Rue Daru: To Be or Not To Be?

At its meeting on Saturday 15 December, clergy and laity of the Paris Exarchate (Rue Daru), which was dissolved by its Patriarch in Istanbul, could not decide what they wanted to do and postponed any decision until next February. The group with one 75 year-old bishop who speaks only French and numbering only a few thousand has in its history jumped from Church to Church. Indeed, between 1966 and 1971 it formed an uncanonical sect under no Church. However, now the choices are very limited.

  1. Accept dissolution and simply become part of the local Greek dioceses of whatever country its members are in. This is perhaps the obvious choice for those in England who broke away from the Russian Church in 2006.
  2. Become an independent sect, with whom no canonical Orthodox will concelebrate.
  3. Join the Romanian Church. This seems unlikely because the Romanian Patriarch, who was appointed by the US ambassador in Bucharest, would probably not be allowed to take them from the US-appointed Patriarch in Istanbul. The USA would decide in any case.
  4. Join the Russian Church. Given the Russophobia of two-thirds of its clergy, this seems unlikely. Would it really be able to accept the canonical and liturgical norms and disciplines of the Russian Orthodox Church? However, Archbishop Antony (Sevriuk), who is in charge of churches of the Moscow Patriarchate outside Russia and is a fluent English and Italian speaker, has been contacted.
  5. Split apart, with a third of the clergy and people returning to the Russian Church, the others going to whatever modernistic, make-it-up-as-you-go- group they want.

Would Ever Rue Daru Return?

Wednesday’s news that the Rue Daru Archdiocese, centred in Paris, wished to return to the Russian Orthodox Church has been dismissed as fake, which it is. We note that it was published on the CIA-financed website Credo. This was in order to torpedo even the possibility of a return by those who oppose the liberal-ecumenist (and often masonic) Fraternite Orthodoxe, some senior members of whom work for the French Secret Services. However, even such fake news does raise questions.

Firstly, Rue Daru has in fact thought of returning to one or another part of the Russian Orthodox Church several times, in the 1930s, in 1945, in the late 1960s, under Archbishop Serge in 2003 and under Archbishop Gabriel in 2012. Each time it failed to do so because it set impossible conditions. On the other hand, the thought that it might return to a future joint ROC/ROCOR Russian Orthodox Metropolia and Synod of Western Europe, is interesting. This would put pressure on Moscow to do something here at long last. However, even the very unlikely possibility that it would decide to return at its meeting in Rue Daru tomorrow (15 December) would raise a whole set of questions:

Would it take part within normal life of the Russian Orthodox dioceses in Western Europe, or would it act as a diocese within dioceses?

Would Rue Daru be capable of returning to and obeying Russian canonical norms?

Would it return to the Russian Orthodox calendar and liturgical norms?

Would it wish to live by the rejected Protestant parts of the Kerensky-influenced 1917-18 Moscow Council (we recall that one of Kerensky’s first acts was to interfere a la Poroshenko in Church life, deposing the saintly Metropolitans of Moscow and Saint Petersburg)?

Would it abjure intercommunion with Roman Catholicism?

Would it condemn freemasonry?

Would it condemn the heresy of Sophiology?

Would it repent for its persecution of those who left to join the Russian Orthodox Church in the past?

We shall see.

The Orthodox Parish in Norwich

The ‘Matchbox Church’

There are no churches with patron saints names like ‘The She-Goat’ or ‘Of One Wood’ or ‘Of One Day’ etc, yet they have taken on these nicknames, which have been suggested either by the founder, or by the material which they have been built with, or by the length of time their construction has taken etc.

In Romania, as well as in other Orthodox Christian countries in Eastern Europe, old churches have been refurbished, new ones are erected, new parishes have been formed to the despondency of Christ’s enemies and of His Church’s enemies. They cannot sleep while claiming to take care of schools, hospitals, and poor people etc. That is the Judas syndrome…

Everything is done with difficulty, with the old lady’s pennies, which are placed out of her poverty in the alms box, with money and/or materials from Christians who are in fortunate positions etc. And not infrequently, until the foundations of the church have been laid, the church life of the new parishes takes place in improvised spaces: abandoned commercial areas, offices, military tents etc.

In the West and the North of Europe, countries, which in former times were mainly Catholic and Protestant, the trend is the opposite. Society has reached the level of progress and civilization in which God is considered to be unnecessary. Houses of worship, some of them having an honourable great age, are rented for some other (secular) activities or are for sale. The buyers convert them into offices, clubs, hotels, luxury bedrooms etc. (https://homes.trovit.co.uk/converted-church-gothic )

This loss of faith is somehow compensated for by the Orthodox-Christian leaven, which has been spread by the fist of globalization, from the former Socialist Orthodox Christian countries. Scattered throughout the world, at those places where they have found propitious conditions, the dough spills have fermented a network of parishes, with houses of worship fitted up in spaces placed at their disposal by Catholic or Protestant churches, either in purchased churches and converted into Orthodox Christian churches, or in new churches, built from scratch.

But Eastern European Orthodox Christian immigrants, with the love of God, who have come either to work or to study etc, do not always have at their disposal a house of worship (a church, a chapel etc) for religious services, when they are only a few in number and are a long way from big urban centres. Then, from hand to hand, they offer love, effort, savings, perseverance, and thus arrange houses of worship where one does not even dare to imagine.

Such a house of worship is the Russian church having as its patron saint Alexander Nevsky (1221-1263) in Norwich, England, organized in a former club, on the edge of a road. On the left side of iconostasis, St Alexander Nevsky is accompanied by St Xenia of Saint Petersburg (18th century). The story of how this church was organized may be found here:

http://www.norwichorthodoxchurch.org.uk/?page_id=136

http://www.norwichorthodoxchurch.org.uk/

Out of a space not much bigger than an apartment in a block of flats, it has come out as a decent little church, as big as a dining room (plus the kitchen). A ‘Matchbox’ church!

A Bulgarian priest and a Russian helper serve with zeal for a handful of parishioners, 20-30 people (it would be impossible to find enough room for a higher number): Russians, Bulgarians, Romanians, English, Africans, Asians… The atmosphere is warm, hospitable. It would be inconceivable to be otherwise inside such a space and with such a diversity of parishioners.

A distinguished lady, who conducts the choir (a group of 3-4 women) was telling me, as if she wanted to apologize for such a small church: ‘This is our church. Hopefully God will listen and answer our prayers from this house of worship’.

It seems to me as if we were in the first Christian century in Rome, when the pagans, who by then had become Christians by risking their lives, were placing their houses at the disposal of a church nucleus: ‘Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Jesus Christ, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give my thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ’ (Romans, 16: 3-5).

Everywhere, Christ gathers the rocks of faith and gives them power to speak: ‘And do not think to say to yourselves, ’We have Abraham as our father. For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones” (Matthew, 3: 9). ‘And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, ‘Teacher, rebuke thy disciples.’ But He answered and said to them, ‘I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out’ (Luke, 19: 39-40).

Well, these stones are those Christians who have not reached a state of petrified indifference.

Nicuşor Gliga, Bucharest, Romania 17 October 2018

 

The Modern Nightmare

Countries and societies are governed by two principles. They are represented by the political tendencies of what in modern times are known as Left and Right. One principle, espoused especially by the Left, is Social Justice, as seen in the provision of free public health and education systems, good public infrastructure, roads and pavements, and public transport (rail and bus). The other principle, espoused especially by the Right, is what is called Social Conservatism, which is a phrase meaning personal, family, social and national moral responsibility.

When political parties promote only Social Justice, they end up making people dependent on the State and personally irresponsible, as people think only of their rights, but not of their duties. Destroying individual initiative and enterprise, people start leading short-sighted and amoral lives for short-term pleasure and become self-destructive, even suicidal.

When political parties promote only Social Conservatism, they end up making people selfish and narcissistic, as people think only of their own individualistic interests and idolizing money. Destroying the sense of society and personal, family, social and national responsibility, people start leading short-sighted and amoral lives and become self-destructive, even suicidal.

The nightmare is that of today’s Secularist Western societies, where there is poor Social Justice, as seen in lack of free health and education systems, Third World public infrastructure, roads and pavements, and lack of public transport. This creates a large underclass, fatal for social stability and social cohesion. And at the same time there is little Social Conservatism, as it has been replaced by the illusion called ‘freedom’, which means the destruction of personal responsibility and of the collective values of family life and patriotism, leading to social irresponsibility, bordering on depravity and sexual perversion, such that the most detestable evils of prostitution (‘sex work’) and pedophilia have become commonplace as they are not only permitted but, indirectly, promoted. This is suicide.

Social Injustice and Social Depravity are coming to reign in such societies and are promoted globally and imperialistically by military, economic and social forces as part of the West’s ‘New World Order’. Here is the nightmare of modern Westernized life with its intense injustices and personal, family, social and national irresponsibility. All this is the opposite of Orthodox Christian society, which contrary to Western Secularist values, promotes both Social Justice and Social Conservatism. This can be seen in Christian monarchies, before Left and Right came to exist. These are the unitive values above mere Left and Right, those of the Tsar’s Empire before 1917 and of New Rome before 1453. As part of the Church of God, both tried to incarnate the Kingdom of Christ on earth, with justice in society as well as personal, family, social and national moral responsibility.

 

Ghostbusting

As the years roll by I become ever more grateful to the bishop who ordained me, the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva (+ 1993). Indeed, I can say that mystically speaking we have become closer than we were in life, even though we had first met in the early 80s. You see, with time you become ever more conscious of your debt of gratitude. The following happened this summer.

It happens to every priest from time to time. That is, ghostbusting. The last time it was in a flat in Ipswich, where the previous occupant had committed suicide. Some strange things happened and a bloodstain would not go away. Painted over, it kept reappearing. It needed a priest to resolve the problem.

This time it was in a care home for the elderly in the town of X in the county of Norfolk. I was called up by the manager who explained the situation. An elderly resident had died. Within two days doors had started slamming shut by invisible hands, just as people were about to go through them. Windows opened and closed in the same way, at any time of day or night. Things moved from one room to another mysteriously. An electric kettle would be switched on by invisible hands and boiled dry.

One morning residents had come down to the dining room and had found all the tables and chairs overturned. Worst of all the room the woman who had passed away had lived in for several years was incredibly cold, even though it was a hot summer. Carers were too frightened to enter it and none could stand the cold for more than a few seconds. There was no question of renting it out to a new resident. The manager, a Ukrainian, faced an ultimatum; either she solved the problem or else the staff would leave the home with its 24 residents, forcing it to close.

The activities had focused especially on one young woman. I asked her to wear a cross, which she was happy to do, though she was not Orthodox and did not believe in anything really. I took a list of the names of the carers and the residents and prayed for them, paying special attention to the resident who had died, whose life I enquired about and whose photo I was shown. She had been a Protestant and so had had nobody to pray for her. Then I blessed the whole home with holy water after a short service, prepared to return if necessary, praying for the repose of the soul of the elderly woman.

The next day they phoned me from the home. Everything had returned to normal.

These things happen. Those who are thinking that one day they could be ordained to the priesthood should know this. But if I had not been ordained, nothing could have been happened through me. This is why I pray for the bishop who ordained me and why I am grateful to him above all others who had ignored me.

 

ON PRIESTESSES AND BISHOPESSES [i]

In the Protestant, Neo-Protestant and Anglican denominations, with all their ramifications and sub-kingdoms, which, from the end of the second millennium, have gone on multiplying like weeds on an unploughed field, there has been a great deal of stir with the ordination of women. The New Order of Things (Novus Ordo Seculorum) operates pre-eminently in the spiritual field.

It seems that political correctness has won and, in the spirit of equality of opportunity, of professional non-discrimination, ‘good news’ is increasing. We not only have Christian priestesses…we also have Christian bishopesses! The arguments which motivate this trend go back to Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, while invoking the practices of Non-Christian religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.

There is a lot of pressure on Roman Catholicism, but Pope Francis has remained firm on the their position: with all due respect and consideration for Roman Catholic women’s activities, as long as he is Pope, women will not be ordained to the priesthood. What is the argument? Jesus and His Apostles were men! True, but what are we supposed to do about the Mother of God, or Mary Magdalene, or the holy empress Helen, those who are called ‘equal to the Apostles’?

At this point, there must be a much stronger, much more logical and more serious argument…

In order for us to find it, we have to go back to the creation of the world. Then, God has formed Adam from the dust, (in Hebrew adama – ground, dust):”Then God formed man out of dust from the ground, and breathed in his face the breath of life; and man became a breathing soul”(Genesis, 2, 7). [ii] As for Eve, she was formed out of one of Adam’s ribs: Then the Lord God brought a trance upon Adam; and after he fell asleep, God took one of his ribs and filled up the flesh in its place. And out of the rib taken from Adam the Lord God has formed the woman and brought her to Adam. Then Adam has said:”This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man”(Genesis: 2, 21-23). ”So Adam called his wife’s name Eve (Life), because she was the mother of all living” (Genesis, 3, 20) (in Hebrew Eve is Hava – the living one). Eve and her followers give life (but do not take life) by giving birth to babies.

Let us go on to Abraham and Sarah.

Then God said again to Abraham:”As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. And will bless her and also give you a son by her; and I will bless him, and he shall become nations; and kings of peoples shall be from him.” Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his mind:”Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old, and shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” ”Then God said: No, Sarah, your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him and an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him” (Genesis, 17, 15-17, 19). And where God wants, He changes the order of nature and cancels the barrenness of old age and Sarah gives birth/brings to life Isaac, from the seed of Abraham. ”For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in old age, at the set time, of which God has spoken to him” (Genesis, 21, 2). What a huge joy for both parents! But, when Isaac was a boy, God put Abraham to test: ”Take now your beloved son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a whole burnt offering on one of the mountains I tell you” (Genesis, 22, 2). We are not told by the Holy Scriptures what was going on in Abraham’s soul. Abraham arrived at Mt Moriah and when he was about to sacrifice Isaac, God stopped him: ”Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him, for now I know you fear God, since for My sake you have not spared your beloved son” (Genesis, 22, 12). All of this episode is a prefiguration of our Saviour’s sacrifice on the Cross. ”He Who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all,…” (Romans 8, 32).

Let us now turn to the feminist version. God does not ask Abraham, but Sarah to take everything required and climb to the indicated place to sacrifice Isaac, whom she has borne in her womb, to whom she has given life, body and blood from her own body and blood. How would Sarah have reacted? What would God have said about a mother who, without pondering too much, lifts up a knife to sacrifice her own child?

Some with a prolific imagination see Mary Magdalene among the Apostles at the Mystical Supper. But why did Jesus Christ not invite His own Mother? Was it not truly right for her to be awarded a kind of priority by her Son?

The only thing we have to stress here is that the Supper was not a normal one, it was a sacrificial Supper, the premiere of the Sacrifice on the Cross:

And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me. Likewise, He also took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (Lk 22, 19-20).

The Saviour asks the Apostles (at that moment they did not understand what he was talking about) to do this in remembrance of Him, by replacing the Roman soldiers who nail Him to the Cross and pierce His side with a spear. Who shall teach them how to do this? ”…the Helper, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (Jn 14, 26).

And ever since, from Pentecost, from the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles in the form of tongues of fire, through uninterrupted apostolic and faith succession, in the Orthodox Church, within the framework of the Divine Liturgy, the priests really do sacrifice Christ, Who offers Himself to the faithful in the form of  bread and wine. At the Proskomedia (preparation table), with a knife (called a lance), whose cutting edge is in the form of a lance, the priest takes out of the offertory bread the Lamb (Agnus), and small particles and places them on the Paten (Diskos). Why? Since”I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world…Then Jesus said to them, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed…He who eats this bread will live forever” (Jn, 6, 51, 53-55, 58). No man, as long as he is sane in his mind, will ever put in his mouth human body and blood. And with good reason, the Jews quarrelled among themselves, saying:”How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” (Jn 6, 52).

After invoking the Holy Spirit, that is, after the consecration of the Gifts, (the Lamb and the wine), in the Chalice (Cup) there is, in a real way, the very Body and Blood of our Saviour. How the bread and the wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ – this is a mystery, something which cannot be understood either by angels or by men. By going back to the origins, we shall find neither grains of wheat, nor clusters of grapes, but the very bloody Christ on the Cross. For those who have doubted (even monks!), God, most benevolent and most merciful, showed to them that in the little spoon borne to the mouth there is indeed body and blood. The one who was about to partake of Holy Communion fell ill on the spot.

Consequently, while the sacrifice (execution) of Jesus Christ within the framework of the Orthodox Liturgy is real, woman cannot be an executioner, she cannot take life by virtue of the fact that she gives life. Where there no longer exists (and there does not exist, even if it is claimed) uninterrupted apostolic and faith succession, the Eucharist is a simulacrum, a mockery, the bread remains bread and the wine remains wine. In other words, Christ is absent from the Cup. Even if it is only a symbolical fact, the vision of women who gesture, acting as priestesses and bishopesses in order to sacrifice, is a horror.

Nicusor Gliga / Bucharest, Romania, 14 February 2014

(Translated into English by Fr. Dumitru Macaila / Romania)

 

[i] Even if there is no feminine form for this term in English, I have coined it; I could have coined it as she-bishopesses, also, to help people to understand that in the Orthodox Church there is no feminine form for the two terms.

[ii] All of the Biblical quotations are taken from The Orthodox Study Bible by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Nashville, 2008.