Miracle in Mid-Air

Larnaca, Cyprus, October 19, 2017

Reports have appeared in both Greek and English about a miracle of Elder Ephraim (Moraitis) of St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, Arizona. According to the information reported, the former abbot of the Athonite monastery of Philotheou miraculously appeared to prevent a plane crash on a flight from Larnaca, Cyprus to Haifa, Israel.

The incident occurred on 9 October, when a TUS-Airways flight began to show engine problems about 10 minutes prior to landing in Haifa. The Cypriot pilot, Panagiotis, fainted, but awoke to the sensation of two warm hands taking over the yoke of the plane.

The passengers were in a panic, except for an Archimandrite Andreas from Nazareth who was silently praying the prayer of the heart on his prayer knots.

The plane landed safely, and the pilot, reverently kissing Fr. Andreas’ hand and visibly shaken, asked what happened to the other priest who had been sitting next to the archimandrite. Fr. Andreas replied that no one had been sitting next to him. “There was a short, very skinny, white-bearded elder who held my hands,” the pilot insisted. “He is the one that saved us!”

The archimandrite then showed the pilot a photo of Elder Ephraim of Arizona, and he was dumbfounded, realizing that that was the man who had saved the plane and everyone aboard.

19/10/2017       Source: orthochristian.com

 

How Do We Deal with Injustices?

Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way and be sated with their own devices (Proverbs 1, 31)

The wages of sin are death (Romans 6, 23)

Injustice is inevitable. The past and present are littered with injustices – and the future will be as well. Injustices have happened as a result of the Fall of Adam and Eve and their foolish pride. We can think of Cain who killed Abel, an immediate consequence. But injustices can be national, social and personal. We in England can think of the fateful injustice of 1066, from which we still suffer, in Greece they think of 1204 and 1453, and in Russia, and throughout the Church and the world as a whole, no-one has ever recovered from the fateful injustice of 1917. Some people fight against injustices with wars and revolutions. These always seem to do more harm. So how should we deal with injustices, so we do not become obsessive and have ‘bees in our bonnets’?

First of all, we know that God is the only Just Judge, as He is the only Knower of the human heart. We know nothing, for we see only the outside, we are poor judges. And we know that God will judge all at the Last Judgement, all without exception. And we know that we already have a foretaste of His Judgement now. Just as the foretaste of heaven and hell begins now, as people choose and create their own little heaven or hell, so His Judgement begins now. Wars are His judgement of the nations. For evil is always punished – sometimes sooner, sometimes later. God’s Judgement alone is just, because all our human judgements are tinged with vengeful pride and vanity; only His Judgement is objective because it alone is the pure judgement of humility.

We can see this clearly in the Life of St Job the Much-Suffering in the Book about him, in which only his humility was justified. We can see this clearly in the Life of St John Chrysostom, who died in cruel exile from an evil empress, uttering the words: ‘Glory to God for all things’, words which the vengeful world does not understand. We can see this clearly in the Life of the much-slandered and Job-like St Nicholas the Tsar-Martyr (still slandered today), who in cruel exile wrote before his martyrdom that ‘it is not evil that will conquer evil, but only love’. A few years after that we can see this clearly in the Life of the much-slandered St Nectarios who died in cruel exile (when he would have been the Patriarch of Alexandria who had at last baptised Black Africa).

But what about when injustices happen to us personally, at work, in the family and especially in Church life? How do we deal with them? Ascetically, injustices are very dangerous because they can make the hearts of the victims hard, vengeful, bitter, cynical, full of negativity and sarcasm, thus poisoning the victims of injustice, making them into ‘damaged goods’. We must protect ourselves from such sinful feelings. We should know that we have survived not because of those who call themselves Christians but are not, but in spite of them. We follow Christ, His Holy Mother and the Saints, not corrupt men who have no love, whatever clerical rank they may have. We do not deal with such people: God deals with them. He always does. Be patient, you will see.

I have in over forty years of Church life suffered four cases of injustice in Church life. One ROCOR archbishop told me that if he had suffered what I had had to, he would have left the Church and never returned. However, I do not leave, but tremble when the perpetrators are unjust to me. And I do not tremble for myself, I tremble for them, because I know that they will suffer, for they are bringing awful punishment on themselves, as they always end up badly, sooner or later. I fear for them. I do nothing against their injustice, that is, I only pray for those who do me injustice, because they will suffer the most horrible punishment, they always do. They burn themselves, for they put their hands into the all-consuming fire of God (Hebrews 12, 29).

In the first case of these four people, the perpetrator died, his vainglorious personality, which he had made all-important, is discredited and now they are attempting to erase it from history. Seeking popularity and fame, he found unpopularity and infamy. The second one, who was so weak that he stood by no principles and so despite himself betrayed the Faith, died soon after his injustice and is now forgotten, destroyed by his very weakness. The third, who wanted to gain everything, has put himself in self-imposed isolation, having lost everything. And the fourth was dismissed for his support of the powerful and evil and rejection of the good and faithful. Seeking prestige and power, he lost prestige and power, never listening to others, now he is not listened to.

As the Book of Proverbs says above, people are always punished by what they sin with. Their lack of love, their chosen instrument of hatred, becomes their own punishment. I have seen God’s Judgement and it is a terrible thing because those who put the things of men above the things of God and so, consciously or unconsciously, become evildoers, always die: ‘All who hate me love death’ (Proverbs 8, 36). True, the evil that men do lives on after them, but I tremble for them all, as I do for myself, when God judges, as He surely will, each one of us for our lack of love. ‘Be ye faithful, not faithless’. As we said at the start, injustice is inevitable, but inevitable also is the Judgement of God. ‘The paths of glory lead but to the grave’. I tremble.

On the Identity of ROCOR as a Self-Governing Part of the Russian Orthodox Church and On What We Can Offer the Church Inside Russia

‘We must fight for the purity of Holy Orthodoxy’.

Words said to me by the Ever-memorable Metropolitan Laurus at the Fourth All-Diaspora Church Council in San Francisco, May 2006

 Introduction

Orthodox from Russia very often ask us what the difference is between the very large Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia (35,000 churches, often called the Moscow Patriarchate, which paradoxically includes some parishes which are geographically outside the ex-Soviet Union) and the very small Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR with 500 churches), whose administrative centre is in New York and whose territory covers the Western world. ROCOR only came into existence by Patriarchal decree in 1920, but today, as then, both parts of the Russian Orthodox Church have the same Patriarch Kyrill. To most of us who live outside Russia, the difference and our identity are clear, even obvious, and they cover six different areas, both dogmatic and pastoral.

Political Independence

First of all, ROCOR has complete political independence from the Russian Federation. It particular, we thoroughly reject that form of political dependence known as Sergianism, which refers to Patriarch Sergius who died in 1944 and whom a great many Russian Orthodox, not only in ROCOR, consider compromised the Church with the Soviet State. Thus, inside Russia it is actually possible to meet Orthodox who admire Stalin! Such Soviet nationalism is unthinkable for us. Such Sergianism has led to careerism, papalistic authoritarianism and an admiration for Roman Catholicism among a few senior clerics inside Russia, such as the late Metropolitan Nikodim and his followers. Why? Because of their admiration for a all State institutions, which is what the Vatican is. Such a mentality is quite alien to ROCOR.

Keeping the Tradition

ROCOR has always remained faithful to the pre-revolutionary Church Tradition. It has not suffered Soviet-period alterations to the Tradition and relics, however liturgically minor, such as using different Paschal liturgical colours, and in particular it does not suffer from the form-filling bureaucracy, centralization and almost superstitious Soviet ritualism which can often be found in the Church inside Russia. On a more important level, ROCOR does not therefore suffer from the spiritual disease of ecumenism, which affects certain individuals in the Church inside Russia and which distresses many there and in ROCOR. In the same way, ROCOR has always looked forward to the restoration of the Monarchy inside Russia. This view is shared by many in the Church inside Russia, our allies, though not by all.

Veneration of the Saints

ROCOR has a strong love of the Saints, especially of the New Martyrs and Confessors, but also of the Local Saints, the ancient saints of Western Europe, few of whom were until recently included in the Russian Church calendar. ROCOR canonized the Royal Martyrs and some 8,000 New Martyrs and Confessors 19 years before the Church inside Russia. Indeed, many in ROCOR had very much wanted these canonizations decades before even this. These canonizations included some (but still not all) of the servants of the Imperial Family. Interestingly, two of these servants were not members of the Orthodox Church. For ROCOR this presents no problem at all. For us, they were simply baptised in their blood, like many ancient martyrs. This thought seems to be alien to some in the Church inside Russia.

Financial independence

I remember how someone from Russia came here and saw a bishop sweeping the floor of his Cathedral. He was astonished and at once thought he was a saint! How absurd! Bishops and priests cleaning their churches is perfectly normal for us, though, sadly, we are not saints. For us it is the opposite that is abnormal. For instance, I can recall a few years ago how a bishop from Russia was appointed to a church that was geographically outside Russia. The first thing he did was to buy himself a luxurious black car. Automatically, he had lost all respect, he was finished and should have returned to Russia there and then. Clerical opulence with meaningless, militaristic pomp and ceremony are not for us. Our priests usually work in secular employment, even if only part-time, and choirs are hardly ever paid anything.

Closeness to the People

Just as in ROCOR we sing out of love for the church, we have no scandalizing price lists for baptisms, weddings etc. People simply donate whatever they can. Thus, simply by virtue of being in the Non-Orthodox world, ROCOR is adaptable, less insular, more multinational (just look at the nationalities of our bishops), much more even than the Church inside Russia. ROCOR adapts to local people, uses local languages and has a far more open and missionary outlook. In this way, although ROCOR keeps the Tradition, we are actually more ‘liberal’ in some ways because of the realities of life. For instance, as a small minority in Non-Orthodox countries, we pray for Non-Orthodox and welcome them to our churches, but we would not dream of making dogmatic compromises of the ecumenistic sort, such as intercommunion.

Real Parishes

One Russian from Russia told me: Our churches are like railway stations, people coming and going, staying for a few minutes and leaving, nobody knows anyone, people never belong. The fact is that parish life was destroyed in Russia by the Soviet period, whereas in ROCOR we have real parishes, communities to which people belong. Our parishes are smaller, our parishioners know one another, they receive personal attention, our churches do not operate like factories, we baptise individually, not en masse. Almost every week I do two or three baptisms, which are done properly and individually. We understand our parishioners, we accept prams, pushchairs and wheelchairs, we baptise babies in warm water, after the service parishioners sit down and socialize, drink and eat something together.

Conclusion

Members of ROCOR sometimes visit cathedrals and large monasteries in Russia or large churches in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Although we appreciate what we see, admiring the infrastructure and organization, wondering at the gold, marble, general ornateness, ritual and the singing, we tend to come back with the words: ‘It was good to be away, but it is better to be at home’. The words ‘Home Sweet Home’ are how we feel about ROCOR. We are a family to which we belong. Our churches may be small and modest, wooden and plain, our choirs amateur, our theology unsophisticated, but we belong to our Church, as did the simple fisherman of Galilee. Here we are at home and no-one can take that away from us. Here is something that the Church inside Russia can learn from us.

 

 

 

The Deconstruction of the EU and the Construction of the Europe of Nations

The European elites learned nothing from Brexit, just as they learned nothing from the democratic self-determination of the Crimea. The people had spoken by referendum and the elites simply denied reality, declaring that the people had been wrong. Instead of undertaking to listen to the people who did not want their centralized bureaucratic nightmare of a Superstate, patronizingly they instead justified their tyranny and decided to speed ahead with their dictatorial nightmare. Now in Catalonia another referendum has, just, taken place. Again the European elites are in denial, sending in paramilitary police from the semi-Frankist government in Madrid to assault the voters. Are the European elites listening this time? Of course not:

Esteban Gonzalez Pons, an MEP from Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s so-called ‘Popular’ Party, said: “If today you let Spain break up with Catalonia, a domino effect will follow across the continent. Instead of a Europe of 27, we will have a non-Europe of mini-states”. Italian politician, Gianni Pittella, declared: “A unilateral declaration of independence would amount to a further provocation, which would throw oil on the fire after Sunday’s meaningless referendum”. Philippe Lamberts, a Belgian politician, said that the threats of revolt coming from Catalonia “threaten the spirit of European integration, even more than Brexit”. Thus speak the anti-democratic, anti-people representatives of the elites of the European Union.

 As the fake nations of Britain and Spain divide into their natural parts, the slow but inevitable crumbling of the centralist EU nightmare should be viewed as an opportunity. For example, Brexit should lead to Irish unity – the absurd and unnatural partition of the single island of Ireland cannot continue. Then all four newly independent countries of Anglo-Celtia can co-operate freely, as unity in diversity. The old word ‘Britain’, an 18th century invention in imitation of earlier Roman and Norman tyranny, can be dropped, and the whole can work together in a four-country Confederation, called ‘IONA’, the Isles of the North Atlantic. But far more than this, other peoples throughout Europe can likewise be allowed their long-awaited self-determination.

Other artificial conglomerates like Germany, Italy, France and the Ukraine can fall apart, like the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia before them, the failed, British-invented buffer of Belgium can disappear, absurd borders in Eastern Europe can be rearranged. Everything is possible – and in peace. And, at long last, Eurasia can work together, the Paris-Berlin-Moscow axis, destroyed by Western European tribal rivalries of 1914, can be revived. The anti-elite revolt, the long-awaited European Spring, is not far. Suddenly, everything is possible, as the dead hand of the EU Establishment risks being overturned by the real peoples of Europe. A Europe of False Unity is deconstructed: let the True Europe of Nations be constructed.

 

 

The Fringes and the Church

Introduction

There are isolated individuals on the fringes of Church life. These marginal figures are either on the left side – the illusory optimists, the absurdly unrealistic, the deluded and exalted, who believe in Origen’s heretical salvation for all, for everything is wonderful and Christ is All-Merciful only – or on the right side – the merciless pessimists, the depressed despairers, the doom-laden and gloom-mongering, who seem to believe in the Apocalypse more than in the Second Coming of Christ, as salvation according to them is virtually impossible, for Christ is a strict and ruthless Judge only.

The Left

On the left side we find three interlinked groups:

1. The Careerists and Corrupt (in the Russian Church these are usually called Sergianists)

These dangerous people are obsessed with money, luxury, papal-like power (that makes them pro-Catholic), prestige and their own personal appearance. In the Russian Church, they can be recognized because they often have a cult of the late Patriarch Sergius. Their scandals involve money and/or sex (usually not the heterosexual sort, though the defrocked Metr Filaret of Kiev is an exception to this). Thus, simony and/or perversion are their chief domains.

2. The Modernists and Ecumenists (in the Russian Church these are usually called Renovationists)

These are obsessed with being as Western, and therefore as Russophobic, as possible. They hate Tsar Nicholas II and also Vladimir Putin and admire the EU and the US. Westernization used to mean protestantizing themselves, but now it means adopting politically correct secularism, including LGBT, an aping of the West, which is the result of their primitive, Third World inferiority complex, which in turn is the result of their lack of the independent Orthodox Faith.

3. The Intellectuals

With an over-developed intellect, but undeveloped faith, these are often so cynical that they run the risk of losing their already weak faith altogether. They may also suffer from sexual obsessions, as several of them are homosexuals. Some are involved with gossip and scandal-mongering on blogs and fora, which further develops their cynical attitudes and weakens their faith. They stain their own souls and the souls of others through their spiritual impurity.

The Right

On the right side we also find three interlinked groups:

1. The Pharisees

These include loveless monastics, or rather pseudo-monastics, whose religion is not Love, but that of the typicon, canons and ceaseless and needless rules that make the Faith into a mere religion. They call themselves traditionalists, but in fact they do not follow the Tradition because the Tradition is the continual inspiration of the Holy Spirit all down the centuries. These suffer from the temptations of sectarianism and judgementalism. This is pride.

2. The Nationalists

These follow an ideology which reduces the Faith to mere provincial folklore, with no international relevance. In Russia such nationalists can even defend Stalin. They are marked by profound theological and historical ignorance and narrow-minded bigotry, which means that they revert to a Protestant-like fundamentalism and literalism in their views. They have no real interest in Church culture or Church services and are very insecure and anti-intellectual.

3. The Pietists

These are sentimentalists, disincarnate and impractical dreamers, philosophers but also often strict moralizers. They like to group around gurus, mistakenly calling them ‘spiritual fathers’, ‘startsy’ and even ‘saints’, aping them like clones and condemning all others outside their cult. Like the Pharisees, their temptation is sectarian. Their spiritual disease is ‘prelest’, that is, spiritual delusion, which is merely vulgar pride in an elegant, philosophers’  envelope.

Conclusion

These six fringe groups, careerists, modernists, intellectuals, and their parallels, pharisees, nationalists and pietists, are those who make of Faith and the Church of God a mere religion, a mere manmade institution, a cult. They confuse the means and externals, services, canons, rituals, church buildings, knowledge, with the ends and internals, which is salvation, meaning the salvation of the human soul from evil, from all that is not Love. Such groups have always existed, under different names and under different guises, they are all part of fallen human nature.

The balance between all these fringes is among the masses, in the mainstream of the Church, which by definition is not to be found on the fringes and margins, but in the Church. This balance is to be found in traditional monasteries and good parishes, founded on loving and solid families. Good and true, loyal and faithful to Christ through the Tradition, those in the mainstream include bishops and monastics, pastors and people. All for them is built on love. For if a patriarch lacks love for his bishops, the bishops will lack love for their priests and the priests will lack love for the people.

 

Why We Are Not Scandalized

I know two or three people who can only gossip about marginal individuals and events in Church life, the more scandalous the better, as far as they are concerned. I try to avoid them because their conversations and even, in one case, blog, are so negative. They therefore accuse me of being naïve. I could in fact tell them far more scandals than they are aware of. I do not tell them and indeed I try to forget what I do know and the scandals that I have personally been a victim of. Why?

Firstly, I believe in being edifying as far as possible. Dung exists, but I prefer to spend time with the bees which gather nectar from the flowers rather than go with the flies. If we repeat negative stories, we will only stain our own souls and the souls of others.

Secondly, suppose some of these stories are just slanders? By repeating slanders, we will only stain our own souls and the souls of others.

Thirdly, such stories fail to keep reality in proportion. In every basket of apples there will always be a bad one, but scandal-mongers and muckrakers give the impression that all the apples in the basket are bad. That is why scandal-mongers are so depressing. They are so intent on looking at the darkness that they cannot see the light. Despair is their lot.

And fourthly, those who engage in scandal-mongering are suffering from spiritual and psychological illness, a sickness of the soul, in which I do not share and do not wish to share. If they wish to show off their knowledge, then they are suffering from vanity.  If their revelations make them feel superior, then they are suffering from pride. In any case they are suffering from a love of dirt which makes their souls cynical, hard, dry and judgemental. They will ultimately lose their already weak faith. This is not the path to salvation.

We are not scandalized because we are Orthodox Christians. We go to Church not for the sake of a bishop or a priest, but for the sake of Christ. We follow not the concerns of men, but the teachings of Christ, His Holy Mother and His Saints.

 

Two Songs of Zhanna Bichevskaya

Zhanna Bichevskaya, the well-known patriotic Russian Orthodox singer, a convert to the Faith after her fame in the Soviet period, is often accused of nationalism. Although there is truth in this as regards some of her songs, one thing that she cannot be accused of is a lack of zeal. Below we print translations into English of two of her songs (The Youtube references give the original melodies).

The first song (‘Po Doroge v Zagorsk’) is not so much a translation as a new song. The original is filled with great melancholy and regret; our version expresses the joyful transformation of a young girl into a mother. The second song (‘Russkie Idut’) in the original does express nationalism, but we have changed it into an Orthodox marching-song, which expresses the energy and vigour of our Orthodox Faith.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47XQAfq5o1Q

On the Way to the Church

On the way to the church you can’t help seeing that the new season

Has lost July’s power and daring and August’s splendour and reason,

That it grows dark at seven and the thinning trees look neglected,

That the fields are empty and life has not been as you expected,

 

That with the awaited birth of a child you felt both joy and pain

And at being a new mother there is each day wonder again,

And that takes you to your heart from where the old solitude has flown,

That love of family has taken over from when you were alone.

 

On the way to church you can’t help hearing ringing bells that entrance

And knowing that life is not a dress to alter for a dance,

That the freedom you had was loneliness and not at all rosy

And that the sadness of autumn makes your family life feel cosy.

 

And you want to shout from your loving heart for the whole world to hear

The words of fulfilment, ‘I have everything I ever wanted’.

And you want to shout from your loving heart for the whole world to hear

The words of fulfilment, ‘I have everything I ever wanted’.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbYiOiqU8IU

Orthodox March

 

Orthodox march, through the ages of pagan night,

Orthodox march, beating the foes of heaven’s home,

Orthodox march, on and on to Jerusalem light,

Orthodox march, on and on to free the Third Rome.

 

Refrain:

March, march, march,

Orthodox march, gather to march

All who survived the blood and strife.

March, march, march,

Orthodox march, staying the knife

Of all who would end Spirit-filled life.

 

Orthodox march and the lights go on once again,

Orthodox march, reminding all of who we are,

Orthodox march to stem the sins and wars of men,

Orthodox march, defending all, both near and far.
 

Refrain:

March, march, march,

Orthodox march, gather to march

All who survived the blood and strife.

March, march, march,

Orthodox march, staying the knife

Of all who would end Spirit-filled life.

 

Orthodox march and gloom and darkness flee our coasts,

Orthodox march, helped by all the heavenly hosts,

Orthodox ride ever on, feet in the stirrup,

Orthodox hold back America and Europe.

Orthodox ride ever on, feet in the stirrup,

Orthodox hold back America and Europe.
 

Refrain:

March, march, march,

Orthodox march, gather to march

All who survived the blood and strife.

March, march, march,

Orthodox march, staying the knife

Of all who would end Spirit-filled life.

 

Orthodox march to put the fear of death behind,

Orthodox march, by Christ’s great banner we are led,

Orthodox march and gather to God all mankind,

Orthodox march, Holy Mary and saints ahead.

Orthodox march and gather to God all mankind,

Orthodox march, Holy Mary and saints ahead.

 

Refrain x 2:

 

March, march, march,

Orthodox march, gather to march

All who survived the blood and strife.

March, march, march,

Orthodox march, staying the knife

Of all who would end Spirit-filled life.

 

 

 

When Will the Russian Federation Become the Empire of Rus?

He who loves the Tsar and Russia loves God…He who does not love the Tsar and Russia will never love God sincerely.

Elder Nikolai Gurianov

We Orthodox Christians of the Empire of Rus suffer, for through sin we lost our earthly leader one hundred years ago. Then fell the Third Roman Empire, Holy Rus. Since then there have been many schisms and vain rivalries in Local Churches, attempts to meddle everywhere and human foolishness and weakness of every sort. Thus, at the present time the last bulwark of the Christian world is only a republic, called the Russian Federation, as it has no Emperor and is not even ready to choose a new Emperor, as many still reject the former Emperor-Martyr.

All of us Orthodox Christians who have been deprived of earthly leadership belong to this Empire in spirit and eagerly await its reconstitution. For whatever our earthly passports say, all conscious Orthodox Christians belong to this Empire, for it is our identity. When it is restored, then the whole world will find its balance and peace once more. But when will that be?

The Empire of Rus will be restored when its three main parts have repented for all that was and is alien to Orthodox Christianity, in the centralized pre-Revolutionary Empire and Soviet Union and in the Wild East corruption of the post-Communist Russian Federation, Ukraine and Belarus. Like the other parts, the Russian Federation is very far from being an Orthodox country: alcoholism, over 600,000 abortions a year, corruption, divorce, ecological disaster, foul language (ABCDEF) simply reflect the lack of church-going among the baptised but still unChurched masses.

Superficial Orthodox Christianity leads but to the Ukraine. For there large numbers of baptised prefer a religion of Fascist nationalism and folklore to the real Orthodox Christian faith. The result of such shallowness is schism and civil war, with hatred expressed by so-called Orthodox Christians for real Orthodox Christians, who are threatened with persecution by the nationalists.

And if the Empire of Rus is not restored, then the end of the world will be at hand.

Written on this sixth day of October in the 2017th Year from the Incarnation in the County of Suffolk in the Eastern Region of the Kingdom of England in the Empire of Rus.