Voices from Russia

Friday, 10 April 2015

10 April 2015. It’s Holy Friday… Our Lord Christ Hangs On The Cross

Ilya Glazunov. Golgotha. from the triptych 'The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor'. 1983


from the triptych “The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor”

Ilya Glazunov



This is probably the most solemn day of the Church Year. Our Lord Christ hangs on the Cross. The wise thief didst Thou make worthy of Paradise, in a single moment, O Lord. By the wood of Thy Cross, illumine me as well and save me. What more need I say? Nothing frivolous today…

Please, do note the date of the painting. The religious revival was well under-way long before 1991. The Soviet state, in the end, wasn’t a barrier to Christ and His Church…



Friday, 18 April 2014

18 April 2014. A Multimedia Presentation: It’s Holy Friday… For Both Catholics and Orthodox This Year

Ivan Glazunov. 'Crucify Him!'

“Crucify Him!”

Ivan Glazunov



“The wise thief didst Thou make worthy of Paradise, in a single moment, O Lord…”


00 Ilya Repin. Golgotha (The Crucifixion of Christ). 1869

Golgotha: The Crucifixion of Christ

Ilya Repin



The late Archbishop Job Osacky of Chicago on Holy Friday


Vasili Golinsky. The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. no date (1890s-1900s)

The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ

Vasili Golinsky

no date (1890s-1900s)


“The noble Joseph when he had taken down Thy most-pure Body from the tree…”


01 Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. The Entombment of Christ. 1602-03

The Entombment of Christ

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio



This is the most solemn day of the Christian Year… Great and Holy Friday, when Our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ hung on the cross and gave His life for the Life of the World. That’s the real deal… for me to say more wouldn’t only be pointless, why, it’s irreverent. However, after His three days in the tomb… that means that Golgotha precedes ALL Resurrections… reflect on that, if you will…


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Saturday, 5 October 2013

A Word from the Patriarch: “Love Is the Most Important Thing in Life”

00 Patriarch Kirill with kids. 05.10.13


Editor’s Note:

The word podvig should NEVER be “Englished”… its one of the most powerful words in the Russian language. We should bring it into our Orthodox usage in English. There are literally no English equivalents strong enough. “Ascetic labour” is a mistranslation, as podvig has overtones of “epic”, “heroic”, “bravery”, “self-sacrifice”, “victory”, “effort”, and “triumph”. Besides, podvig has its secular uses, too. It’s not “religious”, and we shouldn’t make it such (for instance, we speak of the podvig of the fighters in both Great Patriotic Wars (and here)). It’s best to leave it as is, and admit that English lacks the necessary material to give meaning to this word.

These wise words from HH are a needed counterbalance to the zealous zaniness, overblown religiosity, rigid juridicism, and downright bizarre things that we often read in “Orthodox cyberspace”. “God IS Love”… don’t accept any counterfeits…



Love Is the Most Important Thing in Life

The Apostle said, But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ Then he spoke these words of great power and importance… by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world (Epistle of St Paul to the Galatians 6.14). What do these words of the Apostle mean? They can mean only one thing… that the Cross lies upon the whole world as a measure of Divine righteousness and Divine truth. More than anything else in life, people need a model, some standard that they can use to measure everything around them… the thoughts that come to them, the flood of information, the words of politicians and ordinary people, the actions of other people.

Contemporary philosophy, and the all-pervading view of life that comes from this treacherous attitude, asserts that man is a truth unto himself… that there are many goals, there are many truths, as there are many minds. I decide what’s good for me, and I don’t care if it’s good for anyone else. As if anticipating the terrible temptations of our times, the Apostle Paul said these inspiring words about the Cross by which the world is crucified; about the Cross on which appeared the fathomless, boundless, comprehensive, absolute Divine truth.

What is this truth, what is this absolute truth? God suffered out of love for mankind. If God does this, if He accepted suffering in the flesh of His Son, then, this is the most important, the most fundamental thing… everything revolves around this truth. In fact, Truth testifies that love is the main thing in life. Everything else is secondary. The commandment on love is the main commandment of Christianity; the Lord declares this commandment not only in words, but also by the podvig of His life. At the same time, He showed people that sacrifice always accompanies love. In a certain sense, love becomes synonymous with sacrifice, and sacrifice synonymous with love, because if in loving another we aren’t willing to do anything for them… that isn’t love.

Feelings of solidarity bind society together and solidarity always presupposes the ability of one person to serve another, the ability of one person to give something to another, and in extreme situations, for one to give his life for his neighbours (cf. Gospel according to St John 15.13). There’s no other way for the human race, no other road to happiness and fullness of life, than the path that Christ showed us. There’s no other law of human relationship; the law of love implies the giving of yourself to another person, and to receive in response the great gift of love from the one to whom you gave yourself.

From a sermon after the Liturgy in Epiphany Cathedral, Tomsk
22 September 2013


The Best Preaching of the Gospel is the Witness of Your Life

The best preaching of the Gospel is the witness of your life; a righteous, devout, god-fearing, and fervent life filled with active love for Christ and your neighbours. Whilst “the windy and protracted speech of professors often remains without effect”, the good works of love speak louder than the prettiest words, they awaken in people a spark of trust, arousing a desire to emulate and follow such a person (see: St Gregory of Nyssa. Homily on His Ordination). The Apostles lived and witnessed to Christ in a pagan environment; they fought idolatry, superstition, and immorality. Undoubtedly, the reality of contemporary life appears outwardly different from that existent in the Apostolic Age. However, the inner content of people’s lives today differ little from the sentiments that filled human hearts and minds as they listened to the Apostles’ preaching; in many instances, from the point of view of salvation, modern life is even more dangerous than that of the ancient pagan society.

From a sermon given at the bestowal of the episcopal staff to Bishop Germogen Sery of Michurinsk and Morshansk in the Moscow Church of St Nicholas in Pyzhy, Moscow
27 September 2013


The Cross Encompasses All Life

The Cross is at the centre of our convictions, the centre of our Christian worldview, but it should also be in the focus of our perception of the world. To experience it personally… which means placing sorrow in the centre of our lives… is very difficult. At that moment, few remember the Cross of Christ, because their own cross eclipses everything; it becomes a broad as all life. Everything else remains on the periphery, whilst their suffering is at the centre. Often, the carrying of our cross brings perplexity, murmuring against God, and, often, even anger, the ruin of our relationship to our neighbour, and can even lead to the loss of faith! So that we might more easily bear our cross, we must understand one truth very clearly… that God desired to save the world through the Cross.

We should have the faith to accept all that the Lord teaches us, precisely because our salvation doesn’t come from human strength, but from total human helplessness. After all, salvation doesn’t come from men, but from God. Christianity is a great force, capable of transforming human society and mankind, because it isn’t a human power, but the power of God. We must accept, without further foolishness, in simplicity of heart, what He sent to us, responding to Him and His ideas with our whole hearts. We should strive to implement what the Lord called us to do, and to follow the path that He walked. We know that this is the path of victory, the way of resurrection.

From a sermon after an episcopal consecration and Liturgy in the Church of St Nicholas in Pyzhi, Moscow
27 September 2013

4 October 2013




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