Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Archpriest Alvian and Matushka Helen Smirensky Died on Sunday… Вечная память!

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Archpriest Alvian and Matushka Helen Smirensky died on Sunday morning in adjoining beds at Albany Medical Center within hours of each other. They had been married for 59 years. Alvian and Helen met and married in New York NY while Helen attended Barnard College and Alvian attended St Vladimir Seminary.

Alvian Nikolayevich Smirensky was born on 11 May 1929 in Harbin, China to Sofiya and Nikolai Smirensky. He attended elementary school in Japanese-occupied Manchuria. With conflict increasing between Japan and China, Alvian emigrated with his mother Sofiya in September 1939, settling in San Francisco CA. He graduated from St Ignatius High School in San Francisco in 1948 and later from the Merchant Marine Academy. He served as a naval officer in the Korean Conflict in 1951-54 on the destroyer USS John A. Bole. He retired from military service with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. After service in Korea, he moved to New York NY to attended St Vladimir Seminary in 1954-57; he later completed a second master’s degree at SVS. He was ordained a priest in the Russian Orthodox Church on 13 September 1958. Fr Alvian served in the US Naval Reserve as a chaplain and as a parish priest in a number of locations, including Ss Peter & Paul Orthodox Church in Meriden CT; Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Wayne NJ; St Basil Orthodox Church in Maplewood NY; St Nicholas Orthodox Church in Cohoes NY; and St George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Albany NY. When Fr Alvian retired from parish service, the Church attached him to Holy Wisdom Temple, New Skete Monastery. Fr Alvian also served in NYS government, retiring in 1991 as Director of Information Services for the New York State and Local Retirement Systems.

Helen Mikhailovna Smirensky was born on 3 November 1933 in Prague, Czechoslovakia to Michael and Elizabeth Kefeli. Helen and her extended family lived in Prague through the German occupation and World War II. They left Prague prior to the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia and lived in a series of DP camps in Germany until November 1949, when, sponsored by the Tolstoy Foundation, she came to the USA with her family and settled in Nyack NY. Helen received an undergraduate degree from Barnard College in 1957 majoring in Russian Regional Studies. Later in life, after many years of working in libraries, Helen completed her Master of Library Science degree in 1985 at SUNY Albany’s School of Library Science. She was a member of the Beta Phi Mu International Library and Information Studies Honor Society. She was a cataloguer at SUNY Albany and retired as a senior librarian from the New York State Library in 1996. She served as the New York State Library’s representative to the CONSER Operations Committee for a number of years.

The family would like to extend their deepest appreciation to the staff of the Emergency Department and the ICU at Albany Medical Center for their kindness and compassion in arranging for Helen and Alvian to be together during their last few hours.

The Funeral will begin at 1000 on Wednesday 13 December, followed by Divine Liturgy at 1100 at New Skete Monastery, 273 New Skete Lane, Cambridge NY. Burial will be at New Skete Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be in their memory to the National Health Law Program (www.healthlaw.org) or to New Skete Monasteries (www.newskete.org).

To offer condolences to the family, please visit www.gariepyfuneralhomes.com

Pannikhida was offered at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville NY today at 1230.

Please add Archpriest Alvian and Matushka Helen to your prayer rule… if you’re clergy, don’t forget to mention them during the liturgy during the canonical period.

ВЕЧНАЯ ПАМЯТЬ!

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Wednesday, 29 November 2017

29 November 2017. Schema-Archimandrite Ilya Nozdrin in Very Poor Health

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A friend of mine at the Centre just informed me that Schema-Archimandrite Ilya Nozdrin (the confessor to Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev) is in very poor health. If you could add him to your prayer rule, that’d be a good thing (especially, as this is a Lenten period). Fr Ilya is one of the few genuine startsy in the Church today (we don’t have any here in the American diaspora… the loud konvertsy claims of such are loud and clanging rubbish).

Pray for Fr Ilya’s health… we’re Christians! That’s what we do…

BMD

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Tomorrow, Christmas Lent Begins

Silent Night

Viggo Johansen

1891

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We’ve said much about the Lenten periods, yet, once one begins, we hear the same question:

What are we not supposed to do?

The brief answer to that is:

Food is in last place. It isn’t an end-all and be-all; it’s only a means.

The Lenten effort requires five things.

LEARN TO PRAY

Try to add something extra to your routine. If you don’t normally pray, make a brief but regular prayer. If you have a morning and evening rule, read the Psalms, or the daily Gospel reading. If you go to services only on Sunday, try to make it for one of the weekday services.

LEARN TO FIGHT SIN

Look at your repetitive sins… choose the smallest and try to overcome it. For example, do you complain about everything you see or hear? Do you talk about others behind their back? Do you hold an old grudge against a relative (boss, teacher, neighbour, etc)? Overcome this through daily prayer.

LEARN TO REPENT

Choose your most secret sin… the one most hidden from the eyes of others and one for which you’re particularly ashamed. Go to confession and ask how to fight it. Choose an experienced priest to help you with what you need.

LEARN TO DO GOOD

For I was hungered, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came unto me.

Gospel according to St Matthew 25.35-36

At the end of each day, search your conscience and ask yourself, “What good deed did I do today? Who did I comfort, who did I help, and who did I devote time to?” If you didn’t do that, you wasted the day.

LEARN TO BE JOYFUL

Open up to the beauty of God’s world. Meditate on God’s gifts and on the talents that He endows us with. Show manifestations of love, compassion, and mercy, along with reflecting on logic, harmony, and truth. In short, focus on everything that brings us closer to God.

I wish you a salvific and joyful Christmas Lent, my friends!

24 November 2017

Archpriest Vladimir Vigilyansky

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Sunday, 26 November 2017

26 November 2017. My Thoughts on “Mere Orthodoxy”

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Of course, Orthodoxy is “cultural”… that’s far more natural than the made-up fantasies of American converts. “Orthodoxy” is generic, like “human”… but all humans are Russian, Chinese, Arabs, et al. If you don’t have both the generic and the specific, you can’t have substance and actuality (you’d be nothing but a golem… a lifeless and soulless artifice). Having said that, the Russian Local Church IS the largest Local Church; Moscow is the Centre of contemporary Orthodox life. Is it perfect? NO. Are we flawless? NO. However, the Russian Church is (by far) the largest cohort in the Church, so, unsurprisingly, we have the most influence. That isn’t being the “boss of the church”. If you want the best Orthodox graduate theological education, you come to Moscow… not because we’re Russian, but because Russia has the resources (human, intellectual, financial, and historical) to run a top-flight institution. Here in diaspora Orthodoxy, we lack a great deal… money, numbers, historical longevity, and institutional depth. That’s not “bossiness”… it’s merely reality. To sum up, one can, indeed, be Russian, Greek, Serbian, or Antiochian Orthodox, but to be “merely Orthodox” isn’t only impossible, but monstrous and appalling.

BMD   

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