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A little bit about AA and the Russian Orthodox Church
compiled and edited by Anastasia Donets for
Mar 14, 2007, 02:30
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Orthodox Hierarchy's Opinion of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Movement

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh:

I heard of the AA Community some time ago, when I was still a doctor. This was over fifty years ago. At that time AA groups using the Twelve steps program were just appearing in France. In England they were organised earlier and continue operating even now. I worked with them from time to time and had some meetings with the groups when they wanted something “deeper”; when they wanted something to do with God or the Church, and the Church not as religious organisation but as a fellowship.

Bishop Alexey of Orekhovo-Zuevo:

You ask how I got acquainted with AA Community's program. I have a spiritual child. You should have seen him earlier! He was always drunk and reeked of tobacco. Now he does not see himself without Church activities. He is a church warden and helps a lot at our monastery. He became such a person due to AA Community! Every day he read aloud to me abstracts from the book "Twenty four hours a day". The book is intended for those who take part in AA groups and helps them on their recovery course set up for each day. The book makes people think and even helps them learn to pray. Many ideas from the book have sunk deep into my heart. Certainly they are of Christian, Gospel nature.

Enlightener Ignaty Bryanchaninov explains in his writings that a person should be like a condemned one. Surely the Programme helps the person feel himself a sinner, but a sinner who is not indulging in his earthly needs but who believes in his deliverance, his healing, and his ultimate transformation by the grace of God. He also sees others who have found the way...At the AA meetings I was struck by the people’s mercilessness towards themselves. You can rarely hear such things even at confession.  

Bishop Illarion of Vienna and Austria:

Such communities exist all over the world. They have much to teach us. The recovery program is developed with the needs of a complex process in mind and takes place during the whole life course of the person. The program organisers try, as much as possible, to remove the internal reasons and motivations, the causes for physical and psychological addiction to alcohol and drugs. To do this, they arrange open meetings where everyone tells his or her life story and reasons that caused him or her to use drugs or alcohol. In the initial stage of the recovery process, this helps patients not to feel abandoned and lonely. This social feeling of human unity is of much importance, and it takes central place in all other treatments.

As a rule, such communities do not have a specific religious background, although much attention is paid to religious activities throughout the treatment course. The conscious desire not to return to former ways of life and the will to do so become the final results of an intense recovery course.

Icon of the Theotokos “Inexhaustible Cup”
A group of Orthodox Christians – priests and laity – compelled by feelings of compassion towards those addicted to drugs or alcohol, decided to create a new icon of Christ the Savior called “The True Vine”. The new icon was created in accordance with Orthodox icon traditions and rules.

The Patriarch of Moscow and all of Russia Alexey blessed people who cry out to God in their addiction and those who are trying to help the sufferers to pray to Christ through this icon.

     On the 11th of December 2005 a copy of the icon of the Theotokos called the “Inexhaustible Cup” was copied by the St. Daniilov Monastery from the Vysotsky monastery in Serpukhov. The icon was copied by Sergei Sokolov, who previously wrote the original icon in Serpukhov. People went out to meet the long-awaited icon…it was written using the money donated from those who are addicted and their relatives. The meeting of the icon happened at five in the evening by the Holy Gates of the monastery. An Akafist was sung to the icon and then everyone had a chance to venerate the icon.   

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