected Metropolitan Sergius and his successors. In the Moscow Patriarchate we will simply "dissolve."

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Dr. Vladimir Moss Open Letter

This letter is to one "non-commemorating" ROCOR(MP) priest. "Non-commemorating" means that this priest was not yet commemorating Patriarch Alexi II at the Liturgies. All of us can benefit from this letter that helps to clear up some persistent confusion about the situation and where the MP has been grossly misrepresented.

June 2008

Dear Fr. Valery,

Forgive me, who know you only by reputation (they say you are a fine pastor with the most magnificent church in the Church Abroad), for writing to you “out of the blue” like this. I was sent a copy of your letter to Metropolitan Ilarion, and immediately felt that someone had to reply to it – and publicly. For it contains a misunderstanding which, if allowed to go uncorrected, could lead many onto the wrong path.

To read more *Click Here*.

Battle For The Soul Of Orthodoxy In Britain

Версия для печати
Опубликовано на сайте Портал-Credo.Ru
12-02-2009 15:49
"THE INDEPENDENT": The battle over Britain s Orthodox Church

Eight years ago, Oleg Deripaska stepped in to save a crumbling Orthodox church in Manchester. Was his generosity the start of a Kremlin-backed crusade to reclaim Russia's spiritual outposts in the West? Special report by Paul Vallely
It is a restrained, well-proportioned interior, as befits a church by Sir Christopher Wren. There is an Augustan austerity to its oak panelling and large, arched windows of plain glass. Its barrel-vaulted ceiling is painted in a tasteful Anglican sage-green, discreetly picked out with cream and gold.
But hanging above the altar is something huge and exotic. It is an overwhelmingly massive Byzantine icon in the shape of a jet-black cross. On it hangs a gigantic crucified figure with bright red blood streaming from his hands and feet. The image is surrounded in an edging of the brightest gold clearly designed to turn darkness into glory.
Beneath it is something else alien to the aesthetic of the building. A figure in a golden robe wearing a golden, onion-domed crown is waving two bundles of lighted candles over the altar. Around him stand half a dozen priests, deacons and altar servers in faded burgundy silk robes and copes.
This is St Andrew's church in Holborn, on the first Sunday of the month. The congregation, several hundred strong, are refugees, some for the second time in their lives. Over six decades, a small but vibrant branch of the Russian Orthodox Church has grown in the UK. Its members were a miscellany of elderly émigrés, and their descendents, who had fled their homeland in the Communist era, and who had arrived via long sojourns in Finland, Switzerland, Italy and France, along with a collection of aristocratic and upper-class English converts. What united them was the charismatic personality of the holy man who led them for 50 years, the late Metropolitan Anthony Bloom.
But now, this community is again in exile. This Anglican church, where they gather twice a month, is a temporary home. They are no longer welcome in Bloom's cathedral.
This is more than just a story of schism, much like the others that have dogged Christianity for 2,000 years. For these curiously anomalous English Orthodox Christians claim they have been pushed out of their own cathedral by a large influx of Russians who arrived in the UK in recent times, some of whom have launched a Moscow-inspired takeover of the church.
It's all part of a much bigger story in which Oleg Deripaska is a key figure. He is Russia's richest man, the aluminium tsar who is a friend of the British cabinet minister Lord Mandelson, and on whose yacht the hapless Tory shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, entangled himself in the rigging of the oligarch's lavish hospitality and allegations of illicit soliciting of political donations.
What has stirred the pot is that another government minister, the Attorney General, Baroness Scotland, has issued a crucial legal opinion in advance of a court case next week between the two warring Orthodox factions – and has come down on the side of Moscow, which has just elected a new Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk, a man widely regarded as an ex-KGB agent.
The whole saga comes to a head on Monday when the two factions meet in the Chancery Division of the High Court to contest ownership of the £15m cathedral in Kensington, along with five houses and flats. But there is more than property at stake; the battle is for the soul of Orthodoxy.
The cathedral of The Dormition of the Mother of God and All Saints in Ennismore Gardens, down the road from the Royal Albert Hall, is a very different kind of building from the church in Holborn. Italianate in style, the Church of England decided in 1978 that it was redundant. Inside, vast electric candelabra dangle from the ceiling. The walls are hung with icons in hues of gold. Candle stands illumine icons and relics. Across the nave is a high screen, the "iconostasis", which hides the church's inner sanctum from the profane eye of the ordinary worshipper.
There is a lot that is impenetrable about this place. At the side of the nave is a portrait of the cathedral's founder, Metropolitan Anthony. Yet those who insist they have been driven from the church say that his memory is more honoured in the breach than the observance.
Anthony Bloom was born in Switzerland of Russian émigré stock and raised in France. He was a medical doctor and a member of the French Resistance during the Second World War, before being ordained and sent to London as chaplain to the community of white Russians there.
His Orthodoxy was cosmopolitan in its character. After his arrival in Britain in 1948, he made it a principle that his church should meet the needs of people of all national backgrounds. He refused to accept any money from the church in Moscow, which under Stalin had been revived as an organ of the state. Indeed throughout the Cold War, Bloom broadcast to Russia as the free voice of its Church when its entire hierarchy was tainted by collaboration with the Communist authorities. When perestroika came, he welcomed it, and he welcomed too the flood of Russians who migrated from their homeland to the UK.
What he had not anticipated was that the incomers would try to change the distinctly open-minded brand of Orthodoxy his community had developed over the previous 40 years. "Huge numbers arrived," says one of the parishioners, Ruth Nares, a teacher who converted from Anglicanism two decades before because of what she describes as Orthodoxy's extraordinary sense of sacredness. "We were a community of white Russians, Finns, French, Italians and English converts. But the incomers had a different mentality. To many, it was just a place to meet fellow Russians. They would come in halfway through service, talking loudly at the back, and started making lunch there." Karin Greenhead, a musician, says: "There was a lot of unpleasantness and elbowing and pushing. It was noisy and unprayerful. There was even a fight outside the church."
But it was not just the congregation that changed. Extra priests sent over by Moscow during the past six years imported an unwelcome world view, too. "Nearly every Sunday we were bombarded with Soviet-style propaganda and warnings that 'the Devil is among us'," says Nicholas Tuckett, the founder of Ikon Records, which markets recordings of Orthodox music. "I was finding it impossible to pray."
The points at issue largely concerned the minutiae of church life. There were disputes about whether marriages could take place on a Saturday, how frequent communion should be, how strictly fasting rules were to be observed, whether women were obliged to wear headscarves in church or forbidden from wearing trousers.
But what lay behind all the nit-picking was a fundamental struggle for power. The Russo faction began to petition Moscow for reform to press the original community to become more Russian. Metropolitan Anthony's anointed successor, Bishop Basil, asked Moscow to disassociate itself from what he saw as troublemakers. But in Moscow, Metropolitan Kirill, who was last month elected head of the entire Russian Orthodox Church, declined to reply.
At that point, Archbishop Kirill was head of the Church's Department of External Relations, a post which his critics point out was created by Stalin when he revived the Church to boost civilian morale during the Second World War. The Moscow Patriarchate became an organ of the Russian state. In the years that followed, those who rose through Russian Orthodoxy's hierarchy were either collaborators or active KGB agents.
Papers disclosed relatively recently suggest that Archbishop Kirill, who had the agent codename of Mikhailov, had close links to the KGB and saw the Church's interests as aligned to those of the state. In 2001, he stated that the Moscow Patriarchate "acts today in close co-operation" with Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to "re-establish historical justice with the aim of returning to the Motherland her architectural and historical treasures which have been built by Russian artists and with money of the Russian people. If an Orthodox church building abroad used to belong to the Russian Church, and if this is legally proven, it must become again the property of our Church. If it was in former times on the registry of State property, it must return to the State."
Under his leadership, Moscow has moved to re-acquire property in Israel, Hungary, Germany, France, and now the UK. Sometimes court action has been the strategy; in others, such as Manchester, money has been deployed.
A decade ago, the church used by the Russian Orthodox community there began to fall down. The local community struggled to raise cash for a new building. Then, as their website reveals, "in late 2001, the Building Trust received a very generous donation from a well-known industrialist from Russia". It turned out to be Oleg Deripaska, the oligarch who had given support for the restoration of Orthodox churches in Russia.
But there was a price to pay, it seemed – the local community was expected to vote to remove itself from its relationship with Metropolitan Anthony in London and place itself under the direct authority of Moscow. The Orthodox community in London should have seen the writing on the wall. But being middle-class English folk, they were too diffident. "I think we were all probably too polite, but then we did not understand what was happening," says Karin Greenhead.
When Moscow sent a committee of inquiry, they co-operated. The English converts thought they were just a bunch of rather vulgar peasants used to pushing people around. "Too late we realised it was a more orchestrated, deliberate attack," Greenhead recalls. "The inquiry was a very unpleasant, traumatic experience. Everyone was taken off privately and grilled about our loyalty."
"It was the tactics of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin," says another parishioner, Nicolai Matveyev. "Having been arrested by the KGB, I was naturally suspicious," says another parishioner who asked not to be named.
Bishop Basil decided that the situation was untenable and applied to have his diocese transferred from the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate to that of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople – who is the leader of all the world's Orthodox who are not Greek or Russian. Before that could happen, Moscow peremptorily announced that Bishop Basil has been "retired".
"He arrived one Sunday morning to find that an Archbishop had been sent over from Paris and had taken over," says one of the priests, Fr Stephan Maikovsky. "It would have ended up in a fist fight had Bishop Basil not just bowed out." Permission came then from Constantinople for the bishop to set up a new body – the Vicariate – under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarch. Bishop Basil left. Fifteen of the parishes in the diocese went with him, as did half the clergy and 554 of the 1,161 members registered on the diocesan roll.
In response, Moscow went to court to demand that the two trusts holding the community's property should hand over the £15m cathedral and five clergy houses or flats – and throw two priests out of their homes. What complicated the picture was that the deed of trust drawn up in 1944 spoke only of "the promotion of the Orthodox Faith" and deliberately made no mention of "Russian" Orthodoxy just in case Moscow ever tried to grab control. What the British courts must now settle is who are the rightful heirs.
Moscow is represented by the solicitor Paul Hauser, who insists the position is legally clear: "A bishop had a falling-out with the church and left, taking some of his co-religionists with him. But that does not fundamentally alter the fact that the charities exist for the benefit of the diocese and parish, which continue to exist."
He offers an analogy: "Say a trust was established for the benefit of Guy's Hospital. Suppose a group of doctors at Guy's had a fight with the hospital administrator and went down the street to set up a new hospital which they called Guy's 2 – and then turned around and said that this new hospital should be the proper beneficiary of the trust. The original Guy's Hospital undoubtedly would say that, although these doctors were entitled to start a new hospital, that did not change the position with respect to the trust. The trust remained for the benefit of the original Guy's Hospital, not for the new one the doctors established."
The Attorney General, he insists, had no option but to give her opinion in favour of Moscow. But others suspect politics is afoot. The effect of the Attorney General expressing such a clear view is that Bishop Basil's side are now in line to pay the entire costs of the hearing if they lose – and they are not allowed to use the trust's money to pay for lawyers, so they cannot afford legal representation in the High Court on Monday. "That means that our witnesses will be without lawyers," says another parishioner, Tamara Dragadzay, "but the other side seems to have unlimited funds."
Hauser, who also acts for Oleg Deripaska, does not say where his side's money comes from. "Let's put it this way; it is not coming out of trust funds because the church has adopted the position that it doesn't want to see the trust funds disturbed for any other purpose. So the Russian Orthodox Church has had to make arrangements to fund this matter, which it has done. It has not been funded from any funds in UK."
This is where politics re-enters the picture. Britain's relationship with Russia has been in a delicate phase since Moscow refused to hand over the agent suspected of killing the KGB defector Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006, and the UK refused to hand over the dissident businessman Boris Berezovsky. There have been tit-for-tat expulsions. Things have been more frosty since Britain backed Georgia in its stand-off with Moscow. The last thing the Government needs is to irritate Vladimir Putin by ruling the wrong way in a small row over Church property.
The Attorney General's office insist that their "view on these cases has been arrived at on advice and after careful analysis of the evidence and having regard to the original trust deeds and their objects". It has not, a spokeswoman said, "been influenced by foreign policy considerations".
A number of MPs aren't convinced. "The intervention of the Attorney General to try to prevent one side of the case having legal representation is very singular," said the Lib Dem MP Norman Baker. "It goes against natural justice, which leads you to suspect this may be about not upsetting relations with Russia." He is to raise the matter with Sir Alan Beith, chair of the Select Committee on Justice, who is now conducting an inquiry into the office of the Attorney General and its susceptibility to political interference, following rulings in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
Back at the cathedral, they raise their eyebrows at such a notion. "It is too ludicrous to comment on," says Adrian Dean, the secretary of the parish council in whose name the court action has been brought. "It looks like a bit of scandal-mongering to me. The clique who have left have invented the idea purely because the Attorney General's ruling has gone against them. It's just sour grapes really. The legal fact is that this church has always been the diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate and it still is."
The court will find things more complex. The present parish was set up in 1934, and its 1944 trust deed was designed to allow for a change of jurisdiction. It was that which allowed the Parish Council to vote, in 1946, in a mood of post-war euphoria, to join the Moscow Patriarchate. What the court must decide is whether the switch back to Constantinople of just half the community allows the trustees to choose which way to go.
What heightens the sense of grievance of Bishop Basil's supporters is that it was they who bought the cathedral in 1978. "We raised all the money ourselves," says Ruth Nares. "Elderly White Russians sold their gold teeth to pay for it. The rest of the community worked tirelessly to find the money, and to fund a restoration programme – only now to find ourselves homeless and all because Moscow wants to extend its tentacles."
Emotions are high. Tamara Dragadzay likens what has happened to the way groups of foreign Muslims have tried to take over certain British mosques. There are parallels with the infiltration of Militant Tendency into the Labour Party in the 1980s. There is talk of cuckoos and nests.
"I just don't recognise that," says Adrian Dean, a more recent convert. "No one asked Bishop Basil and his supporters to go," says Moscow's lawyer, Paul Hauser. "They just decided to leave of their own volition. No one has slammed the door in anyone's face. They are always perfectly free to return." But no one in the new Vicariate believes that. They suspect that what goes on behind the iconostasis is something that Moscow would prefer to keep from public view.
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
The Address of the Article:

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The Price Of Sanctity

While in China St. John commemorated the MP patriarch during an uncertain time when he temporarily lost contact with his own synod. The unionites like to use that as part of their excuse for commemorating the MP patriarch today. But with the benefit of restoring some information the unionite party-line has conveniently omitted, it becomes more clear what actually happened and what St. John was actually doing during that time and why. The following is excerpted from:

The Price of Sanctity
Memories of Archbishop John Maximovitch
By Abbot Herman

... Archbishop John, according to Mrs. Shakhmatova, was not a narrow ecclesiastical fanatic. He did not believe in jurisdictions. When he arrived in Shanghai, there were many Orthodox ecclesiastical denominations. He united them all, served everywhere, became available to all, loved all, and eventually saved many. During the Second World War, when pro-Soviet ideas were in fashion and all the Russian bishops in the Far East accepted the Moscow Patriarchate, Archbishop John, as true son of the Orthodox Church, also commemorated the Patriarch of Moscow, Alexis I, but he did not cease commemorating the Russian Synod to whom he gave vows as a bishop. The Moscow Patriarchate representative, Archbishop Victor, demanded that all the bishops in the Far East cease to commemorate Metropolitan Anastassy, head of the Russian Church Abroad, and in this way insisted on the jurisdictional power of the Patriarchate. All the Russian Church Abroad hierarchs in the Far East capitulated to this demand except for Archbishop John, who said that he would do so only when someone proved to him that it was right for one to abandon vows. In commemorating the heads of both Churches, he showed that he accepted all jurisdictions and would not sow dissension on legalistic grounds. For refusing to cease commemorating Metropolitan Anastassy, he was locked out of his own Cathedral in Shanghai, but he nevertheless served Liturgy on a table in front of the locked Cathedral doors, continuing to pray for the heads of both Churches. ...

Full Article:
Memories of Archbishop John Maximovitch
By Abbot Herman

"I shall not die but live, and I shall tell of the works of the Lord" (Psalm 117:17).

Before my seminary days, I knew about Archbishop John only as John of Shanghai. I was not in the circles who knew him, and I did not even know then that he no longer lived in Shanghai. In my family there was much sorrow because of sickness, and I knew that this John of Shanghai heals and helps, but I had no idea how to reach him or even how to address him. Then I did not even know what a bishop was, or that he was one. Finally, having obtained his address, I wrote to him asking for prayers, but I received no answer to both my letters. Only when I was already a seminarian at Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, New York, did I have the happiness of meeting him personally. This took place with the help of my true benefactor, Fr. Vladimir, under the following circumstances.

It was in November of 1959. We seminarians were preparing for the nameday and birthday of St. John of Kronstadt. The canonization of this truly righteous man had been postponed, although everything had been prepared for it back in 1952 and people were in constant expectation that at any moment his solemn glorification would take place to everyone's joy.

I was in the habit of coming each morning to the office of Fr. Vladimir and asking his blessing for the day. It was a chilly morning, and right before breakfast I ran to the office. I knocked vigorously at the door, whereupon the door quickly opened and Fr. Vladimir, with his finger to his lips signaling me to be quiet, surprised me by saying that Archbishop John had arrived from Europe the night before. He closed the door behind me, took a deep breath, and told me the following, which put me in a state of awe and spiritual inspiration:

Late the night before he had seen from the window of his cell, which was on the fourth floor facing the church, the arrival of a car, and the familiar, short, bent-over figure of Archbishop John coming out. At first Archbishop John went to the church, accompanied by several of our ruling fathers. A light snow covered the ground, yet Fr. Vladimir could clearly see that the Archbishop was wearing only sandals; and as the wind blew hard, he could see his bare legs in the November cold of our upper New York State weather. Since it was late, Fr. Vladimir assumed that everyone would go to bed and only in the morning would greet the welcomed guest. With a feeling of gratitude to God, he turned to his icon corner and continued his monastic prayer rule. He could not fall asleep because of the inward excitement, when in the stillness of the night he heard someone walking slowly on the lower floor, stopping every five steps or so and then resuming his walk. He could hear those steps ascending the staircase, where the cement stairs made the sound quite loud. Then he heard the footsteps on the fourth floor and nearing his door. He knew that it was Archbishop John, and that he was stopping at each monk's cell door, praying and blessing the inhabitant of that cell. All were asleep. But Fr. Vladimir's heart was beating, when slowly, with heavy steps, the holy hierarch stopped at his door. Fr. Vladimir, holding his breath, standing right there next to the closed door, felt the care and love of that hierarch for each individual member of the monastery and seminary. When the steps stopped just a foot away from the door, Fr. Vladimir took the opportunity to pray for all unfortunate ones and those in need of prayer. Then slowly the steps began again, stopping at each brother's door and slowly fading away, until finally, descending to the lower floor, they were no longer audible.

Watching from his window, Fr Vladimir saw the holy hierarch visiting all of the buildings of the monastery proper wherein the brethren abided: the faraway barn house, the seminary building across the road.... And then, to his surprise, the steps again began to ascend the stairs; and again Archbishop John slowly walked the long corridors of the main building, and so continued throughout the whole night. In the morning, the Archbishop attended Liturgy, and blessed whomever came for the blessing.

Hardly had Fr. Vladimir finished telling of his experience of the night before, when he said that at this moment he heard the familiar steps once again, and that now was my chance. If Blessed John should come into the office now, he said, I should ask him for prayers for my sick sister. He told me that upon meeting him I should make a prostration to the ground, ask his blessing, give the name of the sick person on a piece of paper, and give a little donation for the Archbishop's orphanage. When I said that I had no money, Fr. Vladimir pulled out a couple dollars from his desk. Suddenly the door opened up behind me, and Fr. Vladimir called out with a joyful air, "Holy Vladika, bless us!" I turned around, and in front of me stood an extremely short, bent-over monk, with disheveled gray hair, with a black klobuk askew, and with a rather stern facial expression. In fact, his whole appearance was so stern, even fierce, as he stood right in front of me, with the cold winter air still emanating from him, that I shuddered. I knew that before me stood a saint coming from the other world and that here was a living martyr from crucified Russia. Although I knew very little about his life and had no specific knowledge of his miracles or ascetic labors, I felt that something raw and extraordinary was centered upon this frail, bent-over, yet energetic old man.

Remembering the words of Fr. Vladimir about how I should address the holy hierarch, I fell on my knees before him, asking for his blessing, and in fear and haste I asked him to pray for my sister. There was no one else with him, and that made it less frightening, since the first words from him came as a growl of dissatisfaction over the fact that I had prostrated myself before him. Without looking at me he repeated three times that I should write the name of my sister on a piece of paper, and he refused the two dollars I was sticking into his hands. I do not remember what followed, for I was very afraid and began to stutter. Seeing my confusion and feeling the sweat on my hands, he looked up and smiled to reassure me that everything was all right. I understood that Fr. Vladimir's advice about the prostration was not to his liking, and I was overjoyed to hear my sister's name pronounced three times. He pulled from his pocket some notes with prayer requests, and added to them the little note that Fr. Vladimir had quickly jotted down and stuck into my hand. Then he asked a few questions about me, and whether I would join the other seminarians for tomorrow's service at the memorial church in Utica, New York, dedicated to St. John of Kronstadt. After a few words with Fr. Vladimir, who gave him our new publications and after some argument that arose when he attempted to pay for them and Fr. Vladimir insisted that they were gifts the Archbishop shuffled out the door.

Feeling an utter triumph in my soul, that I had spoken to a saint, I turned to Fr. Vladimir for further information about him, Archbishop John. But I heard nothing of what my dear benefactor Fr. Vladimir was telling me then, due to my excitement over having met a man not of this world. It had been through the good will of Fr. Vladimir that I had met my spiritual father from Optina, Fr. Adrian; my Athonite elder, Schemamonk Nikodim of Karoulia; my future Alaska connection with St. Herman, Archimandrite Gerasim; and finally, Archbishop John, who just a few years later would become the founder of the St. Herman Brotherhood. That afternoon, Fr. Joseph, our choirmaster, was selecting the best singers to go to Utica to sing the Divine Liturgy in honor of St. John of Kronstadt's nameday and birthday. Since I was not a possessor of great musical talents, I had little hope that I would be invited to join the best singers, but to my great surprise Fr. Joseph chose me as an "adequate baritone," and I was overwhelmed with joy that I would thereby be taken to see the intriguing figure and hear the sermon of Archbishop John.

We arrived early enough and sang the whole Liturgy nicely, without any blunders. My attention, however, was fixed on the odd-looking figure of Blessed John, who appeared even smaller than when I had seen him in the office. When he was being vested in the middle of the basement church, I saw that he was exceedingly emaciated and bony. There was almost nothing attached to his bones, except for what appeared to be a big stomach but actually turned out to be a pouch with things in it, which he always wore. In this pouch was an icon, about a foot square and enshrined in purple velvet, with relics of his distant relative and patron saint, St. John Maximovitch of Tobolsk; and evidently he had other objects in it, such as his epitrachelion, liturgical cuffs, etc. His undergarment was a bright blue cassock made out of thin, cheap Chinese "paupers' cloth." His outer vestments were also peculiar. Although they were hierarchical vestments, they were made only out of white linen, and had little crosses of purple and orange embroidered all over, apparently done by his orphan children from Shanghai. His mitre, instead of being a glittering, round, balloon-like adornment of pontifical splendor, was only a folding traveling mitre that looked more like an enlarged skufia (simple monk's cap) in a strange shape. To match the vestments, this mitre was also white with little crosses of purple and orange thread; and it had cheap little paper icons glued on all four sides. His staff was taller than his own height, and it appeared that he was hanging onto it. His hair was disheveled, his facial expression utterly angry, his lower lip hanging, and his little black eyes often closed. But the worst was his speech. For the life of me, I could not understand a single sentence of his sermon. I understood that he was combining the significance of St. John of Kronstadt, St. John of Rila, holy Prophet Joel, and Blessed Cleopatra and her little boy John, and was telling how John had spit on the torturer and had thus been killed before the eyes of his mother; and of course he talked also about Christ's Resurrection. I could tell that the sermon was very profound, for he quoted portions of troparions and kontakions; but no matter how much I tried, coming closer to him, I still could not understand his speech.

The biggest surprise, however, came during the procession around the church with the blessing of the water. When he would sprinkle the holy water, he would aim mostly at his altar boys, dousing them. The boys felt themselves to be the center of attention, and were elated to be thus sanctified by their beloved archpastor.

I returned to the seminary in a state of deep satisfaction, as if I had received a certain jolt for my life. Since Archbishop John went back to France, I thought I would probably never see him again, but right after my graduation I was called mysteriously to serve the Church, thanks to his special summoning of me to California.

Two years later, in the summer of 1961, the day after my graduation from seminary, I went on a pilgrimage to St. Herman's home and holy relics in Alaska, having obtained a blessing for this from Metropolitan Anastassy, who said, "God bless you. Go and bow down for us before the righteous apostle Herman, since our old age prevents us from ever going there. Pray for us there, and bring our blessing to the righteous hermit, our brother Archimandrite Gerasim." This memorable pilgrimage gave me a clearer picture of ecclesiastical reality, and set me for the rest of my life on a path blessed by St. Herman. Before I left on the pilgrimage, Fr. Vladimir blessed my trip with a little icon of Sts. Sergius and Herman of Valaam which was a blessing from his elder, Fr. Philemon the Valaamite. He also blessed me with a prayer rope, which I proceeded to wear into a mere string. Both the icon and the prayer rope were placed on the relics of St. Herman.

On my return trip, I stayed for about a week in the church rectory in Seattle, in a guest room on the second floor, second door on the left. During my stay I lost the prayer rope. Next I went to Canada to visit the forlorn skete of the holy Archbishop Ioasaph. Roaming through the Canadian prairies and visiting the sketes, I lamented that I had lost the prayer rope, and I could not be consoled because a Valaam blessing and St. Herman's blessing rested on that rope. Having given up hope of finding it, I returned via Seattle to San Francisco, where I was scheduled to give a slide-show and talk on my Alaska trip to Archbishop Tikhon, Bishop Nektary, and then to Abbess Ariadna and the sisters of her convent. The Abbess announced my lecture in a newspaper. The slide-show I was to give in her convent was to be the more important one, since that good Abbess had decided to gather all the students of her parochial school and all local youth.

A day or so before the event was to take place, I became exceedingly nervous. The Abbess told me that she hoped I wouldn't mind sharing my lecture stand with Archbishop John, who had just arrived from France. She also told me that she had scheduled a reception in conjunction with my lecture. I was both flattered and petrified to be giving a talk in the presence of such an important man as Archbishop John. But she assured me that Archbishop John was very kind, understanding, and had the heart of a child, and that if I would give my talk on a childish level, it would be a success.

Arriving a bit earlier than expected, I had hardly entered the main door when I was immediately rushed to an urgent telephone call from Seattle, from my friend George Kalfov. George had been Archbishop John's acolyte in Shanghai, and had been healed by him when he had been fourteen years old. Already he had told me many things about Archbishop John, whom he said was a man who was constantly persecuted which I always had difficulty comprehending.

As I walked up the steps to the church, Abbess Ariadna summoned me to hasten to the long-distance telephone which was in her room under the balcony of her large church. As I entered, I saw Archbishop John sitting at the telephone, summoning me to come close to him. He handed me the telephone receiver even before I could take his blessing. As Archbishop John held the receiver, the first thing George said to me was: "Where is your prayer rope?" I admitted that I had lost it and that it was irreplaceable. At this moment Archbishop John, still holding the phone receiver in his hand next to my ear, pulled my prayer rope out of his pocket. George said that Archbishop John had stayed in my room in Seattle and had found the prayer rope there, and that he was returning it to me at this moment. Seeing my prayer rope in the hands of Archbishop John, I automatically reached for it, but Archbishop John, letting me take hold of it, pulled the rope to himself as if not wanting to part with it, pulling me towards him at the same time. He said something to the effect: "Will you come to San Francisco so we can work together?" I nodded and began to pull at the rope, but he, looking straight into my eyes with a smile, pulled the rope back. Meanwhile George, hearing what was going on, told me seriously that with this gesture Archbishop John was calling me to himself. I at once recognized that God's Providence was pulling me, unworthy as I was, to come and be where Archbishop John was. Abbess Ariadna, seeing all this, confirmed that it must have been the will of God that my prayer rope was returned by way of Archbishop John. And she was not mistaken, for the rest of my life was bound up with Archbishop John's blessing.

My lecture was a success. After I finished, Archbishop John concluded with his message. At the reception, the nuns of the convent, being spiritual daughters of Archbishop John from Shanghai, told me many things about him, while I listened and ate sweet pies, happy as a lark. In the course of conversation that day, Archbishop John insisted that I give a talk for his former orphans at his St. Tikhon's Orphanage on Balboa Street, and that I should contact the matron of the orphanage, Maria Alexandrovna Shakhmatova, to set a proper date for the talk. Without lingering, I went there the next day, and my visit and encounter with that righteous woman left a deep impression on me for the rest of my life. First of all, Mrs. Shakhmatova was a mother figure to hundreds of teenagers. She wasted no time with them and had a good psychological approach warm contact with young souls. I immediately liked her because she had a good sense of humor and a keen perception into the soul of a youth.

My concern while traveling was to attempt to recruit new seminarians for Holy Trinity Seminary; and I did not hesitate, at all my stops, to lead the conversation towards that subject. With Mrs. Shakhmatova, however, it was she who wanted to discuss that topic; she spoke, and I listened and answered her questions. She was a dynamic personality; she liked me from the start and wanted me to take part in her world. She saw me as a potential friend to her orphan boys who, she lamented, were losing God in the soulless American atmosphere. I wanted to know more from her about Archbishop John, who by now since he had taken a special interest in my life was in my imagination my future bishop. But before going deeper into stories about Archbishop John, she took my word that I would do the utmost in order to influence one of her boys to go to my seminary. She wanted me to meet him the next day, which I did. The stories which Mrs. Shakhmatova told me opened my eyes to the highest calibre of righteousness, represented by Archbishop John. My study of Archbishop John's life was actually initiated by her vision. She had witnessed his ascetic exploit in Shanghai almost from the very moment of his arrival there, on the feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple in 1934, the year I was born. She had had a difficult marriage, and joined Archbishop John's orphanage in Shanghai almost at the very start. She had children of her own who were also part of the orphanage. She saw Archbishop John crucify himself in both founding and managing the orphanage, which he dedicated to his favorite saint, St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, from whom he drew the initial inspiration for it. Living conditions were terrible, and the needs of the children, whose parents had escaped Communism, were overwhelming. The young Bishop, almost from the start, gathered concerned ladies from his parish, asked them to found a committee, rented a house and opened up a hostel for orphans or children whose parents were in need. The chapter of St. Tikhon's Orphanage has never been written. The amazing way in which Blessed John gathered and fed the children requires an able writer to capture it for posterity. The children would be underfed, abused and frightened, until Archbishop John would come and very often take them personally into his orphanage and school. Each child and there were over three thousand who went through the orphanage had a traumatic story.

Mrs. Shakhmatova shared some of these stories with me. There was, for example, a boy named Paul who had witnessed his father and mother being killed and chopped into pieces by the Communists right in front of his eyes. Because of the trauma the boy had become mute and could not even pronounce his own name. He was like a trapped animal, afraid of everyone, and trusted only his fists and spitting. He was brought into the orphanage at a time when it was packed and had no place for him. Due to the fact that Paul was so frightened, the ladies there thought that he was abnormal and refused to accept him lest he scare the other children. When Archbishop John found out about him, he demanded that the boy be admitted. Upon hearing words of refusal, he insisted on immediately dropping everything and going to meet the boy personally. They did not even know that he was a Russian boy and spoke Russian, for he only mumbled and hissed like a caged animal. When Archbishop John arrived, he sat down before the boy, who was still trembling, and said to him the following: "I know that you have lost your father, but now you have found one me," and he hugged him. This was said with such power that the boy burst out in tears and his speech returned to him.

In the slums of Shanghai, there were cases in which dogs would devour baby girls who had been thrown into garbage cans. When the newspapers announced this, Archbishop John told Mrs. Shakhmatova to go and buy two bottles of Chinese vodka-at which she cringed in horror. But her horror increased when he demanded that she accompany him into these very slums, where it was common knowledge that grown-up people would be murdered. Fearless as ever, the young Bishop insisted on going there, walking through dark alleys in the worst neighborhood. She recalled what horror seized her heart when they, in the darkness of night, walked and encountered only drunkards, shady characters, and growling dogs and cats. She held the bottles in her hands, following him with trepidation, when suddenly a growl was heard from a drunken man sitting in a dark doorway and the faint moan of a baby was heard from a nearby garbage can. When the Bishop hastened towards the cry, the drunkard growled in warning. Then the Bishop turned to Mrs. Shakhmatova and said, "Hand me a bottle." Raising the bottle in one hand and pointing to the garbage can with the other, Blessed John, without words, conveyed the message of the proposed sale. The bottle ended up in the hands of the drunkard, and Mrs. Shakhmatova saved the child. They say that that night he returned to the orphanage with two babies under his arms. This fearlessness, however, had not been acquired without a deep inner struggle.

From the very start, Blessed John never ate during the day. He would liturgize or commune every day, after which he would spend an hour in silence in the altar, thoroughly washing the holy vessels. Then, without fail, he would go to each of the city's hospitals and would locate and visit the Orthodox Christians there as well as the many non-Orthodox who also needed him and were eager to see him. He would give Holy Communion, often serving the Holy Gifts to mentally sick ones. Sometimes he even served Divine Liturgy in hospitals, in various languages as the situation demanded: Greek, Arabic, Chinese, and later English. He would eat dinner only after midnight and would never lie down to sleep; he never even allowed himself to lean on the back of a chair. Of course he often dozed off because he wore himself out so much. But in his vigilance he always prayed for whomever would ask him, and often his prayer would be answered immediately. Hence, he was known already as a miracle-worker.

Once Mrs. Shakhmatova, in the middle of the night, chanced for some reason to climb up into the belfry. The door to it led from the top floor of the vicarage. It was cold and windy. As she opened the door, she saw that Blessed John was in deep, concentrated prayer, freezing, shivering in the open air, wind sweeping through his ryassa, and that he was blessing the houses of his parishioners from above. She thought, "While the world is asleep, he keeps watch like Habakkuk of old, guarding his flock with his fervent intercession before God, so that no harm can steal his sheep away." Deeply shaken, she withdrew. Thus she had a clue as to what he was doing during long winter nights when all the people take their normal rest in their comfortable beds. "Why was it needed?" Mrs. Shakhmatova asked me, looking deep into my eyes. "Who asked him to do it? Why such self-sacrifice, when his presence was needed everywhere?" And she answered her own question, to my amazed silence: "He had an unquenchable love for God. He loved God as a Person, as his Father, as his closest Friend. He longed to talk with Him, and God heard him. It was not some conscious self-sacrifice. He just loved God and did not want to be separated from Him."

"Once during the war," she continued, "the poverty of the orphanage reached such immense proportions that there was literally nothing with which to feed the children, and there must have been at least ninety of them at that time. Our staff was indignant because Archbishop John kept bringing new children, some of whom had parents, and we were having to feed someone else's children. Such were his ways. One evening when he came to us worn out, tired, cold and silent-I could not resist telling him off. I said that we women could not tolerate this any longer, that we could not bear to see hungry little mouths and not be able to put anything into them. I could not control myself and raised my voice in indignation. I not only complained, I was full of wrath at him for putting us through this. He looked sadly at me and said, 'What do you really need?' I said, right off the bat, 'Everything, but at least some oatmeal. I have nothing to feed the children with in the morning."

Archbishop John looked at her sadly and went upstairs. Then she heard him making prostrations, so vigorously and loudly that even the neighbors complained. Pangs of conscience bothered her, and that night she couldn't sleep. She dozed off in the morning, only to be awakened by the doorbell. When she opened the door, there stood a gentlemen of English extraction who said that he represented some cereal company and that he had a surplus of oatmeal; and he wanted to know whether they could use it since he heard that there were children here. They began to bring in bags and bags of oatmeal. While this was going on, with the commotion of banging doors, Blessed John began to descend the staircase. Hardly could Mrs. Shakhmatova utter a word to him when she saw his glance. He said no word, but with his eyes, with one single glance, he reproached her for her unbelief. She said she could have fallen on her knees and kissed his feet, but he was already gone to continue his prayer to God, now of thanksgiving.

After telling me this story, Mrs. Shakhmatova talked with me again about the young man whom she wanted me to influence to go to seminary. She asked me to take special care of him. This boy, she said, had had a difficult childhood and had always been a mystically inclined child. He was always quiet, pensive and sad. While other boys would run around playing, this boy would sit resting his head on his hand and look off into the distance. She would ask him, "What are you thinking of?" and the boy would always give the same answer: "About God!" This boy, according to Mrs. Shakhmatova, was destined to be a religious man.

Archbishop John's discovery of this boy is quite a tale. One day, Archbishop John told Mrs. Shakhmatova to get ready to go to a hotel of prostitution. In horror she objected, but he only smiled and said that it must be done. It turned out that there was a Russian woman who had embraced this profession, and who had two children in desperate need living with her in that hotel. The girl was six and the boy was already nine years old, and they had to be taken away from that atmosphere. After vigorous protestation, Mrs. Shakhmatova saw that she was not getting anywhere, and was finally persuaded to go with the righteous Bishop into this institution. Having arrived there, they were conducted to the woman's room. At that time the mother was absent, but the little children were sitting there, without a school to go to or any healthy nourishment. They began to encourage the children to come with them, saying that they had a house for children with food, a playground, and a school. The boy was persuaded, but when the mother arrived she protested with indignation and cursing. The boy was nevertheless able to be rescued, but the little girl remained.

As mentioned above, I met this young man the day after I talked with Mrs. Shakhmatova, according to her request. He reacted positively to my encouragement to go to seminary, and he eventually went there, where he labored as a typesetter and personally set up the complete five volumes of the Philokalia in Russian. Later on he became a priest-monk serving in Greece.

This very young man, upon seeing me, asked me to go with him to visit his friend, an American college graduate who was working on a philosophical book. We agreed to meet on the feast-day of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple; and since I wanted to receive Holy Communion that day, we were to meet in the old San Francisco Cathedral.

It was a typical cold, sunny San Francisco day. After receiving Holy Communion we walked for a long time to a basement apartment, and there I met my future partner Eugene Rose, later Fr. Seraphim. Within less than a year Eugene became an Orthodox Christian, and some months after that he became the spiritual son of Archbishop John, who ordained him to the rank of Reader a year before his (Archbishop John's) repose. I've often wondered if, had Archbishop John and Mrs. Shakhmatova been afraid to stain themselves with the shame of entering a house of sin in order to save lost souls, would I have ever met Fr. Seraphim and thus would the world have ever seen his writings? Of course, Archbishop John, as a true servant of God, knew what he was doing. Through this holy hierarch's selfless love for God and the human race, Fr. Seraphim was able to offer up his talents to God. This is what Fr. Seraphim and I believe.

Archbishop John, according to Mrs. Shakhmatova, was not a narrow ecclesiastical fanatic. He did not believe in jurisdictions. When he arrived in Shanghai, there were many Orthodox ecclesiastical denominations. He united them all, served everywhere, became available to all, loved all, and eventually saved many. During the Second World War, when pro-Soviet ideas were in fashion and all the Russian bishops in the Far East accepted the Moscow Patriarchate, Archbishop John, as true son of the Orthodox Church, also commemorated the Patriarch of Moscow, Alexis I, but he did not cease commemorating the Russian Synod to whom he gave vows as a bishop. The Moscow Patriarchate representative, Archbishop Victor, demanded that all the bishops in the Far East cease to commemorate Metropolitan Anastassy, head of the Russian Church Abroad, and in this way insisted on the jurisdictional power of the Patriarchate. All the Russian Church Abroad hierarchs in the Far East capitulated to this demand except for Archbishop John, who said that he would do so only when someone proved to him that it was right for one to abandon vows. In commemorating the heads of both Churches, he showed that he accepted all jurisdictions and would not sow dissension on legalistic grounds. For refusing to cease commemorating Metropolitan Anastassy, he was locked out of his own Cathedral in Shanghai, but he nevertheless served Liturgy on a table in front of the locked Cathedral doors, continuing to pray for the heads of both Churches.

While being unconcerned with matters of jurisdictions, Archbishop John was ruthless and intolerant towards Clergy who were lax and indifferent in matters of spiritual integrity. For this he was hated to such an extent that there was even an attempt to poison him during Pascha, and he barely survived. This intolerance towards Archbishop John stemmed mostly from envy and jealousy. His integrity in matters of the Church, and especially in matters of liturgical precision, indicate that his concern for his flock was not a matter of personal preference, but came out of the whole liturgical realm of Church services and the ecclesiastical philosophy of life, dogmatic and pastoral, which were a part of the apostofic succession preserved in Orthodoxy. He consciously lived in and operated from this otherworldly realm, formed historically by the Church Fathers and thus he had a virtual disdain for the pragmatic expectations placed on one by the times and fashions. He was an enemy of fashion and gossip and pharisaical narrow - mindedness amidst his co-hierarchs, some of whom bear hatred for him up to this day. Without understanding this essential position from which Blessed John operated, it is impossible to explain his 'odd" behavior reminiscent of that of a fool-for- Christ.

Once when I was having a midnight dinner which Archbishop John had invited me to, I was confronted with a scene that boggled my mind and was impossible to accept by "normal" contemporary standards I had to see Archbishop John about the matter of my remaining in San Francisco. I had to talk about the formation of our St. Herman Brotherhood, about the future Fr. Seraphim Rose as a brother, about my sister's fiancé who was mentally sick; and I wanted to have confession. He had asked me to stay longer since he was busy till midnight. Mrs. Shakhmatova prepared the usual dinner, which consisted of cabbage borscht and some vegetable dish. At the head of the kitchen table sat Archbishop John. On his left, against the wall, sat Fr. Mitrophan and then myself. Opposite Fr. Mitrophan sat Bishop Savva, who was visiting San Francisco. Behind Bishop Savva, in the kitchen near the stove, was another lady who was wearing heavy makeup and was complaining in a whisper to Mrs. Shakhmatova. As we ate the soup, I noticed that Fr. Mitrophan was chuckling and looking across the shoulder of Bishop Savva to the women. Then, to my horror, I saw that Archbishop John was leaning forward over his plate to such an extent that his beard was soaking in the soup. Instead of putting the spoon into his mouth, he was using it deliberately to pour the soup with strings of cabbage over his mustache. I could not believe my eyes because there was no reasonable explanation for why he was missing his mouth and putting the soup over his mustache. Bishop Savva, who sat across from me and could not see the woman behind him, was very confused, to say the least. He gently pulled his napkin and offered it to Archbishop John, who with a growl pushed it aside. Fr. Mitrophan was obviously enjoying the sight and hit me with his elbow with a wink of his eye. I did not know what to do. I coughed and acted as if I did not notice anything, but the demonstration was quite appalling because Archbishop John kept staring at the woman with the lipstick on. Then suddenly the woman offered a sigh, and Mrs. Shakhmatova whispered something and the show was over. Then Archbishop John took the napkin, put it over his beard and went into the washroom, leaving the door open. He thoroughly washed his beard, and then came back and finished his dinner. Bishop Savva, oblivious to the lesson that Blessed John had given to the woman with the heavy lipstick, remained baffled. Fr. Mitrophan, meanwhile, whispered to me that the woman did learn the lesson.

Why had it been necessary to create such a spectacle in order to teach a lady not to follow worldly fashions, which were just as ridiculous as putting cabbage on a mustache, and by a bishop at that? I understood it and frankly liked it, because it had been done with a total absence of words.

Once when I was serving in church, I entered the altar and Archbishop John pointed to my tie. I did not know what this meant. A boy then took me aside and told me to take off the tie because Archbishop John did not allow servers in the altar to have ties. I noticed that all the subdeacons also had no ties. Later I found out that the real reason why he would not allow ties in the altar was because a tie is a hanging-noose and represents death, while the altar represents heaven and life. Again, this made sense to me, and in later years Fr. Seraphim and myself would always follow this practice with our acolytes in Platina.

Archbishop John never spoke in the altar. When something would go wrong he would only click his tongue as a sign that a correction was due. He would continue doing this until it was done right. Time and again I heard criticism about the fact that Archbishop John walked barefoot, which I myself saw several times during his evening meals. Mostly he was accused of serving barefoot in the altar. To me that was never a cause of scandal; and besides, I had never seen him serve without shoes. One day during the morning Liturgy, however, I chanced to be in San Francisco for the commemoration day of St. Ioasaph of Belgorod, a saint I loved very dearly, who had been the patron saint of Archbishop John's teen group in Shanghai. Since I was in town I decided to go to St. Tikhon's Home. I knew that Fr. Leonid Upshinsky would be serving there unless Archbishop John himself served, in which case Fr. Leonid would be singing in the choir. When I came in, the Liturgy was just about to begin. There were only three of us: Archbishop John serving, Fr. Leonid singing, and I was asked to serve as an acolyte. Archbishop John blessed me to put on a sticharion, and the service began. I was engrossed in prayer and at the same time fearful that I would do something stupid in the altar. Suddenly I noticed that Archbishop John was barefoot; and then all at once it dawned on me that on this same day was the commemoration of Moses the Prophet, who had to take his sandals off when he stood on the holy place, and that the altar was actually the Holy of Holies and I had my shoes on. Then it struck me that it is those who wear shoes who are demonstrating their insensitivity to the holy place, and not the other way around. I remember that my feet began to burn and I began to beg God with tears to forgive me for my crudeness in that holy place.

That Liturgy was almost impossible to understand. Archbishop John almost mumbled through the whole service, which I thought was so natural since Moses had had a speech impediment, too. The service was short and soon was over, but to me, in its depth, it seemed like a glimpse into eternity. There was no one in church except us and the angels and I sometimes wish now that I could pray and cry as I shamelessly did that morning. My companions were engrossed in the service just as I was, and if I made any mistakes no one noticed them or cared, for we were on holy ground. Whenever I hear people now talk about the "oddity" of Archbishop John serving barefoot, I sigh nostalgically for that precious Liturgy, for the humble stuttering utterances, and the indescribable peace of sensing the other world.

They would also judge Archbishop John for being late to church, which would occur because he was out visiting the sick and praying at their bedsides. He was also criticized because he was known to be stubborn in order to maintain spiritual discipline. But the judgment that hurt him most came from his younger bishops who could not tolerate these "excesses."

Mrs. Shakhmatova saw all this as a woman placed by God to take care of the needs of this unearthly man, who still had to operate in an earthly body in order to do good deeds for suffering mankind. Her knowledge of his aspirations gave her a deeper perspective on this prince of the Church who was to pontificate on a spiritual level, inspiring and calling people to a higher realm. During my unforgettable visits with her, she was able to instill in me love for this giant of a human being, a man with a big heart capable of engulfing hundreds of needy people and comforting their consciences with the demanding reality of the living God.

After my final slide-show at St. Tikhon's Home, I went to a crowded basement hall to which a lot of young people had been summoned. Both Archbishops Tikhon and John were present, as well as the future Bishop Nektary. I saw Archbishop John laughing at my stupid jokes, which were directed at the mind of teenagers. At the end of the talk, the elderly Archbishop Tikhon, who with his bent back gave the impression of a man who had risen from the grave, thanked me heartily. Archbishop John smiled and said, "We need more talks like that!" Then he added, "Come back to us," and mumbled something in conclusion that I could not make out. I thanked them all, and felt as if I belonged there, and left California with the resolve to surely come back.

(originally from the Orthodox Word)