Orthodox America

  The Cry of the New Martyrs -  OPTINA CHURCH CONSECRATED

      Work on the restoration of Optina Hermitage, returned to the Church in 1987, has been hampered by mismanagement and deliberate obstruction. As Keston College reports, the local representative of the Council for Religious Affairs "refuses to answer questions concerning the 'disappearance' of anything posted to the monastery, where there is a small group of monks in residence. He is also too busy supervising the construction of a personal 'dacha' near the monastery to look into the unexplained disappearance of 60,000 bricks from the Optina site." The construction foreman refuses to issue cement necessary for the work to proceed at a normal pace. Consequently "the site workers -each of whom is paid 700-900 roubles per month by the Church-- do an average of 2 hours' work daily. The Church has already paid out 300,000 rubles, but virtually no work has been completed. However, a new 2-storey brick building for the KGB has been built near the entrance to the monastery..." (KNS 10/20/88)

      In spite of these frustrations, enough progress was made to allow the consecration of the Entrance Church, dedicated to the Feast of the Presentation, to take place on June 3. Monks from St. Daniel's Monastery in Moscow joined the Optina brotherhood for the first Liturgy and service of consecration which were performed by the father superior, Archimandrite Evlogy. He told reporters afterwards:

      "With the consecration of the Entrance church, the life of our as yet small community has properly begun. There are currently 4 monks and 4 novices in the monastery. Many more would like to join but we have no room for them as yet... What kind of monastery will this be? Will it continue the traditions of the famous Optina elders? It is too early to speak of this. We are striving to establish a strict cenobitic rule. For everything else we trust to the will of God."

      More recently, it was reported in lzvestiya (11/3/88) that a service was held to commemorate the discovery of the relics of Elder Ambrose (KNS 1/5/89). There are unconfirmed reports that his relics are fragrant and that relics of other Optina elders have been found to be incorrupt.


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