“A TSAR GLORIFIED BY GOD”
The history of the Royal Family was tragically intertwined with the history of Russia. The tragedy began long before Russia’s cataclysm. The Royal Family became the object of slander, and this malicious defamation enveloped it so thickly, that literally the whole of Russia became the victim of poisonous disinformation. Were it not for this, the country would not have been so easily swayed by the revolution and would not have deserted its Tsar.
Truth was reinstated at a harsh cost when the Royal Family was imprisoned and kept under strict watch. The Family’s private life was investigated until its last day and was bared to the bone, having been placed under a microscope of odious surveillance. And what did these activists and protégés of the revolution, burning with malice and anticipating the pleasure of uncovering intimate family scandals, finally see?
They saw shining spiritual beauty.
What usually happens to prominent people decades after their death, when historians, rummaging through archives, gradually uncover the truth of their real lives, happened to the Tsar while he was still alive. Everything in his life became general knowledge, everything became the object of surveillance and investigation by prejudiced and suspicious observers.
And what appeared before the eyes of these observers?
A patriarchal Orthodox family, finding complete happiness in its mutual existence, even in conditions of the most terrible oppression.
This God-fearing family had lived a full life of family happiness while bearing the weight of royal power. It continued to live the same full life, perhaps even fuller because isolated from external events, with the same loving care for each other, with the same burning thought for Russia, with the same devotion to it, – in humiliating conditions of imprisonment. In what lay the meaning of life? In the fulfillment of God’s commandments. In what did one find support? In prayer, in an awareness of God’s providence extending over oneself. Perhaps the only family in the entire territory of the Russian land, swept up in the burning flames of an ungodly revolution, the only family experiencing inner peace and family bliss was the imprisoned Royal Family: so great was its supply of spiritual power, so pure was its conscience, so close was it to God. It was truly a “home church.”
More than one member of the ungodly host surrounding the Royal Family bowed his head before the indescribable beauty of the Family’s spiritual and moral visage. This was a miracle perhaps no less incredible than when wild beasts, let out to devour the Christian martyrs, licked their hands instead…
The martyric end of the Tsar and his family was not a sacrifice of atonement for their own sins, but rather for o u r s, for the terrible sin of apostasy of the entire Russian people. It is not by chance that the Lord has shown us the spiritual purity and sublimity of the Royal Martyrs. The Lord calls us to something far greater than the usual indignation against Bolshevik terror, one of whose victims was the Royal Family.
In his own day St. John of Kronstadt divided Russian society into two camps according to one’s attitude towards Tolstoy, who was clearly a forerunner of the godless regime. Nowadays a vivid marker of society’s division into two spiritually-different camps is one’s attitude towards the Royal Family. Was it simply a victim of terror among many others, or does it represent something qualitatively different? O, if only all of Russia could kneel in repentance before the spiritual beauty of the martyred Royal Family! This would signify the resurrection of Russia to a new and spiritual life, this would signify the deliverance of the entire world from the terrible nightmare which now hangs over it, clouding the Sun of Truth. We can pray for it. But everyone answers for himself. And there is hardly another question of personal conscience that has such great social impact than the question of the attitude of each one of us towards the Royal Family, of how each one of us evaluates the sublimity of their spiritual sacrifice.
It would be difficult to imagine the terrible state of depression in which we would find ourselves, and the power of darkness which would envelop Russia, were this Russia not symbolized by the last Tsar and his family – a symbol not only of true Orthodox Christians who were able to enlighten their souls through suffering, but of the royal heads of Russia, representing it, facing the world on its behalf, and interceding before God for it.
Their martyric death, being the crowning point of their lives, helps us to cope with life in this modern world. Even more than that, it teaches us how to live properly. The question of whether Orthodox Russia is still alive, whether the Orthodox world still lives, is essentially a question of whether there lives within us, as a life-giving source of all our activity, the image of the Tsar-Martyr and his Family, who have sacrificed themselves for historic Russia and for the entire Christian world.