Recently, a friend lamented to me that the bishops aren’t doing enough to stem the onrush of rightwingers into the Church. According to our Apostolic theology, the bishops FOLLOW the People… they aren’t papistical monarchs nor are they self-appointed Proddie tin-pot dictators. Here are two excerpts that illustrate this.
The Russian Church is contained entirely in its liturgy, and to understand it there’s no point reading books: one has to go and see the Church at prayer. The Russian Orthodox service is an emotional experience. The entire spirit of the Russian people, and much of their best art and music, has been poured into the Church, and at times of national crisis, they’ve always turned to it for support and hope. The liturgy never became the preserve of scholars or the clergy, as happened in the medieval West. This is a people’s liturgy. There are no pews, no social hierarchies, in a Russian church. Worshippers are free to move around… as they do constantly to prostrate and cross themselves before the various icons… this makes for an atmosphere not unlike a busy market square.
Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2002 ISBN: 0-312-42195-8)
From Chapter 5, In Search of the Russian Soul, p. 297
From its dawn to the present-day, our Church has been the People’s Church, inspired by love, embracing all, without distinction of class. The faith sustained our people in times of privation and calamity; only one thing can sustain, strengthen, and regenerate them… the faith, but only the Faith of the Church. They reproach our people with ignorance in its religion; they say that superstition defiles its faith, that it suffers from corrupt and wicked practises, and that its clergy is rude, inactive, ignorant, and oppressed, without influence on its flock. Then, what is essential? I’d say, the love of the people for its Church, its conception of the Church as a common possession, as a congregation common in all things. There’s a total absence of social distinctions; the people are in communion with the ministers of the Church, who spring from the people, who don’t differ in manner of life, who share their virtues and failings, who stand and fall with their flocks. This soil brings forth rich fruits with good cultivation. It has less concern for the amelioration of life than it does with the betterment of the soul; it has less concern for the number of churches than it does for the fact that it should satisfy the spiritual needs of the people.
Oberprokurator of the Most Holy Synod
That is, the bishops will move when WE tell them to. The Apostolic Church will overcome the rightwing slimers trying to take it over. Truly, they won’t amount to much in the long-term, but they’ll be a huge pain in the near-term. They’ll leave us when they realise that we won’t put up with their monkeyshines and juvenile antics.