Mitropolit Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia came to Japan with a visit to celebrate 100 years since the death of Saint Nikolay of Japan, the first Russian orthodox missionary in Japan. Our church in Ochanomizu is named after him.
Ever since he took the title of Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill has become a very public figure with a lot of judgmental eyes on him, watching his every move and interpreting everything he does in a way that would amuse the masses. I guess, when one is forced to shift one’s attention from spiritual guidance to being the “CEO” of church, one gains a lot of hatred by default. I do not agree with the church’s teaching on some subjects like homosexuality, women rights and science but I understand that for church and its leaders it is really hard to change their doctrines. One little change can shutter the formation of the whole religion. Russian orthodox church is proud of having never changed a single thing about its teachings so I reckon they are not about to start now even though I am sure they do understand that some of their established beliefs regarding the aforementioned topics are very controversial to say the least. Kirill is trying to bring faith back into the masses but it is really hard to do especially with the young generation that is raised on new values brought to them by modern media. How do you teach kids humility and kindness when it is purely not cool anymore…
We all wish for church to be focusing on more important messages like love to the neighbor and not judging anyone before judging ourselves. Instead, partly because of lack of flexibility and partly because human values have changed a lot in the past decades, church is all about war rather than peace.. There are also a lot of situations where church and Christian religion as a whole is widely misrepresented by blind fanatics or people who abuse their religious statuses for personal gain. Religion will always suffer from that. But we all hold high standards for church, expect it to be pure good and criticize it when it fails to meet our expectations. Yet, we never fail to lower any kind of standard for ourselves, creating all sorts of excuses for our own actions.. So it is my opinion that we should focus on the good and filter the rest. After all, our relationship with God is a very personal experience. If I don’t agree with something, I let it be. I focus on my relationship with God rather than my relationship with church. I go there to join in the public prayer for the well-being of human kind and not to give any kind of statement. ^-^
Kirill came to Nikolay-Do for Sunday service with a big entourage of priests bringing his own camera crew and bodyguards. It was quite a spectacle. I really enjoyed the atmosphere around. People were joyful and full of excitement. ^-^
Jenya and me before the service. We were all waiting for Patriarch to arrive inside the church rather than outside which was a mistake. By the time he came, it was already so hot and humid, I was grasping for air.. Although really, we were in no position to complain wearing nothing by light summer dresses while all the clergy including Kirill were wearing 3-4 layers of ceremonial robes, heavy and uncomfortable.. Poor priests spent 3 hours performing the service without any ability to take a break and go outside in the fresh air like we did from time to time. I know I am not supposed to do that but otherwise I wouldn’t be able to survive long..
This is the official dressing of Kirill into the ceremonial robe at the beginning of the service.
Kirill is giving blessing to the crowd.
Kirill is leading the service with Daniil politely stepping down and standing beside him. He was promoted into the higher rank today so I am thinking he is not complaining. ^-^
Julia and me outside the church, taking a break. Julia was wearing her Armani Sunday best. ^-^
Every visitor today got an icon of Saint Nikolay of Japan as a commemorative present. Unfortunately, the entrance was only open to those registered in advance like we did. Many of my friends couldn’t join in because the news of registration never reached them.. I feel very guilty of not spreading the news when it was still possible to get in.. Hopefully, the situation was different at Podvorye – another Tokyo church he visited after Nikolay-Do..