An incident that occurred in Yaroslavl during Bright week in 1919.
The radicals in charge of the town, apparently moved by the notable religious feeling among the populace, called a meeting to discuss religion. Among others, representatives of the clergy were invited. Some of the best communist orators of the district were brought in to present the case against religion. First a skillful speaker discussed the “Christ myth”. He explained that simple people had once been easily misled by priests into belief that Jesus was something more than a man, that He had worked miracles, had even risen from the dead. Now while Jesus deserved honor as the first Communist, He was simply a man, and an enlightened and revolutionary people should put “way all their old superstitions about Him. “Long live the Communist Internationale” – and he was fairly well applauded by the people. The second speaker was a Jewess who attacked the ancient stories about the birth of Jesus. When she closed with a statement that Mary was simply a woman of the streets, and nothing more, the applause was somehow less vigorous.
Now it came the turn of the senior priest of the town to present his case. He rose, made the sign of the cross, stood a moment silently facing the crowd and then pronounced the age-old Easter greeting: “Christ is risen.” Without a moment’s hesitation the crowd swayed toward him in reply: “He is risen indeed”. “Christ is risen”! the priest repeated, and the answer came almost before he had pronounced the words. A third time he said it, with” thunderous response from the people, then, waiting a moment, he asked simply, “What more is there to say? Let us go to our homes”, and the anti-religious meeting adjourned. It is this deep-seated sense of religion in the hearts of Russian folk of all classes which has come so mightily to the front in the past four years.
It is possible to recognize our mother Church the same way the villagers recognized their mother Church in the simple exclamation of a priest.