Monthly Archives: January 2014

New Information about St Nicholas (Johnson) received from his great-great nephew

The future martyr Nicholas (Johnson) was born in Russia in 1878, the brother of two elder sisters, Elisabeth and Anna. He was the son of Captain Nicholas A. Johnson, an English guard at the Imperial Court, and Loiuse (von) Kreisler Johnson, who was German and a music and singing teacher at Court. Widowed, she later married a Russian doctor, moved to England and is buried in Weybridge in Surrey, where she died in 1924.

Nicholas was given the name Brian at birth, but took his father’s name Nicholas when he was baptised in the Russian Orthodox Church on 28 September, probably in 1878. A shared love of music with the Anglophile Grand Duke Michael, the younger brother of Tsar Nicholas, who like Nicholas was also a graduate of the Mikhailovsky Artillery School, led to a deep friendship with him. Nicholas is recorded as having kept his British nationality and he was given the nickname ‘Johnny’. However, he spoke English with a Russian accent and made grammatical mistakes, unlike the Grand Duke, whose English was perfect, as was that of Tsar Nicholas himself.

Nicholas is described as being ‘round faced, not very tall, and speaking three languages’; indeed, he was much shorter than the tall, thin Grand Duke. He was sociable, smiling, an accomplished pianist and would accompany the very musical Grand Duke, who played several instruments, notably the guitar. In late 1912 the Grand Duke Michael chose Nicholas as his private secretary and there are several good photographs of him in the possession of his great-great nephew. He devoted himself to serving his master and even in the face of certain death his loyalty never wavered. Thus, after the Revolution, Grand Duke Michael pleaded with his faithful servant to flee to Britain, but Nicholas refused to leave his side.

Arrested at Gatchina outside St Petersburg on 7 March 1918, both were soon exiled to the city of Perm. On Ascension Day, 31 May/13 June 1918, they were shot by a bloodthirsty rabble, probably by order of Lenin. As Nicholas lay dying, the wounded Michael went to his aid, begging the execution squad: ‘Let me say goodbye to my friend’. Moments later, he too was dead, killed at point blank range in the head. Their remains have never been found. St Nicholas was canonised with the rest of the New Martyrs and Confessors in 1981 and is mentioned in the stichira at lauds in the service to the Royal Martyrs on 4/17 July

Now a new icon is to be painted of him. This is based on a newly-revealed (2014) photograph taken soon before 1917, which gives a new and more accurate likeness of the New Martyr Nicholas, notably without a moustache.

The Future of Orthodoxy in Western Europe

Russian Orthodox in Western Europe often suffer from the lack of infrastructure and disorganisation of their Church. For example, many parishes suffer because they have no local bishop who speaks the local language, visits his parishes and understands local difficulties, including financial ones. One part of this problem goes back to a time when the KGB (which then controlled Patriarchal churches outside Russia) used Western Europe (and the USA) as a place of exile. In order to counter isolation which results from the lack of local episcopal pastoral care (inter-parish meetings, pastoral conferences etc), parishes have themselves to build up contacts with other parishes. Isolation, parochialism and provincialism are dealt with by being pro-active in this matter.

On account of the lack of understanding local structures and a slow and bureaucratic centralism that can take its place, a lot of patience is needed. Sometimes central authority only reacts if it thinks that it might be losing its parishes. For example the Patriarchate in Moscow was warned for several years about the situation in the Sourozh Diocese in London, but did not react in time or adequately. As a result there was schism. On the other hand, it is disturbing that some believe the Western media’s anti-Russian propaganda that portrays the Patriarchate as compromised with or even feudally controlled by the anti-oligarch Russian State, which is ironically portrayed as mafia-bound, oligarch-ridden and thoroughly corrupt. Why are such absurd things believed?

They are believed because of Western European pride, the idea that in Western Europe Orthodoxy can be done differently, ‘better’, without reference to the Church and the Tradition. This is ‘Schmemannism’, ‘Orthodoxy Lite’, ‘Euro-Orthodoxy’, ‘Halfodoxy’, as in parts of Finland, the Paris Jurisdiction, other parishes of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and also of Antioch (and in parts of the OCA). This is in fact a form of Uniatism, a simplified, homogenised and neutered rite without Orthodox content. It means abbreviated services, no confession before communion, Protestant-style clergy, no iconostases, intercommunion etc. This is the ‘legacy’ of the emigres of the Paris School and their disciples who follow their path. It is the path to schism and apostasy.

This School is the path of illusion, the tediously dry and Spiritless rationalism that does not feed the soul, but only the unspiritual mind, the imagination and sometimes the emotions. This ideology (and it is an ideology) is extremely Russophobic. This is because the Russian Church, which has above all others kept the Tradition intact and uncompromised, is the only thing that stands in the way of ‘Orthodoxy Lite’. Thus, Russophobia exists as self-justification for apostasy. The Paris School, liberal, ecumenical, academic, proud, loves itself and its personality cults, imagining that it loves Christ and His Church. There is enormous spiritual danger in this delusion. Real Orthodox mission in Western Europe is the way of integrity and faithfulness to Orthodoxy, but in the local language.

Обращение к священноначалию Русской Православной Церкви

Открытое письмо

«Передайте всем, что зло, которое в мире, будет еще сильнее, но не зло победит, а Любовь.»

Царь Николай II

С опозданием в несколько лет из-за трудностей с планированием, в новом году мы узнали о том, что на весну 2014 года намечена закладка фундамента нового русского православного кафедрального собора в Париже. В связи с этим мы хотели бы обратиться к Отделу Внешних Церковных Связей Русской Православной Церкви в Москве. Также надеемся, что в поддержку этого письма, возможно, будет составлено прошение. Это обращение посвящено тому, в честь кого будет освящен будущий кафедральный собор с прикрепленными к нему семинарией и духовно-культурным комплексом.

Вспомним, что новый собор будет построен в сердце Парижа – культурной столицы Западной Европы – и недалеко от самого красивого моста в Париже, который построен и назван в честь императора Александра III. Вспомним также, что Париж расположен в историческом сердце русской эмиграции в Западной Европе, и у нас есть все основания считать, что этот комплекс с семинарией станет центром будущей Русской Православной Митрополии в Европе, даже если оставшиеся храмы “Парижской юрисдикции” не пожелают возвращаться в лоно матери-церкви и к традициям Святой Руси. Новая митрополия будет включать в себя приходы Русской Православной Церкви за Границей, храмы в Каннах, Ментоне, Женеве, Лозанне, Брюсселе, в Лондоне и западной Германии, а также храмы, все еще зависимые от Московского Патриархата в Ницце, Мадриде, восточной Германии и других местах.

Но в честь кого будет освящен собор? В Париже уже есть православные храмы, освященные в честь таких известных святых, как Александр Невский и Сергий Радонежский. Некоторые могут подумать о преподобном Серафиме Саровском – еще более известном во всем мире святом и проповеднике покаяния. Но и в его честь в Париже уже освящен храм. Возможно, святому Серафиму следует посвятить одну из часовен нового собора. Другие могут подумать о самых известных святых Парижа – Дионисии и Женевьеве Парижских (последняя переписывалась в V веке с преподобным Симеоном Столпником). Однако оба угодника жили очень давно; хотя они великие святые, но не наши современники, и в их честь, вероятно, можно было бы освятить часовню при семинарии.

Мы считаем, что собор является настолько значимым проектом, что его следовало бы освятить в честь более чем одного русского православного святого. И это должны быть не местночтимые святые, а всемирно значимые и почитаемые всей церковью угодники. Наконец, мы предлагаем, чтобы новый собор был освящен в честь святых, живших в недавнее время, скорее всего – в честь угодников, пострадавших в сильнейшие за всю историю гонения, породившие новомучеников и исповедников. Нам думается, что наиболее очевидными, или, точнее, единственными претендентами здесь являются святые Царственные Страстотерпцы. Только они соответствуют вышеупомянутым критериям. Император Николай II, сын императора Александра III, уже увековеченного в Париже, был поистине международной фигурой, говорил на русском, английском, французском, немецком и датском языках, имел два высших образования – военное и юридическое, а царица Александра была внучкой королевы Виктории и воспитывалась в Гессене в Германии.

Было бы наиболее подобающим, если бы центр православной митрополии в Западной Европе был увенчан собором, освященным в честь царской семьи (которой неправославная Западная Европа не показала ничего, кроме “измены, трусости и обмана”). И для почти дехристианизированной Западной Европы, ставшей такой в результате «измены, трусости и обмана», семья из семи человек, все члены которой молились, держались вместе и стали святыми, является, несомненно, идеальным примером – иконой семьи, в которой мы сегодня нуждаемся. Весьма вероятно, что, ко времени постройки нового собора исполнится сто лет со дня героического и жертвенного мученичества Царственных Страстотерпцев в 1918 году. Ведь именно пример этой семьи вдохновил английского учителя их детей присоединиться к Русской Православной Церкви и стать архимандритом Николаем Гиббсом, а французского учителя, Пьера Жильяра, – написать такие слова:

“Царь и царица думали, что умирают за Россию, но они умирали за все человечество”.

Освящение нового собора в честь Царской Семьи может стать призывом Западной Европе к покаянию, отказу от всей лжи XX века и возвращению назад с нынешнего рокового пути, по которому она пошла в XXI веке.

A Plea to the Russian Orthodox Church Authorities

An Open Letter

Tell everyone that the evil that is in the world will grow even stronger, but that it is not evil that will triumph, but love’,

Tsar Nicholas II

After several years of delay caused by planning difficulties, news has reached us in this New Year that the foundation stone of the new Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Paris is to be laid in spring 2014. It is in this connection that we wish to make a plea to the External Relations Department of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow and also hope that a petition might even be drawn up in support of this letter. This plea concerns the dedication of the future Cathedral with the seminary and spiritual and cultural complex attached to it.

Let us recall that the new Cathedral is to be built in the heart of Paris, the cultural capital of Western Europe, and not far from the most beautiful bridge in Paris which was constructed and named in honour of Tsar Alexander III. Let us recall that Paris is at the heart of the historic Russian emigration in Western Europe and if the complex is to be built with its seminary, there is every reason to think that it will become the centre of the future Russian Orthodox Metropolia in Europe (ROME), even if the remaining churches of the ‘Paris Jurisdiction’ do not wish to return to the Mother-Church and the Tradition of Holy Russia. Thus, such a new Metropolia will be based on the parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, with churches in Cannes, Menton, Geneva, Lausanne, Brussels, London and in western Germany, as well as churches still dependent on the Church inside Russia, in Nice, Madrid, eastern Germany and elsewhere.

But who will this Cathedral be dedicated to? There are already dedications in Paris to such obvious saints as St Alexander Nevsky and St Sergius of Radonezh. Some may think of St Seraphim of Sarov, a better known saint internationally and preacher of repentance. But he too already has a church dedicated to him in Paris. Perhaps a side chapel in the new Cathedral could be dedicated to him. Others may think of the foremost saints of Paris, St Denis or St Genevieve of Paris, who in the 5th century corresponded with St Simeon the Stylite. However, these both lived long ago; although they are great saints, they are not contemporary – perhaps the chapel of the seminary could be dedicated to them.

It is our suggestion that the Cathedral is such an important project that it should be dedicated to more than one figure of Russian Orthodox holiness. Moreover, these figures should be not only locally venerated, but of international and universal significance and veneration. Finally, we suggest that the new Cathedral should be dedicated to saints who lived in recent times, most obviously figures from the greatest wave of persecution in history, which brought forth the New Martyrs and Confessors. It seems to us that the most obvious, indeed only obvious, figures are the Royal Martyrs. Only they meet all the above criteria. Tsar Nicholas, the son of Tsar Alexander III, already commemorated in Paris, was a highly international figure, speaking Russian, English, French, German and Danish, with a double education in both military affairs and law and Tsarina Alexandra was a grand-daughter of Queen Victoria and brought up in Hesse in Germany.

How appropriate that the Cathedral at the centre of the Orthodox Metropolia of Western Europe might be crowned with a Cathedral dedicated to a family to whom Non-Orthodox Western Europe, allied with the Tsar’s Russia or not, showed only ‘treachery, cowardice and deceit’. And in the almost totally deChristianised Western Europe that resulted from treachery, cowardice and deceit, surely a family of seven who prayed together, stayed together and so became saints together, is the ideal example, a literal family icon, that we need today. Moreover, it is highly likely that by the time the new Cathedral is built, it will be the centenary of their heroic and sacrificial martyrdom of 1918. After all, it was their example that inspired their English tutor to join the Russian Orthodox Church and become Fr Nicholas Gibbes and their French tutor, Pierre Gilliard, to write of them:

‘The Tsar and the Tsarina thought that they were dying for Russia. In fact, they died for all mankind’.

To dedicate the new Cathedral to the Royal Martyrs would be a call to Western Europe to repent and renounce all the lies of the twentieth century and to turn back from the present fatal course which it has undertaken in the twenty-first century.

A Senior OCA Priest Remembers Aspects of Metr Anthony Bloom

Bishop Hilarion (Alfeyev) in England 2002

By Fr John A. Jillions, ONT

“If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it”–Albert Einstein

Now that an apparently “absurd” proposal about Bishop Hilarion as a potential metropolitan of the OCA has been floated, his six-month assignment in 2002 as an assistant bishop to the late Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) keeps being brought up as troubling evidence of his unsuitability by people with little or no direct knowledge of Bp Hilarion, Met Anthony or the Diocese of Sourozh. Since I do have such experience I feel it is my duty to comment to set the record straight, at least as I see it. This reflection is based on my own recollection and notes I kept at the time as well as letters and documents.

I lived in Cambridge for eight years, from 1995 until shortly after the death of Met Anthony in Aug 2003. I served as priest of St Ephraim’s parish in Cambridge (in addition to being Principal of the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies until early 2002). Met Anthony was my diocesan bishop, but I worked closely with Bp Hilarion and Bp Basil.

I am intimately acquainted with the events surrounding Bp Hilarion’s recruitment, arrival in January and sad departure in July 2002. In that time I served at the altar with him regularly and shared many meals and conversations with him. I have also seen him in the midst of conflict, and can attest to his grace under pressure and in response to unjust attacks, especially painful when they come from those one loves, as Bishop Hilarion loved Met Anthony, his spiritual father, who had actively recruited him to come to England as a teacher and bishop. So first I need to put this controversy in the context of Met Anthony’s personality and its fifty year impact on the diocese.

Whether or not one considers Bp Hilarion a good candidate for metropolitan, the man’s reputation must not be slandered. Three factors, in my opinion, contributed to Bp Hilarion’s short tenure in England: Met Anthony himself, fears of Russian domination and the shock of Bp Hilarion’s episcopal energy. I will address each of these in turn and then look at events leading to his resignation and the re-assessment that took place in the diocese after his departure, when it could be acknowledged that the whole situation had been badly mishandled.

[This is a complicated mess, but Wikipedia’s entry for the “Russian Orthodox Diocese of Sourozh” has a fairly balanced presentation, with supporting documents from all sides and brings events up to date, including the recent split led by Bp Basil (Osborne).]

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh.

Unfortunately, the lasting public image of the 2002 Sourozh events has thus far been shaped by Met Anthony, whose reputation as a living saint at age 82 was hard to argue with. But in my opinion his behavior toward Bp Hilarion was less than fully honorable. No one can take away from Met Anthony his profound legacy of teaching and pastoral direction. He had profound insights on the Gospel and human nature. To this day he is my image of serving the liturgy with simplicity (he hated the excesses of Russian hierarchical practice), as one engaged in conversation with God. “Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11).

But even his admirers admit that in personal relations, especially with perceived rivals, there could be a dark side. And, despite his rhetoric of episcopal service and sobornost, he could also be autocratic and unfair.

This is a constant theme in Gillian Crow’s biography of Met Anthony (“This Holy Man: Impressions of Metropolitan Anthony”, Gillian Crow, London: DLT, 2005). She is devoted to Met Anthony, but her work is not hagiography. And while she is critical of Bp Hilarion for being too attentive to grievances and thus encouraging factions, she leaves no doubt that Met Anthony could be harsh and even cruel.

However much he liked to speak of the difference between power and authority, as a bishop he was in a position of absolute power with regard to his own flock. This was on two levels: the personal one, towards individuals, and the public one, when he made official pronouncements. On both levels he had the power, if he wished, to crush people, and there were rare but unfortunate occasions when he used it. “From time to time he targeted people he saw as a threat and showed them the full force of his darker side.

Some people found the two sides of his personality impossible to reconcile, and left the church. Some suffered psychological damage from which they only slowly, or never, recovered. The result of this temperament was that, when because of his shortcomings he felt his authority or his personal wishes threatened, he was unable to discuss things reasonably. He would simply withdraw and refuse to shift his position, retreating into his room, staying silent for some time and, if the situation did not resolve itself, finally issuing despotic commands from a safe distance” (198-99).

Crow uses the words high-handed (228) ruthless, despotic and autocratic to describe him on such occasions (224). “Most people who crossed his path had occasion, sooner or later, to go home to lick the wounds inflicted by [this side] of his personality” (194). But those who stayed learned to live with this dimension of Met Anthony. She says that Deacon Peter Scorer summed up this enlightened attitude: “at a certain moment he stopped idolizing him and learned to love him in full awareness of his faults” (200). In my opinion Bp Hilarion was also caught in this inexplicable other side, this “mystery of lawlessness” as St Paul called it (2 The 2:7).