Voices from Russia

Monday, 28 April 2008

Viktor Khristenko Assists in the Restoration of the Staritsky Monastery

Filed under: Christian,Orthodox life,religious,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

Viktor Khristenko, the Minister of Industry and Power Engineering, spoke of his special love of pilgrimage to holy places. “As I am Orthodox, the idea on going on pilgrimage is very personal. For me, it is extremely interesting and it is also very spiritual”, he said Monday in an interview published in the newspaper Vedomosti. Specifically, he spoke of his visits to one of the oldest Russian monasteries, the Staritsky Holy Assumption Monastery in Tver oblast. Mr Khristenko has assisted the restoration of this monastic house for some seven years now and he considers it an obedience.

28 April 2008




Patriarch Aleksei considers the Transformation of Russians from God-haters to Believers Miraculous

A contemporary Russian Easter egg object d’arte from Sofrino

In the recent past, Patriarch Aleksei of Moscow and all the Russias says that he noticed a significant increase in the number of sincere believers in Russia. “We see a miracle of our Lord. The Faith of Christ revives amongst the ruins of ravaged churches and monasteries. However, the most important thing is that millions of people have returned to Faith in Christ”, the patriarch said after the vespers service in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour on Sunday evening. This service completed the cycle of services on the first day of the Paschal season.

He drew a parallel between Russian history and the behaviour of the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the time of Christ. When He entered the city prior to his crucifixion, they met Him with honour and joy, yet, several days later, they shouted, “Crucify him, crucify him!” “Something similar occurred amongst our people. Over the course of a millennium, they loved God, they built churches, and they enriched their lives with prayer and faith. However, there came a time when they became strugglers against God, they destroyed churches and monasteries, and the authorities issued the decree that the name of God would not be spoken in the Soviet Union”, His Holiness said. However, in the opinion of the patriarch, during the Lent just past, many people “approached this special time of repentance and preparation for the bright feast of Christ’s resurrection consciously”. So, on Easter, the churches were full, which was “a miracle of the mercy of God”, he added.

28 April 2008



Sunday, 27 April 2008

Manville’s Orthodox Churches Share More Than They Differ

Interior of Holy Ghost Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church in Manville NJ. Fr Matthew Moriak is standing at the left

Pascha, today’s Easter celebration of the Eastern Church, is a big deal in Manville because the small river town has two churches rooted in Russian orthodoxy. Ss Peter & Paul Orthodox Church on Washington Avenue is Manville’s oldest church, built in 1915. Two blocks down Seventh Avenue is Holy Ghost Orthodox Church, whose founders broke from the older, larger church about 20 years after it was built.

Today, the parishes and their spiritual leaders remain close, united by a shared faith that differs only slightly. “We’ve done things together”, said the Rev Matthew Moriak, pastor of the 100-member Holy Ghost Church since 2005. “For instance, for our parish feast day, which is the day after Pentecost, Fr James has come to help with the service. He’s even brought me gifts on that day, like incense and a bottle of wine”. The Rev James Parsells, archpriest of Ss Peter & Paul since 1978, added, “He’s been here for services. I’ve been there for very good spaghetti dinners. Fr Matthew makes the sauce”. “I make a mean sauce”, Rev Moriak added.

Interior of Ss Peter and Paul Orthodox Church with Fr James Parsells

Like all Orthodox Christians upon greeting each other, the two priests kiss each other’s cheeks three times and then shake hands with both hands near each of their hearts. Although Fr James is old enough to be Fr Matthew’s father, they consider each other to be “brothers in Christ”. The split between the churches, they said, was mainly about the presentation of music during services. Russian priests came in who wanted to do away with the prostopinije, which means plainchant. But, the congregational sing meant so much to those in the church from the Carpatho-Russian Mountains (sic) that they formed a new church. “The plainchant is very much a part of what our people do”, Moriak said. “Everybody is going to be able to pick up the book and sing along. It’s something that we all grew up learning, and it was passed down from generation to generation.”

The churches’ calendars also differ, Parsells said. Like many Orthodox churches, Holy Ghost follows the Julian calendar, which is why Easter is later than on the Western church’s Gregorian calendar. In 1970, Ss Peter & Paul Orthodox Church switched to the Gregorian calendar, except for Pascha. All Orthodox churches throughout the world agree to celebrate their Easter on the same day.

Church service at Holy Ghost Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church Manville NJ

Outside of the calendar and the music, the two churches share the same Orthodox faith but within different dioceses. Ss Peter & Paul belongs to the Orthodox Church in America in Syosset NY and Holy Ghost to the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in Johnstown PA. Both congregations are 85 percent Slavic, but 98 percent of their services are in English. Most of the parishioners have roots in Manville but come from as far as 30 miles away. “Now that they have families of their own and because of their work, they live in different areas”, Rev Moriak said. “It’s not so much that there’s so many Orthodox right in Manville, but, in the surrounding area (there are many) that come to the Manville churches. It could be that they drive 20 or 30 miles to the Orthodox church and there could be one closer to their home, but, a lot of them do travel because of their roots”.

Church service at Ss Peter and Paul Orthodox Church Manville NJ

At the same time Ss Peter & Paul switched to the Gregorian calendar 38 years ago, it dropped the word “Russian” from its name in order to widen its appeal, Rev Parsells said. While St Patrick’s Day is not a big deal in the Orthodox Church, he said, it is at Ss Peter & Paul because of the number of Irish converts, many of whom are from mixed marriages. “We want everyone, not just Eastern Europeans, to feel at home in the Orthodox Church”, said Rev Parsells, who said he knew he wanted to be a priest when he was a third grader in Belleville. He said he was surprised when John, his second of four grown sons, chose the priesthood. His parish is in Delaware. “I never pushed him”, Parsells said. “I never spoke to him at all about priesthood. He went to college and majored in computers. He told me that summer that he would like to go seminary. I’m very proud of him, but I didn’t expect it”.

Raised in a Central Pennsylvania congregation named St Clair, Rev Moriak also is the torch-bearer of a priestly father. The Rev Matthias Moriak serves in an Orthodox parish in Seaford NY on Long Island. “I always wanted to be a sports anchor on ESPN, but, somewhere in between my junior and senior year at Syracuse University, I was pretty sure I wanted to go to seminary and see if it was for me”, Rev Moriak said. “When I was in college, my mother was ill with leukaemia and eventually passed away. Church wasn’t my No. 1 priority while I was in college. I consider myself very blessed that I found my way back. I think part of that was my mother’s faith during her illness. It was like a rap on the head”.

Rev Moriak has been married to his wife, Jodi, since 2005. They are expecting their first child in July. Rev Parsells has been married to his wife, Daria, for 32 years.

27 April 2008

Bob Makin

Manville (NJ) Courier News


President Putin and President-elect Medvedev send Easter Greetings to all Russians

President Vladimir Putin at Easter services at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow 8 April 2007

President Vladimir Putin sent Easter greetings to all Orthodox Christians and to all Russians who are celebrating the bright festival of the Resurrection of Christ, the Presidential Press Service reported. “The Holy Easter is widely celebrated throughout Russia, bringing joy, love, and hope to millions of Christians. This holiday clearly shows that our ancestral traditions are important for our people, their intellectual values, and their ideals”, President Putin said.

“Today, it is gratifying to note, that the Orthodox Church and the other traditional Christian confessions of our country are not only an essential part of civil society, but, they are also an effective social force. Their work in education and enlightenment is directed towards strengthening the consciousness of all Russians by propagating high moral ideals, fortifying the authority of family values, and helping to solve pressing social problems”, Mr Putin emphasised. The president expressed his conviction that the state shall support in every possible way the positive activity of the traditional religions of Russia, and it shall work for the actualisation of the right of all Russians to freedom of religion.

President-elect Dmitri Medvedev also sent Easter greetings to all Russians. “The great holiday of Easter symbolises not only spiritual renovation, but, it is a celebration of high moral ideals. During these beautiful spring days, the hearts of our people are filled with a sincere love of neighbour, a desire to do good, and a resolve to bring help to those in need”, his message said, according to the Kremlin Press Service. According to Mr Medvedev, Russian Christians “work fruitfully in the field of education, participate in the implementation of social programmes, and they make a significant contribution to the strengthening of the traditions of friendly relations and mutual aid, and such activity deserves the deepest respect and support”.

26 April 2008



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