My baptism of ice in the convent Boldin (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany)


If it were not shovel Father Igor, the cruciform hole at minus twenty frozen if at the moment

We are on the way to the Russian ice rite of baptism in the monastery Boldin. Place, located in the fairy forest on the banks of the lake, not so easy to find. Navigator showing on the south three hundred kilometers to the west of Moscow, leads us to the village street to the factory to the railroad tracks, toast covered with a layer of snow. We noticed them only when our car got stuck with broken rails on dnitse between the old rails. 

Night watchman in a factory to which managed to get through, is not surprised once. On these tracks are often stuck trucks from Poland or Belarus, he explains. Large flakes of snow fall. And we were lucky. Irinarkh bishop, the second man in the monastery and the head cashier, pulls us in tow his Jeep off the rails, organizes spare wheel and even helps with night replacing the old. "The suffering of the Lord sends us," teaches us a friendly priest during the remainder of the way, "if he wants to bring us closer to himself."

Cold binds heart

In contrast, the Orthodox Christmas, which is celebrated in Russia only in the church (Christmas in the West have long been turned into a secular holiday with commercial overtones, ca. Trans.), Day of the baptism of Jesus was truly a national holiday.

In fact, the divinity of Christ immediately after his birth was a secret closely guarded holy family, which were devoted only three wise men from the Middle East and a few, so if anything, the common people, herded his sheep. However, in the Jordan, where John the Baptist called people to turn and the symbolic bathing of the old life in the river, Christ revealed to the people. 

Since God at baptism of Jesus manifested in his threefold nature, initially designated as a holiday Theophany or Epiphany *, that is, again want to know the Orthodox liturgy with their mystique. And as the water at this point was a kind of catalyst, according to the Orthodox point of view, it was on this day holy and healing through prayer.

Even in Soviet times, especially in rural areas, while all waters of Baptism, be it sea, pond, lake or stream consecrated by the local master, and the most desperate of the residents were diving in the hole and cross three times and saying the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit . Who has ever experienced it can imagine the transformation of the spirit caused by heat shock ice swimming. 

Captures the heart of the icy cold claws, legs and arms are small and thin. When surfacing as you warmly embraces a euphoric feeling is indescribable and incomprehensible. This attracts every year more and more Russian. In Moscow alone, at this time, especially in the exposed ice font plunged more than 82 000 people. However, the most impressive renaissance of ancient Russian rites in such protected areas as a monastery in the Smolensk region Boldin, who 20 years ago almost in ruins. 

This water does not become rotten

The monastery, founded in the 16th century on the edge of Catholic Poland-Lithuania, as a border crossing point, during the Soviet era was used first as a grain elevator and a dairy farm during the Second World War was the guerrilla base area and was blown up by retreating Germans as a fortress which is of strategic importance. Restoration work began here in 60 years, and after the transfer of the monastery Russian Orthodox Church in 1991, followed by an extensive reconstruction under the old plans and photographs. The main church dedicated to the Holy Trinity, and restored a few years ago are now once again regained its former appearance with its golden domes and pediments on the innovative features that are in the 80's have been replaced by a conventional roof. 

The day after our arrival adventurous, during the morning service runs consecration of water sources. At the end of one of the monks comes with a bucket from the structure to the structure, sprinkles holy water on the inhabitants and joyfully exclaims: "In Jordan, O Lord, you have been baptized." About three monastic sources already crowded with people from the surrounding villages to holy water should be reminded plastic bottles of various sizes. The water should be drunk in the morning on an empty stomach, and use for personal hygiene, since it acquired the "necessary" quality and can no longer stagnate. One Grandma, Age 85 years, which drags behind them on sleds a barrel, accompanied giggling, too, has an older and slightly tipsy sonny. 

Wings for the Soul

During the supper, which is held by the example of Boldin Athos monastery, candlelight, the area in front of the monastery's wall is full. Runabout and "chlenovoz", various buses are parked close to each other. In the church lobby people buy candles, gift icons and crosses, which are necessarily orthodox in the neck. Then the monks and pilgrims are already partaking in the refectory. In this case, read the text of the sermon from the pulpit Ionanna ** Chrysostom tells them that the baptismal water inspires the soul and tells her to follow the teacher as a militant for the eagle as a martyr for hen or lamb of God as a pigeon. Guests standing in the yard in a festive mood, not all listen to the preaching of John the Chrysostom. Two men want to know where they will find here sins for which to repent of the church. In this case, one of them pulls out a anorak invitingly bottle of wine for communion (Cahors)

On strong "frosts" the second half of January is quite possible to rely on. In the beautiful frozen lake on the back side of the monastery cut down a cross hole and paved wooden walkways. Swimming in the Russian "Jordan" begins in "Christmas Eve" (the day before) Orthodox baptism shortly before midnight under a clear starry sky. Most of the heroes of the ritual of "quenching" male. Muscular, short-cropped, often with luxurious tattoo, they Seagal to the center of the cross and did not surfaced. 

Many people, including the elderly and young people, come to the scaffold decorated with icicles and dip, crowned the constellation of Orion, three times straight with his head in ice water, taking care, however, keep your head on the surface. The young man, who friends call "John", dressed in swimming trunks with a pattern of one hundred dollar bills. With pleasure he exposes the procedure Russian monetary symbols of baptism at the hips, and even help some few others before himself, and finally dressed warmly. 

It all depends on the faith

That night, the gates of the monastery remain open even when the monks went to bed. Feed willing to "icy baptism" is not reduced. One of the young men condemned by his teammates for being habitually rolls around curses. On the day of the actual baptism in the church bookstore shelves wiped clean. Continues and swimming among special fans. Full peasants and skinny girls climb the stairs swept into the water. More respectable gentlemen allow themselves after a sip of something "intoxicating" born out of a thermos. A lady in a fur coat is recognized monk Igor, who clears a cross hole of fresh ice that would gladly washed off his many sins, but unfortunately it can not be. Igor's father tells her and others indecisive, that all depends on faith.

In the meantime, I too am struggling with myself as a little bad cold and I do not want to do anything stupid. Then Igor seems to read my mind, being in a good mood, tells me that "icy baptism" cured many patients. However, I say that my weak faith forbids me any frivolity. And only the father Irinarkh, our savior, ready to give us a farewell blessing, could disturb my conscience. I can not dishonor his Protestant faith, which had been brought up, and especially Martin Luther, who probably watching me, and disappoint my readers, my father teaches Irinarkh. 

Washing is not considered

It is touching to take care of me. I get boots, a large towel and warm pants. What the hell is me, sparashivayu myself, going to the hole. I am full of fear of suffering, which said earlier Irinarkh father, and that God sends us as a reward and surcharges for this "wild idea". The thermometer indicates "minus twenty."

I will, of course, do not feel. Absolutely nothing. Just very cold, both in the water and in the air. On the stairs I step on the black slime algae. Sign of the cross, I dive. Then, it is important not to stand on the ice, so as not to freeze to quickly dry off and get dressed again. The miraculous water in any case it is impossible to wash themselves. In fact, do not deny Russian ice font leaves behind not only a delightful sense of freshness and health, but also the fact that I can not be ashamed of their ancestors.

Translator's notes

* Theophany — A direct manifestation of a deity in various religions.

First celebration of Theophany (together with Christ) appeared in the Gnostic communities of II century BC. e. — That Gnosticism, with its attempt to unite the Hellenistic cults and Christianity brought ancient tradition of praise birth to Christianity: this tradition was received by the Eastern churches and the simultaneous celebration of Christmas and Theophany continued yes IV — beginning of V century. n. e.
In the modern Orthodox Theophany (Epiphany) is one of the twelve great feasts of the Orthodox. Epiphany is celebrated, when it was clearly revealed to the entire Holy Trinity — God the Son was baptized, God the Father testified to Him with their noise, and God the Holy Spirit descended upon him like a dove.
The exception is the Armenian Apostolic Church, which preserved the tradition of the Eastern Churches in IV. and the feast of Epiphany (Theophany) is celebrated in conjunction with Christmas on January 6.

John Chrysostom ** — Archbishop of Constantinople, the theologian, is revered as one of the Three Hierarchs and Ecumenical Teachers, along with St. Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian.

In some Christian churches revered as a saint. In Orthodoxy, in view of the fact that the day of his death falls on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross to his memory has been moved to November 13 on the Julian calendar, the Orthodox Church also makes his memory January 27 (relics) and the Cathedral of the Three Hierarchs on January 30 on the Julian calendar.

In 386, John was ordained to the priesthood. It is mandated to preach the Word of God. John was a brilliant preacher, and got the nickname from his flock?????? ("Chrysostom"). Twelve years he usually twice a week, sometimes every day, preaching in the temple. During this period he wrote a number of books on the interpretation of Scripture and many homilies on individual biblical texts, but also instructions for the holidays, to the praise of the saints and apologetic.

'Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung', Germany

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