By G.M. Soldatow
If you’re driving from the village of Jordanville, the road traverses a small valley with hills on either side as it crosses a knoll. On the top of the hill on the right side, one sees an old small cemetery, and the bottom of the hill is overgrown with a forest through which winds the country road. At the woods' border begin the monastery fields.
On the left side of the road is a high hill, at the top of which stands a large cross, down from which and to the sides, are fields planted with grain. Below the hill are woods and apple orchards.
At the top of the knoll, through which the road passes, is an Orthodox cemetery on both sides of the road.
The valley filled with wild flowers, gardens, beautiful forests and lakes turns the pilgrims’ thoughts to our Lord, in gratitude for having witnessed this miracle of nature, convinced that this wonderful place has been destined for the glorification of His Name. Looking around at the miracles of nature surrounding him, the pilgrim unwittingly becomes filled with faith in the Afterlife, and so it is not surprising that thousands have felt compelled to visit this Holy Shrine in this valley again and again and to venerate its many relics.
This valley houses the Holy Trinity Monastery, which for many years was the spiritual center of ROCOR, of the entire Diaspora. Here, future generations of young priests and Church workers were raised and spiritually perfected; they were sent here from all Dioceses of the free world. The monastery became a breeding ground for Orthodox piety, a pillar and strengthener of Truth and this haven became a Lavra, a holy place for the whole world. Those who lived or were educated in the monastery, have forever remained in their hearts “Jordanvillers” and the monastery, no matter where life has thrown them, remained their home.
This haven performed a great Orthodox Russian deed – the realization of the legacy of Holy Righteous Job, the Abbot and Miracle Worker of Pochaev – from here could be heard appeals to the faithful of all the countries of Russians Abroad . It was here that Archimandrite Vitaly of the famous Pochaev Lavra, bringing with him its best traditions, headed the Holy Trinity Monastery, and appealed for the preservation of the faith of our forefathers, to remember God’s Temple, and to be faithful children of the Church of Christ, to always remember our suffering Homeland and our native tongue, and to not forget or disperse our spiritual inheritance among foreigners.
GROWTH OF PROSPERITY
On the left side of the road, there were two apiaries with hundreds of beehives, gigantic vegetable gardens, roomy cellars in which vegetables were preserved for the winter, a raspberry patch, rows of strawberries, and on and on. In the distance by the woods were the lakes, one of which served as a holding tank for barrels filled with pickles and other vegetables for storage. The lakes contained fish, the woods – mushrooms.
On the fields on both sides of the road, where no grain or potatoes or vegetables were grown, cows then grazed there, almost a hundred. Behind the monastery barns was a chicken coop.
To gain an understanding of the magnitude of the field work, one needs to understand that it was necessary to feed the monks, the seminarians, and the numerous pilgrims who flocked to the monastery regularly, and especially on major holy days. Therefore, one could see archimandrites and abbots together with novices and seminarians laboring side by side in the fields, or on six wheelers, or on the caterpillar tractor. The monastery had its own combine, its own mower, grainer, hay baler, ploughs, harrows, seeders, special machines to plant potatoes and corn, conveyors for loading corn into the silos, a few trucks and other agricultural equipment. Former field workers visiting the monastery for the first time would comment that the monastery had more machinery than any large cooperative farm in the Soviet Union.
The period between 1946 and 1985 could be called the golden era when the churches were built, and also the four storey dormitory, the Seminary and library buildings, a building for the third Sobor Abroad, and the bell tower with an entrance gate, the building for the icon painting workshop, etc. Work in the monastery continued nonstop after the arrival from Europe of a group of young monks and novices under the leadership of the rector Archbishop Vitaly, Archimandrites Panteleimon, Joseph, Kiprian and others.
In those years, many of the professors who taught in the Seminary, knew multiple foreign languages and had several higher degrees in different areas. So, I. M. Andreev, who taught Apologetics and Russian Literature, was a graduate of a Medical, as well as Theological and Literary Institutes in Saint Petersburg, Russia. I. .I. and I. A. Sikorsky, who carried their audiences away into space, toward the stars and the planets, were known to the entire community of Russians Abroad, the icon painter Archimandrite Kiprian taught Church Arts, and the Architect V. G. Glinin – Church Architecture. Theology for Priests and Literature were taught by Archimandrite Konstantin who, in China and in Europe, was a Professor. The Dean of the Seminary was the former Captain of the 1st Rank, N. N. Alexandroff. N. Talberg and S. Ivanov, who taught History and Church Law, graduated from Law School. Among other professors should be mentioned Archbishop Averky, Abbot (now Archbishop) Alypii, Abbot (now Metropolitan) Laurus, Protopresbyter M. Pomazansky, Archimandrite Joseph, Archimandrite Sergii, Archimandrite Vladimir, Arch. N. Stepanov, Abbot Arsenii, Hieromonks Nikodim and Ignatiy, Prof. I. Konzevich and F. Balabanov. Under their influence, the Seminary instilled in its future monks and priests the spirit of Russian piety which is foreign in anti-church modernism. The monks in their prayers constantly and humbly prayed for the suffering Russian land and for its faithful Orthodox children, which devotion they passed on to their future brethren.
All life in the monastery flowed by a strictly established regimen. At certain hours were performed the prescribed services, the obediences of the multitude of jobs, the meals, and the midday break. The inhabitants were bound into one family unified by prayer, labor and the wish to perfect oneself for the Afterlife. It is touching to recollect how if someone became ill, how many volunteers offered to bring him his meals, or to read to him, or to pray together with him.
Church services in the monastery were performed strictly according to the church rules, without omission or abbreviation, without haste, but distinctly and clearly; the monastery choir differing markedly from the typical parish singing, created a truly prayerful mood in the faithful. The services differed especially during the Great Lent.
After morning prayers there were the lessons until noon for the seminarians and the obediences for monks:: working the land, irrigating the fields from the lakes, working in the fruit orchard, the vegetable garden, the apiary, the cattle farm with its milk production , work in the cemetery, cement projects, car and other machinery repairs, work in the flower beds, pickling the produce, chicken coop duty, work in the bakery, the kitchen, the office, cleaning duty, library, printing press and the publishing jobs, ambulatory services, icon painting, bookbinding, the furniture-making workshop, and many other obediences.
The day began with prayer and ended with prayer when, having received the blessing from the Rector and having kissed all the relics, everyone dispersed to their own cells until the following day. Only on the second floor of the monastery building burned a lamp until a late hour, where in the office worked Abbots Vladimir and Laurus, and in the neighboring cell Father Konstantin who prepared the next issue of the ROCOR periodical “Orthodox Russia.”
Each inhabitant and seminarian, according to a schedule or voluntarily, took on an obedience. Many monks performed the work of two or three people, infecting others with their energetic activity. The vow of obedience was the moving force behind all of the monastery life, and not one of the inhabitants was free from duties.
The monastery was built with great hardship. Fathers Panteleimon and Joseph, having no financial resources, worked as laborers in the factory of I. Sikorsky. When the land was purchased in 1930, on it stood a well and a two-room house without windows. It was surrounded by a dense forest and to make tea, water had to be boiled in front of the “house” between three rocks. One cow and two horses were purchased, which permitted the monks to begin working the land. They built a barn for the animals and the hay. By 1935 they had built the monastery campus with a church and 16 cells but during a fire, everything perished except for the icons. From the fire the monastery rose again. In 1946 14 people of a monastic brotherhood arrived from Ladomirovo (presently in Slovakia) and were soon followed by other monks and novices. The Synod placed Bishop Serafim in charge of the monastery, however, he was soon transferred to Mahopac, N. Y. and then to the Chicago-Detroit Diocese.
Unfortunately, in time, the founders of the monastery and the young monks and novices aged or were sent to serve in other dioceses and the numbers of workers in the monastery diminished. There are less and less knowledgeable gardeners for work in the fields, where now almost no potatoes or vegetables are grown, the apiary now has only 47 bee hives, the remaining work in the workshops has slowed down, and the young generation of seminarians works less and less on work beneficial for the monastery. As a result, work has slowed or ceased. The first victims were the beautiful apple orchards, growing wild after no one was left to tend them. In the past, up to six train cars of apples were shipped off for sale. Then the chicken coop was boarded up. The vegetable gardens were drastically reduced. Slowly the cows were sold off, so there was no more need for field work to feed the cattle. The silos were leased out, as well as part of the monastery’s machinery.
With the arrival of new professors and lecturers from the Russian Federation (RF ) and the acceptance of teaching staff from the Orthodox Church of America (OCA), the Seminary teaching texts were changed; for instance they began using books from the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) on Church Law (V. Zipin), Dogmatic Theology, History and other subjects in which there is no mention of the ruinous “Declaration” of Metropolitan Sergei, but praises are sung to doubtful spiritual persons from the former USSR, etc. Service books published by the MP began to be used.. Even the non-Orthodox Catechism, which had been prohibited by the Synod and the Spiritual Sobor of the monastery, came into use. The monastery bookstore now sells almost exclusively the publications of the MP containing subtle and not so subtle patriarchal-ecumenical propaganda. Under the influence of ecumenism (in 1983 the Sobor of ROCOR pronounced anathema to it) the monastery began giving Holy Communion to New-Stylers from the OCA and from the Serbian Patriarchate. They began welcoming bishops who do not accept ROCOR as canonical, for instance, Bishop Artemii who was received with bell ringing and orletzy (Eagles that are laid under the feet of a Bishop). Teachers in the seminary began to refer to the MP, as the “Mother Church”, whereas previously “Orthodox Russia” used to refer to the MP as a “false (or pseudo) Church”, “Satan’s Church, “an organization of Satan”, and “the congregation of the evil-doers”. It was forgotten that Metropolitan Anastasy had left his testament for us not to have “any canonical, prayer, or even everyday relationships” with the MP. Metropolitan Filaret admonished that we cannot have any dialogue with heretics, only a monologue, since the MP, as everyone knows, has sunk deeply into the heresies of Sergyanism and Ecumenism. In this way, into the minds of the future spiritual leaders of the ROCOR doubts were planted regarding the correctness of the historical path of the Church and the testaments of her Hierarchs Metropolitans Anthony, Anastasy, Filaret and Vitaly. Accepting the MP as the Mother-Church, a betrayal is committed, akin to the one committed by Metropolitan Sergy against Russia’s New Martyrs and Confessors who considered the MP lacking Grace, for which they suffered and died accepting the Martyr’s Crown, many of whom had been added to the list of Saints of ROCOR.
In the past, not only the monastery, but also her individual inhabitants provided aid outside the walls of the monastery. Fr. Archimandrite Panteleimon, for example, from the sale of the books that he published, and for proceeds received from rehabilitating houses in Jordanville was able to provide sizeable financial aid to the St. Serge High School next to the Synod in New York City, as well as to monasteries on Mt. Athos. Archimandrite Vladimir and S. M. Ivanov sent aid to Russian students attending American Universities, etc.
The booming monastery, which supported not only itself, but also helped support the Novo Diveevo Convent in Spring Valley, NY, the Synod, and some parishes, suddenly began to need financial support itself. Suddenly funds were needed for the Seminary. The monastery used to be self-sustaining, and now its main source of income has become the donations and bequests of the deceased faithful. With the financial condition of the monastery, the question arose of closing the Seminary, in which case, the future priests of ROCOR would be educated in foreign institutions of learning, without any ties to monastic life and without learning the correct way of performing church services.
For those who knew it in its heyday, it is very sad to see the present fall of the pride of the Russian Émigré community – the Holy Trinity Monastery and its Seminary. But God’s will is in everything and we don’t lose hope that He and the Holy Mother of God will provide aid to the monastery and the seminary –by sending new selfless hard workers for the continuation of prayers for Rus Abroad, who will understand that only in ROCOR and in her spiritual center, The Holy Trinity Monastery, has true Orthodoxy been preserved, and that it was not a Jurisdiction, but Christ’s True Russian Church, containing all the characteristics of this great name, having its own canonical Episcopate with the fullness of the apostolic inheritance. All the years that the Church, having received the blessing of St. Patriarch Tikhon, under the leadership of its four Metropolitans, preserved its piety which is now being threatened by the union with the MP, which is just another government department, and is so confusing to the faithful.
Translated by M.N. Nekludoff
. . . With the arrival of new professors and lecturers from the Russian Federation (RF ) and the acceptance of teaching staff from the Orthodox Church of America (OCA), the Seminary teaching texts were changed; for instance they began using books from the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) on Church Law (V. Zipin), Dogmatic Theology, History and other subjects in which there is no mention of the ruinous “Declaration” of Metropolitan Sergei, but praises are sung to doubtful spiritual persons from the former USSR, etc. Service books published by the MP began to be used.. Even the non-Orthodox Catechism, which had been prohibited by the Synod and the Spiritual Sobor of the monastery, came into use. The monastery bookstore now sells almost exclusively the publications of the MP containing subtle and not so subtle patriarchal-ecumenical propaganda. Under the influence of ecumenism the monastery began giving Holy Communion to New-Stylers from the OCA . . .
Maxim observed this very thing in his ROCOR(MP) priest who was a recent Jordanville seminary graduate.