In the West, Christmas is celebrated as if it backwards: if in our tradition, the celebration is preceded by advent, waiting, and then we’re in the days of Yuletide, in Europe is exactly the opposite. Is there any difference when to celebrate Christmas, was born the Christ that we broken spear, why the fascination with the Church goes and how people were silenced by the Church the need for happiness. Says Archpriest Andrei Kordochkin.
Archpriest Andrew Kordochkin. Photo: Anna Danilova
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When Christmas meets your community
– In the Orthodox tradition, Christmas is preceded by fasting. Fun gifts appear after the Liturgy. Even a Christmas tree decorating until the day before. You, the pastor of the Orthodox parish in Spain, live surrounded by Catholics. Christmas markets, Nativity scenes, the chants heard on the streets of cities long before Christmas. Do your parishioners in this conflict?
– Europe in a larger extent than Russia, retained their Christian roots. I mean that Christian festivals are celebrations not only of a small group of believers. It’s the holidays for the whole country, or the city, if it’s about local celebration.
At the time, I was struck by a visit to Toledo, where I was on the feast of Corpus Christi – Body and blood of Christ. Solemn procession which ceremoniously walked through the city, comprised of groups representing the University, the police, government agencies, civil guard. Obviously, if you want to opt out of this holiday, you’re wiping themselves from society, and not only because of the holiday. Madrid Good Friday – the dead city. On Good Friday in Moscow did not change anything, the city lives a normal life.
With regard to Christmas, in popular culture in Europe it is more visible, more visible than Easter. You rightly noticed, in the West, Christmas is celebrated as if backwards.
If in our tradition, Christmas is preceded by advent, a time of waiting, preparation, and the celebration we have already encountered in the days of Yuletide, in Europe is exactly the opposite. The first Christmas decorations appear in late October – early November. After a couple of weeks or even a few days after Christmas they disappear altogether.
As for the calendar, for the Spaniards, ordinary Catholics, often the questions arise – who are we, Orthodox, are you? Why celebrate Christmas two weeks after his celebrated everyone else? People don’t really remember what else, four hundred years ago the whole of Europe lived according to the Julian calendar, not Gregorian.
When the inquirer starts to recall the reform of Pope Gregory, that it did not affect the Orthodox East, it becomes a little clearer. It happens that, then the question arises – why are there Orthodox who celebrate Christmas according to the Julian calendar, and there are those that according to the Gregorian? All it at desire can be explained.
– Your parishioners with these issues not come?
– No. For them the celebration of Christmas on December 25 on the Julian calendar, which falls on January 7 on the Gregorian, is self-evident. I think if anyone had the initiative to go to the Gregorian calendar (in fact there are communities of our Church in Europe, who live according to the Gregorian calendar), our community would have a first resistance.
– Are there any in your parish former Catholic Spaniards?
– Is. They are not very much. I think for the Spanish way of Catholicism is much harder than for an Englishman or an American. Except the Orthodox Spaniards we have immigrants from Latin America, have family from Brazil, Nicaragua, there is one person from the United States.
Of course, the question about the celebration of Christmas really comes up in mixed marriages. Especially where children are brought up in the Catholic tradition. In this case, we encourage members to combine family and not to split. Encourage people to celebrate Christmas together at the same table with relatives on December 25, and then, two weeks later, again with us.
– That is twice?
– And why not? Because the festival takes place in eternity, not in any particular calendar time. On a certain day and hour, making service, be a part of it. I don’t see any reason why a person cannot experience the joy of the birth of Christ for two weeks.
– Last time, almost every year people cross swords, they argue, are encouraged to join with Catholics and all together to celebrate Christmas in one day because it was fun.
– I don’t think “fun” is the fact that you’re doing this at a time when it makes someone else. The question here is not which calendar is right and what is wrong.
Question – when Christmas meets your community to which you belong? If December 25 in the Gregorian calendar please. If January 7 – please.
I do not think that Christ was born in order to get people used to what day they should begin the celebration of Christmas. It only seems to us that we Orthodox start to celebrate it together.
But the people who live on the Kamchatka Peninsula, begin to celebrate Christmas much earlier than those who live in new York. The issues of synchronicity I would not put to the fore.
Fasting is a person’s willingness to wait
– As soon as lent starts, immediately renewed talk about the fact that fasting is not about food, but about humility, patience, learning prayer.
– Sure, fasting is all about. In particular it is about the readiness of the person to wait.
– Do you discuss with your congregation as you need to fast? In Moscow, for example, the priests.
– I think if a person lives in Moscow, if he has limited budget, then humbles your body. What is made by cheese, what are other products that are sold in stores, no one knows. I think she Moscow life largely restricts.
I recently went to the capital one shop and looked at how much domestic production of cheese. Shortly before that, was in Mordovia, where people receive a salary of 12-14 thousand rubles per month. I don’t really understand how they could afford a piece of cheese, which costs 500 rubles. You see, when people are in such a framework, urging them to even greater constraint would be, at least, severely.
Everyone is able to determine a measure of fasting. This is what I call his parish. People act according to their understanding. This is especially noticeable when it comes time for lent. Our members, and most of them come from Western Ukraine, where the discipline of the fasts observed much stricter than in Russia, fast with no oil. Many have nothing to eat in the first three days of lent, and some even the entire first week. But in any case, this choice cannot be imposed.
I think there is a certain logic in the fact that we do not have a special Charter of fasting for the laity. This does not mean that lay people should fast according to the Typikon. This means that the laity, given their spiritual and physical capabilities, circumstances of life in which they found themselves, unable for themselves to choose the measure which will strengthen and not weaken.
– How to perceive the Russian tradition of the post of former Catholics in your parish?
– Someone happy, someone is very difficult. In General, the Catholic tradition of the discipline of fasting as such does not exist. Eucharistic fasting involves abstaining from food and drink before communion for one hour, and even lent a modern Catholic discipline requires abstinence from meat only on Fridays. This required discipline of the Catholic layman ends.
– Post – one of the strictures of the Orthodox tradition. Many people leave the Church, explaining that including the need to comply with strict rules. It is clear that restartovanie is connected with other circumstances. Have you in your parish with something like that? People leave your congregation?
– I think such people are everywhere. The trouble is that when a person leaves, he does so without saying goodbye. Not always a clear understanding of what happened, why the man suddenly disappeared. In the end, the explanation is that, being in and out of the Church, we do not really understand what the Church is.
We believe that the Church is something that exists apart from us. This is something we can join, and what we can just as easily get out. Please note, on the number of Orthodox in Russia, we are judged by the results of sociological surveys. This “significant” number of those who calls himself Orthodox. But not only these people, we are no longer to perceive the Church as a community as a collection of believers.
Most of the people from the polls we will not know neither the name nor the face.
Importantly, these “calculated” there is no feeling that the Church is a living community, a family. Why? Yes, because we have themselves, this feeling is lost.
I think if the person will feel that he and the congregation of the people nearby have a Church, then realize that he had nowhere to go and from whom.
Too many books about the “miracles in the sieve”
– Many attend Church as long as they do not appear charge, while the priest suddenly say, “We’re a community and need to do something together.” Not all agree with that. In the end, “I have come here to pray and to restrict my freedom will not allow.” Some such motivation does leave the Church, others move to other parishes. And how is Madrid?
– I’m surprised to hear that, because in Moscow very much active parishes that are engaged and care to the sick, and assistance to prisoners in social service. The call to action still, not all is rejection and denial.
The Christian life cannot be limited to prayer. The gospel is not only the call to prayer. It expressed, and other expectations addressed to the person.
Another thing – restartovanie. As a form of human frustration, it always caused a kind of charm. This means that the person had some false image created from books, movies, something. The image is likely romanticized, in which too much pink and blue pastel colors. Too many books about the “miracles in the sieve”. Restartovanie occurs when a person refuses to grow up, refuses to make a move while in the dimension in which he lived before, to live it no longer.
– Many come to the Church for psychological help. How a priest should be a psychologist, are you studying this?
– Of course, I read something about psychotherapy, but I can’t say that they are studying. If you learn something, you have to study seriously, and this is the case, at least for a few years.
It’s obvious to me that the danger here is the possible omniscience of a priest. The priest must understand that there are areas where it is limited. If the priest comes the person with a broken leg, it is more logical to direct it to the traumatologist and not to look for a way to help the victim.
This principle applies not only to physical injury but also emotional and mental, which could receive people.
The knowledge that in the XX century was opened in the field of psychology and psychotherapy, the priest has no right to neglect.
I am convinced that the priest needs to work in conjunction with the psychologist, the psychotherapist, if necessary, even a psychiatrist.
Generally, the priest can achieve when outside of their competence and seeks help from other professionals. The difficulty is that if he is not in Moscow and not in Petersburg, and performs the service where there are competent professionals. Then he just has to broaden their horizons, to provide the necessary assistance.
Of course, do not forget about how much it costs in Moscow is now the job of the therapist and how much is an hour of dialogue with the priest. The priest works for free. If a person has the financial ability to consult with a good professional is one thing. But what to do when this is not possible?!
There is also a certain culture of relations to psychology and psychotherapy. There are situations where a person has to overcome a certain barrier.
The last few years, many priests often encouraged to refrain from confession before each communion. However, if people belong to the priest, as a free psychologist, they need it. Refusing to frequent confession, if we do not deprive these people of the very help?
– I think this does not help, as her surrogate. Often people need is not confession, and not even to complain. People need to overcome loneliness. People need to communicate. People need happiness. People need happy families. People need good relations to each other, at work, in transport, in the clinic, on the street, but anywhere. But it’s impossible to overcome, plugged the hole with a priest for 5 minutes in a week.
You mean people in the Church looking for happiness?
– Not that looking for in the Church, but a Church trying to plug this hole. But 5 minutes conveyor confession, this hole does not shut up.
Most importantly, what should the priest not to interfere. However, he should not be indifferent should not be blind. If he sees the danger, of course, he had to say. Communion of the priest with parishioners, is reminiscent of the communication between parents and children. And both parents and the priest can be tempted of hypercontrol, which can eventually the “child” to maim.
– How a priest can affect the spiritual growth of man?
– First of all by his prayer, the most sincere, not sparing himself in it. Can impact services, which he does, finally, by his word, his way, by example.
One day Anthony the Great, the monks came and began to ask questions. Only one remained in silence. Anthony asked: “why are you silent, you have nothing to ask?” To which the monk replied, “I simply look at you”.
This is a very high bar. But it’s an example of Anthony the Great in his way, their natural behavior could teach those people who were close to him.