The year 1993 saw the political crisis between then President Yeltsin and his conservative opponents erupt into an armed conflict in Moscow. The conservatives took over the Parliament building, Russia’s White House, and in response, Yeltsin sent tanks to the bridge and had them fire on the building. Later, troops were sent in to recover the building floor by floor. In the armed conflict, over 100 people were killed (officially, but private estimates ran ten times higher). Hospitals were overwhelmed by the numbers of dead, dying, and wounded.
- Russian White House after shelling by tanks
The day following the tank assault on the White House, I flew into Moscow on one of the last flights allowed in before martial law was declared, shutting the city down. From the airport, I took a taxi to the bridge in front of the White House. It was evening. Tanks were parked nearby, soldiers stood guard on the bridge, and hundreds of people gathered to light candles and pray for the dead and wounded. The building was scorched black and still smoking. One of the soldiers said that there were still snipers inside and it was too dangerous for us to remain on the bridge.
In the morning I visited churches, to pray and to venerate the saints. In the first church I visited, I was suddenly aware that every icon in the church was streaming with tears. It was like this all over the city I was told, and it had been this way for days before the violence.
Cf: Mystagogy: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/
Today, news comes that once again thousands of icons in Russia and the Ukraine are weeping. Though we do not know for certain what this means, it is not unreasonable in light of recent events to be deeply concerned for the people of the Ukraine and of Russia. May God have mercy on them and grant them peace. There are many voices, including many in our own government, calling for war. Being reminded not to put our trust in princes or sons of man “in whom there is no help” (Ps. 146:3-5, KJV), let us join our voices together to call upon the God of peace, for “happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.” May God be merciful to the suffering people of the Ukraine and Russia. – Fr.S.
It was in the autumn of 2007 that Fr. Silouan Thompson and I travelled to Kathmandu, as a followup to my trip here in 2006. That was my second visit to the city and Fr. Silouan’s first. Together we served the first Orthodox Divine Liturgy for Nepali people (a liturgy for employees of the Russian Embassy at the embassy itself may have been served prior to our liturgy, but I’m not sure about that. The liturgy we served however was certainly the first served in the city among Nepalis).
This morning, 23 February 2014, with the help of Presbytera Marilyn, I once again served the Divine Liturgy here in Kathmandu. What a blessing to know that, God willing, we will be able to have liturgies throughout Great Lent, Holy Week, and Pascha. It is a bit awkward doing this in the apartment, but I’m grateful that we can have the liturgy and Holy Communion at all.
The Gospel for the Sunday of the Last Judgement.
At the Great Entrance.
Commemorations at the Great Entrance.
Glory to God Who has allowed us to partake of the medicine of immortality here in Nepal. – Fr. S.
On Thursday Feb. 13, my dear wife, Presbytera Marilyn (Mary) and I left the frigid Northwest, flying out of Seattle to Seoul, Korea. From there we flew to Bangkok, and then finally on to Kathmandu, arriving here on Saturday. It is Presbytera’s first visit to Nepal. She has helped me to start 4 churches over the years in California and Washington and now is the first person to come to Nepal to help me establish a mission in Kathmandu.
Pres. Marilyn is on the left speaking with a friend.
Many people have expressed a desire to come and help me, but until now, no one has actually followed through. Marilyn was concerned about me not having any liturgies especially during Great Lent and Pascha, so she decided to spend 4 and half months here with me and be my chanter. It was a blessing to serve Matins together Sunday morning, which happened to be the Feast Day of St. Nicholas of Japan, a saint whose life is a great encouragement and example to me.
St. Nicholas of Japan
Later on Sunday, we had the joy of meeting up with a fellow Russian Orthodox priest and his daughter who were visiting Nepal together. They were a great blessing to us just by their presence, but they also made a very generous donation to the mission work here, for which I’m very grateful. I hope they will return.
Patan’s Durbar Square Entrance
Patan Sq Temple complex
The inner court of the Golden Temple near Durbar Square
While walking to the ancient Durbar Square in Patan to meet our visitors, a young Nepali man passed by and spoke to us. I wasn’t sure at first what he said, but as he stopped to speak to us in English, he told us that he was a Christian. Pointing to my cross he said “I saw your Cross. I am a Pastor and I have a fellowship which we call “Return to the Cross.” His Christian name is Silas. He repeatedly mentioned that seeing my cross he knew I was a Christian and that he was encouraged to see this sign of the Cross. He gave me his email address and asked me to come and speak to his small group about an hour outside of Kathmandu. Marilyn and I later reflected on the fact that had I been in “street clothes” instead of my cassock and Cross, he would never have even noticed us. It’s too bad that there are so many of our priests who only wear the cassock inside the walls of the parish church. They are depriving themselves of many opportunities for evangelism and for encouraging their fellow Christians out in the world. – Fr. S.