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« on: May 18, 2006, 01:25:08 PM »

http://www.stnina.org/node/611
An Open Letter to the Hierarchy of ROCOR
Letter of Objection from women in ROCOR

Women excluded from participation in ROCOR Sobor
An Open Letter to the Metropolitan and Bishops of the Russian Orthodox
Church Outside of Russia

For reaction/commentary, visit: http://ne99.livejournal.com/

A Letter of Objection from women in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of
Russia Objecting to their Exclusion from the ROCOR Sobor All Diaspora
Council Meeting for 2006


Dear Metropolitan Laurus, Archbishops and Bishops of the Russian Orthodox
Church Outside of Russia,

Christ is Risen! We ask for your blessings and that you hear the concerns
of many women of the church. The commencement of the All-Diaspora Council
on the Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearing Women - without the participation of
women - has left many of us with a personal spiritual pain and desire to
express our views.

G rowing up in the communities of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of
Russia, we are taught that spiritually, intellectually, and creatively
neither male nor female is innately superior. In our churches and parish
schools we learn that all human beings are equal in spiritual essence. The
priests might all be men, and only boys can go into the altar, but when it
comes to what is most fundamental, what is timeless and universal - the
state of our souls and our quest for salvation - we are all equal. We
are taught that every one of us is created in the image and likeness of
God, we all carry the divine spark, and we are all reaching for closeness
and union with God.  In our ROCOR parishes, we nurture children and teach
them to pursue their talents. Our priests, matushkas, monastics, and laity
set fine examples and encourage us to live full, Godly lives. The Church
has always found joy in the successes and achievements ofall her
children .

Women are an integral part of today's ROCOR. We conduct the choirs, we are
members of parish councils, we head church organizations and we teach at
the seminary. We are wives and mothers as well as lawyers, doctors,
scientists, businesswomen and scholars. Our clergy do not deter women from
nurturing their intellectual and creative talents, whether inside or
outside the church community.  The equality of men and women as
God's creation is not a foreign or feminist concept, but a value we as an
Orthodox community share, embrace and live by. We have women vote, we do
not hide women behind burquas, we encourage women to learn, think and
work.

Orthodoxy is a living faith, and ROCOR is a living and changing church. In
80 years there have been many modifications, additions and alterations to
our ecclesiastical organization and church life. Among these changes is
the greater role of women. Most of us recognize this as a positi ve
development that has helped our Church flourish and given everyone the
opportunity to reach his or her personal spiritual potential.

ROCOR's legacy is that it is important both to know our past and to have
an acute awareness of our present cultural, political and historical
context. Our forefathers were bold enough to establish our jurisdiction
because they recognized their contemporary situation. Today, our hierarchs
recognize the contemporary situation in Russia.

It is inconsistent with this legacy that the historical precedent of no
female delegates at past Sobors overrides the clear living reality that
women are an integral part of ROCOR, and that the participation of women
is a collective value of our Church today. We were told that the decision
was taken to have the same rules for participation as were in effect in
1918 at the All-Russian Sobor, and were still (it was believed) maintained
by the Russian Orthodox Chur ch in Moscow. 1918 certainly was a
different time: women could not vote in the overwhelming majority of
countries, and in many countries people still voted by class or caste,
while the vast majority of the world had no popular representation at all.
However, we have since learned that in Russia women have in fact been
included in Councils. Regardless of the rules set in 1918, the exclusion
of women from the All-Diaspora Council in 2006 suggests a
disconnect between the priorities of our ecclesiastical organization and
the actual life and values of the flock.

The exclusion of women monastics is particularly painful. In the Holy
Land, women monastics have struggled for decades in the most difficult
conditions anyone in our Church has endured to practice our faith. While
the Council organizing committee felt that there was too little time to
consider the inclusion of women, sporting and scout associations were
summoned to send dele gates. This indicates that the Church does not
hold in high regard the contributions and worth of its female members.

This decision may lead to a breach of trust and faith between the Church
institution and the faithful, and thereby weaken the essential bonds that
keep our community together. It is disheartening that the Church that
taught us about immeasurable love and moral honesty, that was a place of
refuge and acceptance, shuts us out when it comes to making momentous
decisions. Many of us are personally pained by this decision
because of the energy, love and faith we have poured in to the workings of
our Church, and our eagerness and dedication to identify ourselves as
members of ROCOR.

Another value that ROCOR's history has instilled in us is not simply to
follow blindly, but to trust our hierarchs while listening to the voice of
our conscience and having the spiritual confidence to ask questions. So we
ask: Are women full members of ROCOR? Are the nuns from Lesna or our Holy
Land convents worthy of sharing their perspective and experience at our
All-Diaspora Council? Does ROCOR appreciate the struggles,
contributions and talents of its female members? The exclusion of nuns and
women laity from the All-Diaspora Council has sent many of us the message
that the answer to these questions is "no."

We have faith that in your dedication to your flock you will consider our
words and help us both to understand this situation and to repair it. We
ask therefore that you consider convening a subsequent Church Commission
to specifically address the issues of Orthodox women in our Church. Given
that the Council will likely consider a changed relationship with the
Russian Orthodox Church, and given the dire condition of women
and families in Russia, it is particularly important that women's voices
be heard. The status of women needs to be addressed, continuing the
discussion where Holy Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth left it, and
recognizing contemporary problems and realities.

Sincerely in Christ,

1. Natalia Ermolaev Doctoral Candidate, Department of Slavic Languages and
Literatures, Columbia University
2. Katherine Ermolaev Ossorgin, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Music,
Princeton University
3. Lena Serge Zezulin, Attorney, The Services Group, Inc.
4. Nadieszda Kizenko, Associate Professor, Department of History
SUNY at Albany
5. Xenia Soubotin Meyer, Doctoral Student, Department of Education,
Cornell University
6. Tatiana Ermolaev, Ph.D. Head of Sisterhood of the Russian Orthodox
Church of the Assumption, Trenton, NJ and teacher at St. Alexander Nevsky
Cathedral Russian School Howell, NJ
7. Erin Zavarin, Civil Engineer, Geomatrix Consultants, Inc.
8. Ksenya Zavarin, Project Coordinator, Commercial Finance, Genentech Inc.
9. Vera Shevzov, Associate Professor, Depar tment of Religion, Smith
College
10. Matushka Nina Shevzov
11. Matushka Maria S. Potapov, St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox
Cathedral, Washington, DC
12. Sophia Resnikoff, parishioner, choir member, and Sunday School teacher
of St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Washington, DC
13. Alexandra Potapov, Wife, Mother and Teacher of 3 Orthodox children
14. Marina Ledkovsky, Professor Emerita, Barnard College/Columbia
University
15. Irene Tata Kotschoubey, Member of Board of Advisors Holy Trinity
Seminary
16. Eugenia Temidis, Director, Holy Myrrhbearers Diocesan Women's Choir
17. Tatiana Olegovna Rodzianko-Samochornov, Contract Program
Officer/Interpreter, International Visitor Leadership Program, US
Department of State
18. Xenia Woyevodsky, President, Internatonal Firebird Arts Foundation,
Inc.
19. Irina Papkova Doctoral Candidate, Department of Government Georgetown
University
20. MarinaRodzianko Petron i
21. Katherine Penchuk, M.A. in Economics, M.B.A. in Finance
22. Natalie Glazunova Penchuk
23. Nadia Mokhoff, Publisher, Russian Orthodox Youth Committee and
Martianoff Calendars
24. Protodeacon Nicolas Mokhoff
25. Marie Borisovna Kizenko, Assistant Editor of the Thoroughbred Daily
News, Parishoner, St. Vladimir Memorial Church, Jackson, NJ
26. Olga Peters Hasty, Professor of Russian Literature, Princeton
University
27. Katerina Mickle, Masters in Education, Columbia University
28. Natasha Ignatovicz
29. Anna Yedgarian, St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral,
Washington, DC
30. Anna Rozanova, choir member of St. John's Cathedral in Washington, DC
31. Catherine Yaxley-Schmidt, CPA, MBA, RN, Vice President, Planning &
Government Affairs, Holy Name Hospital, Teaneck, New Jersey
32. Tatiana Sarandinaki
33. Anna (Holodny) Ferreira, and her daughters Callista, Calliope and
Kiriena who will too someday be raisin g Russian Orthodox Christians
34. Lana Sloutsky, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Art History, Boston
University
35. Liana Rodzianko
36. Amber Ralli, St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral,
Washington, DC
37. Natalia Ekzarkhov, St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral,
Washington, DC
38. Galina Leonidovna Mickle, St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox
Cathedral, Washington, DC
39. Helen Bogolubov Desai
40. Xenia Leonidovna Bogolubov
41. Nina Zarudsky Arlievsky, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, New
York Medical College, Valhalla, NY, and wife of a Deacon
42. Valentina Zavarin, Ph.D.
43. Nina Zavarin, choir member of Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy of
All Who Sorrow," San Francisco, CA
44. Eugene Zavarin, PhD.
45. Rev. Joakim Provatakis, St. Sergius Mission Parish, Synodal Cathedral
of the Mother of God of the Sign, New York, NY
46. Herman Ermolaev, Professor of Russian Literature, Princeton University
47. Elizabeth A. Ledkovsky, Cornell University, ROCM.org
48. Larissa Rodzianko
49. Michael M. Ossorgin VIII
50. Lena Olhovsky
51. Raisa Priebe, student at the University of Chicago, choir member at
Virgin Mary Protection Cathedral, Des Plaines, IL
52. Nina Alexandrovna Ledkovsky
53. Maria Slobodskaya, teacher, MA Columbia University, MA Norwich
University, Advanced Graduate Certificate -School District Administration,
Stony Brook University
54. Ludmilla Rodzianko, St. Sergius Russian Orthodox Church, Cleveland, OH
(churchcouncil member)
55. Catherine Doroschin
56. Nadine Kuzmins
57. Paul Grabbe
58. Mary O'Brien, Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Washington DC.
59. Tatiana Eichmann
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« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2006, 02:31:35 PM »

Responses to this will be interesting...the West has been fumbling with this one for awhile now...

PAX

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« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2006, 02:52:48 PM »

I read through this and I'm left with the question of 'what is it that they are asking for?'  Huh
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« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2006, 03:56:51 PM »

Hmmm...would they be asking simply to observe?  Surely they don't think that they--or any lay male, for that matter--would be able to have any say in the synod's decision...
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« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2006, 05:18:31 AM »

Hmmm...would they be asking simply to observe?  Surely they don't think that they--or any lay male, for that matter--would be able to have any say in the synod's decision...

I think this is exactly where it is heading. I see no problem with women observing with the rest of the laymen who are not participating, but this is not what they want in the end. This letter seems to be motivated not by a desire to help the Church, but to use modern culture to stir up division, making the kingdom of God into a hotbead for the "next greatest trend" in popular thought...
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« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2006, 09:25:31 AM »

I think, perhaps, we're jumping to conclusions while still in ignorance or b/c of transference. I'm no expert on matters ROCOR-related, but, based on the various things I have read about their traditions for the All Diaspora Sobor, I believe they invite MANY different kinds of lay people and Church-related organizations to come to the Sobor. These groups submit reports, give input, participate in various events, etc., etc. I believe the Sobor includes charitable organizations, choir director organizations and other such Church organizations.

Perhaps the women just want to represent these sort of things (I know this is what the female monastics have asked for...and for good reason, since some of ROCOR's convents have a history of particularly difficult conflict with the MP. How will the Bishops decide how to solve these disputes without reports and input from the nuns?).
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« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2006, 10:22:31 AM »

... but this is not what they want in the end. This letter seems to be motivated not by a desire to help the Church, but to use modern culture to stir up division, making the kingdom of God into a hotbead for the "next greatest trend" in popular thought...

Exactly! Next thing you know they will be talking in Church!
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« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2006, 10:24:21 AM »

Exactly! Next thing you know they will be talking in Church!
With their heads uncovered!
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« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2006, 10:42:09 AM »

With their heads uncovered!

IS OUTRAGE!
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« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2006, 10:47:33 AM »

Hey, here's some food for thought...what if there would be to arise a woman who was unequaled in her spirituality, knowledge and eloquence and who could make immensely productive contributions to such a gathering would she still be excluded from attending or participating...
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« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2006, 11:31:39 AM »

Hey, here's some food for thought...what if there would be to arise a woman who was unequaled in her spirituality, knowledge and eloquence and who could make immensely productive contributions to such a gathering would she still be excluded from attending or participating...

Yes.
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« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2006, 07:06:41 PM »

I know at least one of the signatories, a sober, intelligent and devout Christian without any tendency towards 'modernist' notions within Church life. The letter is sober, respectful and has much value I think. The ROCOR Synod seems however to have overlooked this section of it's flock which gives so much and appears to be much taken for granted.
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« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2006, 08:25:00 PM »

I know at least one of the signatories, a sober, intelligent and devout Christian without any tendency towards 'modernist' notions within Church life. The letter is sober, respectful and has much value I think. The ROCOR Synod seems however to have overlooked this section of it's flock which gives so much and appears to be much taken for granted.

Overlooked, that is, until it is dinner time, or someplace needs to be sweeped up, or the vestments need to be washed.
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« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2006, 02:21:34 AM »

just a thought...are we being a little paranoid here...i mean aren't there women who teach in theological seminaries...and how about male desert fathers who went out in search for the blessings of female monastics who were renown for their spiritual fervour...i mean we aren't talking about ordination here or even worship in the Pauline sense, we're talking about a congregation of the faithful, a fellowship of believers, then the question could be honestly asked should women be excluded from such a forum, especially when they may have so many expertise to contribute? are there any theological, patristic or scriptural premises for such a decision?
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« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2006, 02:31:19 AM »

just a thought...are we being a little paranoid here...i mean aren't there women who teach in theological seminaries...and how about male desert fathers who went out in search for the blessings of female monastics who were renown for their spiritual fervour...i mean we aren't talking about ordination here or even worship in the Pauline sense, we're talking about a congregation of the faithful, a fellowship of believers, then the question could be honestly asked should women be excluded from such a forum, especially when they may have so many expertise to contribute? are there any theological, patristic or scriptural premises for such a decision?

Of course, there is no basis for that kind of decision. But there are two seperate issues: the actual decision not to allow women, and then the women's letter. Both can be wrong.
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« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2006, 09:25:59 AM »

Well as long as Berlin was represented, all will be....................?

One ROCOR male monastery has the habit of not allowing the women to wash up after the Sunday liturgy, the igumen instead volunteering male members of the congregation. His rationale? The women probably cooked much of the food brought, among many other things, and it will do the men good. Good idea. Now who's got the Marigolds? (Rubber gloves for those not familar with  Marigolds).

Still on a serious note I gather there has been not a little dissension on more than one front about who was and who was not at the gathering.
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« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2006, 10:33:47 PM »

I noticed that no female forum members have responded...is that a indication that the majority of men here don't get it ?

They just don't want to be present...they want input in the decision making process...gotta look at the big picture...

PAX
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« Reply #17 on: May 21, 2006, 02:28:16 PM »

I read the letter of objection, and it was so well written that I have nothing to add. Grin

Seriously, I am not a member of the ROCOR, so I will shut up now.
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« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2006, 09:29:13 PM »

After having attended a meeting, where our priest reported on the sobor, after seeing people *VERY* opposed to the union in church last Sunday just as always, after coming away with a generally positive view of events, I cannot tell you how sad this letter makes me.  Although there were lay delegates, this was a sobor of the clergy of ROCOR and the MP.  Clergy.  I don't mean to be rude, but honestly, all I can think is "Opinions, everybody's got one."  However, I do see the point about female monastics and the difficulties with the MP.  Still, does one trust the hierarchs or not?  What do these woman want?  Oh, and Tom S., I'm not sure of your jurisdiction, but I assure you women do indeed have opinions and input in ROCOR, and NOT just doing the washing up!
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« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2006, 09:57:59 PM »

  Although there were lay delegates, this was a sobor of the clergy of ROCOR and the MP.  Clergy.  I don't mean to be rude, but honestly, all I can think is "Opinions, everybody's got one." 

And what is the reason for not allowing some of the lay delegates to be women?

The point of the letter, it seems to me, is a general call for ROCOR to take a look at the role of women in the 21st century Church. The fact that the sobor was made up of all male delegates, based on the 1918 Russian model, seems to have raised the question- do we or do we not address our times, while at the same time remaining true to Tradition. This is not the era of voiceless and powerless women- not in the context of the Church that is, but in the context of our modern society. The role of women in the world has changed significantly since 1918(the accomplishments of those who signed this letter are proof of that), it seems only logical that as those roles change, the role of women in the Church needs to be addressed as well. Without examining that issue, I could see how easily a modern, intelligent woman could become jaded on being relegated to cooking, cleaning, and charity duties(yes, these are VERY important), when their intellect and ability allows them, or even dictates, that they do so much more. It's almost laughable that by virtue of being male, I would qualify to attend as a lay delegate to this conference, while a brilliant professor of mine who signed this document would not. Talk about burying a talent.
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« Reply #20 on: May 22, 2006, 10:01:36 PM »

Oh, and Tom S., I'm not sure of your jurisdiction, but I assure you women do indeed have opinions and input in ROCOR, and NOT just doing the washing up!

Well of course. There's always a baby that needs its diaper changed!ÂÂ  Grin
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« Reply #21 on: May 23, 2006, 12:03:08 AM »

"the role of women in the Church needs to be addressed as well"

I'm not exactly sure of what you mean by the "role of women in the Church."  Addressed in what way?  The role of laywomen is the same as men, to try to grow spiritually, become closer to God, to strive to avoid sin, etc.  There is *no* difference in what we, men and women, are called to do.  Certainly, if you frequent internet Orthodoxy boards, lots of crazy statements get made about both genders.  And I take these statements with a grain of salt or less, since they most often represent misinterpretations of the Church.  I see a lot of converts online, with some very disturbing views of the role of women, but I don't get that from most Orthodox laity or clergy.  ROCOR is a conservative jurasdiction, but it is, in my experience at least, neither sexist or exclusionary.  I do know some women, who seem to be interested in "traditional womanhood" (what a word!), but these are well-educated woman who seen to be reacting against the excesses of twentieth-century feminism.  To me, it is inspiring that St. Elizaveta Feodorvna worked for the interests of women.  It also disturbs me greatly that so many woman in Russia today are so disadvantaged that they turn to pornography and prostitution.  I think the Church has a responsibility to try to help women leave this horribly destructive life.  However, these *may* be different issues than whatever the signers of this letter are refereing to.  I really would like greater clarification as to what the signers want.  And to be blunt, are they asking for a female deaconate, ordination, alter girls ?? Or am I just paranoid?
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« Reply #22 on: May 23, 2006, 12:24:51 AM »

Quote
The fact that the sobor was made up of all male delegates, based on the 1918 Russian model, seems to have raised the question- do we or do we not address our times, while at the same time remaining true to Tradition.

I think one of the biggest problems facing the ROCOR is that they are stuck in time.  St. Tikhon had a very serious reform agenda that would have been implemented, had the second revolution not occurred.  Instead we are left with the romanticization of the 1918 Church that was far from perfect...
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« Reply #23 on: May 23, 2006, 02:36:23 AM »

[quote author=Νεκτάριος link=topic=9083.msg121837#msg121837 date=1148358291]
I think one of the biggest problems facing the ROCOR is that they are stuck in time.  St. Tikhon had a very serious reform agenda that would have been implemented, had the second revolution not occurred.  Instead we are left with the romanticization of the 1918 Church that was far from perfect...
[/quote]
With all due respects to the many ROCOR posters on this forum who will undoubtedly have a different pov, I often wonder if the ROCOR ever truly understood Patriarch St. Tikhon.  What little I do know of St. Tikhon's legacy, I recognize that he was for many years the Archbishop of the Church in North America before he was appointed Metropolitan and later Patriarch of Moscow.  A lot of the reforms that St. Tikhon tried to implement in the U.S. and later in Russia after the Sobor of 1917 have actually been carried out by the Metropolia/OCA.  Yet it often appears to me as if ROCOR just could not see this in her dealings with the OCA.  I often get the impression that ROCOR repainted the legacy of St. Tikhon to fit their own agenda.

Again, may the many ROCOR posters on this forum please forgive me for venting a bit of my frustration at what I have seen of ROCOR from my perspective in the OCA.  I really am overjoyed to see what has happened in the most recent dialog between the ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate.  I certainly hope that these discussions produce the fruit the Church desires.
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« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2006, 01:21:43 PM »

Well, yes, I do see it as another way.  Personally, I don't think the Russian Church Abroad misconstrued St. Tikhon's message any more than the metropolia.  Rather, it understood one part of the decree and followed it.  It's mission was to preserve Russian Orthodoxy and thus was naturally afraid of conections that were tied with the Bolsheviks and their reforms.  The OCA saw other facts and carried it out anotherway.  The two have always had a different mission. 

Personally, I think we need to be careful on not pitting the ROCOR and OCA or any other church for that matter against each other.  Although, I'm not a big fan of the St. Vlad's school of thought, I am a fan of many OCA practices.  The OCA has many things that ROCOR needs for better spirtuality.  On the same token, ROCA has many things that the OCA needs for better spirituality. 
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"If you give the average Frenchman a choice between a reforming president who would plug the country's huge deficit and a good cheese, he would probably opt for the cheese." - Stephen Clarke
I think the French may be on to something here.
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« Reply #25 on: May 23, 2006, 02:02:17 PM »

I'd also be careful about blaiming the ROCOR.  It was history and the course of events that caused things to happen the way they did. Nobody knew how long the communists were going to stay in power, nor did the ROCOR ever consider themselves the entire Russian Church. 
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aurelia
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« Reply #26 on: May 23, 2006, 02:31:20 PM »

Gee.  Why does St Katherine come to mind?
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« Reply #27 on: May 23, 2006, 07:06:01 PM »

Don't misunderstand me, either.  I've voiced some frustrations about what I've seen in ROCOR throughout its history, but I could and at times will vent my displeasure with some of the things I've seen in the OCA.  Looking back at what I do know, I see ways in which both sides were right in their points of view, and I see ways in which both sides were wrong.

In the Troparion to St. Tikhon that we sing on April 7 is a prayer to St. Tikhon that he will work to bring all the Russian faithful in America back into one flock.  I sincerely hope and pray that as the ROCOR seeks to reestablish full unity with Moscow both ROCOR and the OCA will reconsider their relations with each other and seek the unity that once marked the Russian Church in North America.  The ROCOR and the OCA really do need each other.
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« Reply #28 on: May 26, 2006, 02:55:26 AM »

.

"Jesus Empowered Women"

'Men who fail to acknowledge and enlist feminine energy often suffer for their arrogance.  Pontius Pilate's wife, for example, tried to warn him not to be involved in the trial of Jesus.  "I had a dream about Him," she said.  Pilate ignored her and signed Jesus' death warrant, and his own unenviable place in history.'


taken from Jesus, CEO by Laurie Beth Jones
« Last Edit: May 26, 2006, 02:57:43 AM by Mother Anastasia » Logged

I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, so that they may all be one, as You, Father are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
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