Tomorrow, May 17th, will be a historic day for the Orthodox Church. Tomorrow the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) will reunify after 80 years.
What especially brings me joy in this event is the joy that I think St. Tikhon, the Patriarch of Moscow and St. John of San Francisco must feel upon seeing this day arrive.
What follows is the Pre-Ascension Epistle from Archbishop Kyrill, the Ruling Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America:
[May 12, 2007] Dear Fathers, Brothers, Sisters and Children,
CHRIST IS RISEN!
As the end of the Paschal period of the Church year approaches we remember not only the joy of Christ’s resurrection, not only the victory of the faithfullness and love of the Myrrhbearing Women, but also the fear of the Apostles, Thomas’ unbelief and the blind man’s lack of vision. The qualities of these last ones – fear, unbelief, blindness – repeat themselves continuously not only in the general life of the Church, but also in the spiritual lives of each one of us. And nevertheless, for those who are with Christ – trust and love always conquer.
Dear faithful of the Western American Diocese, we stand on the threshhold of a great and holy event. On May 17, 2007, the feast of the Lord’s Ascension, by the mercy of God, Russian Church unity will be restored. On this day in Moscow His Holiness Alexey II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, will sign the “Act of Canonical Communion.” Following the signing of the Act, the hierarchs and clergy of the two parts of the Russian Church, in Russia and abroad, for the first time after an 80 year division, will jointly celebrate the Divine Liturgy and with one heart and one mouth approach the Holy Chalice of Christ.
This unity is the result of God’s Grace, the blood of the New Martyrs of Russia and the sorrow and suffering of our fathers and mothers. It has been achieved by us through many prayers and much heartfelt anguish, especially in the course of the last five years, when the questions regarding the relationship between the Church in Russia and the Church Abroad were intensely debated and discussed.
The prophetic prayer of the heavenly patron of our Western American Diocese, the great hierarch, man of prayer and ascetic, Saint John, the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, has been heard:
“We pray to the Lord, that He will hasten the coming of that long-desired and awaited hour, when the First Hierarch of All Russia, going up to his Patriarchal place in the Cathedral of the Dormition in Moscow, will gather around him all the Russian Archpastors, who have come from all the Russian and foreign lands.” (Explanatory Address to the Flock of Shanghai, October 2, 1946)
I call upon all of you, dear brothers and sisters, to join in this joyous celebration of the restoration of Russian Church unity: those of you who from the beginning of the process worked towards this unity and believed in the victory of Christ; those who came to an understanding and accepted the process later, at the third hour, the sixth hour, the ninth hour – without any doubt and fear. I especially ask those, who at the eleventh hour still have doubts and do not fully comprehend the meaning of the present historical Church event: lay aside your doubts and fears and soften your hearts. Let us recall the words of Saint Nicholas of Serbia on the Feast of Ascension:
“As Christ ascended unto heaven He blessed the people. Thus our Lord revealed to us a great practical wisdom. In blessing our close ones, and only blessing them, can we ascend in Spirit to the heavens. With a blessing we lift ourselves up, but with a curse (condemnation) we bring ourselves down. What we give is what we receive. If we give a blessing – we receive a blessing; if we curse (condemn), then we receive condemnation. Thus, a blessing is a condition of our spiritual ascension.” (Letter 127, To Brother Zdravko T., On the Lord’s Ascension).
On the day of Ascension let us bless our brothers and sisters of the much suffering Church of Russia, so that we can now, together, in the fold of one united Russian Church, work towards our spiritual ascension.
May the Lord’s blessing be with you!
Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America
April 27/May 12, 2007
for additional information regarding this, i encourage you to go to http://saintsilouan.org/articles/reunification/