Liturgy, being a common cause performed by Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit, performed by all the believers, continues outside the Church. We could, strangely enough, compare believers with the life-giving blood that flows inside our dying society. The unity of the mankind in the church, unity of the believers shows the world what the mankind should be like. It should be united in faith, in mutual love, in its readiness to live for one another.
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
Educating our youth is the common cause of the State, society and Church
Minister of Eduation V.M. Philippov
Common Cause Interregional Public Youth Organisation was founded on the day of Iberian Icon of the Mother of God on the 7th of May, 2002.
To help educating children and youth on the bases the national spiritual values, on the values of the world’s culture.
We see our service to the society as continuation of our service to Lord.. We strive to contribute to the creation of the society that lives according to the Biblical values, laws of honour, duty and love.
Our organization has carried out a number of projects directed to the moral and cultural education of young people. One of the most important among them were :
- The First International Youth Conference Mangup 2002, carried out with the blessing of the Metropolitan Lasar of Simpheropol and Crimea in August 28-31 in Crimea
- International Youth Pilgrimage to the Bretagne’s ancient holy places carried out with the blessing of the Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk, head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate.
We have also organised a number of orthodox summer camps and pilgrimages for children and young people. The youth summer camp Bogucharovo, near Tula has become a regular one already. Its aim is to restorate churches connected with the name of A.S. Khomyakov – a famous Russian philosopher and writer.
To spread Christian and national spiritual values among young people we have carried out an orthodox missionary outreach to Moscow students “Hodigitria”. 20,000 students from more than 30 Moscow Universities and institutes took part in it.
We fully realize the crucial importance of working out materials and resources, which could be useful in moral and cultural education. We have unique experience of intelligence walks and apologetic games. We create and spread materials that will assist young people to accomplish their mission in church and society.
We have lots of new projects and ideas.
The Easter Scholia Youth Seminar
The Easter Scholia took place in the Bright Week (28 April - 6 May 2003) in the town of Protvino in the Moscow Region
About scholia in greater detail
An account of the Scholia by one of its participants:
Sixth of May of the year 2003 A.D. Yesterday I stepped out of a bus onto the Moscow pavement. This was preceded by seven days of rest and studies. People say that the word ‘scholia” originates from the word “school”. I am not a philologist, so I do not know.
Protvino, the town of scientists, is often called the Switzerland of the Moscow Region. However, we were able to fully enjoy the beautiful scenery of our local piece of the above mentioned European country for only one day. The rest of the week was cloudy and rainy. As for the name of the town, we heard the following legend in the museum of local lore:
When the Mongolian invaders came up to the local river their prince (or whatever was his title) scooped some water from it and said something like “pro-tva” which meant “cold river”.
From those days the river is called Protva and the town built on its banks – Protvino.
In the War there was the defense line here. One can still see the ruins of a mill used by the Nazis as a sniper’s nest. Now it serves as a meeting place for the local Tolkien fans.
In the Soviet era the largest electron accelerator in Europe was built here. Then someone decided to build a larger one, 20 (twenty!) kilometers in diameter. A tunnel was dug out, equipment was moved down into it. But at that point it turned out that the country was in need of “some other thinking” and that it was time for perestroika. The tunnel was left intact, but the installation of equipment was stopped.
When you come to Protvino for the first time you get fascinated by the abundance of green color. Can you imagine a housing area standing in the midst of a thick pine forest? In fact there was no felling of trees anywhere but in places reserved for houses and streets. Protvino is considered to be the cleanest town in the south of Moscow Region.
Quite naturally, a reader of these lines might ask: what were the author and other participants of the scholia doing in this beautiful town? His or her curiosity should be bated.
So, eight days ago a group of people who were quite friendly with each other but did not know each other very well boarded a Moscow – Protvino bus. The boarding was quite noisy as the bus driver refused to believe that we had the genuine tickets for his bus. The conflict was settled and we departed. Strong wind was blowing and sleet was hitting the windscreen. We felt sad as though we were Africans spending their holidays on the North Pole. But everything turned out fine in the end.
Peculiar things started happening right after our arrival. It turned out that we were the only guests in 12-storey sanatorium. And later… Each day was full of meetings and walking tours – to the town of Serpukhov to see the miraculous icon of the Holy Mother the Non-Drinking Chalice, to the museum of local lore, to the exhibition of children’s paintings. We also had a flight on an airplane. And, of course, we had a shashlik… Quite an adventure it was! We arrived to a picnic spot at 7 p.m. and left it at 3.a.m. The luckier ones were came and went by car: there was a guy who took a few people there by car for free, had some shashlik with us and took them back to the sanatorium. But the author of these lines and some friends had a night walk (or rather a morning walk) around Protvino, having lost two fellow travelers along the way (they successfully came back half an hour after our arrival). The outcome of the event was the consumption of seven kilos of excellent shashlik. In fact, the food and the living conditions were top level.
No one ever felt bored. There was not a single case of anyone going his or her own way after the meals. It was just exciting for us to be together. By the way, no one in those seven days even uttered the word “discotheque”. We had a music center at our disposal so we could have inserted a cassette with some dance music in the evening, but no one ever felt any need to do so. Communicating with each other was the most important thing for us. This always happens when like-minded persons meet.
I will never forget the lectures of Catechist Alexander Bozhenov which enabled me to systematize my knowledge of the fundamentals of Orthodox faith. Konstantin Povarov’s lectures gave me an insight into the “national features” of the structuring of youth associations. I believe that the Common Cause could be a model of Orthodox activity among youngsters. Although one year old, it has already implemented a number of large scale youth-oriented projects.
And finally I would like to thank the organisers for the unforgettable trip and express the hope that our contacts will continue after the Scholia.
The International Days of Youth in Diveyevo
INTERNATIONAL DAYS OF YOUTH IN DIVEYEVO
by Natalia Ivkova
Translated by George Vasilyev
First, when I came to know about setting up a youth tent camp among the crowds that were to come to Diveyevo for the festivities I was in doubt whether it was a right thing to do. Now, thank God, I am sure that it was right! It all came to a certain three-dimensional image. Its length is the distance from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Vorkuta, Tver, Nizhny Novgorod, Kursk, Minsk and France to Diveyevo covered by 160 participants of the International Days of Youth (IDY). Its width is the amplitude of the Diveyevo fields, the Russian soul and our circle of contacts. And its height is the prayerful veil of St. Seraphim spread over the youth camp, over every one of us and over the whole of Russia.
Now the details of this image. First of all, the Centenary of the canonization of St. Seraphim of Sarov in the village of Diveyevo where the holy elder used to strain his efforts to form the St. Trinity Convent. In twenty minutes walk from this Convent are the long rows of tents. Those with red ribbons are of the “Common Cause”.
Common Cause is the inter-regional youth public organization that has been contributing to the education of children and youth in the Orthodox tradition for more than one year. In accordance with the Federal Program of the Centenary of the Canonization of St. Seraphim of Sarov, Common Cause was engaged in the preparations for the IDY since February. Youth activists for the IDY were trained at specialized youth seminars held near Moscow. Delegates from youth organizations of Russia, CIS and other countries were invited to take part in IDY.
Acting in line with the well-known words of
V. М. Filippov, Minister of Education of Russia, who once said that “the upbringing of youth is the common cause of state, society and church”, Common Cause aimed at joining the efforts of more than 20 federal, public and religious organizations in order to hold the IDY. The youth camp was set up upon the blessing ALEXANDER, Archbishop of Kostroma and Galich, Chairman of the Department for Youth Affairs of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. The camp was supported by the Staff of the Moscow Military Command and the Committee for Family and Youth Affairs of the Moscow Government.
Each morning the day’s schedule was hung out in the Common Cause, but the turbulent reality of each day usually went beyond of the schedule. Each member of the camp had his or her own exciting program, his or her own little destiny. It was as though St. Seraphim himself was taking each one of us by the hand and leading, summoning or showing. As a result each one of us has taken something of his or her own from Diveyevo, his or her own joy
The varied life of one united camp was apparent at dawn. Mornings started at different times for different people. At 5.30 a.m. the zealots (persons on duty) wake up and start the lofty and arduous service to thy neighbor. At 6 a.m. the prayerful rise to sing the Akathist to St. Seraphim. 7 a.m. is the “change of the guard” time in the refectory: the here commanding meet for briefings. At 8 a.m. the ringers strike their bells* (*bells were ringing throughout our stay in the camp thanks to a group of bell-ringers from Sergiev Posad who brought their portable belfry). And then the God’s young people warm up their bodies in the sun and their souls in a common morning prayer. Our friends, the French Catholics (a group of youngsters headed by two priests), especially liked our long Orthodox prayers.
After our morning prayers Hieromonk Rafael (Belovolov) who came from the city of Vorkuta gives us his blessings for our good deeds and from that moment on life starts boiling up. On 29 July IDY participants splashed out of the camp and joined the procession that accompanied the Translation of the Relics of St. Seraphim from Diveyevo to Sarov. In Sarov the Alexy II, the Holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, was consecrating the church in the name of St. Seraphin of Sarov built near the Saint’s cell. Bell ringers, gonfalon bearers, choir members... Sun, sky, thousands of people... Even the zealots who remained on duty in the camp enjoyed the fete and the joy from the nearness and help of St. Seraphim. Diveyevo is a special place where miracles are a part of everyday life. If you look closer – every step you make here is accompanied by a miracle, be it even a small one: a miraculous concatenation of circumstances, a happy meeting... In the evening one could hear stories about such “miraculous concatenations” on that day. Father Alexy Shevchuk, a priest from Tver, told us about the help given to him by St. Seraphim. In the morning just before the procession he received a message from his daughter saying that she was to pass her first entrance exam in a university and asking him to pray for her. Before starting on the procession Father Alexy conveyed this message to his scouts who had come with him to the camp. Later in the same day another message came from his daughter. She advised him that she passed the first exam with an “Excellent” result and was enrolled without having to pass the other two. “We were never sure that she would pass the exams at all!” – concluded Father Alexy.
Many of the pilgrims visited the holy springs, walked in the St. Seraphim’s groove just as St. Seraphim had once precepted, prayed and worked in the Convent. Our impressions of all this were most bright and joyful. The zealots had a happy chance to fulfill the commandment to love and serve thy neighbor: guarding and cleaning of the camp, cooking... A few words about the meals. “The catering was brilliantly organized, - wrote an IDY participant just before the departure. – No one could ever guess when the people on duty would make the meals on their field-kitchens. This enabled us to walk alone, separately from groups, to the monastery, to the springs etc. without having to observe the lunch hour”.
By al means, one of the most important components of our camp life was interpersonal communication. The scholarly name of “seminars” in fact was given to discussions with knowledgeable persons. These discussions were held somewhere in the shade among the tents. Meetings with Andrey Kuraev, the “Deacon of all Russia”, lasted for three days. At evenings the concert meadow gathered those who like singing and listening: many have liked the idea of inviting the Orthodox bards from Krutizy Club to sing at IDY. Moreover, anyone wishing to sing or recite poetry could come to the mike and do so. Everything there was as it should be: the stage, the lighting, the microphones... but there was also some night singing which did not require all this equipment. They sang well and loud. The festive mood in the camp was complemented by our bell-ringers from Sergiyev Posad. We didn’t have much time for contacts with each other – only one week. Still, the most important thing was done: we got acquainted and had a chance to feel the joy of it and in this happy mood we exchanged our phone numbers and addresses. After the camp’s closure its life will now continue invisibly: letters, phone calls, e-mails will be flying all over Russia... This is what one IDY participant said about this short but happy period: “One could hardly find a place like this one on our sinful planet where so many people are so close to each other. “Christ is among us”, - I remembered this greeting throughout my stay here.”
By the evening of July 31 the festivities in Diveyevo reach their peak: the maximum number of pilgrims come to this God-saved place, we even have to give them some of our tents; in the Convent at this time the last stones are laid in the paved paths and the last flowers are planted. At noon our gonfalon bearers and bell ringers set off to meet the procession returning from Sarov to Diveyevo with the relics of St. Seraphim. Others are meeting the relics in the Diveyevo Convent. Chimes, sky and people, people, people... The Holy Patriarh arrives. The ceremonial meeting of the relics in the St. Trinity Cathedral of Diveyevo Convent. Demonstration of the divine service on a large outdoor screen. Numerous fathers in the yard of the Convent taking confessions and dispensing unction… the Holy Day!
There were four Liturgies on August 1, the day of St. Seraphim. Three were at night and one in the morning headed by Alexy II, the Holy Patriarch. Many of the campers decided to take the Holy Communion in the night time. Brightly lit cathedrals of the Convent under the cupola of the starry sky – the Holy Day! Two enormous cathedrals could not accommodate everyone who came to the night liturgies. People had to wait for the Communion in the Convent’s yard. There was the exciting atmosphere of an Easter night. Suddenly a “people’s voice” came from one of the cathedrals. It became louder and then we could clearly hear:
- Christ has arisen!
- Truly arisen!
...An even greater number of people came to attend the Patriarchal Liturgy on 1 August. It was held in the open air. The Patriarch was concelebrated by an assembly of hierarchs, primates and many members of the clergy. Now even the territory of the Convent could not accommodate all the worshippers, so many of them came to Diveyevo for the festivities. People were greeting each other:
- Happy Holiday! Christ has arisen!..
The most unexpected event that occurred during our stay in the God-saved village of Diveyevo was our departure. Preparations for the journey home, trips to the Convent to say goodbye to it, the last concert of the bards, the farewell camp-fire in the fields... that was all. But an image has imprinted itself in our hearts: Diveyevo, festivities, tents, sky, sun, people, friends and, of course, St. Seraphim of Sarov who has become very dear to us and who fills us with his ardent love.
Thanks to the Common Cause for their daring idea.