Saturday, January 17, 2009



photo credit.


John (Ad Orientem) said...

This is an unusual photograph in two respects. First the priest is not fully vested indicating that this is an extraordinary communion (one done outside of the normal liturgy). And secondly we note that the person holding the communion cloth is a female. In the Orthodox Church this would be extremely unusual.

I would be very interested in the background on this picture.


Vara said...

No, it is not unusual at all. The lack of full vestments probably indicates this a communion after a baptism. In Russia, it is not unusual for a woman to hold the communion cloth under certain circumstances (such as a baptism). John is probably cut off from the current news in the Russian Church, and is probably not aware of innovative traditional (no, it is not oxymoronic or contradictory) preachers such as Sergei Rybko, Andrei Kuraev, or Tikhon Shevkunov. The MP stands fully behind such things as the "Missionary Liturgy" (as shown by comments by Prof Aleksei Osipov and Fr Vsevolod Chaplin).

If you wish commentary on Russian things, ask someone who has facility in Russian. Most Americans do not, indeed, most Anglo-Saxon Orthodox converts do not. That does not stop them from posing as experts, though! BTW, I am no expert, I am merely a hardened old Russian-American sinner who has been clanging about a bit and knows a thing or two (you may stop the Fathers-quoting... it's not seemly). I wish that American converts would lighten up and smile once in a while.

It's a moving and meaningful snap, it is why I posted it on my site (and received a nice note from the original site, BTW). I guess I am miffed at the arrogant "know all" tone of John. Not all Orthodox are like that.


"Do pass the jug, it's on your right... it's Dede's own apple brandy... the good stuff!"

Carolina Cannonball said...

I thought the cherub faced babe wrapped in a bath towel was indication enough that it was just after a baptism. I apologize for not clarifying.

Dymphna said...

Judging by the expression on the wee one's face I'd say that Baby didn't want communion. I hope there was a towel for the priest.

Dymphna said...

What year is this from?

Vara said...

Per the site of origin, this snap was taken in 2005, some four years ago. That is, it is an up-to-date record of contemporary Russian practise in the MP.

There is still a long road ahead in the rechurching of Russia, but, at least, a beginning has been made. For instance, this Christmas, one of the bishops held a Yolka ("Christmas tree" and "Christmas party" in Russian) and some 1,200 kids showed up! Whew!

Reflect on the fact that, as of today, some 31,000 individual New Martyrs have been investigated and canonised. More work needs to be done, of course. THAT is why the Russian church is such a powerhouse. It stands on the blood of the Martyrs!


"Given the choice between professors or martyrs, give me the martyrs, any day, any road".

John (Ad Orientem) said...

I think you misunderstood my comment. It was one based on curiosity not criticism. In saying unusual I meant just that. As in it is not normative. It was not intended to mean it's not permitted or that it does not happen.

As far as I know there are no church canons which preclude women from holding the communion cloth. In fact I cans state with some degree of certainty that there is precedent in the ancient church. As a matter of norm it is done by altar servers during liturgy but as I also observed this is not a communion being done in a liturgy and there could be any number of perfectly legitimate reasons for the young lady doing it.

As for the innovative traditions you refer to, I am not aware of them and can not comment on any of them for that reason. I can note however that I am very cautious about any tinkering with liturgy. The Romans went down that road and it is a road we do not need to follow.

I have no idea what you are referring to with regard to quoting the church Fathers since I did not quote any. That said you are the first Orthodox Christian I have ever heard of who thinks quoting the Fathers is not seemly. I am guessing there is a reason for that but I will leave that for you to explain if you feel so inclined.

I am sorry that my curiosity as to the story behind the picture offended you.

Under the mercy,

Vara said...

Dear John,

The "innovations" I am referring to are not "tinkerings" with the liturgy.

For instance, Fr Sergei Rybko runs a rock club at his parish (and received a church decoration from Patriarch Aleksei for his efforts). He is known, affectionately, as "the Apostle to the Counterculture". He is a former rocker.

Deacon Andrei Kuraev is one of the most popular preachers in Russia, he made a rock/missionary tour of the Ukraine with the bands DDT and Alisa. It was a smashing success. One of the diocesan hierarchs came on the stage and challenged the audience to "join the army of Orthodox missionaries". He received a warm reception. In another city, the Metropolitan blessed the crowd from a hot-air balloon. Deacon Andrei is also a professor at the MDA.

Fr Vsevolod Chaplin is one of the proponents of the "missionary liturgy". There are no changes made in it, merely, explanations in modern Russian are added so that people can understand what is going on. He is also the Deputy Head of the MP DECR, and a prolific writer in the press. His "Ten Commandments of Post-Christian Modernism" is a true hoot!

As for the Fathers, many Anglo-Saxon neophytes go about quoting them ad nauseam before they have truly learned the Faith. The Fathers are dangerous territory for the tyro, for the Fathers wrote their works in response to specific situations, and there are many seeming contradictions. I think that those untrained in theology should be very careful in their reading. Indeed, I believe that for the first five years, a neophyte should concentrate on internalising the liturgy, doing good works, and, in general, be seeking to be a good Christian. As Flounder always told Charlie, "Starkist wants tunas that taste good, not tunas with good taste". In other words, the Fathers, by themselves, shall not save you. You must work on the more humble Christian duties first.

Orthodoxy does not consist in an intellectual exercise, it is an encounter with the Living God. Reading books may not always be a help... I have seen the opposite.

I hope this helps.


"Orthodoxy is not a church, it is The Church... something to think upon"