Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Daily Telegraph on the Russian Orthodox Church

The search for an identity that began after the collapse of Communism remains a critical question for Russians. The Orthodox Church is the only institution that unites Russians with their “near abroad” and has survived throughout the country’s long history. Today, the state needs the church much more than vice-versa.

When foreigners convert to Orthodoxy, more often than not it is because they are impressed by the splendour and majesty of Russian liturgy.

They appreciate that strict Orthodox priests do not connive at human weaknesses or play up to the individual, accustomed to indulgence. They are attracted by the centuries-old spiritual tradition, which is inevitably conservative and inflexible but all the stronger for that.

It stands in stark contrast to the “flexibility” of Western Churches adapting to changing circumstances, which in many ways has left them today in a “social ghetto”.

The Russian faith, like the Russian revolution and like life in Russia itself, never condescends to the individual.
Read the rest here.

5 comments:

Alex said...

Great article this one!

George Patsourakos said...

Since the collapse of communism in Russia some 20 years ago, the Russian Orthodox Church has become the most important institution in Russia.

Its determination to continue the traditional doctrines of Orthodoxy, and its refusal to favor any individual or group, have been critical factors in providing an unusual empowerment of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Anonymous said...

I love Russia and the Russian Church, but sometimes I think Americans get a hagiography about Russia that is just inaccurate. On the one hand, there is an openness to identify with the Church and a minority of people have a very deep piety. On the other hand, Russia is such a wounded society with deep, deep problems. Many of members of the Church remain nominal at best: unless that changes, Russia in the large will never be a model for Orthodox life.

I had a chance recently to venerate the Kursk root icon in Moscow at Christ the Savior Cathedral. There was at least a two hour line to get in to kiss the icon. People had made pilgrimages from far outside Moscow: I am told it was like this for many days while the icon was there. The lines included people of all ages - not just old babushkas - including young people and teenagers. There is hope, but the life of the average person is un-Orthodox.

"Many years" to Patriarch Kirill: a Godly man has been raised up there.

Christian said...

I also have a great love and respect for Russia, its people and its beautiful church. I would, however, point out that it is somewhat unfair to say that "it stands in stark contrast to the “flexibility” of Western Churches adapting to changing circumstances." Or that the Western Churches are all somehow more easy going. Given that many many Eastern priests think that contraception is acceptable and given that their Canon Law allows for divorce and re-marriage, is it not the East who are "flexible"? Is it not the Roman Church which is the true rock of unchangeable rigor?

Anonymous said...

christian, you should have left that last sentence out, because now the arguments of the sentence proceeding it will be ignored. just got carried away, eh?

anyways, closing the act of sex to God's gift of life via man-made pharmacudicals is totally part of the one true unbroken Apostolic Faith, i.e. Orthodoxy. my father in law, who is an orthodox priest and frequent condom user for the past 25 years (no kidding), no doubt would approve.

i often feel painfully torn at knowing the Catholic Church's lone teaching against contraception, which has slowly but surely led to a degraded view of women, the unborn and of the intrinsic value of human life in general, is just another in a long line of Latin "inventions/novelties". right?