In 1998, the memorable 1,000-year anniversary of the Baptism of Russia arrived. This was a major publicity time for the Moscow Patriarchate publishing department, and Metropolitan Pitirim applied all effort with an almost mystical dedication.

“The preparation for the 1,000-year anniversary of the Baptism of Russia was for us a time to sum up the Russian Church’s historical path. We considered very important the theme of the Church’s lower echelons’ service of Church and Fatherland: priests, deacons, and acolytes, and their 1,000 years of tireless labor, the aggregate of that immeasurable spiritual experience by which we live today. We know very little about the lives of the white [married] clergy—those who bear the weight of the whole world on themselves. Most historical research is carried out along the more noticeable higher clerical ranks. Russian writers also found the simple village priest uninteresting—our classical literature often portrays only caricatures. Our duty was to gather this spiritual experience by bits. We began that work in those days.”

Met. Pitirim notes on this subject, “Today we are canonizing many priests [new martyrs]. But for what are we canonizing them? Their parish and family life is remembered the least; we mostly remember that they were shot—either in 1917 or in 1937, or in the forties. Meanwhile, a priest’s true podvig is his parish and family life.”

Full article can be found here. Hat tip to Fr. Anthony.

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