“Give ear, you that rule over the multitudes and boast of many nations. For your dominion was given you from the Lord, and your sovereignty from the Most High, Who will search out your works and inquire into your plans” Wisdom 6:2-3.
The Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II is, I would contend, one of the most significant saints of the past century and of our “modern” times. Clearly, every saint is of incalculable worth; yet there have been certain saints throughout the course of human history that occupy such a standing that their actions on the providential path which God ordained for them have vast implications for the world. Other examples would be St. Constantine and St. Vladimir, for instance.
One could easily speak on the deep personal attributes of Tsar Nicholas, his profound faith and piety, his devotion as a husband, father, and ruler, together with his heartfelt concern for the well-being (physical and spiritual) of his country and the people God had entrusted to him. He was a true pastor who did not flee before the wolves of secular humanism and in the end, in emulation of His Lord Jesus, laid down his life for his sheep. As a husband, father, priest, and pastor, I am continually inspired by this priceless man, whose portrait hangs in my office.
Despite the virulent propaganda promoted by the communists, which is mindlessly repeated by many modern historians, it is undeniable that the Tsar was a man of deep conviction, righteousness, and a just ruler as St. John of Kronstadt testifies.
Laying aside his incalculable personal spiritual treasures, my goal is to briefly outline an aspect of his global, dare I say cosmic, significance.
An understanding that clearly emerged, most of all with the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity in the early 300’s, that the Cesar (Tsar) was ordained by God for the good and godly ordering of governmental affairs became a bedrock of Christian society. Ideally, this God-ordained earthly authority worked in harmony, in symphony, with the Church. Moreover, true and lasting earthly government, to be just and true, must be founded upon the eternal God revealed principles of Orthodoxy. Ultimately a very important reality was confessed – God is the source of all authority. Here there is no dialectic of church and state as found later in Western Europe, nor is present the bizarre “theocracies” such as appeared in Munster under Anabaptist rule. The Tsar was never outside the Church or above the law. He was first and foremost to be a servant of Christ and a minister of the Gospel.
This is not to say that bad rulers do not arise but ultimately the whole course of the world is in God’s hands. The fact that even evil authority arises (mainly because people actively seek to not be ruled by God) is another topic, I am speaking of the ideal of Christian authority.
Through all the ups and downs of history, this principle is evident in the (even if at times imperfect) spiritual striving of both Byzantium and Holy Rus’. Temporal earthly authority has a very important role: to help guide people to the eternal and heavenly Kingdom.
The modern secular ideal of government is based on “Enlightenment” ideology and its subsequent evolution into the revolutionary mindset. The Granddad of modern revolutions, the French Revolution, made no attempt to hide the fact that it desired the complete overthrow of “throne and altar.” The brutal history of bloody secular revolutions has always set as primary targets royalty and clergy (and anyone who would support them). A very enticing motto was created – rule for the people and by the people. The essential problem here is an inversion of authority. In the Christian ideal authority to rule (as Tsar or President) comes ultimately from God and must be recognized. In modern democracies the authority to rule is said to reside in, that is, takes its source from, the people. The people may choose who and what they want to rule over them (while at times, in some instances, giving lip service to God). This is pure humanism. (Democracy is not de facto bad, but the complete secular implementation of it is very faulty.) The people are deluded into thinking that they are the source of authority for those who rule over them (thus ascribing to themselves, as if possible, an authority that belongs to God alone). And the rulers are “freed” from the notion that they will answer to a Higher Authority and thus they now may do whatever is “right in their own eyes.”
In such an inversion, rather than the government assisting to prepare people for ultimate eternal existence, it becomes totally consumed with the base tendencies of humanity and the enshrining of these tendencies in civil law. Subjective and nebulous ideas such as “human rights” and “equality” replace the objective realities of Christian charity and love. The tyranny of fallen human perversions and passions become the dictators of human existence; any attempt to inhibit them is called a restriction of freedom, an infringement on “human rights,” and hateful. Fallen human degeneracy becomes a “right” which must be protected and even promoted under civil law. The “people” and their governments begin to believe that they have the authority, power, and right to rewrite the definitions of human morality and existence. This is the situation in the glorious democracies of the West at present.
St. John Maximovich asks a very important question, “Why was Tsar Nicholas II persecuted and killed?” And he provides the wise answer, “Because he was Tsar, Tsar by the grace of God. He was the bearer and incarnation of the Orthodox worldview that the Tsar is the servant of God, the Anointed of God, and that to Him he must give an account for the people entrusted to him by destiny.”
To rule as Tsar was a sacramental act, a mysterion. At the coronation of the Russian Tsar, he would enter the altar and commune in the same manner as a priest. As the priest is bound to give an answer to God for the flock with which he is entrusted, so the Tsar is pertinently reminded that he will ultimately answer to the King of kings for the people over whom God has placed him as ruler.
Thus, the Tsar stood as an icon of the reality of heavenly rule; a reminder to even other rulers of the earth that true sovereignty belongs to God Most-High. The Orthodox Tsar (Byzantine and Russian) is also seen as a restraining force to social chaos, lawlessness, and degeneracy. St. Paul states in 2 Thessalonians, “For the mystery of lawlessness already is energizing itself, only there is the one who restrains now, until he should be taken out of the midst. And then the lawless one shall be revealed …” (2:7-8a). “The one who restrains” is traditionally understood to be the Orthodox Tsar. St. John Chrysostom comments, “That is, whenever the empire is taken out of the way, then he shall come. For as long as there is fear if the empire, no one will willingly exalt himself. But when it is dissolved, he will attack the anarchy, and endeavor to seize upon the sovereignty both of man and God.” The clear implications, in which we possibly live, are that once the Orthodox Tsar together with the Empire falls, then the way will be cleared for the antichrist. He will exploit the social, moral, and spiritual confusion and lawlessness which will be the dominant situation in the world.
Thus, the removal and martyrdom of the last Orthodox Tsar have vast cosmic ramifications.
Maybe the world was no longer worthy of such an ideal. Maybe we all love our own authority a little too much. Regardless, after the martyrdom of the Tsar, the world entered into a time of unheard of chaos, socially and morally. The foundations of the “old world” have been relentlessly assaulted. A new world is indeed arising but I am afraid its end has long been prophesied.
Godless, anarchist, and iconoclastic, secular humanism, under the manifestation of Soviet communism, ruthlessly murdered the Tsar and his family because he was an Orthodox Christian and the Tsar. He stood as an icon of Godly rule; a reminder that humanity and all its earthly authority must answer to God. Secular humanism hates this. The utterly inhuman brutality with which the Tsar and his wife and children were killed reveals the demonic face and goal of secularism in all its forms. May those westerners with sanity hear and tremble, the godless agenda of sovietism is alive and well in the West. Its mask may have had an upgrade, but the demonic face behind it remains the same.