The Spiritual Meaning of the Guiding Saints of Faithful Russian Orthodox Outside Russia

Introduction

The Orthodox Empire of Holy Rus, also called the Empire of The Third Rome, was preserved by its faith in the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as expressed in the untampered Nicene Creed, confessed alone by the Orthodox Church. Our pure and uncompromised faith in the Holy Trinity is represented by three basic tenets of belief: Orthodoxy (representing the primacy of the Love of the Father), the Sovereign Monarchy (representing the presence of the Incarnate Body of Christ, the Son), and the Faithful People (representing the bearers of the Holy Spirit).

In the words of the last Christian Emperor, Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, the Orthodox Empire fell on account of the vices opposed to these three tenets of the Holy Trinity. In his precise words, the Empire fell because of Treason, Cowardice and Deceit. And indeed, Orthodoxy was undermined by the Treason of spiritual traitors, the Sovereign Monarchy was abandoned by the Cowardice of those who lacked faith, and the Faithful People were deceived by the Deceit of those who promised paradise on earth and instead created hell on earth.

The three vices of Treason, Cowardice and Deceit have since then also threatened the survival of the Church, both inside Russia and outside Russia. Thus, the Church inside Russia was threatened by the pharisaic Treason to Orthodoxy of ritualistic and nationalistic Sergianists who compromised the Church with an atheist State, by the weak-faithed Cowardice of those who would not recognize the Sovereign Monarchy of the Imperial Martyrs and those faithful to them, and by the schismatic Deceit of the Faithful People by those who claimed that the Church needed to be ‘renovated’ with their liberalism and ecumenism.

However, the Church outside Russia was also threatened by Treason, Cowardice and Deceit, and from both left and right: by those who compromised the Church to Western States, whether Masonic and liberal or Fascist and racist; by the Cowardice of those who would not recognize as saints the New Martyrs and Confessors, including the Imperial Family and those close to them, or the local saints of the Ancient West; and by the Deceit of those who claimed that the Church needed to be ‘adapted’, either to renovationist liberalism and ecumenism, or else to formalist ritualism and nationalism.

The three guiding saints of the Church Outside Russia, St Jonah of Hankou, St Seraphim of Sofia and St John of Shanghai, Paris and San Francisco, were sent by God to protect Russian Orthodox outside Russia from precisely these temptations and diseases. Let us recall their lives, so that we can understand their spiritual meaning.

 St Jonah of Hankou (1888-1925), the Witness to the Love of God the Father

Born Vladimir Pokrovsky, the future saint was orphaned at an early age and adopted by a village sexton, who gave the child his own surname and an upbringing. After completing a religious school in Moscow, he enrolled at seminary in Kaluga where he graduated with honours. Thereafter, he went on to the Kazan Theological Academy. In his third year here he was tonsured monk and given the name of Jonah. Here, in obedience to the Optina Elder Gabriel, he took up an academic position. His spiritual father was the renowned Elder Gabriel Sedmiyezersky, locally venerated as a saint.

The revolutionary years brought him great suffering at the hands of the Bolsheviks. He was arrested, brutally beaten until he lost consciousness, and had all his hair violently ripped out. Miraculously, the future saint, now an abbot, survived and managed to escape. Abbot Jonah spent the Civil War in the army of Admiral Alexander Kolchak, within which he founded the Detachment of the Holy Cross. He then served as head priest in the Orenburg Cossack Army. Alongside these men, St. Jonah braved a perilous march across the steppes and overcame the frozen Pamir Mountain pass to find himself in Xinjiang – Chinese Turkestan.

In January 1922 Abbot Jonah sent an account of his life and work to Metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitsky), who was then in Serbia, and offered to devote himself to the Council and its work. In response, the Council entered his name to be considered as a bishop. The consecration of the new bishop took place on 18 September 1922 at the Russian Spiritual Mission in Beijing. As bishop, St. Jonah would head the vicariate in Xianjiang (Hankou) and be appointed Dean of the mission’s church in Manchuria, where he arrived on 19 October 1922.

The zealous servant of God’s church and renowned missionary, the young and energetic Bishop Jonah, took it on himself to establish his flock in the faith. He instituted the prescribed church services, established a wonderful choir and gave sermons tirelessly. Bishop Jonah also served as chairman of the International Committee for Hunger Relief from the day of his arrival in the town of Manzhuria until his very death. The brunt of the work lay on his shoulders. St. Jonah began to gather funds. An intelligent and practical person, St. Jonah created a commercial division within the Committee, the main goal of which was to independently earn money that would fund charities the committee had founded. It was not, of course, without its enemies.

The limitations of some, the envy of others, and the phariseeism and hypocrisy of yet others wove a web of intrigue around the bishop and attempted to compromise his good name by virtue of the fact that he, a bishop, would promote such undignified work as trade. But he paid little attention to all of the attacks, simply prayed to God and said: ‘These rumours spread by our enemies lay down our path to the Kingdom of Heaven’.

Having tasted the bitterness of such a life himself, the saint felt an especially deep compassion for orphans. He opened an orphanage at the old church where he lived to care for orphaned and impoverished children and, relegating it to the authority of the International Committee. Missionary and educational work held a special place in his heart. As many as 500 people attended free of cost the elementary and middle schools founded by Vladyka.

On 1 August 1923 the International Committee had opened a free outpatient clinic providing medical aid and distributing medicine to the most impoverished sectors of the population and surrounding territories. Next door there was a free dental office. Prior to the Saint’s arrival, medicine was impossible to acquire. In addition to medical care and free medicine, certification of illness and disability were provided to the poor and a petition was started to provide passports free of charge. Medical care was given to 6,387 people in one year.

With the backing of patrons he established modest enterprises which, though they provided only a modest income, created jobs for the poorest refugees. Their metalwork and pottery were well known in Harbin for being particularly durable and beautifully made. Here is a list of the enterprises St. Jonah started during the three years he resided in Manzhuria: (1) Orphanage, (2) Elementary school, (3) Middle school, (4) Soup kitchen, (5) Free outpatient clinic, (6) Pharmacy with an allotment of free medicine for the poor, (7) Vocational courses at schools, and (8) Library.

The life of St. Jonah was very humble. It was unbelievable that he was a ‘prince of the church’. He had neither a cook, nor a kitchen. His meals were humble and simple. His favourite dish was fried potatoes and dark rye bread. Vladyka’s clothing and shoes were more than modest. Patches were the usual adornment on everything. Often the tailor and cobbler refused to mend them – the patches would not hold. He was adept at securing resources for others but spent hardly anything on himself. All his personal funds were dedicated to charity.

Ever friendly, ever cheerful and engaging, the Saint was loved and respected by all those around him. As the accounts of those who knew him attest, a constant stream of people called on him – some for advice, others for help. The doors of his unassuming apartment stayed open from 7 in the morning until 10 or 11 o’clock at night. Then, at 11 o’clock, when there was nobody to disturb him, Vladyka would sit down to work. And on feast days, squeezing into the room was impossible. Russians, Chinese and foreigners alike longed to speak with Vladyka.

St. Jonah left this world unexpectedly, at the age of 37, exactly three years after his arrival in Manzhuria. He was not accustomed to caring for himself, and he developed tonsillitis and died. Before his death the Saint wrote his last will and testament:

In the Name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit. – Too suddenly I have learned of my imminent death. My thoughts are becoming confused.… What do I wish to bequeath unto you? My darling and dear children of Manzhuria and Hankou. I came to you with the Apostle’s words of love: ‘Children, love one another’… and I leave you with these words: ‘Love one another’… This is the will of your shepherd. It is with gladness of spirit that I forgive anyone who has wronged me. Are there even such people? I tearfully ask and stand on my knees before each of him whom I have wronged. Do not give up on the little ones.… Forgive me for Christ’s sake; and do not forget your prayers.… Write my name in your prayer books.… And so, until eternity, until we all stand before the Final Judge. Jonah, Bishop of Hankou. 1925, 4/17 October.

 Three thousand copies of his will were made – barely enough for half of those in attendance at his funeral. Even death would not impede the saint in performing his good work. On the night of his burial, he healed a ten-year-old boy, Nikolai Dergachev while he was asleep. The inflammation in the child’s knees was so severe that he could not stand, much less walk. In his dream Vladyka approached the boy and said: ‘Take my legs. I don’t need them any more and give me yours. ‘He taught: love your neighbour as you love yourself, but his love was even greater than that…’

St. Jonah was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1996. His glorification coincided with the day of his repose and was decreed to be celebrated on the day of his remembrance: 7/20 October.

St Seraphim of Sofia (1881-1950), the Witness to the Incarnation of Christ the Son through the Church and in Sovereign Monarchy

As if sensing what a powerful enemy he would have in Vladyka Seraphim, the devil tried to destroy him while still in his mother’s womb. She had an extremely difficult and painful labour and the doctors decided they would need to operate to extract the infant piece by piece in order to save the mother’s life. At this moment she regained consciousness and, on learning of the doctor’s decision, forbade her husband to permit the murder of her child. The next morning, at the first stroke of the church bell on 1 December 1881, she gave birth without any help.

When she saw the baby, she exclaimed, ‘Oh, what a serious mukhtar!’ The infant was named Nicholas in honour of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, but his family sometimes called him ‘mukhtar’, an apparently meaningless word which he disliked terribly. Years later, Bishop Nestor of Manchuria visited Vladyka Seraphim in Sofia. He presented him with a book of his memoirs, in which, in the chapter about his visit to Jerusalem, it said that the word mukhtar means ‘bishop’ in Arabic. And so, not realizing it herself, his mother had foretold the destiny of her son.

Nicholas was an excellent student and, after attending the local parish school, he entered seminary. There, in the second to last year, he decided to devote his life to God. After graduating he attended Saint Petersburg Theological Academy and here became a monk. The bishop and rector doing the tonsure suddenly remembered that when he was present at the opening of St. Seraphim’s relics, he had made a vow to the saint that if he became rector of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy, the first student he tonsured he would name Seraphim. Thus, he gave this name to Nicholas in honour of the great saint of Sarov.

Graduating near the top of his class, Fr. Seraphim taught for a year at a priest’s school before he was appointed assistant supervisor of the diocesan school in Kaluga. The pupils there greatly loved Fr. Seraphim. In 1912 Hieromonk Seraphim was appointed rector of the seminary in Voronezh. On 1 October 1920, on the feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God, in the Cathedral of Simferopol, Fr Seraphim was consecrated bishop. It was a great comfort for him that on that occasion, by God’s inscrutable ways, the great sacred treasure, the Wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God, was present in the Cathedral.

Soon after this, to his sorrow, Vladyka had to leave his native land. He spent a short time in Constantinople before moving to Bulgaria where, in August 1921, he was appointed Director of Russian Orthodox monastic communities there. Living in ceaseless ascetic endeavours, from abstinence and difficult living conditions Vladyka contracted tuberculosis. Despite his serious illness, he cared for his flock with true pastoral fervour. He served frequently and gave sermons three times a week, calling his flock to repentance, to grace-filled renewal and to the most basic virtue – humility.

As an archpastor, Vladyka Seraphim made the rounds of Russian parishes in the provinces and visited the Russian schools. His talks and his warm, loving personality left a lasting, grace-filled impression everywhere. In difficult material conditions, Vladyka also cared for poor and sick Russian people. For some he arranged free hospital treatment, others he placed in homes for invalids, for some he obtained pensions, some he fed at his place, and some he settled in his monastery. Nor did Vladyka overlook destitute Russian monks on Mt. Athos. He formed a committee to collect help for them and in his sermons he appealed to parishioners to donate to this holy work.

In 1934 Vladyka was raised to the position of Archbishop. Spiritually gifted from his early years and constantly engaged in a fiery struggle with the passions, Vladyka, while still a relatively young bishop, attained great spiritual heights. Several of his spiritual children recorded cases of his clairvoyance, which manifested itself even at a distance. For his angelic purity, Vladyka received from the Lord the gift to perceive subtle deviations from Orthodox Christian truth. He watched over Orthodox Christian life and was its conscience, as it were. Where he observed irregularity, he exposed it, not fearing to suffer for the truth. As a result, he produced priceless theological works.

One of Vladyka’s major works was the refutation of the Gnostic, anti-Incarnation heresy of the Parisian philosopher Archpriest Sergius Bulgakov, for which, in 1937, Vladyka received a Master’s Degree in theology. He was rushing to complete this work by a certain deadline when he fell ill. He implored the Mother of God, to whose prayerful intercession he had resorted all his life, begging her to heal him. And what happened? Vladyka’s temperature immediately dropped and he was able to finish his work within the allotted time.

Vladyka poured out all his love for the Saviour in his theological works, fervently defending the truths of Orthodoxy against compromise and ecumenism and also in defence of holy Monarchy. ‘My books are my blood’, he declared. And truly, he lay down his life for Christ in the struggle against heretics, sparing neither his strength nor broken health. Vladyka constantly worked at night, secretly. In the evening he would lie down and, when everyone else had fallen asleep, he would get up and continue writing, taking advantage of the night-time quiet, considering it his pastoral duty to defend the truth.

It is not by chance that the Lord called Vladyka to the next world on the very day when the Holy Church celebrates the Triumph of Orthodoxy and its defenders. For the day of Archbishop Seraphim’s repose was 13/26 February 1950. He was canonized jointly by the Russian Orthodox Church and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in 2016 and his feast day is on 13/26 February.

 St John of Shanghai (1896-1966), the Witness to the Holy Spirit among all Faithful People

Michael Maximovich, the future Archbishop John, was born on 4 June 1896 in the village of Adamovka in the province of Kharkov in what is at the moment the Ukraine. He was a member of the Little Russian noble family of Maximovich, to which St John of Tobolsk had also belonged. He was a sickly child and ate little. He received his secondary education in the Poltava Military School, which he attended from 1907 to 1914. Upon completing military school he entered Kharkov Imperial University in the faculty of law, from which he graduated in 1918.

In 1921, following the Civil War in Russia, the future archbishop together with his parents, his brothers and his sister fled to Belgrade, where he and his brothers entered university. In 1924, Michael was ordained reader in the Russian church in Belgrade by Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), who continued to exert great influence over him. In 1926 Metropolitan Anthony tonsured him a monk and ordained him hierodeacon in Milkovo Monastery, giving him the name John, after the future archbishop’s own distant relative, Saint John (Maximovich) of Tobolsk. On 21 November of the same year Fr. John was ordained hieromonk.

From here he went to the town of Bitol in the diocese of Ochrid. At that time the ruling bishop of this diocese was the future St Nicholas Velimirovich—a noted preacher, poet, writer and inspirer of a popular spiritual movement. He, as much as Metropolitan Anthony, valued and loved the young Hieromonk John, and himself exerted a beneficial influence upon him. More than once he was heard to say, ‘If you wish to see a living saint, go to Bitol to Father John’.

For indeed it began to become evident that he was an entirely extraordinary man. His own students were first to discover what was perhaps Fr. John’s greatest feat of asceticism. They noticed that he stayed up long after everyone else had gone to bed; he would go through the dormitories at night and pick up blankets that had fallen down and cover the unsuspecting sleepers, making the Sign of the Cross over them. Finally, it was discovered that he scarcely slept at all, and never in a bed, allowing himself only an hour or two each night of uncomfortable rest in a sitting position, or bent over on the floor praying before icons. Years afterward he himself admitted that since taking monastic vows he had not slept in a bed.

Fr John lived by the high ideals of Orthodox Christianity and so of Holy Russia and was chosen to be bishop. His consecration, quite unexpected for him, took place on 28 May 1934. Vladyka was the last bishop of the very many to be consecrated by Metropolitan Anthony and was assigned to the Diocese of Shanghai in China. Vladyka arrived in Shanghai in late November and found a large Cathedral uncompleted and a conflict to resolve. The first thing he did was to restore Church unity, establishing contact with Russians, Serbs, Greeks and Ukrainians.

He paid special attention to religious education and also became a patron of various charities and actively participated in their work, especially after seeing the needy circumstances in which so many of his flock lived. Vladyka himself gathered sick and starving children off the streets and dark alleys of Shanghai’s slums. The orphanage later housed up to a hundred children at a time, some 1500 in all. Vladyka celebrated the Divine Liturgy daily, as he was to do for the rest of his life, and if for some reason he could not serve, he would still receive Holy Communion. No matter where he was, he would not miss a service.

By now it had become known that Vladyka was not only a righteous man and an ascetic, but was also so close to God that he was endowed with the gift of clairvoyance, and there were healings by his prayers. Vladyka loved to visit the sick and did it every single day, hearing confessions and giving Holy Communion. Vladyka visited the prison also, and celebrated the Divine Liturgy for the convicts on a primitive table. But the most difficult task for a pastor is to visit the mentally ill and the possessed – and Vladyka clearly distinguished between the two. Outside Shanghai there was a mental hospital, and Vladyka alone had the spiritual power to visit these sick people. He gave them Holy Communion, and they, surprisingly, received it peacefully and listened to him.

Vladyka possessed great courage. During the Japanese occupation the Japanese authorities tried in every way possible to bend the Russian colony to their will. Pressure was directed through the heads of the Russian Emigre Committee. Two Presidents of the Committee strove to maintain its independence and both were killed. Confusion and terror seized the Russian colony and at that moment Vladyka John, in spite of warnings from Russians who were collaborating with the Japanese, declared himself the temporary head of the Russian colony.

During the Japanese occupation it was extremely dangerous to walk on the streets at night, and most people took care to be home by dark. Vladyka, however, paying no heed to the danger, continued to visit the sick and needy at any hour of the night and he was never touched. With the coming of Communism, the Russians in China were forced to flee once again, most of them through the Philippines. In 1949 approximately 5,000 refugees from the Chinese mainland were living in an International Refugee Organization camp on the island of Tubabao in the Philippines. This island is located in the path of the seasonal typhoons which sweep through that part of the Pacific. During the 27-month period of the camp’s occupancy, the island was threatened only once by a typhoon, and it changed course and bypassed the island.

When the fear of typhoons was mentioned by one Russian to the Filipinos, they replied that there was no reason to worry, because ‘your holy man blesses your camp from four directions every night’. They referred to Vladyka John, for no typhoon struck the island while he was there. After the camp had been almost totally evacuated and the people resettled elsewhere (mainly in the USA and Australia), it was struck by a terrible typhoon that totally destroyed the camp. Vladyka himself went to Washington D.C., to get his people to America. Legislation was changed and almost the whole camp came to the New World – thanks again to Vladyka.

The exodus of his flock from China accomplished, in 1951 Archbishop John was given a new field for his pastoral endeavours: he was sent by the Synod of Bishops to the Archdiocese of Western Europe, with his see first in Paris and later in Brussels. In Western Europe Vladyka took a deep interest not only in Russians, for whom he exerted himself tirelessly in labours similar to those for which he had been known in Shanghai, but also in the local people. He received into his Diocese Dutch and French people, protecting them and encouraging their Orthodox development. He celebrated the Divine Liturgy in Dutch and French, as before he had served in Greek and Chinese, and as later he was to serve in English.

Vladyka’s interest in and devotion to the Church’s Saints, of whom his knowledge was already seemingly limitless, was now extended to Western European Saints from before the Latin schism. Many of them, venerated only locally, were not then included in any Orthodox calendar of Saints. He collected their lives and images of them and later submitted a long list of them to the Synod.

In San Francisco Vladyka’s life-long friend, the pious Archbishop Tikhon of San Francisco, retired due to ill-health, and in his absence the construction of a new Cathedral came to a halt as a bitter dispute paralyzed the Russian community. In response to the urgent request of thousands of Russians in San Francisco who had known him in Shanghai, Archbishop John was sent by the Synod in 1962 as the only hierarch likely to restore peace in the divided community. He arrived at his last assignment as bishop twenty-eight years to the day after his arrival in Shanghai – on the feast of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple, 21 November 1962.

Under Vladyka’s guidance a measure of peace was restored, the paralysis of the community was ended and the Cathedral finished. Yet, even in the role of peacemaker, Vladyka was attacked, and accusations and slanders were heaped upon his head, including by fellow bishops. He was forced to appear in public court – in flagrant violation of Church canons – to answer preposterous charges of concealing financial dishonesty by the Parish Council. All involved were completely exonerated but this filled Vladyka’s last years with the bitterness of slander and persecution, to which he unfailingly replied without complaint, without judging anyone, with undisturbed peacefulness.

On the evening before leaving for Seattle in late June 1966, four days before his repose, Vladyka astonished a man for whom he had just celebrated a service with the words, ‘You will not kiss my hand again’. And on the day of his repose, at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy which he had celebrated, he spent three hours in the altar praying, emerging not long before his repose on 2 July. He fell asleep in his room in the parish building next to the church. He was heard to fall and, having been placed in a chair by those who ran to help him, breathed his last peacefully and with little evident pain, in the presence of the Wonderworking Kursk Root Icon.

Until his canonization the relics of Archbishop John lay in a chapel in the basement of the San Francisco Cathedral (after the canonization on 2 July 1994 the relics were moved to the main floor of the Cathedral). Vladyka also proved to listen to those who revere his memory. To one woman he appeared in a dream and said, ‘Tell the people: although I have died, I live!’ As people are drawn to the Church of Christ before the final unleashing of evil, we look to him as our loving guide and pastor who knows no death. He is a yardstick which indicates the truth in our confusing times. His unit of measure is nothing other than holiness, that is, pure Christian love, which he possessed and distributed in abundance.

Conclusion

A witness to the Father, Who is Love, and so to the two great commandments to love God and our neighbour, as an apostle of Love, St Jonah thus showed faithfulness to Orthodoxy against those who committed Treason. Pharisaic ritualists, the sort who would treasonously later support the Nazis, accused him of ‘socialism’, where there was only Love for our neighbour, the authentic Orthodox way of life.

A witness to the Incarnation of the Son, St Seraphim supported the doctrine of the Incarnation, the Kingdom of God on earth in the form of the Christian Monarchy, against the disincarnate heretics and ecumenists. These modernists showed Cowardice in abandoning the teachings of the Church, including the Orthodox teaching on the Sovereign Government of the Tsar. They preferred Western freemasonry to the Church and the recognition of the Imperial Martyrs.

A witness to the presence of the Holy Spirit among all faithful Orthodox People everywhere, St John showed that the fruit of the Spirit is the saints whom he so loved. It was he who had already called for the canonization of the Imperial Martyrs in the 1930s against the views of others who delayed that canonization until 1981. The worldwide mission of St John was opposed to the Deceit of narrow nationalism and racism of all sorts, loving all people and using all languages to speak of Christ.

Church life is full of temptations. There is only one way to overcome them – by faithfulness to the Holy Trinity. Whatever form the organization of the Church outside Russia may take, we must remain faithful to the Holy Trinity in the Orthodoxy, Sovereign Monarchy and Faithful People of Holy Rus. We must resist those who think that church buildings are more important than the souls of the flock, the anti-Orthodox Treason of the flattering rich, the Cowardice of power-seeking plotters and the Deceit of the pharisaical superficial.

Holy Hierarchs Jonah, Seraphim and John, pray to God for us!

 

 

The IONAN Embassy, Moscow, 9 May 2045

Today’s commemoration of the centenary of the victory over the German-led Western invasion of the then Soviet Union, marks a point at which it is useful to recall the remarkable events of the last generation.

It probably all started in 2016 with the Brexit vote in the then UK. That was the beginning of the end for the old German-led EU. In 2021 the Republic of Ireland also left the EU (it had been forced to join it in 1973 because the UK had joined it) and immediately Ireland was at last reunited, exactly 100 years after its unnatural and disastrous partition. The three countries in Great Britain separated in 2022, only to be joined by newly-united Ireland to form IONA – the Isles of the North Atlantic, the Confederation of the Sovereign Nations of WISE – Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England.

In 2024, IONA was joined by Iceland and Norway and then, in 2025, after Swexit, Dexit and Fexit, by Sweden, Denmark and Finland. However, the nine countries of the Northern Alliance, as it was called, were still isolated. Abandoned by the former USA after the Great Yellowstone Eruption of 2028 and its consequences, in 2030 they joined the Eurasian Empire, only a year after it had been formed. This had come into being after Tsar Nicholas III had been elected Emperor of the reunited Russian Empire in 2029. At Tsar Nicholas’ instigation, the Eurasian Confederation (EC – all fifteen countries of the old Soviet Union) had been formed on 1/14 January 2030.

When the Northern Alliance joined the Eurasian Confederation, the old dream of uniting Eurasia from the Atlantic (Iceland) to the Pacific at last came true. The 24 countries increased in number to 35, when joined by Serbia and Montenegro, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, the Czech Lands, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Cyprus and Syria (reunited with the Lebanon in 2019) in 2032. These were then joined by newly-independent Alaska in 2033, thus creating a Confederation of 36 autonomous countries in the One Christian-led association. Co-operation is very close between it and the Chinese Empire, where there are now nearly 100 million Orthodox.

After today’s solemn parade through the streets in Moscow, commemorations of the millions who sacrificed their lives and also victory celebrations, the Eurasian Empire seems to be going from strength to strength.

 

A Message on the Tragedy of 1917 from the English Borderlands of Holy Rus

Last week I was contacted by someone who had prepared a mobile exhibition ‘to celebrate the Russian Revolution’ and wanted to come to our Church so that our parishioners could visit it. When explaining her crass error to her and rejecting her visit, I at first wondered whether she came from a different planet to me, and then I realized that, whatever her nationality, she was simply yet another victim of the Non-Christian culture of the Western world. She was not part of our Orthodox Christian civilization and was therefore completely unaware of our values and criteria.

The fact is that the events which took place in Russia in 1917 were not in spirit Russian, but Western (whatever the nationality of those involved), that there was no Revolution, but a bloody seizure of power, and that there is nothing to celebrate in that bloodshed, for what followed was an unmitigated disaster. Some people point to industrialization under Communism, technical achievements, free education and medicine, but all these were already present in the very advanced and prosperous pre-Revolutionary Imperial Civilization; Communism took Russia backwards.

Communists said that they wanted to create paradise on earth, but without God paradise is hell; the hell of the destruction of the Church and the martyring and torturing of its clergy and faithful, the Red Terror, civil war, massacres, artificial famines, cannibalism, collectivization, concentration camps, arrests for virtue, the failure to defend against Nazi terror, genocide, the mass destruction of family life and morals, mass alcoholism, mass abortion and mass corruption. Indeed, the latter four are still very much present in today’s post-Soviet/still Soviet Russia.

Though vast, the Russian Empire once constituted two thirds of Europe, one third of Asia and part of North America. It was unnaturally cut off from the eastern seaboard of the Atlantic by the Western Schism, from North America by aggressive British Imperialism which forced the sale of Alaska, and from protecting Manchuria and the still united Korean Peninsula by the US/British creation of Imperialist Japan. Its ‘manifest destiny’ of uniting Eurasia from the Atlantic to the Pacific was thus never fully achieved, though, ironically, it came very near to this in 1945.

Although we know that the restoration of the Orthodox Christian Empire is only possible through mass repentance, here too, in the County of Suffolk, in the Region of the East of England, in the Kingdom of England, in the future Orthodox Christian Empire, we pray for its restitution.

 

 

 

The Theological Reason Why Gun Massacres Take Place

Yet another gun massacre has taken place in the USA, this time in a church and involving children. We live at a time of spiritual awakening, but this awakening is that of Satan’s demons, who have since 1914 been coming up from the world below at increasing speed at modern man’s invitation to fill the vacuum left by his ever-accelerating abandonment of faith. For the demons, all that belongs to Christ must be wrecked and destroyed, since the presence of Christ incites them to destructive rage. This is what happens at every gun massacre. In order to counter Satan and his minions, we must have mystical sense. What does this mean?

By mystical sense, or mysticism, we do not mean some occultist or esoterist fantasies, which are always the fruit of self-indulgent ego-trips, the result of fallen imaginations. We mean the concrete knowledge of God from spiritual life. Therefore, this mystical sense has nothing to do with moralism/ puritanism, which is caused precisely by the absence of spiritual life. Indeed, in modern times moralism/puritanism has degenerated even from the quest for fake inward purity into the quest for outward purity, as in the ‘green’ movement with its fanaticism for political correctness and its witch hunts for anyone who is not ‘green’.

The same puritanical fanaticism lies behind the current campaign of accusations of sexual harassment, being made mainly in the ex-Protestant USA and UK. Anyone can make such allegations, most of which can never be proven. Of course, this does not mean that many Hollywood producers and UK politicians are not guilty of such harassment. It has always been known that actors and actresses in the theatre and so the cinema and Hollywood, work largely through prostitution. The same is true of politicians. Those who seek power – and gain it – like to exploit sexually. The mystical sense that we need to resist Satan cannot come from either such amoralism or from moralism.

It can only come from our experience of the Living God, Who alone reveals to us the awareness of our personal destiny, God’s Will for each one of us. Mystical sense means not faith in our sinful selves, but faith in Divine Providence, the experience that the Incarnate God is both transcendent and immanent. He is not of this world, but in this world. For those who are not of this world, and are not in it, are the disincarnate philosophers of the Paris School, as they are mere dreamers, not theologians. Those who are of the world, and are in it, are the moralists who consider Church buildings more important than people, as they are mere administrators, not spiritual leaders.

Now philosophers are born from the Roman Catholic heresy, whereas moralists are born from the Protestant heresy. Does this mean that we in the Church with our theology, the experience of the Living God through the Holy Spirit, are immune? Of course not. For example, there are the liberal intellectuals/philosophers/academics, who are invariably philo-Catholic. We have only to think of the Paris Russian philosophers and their ecumenist disciples in the USA, the Phanar and Moscow. On the other hand, there are the conservative moralists, who are invariably philo-Protestant. We have only to think of puritanical, nationalist, boring Greek moralist movements like Zoi and Sotir.

The Church lives a life that is independent of secular influences like Catholicism and Protestantism. We confess Orthodox Christianity, as formulated in the Patristic Nicene Creed, which was expressly rejected by Catholicism/ Protestantism, which are only the maximalist and minimalist sides of exactly the same error of rationalism. Of course, those on the spiritual fringes of the Church (whatever rank they may hold, they are still spiritually on the fringes) err. Let them do so. We in the Church will go on, drawing our life from the Holy Spirit, Who gives us the experience and knowledge of the Living God, brought to us through His Providence and so our mystical sense and theology.

 

 

On the Draft Catechism Produced in Moscow

Russian Version: https://stbasil.center/2017/11/01/o-proekte-katehizisa/

A draft catechism has been compiled in Moscow and is now being discussed. We have seen it. It is very long and has clearly been composed by intellectuals (judging by their condescension to ‘ordinary Orthodox’ and lack of observation of how we ordinary Orthodox live our faith). And it is also clear that they have copied from the post-Vatican II Roman Catholic catechism, or versions of it, like the pseudo-Orthodox Parisian ‘Dieu est Vivant’ catechism, which dates back some 35 years to modernist Catholicism. This draft is based on an over-complicated, self-justifying intellectual approach, full of quotations from the Scriptures and the early Fathers, some of them taken out of context, some of them taken from a heretical document falsely attributed to St Isaac the Syrian. Rather than a question and answer approach, it has adopted a patronizing approach, ensuring that very few real Orthodox will ever read it, which is for the best.

This draft catechism is clearly marked by modernism, suggesting like the Parisians’ hero-heretic, Origen, that salvation is for all and that Darwin is also Orthodox. Its bureaucratic language and Western jargon about ‘human dignity and rights’ and ‘a social concept’ expresses not Orthodox theology, but the politically correct ‘scientific’ theology of Western doctoral students. Unlike ROCOR’s Fr Seraphim Slobodskoy’s simple and classic catechism ‘The Law of God’, which is also very popular inside Russia, this draft is not accessible to ordinary Orthodox. Clearly, the whole thing has been written by those closer to the humanism of Pope Francis than the Orthodox Faith and people. Someone in Moscow, who has studied in a Western University, wants a Vatican II-style Council in the Orthodox Church. For example, this draft never mentions our Russian Orthodox dress code and seems to think that fasting is not very important.

Marked by the language of secularist rationalists from outside the Church, the document presents the Church of God as a religious institution, not the Risen Body of Christ, radiated and penetrated by the Holy Spirit. The authors want to make this institution acceptable to the secular world by avoiding the dogmatic revelations of the Holy Spirit and all areas of controversy. Orthodoxy is just a ‘confession’ and heretical groups outside the Orthodox Church are also called ‘Churches’. It seems to prefer political correctness to the Truth that sets free. Thus, there is little about the Fall and its consequence of ancestral sin. A sign of Roman Catholicism comes in its attribution of papal-like powers to the Patriarch of the Russian Church and equally to its superficial description of the filioque heresy. A sign of Protestant-style Judaism comes in its over-emphasis on the Old Testament, as if the New Testament were just an extension of the Old.

The authors of this draft are clearly involved in the ecumenical heresy, which is conducted by intellectuals who have little or no contact with ordinary Orthodox and is conducted behind our backs, even behind the backs of bishops. There is here no dogmatic clarity at all, and yet that is the very thing we expect from a real Catechism. There is here no theology in the Orthodox ascetic sense. It would be better to throw away this draft of intellectuals and start again, this time employing Orthodox writers, who have ascetic, dogmatic and pastoral experience. They will know what is acceptable to us who strive to live an Orthodox way of life in our monasteries and parishes, where ordinary Orthodox strive to observe Russian Orthodox values and, for that matter, our dress code. Whoever the authors are, they need to realize that the 1960s are over and imitation Roman Catholic/Protestant Paris-Crestwood ‘theology’ with it. Get real! We live in 2017.

 

From Recent Correspondence (October 2017)

Pastoral Questions and Current Affairs

Q: There exist authentic Orthodox spiritual fathers whose disciples group around them. How can you tell the difference between them and cults?

A: Authentic spiritual fathers and their disciples are always diverse, everyone is different and free. However, cults produce clones, the members are all the same, with the same hairstyle, the same beards, the same clothes, the same glasses, like an army. Everything down to the smallest detail is identical, for their personalities are always suppressed and repressed. The spiritual children of real spiritual fathers are always diverse, alive and lively, the clones, zombies and robots of frauds are always the same, spiritually repressed and dying. This is because where there is love, there is freedom and self-expression, but where there is no love, so there is no freedom and no self-expression.

Q: How do you see the late Fr John Romanides?

A: I only met Fr John once, in 1981, and read his translated works about the same time. I was impressed by his knowledge of Western history and original approach. To my mind he was easily the finest and most Orthodox of the academic theologians of his generation. It is significant that Roman Catholics detest him and Protestants have no understanding of his Biblical basis because they do not understand the Bible. Unlike Metr John Zisioulas, he was fiercely but understandably opposed to ecumenistic Parisian Russian intellectuals, because of his bad experiences with them in the Church in the USA in the 1950s. As a result of them, Fr John did not always appreciate the real Russian Orthodox Church.

On the downside, some have accused him of a certain racism in his black and white approach to Franks and Greeks (Romans), where to some he gives the impression that the first are always bad because of their ethnicity and the latter are always good because of their ethnicity. That is very regrettable because Fr John did not have a racist bone in his body.

Q: In order to justify making sex change legal, the atheist Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that ‘we (= Greece) belong to Europe’ and ‘nothing, no religion, can stand higher than human rights’. What does this mean, in your view?

A: It means that his religion is in fact the god of human rightism. This is a strange god because according to it unborn children have no rights and can be destroyed in the greatest holocaust of world history. This is because in this neo-pagan religion (reminiscent of the paganism of the Ancient Greeks), it is human sin that is worshipped.

Q: Roman Catholics often have a picture of the Pope in their homes and some Anglicans have a photo of Canterbury Cathedral. What do Orthodox have, as you are divided into different nationalities and have different patriarchs and styles of architecture?

A: We all have an icon corner, with an icon of Christ, and probably also icons of the Mother of God and close saints. This is because Christ, and no human being or church-building, is the Head of our Church.

Q: Is missionary work to be encouraged?

A: Only if it is Orthodox. All Orthodox parishes are missions in this sense. Sadly, all kinds of compromises get justified by the term ‘missionary work’, including the heresy of ecumenism. We have a huge amount of real missionary work to do with our own Orthodox people and those Non-Orthodox whom they choose to marry or befriend. I think it is especially pointless to talk to heterodox with the idea of converting them. Heterodox rarely convert to authentic Orthodoxy (of the few who do, most lapse or bring their heterodox baggage, including divisiveness, into the Church with them and then create problems and schisms for the rest of us). If we are to convert the world round us, it is much better to talk to the masses who have no religion at all. Heterodox form a small minority which is dying out anyway. We should leave the dead to bury the dead. We have too much else to do.

Q: St Ephraim the Syrian says that the Six Days of Creation were precisely that, six twenty-four hour periods. What do you say to that?

A: Like most Fathers of his era, he interpreted in that way, according to the scientific knowledge of the time. However, the Church does not dogmatize these views. What we should listen to is Church Councils and even then, only provided that they are real Councils, that is, inspired by the Holy Spirit. (We are against any kind of ‘Councilism’ or worship of meetings called Councils, for without the Holy Spirit any so-called ‘Council’ is only a conference, as we saw in Crete last year). And that is only revealed after the Councils have taken place and their teachings have been received by the faithful.

This is the meaning of the words ‘catholicity’ and ‘conciliarity’, groups of Church people inspired by the Holy Spirit throughout history and in all places creating spiritual consensus. I am sure you can find many personal opinions on secondary matters (= the matters that do not affect our salvation) of many Church Fathers that have been proved to be wrong. What do you not find is the dogmas of Church Councils, inspired by the Holy Spirit, that are wrong. Do not dogmatize or absolutize opinions. Only the Holy Spirit is infallible.

The History of the Western World:

Q: Is it true that there were no Jews in England until 1066? And if so, how did they get to Western Europe anyway?

A: Yes, that is so. As for your second question, the answer is that in the late eighth century, Charlemagne (c. 742 – 814), brought in Jews from Spain together with Jewish-trained advisors from Spain, including those who introduced the filioque, like the heretic Theodulf of Orleans. These Jews protected and helped develop commerce in his tiny ‘empire’. He saw the Jews as an economic asset and protected them. He realized the advantages and business abilities of the Jews and gave them complete freedom with regard to their commercial transactions.

Charlemagne was a gluttonous and superstitious illiterate, who was notorious for the murderous ruthlessness with which he treated his opponents. Moreover, his son, Louis (814–833), was faithful to the same lack of principles and also granted protection to Jews, to whom he gave special attention in their position as merchants. Spreading through the commercial centres of northern France, the Jews finally arrived in England from Rouen after the occupation under the heir to Charlemagne, William the Bastard, in 1066.

Q: What view does the Church have of feudalism?

A: Founded on the filioque, feudalism with its system of vassals is unique to the post-Schism medieval West, appearing in primitive and potential forms in the year 1000, or slightly before, and becoming full-blown after about 1050, when the Pope himself became just a feudal lord. The inward sign of feudalism is the filioque, but the outward sign of the presence of feudalism (and therefore of the absence of Orthodoxy) is in castles, what historians call ‘encastellation’. This is quite clear in Eastern Europe, where castles peter out along the Croat, Polish and Slovak borders. Orthodox do not have castles. In the Church we do not have feudalism, but independence and sovereignty, as expressed by the Greek word ‘avtokratia’, which does not at all mean ‘autocracy’. ‘Autocracy’ in English means tyranny and absolutism, which is very different from the people’s monarchy, the ‘autocracy’ of Orthodox Christianity.

Q: 100 years ago there were 100 million Orthodox, today there are just over 200 million. However, if you look at Catholics and Protestants they have probably quadrupled in numbers, if not more. Why has the Orthodox Church not grown as much?

A: Apart from the fact that Catholicism (1.3 billion) and the myriad of Protestant sects claim to have far higher numbers than they really have, I think there are several reasons:

  1. As the last representatives of the Church of Christ, Orthodox have in the last 100 years been subject to the greatest persecution known in world history. Carried out by the dual Western ideologies of Marxism and Nazism (both born in Germanic Western Europe), tens of millions died in their infernal invasions and persecutions and tens of millions more were aborted under the infernal Marxist ideology and then under the Western Capitalist ideology. If it had not been for this, the Orthodox population would easily have quadrupled in Russia alone.
  2. The vast majority of the growth of Catholicism and Protestantism has come about in former Western colonies in Latin America, Africa and parts of Asia. Orthodoxy does not have colonies, since they are founded on genocide.
  3. The Church is not a business with plans for expansion. Such businesses come and go, expand and contract, relying on superficial attraction. The Church is a tree and trees grow slowly, but organically.

Q: Recently a senior female cleric of the US Presbyterian Church said that God is not a Christian, meaning that anyone can be saved. What is your reaction?

A: Such Protestant clerics and laypeople do say things like this. I have also read them saying that ‘The Church needs to learn about Christianity’. It proves that words like ‘God’, ‘Christ’, ‘Church’, ‘Christian’, ‘salvation’, ‘priest’ etc have a completely different meaning for Non-Orthodox than for Orthodox. For them ‘the Church’ means ‘Protestant clergy’, many of whom are open atheists.

For Orthodox, all these words mean the same thing: God is the Holy Trinity, Christ is the Church, Christians follow the Church, salvation (from evil) is through Christ, priests belong to the Church etc. Christ is God and the Church is the Body of Christ and therefore Christians are people who try and follow Christ, belonging to Him. To say that Christ is not God or not a Christian simply makes no sense to an (Orthodox) Christian. Of course, it is true that there are plenty of people who call themselves Christians but who do not believe that Christ is the Son of God. However, they are not Orthodox Christians. Clearly, this female cleric is one of those. She condemns herself out of her own mouth.

As regards salvation, all we know is that inside the (Orthodox) Church, this is possible because billions have been saved, but that all who have been saved and will be saved have achieved this and will achieve this through the mercy of Christ, Who alone is the Just Judge.

Q: What is your view of Catalonian independence?

A: Free and unintimidated Catalans said yes to independence, the Western oligarchs said no. The Western ruling élites are heirs of the barbarians; when bandits in Kosovo proclaim independence, they call it good, but when Catalonia proclaims the same thing, they call it bad. Of course, that does not in any way mean that we support the Catalonian independence party and its leader. Like the Scottish nationalists, they are pro-EU, globalist and socialist. However, we support independence and freedom from centralist states for every viable historic people, like the Scottish and the Catalonian, who have in history been independent nations.

Russia

Q: Why did the Russian Revolution happen?

A: The Imperial Family lost their lives because the upper class elite, jealous of their power, turned against them in the 19th century and finally overthrew them in February 1917. If that had not occurred, Russia would have been victorious in the First European War. If you want to find the culprits who laid the groundwork for October and the murder of the Romanovs (recall who imprisoned the Romanovs in the first place), look among the families of the upper class.

Q: Why did former Russian Orthodox become Communists 100 years ago? Marx thought that Germans would become Communists and not Russians.

A: It all depends on the previous cultural values. As one elderly Romanian put it to me, ‘Communism is Christianity without Christ’, by which she meant that Communism has no love or freedom. It can be said that lapsed Orthodoxy = Communism, lapsed Roman Catholicism = Fascism and lapsed Protestantism = Capitalism. This is borne out by the last 100 years of history.

Q: Does Russia have a future in a globalized world?

A: Through its NATO and EU aggressiveness in Eastern Europe and especially the Ukraine, Washington and Brussels have thrown Russia into alliance with China. It has thus created the union of the most populous country in the world with the greatest manufacturing ability and the world’s highest GNP, with the largest country in the world and the centre of civilian and military technology, endowed with the greatest natural resources in the world. More than this, the Russian Federation is also the centre of the global Christian Tradition. Together, technology with the Tradition provide the alternative to the globalist ‘New World Order’ project of the Western elite. Tradition represents the opposition of all those who do not want to be enslaved to their modernist New World Order.

As the universal keeper and defender of Holy Orthodoxy, the Russia of Christ the Saviour is hated by Satan and his demons. That is why they carried out the Russian Revolution in order to efface the word Russia from the face of the earth, blew up the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, built to commemorate the defeat of the antichrist Napoleon, and were so bitterly angry at the rebuilding of that Cathedral after the fall of their Soviet Union. Russia is home to the Church, which is opposed to Trotskyite/Ukrainian Jewish, permanent chaos. This has again been implemented by the neocons as the New World Order.

How they hate us! They write to me and accuse faithful Orthodox of being ‘worse than the Nazis’!! The word ‘devil’ does after all mean ‘slanderer’ in Greek. We prevent them from doing the will of Satan, so they hate us. The place of confrontation of these two visions of globalism, the Western and the Russo-Chinese, is in, of all places, North Korea, where the Chinese and Russian borders meet. That is where we shall see the pattern of the future.

Q: There seem to be quite a number of scandals in the Russian Church inside Russia at present. Is there a serious problem?

A: I think there is – that you read the internet too much! On the internet, with its forums and blogs, you only get scandals. If you go to Russia and meet some of the bishops, follow the priests who do the baptisms, weddings and funerals, who confess and celebrate the liturgy every day, who visit the hospitals and bless the homes, meet the nearly 6,000 who are at present studying in seminaries, and if you take part in the massive Church processions and pilgrimages of the ordinary faithful, you will get a quite different impression. The Church is alive; the internet only reflects the exceptions, the bad news. All the mass of good news goes, as usual, unreported because people who have time to waste only want the scandals and sensations, as it makes them feel self-important, which they, and the devil, like. Avoid scandal-mongering, it is bad for your soul.

General

Q: Are young people less mature than they used to be? Or am I just getting old?

A: Well, of course you are getting old! We all are. I am not sure, every generation of older people for thousands of years has been complaining about young people. And then the young people get older and complain about young people in their turn. The only thing is that many young people now live in the virtual world of the internet and that does hold them back. Only reality makes mature. Smartphones do not.

Q: Would you say that night clubs are hellish?

A: I have never been to one, but I have seen photos. I would call them advertising agencies for hell.

Q: What were your best years of being an Orthodox clergyman?

A: Without the slightest doubt the last nine, of which the best was 2017: the first twenty-five before these last nine were despairingly hard.

Q: Why the change in 2017?

A: Because after 30 years we have at last gained a bishop. ROCOR lost its South American Diocese because it did not have a bishop for only 20 years, but we here survived for 30 years without a bishop. I think we hold a record, if only for stubbornness.

Q: What words would you like to have on your grave?

A: Well, that is a very surprising question! I have never thought about it. I don’t have time. A grave near my parent’s grave says: ‘I told you I was ill’. That is English humour. Many Orthodox graves have ‘Eternal Memory’ on them.

After several days’ thought about an answer to this question, I thought I would like: ‘The truth will set you free’. I have always valued the Truth and Freedom and have fought for both of them all my life. Both are hated by Satan and his servants. Over a thousand years ago the early English preacher Aelfric wrote in his Colloquy: ‘It is most disgraceful and shameful when a man does not want to be what he is and what he has to be’. At least that particular sin is not mine.

 

 

 

 

 

On the 500th Anniversary of a Tragedy

A thousand years ago man sat down at an inn and ordered a vodka. A waiter came along and forced him to accept a glass of the local wine, telling him that it was much better than vodka, which was not ‘a true drink’. 500 years later another waiter, called Luther, came along and forced him to accept a glass of the local beer, telling him that it was much better than the local wine (he had never heard of vodka). The two waiters then began to argue about which was better, the local wine or the local beer. Rioting started, wars began, rivers of blood poured out. Eventually, all involved grew exhausted and decided to drink coca cola instead.

Meanwhile, the man at the inn is still waiting for his vodka.

Fr Nicholas Lossky

Last Monday we learned of the death in Paris of the son of Vladimir Lossky, Fr Nicholas Lossky, at the age of 87. Coming after the deaths of Fr Elie Melia, Elizabeth Behr-Sigel and Olivier Clement, we are seeing the dying out of the generation of Paris ecumenists and modernists, those born in the 1920s and 1930s. We can only think of two remaining bishops in the Constantinople jurisdiction, both ill and in their 80s, who still represent this viewpoint. This is the end of old-fashioned ecumenism.

Long before he was ordained, as a liberal academic Nicholas Lossky represented the Anglicanophile element among the Paris Russians. Thus, as a true Anglican, in his lectures at St Serge he defended the Norman Occupation of England in 1066 (completely unlike Fr John Romanides who in Thessaloniki at the same time supported Robin Hood against the Normans). Nicholas was also a clear supporter of the centralist European Union, even though he had remained faithful to his father’s memory and through him to the Moscow Patriarchate, though only in its strictly ecumenist and new calendarist form as it could exist in the past. The piety of the Russian Orthodox faithful in Russia was alien to him, as was the veneration for the Imperial Martyrs.

It is a warning to us all to move with the times and not to get stuck in the past. Eternal Memory to Priest Nicholas!

 

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.