Share the Fate of the Persecuted Church
IRREVOCABLE SENTENCE OVER THE COMMUNIST POWER AND THOSE WHO COMMUNE WITH IT Orthodox Life, September 1961
Has anyone the slightest doubt that Patriarch Tikhon was a lawful Patriarch of the Russian Church and that the Council of 1917-1918 assembled in Moscow after the fall of the Tzarist power, was a lawful Council?
How then did the Church, in the person of Patriarch Tikhon and the Moscow Council, evaluate the power which took possession of Russia? Below we reproduce the precise text of the Epistle of Patriarch Tikhon and the decision of the Moscow Council, which confirm it. Their meaning is precise and clear. Anathema is declared, i.e. ex-communication from the Church -- the solemn witnessing of such an estrangement from the Church, of such warfare against Her, of such violence over the children of the Church, that all communion for members of the Church, with the bearers of this power becomes inadmissible and is regarded then as something tantamount to the estrangement from the Church of themselves. In relation to the representatives of such power not only avoidance of communion with them is presumed but, directly and unequivocally, the struggle for the Church, with readiness of suffering for Her.
For the faithful, if they wish to remain faithful, only one thing is recommended: to share the fate of the persecuted Church, absolutely merging with Her and placing themselves under God's protection. On the contrary, everyone who solidarize themselves with the power which has fallen under Anathema for the persecution raised by it against the Church, adhere to the "wicked," accomplishing this persecution, and thus fall under that interdiction of the Church, just the same as the persecutors.
If Patriarch Tikhon himself, later on, when the Soviet power affirmed itself, had intercourse with it, he considered it as his personal sin, which he took upon himself in order to cover his flock with his own self, and so to preserve their independence from the communists. And if any thing was announced in his name unacceptable for the conscience of the Church -- he felt himself only consoled when that was not executed, since everyone knew it was done under compulsion and consequently did not emanate from the Church. Patriarch Tikhon presumed that his un-free voice, in so far as it was obvious to everyone it was un-free -- was no longer a command of the Church. Such, even more so, as an order of the Church, remained the Patriarch's free will and that of the Council, which found expression in the Anathema which the Patriarch never rescinded, nor even lightened in its significance as the sentence of the Church.
For more than forty years this Anathema hangs over the communist power and over all who are in communion with it. No one withdrew this Anathema -- and no one else can withdraw it, except the Church which carried out this sentence.
Each not only Orthodox but even heterodox person who wishes not to sin before God must, in his attitude towards the Soviet power, her organs and representatives, servants and companions, take into consideration this fact. The Lord placed this stamp upon His persecutors. In older that no one could claim ignorance we find it our duty to give as wide a circulation of these documents as possible. May each true Christian regard it as his direct duty the further circulation of this documental testimony of the ungodliness of communism and of all those with it -- under whatever appearance may they show themselves.
FIRST EPISTLE OF PATRIARCH TIKHON TO THE FOLD
Humble Tikhon, by the Grace of God Patriarch of Moscow and all Russias, to the Beloved in the Lord bishops, priests and all faithful children of the Orthodox Church of Russia
"That the Lord might deliver us from the wickedness of this present world." [Gal. I, 4]
Hard times are being now experienced by the Holy Orthodox Church of Christ in the Russian land: persecution has been set up against Christ's truth by open and secret enemies of this truth, who seek to destroy the work of Christ and in place of Christian love sow everywhere seeds of spite, hatred and fratricidal war.
Forgotten and trampled on are Christ's commandments of love to neighbors -- daily news reaches us of horrible and brutal massacres of absolutely innocent and even bedridden sick people, guilty perhaps only in that they honestly performed their duty to their native country, that they placed all their strength in serving for the national good. And all this is accomplished not only under cover of nocturnal darkness, but visibly -- in broad daylight, with unheard of until now insolence and unsparing cruelty, without any trial and with trampling upon all rights and legality -- is committed in our days almost in all cities and villages of our fatherland: in the capitals and in distant borderland [in Petersburg, Moscow, Irkutsk, Sebastople and others].
All this fills our heart with deep and painful sorrow and compels us to address those monsters of the human race with the stern word of accusation and prohibition in accordance with the bequest of the Holy Aplstle: "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others may also fear" [1 Timothy V, 20]
Come to your senses, madmen, cease your bloody warfare. That, what you are doing, is not only cruel work, it is -- indeed, the work of satan, for which you are subject to fire in hell in the life to come -- beyond the grave, and the frightful curse of prosperity in the present earthly life.
By the power, given us from God, we forbid you to approach the Sacraments of Christ, we anathemize you, if only you still bear Christian names and by your birth belong to the Orthodox Church.
We also exhort all you, faithful children of the Orthodox Church of Christ, not to enter into any communion with such monsters of the human race "put away from among yourselves the wicked" [1 Cor. V, 13]
The most cruel persecution has been raised likewise against the Holy Church of Christ: sacraments full of grace, sanctifying man's birth into the world or blessing conjugal union of the Christian family, -- openly are declared unnecessary, superfluous; holy churches are subjected either to destruction by fire from deadly weapons [the holy cathedrals of Moscow Kreml] or to plunder and blasphemous insults [chapel of the Savior in Petersburg; holy monasteries revered by the faithful people [such as Alexandro-Nevsky and Pochaevsky Monasteries] are seized by godless rulers of the darkness of this world and proclaimed as if they were some sort of national property; schools, maintained by the means of the Orthodox Church and preparing priests and teachers of Orthodox faith, are considered superfluous and transformed into schools of irreligious or even directly into disseminators of immorality. Properties of Orthodox monasteries and churches are taken away under the pretext that they are -- national property, but without any right and even without the desire to reckon with the lawful will of the people themselves. And, finally, the power which promised to install in Russian order, right and truth, guarantee freedom, -- manifests everywhere only the greatest licentiousness and continuous violence against the holy Orthodox Church.
Where are the limits to this mockery of the Church of Christ? How and by what means is it possible to stop this aggression upon Her of furious enemies?
We call all of you -- believers and faithful children of the Church -- stand up for the defense of your now insulted and oppressed holy mother. Enemies of the Church seize power over Her and Her property by the force of deadly weapons, while you stand up against them with the power of your faith, your powerful outcry of the whole people, which will stop the madmen and show them, that they have no right to call themselves champions of the welfare of the people, architects of a new life in accordance with the dictates of the public mind, because they act even directly against the people's conscience.
And if it be necessary to suffer for Christ's sake, we call upon you, beloved children of the Church, call you to these sufferings together with ourselves with the words of the Holy Apostle: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" [Rom. VIII, 35]
And you, brethren bishops and priests, without delaying a single hour in your spiritual work, with fiery zeal call your children to the defense of the now trampled upon rights of the Orthodox Church, immediately organize spiritual unions, call not by constraint, but by good will to enter the ranks of spiritual combatants, who oppose external force with the force of their holy inspiration, and we firmly hope that the enemies of the Church will be shamed and dispersed by the might of Christ's Cross, because unfailing is the promise of the Divine Cross-Bearer Himself: "I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" [Matt. XVI, 18]
Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russias
DECISION OF THE ALL -RUSSIAN ORTHODOX
CHURCH COUNCIL OF 1917-1918
On January 28, 1918, the Council decreed:
"The Holy Council of the All-Russian Orthodox Church lovingly greets the Epistle of the Most Holy Patriarch Tikhon, chastising malefactors and denouncing enemies of the Church of Christ. From the height of the Patriarchal throne has thundered the word of interdiction and the spiritual sword has been raised against those who commit interminable insults over the sacred objects of faith and the conscience of the people. The Holy Council witnesses that it remains in complete union with the Father and Intercessor of the Russian Church, heeds his summons and is ready to sacrificingly testify Christ's faith against Her blasphemers. The Holy Council likewise calls the entire Russian Church, with bishops and priests at Her head, to unite now around the Patriarch in order not to give the faith unto insult."