We often hear that Orthodoxy is contemplative
and inactive. I have long learned not to object emotionally, but to resemble
the biography of one of the most amazing saints.
In 1851, Ivan Sergiev, the son of a sexton from
the village of Sura, Pinezhsky district, came to enter the Theological Academy
of St. Petersburg. An entrant with such an origin was supposed to either
eventually get a monk's haircut, or get lost among the Russian parish clergy.
Four decades later, the name of Archpriest John,
the St.Andrew's Cathedral of Kronstadt, will become known to all of Russia,
from the poor to the Emperor Alexander III. He will receive letters and
telegrams asking for prayer help, in such quantity that a special post office
will be opened in Kronstadt. His book My Life in Christ, translated into
English, will be highly acclaimed by Empress Victoria. In Kronstadt, and later
in other cities of Russia, the Houses of Diligence will appear - social
complexes in which impoverished people will be able to eat, sleep and receive
professions that are in demand.
In June 1964, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
canonized Father John. In June 1990, Father John of Kronstadt was glorified by
the Russian Orthodox Church for general church veneration. In the outgoing
2020, we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of this event.
Saint, first of all, it is a prayer book. Holy
Father, as Father John was called during his lifetime, was a strong,
indefatigable prayer book. In the elementary grades of the theological school,
he was not given a literacy, and the boy's ardent night prayer helped to get
rid of dyslexia. So it was in Kronstadt: miraculous healings through the
prayers of Father John brought him nationwide fame. Saint Father was a sincere
prayer book and contemplator. Eighteen kilometers from his native Sura, on a
high mountain, he blessed the construction of the Trinity skete of the Sur
monastery, came to it every year and prayed in solitude, like other glorified
In addition, the character of the Holy Righteous
Father John of Kronstadt manifested qualities that are very important for all
of us: hard work, goal-setting, purposefulness and the ability to achieve
success. “Do not be afraid of the enormity of the deed, God will help a good
deed,” he said, over and over again justifying these words. The most obvious
miracle is his life: the future saint was born so sickly that he was
immediately baptized "for poor health." Being ordained, he served the
liturgy daily. In the evenings and nights, he walked around Kronstadt and
literally looked for someone else's misfortune, looked into houses, gave money,
could nurse the baby while his mother washes. I found time to teach at the
Kronstadt gymnasium - 25 years old, write books, answer letters, keep a diary.
Later, Father John would move from providing
targeted assistance to the disadvantaged to the creation of the Houses of
Diligence - a synthesis of a workers' artel and a charity shelter. The first
House, capable of providing accommodation, food and work for a thousand people,
appeared in Kronstadt, then they spread throughout Russia. It was necessary to
follow their work, convince sponsors - Houses of industriousness were not and
could not become self-sustaining. And Fr. John had enough time for that. By the
way, the Soviet "nursery", a kindergarten for kids, remembered by many,
first appeared in the Kronstadt House of Labor, in honor of the Bethlehem
nursery, where the Savior was born.
Perhaps precisely for his successes, long before
Leo Tolstoy's denunciations and harsh anti-revolutionary statements, Father
John of Kronstadt would become an unacceptable figure for the progressive
public, as a violator of unwritten laws. A righteous man with an ardent
character, with active love for his neighbor, according to these laws, is
obliged to experience oppression from the authorities, to get drunk, go crazy,
burn out, and, if he is a servant of the Church, go into the world. So it was
in the stories of Nikolai Leskov and Leonid Andreev. If not, then there is some
deception that should be exposed.
By the way, Father John experienced oppression
from the church authorities. This did not prevent him from serving the liturgy
every day, writing books that delighted the Queen of England and opening the
Houses of Industry.
The works of the Holy Righteous were continued.
Now all over the world, from Russia to Chile, from Germany to Pakistan, there
are churches, rehabilitation centers, orphanages in the name of John of
Kronstadt. Pastors of churches, leaders of charitable societies emphasize: it
would be impossible to take care of people with human strength, to maintain
buildings. Only with the name of Saint Father.
The life of Saint Righteous John of Kronstadt is
an example of real life success, in spite of one's health, external
circumstances and public opinion. Everyone who takes on a necessary and
difficult task must ask him for help. Our holy righteous Father John, pray to
God for us!