Monthly Archives: June 2016

Initial Sorrowful Observations Regarding the Holy and Great Synod by Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus

“The personal opinion of a Primate on any particular issue is not binding on the Hierarchs in the Synod to which he belongs and does not obligate them to fall in line with his opinion. Were that so, the synodal institution would be annulled and every Primate would be transformed into a Pope. It is not the Primate, but the Synod of Bishops that is the supreme administrative organ in the local Orthodox Churches.”

Initial Sorrowful Observations Regarding the Holy and Great Synod by Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus

From the Office of Heresies and Cults of the Holy Metropolis of Piraeus

By way of the mass media we have followed with great sorrow and pain of soul the Holy and Great Synod from its inception at the Divine Liturgy on the Sunday of Pentecost. In what follows we offer some initial and concise observations on the Synod for the benefit of the people of God.

(1) We observe with sorrow the presence and joint prayer of heretical Papists, Protestants, and Monophysites at Matins and the Divine Liturgy of this great Feast of the Lord in the Church of St. Menas in Heraklion. As everyone is aware, this is prohibited by the Sacred Canons. The Orthodox Primates and other participating Orthodox Hierarchs trampled on the Canons of the Apostles and the Synods, wishing from the outset to send a message to the whole world, showing what great respect they have for the decisions of the Oecumenical Synods and, by extension, for the very institution of the Synod, about which they make bombastic declarations.

(2) The presence, at the commencement of the proceedings, of officially invited delegations of heretical Papists, Protestants, and Monophysites was an unprecedented innovation and one foreign to our Synodal Tradition. In fact, Oecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew addressed these delegates as “representatives of Sister Churches” before the Holy and Great Synod made any decision regarding the ecclesiality or non-ecclesiality of the heretical communities in question. Thus, Patriarch Bartholomew, through a fait accompli, sent another message to the members of the Synod: that he had no intention of calling the heterodox heretics. Instead, he called them Sister Churches. Never in the history of the Oecumenical or local Synods during the Byzantine period were “observers” present at such Synods, and as dignitaries, to boot, whose heretical doctrines were condemned by previous Oecumenical Synods. Heretics were, of course, invited, but as persons subject to trial, in order to defend themselves, and not as guests of honor. It was only at the First and Second Vatican Councils that the phenomenon of “observers” made its appearance. The Holy and Great Synod is evidently copying Roman Catholic models.

(3) The Holy and Great Synod began its proceedings in violation of its “Organization and Working Procedure,” which was signed at the Synaxis of the Primates in January 2016. The document in question prescribes that the Synod be “convened by His Most Divine All-Holiness, the Oecumenical Patriarch, with the consent of Their Beatitudes, the Primates of all of the universally recognized local Autocephalous Orthodox Churches” (Article I). Four Autocephalous Churches—those of Russia, Bulgaria, Georgia, and Antioch—justifiably disagreed with the convocation of the Synod and asked for its postponement, thus, the condition “with the consent of Their Beatitudes, the Primates” was been fulfilled. Consequently, there was no justification, on the basis of the aforementioned “Organization and Working Procedure,” for either the Oecumenical Patriarch or all of the remaining local Churches together to convene a Synod, if they wished to be consistent with the “Organization and Working Procedure” that they signed.

(4) The Synod inaugurated its work without first ratifying the Synodal Decrees (Ὅροι) and Canons of all of the previous Oecumenical Synods, so that the present Holy and Great Synod might be truly an organic continuation of the preceding Synods. It should be noted that such reference to previous Oecumenical Synods was a standing procedure upheld by the Holy Fathers of the Synods in question. Through this procedure the Holy Fathers wished to proclaim that they accepted all of the doctrines put forth by the preceding Oecumenical Synods and that they were proposing to continue the work of these Synods. A characteristic example of this is the recognition by the Eighth Oecumenical Synod of 879-880, under St. Photios, of the Synod of 787 as the Seventh Oecumenical Synod.

(5) The Synod inaugurated its work on the basis of an “Organization and Working Procedure” that was not unanimously accepted by all of the Primates at their Synaxis of January 2016, since the Church of Antioch did not sign it. It also commenced its work on the basis of the six unanimously accepted documents of the Fifth Pre-Synodal Consultation, which basis proved to be insecure and unstable. This is because the six pre-synodal documents were unanimously approved by the representatives at the Fifth Pre-Synodal Consultation and by the Synaxis of the Primates (January 2016), but not by all the Hierarchies of the local Autocephalous Churches. When these Churches, and especially those of Bulgaria, Georgia, and Greece, studied the aforementioned documents, they found in them gaps, obscurities, and cacodox formulations, for which they suggested emendations and corrections. For these Churches which proposed the corrections and changes in question it is self-evident that the pre-synodal documents are no longer in force.

The fact that the Primates signed the six documents of the Fifth Pre-Synodal Consultation does not mean that the Hierarchies of the local Churches are bound by their signatures to accept these texts as they stand. The personal opinion of a Primate on any particular issue is not binding on the Hierarchs in the Synod to which he belongs and does not obligate them to fall in line with his opinion. Were that so, the synodal institution would be annulled and every Primate would be transformed into a Pope. It is not the Primate, but the Synod of Bishops that is the supreme administrative organ in the local Orthodox Churches. In view of all that we have said, it is clear that the following assertion by the Oecumenical Patriarch in his opening address is completely erroneous: “We proceed, then, with our work on the basis of documents unanimously approved by our Churches, which each Church has already endorsed.” By “documents unanimously approved” the Oecumenical Patriarch evidently means the documents of the Fifth Pre-Synodal Consultation, which were signed at the Synaxis of the Primates (January 2016), but which have no validity for certain of the Churches after the corrections and changes dictated by their Synods.

(6) The four Churches that did not participate in the Synod were denigrated before an international audience. Their absence was represented both by the Oecumenical Patriarch and by other Primates in their opening addresses as wholly unjustified and reprehensible. To a greater or lesser extent these Churches were portrayed as being responsible, by virtue of their absence, for creating schisms and divisions. However, the Churches in question did not take part, not because they were “piqued,” but because they discovered weaknesses in the pre-synodal documents after examining them in synod. They naturally requested that the Synod be postponed, in order to study the documents in greater depth, make necessary corrections, and thus produce new documents which would be unanimously approved by all of the local Churches. Since their proposal for the postponement of the Synod was not accepted, these Churches understandably did not participate in the Synod.

(7) Most distressing among all of these observations is the acknowledgement, in essence, by way of an obscure and cryptic new formulation in the document “Relations of the Orthodox Church to the Rest of the Christian World,” of the ecclesiality of the heterodox. The Synod unanimously accepted the formulation, “The Orthodox Church accepts the historical name of other non-Orthodox Christian Churches and Confessions,” instead of the formulation, “The Orthodox Church acknowledges the historical existence of other Christian Churches and Confessions.” That is to say, the word “existence” is replaced by the word “name,” and to the phrase “Christian Churches and Confessions” is added the adjective “non-Orthodox.” Archbishop Hieronymos of Athens proposed this change in the formulation after many hours of discussions and deliberations, during which many conflicting views were expressed.

Archbishop Hieronymos states that, by virtue of this new formulation, “we have reached a synodal decision that, for the first time in history, defines the historical scope of relations with the heterodox not in terms of their existence, but solely in terms of their historical appellation as non-Orthodox Christian Churches or Confessions.” This raises a justifiable question: “How is it possible for one to name something, while at the same time denying the existence of that which he names?” Likewise, from a dogmatic standpoint, endorsement of the term “non-Orthodox Christian Churches or Confessions” is contradictory and unacceptable. Heterodox Confessions cannot be called “Churches” precisely because they accept other, heretical doctrines and, as heretics, cannot constitute “Churches.”

Most distressing also is the fact that the delegation of the Church of Greece did not remain unshakably loyal to the decisions of the Synod of Bishops on May 24-25 (2016), as they ought to have done. The Synod of Bishops decided that the phrase “the historical existence of other Christian Churches and Confessions” should be replaced by the phrase “the historical existence of other Christian Confessions and Communities.”

(8) Finally, yet another sorrowful observation: all that Oecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew proclaimed, indeed braggingly, at the conclusion of the proceedings. Among other things, he declared that “the Oecumenical Patriarchate was a pioneer in the realm of the ecumenical movement.” He also adverted to the pan-heretical Encyclical of 1920, “which is characterized by many as the founding charter of the subsequently established World Council of Churches,” and that “the Oecumenical Patriarchate was one of the founding members of the World Council of Churches in Amsterdam.”

For the time being, we confine ourselves to the foregoing comments, although that does not mean that the list of sorrowful observations ends here. In view of all that we have mentioned above, the following question naturally arises: What can one expect from a Synod that commenced and proceeded in such a way?

As the Lord observes: ““For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit; for every tree is known by its own fruit” (St. Luke 6:43-44). Let each reader draw his own conclusions.

Eastern England: The Land of Twelve Saints

Introduction: Roman Origins

Eastern England is made up of two of the seven ancient kingdoms of England, East Anglia and Essex, peopled by the East Angles and their cousins the East Saxons. This was once a self-contained area, bordered to the east and north by the North Sea, to the south by the broad River Thames, and to the west by the eastern Midlands, ancient Mercia. In times past that was an impassable area of river and marsh called the fens. In modern terms East Anglia and Essex mean the two counties of Norfolk and Suffolk with the area around the Isle of Ely (now in neighbouring eastern Cambridgeshire), and the county of Essex. However, Orthodox Christianity arrived here before England even existed, in the first centuries after Christ. Indeed, within a few years of Christ’s Resurrection Colchester in Essex briefly became the capital of Roman Britain until London had been founded, and it may have been there that the first Christian community appeared.

In any case it is recorded that there may have been a bishop from Colchester who attended a council in Gaul in 314. Certainly, archaeologists have confirmed the existence of a church in Colchester, one of the most important Roman settlements in the country, in the late fourth century. This lasted into the first half of the fifth century and its foundations can be visited. Other bishops from Britain are recorded attending councils abroad in 347 and 359. Baptismal fonts have been found from a villa at Icklingham in Suffolk from the same period and on the Norfolk coast there is an early place name ‘Eccles’, from the Greek word for church, ‘ecclesia’ (like the word ‘church’ itself, from the Greek ‘kyriakon’, ‘the Lord’s house’. However, such urban or villa Roman Orthodoxy had all but died out by the mid-fifth century, as the Roman elite had left these shores, leaving the people unconverted. Only archaeology can confirm even the existence of the little that they left behind.

Holiness: Twelve Saints (643-1016)

After the Roman period and the settlement of the English, there opened in the seventh century a new and deeper Orthodox Christian age, a golden age of saints, both missionaries from across the seas and native. Although nine of these twelve saints lived in the seventh century, three others lived later, continuing the tradition of holiness even into the early eleventh century. The two Irish saints, St Fursey and St Deicola, were ‘wandering saints’ and only stayed here for a short time. Nine of them are venerated only locally, like the two Irish saints above, St Sigebert, St Jurmin, St Osyth and St Withburgh, or regionally like St Felix, St Cedd and St Walstan, but St Botolph, St Audrey and St Edmund were and are venerated nationally and even internationally. Places of pilgrimage to their relics are Ely and Bury St Edmunds, places of pilgrimage to where they lived are Bawburgh, Bradwell-on-Sea, Burgh Castle, Hoxne and Iken. These twelve saints are:

St Sigebert (+ c. 643), King of East Anglia, had lived in exile in France and become a Christian. He was the son or stepson of King Raedwald, the first baptized King of East Anglia, whose burial-hoard became famous when discovered at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk in 1939. In 630 King Sigebert invited the future St Felix to come from Burgundy and evangelize his kingdom. Sigebert later founded a monastery in what became Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk and, having abdicated, became a monk there, but was later killed by pagan Mercians.

After seventeen years of activity St Felix (+ 647) came to be known as the ‘Apostle of East Anglia’. He established his centre at the old Roman port of Dunwich in Suffolk (though some say in the now vanished Roman shore fort in Felixstowe, which was in any case later named after him), and then penetrating inland along river estuaries. Thus, he founded the first church in East Anglia in Babingley in west Norfolk and in nearby Shernborne, and also in Loddon and Reedham on the Broads river system in east Norfolk. He also built churches dedicated to St Gregory the Great in Rendlesham and Sudbury, both in Suffolk, and founded a monastery in Soham, in eastern Cambridgeshire next to Suffolk and near Ely.

The Irish St Fursey (+ c. 650) came with his disciples in 633. He established a monastery in a still extant Roman shore fort in Norfolk, now called Burgh (pronounced Borough) Castle, and several churches before leaving for France in c. 644.

St Jurmin (+ 654) was a prince of the East Anglian royal family, a brother or step-brother of St Audrey and St Withburgh, killed in battle by pagans, and his relics were long venerated in Blythburgh and later in Bury St Edmunds, both in Suffolk.

The Irish-trained and bilingual St Cedd (+ 664) came in c. 653. In his brief period as Bishop of Essex, with his see in London, he became known as the ‘Apostle of Essex’. He established a coastal monastery in Tilbury and churches in Prittlewell, Great Burstead, West Mersea and above all in the old Roman shore fort at Bradwell-on-Sea, all in Essex, where there seem to have been some thirty monks. In the latter case this seventh-century ‘Cathedral on the marshes’ still largely and miraculously survives.

St Audrey (Etheldreda) (+ 679) was a royal princess born in Exning in west Suffolk just after 630 and was baptised by St Felix. She founded the monastery in Ely and was the first East Anglian saint to be venerated nationwide. Her hand relic can still be venerated in the Roman Catholic church in Ely.

St Botolph (Botulf) (+ 680) founded a monastery at Iken near the Suffolk coast and was widely venerated throughout Eastern England and well beyond, especially as a patron saint of travellers.

The Irish St Deicola (Dicul) (+ c. 685) gave his name to the small Norfolk town of Dickleburgh, where he founded a monastery in about 660, before leaving for the south of England.

St Osyth (c.700) was a Mercian princess who married the King of Essex, then founded and entered a convent in the coastal village of Chich in Essex and was martyred there. The village of Chich was named after her, being called to this day St Osyth.

St Withburgh (+ 743), a sister of St Audrey, lived as a hermitess at Holkham in Norfolk and then founded a convent in (East) Dereham in the same county.

St Edmund the Martyr (+ 869), KIng of East Anglia, was associated with Attleborough and Hunstanton in Norfolk and with Bures in Suffolk. He was martyred by the pagan Danes at Hoxne on the Norfolk-Suffolk border and was venerated nationwide, becoming the patron-saint of all England. His relics were moved nearby to the town that came to be called Bury St Edmunds and one of the most important pilgrimage centres in the whole country. Some of his relics can still be venerated in the Roman Catholic church there. Today his flag is flown throughout Norfolk and Suffolk and he is considered to be the patron-saint of East Anglia.

Finally, there is St Walstan (+ 1016), who became a simple and humble farmworker, and whose millennium it is this year. He probably came from Bawburgh in Norfolk and was associated with nearby Costessey (pronounced Cossey) and Taverham just outside Norwich. He closes this period of Eastern English holiness.

Disruption: Spiritual Decline

After St Walstan, Eastern England, like all England and the whole of Western Europe, clearly entered the period of spiritual decline common to Western Europe in the second millennium. This was symbolized by the appearance of foreign Viking rulers and their new ways. This decline was especially obvious during the rule from 1042 of the half-Norman King Edward, called ‘the Confessor’, who summoned the bloody invasion of the last Vikings, the Northmen (Normans) in 1066. These brought with them the new institutional religion that came to be called Roman Catholicism and substituted it for the original Orthodox Christianity. They destroyed the old churches and mocked the saints, as they had already done in southern Italy and would later do in the ‘crusades’ in the Holy Land.

Within less than half a millennium, this new, despiritualized institutional religion, centred in Rome, had itself been nationalized and robbed by the rapacious Tudor State. The new State religion that had been invented in turn began splitting into various moralizing Protestant sects, resulting in bloody civil wars. These sects were even more dissimilar to Orthodox Christianity than Roman Catholicism. In their turn, again within less than half a millennium, these sects unravelled and were rejected and the population dissolved and disintegrated into unbelief and paganism, its spiritual roots lost, forgotten or, incredibly, even flatly denied. At this, millennial ‘Western civilization’ entered into terminal decline, the new paganism, thus leaving the missionary field open to the Church, as in the first millennium. The situation has turned full circle.

Continuity: Renewal (1966-2016)

Although various immigrant groups did give some witness to Orthodoxy in Eastern England after 1945, their mononational or ethnic witness was very limited. Mononational communities and private ideologies, seemingly more attached to a culture than the Church, always age and die out. However, it was in 1966, exactly fifty years ago, that an English priest of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia renewed the native English links with the Orthodox Tradition in Eastern England. This was the ever-memorable Fr Mark (later David) (Meyrick) who lived and served for nearly thirty years in a village in Norfolk. Soon after his repose the Church Outside Russia renewed that uncompromised multinational mission with a small church in Felixstowe on the Suffolk coast. After eleven years of patience, this mission penetrated inland, slightly like that of St Felix of old, and founded public-access churches.

These include a large permanent multinational church in the former Roman capital of Colchester in north-east Essex and a permanent multinational church in Norwich, the historic centre of Norfolk and also once the second largest city in England. There is now hope that a church might eventually be founded in Bury St Edmunds, the historic centre of Suffolk. This would create one church in each of the historic centres of the three counties of Eastern England. Beyond this, however, there are other major centres of population which need church buildings, like Stratford in south-west Essex on the fringes of London or Kings Lynn in north-west Norfolk, but also in historic spiritual centres around which Orthodox people live, like Ely (now in the Cambridgeshire fenlands). However, nothing can be planned top-down, from above, nothing can start without the impetus of local people, as we have seen in Colchester, Norwich and also Bury St Edmunds.

Turbulence and Prayer

Great generational change is taking place as we pass through the centennial of World War I (1914-1918), 75 years since the Second World War (1939/41-45), 50 years since the social transformations of the 1960s and 25 years since the dissolution of the Soviet Union (1991). Nobody likes change, because it creates turbulence and forces us to adapt or die. And yet, however inconvenient it may be, change is inevitable and can be positive.

Today, this is particularly the case in the UK. Whether we like the change, because we have felt frustrated and powerless captives for 43 long years and so always been forward-looking, or whether we dislike the change, because we see it as negative and it makes us feel fear, insecurity and despair, we have to accept it. After forgetting Christ, the UK, Europe, the USA and the whole world is being reshaped, whether we like it or not. What must we do?

We must pray that the inevitable changes may be as positive and as painless as possible. And in the UK we should ask in particular for the prayers of the Saints of the Isles, so long forgotten. Unfortunately, we have to pay for past mistakes; everything comes at a price. Repentance for abandoning Christ and His values, so falling into lonely despair comes only with pain. Now is the time that tests our Faith. However, ‘In peace’ let us pray to the Lord.

The Peasants Revolt: Two Miracles in Two Weeks

In the week before Pentecost and the week after Pentecost two international miracles took place.

Miracle One

For fifty-five years the Church had been under the threat of a Vatican II-style Council. After many organizational meetings the proposed Council turned into a highly secretive, largely Greek, largely irrelevant, inter-episcopal conference representing fewer than 20% of the Church. The largely meaningless and secular-based agenda was forced on everyone, the organizers refused to listen or consult the ordinary clergy and people, and so it was a failure. The fact that the Russian Church and three other Local Churches did not take part is a miracle, thus keeping our Faith uncompromised. The wisdom of the fishermen of Galilee won the day over the rationalizing of the politicians and philosophers, as the much-despised peasants revolted.

Miracle Two

‘The nations of Europe must be guided towards a Superstate without their peoples understanding what is happening. This can be carried out in successive stages, each camouflaged as having an economic goal, but which will end up by leading them irreversibly into a federation’.

Jean Monnet 1952.

For forty-three years we the ordinary people of the UK have been dreaming of freedom from EU tyranny, after it had been imposed on us by the Unionist Establishment based in London. For at least twenty-five years the phrase ‘democratic deficit’ was used to describe the EU, and yet nothing changed. Indeed, even the accounts were so corrupt that they could not be audited. The EU elite was too arrogant to listen to ordinary people whom it mocked, patronized and insulted as mentally handicapped racist yobs. If the anti-democratic EU elite tries to take away our new freedom, revolt will only grow. That the EU is beginning to break up is because of its intransigeance, hubris and imperial overreach outside the original six founder countries.

Ever the successor to the medieval Catholic European Superstate, the EU was only ever popular in ex-Catholic countries, like France, western Germany, northern Italy and later Ireland or Poland. This can be seen very clearly in Northern Ireland where last Thursday the Catholics voted to remain in the EU and the Protestants voted to leave. The ex-Catholic EU club never managed to get the Protestant-minded British people, let alone ex-Protestant Switzerland, Norway or Iceland to join. Denmark and then Sweden and then Finland were forced into joining only because the British elite had betrayed the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) it had set up as a rival and instead of it had joined the future EU.

Thus, the whole Protestant North never wanted the EU, but was forced into it by their elites. And the same was true of the whole Orthodox East and South (including ex-Greek Sicily and southern Italy), whose elites were openly bribed (as was the British Establishment and the Prime Minister Heath) to join it. The Papist straitjacket of Brussels was never wanted and the ‘Holy’ ‘Roman’ Empire of Bonn/Berlin was rejected. 75 years ago Britain stood alone against Hitler’s Third Reich. It was saved – by Russia, with the madman’s attack on 22 June 1941. 75 years later, on 23 June 2016, Britain has been saved from the new Reich – by the people’s thirst for freedom. To paraphrase: The bureaucrats of the EU are haunted by a spectre – the spectre of freedom.

It is our hope that a third, local, miracle will now follow.

The People Choose Freedom

For 43 years since our betrayal by a Tory government we ‘the peasants’ have thirsted for freedom. Now, unexpectedly, we have at last received it – through a Tory government that never expected that the people were intelligent enough to choose it. 950 years after it was founded by the Normans, the arrogant UK Establishment and its pro-EU policy have been rejected by the simple people, who after decades were at last allowed freedom. Although the alien, upper-class Establishment patronized, insulted, bullied and intimidated us the ‘plebs’, as they called us, even threatening apocalypse, the ordinary people bravely ignored it, as well as the EU elite and the Obama-led US elite.

The hopelessly old-fashioned, anti-democratic, post-war EU project (nightmare), dying for years, is now dead in England and Wales. Having helped defeat the military Third Reich three generations ago, the UK has suffered almost two generations of a political Fourth Reich and has now defeated it too. The freedom that has been won here may embolden other European peoples who also want their freedom and their countries back, not to mention the peoples of the USA who want the same. There may yet evolve some Northern European Confederation, with the British Isles, Ireland and Scandinavia and perhaps the Netherlands.

Instead of the straitjacket of a narrow customs union in Western Europe, the people of the UK have chosen to go out to the world, as before, and a rapprochement with the USA may take place. A free and independent country is being reborn. Internally, the Conservative Party must reshape itself and find a new leader and, as for the Labour Party, its lame-duck leader, so out of touch with his own voters, can surely not last much longer. Undermined by caviar-eating, Blairite MPs, it will have to start choosing MPs who actually represent their supporters. The two-party mafia that has effectively run the country for 200 years and ultimately goes back to the times of the murderous Cromwell is over.

Political parties actually representing the views of the people will have to be formed. A Government of National Unity may yet have to be formed. It may be that the UK as a whole, ultimately also Norman-founded, will now break up and Ireland will at last get its unity back. It may be that the four countries that make up the Isles will have to be separated from the centralized European-style Union in London (Eire did long ago) before they can come together in a free Confederation of Sovereign Nations, as they effectively were 1,000 years ago. Above all the globalist project of the world elite for World Government has suffered a setback: the narcissistic elite never thought that the people were intelligent enough to return to freedom. We are.

A Message from Russia and the USA

President V V Putin said this on Friday:

[The referendum] was due to nothing more than the British leadership’s arrogance and superficiality regarding issues vital to their country and to Europe as a whole.

That’s all. Furthermore, President Putin gave his word that he wouldn’t interfere in British internal affairs. In response, the sheeple in the Western media went mad. The Washington Times was particularly strident, but the rest of the Western media did little better. Supposedly, President Putin planned this to split Europe, to take it over, and that he was the sole winner of the affair. Firstly, the President and Russia weren’t involved in the Brexit, so they can neither win or lose! Secondly, the Brexit had numerous causes, all of them domestic and homebrewed. The Establishment was hamfisted and clueless… their attempt to smear the Leave faction as terrorists after the Cox murder backfired and badly. To be clear, the Upper Middles pointed the finger at the whole English working-class, and the proles didn’t care for such vilification. Thirdly, it’s too much too soon to discern any of the real effects of this. The media screams for preventive war. I say, let things develop as they will; let the will of the people be done… not just in this referendum, but in the future ones on Scottish and Welsh independence, and on all-Irish unity.

The Wisdom of God or the Rationalism of Man: The Church or Paris-Crestwood

But, lo, Thou requirest truth in the inward parts: and shalt make me to understand Thy wisdom secretly.
(Ps 50, 6)

For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart…Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe….Greeks seek wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified…unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto those who are called…Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
(I Cor 1, 19-24)

1. Introduction

First of all, I would like to thank Cornelia and all of you for inviting me here. I am honoured indeed to be among you. As I have subtitled this very brief talk ‘The Church or Paris/Crestwood’, let me just say as an introduction that I myself studied at the St Sergius Institute of Theology in Paris and that I know many who studied at St Vladimir’s Seminary in Crestwood. And let me say that I have met among those former students deeply Orthodox people. Therefore, when I speak of ‘Paris-Crestwood’, I am not talking of persons, but of isms, not of people, but of ideologies, not of sinners (I am first among us), but of sins. Just as many Church Fathers, the Cappadocians among them, as well as heretics, studied in Athens or Alexandria, so today a place does not create a heresy, it is a heresy that can infect a place. The main title of my address is indeed Wisdom versus Rationalism, which I believe are the two factors which lie behind all contemporary and also all ancient debate within the Church.

2. Wisdom

I have never liked the word ‘philosophy’. It has, to my mind, many negative, abstract connotations, like the word ‘philosophize’, which suggests futile hairsplitting. I would much prefer to translate the word ‘philosophy’ into English and say ‘love of Wisdom’ and would like to think that we here are not ‘philosophers’, but lovers of Wisdom. Our name is Sophia / Sapientia / Sagesse / Weisheit / Wisdom / Mudrost. We are devoted to Wisdom. Wisdom, as in the Books of Wisdom in the Old Testament, in the Book of Proverbs and in the Wisdom of Solomon, as also in the proverbial wisdom of all peoples, means understanding through experience, the understanding of the heart.

Here I speak of course not of the heart in the loose, emotional sense, but of the heart as nous, the eye of the heart, the doors of perception, the window into heaven, the spiritual essence of our being that connects us to the Divine. For when the heart is affected by an event, action follows because the seat of the will is in the heart, and not in the brain, mind or reason. The ignorance of this fact defines the fundamental error of Western civilization, wherein lie the seeds of its own self-destruction, which we are so tragically seeing today. This fact of course is why one learned professor can rant and rave against the Almighty, but another equally learned can praise Him as the Source of all our being: learning brings no conclusions regarding faith.

For Wisdom does not depend on the development of the mind, on how much we know or have read, not on Parisian ‘Sophiology’, but on the Galilean Wisdom of the heart. And that is also why an ‘unsophisticated’ peasant, a village greybeard, like a fisherman of Galilee ‘made most wise’, can be far wiser than any Parisian philosopher. If the heart is not affected, then all knowledge will remain theoretical, abstract, and without action, for only the experience of the heart leads to action. As we know, ‘actions speak louder than words’, and only personal experience and example can lead to conversion. As the Psalmist says: ‘The fool has said in his heart, there is no God’ (Ps 13, 1). Here we note that it is written ‘in his heart’, not ‘in his mind’.

Wisdom can thus be contrasted with knowledge, science and reason. The Apostle Paul describes the latter as ‘fleshly wisdom’ and opposed to the grace of God (2 Cor 1, 12), or, as he writes elsewhere, ‘to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life (Romans 8, 6). Here, of course, the word ‘flesh’ does not mean the body, but has the Pauline and Patristic sense of ‘fallen human nature’. The body does not sin by itself, it is merely an instrument of our fallen will, to be used for good or for bad, for example, to procreate saints or to procreate monsters; just as we can use our hands to bless or to curse. The body is directed not by itself, but by the will, and the will is directed by the experiences and so understanding of the heart.

This is why the aim of our Orthodox Christian life is not the cultivation of the mind, but the cultivation of the heart, whereby alone we shall ‘see God’. This happens through repentance and leads to enlightenment by the acquisition of the Holy Spirit, that is, Theosis or Divinization. Knowledge, science and reason are what belong to fallen human nature, they come from the five senses, they are rationalistic. However, Wisdom belongs to inspired human nature, it comes from what some call the sixth sense, it is meta-rational. Wisdom is the knowledge obtained not from books, but from the purity of the heart. And that motivates the will and so leads to actions and it is our actions, not our theoretical knowledge, that will be judged at the Last Judgement.

3. The Change from Wisdom to Rationalism: The First Millennium West and the Second Millennium West

Approximately until the end of the first millennium, as Western Europe was still largely Orthodox, it espoused Wisdom, whereas in the second millennium it reverted, in innumerable ‘renaissances’ or rebirths, to pre-Christian rationalism. This was that very pagan rationalism or Gnosticism, worship of knowledge, that the Church had battled against at the Seven Universal Councils. Who had Origen, Arius and Nestorius been? Who had the iconoclasts been? They had all been rationalists who could never accept the inherent antinomies that One is Three, that God became man, that God destroyed death by death, or that a painted board is not a mere picture, but can carry the Holy Spirit and work miracles, weeping, bleeding, pouring out myrrh and healing.

Later the Wisdom of St Gregory Palamas would again oppose in antinomy the rationalism of Barlaam of Italy by explaining how the energies or glory of God can transfigure mankind, while the essence of God is unknowable to mere creation. In any age the rationalist can never accept contradiction because he is shackled to the earth by his fallen mind and cannot see beyond the end of his nose, as far as his heart. The chief sign of this transformation in Western Europe is how in the eleventh and twelfth centuries the Wisdom of the Ascetic Monastery, where the heart was to be cleansed and so the mind enlightened, was replaced by the Science of the Scholastic University, where the potential of the heart was neglected and the fallen mind idolized.

As Abelard in the Prologue to his ‘Sic et Non’ put it: ‘The Fathers were guided by the Holy Spirit, but it is lacking among us’. Philippe Wolff, in his L’Eveil Intellectuel de l’Europe, p. 196, describes the early twelfth century: ‘Activity deserted the old monasteries and headed, in expanded form, for the Cathedral schools and the chapters of urban clergy’. This was the beginning of Scholasticism, rational analysis and discursive reason, applying the use of dianoia instead of the nous, applying the dialectic of the pagan Aristotle to Revelation, as did the late eleventh-century Anselm of Canterbury. He preferred the order of man to the order of God, replacing the quest for holiness with the quest for study, replacing the Monastery with the university.

However, Anselm’s ‘faith seeking understanding’ within just a few decades became the impossible ‘understanding seeking faith’, which in its ultimate phase descended into ‘absence of understanding caused by absence of faith’. As R. I. Moore put it in his ‘The First European Revolution’, pp. 190-1: (By the early twelfth century) ‘charisma had been replaced by institutional authority, or, in plainer language, intellectual status, and access to the power it could confer, were passed down from the top, instead of up from the bottom’. And as Haskins put it in his ‘The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century’: ‘In 1100 the school followed the master and in 1200 the master followed the school’. No mention here of the heart or of the monastery.

Later, at the Council of Florence, when a Georgian envoy was asked whose authority he accepted, he replied: ‘St Peter, St Paul, St Basil, Gregory the Theologian; a fig for your Aristotle, Aristotle’ (see Gill’s ‘The Council of Florence’, p. 227). The reasoning of the syllogism, the reasoning of the Hellenes, led in the nineteenth century to the dialectics of Hegel and so of Marx, and is not the language of the Church of God. The Orthodoxophile Kireyevsky wrote in the nineteenth century: ‘Rome preferred the abstract syllogism to Holy Tradition…Rome left the Church because she desired to introduce into the faith new dogmas, unknown to Holy Tradition, dogmas which were by nature the accidental products of Western logic’ (Collected Works, Vol I, p. 226).

4. The Church or Paris-Crestwood

Over the last thousand years neo-pagan rationalism has spread worldwide and is called ‘globalization’, in other words, the world, whose prince is satan. The Church opposes this rationalism with Her Wisdom. At this very moment the battle between the age-old Wisdom of the Church and the second millennium rationalism of this world, which is revived paganism, is reaching a peak. This is the culmination of the battle between the Church and the German-inspired, Gnostic, humanist philosophy that infected Russian thought in the 20th century, from mantra-like Name-worshipping to Renovationism, from Bulgakov to Afanasyev, from Schmemann to Zizioulas. Today’s essential opposition on an island in the Mediterranean is also between Wisdom and rationalism.

It is not a question of denying the uses of rationalism, it is rather making sure that we make use of rationalism, the human reason, where it is needed and appropriate and do not use it to solve problems where, not rationalism, but Wisdom, is needed and appropriate. If we are to solve a problem of electrical supply, or leaking pipes, or engine pistons, or software engineering, let us use rationalism. However, if we are to solve a problem of human relations, of the improvement of the character, that is, the spiritual problem of the acquisition of the Holy Spirit through prayer, fasting, askesis and repentance, or if we are to express the truths of the Faith in dogmatic form, let us use Wisdom, which is meta-rational, the Art of Arts and the Science of Sciences.

All the controversies around this present conference in Crete have revolved around the use of Wisdom and the use of rationalism. We can see this in one of the items which those invited are not going to talk about – the calendar. The rational see only the Earth revolving around the Sun, but the meta-rational see the Earth revolving around the Holy Trinity. In order to avoid this opposition, this item was dropped from the agenda. However, we can also see the opposition in what they are going to talk about, for example, about relations with the heterodox world outside the Church. Here we have seen much use of spiritually empty reasoning, but, it seems to me, very little use of spiritually beneficial Wisdom, much use of knowledge, but little use of understanding.

Truly, at this Crete conference we see once more the age-old discussion between the Wisdom of the Church and the rationalism of Paris-Crestwood, between Jerusalem and Athens, between the way of the kingdom and the way of the world. This conference in Crete may yet become a Council, but only if the Holy Spirit descends on it. In that case it will become Great and Holy. If not, it will remain merely little and secular. We believe that since all the Seven Universal Councils in fact defeated rationalism by Wisdom, defeated the small-minded logic of the created mind by the Love of the Creator, today after a millennium of rationalism, we could do no better in this third millennium than to reiterate the truths proclaimed at the Seven Councils.

Let us consider the Icon of the Descent of the Holy Spirit. It shows the disciples becoming apostles, mere men inspired by the tongues of fire of the Holy Spirit, as it descends from the heavens. At the bottom of the Icon is a crowned figure, the Cosmos, the knowledge of the world from all the ages. He is outshone, outclassed, by fire, by the Wisdom that comes from God, for Christ is the Word and Wisdom of God. He receives the slap of St Nicholas in the face of rationalism. This is expressed in Church Slavonic not by the ordinary word for Wisdom, Mudrost, but by the word Premudrost, meaning Supreme Wisdom, the Wisdom of God, so much greater than the rationalism of man, for ‘in Wisdom hast Thou made them all’ (Ps 103.24).

5. Conclusion
Premudrost, Supreme Wisdom, the Word and Wisdom of God, is the source of all Wisdom, Mudrost, for the Creator is the source of all creation, the Divine is the source of all human. Any other attitude is idolatrous. This is why we do not call the eighteenth century or a university education ‘enlightenment’, for the sacrament of holy baptism and the Feast of Christ’s Baptism are ‘Enlightenment’. This is also why in the ninth prayer before communion St John Chrysostom writes that, ‘Thou wilt come in and enlighten my darkened reasoning’. This is why at the first prayer of thanksgiving after holy communion we pray that the body and blood may be ‘for the enlightening of the eyes of my heart’ and ‘for the fulfilling of wisdom’. For without this purification by the Holy Spirit, we shall have no Wisdom, only knowledge, science and rationalism. And though these latter have their uses, they are on a lower level than Wisdom, which is on a lower level than Supreme Wisdom, the Source of all Wisdom.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips

Prepared for SOPHIE (The Society of Orthodox Philosophers in Europe) in Fulda, Germany, 24 June 2016, by the prayers of St Boniface.

A Message from Greece

Dear Father Andrew,

Yesterday, on the 24th of June 2016 it was the feast of the Nativity Saint John the Baptist (New Calendar) and I went to the church of Saint George in Dionysos Attica Greece early in the morning to attend the Divine Liturgy. The parish of Saint John was the “garden” that Archimandrite Markos Manolis (of blessed memory) “cultivated” from 1983 until 2010 as parish priest, a spiritual father of hundreds from all over Attica, Greece and beyond, as chairman of the “Orthodoxos Typos” newspaper and as a tireless and vigilant heart and mind that prayed for the salvation of all through daily Divine Liturgies, often making visits to prisoners and the poor and leading many other spiritual struggles.

In that church, while I was chanting as a member of the small parish choir, and just as we had finished matins and begun the Divine Liturgy (I think it was about half past nine local time), I heard one of the older members of our choir and also one of our best family friends saying to us all that the results of the British referendum were published and that the British people had voted to exit the E.U.!

We were all very glad to hear this. Even our friend, Mr Yannis, was very happy to bring us the good news, since he rushed into the church to do this after he had gone out for some reason a few minutes earlier.

Father Andrew, I have “followed” you since 2003 when twitter and other social networks didn’t even exist. Through all these years I have seen so many blessings of our Lord come true in your local Church (Colchester, restoration of Eucharistic Unity with Moscow Patriarchate and many more) and now this!

May God enlighten your steps from now on towards the endless journey to our common salvation!

I ask for your blessing,

Prokopi Evia Greece, where the holy whole-body and wonderworking relic of Saint John the Russian “lives”!

In Christ,


English People, I have fallen in love with you again!


The well-known Russian Orthodox philosopher Victor Trostnikov is glad that the English have despised material benefits by voting for a way out of the dying European Union.

Under the rule of Margaret Thatcher, I had for some time to live in the provinces of the UK, amid the purple-covered heather of South Wales. Of all my experiences overseas – and they apply to America, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland – it was the most powerful and stable and touched the soul the most. I saw wonderful people, courageous, discreet and not just hard-working, and thousands of the population who did not have a slacker. In it, I felt an echo of the great nation that gave the world Newton, Shakespeare and Francis Drake, that gave humanity the Pacific Ocean and its own language, which has become a means of planetary communication. At the same time I caught in this kind of people the “Stockholm Syndrome” – surrender to the incoming of people from former colonies – Pakistanis and Africans. This surrender so upset me that I wrote an article similar to an epitaph, called something between the “English, I have loved you”, and “where once lived the British.” The article was immediately translated into English and the first Briton who examined it said: «It is exactly what I think».

Since then the years have passed. The sadness for a bygone great nation gradually weakened. Well done – I thought – everything comes to an end. Take, for example Norwegians. What people they have! – Abel, Grieg, Nansen, Amundsen! And now – Breivik …

And a referendum. In a pragmatic sense, for England to leave the EU is not very profitable, it is threatened by economic crisis. But the British, whom I had given up on, have despised material benefits and do not want to continue to be mixed up with migrants and infected by the poisonous corpse of a dying Europe. It turns out that I hastened to bury the British – they are still alive and want to continue to live. In this they are similar to us. Politically, we have always been antagonistic, not counting a brief stay in the Entente. But this opposition is led by our inner relationship. British politicians have always said: “We do not have friends, we have interests,” – and the same was repeated by Alexander III: Russia has no friends, except for the army and navy.

The English nation, who have a unique sense of humour, have played a joke with everyone who had buried her, including me, but I am very happy.

Viktor Trostnikov , Orthodox philosopher, theologian, writer