The Dogmatic Essence of the Ukrainian Crisis

Question:

At present the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Moscow no longer concelebrate because of Constantinople’s decision to set up a self-governing Church in the Ukraine, which has for centuries been Russian Orthodox canonical territory. This schism has split the whole Orthodox Church into two. But so what? What does a squabble about land and territory matter? The two Patriarchates should both be out there, converting the 7+ billion people of the world who are not Orthodox. Constantinople’s politicking in the Ukraine is absurd, but so is the Russian breaking of communion with Constantinople, which is excessive by far and makes the Orthodox Church into a laughing-stock. Surely you agree?

Answer:

I agree that we should be out there, converting the 7+ billion, together with the Church Outside Russia in the Americas, Oceania and Western Europe and the Russian Orthodox Exarchates of Western Europe and South-East Asia, without any flag-waving nationalism and condemnation of Greeks or Non-Greeks. But converting them to what? To the US State Department? To Ukrainian nationalism? To Uniatism?

My point is that this is not a squabble about land and territory, but about who is the Head of the Orthodox Church: Mike Pompeo, Geoffrey Pyatt and the rest of the CIA, or to Christ our God? In other words, who does the Church belong to? To various artificial States, formed a few decades ago by Communist tyrants and nationalist empires that have not existed for centuries, or to Christ?

As for the Russian reaction, what are you supposed to do when someone embraces you, smiling at you and at the same time stabbing you in the back? Stand and continue to be embraced and be stabbed in the back again and again and again, in North America, in Finland, in Poland, in Western Europe, in Estonia and in the Ukraine? The Russian Church had only one choice, to separate itself from those who have already separated themselves from the Church and Her Saints and cease communion with them until they repent.

Soon there will be a Church Council in the Jordan, called by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem where the very first Church Council took place in c. AD 50. There the representatives of 200 million Orthodox will condemn the schism. The fearful representatives of 5 million are going to sit on the fence. Will the paid representatives of the other 15 million persist in their schism?

To Arius and Nestorius – Anathema!

To Monothelite Emperors – Anathema!

To Barlaam the Calabrian – Anathema!

To Chauvinists who put their State and Race above Christ – Anathema!

To Those who Refuse to Obey the Canons and Create Disunity in the Church – Anathema!

What is the Book of Love?

There are two Books that we need if we are to live.

The first Book is called The Book of Rules, also called The Book of Truth. This book contains the rules, laws, canons and customs of the Church. Everything that should guide us and tells us what is right and what is wrong is there. If we follow this Book, we will learn very much and we will not be Orthodox Christians until we follow it. However, if we follow this Book alone, our view of the world will be very dark, very strict, very legalistic and very negative. We will sit shaking our heads the whole time, all dried up and loveless. We will never learn to have love for anyone else or for ourselves, but will spend our time condemning and judging everyone. So this Book of Life will become for us the Book of Death, the Book of the Pharisees.

The second Book is called The Book of Exceptions, also called the Book of Mercy. This is the Book that life teaches us, which is why it has never been written down or printed, it is only talked and heard about. If it were written down, it would contain all the exceptions to The Book of Rules. However, no-one can know it, understand it or apply it properly until they know the Book of Rules. If we follow this Book, we will learn very much and we will not be Orthodox Christians until we follow it. This Book of Exceptions is the Book that we must follow when we follow the Book of Rules. If we do not follow them both together, we will finish very far from the Church, in a very sad and lonely place, where God did not want us to be.

If we follow only the Book of Rules, we may know everything, but understand nothing. If we follow only the Book of Exceptions, we may know nothing and understand nothing. It is only when we put these two books together that they form The Big Book, The Book of Love, also known as The Book of Wisdom. The Book of Love is the only Book we will ever need to know. It is this Book which St Nicholas lived by, which is why he is called ‘the rule of faith AND the model of gentleness’. And it is this Book which the Prophet and King David described in his song: ‘Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other’ (Ps 84, 11). Until we know this Book of Love, we will not be real Orthodox Christians.

Fr Andrew Phillips

Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee 2020

 

Considerations on Liturgical Translation into English

When, mainly in the last century, it came to translating the Divine Liturgy into English, translators faced choices. Some of them, especially in the Greek and Ukrainian immigrant diasporas, chose popular street English as their preference. Others chose an over-ornate pseudo-17th century English, bristling with deliberate upper-class archaicisms and obscure words, completely incomprehensible to condescended to and patronised immigrants. The first always and aggressively used ‘you’, the second always ‘thou’, with even spellings like ‘Catholick’. ‘Esoterick’ indeed.

These extremes produced a couple of highly eccentric, literally off-centre, translations from England, the ultra-modernist of the late former Roman Catholic Vatican II intellectual, Fr Ephraim (Lash), and the elitist, conservative intellectual translation made by the former Anglo-Catholic Sister Elizabeth Fenton of Tolleshunt Knights, both of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. They were either modernist and ugly for the sake of it, or else archaic and obscure for the sake of it.

99% had already concluded that something else was necessary, a translation made not by an individual whose native language was not English, or whose native language was English and who knew nothing else, but by groups combining both. In our view the best translations to date have been those made by Metr Kallistos (Ware) and Mother Mary, who knew both Greek and Slavonic and also had a love of liturgical English and liturgical beauty. But even here, with the benefit of hindsight some fifty years on, there are perhaps improvements to be made. And, sadly, they translated very little.

But first of all, let us express our gratitude to those who worked on translations in the more distant past, often in very difficult and impoverished circumstances, especially in the USA. Today’s versions are superior to those of the 1960s and 1970s, but the new ones are built on them. We are indeed only dwarves who stand on the shoulders of giants. But let us make some considerations, in the hope that they may in years to come be reviewed by those in seats of authority who will have to work for definitive translations.

Mistranslations

We do not worship the Cross or icons. This in fact is heresy. Let us avoid heretical translations, please.

The mistranslation ‘For those who travel by sea, land and air’ is such a case. Most who sail (which is what the original says) travel not by sea, but by river or by lake. All great civilisations were founded on rivers, be it the Euphrates, the Tigris, the Ganges, the Indus, the Yellow River, the Yangtze, the Nile, the Amazon, the Mississippi, the Rhine, the Seine, the Danube, the Thames, the Volga or the Great Lakes, not on seas. Are we to exclude prayer for those who travel by river and lake? We should be reading: ‘For those who travel by water, land and air…’.

Grammatical Mistakes

First of all, any translation should avoid grammatical mistakes. For example, to write: ‘For unto Thee is due all glory, honour and worship’, when grammatically it should read ‘For unto Thee are due…’, seems an elementary error.

Literalisms

Most literalisms also stem from translators not familiar with English as a first language.

How do we say ‘noetic’ in English? ‘Spiritual’? ‘Of the heart’? ‘Invisible’. ‘Noetic’ is meaningless and the translation ‘intellectual’ is clearly just plain wrong.

‘For a good God art Thou’ is Byzantine Greek word order. It is not English. And we do not distort English word order to fit in with the stress patterns of Greek or just to be literal.

We do not ‘chant’ in English, we sing. We are not Byzantines.

Why say ‘Under Thy dominion’, when in English we have the correct word ‘beneath’?

We do not ‘send up glory’ in English, we offer it up.

And what does ‘effulgence’ mean?

American English

As many translations come from the USA, they contain localisms, foreign to contemporary English English. For example, ‘in behalf of’ instead of ‘on behalf of’, ‘named for’ instead of ‘named after’ or even ROCOOR (German-US grammar – ‘ausserhalb’ takes the genitive, ’outside of’, but English ‘outside’ does not), ‘city’ instead of ‘town’,  and spellings like honor(able), favourable, marvellous, traveling etc

Stylistic choices

Here there are more controversial considerations, which require greater discussion.

For example, should we use the third person singular ‘eth’ instead of (e)s? Goeth or goes? Cometh or comes? The ending was written as ‘eth’ in the early seventeenth century, but it was most certainly not pronounced like that even then, since this was just archaic spelling by printers. Russian priests have great difficulty pronouncing ‘blesseth’, those it is easier for Greeks.

Or from the Great Litany:

For the peace ‘from on high’ or ‘from above’?

For the union ‘of all’ or ‘of all people’?

For this ‘holy house’ or ‘holy temple’. In English temple sounds pagan, Hindu or Buddhist, and of course in French ‘temple’ means only a Protestant chapel.

For ‘the imprisoned’ or for ‘those in captivity’? Many are captive, but only a few are in prison.

‘That we may be delivered from’/‘For our deliverance from’ all ‘sorrow’/’tribulation’, ‘anger’/’wrath’ and ‘need’/necessity’. Do we use English or Latin?

‘Most pure’ or ‘immaculate’. The latter sounds Roman Catholic and is not literal.

‘Most blessed and glorious’ or ‘Most blessed, glorious’? Do we go along with the English style of inserting ‘and’ between the last two adjectives in a row or are we literal?

Let us ‘entrust/commend/commit’ ourselves?

Finally, how do we translate the Greek Theotokos? It was long ago translated into Latin, Slavonic and Romanian. Are we not therefore to say ‘Birthgiver of God’ or ‘Mother of God’ in English? One ROCOR Metropolitan is opposed to Theotokos. It does seem strange to translate into Greek, when we are making a translation into English. And Theotokos is certainly not understood by Russian parishioners.

In times to come the mass of translations will be standardised, as liturgical sense takes over. It is towards that which we work.

 

On Eurexit

Europe has escaped the tyrannies of Communism and Fascism, but not yet the most atrocious tyranny of them all – Capitalism, with its holocaust of tens of millions of slaughtered, aborted babies. The Freedom of Europe is what we have always battled for. It is the greatest of battles because it is not about bloody revolutions or great wars, fought with battleships, aeroplanes, tanks, rockets and machine guns. It is the far more difficult battle of the spirit.

One country has begun to quit European tyranny. This is only the beginning of the beginning. As we write, we can say that even the end of the beginning is still unimaginable far away. If Europe, European civilisation and European culture, is to survive at all, there is a road to take which is unimaginable to most contemporary Europeans. For they have abandoned their very cultural roots, whose death-throes they even perversely celebrate as some kind of triumph. This road to take is the road which leads to Christ, whom they, including those who think they do, have not known for a thousand years.

The majority of Europe may never take that road. If it does not, it will continue on the path of its daily suicide and will vanish off the face of the earth and be swept away into nothingness. Eurexit, however remote, is still possible, but it is the only exit from hell and therefore the only exit which will bring freedom to the European spirit and rebuild European civilisation.

 

The Future of the Russian Orthodox Church in Western Europe

 

There are, as of 2020, three different episcopal-led groups of Russian Orthodox in Western Europe. Which are they?

  1. Russian: The Western European Exarchate of the Moscow Patriarchate, its Diocese in Germany and parishes in Scandinavia:

This is the largest of the three groups with seven bishops and the most people and also the most means, representing some 65% or two-thirds of the whole. However, it is not Local, but looks to Moscow and is often connected with Russian Embassies. These external links are partly because this group is largely composed of recent immigrants, often still with Russian passports, and mainly has recent or recently-acquired church buildings. Its roots are therefore not local and it has problems adapting to local cultures and mentalities and also a huge shortage of local clergy.

  1. Local: The Paris Metropolia, centred in Rue Daru in Paris

This is by far the smallest of the three groups, with approximately eight properties in Western Europe, mainly chapels, thus being only 10% of the whole. Representing 58% of the old Constantinople Archdiocese of the Russian Tradition, it has only one elderly bishop and outside Paris has only a very weak infrastructure. In many respects it has lost its roots in the Russian Tradition, having abandoned even the calendar of the Russian Church, but it does understand local cultures and mentalities.

  1. Russian and Local: The Western European and German Dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

This is neither large, nor small and it does have four active bishops. On the one hand, it is very weak in the Nordic countries, Ireland and also in Italy, Spain and Portugal, but it does have stronger centres, in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg and England. Although it only represents about 25% of the total, most of the historic churches in Western Europe belong to it. It is on the one hand Russian, but also Local, its bishops being the only ones with having local titles: London, Vevey, Berlin and Stuttgart. It is notable that many more recent immigrants from the ex-Soviet Union move to it after a few years and begin feeling that they have a dual identity, Russian and Local.

What will the future bring? This is in the judgement of God.

 

The Crisis in the Orthodox Episcopate

There are just over 1,000 Orthodox bishops in the world, although well over 100 of them are retired through ill health or extreme old age .Despite this figure, which is much greater than a generation ago, though far less than in the early centuries, there is a great shortage of bishops in certain, though not all, Local Churches. A figure more than double, of about 2,200 bishops, to care for the world’s 220 million Orthodox Christians, would be far more appropriate. For example, the Russian Orthodox Church has only 400 bishops, a figure that needs to be quadrupled for the 164 million Russian Orthodox, 75% of the total. This would give one bishop for every 25 parishes, which is not unreasonable, given that the number of parishes is still rapidly increasing.

The problem in this matter is that bishops must be single, that is, celibate, specifically in most cases, they must be monks. As this severely limits the pool of available episcopal candidates, what can be done?

Some of a Protestant and modernist ilk immediately suggest that married men should be allowed to become bishops. This is absurd. It is also uncanonical. The canon forbidding married bishops (Canon XII of the Sixth Council in Trullo) is there for at least two reasons:

Firstly, there is the ever-present danger of corruption and careerism. We can think of the case of the schismatic Filaret, who appointed himself ‘Patriarch of Kiev’, who was married and allowed his wife to vet all candidates for the priesthood, according to what bribe they gave her. And inevitably, a married bishop will be tempted to find jobs for his children.

Secondly, poor wives! It is bad enough being married to a priest. When would a bishop’s wife ever see him? He would be far too busy.

However, the situation is even worse. Since a potential bishop has to be single, you will inevitably attract perverts. A single man does not make a bishop. He can, however, be a homosexual, either physically or else psychologically (psychological homosexuals are generally narcissists who persecute married clergy because the married have everything that they do not have, or, far worse, they may be pedophiles – as the Roman Catholic world knows to its cost. Thus the pool is even more limited. It has to be a single man who is sexually, and so psychologically, normal, not a dry and formalistic monk who has everything, but because he has no love, only a sadistic jealousy, he has nothing (1 Cor 13).

What is to be done, given such a very limited pool of candidates? While we are waiting for a monastic revival and so more candidates, bishops will simply have to delegate far more than they do at present, to married priests and laypeople. Ultimately, after all, there is only one thing that they cannot delegate – and that is ordination.

 

On the DeSovietisation of the Russian Orthodox Church

There was a time when some people called the (Patriarchal) Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia ‘The Soviet Church’. This was of course absurd. Whereas Soviet means atheist, Orthodox means Christian, and you cannot have atheist Christians. It is absurd as saying ‘Secular Christians’ (although they exist outside the Orthodox Church and are even proud of it). For us Mammon and Christ do not mix. You are either one or the other, as the New Martyrs of the Church inside Russia witness. On the other hand, it is true that some people in the Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia, oppressed by the illegitimate Soviet regime, did take on certain deformities. What were they?

Firstly, the Soviet Union was an imperialist power. Its ideology was that of the Third International, whose agenda was world conquest. Thus, still today among some individuals, supposedly Orthodox, we see a mentality of imperialism and domination, a racist arrogance towards Non-Russian nationalities. More than this, we see a certain love-of-money and prestige careerism with pseudo-intellectualism and banditry among certain clergy, who, as clericalists, treat the faithful with contempt, as a mob or cattle who have to be hosed down, as it were.

Secondly, as a result of this kow-towing to an imperialist ideology, there is among some a centralisation and bureaucracy of paperwork: nothing can be done without authorisation from a distant above and until huge numbers of forms have been filled in. As a result of such a delocalised, top-down system, many good bishops and good clergy can be transferred somewhere else, unsettling and making protest their flock, for whom they have shown pastoral care. This is because the Church administration is run like a corporation or department of State.

Thirdly, there is the disease of superstitious magic, the search for ‘miracles’, which is the result of 75 years of enforced ignorance by the Soviet regime. However, Soviet oppression ended thirty years ago and its continued existence today, in the age of free information on the internet, is simply a sign of voluntary ignorance, laziness and inertia. Therefore, still widespread is holy water idolatry and many other forms of ‘magic’ animism, comparable to those in pagan Africa.

These three attitudes, the will for domination, bureaucratic centralisation and superstitious magic, are evidence not of Christianity, but of love of power and love of money. These attitudes are opposed to the pastoral care for the faithful, to love. And without love, everything else, infrastructure, organisation, administration, websites, books, statistics, photographs, is merely a hollow shell, a house of cards and ‘sounding brass’. If there is no love, as the Apostle says, they are as nothing.

Of course, these attitudes are not at all unique to the Soviet and now post-Soviet Russian Orthodox Church dependent directly on Moscow. They can be found in every nation, in every age and in every Church, including in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, as a result of the desire for power and money. For example, they were all clearly manifest in the re-Revolutionary Russian Orthodox Church, as any historian, or anyone who knew the now departed representatives of that age, can tell you. Indeed, many would agree that if that Church fell victim to the Revolution, it was precisely because so many of its representatives confessed not Christianity, but an arrogant racism, a bureaucratic centralisation and a superstitious magic Beware: revolutions can happen a second time.

 

 

On 35 years of Service at the Altar in France, Portugal and England

46 years ago, in 1974, after six years of waiting, I was at last able to move to a town which had a Russian Orthodox church: at that time there were only two permanent Russian Orthodox churches and four chapels in the whole of England. Later I worked in Greece and studied at seminary in Paris. Exactly 39 years ago I was tonsured reader by Metropolitan Antony Bloom at the Ennismore Gardens Cathedral in Knightsbridge. In the last 35 years since being ordained deacon at St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Paris on 27 January 1985, God has allowed me to serve His Church in many countries in Western Europe, in France, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Portugal, by the grace of God setting up the first ever Russian Orthodox church in Lisbon and then some the first ever churches and communities in Eastern England.

Thus, this church began in tiny temporary premises in Felixstowe, which then moved to my native town of Colchester, as soon as I had raised the funds to buy the first suitable property which appeared, here in Colchester. I then did the same in Norwich, raising the funds to buy, convert and equip premises. I have also served and serve in Bury St Edmunds and Wisbech and made missionary travels all over Eastern England, including to Kent and Yorkshire. Others have been brought back into our Church in the East of England from suspension and schism, notably a reader and two priests, and I have also obtained three new priests for our Diocese, Fr Ion here, Fr Spasimir for Norwich, Fr Yaroslav for London and, God willing, very soon a fourth for our church here. After 22 years of struggle, I was honoured when the Synod awarded me the gold cross for this tenacity in the face of every discouragement.

However, the most important thing done in these 35 years was to ask our Synod in New York to send Bishop Irenei to this Diocese. This is now united with my own Western European Diocese, where our St John was Archbishop and where I was ordained by his spiritual son, Archbishop Antony of Geneva. Our Diocese had previously had no resident bishop for 34 years and the previous bishops had been ill. Moreover, Bishop Irenei has the title which I had long wanted to see for a bishop in this country, ‘of London’. Thus, the heritage of St John, who left us nearly sixty years ago in 1962, is being restored by the grace of God. Our Diocese will survive, despite all the huge difficulties it has been through since the late 1960s, when nearly everyone thought it was going to die out. Now in 2020, the centenary year of our Church Outside Russia, I thank God for everything, as He has done all these things using us all as His instruments. Glory to God for all things!

Archpriest Andrew Phillips

The Baptism of the Lord, 19 January 2020