Like the returning exiles of Israel from ancient Babylon, the Russian people have been returning to a Church that was frequently devastated and constantly persecuted under 70 years of Communism. When an Orthodox Church is consecrated it is set aside “until the end of the world.” Thus you do not simply walk away from a Church gutted by the godless, but it is restored.
By the same token, you do not walk away from a people whose soul has been under such oppression. For unlike a Church building, the soul, through the mercies of God, is eternal (as will be the body). These have to be rebuilt through prayer, fasting, returning to liturgical services, praying before the icons, learning a new charity, forgiving enemies, and becoming, “Holy Russia,” a very common name for a land once marked by the depth of its piety.
Many of us in the modern West have no roots in such a memory. The British isles once breathed a holy Orthodoxy during the years of St. Cuthbert, Sts. Cedd and Chad, St. Drithelm (one of my favorites) and something like 28 saints in their royal family alone.
America has not known a period of “Holy America” despite the propaganda surrounding the Founding Fathers. Some were Christians, but we have no saint to whom to point whose prayers and holy life provided an inspiration for this nation. There are saints of North America, largely the product of Holy Russia. Much prayer, and much holy living will be required of us to found a Holy America. It cannot be voted for and will never appear on a ballot. Grace knows no democracy, other than the single “yes” from our hearts.
Russia will only become Holy Russia as it fills its Churches, populates its monasteries, feeds its poor, and forgives its enemies. They are surrounded by a great cloud of new martyrs who will not forget their efforts.
Nor will God forget America. The saints know no national boundaries and will pray for us all. But to be a holy America will be a great burden and a cross.