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From the North Pole to the South Pole

For the past several years, the liturgy has been celebrated in a Russian Orthodox church at a polar research station in Antarctica. Now, the first liturgy has been served at the North Pole. The episcopal liturgy was served by His Eminence Bishop Ignaty of Petropavlovsk and Kamchatka. Only recently he had celebrated the liturgy for the crew of a submarine submerged in Arctic waters.

Vladislav Skvortsov, Mayor of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski, was baptised at the service. Also during the liturgy Deacon Roman Nikitin of the Missionary Department of the Diocese of Kamchatka, who preaches both to the people in the region and to a vast audience on the internet, was ordained to the priesthood. The Divine Liturgy celebrated at the North Pole was a new Feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. This example of the universality of the Orthodox Faith was made possible by the new ‘symphonia’ between the Russian Church and State.

The future of Orthodoxy, symbolised by this liturgy at the North Pole, is unimaginable without a new colonisation of territories that seek Orthodoxy. In the times of St Sergius of Radonezh, there was a great monastic colonisation of north-east Russia and some fifty monasteries were founded by the disciples of St Sergei. Today, the Church must repeat this process. It would be based on monasteries founded by those who are fleeing the world. New cities would appear around them, as they did at the time of St Sergius. We should remember that engineering and metallurgy first appeared in the monasteries. The monks combined their service of prayer with work on the advanced technologies of the time and set up foundries and power stations at Valaam and Solovki. Thus, monastics demonstrate their practical know-how, connecting the mind and the heart, combining prayer with useful labour.

In the 19th century the distinguished Orthodox scientist Dimitri Mendeleyev wrote that the population of Russia would reach approximately 500 million by the end of the 20th century. The genocides of the Bolshevik Revolution and the Nazis, both imported from the West, put paid to this. Nevertheless, we are now seeing the first signs of a possible new evangelisation of Russia and Re-Churching of its people, who are rejecting the secular revolutions of both Communism and Consumerism.

The authentic image of the Orthodox Church is found in such people as Vladyka Ignaty of Petropavlovsk and Kamchatka, rather than in minorities who delude believers (or are themselves deluded). These urge Orthodox either to secularise and ‘modernise’ our Faith, like Roman Catholics and Protestants, so many of whose churches are empty and up for sale, or else to run away from society and hide in ghettos. Why oppose the State, when it welcomes the Church and asks Her to acts resolutely to rescue Orthodox morals from the West, with its materialistic culture of crime and abortion? A pietism that either rejects the bases of Orthodox Tradition or else rejects missionary activity and flees to the ghetto is in reality anti-Church demagoguery.

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