13 May 2007, 20:46
Valentina Dudkina, Interfax-Religion editor-in-chief.
The Russia we are recovering
Any war ends in signing a peace treaty. It means that the Civil War of 1918-1922 will end in Russia soon, because on May 17 'a peace treaty' will be signed at the Church of Christ the Saviour. It will be a special, sacral treaty that will restore the unity of the Russian Church which has been divided by that war.
It will be the day when two Russias will meet: the former Russia which we, who live in our historical homeland, lost with the coming of the Bolsheviks and which they, descendants of emigrants, have managed to preserve, and the Russia they lost when they left her at a times of trouble and have preserved only in their hearts and memory.
They refused to come back for a long time, reproaching those who stayed back for communism, for compromise, for moral grubbiness. The skilful attempts of Metropolitan Sergius to preserve at least that small remnant of the Church in the Soviet Union outraged the Russian diaspora for over a half century.
Much time had elapsed before it became possible to meet and talk as brothers, not enemies. But it did happen, for there was still one Russia both here and there, one and the same crucified Russia, which we have lost, each in his own way, and have preserved each in his own way for himself, for each other and for the world
It was strikingly moving - that which happened three and a half years ago when a delegation of the Church Outside Russia, led by Archbishop Mark of Berlin, came to Moscow for the first time to have a serious talk with Alexy II. They did not know what kind of welcome would be accorded them by Russia on which the 'Emigrant Church' had turned her back for so long. The guests from abroad, not recognized as yet in the Orthodox world, came to a Moscow church, in which canons forbade them to serve at that time, and when the liturgy ended some local parishioners came up to the bishops from abroad and asked for their blessing. It was at that point in fact that they really came back home...
Next came 'concerns for residence permit', involving negotiations between church commissions, which took nearly three years as the dispersed members of the same family sought to clarify the terms on which to live together again. And, as is often the case in such matters, there were those among the kinsmen who in no circumstances wanted 'to move in together', continuing to reproach for something those who are close to them in blood and spirit...
'By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have one love one to another', these are words the Saviour said during the Last Supper. These words are recollected in a special way today when just a few days remain till the unity of the Russian Church is restored. The historic event will take place on the Day of the Holy Ascension - the day when Christ appeared to the apostles for the last time and promised them that the Holy Spirit would soon be sent down.
As is known, in the period between the Last Supper and the Ascension many things happened which the apostles were ashamed of and Christ was bitter about: Judas's betrayal, the Saviour's arrest, Peter's renunciation, the Son of God's agony on the cross and death on the earth, His disciples' escape for Jerusalem But the redemptive feat of Jesus has given people a new hope by elevating the human nature to the throne of God the Father.
According to historians, dozens of thousands of Russian people were killed in the Soviet years. Those of them who have been already canonized are greater in number than those included among the saints in the twenty centuries of Christian history. Believing people do not doubt that it was the redemptive feat of Russian new martyrs that has given hope and strength to both us who have stayed back in Russia and descendants of White emigrants to overcome the many years of alienation, as it was not accidental that for those who had not wished church unity the canonization of those who martyred for their faith became the main arguments in favour of the reunification of the Church.
Those martyrs never lost Russia either literally or figuratively. They stayed back here and lived and kept their faith as if there were no Revolution. They refused to tear their crosses off from their breasts, to destroy churches, to struck deals with their Christian conscience, and for this they were shot to death, hanged and thrown down into mines. Russia has lost them, but they help us today to restore that former Russia which we have lost, each in his own way, and which they have preserved for us through their prayers.