***This is something I found on one of the Eastern Orthodox sites I frequent.
(I just remembered that I left a ripe, juicy pear in the freezer! Yikes! I put it in
there four hours ago. I hope it's still good!)
*****The Truth of Orthodoxy*****
by OCP on April 1, 2010
Nikolai A. Berdyaev
(In “Vestnik of the Russian West European Patriarchal Exarchate” – Paris 1952 The Editors consider it their duty to offer this as yet unpublished essay on the pages of the “Vestnik”)
The Christian world doesn’t know Orthodoxy too well (how true this is! -editor, ECM). It only knows the external and for the most part, the negative features of the Orthodox Church and not the inner spiritual treasure. Orthodoxy was locked inside itself, it did not have the spirit of proselytism and did not reveal itself to the world. For the longest time Orthodoxy did not have such world-wide significance as did Catholicism and Protestantism. It remained apart form passionate religious battles for hundreds of years, for centuries it lived under the protection of large empires (Byzantium and Russia) and preserved its eternal truth from the destructive processes of world history. It is characteristic for Orthodoxy’s religious nature that it was not sufficiently actualized nor exposed externally, it was not militant, and precisely because of this the heavenly truth of Christian revelation was not distorted so much. Orthodoxy is that form of Christianity which suffered the least distortion in its substance as a result of human history. The Orthodox Church had its moments of historical sin, for the most part in connection with its external dependence on the State, but the Church’s teaching, her inner spiritual path was not subject to distortion. The Orthodox Church is primarily the Church of tradition, in contrast to the Catholic Church, which is the Church of authority, and to the Protestant Churches which are essentially churches of individual faith. The Orthodox Church was never subject to a single externally authoritarian organization and it unshakenly was held together by the strength of internal tradition and not by any external authority. Out of all forms of Christianity it is the Orthodox Church which remained more closely tied to early Christianity. The strength of internal tradition in the Church is the strength of spiritual experience and the continuity of the spiritual path, the power of superpersonal spiritual life in which every generation shakes off a consciousness of self-satisfaction and exclusiveness and is united with the spiritual life of all preceding generations up to the Apostles. In that tradition I have the same experience and the same authority as the Apostle Paul, the martyrs, the saints and the whole Christian world. In tradition my knowledge is not only personal but superpersonal and I live not in isolation but within the Body of Christ, within a single spiritual organism with all my brothers in Christ.
Orthodoxy is first of all, an orthodoxy of life and not an orthodoxy of indoctrination. For it, heretics are not so much those who confess a false doctrine but those who have a false spiritual life and go along a false spiritual path. Orthodoxy is before all else, not a doctrine, not an external organization, not an external norm of behavior but a spiritual life, a spiritual experience and a spiritual path. It sees the substance of Christianity in internal spiritual activity. Orthodoxy is less the normative form of Christianity (in the sense of a normative-rational logic and moral law) but is rather its more spiritual form. And this spirituality and hiddenness of Orthodoxy were not infrequently the sources of its external weakness. The external weakness and the insufficient development, the insufficiency of external activity and realization affects everyone, but her spiritual life, her spiritual treasures remained hidden and invisible. This is characteristic for the spiritual nature of the East, in contrast to the spiritual world of the West, which is always active and always visible but then, it not infrequently spiritually exhausts itself because of all that activity. In the non-Christian world of the East, India’s spiritual life is especially hidden from outside eyes and is not actualized in history. This analogy could be carried through, although the spiritual nature of the Christian East is far different from the spiritual nature of India. Holiness in the Orthodox world, in contrast to holiness in the Catholic world, did not leave written monuments after itself, it remained hidden. But this is not yet the reason why it is difficult to judge Orthodox spiritual life from the outside. Orthodoxy did not have its Scholastic age, it experienced only the age of Patristics. And the Orthodox Church to this day relies on the Eastern teachers of the Church. The West sees this as a sign of Orthodoxy’s backwardness, a dying out of creative life. But this fact can be given another interpretation: in Orthodoxy, Christianity has not been so rationalized as it had been rationalized in the West, in Catholicism where, with the help of Aristotle it saw everything through the eyes of Greek intellectualism. [In Orthodoxy] doctrine has never attained such a sacred significance and dogmas have not been so attached to mandatory intellectual theological teachings but they were understood primarily as mystical truths. We were less confined by the theological and philosophical interpretations of dogmas. Nineteenth century Russia experienced a genesis of creative Orthodox ideas [thinking] and these expressed more freedom and spiritual talent than did Catholic and even Protestant thought.
To the spiritual nature of Orthodoxy belongs the primordial and inviolable ontologism which first presented itself as the manifestation of Orthodox life and only then, of Orthodox thought. The Christian West went by ways of critical thought in which the subject was opposed to the object, and thus the organic whole of thinking and the organic connection with life was violated. The West is more capable of a complex unfolding of its thinking, its reflection and criticism, its precise intellectualism. But here was a violation of the connection between the one who knows and thinks and the primordial and original existence. Cognition came out of life and thinking, came out of existence. Cognition and thinking did not pass through the spiritual wholeness of the person, in the organic unity of all his strengths. The West accomplished great feats on this foundation but this resulted in the falling apart of the primordial ontologism of thinking, the thinking did not enter into the depth of substance. This resulted in Scholastic intellectualism, rationalism, empiricism and the extreme idealism of Western thought. On the Orthodox ground, thinking remained ontological, joined to existence, and this is evident throughout the whole of Russian religio-philosophic and theological thought of the XIX and XX centuries. Rationalism, legalism and all normatism is alien to Orthodoxy. The Orthodox Church is not defined in rational concepts, it is conceptualized only for those living within it, who are united to its spiritual experience.. The mystical types of Christianity are not subject to any kind of intellectual definitions, they do not have any juridical signs nor do they have rational signs. Genuine Orthodox theologizing is theologizing on the basis of spiritual experience. Orthodoxy almost completely lacks Scholastic manuals. Orthodoxy understands itself through Trinitarian religion; not with abstract monotheism but in concrete Trinitarianism. The life of the Holy Trinity is reflected in its spiritual life, its spiritual experience and its spiritual path. The Orthodox Liturgy begins with the words: “Blessed is the Kingdom, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Everything begins from above, from the Divine Triad, from the heights of the Essence, and not from the person and his soul. In Orthodox understanding it is the Divine Triad which descends and not the person who ascends. There is less of thisTrinitarian expression in Western Christianity, it is more Christocentric and anthropocentric. This difference is noted in Eastern and Western patristics where the first theologizes from the Divine Trinity and the second, from the human soul. Thus the East first of all proclaims the mysteries of Trinitarian dogmas and Christological dogmas. The West primarily teaches about Grace and free will and about the ecclesiastical organization. The West had greater wealth and a greater variety of ideas.
Orthodoxy is that Christianity wherein is a greater revelation of the Holy Spirit. Thus the Orthodox Church did not adopt the Filioque, which is seen as a subordination in the teaching about the Holy Spirit. The nature of the Holy Spirit is revealed not so much by dogmas and doctrines but by its action. The Holy Spirit is closer to us, it is more immanent in the world. The Holy Spirit acts directly upon the created world and transfigures creation. This teaching is revealed by the greatest of Russian saints, Seraphim of Sarov. Orthodoxy is not only Trinitarian in essence but it sees as the task of its earthly life, the transfiguration of the world in the image of the Trinity and have it become pneumatic [Grk. Spiritual] in essence.
I am speaking about the depths of mysteries in Orthodoxy and not of superficial trends in it. Pneumatologic [Grk. Spiritual] theology, the anticipation of a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the world arises easier on Orthodox soil. This is the remarkable particularity of Orthodoxy: on the one hand it is more conservative and traditional than Catholicism and Protestantism but, on the other hand, within the depth of Orthodoxy there is always a great expectation of a new religious manifestation in the world, an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the coming of the New Jerusalem. Orthodoxy did not develop in history for nearly the whole millennium; evolution is a stranger to it but within it the possibility of religious creativity was concealed, which is held in reserve for a new, not yet achieved, historical epoch. This became evident in Russian religious trends of the XIX and XX centuries. Orthodoxy makes a more radical division between the Divine and the natural world, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Caesar and does not accept those possible analogies which are frequently evident in Catholic theology. The Divine Energies act covertly in man and in the world. One cannot say about the created world that it is a god or is divine, nor can one say that it is outside the Divine. God and Divine life do not resemble the natural world or the natural life, one cannot make analogies here. God is eternal; natural life is limited and finite. But, Divine Energy is poured out upon the natural world, acts upon it and enlightens it. This is the Orthodox understanding of the Holy Spirit. Thomas Aquinas’ teaching about the natural world, positing it in opposition to the supernatural world is, for the Orthodox, a form of secularizing the world. Orthodoxy is in principle pneumatological [Grk. Of the spirit] and in this is its distinction. Pneumatism is the final result of Trinitarianism. Grace is not the mediation between the supernatural and the natural; grace is the action of the Divine Energy on the created world, the presence of the Holy Spirit in the world. It is the Pneumatism of Orthodoxy which makes of it a more complete form of Christianity, revealing in it the predominance of New Testamental origins following those of the Old Testament. At its apex, Orthodoxy understands the purpose of life as the seeking and the attainment of the grace of the Holy Spirit, as a means of the spiritual transfiguration of creation. This understanding is essentially opposite of the legalistic understanding in which the Divine world and the supernatural world is the law and the norm for the created and natural world.
Orthodoxy is primarily liturgical. It informs and enlightens the people not so much by sermons and the teaching of norms and laws but by liturgical services themselves which give a foreshadowing of transfigured life. It likewise teaches the people through the examples of saints and instills the cult of holiness. But the images of saints are not normative; to them is granted the graceful enlightenment and transfiguration of creation by the action of the Holy Spirit. This, not being the normative type for Orthodoxy, makes it more difficult for the ways of human life, for history; it makes it less attractive for any kind of organization and for cultural creativity. The hidden mystery of the Holy Spirit’s activity upon creation has not been actually realized by the ways of historical life. Characteristic for Orthodoxy is FREEDOM. This internal freedom may not be noticed from the outside but it is everywhere present. The idea of freedom as the foundation of Orthodoxy was developed in Russian religious thinking of the XIX and XX centuries. The admission of the freedom of conscience radically distinguishes the Orthodox Church from the Catholic Church. But the understanding of freedom in Orthodoxy is different from the understanding of freedom in Protestantism. In Protestantism, as in all Western thought, freedom is understood individualistically, as a personal right, preserved from encroachment on the part of any other person, and declaring it to be autonomous. Individualism is foreign to Orthodoxy, to it belongs a particular collectivism. A religious person and a religious collective are not incompatible with each other, as external friend to friend. The religious person is found within the religious collective and the religious collective is found within the religious person. Thus the religious collective does not become an external authority for the religious person, burdening the person externally with teaching and the law of life. The Church is not outside of religious persons, opposed to her. The Church is within them and they are within her. Thus the Church is not an authority. The Church is a grace-filled unity of love and freedom. Authoritativeness is incompatible with Orthodoxy because this form engenders a fracture between the religious collective and the religious person, between the Church and her members. There is no spiritual life without the freedom of conscience, there is not even a concept of the Church, since the Church does not tolerate slaves within her, but God wants only the free. But the authentic freedom of religious conscience, freedom of the spirit, is made evident not in an isolated autonomous personality, self-asserted in individualism but in a personality conscious of being in a superpersonal spiritual unity, in a unity with a spiritual organism, within the Body of Christ, i.e. the Church. My personal conscience is not placed outside and is not placed in opposition to the superpersonal conscience of the Church, it is revealed only within the Church’s conscience. But, without an active spiritual deepening of my personal conscience, of my personal spiritual freedom, the life of the Church is not realized, since this life cannot be external to, nor be imposed upon, the person. Participation in the Church demands spiritual freedom, not only from the first entry into the Church, which Catholicism also recognizes, but throughout one’s whole life. The Church’s freedom with respect to the State was always precarious, but Orthodoxy always enjoyed freedom within the Church. In Orthodoxy freedom is organically linked with Sobornost’, i.e. with the activity of the Holy Spirit upon the religious collective which has been with the Church not only during the times of the Ecumenical Councils, but at all times. Sobornost’ in Orthodoxy, which is the life of the Church’s people, never had any external juridical signs. Not even the Ecumenical Councils enjoyed indisputable external authority. The infallibility of authority was enjoyed only by the whole Church throughout her whole history, and the bearers and custodians of this authority were the whole people of the Church. The Ecumenical Councils enjoyed their authority not because they conformed with external juridical legal requirements but because the people of the Church, the whole Church recognized them as Ecumenical and genuine. Only that Ecumenical Council is genuine in which there was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit; the outpouring of the Holy Spirit has no external juridical criteria, it is discerned by the people of the Church in accordance with internal spiritual evidence. All this indicates a nonnormative nonjuridical character of the Orthodox Church. Along with this the Orthodox consciousness understands the Church more ontologically, i.e. it doesn’t see the Church primarily as an organization and an establishment, not just a society of faithful, but as a spiritual, religious organism, the Mystical Body of Christ. Orthodoxy is more cosmic than Western Christianity. Neither Catholicism nor Protestantism sufficiently expresses the cosmic nature of the Church, as the Body of Christ. Western Christianity is primarily anthropological. But the Church is also the Christianized cosmos; within her, the whole created world is subject to the effect of the grace of the Holy Spirit. Christ’s appearance has a cosmic, cosmogonic significance; it signifies somehow a new creation, a new day of the world’s creation. The juridical understanding of redemption as a carrying out of a judicial process between God and man, is somewhat foreign to Orthodoxy. It is closer to an ontological and a cosmic understanding of the appearance of a new creation and a renewed mankind. The idea of Theosis was the central and correct idea, the Deification of man and of the whole created world. Salvation is that Deification. And the whole created world, the whole cosmos is subject to Deification. Salvation is the enlightenment and transfiguration of creation and not a juridical justification. Orthodoxy turns to the mystery of the RESURRECTION as the summit and the final aim of Christianity Thus the central feast in the life of the Orthodox Church is the feast of Pascha, Christ’s Glorious Resurrection. The shining rays of the Resurrection permeates the Orthodox world. The feast of the Resurrection has an immeasurably greater significance in the Orthodox liturgy than in Catholicism where the apex is the feast of the Birth of Christ. In Catholicism we primarily meet the crucified Christ and in Orthodoxy – the Resurrected Christ. The way of the Cross is man’s path but it leads man, along with the rest of the world, towards the Resurrection. The mystery of the Crucifixion may be hidden behind the mystery of the Resurrection. But the mystery of the Resurrection is the utmost mystery of Orthodoxy. The Resurrection mystery is not only for man, it is cosmic. The East is always more cosmic than the West. The West is anthropocentric; in this is its strength and meaning, but also its limitation. The spiritual basis of Orthodoxy engenders a desire for universal salvation. Salvation is understood not only as an individual one but a collective one, along with the whole world. Such words of Thomas Aquinas could not have emanated from Orthodoxy’s bosom, who said that the righteous person in paradise will delight himself with the suffering of sinners in hell. Nor could Orthodoxy proclaim the teaching about predestination, not only in the extreme Calvinist form but in the form imagined by the Blessed Augustine. The greater part of Eastern teachers of the Church, from Clement of Alexandria to Maximus the Confessor, were supporters of Apokatastasis, of universal salvation and resurrection. And this is characteristic of (contemporary) Russian religious thought. Orthodox thought has never been suppressed by the idea of Divine justice and it never forgot the idea of Divine love. Chiefly – it did not define man from the point of view of Divine justice but from the idea of transfiguration and Deification of man and cosmos.
Finally, the final and most important feature of Orthodoxy is its eschatological consciousness. The early Christian eschatology, the anticipation of Christ’s second appearance and the coming of the Resurrection, was to a greater extent, preserved in Orthodoxy. Orthodox eschatology means a lesser attachment to the world and earthly life and a greater turning towards heaven and eternity, i.e. to the Kingdom of God. In Western Christianity, the actualization of Christianity in the paths of history, the turning towards earthly efficiency and earthly organization resulted in the obscuring of the eschatological mystery, the mystery of Christ’s second coming. In Orthodoxy, primarily as a result of its lesser historical activity, the great eschatological anticipation was preserved. The apocalyptic side of Christianity had less of an expression in the Western forms of Christianity. In the East, in Orthodoxy, especially in Russian Orthodoxy, there were apocalyptic tendencies, the anticipation of new outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Orthodoxy, being a more traditional, a more conservative form of Christianity, while preserving the ancient truths, allowed for the possibility of a greater religious innovation, not innovations of human thought which is so prominent in the West, but innovations of the religious transfiguration of life.The primacy of the fulness of life over the differentialized culture was always especially characteristic for Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy did not see such a great culture which arose on the grounds of Catholicism and Protestantism. Perhaps this is so because Orthodoxy is turned towards the Kingdom of God which will come not as a consequence of historical evolution, but as a result of the mystical transfiguration of the world. It is not evolution but transfiguration which is characteristic for Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy cannot be known through surviving theological tracts; it is made known through the life of the Church and the Church’s people, it is least of all expressed in understanding. But, Orthodoxy must come out from its condition of being shut up and isolated, it must actualize its hidden spiritual treasures. Only then will it attain worldwide meaning. The recognition of Orthodoxy’s exclusive spiritual significance as a more pure form of Christianity must not engender self-satisfaction within it and lead to a rejection of the meaning of Western Christianity. On the contrary, we must aquaint ourselves with Western Christianity and learn many things from it. We must strive towards Christian unity. Orthodoxy is a good basis for Christian unity. But Orthodoxy suffered less from secularization and thus can contribute an immeasurable amount towards the Christianization of the world. The Christianization of the world must not mean a secularization of Christianity. Christianity can not be isolated from the world and it continues to move within it, without separation, and while remaining in the world it must be the conqueror of the world and not be conquered by it.
From the editors:
Being a loyal son of the Orthodox Church, N.A.Berdyaev remained an independent thinker in his philosophical creativity, which he himself repeatedly pointed out. For this reason his testimony about the Truth of Orthodoxy is that much more valuable for us, being unencumbered with the conventional and frequently lifeless language of “scholastic theology.”
Translated from the Russian by A.S. III
St. Seraphim of Vyritsa (Vasily Nikolaevich Muraviov) was born on March 31(OS)/April 13(NS), 1866. He was baptized two weeks after his birth with the name Vasily (Basil) after the Venerable Father Basil the New Confessor. He received an excellent education, got married, and was a very successful businessman. He had a son named Nikolai. When Nikolai grew up, both his parents – Vasily and Olga – by agreement decided to enter monasteries.
On 13 September 1920 Vasily Muraviov joined Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg. It was here that Vasily Murianov cultivated his divine zeal for 45 years.
On 19 October 1920 with the blessing of Vladyka Benjamin, Archimandrite Nikolay Yarushevich tonsured both Vasily and Olga – Vasily with the name Barnabas after his and Olga’s Spiritual Father, Venerable Elder Barnabas, and his wife Olga with the name of Christiana was tonsured at Voskresensky Novo-Devichy Monastery. The first obedience of Monk Barnabas was as a bell ringer. Very soon he was ordained hierodeacon and a manager of the cemetery chancery.
It was the time of the Civil War in Russia. They had one panikhida (memorial service at the church) after another, and Monk Barnabas’ first spiritual school of guidance was to listen and to comfort people.
On 11 September 1921 Archbishop Benjamin ordained Barnabas to be a hieromonk. Persecution against faithful people continued in Russia and none of the monks going to the church in the morning knew if they would return to their cells at night. Already very many people at that time were trying to attend the services when Hieromonk Barnabas was serving. His face during Divine Liturgies was enlightened with joy. His sermons were very sincere, simple and came across to various people. His podvig (selfless devotion) as a former merchant in the world was a reason for this.
Soon after that and before becoming Elder and Spiritual Father of St. Alexander Nevsky Lavra, Fr.Barnabas was tonsured into the Great Schema with the name Seraphim, after St. Seraphim of Sarov. Olga Muraviov, Nun Christiana, later received the Great Schema with the name Seraphima.
There was a mystical connection between Vasily Muravieov and two Holy Fathers – his Spiritual Father the Venerable Elder Barnabas and St. Seraphim of Sarov, who Vasily was named after during his monastic life. In the writings of Elder Barnabas you can find a place where he mentions one of his spiritual children V.N.M (Initials for Vasily Nikolaevich Muraviov) who saw a beautiful dream:
“I was walking to the services at St. Nicholas’ Monastery through the forest trying to find the path. Suddenly I saw an Elder with a sack behind his shoulder and small axe. I asked him if he knew how to get to St. Nicholas’ Monastery and the Elder answered: ‘Let’s go, I will show you. I am going there myself.’ I looked at this Elder more closely and recognized St. Seraphim of Sarov in him and asked: ‘Batyushka, are you Father Seraphim?’ The Elder answered: ‘Yes, I am Seraphim’, and they continued to walk. Fr. Seraphim stopped near a small stump, sat on it, and put his sack and axe on the ground. I sat near him. Suddenly, from another side very unexpectedly appeared Father Barnabas and he sat near me so I was between both Elders, who were very joyful, and gave hugs and kisses to each other and started to talk, but I couldn’t understand what they talked about and awoke….”
When Vasily told about his dream to his Elder Barnabas, the Elder laughed: “You were sitting between us, hearing everything and couldn’t understand what we talked about?”
Already at the end of the 1920′s Elder Seraphim was well known as a healer. One demon possessed woman was healed right after Elder Seraphim said a prayer above her head and annointed her with holy oil from his lamp.
Hieroschemamonk Seraphim was the spiritual Father of St. Alexander Nevsky Lavra for almost 3 years. He had so many people coming for confessions to him that sometimes he could spend two days hearing confessions while standing on a cold stone floor, without any break. But Fr. Seraphim didn’t think about himself. Of course such physical and spiritual stresses (how much grief of so many people he would take on himself!) soon turned to serious health problems. Soon doctors diagnosed intercostal neuralgia, rheumatism and venous congestion of legs. For a long time Fr. Seraphim didn’t tell anyone about it and continued to serve. And there was always such a bright and joyful smile on his face that no one from the brotherhood could think that their Elder was having such physical pain. Only his voice sometimes would get very quite. One day however Father Seraphim just couldn’t get up from his bed.
Father Seraphim accepted his illness with humility as a new obedience. He was glorifying God’s name: “I am a sinner and don’t deserve even this illness. There are so many people who suffer from more terrible illnesses!” Doctors prescribed a change of climate, but Fr. Seraphim knew about the dark times coming for the brotherhood and wanted to share the sufferings with them. God had a different plan for him however.
Metropolitan Seraphim (Chichagov), a medical doctor by education, studied the illness history of Fr. Seraphim and immediately blessed him to move to Vyritsa. By the summer of the 1930′s Elder Seraphim left the Blessed City of the Apostle Peter, as they call St. Petersburg. With the blessing of the Metropolitan, Schemanun Seraphima (in the world Olga Ivanovna Muraviova) and their twelve year old granddaughter Margarita, who was a young novice of Voskresensky Novodevichiy Monastery and would often visited Fr. Seraphim at Alexander Nevsky Lavra, went to him by obedience to help and take care of him.
Soon a bloody wave of repressions drenched the entire Petersburg Diocese. During the night of 18 February 1932 the Bolsheviks arrested more than five hundred monks. Monasteries were completely devastated. It often has happened in Church history that during the most vicious times of persecution for the Orthodox Faith, God sends special men of God who are keepers of the purity of Orthodoxy. In the 30′s-40′s the Venerable Father Seraphim of Vyritsa became one of them. At that time he was writing poems as prophesies about the future of Russia. These poems were memorized by very many people, and reached prisons and camps. He was very ill at that time, but at Vyritsa he already didn’t go to the doctors saying: “May God’s will be for everything. Illness is a school of humility, where you really learn about your weakness.” Soon streams of people embarked for Vyritsa. Many people gathered at the Elders’s cell for days and nights. When his relatives worried about him and his health condition, Elder Seraphim answered them: “Now I always will be ill. While I can raise my hand to bless people, I will be meeting with them.”
Father Seraphim always invited first those people who needed him the most. Every time a lay-sister would come out and call someone by their name and hometown, where this person was standing and where he/she came from. It was a mystery how the Elder could know all these things.
For very many people Fr. Seraphim was a benefactor who helped them not only spiritually, but with practical advice, helping them to find jobs and money through kind people. Very often he would thankfully accept money from his visitors, but Fr. Seraphim gave this money right away to those who had need of it. If some people gave him some clothes, Fr. Seraphim always found someone to give them to.
Elder Seraphim was always very strict with himself. He was always in fasting, all-night vigils, and prayer. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays the Elder didn’t eat any food at all. Sometimes he didn’t eat any food for several days. People who were around him sometimes thought that he starved himself to the death. It is difficult to call food what he ate in those days: in some days he ate part of prosphora and drank some holy water. At other days he didn’t eat even one potato, and would eat some grated carrot. Very seldom did he drink a cup of tea with a very little piece of bread. Priests from the church of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God at Vyritsa gave him Holy Communion every day.
Imitating his heavenly teacher, Venerable Father Seraphim of Sarov, he undertook a new podvig on himself. He would pray in the garden on his knees on the rock before the icon of the Wonderworker of Sarov. This was happening in those days when his health was very bad. The first testimonies of St. Seraphim of Vyritsa praying on the rock are from 1935, when the persecutors descended upon the Church again. For ten years the Elder endured this podvig. In truth it was martyrdom in the name of love for his neighbors. With many hot tears the Holy Elder was praying to God asking revival for the Russian Orthodox Church and for the salvation of the whole world.
People really didn’t know when he was sleeping. Every time when someone opened the door of his cell they found him on his knees crying and praying with his hands to the sky, not noting anything around him.
Fr. Seraphim had many visitors. Many times in the 30′s Chekists [Bolshevik secret police] came to his cell searching his things. Once the Chekists came to arrest the Elder, but people who lived with Fr. Seraphim in the house asked to call for the doctor to confirm his heath condition. When the doctor came he confirmed that the health of Fr. Seraphim was in very serious condition and didn’t allow them to move him to another place. Another time, when the Chekists came again, Fr. Seraphim’s love won them over. Sudden spiritual change in the soul of the man in charge brought them to leave the house without touching the humble Elder.
Lions were obedient to the venerable fathers Anthony the Great and Zosima, bears to St. Sergius of Radonezh and Seraphim of Sarov. And the most cruel cruel animals in the form of humans were obedient to Fr. Seraphim of Vyritsa.
In 1941 Nikolai Muraviov, son of Fr. Seraphim, was arrested and executed. New grief came into the Elder’s life.
Fr. Seraphim knew about the upcoming Second World War and the horrible years of it for Russia. When Nazis attacked Russia, Fr. Seraphim started to pray on the rock in his garden every day. In 1941 Fr. Seraphim was 72 years old and his health was bad, and his relatives would help him walk to that rock, and sometimes they just carried him there. Those close to him asked him to stop this praying on the rock, as they saw how hard it was for him physically. They put the icon on a young apple tree near that rock. He would pray on the rock as long as he could. Sometimes an hour, sometimes two, sometimes several hours. It was impossible to look at his sufferings without tears. They asked him to stop this podvig and pray at his cell, but he didn’t have mercy on himself. God himself helped him to do this podvig! This continued during all four war years for Russia.
It is a known fact, according to the words of the Elder himself, that not one house at Vyritsa was destroyed during that war. And no one man from Vyritsa was killed. Another miracle was that when Nazis were ready to occupy Vyritsa, they sent there those soldiers who were Orthodox Romanians. And if the Church of Kazan Icon of the Mother of God was closed, but, Glory to God!, not devastated in 1938 by the Bolsheviks, it was opened again by the very many requests of the people. In the beginning people were feeling very uncomfortable at the church, having occupants in Nazis uniform standing next to them, but after seeing that they prayed and crossed themselves as it is required by the church, they stopped worrying.
When Nazis heard about the prophecies of the Elder they also went to visit him. And as before with the Chekist’s, Fr. Seraphim could disarm uninvited visitors with the help from above. First of all they were amazed when he greeted them with his good German that he had learned from the years when he was a merchant and would often visit Berlin and Vienna, working with German and Austrian companies. One Nazi asked him when Germans will take Petersburg. The Elder answered that this will never happen and Germans will be leaving Russia soon, and the man who asked this question would not return home alive and be killed near Warsaw. One of those Romanian officer’s visited Vyritsa in the 1980′s to venerate the Elder’s grave. He found people who lived in Vyritsa during the war and confirmed the destiny of the man who had asked that question.
In 1945 Schemanun Seraphima (Olga Nikolaevna Muraviova, wife of Vasily Muraviov, the future St. Seraphim of Vyritsa) reposed. Fr. Seraphim knew and talked about how the separation is not for too long and soon they will meet in eternal life.
During the last years of his life Elder Seraphim was bedridden. The hour of his repose was revealed to him. Day’s before this he blessed his home-folks with icons of the revered Seraphim of Sarov and told Mother Seraphima, his keleinica (lay-sister), to be mindful of her ribs during his funeral. (This warning was prophetic – during the funeral, since because of the very big crowd of people in attendance, Mother Seraphima had two of her ribs broken.)
Early in the morning the Most Holy Theotokos was revealed to him in splendor. With her right hand she pointed up to the sky. Elder Seraphim told about this to his home-folks and said: “Today I can’t recieve visitors”, and blessed to call Fr. Alexey Kibardin. The Akathists to the Most Holy Theotokos, St. Nicholas and St. Seraphim of Sarov were read. After taking Holy Communion Elder Seraphim blessed to have read the Psalter and the Holy Gospel. Closer to the evening Batyushka asked to put him on the chair and he started to pray. During prayer he sometimes asked what time it was. Around 2 o’clock after midnight he blessed to have read a prayer for the departure of the soul, then crossed himself with the words, “Lord, save and have mercy on the whole world!”, he departed for the heavenly dwelling place.
For three days an unending stream of people visited the coffin of the Elder. Everybody noticed that the Elder’s hands were very soft and warm, as if he was alive. Some people could smell a fragrance near his coffin.
On the first day after Elder Seraphim’s repose a blind girl was healed. Her mother brought her to his coffin and said: “Kiss the hand of grandfather.” Soon after that the girl started to see.
There were three big choirs during the honorable burial of St. Seraphim of Vyritsa: of Kazan, of Peter and Paul at Vyritsa, and of the Theological Academy and Seminary. On that day, with the blessing of Metropolitan Gregory of St. Petersburg, classes at the Academy and Seminary were cancelled. One of the students who was standing near the coffin of the Elder was the future Patriarch of Russia Alexey II.
The Holy and Venerable Father Seraphim of Vyritsa reposed on April 3rd, 1949.
Holy Father Seraphim, Pray to God for us!
V.P. Philimonov, Magazine “Tserkovny Vestnik”
Translated by Mira Parker
Translator’s Note: A Miracle of St. Seraphim of Vyritsa
Here you go… I am here in America translating this very interesting article about St.Seraphim of Vyritsa during the last few weeks, going through very many photographs, details of his life, his icons, etc. Vyritsa is near St. Petersburg, and I was reading how St. Seraphim was praying during WW2 for all the soldiers, for Russia, for the whole world, and how he told Romanian Nazis who came to ask questions that Germans will never take Leningrad…
I am moved…
Doing all this work, I remember about my uncle, who I never met, who was killed during WW2 near Leningrad (St. Petersburg). My family didn’t know where his grave is, and when it happened. Mom said that in 1943 they received a telegram about how he disappeared. This is my Mom’s older brother. My mom told me this story many times. His wife was very beautiful and never got married again, because she was waiting for him to come back home. My grandmother was waiting for him throughout all her life. His daughter grew up not remembering him.
So… I am reading and at some moment I thought: “My uncle was there at war, when St. Seraphim of Vyritsa was praying on the rock during 1000 days. My uncle was so close to that place… It would be nice to find his grave one day…” I know that my relatives tried to do it before, but didn’t have any success.
I sent my translation to John Sanidopoulos, who wants to publish it on his blog. And on the next day (yesterday) my Mom called me and said they found on the Internet where my uncle was buried in January 1943 near St. Petersburg. In a mass grave.
She told me about it and I remembered one of the photographs of St. Seraphim of Vyritsa, that I like so much. I knew that it was him who helped. You know, I was thinking about him during these few weeks a lot, about his life, his family, his wife, his podvig. And during several years I was praying for my uncle, who I never met. And now his daughter is going to visit his grave this month.
It didn’t happen before. It didn’t happen a month or a week after. It happened right at that time when I was reading, translating and thinking about him here, in America, and my relatives started again to look for information about my uncle at THIS time, being there, at Kazakhstan. Isn’t this a MIRACLE?
Glory to God for All Things!
English translation by Katherine Ilachinski
Click here to buy Books on Orthodoxy in Chinese and English published in Hong Kong
Sermon among the “dragon”
In Asia, the foreign priests of ROC more than anywhere else feel like missionaries
The Russian Orthodox Church plans to revive the Orthodox mission and church-parish organization in China. On March 15 the chairman of the Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion (Alphaeus) said about this: “Today the Orthodox Christians of China suffer from a lack of priests and regular worship. The Russian Orthodox Church as the Mother Church is interested in the restoration of the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church (CAOC). At this stage, our church is ready to provide comprehensive assistance to the Chinese faithful, and especially in the emergence of Chinese priests.” It is known that in China there are about 15 thousand Orthodox Christians, mostly descendants of Russian immigrants, or those Chinese baptized in the pre-revolutionary days, a country with a billion inhabitants there are only four officially registered CAOC parishes.
To the questions about the organization and the parish life of the Russian Orthodox Church, not only in China but throughout East Asia, the rector of the Orthodox Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Hong Kong and chairman of the eponymous Orthodox Brotherhood Archpriest Dionisy Pozdnyaev responds to the journalist of “NGR” Vladislav Maltsev.
— Currently where and how in East Asia are the Russian Orthodox Church and other Orthodox Churches represented?
— The parishes of Russian Orthodox Church today are in major East Asian cities: Tokyo, Pyongyang, Ulan Bator, Bangkok, Singapore, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Pattaya. Also there are regular worship conducted in the temples on the territory of Russian diplomatic missions in Beijing and Shanghai. Recently they opened an Orthodox monastery in Ratchaburi (Thailand). Unfortunately, the ROC does not yet have their educational institutions in East Asia.
It is worth noting that the ROC does not have separate dioceses in the region. All parishes are administered by the Foreign Parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate, although, of course, there are regular contacts between parishes in East Asia and the dioceses of the ROC in Siberia and the Far East. For comparison: the Patriarchate of Constantinople, whose congregations are in Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, East Asia, established three major canonical diocese – Hong Kong metropolis, Singapore diocese and the Korean metropolis.
In addition to the parishes of the ROC, in East Asia there are two autonomous Orthodox Churches under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate – Japanese and Chinese, some ROCOR parishes (recognizing the union with the Moscow Patriarchate) in South Korea and Indonesia.
Of the other local Orthodox Churches there is the parish of the Romanian Patriarchate in Japan, for the Romanians living in that country. Contrary to what is sometimes claimed in Russia, there are no Antiochian Orthodox parishes in the Philippines yet, although there are plans to create them.
— How is interaction possible – competition with parishes of other Orthodox Patriarchates in the region?
— I would not talk about the competition – after all the Church in various jurisdictions are divided only administratively. In dogmatic, ecclesiological sense, we are a single body of the Orthodox Church. In many countries there are different forms of cooperation – Romanian hierodeacon serves the parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate in Thailand, and a Russian priest serves in the parish of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Seoul. Orthodoxy is not a property of the Greek or Russian – so in Asia, where Christians are a minority, we are relying on the historical tradition of presence in the region closest to the countries of East Asia, the Russian Orthodox Church, and try together to bear witness of Orthodoxy.
— What represents the Orthodox congregation in Hong Kong and — more broadly – in East Asia at the nationality level?
— The congregation of the Orthodox Church in this region is multinational, and its social composition is non-uniform. This allows considering the Orthodox Church in various countries of East Asia, as the Church, open to all – without national, linguistic or social barriers. In Constantinople, and the Moscow Patriarchate there is an understanding that in East Asia, Orthodoxy has primarily missionary character. In my opinion, the task of pastoral care for the compatriots in East Asia is temporary in nature – there are not formed stable Diaspora of traditionally Orthodox nations. Most often, foreigners do not live in Asia constantly, so the main effort should be directed to the local population. Although, of course, the question of language plays a role: the Russian love to come where the services are in Russian, while the Greeks go where they can pray in Greek.
For example, in my parish in Hong Kong on a nationality basis parishioners are divided like this: 70% – Russian and Ukrainian – 15% Chinese, 15% – Americans, French and other nationals. In general, Russians in parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in East Asia constitute the majority (except for Indonesia – where parishioners are mostly Indonesians). In China, there is a special situation – there are CAOC parishes and parishioners in general – very strongly assimilated with the Chinese descendants of Russian settlers. In parishes located in diplomatic missions in China- parishioners are Russian and some foreigners (mostly Americans). In South Korea, where in the parish of the Patriarchate of Constantinople serves our priest, our parishioners – mostly Koreans, however, there are presents a number of all other foreigners. In Singapore – Russian language parish of the Moscow Patriarchate and quite colorful in the composition is the parish of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In general, everywhere there is variety of situations.
— Does the Russian Orthodox Church and other Orthodox Churches in East Asia use elements of the traditions of local peoples (decoration of churches, the closeness to local mores)? How is the translation of ecclesiastical and liturgical literature into local languages progressing? When entering into the life and experiences of the Church do they bring in some elements which are closer to local residents of words and concepts (it is known that the Western missionaries often translate for the Chinese, New Testament, “I am the bread of life” as more understandable to them, “I am the rice of life”)?
— A common practice of Orthodox parishes in Asia is the use of local languages and cultural elements (such as in China, Thailand and Indonesia, local craftsmen are busy carving iconostasis and candlesticks, are making their appearance with the local elements). In China, there is a custom to consecrate the tea of the new harvest. In Thailand, before entering the temple there is a custom to take off your shoes. Everywhere there are some local features, which give a special flavor to the parishes. However, the most important work – translation of liturgical and doctrinal books to local languages which is necessary as a mechanism for the life of the Orthodox tradition in the context of Asian cultures. Example of using the word “rice” – a private, in general in China is widely distributed bread, so in the basic translation of the Gospel the word “bread” is used in the above quote. Although there are different experiences, for example: “In the beginning was the Dao – one of the options for translating the first words of the Gospel of John.
— Do they send students from the local community to Russia for training in seminaries and theological academies and what is their fate in the dioceses of the ROC? As a whole how are in East Asia represented among the Orthodox clergy, on one hand, Russian and Greek as the representatives of the countries – centers of Orthodoxy, on the other hand – the representatives of indigenous peoples?
— At present in Moscow and Belgorod Theological Seminaries and the Moscow Theological Academy, students from China and Mongolia are studying, students from Thailand, Indonesia and Korea have already completed the training, students from China and Lao are preparing to enroll. Ordained to the sacred dignity are Korean, Thai and Indonesian graduates of our theological schools. In all East Asian countries they have both Greek and Russian priests – but one requires the presence of clergy from the local people, much of the work of preaching the word of God to their countrymen lies precisely on them. Rectors of some parishes in East Asia are the representatives of indigenous peoples: in Pyongyang (Korean graduates of MDS), Thailand (Fr Daniel Vanna – a graduate of St. Petersburg Theological Seminary). In Japan and Korea, almost all the clergy is made up of priests, of indigenous nationalities; the same can be said about Indonesia (where the clergy are the graduates of the Moscow and Belgorod Theological Seminaries). In China, the question of ordination of Chinese clerics still awaiting the solution until it is resolved, the status of the Orthodox Church in China can not be considered normal.
— You are also chairman of the NGO Council of Compatriots in Hong Kong. What is the Russian Diaspora in this city and elsewhere in East Asia?
— In Hong Kong, the Russian Diaspora is few in number – about 600 people, although its growth is observed, eight years ago, there was two times less Russians. In Singapore, there are about two thousand of our compatriots, a few thousand live permanently in Thailand. In different countries there are different trends of migration from country to country, the situation is very different. Almost anywhere (except Japan) it is already impossible to find the descendants of white emigration – in 60-70 years of the twentieth century, almost all of them have left Asia, so we are talking here about a new migration, and not of constant character.
— How are the relations with local representatives of non-Orthodox Christian Churches? Do they differ in composition of their parishioners from the Orthodox community? As a whole how the Christians of various denominations feel in the surrounding of non-Christian peoples of East Asia?
— In different countries the situation is different. In general everywhere we are developing good relationships – to this contributes a different believers environment in which all Christians are naturally closer to each other. I can say that for many Protestants and Catholics in Asia, Orthodoxy has become in recent years, a real discovery – and a lot of people are turning to the Orthodox faith from among the followers of these faiths. Their faith serves as a catechesis, a bridge from paganism to Orthodox Christianity. But the Protestants and Catholics have a long and proud history of service in Asia – in particular, in some countries they have created systems of education, have done a lot for the development of health systems. For example, in Hong Kong Catholics have managed to consolidate its status as a carrier of social justice. And have a great success – from 1950 to 2010, 480,000 people from the local residents embraced Catholicism. Orthodox Church should invest significant financial and human resources so Asian Orthodoxy would not be a marginal minority religion or for foreigners, and would be able to carry word of the gospel to local people in full force. Without the awareness of the missionary nature of the Church nor the Greeks, nor Russian in Asia will not be able to advance in the preaching of Orthodoxy.
Bulgaria: A Land of Antiquity and Resilient People
by OCP on March 28, 2012
By Sharon Mitchell
The Headliner News
Bulgaria. Why the interest in this southeastern European country to the extent that someone would write an article about it? My answer is simple: There are many fascinating reasons to learn about this country that is wedged between Greece, Turkey to the south, Romania to the north, Serbia to the west and the Black Sea coast to the east.
Also, the ancient civilization of Thrace, which can be traced back to hundreds of years before Christ, is now part of modern Bulgaria.
Yet another reason is the diversity of its nature: Alpine mountain snow-capped peaks, Balkan Mountains, sunny Black Sea coast, Danubian River plains, Mediterranean climate in the valleys and the lowlands in the southern most territories. All of this diversity of its terrain on a territory that is about the size of Tennessee in square miles.
The final and most important reason is the people whom proudly call themselves Bulgarians.
A picturesque, resilient people who have overcome centuries of almost continuous warfare.
So very interesting is the fact that Bulgarians are the descendants who came to the territory of modern day Bulgaria about A.D. 631 from western Asia.
One hundred years later, the eastern most southern Slavic people migrated to the territory as well.
Together by the ninth century the Bulgarians and Slavs were mutually assimilated and are fully represented in today’s modern-day Bulgarian.
The Thracians are another ancestral groups of the modern-day Bulgarian, whose culture can be traced back 600 years before Christ. Invaluable is the cultural and historical heritage of the ancient Thracians, generations of Bulgarians leaving through their achievements intriguing and useful information about their lifestyle and tradition.
The first Bulgarian Empire—681-1018— was considered to be Bulgarians’ “Golden Age.” Their unique art, musical styles and literature began during this time.
Such achievements as the Cyrillic alphabet was developed and it is still the writing system to many languages in Eastern Europe and Asia today.
In 864 the Bulgarians became Orthodox Christians and today 83 percent of its people remain so. Christianity and the Orthodox church has played a major role in the lives of the Bulgarian people. Their faith and Christian values have sustained them through centuries of injustice and is partially responsible for the resilient people they are today.
By 1018 the Byzantine Empire had conquered Bulgaria but by 1185 the Bulgarians broke free and established the second Bulgarian kingdom. It was during this period that many beautiful Orthodox churches were built and their heritage of rich religious visual arts began. Gold leaf frescos, murals, mosaics, icons of Christ and his saints in rich, pastel colors line the walls of the churches and famous monasteries.
Unfortunately, this brilliant civilization was cut short by the invasion and takeover of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. A brutal war-like people, they practiced genocide on the Bulgarian people in the name of Islam.
During the next five centuries of Ottoman rule, most of Bulgaria’s cultural centers were destroyed. Several uprisings against the Ottomans were met with defeat and the blood shed of Bulgarians.
However, the 1876 uprising would begin Bulgaria’s final liberation from the Ottoman Empire and is referred to as the Revival Period.
During this period the world democratic community began to question and that provoked the Russian Turkish war of 1878, which would finalize the liberation for the Bulgarian people.
It would not be long, however, until Bulgaria would be caught up in the terrible conflicts of World War I and World War II. During World War II the orthodox Christian churches and the general public aided the Jewish community and helped its 50,000 members survive the war, despite harsh conditions. An expression of the Bulgarians’ will and Christian values for all human tolerance was the unprecedented salvation of the Bulgarian Jews during the second World War.
After World War II, Bulgaria became a communist state and it was not until 1989 that the Communist party allowed multi-party elections. In 1990 Bulgaria transitioned to democracy and free-market capitalism. Today, the resilient Bulgarians have finally reached the portals of becoming a parliamentary democracy and members of NATO and the United Nations.
My own personal interest in Bulgaria began 24 years ago when I met one its beautiful native daughters, my dear friend Rumiana Backardjieva. Rumiana and her family had escaped Bulgaria while her country was still under the throes of communism in 1983.
Most of our early conversations were centered around the country she had left behind: The cultural ways, the beautiful terrain and of course her parents whom she missed so often.
She would freely share precious memories of her childhood, taking holidays with her father to the Black Sea coast and traveling to the northern mountains to visit relatives with her mother.
As she spoke in her alluring European accent, I would listen in wonder and then I began to realize that Rumiana was a portrait of a true Bulgarian: Confident, frugal, wise and never taking any blessing for granted.
It is these same virtues that have allowed her and her family to live the American dream of education, employment, new friends and a beautiful home with many gardens of flowers.
It has been said, “Put a Bulgarian in the desert and he will make it a garden of roses.” And this truth shines ever so clearly at the home of the Backardjieva’s in Portland, Ore.
Little would I have ever imagined that one day 18 years after we met I would make the journey back home with Rumiana to visit her family members and see her country.
As the airplane started its decent into Sofia, Bulgaria, I looked out the window and saw my first glimpse of Bulgaria and its Alpine snow-capped mountains.
Finally I could put a face to the family members I had so often heard about. Our first gathering together around the table was the celebration of Rumiana’s father’s 90th birthday. He had remained physically strong and was of a sound mind. It was obvious he had practiced the morsels of wise he had so often taught his adoring daughter.
Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria and a cultural center as well. While there we visited the ancient St. Sofia, which was built in the fourth century in the tradition orthodox Christian architecture.
We were blessed to see a traditional orthodox baptizing while in the church that day. Experiencing this among the walls of this exquisite chapel made it seem as if we had marched back in time.
On another day while in Sofia we had the honor to attend church with Rumiana’s mother at her lifelong place of worship. As we stepped into the sanctuary we were met with the singing voices of the a cappella choir helping to spread the Holy Spirit throughout the decorated walls in this place of worship. The unique music and choirs of the Bulgarians are performed all over the world and are famous for their mystical harmonic melodies. Their musical roots stem back to the second kingdom—1185-1242—and national folk music can be set apart for its distinctive sounds blending together.
Sofia has many parks and gathering places as it is accustomed for the Bulgarian to take time to visit their neighbor. Sofia is also the site of the famous St. Alexander Nevski orthodox church.
Our journey would take us to the city of Plovdiv, which was once the Roman city of Philippopolis. The Romans had captured the southern territories from the Thracians and built fortress walls, forums, temples and amphitheaters. Among the best-known amphitheater is the one in Plovdiv, which is the oldest city in Europe and the sixth oldest settlement in the world continuously inhabited since at least 3,000 B.C. by the Thracian civilization. Today in Plovdiv you will see narrow streets of quaint cottages nestled together on cobblestone roads.
Another town we visited, Koprivshtita, is one of the characteristic Bulgarian towns still preserving the atmosphere of the Bulgarian national revival period of the 19th century. Koprivshtita is huddled in the mountain folds east of Sofia. It is not uncommon to see man, animal and cart still doing a day’s labor or small orthodox churches richly colored in blue.
It was here that the first shot of the uprising against the Ottomans was fired in 1876.
Little children and the elderly seem to take life at a slower pace here and there are museums of traditional dress such as a kerchief of flowers for a hat richly embroidered with a blouse and jacket.
As I had written earlier, little could I have ever imagined I would make the journey back home with my dear friend, Rumiana. As I experienced first hand the unique features, the artifacts, the orthodox Christian churches, the music and traditions, I now felt acquainted with her country.
More than the country itself, I know more about its people. The political hardships of generation to generation have given them the human spirit to press forward and do their best in all aspects of life. It is of great benefit to the rest of the world that even in their struggles, the Bulgarians were able to preserve their unique colorful heritage that belongs only to them.
These picturesque people are proud of their heritage and how it has shaped them into the resilient people they are today.
And now you would probably agree that yes, Bulgaria is a country worth writing about and sharing its story of antiquity and resilient people.
Orthodox Churches in the Indian Sub Continent and South East Asia
The following article tries to discus an account of the presence of Orthodox Churches in India and other Asian countries.
Indian Orthodox Church: Also known as Malankara Orthodox Church or Orthodox Syrian Church of the East, it is the largest Orthodox Church ion India, considered to be the national Church of India. This Church traces its origin to the apostolic mission of St Thomas. The imperial domination of the Roman Catholic Church and its devastating effects lead the Church to come in contact with the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch. It uses Syrian liturgy though translations have been made to the local Malayalam language. Catholicate of the Church was established in 1912. The Primate of the Church is address by the title Catholicos of the East on the Apostolic Throne of St Thomas and Metropolitan of Malankara who resides at Develokam, Kottayam, Kerala, India. To this Church belong the world famous Orthodox theologians like Mor Pulose Gregorious, Fr V C Samuel, the first canonized Indian saint, St Gregory of Parumala and also the two church structures originally founded by the St Thomas the, Apostle, (Niranam and Thiruvithamcode) among which the Tiruvithamcode is considered to be the one of the oldest church buildings in the world. The Indian Church has made commendable contributions in the field of education and social change. It manages large number of educational, spiritual and social institutions. The Brahmavar Orthodox community, a reunited group from the Roman Catholic Church to the Indian Orthodox Church is yet another specialty of the this Church. The Latin community got reunited with the Indian Orthodox Church under the auspicious leadership of two saintly personalities, Metropolitan Julius Alvariz of Goa and Padre Rock Lopez Nuronoah. At present there are around 750 families and are organized into a Diocese.
Syrian Orthodox Church in India: Syrian Orthodox Church or the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church in Indian belongs to the Patriarchate of Antioch and All East. The local Primate of the Church in India is addressed by the title ‘Catholicos of India and Metropolitan Trustee’ who is responsible to the Patriarch of Antioch and All East. The Church Headquarters in India is located at Puthenkurishu Patriarchal Centre, Ernakaulam, Kerala. The Syrian Orthodox Church is the second largest Orthodox Church in India. It operates a number of well established spiritual and educational institutions. Manjaniakkara monastery in Kerala holds the mortal remains of St. Ignatius Elias (Patriarch). Large numbers of people from different parts of the globe make annual pilgrimage to the monastery. There are dioceses under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Antioch such as diocese of Middle East, Australia & New Zealand Malankara Archdiocese of Europe which includes Patriarchal Vicarate of Ireland & Patriarchal vicarate of Germany & Central Europe and the Malankara Archdiocese of North America. Simhasana Churches, Evangelical Association of the East and Knanaya Archdiocese also fall under the direct jurisdiction the Patriarch. The Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church ion India is engaged in several missionary works through the St Paul’s Mission of India. Large numbers of missionary and philanthropic activities are performed by this organization.
* The schism between Indian Orthodox and the Syrian Orthodox Church in India is similar to that existed between the Coptic and Ethiopian Orthodox Churches. Though the Coptic and Ethiopian Churches solved the issue, the Churches in India is yet to reach a consensus on the conflict, which is mainly of administration, power and recognition rather than theological.
Armenian Orthodox Church: The nation of Armenia has age old trade and cultural relations with India, since 2000 BC. At present a handful of Armenian remain in India, especially in Calcutta. They also run the Armenian College and Philanthropic Academy (ACPA) in Calcutta where a number of Armenian students from various parts of the globe finish their secondary and higher secondary education with scholarships. The Armenian Parishes in India are namely Armenian Holy Church of Nazareth, Kolkata, Armenian St. Gregory’s Church, Kolkata, Armenian Church at Chennai, St. Peter’s Armenian Apostolic Church in Mumbai, Armenian Church at Chinsurah, Church at Saidabad (renovated), Surabaya St. George’s Armenian Apostolic Church, The Holy Trinity Chapel (Church of Tangra). Also there have been many notable Armenian in India who has served with Mughal Kings and several others. The Armenian Community is striving in India despite of many challenges.
Greek Orthodox Church: The Greek Orthodox Community in India is taken care by the Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Greek Orthodox community has been active in Calcutta and near by areas for more than ten years or may be more. The Greek Orthodox Church is active with her mission and social activities in Calcutta and some parts of Bangladesh. There are a number of Muslim converts to Orthodoxy in Bangladesh. With assistance of Orthodox Christian Mission Centre (OCMC) and several others the Greek Orthodox Church maintains hostels, job training centers, health clinics and also vibrantly engaged in food distribution for the poor and needy. The Saintly Eldress Gabriella (nun) the legendary Greek Orthodox nun was in India for almost three years from 1963 where she lived in Nani Tal.
Russian Orthodox Church: The largest Orthodox Church in the world has opened a parish in India, New Delhi in the year 2010 within the campus of the Russian Consulate. They also operate a parish in Nepal. The Primate of the Russian Church is ‘Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia’. The Russian Church experience growth worldwide especially after the fall of Soviet Union and Church has become one of the most powerful institutions in modern Russia a key moral force for the common man. The Russian Orthodox Church has vibrant missions all over the world with large number of committed clergy and laymen. Russian Church has brought the largest number of people to Orthodoxy.
China: The Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church belongs to the Moscow Patriarchate. It is believed that St Thomas the Apostle founded the first roots of Christianity in 68 A.D. Once the largest Church in the world, the Assyrian Church of East had its presence in China. Also there are evidences of Syrian Christian Mission in the Chinese mainland. The vibrant mission of the Russian Orthodox Church paved way for the opening of around 106 Orthodox Churches in 1949, but got disintegrated during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The Church had around 10,000 followers with schools and orphanages. More than 200 Orthodox members were martyred in the Boxer Rebellion. They are commemorated as remembered on the icon of the Holy Martyrs of China every year in June. At present there are around 15,000 Orthodox Christians in China. There are several active Orthodox congregations in Beijing, in northeast China (in Heilongjiang and elsewhere) and in there are also Orthodox parishes in Shanghai and elsewhere. Two former Orthodox Churches in Shanghai are in the process of being returned to Chinese Church. The Chinese Orthodox Church is yet to be granted formal recognition from the government. The Coptic Orthodox church has built a parish in Guangzhou.
Hong Kong: The Orthodox Church operates freely without much trouble. Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia (OMHKSEA) is a diocese of the Ecumenical Patriarchate which began in the year 1997. The Metropolis of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia looks after the pastoral care of Orthodox Christians in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar. The Coptic Orthodox Church of St Thomas is also situated in Hong Kong.
Taiwan: The first Orthodox Church was established in 2003. The Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia oversee the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Taipei, Taiwan.
Japan: The Japanese Autonomous Church was founded by St. Nikolay (Kasatkin) who came to Japan in 1861 on the decision of the Holy Synod of the Russian Church. He founded and headed the Russian Orthodox mission in Japan in 1870. He translated the Holy Scripture and liturgical books into Japanese and built the Resurrection Cathedral in Tokyo. The Russian Orthodox Church canonized Archbishop Nikolay in 1970. The Moscow Patriarchate granted autonomy to the Japanese Orthodox Church the same year. The Japanese Church is under the supervision of the Russian Orthodox Church. At present there are more than 30,000 Orthodox Christians in Japan. The Primate of the Church is Metropolitan of All Japan and Archbishop of Tokyo. It has three dioceses, a seminary and publishes books in Japanese language. The Coptic Orthodox Church has a Pariah in Kurayoshi City.
Pakistan: There are Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches in Pakistan, mainly the Greek (Ecumenical Patriarch) and Coptic Orthodox Churches. The first Eastern Orthodox priest Fr John Tanveer was ordained in November of the year 2009,. There are 400 Greek Orthodox faithful in Pakistan who are converts from Muslim and other Christian denominations like Roman Catholicism and various Protestant groups. Due to the lack of Church building, the Divine Liturgy is served in one of the houses. The Coptic Orthodox started its first Mission church in Islamabad in 2006 under the Diocese of Melbourne, West & South Australia, New Zealand and All Oceania. At present there are two church one in Islamabad and the other in Rawalpindi.
Sri Lanka: There are no sources about the presence of Orthodox Christians in Sri Lanka. But earlier there had been a good number of Orthodox Christians and several churches under the Indian Orthodox Church. The missionary works of Mor Rene Villate, the first archbishop of America. But later the entire community disbanded.
Nepal: The Indian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church has congregations in Nepal as per the 2010 reports.
Indonesia: There are Russian and Greek Orthodox (Ecumenical Patriarchate) presence in Indonesia. The Indonesian Orthodox communities are engaged in vibrant mission activities though the number of Orthodox Christians remains limited. There are some noted Orthodox priest like Archimandrite Daniel (Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia – Moscow Patriarchate) and Father Yohanes Bambang (Ecumenical Patriarchate). Archimandrite Daniel played a pioneer and vital role in establishing the foundations of Orthodoxy.
Orthodox Christian Center Surabaya which was opened on the 15th of October 2008 by Father Yohanes Bambang. The head Orthodox Church in Indonesia, St Nikolas is also based in Surabaya. Orthodox Center Surabaya Foundation is engaged in large number of educational and philanthropic activities among the local Indonesian communities. As future activities it aims at establishing Play group, Kindergarten, Elementary School, Junior High School, High School and University in short, middle and long term and also an Orthodox Seminary for religious education. Fr Yohanes Bambang is constantly engaged in Orthodox mission and preaching Orthodoxy to various Protestants and other Christian denominations. The Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia (Moscow Patriarchate) has around 23 parishes and communities in Indonesia.
Mongolia: There was Orthodox presence in Mongolia from the very early times. The first Orthodox Church on Mongolian territory, the Church of St. Troitsky, was established at Khalkha in 1872. A Russian Orthodox Church was built in Ulaanbaatar in the year 2007. The Russian Orthodox Church in Magnolia is limited in numbers but several Protestants and Roman Catholics are getting interested in Orthodoxy. The Orthodox Church mission is getting slowly active among the Mongols. A TV programme introducing the basics of Orthodoxy is also broadcasted.
South Korea: The first Orthodox Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the year 1900 by the Russian Orthodox Priest. In the year 1955 the Korean Orthodox Church unanimously decided to be under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical patriarchate. Today the Orthodox Metropolis of Korea comprises of ten parishes with several hundred members in South Korea, as well as one monastery.
North Korea: In 2006 the government of North Korea recognized the establishment of one Orthodox parish (Moscow Patriarchate) in the capital city of Pyongyang.
Singapore: Coptic Orthodox Church, Syrian Orthodox Church (Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church of India), and Indian Orthodox Churches has members in Singapore. There is a historical Armenian Orthodox Church ‘Armenian Church of Saint Gregory the Illuminator’ located at Hill Street in the Museum Planning Area, within the Central Area, Singapore’s central business district, which does not have permanent clergy. Armenian and Eastern Orthodox services were held occasionally, on Christmas and Easter, for a number of years. But the Church is now regularly used by the Coptic and Syrian Orthodox communities to serve liturgy. The Armenian Church became a national monument in 1963. A small, but growing number of Eastern Orthodox congregation made up of ethnic Greeks, and Russians also constitute the Orthodox population in Singapore. The Holy Metropolis of Singapore is an Eparchy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate established in 2008 to serve the pastoral needs of Orthodox Christians in Singapore, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Maldives Islands, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka.
Thailand: Orthodox Christian Church in Thailand (Russian Orthodox Church) serves both foreign and local Thai believers who are converts to Orthodoxy. In March 2011 the first Orthodox monastery was established in Thailand. The Orthodox Church of Thailand has the Orthodox parish of Saint Nicolas in Bangkok and other congregations in Phuket and Chonburi province. They have translated the liturgy of Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, the Orthodox Book of prayer and a book about the history of Russian Orthodox Church into the Thai language. The Coptic Orthodox Church operates two parishes in Thailand.
Malaysia: The Indian Orthodox Church has a cathedral in Malaysia with almost 193 families. The Indian Orthodox Church in Malaysia comes under Diocese of Madras, together with churches in South India outside Kerala, the Andaman Islands, Singapore and Australia. Fr K A George conducted the first Divine liturgy in the moth of August 1956. Metropolitan Mathews Mar Athanasius conducted the consecration service of the church on 6 April 1958. This was the first ever Diaspora Church (outside India) of the Indian Orthodox Church. The Coptic Orthodox Church also operates a parish in Malaysia.
Vietnam: The Russian Orthodox Parish of ‘Our lady of Kazan’ was opened in the year 2002 in Vung Tau where there are many Russian employees of the Russian-Vietnamese joint venture “Vietsovpetro”. In Regular Paschal liturgies are organized in the parish. There shall be more than 500 orthodox members in Vietnam.The Ecumenical Patriarchate has plans to open mission in Vietnam but so far no activities have been reported.
Philippines: The presence of Orthodoxy in Philippines was evident from 1600s Armenian, Greek and Macedonian Orthodox Christians. Later the Russian Orthodox Christian arrived also St. John Maximovitch had established a church for the Russians, but did not preach Orthodoxy in the island. At present there are Greek, Antiochian and Russian Orthodox Churches (ROCR) in the island. There are three Filipino Priests and four nuns within the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Mission in the Philippines was established under the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand. In 2008, two Filipino denominations were received into the Antiochian church, including 32 communities with some 6,000 believers. Some of them later joined ROCOR as Western Rite parishes under St Petroc Monastery Mission Society. Adamson University presently owned by the Vincentian Fathers of the Roman Catholic Church was originally founded by two Greek Orthodox Christians. Alexandros Athos Adamopoulos (Alexander A. Adamson), who was one of the first Greek Orthodox to arrive in the island along with his brother, co-founded the university in 1932.
Australia & News Zealand : Australia has strong presence of Orthodoxy in the form of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches. The Greek Orthodox church of Australia is very vibrant with several numbers of parishes, schools, colleges, theological seminaries, old age homes, orphanages, monasteries and other establishments. The Russian, Serbian, Antiochian, Romanian, Polish and Bulgarian Orthodox churches also have good number of followers and converts and also operate several educational and social institutions. Some of them do not have hierarchy – resident Bishop in Australia. The Russian Orthodox mission has taken up a number of abandoned church buildings from Roman Catholics and various Protestant denominations. The Orthodox Church in America (OCA) has one or two parishes in Australia. The Coptic Orthodox Church is well established in Australia with Seminaries, and other institutions. Also there are Indian, Armenian, Syrian and Ethiopian Orthodox Churches in Australia. New Zealand has Orthodox presence in the form of several Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, especially Greek and Coptic Churches.
Fiji: The Coptic Orthodox Church has two parish Churches in Fiji. The Church has also purchased some acres of land for cultivation and other supportive activities for the local Fijian communities.
Timor: As per June 2010 a new Orthodox Church is being built in West Timor, Indonesia part of the province of East Nusa Tenggara. This is the first Orthodox church to be built in West Timor. The new church will be under the Orthodox Metropolitnate of Singapore of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
*Apart from the above mentioned Churches, there are many main stream and traditional (old calendar) orthodox jurisdictions in different parts of Asia.
*The article includes the details Diaspora and native Orthodox Christians of different Churches
*The Orthodox communities are dynamically engaged in several spiritual, social, educational activities and have developed numerous institutions for the service of humanity.
Special Courtesy: Mithropan
Orthodoxy Cognate PAGE
The forgotten Orthodox Christians of Bosnia and Kosovo
by OCP on December 3, 2010
Lee Jay Walker, The Modern Tokyo Times:
I come from a member state of the European Union which is meant to uphold the rights of all religions, political ideologies, acknowledge national and cultural rights, and is meant to spread “European brotherhood.” However, it appears that this does not apply to the Orthodox Christians of Bosnia and Kosovo respectively because not only have they been abandoned but outside Islamic powers are stepping up their Islamization agenda in both Bosnia and Kosovo.
In Kosovo the de-Christianization of the Orthodox Christian community continues and hundreds of Orthodox Christian churches have been destroyed but little was done to protect this community. It should be remembered that the Christian Serbs helped to preserve the shared European identity in history from the marauding Islamic Turks who enslaved countless numbers of Christians throughout the Balkans during the Ottoman Empire.
Yet in modern times it is clear that Iran, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and other non-European nations, are intent on creating an Islamized Balkans and this applies to Albania, Bosnia, the Sandzak in Serbia, northeastern Bulgaria and the Rhodope Mountains region, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Montenegro. At the same time increasing Islamic immigration in Greece is creating tensions and Turkey is intent on preserving its armed forces in northern Cyprus.
The above mentioned places may sometimes have a continuous border line or they may be divided by geography and thinking because you have many branches within Islam. However, for pan-Islamists in Bosnia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and a host of other nations, it is a dream and clearly the European Union alongside America supported the “green flag of Islam” during the collapse of Yugoslavia.
In my article called Islam in Bosnia is the new stepping stone I stated that Alija Izetbegovic stated that “… Muslim nations will never accept anything that is explicitly against Islam, because Islam here is not merely a faith and the law, Islam has become love and compassion. He who rises against Islam will reap nothing but hate and resistance. …”
Izetbegovic was a pan-Islamist and he allowed thousands of Islamic terrorists from all over the world to join his Islamic jihadist campaign by allowing them to slaughter innocent Orthodox Christians in Bosnia. At the same time he played the “Muslim victim card” in front of the Western media. However, Izetbegovic shared the same global jihadist ideals and pan-Islamic thought patterns because he stated “… In one of the thesis for an Islamic order today we have stated that it is a natural function of the Islamic order to gather all Muslims and Muslim communities throughout the world into one. Under present conditions, this desire means a struggle for creating a great Islamic federation from Morocco to Indonesia, from the tropical Africa to the Central Asia. …”
Vojin Joksimovich who is the author of “The Revenge of the Prophet” highlights the international nature of Islam in Bosnia because he states that “The jihadists, from their bases and support facilities in Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere, did not come to Bosnia only to fight against the ‘Serbian aggressor,’ but for the first European religious state at large, for the establishment of the only faith among the European Muslims.” (Page 145)
This comment highlights the reality of Izetbegovic and the pan-Islamic card. Vojin Joksimovich continues by stating that the “Creation of Islamic states, so-called Jamahirya states, was the ultimate objective of all these movements. With the Koran in their hands the jihadists did not distinguish between Catholicism and Orthodoxy, only between believers and unbelievers.” (Page 145)
However, Islamic jihadists and pan-Islamists from Bosnia and other parts of the world had only a short period to enact their Islamic jihad via the sword and this applies to when war broke out in Bosnia and Kosovo respectively. Yet the military battlefield and “Muslim victim card” image would lay the foundation for future political and religious ambitions in the Balkans and of course Bosnia would be the stepping stone that would help the ambitions of people like Izetbegovic.
In an article written by Bojan Pancevski in The Sunday Times newspapers which is published in the United Kingdom he comments (Saudis fund Balkan Muslims spreading hate of the west – March 28, 2010) that “SAUDI ARABIA is pouring hundreds of millions of pounds into Islamist groups in the Balkans, some of which spread hatred of the West and recruit fighters for jihad in Afghanistan”.
The article continues by stating that “According to officials in Macedonia, Islamic fundamentalism threatens to destabilize the Balkans. Strict Wahhabi and Salafi factions funded by Saudi organisations are clashing with traditionally moderate local Muslim communities.”
Sources also reveal that “Classified documents seen by The Sunday Times reveal that Macedonian officials are also investigating a number of Islamic charities, some in Saudi Arabia, which are active throughout the Balkans and are suspected of spreading extremism and laundering money for terrorist organisations.”
The article also highlights the sinister reality of Saudi Arabia by stating that “Hundreds of millions have been poured into Macedonia alone in the past decade and most of it comes from Saudi Arabia,” said a government source. “The Saudis’ main export seems to be ideology, not oil.”
“The West has put considerable political and financial efforts into helping build democracy in Bosnia following its civil war in the 1990s. Saudi organizations have also asserted considerable influence, giving more than £450m to build more than 150 mosques and Islamic centres.”
Therefore, while Muslim nations and radical Islamic charities are spreading radical Islam in the Balkans you have the reality of Serbian Orthodox Christians in Kosovo being abandoned and clearly the Bosnian Serbian entity is not desired by America, the European Union or important Islamic nations.
In my article called Radical Islamic Charities and Jihad in the Balkans I highlight Vojin Joksimovich again because he states that“Bosnia established a successful model for embattled countries around the world: organizing, arming, and funding mujahideen units, skimming money from humanitarian charities, linking up with crime bosses including narco-terrorists, etc. Islamism both produces and profits from mayhem. Albeit to a much lesser magnitude, the Bosnian model was replicated later on in Kosovo, Southern Serbia and Macedonia. Al Qaeda and the Taliban found a route for the heroin trafficking from Afghanistan into Europe via the Balkans.” Page 150
I also commented in the same article that “….just like the rise of the Taliban and radical Islam in modern day southern Thailand and Pakistan, it is the role of the Islamic madrasas which must be eliminated and not merely contained. The role of Islamic charities must also be tackled because many are a gateway to spreading radical Islam and if this “gateway” is not stopped and challenged, then alongside religious Islamic educational institutions which are sponsored by Saudi nationals and others; then the spread of radical Islam will not be defeated.
It is clear that America and the European Union desires a unified Bosnia and Islamic elites within the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina are hoping that the Republic Srpska will be swallowed up.
Currently you have a Christian majority within all of Bosnia but the majority is slender and given the higher Muslim birthrate and the reality of what happened to the majority Christian population of Kosovo in history then the future looks bleak. In truth, if you look at history then it is nigh impossible to find a stable Muslim democratic nation where democracy flourished and where religious minorities also grew and had full equality within the legal system.
De-Christianization in Kosovo is a modern day reality when it applies to the Serbian Orthodox Christian community and this applies to the decreasing Serbian population, destruction of Christian churches, the eradication of Serbian architecture, and constant persecution and marginalization by the majority Muslim Albanian population.
The late Patriarch Pavle who sadly passed away in November, 2009, stated (http://kosovo.net) that “This humble publication is our cry and appeal to the Christian and civilized world. It is distressing to learn that in the year of the greatest Christian Jubilee, at the end of two millenniums of Christianity, Christian churches are still being destroyed, not in a war but in the time of peace guaranteed by the international community. We hope that these photos of the destroyed and desecrated Orthodox shrines will awaken the conscience of those who are able to stop the crimes and believe that they who already stood up against one evil will not remain just passive witnesses of another evil happening now in their presence.”
However, the same mass media which distorted the conflict is now the same mass media which is mainly silent about current events in Kosovo. Also, the Bosnian Serbian leadership in Republic Srpska is marginalized by the international community because Western nations prefer the Muslim elites in Sarajevo.
Maybe one day the Serbian Orthodox Christian community in Bosnia will face the same fate which befell their co-religionists in Kosovo. After all, Islamic nations and organizations are funding many Islamic institutions throughout the region and added to the higher Muslim birthrate and pro-American policies towards the Muslims of Bosnia and Kosovo then this could become a future reality.
What is clear is that time is not on the side of the Republic Srpska because either it will join with Serbia or become an independent state whereby Serbians will be guaranteed their freedom. Or it will be swallowed up by the American backed unitary Bosnian state under the Muslim elites of Bosnia and with the full backing of many Islamic nations.
If the latter happens and with the reality of the higher Muslim birthrate then in time the Serbian population will be further marginalized. Or at worse the Bosnian Serbs will face their “Kosovo Golgotha” and given the events of past history and the ongoing reality of de-Christianization of the Serbian Orthodox Christian community in Kosovo then this scenario is a clear possibility.
(This article is dedicated to Liz Milanovich who cares deeply about the plight of Christian Serbs in Kosovo and throughout the former Yugoslavia. Liz Milanovich helps me greatly by providing daily information.)