100th Anniversary of the Restoration of Moscow Patriarchate Celebrated
Representatives of our Church Headed by Archbishop Anastasios Attended the Event
From December 1st to 4th, representatives of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania, headed by Archbishop Anastasios visited Russia, where they attended the grand celebrations on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the restoration of Moscow Patriarchate. The representative group from our Church consisted of His Grace Joan, Metropolitan of Korça, His Grace Nathanail, Metropolitan of Amantia and Deacon Spiro Topanxha. Present at the celebrations were eleven church primates and other representatives of sister Orthodox Churches.
During the 100th anniversary ceremony, the election of St. Tikhon as the Patriarch of Moscow was celebrated. He had been the first Patriarch elected as head of the Russian Church after a 200-year period. Patriarch Tikhon was a confessor of Orthodoxy who held the burden of the Bolshevik persecution against the Church.
On Saturday, December 2, 2017, a grand meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Church was held at the Meeting Room of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. The meeting was chaired by His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. Present at these celebrations were also representatives of local Orthodox Churches.
The event brought together nearly all of the Patriarchs of the Orthodox world: Theodore II of Alexandria, Joan X of Antioch, Theophilos III of Jerusalem, Irinej of Serbia, Daniel of Romania, Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus, Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana, Durrës and All Albania, Metropolitan Sava of Warsaw, Metropolitan Rastislav of the Czech Republic and Slovakia etc.
Addressing the attendees, Patriarch Kirill emphasized that the last session of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church was dedicated to the 100 anniversary of the Patriarchate's restoration: "This event occurred perhaps at the most difficult moment in our national history when revolutionary destruction affected all spheres of life and many great powers, both inside and outside the country, rose up against the Church of God which began to suffer from bloody persecutions."
The seven years of the Patriarch’s service were in fact years of his confession of faith - not only because he risked his life on daily basis, or was imprisoned, but also because he continually received reports of atrocities committed against the hierarchs, the clergy of the Orthodox Russian Church and the faithful who had become victims. He received notifications about the destruction of churches and monasteries and the collapse of our nation's thousand-year-old Orthodox tradition ...
Later, his Holiness cordially thanked the primates and representatives of local Orthodox Churches. "We welcome you with special love and respect, being aware that the Churches you lead and represent also faced hardships in their history ... We pray to the Lord to preserve all our Churches in unity, regardless of the very tough circumstances they face at times. Because our strength is based on unity ...
Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk who is also Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, read out the greeting message sent to Patriarch Kirill by His Holiness Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch.
Then the greetings of the present primates and of those who were not present in the ceremony followed.
Archbishop Anastasios greeted the participants referring to the bright hierarchies and the myriads of clergy and laity who, during the "long night" of persecution, stood in the midst of suffering, as the Patriarch Tikhon also foretold, enduring in faith and rejoicing in the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1: 6). The personality of St.Tikhon, the Patriarch of Moscow, should remind the Orthodox people of their constant obligation to accomplish their mission, to oppose the schismatic aspirations for the sake of unity and to actualize their love for Christ through martyrdom. It was in this way that St. Tikhon fulfilled his apostolic and pastoral duty, bearing testimony with his blood and work, both inside and outside the country.
Addressing Archbishop Anastasios, Patriarch Kirill said, "We heard your testimony with special attention because you are the first Primate of the Church of Albania, which rose from the dead after total destruction. We appreciate the experience of your Church and understand the tragedy that the Albanian Orthodox people have dealt with because it is similar to our notion of history and perception of the past, which you brilliantly explained beforehand, and simultaneously with our vision for the future.
On Sunday, December 3, Archbishop Anastasios, accompanied by His Grace Joan, Metropolitan of Korça, His Grace Nathanail, Metropolitan of Amantia, and Deacon Spiro Topanxha, celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the Church dedicated to the Mother of God The Joy of All who Sorrow in Moscow. Archbishop Anastasios concelebrated with His Grace Hilarion, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk.
At the end of the service, Metropolitan Hilarion added: "Your Beatitude! We welcome you as the Primate of a Martyrs Church. Yesterday, speaking before the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, you stated that in the twentieth century, the Church of Albania was crucified, buried and risen again. And that nowadays there are Orthodox churches throughout Albania which despite the problems offer their testimony to the world.
The Lord promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church. These words refer to the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. But we know that local Orthodox Churches underwent persecution at different time periods. And the Russian Orthodox Church dealt with the harshest and cruelest persecution in the early twentieth century."
On the other hand, Archbishop Anastasios emphasized: "I know that the Russian Orthodox Church showed great heroism and courage while going through the trials during the communist period. We have been standing together with my beloved brother, Patriarch Kirill for forty-eight years – both at difficult times and at very blessed times like the ones at the recent years. This feature of standing together in joy as well as in sorrow characterizes us, the orthodox. We experience the hardships and joys of one another as ours. And every time we celebrate the Divine Liturgy, we experience the unity and link we share with the Orthodox people around the world. "
On Monday, December 4, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the enthronement of St. Tikhon as the Patriarch of Moscow, the Patriarch of Alexandria Theodorus II presided over the con-celebration of the Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of Christ, the Savior. In the center of the church there was a reliquary holding the relics of the saint.
On December 4, in the evening, the primates of the local Orthodox Churches were received by President Putin and a festive concert was organized in Kremlin on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the restoration of Russian Patriarchate.