RUSSIAN ECCLESIASTICAL MISSION IN JERUSALEM: June 11, 2007
The Two Russian Ecclesiastical Missions in Jerusalem Celebrate the Restoration of Brotherly Communion Within One Russian Orthodox Church
The events that took place on the Ascension of the Lord—the reestablishment of ecclesio-canonical unity within the Russian Orthodox Church—opened a new page in the history of the Church in the 21 st century. The tragic division which lasted for 90 years after the revolution inflicted many wounds upon the hearts of the faithful. Nowhere were these wounds felt more sharply or more painfully than in the Holy Land. The division at times led to elevated opposition among Orthodox Christians, and the conflict brought temptation to many. It seemed at times that this wound would fester for a long time, but what is impossible for mankind is possible for God.
We are all living witnesses to the power of God, the grace of the Holy Spirit, which abundantly poured out over the Russian Church and her faithful. Everything that is happening now is a genuine miracle—a miracle of the transfiguration of human souls and human hearts. Where once was strife and disorder there is now peace and concord, where suspicion and mistrust once reigned is now mutual respect and love. This is not superficial, but true, profound and holy.
We hasten to share with joy yesterday's events on the holiday of All Russian Saints. The regular visit of His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany, Overseer of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem (ROCOR), became a continuation of the celebration of the unity of the Russian Church. The first joint Divine Liturgy was scheduled for the feast day of the new Cathedral of All Russian Saints recently built in Gorny Convent of the Moscow Patriarchate. Archbishop Mark and the Chief of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission (MP), Archimandrite Tikhon, met to discuss details of conducting their first joint service, and it was decided that the all-night vigil would be served together at St Mary Magdalene Convent in Gethsemane, and on Sunday, that we would travel to Gorny Convent with a large group of nuns. On the eve, the nun-singers went to Gorny for a rehearsal, since it was proposed that the singing be antiphonal. The choir was warmly greeted at Gorny Convent.
After a trapeza, the nuns entered the church, built almost at the very summit of the mountain. The church was just plastered, and the iconostasis has not yet been installed. The great consecration is scheduled for January 2008. His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia is expected to arrive for this event. For us monastics of the Holy Land, this new church has become a new Mount Sinai, where we all made peace and savored the Divine Trapeza together. There is one God, one Faith, one Chalice, as we profess with one mouth, with one heart.
The senior sisters came from the Convent of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives on the feast day itself; they had begun their monastic life as children in Gorny Convent. This moved us all. The united monastic choir formed in the middle of the church and became a visible symbol of our unity. There was a feeling of indescribable illumination and profound spiritual peace. There was not a sad face in sight, there are no inconsolable souls today, all are enjoying a Pascha-like joy. After Liturgy and a procession of the cross, a splendid luncheon was offered. Warm greetings were read during the meal. It is remarkable that the first joint Liturgy was celebrated on the day of All Russian Saints, which this year coincided with the anniversary of the enthronement of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II. Therein is expressed the wisdom of the Lord. Glory to Him for ages unto ages! Amen.