The person who leaves us is more often than
not the very person who gave us, in our eyes, ultimate value:
the person to whom we truly mattered, the person who asserted
our existence and our importance... A void is created, and this
void should never he artificially filled with things which are
unworthy of what they replace.
(Death & Bereavement,
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, St Stephen's Press, 2002, p 26).
The title of my talk, "A Legacy for Renewal"
is based on these words of Metropolitan Anthony. The void
created by his departure can only be filled by more and more of
the ethos, the values that we lived with him, and by more of his
love which is now completely and definitely merged with the love
It is certainly very moving for me to be
standing here amongst your assembly in the "eternal presence" of
It is also a very moving gesture of spiritual
hospitality, and a deeply genuine act of generosity on your part
to allow me, an Orthodox woman from Antioch, to witness in her
own way to the legacy that Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh has
left us. He gracefully welcomed me to live in faith in this
Diocese some twenty-seven years ago, and you have gracefully
acknowledged my presence among you today.
A legacy of welcome
The first element of Metropolitan Anthony's
legacy is the open door, the open heart and consequently the
hospitality with which I was received into this Diocese. It was
Irina Kirillova who introduced me to the Cathedral in 1977; but
I could have stayed there in the crowd, faceless and nameless, a
"nobody" as it were, had it not been for the personal welcome
that the Bishop offered me, simply and warmly. This welcome was
the cornerstone on which would be built my spiritual growth, or
at least that part of it which was nourished at Ennismore
Gardens. This same welcome is what has nourished that little
parish and made it into a diocese. It is the same welcome ■— as
I understood later - that was offered to every member of the
Diocese. I discovered that Metropolitan Anthony called every one
of his flock by her or his name. He believed in the personal
encounter that each one of us has with God, and he practised
this with every one of us: he knew our names, he listened to
each one of us with attention and respect. He spent the
necessary time with the sinner to free him or her from guilt and
set them free to "go and sin no more" as in confession.
Likewise, he gave enough time for people to talk and to listen
to him and be blessed by him to go and "teach the nations" as is
the case with clergy and laity equally.
Metropolitan Anthony was not only concerned,
but also committed, to reveal the face of God "who loves
mankind", who recognises the faults as well as the gifts of each
one, calling each one by name to witness to him as he sent Mary
Magdalene at the dawn of Easter.
Metropolitan Anthony recognised the uniqueness of each
person, as he writes:
There can be an infinite complex variety, not only in
the ways in which we express our relationship with God,
but an infinite variety in the way in which each one of
us is related to God. (Worship in Secular Society, p.
We retain from him here that this variety is essential
for the wholesome richness of the Church.
How did Metropolitan Anthony manage his time
to accommodate so many of us, along with the long times of
silence and the hours of liturgy, his many talks and other more
official duties as a Bishop?
The fact is that Metropolitan Anthony never
ceased to be a priest, a High Priest, whose gift was to be close
to each one and also detached: at the same time as close to each
particular face of ours as he
was close to the universal face of the
Father. The spiritual hospitality that he offered to each person
in particular echoed vividly the attention Christ paid to every
individual he met, as we read in the Gospels. The careful
listening, the patient compassion, and the undivided attention
Metropolitan Anthony offered to each person revealed the immense
respect Christ has for the uniqueness of every one of us.
Metropolitan Anthony had no ready-made, generalised, dogmatic
guidance for us: he tailored a unique response to each
particular need and led everyone to the threshold of the nuptial
chamber, to the Liturgy, to the doorstep of the Kingdom. At that
point he had the wise gift of withdrawing, leaving the person to
continue his or her journey as an adult, guided only by the
light of the Father's face and the love of the brothers and
The first characteristic of the legacy that Metropolitan
Anthony leaves with us, then, is this: it is a legacy of
welcome, of personal encounter with Christ, though guidance
tailored to meet the uniqueness of each person. There was no
dogmatic formula imposed on all in the same way. Because of this
personalised attention we could tell that Metropolitan Anthony's
God is the God of the living -"Alive is the God in front of whom
I am standing!"
The Living Faith
The second characteristic of his legacy is
that it is a legacy for living. The author of Living Prayer
is a medical doctor, a surgeon, tuned to the throbbing pulse
of life. Alert, energetic and enthusiastic, Metropolitan Anthony
did not tolerate us dragging our feet on our way to God. And
although he was merciful, he had no tolerance for mediocrity or
laziness. This was not simply a basic trait of his character,
but rather the expression of his most spontaneous, yet well
thought out and deeply rooted answer to the call of God, which
he experienced always as a pressing call of love demanding an
unconditional spontaneous answer on our part. His steps coming
to meeting any one of us were hurried, sure and steady. This was
not due to his military training, but was surely his
determination to deliver the message he was made to carry to us,
and to the world.
In his article, "Worship in a Secular Society", he
We must have an awareness of the
world in which we live. We do not see the world as
material, inert and dead. For a believer the depth of
the world that surrounds us, the depth of men and
things... resides in its rootedness in the creative
Word of God, in the fact that it has a destiny, that
it is as vast potentially as God himself... We are
aware that this world has a calling, a destiny, a
vocation - - and we are responsible for the
fulfilment of this vocation. The whole world has its
destiny, not only Man, but Man is the key to the
fulfilment of this destiny. Man stands at the
threshold of the world of God and the world of objects.
We are called to be the guide of all things towards
their fulfilment. And when we fall away from God,
forsake God, lose God, indeed the whole creation loses
its guide and its way (p. 124).
Metropolitan Anthony lived this responsibility acutely
and he goes on to say:
The world in which we live, is wild,
it is in a dramatic state of disharmony, ugly, cruel,
destructive ... but it will be restored when sobriety,
clarity of mind, purity of heart, straightness of will,
will be restored in Man, and when the freedom and the
fulfilment of the children of God will be revealed, not
only in Man, but in the harmony of all things... we are
all responsible, but we have a great responsibility as
Christians who know God's mind. Remember the definition
which Amos gives of the prophet, of the one who speaks
for God. He is the one to whom God reveals his thoughts.
But this, which was the vocation of the few, is now the
vocation of all Christians. Can we forget the words of
Christ who says, "I no longer call you servants but
friends, because the servant does not know the mind of
his master, but I have told you all things". If we are
so rich in knowledge given to us by God, then we have a
heavier responsibility for all that is happening. And
this responsibility God himself has accepted. He has
taken responsibility for his act of creation when, He, having created Man, has not turned away from him
in his Fall and has accepted solidarity with Man (p.
This text highlights the main pillars on
which our living faith and living prayer ought to be based. The
aim of our living as Christians is stated clearly more than once
in this same article: it is the fulfilment of each person and
subsequently the fulfilment of the Kingdom. This fulfilment is
based on two values: freedom and responsibility.
Rooted in the creative word of God, made
aware by the knowledge that Christ has given us, freeing us thus
from fear and from ignorance, we Christians have a heavier
responsibility in the fulfilment of the Kingdom. This
responsibility, we are invited to accept in solidarity with each
other and with Christ. It is the responsibility of our
"becoming", says Metropolitan Anthony, as "persons", as a
"Church", as "the Kingdom to come". This understanding of our
responsibility allows us to read the legacy of Metropolitan
Anthony as an urgent command pressing towards a necessary and
continuous renewal leading to the fulfilment of the Kingdom.
The third element of this legacy is the
ministry of reconciliation: a reconciliation at many levels. The
first level is that of the person him- or herself, a
reconciliation between the body and the soul; the second level
is that within the Church - - between clergy and the laity,
between women and men, among the clergy themselves; and the
third level is between the Church and the world, between the
different Christian Churches, and most important of all,
reconciliation within the Orthodox Church itself, between its
various nationalities and the universal message of Orthodoxy.
At the personal level, Metropolitan Anthony
has left us a rich language and a very pertinent approach to
address the shattered human heart of today, the stressed nerves
and the blurred vision of modern humanity, which is dissociated
and fragmented. In an interview published in 1988 he said: "I
don't know anything of metaphysical language. What we (the
Orthodox) say about Christ is experiential".
No judgements, no condemnation, no
dictatorship or authoritarianism was found in his leadership,
yet Metropolitan Anthony was uncompromising, intransigent and
sharply clear: he never dissembled or lied. His aim was to
re-create the person in his or her entirety.
Reconciliation for him was not a compromise!
He never accepted the lowest common denominator. Reconciliation
meant for him the addition of the best in each and every thing
and each and every person. This meaning of reconciliation
included the promise of going beyond the simple compilation or
addition of talents: it meant the pressing need for going
beyond, going forward for renewal, until the fulfilment of the
As to the duality of the flesh and the soul,
Metropolitan Anthony reminded us always that the Incarnation has
taken all into Redemption.
What we affirm is that Word of
God, God himself, has become flesh, that the
fullness of the Godhead has abided in our midst in
the flesh of a man, that it flesh of the incarnation
representing the visible and tangible substance of
all things created, has proved capable of being God
- - bearing, filled with the Divine Presence,
without being destroyed or ceasing to be itself (p.
As for the duality of man and woman,
Metropolitan Anthony referred to the "androgen" seen in Christ
who is the complete human being, the ultimate image of any human
being, both woman and man. He was totally free of sexism even to
the point of daring to question the theological basis of an
exclusively male priesthood, as in his introduction to Elizabeth
Behr-Sigel's book, The Ministry of Women in the Church.
When asked to comment on the move to
reinstitute the order of the deaconess in the Church, he replied
to me and others: "No, if it is to make her a Church maid! The
challenge is: what does it mean to be a deaconess today?"
Concerning the relation between the clergy and the laity,
Metropolitan Anthony was "ideologically
deeply committed to the participation of the
laity in the Church. He always talked hierarchically in terms of
service rather than power. He set up a democratically elected
assembly and council to run the affairs of Sourozh in Britain"
(Andrew Walker, The Independent, 6 August 2003; reprinted
in Sourozh 93, August 2003).
On this sensitive and essential equilibrium
depends the future participation of believers in Christ, through
the Church. Metropolitan Anthony had the necessary courage to
address this issue and instituted a practice of integration of
the laity and of women as active members in the life of the
Church. This is a key aspect of his legacy and we are
responsible for maintaining it according to the vision, the
words, and the life of Christ, which are far more liberating in
depth than anything the democratic world is proposing today in
terms of equality, dignity and freedom.
The keynote that allowed Metropolitan Anthony
be so advanced and liberated in his vision is found in the fact
that he was free from lust and greed for worldly power, with all
its games. We all know that in our societies, the male is
powerful and is attached to his power — and so much more is the
priest whose power is double, and hence the temptations inherent
to this power are multiplied.
Metropolitan Anthony chose another power. This was very clear
in the announcement he made on 19 May 2002, at the London Parish
Assembly, about the experience and the life style of the Diocese
Sourozh and its ethos developed over
The particularities of the Diocese to
me are in brief as follows: first of all it is a Diocese
of people, the clergy of which, and the bishop of which,
consider themselves as servants.
Quoting Father Sophrony, he said that the
Church was a pyramid but a reversed pyramid. At the lowest point
was the one person, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he saw the bishop
at the rock bottom. The spirit of the Diocese is a spirit of
service on the part of the clergy and a spirit of brotherhood
and sisterhood on the part of the laity, not a hierarchical
system. Metropolitan Anthony had such an inner power of love and
trust with an acute sense of discernment that there was no room
for a hierarchical power in his vision of the Church.
At the level of the duality between the Church and the
world, Metropolitan Anthony wrote:
From the outside, the world is seen
as transparent, filled with the Presence and dynamically
moving towards its fulfilment, dynamically but not
obligatory, dynamically but also at times tragically.
Metropolitan Anthony warns us against the
easy solution of exiling ourselves and antagonising worldly
society. We must be very careful, he says, not to imagine
naively that we live in the world without being worldly at all.
In fact the world is not only around us, the world is to a very
great extent in us. We do belong unreservedly, perfectly, to the
Kingdom of God, in the midst of a world, which is alien to us.
Yet this contrast is false:
We are in a process of becoming, but
we have not yet become, and the world around us is not
simply the outer darkness of which the Gospel speaks. It
is also a complex, extremely rich milieu in which God is
active and which is often more aware — and more
receptive to spiritual values than we are, blinded by
our habits of mind and by ways we have inherited from
Is there a clearer call for renewal than the call we can
perceive in these words?
This last quotation ends with a sharp
criticism of how we believers are often more faithful and
attached to our worldly tradition than to the Word of God. This
duality, Metropolitan Anthony resolved very simply. A long time
ago, when I was received by him, I expressed my happiness to be
admitted to the Russian Church. He corrected me saying: "The
Orthodox Church in Great Britain!" I did not understand this
twenty-seven years ago, but 1 realise today that jurisdictional
territoriality has increasingly become a threatening disease
undermining our Orthodox Churches all over the globe.
Once again, Metropolitan Anthony was ahead of
his time, breathing into the Diocese the creative, genuine
dynamics of openness and of belonging at the same time. We
belong to the Church where we live here, today and now. This
loyalty to the Incarnation of God in our reality is described by
Irina Von Schlippe in a brief review of the history of Sourozh:
Sourozh grew organically, in response
to a genuine demand: the children of Russian emigres who
no longer spoke Russian and did not understand Church
Slavonic needed a non-ethnic environment if they were to
remain Orthodox, while the non-Russians found Orthodoxy
in their own services and parishes. Metropolitan Anthony
understood this and provided that the English language
was introduced into the services, and of course
translations and musical arrangements were commissioned.
Publications in English were started; the first
Eucharistic communities turned into parishes.
I would like to stress again and again the
organic nature of Sourozh as a diocese: starting as a Russian
emigre parish, serving those Russian exiles whom history had
deposited in the UK, it was originally served and led by priests
who came from the ranks of those emigres (Father Vladimir
Theokritoff, Metropolitan Anthony, Father Michael Fortounatto).
Then new priests were ordained from the ranks of those
non-Russians who became our parishioners. The time seems to have
come when the natural, organic development of the Diocese
demands the ordination of new priests from the ranks of the
newly arrived former citizens of the Soviet Union. If we are to
continue developing we must do so in response to the needs of
Before I come to conclude a subject that can
never be concluded, a subject that will still go unfolding its
meanings to us for much time to come I would like to summarise
the main points of the legacy, and raise a few points regarding
new forms of renewal that could possibly be considered in the
We who know Metropolitan Anthony are even
more responsible than those who know him only through his
writings. Having met him, we cannot be the same persons again.
He touches our lives with a genuine charisma and an inspired
vision leading us on the path to the inner Kingdom. The ethos of
the legacy he left with us is:
Openness: he never preached Russian Orthodoxy in his life,
but only Christ. His Diocese was
open to all, with its own practices and ideals, but firmly
rooted in the life of the Holy Church,
welcoming in sobriety and service the Orthodox of all nations.
Freedom: free from the greed of power, free to serve and free
from worldly tradition, this
Diocese, in Metropolitan Anthony's style, maintained a strict
practice of ritual and liturgy in sobriety,
discipline and quietness. This freedom allowed us all to meet
the compassion of Christ for all mankind
equally. No sexism, no worldly privileges, no nationalities
could veil the free access to Christ.
Creativity: the secret of creativity was found in
Metropolitan Anthony's commitment to the
revelation of the Word of God today; he nursed the dynamic life
of the Church:
One becomes a member of it as
long as one remains alive to its values. One cannot
belong to it mechanically; one cannot stay in it
mechanically. It is a dynamic situation, a society in
which both human and divine, in which humanity is
revealed in the humanity of Christ, and our humanity is
grafted on that which is our vocation to possess a
society at the heart of which God is Emmanuel: God with
I come now to renewal, and quote Metropolitan Anthony
I would have loved to speak a great
deal more than I can about the ways in which I believe
one should think of a reform, or rather of the creation
out of the depth of the Church's experience, not only of
private personal worship, but also of liturgical
worship...We must remember that
however dear and significant to us are classical and
traditional ways in which we worship, they are not the
only ways, that the Church has evolved them gradually,
that it is an expression of its knowledge of God and its
ability to express and convey it and also to express the
feelings and attitudes of mind and soul which this
knowledge of God awakens. But from generation to
generation new ways can be legitimately evolved: they
possess newness but are genuine as the others are.
Metropolitan Anthony's focus in these words
is on worship, and it is a challenge for us to understand the
urgency of such reform and move on, not only deeply rooted in
Christ but also listening to our youngsters yearning to God in a
world that seems to be increasingly godless. 1 can almost hear
him say: "If our children are not in church today, what is the
value of our worship?"
What do we know of God? What about our
ability to express and convey him to others? This is the test of
Metropolitan Anthony has been called to rest,
so that it is for all of us together and for each one of us, to
rest no more.
For Metropolitan Anthony, every moment is a moment of
incarnation: today is the day.
Do we know how many hymns and liturgical
chants start with the word "Today", asserting the imminence of
Redemption? Take only the feast of the Pentecost and count them!
A few questions may awaken our creativity to
discover new forms of Orthodox presence in the world today.
How can we keep the spirit of rootedness and openness in the
Diocese? How can we receive
newcomers wholeheartedly in the spirit of service yet with a
firm sobriety, and make them aware of
the experience and life of the Diocese, inviting them to share
in the procession towards the fulfilment
of the Kingdom?
Can we think of a new style of confession where brothers and
sisters in Christ lead one another
to recognise their weaknesses and support each other in the
Why can married priests not become bishops unless they are
widowed or unless the wife
retreats to a convent? This is no dogma, only practice and
What does it mean to be a deaconess today? The priests are
overworked, while in our Church
women have limited responsibilities. Today women in the world
are becoming increasingly partners in
the worldly society. Why can they be professionals in the world
while they are still prevented from
professing the Orthodox faith even though capable of doing so?
What new forms should be developed to bear witness to the
rehabilitation that Jesus provided
for women through his birth, his life and his Resurrection?
Is the world losing the sense of God? Metropolitan Anthony
said: "The loss of the sense of
God, the acute awareness of the world, are both and should
equally be the concern of the Church".
How can we keep the oneness among us, the oneness so dear to
Christ's heart as it was his last
wish? "Father, let them be one as You and I are one?" Yet how
can we acknowledge the unique and
distinctive contribution of each one of us, no matter how small,
and integrate it into the life of the
These are but few and simple questions among
so many that can re-vitalise the presence of Orthodoxy in the
world today. Many of them, and others, have been addressed by
Metropolitan Anthony. If, like him, we are deeply rooted in the
Church's teaching and in the living Word of God, we will be led
by the Holy Spirit, the love of God for us, and the prayers of
Metropolitan Anthony to the right answers.
The legacy we receive from him is a legacy of
openness: to others, to sinners and to newcomers from outside
Orthodoxy, as well as from other Orthodox traditions. For that
we need to be strong in Christ, not stubborn or closed in our
cultural traditions. We need to pray to him to help us to become
free from our confining traditions, personal ambitions and local
boundaries. Metropolitan Anthony had the gift of discernment. It
is a specific gift of the Holy Spirit; he knew how to recognise
what is eternal and what is ephemeral, what is essential and
what accidental, focusing on the one, without neglecting the
other. His eyes never blinked. They were fixed and focused on
the essential, but his ears were open to hear the cries of those who were
suffering. His main concern was to make the universal eternal
essential love of God for mankind relevant to us, to all, today
Metropolitan Anthony sustained the word of
God as a bishop is meant to do, not only by preaching and
receiving people in the Orthodox life, but mainly by being
himself a living Orthodox. He was blessed because there was
virtually no gap between what he said and taught and what he
lived. In the end of our life we shall be judged by this gap.
For now can the fisherman and the theologian be judged equally?
The only measure is this gap between their knowledge, their
awareness on one hand, and their commitment and loyalty on the
other. We are even more responsible, since we have been made
more aware because of the words Metropolitan Anthony spoke to
Perhaps if we also "mind the gap" between
what we have heard and known and how we really live and express
life and faith, could we then be also inspirational and
charismatic leaders towards the full destiny of the world and
the Church, the fullness of the Kingdom of God?