By St. Justin (Popovich).
The Most Blessed Metropolitan
If anyone in this world always lived in unity with all the saints (Hb.3:i8), it was assuredly this Most Blessed Metropolitan. He was always in holy "community" which is nourished by prayer, love and faith. This is his sacred amity in which, with pious, tireless sensitivity and prayerfulness, he associated with the holy fathers, contemplating them, speaking from them. He belonged to them with his whole soul and whole heart; it was with their eyes that he gazed upon this world. In unity with them, he lived in this world and thus he was mighty in the patristic faith, in deeds, in life itself. And now he is with them and amongst them. There can be no doubt that his soul now joyously makes prostrations before St. Chrysostom, St. Basil, before St. Gregory and the rest of the hierarch-saints. He makes such prostrations while praying for all of us, his children.
A martyr — by his death he joined the martyrs. Was he not a martyr? He who burdened himself with severe moral struggle? Yet in the dawn of his monasticism he tormented himself with Christ's suffering, day and night placing upon himself the labours of fasting, prayer, tears, meekness, almsgiving, love, love of one's neighbor, love of God. Truly a martyr, for he exhausted his body and subjected his soul to ascetic labours, restraining from everything worldly to attain the wondrous kingdom of his Lord Tesus Christ.
A confessor –by his death he joined the confessor . Seldom in our age haw anyone proclaimed the Gospel truth with such fearless confession. His divinely wise voice rang out not only in the vastness of
Unmercenary — through death he united with the holy unmercenaries. For, who was so generous as he? Who else was as tenderly merciful? Who, if not he, was so evangelical a co- sufferer? Truly, seldom has anyone so decisively, so sincerely and so firmly come to love poverty for Christ's sake. All that he had belonged to everyone. I am certain that after his death he left no money and no possessions aside from some books and a donated cassock. Unmercenary, he fed the spiritually hungry as well as their bodies. No one who ever spent a few moments with him left without being consoled, inspired, reassured. From him a stream of grace flowed unseen into the souls of those who conversed with him. Whether he spoke, or kept silent, or smiled upon us, he miraculously acted upon us, and often he stirred up a trembling in your entire being.
An ascetic — through death he united with the holy ascetics. Together with the holy ascetics he perceived and understood Christianity as a moral struggle, a struggle by which a person is transformed into an eternal, deified being. Our the Most Blessed Abba Antony was a leader and guide for us. There is nothing lifeless, nothing scholastic in his perception and understanding of Christianity, while all round, in rationalistic and scholastic
the Gospel on earth is, at the same time, the most prayerful. This is so because he is sensitive to the measureless tragedy of life, which arises from that sinfulness and evil which have arisen in this world.
An evangelical person is aware with his whole being that only the Almighty Lord can destroy wickedness and the devil from among mankind. In the evangelical soul of our blessed metropolitan, every person called forth prayer from his heart. He treated everything prayerfully. Thousands and millions of human beings perish in the sea of life, being tossed about by the storms of evil. How could this visionary metropolitan not cry out with unceasing prayer and not call for the help the One Who alone can save us from the evil- one, from sin? A true Christian inevitably is a true praying person. If he has any kind of a calling, then here is his calling both in this world and the one that is to come.
And what now? Now, over our sorrowful world, there is yet another martyr amongst the holy martyrs. Yet another unmercenary amongst the holy unmercenaries, yet another ascetic amongst the holy ascetics, yet another one of holy prayer amongst the holy-ones of prayer. And this means that there has increased the number of eternally vigilant and untiring holy ones praying for our bitter world. Thus our grief over the departure of our Most Blessed Metropolitan Antony turns into joy, for now he will love us even more strongly, even more will he help us, even more sincerely will he support us on the Gospel path, even more penetratingly will he lead us through the darkness of this world into the azure splendor of the Saviour s wondrous eternity.
O Lord All-Merciful, have mercy on us by the prayers of our father, Blessed Metropolitan Antony.
ORTHODOX HERITAGE JULY AUGUST 2009