Archive for April, 2010

Russia’s Baptized Godless

April 21, 2010

I can’t really give any perspective on this article, but taken at face value it’s a sad reflection on the state of Orthodoxy in Russia.  The effects of communism and secularism seem harder to overcome then merely opening lots of churches and adding more priests.  This news article may also have shaken the view of many  Orthodox Americans (converts primarily) who tend to romanticize the mother countries of Orthodoxy and believe they hold a more pure, more vibrant expression of the faith then America.  When you hear the words “Holy Russia” come out of someone’s mouth, you can bet it’s a zealous convert (and before anyone gets in a huff, I was a zealous convert once too!)

What these religious romantics don’t see from 4,000 miles away, is that Russia, Greece, Serbia, aren’t filled with godly peasants saying the Jesus Prayer while they work the fields.   They love the idea of virtuous, saintly poverty, but  it’s a snapshot of history long gone, or maybe never entirely true.   In either case, these happy Orthodox peasants are now 21st century peoples with all the same problems, temptations and failures that Americans think are exclusively theirs.  

I’m going to look at this article hopefully, not as some kind of doom and gloom prediction of where the Russian Church is headed.  At least someone is saying “hey, we’ve got a problem that needs fixing”.  I truly believe Russia is, at it’s very heart, a deeply, organically Orthodox country.  That flame just need some proper fanning, some careful tending.  In the meantime, American Orthodoxy can’t forget its own problems – let’s get on with our business and let the Russians do what they need to do to reclaim the title of “Holy Russia”.

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Heretical Knock Down

April 14, 2010

This news story is almost as good as a Lucha Libre fight, except there’s more credibility in Lucha Libre and the costumes are better.   In what can only pass for bizarro religion in America, the Fort Worth police are trying to figure out who threw the first punch in an altercation between some pushy Jehovah’s Witnesses and a hothead “priest” of the non-canonical, small potatoes Mexican National Catholic Church.   

Stay tuned – next week’s fight card features Mormons-who-want-to-be-called-Christians vs. Radical right-wing Christian militia groups and the women who love them.

Paschal Message of Metropolitan Jonah

April 6, 2010

Christ is Risen!  Indeed He is Risen!

I’m a little slow on this, but I’m passing along the Paschal message of his Beatitude  Metropolitan Jonah.  The excesses of the Feast of Feasts got to me yesterday on Bright Monday.  Too much rich food, too little sleep, too much busyness and activity.  It’s been my usual practice to take this day off work and recuperate, but I couldn’t do it this year, and was really feeling lousy.  In a way, I’m relieved the day of Pascha has come and gone.  It’s a hard Feast to really connect with because of the busyness that accompanies it.    The extras that attach to Pascha – the Pascha basket, the parish picnic, the baking, the cooking, the clothes to buy for the kids, the rushing and fussing – they seem to overwhelm the Feast and my simple enjoyment of it.  It’s the same problem we have with the Nativity.  How do you just stop the frenzy?  Going to the services and not participating in any activities seems a bit extreme.   There must  be a balance somewhere, but after 19 years I still haven’t found it.  Nor have I found a way to indulge my food cravings in moderation.  Before the holy water has dried off the blessed Pascha baskets, I’m diving two-fisted into a pyramid-shaped Pascha and a side dish of sausage and eggs, washed down with wine.

Enjoy and meditate on the Paschal message of Metropolitan Jonah.  He seems to have been writing it specifically for me and my festal gluttony.  (Is it really possible to fall into sin so soon after the end of the Paschal Liturgy?)

Having passed the course of the Fast, let us feast soberly, giving thanks to God. Let our feasting never obscure the Feast of Grace, the experience of the Presence of Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord, in our midst, the Host of our Feast.

Paschal Message of Patriarch Kirill

April 1, 2010

Christ’s Resurrection indeed does allow us to transcend the vanity of everyday life so that we may see the true majesty of God’s love, which for the good of the human person condescended even unto the Cross and death. It is therefore important for us to realize that by his Resurrection the Lord renews human nature by granting fortification of the inner strength of every Christian in his ministry to the Church, country, society, family, and neighbour.

His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus, issued his Paschal sermon yesterday, and its message, addressed to the Orthodox faithful in a country thousands of mile away, could have easily been given to Americans living under the same pressures and stresses of modern life.  You only have to read the newspaper or watch the news today and you’ll get an endless display of the vanity of life.