According to the National Herald, in Istanbul the 79 year-old Patriarch Bartholomew is set on removing the 91 year-old Archbishop Demetrios of the US Greek Archdiocese, who has already refused to leave three times. The Patriarch is also set on removing the Cypriot Archbishop Gregorios from the Greek Archdiocese in Great Britain and Ireland. He is also aged 91 and has faced several problems with a flock that is dying out. At the end of 2018 the Patriarch visited the Archdiocese incognito in order to study the situation. He now wishes to divide the Archdiocese into two. The new bishops may be Greek from the USA. A similar situation prevails in Australia where the 83 year-old Archbishop Stylianos, a virulent critic of Patriarch Bartholomew, is ill. Here too the Archdiocese may be divided into two or even three. Such changes will ensure the required total control of Patriarch Bartholomew over his Greek Diaspora.
The following conversations have all taken place in recent times with various newcomers or ‘converts’ to the Church, of several nationalities. (Let us not forget that most Russians are also converts and indeed, in another sense, we are all converts, as on a daily basis we are reconverted, that is, we turn again to Christ every day). We have concentrated these conversations into one conversation with a couple, whom we shall call Ian and Kay for the sake of anonymity.
Q: The first question we have is about our names, we are Ian and Kay. Why were we given the names John and Katherine?
A: We are formal in church and bear the names of saints, which we use in full whenever we receive the sacraments. Therefore, Alyosha is Aleksiy, Sergei is Sergiy, Natasha is Natalia, Sonia is Sophia. Similarly Pete is Peter, Mike is Michael. Therefore, Kay, short for Katherine, is Katherine. As for yourself, I fail to see why the priest changed your name to Ian. Was he an English nationalist?! Ian is the Scottish form of Ioann and is therefore closer to the original than John. I shall use the form Ian, whenever you receive the sacraments.
In general in Church we use formal language: Church Slavonic, not Russian; the language of Shakespeare, not street English. Church is a school, it is where we all learn, for example, children learn discipline.
Q: How should we dress in church?
A: In English we have the precise understanding of how we should dress, in the phrase ‘Sunday best’. Everything in Church is different, special, best. Therefore, ladies should not dress in jeans and trousers or, for that matter, long drab skirts. They are not nuns. They should wear something modest, skirt or dress, but something happy and maybe, if they have it, dress in something of the colour of the feast, showing that they are taking part in it, for example, wear blue for feasts of the Mother of God.
Men should not wear T-shirts, jeans, shorts and trainers. We are not at the beach. They should make an effort to dress for Church. We want to look nice when we stand in front of Christ. And we do not have to spend much to buy something nice; there are always charity shops. What you wear outside the Church is of course your business, but I would like to think that Church would influence your choices at home and in the street too.
Why do some convert men dress in black and grow long hair and a beard? They are not monks. Married priests usually do not have long hair and beards, especially if they have to have a secular job too. And they wear cassocks of all colours. Black is a monastic colour. If you want to be a monk or a nun, live under obedience. Without obedience, this is all just playing. Marriage is obedience and if you cannot take the obedience of marriage, you certainly cannot take the obedience of monastic life.
Then there is this strange habit among a few (thankfully, only a few) of wearing prayer-knots or beads (not a prayer rope; prayer knots in no way resemble a rope) around the wrist. What is all this about? You are not monks or nuns. By all means, use prayer knots, but at home, in private. They are not for public prayer, but for the prayer of the heart (not ‘the Jesus prayer’, as Catholics call it) or for other prayers, ‘in your chamber’, as the Gospel says. There is a rhyming Russian saying about young men who wear prayer knots around their wrists: In their hand, prayer knots (chiotki), in their head, pretty girls (tiotki). It means that it is all for show, a pretence.
Q: We are told that Orthodoxy is not a set of ideas, but a way of life. But what is the Orthodox way of life?
A: First of all, Orthodoxy is simply Christianity, the Christian way of life. It is not something exotic or strange. It only seems exotic or strange if you have never been a real Christian, but a false Christian or semi-Christian, that is, if you have always lived outside the Church. Only Orthodoxy is normality. It is everything else that is abnormal, strange and exotic.
An Orthodox way of life means reading the morning and evening prayers. All Orthodox theology is in them. Read them carefully. It means reading the daily Gospel and Epistle, reading the Lives of the Saints of the day, living by the calendar, keeping the fasts and the feasts, and living near a church where the services and sacraments are accessible, and where you can help, cleaning, supporting, singing and serving. It is also important that you give alms, in whatever way you wish.
Q: I know this is not a new question, but what is the correct rhythm for confession and communion?
A: All depends on how often you take communion. Before the Russian Revolution when people took communion only once or twice a year – and so caused the Revolution – confession was obligatory and a prayer rule beforehand was instituted. So the two became linked. During the Soviet period when there were very few churches and priests and you may only have got to church a few times in a lifetime, a three-day fast was also instituted before communion and confession.
However, in the first millennium and again today we can see that many are taking communion normally, at least once a month and even once a week. This has followed the renewal of Church life with the influence of the Optina saints, St John of Kronstadt, the New Martyrs and Confessors and many others. Confession should be at least once every forty days if you are taking communion regularly and if you wish (but not necessarily, if you have the blessing of your confessor not to), every time before communion.
However, we should not fall into the opposite extreme, of obligatory communion for all and without confession. This is spiritual decadence. People fall into spiritual delusion very easily like this. I have seen so many do this and they have all lapsed sooner or later. This was because they began to think they were superior to those who took communion less often. Sheer pride, so that in the end they said: ‘We don’t need to take communion because we are already holy’. I have seen that time and time again. Regular communion is vital, yes, but so is proper preparation and regular confession (though the two sacraments need not be linked in time).
Communion always presupposes that you fast from midnight before communion, that you try and come for the Vigil service beforehand, that at the very least you read the prayers before communion beforehand, if not the full rule, keep the Wednesday and Friday and other four fasts, that you read your prayers, that you are, in other words, striving to live an Orthodox life, as described above.
The whole point of a prayer rule before communion is to inspire prayerfulness. What state should we be in when we come to communion? The words of the liturgy say it all: ‘With fear of God and faith, draw near’. If we do not have the fear of God and faith, we should not draw near. Some say, ‘I cannot take communion because I am unworthy’. Of course we are unworthy – we are all always unworthy. He who takes communion (if there is such a person) with the feeling that he is worthy, is in a disastrous state of pride and spiritual delusion.
You will find that there are periods in your life when you need regular communion, two or three or even more times a month, at other times less often. (Women should not take communion during their monthly period, which is a result of the Fall. Men may also be handicapped by their sexual problems).
Q: Should we do what cradle Orthodox tell us to do?
A: This is theological nonsense. There is no such thing as a ‘cradle Orthodox’. Stalin was a ‘cradle Orthodox’. (As Napoleon and Hitler were ‘cradle Catholics’). Everything depends on whether you were brought up in the Church or not. I have known thousands of ‘cradle Orthodox’ who scarcely know how to make the sign of the cross. Listen to those who were brought up in the Church by pious parents and live by the Tradition. They are Orthodox. It does not matter when you were baptised, it is your long term way of life that matters.
Q: We are both ex-Anglicans. We have thought about writing something against Anglicanism. What do you think?
A: Why? Why be so negative? Are you living in the past? We must live for the present and the future. Only 1% of the UK population is practising Anglican, the same percentage as the number of nominal Orthodox in this country. If you want to talk to others about the Faith, talk to the 95% who have no effective or affective affiliation. And talk positively. But what is the point of talking to anyone and trying to convert them (including nominal Orthodox), if they have no church to attend? The most important thing is to have local living parishes that people can go to before you start trying to convert others.
Q: We both venerate Charles I as a martyr. But can we do that in the Orthodox Church??
A: The Orthodox Church venerates only Orthodox. Did Charles I die for the Orthodox Church? No, he did not. Like Louis XVI, he was basically a Catholic. On the other hand, there is no reason why, as Orthodox, you cannot have his portrait in your house, cannot read about him, invite friends to dinner on his anniversaries, or be members of the Stuart Society – several Orthodox have long been members of it. You may have a personal opinion that he was a martyr. That is fine. But do not make him into something that he was not – an Orthodox saint.
Q: What can you say about sexual relations for married couples? Catholics and Protestants used to recommend ‘the missionary position’. Is that Orthodox practice too?
A: This is your intimate life and therefore by definition, this is none of the priest’s business. What goes on behind the bedroom door of a married couple concerns only the couple. We do not meddle like Catholics or old-fashioned Calvinist Protestants in this matter. All I can say is a few general things. Above all, love each other – all that you do must be by mutual loving consent. This means no perversions or violence, no humiliation of either member in the couple. That is all on this.
‘Tell the people: Although I have died, I am alive.’
St John of Shanghai
Foreword: The War
Forty-five years ago I was told by one who could have known better that, as I had been waiting for years to join the Orthodox Church, I now faced a choice: I could either join the Greek Church of Constantinople or the Church of Russia; it was all the same. But only to him was it all the same, as, in spite of, or rather because of, his great intellect, he was spiritually confused. He lived in an alien compromise, washing his hands before the critical choice. I joined the Russian Church because, since the age of twelve, I had known through revelations to my soul that my destiny was most definitely in the Russian Orthodox Church. However crippled it may have been after 1917, I was destined to share in that agony, indeed, although it seemed foolishness to the Jews and to the Greeks alike, only by sharing in that agony could I hope to find my own salvation. I sensed even then that what he had told me was somehow untrue. At best it could only have been a delusion. It was not all the same – and recent very sad events have shown this to all absolutely clearly. Let me explain:
The Church is not to be found in a people who believe that it is a chosen people. Many Hebrews believed that they were the chosen people, but they stoned the prophets and crucified the Son of God. To this day many of their descendants reject Christ, some considering themselves superior to the rest of humanity. Then the Western European elite came to believe in their ‘exceptionalism’ (that is, their claim that they too were above God) too, all in order to justify their organized barbaric aggression. So a thousand years after Christ, they too fell away from the Church, rejecting the Holy Spirit and seizing control of the Church in the West in order to justify their conquistador power-grab. So, like pirates, they began persecuting us ordinary Christians and conquering the rest of the world by fire and the sword. Then their secularist descendants, in turn the Portuguese, Spanish, French, British, German and finally American elites, did exactly the same, demanding world hegemony (‘globalism’), also rejecting Christ because they consider themselves superior to the rest of humanity. (Hence their anti-Semitism: the other ‘chosen people’, the Jews, were rivals to them, therefore they had to be eliminated). In the Church there has now come the turn of certain Greeks, telling us that only they are Christians, that God speaks only Greek, and, as one very well-known Cypriot archimandrite told me, even that their pagan ancestors had prepared the way for Christ! Many Russians fell victim to the same delusion, in the same way believing in themselves instead of believing in God, taking communion only once a year. So they lost everything and overthrew the God-appointed Christian Emperor in 1917. Only through the blood of the New Martyrs and the tears and sweat of the New Confessors did repentance eventually begin to come to them.
All these ‘chosen peoples’ failed to understand that salvation comes only from the Heavenly Jerusalem of the Church of Christ through the Mercy of God and the Holy Spirit – not from some earthly ‘Jewish Rome’ of some mythical ‘chosen people’. For this reason, once I had chosen the Russian Church, I was to spend the rest of my life at war, in tireless battles, in unceasing strife, in the trenches, on the Western Front, fighting for real Christianity, for the real Russian Orthodox Church, together, of course, with many others. We all fought against the narrow-minded, nationalist delusions and impurities of those who had lost the big picture, who could not see the wood for the trees. They told us that only Russians could be Orthodox, that only their own exclusive little fragments of the great Imperial Orthodoxy, which had not undergone the blood, tears and sweat of others, could be right, that God’s Church needed ‘saving’ or ‘reforming’ (naturally, by themselves!). Some of them even persecuted and took to court as a common criminal the greatest saint among them all, St John of Shanghai. Little wonder that the Lord sent me to a military Church. I never sought any of this; it was all imposed on me. My soul would have died had I not taken part in this spiritual warfare. My life has been unceasing warfare in four battles, all fought beneath the Protecting Veil, which my patron-saint saw and which is the only reason why I am still alive.
My first battle was to take part in the struggle to help free that small part of the Russian Church Diaspora in England, which was dependent on Moscow, from spiritual impurity. After nine years, by 1983, I realized that I would fail in this. It was a task quite beyond me, with my very feeble abilities and from my modest, provincial, rural background; the enemies were invested with the strength of a personality cult, with all the authority of men and their city establishments, they had no time for a ploughman’s grandson. I was knocking my head against brick walls. So I left into exile, seeing my limitations. I understood that it would take far-reaching political changes inside Russia and indeed the departures or deaths of some outside Russia before this battle could be won (I did not know then that this would mean twenty-four years). Victory was inevitable, but only God Who created time, could in time bring the victory. My battle had been premature. By myself I could do nothing. It was good for me to know this.
My second battle was to take part in the struggle to help free that small part of the Russian Church Diaspora, which was dependent on Constantinople (Rue Daru), from spiritual impurity. I fought in Paris and thought that this battle was winnable. It was – almost. However, after six years in 1988 there came a turning-point when I saw that I would fail in this battle too. The intrigues of freemasons in high places meant that I could not help win this battle – all my friends were in low places. I knew then that this Paris group would eventually (I did not know then that this would mean thirty years) disappear into spiritual irrelevance. Those who had betrayed the Tsar and made him and his Family into martyrs had also betrayed the Church. So I left, having understood that here too it would take far-reaching political changes inside Russia and indeed the departures or deaths of some outside Russia before the battle to bring even a part of this group home to the Russian Church could be won. Victory was inevitable, but only God Who created time, could with time bring the victory. My battle had been premature. By myself I could do nothing. It was good for me to know this.
My third battle from the first day of 1989 onwards was to take part in the struggle to help free that part of the Russian Church Diaspora, which was dependent on New York (ROCOR), from spiritual impurity. Here there was a much greater chance of success, for the contaminating Protestant disease of ‘super-correctness’ (as another disciple of St John of Shanghai called it), with its ignorance, phariseeism, extremism, sectarianism, old calendarism, psychological (not theological) deviations of convertitis and Cold War money, had many opponents in the USA itself and even more in Western Europe where I was fighting on the Front. And above all, my Diocesan Archbishop supported me and I supported him. The ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva, a spiritual son of and the European successor to St John of Shanghai, was in effect the first real Orthodox bishop I had met. We had an identical understanding of the Church. By myself I could do nothing, but now I was far from being alone; I was simply one of very many, a little cog in a large machine. I did not know then that this struggle would take eighteen years, for only in 2007 did the Church win the day. I was taking part in our first victory, together with millions of others, in the Church of the New Martyrs and Confessors, to which I had always belonged in spirit. Only geography had ever divided us.
After the Three Battles
Once this battle, in which I had played only a tiny role, eventually from my provincial home-town, had been won by the many, especially by the bishops who had been inspired by the grace of God, I knew that the two other houses of cards where I had earlier lost the day would fall in their turn. I just did not know that it would take another twelve years. Between 2007 and today, in 2019, I have seen both these first lost battles won. History won them. What I knew in the past, that they would be won only in God’s own time, has come to pass. What we have fought long and hard for has been obtained. Thus, we now at last have for our Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland a bishop, pleaded for during over four decades. He is Orthodox, understanding the local language and people, not phyletist, venerating the local saints and not denying them, missionary-minded like us, encouraging us and not destroying us, not under the control of laypeople, in good health, and who will be resident here in just a few weeks from now.
Secondly, the Russian Orthodox Exarchate of Western Europe, awaited for over three decades, was at last established in Paris only a few weeks ago. This means that our House will be built on rock, not on sand, and that the ‘Euro-Orthodox’ fantasy of the Paris Brotherhood is now dead. The future Local Church of Western Europe will be authentically Orthodox. For what we have sought for and fought for since 1988 now is. There is now a real Orthodox Exarchate for Western Europe, with many regional dioceses and young bishops, hundreds of parishes and several monasteries, venerating the local saints and not denying them, the foundation of the new Local Church. Led by Metropolitan John in Paris, who bears the name of our missionary father in Christ, St John of (Shanghai and) Western Europe and so continues in the tradition of Archbishop Antony of Geneva, it will of course need much more time to develop. It consists of the generally newer Russian Orthodox parishes of Western Europe, in many dioceses and with many bishops. However, alongside it and complementing it, also stand the two (Western European and German) dioceses of ROCOR, with their five bishops, two of them younger and active. This consists of the generally older, more integrated, Russian Orthodox parishes of Western Europe, a few of them until recently under Constantinople, but now at last come home. The two parts need each other and hopefully their bishops will meet regularly in order to help each other in their own joint Synod.
However, in this Year of the Lord, 2019, there is the last mystical battle (last for me) in the series of mystical battles in this Hundred Years’ War, which for a century has so deformed Church structures in the Diaspora. This battle is also against spiritual impurity, against masonic ecumenist and modernist intrigues. However, this last battle is the battle inside the Russian Lands, inside historic Rus’; it is therefore not a local battle for English, French and American Rus’ in London, Paris and New York, for part of the small Russian Diaspora, it is a general battle which concerns the whole Church. This is taking place today in the Ukraine, but it affects all. For the Church is the mystical centre of the world and it is the Ukraine which is now the mystical centre of the Church. And this is why we have come here now, sent to fight from the Western Front to the Eastern Front. All will stand or fall by their attitude to what is happening in the Ukraine today, to this battle between Christ and Satan. Whose side are you on?
The Fourth Battle
The internal administrative centre of the false Orthodoxy against which I fought in all our four battles, was formed in Istanbul a century ago. It came into being only because of the long-planned overthrow of the restraining protection of Imperial Tsardom. However, the Western disease which had overthrown the Christian Emperor and so the Christian Empire and then brought that centre into being had already infected Russia and elsewhere before that. For the disease contaminated all nationalities, including many in the Russian Lands and from there in the Diaspora. The disease came to be called renovationism and the renovationists were keenly supported from Istanbul. Today it has become crystal clear that the whole of the supposed Orthodox world has now to side either with real Orthodoxy or else against real Orthodoxy. The time of reckoning has come; the time of compromise is over. No-one can stand by any longer with the indifference and conceit of Pilate. Even though this battle is of exactly the same nature as the series of three battles which we fought in the Diaspora before this one, now it is not the Diaspora, but the Ukraine which is the sword that divides. The battlefield has changed to the Ukraine, but the battle is the same one; it is the battle for spiritual purity, for canonicity, for real Orthodoxy.
Gradually, over the last two months, one Local Church after another has decided to side with spiritual purity, canonicity and real Orthodoxy and so support Metr Onufry and the Church of God of the Ukraine. The rest of the Russian Church with ROCOR was the first to support him wholeheartedly. The Local Churches of Serbia, Bulgaria, Antioch, Poland, the Czech Lands and Slovakia, Cyprus, and unofficial but spiritually free (= non-political) voices in the Churches of Greece, Jerusalem, Alexandria and Georgia, followed. So far, thirteen out of eighteen Athonite monasteries have joined us. And a few days ago the episcopate of the basically Carpatho-Russian OCA (Orthodox Church in America), which had dithered for several weeks and where some had for years even been threatening to desert the Church for Istanbul, decided the same. This is their spiritual victory and our very great comfort after decades of spiritual slumber, of wandering far from the Church with American phyletist delusions. It means that the little OCA is maturing, at last deciding to accept its destiny, abandoning its eccentric spiritual isolation and so finding its positive identity by returning to its roots under St Tikhon. Inspired by the breath of new life, it can at last begin to play a significant and fulfilling role as one of the component parts of the future, united, much larger, multinational Russian Orthodox Churches of the three continents of the New World, of the Americas and Oceania.
This leaves the episcopates of only two Local Churches, the large Romanian and the tiny Albanian, not politically free and sitting on the fence, paralysed like Pontius Pilate ‘for fear of the Jews’. They are silent, neither supporting nor rejecting, awaiting instructions from above on whether to support the petty nationalism of the phyletist schism of Constantinople or not. The false church in the Ukraine, founded by the US-backed separatists in Kiev, is officially under a certain Sergei Dumenko. He is actually a Vatican- and US-approved puppet-layman, therefore both pro-Uniat and pro-LGBT, and not a metropolitan, His false church has been seen to be without grace, without sacraments, without the Holy Spirit. His church is that of ‘the Ukrainian god’, as one Ukrainian minister has put it. His enthronement in Kiev six days ago was ignored by all the Local Churches. His so-called ‘Church’ is only a regime-manipulated charade of empty rituals, just another small ultra-nationalist organization – an absurd anachronism in this global world. It is supported by teams of police-backed Nazi bandits who intimidate and beat up Christians, because Nazis have no concept of the meaning of the word ‘Christian’. And these anti-Christian men of violence are directly supported by an alien and corrupt political regime in Kiev, supported by alien and corrupt regimes elsewhere, and, to their eternal shame, by Greek ‘bishops’ in Istanbul.
Afterword: The Victory
The decadent, self-appointed, Paris-School ‘theologians’ from the past slip away one by one. With them their secularizing ideologies from the past, Ecumenism (anti-Orthodoxy; against the Father), Modernism (anti-Sovereignty; against the Son) and Liberalism (anti-People; against the Holy Spirit), slip away into spiritual irrelevance. Their books of intellectual fantasy-philosophy are ready for the dust of forgotten library shelves. Those who frustrated, wasted, impeded and persecuted us for so many decades are leaving the stage and we are beginning to see the future clearly now. For the New Orthodox World (N.O.W.) is taking shape. The New Orthodox World (NOW) is led not by anachronisms, relics from the past in cities of empires which have not existed for centuries, but by vibrant and missionary multinational Local Churches, Autonomous Churches and Exarchates worldwide. These are not narrow and corrupted nationalist museums for State rituals, flag-waving and cultural nostalgia or the playthings of disincarnate but very aggressive, politicized and politically correct, liberal intellectuals, but living organisms, cleansed to prepare us all to meet the King before He returns in all His glory. And in the New Orthodox World, NOW, there is the Heavenly Jerusalem of the Church of Christ, awaiting Him and resisting the Enemy of Mankind, who comes before Christ in order to create disunity, disorder and distress among us.
The death-threat which I received three years ago, sent me because the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, did not stop me or deter me for a single second. In a dream, come to me after receiving that death-threat, I opened my front door and saw an agent on my doorstep. He at once fired his revolver at me, but the bullet rebounded off my priest’s cross, killing him instead of me. He fell to the ground and his corpse was dragged away to a waiting car by his colleague, who in fear and astonishment uttered powerless curses. I left and hid in a secret and remote place where I could not be found. I was rescued by the prayers of one who long, long ago had also taken refuge in such a place and I was taken to a faraway land. I have never paid any attention to dreams, especially such dramatic ones, but I remembered this one. However, I only really understood its meaning and symbolism on my first day here. It means that, like all of us, I will die when God decides, not when men decide, for though man proposes, God disposes. It means that the bullet rebounds, for if men want to kill the truth, they kill only themselves (exactly as they have done for the last one hundred and five years, with their atheist wars, one after another). And those who try to kill the Church in the Ukraine are committing spiritual suicide; indeed, their death-bearing bullet has already lethally rebounded onto themselves.
Victory has been ours in the Diaspora, because we have been willing to die for the Church of God and our enemies have not – because they are inherently attached to this world and so fear death which is of this world. Victory is ours in the Ukraine, because we are willing to die for the Church of God and our enemies are not – because they are inherently attached to this world and so fear death which is of this world. This is why we shall win this last battle now – because we do not fear death, for we believe and we know that Christ is the Life-Giving God, Who rose from the dead and freed the captives in hell. They, however, have only heard of the Risen Christ as a theory and symbolic myth for their heads. They believe it not in their hearts. Therefore their heads, like their lives, are full of the philosophies and works of death. But we do believe and we know and we tremble in awe before the Living God, Who is the Great God, Who works wonders and Who is with us, so that none is against us. Let the dead bury the dead. As for us, we shall not die, but live, and we shall declare the works of the Lord. The Lord is our Enlightenment and our Saviour, whom then shall we fear?
Archpriest Andrew Phillips
Kiev, 1-8 February 2019
Having taken on the schismatic, the defrocked, the anathematized, the non-consecrated and the plainly criminal in the Ukraine, the Patriarchate of Constantinople has isolated itself from World Orthodoxy. So far seven of the fourteen universally recognized Orthodox Churches, the Churches of Russia, Antioch, Jerusalem, Serbia, Poland, Cyprus and the Czech Lands and Slovakia, have condemned the actions of Constantinople outright. The Church of Bulgaria is almost certain to do the same and various individual bishops in the Churches of Georgia and Greece have already spoken out against Constantinople, as has the latter’s own Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware). Only the Churches of Romania, Alexandria and Albania remain strangely silent, sitting on the fence for the moment.
So it is still looking like thirteen against one in the World Orthodox Church. Meanwhile in Moscow, the Russian Church is preparing an Inter-Orthodox meeting on the situation in February. What is to be done? The first thing which has to be admitted is that this whole situation has come about through individual bishops in Constantinople involving themselves in geopolitics, seeking power and money above the Kingdom of God, which they have not sought first. Their gross disobedience to the Words of Christ in the Gospels has led to their disobedience to the canons and thus to division. The solution must surely lie in returning to the Gospels and the Apostolic Canons, to the pre-Constantinople age of the Church, to Jerusalem.
For the past position and role of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the Church only ever came about for secular reasons in the fourth century, because that city was then the capital of the Roman Empire. And this was later betrayed and ended ignominiously in 1453. Since Constantinople has for long not been an Orthodox city or the capital of anywhere, let us return to reality. Since Constantinople is irrelevant and has been for over 550 years, the Church today should surely return to the spirit of Jerusalem, which is the source of Constantinople and indeed of all Patriarchates, Councils and all apostolic succession. If this is done, then we can hope to see, instead of petty nationalist politicking, worldliness and infighting, the Oneness, Holiness, Catholicity and Apostolicity of the Worldwide Orthodox Church. For this we pray to the Holy Spirit, Who inspires the prophets and the New Jerusalem.
The ‘dissolution’ of the tiny Rue Daru group, centred in Paris, was announced by Patriarch Bartholomew on 27 November 2018. This closure was probably in revenge for the group’s quite recent refusal to obey the Patriarchally-appointed Archbishop Job Getcha. In any case it has brought forth extraordinary reactions from within that group. These reactions are patterned by outright disobedience and total incomprehension of how the Church works, that is, by obedience to bishops, and not to ‘human rights’ and ‘Western secular democratic values’ etc.
References by Rue Daru to its right to the Kerensky-conditioned 1917-18 Moscow Council wash with no-one, since the freemason Kerenesky was an anti-Church figure. Indeed, his first task after the Western-backed aristocratic coup d’etat in Saint Petersburg in March 1917 was to interfere in Russian Church life. Notably, he at once uncanonically deposed the saintly and anti-masonic Metropolitans of Saint Petersburg and Moscow. The Rue Daru authorities, descendants of the selfsame Saint Petersburg aristocrats and their followers, have themselves written to Patriarch Bartholomew and stated that they refuse to obey until their ‘democratic’ Diocesan Assembly on 23 February 2019. See: https://orthodoxyindialogue.com/2019/01/23/letter-to-patriarch-bartholomew-from-orthodox-churches-of-russian-tradition-in-western-europe/
Naturally, in obedience to their Patriarch, local Greek bishops have demanded that the former Russian parishes of Rue Daru go under their jurisdiction. Notably in Italy, the aggressive local Greek bishop has suspended the Russian priests in Rome and San Remo (which has since like Florence joined ROCOR) for refusing to commemorate him and has demanded the keys to their historic heritage properties. This reflects the situation in the Ukraine where the Church is also being persecuted by a Constantinople-founded nationalist organization. This State organization basically has no properties or followers, but is stealing properties from the canonical Church by violence and calling itself ‘The Orthodox Church in the Ukraine’ to try and attract followers.
Phyletist but tiny Constantinople has set out on a course of grabbing property – since free souls, whose interest is spiritual life, will not follow it and are not interested in its power-hungry machinations. We can assume that Greek bishops will claim property in the same way elsewhere, notably in Paris, where there is more Rue Daru real estate. Rue Daru has played into Greek hands by informing Constantinople of the 23 February meeting, since Constantinople now knows that all it has to do is act before 23 February, suspending anyone it wants in Rue Daru, including Archbishop Jean.
The solution is simple. It is for Rue Daru to return to the Russian Orthodox Church and so at last start learning the Russian Orthodox Tradition. However, this has always been highly unlikely, given the Russophobia of those in Paris descended from the very aristocrats who carried out the coup d’etat in 1917 and overthrew the saintly Tsar, destroying free Russia and handing it over to genocidal Non-Russian and anti-Russian Marxists.
At present, the tiny Rue Daru Establishment, always with the same megalomaniac Parisian fantasy that it is somehow important, at the centre of the Orthodox world (!) or even the only canonical Orthodox Church in the world (!), is looking to set itself up as some sort of sectarian ‘independent’ Orthodox Church. For clearly the other ideas, that it could go under the OCA in North America is canonically and geographically a fantasy and the idea that the US-controlled Romanian Church would want to take on Rue Daru temporarily until it can find a better solution (!), are to be dismissed.
The 1980s nightmare of the late Rue Daru Archbishop George Wagner, that he would be abandoned by Constantinople, has come true. So what are the very limited choices facing today’s Rue Daru?
- To obey the Church of Constantinople and accept the dissolution of Rue Daru, with its assimilation into Greek parishes. This means that it will fall out of communion with the Russian Orthodox Church, but this is at least a logical proposition.
- To return to the Russian Orthodox Church, either the part centred in Moscow or else the part centred in New York (as did the parish in Florence last year), since Rue Daru has at various times in history been part of both of them. This proposition is both logical and also historical.
- To become a tiny, ageing and uncanonical Church, with a few properties scattered throughout Western Europe, no seminary and one 75-year old bishop who speaks only French, and be unrecognized by any Orthodox Church on earth. This is illogical. However, Rue Daru has never acted according to logic, but only according to fantasy.
During my temporary stays in Norwich, on Sundays I used to walk from Eaton to one of the two Orthodox churches in Norwich: the Russian Orthodox Church of St Alexander Nevsky, the “Matchbox Church” and the Greek Orthodox Church of the Mother of God, the “ Two Sundays Church” (two services per month). And what do I see on Sunday mornings on this 40-minute walk to church?
People – I suppose Christians or former Christians- jogging or taking dogs for their morning walk, playing with them, or going to cafés/bars for breakfast with friends, or for some shopping or just walking, without any purpose, and looking captivated at an iPhone, a smartphone… In fact, modern man wakes up in the morning and rushes to the toilet with his phone gadget. A friend told me, joking seriously, that these people do not harm the environment, because, instead of toilet paper, they recycle old on line news screens, magazines, books…
I am passing by offices for psychiatry, hypnotherapy, crystal therapy, shiatsu, life coaching, tattooing…Such offices do not lack patients/clients…
Then follow very old churches, initially Catholic than Anglican, now closed. Motionless, silent ghosts in the daylight…There are a few exceptions: old churches still alive but the few parishioners, mostly old, are like… ghosts!
It’s Sunday morning and I have the strange feeling of going through a no God’s land!
Our Europe, once Christian, is full of such no God’s lands and these lands are continuously multiplying, a sign that the salt is losing its savour, from West to the East, from North to South: “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot by men.” (Matthew 5, 13-KJV)
Tasteless salt, our intellectuals, politicians, ministers, prime ministers, presidents, kings and queens (to the extent that they are allowed to give their opinion) and journalists, all suffer from a continuous delirium, talking and talking of human rights, defending diversity ( diversity of sins), security, peace, money, projects, general welfare…They don’t see ( and people are following them) that indeed “… now also the axe is laid to the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” (Matthew 3, 10- KJV)
Through a no God’s land, a Christian, conscious of his status, can pass spiritually unharmed only having permanently as companions Jesus Christ, the Mother of God, the Saints, prayer…
God help us!
Norwich, 21st January 2019
There are those so deluded by secularism, the ways of the world, that they believe that to solve the present crisis in the Ukraine, caused by the love of power and money of Greek politicians in Istanbul, all we have to do is to come to a compromise. They present the crisis as a political disagreement between Constantinople and Moscow, or even an ethnic dispute between Greeks and Slavs, or that it was caused by Moscow’s refusal to attend the 2016 meeting in Crete (which, they forget to mention, was in fact caused by the refusal of three Non-Slav Churches to attend a dictatorial meeting).
These people, some Anglicans among them, see Church life as a continual compromise. Not really believing, because it is all an intellectual game for them, they forget that in dogmatic matters, that is, in matters of principle concerning the salvation of the soul, no compromise is possible. There can never be any compromise between Good and Evil, Truth and the Lie, White and Black, Light and Darkness, God and Satan. Today there is only one choice, the way of the Russian Church or else the Lie. All who have a conscience must decide.
St Laurence’s Prophecies
St Laurence of Chernigov (Feast: 11 January) said that during ‘the little freedom’ (which we now know to be the period since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and which continues to this day – Ed.), ‘churches and monasteries will open and be restored, but all manner of false teachings will appear, through demons and secret atheists (Catholics, Uniats, self-consecrated Ukrainian schismatics). These will join battle against the Russian Orthodox Church and her unity and catholicity in the Ukraine. The schismatics will be supported by an atheist government’ (Washington – Ed.).
He added that: ‘We must resist the invasion of ‘the civilized world’, that is, dark demonic forces, which will try and penetrate into spiritually undefended areas. They will seize church buildings from the Orthodox and beat up the faithful. Then the Metropolitan of Kiev (unworthy of his name) with his supporting clergy will shake the Russian Church to the foundations. The whole world will be astonished at his iniquity and stand in fear (just as we do today – Ed.). But he will go to eternal perdition like Judas. All these assaults of the evil one and false teachings will disappear in Russia and there will be One Orthodox Church of All Rus’.
‘Kiev, without the great Russia and separate from it, is anyway completely unthinkable. Kiev has never had a Patriarch. Our enemies in Poland so much disliked the word ‘Rus’ that they changed the name of this area to Little Russia and then to ‘the Ukraine’ (meaning ‘the borderlands’), so that we will forget the name Rus and so forever be torn away from Orthodox Holy Rus. In those who have erred or fallen away from Orthodoxy there is no grace of the Holy Spirit, salvation or obtaining of the Kingdom of Heaven’.
‘To break away from the Church is the greatest and unforgiveable sin, for it is the sin against the Holy Spirit’. Towards the end of St Laurence’s life the head priest of the Kiev Caves Lavra, Fr Kronid, said that self-consecrated schismatics and Uniats had disappeared. But St Laurence answered: ‘The demon will enter them and they will attack the Orthodox Faith and Church with Satanic malice, but they will suffer a shameful end and their followers will bear a heavenly punishment from the Lord and King of Hosts’.
‘Then all heresies and schisms will vanish from Russia. The Church will not be persecuted. The Lord will have mercy on Holy Rus because it suffered the terrible period before Antichrist. A great host of Martyrs and Confessors shone forth there, beginning with the highest levels of the clergy and society, the Metropolitan and the Tsar, the priest and the monk, the child and the babe in arms and laypeople. They all beseech the Lord…’.
‘You must be quite clear that Russia is the portion of the Queen of Heaven, She cares for it and intercedes for it especially. The whole host of Russian saints with the Mother of God will ask that Russia be spared. The faith will prosper in Russia and there will be rejoicing as before (though only for a short time, as the Dread Judge will come to judge the living and the dead). Even Antichrist himself will fear the Tsar of Rus. But all the other countries will be under Antichrist’s control and suffer all the horrors and torments described in the Holy Scriptures’.
There used to be three ecclesiologies (teachings as to what the Church is), but last month we saw the birth of a fourth. What are these ecclesiologies?
- Orthodox Ecclesiology (‘Christianity’)
This is the ecclesiology of the Holy Trinity, Unity in Diversity. It is the ecclesiology of the Family of Churches, which together form the Body of Christ, of which obviously Christ is the Head. In practical, that is, incarnational terms, this results in the existence of a family of Churches, like those described by the Apostle Paul in his letters to the Corinthians, the Ephesians, the Thessalonians, the Philippians, the Romans etc. Their differences and problems are regulated by Councils. Indeed, this conciliarity, in theology and history called Catholicity, is one of the four basic signs of the Church, together with Oneness, Holiness and Apostolicity. Therefore, a ‘Church’ which does not have this Catholicity is not the Church, certainly not the fullness of the Church, as it is deficient in one of the Church’s four essential qualities.
- Papal Ecclesiology (‘Papocaesarism’)
Papal or Roman Catholic ecclesiology asserts that the Church is centralist and imperialist. There is only one Pope, Who as the Vicar of Christ is the Head of the Church. This is the ecclesiology of centralism, which cannot survive without the Pope, Who is Infallible, as He is the source of the Holy Spirit on earth. This is the ecclesiology of the Crusader, the Inquisitor and the Conquistador.
- Protestant Ecclesiology (‘Caesaropapism’)
As a reaction to centralist Papism, this says that you can make your own church, everyone is a pope, everyone is the head of their own church: ‘Make it up as you go along: we are all popes now’. If you disagree, you go off and start your own church. Inevitably, and from the very start, this leads to small, weak and divided groups being taken over by States, kings, princes, presidents and politicians, a process known as erastianism, whereby the State controls the Church. Inevitably, and from the very start, this has led to State Churches, phenomena like the Church of England, the Church of Scotland, the Church of Norway. These are all State-controlled organizations, which inevitably end up adapting their doctrines to the demands of the secular State.
- Phanariot Ecclesiology (‘Eastern Papism’)
This power-grabbing ecclesiology, which has been a century in the making in the Diaspora has just now been born in all its fullness in the Ukraine. It is in effect not Orthodox ecclesiology, but a mixture of Roman Catholic and Protestant ecclesiologies, Papocaesarism and Caesaropapism. On the one hand, it is centralizing Papism: all must be gathered together under the Patriarch of Constantinople, who is the ‘Eastern Pope’ (not ‘Western Pope’). On the other hand, it gives what it calls ‘autocephaly’, in reality only a diminished autocephaly or minor measure of independence, to any Church within any nationalist organization or ‘State’ – even though that ‘State’ may be new, temporary, artificial and tyrannical or even already have an authentic Orthodox Church on its territory.
In other words, this new imperialist/nationalist ecclesiology is a combination of the worst of both the Papal and the Protestant worlds. It is a pastiche of authentic Trinitarian Orthodox ecclesiology. On the one hand, it is centralizing, able to exploit its new ‘churches’ as subservient cash cows. On the other hand, it provides a measure of independence to pseudo-autocephalous entities, but no protection for them from the local dictatorship, even in dogmatic questions. For the local ‘State’ can demand and force changes in doctrines in accordance with its own demands, which subordinate Christ to its nationalism. Thus, Phanariot ecclesiology does not affirm Local Churches, it only affirms, Protestant-style, the right of ‘States’ to have their own ‘Churches’. In other words, it merely uses Protestant-style nationalism to increase its own power base. Therefore, this is a double heresy.
In 1985 an island-country larger than the whole of today’s European Union left the European Community: this was an island in the Atlantic Ocean called Greenland. However, for the then European Community the departure of this then Danish colony, with a population of 50,000 and technically part of North America and not Europe, had little significance. However, the departure of the UK, now in the grip of media-encouraged panic-buying of food before Brexit, which is also an island-country in the Atlantic Ocean although far, far closer to the European mainland than Greenland, is very different.
It comes at a time when the Franco-German couple which in reality runs the European Union, under US guidance (NATO headquarters is almost next door to EU headquarters in Brussels), is in trouble. France, torn by continuing violent internal strife for over two months, is going bankrupt. Immigrant-full Germany is on the brink of recession. Both face the UK’s Brexit, caused by the extraordinarily intransigent and self-satisfied Franco-German refusal to reform the corrupt and dictatorial EU. Both now face a national and eurosceptic government in Italy, which is fed up with uncontrolled immigration from Africa, triggered by the US-sponsored Franco-British destruction of Libya.
Neither has been able to stop the civil war in Europe, in the Ukraine. They encouraged this under strict US instructions, even though they never had the slightest intention of taking the Third World Ukraine into the EU. Both face the problems of national identity-conscious Eastern Europe, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Lands. They refuse to admit any Muslim immigrants from the catastrophes inflicted in Syria and Afghanistan by US greed for oil and gas and its obsession for total control of the whole world. Eastern Europeans all lived under the tyranny of Soviet Union Mark I and do not want to live under the Soviet Union Mark II, even though it may be called the EU.
Neither has been able, with US backing, to do anything about what they call ‘the western Balkans’, whose countries it has long been hoping to recruit into its EU club. Here, Macedonia (FYROM) has been forced into changing its name to North Macedonia to stop its membership being boycotted by Greece, but this is still disputed; Serbia and so-called Kosovo are being encouraged to swap territories, but bloodshed is threatened daily; the Italian-named Montenegro is, like the largely unrecognized Kosovo, becoming a US-run colony for bandits, smugglers and illegal organ-transplanters. As for Bosnia-Herzegovina, it remains an artificial state which, like Kosovo, will depend eternally on NATO troops for its survival.
Greece and Cyprus are both bankrupt. With phenomenal rates of unemployment, the young leave. As for the three Baltics, like Romania, Bulgaria and equally corrupt Non-EU Moldova, nearly all of whose citizens have $10 Romanian or Bulgarian passports, they long ago had their factories closed down by Germany as a prerequisite to entering the EU. Only the old, who bitterly regret the collapse of the Soviet Union, and civil servants remain; the young have been forced to emigrate to Italy, France, Spain, Germany, the UK and anywhere they can make a living to survive.
What is the future for a politico-economic club, which exists only because France and Germany spent exactly three generations, seventy-five years, fighting three bloody wars against each other between 1870 and 1945? As we approach the seventy-fifth anniversary of the 1945 end of their last quarrel in 2020, does the European Union make any more sense? We are not of course suggesting yet another round of tribal and xenophobic strife as in the European Wars of 1914 and 1939, but surely there must be a better way than the corrupt, overcentralized and dictatorial EU. Can the EU survive until 2034, the fiftieth anniversary of 1984? May God show us the right way out of this mess.
Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God….and I will write upon him….the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem…
Revelation 3, 11-12
And I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God…
Revelation 21, 2
Shine, shine, O New Jerusalem! The Glory of the Lord has shone on Thee!
From Easter Matins
The term ‘Moscow Patriarchate’ was to some extent discredited in the Soviet period. For some even now it suggests political compromise with an atheist State, as well as ritualism, bureaucracy and centralization. Indeed, for extremists, the very words are literally anathema. For example, the present Ukrainian crisis is coloured by so-called ‘Christian’ (whether nominally Catholic or nominally Orthodox and actually atheists), now sponsored by the Phanar, chant, ‘Death to the Muscovites!’ It seems to us that their extremist nationalism must be countered by Russian Orthodox Church internationalism. What does this mean? Let me explain.
We can see both from the history books and contemporary newspapers with their Roman Catholic clerical scandals how the First Rome ended up. And now in the last few weeks, after centuries of extraordinary decadence culminating in the Ukraine, we have seen how the Second Rome (‘New Rome’) has ended up. Therefore, the alternative rallying call of ‘Moscow the Third Rome’ seems to us less attractive. There is an alternative: This is ‘Moscow the Second Jerusalem’. And outside the secular and post-Soviet Russian Federation government and secular metropolis that is today’s Moscow, this is possible in a place that has now been restored.
After the historic events of the reunion of the Russian Church on Ascension Day in Moscow, soon after, on 18 May 2007 I gave a talk at the Moscow Institute of Philosophy entitled ‘Orthodox Russia and a World Council of Orthodoxy’. This was of the possible future importance of the New Jerusalem Monastery complex outside Moscow, where restoration after the ravages of both Soviet Russian and Nazi German atheism was then about to start. Founded by Patriarch Nikon in the 17th century, the whole complex had been intended to recreate the Holy Land in the area of Moscow by the River Istra, which takes the role of the Holy River Jordan.
In the main church there is indeed a place for the Patriarch of each Local Church to stand. It was conceived as the Church of International Orthodoxy. I said then that this might one day become the centre of World Orthodoxy, a place of Church Councils. I said: ‘Indeed, we would dare to suggest an actual location for this World Council – at the New Jerusalem complex, west of Moscow. Built in the seventeenth century as a counterbalance to Imperial ideas of the State, this complex, centred around the Monastery of the Resurrection, was chosen to embody parts of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, with the River Istra representing the River Jordan.
It was meant to be open to all peoples and there monks of different nationalities, including those converted from the West, strove together in true catholic unity. Although still to be restored, this site is surely most appropriate, since it is centred around a Monastery, dedicated to the Resurrection of Christ. It stands in stark contrast to Chambesy in Calvinist Switzerland. There, Protestantism financed a basically secular conference centre for the Patriarchate of Constantinople, with its pseudo-Orthodox ‘cinema’ chapel’. Those were my words then, printed in a bilingual booklet in Russian and English. They were spoken with prayer and hope.
As Ukrainian Fascists cry with hatred their slogan ‘Death to the Muscovites’, perhaps the time has come. As the Russian Orthodox Church at the end of December set up two new missionary Exarchates, ‘of Paris and Western Europe’ and ‘of Singapore and South-East Asia’, uniting East and West beneath the double-headed eagle, perhaps the time has come. To do what? In these eschatological times, to rename the Patriarchate of Moscow, ‘The Patriarchate of New Jerusalem and All Rus’. It seems to us that nationalism must be countered by internationalism. For, ‘The Lord doth build up Jerusalem: He gathereth together the outcast of Israel’. (Ps. 146, 2).