This Spiritual Sickness Need not be a Sickness unto Death
Dedicated to the servant of God Sergiy and his family
Rejoice, O glorious Paris, symbol of resurrection! The Second Alexander adorned thee with a magnificent temple, where celebrated the vanquisher of heresy Vladimir the Theologian and where our faithful ally, the great martyr Nicholas, victim of the wicked, offered supplication. May their entreaties strengthen us in Orthodoxy!
From Ode IX of the Canon to all the Saints that have Shone forth in the Land of France
I do not fear for the destiny of the Church. We must have more faith, we pastors must have more faith. We must put aside our trust in ourselves, our minds, our learning and make space for the grace of God – this is the truly Christian spiritual state of mind.
New Hieromartyr Benjamin of Petrograd, just before his martyrdom
According to reports from Paris, increasing numbers of Russians and those of Russian and French origin are now returning to the Russian Orthodox Church from the ‘Rue Daru’ Exarchate of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Indeed, some are actually being asked and forced to leave for their faithfulness to the Russian Orthodox Tradition.
There is nothing new in this persecution. It began in the 1970s and 1980s when others left, at that time nearly always for the Church of the Confessors, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. Then this was the only free part of the Russian Church and was called on to represent the Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia at the time of its spiritual captivity and absence outside Russia.
Tired of being persecuted for their faithfulness to the Tradition and their refusal to accept modernism, tired of the sort of Russophobia recently displayed in an interview with a priest in Nice, Russian Orthodox came and still come to refresh ourselves at the spiritual roots of Russian Orthodoxy. For some parts of the Russian emigration have for far too long been run like aristocratic family businesses, like one of the ancient but small Middle Eastern Patriarchates with its four ruling families. However, that compromised Russian émigré order is now collapsing, both in Paris and in North America, just as it first collapsed in England in 2006.
The old Russian Orthodox émigré structures are being replaced by new ones. Inevitably, we are moving towards a system of Metropolias Outside Russia, the foundation-stones of new Local Orthodox Churches, as His Holiness the ever-memorable Patriarch Alexis II prophesied in 2003. And inevitably, the stones which are becoming the headstones of the corners are those which were rejected by the ‘builders’, that is by the ‘masons’, the renovationist wreckers of the past. And not only rejected, but hounded, mocked, slandered and trampled on. As it was with the provincial fishermen of Galilee, despised by Hellene ‘philosopher’, Roman governor, Jewish Pharisee and Saducee alike, so is it always with Orthodox Christians.
The transient structures of the past are changing – for good. Both American phyletism (i.e. the US dollar) and French chauvinism (i.e. Western pride), are called on to die. The old mentality that ties down the words ‘Russian Orthodox’ to some narrow, phyletistic ethnic group or else to past Soviet history is heading for the dustbin of history. Here there is no longer any room for intellectual snobbery and hatred of the newly baptised Russian Orthodox masses. Therefore, émigré Cold War structures, built on and motivated by hatred of everything authentically Russian Orthodox and narrow-minded Western rationalism and nationalism, will disappear.
For you cannot build a Church on hatred, as we have already seen with the fragments of ROCOR. Those who did not love the Russian Church inside Russia have already disappeared into the abyss of little sects. And this is the destiny of all those who do not turn and repent. A fresh, new wind from the East is blowing, blowing away the complex cobwebs of prejudice and hatred of the past and blowing back the Tradition.
O Lazarus the Four-Day Dead, fear not!
This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby (Jn. 11, 4).
Archpriest Andrew Phillips
7/20 June 2010