"They come from us but were not ours": where OCU supporters come from
There is more and more often alarming news about attempts to seize churches by OCU supporters. Alas, not always unsuccessful.
The idea that through persecution the Church is purified has been repeatedly voiced. “They come from us but were not ours: for if they were ours; they would stay with us; but they came out, and through that, it was revealed that not all of them are ours”(1 John 2, 19), writes St. Apostle John the Theologian. On the one hand, it’s good that the wheat is separated from the chaff right now, and on the other, how did it happen that they got to us at all?
How did it happen that people who are completely far from understanding the basics of Christianity, consider themselves entitled to decide the fate of Orthodox churches? This is not about political forces pursuing their own double interests and special formations that help in the implementation of the force-based scenario. Everything is clear with them. As they say, nothing personal – only business. There are more questions about the representatives of territorial communities, who the interested persons incite and rely on during raider attacks.
They literally have fits of hatred towards the UOC and everything connected with it. The building of the church should belong to them – and that's final. Negotiations are impossible in principle – we speak different languages. Questions of canonicity do not interest anyone. Protesters simply cannot understand what, in fact, is the point. For them, for example, it is not at all a problem for different faiths to serve alternately in the same temple.
How did it happen that people who are completely far from understanding the basics of Christianity, consider themselves entitled to decide the fate of Orthodox churches?
They are far from the understanding of churchhood. One woman was asked a trick question: “How can you decide anything in this temple? You only go to church for Easter to bless Easter cakes!”Apparently, they, naive, wanted to embarrass her. On the contrary, they themselves were puzzled by her answer: “Well, so what?” She did not understand at all what the catch was. For her, this fact is quite enough to identify herself as a member of a religious community.
It is needless to talk about the terrible name-calling and cries under the roof of a temple. OCU “believers” have no shadow of respect to the temple space, prayer, icons (one of the photos clearly shows how activists, climbing onto the bench, rested on the images on the wall paintings with their fillet pieces). Quotes from the Bible cause confusion and irritation. Constructive dialogue, as an attempt to negotiate with a naughty little child, is extremely difficult. You can bring him/her as many reasonable arguments as you like, but he/she will fight hysterically and shout: "I want, I want, I want."
What are the reasons for feeling that they are right?
First, total religious illiteracy. People do not know that only the one who regularly confesses and takes communion and participates in the life of the parish as much as he/she can rather than the one who from time to time orders prayer and puts candles is in the Church.
Each sin of ours alienates us from God and takes us outside the Church. In one of the prayers of the Confession, the priest says the following words: “Reconcile and unite him with Your Holy Church in Christ Jesus our Lord.” If there is a sin and there is no repentance, then the person is in fact outside the Church. The mere fact of Baptism is not enough. We need at least some attempts in the spiritual life: fasting, prayer, studying the Holy Scriptures, works of mercy, etc.
Instead, the Church, unfortunately, has long been perceived as a ritual shop: to be baptized, to marry, to perform a funeral service over the deceased relative, to serve a memorial service, to bless Easter cakes and willows. We give you money for a service. And this attitude, unfortunately, is not unreasonable. In our churches, however painful it may be to admit, it is the grace of God that is on sale. If you call the amount of a fixed contribution as a donation, it will not cease to be the price.
If there is a sin and there is no repentance, then the person is in fact outside the Church. The mere fact of Baptism is not enough.
Is it really so surprising that some of the buyers suddenly wanted to be served by another employee who, for some reason, they find nicer and in the language they like best? The canonicity and the old age of the liturgical Church Slavonic language in which our ancestors have prayed for more than a thousand years or even elementary human relations do not matter. The rule "the customer is always right" works here. They make the majority, power is on their side. Unfortunately, God has nothing to do with this.
It turns out that everyone is baptized but only a dozen or two regularly go to church in villages with a population of hundreds of people. At the same time, the non-goers do not have a particularly Christian world view and often completely opposite to it. And they consider themselves entitled to take any decisions on church life issues. After all, in addition to a small number of radically-minded activists, dozens of their fellow villagers willingly put their signatures on the demand to transfer the community to the OCU.
One can condemn them in this regard and complain about their narrow-mindedness and susceptibility to the harmful influence of television, but by the very fact of admitting them to Baptism without any public announcement and then to other Mysteries and rites, have we led them personally to such an understanding? If for the community to offer prayers about you as a member or your loved ones, it is enough just to come and give a pretty penny, then why do the rules change when deciding the fate of the temple? Before that, everything was fine! A man came, bought candles, prayed quietly about his daily necessities, ordered a memorial service. And no one told him that he was doing something wrong. Therefore, they now so sincerely misunderstand what is wrong.
Today we are reaping the fruits of the lack of education and catechesis. Perhaps it is fundamentally wrong that anyone can freely take Baptism, without knowing the fundamentals of the religion and not even intending to live by the rules of the Church, much less educating their children in the spirit of Christianity. There are many examples of how the father tries to have any kind of publicity talks with a child’s parents and godparents, but the “client” is indignant and leaves to be baptized in a nearby temple, where a clergyman silently does what is required of him.
The rule "the customer is always right" works here. They make the majority, power is on their side. Unfortunately, God has nothing to do with this.
Unfortunately, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the Church is perceived as a national tradition or just one of the ways of protection from spiritual powers. There are two main scenarios. Everything is just enjoying and colourful: kollyva, carols, Easter cakes, embroidered towels, pysanky (Easter eggs), and then – a photo with all these attributes in social networks. Or a purely magical attitude: you need to have consecrated water, candles, honey, salt, etc; to baptize the child for him/her to be healthy; to order a memorial service and bring bread to make it easier for the deceased in the other world. Jesus Christ as God and Saviour of the world in the ideology of our compatriots, alas, appears to be extremely rare. This is anything but Christianity.
The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke wrote about the first Christians as follows: “Out of strangers, no one dared to stick to them, but the people glorified them” (Acts 5.13). For our part, on the contrary, there are too many strangers for some reason, and the people are not particularly enthusiastic about us. The Church is aimed at churching everyone, bringing all of them to Christ. But in reality, the people took the result of such a “churching”, for the most part miserable, for true Christianity and accordingly act now in the Church’s system of coordinates taken for Orthodoxy that they understand.
There is a famous episode in the Gospel when Christ drove out the merchants from the temple: “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers…” (Matt. 21, 12). And although it is impossible to directly project this episode upon our time, it is partially our fault in what is happening now in the churches of the UOC. Apparently, therefore, the Lord had to send us such trials to shake up and make us wonder why everything went wrong and what we should do with all this now.