Father Alexander Men (1935-1990) was an influential parish priest in Russia who wrote, lectured widely, and eventually appeared on radio and television, becoming a nationally known figure. He started the first Russian Sunday school as soon as the communist persecution ceased, established a university, made a film, and started volunteer work at a children’s hospital. He personally baptized thousands, and though he had a huge following of ordinary people he was called “the apostle to the intellectuals.” Father Men was an advocate of church renewal, and had many links with Christians of other traditions. He had been close to the dissent movement in Russia and was assassinated in 1990.
You can go to a website dedicated to him HERE.
Today I share with you a short but stunning paragraph from one of his talks in which he spoke out against an exaggerated emphasis upon the past. It is quoted in Michael Plekon's Living Icons : Persons of Faith in the Eastern Church.
“Christ calls people to bring the divine ideal to reality. Only short-sighted people imagine that Christianity has already happened, that it took place, say in the thirteenth century, or the fourth, or some other time. I would say that it has only made the first hesitant steps in the history of the human race. Many words of Christ are incomprehensible to us even now, because we are still Neanderthals in spirit and morals; because the arrow of the Gospels is aimed at eternity; because the history of Christianity is only beginning. What has happened already, what we now call the history of Christianity, are the first half-clumsy, unsuccessful attempts to make it a reality.”