"After my death our beloved Church abroad will break three ways .... first the Greeks will leave us as they were never a part of us ... then those who live for this world and its glory will go to Moscow ... what will remain will be those souls faithful to Christ and His Church." St. Philaret of NY 1985
Reminiscences Fr. Aleksey Mikrikov
REMINISCENCES OF A RUSSIAN CLERGYMAN
ABOUT SAINT PHILARET
METROPOLITAN OF NEW YORK,
THE NEW CONFESSOR.
(Primarily About His Years in China)
From 1904 to 1945 the Japanese occupied Manchuria. The Japanese tried at
all costs to keep this Chinese province in their hands, since it supplied huge
supplies for Japan and gave them a foothold on the continent, and to them this
made strong international military‐political sense.
But the Japanese were hampered by the Russian immigrants, who had a
different mentality. To use the Russian young people in the military the Japanese
first attempted to destroy the social‐religious mentality of our immigration. To
this end they placed an idol of the goddess Amateresu opposite St. Nicholas
Cathedral so that the Russian people, going to the divine services, had first to
bow to the idol, and then they could go to pray to Christ God.
Metropolitan Melety reacted immediately: he issued a proclamation in
which he explained the inadmissibility of bowing to an idol. Then the Japanese
began to accuse Metropolitan Melety and the clergy with contradicting their
authority. Archimandrite Philaret especially decisively objected to the Japanese.
The Japanese seized him and began to torture him. They lacerated his cheek and
almost tore out an eye, but he survived the torture.
The head torturer then said to Fr. Philaret: “We have an electronically
heated tool, under whose influence all have agreed to fulfill our requests; you
will agree also! (Fr. Philaret personally told me this himself.) The torturer
brought out the glowing electrical tool. Then Fr. Philaret prayed to St. Nicholas
the Miracle‐worker with the words: “Holy Hierarch Nicholas, help me, otherwise
I might fall into betrayal.”
It was time for the torture. The torturer bared him to the belt and began to
burn his back with the hot iron. And, O, the miracle! Fr. Philaret smelled the
smell of the burned flesh, but he did not feel pain. Happiness was in his soul. The
tormentor did not understand, why does he keep silent, why does he not scream,
why does he not writhe in unbearable pain? Then the tormentor turned and
looked at the face of Fr. Philaret. And when he saw his face, he threw up his
hands amazed, and muttered something in Japanese, and ran off, conquered by
the superhuman force of patience. No one could endure such tortures without
Christ’s divine aid. But the tortures were so cruel that he was close to death. The
almost dying Fr. Philaret was given back to his relatives. This will give you some
idea of it: later he said to me: “I was in hell itself.”
But God did not let him die. The wounds healed, only his eye was
somewhat deformed. And the Japanese no longer demanded the bows from
Orthodox people. All this I heard from Fr. Philaret, but I said nothing since I
thought everyone knew all this.
In 1945 Soviet troops occupied China and established total Soviet control.
The Soviet regime immediately named all the Russian emigrants “enemies of the
people,” and in six months arrested 50,000—young and old. All 50,000 from
Harbin China were deported to the USSR. At the station of Atpor they shot
14,000 of them, and the remaining 36,000 they sent into the concentration camps,
where they were starved to death.
Every third young person in Harbin was seized by the Soviet regime, and
was taken to the USSR and annihilated in the concentration camps. The Soviet
totalitarian tyranny annihilated them for their Orthodoxy, for non‐recognition of
the Sergianist heresy, which teaches one to obey the God‐fighters
conscientiously. Generally, the Soviet regime killed nearly 70 million Orthodox
people, destroyed more than 30,000 church buildings, took away the land and
property, arranged the genocide of the Orthodox people, introduced social
hostility, blasphemed God, and tore out belief in God by fear and terror. Who
could obey this authority in good conscience and collaborate with it?
The Russian people remaining in Harbin were coerced into accepting
Soviet citizenship. However this Archimandrite Philaret openly refused to do so.
And when he served the Divine Liturgy he never commemorated the Soviet
regime. Instead, he delivered thundering sermons about truth and lies, after the
hearing of which it seemed to us that it would be the last day of his life. He
served a public memorial service for the slain Tsar Nicholas II and the entire
Imperial Family, and the main thing he said in the sermon was that the Great—
Martyr Tsar Nicholas shared the mind of Christ, therefore he was not
brainwashed, he did not have the ruinous spirit of anti‐Christ, which took hold
of the entirety of Russia. Also he arranged a youth circle, at whose meetings he
explained Christ’s teachings.
We young people living in China under the Soviet regime and
experiencing its violence and fear of death, rapidly grasped its anti‐Christian
nature. We understood that if God does not stop it, then everyone would
spiritually break, would become zombies, and would have to serve this world‐
wide evil. It became clear that in the Declaration of 1927 that Metropolitan
Sergius, on the advice of flesh and blood, from fear of losing his life, had fallen
into delusion [prelest], and issued a call for us to obey the Soviet regime in good
conscience and to collaborate with it.
If the Lord said: “Of what benefit is it to a man, if he gains the whole
world, and harms his own soul?” (Mk. 8:36), then Sergius by his Declaration
tried to save the bodies of people, without being attentive to the eternal damage
to their souls. In this we find precisely a pagan concept of good and evil.
The answer to the question “What, then is Sergianism?” became clear to
me. It is a modification of Orthodox consciousness by the pagan understanding
of good and evil, through violence and the fear of death of the population by the
Soviet regime with the aid of the highest Church leadership. An uncomforting
answer, but it is taken from personal practical life, and the obvious case of the life
and service to the Russian Orthodox Church of Archimandrite Philaret. Father
Philaret and Metropolitan Melety with the entire clergy did not bow to the idol
of Amateresu, but Metropolitan Sergius bowed to the godless government,
leading the entire clergy and people into error and sin.
Fr. Philaret took another path. He rejected Sergianism; he did not
collaborate with the government...and gained immense authority as a spiritual
leader in the Russian emigration in Harbin. Then the Soviet regime, in October,
1960, full of spite, decided to destroy him with fire.
This is how it happened: one night, from Saturday to Sunday,
Archimandrite Philaret arose at about 2:00 a.m. because of a strange smell in his
house, and he went into the living room, in the corner of which was a storeroom.
As he said, smoke was coming from under the doors of the storeroom with a
caustic, bitter smell. He went into the bathroom, poured a basin of water, and
returned to the storeroom, and, after opening its door, splashed water towards
the side where the smoke was coming from. Suddenly, there was an explosion
and a fierce fire. The fire burned him and the force of the explosion was so great,
it lifted him up and threw him across the entire length of the living room so he
struck against the door. Fortunately the door opened outwards, because the bolts
were torn away by the impact of his flying body, and he fell to earth stunned, but
alive. After coming to, he saw the house, which was burning like a torch.
Archimandrite Philaret understood that a fire‐bomb had exploded, which burnt
the house down in a matter of minutes.
On this night, a certain Zinaida Lvovna, one of the sisters from the church
of the House of Mercy, left her house about midnight, situated opposite the
church and saw fire engines in the street near the church—but no fire. This
incomprehensible and extraordinary group of fire engines amazed her. Two
hours later when the sound of the bomb explosion woke her, she immediately
went out into the street and saw the almost entirely burned house, which the
firemen already had stopped putting out. But Archimandrite Philaret stood on
the church porch, shaking from the cold, and suffering from severe burns and
contusion. Zinaida Lvovna immediately understood that the fire had been
arranged by the Soviets for the purpose of killing Fr. Philaret. She rapidly
crossed the street and invited him to come to her house.
But the Chinese fire authorities, seeing Archimandrite Philaret alive,
blamed him for starting the fire and wanted to arrest him. However, the
resourceful Zinaida Lvovna quickly turned to the Chinese authorities and said:
“Does this fit with the fact that you previously brought up the fire engines,
knowing that the fire would start? Who told you in advance about the fire?
The leader of the firemen was at a loss and could not answer. But
meanwhile Zinaida Lvovna together with Archimandrite Philaret went into her
house in which there was a room with no windows. She put Archimandrite
Philaret there because she knew that the Soviet murderers could come through
the window and kill him.
The next day, Sunday, some young people arrived early for the service,
but the church was closed, and the house where the rector lived was burnt to the
ground. I was able to find Zinaida Lvovna and learn from her what had occurred
that night. I asked permission to see Fr. Philaret.
From the first glance I saw that Fr. Philaret was completely exhausted
physically and in pain. His burnt face was dark brown. But his eyes expressed a
firm submission to the will of God and a joyous fearlessness to serve Him and
the Orthodox people. I was speechless from the shock of his appearance, and it
was immediately understandable that he was a hairsbreadth from death. He had
avoided death by some miracle. Then suddenly I heard his greeting: “I greet you
with the Feast.” He said this greeting the way we say on Pascha: “Christ Is
Risen!” Tears came to my eyes instead of an answer. I had not cried from my
youth. But now being a twenty‐year old adult, I knelt before him speechless, with
tears rolling down my face, and kissed his blessing hand.
I understood that, like a fourth Babylonian youth, he had remained
unconsumed by the Chinese furnace heat of the 20th century set by the God‐
fighter Khrushchev seventy times hotter than the Babylonian furnace, lit by
Nabuchodonosor in the sixth century B.C. It was obvious that the grace of God
had saved Fr. Philaret for the resolute and fearless fulfilment of holy Patriarch
Two months went by. He again began to serve, and after half a year could already live independently in the separate balcony above the church. But suddenly, he again went to Zinaida Lvovnaʹs. She told me privately that on one occasion Archimandrite Philaret got to his cell after a service, unlocked his door and went in. But suddenly he saw the toes of two large boots protruding from under the curtains. After understanding that a murderer was standing there, sent by the Soviets, he went to a chest of drawers and took something for appearancesʹ sake, and rapidly left the cell, after locking it up. After this episode men from the Chinese police came to Zinaida Lvovna to ask “Why does Archimandrite Philaret not pass the nights in his cell?” She immediately understood what was up and answered: due to his physical weakness and indisposition.
Soon after this Fr. Philaret with spiritual clairvoyance revealed that under the altar in the church of the House of Mercy was a portrait of satan. The portrait was immediately removed. The Soviet godless authorities did not know how to deal with and how to mock a man that has apostolic boldness and faith, which made him a bearer of the unconquerable Grace of God.
A third time there was an attempt on his life in the 70ʹs, at Pascha, when he already had become Metropolitan and First Hierarch of the ROCOR and lived in the USA. But the attempt did not succeed. The fourth attempt occurred aboard a ship, when Metropolitan Philaret was returning from France, after visiting the Lesna convent.
Sailing back to New York City, an extraordinary phenomenon in the boiler of the steamship occurred: suddenly, in broad daylight in the firebox of the boiler there burnt a fire with such force that a pipe heated white hot. The captain of the steamship, not seeing any way to extinguish the fire that threatened to melt the pipe which would then spread the fire over the entire steamship, consuming all on board, went at the critical minute to Vladyka Philaret and asked him to pray, because, in his opinion, only God could save the ship and passengers. Vladyka Philaret listened to the captain and immediately began to pray to God. Ten to twenty minutes passed and the pipe began to redden. But in an hour it had already returned to black. Rescue was given by
God! The captain again went to Metropolitan Philaret, kissed his hand, and emotionally thanked him for his prayers...
Now let us ask ourselves, how could the heat of the boiler acquire such catastrophic force? Did this occur by itself? Or, as before, did the evil hand of the KGB interfere in order to destroy Vladyka?
After passing through all temptations, after passing through fire and water in the spiritual and literal sense, Saint Philaret obtained from the Lord this gift: whoever might turn to him with a request about any matter, by his prayer the Lord fulfilled that request.
And this gift only increased after his repose.
By his holy prayers may the Lord preserve us
in “the Faith one delivered to the Saints” (Jude 3),
and grant us His heavenly Kingdom. Amen.
The author of the above Reminiscences is:
Father Aleksey Mikrikov
Priest attached at one time to
Holy Trinity Monastery
Jordanville, New York
(From the Russian Newspaper
“Nasha Strana”, No. 2791, pp.5‐6. March 2006)
On‐line in Russian: http://portal‐credo.ru/site/?act=news&id+53968&type=view
On‐line in English at our diocesan page:
Source for the English: