Monday, December 14, 2009

Reflections on the murder of Hieromartyr Daniil Sysoyev

The website 'Orthodoxy and the World' has a reflection on the death of Fr Danill Sysoyev. In a few paragraphs the reflection notes the difference between zealotry and inspired faith. It is so worthy of our own reflection that I am reproducing it here complete. For the reflection from its original (English) source, click here.

If one believes the official reports, the murderer of Father Daniel called out, “Who here is Sysoyev?” In these words lies a challenge not only to Father Daniel, but also to everyone who has decided to devote their life to Orthodox witnessing. It seemed to us that the time of martyrdom and costly witness had long passed, but now we are proven wrong. Today, as always, confessing Christ attracts all the spite and hatred of this world.

Evil has a simple logic – if the man is gone, the problem is gone. Polemics is for those who have remained human, but when a person resorts to violence, he becomes dehumanized and unable to be what God called him to be.

It so happened that Father Daniel and I would sometimes disagree and argue. Despite these polemics, one thing was important to me - that we believed in the same God and were children of the same Church. Those disagreements were but trifles, which unfortunately are inevitable in everyday life: we were entirely at one when it came to the principles of our faith.

Death is a watershed that separates the important from the unimportant. Death gives the true measurement of a person, making it possible to put misunderstandings aside and see the person the way he or she is. So now Father Daniel is standing before us in all the simplicity of his smile, and how sad it is that we cannot accept a person as they are while they are still alive.

It is beyond doubt that Father Daniel lived in and for Christ. He and only He was the centre and meaning of his life. His daily confession of the faith and his sincere wish to bring people to the Truth was perceived by many as something foolish, not serious, something inappropriate for reputable people.

We talk a lot about the revival of Orthodoxy and, I hope, we work for it to a certain extent. But are there many among us who have no other interests, or rather, meanings in life but Christ and His Church? We can talk about it, but what do our lives say? Our everyday activities? What is the cornerstone of it all?

Almost all who comment on the terrible tragedy agree that Father Daniel was not indifferent - he was sincere and zealous. The Church Tradition has preserved the words of Christ, “As I find you, so shall I judge you.” Father Daniel became a martyr while performing his priestly service. He was trapped, but not taken unawares; he met his death vested in his priest’s stole and cuffs. We constantly pray at every service that the end of our earthly existence be painless, blameless and peaceful. However, we cannot know what, in fact, it will be; we can only pray and try to live a Christian life. That is how Father Daniel lived, just doing his work and relying on God in everything.

Evil thinks in the categories of earthly history, but we were created for eternity. What we will be in eternity depends on what we become on earth. Father Daniel was a priest of Christ and His Church. All his life was filled with this service, and his death is the confirmation of this. “Death is worth living for, and love is worth waiting for ….”

Please read also about Fr.Daniel:

Fr. Daniel's Autobiography and the Interview with Him on the Occasion of the Opening of the Missionary Centre

On the Murder of Father Daniil Sysoev

Father Daniil Has Gone from us to God as a Confessor
A postscript. We are all called to the Great Commission: The Lord said: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." (Mat 28.18-20) While the direct commission was given to the Apostles, and through them the Bishops and priests, every Christian has a role to play in "making disciples", beginning with themselves, and through their own witness bring others to Christ.

In the technologically rich and "civilized" twenty-first century, it is too easy to assume that we can simply sit at our computers blogging (like this present activity) and catechumens will wander across our paths like the Ethiopian eunuch to receive the Gospel at our hands. It is too often the case that our witness fall short through lack of prayer, lack of fasting, and lack of Grace-filled Love. There are thousands upon thousands of catechumens 'out there' - the great majority of them not even knowing that they are listening to hear the words of Faith and thus going about their lives like the eunuch, reading and not understanding.

We need to pray for catechumens daily, those we know and those who do not yet know the Church. We need to fast for our own sins and the sins of the world. We need to beg our Lord for the Gift of life-transforming Faith and the Grace of Divine Light. Only then, whether clergy or laity, will our efforts bear the fruits substantiating our claim to be Christian. And we must be prepared to accept that sometimes these godly efforts may require our blood to prove the Truth of our witness.


west_rhino said...

Titus, you bring to mind Gamaliel's caution to the council, that if the Way as not of God, it would fail and wither away and if it is of God, nothing the Pharisees or Sanhedrin could do would be able to stop it.

Thank you

The Byzantine Rambler said...

Dear (West) Rino:

Not quite sure of your intention in your comment. Would you elaborate?

(Fr) Titus
(The Byzantine) Rambler.