Nearly one hundred years ago, a single day saw the collapse of the greatness and glory of the Russian State, a bulwark of peace throughout the whole world. The signature of the Sovereign, the Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich, on the act of abdication from the Throne, is a historical boundary separating Russia’s great and glorious past from the dark and cruel circumstances that followed.
The entire weight of the Soviet regime’s evil and its reordering of life was aimed at honest, well-intentioned and devout people, and the whole nation wallowed in oppression and constant fear. Under Soviet oppression, people were afraid of their own thoughts, thoughts they have not expressed aloud; they were afraid that what they were thinking might be reflected in their facial expressions.
What happened that day, nearly one hundred years ago?
Apostasy from God’s Anointed, apostasy from an authority submissive to God, apostasy from the oath of fidelity to the Anointed Sovereign, given before God, and the giving over of him to death.
He who had devoted all his strength in God’s name to the service of Russia was deprived of authority, and then also of freedom.
For decades the dark forces of evil carried on a struggle against God’s Anointed, against the ruling authority faithful to God. These same forces also killed the Emperor Alexander II, the Tsar-Liberator.
This crime sobered the people, it shook the entire country, and that moral up-surge gave Emperor Alexander III, the Peacemaker, the opportunity to rule Russia with a strong arm.
Russia enjoyed two decades of peaceful life and development. Then a new conspiracy arose for the overthrow of the Royal Throne.
It was a conspiracy of Russia’s enemies.
Within Russia itself there was a struggle against her very essence, and, having destroyed the Throne, Russia’s enemies even obliterated her name.
Now the world can see the close connection between the Royal authority, faithful to God, and Russia. When the Tsar ceased to be – Russia ceased to be.
The struggle against the Tsar and Russia was carried out by concealed godlessness, which later revealed itself openly.
Such was the essence of the struggle against the Tsar and Russia, against the foundation of her life and historical development.
Such are the meaning and aim of that struggle, which perhaps not everyone realized – even including those who were its accomplices.
Everything filthy and paltry and sinful which could be found in the human soul was summoned against the Tsar and against Russia. All of this, with all its might, rose up in struggle against the Royal Crown, which was crowned by a cross, for Royal service is bearing of the Cross.
People always rise up against the Cross by means of slander and falsehood, doing the devil’s work, for, according to the word of the Lord Jesus Christ, When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of lies (St. John 8:44).
Everything was roused up against the most meek, pure and abundantly-loving Tsar, so that at the terrible hour of the struggle against him he would remain alone. Filthy slanders were spread before and against the Tsar and his family, so that the people would grow cold towards him.
Faithless allies took part in the conspiracy. When the Sovereign was in need of moral support, his closest associates did not provide it and violated their oath. Some took part in the conspiracy; others, out of weakness, counseled abdication. The Tsar remained completely alone, surrounded by “treachery, baseness and cowardice.”
From the day of the abdication, everything began to collapse. It could not have been otherwise. The one who united everything, who stood guard for the Truth, was overthrown. A sin was committed, and now sin had easy access. In vain do some wish to separate the February Revolution from the October Revolution, the one was direct consequence of the other.
In those March days, Pskov became the Tsar’s Gethsemane, and Ekaterinburg, his Golgotha. Tsar Nicholas died as a martyr, with unshakeable faith and patience, having drunk the cup of suffering to the dregs.
The sin against him and against Russia was perpetrated by all who in one way or another acted against him, who did not oppose, or who merely by sympathizing participated in those events which took place nearly one hundred years ago. This is a sin that only the true repentance of Russia can wash away.
In raising up prayers to Tsar Nicholas and the Royal Martyrs that they might pray for us, we pray also for the repose of the souls of Tsars Paul I and Alexander II, who were likewise slain in the month of March. And we pray for the forgiveness of the Russian people of the grave sin of betrayal and regicide. Woe to those who call evil good and good evil. Before us, before the Russian people, lies the path of resurgence-which is the path of consciousness of sin and repentance.
For the rebirth of Russia, all political and other programs of unification are in vain: what Russia needs is the moral renewal of the Russian people.
We must pray for the forgiveness of our sins and for mercy on all Russian people, and on all the faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church, both at home and abroad, just as the Lord God freed Israel from the Babylonian captivity and restored the ruined city of Jerusalem. It is only in true repentance that spiritual renewal can take place.
Fr. Seraphim Rose once prophesied: “What began in Russia will end in America.” Let us pray to God that he grant us a good repentance, and that we have the faith, the strength and the courage to withstand the Legions of Antichrist in our own day. The seeds of theomachism and revolution are sown deep in our Western psyche and in our Western heritage. Yet we must put our trust in Christ, and never fear, for Christ has already overcome the world.
O Holy Tsar Martyr Nicholas and all the Royal Martyrs of Russia, pray to God for us! And pray that God help us, have mercy on us, and grant us a good repentance.
Adapted from a sermon by St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco.