September 2, 2014

Russian monasticism and the legacy of Communism

The Zenit news service interviews Fr. Peter Mescerinov, vice-director of the Center for the Spiritual Formation of Children and Adolescents of the Moscow Patriarchate, about the “new and enduring challenges of Russian monasticism.”

ZENIT: What is the reality of these [monastic] communities today?

Father Mescerinov: The principal tragedy of our ecclesial life today is the absolute lack of community. There are communities that are born in contrast to the position of the Church in a general sense; however, there are no communities as such as a norm of community life.

This is linked no doubt to the Soviet legacy, because in that period every aggregation was regarded with suspicion and in danger of being repressed; in fact, an anti-solidarity instinct has been created in the very conscience of many generations of persons.

When people enter the Church today, educated according to this mentality, it is very difficult [for them] to feel and even to understand that it is a Christian community, because any form of aggregation suffers the influence of Soviet collectivism, whereas the Christian community and Soviet collectivism are two things that have nothing to do with one another.

Because of this, Russians today do not have a predisposition to community life, and this is also reflected in monastic life. We do not have true communities and our own monastic communities; we have formally organized monasteries, there are some monks, some individuals alone with a straight and sincere vocation, but they are not able to insert themselves well in the community.

This is no doubt a task for the future, or perhaps our ecclesial and social life has arrived at a point of no return in which it is practically impossible to return to genuine solidarity. But the future will show this.

Read the interview on Zenit.

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