11 Message from Russia - Fr. Michael G

posted May 23, 2018, 10:15 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 23, 2018, 10:15 AM ]
I was with an Indian tourist group visiting Russia for seven days. On May 4, I celebrated Mass with them. The Gospel reading was Jn 10:31-42 - “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you. No one can have greater love than to lay down his life for his friends.” The following is the message I gave to the group in the light of this Gospel passage:

“We visited Moscow and Petersburg. The massive churches like St Basil’s Cathedral, Church of the Saviour, Isaac Cathedral and Kazan; magnificent palaces like Kremlin and Catherine palace; parks like Peterhoff and gigantic squares like Leningrad and monuments all over both the cities made the entire history of Russia present before our eyes!

We experienced the strong Orthodox Christianity of Russia. The Sunday Mass we attended was in Russian, yet we relished it because of their devotional singing, especially with the pipe organ! It was superb! The vast churches and their massive pillars gave us a glimpse of the magnetic power of Christ’s message that reached the people of Russia in the very beginning of the Christian era, and took deep roots in such a remote foreign country. The Eastern Church has made unique contributions to Christianity at large. Its ‘orthodoxy’ has unique features like Iconology and devotional spirituality.

On the other hand, as we moved along, we stumbled upon the extensive squares like Leningrad, that bring to our mind the rise and fall of Communism. One wonders why Russia had to undergo so many religious upheavals and social revolutions, and as a result, bear so much of religious persecution. Why did atheism prevail over Christianity in Russia? Because it did not solve the life problems of the poor in the country. Tzars like Peter and Catherine built magnificent castles and parks; for whom? They were built for the benefit of the kings and nobles at the cost of the poor! The poor put in hard labour just to fill their bellies! The Christian Kings did not bring prosperity to the farmers and workers. There was glaring inequality among people. There was only hunger and misery for the downtrodden. Hence, socialism and communism arose. Christianity was declared to be an opium of the people, responsible for their poverty, and was suppressed!