Friday, August 04, 2017

The Russian Revival

I can't help wondering what would have happened if we didn't have the liturgical reforms of the 60s/70s, there is nothing within the Catholic Church to help answer the question except Fr Montgommery-Wright's parish in France and the diocese of Campos in Brazil, where there were no loss in numbers, the working class seem to have remained faithful, both were headed by exceptional and somewhat eccentric clergy.

Perhaps the the Orthodox world might offer a clue, in Greece the decline though not as dramatic as in the Latin West seems to follow the same general decline but in Russia things are quite different. According to a recent Pew Forum survey over 70% of Russians identify as Orthodox. I remember a time when there were cities without a single open Church and Moscow and Leningrad (now St Petersburg) a solitary priest offered the liturgy in almost derelict cold churches for a few elderly women.

One must remember that many of the Russian Church's structures are the same as before the Revolution 100 years ago, they haven't undergone the changes that affected the West. The liturgy is of course unreformed and in Church (or old) Slavonic.

A friend of mine, a Greek bishop, who was recently a guest of the Patriarch of Moscow saw a Church which was quite different, the churches he was taken to were revitalised, full of young men and women on Sunday's and feast days, he visited four of the Moscow seminaries each with between 300 and 400 hundred seminarians. In formerly atheistic Russia there are now chaplains in the military and even in schools. There are huge outdoor processions and services and the number of baptisms increases year after year. Monasteries and convents once derelict are now filled with monks and nuns.

Obviously, Putin has used the Russian Church to construct the narrative of Holy Mother Russia after years of Soviet destruction not only of the economic and social infra-structure of Russia but also of the souls of individual Russians. It is worth remembering that at one time during the Soviet era women had an average of seven abortions in their life time, leaving Russia under populated.

I often wonder if Our Lady has appeared to young shepherd somewhere in Russia and has asked for the Consecration of, and prayers for the Conversion of the West. Perhaps when we realise that the West is in a similar situation to the Soviet Union in the 1980s our political leaders might realise the rediscovery of Christian Europe could offer it a form of moral regeneration, unless of course they turn to Islam.

16 comments:

Steve said...

They have already turned to islam.

northernhermit.blog said...

I have to wonder if the Church in Russia isn't as politically manipulated as the Church in Ireland was, or the Church in the USA. For Ireland, I refer to the government subsidizing those laundries as social reform. For the USA its the proliferation of a very liberal agenda, which again I often think is subsidized by the government. In the three cases I question the wisdom of the regional churches being so aligned with their governments.

Aged parent said...

Steve, I would say our leaders have turned more to Talmudism than Islam. As Pat Buchanan once quipped, "Congress is Israeli-occupied territory."

David O'Neill said...

We seem to be creating our own problems within the Church. There are so many variations in the way in which some priests celebrate the OF Mass, largely (IMHO) because the rubrics seem so loose. Within the EF there are, I'm sure, priests who don't adhere strictly to the rubrics but, no doubt, it was ever thus. The main problem seems to be the the OF tends to 'dumb down' the Mass & people become less attentive when they seem always to be waiting to 'DO' something instead of focussing on the miracle which takes place at every Mass when Christ HIMSELF returns to His people, I am noticing more & more a lack of respect for the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the tabernacle. Priest & people seem often to pass the tabernacle with no mark of respect - & sadly that can apply to clergy & laity.

gemoftheocean said...

Well said, Father.

bob said...

I think the Old Believers might disagree with the assertion that the liturgy is unreformed, but I don't think they're on the internet so I think you're safe.

Sixupman said...

Thank you Father for posting the link to the Fr. Montgomery Wright's BBC TV films. His reference, to his pre-conversion visit to the Cornish 'tin-chapel' and the (tangible) feeling of The Real Presence was most moving. How often I now finding myself visiting sterile churches.

Woody said...

Best Orthodox website, from Russia: http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/

Administrator said...

That same Pew study says that only 6% of Russian Orthodox attend the Divine Liturgy on Sunday. That's hardly a revival. The vast majority of Russian Orthodox, therefore, do not avail themselves of the sacraments.

Fr Ray Blake said...

For years Russian Orthodoxy has been about the domestic church. It is that now 70% claim adhesion, that is interesting.

cogito said...

Thank you, Father, for this.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Reading this while listening to the recording of the Transfiguration service from the Church of the Transfiguration in St Petersburg. Regardless of what others say it seems wonderful to me that despite 70 years of Communism this can happen at all - somehow something has survived despite the best efforts of atheism.

It would be great to think something similar could happen in this country. Yesterday I went to Fr Finigan's Church at Margate for a Day with Mary. Tridentine Mass, lots of hymns in both Latin and English, Litany of Loreto, an entire Rosary, stations of the Cross, Confessions etc. Two excellent talks from Father Finigan and one from a priest of the Ordinariate calling us back to Walsingham. It is a lay movement but assisted by half a dozen of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate. Our Lady was processed along the promenade in the morning and the Blessed Sacrament in the afternoon to the amazement of the passers-by who were visibly impressed. One of them commented to me how marvellous it was.

However I am always struck by the irony of singing Faith of Our Fathers and reciting the Prayer for England in the company of faithful people who are almost entirely of ethnic and foreign origin. Where are the English I ask? But perhaps this is where the conversion of England will come from. It strikes me as the answer to my question of where I can channel my anger resulting from the current scandals in the Church largely emanating from Rome and Modernism.

Scribe said...

In an interview on Russian television, Mr Putin said that he had been secretly baptised, as his mother was a devout Orthodox. I have seen Mr Putin worshipping in several Moscow cathedrals, and believe that his faith is genuine. The Orthodox liturgy is truly overwhlming in its beauty and symbolism.

Victor said...

Interesting perhaps but not unusual. When the official propaganda says that in order to be a proper Russian, you have to be Orthodox, you get these numbers. If you ran a poll in Italy or Poland you would get the same results. It is cesaropapism at its worst, and it will not end well for either church or state.

Physiocrat said...

Decide for yourself. It this man a fraud?

Interview with Metropolitan Kirill
Easter address
Film biography

My local experience is that, on the whole, our own clergy and bishops compare unfavourably with their Orthodox equivalents, and their liturgy is consistently up to an adequate standard of devotion. The Orthodox problems are about jurisdiction, a chaotic situation with the calendar and corrupt allocation of priests to parishes in some countries, but then if your face didn't fit even in A&B the priest would get a difficult parish.

@Victor, what is the essential difference with cesaropapism and papocesarism?

Victor said...

@physiocrat: I won't give an answer that Wikipedia or the Britannica are better suited to give. In their effects though, both are devastating. "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" ... and nothing more. But nothing less either!