A Letter from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

The Nation was in need of a Great Fast
To cleanse a fallen consciousness.
To remind all of both God and Tsar,
To save the ‘civilised’ and self-satisfied,
To reconcile all with the Cross and the Truth, –
To give new birth to all in forgotten truths.
For there is love, faithfulness and beauty,
There is faith – that which does not decay.

Nina Kartashova (1953- )

Scattered Abroad

The times appointed from on High will pass, Communists will disappear, the Revolution will vanish into the past; but the White Cause, born in this struggle, will not disappear; its spirit will be preserved and merge organically into the way of life and building of the New Russia.

Ivan Ilyin (+ 1954)

One third of the 164 million Russian Orthodox have passports that do not say ‘Russian Federation’, but the Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Estonia or, more exotically, Japan, China, Thailand….As for our passports, they are even more varied; they say Portugal, Canada, Luxembourg, Tonga, Chile, France, USA, Spain, Haiti, New Zealand, Venezuela, UK, Switzerland, Argentina, Belgium, Australia, Pakistan, Germany, Mexico…

Scattered outside Russia, we speak Russian with varying accents and degrees of competence, some not at all, and our churches use Church Slavonic to varying degrees, some not at all, using a local language instead. However, apart from our secular passport, we also have a spiritual passport. And on that passport, next to ‘Place of Residence’, it says ‘Rus’. And all who know that we live in Rus are at the heart of the Church, not on its fringes.

Rus

I am a part of Rus on the southern fringes of the sea:
With me is my sword, black hussar’s jacket
And portrait of the Tsar, like an eternal spectre of grief,
And in my heart the trace of wounds I have survived.

I am a part of Rus which tribulation
Flung like a ball beyond the ocean-sea,
I am the faithful son of a great nation,
A soldier in soul and a bard of the days of old.

Vladimir Petrushevsky (+ 1961), Australia

For the Churched, this spiritual passport is much more important than our secular passport, for we see our secular place of residence through the eyes of Rus, through spiritual eyes. Thus, there is European Rus, American Rus, Australian Rus….The words ‘Outside Russia’ in ‘Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia’ mean outside the old Russian Empire, not outside Rus – as our spiritual passports show.

Our residence in Rus also shows that our Faith did not come from Russia, but through Russia, just as it did not come from Constantinople, but through Constantinople. (To say that our Faith is ‘Russian’ or ‘Greek’ is a great mistake; such a nationalistic spirit is how the ‘Greeks’ alienated many peoples and lost the Second Rome). We serve another spirit. Where did our Faith come from? It came from Christ, like our Church.

Why?

The Apostles

It is not by chance that blind fate
Has scattered us among foreign lands,
It is not by chance that life has imposed on us
The cheerless lot of the slave.

It is not by chance that in crowded markets
We bear in silence the cross of sufferings
And tread a thorny and toilsome path
To goals that are unknown to us.

No! – A great and wise mystery
Is hidden in our feat as slaves,
And believe me, our destiny,
Unprecedented, is not by chance…

Heavenly powers guide us,
The Leader who is everywhere leads us
Along the way, where graves do not bring fear,
Where neither bread nor home are required.

In this sorrow of hard privations,
In this torment of bodily exhaustion,
A wondrous lot has been appointed for us,
A lot of humiliations, threats and doubts.

In the darkness of this servile world
We bear in triumph the beacon of the spirit
And loudly summon God’s chosen ones
To the bridal chamber of the Orthodox feast.

We tread a thorny road,
We soar above worldly vanity,
We are the apostles of the faith of Christ,
The heralds proclaiming holy truth.

We summon the races and the peoples,
Clothed in the crimson of brotherly blood,
To the kingdom of true and everlasting freedom,
To the kingdom of goodness, light and love.

S.S. Bekhteev, 1928

Why do we live in all these lands scattered across the face of the Earth? The reasons are many – but all result from the pogrom, first of the betrayal of the Faith, then of Rus and then of the Tsar. Whatever our exact story, our reason for being scattered in the lands where we live is ultimately because God has allowed it. We stand, looking at 1,000 years of Western history, a history without the Church of Christ, but with its vestiges; in Europe we look back beyond those 1,000 years of wandering, to the first millennium, when the roots of Europe, and so the roots of the whole Western world, were in Christ and His Holy Church.

We have been sent to live in these lands to gather in the harvest of all these vestiges into the granaries of the churches of Rus before the end. The harvest of sincerity, of righteousness, of virtue, of nobility, of inner beauty, of spiritual culture, of piety, of holiness, the harvest from 2,000 years of history of Europe, is here in our churches, in our oases in the desert, in our lighthouses on the far distant shores of Rus, shining out to the lost world. We are among the gatherers and keepers of Rus, for it is time to gather the scattered stones together (Ecclesiastes 3, 5), and restore what has been destroyed, defiled and profaned.

Our Future

I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh.
Numbers 24, 17

Our Russian Orthodox Faith, our ideal of Rus, is our international response to globalisation. No other part of the Orthodox Church is large enough or strong enough or free enough to resist the tide of globalisation and provide such a response. Other parts of the Church are responsible for only one nationality; there is no Orthodox response to globalisation other than Rus. No other part of the Orthodox world has been crucified for the sins of the world and for faithfulness to Universal Orthodoxy as have we. This is why Rus is the meaning of world history and world destiny, the key to salvation in the last times.

This is why we who have come out of the White Cause continue to further the process of healing inside Russia, the independence of the Church from State interference and from secularist, Western ideologies, and seek the continuing canonisation of all the New Martyrs and Confessors, led by the martyred Royal House. The Church inside Russia is Lazarus, the miracle of the Resurrection, the Four-Day Dead, dressed in Soviet rags, but still the Friend of Christ. Now together we make ready and pray and hope and wait for the restoration of legitimate authority in Rus, the Orthodox Tsar restored by the Sovereign Mother of God.