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Orthodox Book Day

In Russia the Orthodox Book Day first took place the 14th of march. It is to become an annual event and was blessed by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church (later ROC), initiated by the Patriarch Kirill. The day is timed to the release date of the first printed book in Russia – the “Apostle”, printed by Ivan Feodorov – the 1st of March (in the old calendar), 1564.

“A book is God’s great gift to people. Not only does it serve to convey historical information, but also as an entrance into the future. The ideals of the young depend on the books they read, and, therefore, so does our future” – said Kliment (Kapalin), the metropolitan of Kaluga and Borov, chairman of the ROC’s Publishing House.

The new holiday was observed in every diocese of the ROC. In the period of February-March, 2010 there were several exhibitions of Orthodox handwritten and printed before the 18th century books from the funds of the diocesan libraries, philanthropic fairs of Orthodox literature for children, youth and family reading. Orthodox literature was gifted to some municipal libraries. Numerous priests, publishers, writers, students and scholars participated in the meetings, open seminars, round table conferences and poetry evenings.

The Ekaterinodar and Kuban diocese celebrated the Orthodox Book Day broadly, and so did our Center.

The celebration took place on the 14th of March in the spiritual meetings hall of the St. Catherine’s Cathedral clergy house. The Family Center “Seed of Faith” and the Sunday school of the Cathedral together prepared for the holiday.

On that Sunday, right after the Liturgy, parishioners of different churches gathered at the Orthodox Book exhibition, and then filled a beautifully decorated hall where the little participants of the Holiday awaited.

Everyone was glad to welcome your metropolitan, Isidor and the clergy – archpriest Igor Olzhabaev, dean of the Cathedral and archpriest Ioann Makarenko, the Cathedral’s ecclesiarch.

And so, with the fanfare, the Holiday starts…

 

“A Word for the Heart”

An article on the holiday

Sunday. The Divine Liturgy is being served in the Cathedral of St. Catherine. Candles flicker, chants are sung, everything here radiates warmth, and above all, the soul is comforted. After it all ends the dean, Fr. Igor Olzhabaev speaks about a magnificent book, “the Ladder of Paradise” by St. John Climacus, to whom the week is dedicated. The book helps us to see our sins and passions and teaches to fight them. Fr. Igor also speaks about the benefit of reading, about the treasure we can find in the Holy Scripture and the spiritual heritage of the Holy Fathers, and then invites everyone to the holiday performance that the children have prepared for the Orthodox Book Day.

This year the Orthodox Book Day is celebrated for the first time. It was established in December 2009 and timed to the date the first printed book in Russia – the “Apostle”, printed by Ivan Feodorov, was released in 1564. I did not know about the Holiday, and not only did I come to know of it, but also I have seen the historical event, reproduced on stage by the Orthodox Diocesan Family Center “Seed of Faith” and the Sunday school of the Cathedral.
At first, while the children rehearsed, I had time to look at the wonderful works of children who attend icon painting and modeling groups that function in the Center. Besides, there were Orthodox books displayed on a table next to the works. And what books! From the XVIII-th , XIX-th, and early XX-th century. The largest and most ancient was the principal book of the Church – the Gospel, printed in 1644, with a beautiful binding and with delicate bloomers on pages that turned yellow with age.

When the rehearsal ended, I returned to the school hall. The guests took their seats, and metropolitan Isidor arrived, accompanied by the clergy of the Cathedral. There is no stage in the hall, and people are seated around the place where the performance took place. It all began with the first Easter words of the Gospel According to St. John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. (Saint John. 1,1). And two young hosts, confidently holding their microphones, declaiming poems, announcing the numbers and giving historical information on them. There was a wide variety of topics, from the history of the Orthodox book and the appearance of written language in Rus to the virtue of reading and love for books. Two boys in surplices appear, and addressing a huge icon of the Mother of God on the screen, pray in the name of the Holy and Equal-to-the-Apostles Cyril and Methodius, the founders of Slavonic written language:

Holy Virgin and Mother of Christ,
You have taught the baby Jesus,
We pray to you – give us inspiration us for this virtuous work, teach us the script.


There were songs, poems and riddles. The most memorable moment was the presentation of all the significant Orthodox books by the youngest pupils of the Center: the Bible, the Gospel, the Psalter, the Saints' Lives, the Church Calendar and the Book of Prayer. The girl who spoke about the Bible, being more grown-up, addressed the younger ones:

On the First Day of Creation
God spoke the Word,
The most miraculous of words:
“Let there be light!” - said God.

The last words of the poem were pronounced altogether, by the children and their parents. And the youngest girl, the one who presented the Book of Prayer, reminded everyone:

Like a day without the sun,
Like a stub left of a tree,
Like an extinguished little flame
Is a day spent without prayer

Everyone at the holiday had a chance to learn something new and check his knowledge. Neither the children, nor their parents felt bored. Everyone guessed the riddles and sang along with equal interest. The Holiday performance ended with a song with such words: “The Word, good for the soul, is sacred in all ages”.

Then the dean took the word. “This Holiday is a genuine miracle” – he said – “…we have seen a piece of clear sky in this dull and cold day”. He thanked everyone who participated in the celebration. Metropolitan Isidor addressed the people sincerely, with all his heart: “The marvelous children have rejoiced our hearts with their performance. I wish everyone fortitude and a long life, and that we meet more often for spiritual and prayerful communication. God bless you all.”

I went out: it was raining. But the warmth of all the pious words and the holiday itself remained in me the whole day. Truly, so often do we complain on our lives, not realizing that the answers to all our questions lie in the books that contain this “word for the heart”. Probably we all should read these meaningful and truthful books more frequently.

I.Bughulova, student of the journalism department in Kuban’s State University.

2011-02-16  |  Print version

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