On January 12, 2021, at the age of 85, Metropolitan Filaret (Vakhromeev) reposed in the Lord. Many people call him a mountain of a man. The future primate was born in 1935, survived the war, and began his service in the church right after school, becoming a subdeacon of Patriarch Alexy I (Simansky). Over the course of his long life, he changed many obediences, from rector of the Moscow Theological Schools and chairman of the Department for External Church Relations to Patriarchal Exarch of Western Europe and one of the three candidates for the patriarchal throne in 2009.
A separate and important part of Vladyka’s life is his primacy of the Belarusian Church. From 1992 to 2013, he was Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk, the Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus. During that time all the historical dioceses were restored; the monasteries and theological schools, to which the metropolitan paid special attention, resumed their activity. Below is a selection of quotes said by Metropolitan Philaret about himself and the church.
… On Sunday, June 22 (1941), my father took me to the store in Dobryninskaya Square to fulfil my long-standing wish and buy me a big ball. It was on the square that we heard Molotov’s address, saying that German troops violated our western border and bombed many settlements. Instead of the ball, I got a small shoulder bag in which my mother packed all the essentials needed when the air raid alert was announced.
At school I sat next to Alyosha Ushakov. Out of the whole class, we were the only two people wearing crosses on our chests. We never took them off, and everyone, including the teachers, knew that we were the “believing students”. However, we never had any problems related to that.
My decision to become a monastic caused my mother much pain. She could not hold her tears and said things like, “I thought that I would nurse your children.” and so on. But those feelings albeit natural for any mother, eventually gave way to joy. She did, however, cry bitterly during the tonsure — her heart must have felt that her son’s path was going to be a treacherous one; that sorrows and trials were yet to come. My father, on the other hand, accepted this news calmly, as he did with any news.
I don’t have my own private life. I am a monk.
Of course, I remember my student years. Notably, these memories become sweeter as they become more and more distant.
I have portraits of my father and mother on the work table in my cell. I say goodnight to them, as I go to bed, and greet them in the morning, asking for their blessing before each coming day.
(About cheat notes in school) Writing such “manuals” has always been a great help during the preparation for exams, you know. They always ended up becoming unnecessary at the end though, because we had already memorized everything. Sometimes we would distribute tasks between ourselves. Apparently, students are the same at all times. I think a talented cheat sheet really does deserve a good mark.
You can always remain yourself. This is my life motto. We should accept responsibility rather than blame circumstances.
When I was appointed to the Minsk See, there were only two Orthodox parishes in the city.
Unfortunately, I simply have no time for secular books. But I always read the Lives of Saints, the works of Theophan the Recluse, John Chrysostom, Gregory the Theologian. This is important for my inner mood. I find it necessary to read literature that protects and strengthens me in faith.
I am convinced that the life of every person develops in the way of God’s providence, especially the life of those who are on the path of serving Him. This path is my destiny, and I must protect it, rather than focusing on whatever disappointments may be caused by it.
When Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov), whose memory be blessed, informed me that I was appointed rector of the Moscow Theological Schools, I told him, “Vladyka, I have never been a rector.” To this he answered, “Well, brother, try pulling yourself up by the ears.” That was his advice to me.
A person comes into the world with one goal — to continuously work on himself. Our lives should be viewed as a process of improvement, a deep personal spiritual daring, overcoming difficulties and temptations.
A person looks at himself and his life from the perspective of his own time, while the Lord sees him in eternity.
Those who lack faith hope for a miracle. Faith is labour; sometimes it is so hard that it is called a “feat”. In support of this I will quote the words of the Apostle James that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20).
The greatest miracle is a personal meeting with God. It is always before a person’s eyes, but it has to be discerned in the bustle of the world. It is truly a miracle of miracles that can transform the life of one person, as well as the entire human race. The miracles from the realm of fairy tales are nothing more than dreams. They are as different from the miracles of faith as a child’s play with dolls is from real family life.
The most remarkable historical person is our Lord and God Jesus Christ — the Son of God, the Son of Man, born, not created, consubstantial with the Father.
People my age tend to associate vacation with solving health problems.
No one should take any special merits to himself.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds