They asked me if I would go to Sura, in Archangelsk Province, in the Far North. I replied, “I won’t just go there—I’ll walk there!” And I’ll admit that throughout the whole time I’ve been here, never once—not one hour, not one minute—have I regretted that I ended up here.
In 1903, Fr. Alexander traveled to Russia and visited Fr. John Sergiev, the future saint, in Kronstadt. When he returned to New York, he gave an interview to a reporter from the Wilkes-Barre Times, and spoke about the famous wonder-worker of Kronstadt. The article was printed in that periodical on April 7, 1904.
Father John Sergiev breathed fresh life into Russian spirituality, making it predominantly Eucharistic. With eldership on the wane, this age-old Russian form of religious piety prophetically bequeathed by Father John of Kronstadt determined the existence of the Russian Orthodox Church for many years to come.
"God, Father of the Word, is also our benevolent and loving Father. When saying 'The Lord's Prayer,' we must believe and remember that the Father in heaven never forgets and will never forget us, for what earthly father forgets or does not care for his children? Remember that our Heavenly Father constantly surrounds us with love and care, and not in vain is He called our Father—this is not a name without meaning and force, but a name with great significance and power."
I lowered my eyes, while he continued to look at me, looking straight into my soul. He began to talk. I cannot even hope to reproduce all that he said. He spoke about my hut being like paradise, because wherever there are children, all is light and warmth there, and that I should not trade this paradise for the smoky atmosphere of a bar. He did not accuse me, – no, he kept excusing me, only I did not feel like being excused… He left, while I just continued sitting there quietly… I didn’t cry, although my soul was on the brink of tears. My wife kept looking at me… And ever since that time I became a decent man again…”
It is very clear that when St. John in his Epistle and our Savior in the Gospel speak about love they do not just mean something sentimental, something emotional, they mean something far more profound. The kind of love that they envisage, a universal all-embracing love, a love without limits, can only be a result of prayer, of ascetic effort.
"In this warfare I have come to know the immensity of God's long-suffering to us; for He alone knows all the infirmity of our fallen nature, which He mercifully took upon Himself, except for sin (I Peter2:22; Isaiah 53:9; I John 3:5; 4:10; Hebrews 4:15), and therefore He commanded us 'seventy times seven' times to forgive the sins (St. Matt. 18:22) of those who have fallen into them; and He has surrounded and continued to surround me everyday with the joys of salvation from sin in peace and expansion of the heart. The Divine mercy which I have experienced and the perpetual nearness to me of the Lord confirm me in the hope of my eternal salvation and in that of those who follow and hear me to salvation, according to the word of the Scriptures, 'Behold I and the children which God hath given me'"