Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Closer Look at Kingship

Through the words of Archbishop Averky (who reposed in 1976) and the Coronation Service of the Russian Tsars, let us consider which system is more fitting for a Christian people - a Christian kingdom whose traditions are sanctified by the grace of God in His Church, or a pluralistic representative republic, whose chaotic, divisive, frenzied, warlike character we see on display nearly every day in the news in the [u.] S. (but which is especially manifest during national elections).

Archbishop Averky declared,

The idea of monarchy itself, in the return to which as the historic and immemorial form for governing Russia many rightly see salvation, is holy and dear to us not for itself, but only insofar as it is supported by our Orthodox faith and Church - insofar as our czar is an "Orthodox Czar," as we sing in our old national anthem; insofar as he is not just formally and officially, but in actual fact the first son and also the exalted Protector and Defender of the Orthodox Faith and Church; insofar as he is really the "Anointed of God" who has received special gifts of grace in the Mystery of anointing performed over him by the Church to be the "King and Judge of the People of God," as he himself confesses in the prayer he reads before everyone in the church during his sacred coronation. Therefore he enters the altar through the royal doors and receives Holy Communion before the holy throne of God as an equal of the other sacred ministers, which, of course, could not be done by any other monarch who was not orthodox and who did not respond to the demands of the Church, who was not sanctified with grace by the Church.

This is decisively confirmed for us by the ever-memorable Fr. John of Kronstadt, who said, "Who places earthly kings on their thrones? He Who alone sits on the throne of fire from eternity, and alone, in the true sense, rules over all creation - heaven and earth with all the creatures which inhabit them. From Him alone is royal power given to the kings of the earth; He crowns them with the royal diadem... Be silent, dreaming constitutionalists and parliamentarians! `Depart from me, Satan! Thou art an offense unto Me, for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men' (Matt. 16:23), said the Lord to Peter who denied Him. Depart also, you who oppose God's command. It is not your task to order the thrones of earthly kings. Away, bold ones who do not know how to govern yourselves, but are always quarreling with each other... Authority, power, courage, and wisdom is given the Czar from the Lord to govern his subjects" (Sermon, 1907). '

Regarding the Coronation Service of the Russian Orthodox Church, Bishop Nektarios said,

The Tsar was and is anointed by God. This mystery is performed by the Church during the coronation, and the Anointed of God enters the Royal Doors[8] into the altar,[9] goes to the altar table and receives the Holy Mysteries as does the priest, with the Body and Blood taken separately.[10] Thus the Holy Church emphasises the great spiritual significance of the podvig (struggle) of ruling as a monarch, equalling this to the holy sacrament of the priesthood... He (the Tsar) is the sacramental image, the carrier of the special power of the Grace of the Holy Spirit.

During the Service, the Russian Metropolitan would pray,

O Lord our God, King of kings and Lord of lords, who through Samuel the prophet didst choose Thy servant David and didst anoint him to be king over Thy people Israel; hear now the supplication of us though unworthy, and look forth from Thy holy dwelling place and vouchsafe to anoint with the oil of gladness Thy faithful servant N., whom Thou hast been pleased to establish as king over Thy holy people which Thou hast made Thine own by the precious blood of Thine Only-begotten Son. Clothe him with power from on high; set on his head a crown of precious stones; bestow on him length of days, set in his right hand a scepter of salvation; establish him upon the throne of righteousness; defend him with the panoply of thy Holy Spirit; strengthen his arm; subject to him all the barbarous nations; sow in his heart the fear of Thee and feeling for his subjects; preserve him in the blameless faith; make him manifest as the sure guardian of the doctrines of Thy Holy Catholic Church; that he may judge Thy people in righteousness and Thy poor in judgment, and save the sons of those in want and may be an heir of Thy heavenly kingdom. [Aloud] For Thine is the might and Thine is the kingdom and the power, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

And also the following:

To Thee alone, King of mankind, has he to whom Thou hast entrusted the earthly kingdom bowed his neck with us. And we pray Thee, Lord of all, keep him under Thine own shadow; strengthen his kingdom; grant that he may do continually those things which are pleasing to Thee; make to arise in his days righteousness and abundance of peace; that in his tranquility we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity. For Thou art the King of peace and the Saviour of our souls and bodies and to Thee we ascribe glory: to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

At the Tsar’s crowning:

Most God-fearing, absolute, and mighty Lord, Tsar of all the Russias, this visible and tangible adornment of thy head is an eloquent symbol that thou, as the head of the whole Russian people, art invisibly crowned by the King of kings, Christ, with a most ample blessing, seeing that He bestows upon thee entire authority over His people.

At the Tsar’s receiving the orb and scepter:

God-crowned, God-given, God-adorned, most pious Autocrat and great Sovereign, Emperor of All the Russias. Receive the sceptre and the orb, which are the visible signs of the autocratic power given thee from the Most High over thy people, that thou mayest rule them and order for them the welfare they desire.

The Tsar, having become ‘wedded’ to his people through the Coronation Service, had a prayer to offer to God within it as well:

Lord God of our fathers, and King of Kings, Who created all things by Thy word, and by Thy wisdom has made man, that he should walk uprightly and rule righteously over Thy world; Thou hast chosen me as Tsar and judge over Thy people. I acknowledge Thy unsearchable purpose towards me, and bow in thankfulness before Thy Majesty. Do Thou, my Lord and Governor, fit me for the work to which Thou hast sent me; teach me and guide me in this great service. May there be with me the wisdom which belongs to Thy throne; send it from Thy Holy Heaven, that I may know what is well-pleasing in Thy sight, and what is right according to Thy commandment. May my heart be in Thy hand, to accomplish all that is to the profit of the people committed to my charge and to Thy glory, that so in the day of Thy judgment I may give Thee account of my stewardship without blame; through the grace and mercy of Thy Son, Who was once crucified for us, to Whom be all honor and glory with Thee and the Holy Spirit, the Giver of Life, unto ages of ages. Amen.

Source of Coronation Service quotes:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronation_of_the_Russian_monarch, posted 18 Nov. 2014, accessed 24 Nov. 2014

Human society is not well; it is overrun with evil ideas of what the good life is in politics, family, and much else.  But by humbling ourselves, by learning from societies that were and are Christian in more than just name (for whom the Faith was and is more than simply a thin covering for rank commercialism and other sins), we can begin to heal, with the help of God.

(Thanks to J for sharing the path to the Archbishop Averky site.)

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