What can the Church Outside Russia Give the Church inside Russia?

The Lord will have mercy on Holy Rus because it has suffered the dread and terrible period before Antichrist. A great host of martyrs and confessors shone forth, starting with senior clergy and laity, the Metropolitan and the Tsar, the priest and the monk, the child and the breastfed babe, ending with ordinary laypeople. They all beseech the Lord God, the King of Hosts, the King of Kings, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, glorified in the Most Holy Trinity. We must know quite clearly that Russia is the lot of the Queen of Heaven and She takes care of her and intercedes for her especially…Together with the Mother of God the whole host of Russian saints asks for Russia to be spared…

St Laurence of Chernigov (+ 1950)

Introduction

To some the above question may seem absurd. What can a tiny, émigré-founded part of the Russian Church (ROCOR – 500 parishes), their descendant and missions, scattered across the whole face of the world, give the huge Church inside Russia, with its tens of thousands of churches, hundreds of monasteries and dozens of seminaries? It sounds as if the little brother, so imperfect and with all his faults, is trying to patronise the big brother because he is blind to his own faults. This is not the case; we are well aware of our weaknesses, but perhaps ‘our strength is made perfect in weakness.’

In reality, the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) does have something to say, though perhaps only one thing, but a vital thing. Simply because we were never Sovietised, whereas, through no fault of its own, the people of the martyric Church inside Russia were Sovietised, we have one word to say to. It is: ‘Community’. It is most ironic, for this is the very thing promised, but not delivered, by ‘Communism’. Commun-ism failed to build a Commun-ity because it tried to do it without Christ. Starting from the bottom and working upwards through five levels, of Community we can say:

1. The Family as Community

Under Soviet atheism, Christian marriage came to an end and was replaced at first with ‘free love’, then with relationships of convenience, a method, for example, of obtaining a permit to work in Moscow or some other city. Divorce and multiple divorce became ‘normal’ and, with it, multiple abortion and the horrifying abuse of women and children and the irresponsibilisation of men as fathers. Virtually all sense of the family as the community of the small church came to an end. As a result, the demographic situation throughout all the Slav parts of the former Soviet Union is catastrophic.

2. The Parish as Community.

Today, parish life as community life, as we understand it in ROCOR, hardly exists in the post-Soviet Church inside Russia. Parishes there are largely composed of people who do not know one another, of passers-by, of those who drop in. The repression of the Church in the Soviet period more or less destroyed normal parish life. The reflex of the former Soviet citizen is to erect high barriers around his property. He sees others as potential enemies. Mistrust of others has largely replaced community life. This is not the case in ROCOR parish life, where we try to build scattered individuals into communities.

3. The Diocese as Community

In our small ROCOR all who wish to can know our bishops, write to them and speak to them. Bishops have small if scattered dioceses. The bureaucratisation of bishops did not occur in ROCOR; they are not State functionaries; neither are they wealthy. On the contrary. In the Church inside Russia, even with a relatively small number of churches and today with 300 bishops, bishops do not know their parishes. If a bishop is to visit each parish once a year, surely there should be no more than 50 parishes in his diocese? Perhaps at least another 300 bishops are required inside Russia.

4. The Church as Community

In the Soviet period, not to mention the period before it which prepared it, the Church inside Russia came to be seen as an Institution, a Department of State, as ‘the Moscow Patriarchate’. Religion stopped being seen as Faith, and instead as a purely outward rite. Let us be clear. In 2007 the Church Outside Russia did not enter into canonical communion with ‘the Moscow Patriarchate’. The Community of ROCOR entered into communion with the Community of our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Church inside Russia. The Church is the Community of believers, living and departed.

5. Rus as Community

Today the East Slav peoples, the Multinational Community of Faith known as ‘Rus’, are illegitimately divided into three States: the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Belarus. To them can be added a fourth and Non-Slav country – Moldova. Moreover, many, many other countries also have many believers in the jurisdiction of the Church of ‘All Rus’. In these post-Soviet times, Rus has not been restored; we have only covered 5% of the path before us. We are not satisfied with this post-Soviet state of affairs: we look for better times, we look to the future, when Rus will exist not only spiritually as now, but politically also.

Conclusion

Today the world is being squeezed between a bankrupt but technologically dominant Western world, a decadent Roman Empire, whose secularist ideology appears to be motivated by the promotion of homosexuality, and the Islamic world. That Islamic world has been divided in terrible wars in one country after another throughout the Middle East, so that it can be ruled and exploited. Orthodox should be aware, for they too are divided and ruled, as happened long ago in the enslaved Patriarchate of Constantinople, as happened with new calendarisation and now EU-isation, and is now happening in Serbia and the Ukraine.

The Soviet Union has long gone, leaving ruins behind it. The Russian Federation, Ukraine and Belarus are all passing States, with no long-term future. The choice is not between Soviet and Russian. The choice is between the descent into a second-rate colony of vulgar Western consumerism and the restoration of Holy Rus. Holy Rus, ruled by a Tsar, is the spiritual tool for the salvation of its own peoples and other peoples. Holy Rus spread across the northern half of the Eurasian continent. In the past it stemmed the wild East and the wild West, Islam and the spiritually damaged Catholic/Protestant West; this is its task again today.