Orthodox America

   A Call for Christian Heroes

We must act in such a way that our faith does not simply become contemplative, estranged from life, but becomes actively incarnate in our life..."Give blood and receive the Spirit!"; so the Holy Fathers teach us. Vladimir Poresh

Below are portions of an essay written by Vladimir Poresh, one of the leading members of the Christian Seminar until his arrest in August 1979. It first appeared in the Seminar's journal Obschina with the title "Dal Krovi-primi Dukh!" ("Give Blood and Receive the Spirit"). The vulgarity of Soviet life against which the new Russian religious renaissance is so heroically struggling, reflects a growing tide of modern Western culture which threatens to engulf traditional Christian Values. There in the Soviet Union in the midst of suffering, Holy Russia is indeed alive, standing with Christ on Golgotha. But what about us Orthodox Christians here in the West? Have we begun to take up our cross? May the message of our suffering brethren in Chrisit help us to gain a genuine perception of our own life-and to turn our repentance into action-before it is too late.

In the opinion of A.I. . Solzhenitsyn, the changes which are taking place constitute a moral revolution. Like a prophet of old, Solzhenitsyn calls to repentance: "Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." lo the language of the Church, feeling sorry and restraining oneself must be translated into repentance and self-denial.

Our nation has borne incredible suffering which has formed the moral core, the religious foundation, on which a new rediscovered religious consciousness is being built. Russia has survived an onslaught of evil of unprecedented dimensions. F M. Dostoevsky used to say that a Russian may be a great sinner, but he will never mistake his sin for goodness. Our revolutionary crime was the loss of a capacity to distinguish good from evil. What a dark abyss we are in now! God, have mercy on us!

Each of us has felt responsibility for the fate of our Church and our homeland, and we have understood that we have an obligation to put thi into practice. We blame our parents for their helplessness and we know the depths of our own wickedness, so we are looking for action. God has given us a voice. There is no way back. Giving up is betrayal. With trembling hearts , but boldly, we accept this Divine gift and pray: "Make me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within Me.' Placing our trust in the s t r e n g t h of God, praying to the Moth e r of God and all the saints, under the sign of the Cross, we take up the two-edged sword of the shining Gospel.

We demand normal human speech-the speech which only a pure moral consciousness can produce. We are all concentrating on discovering this purity. We have to reject all political activity, all calculation, every thing which flourishes in this vulgar talentless world where there is no place for nobility or truth.... We do not Want this lying peace; we want a just war. Where are you, Holy Russia, Russia of the saints and holy men? We do not believe you are dead.

We were born in dead and god-forsaken times, we lived as Pioneers and members of the Komsomol, but we want to die Orthodox Christians. A longing for genuine life torments us-a life free from perversion and distortion by vulgar lies; because this vulgar life leads on not to life, but to death. Acknowledging all our nothingness before our Lord God, before Russian history, we have nevertheless decided to live at any price. This means that we die not unto death, but unto everlasting life...

Right [Pravda] and Truth [Istina], the Crucifixion, and the redemptive sufferings of Our Lord Jesus Christ have revealed to us what genuine life is. A genuine perception of life is a tragic perception. The tragic is the opposite of humdrum vulgarity, just as truth is the opposite of the lie. One must not run away from tragedy, but strive for it with all the strength of one's soul. One must open one's heart to meet suffering, thanking the Lord for every wound...

(Religion in Communist Lands, Vol.9, Nos.3-4, Autumn 1931; Keston College)