He was born in Lausanne, Switzerland, and spent his early childhood in Russia and Persia. During the Bolshevik Revolution the family had to leave Persia, and in 1923 they settled in Paris where he was educated, graduating in physics, chemistry and biology, and receiving his doctorate in medicine, at the University of Paris.
During WWII, before leaving for the front as a surgeon in the French army, he secretly professed monastic vows in the Russian Orthodox Church. During the occupation of France by the Germans he worked as a doctor and took part in the French Resistance. After the war he continued practicing as a physician until 1948, when he was ordained to the priesthood and sent to England to serve as Orthodox Chaplain of the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius. He was appointed vicar of the Russian patriarchal parish in London in 1950, consecrated as Bishop in 1957 and Archbishop in 1962, in charge of the Russian Orthodox Church in Great Britain and Ireland (the Diocese of Sourozh). In 1966 he was raised to the rank of Metropolitan. He devoted himself to the pastoral needs of all who came to him seeking advice and help, and to his writings on prayer and Christian life.
Many Orthodox Christians consider Metropolitan Anthony to be a saint.
Here is an Excerpt from his article “On Death”[*]. Below the article is a video of Metropolitan Anthony discussing ideas of Suffering and Redemption in Christianity.
Death is the touchstone of our attitude to life. People who are afraid of death are afraid of life. It is impossible not to be afraid of life with all its complexity and dangers if one is afraid of death. This means that to solve the problem of death is not a luxury. If we are afraid of death we will never be prepared to take ultimate risks; we will spend our life in a cowardly, careful and timid manner. It is only if we can face death, make sense of it, determine its place and our place in regard to it that we will be able to live in a fearless way and to the fullness of our ability. Too often we wait until the end of our life to face death, whereas we would have lived quite differently if only we had faced death at the outset.
Most of the time we live as though we were writing a first draft for the life which we will live later. We live not in a definitive way, but provisionally, as though preparing for the day when we really will begin to live. We are like people who write a rough draft with the intention of making a fair copy later. But the trouble is that the final version never gets written. Death comes before we have had the time or even generated the desire to make a definitive formulation. We always think that it can be done tomorrow. ‘I will live approximately today. Tomorrow is when I shall act in a definitive way. It is true that things are wrong, but give me time. I will sort them out somehow, or else they will come right of themselves’. Yet we all know that the time never actually comes.
The value of the present moment may be realized when someone dear to us has a terminal illness and, more particularly, when we are aware that he or she may be dead within minutes. It is then that we recognize the importance of every gesture and action, then that we realize how slight the differences between what we usually consider the great things in life and those which are insignificant. The way we speak, the manner in which we prepare a tray with a cup of tea, the way in which we adjust an uncomfortable cushion become as important as the greatest thing we have ever done. For the humblest action, the simplest word, may be the summing up of a whole relationship, expressing to perfection all the depth of that relationship, all the love, concern and truth that are within it.
Only awareness of death will give life this immediacy and depth, will bring life to life, will make it so intense that its totality is summed up in the present moment. Such precisely is the way in which the ascetics fought against mindlessness, lack of attention and carelessness, against all the attitudes which allow us to miss the moment of opportunity, to pass the other person by, not to notice the need. One of the chief things that we are called upon to learn is awareness – awareness of our own self and of the other person’s situation, an awareness that will stand the test of life and death. All life is at every moment an ultimate act.