Friday, October 19, 2012

Missing from the Synod: a Sign of Hope

We have heard from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the President of the American Bible Society, the Patriach of Constantinople at the Synod on Evangelisation, well bless them but the dear old CofE in the West is dying visibly, the American Bible-belt is slipping and although I admire Bartholomew I there are less Orthodox Christians in Constantinople than most rural Greek diocese.

I haven't followed every intervention but most seem to be reflections on failure rather than success or thoughts on what we ought to do, rather than what actually works.

The one Church that is growing both numerically and in influence in Europe that doesn't seem to be given a high profile at the Synod is the Russian Orthodox. Alessio Schiesari presents a few statistics showing its recovery.

People are pretty disparaging about both the Patriarchate and the Patriarchate and his involvement with Putin but that should not overshadow the significance of the re-emergence of the Orthodox Church after 50 years of gosateizm which included a bloody destruction of the heirarchy, mass murder, mass deportations, imprisonment, torture, social ostracism, cultural destruction, state sponsored anti-religious education or re-eduction, in fact everything the State and local party officials could do to remove the Orthodox Church from the cultural and moral scene was done.

Glasnost came into being because Soviet Communism simply could no loger hold the Union together or hold onto power, it was shown to be bankrupt in every sense. Glasnost itself was really a vacuum, an act of dismantling, it covered the shrinking of the state but offered nothing. Whilst we heard of starving and freezing babushkas, alcholism, organised crime and corruption, family break-up, excessive wealth set against unemployment and poverty the Orthodox seemed to emerge, often literally from frozen wastes. With few clergy, badly catechised laity, few diocesan or parochial structures the Orthodox Church has emerged as one one of the most dynamic forces in Russia.

Its problems are similar to those we have in the West, the difference is that the Church sees itself as being "missionary". A Russian friend said, "For us, since the Revolution it has always been 'evangelise or die' but what the dark days taught us was the importance of a deeply rooted spirituality". In a world which was so bleak for the Orthodox Church it learnt to recognise signs of hope, the value of suffering and to discern what are false dawns.


Unknown said...

Obviously it's not the Church of those who were persecuted for their faith after 1914. It is the Church steered by a soviet KGB agent focused on his own fortune. Kirill I is a smuggler rather than a spiritual leader.
I'm amazed how western europe christians are deceived by the fake and idealised vision of good old simple orthodoxy. Try to learn more what they actually think about our Catholic Church and Ecumenism. What they recently do with our catholic, usually polish, priests and bishops in Russia. What about Greek Catholics in Western Ukriane. What is the real impact of this Church on it's followers. You admire the growing number and it's impact. It's all politics. Russia is not like the russian movies you like so much. I'm great fun of your work Father, but as i already wrote, you are being deceived by the fairy tale of good old simple russians and their Church.

Fr Ray Blake said...

It is not the Patriarch, I think there are indeed many questions there. It is the work of the Holy Sprit that has brought many out of the darkness of atheism. You can't deny that has happened, yes there is the dark side of Nationalism but there is real spiritual depth too.

Sixupman said...

But there is no Mystery in the liturgy post Vatican II, we are left with the colourless and banal in most, but not all, cases of the NOM.

Robert said...

I agree with you Father. The Eastern Churches have brought many out of atheism. The Byzantine Churches, whether Orthodox or Greek Catholic seem to have problems that deal more with politics rather than the faith. Hence why some feel alarmed with Nationalism, past experiences from Soviet times, etc.. Even in a local UGCC, where I live, many don't trust Putin etcc. But I for one will give him the benefit of the doubt. I don't personally know him, as is the same with many who complain about what he does. If he were a true soviet KGB agent than Russia would still be totally atheist. You would not see him crossing himself or being counseled by Patriarch Kirill. Want to talk about fortunes, well look at the sheiks in the Middle East. Milosz complains about how the Russian Orthodox church feels about the Catholic Church and Ecumenism. He should look at the SSPX and SSPV, and see what they feel about the Orthodox churches. No better, if not worse. I seen Met Hilarion and the Patriarch of Constantinople at the Synod in Rome. Not one from the SSPX or SSPV, because it was "ecumentical". And I will finish by saying that many of us here in the West were deceived by the liberal Catholics who have pretty much put a permanent scar on our liturgy and theology after the council. I think the East is in way better shape in regards to the faith. But we may be better in regards to the politics.

Robert said...

Father isn't this what mainstream Roman Catholic seminaries are suppose to be like?. As one poster put it. Compare this to the previous article shown on this website. And some in the Eastern Churches complain of politics and jurisdictions. Why some of those, like myself in the West, just want to maintain and bring into the present our beloved Catholic identity and traditions. And actually practice our faith rather than changing it. But we have to battle the mainstream even when the mainstream themselves fails miserably. And need a Synod to figure out what has gone wrong. Which I for one have little faith in.

God Bless!.

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