The Orthodox mission in the United States is carried out in an environment of confessional and religious diversity, when faith is depleted in many people. The First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Nikolai of Eastern America and New York, spoke about this in an interview published in the first issue (January-February) of the Toward Unity magazine for 2023, Pravlife writes.
“While doing our ministry, we are surrounded mainly by heterodox and heterodox people, many of whom, as statistics show, have become indifferent to the faith,” said the Primate of ROCOR.
At the same time, he is convinced that the history of the United States testifies to the deep Christian roots of this country. “Its founders were looking for religious freedom, like many subsequent generations of emigrants who ended up here, including the children of the Russian Orthodox Church persecuted in the past century,” His Eminence noted.
Despite the fact that “the secularization and moral degradation of society are doing their job”, affecting “the state of minds and hearts” of young people, adults and even the elderly, Metropolitan Nikolai is sure that “one should not lose heart.”
“After all, “the soul is by nature a Christian,” it does not tolerate emptiness. Over time, having tried all human passions, she begins to wake up from sleep and look for the depth, meaning and purpose of life. And these quests often lead people to faith in God,” the First Hierarch believes.
He specified that many of the newly converted Americans ended up in the bowels of the Russian Church Abroad thanks to their acquaintance with the lives of such saints as St. Seraphim of Sarov, St. Theophan the Recluse, and Archbishop John of Shanghai. Some were inspired by the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church, who suffered during the terrible years of persecution. According to His Eminence, there are those for whom Christianity was discovered by the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky, as well as the works of other writers and religious thinkers.
Speaking about conversion to the Orthodox faith, the bishop cited Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose) as an example, who realized that he “came home” after he stepped on the threshold of the San Francisco Cathedral and saw the service of Archbishop Tikhon (Troitsky), the predecessor of St. John Shanghai for the management of the Western American Department.
“Therefore, there is hope that Orthodoxy will pull people out of this pit of spiritual bankruptcy,” summed up Metropolitan Nikolai of Eastern America and New York.