StJohn: Rocor Holy Land Monasteries

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StJohn: Rocor Holy Land Monasteries

Post by Barbara »

Does anyone realize that St John Maximovitch was at one time the head of the Russian Church Abroad's Palestine Committee ? The date of this written appeal, however, was not provided in the book "Man of God" [ pp 235-237 ], so the reader does not know when or for how long he remained in this role.
The oversight task must have been assigned to St John while he was Archbishop of Brussels and Western Europe. Perhaps the duration was short, maybe a year, so this job has not been mentioned in any of the English language material on St John.

This new information might well explain why why the young Anya Derrick was interrogated at length by the Archbishop when she visited a French parish, probably Lesna Convent, about Church life in the Holy Land. [ For a review of the Anya Derrick memoirs, see ... 15&t=12583 ]

--- Did St John himself ever visit these holy sites in what is today called the Middle East - in his day, the Near East - about which he speaks so eloquently and powerfully ? Seemingly not, unless the Saint traveled there incognito and never told a soul about his voyage !

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, by the famous Scottish painter David Roberts, who toured parts of the Middle East from 1838-40. Lithographs like this were later made from Roberts' sketches.

Follows below the Saint's excellent description of the struggle in his time of Rocor to remain independent of the overbearing Moscow Patriarchate in the "Terra Sancta". Starting by speaking of the fondness of Russians during the Empire for pilgrimages to the Holy Land, St John reviews the history of Russian monasticism on Palestinian soil.
His explanations of the highly charged political aspect are so simply written that a child could understand the complex prevailing situation.
[ The sections in bold face and italics were highlighted this way by me. ]

"To facilitate such pilgrimages, the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem and the Palestine Society were founded. These acquired ownership of a number of plots of land in holy places, and on them monastic communities were established.

These monasteries allowed visiting Russians a place to stay while they were venerating the holy places, and even to the end of their lives for those who desired. Thanks to the flood of donations from Russia, these communities could also develop widespread missionary activity among the local inhabitants and give essential support to the local Jerusalem patriarchate.

All this changed when sorrowful times came upon Russia.

With the onset of [ WWI ] the stream of pilgrims and donations in support of the work of our holy communities came to a halt, and by the end of the war, with the Russian government shattered, their situation became still more difficult.
The Second World War and the partition of Palestine between the Jordanian kingdom and the emerging state of [---] brought new adversities and dangers.

Those communities which turned out to be in Israel were deprived of their property and handed over to the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Communities in Jordan remained within the body of the Russian Church Abroad, despite the attempts of the Moscow Patriarchate to lay hold of them ; these communities, and other Orthodox Russian establishments there, refused to submit to the Moscow Patriarchate on account of its ties with the Soviet government.

The Patriarchate is striving to subjugate and spread its influence to all nations. To this end, the Soviet government, an enemy of the Church and religion, realizing the significance of Orthodox Russia and its renown amongst Orthodox peoples, is positioning itself in the Near East as their protector, and is trying by all means to establish the influence of the Moscow Patriarch, who is under their control.

If there were no opposition to this activity, it could be very successful, and places dear to the entire Christian world might well become bases for anti-Christian influence.

However, the poor and truly holy communities and Russian Orthodox institutions in the Holy Land have proved to be an insurmountable obstacle to their [ Soviet ] intent and actions.

Aware of the submission of the Moscow church authority [ note how St John can not stand to use the term MP but dilutes it to 'authority' ] to the Soviet government, and knowing that the Moscow Patriarchate is not a free servant of God and His Church but rather a puppet of the godless authorities, those holy communities and institutions refused to recognize his authority and have remained in submission to the authority of the free part of the Russian Orthodox Church abroad, although such recognition would have brought great advantage materially [ The same dynamic applied all the way up through the 2007 union between the said Rocor and the MP ].

The Russian monastic communities in the Holy Land embody a pure Christian consciousness in the Near East, and their presence and confession prevent the Orthodox people there from opening their hearts to the influence of that church authority dependent on the enemy of God and the Church.

The courageous exploit of those communities in confessing the faith inspires a feeling of compunction, and we should bow down before them.

It is both natural and necessary that Russian people abroad recognize as their duty to support, morally and materially, the glorious exploit of those elderly monks and nuns who are enduring great need in all respects, although they remain strong in spirit.

To organize this effort, the Synod of Bishops has established the Palestine Committee under my leadership.

In undertaking the establishment of representatives of the Committee throughout the Diaspora, I appeal to all Orthodox to give them their cooperation, and to consider their as sacred duty to assist the monasteries and Orthodox institutions in the Holy Land, a duty before the Church and Holy Russia, which has had such sincere and devoted veneration for Jerusalem."

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