A Public Letter of Support to Archbishop Jean Renneteau of Rue Daru

La diaspora russe, toutes jurisdictions confondues, avait une mission très simple: de rester fidèle à la tradition russe malgré la servitude involontaire de l’episcopat de l’Eglise russe en URSS et en même temps d’apporter la lumière de l’Orthodoxie aux indigènes dans leurs langues occidentales. Les meilleurs représentants de chaque jurisdiction de la diaspora ont fait précisément cela. On peux penser à St Jean de Changhaï de l’Eglise hors Frontieres et à son fils spiritual, l’archévêque Antony de Genève, à Mgr Basile Krivosheine du patriarchat de Moscou à Bruxelles, ou encore à l’archévêque Georges Tarassoff de la Rue Daru (un saint à mon avis; à quand sa canonisation?).

A chaque fois que l’on ne respectait pas la fidèlité à la tradition russe et à la mission dans les langues locales, on se vouait au suicide spiritual. Nous l’avons bien vu avec Mgr Georges Wagner à la Rue Daru, qui détestait l’utilisation des langues locales et a ainsi perdu beaucoup de clergé et de fidèles (par exemple l’actuel Mgr Athénagore (Peckstadt), l’archiprêtre Nicolas Soldatenkoff, l’archimandrite Georges (Leroy) et nous-mêmes, ou à la tentative de Mgr Georges Grabbe de l’EORHF aux Etats-Unis qui avait esssayé de faire de l’Eglise un outil politique et sectaire de la guerre froide, ou à des individus du patriarchat de Moscou, qui, privés du troupeau russe politiquement disaffecté, avaient essayé de recruter des ouailles parmi des occidentaux naïfs avec des résultats lamentables.

Ma matouchka Sabine, (née Sardo), était présente à la Crypte lors de la réception de l’actuel Mgr Jean Renneteau en 1974, qui a été ensuite ordonné par Mgr Georges Tarassoff. Nous le soutenons sans réserve. Il faut que la Rue Daru retourne a l’Eglise-Mère, après avoir perdu son chemin après le décés de Mgr Georges Tarassoff en 1981. L’Eglise hors frontières a fait cette expérience il y a 12 ans et ainsi a affirmé notre victoire contre le sectarisme style vieux-calendariste qui avait infiltré l’EORHF aux Etats-Unis. Aujourd’hui l’EORHF devient l’Eglise orthodoxe du monde anglo-saxon. Depuis peu c’est le patriarchat de Moscou qui a établi son Exarchat de l’Europe Occidentale à Paris, avec bientôt des centaines de paroisses, et devient l’Eglise de l’Europe continentale. C’est maintenant à la Rue Daru, quoique devenue petite, de faire partie de cet Exarchat de l’Europe continental et de lui apporter son expérience pastorale.

L’archiprêtre Andrew Phillips, Angleterre (ancien de Saint Serge)

RECOLLECTIONS OF ARCHIMANDRITE NICHOLAS GIBBES (1876-1963)

A personal and unpublished memoir by David Beattie, former British ambassador to Switzerland, written on 3 August 1963, slightly edited.

Copyright

I had known of the existence of Fr Nicholas Gibbes for many years before I actually met him. As a monarchist and as one in touch with Orthodox circles I had always hoped and expected to meet him some day, but when the encounter finally took place it was unforeseen. In June 1961 I happened to be invited to tea at an Anglican vicarage in Bethnal Green. As we sat in the garden a strange figure appeared at the end of the path. This was Fr Nicholas, who was very friendly with my host and often used to drop in. A moment later, the long-awaited introduction had taken place. I realised that I had seen him before in the streets of Oxford and remembered that I had felt in my bones that this figure was probably Fr Nicholas.

I was introduced as one who had lately returned from Moscow, where I had been working for three weeks as an interpreter at a trade exhibition. He immediately devoted his attention to me, to the exclusion of the rest of the company. Without the slightest prompting he began to talk about the Russian Imperial Family. I was later told that this happened very rarely and that I had been “greatly honoured”, for the Family was something sacred to him and he did not lightly talk about it.

He told me that he lived very much with the Imperial Family at Tsarskoe Selo (although he used to go with the Heir to the Stavka (Military High Command) at Mogilev during the war). They led a simple life. The Emperor impressed him as a supremely good, kind man. The Empress too was always very kind, and very resolute about performing her family duties. It was a happy and devoted family, and it seems that Fr Nicholas was enchanted by them. He was especially fond of the Heir, the Tsarevich Alexey; “He was a very lively, delightful boy; I always felt sad when I was away from him.” He bore his illness with great courage, and in spite of his pain was high-spirited enough to be naughty and mischievous at times. He seems to have had considerable character and strength of will even at that early age.

Fr Nicholas said that the children were kind and considerate. On one occasion he was due to give an English lesson to the Grand Duchess Anastasia and (I think) the Grand Duchess Tatyana. He forgot about it. When he remembered, he had just enough time to rush over to the Palace, where he arrived breathless – and without a tie! To appear like that before a member of the Imperial House was of course a heinous crime, but the Grand Duchesses were so kind or well-trained that in spite of their youth they not only made no comment but even refrained from giggling. Nor did they mention it to anyone else, as they might well have done in a moment of thoughtless amusement, for Fr Nicholas heard no more about it. He was horrified when he returned to his rooms and there discovered his tielessness.

Fr Nicholas said that Rasputin was not much more than a name to him, although he had heard rumours and had caught glimpses of him in the corridors. He did not consider him particularly influential or harmful: he thought of him as an ordinary peasant, naively cunning, but endowed with healing powers. He did, however, tell one amusing story in this connection, in a style of self-deprecating irony. Gibbes’ status as a tutor was that of a Court Employee. His salary was very low, for it had been fixed in the time of Alexander II and the Empress, who as a German and a Victorian was very economical, refused to raise it. The uniform was as humble as the salary: “It was like a postman’s. I refused to wear it, and used to turn up in a tweedy English lounge suit.” Gibbes’ great ambition was to be appointed a Gentleman of the Court, a rank which carried with it a larger salary and a more resplendent uniform. “One day the Emperor came up to me and said, ‘Gibbes! You really must have dinner with Rasputin one day soon. Go and see him next Tuesday and arrange an appointment.’ I thought to myself, ‘Good! If I can get into Rasputin’s good books I will have enough influence to get myself made a Gentleman of the Court.’ But alas, Rasputin was murdered before I could dine with him and so I never got my uniform!”

At the moment when the Monarchy fell in March 1917 Fr Nicholas was in the town of Tsarskoe Selo. He immediately returned to the Palace, but was refused admittance. He would not return to England, but stayed in the neighbourhood of the Palace. In August the Family were moved to Tobolsk. Gibbes and the Swiss tutor Pierre Gilliard followed them and were at last allowed to join them there. Fr Nicholas said that the Emperor was particularly glad to see him, for he had been deserted by almost all his courtiers – the very men who should have been the most loyal.

Life at Tobolsk was not unpleasant. At times, however, sad thoughts would inevitably find expression. When this happened it was the Emperor who kept up everyone’s spirits. He would tell little jokes or stories and recall amusing incidents, such as the time when a little dog ran across the parade ground during a particularly solemn military ceremony. Fr Nicholas was impressed by the harmony of the Family. There was never a harsh word, and all were buoyed up by a profound religious faith.

Fr Nicholas then outlined his career after 1918. He took a post in the North China Customs and refused to return to England because of the shabby treatment which he felt it had meted out to the Emperor and his family. When he was ordained he took the name of Nicholas in memory of the Emperor. The new Sino-Japanese war forced him to leave China, and he came back to England in 1936. “I was sorry that I arrived after the death of George V; I am sure that he would have helped me.”

This conversation lasted for over an hour. Fr Nicholas was a short, thin, rather bent little man. He had very rosy cheeks, twinkling bright blue eyes and a snow-white beard, rather straggly and not thick, coming roughly to a point at the middle of his chest. Although he was not poor (he had at least a house in London, a house at Broadstairs and two tied cottages in Oxford) he seemed to be dressed in an extraordinary collection of rags. He dressed very humbly, in a threadbare old cassock. His right hand held a stick and on his left arm there hung a disreputable black shopping bag. He got about entirely by himself, albeit not very quickly. He was perfectly self-sufficient and his mind completely clear. He must then have been about 85. He was a lucid and witty talker, and a delight to listen to. He struck me as being at once simple and practical. His remarks about the Imperial Family were devoted and affectionate. His own faith seemed unquestioning, but he was no mystic. In spite of his appearance and past he was utterly English in his practical approach to mundane matters, and indeed in his humour. He was quite ready to look after his own interests, and in this respect his remarks on Rasputin and George V are illuminating. He was a man to be appreciated and not argued with.

My next meeting occurred on May 30th 1962, when I encountered him in St Giles at Oxford. It was very hot and sunny, and Fr Nicholas seemed rather more frail and hunched than before. I went up and made myself known, as he had instructed me to do at our previous meeting if ever I saw him again. He seemed pleased to see me, and we walked down to the Oxford Union together. He explained that he had come up to get rid of his cottages: because they were tied cottages the old widows who lived in them paid only eight shillings a week in rent and he could not screw it up any further. Then he asked me if I could get hold of a lorry to transport a mosaic icon weighing half a ton which he wanted to present to Walsingham. (I could not oblige.) Suddenly he asked, “Do you know how I keep so young?” (for in some ways he was a young man in spite of his physical appearance). “No, Father, I don’t”, I replied. “Well, I will tell you. Have you ever observed the ways of the serpent? He sheds his skin regularly, and that’s just what I do. In my flat in London I have a very strong electric fire and a very small cubicle. I turn on the fire and wait until the cubicle is very hot. Then I take off all my clothes, pour water all over myself, and go and sit in the cubicle. Very soon all my skin falls off and I come out young again. But do you know” (this with an amused and quizzical glance at me), “I can’t find any pupils to follow my example!”

The weather was so hot, and Fr Nicholas seemed so tired, that from time to time during the day I dropped into the Union to make sure that all was well with him.

The next day was Ascension Day, when several traditional ceremonies are performed at Lincoln College. As I entered the Quad shortly after lunch I saw the unearthly figure of Fr Nicholas standing there in the sunshine. He explained that he had mistakenly thought that term was over, and having seen me the previous day he thought that I was staying up to do some extra work. He had therefore come to Lincoln to find me and cheer me up in case I was feeling lonely. I thought this a kindly gesture.

Fr Nicholas told me that I could always visit him at London or Broadstairs; if the latter house was full there would always be room for me in the hay-loft! I was never able to take advantage of these invitations.

When I saw Fr Nicholas in May 1962 I realised that his physical strength was leaving him and I felt that it would be our last meeting. He died at St Pancras Hospital in London on March 24th 1963 at the age of 87. One could not feel regret at hearing of his death: that would have seemed strangely inappropriate. I remembered rather the great pleasure of talking with him, a pleasure all the greater because every one of our meetings was so unexpected. Above all there was the affection and respect which he inspired. How could one feel regret for him? For I am quite sure that in his simple, matter-of-fact way Nicholas Gibbes looked forward to seeing Alexey and the Family once again.

David Beattie

3 August 1963

 

First Afternote (originally typed soon after 3 August 1963)

Fr Nicholas and the Russian Churches in London

Archpriest Nicholas Popov (Manchester) told me in 1959 that Fr Nicholas Gibbes made his submission to Moscow because he felt that as the land of Russia must have a monarch, so must the Church of Russia have one ruler. I felt from our conversations that Fr Nicholas Gibbes was not entirely happy about Ennismore Gardens. He preferred the more homely and used appearance of Emperor’s Gate, and complained that Bishop Antony (Bloom) had a mania for polishing, gilding and burnishing anything that could be made to look new and smart. At the same time he resented the very natural annoyance felt by Emperor’s Gate about his change of jurisdiction. He said that Bishop Nikodim had been very rude not to invite him within the iconostasis when he was present on one occasion. He also remarked that “Nikodim had formerly been very arrogant, but more recent events had caused him to change his tune.” I do not know what he meant by this.

Second Afternote (based on a diary entry for 9 November 1963)

Fr Nicholas’s Papers

After Fr Nicholas’ death Timothy Ware (now Metropolitan Kallistos) and I were worried that his papers and effects might be dispersed and lost. We thought that every effort should be made to preserve them and perhaps use them for writing and publishing a memoir of him. These latter plans came to nothing because Timothy Ware soon afterwards went to Princeton University and the Foreign Office posted me to Moscow. But as a first step we asked to see George Gibbes, Fr Nicholas’ Russian adopted son. He received us at Fr Nicholas’ London home, 17 Robert Street, near Euston Station, at 2 15 pm on Saturday, 9 November 1963. Robert Street was at that time a rapidly decaying thoroughfare (it has since been demolished), but No. 17 was kept well enough.

George Gibbes had taken care to check our bona fides. He had even looked up Fr Nicholas’ note of my first meeting with him in June 1961, which he had carefully recorded in his diary and which George Gibbes showed me. George Gibbes was very reluctant that any account of Fr Nicholas should appear under a political imprint such as that of the Monarchist Press Association, and he also wanted a rather larger work than the MPA could have produced. He was in fact thinking of writing one himself.

The exciting thing was that Fr Nicholas had kept everything, including even correspondence with his tutor at Cambridge and such other items as his correspondence with the White Army government in Siberia. There were many photographs and boxes of documents. We were shown Fr Nicholas’ little cell, which was being kept exactly as it had been. As often happens with rooms which have been left undisturbed after someone has died, it felt as if Fr Nicholas was actually there in spirit. It was a tiny room, very simple and lined with books and icons, two photographs of the Tsarevich and one of the Empress. The books were curiously mixed: Bibles and theological works, together with the “Law Home Companion”. There was a very old (600 years) and worm-eaten icon which George Gibbes said had once been entirely obscure, but which during the last months of Fr Nicholas’ life had gradually regained its colours. On the day of his death the images of Our Lady and Child had glowed faintly as if illuminated by a spotlight. There was also an icon from the house at Tobolsk. We were told that other relics, including a chandelier from the Ipatiev house at Ekaterinburg, were safe in Oxford.

We left reassured about the fate of Fr Nicholas’ papers, at least for the time being. I believe that the chandelier and icons from the chapel at Marston Street, Oxford, later went to Luton Hoo. They are now said to be in safe storage, but I do not know where, nor in whose custody.

David Beattie,

Colchester

10 November 2018

 

 

Towards a Map of Western European Holiness

By origin the word Europe means ‘the land of the sunset’, that is, the west, for it lies at the western tip of the 54.5 million square kilometres of the Eurasian Continent. Measuring 10.5 million square kilometres, only one fifth of the whole of Eurasia, Europe from a Church viewpoint can be divided into three parts. Over 50%, or 5.5 million square kilometres, 4.5 million square kilometres in Russia and just over 1 million in the Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, is canonical Russian Orthodox territory. The second part covers 1.4 million square kilometres and is the territory of various Local Orthodox Churches, the Romanian, Serbian (whose territory includes all of ex-Yugoslavia), Greek, Bulgarian, Polish, Czecho-slovak, and Albanian. This is two-thirds of Europe. There remains the final third of 3.6 million square kilometres.

This may be called Western Europe, even though it includes Central Europe, Hungary and Finland. The name can be justified because this part of Europe has for nearly one thousand years been isolated from the Church. This was as a result of the spiritual delusions, and so intellectual and political disaffection, jealousy and hostility towards the Church, of the governing elite of Western Europe. In other words, this is ex-Catholic and ex-Protestant Europe. Going from west to east and north to south, this means the 25 countries of: Iceland, Ireland, the British Isles (the three countries of Wales, England and Scotland), Norway, Denmark (and the Faeroes), Sweden, Finland; the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany; France, Monaco, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Hungary; Portugal, Spain, Andorra, Italy, San Marino and Malta.

There exist many maps of this Western Europe. Some show the borders of the various states and the main cities; others show seas and lakes, hills and mountains; others show population density; others show the main roads and railways; others show the longevity of the population. And yet, although a millennium ago this Western Europe had a history of holiness, that is, of Orthodoxy, because this history has been forgotten, there is as yet no map showing the places hallowed by its saints who received the holiness brought to it from the east. If we drew up such a map of its saints, we would find huge variations. For example, in the very sparsely-populated Nordic countries, over one third of the area, we find little holiness, with no known native saints in Iceland and Finland and only a handful in Norway, Denmark and Sweden.

However, in the rest of this Western Europe we find a very different situation. The centre of its holiness is what is now Italy (and San Marino), close to the source of the Faith in the East with the capital of Rome. From here holiness spread north to Gaul, now France, the second centre of holiness, to southern England and from there to the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany and from there to Austria and Hungary. From Gaul holiness also spread east to Switzerland, south and west to Andorra, Spain and Portugal, and north to what is now Belgium and above all to the thebaid of saints in Ireland, converted by the monastic life brought to them from Egypt via Gaul. Their influence spread back to east and south, to all the Celtic lands, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany, and also to northern England, Belgium, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

The first saints of this First Western Europe are of course the leading apostles, Peter and Paul, together with St James the Apostle in Galicia, as well as a huge number of internationally-venerated martyrs, especially in Rome, like St Pancras of Taormina (1st cent.),  St Clement (100), St Ignatius of Antioch (c. 107), Sts Sophia, Hope, Faith and Love (2nd cent.), St Tatiana (225), St Cecilia (230), St Hippolytus of Rome (c. 235), St Agatha (251), St Lawrence (258), St Eugenia (262), Sts Chrysanthus and Daria (283), Sts Sebastian and Comps (287), St Maurice of Agaunum and the Theban Legion (287), St Anastasia of Rome (304), St Lucy of Syracuse (304), Sts Agapia, Chionia and Irene (304), St Vincent of Spain (304), St Eulalia of Barcelona (304), St Januarius of Pozzuoli (c. 305), St Alban of Verulamium (c. 305), St Pancras (early 4th cent), St Agnes (c. 350).

It includes Church Fathers like St Justin Martyr (165),  St Irinei of Lyon (200), St Hilary of Poitiers (368), St Ambrose of Milan (387), St John Cassian (433), St Vincent of Lerins (445), Blessed Jerome of Stridon (c. 420), St Leo the Great (461), St Gregory the Great, called the Dialogist (604), St Maximus the Confessor (662). It includes pious bishops with Gallo-Romans like St Martial of Limoges (c. 250), St Saturninus of Toulouse (257), St Julian of Le Mans (Cenomansis) (3rd cent), St Paulinus of Nola (431), St Germanus of Auxerre (448), then later St Remigius (533), St Germanus of Paris (576), St Gregory of Tours (594), St Leander (601), St Valery (621), St Fulgentius (633), St Isidore of Seville (636), St Eligius (660), St Omer (670), St Amand (675), St Julian of Toledo (690), St Lambert (705), St Hubert (727), St Gregory of Utrecht (776).

It includes monastic founders like St Martin the Merciful of Tours (397), St Genevieve of Paris (500), St Benedict of Nursia (550), St Martin of Braga (580), St David of Wales (589), St Columba of Iona, Enlightener of Scotland (597), St Columban of Luxeuil (615), St Hilda of Whitby (680), St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (687), St Odile of Alsace (720). It includes confessors who evangelized whole stretches of this Europe, like the Roman-Britons St Ninian, Apostle of the Picts (450), St Patrick, Enlightener of Ireland (461), the English St Willibrord-Clement in the Netherlands (739) and St Boniface of Fulda, martyred in Frisia (754), St Anschar of Hamburg (865). It includes pious kings and queens, St Bathilde (545), St Oswald (642), St Clotilde (680), St Edmund of East Anglia (869), St Edward the Martyr (879), St Olaf of Sweden (950), St Olaf of Norway (1030).

The list of saints is immense. There are some ten thousand names of saints of Western Europe, martyrs and confessors, men and women, internationally-venerated and only locally-venerated, some with highly detailed lives, others little more than names. Forty-five years ago we began work on the Saints of England, despite the lack of any encouragement. Then thirty-five years ago we began work on the Saints of what is now France. However, that work was interrupted by the negativity of the then Exarchate in Paris and other concerns, one of which was work on the Saints of Iberia twenty-five years ago. That work helped lead to their recent adoption into a feast of the Diocese of Iberia under Archbishop Nestor. Now with a real Russian Exarchate for Western Europe in Paris, we will be turning our attention back to the Saints of what is now France.

Centralism and Autocephalism: Two False Models of the Church

There was a time when the Orthodox Church consisted of five, and then four Patriarchates, as well as autocephalous Churches in Cyprus and Georgia. Yet today there are as many as fourteen (and some claim fifteen) Independent (Autocephalous) Churches. And most of them are small and some of them are very small indeed. This profusion of autocephalies over the last 200 years is seen as a movement towards Protestant-style nationalism, as with ‘the Church of England’, ‘the Church of Sweden’, ‘the Church of Norway’ etc. On the other hand, today there is a desire by many in the Patriarchate of Constantinople, one of the smallest Churches, to gather all of the Local Churches together, following their model of Roman Catholicism. What is the Orthodox view, between these competing centrifugal and centripetal theories?

It is clear that there can be no such thing as a Church with universal jurisdiction, which is the Papal aberration and its false theology. Any such organization will inevitably fall to the thirst for power and imperialist corruption, precisely as we can see down the centuries in Roman Catholicism since 1054, when it was first invented. This is where the contemporary Phanariot imperialism of Constantinople is wrong and will never succeed. On the other hand, some sort of European tribalism, according to which there should be a national Church for each small tribe living on the Western tip of Eurasia also seems absurd. All of ex-Catholic/ex-Protestant Western Europe forms a very similar cultural area and suffers very similar conditions. Why should each small ethnic sub-group have its own national Church there?

This is the sense of the present Exarchate of Western Europe of the Russian Orthodox Church, whose destiny is to become the single Local Church of Western Europe, replacing the old Roman Orthodox Patriarchate. It should one day include all of ex-Catholic and ex-Protestant Europe, including Germany and all the Nordic countries, together, naturally, with Finland, and possibly with Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, the Czech Lands and Slovakia. Each country could then well develop into a Metropolia with a Synod of bishops, but not into an individual Church, similar to the situation in the Baltic States. This would mean that the present Churches of Poland and Czechoslovakia would give up their politically-motivated autocephalies, which is a possibility.

At the very least, there has to be one Patriarchal Church per Continent. Certainly, there should be one Church for North America, one for Latin America, one for Oceania and one for Africa – as there already is with the Patriarchate of Alexandria. Those who live on each of these Continents surely have so much in common that there would seem to be no need for national or Autocephalous Churches for each country on them. This would mean four Autocephalous-Continental Churches. The problem comes with Eurasia, which is essentially one huge Continent, with over 54 million square kilometres (just over three million forming Western Europe), larger than North America, South America and Oceania put together and nearly twice the size of Africa. Here there are so many cultures that there has to be more than one Local Church.

We have already spoken of one Church for ex-Catholic/ex-Protestant Europe. However, there would also need to be a Church for Balkan Europe, perhaps called the Church of Constantinople (but centred perhaps in Thessaloniki, the city of the Apostles of the Slavs, so without Greek racism or phyletism). This would unite the present six Autocephalous Churches of Romania, Pech (Serbia and all the South Slav Lands), Greece, Constantinople, Bulgaria and Albania into one. Clearly, the Eurasian Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, covering one seventh of the Earth’s surface, would remain Autocephalous. The Arab-speaking Patriarchate of Antioch, still little for the moment, would have to take on itself the evangelization of the Arab Middle East, overcoming the narrow ethnic barriers of controlling families.

There should be Autocephalous Churches for China and India, once they have grown, as these are huge civilizations, whose populations together number one third of the world’s people. And there should also be a Church for ex-Buddhist/ex-Muslim South-East Asia (hoped for and anticipated by the establishment in 2018 by the Russian Orthodox Church of an Exarchate there). As for the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, though tiny, it must remain as the Mother-Church of all. It could also take into itself the Churches of Georgia and Cyprus, which would help internationalize it, as must happen if the Patriarchate of Jerusalem is to be taken seriously once more. This would make Twelve Autocephalous, Patriarchal Churches in all. Would this not be enough for the long-awaited evangelization of the world?

The Essence of the Rue Daru Crisis: The Protestant-Style Rejection of Episcopal Authority

Dedicated to Protopresbyter Alexij Kniazeff, Rector of Saint Sergius, Who Knew and Loved and Wanted to Return to the Russian Church

A small group of financially well-off Orthodox, mainly from four Western European countries and centred around their quite small church on Rue Daru in Paris (a church which they did not build and which does not belong to them), their leaders mostly of aristocratic Russian descent, is in crisis. Why? Because after nearly 90 years the Turkish-based Patriarchate of Constantinople no longer wants to keep them as a separate entity within itself, but to absorb them into its local Greek dioceses. There should not really be a crisis because, logically, the group should simply obey their Patriarch: indeed, many would say that the group should have been assimilated after the last Russian-born archbishop died in 1981 and the Greeks have been very patient. Yet, crisis there is. Why?

The essence of the Rue Daru problem is that this unstable group has never accepted any episcopal authority. This is why it left both parts of the Russian Church (inside and outside Russia), both on two occasions, so four times in all, (though claiming to be ‘of the Russian tradition’!!). This is why it refused to obey its first Metropolitan, Eulogius, in 1945 and, unlike him, return to the Russian Church and why, much more recently, it refused to obey its Archbishop Job, sent to it by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, effectively ejecting him. For nearly 90 years the group has been under no Synodal episcopal authority and has been allowed to develop its own fantasies as much as it wanted. Many of its parishes for many decades never saw a bishop even once. And they did not wish to.

Its original leaders, Westernized aristocrats and intellectuals, active in Saint Petersburg before the Revolution, always admired Protestantism. They developed a philosophy of Orthodoxy as a set of ideas, a liberal-bourgeois freethinking ideology, not as a way of life. This why the group has always been anti-episcopal, anti-monastic and congregational. This is why its senior laypeople have always controlled their bishops, electing weak personalities or academics (‘eveques de bibliotheque’) to the episcopate, and, whenever their bishops did want to control them, the laypeople disobeyed them. This is why it developed a heresy called Sophianism, some very bizarre liturgical practices, and many of its senior members were freemasons and some worked for the French Spy services.

The Rue Daru philosophers developed a Protestant-style ideology called ‘eucharistic ecclesiology’ in order to justify their actions. Controlling the Church media and printing presses, with the help of Catholicism (SOP) and Protestantism (YMCA), they propagandized this fantasy. However, in its weakness, until recently, the Patriarchate of Constantinople had left the group to its own fate and never tried to impose episcopal authority on it. Finally, it had enough of the rebels and in November 2018 it dissolved the group, which is now reduced to having a single 75-year old ex-Catholic (exactly like its previous archbishop) for archbishop. Such is the inevitable result of 90 years of anti-episcopalianism and anti-monasticism – it is unable to produce any bishops of its own.

Anti-episcopal, it has never wanted or been able to run its affairs on Synodal (Synod = a group of bishops) lines, like every other Local Orthodox Church always has. It has always been run by a group of power-keeping laypeople, often intermarried, working like a mafia. Any who did not belong to them (for example because they were born in Russia or Moldova, or came from a modest background or, above all, because they followed the Orthodox Tradition) had no say. As a result of its basically racist and class-based exclusivism, over the decades many parishes, clergy and people left it, including for instance the present Metropolitan Athenagoras, a Non-Russian, in Belgium. Thus, the group became ever and ever smaller, almost incestuous, more and more inward-looking and intolerant.

Since last November, more parishes have left the Rue Daru group to join canonical Local Churches. Next month, nearly a year late, the hesitant remnants of the group are to hold a much-delayed meeting to decide what finally they are going to do. The most likely outcome is that perhaps 50% of the group, including the Archbishop, several senior clergy of Russian origin and many Russian-founded parishes in France, will return to the Russian Orthodox Church. However, some 50% on the fringes of the group, who have no idea what the Russian Tradition is, may join various small Local Churches, Constantinople and Antioch (suitable for many of the tiny and elderly ex-Anglican communities in England) and some may simply join sects or set up their own modernist sect.

It is in any case the end of the road for the group and an object-lesson in what happens when you navel-gaze, proudly imagining that you are the centre of the world and, however obviously absurd it is to everyone outside the group, that you are the only true Orthodox. The Orthodox world is much bigger than the tiny minds of liberal bourgeois Parisians. For the Church is not a sect, as it is One, part of the whole; the Church makes saints, not philosophers, as it is Holy; the Church is Catholic, not a Parisian sect, as it operates everywhere and throughout history; the Church is apostolic, as it accepts the authority of bishops, the successors of the apostles. Show Christian humility by accepting the reality of episcopal and apostolic authority or else disappear.  It really is as simple as that.

Q and A June-July-August 2019

Theological Matters

Q; How can we know God? Surely those with education are at an advantage here?

A: We must distinguish between knowledge and understanding, which is real intelligence, the ability to make sense of things, not simply the remembrance of facts. Knowledge is open to all who have a good memory, as also are academic careers. However, having a good memory does not mean understanding. We do not understand with our brains, but with our hearts. And though not all have good memories, all have hearts. Unfortunately, most people do not use their hearts.

Sometimes hearts lie fallow like fields because their owners live only a physical life, using only, and often abusing, their bodies. Sometimes hearts are quite unused, lying like stony ground because of the overuse of the brain and priority given to knowledge, to mere facts. Sometimes hearts are so full of superficial and deluding emotions, at best ‘emotional intelligence’, that they have no depth – thus they are choked with weeds.

To cleanse our hearts, thus sowing faith and gaining humility, is to take the first step towards knowing God, that is, towards understanding, towards spiritual intelligence, what is called the ‘nous’ in Greek. Knowledge is an illusion; we must know how to interpret knowledge, factual information, before it can be of any use in the main task, which is spiritual advancement. Like the illiterate fishermen of Galilee, the martyrs did not have university degrees and we do not need them in order to become martyrs; in order to become a saint the first thing we need is humility, not education.

Q: Where does Orthodoxy stand in the Creationism/Evolution debate?

A: Creationism is basically Protestant in its rationalist word-for-word literalism, because it lacks any understanding of the beyond, of the sacramental and mystical reality of life, whereas Evolutionism is basically Roman Catholic, since it is an intellectual, not to say, Jesuitical, rationalization. In other words, both secular isms attempt rationalistically and humanistically to limit our understanding of the acts of God to the size of our tiny human reason.

The Orthodox understanding is the sacramental understanding of life, which understands the significance of outward details in their relation to the inward facts of God and salvation. Everything in visible Creation represents the heavenly. St Nicholas (Velimirovich) wrote of this especially clearly in his ‘Signs and Symbols’, as he was profoundly Apostolic and therefore Patristic in his thought. Orthodoxy is the way of the Holy Spirit, of grace, of the ascetic, of the Tradition. We should not make isms. Thus, God created all things, man lived and fell, and so man must repent. That is all we need to know. Everything else is just rationalistic speculation, intellectual games. Let the impenetrable mysteries of God the Creator, how and when He created, remain. We can never know these mysteries, we can only catch glimpses of what is beyond the veil. God is infinitely greater than man.

Q: Many non-believers say that God is a crutch, invented by and for weak-minded and weak-willed people to get them through life. What would you reply?

A: Although God made man in His own image, fallen man continually attempts to make God in his own image. Thus, God is a crutch only if you make Him into a crutch for yourself, which is what Voltaire (‘if God did not exist, man would have to invent Him’) and later the proto-Fascist and also madman Nietzsche proposed. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries especially, ideologues tried to use the idea of God to justify this ‘crutchism’, not to mention Fascism, Communism, racism, capitalism and consumerism (‘riches are God’s blessing to those who believe in Him’ – one of the recent American exports to China).

However, to make God in your own image is called idolatry, as it makes the Living God into a manmade idol. Idolatry is continually denounced in the Old Testament, to which most of the world now seems to have returned. Why? Because the world has largely abandoned the New Testament because of its laziness and deluded lack of faith, summed up in the words: ‘Christianity is too hard’. This has been the slogan of the West for a thousand years and has justified all of its falls from Orthodoxy. As Chesterton truly said of the West: ‘It is not that Christianity has failed, it is rather that Christianity has never been tried’.

Q: What is the difference between secular unity (of the US and EU type) and Church unity?

A: Secular unity is always of the ‘one size fits all’ sort, as practised by the pagan Roman, British, European and any other secular Empire, including the Papal and the Phanariot. Church unity is always unity in diversity. It does not impose one language or one approach, but says there are ‘many mansions in the Father’s Kingdom’.

Q: Why does Catholicism place such emphasis on suffering for redemption and what they call ‘atonement’ or ‘reparation’?

A: This is not only true of Catholicism, but also of Protestantism, which inherited it from Catholicism. It originates in the Catholic (Anselmian / late 11th century) cult and doctrine of the Redemption. This asserts that we were saved by Christ’s suffering on the Cross before the punishing feudal God the Father who demanded His Son’s death as a propitiatory sacrifice and demands human suffering. This is to confuse cause and effect.

For Orthodox we were saved by the Resurrection (the Crucifixion was of course the necessary path to the Resurrection). Christ freed the captives from hell through his Resurrection, which came about after His Crucifixion, when His soul went down to Hell and defeated the devil, who alone is the author of suffering. This is why heterodox celebrate Good Friday and not Easter Sunday. This is why piety among them is seen as suffering and even false suffering, pretending to suffer, seeking suffering, when in fact they make others, not least Orthodox, suffer.

Q: An American from St Vladimir’s has tried to persuade me that Judas repented, because that is what it says in the King James Gospel before it says that he ‘went and hanged himself’. How do I answer this?

A: St Vladimir’s has often been a hotbed of American Protestantism.

It is true that Judas did regret what he did (‘he repented himself’ in early 17th century English in Matt 27), but this is not repentance. We can imagine that almost all suicides regret what they have done in their lives (Hitler must have regretted many tactical mistakes, such as invading Russia, before he died), but regret is not at all the same as repentance. When people throw themselves under trains, and it often happens, they die full of regret. But there is no repentance. Otherwise they would not commit suicide so selfishly (and create inconvenience to the lives of tens of thousands and mental breakdown to train drivers) and would have made up for their feelings of regret, which wipe away the feeling of regret. Ask the Apostles Peter and Paul in prayer and they will tell you what repentance is.

Q: What is the difference between piety and pietism?

A: Piety is the natural effect on human behaviour after the human heart has been touched by the Holy Spirit. Pietism is a disease, an artificial affectation, the self-willed effects of an intellectual and pathological decision to pretend to be pious. It can easily be diagnosed because it is always coloured by priggish, self-righteous pride, aggressiveness and vanity, a lack of humility and love for one’s neighbour.

Q: What do you make of the Pope’s decision to change the wording of the Lord’s Prayer in Italian from ‘Lead us not into temptation’ to something like ‘Avoid putting us to the test’, because otherwise some might think that God tempts us?

A: There is nothing new in this change. The Anglicans did the same some fifty years ago and the change seems to be yet another example of the Protestantization of Catholicism. True, the rewording is something of an explanation of the original words. However, temptations inevitably happen to us in the fallen world (they happened to Christ, for example, in the wilderness) and they are very positive if they are resisted, as they build us up, making us stronger and mature. (There is no maturity without undergoing temptations). Even ignoring this, the ‘rewording does seem very strange: by what authority does the Pope ‘correct’ the Saviour’s wording? And why does he think that believers can be so infantile as to think that God deliberately leads us into sin? Is he the Pope of doubters and sceptics?

Q: What do you think of Vladimir Lossky’s ‘The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church’?

A: I think it is an excellent academic overview of the Church’s theology, written by an Orthodox if Paris-trained intellectual. My only regret is the title, which is clearly aimed at Non-Orthodox. First of all, ‘Eastern Orthodox’ means in reality only Orthodox who live in the Middle East – Russians, for example, never call themselves ‘Eastern Orthodox’. I am not Eastern Orthodox. And then, why ‘mystical’? All theology is mystical, i.e. meta-rational, above the reason. Otherwise it is not theology, merely philosophy. A better title would be: ‘An Academic View of Authentic Christian Theology’.

Q: How do you keep faith alive today in such conditions of cynicism, of what they call post-modernism?

A: Cynicism is by definition the lack of faith. Post-modernism is the lack of any ideals caused by the lack of faith. For us there is only one ideal – Christ (and therefore all those who tried to follow Christ in and through the Church, the saints and the righteous. This excludes a lot of the people who claim to be in the Church, especially those among the senior clergy, for as the proverb says, ‘A fish rots from the head’). St Seraphim of Sarov did not live in Saint Petersburg (true St Xenia did, but as a tramp or drop-out), Elder Nikolai Guryanov lived on an isolated island in a lake and his teachings are still mocked by know-it-all-and-understand-nothing ‘Orthodox’ intellectuals in Moscow today. There is no surprise here, for Christ Himself did not live in Jerusalem (where they killed Him), but in the ‘backward’ province of Galilee. Thus, my answer is simple: Have faith in Christ, and if you do not have that, seek faith in Christ – and you will find faith. Then you will have an ideal and the cynicism that sinful men create will not vanquish you.

Q: When the clergy wear red in honour of the feasts of the martyrs, there is often so much gold colour in the red that it is more gold than red. Why?

A: To represent the glory of the martyrs. Martyrdom is not a defeat for us, but a victory. Red leads to gold; the blood of martyrdom to heavenly crowns.

Russian History and the Russian Church

Q: Was it only the Bolsheviks who destroyed Imperial Russia? What part did other countries in the First World War play in its destruction?

A: The only Christian Empire, Imperial Russia, was primarily betrayed by the loss of faith and so apostasy of its own leaders of the left and the right. And this long before the Bolsheviks came to power. Indeed, it can be said that the Bolsheviks were only latecomers, the opportunist flotsam and jetsam of history, a band of ruthless terrorists and thieves, the lowest of the low. They were led for the most part by apostate Jews and many of their victims were pious Jews. The Bolsheviks did not lead or start the so-called ‘Russian Revolution’ in any way, they were just parasites on the back of history. They never admitted this, because lying was inherent to their nature, as Solzhenitsyn later pointed out in his ‘Do not live according to lies’.

All the forces that destroyed Imperial Russia can be seen in the murder of the healer and prophet Gregory Rasputin, who is venerated by some pious Orthodox, especially inside Russia, as the first martyr of the Revolution three months before the others. His depraved murderers were: the liberal Anglophile/Francophile and transvestite aristocrat Yusupov; the right-wing Germanophile politican and so-called ‘monarchist’ Purishkevich; and two British spies, one an Odessa Jew under the alias of Sidney (Solomon) Reilly.

In this we see all the enemies of Christianity; the liberal modernist ecumenistic pro-British and pro-French traitors (later of the Paris School, whose sorry liberal influence parts of the OCA is still trying to cleanse itself of; it even denounces normal, middle-of-the-road Orthodox as ‘conservative’!); equally treacherous, pro-German (and later pro-Nazi), nationalistic, moralistic and pharisaical narrow-minded right-wingers; the apostate West, of Britain, France and Germany (later of the USA); Zionism.

However, it is Russian people themselves, both the elite and all who passively followed them, who are primarily responsible. They did not have to listen to any of the siren voices coming from the West and the West cannot be blamed for any of the primary responsibility. Maturity is the taking on of responsibility for the consequences of one’s own sins, as the New Martyrs did. Immaturity is blaming others: typically, children do that all the time – adults should not.

Q: When will unity between the various groups in the Russian Church come in North America and Western Europe? And what about the calendar question? Surely ROCOR would never agree to take on parishes, like the OCA ones, which use the new calendar for the fixed feasts?

A: There are at present three groups in North America (ROCOR, OCA – which are probably about the same size, even if the OCA has hundreds of tiny groups – and some 40 MP parishes) and two groups in Western Europe (about 70 ROCOR parishes and 200 MP parishes). They are all basically parts of the Russian Church, even though the OCA has a piece of paper granting it ‘autocephaly’ – though everyone knows that that independence is more or less a myth.

Unity will come with time. Both ROCOR and the OCA (and to some extent the MP parishes) were at daggers drawn during the Cold War because of their inherent political secularism and lack of spirituality. The OCA suffered from extreme Paris liberalism and the disease of ‘autocephalism’, uncanonical actions and downright episcopal immorality, the persecution of married clergy (not unknown elsewhere), with the result that it is still controlled by prematurely-appointed protopresbyters (the norm is 55 years of priesthood), like a Presbyterian Protestant group.

ROCOR suffered from what can be called in one nightmarish word ‘Grabbe’ (= narrow-minded phariseeism, inward persecution by the spiritually proud, loveless, racist, ritualist, exclusivist ghettoism and right-wing sectarianism of the ‘One True Church’ variety). However, now that the political extremists everywhere have either died, left, or else are at last starting to die out from old age, having inflicted intense suffering on others almost all their lives, there is hope for the future.

We have all suffered enough; when the last vestiges of these trends have gone, the Church will be free at last to move forward: I just hope we will not all be too old ourselves after over forty years, so far, of unnecessary delay and frustration.

For only when both groups have freed themselves from this extremist past can unity take place. There is already hope. Metr Jonah, once of the OCA, is now a retired Metropolitan in ROCOR, as is Bishop Nikolai (formerly of Alaska). And both current Metropolitans are well-disposed to one another. But both have to drag their groups behind them and in ROCOR we have certainly suffered from much extremist aggressiveness from the OCA in the past, but that was sometimes mutual. This process could take another generation and there must be progress on both sides. In Western Europe, hope for progress is also there, but ROCOR has suffered so much in the past from immorality or incompetence on the part of bishops of the MP. Trust has to be built. And that will take time.

The new calendar? A problem? How short are memories! Until 1991 ROCOR had several new calendar Romanian and Bulgarian parishes. There was no problem with that. If people are so weak that they need to have the fixed feasts on the new calendar, ROCOR can accept them by economy.

Q: Why does the Russian Church not hand back the Moldovan Orthodox Church back to Romania?

A: The simple answer to this is that only the Moldovan Orthodox themselves can decide which Patriarchate they want to be under; it is not for the Russian Church to do anything. You cannot ‘hand back’ what does not belong to you. The Moldovan Church is part of the Russian Church of its own freewill. The days of dictatorship in Eastern Europe are over, sadly the Romanian Church does not seem to realize this: if Moldovan Orthodox themselves, after nearly 200 years, with one short gap, within the Russian Church, wish to go under the jurisdiction of the Romanian Church (which, like Romania itself, did not even exist 200 years ago), they will do so.

What must be avoided is any kind of uncanonical, political and imperialist interference, including force and bribery, on Moldovan territory by the Romanian Church to make the Moldovan Orthodox change jurisdictions. This would be the same basic lack of canonicity and US-backed ecclesiastical imperialism as recently exercised by Constantinople in the Ukraine with such disastrous results, resulting in the Constantinople schism and its fall from grace. Moldovans have all told me that they don’t want to join the Romanian Church, as it is corrupted by simony. If the Romanian Church first sorts out its own house, perhaps the Moldovans would like to join it, providing they do not have to use the Roman Catholic calendar. That is up to them.

Q: Why does the Russian Church insist that bishops be monks? The Greek Church does not.

A: The answer is in the words of the ever-memorable Metr Antony (Khrapovitsky): ‘A scholarly monk who has been removed from his monastic setting and who is unable to form an attachment to another Church institution is liable to be tempted to love nothing but himself’. Of course, in the Russian Church too anyone can formally become a monk, without actually being so. So there is no guarantee that a Russian bishop is better than a Greek bishop because he is formally a monk. He can be exactly as narcissistic despite outward resemblances.

In fact, it is not the lack of nominal monasticism, but the lack of genuine monastic life among the Orthodox Christian episcopate, Greek or Russian, which is its bane. However, something similar can be said of those in the married state: he who is not obedient to marriage and does not love his spouse and children can also end up ‘liable to be tempted to love nothing but himself’. This is the danger of the refusal to marry or to become monastics, that is, the danger of celibacy without monasticism. Both the bachelor and the spinster, or for that matter, Roman Catholic priests, suffer terribly from the temptations of selfishness. All the best Roman Catholic priests I have met have been married with children (behind the backs of their bishops).

Q: Some people think that we will one day have a Tsar in Russia?

A: Of course, we will. That is exactly what we in England, and elsewhere, have been praying and working for over the last 100 years. He will not only be a Tsar in Russia, but a Tsar for all Orthodox everywhere. Our task now is to be like so many St John the Baptists, preparing the way, forerunning.

Western History

Q: When in history does the mentality ‘the West is better than the rest’ originate?

A: This mentality can first be found in the racist cruelty of the pagan Roman Empire, with its barbaric invasions, plundering and asset-stripping of other countries and endemic slavery. However, after the invasion of the West by the Germanic barbarians, the West was humbled and this proud and self-adoring mentality largely disappeared under the influence of the Christian enlightenment provided by humble Orthodox saints.

This situation lasted until the eleventh century – with the notable exception of Charlemagne’s massacre of the Saxons in the late eighth century, which happened precisely because he was trying to revive the pagan Roman Empire and so created what later came to be called Roman Catholicism. Thus, after the Year 1000, we can see this mentality very clearly in the Norman massacres in England after 1066 and in Jerusalem under the barbarian Crusaders in the late eleventh century, and again in the plundering of the Christian capital of New Rome in 1204 by other Roman Catholics. ‘Kill them all, God will recognize His own’, shouted the murderous Roman Catholic Dominicans in 13th century France – that too was the same mentality. All those who did not accept this mentality of the New West had to be terrorized and massacred into submission.

The Spanish and Portuguese Conquest of the Americas, annihilating the advanced civilizations there and so creating in their places the jungles of Guatemala and the Amazon, was the same. So were the massacres of Polish-led Uniatism in the 17th century. Other Western European countries simply followed this mentality in developing the slave trade and Empire-building, The war-crime massacres of the Carpatho-Russians by the Austro-Hungarians in the First World War and the German massacre of 30 million Slavs in their holocaust in the Second World War was only what the Spanish and the Portuguese, the British and the French, the Belgians, the Dutch and the Italians had already done to the Native Americans, Africans and Asians. And as for that notorious American general who some sixty years ago more or less said, ‘Bomb them back to the Stone Age’, he only repeated a tradition that was already 900 years old.

Q: What do the terms ‘Anglo-Saxon’ and ‘Byzantine’ mean?

A: Non-Christians and non-conscious (= Non-Orthodox) Christians use these terms to mean Orthodox English and Orthodox Roman. In the same way Non-Christians and non-conscious Christians call the late medieval revival of paganism ‘The Renaissance’ and also almost everywhere use the term ‘Christian’ to mean Non-Orthodox Christian, i. e. heretical. (For instance, they write: ‘Christians sacked Byzantium’, when what they mean is ‘barbaric anti-Christian heretics plundered the Christian Capital’). When secularist historians write of ‘Normans versus Saxons’, or ‘Franks versus Gallo-Romans’, they mean heretics versus English Christians or versus Western European Christians. Today, they say ‘modern versus traditional’ – it still means heretics versus Orthodox Christians.

Men and Women

Q: Why are there more women than men in churches?

A: Women are generally more sensitive and emotionally open than rationalizing men, who get blocked from faith by their brains, and so women access faith more easily, instinctively, by feeling and intuition. This is very positive. On top of this, every woman who has given birth has been through an experience that can only be likened to a near-death experience. Rare is the woman who does not admit the existence of God after giving birth. However, the downside of this is that women’s religious practice can be less sober and is more often coloured by sentimentalism and emotionalism, which in turn can lead to superstition, the disease of seeing ‘coincidences’ everywhere and misinterpreting them, fetishism or ‘lucky charmism’ and, in extreme cases, hysteria. Pathology always seeks to justify itself through religion.

Q: Should women stay at home and look after their children?

A: Please do not generalize! Every woman is different and free to choose what is right for her. Just like every man.

Q: What is the ideal age gap between a husband and wife?

A: I don’t think there is any such thing. True, very, very often in couples the husband is slightly older than his wife, but there are no rules here, as human psychology and experience are so varied. There are always the rare exceptions, even of very happy marriages where the age gap is 20 years and more, either cases where the husband wants to be mothered, which the wife in question is happy to do, or cases where the wife wants to be ‘daughtered’, which the husband in question is happy to do.

Q: What did you think of the recent Women’s Football World Cup?

A: As I have little interest in sport, I was only dimly aware of it until the last matches. However, I thought it was very typical that the four semi-finalist teams turned out to be from the four ex-Protestant countries, Great Britain, the USA, Sweden and the Netherlands. Clearly, this phenomenon of women playing traditionally male sports is not about equality before the law (of which everyone is naturally in favour). It is about women renouncing being women and everything that is distinctive about women: womanhood, femininity, motherliness, about becoming like men, and at that, often becoming like the worst and most vulgar of men.

Has no-one thought that women players can fall over and hurt their breasts or childbearing organs and become infertile? Men should be protecting them from this. This so-called ‘equality’ of the sexes which is preached and propagandized by the post-Protestant world is just more cultural imperialism. The post-Protestant world even when it was still Protestant already had no veneration for the Mother of God, but tended rather to despise her blasphemously. And so it goes on. The phenomenon of women playing man-invented sports is not about equality. It is about the reduction of women to the level of men, about homogeneity and sameness, about the levelling down of womankind to mere economic units, according to which reproductivity is a hindrance.

Personal

Q: How do you become a priest? And how did you become a priest personally?

A: You do not become a priest first, you become an active layman first, taking part in parish life, working in the parish, praying,  gong to confession, taking communion, lighting the lamps, singing, reading, cleaning, helping, learning the services, reading, asking questions, helping in the altar if invited to. Priesthood is the end point, not the start. After a few years you may then end up as a reader. From there on you pray for God to continue to guide you.

As for me personally, it was a miracle. In my day if you mentioned such a thing as becoming a priest, you got humiliated, bullied, mocked and threatened. And of course there was no internet in those days, so no factual information, just negativity, prejudices and discouragement. I was recently astonished to see a brochure from Jordanville actually encouraging young men to become clergy! Just the opposite of a few decades ago. Young people have it so easy nowadays. In my day, there were two huge impediments to being ordained, one was being young, the other was being educated. So much talent was wasted – little wonder the Church is still desperately short of clergy. I would not want to be a bishop at the Last Judgement.

In my day, most jurisdictions would only ordain you if you belonged to the right ethnicity (or else if you agreed to be morally or financially corrupted by the bishop in question, for example by agreeing to become a freemason). (I remember how in order to become a deacon, I waited for ten years and had to be able to read the Six Psalms fluently in Slavonic, better than Russians could; you were always a third-class citizen; one rule for Russians, another for Non-Russians). One jurisdiction only ordained upper-middle class men – and your social class was decisive for them, so coming from my background I was out. Another jurisdiction, which appeared a couple of decades later, only ordained ex-Anglican vicars. One person there told me that you could only become a priest in that jurisdiction if you first became Anglican and got ordained as a vicar.

Frankly, I don’t know how I became a priest, except that it was a miracle worked through the prayers of St John of Shanghai and through the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva, his spiritual son. I certainly received only hindrances and everything that has happened has taken place despite everyone, except Archbishop Antony.

Q: If you had your time again, what mistakes would you have avoided?

A: The question is of course impossible because if I had not made and then learned from my mistakes, I would not know what I know now!

However, I can clearly say that, given the absence of the Russian Orthodox Tradition, as I had already experienced it in Russia, in the Sourozh Diocese of the then enslaved Moscow Patriarchate in England, I would have gone straight to the University of London in 1974 and to the ROCOR Cathedral. On graduation, I would have gone straight to Jordanville.

However, I would always have belonged, as now, to the St John of Shanghai wing of ROCOR and not to the highly conservative, political, secular, old calendarist wing. It was that wing that more and more dominated ROCOR for forty painful years between the 1960s and 2007, when it was finally defeated, though sorry and painful vestiges still survive. The battle against this wing lasted for over four decades and took a great deal of our energy. It was the representatives of that wing who put St John on trial in San Francisco in 1964 and in so doing they put all of us on trial for decades to come. Personally, I was only found innocent and exonerated in December 2016, when the persecution stopped.

St John was the last bishop consecrated by Metr Antony (Khrapovitsky), who said of him, ‘If I do not consecrate him, no-one will’. In turn, St John was the spiritual father of the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva, who was converted to monastic life by Metr Antony and by his understanding of the Redemption, as he told me in Paris in 1987. In turn, when I was ordained by Archbishop Antony, I think the last priest he ordained, he said, ‘If I do not ordain you, no-one will’.

This is where I will always belong, to the old traditions of the Western European Diocese of St John and his spiritual son Archbishop Antony, and not to some false and invented set of myths, invented by latecomers to the Church. Archbishop Antony, born in Kiev and living in Western Europe, would today be in the Exarchate, as he was a forerunner, pioneer and prophet of it.

 

 

 

The Imperial Guard to Light the Lamps of Europe

The warning came to Europe at Fatima over a hundred years ago in 1917, through the last innocent European children in provincial Portugal: If you do not repent, you will end up like the atheist Soviet Union and so suffer yet another period of bloodletting with tens of millions dead. And so it come to that and since then neither Catholicism, because it pharisaically deformed the message of Fatima, nor its offshoot Protestantism, has repented and so returned to Orthodoxy, even after so many chances given. Thus, Western Europe has become a self-justifying Sodom and Gomorrah. Meanwhile, in the former Soviet Union itself, atheism collapsed, 100 million were baptised and people are gradually, returning to an active and meaningful Faith and the values and culture of Christian Civilization.

Europe has lost its faith, abandoning itself to its weak and illogical powers of reasoning, and so has made itself insane. Now it has neither identity, nor nation, nor honour. This is why it says: Kill them like pigs; they are only human-beings. And though the incinerators of Hitler have gone, they are open in European hospitals and clinics to burn the bodies of millions of murdered children every year and of hundreds of those who, having lost faith, have chosen euthanasia-suicide, and they are open in cemeteries to burn up the bodies of the dead, as nothing but biowaste, the rationalization of Hitler, who had human bodies made into soap and human skin made into lampshades.

Europe has lost its faith, abandoning itself to its weak and illogical powers of reasoning, and so has made itself insane. It has no other source of knowledge or apprehension of the world except itself and so, looking at its own sorry self-reflection, it has become dependent on anti-depressants of all names, legal and illegal. This is why Europe no longer has anything of spiritual or moral import to say to the world, for spiritual life, which it denies, is the source of moral life. Having lost the first, it has lost the second, and so wastes itself in futility and superficiality, following ‘religiously’ every passing fad and fancy, however absurd and defiguring, without any moral compass or direction.

Europe has lost its faith, abandoning itself to its weak and illogical powers of reasoning, and so has made itself insane. This is why it invents its own self-justifying morality, which is only hypocrisy and contradiction, as is apparent to every civilization outside Europe and even to those who still believe but still live in Europe. It is especially obvious to Russian and other faithful Orthodox who live in Europe. We are Europeans, but we are also Christians and so have nothing in common with the spiritual illness of the Anti-Civilization of Western Secularism, which pervades the anti-people European elites and their self-deluded elitist fake news media. Theirs is the path to suicide, a path they celebrate as ‘freedom’.

This is why we must pray to the Saints of Old Europe to save it, for they evangelized it; this is why we must value the oldest places of Europe, often the most famous, for they exist because they were founded in the first millennium, when Europe was still authentically Christian, that is, Orthodox. This is why, in the cities and towns and villages and once holy places and shrines of Europe, we must light the lamps, witnessing to the peoples who live here that there was – and is – Another Europe, the Old Europe, the Europe of the Saints of God, the Europe that loves Truth and Mercy, the First Europe, ‘the Europe before Europe’, which never accepted its thousand-year long aberration, from which it must first be cleansed.

Let faithful Orthodox therefore form an Imperial Guard, a Europe-wide force of dedicated Orthodox, whose emblem is the double-headed eagle, the words ‘For the Faith’ written underneath the emblem in the language of the guard, male or female, and, underneath that, his or her national flag. This would channel the idealism of all faithful Orthodox, including young people, perhaps organized in detachments dedicated to the local national saint, deepening our identity and purpose. Keeping faith with the Orthodox Empire, at present Emperor-less, we are asked to call Europe, many centuries ago part of our Empire (read St Bede the Venerable), to repentance, to save Europe, people by people, by ourselves being faithful to and witnessing to the Church of God.

Let us rewrite each of the national anthems of Europe, with new words, keeping only the melodies. This will be the Europe that has an identity, nation and family, that has strength and honour, because it confesses the Faith of Christ, the lodestar of our lives.  In every Imperial Guard home and family in Europe let us light a lamp before the holy images as the lamp that burns within the soul of each Imperial guard as we pray there. Praying and working, we await the return of the Christian Emperor. Let us prepare the places where we live for his coming, so that he may not be ashamed to visit us when he comes. Let us now therefore cleanse our homes and, above all, cleanse our hearts.

The Great Betrayal

For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight’. (Matt.  3, 3)

 Introduction: Fake History

The textbooks of official history are like old ‘newspapers’ filled with interpretations, not facts. This is to justify the biased beliefs of their writers or, much more often, of those who pay their writers. This can be seen clearly if you compare a history book from 100 years ago with a modern one: the two versions are very different. This bias is not least true when it comes to the fake history about the last Russian Emperor. For the attitudes of most towards Tsar Nicholas II are still dictated by that fake history, first spread by the traitors who overthrew him in March 1917. This fake history actually asserts, for example, that the Tsar was ‘weak’, ‘cowardly’ and ‘stupid’ and that therefore he deserved to be replaced (by those who wrote, or else paid for the textbooks).

Such lies were promulgated inside Russia by jealous and power-hungry revolutionaries before the Revolution and in the West which aided and abetted them. It was reinforced by Paris Russian emigres who had overthrown the Tsar (and were then overthrown in their turn for their crass incompetence). As for the very Bolsheviks, who overthrew them in November 1917, they simply repeated the lie. In other words, there was no concern with the truth anywhere, only with self-justification. And later Western historians, in self-justification, have only reinforced it. All justified themselves with yet another lie: that the Tsar had abdicated. This myth, promulgated by émigrés and Soviets alike, is still repeated today and also presented as ‘history’!

Real History

Today, we know that for several years before 1917 the aristocratic conspirators who wanted power for themselves had worked sytematically with spies (‘diplomats’) in Western embassies, using foreign-controlled media and hired agitators to discredit and slander the Tsar. And they were successful; many jealous Romanovs, power-seeking aristocrats, politicians, professionals, the half-baked ‘intelligentsia’, clergy, industrial workers and even peasants believed their lies, especially about Gregory Rasputin, alleged to be a base drunkard and revolting debauchee, who controlled everything that the Tsar did. The fact that so many believed these disgusting lies proves only the loss of faith leading to spiritual blindness of huge numbers at that time.

When on 16 December 1916 debauchees and atheists murdered the in fact righteous Orthodox healer and prophet Gregory Rasputin, there was actually rejoicing. A few weeks later later, on 1 March 1917, as the Tsar was being held prisoner by his generals on the royal train in Pskov between the Front and Saint Petersburg, an attempt was made on his life, not for the first time, by arranging a train crash. Threats were also made to the lives of the Tsarina and the royal children. On 2 March the Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich, the Tsar’s foul-mouthed uncle and incompetent and so sacked former commander of the Western Front, also gave allegiance to the traitors. A document of abdication was drawn up, signed in pencil with the forged signature of the Tsar.

Some of the other main traitors were politicians like Guchkov, an agent of the Anglo-German imperialist Lord Alfred Milner, and the President of the decadent Duma, Rodzianko, a puppet of the British ambassador, Buchanan. But virtually all the military commanders were also traitors, from Alekseyev, Ruzsky, Kornilov, Brusilov, Kolchak, Evert, Nepenin, Sakharov to Bonch-Bruyevich, who in Pskov imprisoned the Tsar on the royal train. Like the others, they all broke their oaths of loyalty to the Tsar and his Dynasty. Lacking a living Orthodox Faith, the Tsar’s own brother, the Grand Duke Michael, and even his Danish mother were disloyal. And Romanov relatives, the Grand Dukes Nikolai, Sergei and Alexander Mikhailovich, were among his most virulent critics.

In the Church there were also unprincipled clerical careerists, who betrayed the Tsar. Just as the disciple Peter betrayed Christ (though then repented, unlike Judas), so too there were so-called ‘churchmen’ who initially betrayed the Tsar. Once the pious metropolitans of Saint Petersburg and Moscow had been removed by the ‘Provisional Government’ which treated the Church as a mere Department of State, the traitors broke their oaths of allegiance to the Lord’s Anointed, under the pretext that the Tsar had abdicated! They had signed their own death warrants. These traitors, consciously or unconsciously, were all acting for Western spies, German or Allied, the enemies of Russian Orthodoxy. Their only desire was that Orthodoxy would not win the War.

However, those who betrayed the Tsar all paid for their crime in the Bolshevik Revolution and Civil War, or in bitter exile, or when they were repressed by the Soviet State, or in the Fascist invasion of 1941. However, those who even today continue to spread the lies of the revolutionaries about a ‘weak and stupid Tsar’ and ‘an abdication’ are also guilty. Almost all the Romanov relatives, aristocrats, generals, politicians, professionals, senior clergy and intellectuals, all the elitist plotters, were guilty. The fact that they tried to justify themselves in émigré memoirs proves it. When they wrote:  ‘We were right and we suffered because of the mistakes of the Tsar and the Tsarina’, all were repeating the same lie. And today their spiritual heirs only repeat it.

We have the Old Testament which the Tsar read in his Gethsemane on the royal train. In the book of Leviticus 26, 14-36, he made notes which make it clear that the Tsar understood prophetically the deep apostasy of his people: ‘But if you will not hearken to me and do all these commandments…I will appoint over you terror, consumption and a burning fever that shall consume your eyes and torment your hearts: and you shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you… and I will make your heaven as iron and your earth as brass…And I will bring a sword on you that shall avenge your quarrel with my testament…And I will make your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries into desolation…And I will scatter you among the heathen…

Conclusion: The Warning to the West

Tsar Nicholas knew about his future, including his sacrificial martyrdom, long before they came. However, this did not stop him from doing what he had to do, making the Russian Empire into a Great Power, only a little behind Great Britain and Germany and catching up ever faster with the USA. The nearly 50 million increase in population in his reign proves it and as for the technological developments, we know that the Second World War was won by the men trained and the equipment in development already in his reign. After the Great Betrayal, Marxism came to power, delivered by special train from Germany. After destroying much that had been achieved, they took up the development of what remained of the Russian Empire, but with one vital difference.

The Bolsheviks thought that they could create heaven on earth by atheism, a ‘bright future’ without belief in heaven and a way of life that takes heaven as its model. As a result they created hell on earth, an earth in which souls are not saved. Tsar Nicholas wanted to create earthly prosperity, but only in proportion as spiritual prosperity could be created, which is why he also tried to do much for the spiritual and moral welfare of his peoples. This is the knowledge that Russian Orthodox have today and warn the West of: If you organize worldly life without attention to spiritual life, if you make the same mistake as the Soviet Union, you will end up like the Soviet Union: spiritually, morally and economically bankrupt. But the West appears to be deaf…

 

 

 

Holy Suffolk

Holiness is the Christian Orthodox ideal: we look not at rank or riches, but at holiness, for it is one of the four signs of the Church and the one which is personally accessible.  It is why all Orthodox speak of the Holy Land, the Holy Mountain, Holy Russia and of making pilgrimages to holy places, the places of the saints. Locally, in England, we speak of Holy Island, the monastery of St Cuthbert in Lindisfarne, and also of one county as holy: Holy Suffolk. What is the origin of this latter name?

When the pagan Danes invaded the Kingdom of East Anglia in the ninth century, martyring St Edmund in Hoxne, among the ‘southern folk’ of the Kingdom, later called Suffolk, they found so many churches and so much piety that they called the region ‘gesaelig’, meaning ‘blessed’ or ‘holy’. This by corruption in the Middle Ages became ‘seely’ and today ‘silly’, hence the name ‘Silly Suffolk’. Incidentally, the root of this word is the same as the Greek ‘salos’, which means foolish for Christ; any fool for Christ’s sake is known as ‘salos’ in Greek. As the Apostle Paul writes, foolishness (‘silliness’) in this world is wisdom before God.

Thus, we know that there were already 417 churches in Suffolk in 1066 – for a population that could not then have been more than 50,000: one church for every hundred or so people. Moreover, what had become known at that time as Suffolk (the region of the southern folk of East Anglia) was by the twelfth century divided into three parts: about one third in the south-east was called St Audrey’s Liberty, for this centred on Rendlesham, which had been owned by St Audrey (pedants call her ‘Etheldreda’). She was baptised by St Felix who lived there and after whom nearby Felixstowe, where St Felix founded a monastery, is named. The other two-thirds was divided into St Edmund’s Liberty or west Suffolk, centred on Bury St Edmunds, and into what was called the ‘Geldable’ (= the taxable, that is the area subject to central secular taxation). Thus some two-thirds of the modern county was dedicated to the Church, through St Audrey and St Edmund.

Indeed, a more or less straight diagonal line can be drawn from Felixstowe in the south-east corner of Suffolk, on to Bury St Edmunds and then to Ely, which borders Suffolk,  just beyond its north-west corner. The monastery in Ely had been founded by St Audrey who had been born in nearby Exning in Suffolk. This straight line forms a heavenly path for pilgrims, a spiritual way, a mystical road, connecting the three best-known saints of Suffolk: St Felix, Apostle of East Anglia, St Edmund, King of East Anglia and St Audrey of Ely. This is part of that mystical conscience of the other England, beyond modern traffic and roads, towns and shops, noise and bustle. It is a tiny fragment of holiness in today’s Suffolk, pointing us to our Orthodox destiny.

Holy, Felix, Audrey and Edmund, pray to God for us!

 

 

 

 

Verses of Vision

Verses inspired by the poetry of John Masefield

One

Though in sorrow and joy our lives end and start,

Truth and Freedom are the dear songs of my heart:

That God may make of my soul a gleaming rift,

Through which meaning may come to seekers as a gift.

The haunts where Beauty dwells, unknown to the blind,

Are what God made it my destiny to find,

For though my life has been like a desert parched,

God is the Star by Whom I have ever marched.

For beyond the pain, beyond the yearning clay,

Beyond the gleams of Beauty glimpsed every day,

Lies a glimmering land, won by all who pray.

Its Beauty is grace, the spring, the wine, the bread,

The life, the dawn, the wakening from the dead,

The Eternal April of words Heaven said.

 

Two

An unknown voice is beckoning me, calling me

And telling me to fulfil my destiny:

You are seeking and you shall find

Wisdom and Beauty in the Eternal Mind.

My vision is Wisdom, the World as it is,

The unearthly, undying Beauty that lives.

To help and bring Beauty from beyond the stars;

To see and sing of Paradise is my task.

I wait in hope for the turning of the wheel,

The hope that only we the abandoned feel.

Though the devil ever keeps the laws in hell,

Above in Heaven, as I have long heard tell,

The law of love rings the Saviour’s victory bell,

Proclaiming Resurrection and how death fell.

 

Three

By loving mercy, confession, martyrdom

And sufferings, our God leads us to Wisdom.

For only the Mind of Wisdom can declare

All the meaning and the purpose everywhere.

I seek for Truth in all places and all things.

Beyond the gold and glitter, beyond the kings,

Beyond the veil, I can see the angels gleam,

I must find all that is beyond what may seem.

Suddenly the darkness of the Night has ceased

And, bearing hope and glory, a bright-robed priest,

Alive out of the East, all in light gleaming,

Brings the living, shining love of Christ streaming.

For now and ever, Life’s everlasting Spring

Has despoiled all hell and robbed Death of his sting.

 

Four

Thoughts are many, but Holy Wisdom is One,

Though boughs are bare for now, God’s April will come.

For by ways as yet unseen and still unknown,

Glory awaits the low and meek to enthrone.

This world is but the shadow of the Other,

Of the Light of God and His Holy Mother.

For if from Divine Glory we cannot learn

We will not defend us from hell and will burn.

For often only a visit to Death’s doors

Can soften the proud heart and teach us God’s laws.

The souls that are unlit and unhelped grow ill

But His Kingdom’s words give life and never kill.

No Death reigns there, all is Beauty and Wisdom,

For all ways are ways of Light in the Kingdom.

 

Five

So asses rule and he who brays the loudest

Is the one of whom this world is much the proudest.

Death is life’s enemy and they walk his way,

‘Hate God and hate your neighbour as yourself’, they say.

But my King and Queen give me fair words to write:

Beauty is my daily bread and soul’s delight.

Though squalid blackness and devilry destroy,

Our winter sorrows still bring Aprils of joy.

This present world has been long in a Dark Age,

But a New Birth will yet turn another page:

For Beauty hallowed the deaths the martyrs had

And changed into light and good the dark and bad.

To live without God’s life is hell’s path taken,

But when the King comes, the dead will awaken!

 

Six

The world’s Unwisdom brought Death, the knell that tolls,

But there is the lighted way of lonely souls,

Who suffer torments and trodden pathways flee,

But eternities in every instant see.

Their nights are long, but their days break fair in dawn,

They teach Beauty, for it outlives Death forlorn:

Shine in your heart, open doors of glory now,

The light in your very soul will tell you how,

Bring the news from Paradise by starry night,

Somewhere in every heart it’s still April bright.

In eternity the bells are ringing out

For angels and men to join for hell’s great rout.

Men take strength and women noble hearts hold high,

To give this poor Earth the glory of the sky.