Thursday, May 17, 2007

An Ascension Day to Remember...

By God's grace and mercy, and through the prayers of the Theotokos and all the Saints, today will mark the closure of one of the most difficult chapters in the history of the Orthodox Church in Russia and her diaspora around the world.

Division among brethren is painful and scandalous. The 2oth century offered far too many opportunities for both pain and scandal, but also for the witness of martyrdom.

The apologist Tertullian once wrote that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. Pray that the blood of the countless martyrs will indeed bring a new season of growth for Holy Orthodoxy in the 21st century.

The following news article by Sophia Kishkovsky appeared in today's International Herald Tribune:


The atmosphere was tense, laced with nearly a century of mistrust and bitter feelings, when President Vladimir Putin met in New York with leaders of an émigré church that had broken with the Russian Orthodox Church after the Bolshevik Revolution. The breakaway church had vowed never to return as long as the "godless regime" was in power.

"I want to assure all of you," Putin said at the 2003 meeting, "that this godless regime is no longer there." Then, recalled the Reverend Serafim Gan, a senior priest of the breakaway church, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, Putin added: "You are sitting with a believing President."

That meeting set in motion years of difficult negotiations that on Thursday are expected to be capped by the signing of a canonical union at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, which was dynamited by Stalin in 1931 and rebuilt in the 1990s. Church members are calling the signing - which coincides with the feast of Ascension - the symbolic end of Russia's civil war and confirmation of the Russian Orthodox Church's central role in post-Soviet society.

Read it all here.