Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

On the Death of My Husband: A Message from Matushka Yuliya Mikhailovna Sysoeva, Widow of Fr Daniil Sysoev

Matushka Yuliya Mikhailovna Sysoeva and her daughters Iustina Daniilovna Sysoeva and Dorofei Daniilovna Sysoeva laying flowers on the grave of her husband, the murdered Fr Daniil Sysoev.

Thank you, dear ones, for your support and prayers. I can’t express my pain in words. It’s like the pain of standing by the Cross of the Saviour. Yet, it’s also a joy that you can’t convey by mere speech… it’s the joy of coming to the empty tomb. Where is thy victory, O death? Fr Daniil foresaw his demise several years before the crime.

He always wanted to be found worthy of martyrdom, and the Lord granted him this crown. Those who shot him, wanted to spit on the face of the Church, as once they spat on the face of Christ, but, they have not achieved what they wanted, because they failed to spit on the Church. Fr Daniil ascended his Golgotha right inside the church that he built and where he committed all his time and strength. They killed him as though he was an ancient prophet, between the altar and the place of sacrifice, and he rightly earned the title of a martyr. He died for Christ, Whom he served with all his might.

Very often, he told me that he was afraid that he wouldn’t make it; he thought that he wasn’t good enough. As a human being, he had his excesses and distortions, he stumbled and made mistakes, but, he was not mistaken in the main, his life was devoted entirely to HIM.

I didn’t understand why he was in a hurry. In the last three years, he worked constantly, without a break for weekends or holidays. I grumbled; I wished, just sometimes, that I would have the simple happiness of having my husband and the father of my children with me and the kids. However, he was called to walk another road.

He said that he’d be killed. I asked him with whom he would leave us with, that is, my three children and me. He replied that he’d leave us in good hands. “I’ll leave you with the Mother of God; she’ll take care of you”.

Over time, I forgot those words. He specified the vestments he wished to be dressed in for his burial. At the time, I joked that we shouldn’t talk about it, for we didn’t know who was going to bury whom. He said that I was going to bury him. Once we were talking about funerals, I don’t remember this conversation completely, but, I said that I had never been to a priest’s funeral. He replied, “Don’t worry about it, you can come to mine”.

I remember so many of our words together and I realise that I only now found out what they really meant. Now, my doubts are resolved; my misunderstandings are dispelled.

We didn’t say goodbye in this life, we didn’t ask each other’s forgiveness, we didn’t hug each other. It was a normal day… he went to serve the morning liturgy, and that was the last time that I saw him.

Why didn’t I go that day to meet him in the church? Indeed, I had thought I would, but, I decided that I should cook dinner and put the kids to bed. I didn’t go… I had to take care of the kids… it was as if a hand was holding me back. Often enough before, I went and met him in the church. I felt like clouds were looming over us. Over the last few days, I tried to be with him as often as possible. Last week, I thought only of death and of the life beyond the grave. I really couldn’t concentrate on either one. On that day, thoughts whirled in my head, “death blows to the head”. Last week was so difficult for me; it felt like a ton of bricks had fallen on me.

I didn’t break down. He supports me; I feel that he is near me. At that time, we said so many tender words to each other, more than we spoke in the rest of our lives together. Only now, do I realise how much we loved one another.

The Fortieth Day {Editor’s note: Special prayers are served 40 days after a death, we believe that is the time when the soul stands before God’s judgement.} of Fr Daniil falls on the eve of his nameday and the patronal feast of the future temple, 29 and 30 December, the feastday of the Holy Prophet Daniel. As prophesied by an old woman, the church would be built, but, Fr Daniil wouldn’t be there to serve in it. The second part is now accomplished.

23 November 2009

Matushka Yuliya Sysoeva

Missionersky Portal Khrama Proroka Daniila (Missionary Portal of Holy Prophet Daniel Church)

As quoted in Interfax-Religion



On the Death of a Priest: In Memory of Fr Daniil Sysoev

The body of Fr Daniil Sysoev (1974-2009) laid out for the Last Farewell. Vechnaya yemu pamyat!

I knew Fr Daniil, I interviewed him for Foma in 2004, and, after that, chatted with him on the phone. We held diametrically opposed points of view… on Christian literature, on the literal interpretation of the six days of Genesis, on the fate in the afterlife of non-Orthodox, and on the relationship between science and religion. Until yesterday, it seemed to me that all of this was very important. However, death, not just a simple death, but, a martyrdom, put all of it into perspective. I have NOT changed my views on these issues, but, now, I have a very different understanding of the motivation of Fr Daniil. He had a youthful and passionate faith, not a dull dogmatic conservatism. With all the forces of his fervent soul, Fr Daniil threw himself totally into the defence of his views because he really wanted to do good for his opponents, as their salvation was very important to him. Sometimes, he looked ridiculous, sometimes, he was naïve, and, sometimes, it backfired on him, but, he was always honest and sincere. Yet, I don’t remember a single case where he took anything thrown at him personally; he didn’t dwell on it. Now, I am ashamed that I often laughed at his “mulish stubbornness”… indeed, in this regard, I lacked love. He had a real love for everybody… it was GENUINE.

Now, many are horrified… a terrible death, what a horrible death. I think that taking this attitude to Fr Daniel is rather strange… after all, it was the death of a soldier of Christ, who died at his post. I can’t even say that I’m terribly sorry for him… I’m sure that he has now entered into the joy of Christ. I’m terribly sorry for his widow and daughters, though. Their pain is real, and we can and must pray for them. Well, let’s think about practical things. Of course, his widow and children will receive a pension, but, we all understand that it’s little enough to live on. Therefore, they may need our financial assistance, and it would be good if someone undertook to organise fundraising for them.

Yet, it’s necessary to understand what happened in a Christian way. Firstly, speaking of his death, Fr Daniil once stated that the Christian faith is not just a set of views, not just discussions in Live Journal comboxes, nor just an automatic response to tired rituals. Rather, it’s a very serious and very dangerous thing. We’re all at risk… more precisely, we become at risk at the moment when faith becomes the core of our lives. They can murder, they can maim, they can distort, they can taunt, and they can harass. Do not look for conspiracy in my words… I’m not talking about some mysterious dark organisation (I don’t know if there is or isn’t such a group, frankly). Nevertheless, the forces of evil, the demonic forces, are real, and real Christians (not the nominal sort) are intolerable to them. They seek to strike at them, and the instruments of their revenge, as a rule, are people who are possessed in the fullest sense of the word (this is rare and exceptional), or, simply, those afflicted with an obsessive passion that fuses with their sins (this is more often the case). Most often, their affliction rules them, and the reasons for their misfortune are understandable.

I think that it makes no sense to go into arguments about Providence, free will, and of bearing one’s cross. It’s important that all Christians should ask themselves, once again, what does our faith mean to us? Are we willing to pay the price? We all need to do that, in our own way, of course. There are those who are our keen opponents, and they are a very diverse lot. Immediately after the assassination, it was not surprising that one saw people on the internet forum ru_antirelidzhn rowdily celebrating what happened. These are regular folks we pass in the street, sit next to on public transport, and those whom we smile at every day. Of course, very, very few of them will take a gun and go on a killing spree, but, they form a social set where the killing of believers wins applause and respect.

Now, it’s very easy to turn our grief at Fr Daniil’s death into a senseless hatred of Islam. Hatred is a feeling foreign to the Christian faith. “’Forgive them, Father’, the Lord said of his tormenters, but, for us, human nature tends to more often say, ‘we won’t forget and we won’t forgive’”. All right, in this case, we must overcome human nature. This does not mean that the police should not search for the murderer. This does not mean that the murderer and sponsors of the crime (for, logically, someone sponsored it) should not be punished under the law. Nevertheless, one thing is beyond the pale… the hysterical cries about every Muslim being to blame (like they’re all guilty). Yes, the so-called “Islamic trail” exists… it may be the most probable scenario; it isn’t the only version of the crime. You can’t expand the guilt of one person, or of a small faction, to extend to all Muslims. I’m not saying that we should mince about spouting mealy-mouthed political correctness… we needn’t bow and scrape before Muslims, and we Christians don’t need to make any doctrinal compromises with them! However, we should show a truly Christian attitude toward people.

Instead of raising a “witch-hunt” (including a “virtual” one), let’s just pray for the murdered Servant of God the Priest Daniil and his family. The Lord will deal with the dregs.

November 2009

Vitaly Kaplan


As quoted in Interfax-Religion


Concert of Contemporary Orthodox Choral Music Set for Moscow Conservatoire on Thursday

The Vesnianka Youth Choir on stage at the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire (they are not scheduled to perform at this recital; I wished to show you how the Conservatoire stage looks when set up for a choral group).

On Thursday, at the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory, a concert entitled Pyesn Voskozhdeniya (The Song of Ascents) is set for performance. “We will present the best Orthodox choral compositions of recent years at this concert, showcasing works created in Russia, the Ukraine, and Belarus”, Aleksei Puzakov, choir-director at the Church of St Nicholas at the Tretyakov Gallery and Honoured Artist of Russia, told our Interfax-Religion correspondent on Tuesday. The works presented are by such well-known composers as Roman Ledenyov, Kirill Volkov, Andrei Mikita, and Viktoria Polevaya. These musicians are not only famous all over the CIS, but, in Europe, as well. The organisers dedicated this performance to the creativity of Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk, the head of the MP Department for External Church Relations. Archbishop Hilarion’s pioneering of a new genre in Russian music, the “Orthodox Passion”, is a significant development in our cultural life. “Orthodox listeners so often hear ‘old friends’ as settings for the liturgical chants… it’s worn a rut in their minds. We wish to uplift the listeners of this concert. If their thoughts about God were hitherto vague and murky, perhaps, we can help them reflect on God, eternity, truth, and beauty”, Maestro Puzakov said. The Choir of the Tretyakov Gallery, which many consider the finest interpreters of sacred music in Russia, and the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, will participate in the concert.

24 November 2009



Celebrations in St Petersburg Mark the 280th Anniversary of the Birth of Generalissimo Aleksandr Suvorov

Filed under: history,military,patriotic,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

State Museum of A. V. Suvorov in St Petersburg

Today, in St Petersburg, celebrations marked the 280th anniversary of the birth of the famous Russian military commander, Generalissimo Aleksandr Suvorov. At the same time, there has been 105 years since the foundation of the State Museum of A. V. Suvorov in St Petersburg… the first memorial museum in Russia. In honour of these events, participants will place flowers at the monument to the great military leader in Suvorov Square in St Petersburg. Staff of the museum, Russian and foreign historians, soldiers, students of the Suvorov Military Academy, and descendants of the generalissimo will attend the ceremony. At the St Aleksandr Nevsky Lavra, in the funeral chapel of the Annunciation (the closest thing we have to a national pantheon), Orthodox clergy will serve the special Pannikhida for a soldier. Generalissimo Suvorov has a unique place in history as a commander who never lost a battle.

24 November 2009

Voice of Russia World Service


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