Metropolitan Benjamin Fedchenkov
Iván Afanásevich Fédchenkov: September 14, 1880 — October 4, 1961.
“Serve the people”
…I decided to ask him [Patriarch Tikhon] a silent question (without words — with the heart, but his heart already felt was I was thinking):
“Vladyka! What should we do there (outside of Russia)?” That is, about the division in the Church between Metropolitan Anthony and Metropolitan Evlogy. “Where should I go?”
He immediately understood my question, but apparently he was not the least bit interested in it; in fact, it seemed to trouble him. His previously shining smile disappeared.
I waited for an answer… What answer? I could have said to him, “Should I go to Met. Anthony, or to Met. Evlogy” — or something to that effect, or about the division in general… But his answer was totally unexpected, something I could never have thought up:
“Serve the people…”
Those were the astounding and unexpected words His Holiness said to me. Not about metropolitans, not about divisions, not about jurisdictions, but about serving the people… Precisely the people, that is, the simple people… It was no coincidence that there were only peasants in the hut (and my father, who was a serf)…
He did not use the plural form of the word “serve”, but the singular, which meant me personally. Then the meaning of the Patriarch’s words became clear to me:
“Why are you bishops arguing amongst yourselves? Is it all about you? The issue is the people’s salvation, and specifically the simple people. If they are saved, then all will be well. If they are not saved, then it is all over. What is a general without his soldiers?”
A Dream: About my vision of Patriarch Tikhon