Orthodox England

Excerpt from: Volume 5 Issue 3 Date 1st March 2002

Editorial: 'For the Union of All'

The leading article in this our nineteenth issue concerns an anniversary, that of the Western Roman Emperor Otto III who passed away exactly one thousand years ago. By birth half-Saxon and half-Greek, he could at that moment in history have played a most providential role in the Unity of East and West, at the very time when that Unity was coming undone. His life cut short, that Unity was not to be. But his life reminds us of the potentialities of all human life, including our own.

In our own lives there are also countless providential moments and meetings, opportunities and openings, todays and tomorrows, when we too have a providential role to play. Not as powerful Emperors, but as humble and apparently powerless Christians, each of whom God is asking to carry a cross, to serve, to be an agent for the transfiguration of ourselves and, through that, of our own little corner of the world.

'I arise today through a mighty strength' (see page 2) are words from the dark days of pagan Ireland five hundred years before the Emperor Otto III. But they are also addressed to each one of us in our daily lives today. 'This was from Me' (see page 25) are the words for the Catacomb Church in Russia during the dark days when the pagan Emperors, Hitler of the false West and Stalin of the false East, were tearing Russia apart. But they are also words addressed to each one of us in our daily lives today.

Perhaps we too, heeding both the ancient wisdom of St Patrick and the Confessors of the Isles in the West, as well as the contemporary wisdom of the Russian Martyrs, will somehow play a role in uniting East and West, helping to complete the great unfinished task of the youthful half-Saxon and half-Greek Emperor Otto. This would be the genuine Ecumenism, the Spiritual Unity of the genuine East and the genuine West. (Let it never be said that the Orthodox Christian Tradition is opposed to genuine Unity).

This Unity is already commemorated in the Kingdom of Heaven, where St Patrick and St John of Shanghai, St Gregory the Great and St Tikhon of Moscow, St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne and St Seraphim of Sarov, St Alban of Verulamium and St Nectarius of Pentapolis, St Audrey of Ely and St Xenia of Petersburg converse and embrace at the feet of the Apostles, beneath the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God, by the throne of Christ the Saviour. It is for us together, by the grace of God, to bring down their Heaven to the Earth, that their Unity may be made apparent amongst us also, made incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the repentance of mankind. As St Brigid of Kildare wrote a millennium and a half ago:

I would prepare a feast and be host to the great High King,
with all the company of heaven.
The sustenance of pure love be in my house,
the roots of repentance in my house.
Baskets of love be mine to give,
with cups of mercy for all the company.
Sweet Jesus, be there with us, with all the company of heaven.
May cheerfulness abound in the feast,
the feast of the great High King,
My host for all eternity.

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(c) Orthodox England - Published within the English Deanery of the Church Outside Russia: with the blessing of the Very Reverend Mark, Archbishop of Great Britain and Ireland.