Old-believers have always been distinguished by the attention they give with preserving and passing down their pious traditions and customs to their descendants. Healthy conservatism and the strength of tradition are the components that allowed the Russian Old-believers to remain faithful to the spiritual and moral foundations – which are the basis for the existence of a nation, a society and a state. In the context of the above-mentioned approach, the problem of instructing the younger generation is particularly relevant for the Old-believers’ Church. We have a huge responsibility – whom we will bring up and in what spirit, who will come after us and to what place our descendants will take the ideals of their grandfathers and fathers.
The spiritual situation that has developed in modern society, with profound sorrow, cannot be called sound. The root of this disease lies in the depersonalisation of traditional culture, the erasure of its facets, the distortion of its meaning. The social mission of the Church is to help young people in their strivings, to help them take their first steps in life and to instil a basic religious experience. However, many dangers, ordeals and temptations that lie in wait at every step for a young person, which the church considers pernicious, soul destroying and cultivating passions, unfortunately today seem to be “the norm” to many, and the rejection of these temptations is “restraint”, “narrow-mindedness” even “backwardness”.
As a result of the era of godlessness and the era of permissiveness that replaced it later, there has been a global, almost catastrophic substitution of concepts among modern youth. Chastity is considered almost a disgrace, and humility an absence of character and lack of will. One gets the impression that certain forces controlling social “norms” are doing everything to discredit Christian ideals, to belittle our values, beliefs and traditions.
There is a real battle for the minds and hearts of the younger generation. The task of our church is to prevent young people from being depersonalised, to convey to innocent minds what is really useful and to help them realise the destructiveness of what seems “normal” in today’s godless society.
But as frightening as the current state of affairs appears to be, it is pleasing to see in church on Sundays and feast days young families with children in traditional Russian clothes. They did not go to a shopping and entertainment centre in their best clothes, but they came to God, they pray and they live a spiritual life. Even for a small attempt to live in a Christian way, the Lord will reward even during this life. Such families will be friendly and strong, their children smart and healthy, who will respect their elders and love their Native land, their Homeland. In such young families, there will be no place for vulgarity and debauchery; children will see only the sublime and the beautiful.
All the more encouraging and giving to optimism is the tendency that there are more and more of such young people. This is largely facilitated by the enlightening mission of the Russian Orthodox Old-Rite Church.
Thanks to the fruitful work of the Enlightenment Department of the Russian Orthodox Old-Rite Church, young Old-believers’ (and not only Old-believers) are drawn to Christian enlightenment, using the advanced achievements of modern technology. Youth are given the opportunity to be trained in a spiritual and educational online course called “An Introduction to Christianity”. In this course, students watch video lectures, take online examinations based on their new knowledge and receive certificates upon passing the exams. Listeners who have taken part in the course hail from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Germany, Kazakhstan, Finland, Latvia, Romania, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Spain, Israel, Armenia, Montenegro, China, Poland, Korea, France and Italy. New listeners register every month and students take courses on the following topics: ‘Interpretation of the Gospel’, ‘Christian doctrine’, ‘Christian Divine worship’, ‘Moral foundations of Christian life’ and ‘History of the Church’.
The Enlightenment Department also has its own website – nashavera.com (meaning: Our Faith) and on social networks (“VKontakte” vk.com/nashavera_rpsc), where, among other things, there is a large collection of videos about faith and the Old Belief. In addition, a youth choir part of the Enlightenment Department was organized and is the only choir of the Old-believers that performs liturgical chants in English.
The active participation of youth in the annual Week of the Holy myrrh-bearing women in Rogozhskoe, Moscow, is also an important event for young Old-believers. This festival attracts many youth choirs from various cities of Russia and neighbouring countries who perform at the Evening of Spiritual chants – the main singing event of the Russian Orthodox Old-Rite Church.
In the matter of the spiritual and moral enlightenment of young people, the Moscow Old-believers’ Theological School (MSDU) is largely involved. The theological school teaches youth who are interested in pursuing clerical ranks, becoming choir leaders and those who strive to become more spiritually educated. In addition to the standard curriculum, students, trainees, and guests of the MSDU can attend enlightening lectures conducted by Old-believer historians and theologians on a regular basis. In 2018, 20 students entered the school. The school also organizes excursions and pilgrimages for the students and regularly holds academic conferences, festivals and exhibitions.
Thus, the Russian Orthodox Old-Rite Church does not overlook the problems of modern youth, and our activities in the field of spiritual, moral and patriotic upbringing, we hope, will bring favourable results for the good of the Church and the Homeland.