St. Philaret 0n "Jurisdictions"

The following is an excerpt taken from a conversation Metropolitan Philaret [canonized 2008] had with his students at Holy Trinity Seminary on March 22, 1966, the day of the commemoration of the Holy Forty Martyrs. The conversation was published in the November 1971 issue of Pravoslavnaya Zhizn [0rthodox Life in Russian] pp. 7-16.

0f course you have heard of the so-called "jurisdictional disputes." You have of course heard -- jurisdictions, jurisdictions, jurisdictions! This all unfortunately, sometimes takes on such a tense and unpleasant character. I once heard from someone an amusing anecdote which I liked very much:
A certain Russian [emigre] was drowning in the ocean. He had gone out for a swim, swam too far and began to drown. His wife raced along the shore pleading for help. She asked a certain Frenchman. The gallant and well-brought-up Frenchman threw himself into the water to save the victim but, as soon as he reached deep water, he shouted, "I do not know how to swim. Will it be better if two men drown instead of one?" The wife came up to an Englishman. "Help," she pleaded, "He is drowning." The Englishman brushed aside her plea saying, "You cannot save everyone!" and continued to bathe by the shore. Then she came up to a certain Russian [emigre]. "Save that Russian there, your countryman. He is drowning!" The Russian then shouted, "Which jurisdiction?"
You see what can be the nature of such so-called jurisdictional disputes, what an ugly character they can bear. Relations are completely strained, tainted, confused. Here one must firstly, in defending one's truth, always be as gentle as possible toward those traveling an incorrect path. 0ne must not become embittered. Does animosity ever gain anything?

Generally speaking imagine to yourself that three men are traveling along a road. They go along and one makes a wrong step and goes off into a swamp; two of the men proceed correctly. Then a second man veers off to the right and begins to proceed incorrectly. Now the third man proceeds alone. Voices ring out, "Why are you separated? You must reconcile." How shall this be done? The one who remained on the correct path on which all three had at first been traveling, ought he to turn off somewhere or not? Who should turn back? The ones who went astray, correct? So it is here.

You yourselves know that our Church Abroad never split herself off from anyone, and has never swerved. She travels the same road as when she was founded by His Beatitude Metropolitan Anthony. Those who have deviated -- let them return.

Bishop Nektary always says very insistently: "I do not even recognize the subject of three jurisdictions. There is only one jurisdiction -- the Church Abroad." *[St. John said this, too. What they were saying is that in reality there are not three jurisdictions, but one jurisdiction wherein some have gone astray. -jh]

The Church in Russia, whatever she may be there -- the Moscow Soviet hierarchy and the Catacomb Church -- that is another matter. At the present time we have no direct ties with them -- but here there is only one jurisdiction, as His Eminence Nektary perfectly correctly says -- there is the one Russian Church Abroad, and groups that have split off from her. They must think of returning, rather than our Church thinking of going over to them, and having swerved off of the correct path, also allow ourselves to be pulled into the swamp. If people now argue so much about the subject of jurisdictions, it is, again, only for the reason that Truth is not dear enough to them. For the sake of some kind of external peace and reconciliation such persons are prepared to accuse us of not wanting to be reconciled, of harboring bad feelings toward those in error.

People do not want to learn the Truth because they are essentially indifferent to it. They want only an external peace, like the peace about which the communists shout so much: about peace for the whole world, in order to cast together in one heap principles which are totally irreconcilable and which can not be reconciled. It is like trying to lump hot coals together with firewood. Will they lie quietly together? It is clear that a fire will flare up. So it is here. This artificial, external peace will never be achieved. The Lord spoke about this very thing through the Prophet: There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked [Is. 57:21] -- and there will not be any!

So, I repeat, talk of a reconciliation between the so-called "three jurisdictions" -- as people who do not understand the matter explain -- is being raised now because people do not hold the Truth dear. He who comes to know the Truth objectively and calmly will always grasp the matter at hand and find the correct path. Take, for example, the wonderful, peaceful, objectively-written work, the documentary book about this schism written by our Nikolai Dimitrievich Talberg. Do many know of it? In it, the history of what transpired, is elucidated calmly, intelligently, and objectively. I have given it to people who did nor know the history of the schism -- once they have read it they say: "Now everything is clear." But people are not interested and they do not want to read.

And so it is my wish that you would be spared this fate, and that the Truth would always be dear to you. And if Truth will be dear to you, then you will always be able to defend it.

source: 0rthodox Life, Vol. 49 No. 6, p. 46

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