GERMAN DIOCESE: 16 January 2024
The main cathedral of the German Diocese hosts a regular Orthodox Seminar titled “All Aspects of Spiritual Education”
From December 26-28, 2023, an open Orthodox Christian seminar was held in Munich Cathedral, bringing together more than a hundred participants. This year, the overall theme of the 41st seminar was spiritual education. The work of the seminar was opened with a prayer service for "the beginning of every good deed," then His Eminence Metropolitan Mark of Berlin and Germany addressed the participants of the seminar. His Eminence noted that the heart of the event is joint prayer at divine services.
Grace Bishop David of the Serbian Orthodox Church was unable to attend due to
illness, but sent his report on the Jesus Prayer in writing, so that the
participants could learn about the practical features of prayer.
His Grace Bishop Job of Stuttgart (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) gave a report on the topic "education through participation in the Liturgy." Bishop Job also spoke about the role of liturgical texts, the role of icons and church services in teaching the faith.
After the reports, the participants of the meeting communicated informally over tea, and then prayed together at vespers and matins. After the service and dinner (all meals—breakfast, lunch, and dinner—were prepared by the cathedral's parishioners), nonresident participants were assigned rooms to spend the night. During the days of the seminar, many parishioners of the Munich Cathedral host overnight guests of the seminar who have come from all over the German Diocese.
At 7 am on the following day, December 27, the participants of the seminar gathered again in the church for Liturgy: Metropolitan Mark officiated. After breakfast, the conference reconvened.
Holy Trinity Jordanville Seminary, the main spiritual educational institution of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. A professor of the Jordanville Seminary, Protodeacon Andrei Psarev, spoke about the history and everyday life of this seminary. Thanks to Fr Andrey's report, as well as presentations and video clips describing the life of this spiritual educational institution, the participants were able to become acquainted with the atmosphere of the seminary. Concluding his report, Fr Andrei addressed the participants with the question: "Do we actually need a seminary?," openeing a lively discussion.
Report of psychologist Fyodor Mikhailovich Shankov "Parish Social Networks As an Exercise in Christian Communication" was preceded by a description of some of the problems that arise in various parish chats. Parish chats are a relatively new phenomenon in modern parish life, but they have already become widespread. Pointing out the dangers, Fyodor Mikhailovich suggested that everyone should remember various aspects of communications: personality of the interlocutor, Truth, which is above and beyond the Internet), the value of communication amd openness to the interlocutor.
After lunch, the participants were able to hear opinions and participate in a discussion on such an important topic for all Christians – repentance. This topic was presented in the format of a podium discussion under the general theme "Spiritual Growth and Development Based on Confession." Presenting were Archpriest Nikolai Artemov (Munich), Archpriest Ilya Limberger (Stuttgart), Archpriest Mykola Karpenko (Munster) and Priest Viktor Mieshko (Munich). Fr Ilya suggested different atypical approaches to confession, in order to avoid becoming indifferent to this great sacrament or distorting it, which he sees as a great danger. An important message and conclusion on the whole topic were the words of Fr Nikolai on the fact that confession is a divinely-ordained sacrament, and in confession a person first of all comes to God. A person opens his heart to God, but a priest listens prayerfully and, having Christ in his heart, opens it to each other. And it is this communion, within which Christ is, that should be the center of confession.
In conclusion, Metropolitan Mark made a simple and at the same time weighty conclusion: "On both sides—clergy and parishioner—must break an enchanted circle: there is an incorrect connection between confession and communion. We need to work very hard on this." Vladyka strongly urged people to set aside time for confession regularly (outside of Sunday services) and not to rigidly link the sacraments of confession and communion.
The last report of this day, which preceded the all-night vigil on the feast of the Holy Martyrs Eleutherius of Illyria and Hilarion of Verey, was the report of Fr Nikolai on the polyeleos. Participants analyzed polyeleic psalms and practiced singing. At all night vigil, all participants of the seminar had the opportunity to sing together on the polyeleos (the clergy and the choir alternately sang verses of psalms, and the people joyfully shouted "Hallelujah!" and " for His mercy endures forever...").
On the morning of December 28, a festive divine liturgy was celebrated by two bishops - Metropolitan Mark and Bishop Job - with a host of clergy.
The third day's reports were devoted to school education. Professor Yevgenia Danilovich, a researcher at the University of Munster, Doctor of Theology, made a presentation on "The Orthodox Law of God: Goals and Challenges of teaching in Germany." The Law of God is a compulsory school subject in a number of German states, and Orthodox people have the right to attend Orthodox lessons. Protodeacon Bartholomew Bazanov Based on spoke about the history of the Orthodox Law of God in Germany and the peculiarities of teaching at the level of Bavaria and individual schools based on practical experience.
The seminar ended with a presentation by Irina Naumova from Wiesbaden on the role of pilgrimage in religious education and spiritual growth. The German Diocese has been operating a pilgrimage service for many years, which conducts a variety of pilgrimage trips to Germany, Europe and the Holy Land.