WARNING

NOT EVERYTHING THAT

CALLS ITSELF ORTHODOX IS

TRULY ORTHODOX


The above warning was given to me when I first met Orthodoxy in 1986. Today [2009] it is even more perilous, even more difficult to find the Royal Path. For one thing there is a far greater abundance of misinformation. And many materials are missing, and other materials are being rapidly rewritten. For another thing there are fewer than ever guides remaining on the Royal Path, especially who speak English. Hopefully this website will be a place where Newcomers to the Faith can keep at least one foot on solid ground, while they are "exploring."


blog owner: Joanna Higginbotham

joannahigginbotham@gmail.com

jurisdiction: ROCA under Vladyka Agafangel

who did not submit to the RocorMP union in 2007

DISCLAIMER



09 June 2010

About Fr. Michael Pomazansky

About Fr. Michael Pomazansky
Author of Orthodox Dogmatic Theology
-from 2nd edition, 3rd printing 1997
-translated and edited by Fr. Seraphim Rose

Dedicated to all those who have the desire and the determination to follow
the Royal Path

About the Author 
of
Orthodox Dogmatic Theology
by
Fr. Seraphim Rose


Theology In The Ancient Tradition

I.  Follower of the Royal Path
Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky is unique among contemporary Orthodox theologians.  At over 90 years of age [as of 1979] he is surely the oldest of those still writing theological articles; but more important, he received his theological formation not in any of the theological academies of the present day, all of which reflect to some degree the theological uncertainties and divisions of today's Orthodoxy, but in the pre-Revolutionary academies of Russia, when Orthodoxy was still rooted in the age-old theological tradition, and did not suffer from the "identity crisis" that plagues so much of Orthodox theological literature today.

Some Orthodox writers today seem to have so little awareness of the distinctiveness or Orthodoxy that they lead people into the false opinion that Orthodoxy is scarcely different from Western confessions at all, and if only a few more "joint theological committees" will work out a few more "agreed statements" about the faith, we can all be one again and even share the same Holy Mysteries; this is the aim of the various societies and activities of the "ecumenical movement."

The reaction to this movement,  on the other hand, even when it goes under the name of a "patristic revival,"  sometimes it produces a definition of Orthodoxy so narrow that it proclaims all but a small group of today's Orthodox to be without grace, or breaks off contact with its own Orthodox roots by declaring that only today are a few Orthodox theologians becoming free of the "Western captivity" [dominance by Roman Catholic or Protestant ideas] in which Orthodoxy has supposedly been held in recent centuries.

Both  of these extremes are perilously close to losing their identity as Orthodox.  Perhaps the crucial test for the extremists of either side is that of continuity:  Are they teaching the same teaching they received from their own fathers in the faith, who in turn received it from their Fathers, and so on in an unbroken line with the past?  More often than not, the extremists will have to admit that -- no, they themselves are correcting the mistakes of their fathers, that 19th century theology [for example] is too narrow and anti-Western or [in the opposite extreme] too scholastic and pro-Western; that some respected Orthodox theologians of earlier centuries are "out of date" and inapplicable to today's "ecumenical" Christianity, or [in the opposite extreme] are Westernizers who didn't understand the real Orthodox teaching" and should be rejected as Orthodox authorities.

Meanwhile, the genuine Orthodox tradition continues as it has always been trying to preserve its integrity in the midst of these conflicting currents.  Fortunately, this tradition has a way -- with the help of God, Who looks after His Church --- of preserving itself from the extremes that often try to deflect it from its course.  This self-preservation and self-continuity of the Orthodox tradition is not something that requires the assistance of "brilliant theologians;" it is the result  of the uninterrupted "catholic consciousness" of the Church which has guided the Church from the beginning of its existence.  It is this catholic consciousness which preserved the wholeness of Russian Orthodoxy in the 1920's when the extreme reforms of the "Living Church" seemed to have taken possession of the Church and many of its leading hierarchs and theologians; this same catholic consciousness is at work today and will continue to reserve Christ's Church through all the trials of the present day, just as it has for nearly 2000 years.  Those who speak for it are often not the "brilliant theologians," who can be led astray as easily as anyone else, but more often humble laborers in Christ's vineyard who would be surprised and even offended that anyone should make anything of their labors or even call them "theologians".

One of such humble laborers in the Russian Church today is Father Michael Pomazansky.

II. Biographical Data
Father Michael Pomazansky was born on November 7/19/1888, in the town of Koryst in the province of Volhynia in the west of Russia.  His father's family had been parish priests for generations, and the simple impressions from the churchly way of life of his childhood set their seal on Fr. Michael's whole life, influencing him more -- as he himself said -- than all the theological schools he attended.

Fr. Michael's years of attending the theological preparatory school and seminary [1901-1908] coincided with the Russo-Japanese War and the first Russian Revolution of 1905, which threatened the end of the Orthodox way of life in Russia, but also made evident the need for faithfulness to Orthodox tradition in those who, like Fr. Michael, were church oriented.  During these same years a great hierarch of the Russian Church was transfered to the diocese of Volhynia -- Bishop [later Metropolitan] Anthony Khrapovitsky, a highly educated churchman, a flaming preacher, a devoted son of the Church and an ardent Russian patriot, but at the same time an enemy of mere routine and "taking for granted" in church life, a man of warm heart who had an especially close contact with and influence on young people, and especially future monks and clergy.  Bishop Anthony had a great influence on the soul of the young student Michael.

Fr. Michael entered the Kiev Theological Academy in 1908, graduating from it is 1912.  The Kiev Academy had long been a center for the defense of Orthodoxy in Western Russia, especially against the Latins, and had produced five Metropolitans who were numbered among the saints.  The emphasis in the Academy in Fr. Michael's time was on solid theological and historical knowledge, and none of the professors was noted for special eloquence or "popularity."  Fr. Michael's dissertation was on a technical historical subject:  "Particularities of the Divine Services in the Church of Western Russia According to Printed Service Books of the 17th Century."  Here he was able to study in detail the question of "Western influences" in the Russian Church.

After graduation, Fr. Michael spent two years in the south of Russia as a missionary among the sects that flourished there; this experience made him for life a zealous student of the New Testament which the sectarians distorted for their own ends, but which rightly understood contains the profound teaching of the Orthodox Church.  In 1914 he was appointed an instructor in the Kaluga seminary not too far from Moscow.  Here he remained for three years, until the outbreak of the Revolution.  With the closing of the seminary at that time, he returned with his small family to his homeland in the south; ha had married the daughter of a priest, Vera Theodorovna Shumskaya, and had several children.

By an agreement between the Polish and Soviet governments, Fr. Michael's native village fell within the boundaries of Poland [only ten miles from the Soviet border].   Fr. Michael received a teaching position in a Russian high school in Rovno, where he taught Russian language and literature, philosophy and Latin.  In this position he was able to send his children through high school, and once his responsibility was discharged he was able to receive ordination to the priesthood in 1936.

His first assignment as a priest was to the Warsaw cathedral of St. Mary Magdalen, where he served as a diocesan missionary; and when the main church in this cathedral was given over to Ukrainian services, he went with other clergy to the lower church, where Slavonic services were continued.  Near the end of the Second Wold War [1944], he was also to go with his family to Germany, where he entered the clergy of the Russian Church Outside of Russia under Metropolitan Anastassy.

While in Warsaw, Michael was the unofficial editor of the church newspaper, The Word, and after its closure he was official editor of the magazine Sunday Reading.  In these years [1936-1944] he also published articles in the Messenger of Orthodox Theologians in Poland.

In Germany he was entrusted with the organization of the official organ of the Russian Church Abroad, Church Life; he was in charge of this from 1947 until his departure for America in August, 1949.  Since that time he has lived at Holy Trinity Monastery at Jordanville, New York, teaching in the seminary there for many years, from the very beginning of its existence in 1950, and writing numerous articles for the monastery's periodicals, in addition to his major work Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, which for long has been the seminary's textbook for its course in dogmatic theology. [Fr. Michael reposed in 1989]

Fr. Michael's writings have been on various church subjects:  apologetics, defenses of the faith against modern errors 'Bulgakov's "Sophiology," the "ecumenic movement,"  "renovationism" in liturgical theology, etc.], on various feast days and church services, on aspects of the teachings of the Holy Fathers [in particular, two enlightening comparisons of ancient Fathers with St. John of Kronstadt:  St. Basil on the Six Days of Creation, and St. Symeon the New theologian on grace], and many other subjects.

III.  Teacher of the Royal Path 
Especially helpful to present-day Orthodox Christians who are surrounded by the non-Orthodox are his careful distinctions [especially in Orthodox Dogmatic Theology] between Orthodox beliefs and those of  Roman-Catholicism and Protestantism, even on some points which may seem outwardly identical.  This he does without any tone of irritation against the non-Orthodox -- something so common in polemic writings today --but, always after describing their views with fairness, he sets forth the Orthodox teaching in an objective manner that helps Orthodox Christians to understand their own faith much better.

In all his writings, Fr. Michael is not trying to discover anything "new" in Orthodox tradition, or to stand out for the sharpness of his criticisms -- common faults in today's academic theology.  Rather, he attempts to give only his own humble, serene reflections on the wealth of Orthodox teaching which he accepts as already established and experienced by centuries of theologians and simple Christians before him.  Even when, for the sake of truth, he does find it necessary to criticize a view, whether inside or outside the Orthodox Church, he does it with such gentleness and good intention that it is impossible for anyone to be offended by him.

Most of all, in Fr. Michael's writings one may see a characteristic of genuine Orthodox theology that is so often lost sight of in our cold, rationalistic age.  Theology is not primarily a matter or arguments, criticisms, proofs and disproofs; it is first of all men's word about God, in accordance with the Divinely-revealed teaching of Orthodoxy.  Therefore, its first purpose and intent is always to inspire, to warm the heart, to lift one above petty preoccupations of earth in order to glimpse the Divine beginning and end of all things and so to give one the energy and encouragement to struggle towards God and our heavenly homeland.  This is certainly the meaning and spirit of the theology of Orthodoxy's three pre-eminent "theologians":  St. John the Evangelist, St. Gregory Nazianzen, and St. Symeon the New Theologian; they one may, have set the tone for Orthodox theology, and this remains the tone and the task of theology even in our coldhearted analytic age.

Father Michael's theology is in this warm-hearted and inspiring tone. He is not the only one to write Orthodox theology with this intent today, but he is one of the few, in an older generation that is fast vanishing, who can serve as a link between us and the genuine theology of the Holy Fathers.  Fr. Michael himself would be offended to hear such words, or even to discover that we have written this much about him; but that itself is only another sign that he is someone totally penetrated with the true spirit of Orthodox theology.  May the younger generations learn from him!
Hieromonk Seraphim Rose



Author's Preface
to the
English Translation
of
Orthodox Dogmatic Theology

In the Church of Christ Truth is one, as indeed it should be.  Historically it is one, common to all the Church's faithful, and unchanging; it has been such from the great day of the Apostolic Pentecost, when the New Testament Church received its beginning, and after that for the course of two thousand years until our time, and it will remain such until the end of time.  This attribute of the Church is splendidly expressed in the church hymn -- the kontakion -- for the commemoration of the First Ecumenical Colunncil at Nicea, which we celebrate on the Sunday before the solemn day of Holy Pentecost. Here are the words of this church hymn:
The preaching of the Apostles and dogmas of the Fathers have sealed the one faith of the Church.  And wearing the garment of truth, woven of the theology from above, she rightly dispenses and glorifies the great mystery of piety.
Thus, the great mystery of Christian piety, that is, life in Christ, is built on an unchanging unity of faith in the one Truth.  Arbitrary attempts to introduce into our faith anything new -- even though they do occur, sometimes from the naive desire of private individuals to attract attention to the faith by this means, or to put freshness into church life -- are decisively rejected by the Orthodox Church.

The present book -- an exposition of Christian dogmas -- has for its subject what the Holy Apostles teach us in their epistles, what the great Holy Fathers kept in its power and authenticity in their self-sacrificing ministry against various heretical attacks [Sts. Athanasius the Great, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom], what the Church has preserved, guarded, defended, and confessed unaltered in our days.   There is no Orthodox theology that is in any particular way "Russian" or that belongs to any other nation, as is sometimes supposed by superficial observers.  By human nature "imperfection" is something that belongs to each of us and to everything we do.

However, since faith is active in life and is a living thing, the circumstances of various epochs cause dogmatic expositions to devote special attention to those points of faith which in that epoch it is desirable, profitable, important to make firm in the consciousness of readers.  Thus, in the present exposition of Orthodox theology a special place is alloted to the truoly close and inseparable bond between the Church on earth and the Heavenly Church -- our spiritual communion in the Church with "the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven" [Heb.12:22-23].  Here is to be found the authentic pleroma -- the fullness, the catholicity of the Church.  Special attention has been directed in the book to this attribute of the Church.  this truth has been forgotten, ignored, or completely rejected in the great part of what is called Christianity.

The fullness of actual life in the Church on earth is manifested in three aspects:
     [a] confession of faith
     [b] moral life
     [c] the Divine services
Therefore, each Christian is called:
     [a] to believe
     [b] to live and act according to faith and prayer
     [c] to glorify God and to pray
Although dogmatic theology occupies itself only with the one aspect of confession of faith, still it is from faith that the second and third aspects come -- life according to faith and prayer.  And so the present book is called to indicate likewise the principles on which are erected the Christian moral life and the Christian life bound up with the Divine services.

The present exposition of faith attempts to fulfill this obligation:   [a] it indicates what kind of moral life is directly dictated by the exploit of Christ on the Cross. This path is our personal struggle in the name of the Cross of the Lord.  The always expressive visible banner of the Cross serves for our gaze as a constant reminder of this.  The very concept of the spiritual Cross contains in itself not only the various forms of personal struggle, but also the involuntary sorrows of life which are accepted in humility before the Providence of God.

Finally, [b] the book indicates what forms and kinds of our prayer and glorification proceed from the fullness of our beliefs.  The general character of our worship of God is dictated by the words of the Psalm "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name" [Ps.102].  "All that is within me" means all the capacities of the soul.  Therefore, it is perfectly natural for them to be manifested to our holy feelings in various forms of noble human activity, the talents given us by God.  We call on nature itself to join us in the Church's glorification.

Such is the aim of the content of the present book.
Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky 
June 1981

Fr. Michael reposed Oct. 22/Nov. 4, 1988
A short biography is found here:
http://www.roca.org/OA/87/87h.htm


Orthodox America

  Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky


Theologian, Teacher, Pastor
+ October 22/November 4, 1988
      A gentle light of our Church has gone Fr Michael Pomazansky. Meek, benevolent, wise, full of love--he was not extinguished, he went away. He went there where there is neither sickness nor sot row, nor sighing, but life everlasting.
       Each righteous person has some distinguishing virtue. Fr. Michael was characterized by a bound less humility. A protopresbyter, a well-known theologian of our Church, a gifted instructor, the author of many articles, four books and a textbook on dogmatics, the last remaining graduate of the Russian Theological Academy abroad, Fr. Michael lived oblivious to all this. Fulfilling all that was required of him in accordance with the Gospel, he always considered himself to be "an unprofitable servant."
      Humility came to be a virtue natural to him, although it was doubtless acquired through no small effort. It is very difficult for many people to humble themselves, while for Fr. Michael it was painfully difficult to be in authority, to tell people what to do. The acquisition of profound humility was the fruit of Fr. Michael's whole life, whose roots went deep into the good soil in which he was born and grew up. 
    Fr. Michael was born November 7, 1888, on the eve of the Feast of Archangel Michael, in the jubilee year of the 900th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus', in the village of Korist, in the province of Volhynia. His parents came from a long line of clergy. His father, Archpriest Ioann Pomazansky was the son of a priest, Ioann Ambrosievich, who in turn was likewise the son of a priest; in the records of the graduates of the Kiev Theological Academy, Fr. Michael found a relative who hailed from the time of the Napoleonic War of 1812. Fr. Michael's mother, Vera Grigorievna, borb Kachin, was the daughter of a protodeacon in the city of Zhitomir who later became a parish priest. Fr. Michael's childhood was spent in the simple village milieu. A priest in those days served his parishioners both as a judge, as a doctor, as a spiritual father and as a counselor. His grandfather was respected by his parishioners, who also feared his strictness: young men wouldn't walk in a crowd down the street singing worldly songs; and older men...if he saw someone with a pipe-better hide or put the pipe in a pocket, even if it burned a hole... "Even so, grandfather already sensed the breakdown of morality and the whole way of life, and he was often heard to say, as if without any reason, 'Something's going to happen, some thing's going to happen,' i.e., something dreadful awaited us ahead."
      "Village life is simple," wrote Fr. Michael, "and it gets along without fanciful amusements. In the summer a young boy rides about the yard on a stick, prodding himself along with a little self-made whip: and when he grows up a bit, it's up on the back of a work horse without a saddle or off to the field on the bare boards of a cart...
      "...What is it in a priest's family that primarily occupies a child's attention? Church. In going to services, father would always take me with him. It was still dark in the yard; I would walk along the narrow dike beside the pond after my father to matins; vespers was usually served in the evening. People, would gather quietly in church; behind your back you would hear only the whisper of people praying before the service began. It was freezing, and in the first half hour my legs would grow numb, but with the breathing of the people the church gradually warmed up. A group of older men sang. The people stood in order: men to the right, women to the left, young people in front according to age. It was an old church, rather small, dedicated to Saint Dimitri of Thessalonica, and it was painted in light tones pleasing to the eyes of a child." 
      At harvest time there was much work to be done in the fields. From childhood Fr. Michael grew accustomed to work. "Once," he recalled, "I had to take some entrance exams. It was during haymaking and every day I was busy in the fields gathering in the hay. I was faced just then with an exam on the New Testament. When the day's work was finished my father called me; he gave me a copy of the New Testament and told me to read a certain chapter. Afterwards he talked to me about what I had read and we went to rest. At the examination the question that fell to my lot was on this very chapter."
      When he was nine years old, Fr. Michael was sent to a parochial school seventy versts from home. These first independent steps of his life were difficult. He came to know a schoolboy's griefs and made his acquaintance with the world, at times foreign and cold. In recalling an episode from his first days at the school, Fr. Michael wrote: 
      "My coat was still that of a child; it had a cape attached to the shoulders. It was cold and I put it on. From behind the monitor came up to me with a large pair of scissors and without saying a word cut it off--I obviously looked foolish in it and just as silently walked off with it. I felt this unjust redress terribly insulting. Moreover, I sensed then that together with this cape my past had been cut off from my--my childhood and the only world which I had known until than. A new stage in my life began, still strange to me The old Volhynia stayed behind, while in front stood the as yet unknown, stormy and cruel 20th century." 
      Upon completing secondary school, Fr. Michael entered the Volhynia seminary where he attracted the particular attention of Bishop [later Metropolitan] Antfony Khrapovitsky, who left in his heart traces of his broad social, intellectual and moral influence. At every possible opportunity, even during school breaks, Fr. Michael and his classmates would hurry to the Zhitomir cathedral to listen to the sermons of their abba. Once I witnessed someone accusing Vladika Anthony of "heresy" in front of Fr. Michael. Meekly but firmly, he replied: "We will not have our alpha degraded." And so to the end of his days Fr. Michael preserved great respect for Vladika Anthony as his abba. When, after graduating from seminary Fr. Michael left Volhynia, he continued to maintain contact with Vladika Anthony through correspondence. It was with Vladika Anthony's help that in 1914 Fr. Michael received a position as a teacher of Church Slavonic in the Kaluga Seminary.
      From 1908 to 1912 Fr. Michael taught in the Kiev Theological Academy. There in Kiev he took graduate pedagogical courses. In 1913 he married Vera Feodorovna Shumsky, the daughter of a priest, who became his faithful and inseparable companion on their long path together in life. After a brief stint on the missionary field combating sectarianism-through which he formed a life-long attachment to the study of the New Testament--Fr. Michael taught in the Kaluga Theological Academy; his time there coincided with the First World War. The Revolution and the consequent closing of ecclesiastical ins0tutiens obliged him to return to his native Volhynia.
      The bloody revolutionary upheaval affected his part of the country and his family. At the time of the Revolution Fr. Michael's parents were away visiting their daughter, who during the War had moved with her children beyond the Dniepr. When they returned they found in place of their house a pile of ashes. But this was far from the final trial which visited Fr. Michael's close ones. In the fall of 1917 "...father sat home alone at the table; he was reading Metropolitan Macarius' Dogmatic Theology. Mother had not yet returned from a shopping trip to the town of Ostrog. Suddenly two men walked into the house, one with a revolver, the other with a rifle supporting a bayonet; the one shot my father in the chest while the other pierced him with his bayonet, and with the words "It's finished," they both turned around and hid themselves in the dark behind the door Covered with blood, my father was still able to run out with a shout into the yard. Just then my mother drove up, some people came and they managed to put my father into the cart. The horses were turned around and they rushed to Ostrog---a two hour drive. There he was laid in the hospital. In the middle of the night everything was done to save his life, and he pulled through. His hemp shirt (father did lot wear linen), painted red with blood, was kept by my father in memory of his ordeal." 
       Once I brought Fr. Michael the second volume of Fr. Michael Polsky's New Martyrs of Russia. He read it carefully, especially the parts about the married clergy of the Kievan diocese, and discovered there many classmates, teachers, friends and acquaintances. In his characteristic humility, he found even here a source for self-reproach: 'They all suffered, became martyrs, but what have I done; I merely burden others with my existence, and am of no use at all." And yet Fr. Michael suffered no less than these others, only his cross was different. In his youth he pulled a facial nerve. Only those who have experienced the pain caused by nerves can understand what this means The nerve sometimes hurt for several days in a row, with only brief periods of respite. At times the pain was so acute that Fr. Miehael, unable to bear it, banged his head against the wall in an effort to suppress it. I used to find him in such a state; he was a living martyr. 'This is a result of my sins," he would say; never did he utter a word of complaint
       From 1920 until 1934 Fr. Michael taught Russian philology, literature, philosophical dialectics and Latin at the Russian lycee in Rovensk. During those years he worked closely on ecclesiastical publications. This was not easy in view of the persecution which the Catholics were raising at that time against the Orthodox. It was a time when churches were destroyed or taken over by the Catholics. Fr. Michael reacted with a strong article against Catholicism, but the entire issue of the magazine which carried his article was confiscated by the Polish gendarmes and the author himself fell under surveillance. Later Fr. Michael edited two church journals, The Word and Sunday Reading.
    In 1936 Fr. Michael entered the priesthood and joined the clergy of the Warsaw cathedral as the first assistant to the rector, a position he held until June, 1944.
       The circumstances of my life were arranged in such a way," wrote Fr. Michael in his testament, "that the first half of my public work took place in the worldly arena, in schools, while the second took me into the ecclesiastical arena, into the priesthood. In the worldly arena I experienced offenses, but in the priesthood I met only with kindness and at times even acts of love." 
      After being evacuated from Warsaw and after the war, Fr. Michael lived in Germany, in Munich, where he was editor of the Synodal publication Church Life and secretary of the missionary committee. During the German blockade of Warsaw Fr. Michael had contracted a lung disease which flared up periodically, hampering his capacity to work. By reason of his ill health Fr. Michael tried to decline the obediences laid upon him, but in response Vladika Anastassy said to him: "You must, therefore you can." The Metropolitan served a moleben before the wonderworking Kursk Icon of the Mother of God, and Fr. Michael's health rapidly improved.
      Obedience gives birth to humility. Fr. Michael always regarded himself as an obedient child of the Church; wherever the Church sent him there he went, not choosing for himself his own paths. It was a principle he held to the end of his life. When he was already 98 years old he continued, at the request of Vladika Laurus, to write articles, dedicated to the millennial jubilee of our Church. His eyes protested, long intermissions were required, but the work was completed, and two new articles dedicated to the jubilee of the Baptism of Rus' are to be published posthumously.
      Like St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Fr. Michael could find everywhere "spiritual treasures"--in the surrounding nature, in the details of daily life, in his meetings with people, he could find the spiritual side of everything and the means of going from an earthly to a heavenly contemplation. Clearly, it was for this reason that he was so fond of St. Gregory the Theologian, whom he never tired of reading. During our walks together he said more than once: "One can learn to love the Creator through nature, because He created it with love." Fr. Michael was a contemplative, a theologian, a doer of quiet and warm mental prayer. He likewise had a spiritual affinity with Bishop Theophan the Recluse 'I understand Theophan the Recluse, why even on Pascha he didn't quit his seclusion; for me it would also be easier to celebrate Pascha alone in my cell, in quietness to experience the joy of the Paschal night”
      Upon his arrival in America in 1949, Fr. Michael was appointed by Archbishop Vitaly [Maximenko] as an instructor at Holy Trinity Seminary. Fr. Michael and his matushka arrived on the eve of the feast of St. Job of Pochaev, the heavenly patron of his native Volhynia. The monastery's early years were financially difficult; these were years of building. And it wasn't easy for Fr. Michael and his matushka. They settled in a house purchased by the monastery in Jordanville. The house came to serve as the monastery guest house, and Matushka and Fr. Michael took upon themselves the ministry of hospitality. Fr. Michael became involved in the seminary where he taught Greek, Church Slavonic and Dogmatic Theology. He dedicated 66 years of his life to the work of teaching. Not infrequently former students of his who remembered him from Rovensk would come to the monastery and with tears would greet their now aged former teacher and thank him for his unforgettable lessons of kindness, warmth and wisdom. And indeed, Fr. Michael was a brilliant teacher. Usually there were no discussions during his classes, not because he didn't allow them but because no one wanted to interrupt his lively, satisfying discourse. Fr. Michael talked about the dogmas of the Church; he spoke simply, humbly and exhaustively, so that any questions fell away of themselves, and if not, they found satisfactory answers---although Fr. Michael would frequently repeat, "There is a great deal that is concealed from us and we cannot comprehend everything.” His lecture progressed as though he were reading a music score: he began with a theme, developed it, brought it to a conclusion, placed a period...and the bell rang signaling a change of classes.
      After the illness of his matushka, Fr. Michael moved into the monastery where he lived as one of the brethren. He always tried to be unnoticeable, and for this reason he chose a semi-secluded life; he knew only his cell, the church, the seminary building and the refectory. And for the last seven years of his life it was only the church and his cell. He led an ascetic life. Once, during the first week of Great Lent, I asked him: "Batiushka, what shall I bring you to eat?" "Nothing is necessary; I would like just as the brothers." 'Thc brothers are eating potatoes." "No, thank you..." 'Nevertheless I brought him two baked potatoes. The next day I asked again, "Batiushka, what shall I bring you?" 'Thank you, nothing; I still have a potato left over from yesterday's dinner." 
      St. Nilus of Sainai said: "If you are a theologian you will pray in truth; and if you pray in truth, then you are a theologian" (Philokalia, vol. II, St. Nilus §61). It was from prayer that Fr. Michael drew the source of the enlightenment of his mind and heart; through prayer, which draws upon us the cleansing grace of the Holy Spirit, he became a theologian; having cast aside the decayed garments of the old man, he was able to bravely set out upon the sea of theology. I often came upon him in prayer and, the door being ajar, I was involuntarily arrested by the sight of his noble countenance. His gaze was open and shining, his lips whispered words of entreaty and gratitude. He knew many prayers by heart. He would usually leave vigil before the First Hour, and on the way to his cell would recite the entire First Hour by memory. The same was true when he was late for the midnight office; on the way to church he would recite morning prayers.
      Prayer made Fr. Michael a theologian, but he himself always feared such a title: 'The Church knows only three thologians--St. John, St Gregory and St. Simeon the New Theologian; any others are extra." When Fr. Michael missed any daily services in the church, he would read them in his cell; in addition he daily read from the New and Old Testaments the first often in Greek or Latin, and this he continued until the last years of his life 
      A great deal could be written about Fr. Mi chael's meekness ant compassion. I remember how one winter day I turned from digging graves and stopped in to check on Fr. Michael. And here he found means for self-reproach. "I am good for nothing; I am of no use to the monastery whatsoever. just a burden to the brothers: they'll even have to dig my grave. If only I don't die in winter; if only not in winter! It's so difficult to dig in winter"! And for a long time he dwelt on this thought, sincerely distressed
      It was difficult for him at times to accept another's service. He was bothered that someone should have to clean his cell or do his laundry. "Ah, my dear, ah, my dear, forgive me, forgive me; I'm forcing you to dig about in my dirt!"
      He tried to give me money for my services, but I refused. This grieved him, something of which I was senselessly unaware. I would go into his cell and batiushka would be standing with an awkward look, his eyes cast down, and smile meekly. I already felt something; was not quite right. And then he would make a move to pull out the drawer of the table, and again he would pull it out further, and there lay a wallet with some money. Finally, overcoming his shyness, he would begin to offer me money Once he found a way out of this awkward situation, a solution characteristic of his meekness. I should add that I was at that time a mere novice with scarcely a beard. I came into my cell and found on the table an envelope on which was written in a familiar hand: "From Michael to Alexis. On the occasion of summer's end"; it held some money. I hae kept that envelope to this day as a memento of Fr. MichaePs humility and love.
      It is a rare person who can live in a monastery without experiencing the bitterness of offenses. Fr. Michael was such a person. In his testament he wrote with perfect sincerity: "...on the part of the monastery brethren I cannot remember a time when I was grieved by anyone. I write about all this not for the sake of some tradition, as happens when people leave this life, but on the strength of experience, and that is there is a real difference between the outward affection of the "world" and the outward severity of the Church's way of life, between the real coldness of a world rich in earthly goods and the hidden inner warmth of the life of the Church which is scorned by the world. Within the confines of the Church--the light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendth it not.'
      I do not recall a single instance when Fr. Michael judged someone or reacted negatively towards someone, or even once became angry or irritated at my at times inattentive care of him. If I did not remember myself to bring him dinner or do his laundry, I could not expect a reminder from him.
      At the last, from September 1988, Protopresbyter Michael was less frequently in church Until that time, on feast days he was helped from the seminary building to the church and he attended the all-night vigils and the Divine Liturgy and usually partook of the Holy Mysteries. During the last months he was unable to go to church and he communed in his cell.
In the final days of his earthly life Fr. Michael suffered especially; cancer of the prostate destroyed batiushka's strong organism and caused him acute pain. Someone was constantly at his bedside: his daughter-m-law Natalia Sergeyevna, Fr. Andrew Erastoy, Brother Theodore Korolenko, and in the final days seminarians and the servant of God Alexandra Listmenko. From October 26 Batiushka's condition worsened; he began at times to lose his mind. But even in such a state he would utter words so characteristic of him: "Beloved, dear ones"! And he would look at you with the kind, gentle eyes of a child. He imagined that he was back in his native Volhynia, among the fields and horses, in the church there, among his close ones. This alleviated his sufferings; his face would brighten and take on the look of a child, reflecting his soul--it was the soul of a pure youth, who was leaving a sorrowing life and returning to his father's home, where there is neither sickness nor sorrow nor sighing, but life everlasting!
      On Friday October 22/November 4, at 6:30 in the morning the feast day of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, I came into Fr. Michael's cell and found that he had reposed; his forehead was still warm. Batiushka died alone. He had always served me as an example of meekness, humility, prayerful recollection and abstinence--those monastic activities to which I can only aspire. And he died in a monastic way with no one around, Soon came Fr. Cyprian and Fr. Luke. They immediately dressed Fr, Michael and took him in a wooden coffin into the lower church of St. Job. For five days Fr. Michael's body lay there in the church where the Gospel and the Psalter were read continually on behalf of his soul. Archbishop Laurus performed the funeral service on November 9. Present at the service were Fr.Michael's former students--Fr. George Larin, Fr. Vsevolod Drobot, Fr. Gregory Kotliarov, Fr. Ioasaph Yaroshchuk, Fr. Victor Lokhmatov and Fr. Deacon Andrei Papkov.
    May the memory of this unforgettable pastor and teacher be eternal! 
M.B.
(Translated from Pravoslavnaya Rus’, 11/14/88)