July 4/17, 2015
Feast of the Royal Martyrs Tsar-Martyr Nicholas, Tsaritsa-Martyr Alexandra, the Royal Crown Prince Alexis, the Grand-Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, and those martyred with them.
When I was younger, I remember being so fearful of separation from my parents. A friend who lost both her parents in a tragic car accident further heightened my fears that at any moment, I could be left instantly an orphan. Now that I am older, I see even more the fragility of this mortal frame, the temporariness of all that we see with the eyes, and the impermanence of all that we hold dear in this world.
Today we commemorate a king and his royal family who perhaps should not have died the horrific death they suffered. In the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution, with the old kingdom crumbling around him, he could have chosen retreat. No one would have blamed him for using connections abroad and fleeing with his dear ones to another country less affected by the violence. But Tsar Nicholas II chose the higher path of martyrdom. And his courageous and pious family also chose this path, for the love of Christ and the Motherland.
Why capitulate to such a seemingly senseless death when one has the power to escape at their disposal? Because this royal family had discovered the secret of overcoming my childhood fear of separation. It is the same hope expressed so eloquently in the epistle for this morning’s Liturgy:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose... For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Romans 8:28-39
So their death then is our life; their premature departure, our arrival; and their great and bloody sacrifice is our glorification in the life to come. Holy Royal Martyrs pray to God for us!