Tuesday, May 17, 2016

French Renewal and Southern Renewal

Perhaps unknown to some, the South actually has quite a strong connection to France.  French Cajuns in Louisiana, French Huguenots in South Carolina and elsewhere, the (unfortunate) Southern admiration of French Norman battle prowess (they were quite brutal) - such things have created a bond between the two.  Now that French nationalism, as Dr Farrell pointed out in his ‘News and Views’ update that was posted here last Friday, is rising against the domination of the world by secular Puritan/American corporate interests, it is hoped that Dixie’s desire for cultural self-determination will rise as well.  But if the uprising in either country is to be successful in the long run, it will need to be rooted in the pure and uncorrupted soil of the First Europe, Orthodox Europe, which has been kept fragrant and life-giving by the blood and flesh and bones of the holy martyrs, confessors, and other saints of the Orthodox Church that still populate so much of her landscape.  For the soil of the Second Europe (Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Enlightenment) has been defiled by one evil after another:  bloody Roman Catholic Crusades against Muslims, Orthodox Christians, and Protestants, the revenge slayings of Roman Catholics by Protestants, Papal Infallibility and Sola Scriptura, soul competency, capitalism and communism, scientific rationalism, the rights of man and political revolution, and all the rest.  In this regard, St John Maximovitch (+1966), the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, who served as a bishop in France for a time, spoke some words both ought to take to heart:

Paris, 8 May 1960

Christ is Risen!

Christ sent the Apostles to preach in every land. The Church of Christ was not founded for just one people, for just one land, but for the whole world. Everybody, every people, every land is called to faith in the true God. The Apostles carried out in full the commandment of Christ by going to all nations: Simon the Zealot went to Britain; James the son of Zebedee went to Spain; Thomas went to India and according to tradition went on as far as China; the Apostle Andrew preached in Russia and in Greece. According to tradition, Lazarus who rose from the dead after four days, fled from the Jews who wanted to kill him and came to France. Together with his sisters, Mary and Martha, he settled in Marseilles and preached in Provence. Trophimus and others of the seventy Apostles travelled the length and breadth of France.

Thus, since Apostolic times, the Orthodox Faith of Christ was preached in Gaul, in what is now France. It is to the Orthodox Church that St Martin of Tours belonged, the same is true for the great St John Cassian - founder of the monastery near Marseilles where for many years he set an example of the ascetic life, and also for St Germanus of Paris and St Genevieve, together with a great many others. This is why the Orthodox Faith is not a foreign Faith for French people. It is their own Faith, confessed here in France, by their forebears, since ancient times: it is the Faith of their fathers.

It is our sincere and ardent wish to see the Orthodox Faith, in a form proper to the French spirit, re-established on the soil of France, to see it become the native Faith of all Her people once more, as it has remained for the Russians, the Serbs, the Greeks, according to the particular character of each of those peoples.

Today, according to the Pentecostarion of the Eastern calendar, as in the Western, we glorify the holy Archangel Michael, who appeared both in the East and in the West in order to quicken in people the spiritual strength to perform heroic deeds, as once he inspired Joan of Arc in the struggle for the freedom of France.

Today also, according to the old calendar, the Orthodox Church glorifies the holy Apostle Mark, one of the four Evangelists who, before leaving for Alexandria, came to Western Europe where he wrote his Gospel - in Rome - and according to some in Latin.

At the present time it is our conviction that the political and patriotic rebirth of France is taking place: may it be joined to Her spiritual rebirth! May Orthodox France be reborn and may the blessing of God be upon Her!

Source:  ‘Towards an Orthodox France: A Sermon of St John the Wonderworker’, http://orthodoxengland.org.uk/oefranc2.htm, accessed 1 May 2016; re-posted with the permission of Fr Andrew Phillips (whom we also thank for the phrase ‘Anti-St John the Baptist’ that we used in the post of Friday last)

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