Sunday Tea with Batiushka

Sunday, June 25/July 8, 2012

St. Febronia

Aleksei Naumov “Drinking-Tea”- 1896

In Greece, they have a saying, “Everything is possible, and everything is impossible.” In Russia, at times it seems that only the latter is true. Yesterday, we spent nearly the entire day attempting to set up a wireless connection for our laptop to no avail. But as I said in a previous post, these difficulties are gifts from God so that we may rely more on His power and less on our strength or the strength of human systems.

Today is Sunday, Voskresenie, which literally means “the Day of Resurrection.” The atmosphere all over Moscow is qualitatively different on the Lord’s day, even for non-believers or those who don’t attend church for the morning Liturgy. Streets are relatively free from traffic and a large portion of people on the street are all headed to church. It’s refreshing to be in an Orthodox country in which almost every church you pass by is of the same faith. This unity trickles down to the smallest of details, so that even the food in the grocery store is marked as “fasting appropriate.”

In the afternoon, I have my first experience in Russia with a trapeza (a sit-down meal in which the head directs the conversation or reading in a spiritual way) at our apartment attended by a priest traveling through Moscow from Ulan Ude. I have been to larger monastery trapezas, but this time it was only Fr. Alexei, an igumen (head) of a monastery in eastern Siberia, and our family in attendance. What a treat to speak to a batiushka (Russian diminutive for priest) from a remote southeast corner of the motherland! Tales abounded of overcoming bureaucracies to bring much needed improvements to local villages and of bringing the faith to areas with many nominal Orthodox and few churches to serve them. Truly, the situation here in the capital, with a church on almost every corner, is not yet so in the outlying provinces where they are just beginning to rebuild after the fall of communism in 1991.

Still, the overall tone in the Orthodox Church in Russia is revival and renewal, with new churches being built constantly, and it is a glorious thing to behold.

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