The monks were nice guys

The value of interfaith is being recognized and many of us are developing relationships with people from other faiths. This is good.

We also know the value of inter-cultures. School aged teenagers from different countries become exchange students. It adds to the realization that in general, we people are the same, though we look and act different.

Last week I noticed a blend between interfaith and inter-cultures. It all started when I listened to the third Presidential Debate between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. I was reminded of my childhood days when America truly distrusted Russia, during the Cold War.

The debate carried that odor of distrust toward Russia. I pondered, just how much should we trust Russians?

I didn’t beat myself up trying to answer that question, mainly because I know not all Russians are the same, either trustworthy or untrustworthy.Same with Americans.

Therefore, I put my trust in God. I pray my spirituality is clear enough to trust the trustworthy, no matter what ethnicity.

sign-outside

In Jordanville, NY

Anyway, a few days later, I noticed an Open House invitation from the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Monastery, in Jordanville, New York. Jordanville is about an hour and half drive from my home.

I went to the Open House.

A little background from their website: “Holy Trinity Monastery was established in 1928 by Fr. Panteleimon, a Russian monk from St. Tikhon’s monastery in Pennsylvania.

“During World War II a group of a dozen monks came from Europe, bringing with them printing experience and a tradition which originated in the Pochaev Lavra in the Ukraine. Archbishop Vitaly was part of that group and became the head and Abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery, and construction of the Church and other buildings increased.

“Archimandrite Luke was elected the new Abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery on May 19, 2008.”

I met Abbot Luke. I listened to him and others speak.

I learned that during the Cold War, the Holy Trinity published church materials and smuggled them into Russia for the few surviving Orthodox members.

Millions of Christians were killed and imprisoned by Stalin.

Now that the Cold War is over, their printed material has adapted. “In the past, Holy Trinity published in the Russian language. After the Cold War, the decision was made to print in the international language of English, and our material is now being sent around the world, especially Asia, North and South America,” said Abbot Luke.

Moreover, Abbot Luke had just returned from a trip to Russia and was thankful to report, “There were six hundred Orthodox members at the church meeting, whereas there might have been ten when communism fell.”

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Iconography inside Holy Trinity

I was impressed. Not only by the byzantine frescos and icons in the cathedral, and the sizeable bookstore, but also by the demeanor of these people. I may not agree with their theology entirely, but their desire to cultivate spirituality was not only agreeable, but also a powerful wall blaster.

The wall between American and Russian, was gone. I sensed a wholeness. I didn’t feel some irresistible emotional notion to embrace every Russian, or American, but I felt a relief. Borders or religions can’t separate us because spirituality unites.

Quoting from science & religion to God: . “We don’t invent spirituality, but find our spirituality is inseparable from God.

“It’s wise and healthy to give less intelligence to materiality and more to spirituality. Don’t interfere with God’s government by thrusting in your own views as if they are better than God’s.

“Through inspiration and understanding, God reveals the spiritual knowledge that unlocks the resources of truth. Spirituality allows us to read the human situation correctly, with healing intent and power.

“Spirituality isn’t in limited supply. It isn’t controlled by a person or organization. The spiritual idea and its healing power can’t be monopolized. The widespread belief that only specific people are entitled to spiritual authority implodes in light of the Biblical stand that all believers “will be called priests of the Lord.”[1]

“Unity with God isn’t popular with the world, but it is fair to our self and merciful to others.”

[1] Ex. 19:6; Isa. 61:6; Rev. 1:6

icon-resurrection

Fresco inside Cathedral at Holy Trinity

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