CANADIAN DIOCESE: April 6, 2012
Resolution of the Pastoral Retreat and Assembly of the Priests and Clergy of the Diocese of Montreal and Canada
We, the priests and clergy of the Diocese of Canada, have assembled during the salvific days of the Great Fast at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, in Toronto, Ontario, for our annual pastoral retreat and diocesan convocation. Our meeting, headed by His Eminence, Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal & Canada, who has occupied the hierarchal cathedra of the divinely saved Canadian Diocese for three years now, assembled a greater number of priestly participants that at any of the previous diocesan lenten retreats. The meeting took place in the spirit of fraternal love and aided all the participants in strengthening their hearts in anticipation of the approaching feast of feasts—the holy resurrection of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ.
At the convocaton, as usual, talk was not only of matters pertaining only to the diocese, but also of the life of the entire Church of Russia, in the homeland and in diaspora. The 5th anniversary of the reestablishment of eucharistic and canonical unity within the Russian Orthodox Church is drawing nigh. Over the intervening years, we have by our own eyes been convinced that the gracious and healing will of God rests on the conciliar decision for such unity. We see the good fruits of church unity constantly. This time, we welcomed to our assembly His Grace, Bishop Irenee of Quebec (Orthodox Church in America), who took part in our talks and discussions, and also concelebrated the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts with His Eminence, Archbishop Gabriel, on Wednesday, 8/21 March. This joint service is the first such to take place in Canada. In the course of our talks, we sensed our profound spiritual unity with His Grace, Bishop Irenee, the more so in that the present Bishop of Quebec is a former student of our Holy Trinity Seminary, in Jordanville, New York.
In discussing the state of affairs in the Russian Orthodox Church, our assembly expressed anxiety over the well-known increase in the number of calls supporting the gradual elimination of the Church Slavonic language as the sole liturgical language of the Church of Russia—a language which, by the will of God, was transmitted to the Eastern Slavic peoples by Saints Cyril and Methodius. Such mindsets, particularly those that originate with respected clergymen and those in hierarchal rank, on whatever specious reasons they may based themselves, are liable to evoke turmoil and temptations within the Church. We understand well that it was precisely the exclusion of the Church Slavonic language from the liturgical practice that characterized the heresy of “Renovationism” of accursed memory, which arose with particular force during the years of persecution. However, we are in no way stating that, for example, the festal and Sunday readings of the Epistle cannot be done, along with Church Slavonic, in the languages of those people among whom the Russian Church Abroad exercises its ministry. In this connection, we also acknowledge that it is highly beneficial to teach the Church Slavonic language in our parish schools, as is done at the Alexander Pushkin Parish School attached to the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, in Montreal. It is likewise essential to train in the correct method of reading Slavonic those who desire to take upon themselves the obedience of readers, for which a special School of Precentors (headed by the well-known choir director, the reader George Skok, assisted by the reader Nikolai Androsov and Dr. Denis Brearley) exists in our diocese.
During discussion of the question of the ecclesiastical education of our parishes, it was resolved that every parish of the Diocese of Canada must publish, at least once a month, a parish bulletin. In addition to parish news such bulletins ought to provide, in conjuction with a schedule of services, notes on the feasts to be celebrated during that month.
All of this has a direct relation to the task of education, i.e., to catechesis, which is especially needful for those who come to our Church from a non-Orthodox milieu. Part of such education must deal today, in our evil and unbelieving times, with the abandonment of stable cultural values, in fact, the very basis of the divinely established principles of our existence on earth, such as traditional marriage, the union sanctified by the Church, without which human civilization is unthinkable as such.
Regarding diocesan affairs, with the blessing of His Eminence, Archbishop Gabriel, we adopted the decision that the Diocesan Finance Committee proceed to solicit funds as soon as possible for the renovation of the walls of our St. Nicholas Cathedral in Montreal, which once suffered a ruinous fire, and where even to this day work of various sorts is required to stave off dilapidation.
Also discussed was preparation for the upcoming 5th anniversary of the signing of the Act of the Restoration of Canonical Communion in the Russian Orthodox Church, mentioned above, as well as an approaching date that is important for the whole of Russian Orthodoxy: the 400th anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty. The diocesan festivities in this regard will take place next year in Toronto, where, by the mercy of God, Holy Trinity Cathedral, the most populous parish of the Russian Church Abroad, exists.
Among all the important current affairs discussed, the most important for the participants of the meeting remained preparation for Holy Communion, prayer and the divine services. It was just such a disposition of spirit that facilitated discussion of certain complex questions requiring the speediest resolution, connected with the day-to-day life of our diocese. In his concluding words, delivered at the farewell meal before actual departure of the convocation participants in Toronto, His Eminence, Archbishop Gabriel again reminded everyone that the only way to build up the life of the Church successfully is always to follow the rule of the Apostle Paul: “Bear ye one another’s’ another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6: 2).