“God believes in man, but Christ is always in the eye of the storm” – that more Christians don’t read Metropolitan Anthony

That modern Christians have not read Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh and why his word is always relevant and fascinating. August 4 15 years since the death of the Lord. Of its unique heritage, says Elena Sadovnikova, member of the Board of the Foundation “Spiritual heritage of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh”.

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The Lord was walking by the gospel

Of the heritage of Metropolitan Anthony now sounds is especially important for us modern Christians?

Elena Sadovnikova. In the office of Fund of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

– Perhaps the most popular and exciting topic – how to be a Christian in everyday life. How to live so that people from outside without any of our statements that we go to Church or wear a cross, they realized that talking about Christians, we are to understand this?

Every two years, beginning in 2007, our Foundation, together with the House of Russian abroad holds conferences and seminars on the legacy of Metropolitan Anthony. The most important stage – the choice of the topic, what is important now for Christians, what we think together with our audience?

Archpriest Vladimir Arkhipov in a documentary about the Lord of “the Touch” said that he was a walking gospel. Not because Metropolitan Anthony was constantly talking about the gospel all the time or spoke to him, interpreted the parables and words of Christ – he lived so, that when you look at it, the people remembered the gospel. Although, of course, discourses of the Lord in the end, it is the interpretation of the gospel. Like all life, like each movement. The Lord has sought with all his being to live according to the gospel.

Remember, when preparing for the conference Frederik de Graaf advised: “For display at the conference you need to choose a fragment of the video, where the Lord just walking around during the service”. I could not understand what she meant, and then looked closely and saw that in how the Lord goes, what his gestures – seen real human dignity, respect to the hierarchy of spirit, soul and body, embodied the theology of the matter which he professes.

Last school year we began to approach this topic – how to be a Christian in modern life, and want to make the theme of the upcoming 2019 conference. It proved difficult to discuss and to understand. We started with sensitive issues that concern each of us and are associated with the disease in our society. We were talking about truth and lies, of courage and fear. And only began to affect the texts of the lords on this subject, so hard and difficult to approach him. This, I think, and true to his legacy now: how does the fact that we are Christians, every aspect of our lives.

– What, in your opinion, like many times in the sermons of Metropolitan Anthony sounded, then was published in books, but it remained unread, not understood?

– Indeed, the legacy of lords is very little learned, little studied and there is very little serious criticism. I mean criticism not in the sense of carping, but in terms of discussion and reflection, what he actually said in his interviews, in his writings very many layers of meaning.

For example, in our seminars we picked up a text about chastity. When he read it, you realize how concentrated his thought, and how deeply and radically he approaches each problem. He’s not trying in the usual standard way to think about chastity as abstinence, on the contrary, he says are two different things.

Metropolitan Anthony Of Sourozh

In the very first paragraph he is focusing on the fact that the appeal to chastity in man is possible only in case if the first person is aware of their dignity, you will understand that it is God respect and love.

We don’t like to look at the root words and concepts which operate, the “clear meaning” as, in the words of Archpriest Sergei Ovsyannikov, did Metropolitan Anthony.

There are a number of global themes in the heritage of Metropolitan Anthony, which, I think, to a considerable extent escape our attention, for example, a medical issue. We know that the Lord has received his medical education, he was a surgeon at the front and so on.

But little is known how much work was done for 54 years of service priest: he was a co-founder of the hospice movement in Britain, Vice-Director of the first in England, medical ethics group, which was subsequently reorganized into the Institute of ethics, he was the spiritual guide of the founder and member of the Board of Directors of the organization, helping and assisting at the present time, people with mental illness. All this is a very little studied field, and there is something to learn, especially in Russia, where the question of interaction between patient-doctor is very serious.

Another little – studied subject-ustroitelstva Church. In his interviews sounded, basically, a theological approach, but is waiting for our attention and understanding of the practical side of the issue – as he built the diocese, parish life, directed the development and implementation of the Charter of the diocese, the formation of the liturgical tradition, and so on.

The challenge exists at all times

– How Metropolitan Anthony was concerned with the problems of Church, contemporary and possibly future?

– The Lord had a special vision, he could see the future, but talked about it covertly and with caution. Very rarely, he did some predictions and prophecies.

His position – God believes in man. Whatever the circumstances, whatever any danger, there is still a hope that people will conform to their dignity and find your way.

On the construction of the Church, he said: “We are building a Church, as similar as possible to the original ancient Church, when people, absolutely nothing in common between haves not only one connected the Christ, their faith.”

When I read these words, I immediately appears before the eyes he created the parish community, the Bishop who is conducting the conversation as I saw it in the early 90-ies. Indeed, the people who gathered around him, for the most part nothing in common were not (even I am surprised in hindsight how they were together and got along?). And, in his words, one only had to connect them to Christ and faith.

– The Lord did not say, what is different calls for Christians 40s, 60s, late 90s and the early noughties?

– Quite often he was invited to different discussions on the theme “current Challenges” or “Problems of the modern world”.

In one interview, the Archbishop noted that the sign of our times that the challenge of modernity is not accepted. Everyone tries to this challenge adopted by someone else.

But his main idea – the challenge exists at all times. This is the storm that people see all the time. For people of a Mature generation – the old world is collapsing and that they seemed reliable, disappears. And young people see the world of formation, which you cannot understand, but this storm always modern, it just appears in a different guise. The position of Lord – do not be afraid of this chaos, because it will always be present, regardless of the time. We need to remember the parable of the storm and the fact that Christ is always at the epicenter of storms that will in our world constantly.

– Did he talk about errors, which are unacceptable to do in the Church?

– Immediately difficult to answer about mistakes, because his approach was so – the Lord said: “I find it easier to grow good than to fight bad”. I’m currently reading, I translate his talk and all the time note: people believed that by waving a white towel in a dark room, the darkness did not disperse, it is better to open the window and let in the light. He talked about the Church and about the relationship of people with each other: paying attention to the good that can be nurtured.

Of course, point to the errors pointed to the fact that the Church is not a social club. It often happens that it very strongly pulls us, he talked about the fact that if something prevents to look on Christ, it is necessary that something to push that the major in worship is prayer, and we need to be extremely careful not to disturb others to pray.

So from this it is easy to understand about the mistakes. For example, there is a choir that revels in wonderful voices, or great songs, that’s fine, but you might suspect that it does not always help to pray, you can get carried away listening to music. If the temple during worship, there are some conversations that even the most pious, this is obviously not conducive to the common prayer, and so on.

Another point: the principled position of Archbishop Anthony was that of Church life it is impossible to make a career. In his temple, in his coming, no one received a salary. It’s not only on material incentives. I once in conversation with Frederica de Graaf said, “You don’t remember, it seems to me that the Lord did not praise?” She thought and said: “Yes, indeed”.

Despite this, the people sought to bring his labor, bring his inspiration and attachment to the temple. The library and the bookstore – all worked, as they say, on a voluntary basis or community. This phenomenon is very interested in me, I began to ask, how is it not praised, and the people remained in the parish. One of his parishioners said: “When we were there, when I was helping, cleaned in the temple, the Lord could communicate with man, that man knew – he’s seen”.

And it gave the feeling that you don’t need a reward – it is work, it’s your inspiration that you give to God because of gratitude and not need. It is worth considering if we’re not doing a career from the Church or charitable organizations, or from any of the creative process…

– On the one hand, it is clear, on the other hand, people are often offended by “Do to the glory of God, no thanks,” said may, without the love, which was with Vladyka Anthony.

– Yes, there is, of course, a very fine line, so the legacy of the lords is fascinating, raises questions and requires a very careful approach. It’s such a narrow path to walk is very difficult. The Lord offered the most difficult, he had no carrot to do so, and all at you will be good.

You know, I also cringe from the often heard “the glory of God.” But in fact this approach is nothing bad, just important that it was actually a gift to God, not a way to take advantage of free labor even in the most good. And that it was the principle of all without exception.

Metropolitan Anthony Of Sourozh. Photo: Sergey Immortal

He was not carrying a hand

– What is Metropolitan Anthony in the context of Orthodoxy of the twentieth century?

For me this is a rather complicated question, because I have not specifically studied theology, and religious-philosophical thought of the last century. I can note only a few points that was made during one of our conferences. Greek theologian Costa Carras described the Lord as the divine-practice.

The theology of Metropolitan Anthony now in Greece, in Romania – one of the most talked about. And Bishop never tried to Express his theological views, his text, the conversation was directed at the wrong person or the wrong audience, which in this case listened to him, it was in these people’s salvation, not in order to Express theological views. Therefore, his theology is sketchy is present in the texts, it is difficult to gather together, and there are gaps where something is not expressed, but implied.

A very interesting feature of the Ministry of Metropolitan Anthony and his personality was made at a conference in London dedicated to the 100th anniversary of his birth. Archpriest Alexander Fostiropoulos noted that the fate of the Lord has historical context, is emigration, France, world war II, Russian roots, that’s life in the UK… But the context, plus the wealth that God gave to him, the Lord melted in prayerful asceticism and brought to Christ so that it cannot formally be attributed to a particular group and area. And for a long life shone one feature – aspiration to the Christ.

It is important that Metropolitan Anthony has made a remarkable attempt to bring the principle of unity through serious study of the decisions of the Council of 1917-1918, through the Charter, through the construction of the Church, through the creation of the diocesan Council and so on.

– There is something that you discover again – from personal conversations with Metropolitan Anthony, he left records of conversations?

Metropolitan Anthony Of Sourozh

– Yes, of course. I have a distinct feeling that my relationship with the Lord continues, they run out. It’s not memories of the past, and relations, and much is happening in the field of understanding. Ten, twenty years ago, heard, seen accumulated was impressive, and it continues to nourish, discover new amazing things. I now have the distinct impression that there is still a lot of amazing discoveries and his legacy, and for me personally. It’s so wonderful that you really want to share with others.

For example, I translated one of his interviews about quality of life, which he probably read for the employees of palliative medicine. When I translated this interview don’t even really understand why, when the Lord speaks of the quality of life of seriously ill patients, he talks about human dignity, leads the heroic examples of concentration camp prisoners. I thought how it relates to caring for the seriously ill?

Just finished the translation, upon reflection, I realized – the Lord says that quality of life is not measured by what position the person is, what his diagnosis. Quality of life measured by the fact that this man, in whatever situation he was, whatever he was sick, the most important is human dignity, and the dimension of Eternity, which it has.

This attitude rests on the belief that Christianity has given humanity the concept of personality. It does not allow people to bring in categories: sick, healthy, child, adult, young, elderly, male, female – it doesn’t matter. It is important that it is a person.

Remember, please, history, when a Lord of people come to Christ.

– It is very difficult to provide such examples – each person had their way. Impressed that the Lord, first, was not invited to the Church; on the other hand, he not only led the people, but was able to keep. This question is for me now very: sad to see that in 90-e years people flocked to the Church, but many could not resist, there was disappointment and a feeling that they didn’t have to.

Bishop, in his ward, this was not, and it’s amazing, I can’t comprehend, apparently, the understanding remains. People were in the ward for decades and continue to be – completely different – doctors, hippies, musicians, businessmen. They make the effort to come to Church – they need to drive the car from a distance, you need to break away from the family, often belonging to another denomination or even an unbeliever. He was able to hold in the Church.

– You have repeatedly said that keep not about himself but about Christ.

– Yes, absolutely. The Lord, through his charisma, would attract hundreds of thousands, but he suffered greatly from the attractiveness of his personality and tried very hard to be transparent, so that people not come to him, namely, to Christ.

As I said, it is not specifically called for in the Orthodox Church. It is with great difficulty accepting people from other Christian denominations.

He said: “first and foremost, you have to be loyal to the Church which brought you to Christ, and to be grateful to her. Only when you realize that Orthodoxy can give you more, but then raise the conversation about adoption.”

As Canon John Binns, rector of the University Church in Cambridge, said: “Metropolitan Anthony helped me become a better Christian than I was.”

But still why people stay in the Church? What did Metropolitan Anthony?

– Maybe because the Lord allowed people to be themselves and caused, kept, maintained a work of the Holy spirit. He was not carrying a hand, and gingerly supported the fire of faith, and the fire grew, people realized that the Church is his house. The impression is that in pastoral Ministry, he when saw that the Holy Spirit works on the person, very politely retreated to the identity of the Confessor is not obscure. But on the other hand, he supported people and allowed them to be themselves, and maintained their identity, in order to find their place in the Church.

Metropolitan Anthony Of Sourozh

– Reading the legacy of Metropolitan Anthony, listening to the memories of people who knew him, pay attention to what the Archbishop called for a personal communion of man with God. In doubt, tell the doubts to God…

– Many times I have asked those people that had been long in the coming of the Lord, his pastoral approach. And very often completely different people, independently from each other, at different times, said that “everything in reality”.

The Lord all the time, called for a real relationship with the ultimate Reality, but ultimate Reality – the Lord Jesus Christ. Man with all his being torn to Reality.

Some of my most intense experiences – the divine services of Holy week in his parish. It was a real experience of the Evangelical events, not the memories of them, as if you pass into another dimension, or rather, where there is no measurement at all. And so under the influence of the Lord and the children of the priests: they really prayed and tried to be open and honest, and every believer after them as if poured into this thread.

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