Voices from Russia

Sunday, 15 June 2008

The Sunbeams of Orthodoxy: Religious Processions Converge on the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour


At long last, eight religious processions are converging on the capital city of Moscow. They were blessed by His Holiness Patriarch Aleksei of Moscow and all the Russias, and were sponsored by the international spiritual educational programme Under the Star of the Mother of God. These processions are dedicated to the commemoration of an important historical event, the restoration of the unity of the Russian Orthodox Church. Our MK correspondent met some of the marchers, who left Sevastopol in the middle of March, when they were crossing the border between Tula and Moscow oblasts.

At first, they said, “The procession has already left Tula, and you’ll be able to catch up with it in the village of Yakovlevo, which is seven kilometres from the border of the Moscow oblast”. The marchers met at the supply point in the morning, and they discussed their plans for the coming day’s march, making a rough estimate of how far they would travel under the protecting canopy of the wonder-working Sovereign icon of the Mother of God, which is their protector from all calamity. We learned from the dean of the Serpukhov region, Fr Vladimir, and from Hieromonk Avenir, the confessor of the marchers, that there are pilgrims who’ve on the road for more than a year.

“Believers from Vladivostok have marched since May 2007, and a month later, pilgrims from Yakutsk began their trek to Moscow. This year, six additional processions set off, from Sevastopol, Baranul, Rostov-on-Don, Athos, St Petersburg, and Arkhangelsk. In all, this makes up eight separate processions. That is how many rays there are in the star of the Mother of God”, Fr Avenir said. “The copies of the Sovereign icon of the Mother of God carried by the various contingents were made specifically for this pilgrimage. In Sevastopol, the icon came to the marchers from the Holy Land, from Jerusalem”, he noted. “Taking into account the distance that we had to cover, with all the good will in the world, we couldn’t accept all those who wished to come with us. In Sevastopol, the core of our group was some forty people. Our oldest pilgrim is Nikolai Vinogradov, who’s 72-years-old”.



Fr Avenir has been on the road for some 100 days, now. Later in the day, it started to rain. It chilled me, and I thought of the pilgrims slogging through all of this foul weather. However, Fr Avenir shrugs it off; it’s only a trifle to him. I can see the gleam in his eyes as he recollected some scenes from earlier stages of the trek. “We’ve seen many good signs on our march. In Kursk, a rainbow appeared over the Cathedral of St Sofia”. He found a photograph that documented the appearance. “You see, it’s amazingly bright, and see how round it is, you don’t see that very often. I think that’s a sign from God the Father”, Fr Avenir said.

We weren’t able to finish our conversation. We saw the main body of marchers, or, rather, they saw us. They were walking at a brisk pace, even though the road was generally going uphill. Tyagun… in the language of far-off invaders from long ago. The pilgrims were carrying banners and the most important holy object, the icon itself. We know from the stories of pilgrims that if you try to carry the icon at elbow level, it moves, seemingly by itself, to a position above one’s head. This is considered very good. Everyone assured me that one experiences inexpressible sensations of God and Paradise, and one feels the intercession of the Most High as one does this. I am very near the icon, now. “Christ is risen!” the pilgrims shouted, not breaking their brisk pace in the least. They raised the icon a bit higher as they passed by me…

The marchers are only carrying the absolute minimum of supplies with them, such as sleeping-bags and canteens for drinking water. Most of their supplies are carried in two cars following them. When they stop for the night, they sleep in schools, monasteries, recreation halls, in other words, they take what is offered to them. Nevertheless, it doesn’t bother them in the least, for they consider that it’s God gift to be on the pilgrimage at all.


Mother of God “Stand for Christ with the Martyr’s Cross”

Unknown Artist




All of the eight segments of the pilgrimage met at the Kolomna museum-preserve. From here, they proceeded together to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. Patriarch Aleksei was the chief celebrant of the service and he reminded everybody that it was precisely in this church, one year ago this May, that the Act of Canonical Communion was signed, reuniting the Russian Orthodox Church. “Russia in exile yearned for this event for 80 years. The disordered conditions flowing from the Revolution and Civil War forced many of our compatriots to flee the motherland and to settle under adverse conditions in new homes abroad. At the same time, the Church in Russia had to walk a difficult path. We suffered repression and persecutions. The Assembly of the New Martyrs proved their faithfulness to Christ by standing for the Faith and accepting a martyr’s death”, the patriarch said. Surrounding His Holiness were the more than four thousand pilgrims from the eight columns of the procession and the faithful who joined them in Moscow.

11 June 2008

Valentina Semyantseva

Moskovsky Komsomolets (Moscow Komsomol Member)

Quoted in Interfax-Religion



Could this be our future? One can only hope…

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

Architectural rendering of a futuristic Orthodox cathedral done in contemporary Russia

Looks like the Jetsons meet the Gospels, huh? This is not impossible. Russians are dreaming of a future suffused with the faith, whereas America is busy destroying its faith. Go figure!

The world can either be godless or god-fearing. It cannot be both. Shall Russian godliness win or shall American faithlessness win? That shall be the question of the coming generation.

15 June 2008. A Picture is worth a thousand words… They’re in the army now!


Russian vehicle-mounted mobile Orthodox field chapel

How’s that one for ya? You don’t have to go to church… the church goes with you.


Russian chaplains with the forces

There are three Orthodox priests here, and I believe two Muslims and a Jew (I stand under correction). In Russia, all the traditional religions stand together. United, we stand; divided, we fall. A good snapshot of “the friendship of the peoples” in practical terms.


More Russian chaplains with the forces

This appears to be a different unit, with three Muslim imams and five Orthodox priests (there appears to be another clergyman hidden in the crowd, I cannot ascertain his confession). These fellows do not only look like “men of God”, they also look like “mighty men of valour”. In short, the Church is showing wisdom by sending “stand-up guys” to minister to the troops. Betcha they can do as many push-ups as the toughest old sweat. Listen up… the Church AIN’T for pantywaists. These men are brothers… thank God for that!


Orthodox service in a field chapel

Seeing is believing, ain’t it? It looks like the revival in Russia is going full steam ahead whilst America is sinking in the abyss of “facilitated” positivism and “spirituality” (some Orthodox, especially neophytes, are being sucked into this). You can be a pious believer and be the “baddest dude in the valley” at one and the same time. Just like Grand Prince St Aleksandr Nevsky, Grand Prince St Dmitri Donskoi, Hieromonk Peresvyet, Prince Dmitri Pozharsky, Kuzma Minin the Butcher, and (yes!) President/Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

Make mine Russian! …straight up and no mixer!

Vara Drezhlo

Sunday 15 June 2008


15 June 2008. Only in Russia…

ONLY IN RUSSIA would you find a juxtaposition of Our Lord Christ… and Boris the Cat. Ten points to all of you who knew it without being told. For them not in the know, Boris the Cat is a famous performer at the Kuklyachyov Cats’ Theatre in Moscow. He is an ornery and feisty little cuss, and a ham to the bone. He is the most well-known of the cats, for good reason. Today, he is the “face” of KiteKat, the most popular cat-food brand in Russia.

Only people who are comfortable with both their faith and their secular lives would make such a combination. It is a sign of the revival sweeping Russia… but, people are not renouncing the present (as so many American converts to Orthodoxy attempt), rather, they are sanctifying the present. A good thing, I say. Boris the cat can be in close proximity to Our Lord… he is His creature, after all.

Let everything that breathes, praise the Lord!


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