Icon Of The Royal Martyrs Tsar Nicholas II & Family, from Russia
The Holy Canonization of
The Royal Martyrs Tsar Nicholas & Family
of Russia on August 20, 2000
by Father Nektarios Serfes
30 August 2000
Glory Be To God For All Things!
Tropar-Dismissal Hymn Of The Royal Martyrs
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.
With great spiritual joy, and with sincere thanks to our Lord God, and to the Mother of God, all of us can now be at peace, together with the saints and martyrs within the Kingdom of our Lord God, in knowing now that the Holy Canonization of the Royal Martyrs and Passion- Bearers Tsar Nicholas and his Family, has taken place, officially, on the Great Feast of our Lord's Holy Transfiguration, August 20, 2000. The Russian Orthodox Church, in Russia, follows the Church's old calendar dating system, which is thirteen days ahead of our own in the West.
Such wealth of spiritual joy is, of course, not only for Russia herself, but is also for the whole world, and especially for those who have prayed long and earnestly that this wonderful, uplifting day should come. The abundance of blessing is shown in that not only were the Royal Martyrs Tsar Nicholas II and his Family canonized, but also no less than 860 New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia! In addition it was decreed that throughout the Church there should be the veneration of 230 local saints of these two categories.
Let us look briefly at these events:
First it was announced more than eight years ago that a commission to Canonize Tsar Nicholas II and his Family had been appointed by the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, Russia, under the Patriarchate of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis II. Thereafter it was indicated that at the Jubilee Council meeting of the Synod of Bishops, to be held in 2000, final consideration would be given whether or not to canonize the Royal Martyrs Tsar Nicholas II and his Family.
On August 14, 2000 during the meeting of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, the decision was finally announced that all of the members of the Synod of Bishops, including the Patriarch, agreed to the Holy Canonization of Tsar Nicholas II and his Family, along with additional number of New Martyrs and Confessors, as well as local saints within Russia.
Word spread rapidly throughout the morning of 14 August that this great blessing had been bestowed upon us and the world.
The remaining joyful task was to complete the act of Holy Canonization. On the evening of our Lord's Holy Transfiguration, August 19th, at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, the process began during the Vigil services, which in the Russian Orthodox Church include the celebration of Vespers and Matins. During the Matins service the holy icon of the Royal Martyrs Tsar Nicholas and his Family, as well as the New Martyrs and Confessors, along with the Saints, was revealed within the center of the Church, and was followed by singing the tropar (please see tropar at the beginning of this article).
On Sunday morning at the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, Christ the Savior Cathedral was consecrated, and the completion of the services began, followed by those which included the singing of the tropars officially completing the act of Holy Canonization. The finalization of the Holy Canonization was now completed on August 20, 2000.
Christ The Savior Russian Orthodox Church Moscow, Russia. The Church in which the Holy Canonization of the Royal Martyrs, Confessors, New Martyrs, and Saints took place.
The decision to canonize the Royal Martyrs of Russia by the Council of Bishops, was indeed a significant move, and a spiritually joyous moment for all Russian Orthodox believers. This act of holy canonization is the acknowledgement by the Church that the lives of the Royal Martyrs were indeed a great example of a pious Family possessing not only a great sense of Christian duty, but beyond this were deeply committed followers of Christ our Lord and His Church. The lives of the Royal Martyrs, too, show clearly how, as loving Christians, we too must submit to the hands of God. The path towards salvation is at times most difficult, sometimes painful, but can be filled with great spiritual joy and peace when our love for God is unceasing in our lives. Sincere Christian strength was with each member of the Royal Martyrs during their lives, in spite what was being expressed through the rebellion against the Orthodox monarchy. The Tsar Martyr Nicholas II was very much concerned for the purity of the Holy Orthodox Faith in his country, and also for the welfare of the Church.
As Archpriest Maxim Kozlov wrote: "The Emperor, his wife and children were a beautiful example of the purity of relationships within the family, which is the smallest community of God. This example is so vital in our era, when the very institute of the family is the bastion most attacked by Satan."
The Orthodox Church in its teachings expresses the need for all to carry one's Cross, and the endurance under great hardships that the Emperor, the Empress and children, gave, is a loving Christian example of how all Christians should pick up their Cross, and carry it with love of Christ our Lord, and not to utter one word of complaint, not a single word for any hatred, but instead to display a great love for all, and to express forgiveness for everyone. This indeed was shown so well by the Royal Martyr Grand Duchess Olga, on behalf of her loving Father Emperor Nicholas II, during the time of their captivity.
Christians forgive, and are not supposed to have hatred in their hearts for anyone. These are the teachings of the Holy Orthodox Christian Faith. Even those who persecute at times have found their salvation later on. This, spiritually, seemed to be the hope of the Royal Martyrs of Russia.
A perfect example of this was when St Katherine was being martyred. Those who performed this act of martyrdom were deeply astonished at her loving faith and endurance before God, and afterwards several of those who martyred her were converted to Christianity. We have indeed seen this through the era of communism, as I have met myself many people from Russia who converted to Russian Orthodoxy and admitted they were not God loving Christians earlier. But the examples of the Christians in Russia brought them to repentance and then they sought salvation within the Church. Let us piously remember what our Lord said to the thief on the Cross next to Him: "Tomorrow you will be with me in Paradise".
The Crown of Martyrdom has been bestowed upon Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra, Grand Duke Tsarevich Alexis, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Marie, and Anastasia, and we now can be spiritually joyful in knowing that, from the act of Holy Canonization by the Council of the Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, we have before the Throne of our God these precious, loving, martyrs praying and interceding on our humble behalf, we who are poor sinners. We now have spiritually a great litany of prayers for us all! Not only the Royal Martyrs Tsar Nicholas II and his Family, but also an abundance of New Martyrs, Confessors, and Saints praying for us also.
This is now the time for us to forgive all, and move forward in assuring ourselves that we can be better Christians, since we believe with all our mind, heart, and soul, that the Church itself is indeed the Body of Christ that simply has no divisions between the living or the dead, so we express humility, and spiritual joy, as well continuing to renew ourselves as God-loving Christians. In that same spirit of humility we affirm that the path towards our salvation was indeed best lived by the Royal Martyrs Tsar Nicholas and his Family, together with the New Martyrs, Confessors, and Saints of Russia recently canonized.
We are now all at a point of great spiritual peace, conscious that standing before our Lord God in His Kingdom on our behalf are gracious, loving saints, martyrs, and confessors. This gives us all sincere freedom within the Church to move onward and forward in our spiritual renewal!
Please let us cease from expressing myths about the Royal Martyrs and listen instead to their love for us all, love for God, love for Russia, and love for everyone. An abundance of miracles - many of which are already well documented - will surely continue, as we ourselves live in the same Christian faith, the same Christian hope, and with the same Christian love, as did the Royal Martyrs Tsar Nicholas and his Family.
We should now all give loving thanks to our Lord God, who Himself helped in this sanctification. We give thanks to those who loved the Royal Martyrs long before this act of Holy Canonization, and we give thanks to those who expressed this Christian love in prayer, in hope, and as well with their love.
We also humbly give thanks to the loving saints and martyrs who themselves prayed on our behalf. And finally we give thanks to the Mother of God who protected and watched over the Royal Martyrs during their times of great Christian struggle. Who among us during this life has not struggled? We can now struggle onward, knowing we have precious and august Royal Martyrs praying for us, as well as the New Martyrs, Confessors, and Saints. What a great blessing for us all indeed!
Let us not consider one another's faults, but let us look at each other's great qualities, and judge no one, as we now know for sure that the Church itself desires the world to renew itself with love for one another. Archpriest Maxim Kozlov again expressed it well: "The Church has demonstrated once again that its criteria are not the criteria of this world." Spiritual peace for us all now, and peace within the Kingdom of our Lord God, with His Saints, and Martyrs.
May the Holy Royal Martyrs Tsar Nicholas and his Family, as well as the newly glorified Martyrs, Confessors, and Saints, pray for you, and help you, and watch over you all the days of your lives. Peace be unto your soul! Peace and goodwill among all men! (Archpriest Maxim Kozlov whom I quoted within this text, is the Dean of Moscow State University. Priest for the St Tatyana Chapel and assistant professor at the Moscow Theological Academy).
I would like to thank John Wilson Smith for his assistance and Raymon David, my Internet Assistant for helping to post this material... God Bless You!
Holy Royal Martyrs
Tsar Nicholas & Family,
Pray Unto God For Us!
Holy New Martyrs,
Confessors, and Saints of Russia,
Pray Unto God For Us!
Glory Be To God For All Things!
b a c k - t o p e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org. 8-14-2000