The day fast approaches. Since my reception into the Orthodox Church last year, I have heard much about the difficult history of the Church since the Russian revolution of the early 20th century, and of the upcoming restoration of normal relations between the Church in Russia and the Russian Church Abroad. I have read and conversed and learnt a fair amount, and have received e-mails telling my why reunion is right, why it is wrong, why now is the right time, why now is the wrong time, which are the "true" and "genuine" Orthodox churces, and which are Orthodox in name only. I have seen people leave my parish and diocese, and seen the tears shed.
Now that is past and gone. Those who, in their heart of hearts, could not see this as anything but bad have now left. We must continue to pray for them and ask them to do the same for us, in charity, and not a sense of smug pride that we are right and they wrong. Many who remain have concerns but also have faith, and they trust our bishops. There is still some sadness. It seems that one of our convents will keep true to its declaration that it would leave us when the day comes. Let us pray that this is the last of the divisions and that both those who have left and those who remain may now get past the upset of the past few years. This seems to be the message of the emotive statement of Fr Pimen Simon.
Deo volente, on Thursday of next week, the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ, when the human nature which He fully possessed, raised from the jaws of death, was raised gloriously into the heavenly state, the Russian church will once again be one. Our cup will be a common cup, we will share in full Eucharistic Communion at the Lord's Banquet. I cannot wait. I was updating our parish schedule of services recently, and saw that we are to take part this year in the pan-Orthodox pilgrimage to St Winefride's well at Holywell. We had Fr Dcn Joseph from the cathedral at Ennismore Gardens in our congregation on Sunday just gone. There is a real sense that we are fast approaching the fullness of relations with our Orthodox brothers and sisters. It is a lovely feeling. I get the sense of the Ascension here, of God bringing that which was fallen into himself and restoring it to wholeness. In the same way as our human nature, He is restoring the unity to the Orthodox Church that it perhaps had not maintained to the best of its ability, through human failings in Russia and a lack of willingness to forgive outside of Russia. The Soviet days are behind us and Christ is making all things new. And what better a place could be found to host this wondrous event than Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow, itself a symbol of the resurgence of Orthodoxy after the attempts of the godless authority to suppress the Faith of Christ?
I'm extremely excited about the whole affair. Please continue to pray for our hierarchs and our people as we enter this joyous feast of Ascension and once again enjoy the fullness of the Catholicity of the Church.
In the tender mercy of our God, whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us, to shine upon those in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
from the Benedictus
There is to be a live webcast of the services on Russia Today. The greeting of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus is to take place at 9.15 a.m. Moscow time. It would be wonderful for as many people as possible to know about this so do spread the word.
O Master all-good, watch over Thy flock and all the children of the Russian Church Abroad, that we may bring about the structuring of our Church in a manner well-pleasing to Thee. Grant us the spirit of wisdom and understanding; instill in our hearts the spirit of the fear of God, the spirit of piety and zeal for the glory of Thy holy Name. Guard us against all temptations, stumbling-blocks and divisions, that, bound together, one to another, by the bond of love for Thee, our Master, we may without hindrance perform the work of our ministry for the edification of the Holy Church as the one Body of Christ. We pray Thee, O greatly Merciful One: hearken and have mercy!
O good Shepherd, Who hast promised to gather Thy scattered sheep into a single flock, put down scandal and division within the Church; all who have strayed from Thy path do Thou lead to repentance and a knowledge of the Truth, and return them to Thy fold; and confirm us all in the Orthodox Faith and the doing of Thy commandments. We pray Thee: hearken and have mercy!