During the Crimean war when the British and the Turkish Empire, the Republic of France and Sardinia attacked the Russian Orthodox, the Patriarch of Constantinople issued a decree that the Orthodox citizens prayed for the victory of the Turkish arms. Of course, the decree was forced, because the Patriarch was under the rule of the Turkish Sultan, was well aware what will happen to him in case of disobedience.
Photo: Travis Dove
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Without a doubt, the Patriarch was aware that goes against his conscience, he knew also that he was not in your life to manifest the ideal that calls on all Christians the Apostle Paul:
Who shall separate us from the love of God: tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? as it is written: “for your sake we all day long, I think us sheep for slaughter”. But all these things overwhelmingly through him who Loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor Angels, nor principalities, nor Powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (ROM. 8:35-39).
But always in the history of the Church, there are Holy warriors, ready to die for what they esteemed the sanctuary of their conscience. This tells the story, recorded by a witness and participant of the described events by hieromonk Savva.
“In 1853 during the reign in Russia of a most pious Emperor Nicholas I Pavlovitch — God rest his soul in the heavenly Kingdom with all the saints, where the light is shining countenance of our Lord Jesus Christ, where all are in joy — I lived in the desert with my blessed a schima starets Hilarion Everyitem on the hill near the monastery of Dionysiou and conducted divine services in the Holy temple of St. Apostle Jacob, the brother of the Lord.
Then Sevastopol was a terrible war between the Russians and the Turks, who were supported by their allies the heretics. And when we, with sorrow, learned of this, he was sorrowful heart, as my blessed Elder loved Russian. And many times I heard how he thanked God for the fact that his own people are not at the mercy of the Turks or the heretics, and United with Orthodox Christians.
As soon as we heard about this terrible war, the Elder said to me:
“My child, since our brothers, the Russian Christians are at war, we must fervently with tears to pray to the Lord that they could conquer and subdue his enemies and to glorify His Holy Name and the Russian people, His honor. Savva, my child, after the Liturgy, which you daily commit and for which they pray for the Russians, bless you every day to read the entire Psalter King David the prophet and bows, to help our brothers.”
I said, “for the Sake of your blessing I will do everything in my power”.
We started the Liturgy. I filed a proclamation: “Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost…” He said, “Amen.” I chanted peace Ektenia: “the World pray to the Lord”. The old man quickly replied in Georgian “Lord, have mercy!” I said, “About vyshnem the world…” the old man at the stall said with deep sorrow: “Lord, have mercy!”
Then the Elder prayed with repentance and tears, sang slowly, raising his hands to Heaven: “Lord, have mercy!” Fell down, three times hitting head on the floor and bathing with his tears. “On the pious Emperor of Russia Nicholas, the Heir to His kids, the yard and the army… and the Elder with repentance replied, lifting her hands and looking up: “Lord, have mercy!” — “Bow to him and his enemies at his feet may fall…” the Elder answered: Lord, have mercy!”, beating his chest, again falling face down on the ground and three times with groans hitting his head on the floor. “On the Holy Synod and the God-protected Russian Empire”, the old man again answered repentance, with tears: “Lord, have mercy!”
Now, as I write this, my heart is filled with repentance I cry and can’t write. The same thing was happening then during the peaceful litanies.
Thus we celebrate the Liturgy every day. It took some time, and the old man said to me: “Go to the monastery (Dionysiou), and ask the Abbot what they know about the war, whether Russian or defeat enemies.”
When we came to the monastery, the Abbot and the Council of the brethren showed us the paper that was sent to the Patriarch of Constantinople (Istanbul) with the hierarchy, and that each monastery handed her performing the service, the fathers.
The Patriarch wrote that the Great Entrance must pray to the Lord to give the force the Turkish army to defeat the Russians at the feet of the Turks. Was made a special prayer that had to be read aloud.
When the Abbot, the elder Eulogius, read us the letter, my old man said, astonished:
“You understand that (!) wrote the head of the our father? He is not a Christian,” and bitterly asked, “And you read it in the monastery during the Liturgy?”
But they replied:
“No, you can’t do that”.
But the Patriarch in his possession threatened that all the monasteries which do not fulfill it, will be subjected to strict punishment.
The next day we went to his cell. A week has passed. To my old man to the revelation of the thoughts came a monk from the monastery of Grigoria, and the Elder asked him:
“Have you read the prayer that the Patriarch sent to monasteries?”
“Yes, we read it last Sunday at the Liturgy”.
The elder said:
“After reading it, you’re wrong; you rejected the grace of baptism, the monastery was deprived of God’s mercy. You will suffer the penalty!”
The monk returned to his monastery and told all the elders and the Abbot:
“We are deprived of our monastery of grace of God, the grace of the Holy baptism: said father Hilarion”.
And on the same day, a flood washed away the mill. Then the fathers began to murmur against the Abbot: “You’ve ruined monastery!” In the tribulation the Abbot hastened to the icon of the Savior created three prostration and prayed: “O my Lord Jesus Christ, I’ll go to the elder Hilarion, confess to him that I did and will submit to any punishment he will give me not to die.”
Taking with him a deacon and a monk, he went to the cell of St. James, where we then lived. When they arrived, the Elder was not in the cell. When they saw my old man, the Abbot with his companions fell to the ground rasprosterlas SIC, with the words:
“Bless us, Holy father”.
And I wanted to kiss his hand, but the old man cried, “Away! Go away, away from me, I do not accept heretics.”
The Abbot pleaded: “I have sinned, I have come to you for penance”.
The elder said, “How dare you to put Mohammed above Christ? The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ said to His Son: “… I will put Your enemies a footstool for Your feet…” (PS. 109,1), and You asked Him to throw His Son to the feet of His enemies! Go away from me, I never will.”
The Abbot, with tears besought the Elder to take him to confession and assign penance. But my old man said, “I am not a father Confessor of you. Go find a spiritual father and he ask penance”.
And he left them weeping at his cell, he alone went inside and locked the door behind him
What was there left to do? We all went to my cell and prayed there the whole night, asking the Lord to Elder showed mercy and gave the Abbot penance. In the morning the Elder came to the Liturgy and, without saying a word came, after quickly retired to his cell. Came together with the Abbot began to worry, he had a bad heart, and asked me to go to the Elder and convince him, maybe he’ll listen to me.
I went and surrendered to the feet of the father of Hilarion, began to ask:
“Have mercy on them, give penance, and that the Abbot might die of a heart attack.”
Then the Elder asked me: “What penance can they impose? God in Heaven was angry with them. What penance should be imposed on them to their Lord pardoned?”
I said, “old man, how you have blessed me every day I proofread coreporate Psalm of David, and there is one Psalm suitable to the occasion — Psalm 82: “God, who will be like You, not premoli, below tame God…” tell them tomorrow in the Liturgy to read the whole Psalm at the Great Entrance, when the cherubic hymn is sung. Let the Monk read a prayer of the Patriarch, the same shall be under the great chandelier. When will uzneseni from the altar the Paten and the Chalice, and where converge all the fathers during the Great Entrance, then let one monk carries ahead the Charter written on this Psalm, and monk, waiting under the chandelier, so read the whole Psalm out loud all the brethren. While reading, from the second verse in the ninth, must all repeat: “Lord, have mercy!” While reading other poems let each other say, “Amen!” Then the monastery will reclaim the grace of God.”
The old man took my advice and asked me to call came. When they happily came into his cell and prostrated, the Elder said to them:
“Follow the punishment in the monastery, and the grace of God will return to you.”
Then they began to worry, fearing that the Exarch sent by the Patriarch and staying in Carei for monitoring the implementation of the decree of the Patriarch, might find out, and maybe the Turks have searched about this event, and it’s going to put the monastery in big trouble. They didn’t know what to do.
The elder said, “You have nothing to fear. I take the hieromonk, father Sava, and sent to you in the monastery. And if the Exarch or the Turks all know, then tell them: “We did as taught us one monk Hilarion the Georgian. And avoid trouble.”
Then the father superior said, “old man, we care about you and sad, because if the Turks know about it, they will come here, grab you, put in bag, tie and both drown in the sea”.
My elder replied, “We are ready — and I, and my monk. Let us drown”.
After all, everyone on the boat went to the monastery Grigorian. When the monks saw us, very happy”.
In conclusion, we note that the stored by the grace of God blessed elder Hieroschemamonk Hilarion Iveries remained intact, died a natural death and now canonized.