Bishop Vasily (Rodzianko): salvation – in the family
Bishop Vasily (Rodzianko) (1915–1999) – an outstanding shepherd, a man of extraordinary kindness, meekness and true faith. A devotee not only of Russia, from which he was expelled for a long time, but also to his family. The theme of the family permeates his theology.
20 years ago, Bishop Vasily of San Francisco and West America passed away (Vladimir Rodzianko, May 22, 1915 – September 17, 1999).
“The family was friendly, large; despite the difficulties, it grew: in ten years … the mother gave birth to four of us (out of eight: the elder four were born before the revolution). Mother said, answering questions: how does she decide to “produce children at a time like this?”: “God will give children, and will give children”, her trust in God was unshakable, like her faith in Him … We undoubtedly have it was that “patriarch” who led the whole family, despite her femininity; father in her all his life did not cherish the soul and consciously followed her intuition. He took upon himself the finances and the “logical leadership”, as he understood it: he fed him … All this somehow balanced, and the boat sailed confidently, despite the storms, sometimes terrible. ”
So told about himself in an interview in the 1990s, Bishop of San Francisco and West America Vasily (Rodzianko). By that time, the "late bishop" had long been, as he spoke of himself.
Vladimir Rodzianko was born in 1915, after the “autumn leaf fall” of 1914, which, as the Germans, Austrians, French, and Russians thought, was to end the First World War, and after which there came a time before which all medieval notions of hell. Mankind has arranged on earth such that frescoes with scenes of fiery hell seemed like a poppy. The First World War, the Civil War, the emigration of the Rodzian women to Serbia – this was a young childhood. The terrible anticipation of the world massacre No. 2 of Interbellum is youth and youth in Belgrade. The Second World War and Communist Yugoslavia, which “gave” Vladimir two years of camps, is a transition to maturity.
The future bishop himself experienced what social decay is, what is the separation of mankind, like a natural element, irresistible by any effort. Yes, at the level of the political declaration, people are increasingly declaring their unity by creating political superstructures like the UN over a globalizing economy. But at the level of interhuman contact, at the level of the living soul, unity is becoming less and less. Individuals are divided, immersed in themselves, in their interests, in the implementation of their own significant path. Popular culture works for it, a high culture shouts about it – from cinema to the philosophy of existentialism. For Bishop Vasily, who has had a joyful experience of family life in the past, it is obvious where to look for a natural antidote for the poison of social entropy – in the family, of course. In the works of other theologians of the 20th century with a similar fate, but whose experience in family life was more tragic (Bishop John (Shakhovskaya)) or even negative (Archimandrite Kiprian (Kern), we will not find such a vivid, even passionate apology for the family, as in the writings of Bishop Vasily :
“The role of the small church is the same as the large: the restoration of weakness. We humans are terribly broken! The whole history of mankind is full of this. We break each other and break ourselves. Nowadays, families are no exception: how many broken families! But even the phrase “broken family” itself is an internal contradiction. The family, on assignment, is wholeness. And in the chaos of the surrounding corruption: in wars and revolutions, sedition and robberies, a united family is salvation! “The Lord helps the family to survive in critical situations,” they write to me. Right! Yes, exactly! I know this from experience. We know our family, we know many other families! Everyone has a common law: “adhesion is salvation”. I have already lived to see my great-grandson and I can safely say: three families – my parents, my own, and now my grandchildren – were saved in incredibly difficult circumstances only by soldering, and this was contrary to many trials and temptations. But, of course: "The Lord helps to survive." Helps in response to our faith and prayer! ”
“Today, the family should be the main goal of every person who loves his middle name and, of course, every Christian.”
Family is a cure for personal hardships, but what to do with the chronic imperfection of the world, with its death stretching for billions of years. At sunset, Vladyka wrote his main book, The Theory of the Disintegration of the Universe and the Faith of the Fathers, in which his two passions were combined: Cappadocian theology and modern natural science. The main idea of the book is very simple and actually reproduces (which is not so small) the patristic (Eastern Orthodox) point of view on the creation of the world.
There are two extremes. The first is that the creation of the world is the beginning of history, that what was described in the first chapters of Genesis was once in the past and that the fall is a historical event, although it radically changed the universe. The second point of view (it was held, for example, by Origen) speaks of two creations: first God created the world without sin, and after and because of the sin of the ancestors He “had” to create a second world in which we live now (and which will burn after the Last Judgment).
From the point of view of Bishop Basil (and most of the Holy Fathers), this is not the case. God created the world once, but Adam and Eve, who freely chose nothingness instead of prosperity, and “presented” the whole universe with this desire for nothingness, which cannot be rolled back since the world became external to the human will, ceased to obey it. On the contrary, now disintegration, the desire for nothing, for death and man himself makes us afraid of death and therefore sin. In this brave new world, there is entropy, there are diseases (decay of nature), there is enmity and competition at the biological (evolution, sexual attraction) and social level (class struggle, for example) and therefore there is what we call history. What the universe and human relationships looked like before the fall, it’s impossible to judge, or rather, can only be apophatically assumed: it was devoid of all these cadaveric spots of our world. We cannot even say whether there was time and space in that world, since they themselves are the principles of separation of an object, thanks to them we perceive the object as the sum of its parts and elements.
For Bishop Vasily it was very important to find an ally in the face of modern science, confirming that the current state of the world is not proper, not primordial, that there is some other world that can be “thought out” not only by a theologian, but also by such a strict scholar, like Stephen Hawking. The point, however, is not only in intellectual alliance, not only in the coincidence of thoughts, but also in the coincidence of feelings, sensations of the theologian and scientist. Vladyka Vasily seeks to find in Hawking the same cry for the universe, for his slow death, which is heard in his own texts:
“Translating the language of calculations into the laws of the universe, we see in Hawking, in his relation to the second law of thermodynamics, there is a direct emotional sensitivity to“ failure ”in space: entropy is a steady loss of temperature in the entire universe, which means going back from order to chaos, decay just a total mess! Prof. Hawking with heartache exclaims: why? And the answer remains: “Philosophers do not give an answer” … However, theologians give the answer: “God is not the culprit of evil.”
Vladyka Vasily, however, believes that the concept of “imaginary time” – a more fundamental reality than our “real” time, for which there are no borders, no initial and final states, which means a transition from order to chaos. The bishop believes that Hawking speaks, in fact, about the lost paradise, about the pristine state of the world. Return to which is only one way.
In the ecclesiology of Bishop Basil – namely, the Church, he considers such an instrument for the restoration of unity – there is nothing "original". This is a completely traditional doctrine of the Orthodox Church as the only genuine Church, the presence in which alone gives salvation, since only the true Eucharist is celebrated in it. However, the bishop does not focus on sullen exclusivity, but on a connecting “function” that is “high above the living and earthly conditions in the Church, in particular over our jurisdictions, that is, of one or another local church, of one or another community”. This idea was borrowed by Vladyka Vasily from his teacher and spiritual father, Saint John (Maximovich), who, himself a bishop of the Russian Church Abroad, blessed then the priest Vladimir Rodzianko to remain in the jurisdiction of the Serbian Church and commemorate the liturgy of the Patriarch of Moscow. But this idea corresponds to the general attitude of Vladyka Vasily, his desire for unity, his horror of cosmic and social decay, his understanding of the Church as reality removed from the self-destructing world and therefore capable of healing this world.
And just as a family saves at the beginning of the life path of an individual individual, staying among people who consider it their duty to help this small unit and are connected by mutual care, so at the end (not so much temporary as sense), a person must be part of a saving community in order to be saved – New Family. Where no one is alone, where everyone exists for each other thanks to the grace that brings humanity back to pristine unity.
“The whole point is that Divine love does not know anything separate, nothing that is not together, does not know and does not want to know, because this is not life. The Creator created for himself children, both from angels and from people, just so that they would be together, like a family in our life. ”
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