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|Fr. Vitali Borovoi, Archimandrite Sergi (Saveliev) and Fr. Georgi Kochetkov|
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My friends, today my word will be of a special content. Please, forgive me aforehand. May be you will ... loath listening it. I didn't intend to go here today, but last Saturday I was visited by our Fr. K* and he said the church was in anarchy, in a complete disorder, there were inscriptions of some kind, and asked me to come here to put everything in its proper place. When I came I didn't find neither too much anarchy, nor disorder, nothing of that kind found I, and therefore there is no need for me to establish any order here.
Of course, I didn't come not because I lied sick and was helpless. Though my health is not such that to participate in races, you know, or to lift up forty-pound dumbels. I've gone through an extensive heart attack anyway, then later through two micro heart-attacks and a stroke so can't be healthy, but great professionals yet have told me that there is no other patient in Moscow like me, another one who, having gone through all the things I have gone through, will be, nevertheless, capable of what I'm capable of. Therefore I can't plead my sickness. Yes, I am always sick and you should always remember that in my condition anything may easily happen.
Append to it also my terrible, I would say, insomnia... You know, my dear, this insomnia tortures me already for twenty five years. It is even difficult for me to talk about it. The situation forces me as if to boast of myself. But whatever it might be, but to boast of myself I have no slightest intention. On such strong soporifics - I don't know how does my heart endure it? This is a miracle.
So, I wasn't sick. Why then didn't I come here anyway? One man, a man very close to me, I can say, a man who perhaps even owed me his life, had said: "But why does he have to come? He's got a million". If it was simply said by somebody, but it was said by a man - my son, whom I bore at my bosom! Then I decided to come and have a talk with you.
As entering the cathedral, on the right side there is, well, something like a fenced off room. It is split into two parts. In one part cleaners were changing their cloths, and in the other I lived. There was a huge radiator there, designed to give warmth to the entire temple. Nobody made that radiator any smaller, there was even no switch on it. On the other side everything was set up the way it should be because there was such a person there, you know, too close to the man being superior in the temple. And here there was nobody and nothing. As they start heating - one can hardly breathe, as they stop - you're freezing.
Forgive me please that I've got to as if boast before you, but let us speak today of what must be spoken. So it was, my dear, and the street there is very noisy, you know: at night lorries went there and back and the rumble was horrible. And the window looked right on that street.
There I served for five years. Could I live some place else? Of course, not. Many invited me, many asked me to stay at their places overnight. Wonderful people - wonderful, absolutely trustworthy. But I was staying in the temple. In the morning and in the evening. Server in the morning, served in the evening, and again in the morning. One day a week I was free and went then to my cottage out of town. And that was how I lived there.
Forgive me for saying this, but the cathedral in fact was all on me. Not on the superior priest, not on protopresbyter Nicolai, all of the cathedral was on me. And we had two liturgies a day there. I was helping at the early one and serving the later. In the eveninig we had acathisti. You know what the acathistus it was and now is, - the acathistus to the icon of the Mother of God "Calling the lost", - I always served it. On Wednesday ther was an acathistus to St. Nicolas, and I also served it with them. On Friday there used to be acathistsi to the Kazan icon of the Mother of God. Sometimes I served at the early liturgy also...
You can ask: why did you serve, why did you suffer so much? Well, because the Lord brought me to such a place and I must have given off all my strengths. If I was required to die there I would do it. What could I do? I served there!
But I had to move from there to a church near Kurski railway station, - to the church of Protection. There I also served for five years and also lived in the temple. And how I lived in the temple, - well, we have Matresha over here, she can tell you, because she's accompanying me. Deceased mother Efimia and Matresha, - they know well how I lived there.
First years I lived there, well, how to say (showing): here was a boiler to heat the temple, here - the coal. And two steps up - a small, not a room and not even a closet of any kind, but, well, a corner, I don't know what purpose it served there for. It had neither heating, nor ventillation, nor light, - it had nothing at all but dampness. And, God bless that dear mother Ephimia: closer to the end of the vespers she went out, lighted up kerosin lamps or something like that, dried up the blanket that lied there; even it is not that she dried it up, but at least made it a bit warmer... That is how I lived there. And I lived there for five years. Later I could build a two storied annex, however. There was a room for baptizing up on the first floor, and a lodgement beneath...
You may ask: why couldn't you live at someone else's place? I couldn't because my spirit is different! I cannot live in mudain surroundings. Though I am a good-for-nothing monk, but my spirit, it requires special conditions. So, that was how I lived there.
Then I was bounced from there to a completely ruined parish - in Bogorodskoye. There was absolute anarchy and utter devastation. And when, - there was such achpriest Arkadi Tyschik, he is now a superior priest in Vsehsviatskoye by Sokol, - well, when he had done troubles there and when the fire flared up, I was sent to extinguish all that mess.
And again I lived there. I lived there in a kind of office room. Here you know (showing) there was a tramway line, and my window was right here. And trams come very late. There I learnt when trams return to the park, - before that I never understood it, but there I learnt well that they return very late, and when they were turning on the corner they made such a creak... Earlier I never knew about that creak, but there I learnt it because you just close your eyes and here it goes... And in the morning... In the morning they leave early. Don't think they leave at 8 o'clock. No, they leave very early. And again going by. And again no rest.
In Bogorodskoye church there was a completely devastated parish. All in fire, all is burnt. I was given two years to serve there. But with the help of God for those two years we had done in that Bogorodskoye church more than had been done there for all the previous time of its existence. By the way, when as early as in the Protection church being asked: "Where did you get the money from?" (we made an annex there and a special room for cleaners), they said: "Father Sergi gave". But what does it mean, "Father Sergi gave money"? Father Sergi came and started praying. And people don't need anything else except prayer. So they went for that prayer, the number of those who prayed became bigger, and the donations also bigger. That's how we could do it. The same in Bogorodskoye also.
After that I was dismissed for two years, and for two years I didn't serve. The late Patriarch Alexis said to me once that he always wished me to serve together with him, because his attitude to me was very good, but he could do nothing about it. I din't go to him and I never served with him. I didn't go to the Patriarchy and didn't see him.
Why didn't I serve with him? Only because the liturgy is a great sacrament. The liturgy is everything. And it can be served only under the single condition: if the heart is in absolute quiet, if there is love, if one as if forgets oneself and goes entirely into the sacrament that is being done. But how could I stand by the altar, how could I say to that very Father Kolchitski: "Christ is in our midst" and he would answer: "He is and shall be"? How could I say all that, when I saw it would be, God knows, a sure crime!
All right, I had been neither angry with him nor anything alse. Shortly before his death (2) I even wrote a letter to Patriarch Alexis that he, well, finally would reconcile me with him. Because one could not live so. But by some reason they lingered with it, then one month passed, he had a stroke, and so it all finished.
Well, in Medvedkovo, my dear, the temple was such, no need to tell it to you, it was utterly ruined. I could not find there a single spot where one might feel not even love, but decency at least. Everything was defiled. And there I began.
I served there alone. Lived at the temple and served alone. And the number of services was not less than now, well, a little less. But I served alone, without a deacon. It used to be that I was serving a funeral service - half a temple remain, then serving a thanksgiving - again half a temple remain, and so till the very end...
I had and do have a cottage. Well, what kind of a cottage? I used to live at Krasnyie Vorota, but in 1938 the place where our home had been happened to be needed to some people of higher standing, and they evicted us from Moscow, everybody who lived in that house. They gave us 250 rubles per person (it's in today's rate, back then it was 2500), and said: go out of the city, and that was it. Today we are treated mercifully, we are given flats, but that time it was just such: despite who was there, what was there, - just go. So, having received that money, I took from the bank a loan for 1000 rubles in today's money (10,000 back then), and, well, built it somehow.
Now I've got a flat here. My dear, in 66 years I received here an 8 sqare metre room. In 75 years I received a 16 square metre room. And I will tell you honestly, - often I sit in that room thinking: "O, God, it would probably be better to leave it! There are so many people in very hard situations, and I am here like a landlord." And I'm feeling ashamed and sad - why do I live so? And if to append to it that all my family lived very moderately, - for all my life I haven't drunk a single glas of vodka, never went to a restoraunt, my dear, never in my life was in a health resort, and all my people lived so, all my family.
You can ask me if I have any money then? Well, what will I tell you? Sure, I do. And how can it be any different after all, if everyone works, everyone labours, everyone is thrifty, nothing superfluous, everyone is dressed modestly?
For instance, yesterday I returned here from the cottage. There was one very close and dear person with me. I said: "Let's come in, drink some tea. They will likely treat us with something". We went up. I'm saying: "Well, friends, (we were met by my daughters (3)), how is it going? What will you treat us with?" "Well, - they say, - what can we treat you with? We've got buckweat poridge". And it's all right, thank you. We sat down to the table, ate that buckweat poridge.it was all my life: misfortune - glory to God, good fortune - glory to God, narrowness - glory to God! So everywhere and always.
So, my dear, you see I lived there not because I liked it so much to lie there (4), doing nothing, or walk, why not, indeed? No, not because of that. But why? Because it was very difficult for me to go here. Internally, spiritually difficult.
The point is that I've got a difference of opinions with the patriarchy. And a very deep differences of opinions. It goes so already from... from what age, I wonder? Well, I don't think I 'm wrong if I say that it goes from when I was ten. So, already from ten years of age I've got a difference of opinions with it. What does it consist in? I will tell you. We had a teacher of the law. And he was so terrible... He should have better taught atheism instead of the Law of God, because he (Tsypliakovski, his surename was, God bless him), through all his way life averted us from the Law of God. We knew that once he took the last sheep as a price for serving at the funerals. Well, you know, a child's soul, - it understands everything. It understands more that an old man does. Because a pure heart immediately takes it all in and absorbs deeply.
When I accomplished the secondary school (and the God's Law was taught there very seriously, I wish in today's seminaries it had been taught that way) I was matriculated at an institute. That was the time of starvation and hardships. I returned to where my parents lived and started working.
I was hired by a Co-operative Union. I began as an apprentice and very soon became an instructor. Some time had passed and I already headed an instructors department. And that was when as early as when the co-operation had not been yet nationalised. In every uyezd there must have been an instructor. And in one uyezd there was a very high educated intellectual that came from Moscow, the son of an old and eminent scholar, or rather not a son, but a nephew. And in the same very uyezd, in that very town the chairman of the co-operative fellowship was archpriest Borisov, and he ran his busines just outrageously. So, since he ran it outrageously an inspection was needed. But that local instructor, he seemed to be kind of, you know, too good for that job, while that man should have been treated a bit more strictly. And I was sent on a mission to make an inspection together with that local instructor.
When the inspection was finished we discovered a lot of swindling. I was twenty - twenty one year back then. And I knew him (5) earlier when studied in that town. I said: "Gather the meeting of representatives". Well, he could not refuse and gathered them. I reported everything. But, - well I was twenty, what could I do, and he was such an arch-scoundrel, - he gathered who pleased him, and when I raised a question about replacing the chairman, there appeared to be no majority vote. And so I left.
But again I could see face to face a man who was in the order of an arch-priest, the superior in the temple, and I could see that priest was no priest, but a thief. A good lesson again. And when I already came here and entered the cathedral, well, first days I didn't know where to escape, where did I come, because I could see what was going on inside the cathedral's altar.
And that was the time when I learnt: there are priests - and this is a great honour, and there are so-called pops. And then I began a struggle. For priesthood. That at the God's throne there stood worthiest people, not like myself, but in the white vestments. Not in rags like myself, but people with light conscience. This is what I struggled for. It was difficult to admit, but clear enough that only this way one could go.
So it was, my dear. That's how I lived. A lot of time, a lot of strengths, a lot of everything have experienced I here. Because bad people may be found everywhere. Many hardships had I to go through here. Because, you know, I got nobody behind my back. I could not go to patriarchy for help - they only awaited it that to whip me another time. But they also knew that whichever they whipped me, they couldn't do anything with me. I was standing with the God's help and I had withstood. They all have already gone from the face of the earth, and I'm standing before you even now and confessing.
I don't have any discord in faith with them. I am more Orthodox man than they. I have also no discord with them in the question about the Church. I am a son of the Church, I love the Church more than they do. But I hate popovstvo (domination of pops - Translator's note).
Our trouble is that the church has got almost no creative significance in life. It doesn't create... It can't, however, live only on its greatness, only on its splendid worship... The spiritual life is needed. "The gates of Hades shall not prevail the Church". We have to go down, as I was telling you, to humble ourselves (Matt. 18:4), we all have to be together (6), listen to everyone, cover everyone's sickness with our love that to rise and to carry our cross further.
And here suddenly such a thing happened. There was a letter, sent to me for a review as if with the blessing of the patriarch or by his order, one foul, anonimous, gutter letter. This is how it happened: I came to serve the liturgy on the feast of Trinity and in the morning a postman delivered me that letter. When I opened it I was filled with indignation. Not at those who had written it, - I wouldn't even find them worth mentioning aloud. But I was deeply indignant at how in the patriarchy they could have done it? How had they no shame? I am 77 years of age. And is it I to send such gutter letters to? Well, of course, my dear, I didn't leave it without an appropriate answer.
But let's talk about the letter again. Who wrote it? What are those people like? How should I tell you? Some filth. Even hard to imagine. Because such a vile letter, so bad that I even don't know how to define them... By the way, when I spoke with father K* about it, he tried to convince me that it's not from here, that it was some other people, from some other place. All right. I will not allow me to say that it's father K* who wrote it. God forbid! Definitely he could not participate in writing such a stupid letter. But, nevertheless, it is the evil from here. I think so, how else might it happen? I am here for fifteen years. How could such a letter have been written?
An illiterate, slanderous, mendacious, foul, foul letter. Who are those people anyway? I wished to define them well that they remembered even for the future, and I decided that the best definition for them was "church's rats". Why "church's rats"? I will tell you. When I lived in the cathedral, I had heating in the room and the pipes went right through the walls, and in the walls there were holes. And beside other things I enjoyed there, rats also ran through those holes. Well, the church's rats, Lord my God, they ate my bread or something else... My attitude to it was kind, because they also needed to live somehow, didn't they? And there wasn't much in the church for them to find. So, they ran, ran there around and being hungry went somewhere further. So, my attitude to them was peaceful.
But there are church's rats of a different kind: they spoil the Body of Christ, the God's work they spoil. That's why I decided it's time for me to go aside. I needed to go aside, because I had no more strengths. Had it happened fifteen - twenty years ago... Lord, what had I experienced at that moment! But now I've got very little strenghts, just a bit of strenghts. And may be those who say I've got much money think I'm walking in the forest there by my cottage. Not a single time did I go to the forest though it's there only five minutes walk. Not a single time! I worked there a lot. And again worked for you. Someday the time comes and you will know about that work. But it is a work, a work. Sleepless nights, because the same thoughts constantly disquiet me...
And suddenly such an ugly thing, such filth! And I raised a question: what am I here for? Am I here that the last strengths of my heart would get exhausted altogether? "I won't go there anymore" - I said to myself and ceased going. But when father K* had come and said to me that there was anarchy here I decided to see you and tell you all as it was.
Now concerning the question about father K*. I've got very nice relations of the private character with father K*. For eight years did we serve together with him. For those eight years he never heard from me a single unkind word. But now such a thing began. Now, my dear, I'm again telling you that a small remainder of the strenghts I've got should be used the best way. And am I really to spend these strengths on the church's rats? In their own homes, you know, they spoil everything, God knows what's going on in their families, at work they are disgusting, - wherever only they can reach everything is withering. So, will I really have any contact with them? Or will I allow them stand by me? Well, today I came to a choir, to the left one, looked around and, having not seen some people, thought: "Thank God I haven't seen them".
So, what will I be staying here for? I can be here only for creating. Creating what? For changing our entire ecclesiastical life. They in their ugly letter noticed that our boxes... - well, kind of condemned our coming over to this system without a box at all. So, this is only a beginning! We have to go further, deeper. We need this temple to be a school of the spiritual life, that we may go off here and come home, and know what we have to do. Because, you keep it in mind, - our families are sick! They, you know, have to be soothed, for this is like either the husband is doing goodness knows what, or the children behave also goodness knows how. And there's no family as such.
So, Christians, what are we called to? Is it that only to sing here some solo or stand or listen to something and then go? What are we coming here for? That to get nourished. We, like bees, take pollen, carry it to our hives, and fill with it our honeycombs. That one is a Christian who comes home, forgets oneself, and gives oneself for serving one's neighbour. That one is a Christian. Here recently one woman, she works a cleaner at a hospital, and she sees how the ill are unattended there, how nobody cares of them. Because there are such that being brought to the hospital left there for the fortune's mercy, and that's it. So, she stays there, helps them, tries to encouorage them. And this is exactly a Christian exploit. This is what we are gathering here for. We don't need anything else. Neither theological disputes, nor any sort of singing, nothing at all. Only prayer, quiet, and self-denial. The simpler, the narrower - the closer to Christ.
So, if I still have some little strengths, my dear, I have to use them the most prudent way. And here I appeared to be thinking differently from father K*. Before that I had no time for such things, no time for those differences in opinions. Because there were other problems. There were too many things that diverted me, I had to do much anyway. But today it is a quite right time for them.
Well, here is all our life. And for me it is enough vindication of my life. I'm doing a special work and, besides, all my service is here. But I have not come here to live my last years. I can live my last years even in an elderly house if, of course, they let me in or rather, let me out there. I have come here to work and till the last breath induce you to climbing the mountain, forgetting yourself more and more. In what? Stretching to where? To love, to serving your neighbours. This is, my dear, what I can stay here for.
But we with father K* are different here. He is already an elderly and fully formed priest. He's got his own ideas and it is not for me to dissuade him. He's got his own habbits and it is not with me for him to leave them off. But that his is foreign to me. When he came to me we had a nicest conversation and I'm always ready to talk to him. But to labour with him together in the church is difficult for me. That's why I decided to go aside. And leave everything to God, - whichever way does God manage our lives, and my life in particular, so it will be.
1) Elokhovo Patriarch's Cathedral of the Epiphany.
2) Father Nicolas Kolchitski;
3) Sisters from father Sergi's community;
4) In the cottage ouside of the city;
5) Archpriest Borisov;
6) "I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." (1 Cor. 9:26)
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