Thursday, May 17, 2007

. . . but sometimes things do come together

After yesterday's depressing post about the situation in Jerusalem, a refreshing wind blows down from the north. This morning, instead of the Jesus Prayer running through my head, it was the Paschal Troparion:

Christ is risen from the dead,
trampling down death by death,
and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!

(Sorry--it was the Greek version. I did make sure to get in a Russian tune for the occasion, but the song in my heart is Greek!)

I'd seen the news that in Moscow Pat. Alexy and Met. Laurus signed the Act of Canonical Communion between ROCOR and the MP, thus healing almost a century of division in the Russian Church. For the first time, the heads of both churches celebrated Divine Liturgy together! Life awakens, where once there was death. Glory to Christ! Glory to him forever!

It's a monumental day for Russia, but also a for the whole Orthodox world. (And I'm glad to see that it made the news on our parish site, even though we're Antiochian :-) First, it gives hope that old wounds can heal. (Although, by Orthodox standards, this would was still quite fresh.) Second, we should all rejoice that communion is restored not only within the Russian Church, but between the ROCOR faithful and their brothers and sisters in the other canonical jurisdictions. May God grant that we will see it in practice! Third, let's not forget that spiritual strength for one is spiritual strength for all. There is great opportunity in this moment for the Russian Church. Both sides have a chance to learn from each other as they move forward, and as the Russian Church grows, we are all better off. (The same could be said for any other jurisdiction--it's not just my usual Slavophilia bleeding through.)

I like that this was done on the day of the Ascension. As I experience Orthodoxy, I'm growing in my appreciation for the way that God's works unfold in our time-bound existence. Jesus trampled down death and gave life on the day that he rose, but the work continued in his ascension to the Father, taking human nature into the heavens, seated forever at God's right hand. Our salvation in baptism unfolds through so many events in our lives, grace received through so many people and events. And in the same way, this act today is but one moment in the ongoing rebirth of the Russian Church. From the fall of the atheist regime, to newfound freedom of the Church, to the canonization of the New Martyrs, to the countless talks and prayers and actions that paved the way toward this moment. And the process will continue indefinitely into the future.

Still, it is joy to see this moment. Many years to the Patriarch, the Metropolitan, and all who were privileged to be there! Many years to those who couldn't be there in person but have prayed for this day! Many years! Many years!


Trevor said...

Interesting article on Naharnet (Lebanese news source) about Putin's presence at the ceremony and his role in the reunification.

Trevor said...

It just occurred to me that with the Feast of Ascension we're technically past the Paschal season. I hope it was not an unpardonable offense to sing the Paschal Troparion. It still seemed appropriate to the occasion and my mood about it :-)

Roland said...

At last night's Ascension Liturgy no Paschal hymns were sung.

Thanks for the Naharnet link. A few observations:

1. Melkite Deacon Paul Weyrich reports that Putin is an observant Christian who attends the Liturgy and makes his Confession regularly.

2. In the Soviet Union, the KGB held responsibility for managing all religion. The bishops were essentially appointed by the KGB, and 90% of them reported to KGB handlers. Many of those bishops, including the patriarch, remain in power today. It is not at all surprising that they maintain a cooperative relationship with Putin and company.

3. This sort of church-state cooperation is, for better or worse, business as usual in Russia, very much in continuity with the Soviet and Tsarist past.

4. It will be interesting to see who plays whom here - whether the Kremlin will coopt ROCOR as an agent of Russian international influence, or whether ROCOR will give the Moscow Patriarchate the backbone to assert its independence.

Trevor said...

Thanks for the info. I really wanted to be there at the DL last night, but unfortunately I had a conflict. I agree on #4 that the outcome remains to be seen. Personally, I'd be surprised to see ROCOR cave in this case. I even noticed today on the site of a ROCOR parish that at least one of their bishops has allowed a grace period of five years during which they are not obligated to commemorate the MP in DL. If that kind of measure is necessary, and if as late as the past month notable dissenters were still walking out, I don't see them fading away too quickly :-)

Trevor said...

Photos of the signing and Ascension DL have been posted on ROCOR's Web site. I like the shots of Putin--he looks like some little boy who wandered away from his parents to find a good spot where he could see :-)

Roland said...

Thanks for the photo link!

Trevor said...

I doubt that anyone will read this, but I'll put it up anyway. It interests me enough to record it somewhere, but not enough to create a wholly new post out of it. I'm reading Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago and just came to a wonderful quote, especially since it was written more than 37 years ago!

Speaking of a prisoner he met from the Russian emigre, "We would often lie beside one another on the wooden bunks. I tried to understand his world as best I could, and our encounter revealed to me a concept confirmed by later encounters--that the outflow from Russia of a significant part of her spiritual forces, which occurred in the Civil War, had deprived us of a great and important stream of Russian culture. Everyone who really loves that culture will strive for the reunion of both streams, the one at home and the tributary abroad. Only then will our culture attain wholeness. Only then will it reveal its capacity for benign development. . . . And I dream of living until that day."