Return to Home Page

Comparing Notes: The Diaries of Fr Alexander Schmemann and Russian Church Unity in the Diaspora

Seek God and your soul shall live

The Great Prokimenon at Vespers on Forgiveness Sunday (Ps 68, 33)

‘Love the sinner, but hate the sin’ and therefore ‘love the heretic, but hate the heresy’. This must be the motto of any writer or thinker on Church matters. Unfortunately, sometimes Church matters can get tangled up with personal animosity. There is no place for that in Church life. The link below expresses that Orthodox Christian philosophy, the principles of which we have always lived by. Those who wrong us have always had our prayers and we have always tried to understand the psychology behind their delusions and their actions. They are, after all, only human-beings and deserve heartfelt compassion, without any kind of condescension or falsity.

Today, ‘the Centre’ of the Orthodox world and civilisation, the Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia, is free. The first stage of unity in the Diaspora, that between the Church inside Russia (MP) and the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) was achieved four years ago and has since been consolidated. Therefore, we feel deeply for those parts of the Russian Church Diaspora and indeed all parts of the Orthodox Diaspora that still live, needlessly, outside unity.

For decades, indeed for most of the twentieth century after 1917, the voice of the Orthodox Church was controlled and manipulated by two opposing extremist groups – ecumenist and modernist or else, by reaction, schismatic and isolationist. Those of us in the centre were put up on the Cross, regardless of whether we lived inside Russia or outside Russia. Sometimes we were literally censored, not allowed to express our views and contemptuously dismissed. However, we have always known that ‘the gates of hell will not prevail’. The Church is always victorious in the end.

Today, after the restoration of ‘the Centre’, those of both extremist groups, now often departed this life or else ageing and ill, are being sidelined into the history books. This has made some of them all the more aggressive, as they see that they have lost and that the Church is prevailing. Therefore, how do we deal with those who opposed the Church for so long? Obviously, not in the same way as they dealt with us when we were a persecuted minority, but with Christian love and human understanding. And that is the spirit in which the article in the link has been written, seeking the positive and not dwelling on the negative.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips

Forgiveness Sunday 2011

  to top of page