Friday, December 15, 2006

A collection of links and quotations from the Christian East
Besides news of the May 2007 date for Russian Orthodox-ROCOR reunion (слава в вышних Богу!) blogged here earlier. Here they are:

Survey: religion in Russia
No surprises really: many claim to be Orthodox (in fact a nominal slight majority now... one can build on that!) but few practise. Of course I’d like to see Russia’s native tradition, its recension of the Byzantine Rite (the culture described vividly in The Way of a Pilgrim!), come back in full flower, not a new Russian Protestantism or Russian Novus Ordo.

Chris Tessone, who lived there and speaks the language, writes of his experience:
My closest brush with the Orthodox was attending services at the Armenian Apostolic Church parish in Krasnodar when I studied there. My host family was Armenian and I loved the services and the community...
So... you spent all that time in Russia and never encountered Russian Orthodoxy? Was this because the locals like many Soviet-bred Russians are secular or did you not seek out this kind of religion back then? As you know the Armenian Church belongs to a different family of Eastern churches from the Eastern Orthodox — the Oriental Orthodox or Non-Chalcedonians, who though they seem to be reconciling with the Eastern Orthodox are distinctive (they don’t use the Byzantine Rite for example).
I did go to a few services. My host mom and I tried to go one Sunday when we missed services across town at the Armenian parish, but there was a wedding going on in the Russian church. Mostly the Russian churches were presented to us by our program as interesting cultural artifacts. The one teacher in the program who was a faithful Russian Orthodox was offended when I took part in a service at Sergeev Posad (by crossing myself at the appropriate times). To her, Americans didn’t have any place worshiping in “their” church. I went into churches fairly frequently to pray, but I only went to one service in full, in Moscow.

But mostly, any displays of Christian piety were seen by my non-Armenian friends as exotic and strange. I think many Russians now think of themselves as Orthodox, but this doesn’t translate into any kind of action — no Bible study, no going to church, etc. Many are not baptized. The most vibrant expression of Christianity there is the Baptist faith.

(I should stress that these observations are only based on my own experience — since I didn’t live in a Russian family, I didn’t get the whole picture. And I’m sure Krasnodar, where I lived, differs from other cities in ways I’m not aware of.)
Очень интересно. Спасибо. By ‘Baptist’ I take it you mean the home-grown Russian copy of the German Mennonites (Anabaptists) dating from the 1800s, not the Baptists from England and America.

Chronia polla
To Archimandrite Joseph (Francavilla) for 35 years as a pastor in McLean, Virginia. I’ve been to Holy Transfiguration Church once and still remember the fine Orthodox praxis (a latinisation-free including Novus-free zone and thus one of several magnets for refugee Roman Riters in D.C.) and his preaching (non-legalistic approach to fasting).

Вечная память
RIP the Very Revd Protopresbyter Peter Buletza, whose long life tells the story of an entirely preventable immigrant schism in 1930s America caused by Rome not honouring its promise to protect the Byzantine and other Eastern rites. (The Episcopalians aren’t the first American episcopal church to break up parish by parish and end up in court over it.)
Buletza studied at the Rusyn Greek Catholic seminary in Užhorod. One of his professors at the Užhorod seminary was Blessed Theodore Romža and Fr. Buletza once stated that he felt privileged to have had Blessed Theodore as a teacher.
The latter gentleman was killed by the Communists not long after. (They wanted him to break with Rome so they could control religion in the region; none of the Ruthenian Catholic or Ukrainian Catholic bishops did.)

Here is more on Ruthenian culture. Most Russian Orthodox in Pennsylvania belong to this group (they’re Slavs but not from Russia itself), descended from Byzantine Catholics (who of course 400 years ago were Orthodox) who joined the Russian Church around the turn of the last century over the same issues as in the 1930s (basically the Roman Rite bishops wanted to stamp out their churches in America). Lovely people — been well acquainted with them for about 15 years. Natural traditionalists. (Not the self-conscious no-drinkin’, no-tele, no-fun kind, the type that Owen the Ochlophobist would call überfromm. Or ‘Ned Flanders reads church history and tries to re-enact it all’.)

High and deep, or beyond left or right
Writing about Taizé, the Revd Tripp Hudgins quotes the Patriarch of Moscow:
Your annual gathering is called a “pilgrimage of trust on earth”. For you the young, as for all, it is very important to look at life as a pilgrimage, undertaken in trust in God. Let us strive to remember how short the road of earthly life is. Each of us can say with David, the holy psalmist: “I live as a foreigner on the earth, do not hide your commandments from me” (Ps 119:19). The awareness that we are foreigners on the earth in no way implies pessimism or a feeling of despair. We Christians are convinced that our earthly journey does not lead to nothingness, but towards a new and eternal life. We must always remember that orienting ourselves only towards money, success, comfort and pleasure takes away life’s meaning. That road seems attractive, but inevitably it leads to a dead-end. Invite rather people of your age to entrust their lives to God; he alone can give us the fullness and the joy of living.
And observes:
And there you have it... the Patriarch himself sounding more liberal than many of us so-called liberals in the US. So, in truth, his statements are not liberal at all. No. They are Christian.
Which is often the way of it with entirely Catholic teaching. The idea behind the peace message of this blog.

For more high-and-deep churchmanship in this tradition there’s always the blog of Tripp’s good friend Clifton Healy.

Some reasons why this blog doesn’t take sides East-West or preach schism

No comments:

Post a comment

Leave comment