Metropolitan Kirill Gundyaev of Smolensk and Kaliningrad (1946- ), the Patriarchal Locum Tenens
Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, the Patriarchal Locum Tenens, will serve an evening molieben tonight at the New Epiphany (Yelokhovsk) Cathedral in Moscow, which is the burial place of Patriarch Aleksei Rediger of Moscow and All Russia, the 15th First hierarch of the MP. According to the press service of the Moscow Patriarchate, as reported by RIA-Novosti, the molieben shall begin at 17.00 Moscow time (09.00 EST 13.00 UTC). Today, moliebens for the New Year will be served in most churches of the MP. This is a special service where believers thank God for His favours in the past year and ask His blessings on the year to come for themselves, their families, and the Motherland. As a rule, moliebens for the New Year take place either immediately after the Divine Liturgy, or a few hours before midnight, or, sometimes, precisely at midnight.
“At New Year’s, normally, people reflect on the past year. For Christians, this should be a time of prayerful recollection, perhaps, asking repentance for their sins. Of course, it is a time to thank the Lord for all the good that we received in the past year and for those things we shall receive in the coming year”, Fr Mikhail Prokopenko, the head of Communications Service of the Department for External Church Relations, said to RIA-Novosti.
“This is our first New Year without Patriarch Aleksei. The Church prays for the repose of his soul and asks for God to reveal to us His Will in the election of a new patriarch. Therefore, we should join our prayers for the preservation of Church unity and peace, along with hopes of a blessed and timely election of our new patriarch, to our normal thoughts and feelings at the beginning of the New Year”, Fr Michael emphasised. In his opinion, festive holidays give believers an excellent opportunity “to remove themselves from the usual everyday cares of life in the last week of the Christmas Lent” (it ends on Christmas, 7 January, on the Julian calendar used by the MP).
In this Lenten period, the Church urges us to find time for prayer, repentance, and abstention, particularly from loud entertainment, and asks us not to eat meat, dairy products, and eggs. Fr Mikhail wished that Russians would celebrate the New Year with relatives and friends joyfully, but, “not in an alcoholic haze or in unrestrained debauchery, which is alien to Christian sobriety”. In answering a question concerning the New Year’s festal meal, Fr Mikhail noted that “modern people are able to keep the standards of the Christmas Lent”. However, when asked about champagne, he said, “We do not condemn the drinking of wine; rather, we are against its abuse”.
In the Catholic Church, as its representative in Moscow reported to RIA-Novosti, 1 January is a religious holiday, the Day of the Mother of God. Many Catholic churches will offer a midnight Mass, in which the faithful thank God for the past year and ask His blessings on the New Year, and “mark it by remembering the example of the Virgin Mary, who consented freely to the Will of God”. Most of the followers of the other traditional, non-Orthodox, Russian confessions (Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism) will also offer prayers for the welfare of their loved ones and the Motherland in the New Year, and will celebrate it at home, as a secular, but, meaningful and bright, family holiday.
31 December 2008