Thursday, September 22, 2022

Enthronement of New First Hierarch of ROCOR


  1. As I understand it, this service took place at the ROCOR cathedral in N.Y.C. ROCOR has some 125 parishes in the U.S.A. and Canada. They have been on American soil as a distinct entity for some 90 years - back to Archbishop Appolinary. If that is true, should it not be the correct time to become part of the fabric of their host country? Although, having been brought up in the midst of Old Church Slavonic and the Russian language, which I embrace dearly, I am also a pragmatist. So my question is "Where was the English language".

    Studies have shown that the Eastern Christian churches in North America are a dying breed and that emigration is no longer a viable option to maintain the status quo. Organic growth from within and conversions are the only viable options available. So, with that being the case, and using Spockian logic, should this liturgical celebration have been in English?

    In the graduate business school that i was affitiated with, we taught about the subtle and not so subtle signals that we send out. Here, to me, the signal is very blatant, if you do not know Russian, if you are not Russian ( nashe ludi, as my people say), then this is not a home for you. So, are they, ROCOR, not on the pathway of the Shakers, with their churches in less that 50 years time becoming museums?

    Do not get me wrong, I am happy they have a new leader, but we have been waiting for a sign as to what ROCOR's pathway of the future will be. The result appears to be regression and not progression. If my read is correct, this is a very sad and tragic trajectory.

    The liturgical service was very impressive and beautiful, the message it sent however, was a disapointment. Living in the past does not define the pathway to the future - the future pathway always relies upon a leap of faith. And it is this leap of faith that was not evident.

  2. "...this is a very sad and tragic trajectory....Living in the past does not define the pathway to the future - the future pathway always relies upon a leap of faith. And it is this leap of faith that was not evident...."

    Your right, there is no grasp (i.e. "faith") of anything other than immigrant orthodoxy. It's a "living" fossil, a 19th century (itself a product of a 1000 years of a Kievan Rus Christendom) memory of "Holy Russia". It's just inserted into the surrounding culture by people who cling to its totalizing piety and are no doubt sometimes genuinely saved by it. ROCOR is no different in this then any other ethnic/jurisdictional church.

    Immigrant orthodoxy is all we have. There is nothing else, as orthodoxy has not even begun to form a real ontology that is itself a lasting (i.e. can last through the generations) praxis in and for our actual cultural. Language and everything else is just the surface of all this.

    So the old ways are the only ways, because no one knows what the new ways should even look like. To conserve what you have is good when all other alternatives look (and indeed are) worse. Yet, we get smaller and smaller...

  3. I don't think you would be saying the same thing if you visited the DC area. There, 5 of the 6 ROCOR parishes use English for their services in some capacity. St. John the Baptist serves both an English and Slavonic liturgy, and has mixed-language vigil services on Saturday evenings and the eves of feasts. Feast-day liturgies are also a mix of English and Slavonic. St. Thecla (Kensington) serves mostly in English. Holy Innocents & St. Nina (Bristow), Holy Apostles (Beltsville), and St. Herman (Stafford), AKA the former Christ the Savior (OCA) parish are all exclusively in English. Holy Assumption in Stafford is the only church in the DC area serves exclusively in Slavonic.

    There are a number of other English-only parishes in the Eastern American diocese, including the community that worships at St. Sergius chapel at the Synodal cathedral. The main reason why Slavonic was used at the enthronement was because there were people and clergy from ROCOR from all over the world, not just the English-speaking places, so Slavonic is the common liturgical language.