Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Royal New Martyrs of Russia

Tsar-martyr Nicholas would often repeat the Saviour’s words: “He who endures to the end will be saved” (Mt 24:13)
st-nikolai-car.jpgAt the very same time as the Russian people turned away from their Creator and God, our Lord sent them many righteous people to preach repentance. One of the last ones was St John of Kronstadt. He called sinners to repentance. But did people listen? No…Although a few heard him, St John was slandered by all of Russia, and the majority of people continued in their sinful ways…
Then God gave the Russian land over to great persecution for faith, so that sinners would come to their senses. This served to glorify the faithful and reveal the multitudes of holy New Martyrs! The greatest one of these was the Passion-bearer, the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas.
But what kind of lies did the press not write about the meek Tsar-Martyr and his holy family? The modern-minded militant communists loathed him so much they decided he must be destroyed. Even to this day, history books all over the world slander the Tsar-Martyr as an inadequate person, someone highly unsuccessful, a failure…and yet, before God, he is a holy man, a great example of self-denial, and an intercessor for his people and for all Orthodox Christians.
Why is he a saint? Because he courageously denied himself and voluntarily gave up more than we can imagine. Born in a high position, he died as a captive. Born in glory, he found himself slandered. Born to rule, he found himself pushed around like a criminal, and finally, he who had just recently been in command of a great imperial army was executed brutally by terrorists. The Tsar-Martyr bore all this without complaint. He bore it as a Christian soul - sacrificing himself and all the privileges, power, small and great things that he was used to, all his actual rights, all desires, and his own will… He remained faithful to Christ to the end, and died for Him as a true martyr.
Our own time, the 20th century has given the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad new saints - St John of Shanghai and San Fransisco, and St Philaret of New York. Like the Tsar-Martyr, they lived in a time when people were rejecting God and His holy Church. How did they become saints? By a total transformation of their life. Their life was in Christ, in the Holy Church, and not bound to the earth! This change can only be made by repentance. With repentance, it is possible for each one of us, even today!
In our modern world, where multitudes of Christians have turned away from their God and Creator - let us repent and endure to the end!

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Metropolitan Agafangel
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