"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

The Royal Martyrs

In 1981 Metropolitan Philaret issued the following epistle just before The Council of the Archbishops and Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad glorified the New Martyrs of the Communist yoke: 

Great is the feat of martyrdom!  In the Holy Gospel we read the call of Our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, to those who wish to be His followers: Strive to enter in at the strait gate (Luke 13:24). “Strive” — go the way of striving, of struggle (podvig), realize the Christian struggle in your life.  In other words, a Christian must live the life of a struggler…  Although in the history of Christ’s Church we find examples of martyrdom in all eras, prior to the the Russian Revolution the feat of martyrdom was primarily prevalent in the first centuries of Christianity, when paganism tried to destroy the holy Church with iron and blood.  Today we see something quite different.  With the appearance and consolidation of God-hating communism in Russia, a campaign of persecution, unprecedented in its scope, was unleashed against faith.  

As one church writer put it: Orthodox Russia found herself on Golgotha, and the Russian Church nailed to the Cross.  Of course, just as in antiquity, there have been cases of apostasy.  But at the same time, the Russian Church and the Russian people have given numerous examples of courageous endurance of persecution and death for the sake of the Christian faith.  Indeed, one cannot give a precise count of all the cases of martyrdom throughout the long years of communist rule in Russia; never before in the history of humanity had there been so many.  Here we must speak not of hundreds, not of thousands, but of millions who suffered for the Faith: truly an event of staggering proportions! 

In the entire course of human history, nothing comparable to what we see today had ever happened: never was there such an outpouring of evil, of an open, insane uprising of creatures against their Creator such as we see today in our much-suffering homeland, which has been enslaved by communists.  Never in recorded history has evil manifested itself so insolently, so blatantly, as it does now. Never before have we heard such revolting abuse, such insane blasphemy of God and all that is sacred, shouted to the high heavens, as we now hear in Soviet Russia…

But if the bedeviled, hate filled enemies of God and the Church have defiled our homeland, the Russian land, with their loathsome blasphemy and hatred of God, it is at the same time purified by the sacred blood of those who have suffered for faith and truth, the New Martyrs of Russia.  This blood has abundantly bathed the land of Russia, sanctifying and cleansing it of the madness of the godless and those who fight against God Himself.  And concerning the glorification of the Imperial family, Metropolitan Philaret continued…

The criminal murder of the Imperial Family was not merely an act of hatred and vengeance; it was not only an act of political retaliation – but it was principally a spiritual act aimed at destroying the Orthodoxy of the Russian people and replacing it with an unnatural and evil communist spirit.  That was the purpose of the criminal liquidation of the Tsar and his family!  The last of the tsars was murdered with his family precisely because he was the crowned representative and bearer of the lofty ideals of Orthodox statehood.  He was killed precisely because he was an Orthodox tsar, because of his Orthodoxy!

(Millar, Lubov. Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia. Frankfurt, Possev-Verlag, 1988.)