"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Moscow Council of 1917

The University of Notre Dame Press sent me their Fall 2014 catalogue last week, and there are a number of noteworthy books in there, beginning with a translation of an important study I read in French nearly a decade ago now: Hyacinthe Destivelle, The Moscow Council (1917–1918): The Creation of the Conciliar Institutions of the Russian Orthodox Church, trans. Jerry Ryan, ed. Michael Plekon and Vitaly Permiakov (UND Press, November 2014), 488pp.

About this book the publisher tell us:
By the early twentieth century, a genuine renaissance of religious thought and a desire for ecclesial reform were emerging in the Russian Orthodox Church. With the end of tsarist rule and widespread dissatisfaction with government control of all aspects of church life, conditions were ripe for the Moscow Council of 1917–1918 to come into being.

The council was a major event in the history of the Orthodox
Church. After years of struggle for reform against political and ecclesiastical resistance, the bishops, clergy, monastics, and laity who formed the Moscow Council were able to listen to one other and make sweeping decisions intended to renew the Russian Orthodox Church. Council members sought change in every imaginable area—from seminaries and monasteries, to parishes and schools, to the place of women in church life and governance. Like Vatican II, the Moscow Council emphasized the mission of the church in and to the world. Destivelle’s study not only discusses the council and its resolutions but also provides the historical, political, social, and cultural context that preceded the council. In the only comprehensive and probing account of the council, he discusses its procedures and achievements, augmented by substantial appendices of translated conciliar documents. Tragically, due to the Revolution, the council’s decisions could not be implemented to the extent its members hoped. Despite current trends in the Russian church away from the Moscow Council’s vision, the council’s accomplishments remain as models for renewal in the Eastern churches.

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