Amazing Churches-A A +A
Saturday, May 28, 2011
WHAT a dazzling array of churches!
Found in Russia are these religious structures which rise up to the heights of worship. They are the source of light to their citizens throughout the past one thousand years.
Thinking out loud, I asked myself – what is the history of the Russia Orthodox Church. Reaching out into the cyberspace, herein are the data on this church.
The Russian Orthodox Church is more than one thousand years old. According to tradition, St. Andrew the First Called, while preaching the gospel, stopped at the Kievan hills to bless the future city of Kiev. The fact that Russia had among her neighbors a powerful Christian state, the Byzantine Empire, very much contributed to the spread of Christianity in it. The south of Russia was blessed with the work of Sts Cyril and Methodius Equal to the Apostles, the Illuminators of the Slavs. In 954 Princess Olga of Kiev was baptized. All this paved the way for the greatest events in the history of the Russian people, namely, the baptism of Prince Vladimir and the Baptism of Russia in 988.
Majestic churches began to be built in the 10th century. Monasteries began to develop in the 11th century. St. Anthony of the Caves brought the traditions of Athonian monasticism to Russia in 1051. He founded the famous Monastery of the Caves in Kiev which was to become the center of religious life in Old Russia. Monasteries played a tremendous role in Russia. The greatest service they did to the Russian people, apart from their purely spiritual work, was that they were major centers of education. In particular, monasteries recorded in their chronicles all the major historical events in the life of the Russian people. Flourishing in monasteries were icon-painting and literary art. They were also those who translated into Russian various theological, historical and literary works.
Monasteries made a great contribution to the preservation of the Russian national self-consciousness and identity during the Tatar yoke and in the times of Western influences. The 13th century saw the foundation of the Pochayev Laura. This monastery and its holy abbot Ioann (Zhelezo) did much to assert Orthodoxy in western Russian lands. Some 180 new monasteries were founded in the period from the 14th to the mid-15th century in Russia. Among major events in the history of old Russian monasticism was the foundation of the Trinity Monastery by St. Sergius.
The beginning of the 17th century proved to be a hard time for Russia. The Poles and Swedes invaded Russia from the west. At this time of trouble the Russian Church fulfilled its patriotic duty before the people with honor, as it did before. Patriarch Germogen (1606-1612), an ardent patriot of Russia who was to be tortured to death by the invaders, was the spiritual leaders of the mass levy led by Minin and Pozharsky. The heroic defense of St. Sergius' Monastery of the Trinity from the Swedes and Poles between 1608-1610 has been inscribed forever in the chronicle of the Russian state and the Russian Church.
In the period after the invaders were driven away from Russia, the Russian Church was engaged in one of the most important of its internal tasks, namely, introducing corrections into its service books and rites. A great contribution to this was made by Patriarch Nikon, a bright personality and outstanding church reformer. Some clergymen and lay people did not understand and did not accept the liturgical reforms introduced by Patriarch Nikon and refused to obey the church authority. This was how the Old Believers' schism emerged.
Religion is a conflicting issue for most of us. However, opening our minds to the different churches, faith and sects is a way of inspiring the lotus of our hearts to be at peace with our sister and brother. What matters is we pave the way for compassion, community and celebrate the common good from Russia to rustic Asia.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on May 29, 2011.