11 May 2018

Stará Morava

Orthodox Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Humenné, Prešov, Slovak Republic

It’s something to remember on the feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius that, because 863 comes before 988, the Rusin people have been Orthodox for that much longer than the other East Slavic members of the federation of Rus’ centred on Kiev have been. (Nowadays we don’t even know exactly where Saint Methodius rests, but we do know that it is somewhere in the former lands of Veľká Morava.) The Rusins were among the first Slavic peoples to be Christianised by our fathers among the Saints, and they continued under the Œcumenical Patriarchate until they were forcibly converted to Catholicism by bourgeois Poles. Said force included the destruction of Orthodox monasteries, the burning of Orthodox chronicles and the desecration of Orthodox graves. The fact that the very same despoilers of the Orthodox legacy in Carpathia are now among those clamouring to the Œcumenical Patriarch for an autocephalous church in the Ukraine takes quite some, as my own people said back in the day, chutzpah.

The fact that Moscow is younger than Kiev no one disputes, least of all Moscow herself. But the fact that Moravia is older in the Orthodox faith than Kiev is, is a fact that has yet to be adequately reckoned with. By that very fact, the Rusin nation – allied to Moravia by shared history and to the rest of the Rus’, and particularly Great Russia, by religious sentiment – ought by rights to be considered independently of the Ukrainian. As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn judiciously put it: ‘And what about Carpathian (Red) Ruthenia? While demanding justice for themselves, how just will the Ukrainians be to Carpathian Russians?

That justice may be done for the ancient and long-suffering Rusin people and their descendants, and that the faith of their fathers might shine in their own hearts, this unworthy sinner begs the Holy Fathers Cyril and Methodius to intercede with Christ Our God.
Let us praise the two priests of God who enlightened us,
And poured upon us the fount of the knowledge of God by translating the Holy Scripture.
O Cyril and Methodius, as abundant learning has been drawn from this work,
We exalt you who now stand before the Most High,
Interceding with fervor for the salvation of our souls!

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