Fr Dan Ressetar of Harrisburg PA, a good example of our senior archpriests
In my communications with several young clergy, I’ve noticed a judgemental tone towards senior members of the clergy… not necessarily apparatchiki, just senior clergy in general. What I’d like to remind these zealous young bucks is that without these men and their steadfast attitude during the Crazy Years (of Schmemann and Vitaly, for instance), we’d have no real Church today. The konvertsy, in particular, have no idea how superheated the atmosphere was from 1965 to the early 2000s (it was starting to cool down in the 90s, but it wasn’t over until the ouster of Vitaly Ustinov in 2001). Somehow or other, most priests had to keep it all together, keep their parishes going, and stay out-of-the-way of interfering apparatchiki… all at the same time!
There are still traces of the Madness amongst us (the Seraphim Rose claque… the tollhouse fantasy… stale SVS daydreams… Paffhausen and his cracked semi-mad schemes), but the worst is over. However, those of the current younger generation who sit in judgement on their elders who served in more turbulent times are chock fulla shit and deserve a trip to the woodshed for ten of the best! Really, would they have done as well? I seem to think that they’d turn out quite similar… some cowards, some heroes, and most of them just doing their best to serve God and their parishes without running afoul of the apparat and its nosy commissars (whether “right” or “left”, it makes no difference… the apparats were similarly invasive, cruel, and uncaring).
I know some of the senior archpriests personally… my friends know even more. We shall testify that they’re neither angels nor devils… merely good men who had to serve in a rather nasty era. Many had the grit to overlook ukazi that forbade them to give communion to Orthodox believers of this-or-that archdiocese… the young ‘uns don’t understand what guts that took. These guys kept the flame burning in a time of general darkness. For that, they deserve praise and honour. As for the young naysayers… grow up and get a life. Sometimes, people got to do what they must to survive. That’s what they did, and it isn’t blameworthy in the least.
I bow in respect to these guys. After all, they had the guts to get rid of Paffhausen when it got too bad (it wasn’t SVS… they wanted Dahulich and his fancies… they didn’t want peace). They did so to save the Church… just as they saved the Church in the Mad Years. They weren’t perfect, but they were there when we needed them… that’s all you need to be “good” in my book. I’m not alone in thinking that way…