Speaking in commemoration of the assassination of the Russian Tsar Nicholas II and his family by left-wing ideologues on 17th July 1918 (see Pravoslavie for the sad tale), Metropolitan Hilarion said,
TODAY our holy Church is going through a renewal, atheism is no longer the fashion.
And we believe that this happened through the advocacy of men, who humbly and uncomplainingly faced down their trials and following Christ came to Golgotha, each man to his own, to die in the faith of Christ and to reach another life, where today they are advocates for us.
(My translation, from the news item in Greek at Romfea.)
The Tsar, his wife, his son Alexei, and his four daughters Olga, Tatyana, Maria, and Anastasia, were all shot in cold blood by the Bolsheviks, together with their doctor, their maid, and two waiters.
There is a connection in my mind with Demetrianus, a Proconsul of Africa during the 3rd century, who accused traditional Christians of bringing down hardships on his province, and challenged them to follow his secular/pagan policies for a happier world — much as today’s political utopians still do.
Turning the tables, St Cyprian of Carthage replied that on the contrary, amidst all the calamities which Demetrianus’s ideological convictions had brought on the region, Christians were the best-placed to weather them, and to be advocates with God to moderate their consequences.
THERE flourishes with us the strength of hope and the firmness of faith.
Among these very ruins of a decaying world our soul is lifted up, and our courage unshaken: our patience is never anything but joyous; and the mind is always secure of its God, even as the Holy Spirit speaks through the prophet, and exhorts us, strengthening with a heavenly word the firmness of our hope and faith.
“The fig-tree,” says He, “shall not bear fruit, and there shall be no blossom in the vines. The labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat. The flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls. But I will rejoice in the Lord, and I will joy in the God of my salvation.” (Hab 3:17).
He says that the man of God and the worshipper of God, depending on the truth of his hope, and founded on the stedfastness of his faith, is not moved by the attacks of this world and this life.
Although the vine should fail, and the olive deceive, and the field parched with grass dying with drought should wither, what is this to Christians? what to God’s servants whom paradise is inviting, whom all the grace and all the abundance of the kingdom of heaven is waiting for?
They always exult in the Lord, and rejoice and are glad in their God; and the evils and adversities of the world they bravely suffer, because they are looking forward to gifts and prosperities to come: for we who have put off our earthly birth, and are now created and regenerated by the Spirit, and no longer live to the world but to God, shall not receive God’s gifts and promises until we arrive at the presence of God.
And yet we always ask for the repulse of enemies, and for obtaining showers, and either for the removal or the moderating of adversity; and we pour forth our prayers, and, propitiating and appeasing God, we entreat constantly and urgently, day and night, for your peace and salvation.
St Cyprian of Carthage (+258), Treatise V: Address to Demetrianus, §20. (CCEL).
In 2000, the Moscow Patriarchate unanimously proclaimed the Romanov family to be “Passion Bearers”, and saints of the Orthodox Church. Footage of the burial of the remains of the Romanovs in 1998 can be seen at YouTube.
MOST noble and sublime was your life and death, O Sovereigns;
Wise Nicholas and blest Alexandra, we praise you,
Acclaiming your piety, meekness, faith, and humility,
Whereby ye attained to crowns of glory in Christ our God,
With your five renowned and godly children of blessed fame.
O passion–bearers decked in purple, intercede for us.