The news has come that last week’s Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow agreed to include the names of three Irish missionary saints in Western Europe, Sts Gall, Fridolin and Columban, into the Russian Orthodox calendar. It is yet another step in bringing the Church inside Russia into line with the practices of the Church Outside Russia, which has a far greater experience of local Orthodox life and missionary work.
The Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) began introducing such local saints into its calendar over 60 years ago with St John of Shanghai, his disciples Bishop (later Archbishop) Nathanael (L’vov) and Archbishop Antony of Geneva and then their disciples in England and the USA, just as it began using local languages in services. Thus, 40 years ago, the Church Outside Russia accepted St Edward the Martyr into its calendar, painted his icon and composed a service to him.
It now remains for the whole Church to accept all 10,000 Saints of Orthodox Christian Europe into its calendar, as was proposed by ourselves 43 years ago, in 1975, and has been ever since. The acceptance of the local languages and local saints of Orthodox Christian Western Europe into the Russian Orthodox Church’s spiritual and liturgical life and the rejection of divisive petty nationalism sets the Church against Western Europe.
Western Europe has consistently abandoned its saints, replacing them with popes, kings, knights, soldiers, philosophers, architects, conquerors, artists, explorers, inventors, writers, nationalists, dictators, scientists and mass murderers. It has, in other words, consistently abandoned the things of God for the things of man, it has abandoned the Spirit for the worship and justification of fallen man, of sin, of Heaven for Earth, of sacrifice for comfort.
As a result of this abandonment of Orthodox Christianity and the mixture of its vestiges with a host of isms issued from Roman paganism and barbarian heathenism, it did not adopt Orthodox saints into its calendar. Rather it set about attempting to destroy their Christian world and its civilization, notably in 1204 sacking and looting the Christian capital of New Rome, and then in 1917 sacking and looting the Christian Empire itself.
The European Orthodox thinker wonders and asks: ‘Where will all this end?’ And he receives the answer: ‘It will end with the end’.