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Why the Martyred Tsar Nicholas II Is One of the Most Important Figures Ever

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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.

One could easily speak on the deep personal attributes of Tsar Nicholas II, 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 a modern historian, it is undeniable that the Tsar was a man of deep conviction, righteousness, and a just ruler, just as St. John of Kronstadt testifies.

Laying aside the consideration of his incalculable personal spiritual treasures, my goal is to briefly outline an aspect of his global, dare I say cosmic, significance.

The recognition that clearly emerged, most of all with the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity in the early 300’s — that the Caesar (Tsar) was ordained by God for the good and godly ordering of governmental affairs — is an understanding that 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 and divinely revealed principles of Orthodoxy. Ultimately a very important reality was and is confessed – God alone is the source of all true 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 evil authority arises (mainly because people actively seek not to be ruled by God) is another topic. For now, I am speaking of the ideal of Christian authority.

Through all the ups and downs of history, this principle is evident in the (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. 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. 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. Meanwhile, 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 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 a 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 High King of all. The Orthodox Tsar (both 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 of 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.

St. John Maximovich further reveals: 

“The meaning for world history of the martyr’s death of the Imperial Family, something that likens it to the most significant Biblical events, consists of the fact that here the Constantionopolitan period of the existence of the Church of Christ comes to an end, and a new, martyric, apocalyptic age opens up. It is begun with the voluntary sacrifice of the last anointed Orthodox Emperor and his family.”

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 global 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 godless 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.


Fr. Zechariah Lynch & his wife Natalia

Fr. Zechariah is an Orthodox priest in Pueblo, Colorado, at the Archangel Michael Orthodox Church. He blogs at The Inkless Pen, and is a regular contributor at Russian Faith.


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Anmeldebescheinigung: How to get Austria’s crucial residence document for EU citizens

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The EU’s freedom of movement enables citizens to move to another country in the bloc relatively easily, but there are still some conditions you need to meet.

As a citizen of an EU country, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland, you have the right to live in Austria for more than three months as long as you meet one of the following criteria:

  • Being employed or self-employed in Austria
  • Studying at a recognised Austrian institution
  • Having sufficient financial means to support yourself

As well as fulfilling one of these conditions, you also need valid health insurance for Austria.

If you are working legally in Austria, you will have this automatically, either through the Österreichische Gesundheitskasse (ÖGK) if you are employed by a company or through the Sozialversicherungsanstalt der Selbständigen (SVS) if you are self-employed.

As a student or self-supporting person, you will instead need to find your own comprehensive health insurance policy; your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) might be sufficient for students who aren’t in Austria long-term, but this doesn’t cover all medical visits so it is generally worth getting a separate health insurance policy.

When you arrive in Austria, you need to register your residence within three days, and at this point you will receive a Meldebestätigung (proof of residence). However, the process of getting your registration certificate (Anmeldebescheinugung) does not happen automatically after the initial registration.

You need to submit your application for the Anmeldebescheinigung within four months of your arrival in Austria, and you do this in person at your local MA35 office, the government department responsible for immigration and citizenship matters.

You need to make an appointment to attend the office in person.

If you live in Austria for five continuous years as an EU/EEA citizen, you automatically receive the right of permanent residence. You do not need to apply for any specific document to prove this or to continue living in Austria, but if you want to, you can apply for a certificate of permanent residence.

The documents you’ll need are the following (it’s a good idea to bring both the original and a copy):

  • Valid ID or passport
  • A completed Anmeldebescheingung form: Most of the details here are simple to fill out. You’ll need your personal information (name, date of birth, parents’ names, marital status), your current residential address, and to note which of the criteria for residence you meet and which company you have health insurance with. You can fill out the form before your visit, but you usually sign it when you have your in-person appointment, not before.
  • Proof of employment or self-employment if you’re working: This would be a work contract for employees, while self-employed workers can show their tax number, trade licence if applicable, contracts with clients, and/or other proof of your business.
  • Proof of studies if you’re studying: This could be a certificate of enrolment, and you may also need to show proof that your place of study is accredited. Your university’s student office should be able to help you get the documents you need.
  • Proof of sufficient funds and health insurance if you are either studying or self-supporting: This includes your insurance certificate, and proof of your bank balance or pension statements for example. Students who are being supported by their parents should be able to show confirmation from their parents of a monthly allowance.
  • Your proof of residence in Austria (Meldebestätigung)

Your documents will need to be in either German or English, so documents in other languages need to be translated by an authorized translator.

Getting the certificate costs €15, and there may be additional fees depending on which foreign documents you provide. Not getting it is potentially more expensive though (not to mention illegal) as you could face a fine of up to €250.



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Brendan Kennelly, one the country’s most popular poets, dies aged 85

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Brendan Kennelly, one the country’s most popular poets and a former professor of English at Trinity College Dublin, has died. He was 85.

Family members confirmed his death on Sunday evening at Áras Mhuire nursing home, Listowel, in his native Co Kerry.

Mr Kennelly was born in Ballylongford, Co Kerry, in 1936, the son of Tim Kennelly, publican and garage proprietor, and his wife Bridie Ahern, a nurse.

He graduated from Trinity College, wrote his PhD thesis there, and went on to become professor of modern literature at the university.

Mr Kennelly had more than 30 poetry collections published, which captured the many shades and moods of his home county as well as his adopted Dublin home.

He was also a popular broadcaster and made many appearances on radio and television programmes, such as The Late Late Show.

[His poetry is] infused with the details and texture of life, its contradictions and moments of celebration including the wry experiences of football and politics

President Michael D Higgins, a friend of Mr Kennelly’s, said his poetry held “a special place in the affections of the Irish people”.

“As one of those who had the great fortune of enjoying the gift of friendship with Brendan Kennelly for many years, it is with great sadness that I have heard of his passing,” he said.

“As a poet, Brendan Kennelly had forged a special place in the affections of the Irish people. He brought so much resonance, insight, and the revelation of the joy of intimacy to the performance of his poems and to gatherings in so many parts of Ireland. He did so with a special charm, wit, energy and passion.”

He added that Mr Kennelly’s poetry is “infused with the details and texture of life, its contradictions and moments of celebration including the wry experiences of football and politics”.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the country has lost a “great teacher, poet, raconteur; a man of great intelligence and wit”.

He added: “The Irish people loved hearing his voice and reading his poetry.”

He spoke the language of the people. We loved his writing. His eloquence was masterful

Trinity College Dublin’s provost, Prof Linda Doyle, said Mr Kennelly was known to generations of Trinity students as a great teacher and as a warm and encouraging presence on campus.

“His talent for, and love of, poetry came through in every conversation as did his good humour. We have all missed him on campus in recent years as illness often kept him in his beloved Kerry. He is a loss to his much loved family, Trinity and the country,” she said.

Tony Guerin, a close friend of Kennelly’s, and a playwright, said he will be remembered in Kerry and elsewhere as “the people’s poet”.

“My relation with Brendan was one of friendship. There are more scholarly people who will assess his contribution and discuss those matters. But he spoke the language of the people. We loved his writing. His eloquence was masterful, whether it was the written word or being interviewed by Gay Byrne,” he said.

Mr Kennelly is survived by his brothers, Alan, Paddy and Kevin, by his sisters, Mary Kenny and Nancy McAuliffe, and his three grandchildren.

His daughter Doodle Kennelly died earlier this year.

Arrangements for a family funeral are expected to be announced shortly.

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New skeleton find could reveal more about Vesuvius eruption

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The remains of a man presumed to be aged 40-45 were found under metres of volcanic rock roughly where Herculaneum’s shoreline used to be, before Vesuvius’ explosion in 79 AD pushed it back by 500 metres (1,640 feet).   

He was lying down, facing inland, and probably saw death in the face as he was overwhelmed by the molten lava that buried his city, the head of the Herculaneum archaeological park, Francesco Sirano, told the ANSA news agency.

“He could have been a rescuer”, Sirano suggested.

As Vesuvius erupted, a naval fleet came to the rescue, led by the ancient Roman scholar and commander Pliny the Elder. He died on the shore, but it is believed that his officers managed to evacuate hundreds of survivors.

The skeleton might have otherwise belonged to “one of the fugitives” who was trying to get on one of the lifeboats, “perhaps the unlucky last one of a group that had managed to sail off,” Sirano suggested.

It was found covered by charred wood remains, including a beam from a building that may have smashed his skull, while his bones appear bright red, possibly blood markings left as the victim was engulfed in the volcanic discharge.

Archaeologists also found traces of tissue and metal objects — likely the remains of personal belongings he was fleeing with: maybe a bag, work tools, or even weapons or coins, the head of the archaeological park said.

Other human remains have been found in and around Herculaneum in the past decades — including a skull held in a Rome museum that some attribute to Pliny — but the latest discovery can be investigated with more modern techniques.

READ ALSO: Study finds 2,000-year-old brain cells of man killed in Vesuvius eruption

“Today we have the possibility of understanding more”, Sirano said.

Researchers believe that in Herculaneum temperatures rose up to 500 degrees — enough to vaporise soft tissues. In a phenomenon that is poorly understood, a rapid drop in temperature ensued, helping preserve what remained.

Although much smaller than Pompeii, its better-known neighbour outside the southern city of Naples, Herculaneum was a wealthier town with more exquisite architecture, much of which is still to be uncovered.

READ ALSO: Where are Italy’s active volcanoes?



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