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Archpriest Fedor Povnyi and his unusual hobby

Fedor Povnyi, the archpriest of the All Saints Parish, has given and interview to the CTV Channel in which we spoke about spiritual and rather down-to-earth heights, about spiritual safety and revealed why the priesthood is into extreme kinds of sport.

Archpriest Fedor Povnyi, prior of the All Saints Parish in Minsk:
First of all, I would like to greet you with the words of Easter and Easter happiness and say Christ has Risen!

Truly He is Risen!

Archpriest Fedor Povnyi:
Easter tells us about God’s great love to people, right from the Old Testament. Easter gives us a possibility to be next to God and the main idea of the celebration will never change. After all, it’s the essence of Christianity. Surely, the very first Christians celebrated Easter with a greater feeling and spiritual uplift. Nowadays the perception of this celebration is post-Christian and more pragmatic. People are more interested in traditions. Nevertheless, there are people that want to be next to Christ on this day; overcrowded churches on Easter Eve and on other important days of the Holy Week or the Lent prove it all. Everything depends on the human development and the desire to look at things deeper.

Missionary work in the modern world. How difficult is it to reach out to the hearts of people today?

Archpriest Fedor Povnyi:
Just like before, I suppose, God Himself reaches out to people’s hearts. He opens Himself with the heavenly spirit through God’s grace. The susceptibility of the soul depends on us, on our position of accepting and having the desire of knowing God. Whenever you speak about faith, you shouldn’t say fine words only. Otherwise, they’ll turn into multicolored soap bubbles. Even one word that was said with faith and that went through the life you live may help God reach out to somebody’s heart. By today’s standards, happy people are sometimes in need of spiritual assistance and direction a lot more, because souls of such people bear the burden of welfare, which is constantly deadening everything that a person needs. But the soul will shudder only when it touches another soul and sees a real example of spiritual life.

Many people go to church when something goes wrong in their life. What should be done or what is being done so that people go to church even when everything is fine?

Archpriest Fedor Povnyi:
It’s natural of people. They look for support and help in sorrow, and when nothing helps, they go to God. But it’s the highest good for a person to learn how to go to church in joy. We quite often forget to thank God for the happy moments of our lives, but pious believers thank even for mourn. And what is more, they feel worried when there are no adversities in their life for a long time. Having a habit of thanking God teaches us to see God’s care in everything. This is where spiritual happiness and the experience of faith take their roots. A person also feels the touch of welfare and is eager not to lose it. And that is why his soul calls him to go to church.

It is rather difficult to imagine the world without the Internet or social websites. What is your attitude towards all this? At the Baptism of Russia Anniversary you had a tablet and you asked somebody to take a photo of you. Do you have any accounts on social websites? And do you upload photos there?

Archpriest Fedor Povnyi:
There are many examples when people don’t use the Internet or use it with sense. Just as other sources of communication, the Internet is a collision of the good and the evil, of different interests. I use only one social website but I am more a follower than a user, because I don’t have enough free time. The Internet helps me keep up with the times; it helps me see the interests of the society, especially of the youth. Sometimes it is pleasant to see acquaintances of mine use the Internet correctly as a proof of faith and morality, set correct orienting points amongst tons of information. I sometimes even search information for a sermon in the Internet. It is not only the Old and the New Testament, prayer books and the Orthodox calendar that I have. It really helps. It all depends on the possibilities of using and how you use this tool. It’s just like having an ax. On the one hand, you can chop wood with this ax and help light a stove or bring heat to people, and on the other hand, you can commit an awful malefaction as a murder with this ax.

There are definitions of economic and military security. Do you think that a definition of spiritual security exists?

Archpriest Fedor Povnyi:
I would say that the biggest threat is posed by lukewarmness on the one hand and by whateverism on the other. A person looking for God will find Him in the end, and having loved him, will never betray. It is vividly seen in Europe, when Muslims begin to suppress Christians. Not knowing your religion quite often leads to extremism and fanaticism. Such people are used by different militant groups to reach evil and sometimes rather deceptive purposes. But we should be frightened to lose faith into God most of all when searching for comfort. In this case, I mean the broad sense of the matter. For some people it is easier to abandon God rather than their welfare.

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow loves alpine skiing. I know that you can ski and do parachute jumping. Do you know many priests who are into such extreme sports? And why do you personally need this adrenal shake-up?

Archpriest Fedor Povnyi:
It is not the adrenalin that I need; it’s the passion for these sports that I have. I won’t say for others, but skiing down a mountain is not self-admiration and it’s not self-advertising; it’s the pleasure from physical exercise and the surrounding beauty I get. You can look at it from another side, and interpret it as missionary work, if you wish. A priest can offer you a master class but that does not mean he forgets the prayer. The prayer only strengthens when you see the godly picture of the world from the top or in the mountains.

Is it true that “only mountains can be better than mountains”? It’s a line from Vladimir Vysotsky’s song (was a Russian singer-songwriter, poet).

Archpriest Fedor Povnyi:
It’s true.

Fedor Povnyi