This week I received a small surprise in my mailbox – A DVD containing an interview with an Orthodox Priest talking about the evils of the ecumenical movement, and a fistful of photocopied pages discussing Fr George Florovsky’s impressions on ecumenism.
Interesting I thought, wonder who was kind enough to send this my way? Then the creepy feelings set in. No senders address and the postmark was scratched off the envelope (not an easy thing to do I would think, as usually this is done after you drop off the mail). I dare say this is a by product of my contact details hitting the address list once ordained to the diaconate. Perhaps by coincidence or not it is also timed with celebrations in Moscow on the 5th anniversary of the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion between ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate.
I will admit I haven’t watched the DVD as yet, but I will – although the Serbian subtitles that are advertised on it’s cover are not too helpful to me. The other material I read, have read before and will no doubt read again. The Russian Church has changed it’s dealings over the years to tone down its visible ecumenical stance, but many of the more radical elements in the universe (no doubt including my phantom postal apostate friend) seem to think that even talking to someone of a different faith “conjures the evil forces of ecumenism”. Others less radical have commented to me situations from some Bishops and Clergy that do scare me, although I have no first hand experience of them. In the end, I will obey my Bishop until, as the canons decree, there is heresy presented to me by them.
Many families have been affected by the walking away of small groups who were vigorously opposed to the union, I am not going to comment on the reasons why and why not except that the definitions of ecumenism many of them employ have built in οἰκονομία (economy) for their daily lives that deny Christian virtue. I have seen numerous examples where parts of families would not come to funerals or baptisms because of our church’s “standing” but are happy to go to worship services at protestant or catholic churches for Weddings, Funerals, Baptisms and even school events.
So, I apologise in advance to those who hoped for me to run and hide in schism, that I will not do. What I will do is pray for them as the Gospel demands of me.
As commented in his epistle on the 5th Anniversary, the Patriarch states “Let us pray in earnest for those who for various reasons find themselves outside of unity with the Russian Orthodox Church. Again and again we invite them to commune in the love of Christ, which “seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (1 Corinthians 13:5-7).”
Save, O Lord, and have mercy on those whom I have offended or scandalized by my madness or inadvertence, and whom I have turned from the way of salvation, and whom I have led into evil and harmful deeds. By Thy divine providence restore them again to the way of salvation.
Save, O Lord, and have mercy on those who hate and offend me, and do me harm, and let them not perish through me, a sinner.
Illumine with the light of grace all apostates from the Orthodox Faith, and those blinded by pernicious heresies, and draw them to Thyself, and unite them to Thy Holy, Apostolic, Catholic Church.