Extraordinary Epistle October 14/27 2001

Declaration of October 5/18 2001

Encyclical Epistle June 2001

Nativity Epistle 2000

Post-Conciliar Epistle 2000

Pre-Conciliar Epistle 2000

Lenten Epistles of 1999

General Epistle of 1999

Holy Transfiguration Skete Of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad Mansonville, Canada


In connection with the tragic developments in anti-ecclesiastical events during the last few days, I consider it my Archpastoral duty to declare that I categorically condemn the following actions of the current participants of the “Robber Council,” at which I refused to be present by reason of the non-repentance of those hierarchs who hastened to take a new course of rapprochement with a pseudo-church, the Moscow Patriarchate -- and eucharistic communion with ecumenists:

1. the illicit usurpation of church authority by hierarchs with an un-Orthodox frame of mind;

2. the unfounded and sinful accusations that I “support schismatics”; (I will not permit anyone to call faithful and dedicated pastors and members of the flock of our Holy Orthodox Church Abroad “schismatics” and “mutineers”);

3. restraining me under house-arrest, and setting a guard-watchman over me, with the knowledge and “blessing” of hierarchs who harbour evil intentions against me;

4. the violent and perfidious eviction of my personal secretary from the Synod House, which was kept secret from me i.e., de facto depriving of me of restorative-preventative care, which I particularly need, following the injury to my arm, the pain of which is becoming extremely onerous upon the cessastion of this treatment;

5. the unseemly and avaricious forcing of my signature onto a tally of the property put in my charge (and with an impermissibly raised and demanding tone [of voice], at that).

Desiring to avert the pernicious consequences of such uncanonical actions by an unrepentant “sobor,” which are directed at all forms of dialogue or unification with ecumenical or “world-orthodoxy,” so-called; seeing that the majority of hierarchs are loathe to pacify and calm the dismay, hitherto unknown, amongst our clergy and flock; and also taking into account the request by eminent and multitudinous sons and daughters of the Church Abroad, I hereby declare -- with complete accountability, and in accordance with Par. 34 of the ROCOR By-Laws that I do rescind my signature, concerning my willing retirement and the transfer of all my powers to Archbishop Lavr [Laurus]. My name must be commemorated, as before, at the Divine-Services in all the temples of the Russian Orthodox Church Aborad. In the event of unforeseen circumstances, I confer upon Bishop Varnava of Cannes the temporary shouldering of all the prerogatives of Deputy First-Hierarch of ROCOR until such time as a new First-Among-Bishops of the Church Abroad is elected by hierarchs who have remained faithful to the Orthodox Faith.

Again and again, I call to repentance those hierarchs who have faltered in the Faith, and all the faithful Archpastors, pastors and God-beloved sons and daughters of the true Church of Christ to stand unwavering in the Truth and to be of one mind and one heart [lit. “one soul”], united against the obdurate “sons of defiance,” and incessantly lifting up ardent prayers to our Lord Jesus Christ, beseeching His mercy and aid.

May the Lord God bless us all, through the prayers of His Most-pure Mother, the Most-holy Bogoroditsa, and may He help us by His grace to withstand falsehood, unfounded violence and Apostasy.

14/27 October 2001 ã.
Martyr Nazary Mansonville, Canada Metropolitan Vitaly {signature}

Russian Original

October 5/18, 2001

To the Council of Bishops
of the Russian Orthodox
Church Abroad

Of the First Hierarch, Metropolitan Vitaly

Recognizing the depth of the sinful fall of certain members of the Council of Bishops of our Church, with their intense, but not yet fully expressed desire to unite with the Moscow Patriarchate, I, acknowledging my full responsibility before God, the Russian Orthodox people, and my own conscience, consider it my archpastoral duty to proclaim that the Council of Bishops, which will open on October 23, 2001, can only be called an assembly of irresponsible individuals.

Doubtless this Council intends to discuss questions relating to possible unification with the false-church of the Moscow Patriarchate. A few days ago I received the "Fraternal Epistle" of Patriarch Alexius which, to my deep sorrow, elicited a joyful reaction from many clergy of our Church. They even sent an elated appeal to the Council, asking it to respond favorably to the Patriarch's letter. Their appeal was signed by more than eighteen clergymen of our Church. And how many more of them are there that are still afraid to reveal themselves? Seeing no other way out of the present situation and not wishing to bear responsibility for the final ruin of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, which has been entrusted to my care, I declare:

I consider myself the lawful successor of all the previous metropolitans of our holy Church Abroad: the first, Metropolitan Anthony; then Metropolitan Anastasius; and finally, Metropolitan Philaret. I am the fourth Metropolitan of our Russian Church Abroad and until now, with God's help, I have continued to guide this holy vessel on a straight course through the menacing waves of the sea of life, avoiding reefs and shoals, and the mighty whirlpools which threaten to drag ships into the abyss. Unfortunately, the fateful moment came when I understood and assessed the lamentable fact that between me and other hierarchs of our Synod oneness of mind and soul no longer exist. I told them this at the last meeting of the Synod. Soon after the beginning of the first session, I left the conclave disheartened when I fully realized my isolation from the other hierarchs. On the basis of this and this alone I consented to retire and and agreed to be considered the Metropolitan in retirement of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. In this Church I was born, baptized, and will die when the time comes.

Furthermore, I wish to proclaim for all the world to know that, as First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, I fully denounce and condemn any rapprochment whatsoever or future union with the false-church of the Moscow Patriarchate.

I also wish to declare that I remove my signature from the following documents which I signed:
1.) My signature on the appeal to Patriarch Paul of Serbia
2.) My signature endorsing the creation of a committee for establishing relations with the Moscow Patriarchate.

On the basis of the above, I summon all Orthodox archpastors, pastors, monastics, and faithful children of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad to close ranks in a single host to combat all the sinful acts of both the present Council and the Moscow Patriarchate.

I call down God's blessings on all Orthodox Russian people in the homelend and abroad who strive to follow in the path, firstly, of the holy Patriarch Tichon and, secondly, of my predecessors Metropolitan Anthony, Anastasius, and Philaret, who now enjoy a blessed repose.

Metropolitan Vitaly
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

Russian Original (PDF)

Encyclical Epistle from His Eminence Metropolitan Vitaly
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

Venerable Archpastors,
Beloved Fathers, Brothers and Sisters,

It is with the aim of preserving peace and unity among us that I address myself to you once again as the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. I believe that it is my duty to voice my opinion about the situation that has arisen since the meeting of the Council of Bishops which took place in October of 2000.

While I recognize the Council of Bishops as the supreme governing body of our Church, to which I, as the First Hierarch, am also subordinate, I wish to remind you that no Church authority can lay claim to infallibility in questions of the Truth. History is replete with examples of entire Local Churches being infected with heresies and other spiritual ailments for very long periods of time, and of this being reflected in conciliar decisions. In such cases subsequent councils had to revoke the incorrect decisions of preceding councils.

It is with great sadness that we now see the turmoil and temptation among our clergy and laity that have been caused by the Epistle and decisions of the Council of Bishops of the ROCA.

It is also with much regret that we have to admit that some of our brother bishops now have taken upon themselves to embark upon a new course for our Church and that this new course is at odds with the one which was handed down to us by our predecessors.

While I cannot by my own authority correct that which was done, neither can I further remain silent when I see how the consequences of our mistakes are disturbing the spiritual life of our flock and causing unrest. I find it imperative to convene a new Council as soon as possible which will have to critically assess the main decisions and documents which were adopted and which will have the legal right to annul some of our decisions.

After much consideration we have concluded that some of the decisions of our Council were mistaken – in particular those which reflected an attempt to come closer together with the world ecumenist community in general and to engage in unwarranted contacts with the Moscow Patriarchate in particular. This was reflected in the following documents and statements of the Council:

1. The so-called "Social Doctrine" of the Moscow Patriarchate is a purely Roman Catholic concept which is foreign to the Orthodox Church and which, regardless of its possibly well-meaning intentions, holds nothing profitable for the Orthodox Christian. This Doctrine does not reflect any repentance for the past mistakes and in no manner can it cross out the treacherous Declaration of 1927.

2. The "Glorification" of the Holy New Martyrs by the Moscow Patriarchate, which was undertaken in response to pressure from believing people, was accompanied by numerous humiliating disclaimers, which completely deny the eschatological significance of the slaying of the Tsar, and cannot be a cause of joy or consolation for us. We all know that the Holy Royal Martyrs suffered precisely because of their Royal ministry. Their slaying was a part of a wider plan intentionally directed towards destroying the divinely established Orthodox State. With its compromises and lies about the Royal Martyrs and with its refusal to recognize the spiritual feats of the Tsar’s servants, the Moscow Patriarchate deliberately draws its flock away from a correct spiritual understanding of the crime that was committed. The Moscow Patriarchate, which participated in the persecution of the confessors, now, without any repentance, glorifies them! It is impossible to qualify this in any other way than as "spiritual cynicism" – something which is completely unacceptable in the Church. We must also note that this same seal of deception lies upon the "glorification" of the New Martyrs, in which the Patriarchate shamefully ignored the martyrdom of Metropolitan Joseph of Petrograd.

3. We do not share the belief of some of our brothers about the "spiritual revival" which allegedly is taking place in Russia. According to the information we are receiving, what is happening in Russia is not a "spiritual revival" but only a "gliding of the cupolas" of the churches that, according to Saint Amvrosii of Optina, it will be impermissible to attend. In this context, we support, pray for and endeavor to strengthen spiritually those of our small communities that, regardless of the corrupt laws of the post-Soviet period and of the numerous difficulties they must face, remain steadfastly in our Church.

4. We must unequivocally admit that the establishment of a Commission "on unity" with the Moscow Patriarchate was a mistake on the part of the Council of Bishops. There can be no such Commission as there is no object for its work.

5. The Serbian Patriarchate received us as homeless exiles in 1920 while preserving our canonical status as the Russian Church in accordance with the 39th Apostolic Canon. For this we will always remain deeply thankful and in debt to her. But following the Second World War, the Church that continued to exist under the Communist rule of Tito could no longer be considered to be the same Church as the Church of his Holiness Patriarch Varnava that had offered sanctuary to the Russian exiles in the past. Her submission to the worldly rulers and her participation in the interfaith ecumenical movement do not allow us to ask for a eucharistic union with the Serbian Patriarchate headed by Patriarch Pavle.

It saddens us to recognize that in our times, when the processes of apostasy have reached new destructive heights, the Council’s Epistle did not call upon the faithful to triple their vigilance towards this apostasy. We are also pained to admit that recent new appointments to the sees of the Diocese of Western Europe and in Russia have resulted in so much distress and troubles.

Our pastors and our pious flock have always stood side by side with their bishops. This was the strength of the Russian Orthodox Church. Pastors are not simply called upon to implement of the orders of the higher Church authorities without personal responsibility, but they are in the first ranks of the servants of Christ and His children. They are not bureaucrats who can be directed only by orders and who can be held in submission with threats. They are servants of our Lord, as we all are. They are our life-force and we must protect them as the apple of our eye and never let them fall into despair and depart into schisms, lest we share with them the terrible responsibility for such a thing.

I, as the fourth primate of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, am following unswervingly in the footsteps of their Beatitudes Metropolitans Anthony and Anastassy and of my most blessed predecessor, Metropolitan Philaret, whoserelics were found to be incorrupt in 1998, which is a sign from above of the truthfulness of the path he followed all his life. I therefore appeal to you all to remain patient and to avoid any hasty conclusions or actions. We are living in difficult times. And the Enemy of our salvation is always ready to catch us in his nets. I therefore appeal once again to you "Fear not little flock (Luke 12:32) the Lord is with us! And if the Lord is with us, who shall be against us? Do not forget that the most terrible thing for us is to depart from the Truth – which is to say, from Christ Himself."

9 / 22 June 2001
Saint Kirill, Bishop of Antioch

+Metropolitan Vitaly
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

(I ask all priests to read this Epistle from the ambon. It would also be good to make copies to distribute among the parishioners)

Christmas Epistle
from Metropolitan Vitaly
First Hierarch
of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

Christ is Born, Glorify Him!

Each of the Great Orthodox Festivals contains within itself both its historical origins, and also, most importantly, the annual repetition of its Divine Grace together with all its inherent power.

The Almighty Lord Himself is born among us in miraculous fashion from the Ever-Virgin Mary with the human name of Jesus, and following the ancient custom another name is added, expressing the hopes of the parents as to what their child will become in life. In this case He was called the Christ, meaning "He who is anointed by God," sent by God for our eternal salvation. Many people then decided that He would be their Saviour from diseases, from disasters and grief. Not one person could have thought, other than the Mother of God Herself, that Her Son would be the Saviour from sin, from the eternal death of hell.

So now there is no other name upon earth besides that of Jesus Christ which man can call upon, and so be saved from eternal death. Each of us must try in his life to follow in the steps of our great teacher, the God-Man Jesus Christ, as far as his strength permits, and always only while seeking the help of His Divine Grace.

Metropolitan Vitaly
Nativity of Christ, 2001

English version in PDF Russian version in PDF

from Metropolitan Vitaly
First Hierarch
of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

Beloved brothers and sisters

Now that the meeting of the Bishops' Council, or Sobor, is over, I consider it my duty, as First Hierarch of the Holy Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, to assure all of you that our Church, which has followed along the straight path of Christ these 80 years, will not turn aside into any dubious byways. On the other hand, we cannot be indifferent and silent as regards questions affecting what is happening on the spiritual level in Russia.

The Moscow Patriarchate has now glorified the Royal Martyrs, whom we have glorified long ago, and we have sent thousands of icons of them throughout the whole of Russia. In this way the whole of Russia became aware of the activities of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. Now many people cannot help wondering why the Moscow Patriarchate did not simply recognize our glorification and adopt it for itself. The answer is very simple. To recognize our glorification would mean recognizing our Church Abroad as a lawful Church which had left the borders of the fatherland and existed these 80 years beyond the borders of Russia, with the blessing of the last lawful Patriarch of Russia, Patriarch Tikhon. This is something which the Moscow Patriarchate to this very day cannot and will not do. Meanwhile believers in Russia demand a glorification. So the Moscow Patriarchate decided to perform an act of political machination and undertake its own glorification, with the sole aim of quietening the voice of its believers and thereby managing to prolong its own existence. In other words, the Moscow Patriarchate, which is the direct heir of the Soviet executioners, arrayed in the fleece of an innocent sheep put on over its wolf's hide, is now glorifying the murdered and tormented victims of its own communist leaders. Before that, for years the Moscow Patriarchate was in full concord with the Bolsheviks and the rulers in the USSR who exterminated hundreds of thousands of believers. Despite this it was clear that the Russian people could not be torn away from the Church of Christ. That Pascha would always remain the peoples' greatest festivity. That red easter eggs, kulich and cheese-pascha would adorn everyone's table at Easter time and even the state bakeries would sell the special Easter kulich while calling it sweetened bread. Seeing all this, Stalin was brought to a state of wild fury and said, "Obviously we can't turn all Russians into Bolsheviks; so we and only we will give them a Patriarch, as well as all the reverend clergy they need, and we'll open churches, which we will sell to them and increase taxes the whole time until they have no more means to exist."

The silent answer of believers in Russia to this was that they started to pray in their homes, and in each such apartment they made a house church with an iconostas and icons and even made their own incense using the resin from pine trees and drops of rose oil. Churches like this exist up to the present day. Despite the wonderful church buildings of the Patriarchate, the sumptuously arrayed clergy and splendid choirs, many believers prefer the crowded conditions of these apartments. Even at Pascha, when the processions are taking place in the official churches to the resounding peals of bells, there are people in apartment buildings, in corridors, quietly going in single file with candles in their hands, and singing in a whisper "Christ is Risen!" You cannot but ask yourself, "Who are these people?" They are believers who, while living in Russia alongside all the others, understand and feel precisely what the Moscow Patriarchate is, and what is its purpose and direction. These very people look to us, seeking our protection and understanding. Up to this day they have received this from us and I want to assure all the children of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia that nothing has changed. As we have continued fearlessly on our path these 80 years, so we shall continue further. Our path is a very lonely one, because we stand for the Truth, but fear not, little flock, the Lord is with us! And if the Lord be with us, who shall be against us?

Now I want to return to the questions which are so disturbing to many of you. Firstly I want to express my profound gratitude to all of you for your trust and love towards me, and in order to reassure you I want to explain the following. The Epistle from the Council of Bishops, in accordance with the laws governing a Council - an Assembly, or Sobor (since the very word "Sobor" means a common decision) must be signed by all. If any of the bishops has his own personal opinion, he has the right to express it separately in writing. The fact that I signed the Epistle is far from meaning that I am in agreement with each and every statement in it and I know that there are other bishops who thought as I do, but to compose an Epistle with which all would be completely satisfied is virtually impossible.

There is one further point which is of great concern to many of you. This is the establishment of a Synodal Committee to discuss questions of the unity of the Russian Church. I myself questioned what unity could be under consideration, when it should be quite clear to all that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, which has preserved its spiritual freedom these 80 years, will never proceed to unite with the Moscow Patriarchate.

And so, faithful children of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, know that our Church has not betrayed its path and that we also, if we desire our salvation, must follow her path. There will be many trials and temptations, but remain as always faithful to the Lord and His Church, and do not forget that the most terrible thing for us is to depart from the Truth - which is to say, from Christ Himself.

Metropolitan Vitaly
Feast of the Presentation of the
Mother of God in the Temple
21 November / 4 December, 2000

PDF version in Russian

PDF version in English


Metropolitan Vitaly issued an epistle on 1/14 August 2000. It is called a "Pre-Conciliar Epistle" by reference to the meeting of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad which is planned to begin on 18th October 2000.

Russian text in HTML For printing and further distrubution we are making availible this Epistle in PDF format in an English version and a Russian version.
(Please allow about 30 seconds for the Russian PDF text to download along with the fonts)

Synodal Council Chamber

Pre-Conciliar Epistle from the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
Metropolitan Vitaly
To all the Most Reverend Bishops, the clergy of all ranks, and pious laypeople

By the mercy of God our Church has already lived for eighty years beyond the borders of Russia, with our episcopate, clergy and laypeople being dispersed throughout the whole world. Our dioceses with their churches and parishioners exist in every country of the free world. Proper ecclesiastical order reigns everywhere, manifested in the regular prayerful life of our Divine Services. That most lawful Patriarch of Russia, Tikhon, who was lawfully and freely elected to this highest office in the hierarchy of Russia, blessed all of us who left the borders of our fatherland and gave a directive (No. 362) on the basis of which a new Church administration was established outside Russia. Patriarch Tikhon himself, for his disobedience to the Communist Party at that time, was condemned to die a martyr's death. Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky became the first leader of this Church. He was succeeded by Metropolitan Anastassy and then by Metropolitan Philaret, and now I, Metropolitan Vitaly, despite my unworthiness, am the fourth Metropolitan. Thus the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia possesses a canonical Apostolic succession or, to put it more simply, the Divine Grace of the Holy Spirit, flowing throughout the centuries from Our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and the Holy Apostles, to our own hierarchy; and this will continue until this world ends with the dread Second Coming of the Great Judge, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

In order to live this short earthly life of ours correctly and righteously, we must be in the True Church of Christ. Here and here alone are imparted to all of us the Divine Grace of the Holy Spirit through the Holy Sacraments - Baptism, Chrismation, Repentance, and Communion of the Holy Body and Blood of our very Saviour, Jesus Christ. And to the true Church of Christ it was promised by her Saviour Himself that she would be invincible and indestructible to the very last day of the existence of the earth and of the whole human race.

We must ourselves understand, and also declare for all to hear, that since1927, when Metropolitan Sergius signed his lamentable "declaration," and up to the present day, our Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia has not had and does not have any communion in prayer with the Moscow Patriachate, which is nothing other than the uncanonical creation of the former Soviet regime. By the same token we do not have spiritual communion with a single other autocephalous Orthodox Church which lives its spiritual and liturgical life according to the new calendar. What liturgical communion can we have, when we are still fasting, but they are celebrating the Nativity of Christ by the new calendar? According to our calendar we are praying to one saint, while the new calendarists in their way are praying to a completely different saint. In other words, any kind of communion has been destroyed, both in prayer and also even in the sacraments.

And so I, as First Hierarch, am calling upon all of you to remain forever faithful to our Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and not to be confused by those appeals which we are all hearing more and more often that we should unite and concelebrate with others in the name of a loudly proclaimed "brotherly love." Where is our "brotherly love" when we are living, in that which is most important to us - our Divine Services - according to different calendars, and living a different spiritual life? Let us ponder the meaning of that most important phrase "Divine Service," which is to say, "serving God" and then we will understand that in fact we are serving God Himself in different ways.

Throughout the eighty years of the existence of our Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia we have not made one step into any dubious spiritual byways. No doubtful "teachings" or errors have come from our Church and our "Credo" - "I believe in One God ..." - which is sung at each Divine Liturgy, remains our unsullied faith, by which we live, and through which we dare to hope to share in the "life of the age to come." Amen.

Metropolitan Vitaly
1/14 August, 2000


The Throne of The First Hierarch of The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

The 1999 Lenten Epistles
of Metropolitan Vitaly

Beloved children of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia...

The Great Fast is great not because of its length - it is more than 40 days if we include Holy Week - but because during this time we are preparing to meet Holy Pascha. To meet Pascha worthily it is absolutely essential to fast. In this respect our struggle has become very feeble. There are very few people in the Russian Church Abroad who observe the fast periods and fast days, such as Wednesday and Friday, appointed by the Church. But this is so important. During the Great Lent even people who are the most inveterate, indifferent and cold towards Orthodoxy begin to think about fasting. These people who have grown cold towards the Truth make some kind of struggle at this time, even if it is only during Holy Week.

Without fasting there is no prayer. Fasting does not just mean going hungry. Be sure to remember that! I repeat, it is not a question of going hungry, but of self-restraint, or abstinence. This means abstinence not just in what we eat, but in all our senses, all the manifestations of our souls, our hearts and our minds. And so, in preparing for Pascha, we must fast - fast in the way the Church prescribes for us. Without fasting there will be no pure and sincere prayer.

So, beloved brothers and sisters, let us prepare ourselves for this Great Fast. Let us try to make use of the time so as to greet Pascha worthily. Pascha will enter our souls in such measure as we cleanse our souls through fasting. This is why people who have fasted experience Pascha in all its profundity and beauty. "Even the sun dances at Pascha!" - so speaks the voice of faith in the Russian people.

Pascha and the Great Fast are inseparable, indivisible. We all know that love is the supreme virtue of all virtues; but we expend and lavish this virtue on ourselves by indulging ourselves in everything. So fasting is in its essence an expression of non-indulgence towards ourselves, a certain denial of love towards ourselves. In this way God's gift of love is conserved and we are able to love our neighbour and the Lord Himself.

This is precisely the kind of Fast to which I am calling you, so that you can experience Pascha as it should be experienced, for Pascha will enter our souls in such measure as we, through our Lenten struggle, prepare this holy place for it.


Metropolitan Vitaly
16/29 January 1999

Epistle in the last days of Lent and Holy Week, 1999

Dear in the Lord children of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia,

The Great Fast is drawing to a close, and the best proof we can have that we have passed these holy days in a way pleasing to God is that our souls are visited by a certain holy sadness. I call this sadness holy because the great Fast has bestowed peace of soul upon us. We are often not well aware of this and do not always even feel it, but during Great Lent we become very peaceful, very calm, and hardly anything disturbs us. This is why we are visited by this holy sadness when the Great Fast comes to an end. We are about to enter into a completely different period of the year, one which is very joyful - the pre-Paschal and Paschal period - but at the same time we are now leaving this time of profound peace of soul, of calmness, which the Great Fast has given us.

Everything has its own time. There is holy sadness. There is also lawful holy rejoicing. Rejoicing is brought by the last week of fasting, Holy Week, when each day is a special day. Make every effort to attend the daily services held at this time. They are full of the most profound meaning and the Grace-filled power of the Holy Spirit. Each day of Holy Week is replete with meaning and is so profound, that anyone who attends the daily services of Holy Week will not only understand the depths of Orthodoxy, but he will become a truly Orthodox person. We can even call such a man a theologian in the fullest, most profound sense of this word, because it is as if he had graduated from the highest classes of theological learning. He, as it were, grows in to Orthodoxy. Therefore attending the services of Holy Week is something which, spiritually, is an absolute necessity for us.

In these days of especially intense fasting we are preparing our souls to receive Holy Pascha. And Pascha is not just a feast day, but, while we are yet here on earth, it gives us the ability to feel the Grace of the Kingdom of God, to each in the measure of his own strength. The better we have fasted, the better we will understand it, and then almost feel that we are not standing on the ground, but in the air. Here we can always remember St. Mary of Egypt, when St. Zossima asked her to pray, and, lifting up his head, he saw her standing in the air with her hands raised up towards heaven.

God grant us, in even a small degree, to attain to this state during Great Lent and, most importantly, at Pascha. Then we will feel ourselves separated from the earth and from all its cares and we will feel the endless, limitless rejoicing of being in the Heavenly Kingdom. Amen.

Metropolitan Vitaly


Metropolitan Vitaly delivering a sermon in Mansonville, Quebec.

Next to him is Bishop Michael of Toronto

Giving a talk in Atlanta, Georgia
In Edmonton greeting the people after a talk.

General Epistle of 1999

The life on earth of each human being is given to him by God. This life is very short, even when it lasts one hundred years or more. Death only touches one's body, which decomposes and with time becomes dust; but even this body will be resurrected by the power of Allmighty God during the general Resurrection of the dead. Therefore, every human being, as we see him every day, is, in his essence, immortal, eternal. Nobody should marvel at this, because the Holy Scriptures say that God has created man in His image and likeness, i.e. to be eternal. This is why we glorify the Lord by singing "'Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal have mercy on us ". The Prophet King David, in his psalm, addressing us, says: "ye are gods".

All the above indicates that our short earthly life will determine the state of our eternal life. Our death is the beginning of our eternity, good or bad. Therefore, this short earthly life should be lived in the right way, i.e. we must think righteous thoughts, we must have righteous feelings, and we must lead a righteous life. We could call our earthly life a "temporary time", and time itself remains a mystery for us, because it is not "yesterday", not "today" nor "tomorrow", but rather "forever". The Lord is Love Itself; therefore, when He calls us to eternity, it is at the right moment of our earthly life, so that we will blessedly live forever.

The All-Powerful God, Jesus Christ, became Man, so that there would be Someone to Whom we could come nearer, Whom we could imitate, Whom we could follow. We are human; of this, there is no doubt whatsoever, but our main goal in this life is our deification; with God's help we should come nearer and nearer to the only Holy God-Man, our Lord Jesus Christ: only this makes our salvation possible.


+ Metropolitan Vitaly


On a visit to a parishoner's house
Alberta, Canada.

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