Voices from Russia

Sunday, 2 May 2010

A Red Easter in New York

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

Procession on East 97th Street from St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral at 15 E 97 St on Bright Saturday, 10 April 2010. I believe that the marchers are heading towards the intersection with Fifth Avenue (Central Park is on the other side of Fifth). If so, the church would be on the left-hand side of the photo, just out of sight. BTW… the latest photos are not up on the English side of this website… nothing sinister, it’s probably just Russian hutsky-klutsky at work.

On the eve of Easter, New York burst into blossom. Yellow-pink blooms decorated Brooklyn. The narrow streets of upper Manhattan, like ethereal bridges, were enveloped in a white cloud of cherry blossoms. In this attire, the city met the Bright Resurrection of Christ. The large Russian-speaking population of the “Big Apple” celebrated Easter. Overall, in the metropolitan area, there is a population of about 2 million Russian-speaking residents. That’s almost a quarter of all Russian-speakers in the USA. Most of them are of Jewish nationality and came from the former Soviet Union. How many Orthodox are there in New York City? Well, nobody has counted them. They are mainly the descendants of the first and second waves of emigration {that is, the cohorts that came after the Red victory in the Civil War and the DP wave after World War II: editor}, residing on the Upper East and Upper West Sides of Manhattan and in New Jersey; in addition, there are immigrants from the former CIS countries (Russia, the Ukraine, Byelorussia, and Kazakhstan). Most of them are parishioners of the two largest parishes in the city, the ROCOR Cathedral of the Sign and St Nicholas Cathedral of the MP. On the eve of Easter, people lovingly decorated kulichi, paskhas, and coloured eggs and arranged them in baskets. At Easter, in additional to these items, it is traditional for Russian-Americans to include wine, sausage, and other foods in their baskets, so that they can be blessed. It’s not surprising to see bacon carefully sliced and laid in a crystal dish in an Easter basket.

To ensure the safety of hundreds of Orthodox worshippers, police barricaded and patrolled the neighbourhood of East 97th Street in Manhattan. This happens twice a year, on the night of Easter and on the Saturday of Bright Week. Chanting “Thy resurrection, O Christ our Saviour, the angels in heaven sing …” the procession, which this year was headed by the new archpastor of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Archbishop Yustinian Ovchinnikov of Naro-Fominsk, went from St Nicholas Cathedral, past Central Park, through the night streets of Manhattan. However, this city never sleeps. Passers-by of all nationalities watched the incredible beauty of the procession with interest; there were priests in white vestments and a seemingly endless stream of the faithful with lit candles in their hands. The procession returned to the cathedral and the city, as it has for many years, decades, and centuries on end, listened to the joyful tidings that Christ is risen! Bright Easter greeting filled the church in three languages, Church Slavonic, English, and Russian… it raced through the streets in of many dialects. Given the multiethnic congregation, and the backgrounds of the priests as well, the gospel of the liturgy was read in 12 languages, including Tagalog and other languages of the Pacific Rim. During the Easter liturgy, the clergy were robed in red vestments. By tradition, the clergy in ROCOR churches wear white vestments all throughout the Easter services. Why did this tradition originate? Perhaps, it was because red was the colour of the proletarian revolution. However, for some reason they did not remember that for our ancestors the word “red” (красная) meant “beautiful, exquisite” (красивая, прекрасная).

This Easter was the first on American soil for the newly appointed archpastor of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Archbishop Yustinian Ovchinnikov of Naro-Fominsk. At the end of the services, he said, “Upon me lies the responsibility and burden of carrying out this mission. For 15 years, I bore the obedience [of being the archpastor] of the Diocese of Tiraspol in Moldova. We had to rebuild everything in the Diocese of Tiraspol diocese, so, I became the father of the laity”. In reference to the Russian Orthodox in New York City, Archbishop Yustinian noted that as he was their archpastor, he needed their “support, love, patience, and forgiveness… but most importantly, we must stay united in love and the Orthodox faith”. It was gratifying to see that the church remained crowded until 04.00 in the morning, right to the end of the most meaningful and beautiful service in the liturgical year.

At the end of the service, Vladyki Yustinian addressed the congregation, “On my way to America, whilst I was reflecting on the fate of our compatriots who came to America, I remembered a Russian tale about how teamsters carried stone for the construction of a new church building during the winter. It was hard work. Well, they went up to one of them and asked, ‘What do you do?’ He replied, ‘I carry stones’. That was the truth; it’s quite a job to carry stone. Then, they went up to another teamster, and asked him the same question. He replied, ‘I have a family to feed’. That was the truth, too. Since he had a job, he could feed his family. They went to a third teamster. He said, ‘I build the church’. All three gave good answers and told the truth. However, only one of them really saw the primary mission behind everything. He saw why they carried stones. Oh, yes… he fed his family, just like the others, but he knew they were building a church, too. That’s what you do, however you earn your living, and no matter how difficult your work is. You must understand that the Will of God led you to live and work in this place. You’re not just here to toil; you’re here to proclaim that Christ is risen; you’re here to proclaim the Orthodox faith. That’s your mission here. All this, of course, is a part of your life… you work and you feed your families, but, especially, remember your spiritual purpose… to teach the American continent the light of the Orthodox faith. Work for this, labour for the sake of the Lord that sent you here”.

The service ended. Enlightened, people went to opposite ends of New York and neighbouring New Jersey. Moreover, like a precious treasure for the soul, they carried the message that Christ is risen. The hands of the clock were nearing 05.00. Next to the church, the nightingales sang in a cloud of white cherry blossoms. The city seems to have awakened. Or, rather, it did not sleep in anticipation of the Resurrection of Christ.

9 April 2010

Tatiana Veselkina

New York NY USA

Pravoslavie. Ru


MP and ROCOR clergy in NYC… I note that there is more coming and going of the MP clergy with the ROCOR rather than with the OCA in NYC. My Russian sources tell me that whereas the ROCOR is viewed as a valuable ally against the Kochetkovites and other such modernist flotsam, the OCA is viewed with some suspicion, at best. In any case, the OCA is nothing but an expendable pawn in the Great Game between the MP and EP (and Bart is coming to Moscow later in the month…)

Editor’s Note:

One should note the schizophrenia on this website. The Russian side is solid (since Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov is the editor, one would expect nothing else)… indeed, traditional to a tee, with only a few incursions of Schmenmanndorf lunacy. On the English side, many of the meatier (and anti-heterodox) articles are never translated. I believe that one of the people doing translations on the English side is from one of Podmoshensky’s monasteries in Platina (the ones received by the Serbs… unwisely, I would say… they still obviously lack tserkovnost)… caveat lector. To be frank, because of this connection, I hardly ever read the material on the English side (especially after I found out that the translator dumbed down a piece and softened the author’s condemnation of heterodoxy). Indeed, none of the pieces written in Russian by Tatiana Veselkina from New York are translated… one wonders why. It also means that the main editor, Archimandrite Tikhon, does not have facility in English. Remember, it only takes one squiffy individual to roil the pot… that’s what happened in the new MP seminary in Paris. They caught one of the faculty trying to teach the Parisian nonsense of the St Sergius Institute (where Florensky is a “saint” and Bulgakov is revered). It only takes one bad individual to spread heresy about… since Archimandrite Tikhon cannot speak English… you catch my drift, no?

Overall, do watch out when konvertsy stick their hands in the pot… it’s prudent, after all. Just because a konvert speaks Russian does NOT mean that they have imbibed the true ethos of Russian Orthodoxy (it’s also an illustration that one cannot trust anyone who had ANY connection with the known sodomite and open heretic Podmoshensky (and that includes Paffhausen and the former HOOMies, kiddies)). If any konvert disputes me on the strength of my language, prove with actionable evidence that GP was not defrocked by the ROCOR Holy Synod and that Fr Alexander Lebedeff did not make a posting on the Indiana List justifying defrocking GP for serving whilst under suspension, not sodomy, because it was “easier”. My observation is that all things swept under the rug return to haunt one, with greater vigour and with twice as much virulence.

As far as the total number of Russians in the NYC Metro area is concerned, I believe it is wise to shrink any figure concerning Orthodox in America down one order of magnitude, that is, knock off one zero. For instance, if you reduce Kondratick’s lying figure of one million members in the OCA in this fashion, you come up with 100,000… which is close to the actual estimate of 115,000 adherents. Save in certain neighbourhoods, the Orthodox in New York are “invisible”. I wish I could say otherwise, but I must speak what I have observed with my own eyes.



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