Go to Publicity
Hong Kong
«Back to news



Unanimity: Problems and Perspectives

In 1800 year, 150 years after the great schism of the Russian Church, Metropolitan Moscow Platon (Levshin) and Emperor Paul I established the Uniform Faith. According to them, the Old Believers listed in the schism were received into communion with the Church and supplied the priests with old books. Divine services and all ceremonies coreligionists could perform according to ancient books, preserving their way according to their traditions. This decision, the first "testers" of which were Old Believers Starodubya, put an official start to healing a serious wound of the split and the restoration of historical justice with respect to Russian church tradition.

Why did the schism occur in the 17th century?

Supporters of the reforms of Patriarch Nikon and Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich Romanov today claim that the changes were necessary: ​​the liturgical books contained a huge number of mistakes, the rite differed from the modern one to the Greek period, and the faith closely intertwined with Russian paganism. Opponents reasonably answer that the "book on the right" instead of working on spelling affected the change in the meaning of the texts (the most famous is the change of some moments in the Creed), the ritual stored in Russia was a tracing paper handed over by the Byzantines back in 988 (as evidenced by the arrivals themselves reforms to Moscow Greeks), paganism as it was, and remained in the minds of individual people's groups, and the struggle against it required not reforms but meticulous work of preachers. Moreover, the reform resulted in the destruction and the centuries-old measured liturgical way of life, and the change in a number of ranks, and even in the brutal persecution of dissenters, which was most often unjustified. A person could go to penal servitude for 10 years for having a tiny cast icon in the house - absolutely canonical from the point of view of theology, but unacceptable from the position of "reformers". In the course of the reform, the Patriarch Nikon himself was deposed from the patriarchal throne and sent to the "eternal" exile.

So there were Old Believers - followers of "holy antiquity". A large number of them and the absence of a single center played a role: a large number of "concessions" (associations in accordance with the religious outlook under the new conditions) appeared. Unfortunately, some part left without the care of the pastors degenerated into sectarian associations. There were, however, a minority.

The Old Believers were the most real Christians who believed in the Most Holy Trinity, but did not resign themselves to the brutal reform. For a long time, among the accords, there was a hope for a three-tiered hierarchy. Expeditions to the Christian East were being equipped in search of bishops. In some cases, the Old Believers accepted "runaway" priests from the official Church. However, they still had to wait for their bishop for a very long time.

Establishment of Uniform. Unanimity in the XIX and XX centuries

Cases of ordination for the Old Believer priests from the Synodal Church are known long before 1800 year. Inok Nikodim, concerned about the restoration of the three-tier hierarchy, in the second half of the XVIII century filed a petition in the Synod. This moment can be considered a point, which led the mechanism for the establishment of the Unified Faith. In 1799, the Moscow Old Believers submitted a petition to Metropolitan Platon to grant them unanimous priests. Vladyka, having compiled on the basis of the request of the Uniform Faith, submitted it to Emperor Paul I. 27 October 1800, a decree signed by the sovereign with 16 points was issued. According to them, the Synod took oaths from the Old Believers, who passed from schism to monasticism, ordained priests for early printed books for such parishes, allowed them to perform divine services, rituals and ordinances in accordance with pre-revolutionary ranks and live according to the "Old Russian way". However, parishioners of the Synodal Church were strictly forbidden to visit such parishes and adjoin them. Communion from the faithful father - only in case of imminent death.

Of course, some "Uniate" approach to the Old Believers at that time was the place to be. Moreover, unfortunately, the state again interferes in spiritual affairs, and during the reign of Nicholas I the Old Believers are persecuted. On this wave their temples and chapels are converted by force into one-sided. This position was not approved either by the Old Believers themselves, or by those who, at the call of the soul, joined the Church through the Unified Faith. The whole of the nineteenth century can be called a period of uneasy formation of the Unified Faith and struggle for one's rights. Champions of church antiquity sought to abolish the vows of the 1666-1667 Councils, and to receive equal rights with the general Orthodox majority, and to the ordination of their bishops. All these aspirations were to come true.

Simeon Shleev, who came from the family of Old Believers of passive consent and joined Unity in 1876, became a true revolutionary in the field of healing schism. Having accepted the priesthood, Father Simeon was actively engaged in the apologetics of the old rite and the necessity of uniting all fallen children with the Church. He published the magazine "The Truth of Orthodoxy", thereby acting as the unifier of the unified congregations scattered throughout the Empire. The priest polemised with both the Synodal missionaries and the Old Believers of various concordances. It is to him in merit can be put and the first Congress of Orthodox Old Believers (co-religionists) in 1912 in St. Petersburg, strongly centralized the movement of zealots of church antiquity. In 1918, Father Simeon becomes bishop Simon Okhtensky - the first-ever bishop in history. Following him, one after another, the consecrations of the bishops take place. The border between Orthodox and fellow-believers in terms of barriers is completely erased. Supporters of conservative ideas are replenishing the ranks of coreligionists. It seems that a serious step has been taken to overcome the split.

It must be said that before the revolution in the Russian Empire there were 600 co-religionist parishes and about 20 monasteries. In 1905, even the possibility of unification with the largest Old Believers priesthood (priesthood accepting priesthood) - Belokrinitskaya was discussed bilaterally.

The revolution and the ensuing persecutions broke many of the plans of the co-religionists. In 1937, the last bishop Bishop Vassian (Veretennikov) was arrested. By decree of Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky), the congregations joined the diocesan hierarchs. I must say that in 1929, the patriarchal Synod also took oaths for the old rites of the 1666-1667 Councils. The decision was confirmed at the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church 1971 year.

Most of the monasteries churches were destroyed or closed during the Soviet era. Communities moved to home worship, fearing persecution. Priests were repressed. By the end of the Soviet era, only three remaining parishes are known on the territory of the USSR: in the Gorky and Kirovograd regions, as well as in Latvia.

Unanimity in our days

After the fall of the USSR, spiritual life began to revive on its expanses. Exceptions were not made by the co-religionists. The parishes began to open all over Russia. It is worth noting that among the people who were keenly interested in the Unity, there were not always hereditary co-religionists or Old Believers. Rather, it was the call of the souls of people seeking and educated. And today, congregations of the same faith do not always consist of hereditary Old Believers. Although they play a certain and quite important role. Prominent leaders of the Unified Religion, who passed from one or another Old Believer concord, were priests, headmen (leaders of church choirs), researchers and public figures. 4 June 1999, the Holy Synod of the Russian Church adopted a definition in which he called on diocesan bishops and the clergy to take into account in practice the general church decisions that abolish vows for old rites. At the Bishops' Council of the ROC 2017, Patriarch Kirill stressed that "it is necessary to preserve the centuries-old church tradition", referring to the activities of the congregations and their theological centers. The head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeev), regularly performs divine services with an old rank and manages the commission for interaction with the Old Believers. However, despite conciliar decisions and clear support from the patriarch and representatives of the Synod, in the dioceses the state of the congregations and the attitude towards them is often very different. Let's try to consider the main problems, their causes and important ways to solve them.

Unity in the XXI century: problems, solutions and perspectives
The 1917 revolution of the year left our country in the spiritual abyss. The consequences of this fall will for a very long time continue to fade to our people in all spheres of life. In the church environment ignorance, which is still not obsolete, does not bypass the side of Edinover. And that's why.

At the turn of the XVIII-XIX centuries (and much later) the Old Believers made up a rather significant percentage of the total population of the empire. Moreover, it can be said that the Old Believers and the Great Russian people were in fact inseparable. Do you remember that in Leskov's story "Christ is visiting a peasant" the narrator calls his faith "Russian", referring to the Old Believers? That's exactly what it was in those days. In view of their large number and activity, the Old Believers, even under the yoke of "sanctions" and with infringement of rights, still had a huge religious and cultural influence on the population of the country. The Synod and the government, of course, not least tried to gain some control over the Old Believers, on the one hand, on the other hand, the desire to heal the split at the call of the soul played no small role. In 1800, the established Unity was perceived as something like a union. Such a position of the clergy, naturally, seriously permeated all spiritual literature and journalism of those years.

Since the co-religionists in principle and in the minds of the majority are the same Old Believers, it formed an attitude towards them. True, first of all among the clergy. The people always respected the Old Believers for their jealousy in the faith, Christian life, decency, honesty and diligence. Unable to defeat the principledness of the Old Believers, the Synodal missionaries go on monstrous tricks (which was later condemned by Patriarch Alexy II). For example, polemical literature, including seminary literature, was often built on forgery and fabrication of facts. Naturally, in the minds of the young pastors who later led a worthy priestly thought, for all that, the most positive image of the Old Believers was not formed.

The second point of such a relationship could be called the ritual of the Russian people, which went nowhere after the reform. It should be noted that in a trembling attitude to the rite there is nothing wrong if in the hierarchy of ecclesiastical values ​​he takes his position without eclipsing the main principle of Christ's love. Therefore, even among the modern-day Old Believers, people who seem to have been churched, one can find a rather ignorant attitude towards the Unity. Last but not least, the problem is also in the elementary lack of this knowledge among the clergy.

A very interesting situation is being created: Unity is allowed, but the attitude to it is very different on the ground. Much depends on the ruling bishop and the degree of his enlightenment in the matter. If you understand - the parish arises and gradually develops. No - the community can very long exist on the bird rights of the "religious group".

The split became such a serious phenomenon in the Russian religious life that the word "Old Believers" is inevitably associated with the "other Church". And ordinary laymen (and priests) have the most natural "cognitive dissonance" when you describe the history of the Old Believers from the very beginning, from the schism to the present day, who wished to maintain unity with the Church while maintaining their order.

"The old rite is a time-tested instrument of salvation, a thorough Christian spiritual practice"

The value of the "centuries-old Russian church tradition" in our days is extremely high. On the one hand, the old rite is a time-honored "tool" of salvation, a thorough Christian spiritual practice. In the center of the life of Christian Old Believers is faith, therefore they devote a considerable part of their time to worship. The practice of the ancient rite also preserved the experience of worship by the worldly rank - in the absence of a priest, the entire liturgical circle is performed by laymen. This has a very beneficial effect on the spiritual life of the parish, organizes it, raises the literacy and responsibility of the parishioners. Attentive reading, singing along hooks, special temple aesthetics, icons of the Rublev canon, special divine service clothes - all this creates a wonderful atmosphere for meeting with God in prayer and right attitude.

I must say that the habit of churching the space around itself, inherent in the Russian people for a long time, was preserved among the co-religionists. The appearance, decoration of the home are taken very seriously, including because it can become an element of silent preaching. In Russia there was a very deep approach to the surrounding reality: the situation either disciplined or corrupts.

The Old Believer tradition is needed by the Church today. After all, no one is bothered by the appearance of temples and monasteries of the "Athonite tradition". Why does not the "tradition of Sergius of Radonezh" have the right to live? Therefore, today it is very important to think about how the gracious experience of ancestors on the way to God to preserve and adopt in the spiritual life, to find that Holy Russia, which has not gone anywhere, in fact.

The Old Believer parishes in the world today are about 50. Mutual believers are even in the US. The Old Believers - the children of the Russian Church, who are with it in the centuries-old division - are still many. The parishes of coreligionists, with the correct organization and correct position of the church authorities, will help to return many of the Old Believers to the Church. And for those who wish to come into contact with the heritage of Ancient Rus - the faithful temples are always open. It's just the same Orthodox Christians.

Today, there needs to be a more sonorous support of the hierarchy regarding congregations. There is a Patriarchal Center of the Old Russian liturgical tradition, diocesan analogues began to appear. Such formations must be discovered in every metropolis of the Russian Church. On the basis of the centers, it is necessary to organize educational courses, as well as training in the charter, singing and reading, history, as well as familiarize students with Old Russian church texts, which, alas, today are not considered by the Orthodox majority as a serious source of Christian wisdom. Specialists of the center can also positively influence the preparation of diocesan catechists and all students of the educational courses of the diocese. It is necessary to communicate to all listeners the essence of the Unified Faith and teach them the peculiarities of missionary work with the Old Believers.

Speaking about education, I must say that the co-religionists "matured" to the level of opening their own spiritual school (in the future - the seminary). In turn, every spiritual institution of the Russian Orthodox Church needs to develop a more distinct and honest special course on the history of schism, the Old Believers, and most importantly, the Unity. This will seriously affect both the attitude and the further development of the zeal of the zealots of the church age.

In each diocese, one congregation of faith must be established. And if no one breaks from the bottom, as it always happens - to open the parish first nominally, on paper, informing about it in the open space. I'm sure people will appear. And the diocese will receive a pearl in the spiritual treasury.

Of course, coreligionists need their unanimous bishops, as it was done by the Local Council 100 years ago. A person who understands the problems and needs of such parishes would remove the responsibility (and sometimes extra headache) from the diocesan bishop. And would become a catalyst for the flourishing of the One-Faith in the Church.

It is important to think about the opening of monasteries monasteries. What profound tradition is the monastic experience of Ancient Rus with all the rules and attributes! By the way, the women's monasticism monastery appeared not so long ago in the city of Vereshagino in the Perm region.

Unanimity is an invisible bridge between the modern Church and its ancient Russian predecessor. By preserving this invisible link, this rich tradition, we preserve the experience of our ancestors, for whom the Kingdom of Heaven was not a "second floor" or something distant, but a reality in which they tried to approach each day. In the 20th century, our people made enough mistakes to draw serious conclusions. First of all, they are spiritual.

A source: Orthodoxy.fm

Author: Vladimir Basenkov

Tags: Religion, Christianity