Metropolitan Anthony as a Teacher of Pastorship
A report given by Protopresbyter G. Grabbe (now Bishop Gregory of Manhattan)
at the solemn convocation in memory of Metropolitan Anthony on 18/31 March 1963
at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign, in New York City.
are multifaceted. Even if we read and hear stories which cast light on various
aspects of the teaching and activity of Metropolitan Anthony, they cannot, in
spite of all the richness of their content, exhaust everything that can be said
of this remarkable hierarch.
suggested that today I should speak of him as a teacher of pastorship. This, it
would seem, is a very definite and, perhaps, limited theme. However, when I
began to think of what exactly should be said about it, I saw that it could
fill a whole book with its content, even though the articles of Metropolitan
Anthony published on subjects in this field are relatively few. Only a small
portion of his lectures on pastoral theology were written down by his students
and saw the light of day. His most remarkable essay "Confession," which he
himself wrote down, during the time he was in Polish captivity, from what he
could remember of his lectures, has been published. He also wrote a certain
number of articles in this field. But this, of course, does not exhaust our
material: Vladyka Anthony was not only a professor of pastoral theology; he was
himself a pastor and an archpastor. The duties of a teacher are not at all
limited to writing alone, for pastorship is not only a science, it is also an
art. Therefore, in discussing Metropolitan Anthony as a teacher of pastorship,
we have to keep in mind his pastoral labors as well.
Anthony showed me much love and trust, having drawn me near to himself even
before he called me to the service of the Church, in 1931, as his closest
associate. I was therefore able to be a direct observer of his pastoral work.
For a number of years I was almost a daily participant in his talks, listening
to his profound and brilliant opinions. I never afterwards met a person who
would so simply and candidly share his thoughts with others. When speaking with
young people, he was devoid of the least hint of superiority. On the contrary,
he was inclined to "render great deference to" the person with whom he was
talking. In this his humility was apparent, which was what so attracted the
hearts of people to him. His letters to me, at that time a young man of
twenty-six, so far from his level of experience and knowledge, were full of
expressions which made it seem that he was writing to one of his peers. Such
disregard of his superiority was characteristic of him, as an observer of the
Beatitude about the poor in spirit. In those of his talks which not only I, but
many others had occasion to hear (for example Vladyka Nikon, who is here
present), there was nothing but sincerity (although concerning myself, at
least, this flattering appreciation of my letters and articles was doubtless
exaggerated many times over).
In 1930, he
wrote to one young author, a child, one may say, in comparison to him, a great
master, concisely, vividly and expressively setting forth his thoughts: "I
would envy your talent in uniting fulness of exposition with liveliness of
content; I would envy it, if envy were not a deadly sin." This in itself was a
form of praise and encouragement used frequently by him to warm the spirit and
encourage young people to further labor.
But in all
this, what was important was that Vladyka was gladdened by the truth which he
saw in our articles and, making himself poor in spirit, applied to us an
objectively incorrect criterion, disproportionately disparaging himself and
characteristic of humility and self-deprecation was manifest throughout the
pastoral activity of Metropolitan Anthony.
In his highly
original speech upon his nomination to the episcopacy, he begins by pointing
out the vainglory and self-confidence so usual among those who enter upon the
path of a new, higher ministry. "It is apparently characteristic," he said,
"for every person called to a lofty, holy service to survey mentally the lot
which lies before him and to outline beforehand in his heart and in an eloquent
speech all those good and wise undertakings which are crowded in his
it would be to expect from a man, one might even say a genius endowed with many
gifts and overflowing with enterprise and brilliance, a fiery speech about new
ways and methods of archpastoral work.
But we find
nothing of the sort in the speech of Metropolitan Anthony upon his nomination.
the ardor of the Apostle Peter and how the Lord humbled him until He had raised
him to a high level of perfection. "That which a natural ardor of spirit could
not accomplish," said Vladyka, "was accomplished by the grace of the Divine
Spirit, finding a place for Himself in a heart cleansed through repentance,
adorned with faith, strengthened by humility."
happened with the Supreme Apostle," he continued, "is a rule of the life which
operates in all of God's servants. It is not in daring plans, nor in bold
imagination that their power is disclosed, but in the very denial of their
natural strength does the power of God find a place."
Anthony pointed out that the spiritual gaze of the worker who is newly called
into the Lord's field, "should not be directed far away, but rather within
himself; not into the future, but on the present: "Give us this day... And lead
us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'"
In his speech
upon assuming the direction of the diocese of Ufa, Metropolitan Anthony
developed this thought in even greater detail. He spoke of the fact that
pastoral service, and especially that of the successors of apostolic authoritythe
hierarchsconsists mainly of internal work: he pointed out that by means of compassionate
love the pastor should experience in his soul the moral life, the moral
struggle of his flock; that he should put all the joy of his life in the rising
to spiritual perfection of the people entrusted to his leadership, and that he
should grieve and pray over their sins as if they were his own.
stated the reservation that the external activity of ruling a diocese is also
necessary for a bishop, but that it will be worthwhile only if this external
work is a manifestation of the internal activity which is the essence of the
another diocese, that of Volyn', Metropolitan Anthony returns to this topic in
a series of letters to the pastors there. "If we want to keep by us the sheep
for which we are answerable to God, we must uphold their esteem for the clergy
and their faith in divinely transmitted grace not only by the authority of our
rank, but also by our personal qualities." He reminded the clergy that "the
qualities of prayerfulness and skill in teaching" required of them "by the
peopleand by the law of God are not external qualities and are obtained only insofar
as we ourselves practice the interior spiritual life, i.e., struggle with the
passions, force ourselves to private prayer, read the Word of God and the holy
fathers, humble our hearts and confide our sins to our spiritual father. The
teaching role of the priest lies not in eloquence, nor in external learnedness,
nor is it in these that the influence of his preaching and of his admonitions
in general consists, but in the extent to which he himself has acquired
grace-filled contrition and zeal for God and for salvation."
first instruction which Metropolitan Anthony gave to pastors is to work on
oneself and to acquire a grace-filled closeness to God.
Such a lofty
understanding of pastoral service automatically poses the question of who is called
Anthony often summoned people who felt uncertainty about their suitability for
such a ministry.
me personally to this service in a series of letters when, in spite of my
studies in theology, I still had not considered it in the least.
One of the
most worthy pastors in the diocese of Volyn' told me that after he finished the
seminary, there arose a great doubt in his mind over becoming a priest.
Metropolitan Anthony somehow found out about this, and called him to his quarters,
talked with him for almost the whole night, and finally convinced him to travel
the path of pastorship. Vladyka turned out to be right: from one who was not
previously conscious of his calling, there came a splendid "good shepherd."
On the other
hand, Vladyka sometimes treated with a certain mistrust that internal call, of
which some seeking the priesthood spoke to him.
Anthony was a man of profound spiritual sobriety and was very watchful for any
self-delusion. He considered that "the voice of God" felt in one's heart is
often nothing other than the fruit of self-delusion. He wrote: "We think that
this voice may be sensed only by that candidate who has been designated
beforehand by the Church. The self-appraisal, the state of mind of the person
preparing for the priesthood, should have scant significance" (Vol. II, p.
Being wary of
self-delusion in those who felt themselves called to the priesthood, and in
general warning us ever, in the name of spiritual sobriety, against too great a
trust in one's own inner voice, Metropolitan Anthony then called future pastors
to a careful preparation of themselves for so lofty a ministry.
Anthony saw the principal portion of pastoral theology "not at all in the
enumeration of the individual, official functions of the priest, but in
pastoral asceticism, that is, in a detailed and clear, theologically based
exposition: 1) of the very origin of this pastoral spirit (disposition); 2) of
its further development and ultimate results; and, finally, 3) its
manifestation in activity" (Letters to Pastors on Some Perplexing Aspects of
Pastoral Work, 2nd ed., Kazan: 1898, pp. 17-18).
of Metropolitan Anthony and his articles on pastoral theology introduced a new
current into this discipline. In his course of lectures which appeared in print
in 1957, Archimandrite Kiprian (Kern) calls them "a real event in the history
of this science." He justifiably writes that Metropolitan Anthony, then a young
archimandrite, "truly brought about a flourishing in the history of the Russian
seminary in general and in that of pastoral theology in particular" (Orthodox
Pastoral Ministry, Paris: 1957, p. 13).
to inspire this "spring" even after he left his professor's chair. As a bishop,
he continued to teach the science and art of pastorship to the clergy subject
to him, for, as he maintained, it was not simply a science, but instruction in
If, on the
one hand, Metropolitan Anthony indicated the same sources of the science of pastoral
theology that one can find in manuals published before his own, on the other
hand, he joined the principles of living pastoral experience to those of a
out that book learning alone is not sufficient, that life must be studied
directly. Following in the steps of the well-known spiritual writer Sturdza,
Vladyka pointed out the importance for pastoral experience of visiting the sick
and being present at deathbeds. He said that in these cases "one day is more
beneficial for the pastor than a whole decade of hook learning" (Pastoral
Theology, Harbin: 1935, pp. 39-40).
Prayer is of
fundamental importance in pastorship. Metropolitan Anthony calls it "the chief
means for receiving spiritual gifts." The pastor, in his words, by means of
extensive struggle must foster within himself the element of prayerthe ability
to be lifted up to heaven, into the world beyond the grave, and to be, so to
speak, at home there" (ibid., p. 41).
It must be
said that these words were, without a doubt, applicable to Vladyka himself. He
had a remarkable knowledge of the lives of the saints and, hearing his comments
on them, one would think that he was speaking of his own good and close
instructions to pastors are full of directions in the province of prayer. Here
we should not fail to mention his remarkable article, "A Letter to a Priest
about Prayer." In this article he gives in concise form an abundance of
practical advice, which is important for every Christian.
Anthony looked very soberly on the task of the parish priest. Though he himself
was a man of prayer and an ascetic, a great believer in monasticism who brought
many young people to the monastic way, Metropolitan Anthony understood that
before the parish priest lie such practical pastoral concerns that he cannot
always tear himself away from them for the sake of any personal struggle of
prayer of a monastic nature.
In view of
the failure of some persons with the best intentions to "fit in" as pastors,
Metropolitan Anthony points to people who look on pastoral service not as "a
spiritual union of the pastor with his flock, but as a struggle of obedience in
the sense of the mere fulfillment of certain obligations and rules without the
acquisition of the pastoral spirit." In his words, such people, "with all the
value of their moral qualities, are oppressive to their flock, are
bureaucrats." Metropolitan Anthony notes that Chrysostom was right, when he
said that many desert-dwellers who have acquired higher contemplation can turn
out to be completely useless and unfit when placed on the lampstand of the
pastorate. Viadyka warned parish priests that they would not achieve their goal
if they limited themselves by giving themselves over completely to the guidance
of contemporary "books on asceticism." With all their undoubted merits, he
wrote, they hardly give one all that is wished for, but only half, i.e., they
open the way to purity, to knowledge of God, but not to the point where the
soul becomes sensitive to the spiritual needs of one's neighbor." Vladyka, of
course, wanted the married clergy to know and read the ascetic works of the
Fathers, but he added that, among "the married clergy, the spirit of pastorship
is learned more from their family life, or through direct association with
their parishioners and people of good life, than by means of extensive
For a better
understanding of the problems of the modern-day flock, Metropolitan Anthony
wanted pastors to be acquainted with literature, which portrays man's
experience, his feelings, temptations, falls and recoveries from falls in
contemporary circumstances. It is therefore one of the most important sources
of knowledge of the human soul, which is so important for healing it.
reason, Vladyka himself had an interest in secular literature and knew it well.
He made a particularly detailed study of Pushkin and Dostoyevsky.
all of this to be very important material for the pastor.
struggle of prayer, Metropolitan Anthony accorded special significance in
pastoral work to confession.
out that the conversation between two people in confession is quite an
exceptional phenomenon. "All conversations which are carried on between people
outside of confession, especially at the present time, have as their goal the
concealing of shortcomings and the display of often non-existent qualities." In
confession, people talk about sins to which they would never admit under other
circumstances, even at knifepoint."
Anthony spoke on this subject with particular love, for he himself was not a
theoretician, but a man of action. It was in confession more than at any other
time that the compassionate love so dear to his heart could find expression.
Anthony's work "Confession" is one of the most precious pearls among his
writings. In it are clearly revealed his lofty personal characteristics, and
especially his heart, which was full of love for the repentant sinner. This
love, united with spiritual experience, allowed the metropolitan to set forth
in his lectures on pastoral theology directions on how to edify in confession
people of various dispositions and from various stations in this life. These
directions are profound and practical, embracing almost all types of sin and
indicating in all cases how to treat them at their very roots.
practical instructions are not found in any other manual, and this book should
be a reference guide for every spiritual father.
Metropolitan Anthony appears in these writings chiefly as a loving director of
the spiritual life, on the other hand he was not at all a stranger to the art
I have on
more than one occasion heard the one-sided appraisal of him, that he was far
from being an administrator, but this is a profound mistake!
Metropolitan Anthony did put prayer and spiritual activity in first place for
the pastor, but he never forgot that he was ordained to shepherd Christ's
flock, and, with all his goodness, he sometimes resorted to strict measures.
after his assignment to Volyn', he dismissed the secretary of the consistory,
who was not worthy of his confidence. In a letter to the pastors of the Church
in Volyn' in 1912, referring to the fact that in some parishes the peasants, under
the influence of the revolutionary movement, had declared that the Church was
theirs and that the Church's money was theirs, had stopped paying their
assessments for diocesan needs, and here and there had even locked the church
doors against priests they did not like, Metropolitan Anthony wrote: "Of
course, we did not hesitate to take the strictest measures in combating such
revolts in the parishes: we sealed up the churches that had been locked against
their priests, pending the repentance of the parishioners; we cut the
instigators off from Communion for a year or more; we attached rebellious
parishes to neighboring priests, and so forth."
If in his
letters Metropolitan Anthony tried to raise the spiritual level of the clergy
subject to him and gave advice on how to carry on their pastoral work, the
resolutions he promulgated in the diocese of Volyn' reveal in him an attentive
administrator as well.
I think that
this latter characteristic has remained unnoticed on the part of many because
his image as dogmatist, a teacher of piety and a person of exceptional goodness
overshadows the other aspects of his administrative activity.
a separate booklet, Metropolitan Anthony's resolutions for the diocese of
Volyn' set forth in detail not only a series of strict instructions concerning
liturgics and the fitting splendor of services and the orderly administration
of the Church, but also deal with the proper running of parishes in the absence
of their priests, on the significance of clerical lands, on the building of
churches without technical supervision, instructions to the assistant deans,
He had a fine
knowledge of the techniques of church government, but he alleviated the dryness
of administration with his love and fatherly indulgence.
already mentioned what tremendous importance Metropolitan Anthony attached to
the presence of compassionate love in the pastor. He considered it one of those
gifts which are strengthened and warmed in the pastor not only by his will and
disposition, but also by the gift of grace imparted to him at ordination.
had this gift in abundance. It was manifested in him at an early age and even
more when he had achieved maturity.
door was open to all. His apartment was always filled with students, with whom
he held endless talks, taking time from his current work and often talking for
a long time with one of them, in order to arouse his religious feelings and set
him on the path of repentance and moral awakening.
Who can count
all the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Heaven who owe the salvation of their
souls to the pastoral love of Metropolitan Anthony?
Pastoral service is difficult, responsible and, like every art, requires
talent, knowledge and work.
have compiled handbooks, have given instructions to their pupils, have shown
them the various techniques of their art, but by no means were the pupils
always able to emulate them in full measure.
of Metropolitan Anthony stands before us as a colossus of pastorship, as a real
genius, a great expert in the realm of the human soul.
He no longer
instructs us by the living word of his lips, now closed in death. But his
salvific discourse has not ceased. Through the example of his life and from the
pages of his works, his teaching on pastoral service flows and will flow in an
From Orthodox Life, Vol. 31, No. 5 (Sept.-Oct., 1981), pp. 37-43. Translated
by Seraphim F. Englehardt from The Church and her Teaching in Life, by Protopresbvter
C. Grabbe, Vol. II (Montreal: 1970) pp. 117-128.