Most noble and sublime was your life and death, O Sovereigns;
wise Nicholas and blest Alexandra, we praise you,
acclaiming your piety, meekness, faith, and humility,
whereby ye attained to crowns of glory in Christ our God,
with your five renowned and godly children of blest fame.
Martyrs decked in purple, intercede for us!
The sermon that we were given on the 4th of July (New Calendar 17th) this year emphasised the humility and humiliation of the final years of the Passion-bearing Royal family of Russia, and the steadfastness of their faith in light of this. As I have come to understand it, it was for this reason that they are venerated as Saints of the Church. However, in various places, I have seen this veneration come under attack by those who focus on some of the perhaps less savoury aspects of the former years of Ss Nicholas and Alexandra, ignoring the actual reasons for their glorification. The statement from the Patriarchate of Moscow in 2000 included these words:
In the last Orthodox Russian monarch and members of his family we see people who sincerely strove to incarnate in their lives the commands of the Gospel. In the suffering borne by the Royal Family in prison with humility, patience and meekness, and in their martyrs' deaths in Ekaterinburg in the night of 4th/17th July 1918 was revealed the light of the Faith of Christ that conquers evil.
As somebody who struggles to live the humility of Christ, I am increasingly finding a special place for the passion-bearing Royal Family of Russia in my devotions. To be reduced from a position of great elevation to their final state must have been a difficult adjustment to make. To face and embrace that with faith is a mark of true Christianity. The significance of this is heightened for me at the present time because of some issues that are currently affecting me personally. I believe that the Moscow Patriarchate venerates them as Passion-bearers and not Martyrs, because their faith was not the reason for their deaths. I do have some difficulty with the Church Abroad's recognition of them as Martyrs but this isn't an insurmountable issue for me.
What I do find insurmountable is the venomous loathing often expressed towards them. In my (admittedly limited) experience, this has not come from people of Russian descent, but from those who have studied the events of the reign of Tsar St Nicholas and focus only on the bad. I fail to see the Christian charity in this and I find this very upsetting. May the example of the Royal Passion-bearers cause the veil of bitterness to be lifted from their hearts.
St Nicholas, pray for us.
St Alexandra, pray for us.
All Holy Passion-bearers and New Martyrs of Russia, pray for us.
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