Posts tagged Alexander Hotovitzky
In the January 1902 supplement to the Vestnik (of which he was editor), St. Alexander Hotovitzky wrote a reflection on New Year’s Day. It is reprinted in full below.
Again I stand on the threshold of a New Year. Again I stand on the crest of a mountain, where I may make a halt and review, before I walk again on the path I have brod. I shall halt, I shall rest, I shall hush my troubled heart, be it only for this short moment, I shall hide from the blizzard, which had followed me ever since I set out, and will meet me again the moment I leave my seclusion. Oh, Lord! help me calmly examine my soul and Thy creation.
I gaze at God’s creation, at everything which He had sent to me, which has been placed close to me, which, through His will, has come together in my life, and, with my hand on my heart, from the depth of my heart and conscience, I say: all this is very good! Yonder is my happy childhood — how brightly it shines, diffusing its aroma from the distant long ago, how it lights up my path before me, how it freshens my soul, during spells of exhaustion! Yonder is my ardent youth and with it all that brought to my soul the first raptures of feeling. Here are my lessons, my joys, my bitter losses, here are the people to like with whom is my happiness, here are others, whom I have buried in the damp earth, almost unconscious with grief; here are all in whose company I grew up, with whom I worried, from whom I have received gifts of love and of wrath, from whom have I accepted honour and dishonour; here is Nature, which, at times, appeared to me more alive and more responsive, which had more power to energize my spirit, than living beings themselves; here are my pleasures, my connections, my illnesses. All, all this is very good. All was good, that God’s Providence sent into my life. Nothing was in vain. Everything was for good.
My past! How far it stretches back in the wondrous country, whence come to me a glad sound, or a beloved image, consolation, and hope, and bitter remorse. I gaze at it and I smile for joy, I gaze at it and I cover my face with my hands for shame. Yet I know: it is mine, it is myself, it is a part of my life, and no power can take it from me or erase what is written in it. And that which is written in it is the future, it is the fate of man. Many are the lives in it, whose mysterious meaning will be disclosed at some future time, at the time when the seed that was sown, will come to ripeness, when, in letters of fire, it will bring forward the word, traced on it by eternal wisdom, unrevealed as yet to mind and conscience, but not to be separated from life. Whilst man lived his days, whilst he worked and slept, whilst he laughed and cried, whilst he moved and rested — eternal Wisdom traced this word on his life and sealed it with a seal of its own, putting a magic spell on it, until the time comes for the seal to be broken, and for a dark corner of a man’s life to be lit up by the light of God’s understanding, which lies hidden in life. It is an agony to read some of these words, but once you have read them, your heart will know, that those are words of God’s love, of God’s solicitude for man. And with every new word, a mystery is revealed, a veil is drawn away and man is made able to understand the thoughts and longings of his own heart.
All is very good. Yet, even now, my restless heart is throbbing with unknown longing and straining to see into the distant future.
Oh Lord! let Thy blessing rest on us.
It’s a common debate within American Orthodoxy: should our priests wear cassocks, or should they wear suits and collars like their Roman Catholic and Protestant counterparts?
One side rightly argues that cassocks are the traditional and virtually universal style of dress for Orthodox clergy. The other side just as correctly points out that even some American saints wore suits and collars. As with so many issues, both camps can cite historical precedent. This is from a New York Sun article shortly after St. Raphael’s consecration (5/22/1904):
The Bishop is only 42 years old. He is a handsome man, with piercing black eyes, a black beard and hair just tinged with gray, which is brushed back from his high forehead in long curling locks. He wears a costume which resembles the cassock of a Roman Catholic priest indoors, and a plain gold cross suspended around his neck by a golden chain. He has a democratic spirit, however, and has cut his long hair, which used to flow down over his shoulders to a more conventional length, and refuses to wear his pontificals in the street.
“I do not wish to attract attention by any peculiarities,” he says. “There is no reason why I should be so extreme.”
In the photo above, you can see St. Raphael and his archdeacon, the future Bishop Emmanuel Abo-Hatab, both wearing suits and holding their hats. Both men have closely-cropped beards and short hair.
That said, St. Raphael did not impose his own preferences on his clergy. For instance, check out the impressive beard on his priest, Archimandrite Meletios Karroum, printed in theÂ Boston Globe (9/18/1904):
Very generally, in the early 1900s, Russian clergy tended to be more “Westernized” in their appearance. Photos of St. John Kochurov from his time in America depict him with no facial hair at all. A lot of early Russian priests had only moustaches or goatees, and many wore suits. Take a look at this photo of St. Alexander Hotovitzky, from 1913:
Meanwhile, Greek clergy tended to be more traditional in their dress. As best I can tell, until the 1920s, Greek priests in America typically wore cassocks and sported full beards. In the ’20s, a general trend towards Americanization (pews, organs, etc) in Greek churches began, and it seems like collars and shaved faces became popular at about the same time.
More broadly, I would emphasize that diversity in clergy appearance has been pretty standard throughout American Orthodox history. Also, whatever their personal preferences, saints like Raphael did not impose their own views on their clergy. Flexibility, it seems, is generally to be preferred.
2009 has been an eventful year for American Orthodoxy — perhaps the most eventful in our history. But it’s got competition. The year 1905 may well have been even crazier. Here is a list of the major happenings of 1905, in no particular order:
- The headquarters of the Russian Mission were transferred from San Francisco to New York. Bishop Tikhon was elevated to Archbishop, and the Diocese of the Aleutian Islands and Alaska became the Archdiocese of the Aleutian Islands and North America.
- Archbishop Tikhon wrote his now-famous proposal for an American Church divided into ethnic jurisdictions, all under the authority of the Russian Archbishop.
- The first Orthodox seminary in America was founded, in Minneapolis.
- Bishop Raphael published the first issue of Al-Kalimat (The Word).
- Then-Bishop Tikhon received an honorary doctorate from Nashotah House, the famous Episcopalian seminary. Later that year, the degree would be rescinded.
- To ensure its independence from the Russians, Holy Trinity Greek church in New York City was legally incorporated — by an act of the New York State Legislature — as, “The Hellenic Eastern Orthodox Christian Church of New York.”
- Bishop Raphael consecrated the grounds of St. Tikhon’s Monastery, in South Canaan, PA.
- A fake bishop, Seraphim Ustvolsky, was operating in Canada.
- Fr. Alexander Hotovitzky, the dean of the Russian cathedral in New York, received a bomb threat, which turned out to be a hoax.
- The first Orthodox services were celebrated in Utah. Construction began on a Greek church in Salt Lake City a few months later, and by October, the church building was consecrated.
- Fr. Michael Andreades, an ethnic Greek who was educated in Russia, was ordained a priest by Abp Tikhon. He was one of a handful of Greek priests to serve in the Russian Mission.
- The first Orthodox parish was organized in Washington, DC (St. Sophia Greek church).
- The Russian statesman Sergei Witte came to the US to negotiate with the Japanese to end the Russo-Japanese War. Fr. Alexander Hotovitzky was present for the negotiations.
- Bishop Raphael was arrested and charged with conspiracy to murder. This crisis lasted for a couple of months, but in the end, Bishop Raphael was exonerated.
- Isabel Hapgood put the finishing touches on her English translation of the Service Book, which would be published the following year.
- Just in the month of October, Fr. Sebastian Dabovich 1) established the first Serbian church in Chicago, 2) was raised to the rank of archimandrite by St. Tikhon, and 3) laid the cornerstone for the first Orthodox church in Montana.
- Robert Morgan, a black Episcopal deacon, regularly attended the Greek church in Philadelphia.
- Ingram Nathaniel Irvine converted to Orthodoxy and was ordained a priest by Abp Tikhon. With his conversion, the “English Department” of the Russian Mission was created.
- Fr. Aftimios Ofiesh arrived in New York, beginning his colorful career in America.
And those are just the big events. An interesting book could be written, just on American Orthodoxy in 1905. Eventually, we’ll have articles on each of these events here at OrthodoxHistory.org. For now, though, it’s worth reflecting on a year that was, quite possibly, even more chaotic than our current one.
This past weekend, those of us on the New Calendar celebrated the feast day of St. John Kochurov, the Russian New Martyr and former priest of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Chicago. With that in mind, I thought I’d talk a bit about St. John’s arrival in Chicago.
John Kochurov was just 24 years old when he became a priest, in the summer of 1895. The ordination took place in Russia, but it was done by the visiting Bishop Nicholas Ziorov, the head of the Russian Mission in America, and Fr. John was to accompany Bishop Nicholas back to the United States. They arrived in November, just as Fr. Raphael Hawaweeny was getting settled in Brooklyn.
The young Fr. John was entering a bit of a sticky situation. From the Chicago Tribune (11/25/1895):
Nicholaei of St. Petersburg, Archbishop of All America, held solemn mass in the Greek [that is, Orthodox] Church, at No. 13 South Center avenue, yesterday morning for the installation of Father Kochureff as assistant priest of the parish. He was assisted by the local priest, Father Kazantsier, and assistant, and two pages from St. Petersburg. The vacancy of assistant priest was caused by a difference of opinion between Archbishop Nicholaei and R.A. Bouroff, late assistant pastor, who has come under the displeasure of his superiors by attendance at the University of Chicago.
Nearly 100 persons were crowded into the little room reserved for the congregation of the Greek Church in Chicago. It is the front room of a ground flat in a modest three-story building erected for a dwelling. The chancel occupies an adjoining front room. The service is more elaborate than that of the Roman Church, and differs radically in much of the ceremony, being conducted behind a high chancel screen, sometimes with the single entrance closed. All the appointments of the altar and chancel are different. The service is unique in many ways.
A pretty standard description of vestments, candles, etc. follows. Then, we read,
There is a division in the Greek congregation owing to the retirement of Assistant Priest Bouroff. It is said that a wing of the congregation is at outs with the authorities because of loyalty to the younger priest, who persists in carrying on his studies at President Harper’s institution. These members credit Archbishop Nicholaei with having caused the exile of more students to Siberia than any man in Russia. On this account it is easy to believe, they declare, that the Bishop of All America will never forgive the independence of ex-Assistant Pastor Bouroff.
About a dozen clergy from all over the country came to Chicago for Bishop Nicholas’ visit; these included Fr. Alexis Toth of Wilkes-Barre, Fr. Alexander Hotovitzky of New York, Fr. Anatolii Kamenskii of Sitka (the future bishop and confessor), and Fr. Theodore Pashkovsky of Jackson, CA (the future Metropolitan Theophilus).
Several things, right off the bat: Bishop Nicholas was not actually an archbishop, and his title was “Bishop of the Aleutian Islands and Alaska,” not “Bishop of All America.” Other newspapers give various names for the other Chicago priest; the most accurate rendition is probably “Fr. Pavel Kazanski.” Also, the Chicago Inter Ocean says that the parish is called “St. Ivan.” Originally it was “St. Nicholas,” and this was soon changed to “St. Vladimir” and later “Holy Trinity.” I’m not sure if, at some point, “St. Ivan” was used, or if this was a reporter’s mistake.
In the Tribune article quoted above, Fr. John Kochurov is named as the assistant priest, with Fr. Pavel Kazanski as the parish rector (having apparently replaced Fr. Ambrose Vretta, who was transferred to Seattle). However, I’ve found several reports from 1896 which put it the other way round, with Kochurov as the rector and Kazanski as his assistant. It’s possible that the earlier Tribune article got it wrong; certainly, it would be odd to have a formal “installation” for an assistant priest. Most probably, Kazanski held down the fort until Kochurov arrived, at which point the former became the latter’s assitant.
In any event, the most interesting part of this story is the Fr. Bouroff, who was apparently removed from his post for daring to attend the University of Chicago. I know some of our readers here have connections to that institution; perhaps there is something in the school’s archives which could shed more light on this episode?
Of course, for the Chicago parish, everything worked out fine in the end. Kochurov would prove to be a dedicated and exemplary pastor, and he would lead the community for more than a decade. It’s interesting; recently, we discussed the fact that Fr. Evtikhy Balanovitch, in New York, got into trouble and was replaced by a saint, Fr. Alexander Hotovitzky. Here, at exactly the same time, Fr. Bouroff got into trouble and was replaced by another saint, Fr. John Kochurov.
Since the closing of Fr. Nicholas Bjerring’s chapel in 1883, New York City had been without a Russian Orthodox place of worship. Greek churches were founded in the city in 1892 and ’94, and by 1895, there were Russian parishes in Minnesota, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. Finally, in April of 1895, the Russian Mission returned to New York with the founding of St. Nicholas Church.
St. Nicholas began in the former home of one of the parish trustees, at 207 East 18th Street. The main floor housed the chapel; the priest, Fr. Evtikhy Balanovitch, lived upstairs with his family; and a Sunday School and reading room occupied the basement. (Before long, the parish moved around the corner, to 233 2nd Ave.)
But despite these modest beginnings, from the start, the parish had some impressive characteristics. Its iconostasis had previously been owned by the Russian army, and was used in the field during battles in the Balkans. A 12-person choir was led by Eugenie Lineff, a former opera singer.
The church trustees included some famous people — the Russian ambassador and consul general, and, most significantly, Barbara MacGahan, a famous journalist. Despite her surname, Mrs. MacGahan was actually a native Russian, and it was her strong desire for a Russian church in New York that ultimately led to the creation of the parish. These founders had been part of a New York Slavonic organization called the Virgin Mary Brotherhood, and they were the ones who petitioned the Holy Synod to establish a church.
Another impetus that led to the founding of St. Nicholas was the presence, in Brooklyn, of a sizeable number of Uniates, who, presumably, would be attracted to a nearby Orthodox church. It’s not clear whether these Uniates did, in fact, join the new parish.
The first priest of St. Nicholas was the aforementioned Fr. Evtikhy Balanovitch. He was apparently from Austria, and only in recent years became associated with the Russian Church. (In fact, in one place he’s referred to as a “recent convert,” which makes me wonder if he wasn’t originally a Uniate.) The New York Times describes him in this way:
[He] is a man of striking appearance. Of immense frame, clear complexion, and with locks hanging far down his back, he had the appearance of a prophet of old.
Balanovitch was an educated man, with a Doctorate of Divinity from the Theological Academy in St. Petersburg. He must not have been terribly practical, though, as he quickly made enemies with the founder of the parish, Barbara MacGahan.
From the New York Times (1/11/1896), we learn that, during a meeting of the church trustees on November 17, 1895, Balanovitch called MacGahan (a journalist) some sort of name — a name which, according to the Times, “meant that Mrs. MacGahan’s pen is at the disposal of the highest bidder, and that consequently no value could be placed on her statements as a newspaper correspondent and magazine writer.” St. Raphael Hawaweeny, the newly-arrived Syrian priest, was present at the meeting, and didn’t know what the word meant. Confused, he asked somebody, and that person told MacGahan, and MacGahan promptly filed a lawsuit against Balanovitch.
MacGahan soon dropped the suit. On December 1, Balanovitch had agreed to resign as pastor and leave the country. MacGahan determined that Balanovitch himself wasn’t entirely to blame — “the whole trouble had been brought on him by outside parties,” MacGahan’s lawyer said, explaining that others within the new parish had incited the priest to make enemies with MacGahan. Mrs. MacGahan herself told the Times that, while Balanovitch “is a man of good intentions, he is easily led by others.”
These unfortunate events would have a happy ending, at least for the parish of St. Nicholas. Later in 1896, Balanovitch’s replacement — St. Alexander Hotovitzky — arrived in New York.