Saturday, July 19, 2008

Russia remembers the murdered Tsar St. Nicholas II & his family

See here

Visitors to Russia tell me that the Christian faith is flowering and then cynically say that so is alcoholism, drug abuse and money grabbing materialism.

There was a survey recently of top dead Rusians, Tsar Nicholas II came first followed by Salin and Lenin.


gemoftheocean said...

"so is alcoholism, drug abuse and money grabbing materialism"

But that was going on before 1991 too!


Ma Tucker said...

Very encouraging despite the problems.

lizard said...

The situation is not so encouraging. In spite of the widely held belief in Russian spirituality and a kind of mystical 'Russian soul,' there was about 4% of people actively participating in Church services during the end of the communist era. Now, the figure is the same, about 4%. I.e. nothing has really changed. What has indeed changed is the availability of these services, as numerous churches were rebuilt and now are working. But here in this country, most atheistic in Europe, church participation seems much higher than in Russia.

I do not believe it is related too much to the 70 years of communist dictatorship. Remember how quickly "deeply spiritual" Russian people become the most hostile and aggressive atheists, happy killing priests and monks during the Russian revolution. Most actively participated in this terror. Try to read witness' writings about the state of the Russian church immediately prior to the Revolution and you will realise why this was so. To obtain more undecorated information about the state of the Russian Church even further before, read Marquis de Custine's writings (18th century).

Now the Russian church is of course heterogeneous. There are fascinating examples of deep faith which could perhaps be difficult to find here in Europe. On the other hand, the average orthodox person is not interested in Christ. He/she seems to be interested much more in 'services', yes, in a manner more resembling a kind of magic and idolatry. The degree of dogmatic ignorance and errors (in the Orthodox and general Christian belief) is generally terrible. It is not the good place to discuss the causes of this, but I believe the origin is dogmatic errors present from the division of the Church. The biggest problem is that this Church itself is not centred on Christ (this was acknowledged by the recent councils of the Russian Orthodox Church). An indication of this, if you ever entered an Orthodox church, there is an appealing picture of numerous icons here and there, numerous saints, but only very few crucifixes and images of Christ. One of the believed most important principal points the Orthodox Church (especially Russian) disagrees with the Rome is the procession of the Holy Spirit. They do believe that Holy Spirit processes only from Father. Not from Father through Christ. Consequently, the role of Christ is diminished. This seems to be the most important (although there are other important points).

Fr Ray Blake said...

The denial of the "Filoque Clause", is not a denial, necessarily, of the HSp proceeding through the Son, but a denial of the Popes right to add it to the Creed, the Symbol of Nicea. In this sense this it is arguement about the Papacy.

lizard said...

Fr Ray, Actually, there is really a denial. The position of the Western Church on this point is highly idealistic and sometimes ignorant. (Parenthetically, there were many attempts to dialogue, but most of them were not met by the OrthCh). The possibility to add/remove to the Symbol is only one side of the issue. The procession of the Holy Spirit through the son is not rejected but is not stressed. The accepted doctrine posits that HSp proceeds ONLY from the Father, without much further details. Sometimes, they allow 'through the Son'. But again the latter is not emphasised.

lizard said...

As to this particular canonisation, many orthodox believe is validity is highly doubtful. There is quite a big proportion of orthodox who oppose this particular canonisation. There are very loose arguments for this canonisation, at best. No evidence of heroic virtues, no evidence that tsar and the family died for Christ. No miracles following prayer.

There is a long history of politically-based canonisations in the Russian Church. Sometimes canonised saints were de-canonised after the next tsar, and re-canonised by the next tsar. There is no strict established procedure of canonisation, non thorough investigation. Sometimes (often?) the final decision is dictated by the will of the secular authority (tsar).

Yes, they do not support the primacy of the Pope. The doctrine is that Christ is the only head of the Church. As a result, the church itself is highly fragmented. I mean not only the fragmentation of into national autokaefalic Churches Sometimes they could be involved in conflicts with each other, like the modern hostility between the Church in Constantinople and the Russian Church, often such conflict may seem relatively invisible to by-standers. More importantly, there is a deep fragmentation within the church. There are, in a sense, as many churches as parish churches. Some (many?) priests teach and proclaim obvious heresies, most frequently contradict each other on very important disciplinary and dogmatic issues. It seems the only unifying force is vague 'orthodoxy' and administrative levers. But the latter is based on completely voluntaristic principles. There is no deep culture of Canon Law and any juridical system in this Church. Incidentally, 'Roman juridism' is another major point of criticism.

The 'vague orthodoxy' I noted above is another point of major concern. Orthodox Church is basically national. This creates numerous problems for the faith and doctrine. This is very important. The orthodoxy is basically unrelated to the Church or even Christianity at all. For example, most surveys indicated that most Russians now believe they are Orthodox (they identify themselves with a very vague concept of 'Orthodox'). Most of them DO NOT believe in God. In previous post I noted some recent numbers, about 4% of population participate Church services on a more or less regular basis. More than 50% of the total population (do not remember exact numbers now) believe they are Orthodox but do not believe in God at all!

I wrote all the above to point to a very important lesson for us. Following the most basic dogmatic positions, conservation of old rites and the liturgy (although it is very important), sometimes deep spirituality etc etc. does not guarantee that the Church remains free from principal defects. The only guarantee against this is acceptance of the whole corpus of dogmatic teaching and communication with the Cathedra of St Peter, as promised: quia tu es Petrus et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversum eam.'

Henry said...

I find the "canonisation" of Tsar Nicolas disturbing. This is more about a certain type of Russian nationalism. Solzhnytsyn is worth reading on the subject in "August 1914". The Tsar's conduct was reminiscent of Charles I.

The murder in 1917 was brutal but the UK did nothing to lift a finger when it could possibly have done.

The Tsar made or let happen various political interventions before 1917 which helped the revolution on its way - for example, the persecution of the Jews which led to mass migration and helped to promote the Zionist cause, with all the problems that is still causing.

Early in his reign which began in 1894 he resisted changes which were needed to remedy economic injustices such as the concentration of rural land ownership in the hands of a few noble families and a growing class of poor industrial workers.

In 1905 came Bloody Sunday, an incident in St. Petersburg, where unarmed, peaceful demonstrators marching to present a petition to Tsar Nicholas II were shot by the Imperial Guard. The event was organised by a Father Gapon, who was paid by the Okhrana, the Tsarist secret police. Such disregard for ordinary people shown by the massacre undermined support for the state and paved the way for the Bolsheviks.

Far from being a saint, one could say that he did as much as Lenin to cause communism and the evil events of the 20th century - not least his response to the Sarajevo murders which sparked off the First World War. We are still living with the consequences of his bone-headed arrogance and stupidity. I am sure he was nice to his sick son but he was not fit to be in charge of a great nation. He obviously was not very bright but had he read the signs he would have allowed a move to democracy, promoted overdue economic reforms and helped the country to evolve into a constitutional monarchy.

But then almost the whole Romanov dynasty were dire.