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Ailing Mother Russia

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  • intrprtr@prodigy.net
    AILING MOTHER RUSSIA My youngest daughter and I were granted the opportunity to go to Russia, the land of our forefathers, in the midst of its recent economic
    Message 1 of 3 , May 30, 2001

      My youngest daughter and I were granted the opportunity to go to Russia,
      the land of our forefathers, in the midst of its recent economic
      crisis. We had a work-study visa for a half year. We did not know what to
      expect. We found vestiges of an incredible empire in the elaborate
      monasteries, country churches, planned cities, and quaint
      villages. Nevertheless, eighty-two years of systematic destruction in the
      hands of a “godless government” was clearly evident. I overheard a
      stranger as we were leaving the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg say,
      “Look, how mighty Russia was when she believed in God!” This statement
      reflects everything.

      The late poet and popular Russian singer, lgor Talkov, composed a
      song named “Metamorphosis,” change in form, but not in essence. Without
      the fear of God, the same lack of conscience that began in 1917 continues
      to prevail. One cannot help but notice this illustrated in the official
      Moscow Patriarchal Church. However, laymen cannot be fooled by its glossy
      exterior. I have heard observations from many sources in this regard:
      “Priests nowadays are nothing like the ones described in Ivan Shmeleff’s,
      'In the Year of the Lord,'” commented a young woman. A young man remarked,
      “I prayed better in St. Sophia of Novgorod when it was a museum... they
      [priests] drive Mercedes accompanied by questionable companions, while we
      have nothing to eat and they serve at the altars of our cathedrals... it is

      “I would rather go to church outside services, light a candle rather than
      look at this theater,” remarked a woman in her forties. A lady in her
      sixties said, “I believe in God, but I cannot walk through a church
      door... I was conditioned by the Party since my youth…” A young lady of
      eighteen related: “I went to Confession, he asked me when I had confession
      last, I told him a month ago, he said it was not good and that it would
      cost me twenty rubles!” A Novgorod history professor observed, “I am not
      Orthodox, but I always had respect for the Church; unfortunately, after the
      open persecutions ended, the clergy went the wrong way, not aligning
      together with the holy tradition of Orthodoxy in Holy Russia, but with the
      material conveniences of the government.” It is clear that the public is
      searching for meaning, something deeper. But without previous exposure,
      some are drawn to Protestantism with its powerful missions. Others to
      Hinduism, the New Age, and the Occult. At meetings of young people, the
      typical conversational icebreaker is often “and what is your
      horoscope?” They do not know where to look.

      Mingling prayers with money, reminiscent of indulgences, is another odious
      aspect of the official church. We witnessed school children as they were
      entering the caves at the Pskovo-Pecherskii monastery, charged twelve
      rubles each by a monk. He then placed the jingling coins into his pocket,
      loudly following the group with orders to hurry up. To visit the holy
      caves was more expensive than a theater entrance ticket for eight rubles .
      What would children think of this holy place? When we visited the
      Svetagorskii monastery, two foreign students and a German instructor were
      shortchanged ten rubles each for icons that they bought in the church
      store. Fearing that the incident would darken their memory of the visit to
      the Monastery and the grave of Pushkin, I told them it was probably a mistake.

      "Vogue" models posed on location inside the Novo Dievichi Monastery church
      in Moscow, while believers are not allowed to take photographs because it
      is considered “irreverent.” Not to mention the preposterous sale of
      “regular” or “sparkling” Holy Water and the charge of two rubles for each
      additional name in the commemorative sheets at the Iveron Mother of God
      Chapel at the Kremlin Gates of Moscow.

      My daughter was advised to take Holy Communion at the local Sts. Boris and
      Gleb Church in Novgorod, to which she replied that she could not because
      she was not part of the Moscow Patriarchate. She was reassured by the
      words, “Don’t worry, Bishop Lev allows Roman Catholics to have Communion
      in our church!” These situations were unfamiliar to us. It was not at
      all what we understood of Orthodoxy for all of our lives. It was shocking
      to us and we were uncomforted by the Moscow Patriarchate services.

      These amazing cathedrals, churches and monasteries have witnessed the
      prayers and tears of generations of believers. They are holy places that
      guard saints’ relics and holy icons. So many miracles have occurred and
      still occur within their walls. An English girl travelling with us
      remarked, “Those priests do not seem to blend with the majesty of
      their surroundings.” At the St. Sergius Seminary Museum, among the
      ancient icons, beautiful crosses, and elaborate Holy Gospels, we saw Medals
      of Lenin proudly displayed. Medals with the face of an open enemy of
      Christianity responsible for the death of millions awarded to the
      Patriarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate. Patriarch Sergius’ Declaration to
      the USSR leaders stated, “Your sorrows are our sorrows and your joys are
      our joys,” thus creating union with the godless authority.

      To this day the concession remains, not with Communism per se, but with the
      “new” authority, Socialism’s metamorphosis. It is very difficult to live
      according to the Law of God under such conditions. Nevertheless, many are
      sincerely searching for the truth and spirituality of holy tradition. They
      visit the magnificent cathedrals and ignore the official politics. They
      place emphasis rather on the true essence of Christianity, the Word of
      God. We have wonderful memories of a memorial service at Blessed Xenia’s
      Chapel and the reliquary of St. John of Kronstadt.

      Searching for the path of truth, many go further by starting anew with the
      Church not accepted by the Moscow Patriarchate. They are now the clergy
      and the parishioners of a Church that remained free in spirit from
      anti-Christian rule and ecclesiastical compromise. A Church that since the
      Revolution of 1917 has been in exile or underground. It is the only living
      remainder of the Russian Empire, uncompromised and unstained in its
      ideology, our Russian Church Abroad.

      A matushka in Russia explained to her parishioners, “We are the Church of
      Holy Russia, the Church that the Tsar-martyrs belonged to.” These people
      are true heroes of our times. Materially poor, simple, infinitely deep in
      spirit, struggling, and ever loyal to the Russia that is under God. They
      pray for the salvation of the Russian land and for its struggling
      people. They pray for the health and salvation of our Metropolitan Vitaly,
      who together with the Holy Synod of bishops has accepted them with open
      arms in the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. They are part of our Church
      and need our moral and economic support.

      I am surprised when I hear among our church members a desire to be part of
      the Moscow Patriarchate. I can understand their nostalgia for festive
      choirs, holy icons and white churches, but they have to look deeper. The
      question is, who is serving in those white churches? As the newly departed
      Abbess Elizabeth from England was quoted in the February 1999 issue of
      'Orthodox Russia,' “For some sense of sentimental patriotism, our
      compatriots are ready to join -- whom? The pseudo-patriarch and his synod
      of agents of the KGB!”

      With a deep sense of gratitude I thank our forebears who, with the blessing
      of New Martyr Patriarch Tikhon, established our Russian Orthodox Church
      Abroad. It is our greatest treasure which we should cherish with all our
      hearts. I also sincerely hope that by the will of God, Russia will return
      to that which she once was. The only way this is a possibility is to have
      a government, church, and people living with the fear of God. May the
      prayers of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Land save the
      souls of her people.

      -- by M. G. Subotina

      {Reprinted from pp. 6 - 8 of “Orthodox Life,” Vol. 49, No. 2, March April 1999}


      -- GeoS

      Communing with great Russian literature (and culture in general), with its
      eternal humaneness and principled values, can be but beneficial for each
      person in expanding his horizons; and in those people who are capable of
      thought, it will even tend, in the final analysis, to stimulate them toward
      justice and liberty. -- Vladimir Rudinskii


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      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • V. J. Boitchenko
      Nikolay! I think that it is a classic example of what Russians in Russia call Utka . It is just too bad that it appeared in Orthodox America. The author may
      Message 2 of 3 , May 31, 2001

        I think that it is a classic example of what Russians in Russia call "Utka". It is just too bad that it appeared in Orthodox America. The author may have not even traveled to Russia or did not even see everything that he described. He must have simply collected for the purpose of his article all the "bad things about Russia" that he could think of, or he may have heard of. I can even recognize some isolated facts taken from other sources. The obvious innacuracies make the objective criticism similarly worthless. In other places the author must have simply "slyshal zvon..." There is a mineral water called "Svyatoi Istochnik" (Holy Spring) that is sold at supermarkets and the label says that it is sold by the appointment or blessing from the Patriarch of Moscow. There has been a lot of criticism about it in the Russian media in the first place. I saw the TV commercial and I thought it was just pathetic.


        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Nikolaj
        To: orthodox-synod@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Thursday, May 31, 2001 3:44 AM
        Subject: Sv: [orthodox-synod] Ailing Mother Russia

        This has been posted before
        and is a splendid example of
        the anti-russian propaganda
        I mentioned in a previous posting
        to this list.

        It is full of unverifyed postulates.
        Just mentioning a few -
        I was never charged a single kopek for
        entering the Pskov Caves, nor did I see
        any "Vogue" posings in Monasteries.
        The so-called "sparkling Holy Water"
        made me laugh....:-)
        That was really innovative....but
        "unfortunately" I have never seen this too.

        In Christ

        "Forgiveness is better than revenge. "
        St. Tikhon of Zadonsk
        + + +

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • V. J. Boitchenko
        Nikolay! I have seen many articles in Orthodox and secular newspapers in Russia. My experience that it hurts the feelings of many people. Viatcheslav P.S. I
        Message 3 of 3 , Jun 1 6:55 AM

          I have seen many articles in Orthodox and secular newspapers in Russia. My experience that it hurts the feelings of many people.


          P.S. I have no problem with the clergy supporting and praying for the army during WWII. That "anti-patriotism" comment was not mine. There are numerous churches dedicated to St. George that actually commemorate Russian soldiers who died in battle in WWII.
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: Nikolaj
          To: orthodox-synod@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Friday, June 01, 2001 2:33 AM
          Subject: Sv: [orthodox-synod] Ailing Mother Russia

          Dear v

          I know "Svyatoi Istochnik" very well.
          But seriously - nobody believes that
          this is Holy Water?
          This can't be true - not even a first time
          tourist believes this.


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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