Even as a Hen Gathers Her Chickens Under Her Wings: The Future of the Prophetic Mission of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside the Russian Lands

The truth will set you free.

Blessed are you, when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my Name’s sake.

  1. Introduction

As a result of the tragedy that struck the Russian Empire in 1917, today there exist four Russian Orthodox-connected Church jurisdictions or groups outside the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church (that is, outside the former Soviet Union except for Georgia, plus China and Japan). These are, in order of size: The international ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia) group; the international Moscow Patriarchal group; the local OCA (Orthodox Church in America) group, geographically limited to North America; the local Paris group, geographically limited to a scattering in Western Europe. Their future is important because it will shape the now vital prophetic mission of the Russian Orthodox Church to today’s apostate and spiritually vacant Western world.

  1. The Past and the Present                                                                                                           a.The ROCOR group

The exiles in this group, born just before or after 1917 as well as their descendants, often had an unjustified admiration for the pre-Revolutionary Russian State. This émigré childhood nostalgia for the largely unknown past was to a considerable extent illusory. After all, the Church administration before the Revolution was dominated not by the spiritual, but by careerists, nationalists and bureaucrats, opposed by renovationists. Between them they managed to cause all the divisions inside and outside Russia after the Revolution. In March 1917 most of them at once betrayed the pious Tsar, whose desire to canonize the saints, like St Seraphim of Sarov, they had resisted – a clear resistance to the Holy Spirit! If everything had been so wonderful before 1917, there would indeed never have been a Revolution and if, impossibly, we recreated the past as it was, there would simply be another Revolution. Moreover, that Revolution was caused by the treason of the elite of aristocrats and intellectuals, so many of whom ended up as nostalgic emigres, leaving the Russian Empire and Church to its tragic fate that they had created.

Historically comprising the vast majority of Russian émigrés, ROCOR has always had two wings: a political wing and what may be called a ‘Johannite wing’. The political wing was always much concerned with political, administrative, nationalist, financial and property matters (even accepting money from the CIA during the Cold War, placing anti-Communism before Christ). The Johannite wing is that of the three saints, St John (from whom it takes its name) of Shanghai, Western Europe and San Francisco, St Jonah of Hankow and St Seraphim of Sofia. Of course, it also includes many others: Archbishop Antony of Geneva, Archbishop Averky, Bishop Sava, Bishop Nektary and a great number of clergy and faithful. It has always seen itself as an integral and organic part of the Russian Orthodox Church and Tradition, only temporarily separated from the then enslaved Church in Moscow. (I write as a spiritual son of the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva, + 1993, who was in his turn a spiritual son of St John, + 1966).

Today, numbering several hundred thousand, ROCOR faces domination by American cultural conservatism. Centred in New York and with the vast majority of its parishes in North America and its Australian satellite, outside of which it has lost much of its former influence and numbers, it must look to reality and the future. It cannot be a prisoner of the past, for the authentic Tradition is always spiritual, radical and dynamic. It must conserve and live, not preserve and die, in other words, it must keep alive, not preserve as in a museum. It must resist the temptation of the New World which, without its own culture, tends to preserve and freeze all imported culture in the state in which it was first imported, regardless of its spiritual value, as a sort of ethnic curiosity from the Old World. Today, ROCOR has been much revitalized and renewed by immigration from the ex-Soviet Union and so links with reality. Its survival is dependent on these links with the living source of its Faith.

b. The Moscow Patriarchal group.

This group used to be tiny and paradoxically often expressed Soviet State nationalism. It was at times capable of being pro-Stalinist and often showed strong signs of the spiritual impurity of renovationist modernism. These spiritually repulsive abuses are rapidly disappearing into the darkness of the past. With huge immigration from the ex-Soviet Union, the group has now greatly expanded, especially, but not only, in Western Europe. Today in numbers it has begun to rival ROCOR, which it will soon overtake. With the gradual transfiguration of the Church inside the Russian Lands over the last generation, especially since the turning-point of the Council in 2000, the living Church inside the Russian Lands is the key on which this and all the other groups depend.

c. The OCA Group

The OCA group, numbering 90,000 faithful, grew out of Slav Uniat immigrants to North America from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. At last free of Roman Catholic and State oppression, they joined their ancestral Russian Orthodox Church in the USA in the years around 1900. Today, the OCA is only indirectly under the patronage of the Russian Orthodox Church. This group has for 100 years been politically and culturally subject to domination by American cultural liberalism. This is not at all a question of the use of the English language, which of course is perfectly natural as language is only a missionary tool, but a question of the assimilation of an alien, anti-Orthodox American culture and so spiritual degradation.

The OCA will either remain anchored to the Orthodox Tradition of its Mother-Church or else it will die out as spiritually irrelevant, like parts of the Greek Archdiocese in North America, assimilated into the surrounding Non-Orthodox culture. Optimistically, over one quarter of it does remain faithful to the Tradition and parts of the rest have been revitalized and renewed by immigration from the ex-Soviet Union and so by links with reality. However, its future remains fragile and uncertain after a century of instability and there are voices in it which wish to betray the Mother-Church.

d. The Paris Group

The Paris group, by far the smallest of the four, was formed by pro-Western masonic aristocrats and emigre intellectuals who had plotted and created the anti-Tsar Revolution, setting up the brief, incompetent Kerensky dictatorship in 1917. This group was so politicized, anti-Russian and modernist that it rejected the Russian Orthodox Church and Tradition. Today, it has in part been renewed by Moldovan immigrants and so links with reality. However, it is not yet clear if the Paris group, controlled by ageing ideologues who have deliberately cut themselves off from the living Russian Church, will meet the spiritual needs of its flock, or if it will be assimilated into spiritual irrelevance.

  1. The Future: Making the Church Local

In the last few years before the Revolution there were between 142 and 163 bishops for some 117 million faithful in the Russian Orthodox Church. This was pitifully few bishops, on average about one for every 800,000 faithful. Today, for example, the Church of Greece has 100 bishops for 8,500 priests and 10 million people, one bishop for every 100,000 people. On this basis, the Russian Orthodox Church should today have 1,640 bishops and 139,000 priests for its 164 million faithful. Instead, there are only 368 bishops and a pitifully few 36,000 priests, one bishop for every 450,000 faithful and one priest for every 4,500 faithful! Bishops are still very distant figures. (In the Church of Jerusalem which has a flock of 130,000, there are 20 bishops, one for every 6,500 faithful).

It is clear that at least another 100,000 priests and churches are needed in the Russian Church, if ever this pastoral crisis of nominalism is to be overcome. Clearly, just as has long been done outside Russia, devout married men, financed by secular occupations, will have to receive basic practical training and then be ordained as ‘worker priests’. Under the direction of experienced full-time priests, they could serve in simple, cheap-to-build, wooden churches, without the golden luxury and marble pomp of cathedrals. Such ‘kit-churches’ would create real local parishes and pastoral centres, at last bringing the Church back home to the people at the local level. However, this ‘pastoralization’ and ‘localization’ of the Church is still for the future. But at least the first step in making the Church local has taken place in the process of ‘Metropolitanization’.

Here the principle of one bishop for about every 100 priests is now respected in the Russian Church. These 368 bishops have at last been arranged in groups, generally of four or five bishops, called Metropolias. The word ‘Metropolia’ means ‘the Church of the Mother-City’ and ‘Metropolitanization’ is an attempt to return to the practice of the first centuries and make the Church local. Metropolias are thus like miniature local churches within the Local Church. This ‘Metropolitanization’ of the Russian Church worldwide is a sign of health and is inevitable and irreversible. Non-Metropolitanization is a sign of distance and irrelevance of the Church to local life, its reduction from an incarnate way of life to a theatre of ideology.

However, outside the canonical territory of the Church, Metropolitanization is a gradual and complex process. This is firstly because there are two parts of the Russian Church outside the canonical territory, that directly under the Patriarchate and that under the self-governing Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). Both must first agree to co-operate and so it takes time to form new Russian Orthodox Metropolias worldwide (regardless of whether the two local fragments, the OCA and Paris, would one day want to take part – probably not). Secondly, and even more ambitiously, new Russian Orthodox Metropolias outside the canonical territories are ultimately called on to become the foundations for new Local Churches. This will be when other Orthodox, from far smaller Local Churches and living in those territories, wish to participate in them. This would be a purely voluntary process that could take another 100 years or more.

  1. Conclusion

This setting up of Metropolitan structures, foundations for new Local Churches, is a question of responsibility. There is no room here for destructive nationalism and centralization, either of the aristocratic emigre Russian sort or of the ‘Soviet tank’ sort. Instead sensitivity is required towards different peoples and their legitimate customs. In all these matters we would do well to recall the words of Christ in St Matthew’s Gospel concerning the phariseeism of the Old Jerusalem, which rejected the New Jerusalem: ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent to thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and ye would not’.

 

 

 

The Orthodox Church: 218 million faithful and 907 bishops

The Orthodox Church is a family of Local Churches, just like the Churches of the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Romans, the Thessalonians, the Colossians etc, as described in the letters written to them by the holy Apostle Paul. Each of the fourteen Local Orthodox Churches has a main administrative figure, a chief bishop known as a Patriarch, or in the case of smaller Churches, a Metropolitan or Archbishop. However, the Church as a whole has no earthly head, because the head of the Orthodox Church is our Lord Jesus Christ. His authority is expressed in the Orthodox Church through the Holy Spirit as revealed, particularly through Church Councils and the saints.

Below you will find details of the Orthodox Churches and their approximate sizes, totalling in all over 218 million members with 843 active bishops. However, this does not including the 52 titular bishops of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, where the term bishop or metropolitan is particularly often used as an honorific award and the 14 bishops of the 90,000-strong North American (‘OCA’) group under the Russian Orthodox Church, which is not universally recognized. This brings the real total to 907.

1. The Russian Orthodox Church 164,000,000

Also known as the Patriarchate of Moscow, this accounts for 75% of all Orthodox and has 368 bishops. (Another 14 bishops are to be found in the dependent North American group known as the OCA). It cares for Orthodox living in the canonical Russian Orthodox territory, spread over one fifth of the planet (the former Soviet Union except for Georgia, plus China and Japan) and peopled by 62 nationalities. These territories include the Russian Federation, the Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Transcarpathia (the main part of Carpatho-Russia), Kazakhstan, Central Asia and the Baltic Republics, such as Latvia (250,000). The Russian Church also includes the self-governing multinational Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (400,000 worldwide, mainly in the Americas and Australia as well as parts of Western Europe), the Japanese Orthodox Church and the tiny Chinese Orthodox Church.

2. The Romanian Orthodox Church 18,800,000

Also known as the Patriarchate of Bucharest, it has 53 bishops. Apart from in Romania, there are also many Romanian parishes in the Diaspora, especially in Western Europe.

3. The Greek Orthodox Church 10,000,000

Under the Archbishop of Athens, this Church with 101 bishops cares for all Orthodox in Greece.

  1. The Serbian Orthodox Church 9,000,000

The canonical territory of the Patriarchate of Belgrade covers Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Croatia and Slovenia and the Church has 44 bishops. There are also many Serbian parishes in the worldwide Serbian Diaspora.

  1. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church 4,500,000

The Patriarchate of Sofia covers Bulgaria, has 15 bishops and a few churches in the Diaspora.

  1. The Georgian Orthodox Church 3,500,000

The Patriarchate of Tbilisi covers Georgia and a very small Georgian Diaspora.  It has 37 bishops.

  1. The Patriarchate of Constantinople 3,400,000

This includes Greek Orthodox in Istanbul (about 1,000), those on Greek islands such as Crete and Rhodes (700,000), and above all the Greek Diaspora in the Americas, Western Europe and Australia. There are also twenty-four autonomous parishes in Finland and small groups of other Non-Greek Orthodox, mainly Ukrainian, elsewhere. It has 73 active bishops and 52 titular bishops, 125 in all.

  1. The Patriarchate of Antioch 1,800,000

The canonical territory of the Arab Patriarch, who lives in Damascus, includes Syria, the Lebanon and Iraq. There are 44 bishops and also many parishes in the Diaspora, including some 10,000 ex-Protestants in the USA.

  1. The Patriarchate of Alexandria 1,400,000

Although for historical reasons its Patriarch is a Greek and his appointment is in the care of the Greek government, this Patriarchate is in Egypt. It also cares for St Catherine’s Monastery on Mt Sinai, but the vast bulk of its faithful are Africans, spread over 54 African countries. It has 31 bishops.

  1. The Orthodox Church of Cyprus 700,000

Under an Archbishop, this Church cares for all Greek Orthodox in Cyprus and has 17 bishops.

  1. The Polish Orthodox Church 600,000

Under the Metropolitan of Warsaw, this Church cares for Orthodox of all origins who live mainly in eastern Poland. It has 12 bishops.

  1. The Albanian Orthodox Church 200,000

Under the Archbishop of Tirana, this Church cares for Orthodox in southern Albania, most of whom are of Greek origin. It has 6 bishops.

13. The Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia 170,000

Led by a Metropolitan, this Church cares for Carpatho-Russian, Slovak and Czech Orthodox, as well as large numbers of recent Ukrainian Orthodox immigrants to Slovakia and the Czech Lands. It has 6 bishops.

  1. The Patriarchate of Jerusalem 130,000

Although its Patriarch is a Greek and his appointment and that of other bishops is in the care of the Greek government, this Patriarchate’ flock consists mainly of Palestinian Orthodox in Palestine and the Jordan. It has 20 bishops.

 

Why Does the Bible Not Mention Dinosaurs?

(A question from Vyacheslav, aged 10).

First of all, dinosaurs were only discovered 200 years ago, long after the Bible was written down. On the other hand, since the Bible, right at the beginning, very, very briefly mentions the period when there were dinosaurs, you may ask why it does not mention them. That is simply because when dinosaurs existed, people had not yet been created, so there was no-one to see dinosaurs and describe them.

However, there is a much more important reason why the Bible does not mention dinosaurs. You see, the Bible does not mention giraffe, zebra or kangaroos and lots of other things. But they all existed at the time when the stories in the Bible were written down. This is because the Bible is not interested in them. The Bible is not a handbook on fossils, animals, insects, astronomy, engineering, geography, medicine, laws, business, history, French, maths and all sorts of other things. For example, if I want to know about dinosaur fossils, I will read a book on dinosaur fossils, but I will not expect that book to tell me about God, or what I can do to become a better person and save myself from bad things (salvation), like the Bible.

So, if I want to know how to fix my car, I get a handbook on my car. But if I want to know how I can fix my life, then I read the Bible.

In fact, we can say that there are two types of book. The first type will tell me about all sorts of things that we might see in the world today or might have seen in the world in the past or even what we might see in the future. These books are called fiction and non-fiction. They can be compared to a microscope, which is used for looking in detail at people and the world around us.

Then there are ‘The Books’, what we call in English the Bible, which means precisely ‘The Books’. Now the Bible only mentions people and the world around us in passing. This is because it is not a microscope, but a telescope. And it is a telescope which we use to see beyond the universe, beyond creation, to God. In this way we can understand how our whole life changes because God is here and so we can make sense of our past, present and future and how we can save ourselves from bad and become better.

So, the Bible is a book that is very different from all other books: it is not a microscope to look at life around us, at Creation, but a telescope to look at the source of life, the Creator, so then we can make sense of our life.

 

Trends in the Russian Orthodox Church Today

Introduction

After the revolution of the last generation, the generation since the end of the Cold War, what is the situation of the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church today, of the Russian Patriarchate and of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR)? Once they were bitterly divided. And now?

A. The Russian Patriarchate of the Past

1. Attitudes to the Outer World

In the bad old days, a few prominent bishops of the Patriarchate were forced to sit in front of cameras and tell blatant lies, for example, that there was no persecution of the Church inside Russia. Why? Simply because if they did not, their priests and parishes would suffer. As hostages, they took the political sin of lieing onto themselves. Personally, such blatant lies never really bothered me. I knew why they were doing it. Frankly, I thought the sin was more with those who asked them such compromising questions. However, something else did bother me.

2. Attitudes to the Inner World

What bothered me was hypocrisy. There were certain bishops and others of the paralysed Patriarchate who were utterly corrupt, whether sexually or financially. And that corruption rotted all of Church life. Those people were not Christians. As a victim of them at that time, I know what I am talking about.

B. ROCOR of the Past

1. Attitudes to the Outer World

In the bad old days, ROCOR in the USA sometimes took CIA money. That bothered me. At that time, quite a few in ROCOR worked for various anti-Soviet (in fact, anti-Russian) Western spy agencies. These people have today almost all left the Church or else died of old age. Today, for example, I know of people who have joined the Paris Exarchate because they are not allowed to join either part of the Russian Church as they work as spies at GCHQ or spy agencies in Paris. Loyalty to the Western Establishment comes first for them, Christ second. That is clearly wrong.

2. Attitudes to the Inner World

Hypocrisy in the old ROCOR also bothered me. Some considered that as long as you were anti-Communist, you were fine, you could be as anti-missionary and racist as you wanted, as well as practise abortion. I could quote names. Fortunately, such outrageous phariseeism was the domain of a minority.

C. The Russian Patriarchate Today

1. Attitudes to the Outer World

Today, the Patriarchate is a Church of 150 million converts and various neophyte deformations can be found on the fringes. For example, we can find secularizing, pro-Soviet attitudes, the arrogance and racism of the old ‘Soviet tank’ mentality that simply wants to barge in and take over everything. This type of imperialism, with an undiscriminating admiration for the present State, pays no attention to pastoral matters and building up parish life, has little understanding of families and children. It is ritualistic, careerist and money-orientated, its representatives never having suffered.

However, we can also find pro-Western (ecumenist, liberal, ‘diplomatic’) attitudes among those from a bourgeois background. They vilify the Soviet past, dismissing its positive preservation of re-Revolutionary cultural values, detest President Putin and adore the Atlanticist Prime Minister Medvedev.

2. Attitudes to the Inner World

We can also find a conservative, pietist movement. Piety is good, but pietism generally means ritualism, sentimentalism, zeal without understanding, words without meaning. How many churches have we visited where services are read and sung in such a way that not a single word can be understood. This is what drives away men, meaning that services are attended by 80%-90% women. This may have been normal in abnormal Soviet times, when men would lose their jobs for attending church, but today it is abnormal. A huge work of catechism is under way. There is far to go.

We can also find a pro-social movement. Many of its representatives are very liberal, but they are at least beginning to deal with the huge social problems of post-Soviet society: massive and endemic corruption, alcoholism, abortion, drug-taking, environmental degradation, the handicapped…

D. ROCOR Today

1. Attitudes to the Outer World

Today, there is a danger of ROCOR becoming an Americanized Church, which simply refuses to understand the unpaid clergy and the plight of the mass of poor people who have come to us out of Soviet Russia and Eastern Europe. It does not want to know our sufferings. Here too there is a certain arrogance and spirit of takeover. ‘We are right, you are wrong’. Just as in today’s Russia, there can sometimes be a spirit of show, a concentration on externals. There can also be a spirit of mafia, a concentration of power among the first and wealthy, so that others are excluded as second-class citizens.

This lack of love is also fostering a liberalism, unheard of before in ROCOR, which comes from outside the Church. If unchallenged, this American-style cultural infiltration of ecumenist, liberal and ‘diplomatic’ attitudes from a bourgeois background will hamper our uncompromised witness.

2. Attitudes to the Inner World

Exactly as in the Patriarchate, we can also find a conservative, pietist movement. Piety is good, but pietism generally means ritualism, sentimentalism, zeal without understanding, words without meaning. How many churches have we visited where services are read and sung in such a way that not a single word can be understood. This can be accompanied by a self-righteous denial of the ROCOR past. ‘Everything was perfect’. This nostalgia of course is totally unjustified. Many ROCOR parishes are real and model communities, examples for the Patriarchate, but not all.

Pastorally, many are positively moving parish life into the inevitable multinational and bilingual future and creating real communities. Here there is also a danger – that Church life becomes only social, emotional, all words, the ascetic foundation forgotten, as in the Exarchate and the OCA.

Conclusion

Thus, we can see remarkable parallels, indeed convergence, between the two parts of the Russian Church. Clearly, only the positive trends are needed, all that is negative is not needed. Above all, we need the central unity of the spiritual food to be found in the purity of our Tradition of Holy Rus.

Some Missionary Notes

Introduction: Pastoral Work

There is a common myth that there is a difference between parish work and missionary work. In fact, they are exactly the same thing. All parish work is missionary work and all missionary work is parish work, because both are pastoral work. There are two impediments to real parish/ missionary/pastoral work. The first is practical and involves the disastrous lack of Orthodox infrastructure in Western countries, the second is ideological and involves what may politely be called ‘mononationalism’ – making those of other nationalities into second-class citizens.

Lack of Infrastructure and Mononationalism

Today, the Orthodox Church is faced with the interrupting and disrupting consequences of a century of persecution, apostasy and so decadence. With few devoted to the Church and knowledgeable about the Tradition, we lack premises, priests, singers and finance – and so we lack infrastructure. The second problem is one of racist mononationalism, the refusal to accept those of other nationalities into the Church. And yet we are called on by St Matthew (Matt. 28, 19) to ‘go, teach and baptise all nations’, that is, to accept all people, regardless of nationality, background and class.

We are called on to have no ethnic prejudices (for example, the abuse of accepting only Anglicans, only Greeks, only Russians etc into our churches). We are called on, for instance, not to impose alien customs like the Roman Catholic calendar, obligatory communion without confession, chairs and pews and other anti-Orthodox practices. Such novel customs just put off real Orthodox and are just as phyletist and divisive as using only a single, non-local language in services. Either we are Christians and obey the commandments (Matt. 28, 20), or else we are not,

Negativity and Realism

Some find us negative. In fact, we are realistic. Like Russians, we of the people, tell the truth, however unpleasant it may be to naïve idealists and those in a state of illusion. Nothing is ever built on illusion. That is building on sand. Evil is real. Indeed, if I wrote down all that I have experienced, then you would be shocked. But I do not write it down. St Paisius the Athonite said that when walking on Mt Athos you should remove the excrement of wild animals from the paths, so that others do not tread in it. That is my task here in the world, to remove such unnecessary and distasteful realities.

The Orthodox Church will again be seen to be the only Christianity, as in the Beginning

Today Anglicanism, like all other forms of Protestantism, and like their source in Roman Catholicism, is dying and in some places already dead in the first (Western) world. (In the second world, Eastern Europe, as in the third world, they are still very much alive, though in traditional local forms: thus, in this country, Anglicanism survives thanks largely to Africans and Afro-Carribeans and Catholicism largely thanks to Poles. But this will only last for another generation. All who participate in the Western secularist and supremacist myth are corrupted and destroyed by it sooner or later.

Therefore, we are seeing the end of the old movement of Anglican/ Episcopalian Halfodoxy, called ‘Anglicanism with icons’ etc. Where it is not dead, it is dying, except in places where it has been taken over by Eastern Europeans, Romanians, Moldovans and Baltic Russians, but is therefore no longer Halfodox. Both wings of such ex-Anglican convert groups, the moralizing liberals (liberals are always moralizing because they have no spirituality) and the sectarian, ultra-conservative Anglo-Catholics, have painted themselves into corners. We are English Orthodox, not Anglican Orthodox.

Conclusion: Real Missionary Work

Real missionary work is not conducted by shouting on street corners or ramming the Gospels down people’s throats like Protestant sectarians. The results, if any, are superficial and never last. We do not have plans, we simply have hope, faith and love. We do the services together and pray. The rest will come. This was how 75 years of Western atheist tyranny ended in the Russian Lands and 400 years of Turkish occupation ended in Greece. We will do the same here and end the 1,000 years of occupation by anti-Christian and Russophobic (the two go hand in hand) Western Establishment elites.

 

 

The Possible Future of Multinational Russian Orthodoxy in ROCOR in Eastern England

Introduction: Missionary/Pastoral Experience since the 1970s

My experience has been in England (Cambridge and the Fens for 3 years), France (14 years) and Portugal (6 months). I have also served in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, USA and Australia, lived for a year in Greece, and spent several months since the 1970s in Russia and the Ukraine.  I have been in England again for 21 years since 1997. Here I now cover 25,000 miles a year doing pastoral work all over the East, in four prisons and in ten counties – Sussex, Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Norfolk and Lincolnshire.

Two Problems in the Diaspora Everywhere

  1. The first is the ideology of what may be called mononationalism: forbidding other languages. We saw how ROCOR nearly died out in this country in the 80s and 90s because of this and how now others are dying out because of this. We also see the same Anglican-style mononationalism/racism/phyletism among those who impose English only, obligatory communion, no confession, the new calendar, chairs etc in the ’Anglican Orthodoxy’ of the past.
  2. The second is our lack of infrastructure, lack of our own premises, priests, singers and finance.

The Need for New Missions

Every few months I am contacted by someone to open a ROCOR mission, this month in Wiltshire, three months ago it was Newcastle on Tyne. Two or three times a year we also have visits from people at church, asking for a new mission. We must also recall that we can and need start only on virgin territory, where there is no similar Russian Orthodox presence already, as there is for example in Oxford, Brighton, Portsmouth, Southampton, Nottingham and Derby. Also we recall that all missions must be in centres of population, where Orthodox already live and so provide a base and not be a project in the middle of nowhere.

Public Missions in the East to Date (apart from house chapels)

  1. Colchester (Essex). St John of Shanghai. Our property, bought with £180,000 raised in an internet appeal through the orthodoxengland site.
  2. Norwich (Norfolk). St Alexander Nevsky. Our property, bought with £65,000 raised in an internet appeal through the orthodoxengland site.
  3. Bury St Edmunds/Newmarket. (West Suffolk/South Cambridgeshire). All Saints. I already served in Bury from 2000 to 2002 and have now been there again for nearly two years. We need something here or in this area in West Suffolk, perhaps in Newmarket. The area includes St Felix’s 7th century monastery in Soham, St Audrey’s birthplace is in Exning and St Edmund’s former monastery in Bury. Hence the possible future dedication to All Saints, if we can obtain our own building in this area.
  4. Wisbech (North Cambridgeshire/West Norfolk/South Lincolnshire). St Matrona. This is a new mission, blessed by our bishop, in an ideally-located route centre – all around live thousands of Eastern European fen workers. I have already visited Orthodox in Spalding and March. We could with funds build a beautiful wooden Russian church here, as land is cheap.

Twelve Other Possible Public Missions in Eastern England, God Willing, Remembering that We Orthodox Have no Plans, only Hopes, and We Depend on the Needs of the Grassroots, not on Theories and Pins in Maps

  1. Kettering (Northamptonshire/Bedfordshire). Icon of the Mother of God. There is a huge Eastern European population all over the East Midlands, as it is near Luton Airport, where Easyjet flies to Vilnius, Riga and elsewhere. I have many local contacts and know the area well from missionary visits to Orthodox.
  2. Canterbury (Kent). Christ the Saviour. The historic centre of English Christianity.
  3. St Albans (Hertfordshire/Eastern Buckinghamshire). St Alban. A historic centre near London.
  4. Lincoln (Lincolnshire). The Dormition. A great many Russian-speakers live in this agricultural county.
  5. Crawley (Sussex/Surrey). St Michael and all the Heavenly Hosts. A centrally located position, not far from south London, next to Gatwick and close to Brighton.
  6. Winchester (Hampshire). The Resurrection. A centrally-located historic royal centre and the pre-Norman capital of England. Hence the dedication.
  7. York (Yorkshire). St Constantine and St Helen. In the centre of Yorkshire, St Constantine was present here when proclaimed Emperor in 306.
  8. Sheffield (Yorkshire). The Transfiguration. A presence in heavily-populated South Yorkshire, in a town where metal was once transformed (hence the dedication).
  9. Sunderland (Northumbria). St Nicholas. A presence in a former ship-building town (hence the dedication) in the North-East.
  10. East Cowes (Isle of Wight). (The Royal Martyrs). Commemorating the Imperial Family’s presence here.
  11. Rochester (Kent). (St Andrew the First-Called). A historic location for the large Medway population.
  12. Berwick on Tweed (Northumbria). (St Cuthbert). A pastoral centre between Sunderland and Edinburgh, near the historic Holy Island.

Conclusion: Sixteen Missions

With these sixteen missions we could cover Eastern England, providing access to Orthodoxy for 90% + of the 28 million population of the East within a 25 mile radius of each centre. If we achieved only half of this total, that would be a miracle. Give me the tools and I will finish the job, as I wrote 20 years ago.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips

Felixstowe, 1 February 2018

 

 

The Good New Days

28 January 2018 will go down in our local Orthodox history. Two dynamic, young Russian Orthodox bishops in this country were celebrating in parishes in the provinces, in Cambridge and in Colchester. In the bad old days, there were never two bishops and even if there was one, he would have been found only in London.

27 January 2018 was also a historic day. 33 people gathered at the London church of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russsia (ROCOR) for clergy training. Only 7 were priests; nearly all the others were future priests and deacons. Last year the number of priests in the new ROCOR Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland doubled. More are coming. Tripling? Quadrupling? More? Everything is possible.

In the bad old anti-missionary days in 1994, I can remember being summoned from the Western European Diocese in Paris to go and serve in London, where there were no priests available. By that time the whole of ROCOR in England had been reduced to just two priests, both of whom later left it. How times change.

Some question why the two spiritually united Russian Orthodox Church still has two parallel dioceses on this island territory. Perhaps we are like two trees, growing side by side in the jungle. The more we grow, the greater the canopy we can produce together over the jungle. That is Providence, which is the Love of God manifested in human life.

 

Why is he more successful than me?

Here is a question that we sometimes hear. Immediately, it suggests jealousy. Why else would someone ask such a question, if they were not jealous of someone else? Jealousy is a terrible thing because it if you are jealous, it not only makes others feel bad, but it also makes you feel bad. But, if we think about it, what a strange question it is.

Whatever do we mean by success? Does it mean having a lot of money, a big house and a fancy car? If it does, I am not interested. After all, Christ did not have any of those things. As a matter of fact, he did not have any money, or a house or a car.

I think that a much more interesting question is: Why is he happier than me? I find this question interesting because it seems to me that happiness is much more important than success. Why?

Well, first of all, only a few people are ever going to be rich and have big houses and fancy cars. That is just a fact of life. Secondly, I have met such people and none of them seemed particularly happy to me. For example, I know a lady who is a millionaire. She is miserable. And I will tell you an English saying: she is so miserable that she is ‘as miserable as sin’. That’s a saying that we should think about. Oh, I’m sure that there are some people who are rich and ‘successful’ who are also happy. It is just that I have never met any of them.

On the other hand, I know a lot of people who are happy, but they are not rich and successful. They have very ordinary jobs, most of them rent a house or a flat, some of them don’t even have a car. So they are not really ‘successful’. So what makes them happy? It can’t be their age, because they are all ages, between 9 months and 90 years, it can’t be that they are men or women because they are both, it can’t be their nationality because they come from many different countries and it can’t be because they are married or single because they are both. So what is happiness?

Well, I’ve thought a lot about it and I have come to this conclusion. It seems to me that they are happy because they are content with what they have. They are content with it because they say to themselves: ‘This is what I have and I am going to make the best of it’.

For instance, I often visit people in prison. Now that is not a place where you want to be. I say this to the prisoners: ‘You are in a bad place. So how are you going to survive? You’re going to survive by making the best of it, by using prison as an opportunity to find good and do good. Prison’s your opportunity to prepare the rest of your life for after you get out. It’s a university of life’.

Life is what we make of it. We all know that there are good things and bad things in life. All we have to do to be happy is to look for the good things. We should not even make success into our aim. We should make being contented with what we have inside us and what we can do with it into our aim. Then we shall be happy. But if we spend our lives wanting more things, more money, bigger houses, fancier cars, bigger TVs, newer smartphones and tablets so that we can be happy, then all that will happen is that we will never be happy, because we will always be wanting more money, a bigger house, a fancier car, a bigger TV, a newer smartphone and tablet and so we shall never be satisfied, never content.

One of the worst things for this nowadays is the way that some people use Facebook. Because a lot of people use it to show off and bully others, to show how popular it seems that they are, how many likes they have, how many friends they have, how many holidays they have etc. For them, all of life is a competition and they are the winners. That makes others jealous or even depressed.

I will tell you something about Facebook:

Most, and probably all the people, who show off on Facebook are not happy. They are not ‘winners’, they are what is called ‘losers’. If you are happy, content, you do not need to show off or bully. You keep yourself to yourself, living your life (and not someone else’s) from day to day. And that for me is success.

On the Coming Christian Empire

The Christian Empire is not new. It existed for some 1,600 years, starting and ending with a saint, going from St Constantine I to St Nicholas II. The Empire unites all generations of Orthodox Christians, as it is our past, present and future. We serve the same Sovereign Orthodox Empire, whether it was called New Rome or was and will be called the Third Rome, Holy Rus. As for the treasonous and perverted aberrations that temporarily replaced the Third Rome just over 100 years ago, we value in them only what they inherited from the Third Rome, knowing that they were and are only passing, exceptional phenomena.

As for us, we are already looking ahead, to what is to come, the new Sovereign Orthodox Empire, the reborn Third Rome. All conscious Orthodox Christians who are not earthbound by petty and primitive politics, are members of this Empire. We all serve Her, each in our own way, above manmade nationalities, provincial customs and passing administrative structures. The Sovereign Orthodox Empire is the Universal Empire for all who confess the Orthodox Faith, regardless of whether we live inside the geographical frontiers of the Coming Empire or outside them, as faithful witnesses to the Universal Orthodox Faith.

Whatever our situation, we are all soldiers of the Empire, we are all Imperial Orthodox. Together we are preparing the way for the Coming Empire, like the Forerunner, as St John the Baptist proclaimed of old: ‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand…the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight…But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Saducees come to his baptism, he said to them, O generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance…And now also the axe is laid to the root of the trees…’

These trees that do not bear fruit are deformations alien to the Empire. The first one is imperialism. This is what drove all ancient and modern pagan empires, from the Persian to the Roman, from Charlemagne’s Empire to the Portuguese, Spanish, French, British, Soviet and American Empires. Their aim has always been to enslave and exploit their vassals in asset-stripping operations. The second one is nationalism. This is the divisive spirit which says that ‘our race and language are better than yours’. This is a racist notion which always results in wars. Both these aberrations have at times poisoned the life of the Empire.

The spirit of the Sovereign Orthodox Empire is founded on the Church which is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. She is One because She is the Universal Orthodox Church, Which already unites so many nationalities and languages all over the world. She is Holy because She unites all the saints, from those of Jerusalem and Egypt to those of Old Europe and 20th century Russia. She is Catholic because our Faith is the same in all places and at all times, it is the Faith of the Seven Councils. She is Apostolic because She goes back to the Apostles, who were inspired by the Holy Spirit, as we too are called to be. So be it, O Lord.

 

Four Proverbs for Church Life

Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous

Einstein

The truth will out

This proverb recalls the Old Testament ‘Your sin will find you out’ (Num. 32, 33) and the New Testament, ‘For there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; neither hid that shall not be known’ (Lk 12, 2). Sooner or later your sins will be known. These are terrifying words for all of us sinners.

The chickens come home to roost

This recalls that actions always have consequences, that if you commit or allow injustices, you will have to pay for them sooner or later.

It is shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted

When you let a situation degenerate for a few years, let alone for two or three decades, any action you take is too little, too late. You will have to pay for your negligence and lack of love.

Fine words butter no parsnips

This rather old-fashioned proverb is similar in meaning to ’Actions speak louder than words’. No number of words about ‘love’ etc will help, if your actions do not match up to your words and repair the damage done.