Daily Archives: October 15, 2019

The Saints and the Bad Old Days

My interest in the saints deepened greatly in the 1970s and 1980s, once I had come into contact with the quite extraordinary spiritual and moral decadence of the Orthodox emigration of various nationalities. These immigrants included self-appointed ‘elders’, fraudulent gurus, so-called ‘Orthodox’ bishops who were not even Christians, bishops and priests who were simoniacs, criminals, perverts, bureaucrats, political appointees and who included the usual assortment of clerical narcissists. At least saints could provide positive models to counter the reality.

In those decadent days, and even much after, there were by and large four criteria for ordination to the priesthood if you were English (and indeed Western in general):

Be an adept of a sect or cult grouped around a bishop or priest (a self-appointed ‘starets’) with their various perversions, or else be an adept of some extremist sect based on a political ideology of left or right. Neither of these options had a future. Bishops and priests do not join political parties or tell people who to vote for (either publicly or privately), we only try to influence the course of events positively, in favour of the Church as the Body of Christ.

Be a freemason.

Be an Anglican vicar.

Be fluent in a foreign language e.g. Greek or Russian.

The first two criteria were spiritually and morally repugnant to me, the third not even conceivable, as I have never been an Anglican and have never had any desire to become one; Anglicanism is quite foreign to me as an Englishman, as it is to most Englishmen: there remained only the fourth criterion.

Hopefully, in the future, the criteria for ordination will become spiritual, that there is a group of Orthodox people in a certain place who put forward a man without canonical impediments who is not unwilling, and whose wife is not unwilling for him, to become a candidate for eventual ordination to the priesthood, once he has passed through all the necessary steps. The bad old days, when married men were excluded from consideration simply because they were married, or men were excluded from consideration because they had spiritual interests, as was the case in my youth, will be over. I thank all those who persecuted me; they made me more interested in the Lives of the Saints.

 

Our Duty: To Pray for the Hierarchy of the Greek Orthodox Church

From the very outset nearly 200 years ago the small Church of Greece was so spiritually weak that it fell victim to nationalism. Thus, nearly 100 years ago, it decided to obey the Greek State and adopted the Roman Catholic calendar. Then it fell for Western-imposed ecumenism, it put pews into its churches (that was starting forty years ago when I lived and worked in Greece), then Greek men and women stopped dressing appropriately for church. Now some in it seem to be about to fall for the anti-Orthodox American bait and recognize the absurd, schismatic semi-Uniat Anti-Orthodox Church (AOC) in (the Western) Ukraine, set up there under immense US political pressure on the Greek nationalist bishops in Istanbul.

Some rather extreme people would say: Birds of a feather flock together: fanatical Greek nationalists attract fanatical Ukrainian nationalists. They all have the same thing in common: they have no love for Christ, only for their primitive tribal racism. Therefore, they can join with the American elite and destroy the multilingual Orthodox Church of Russia with its more than seventy nationalities. Here are the fruits of Greek racial jealousy at a Church that is 16 times bigger than itself.

The US political elite knows exactly how to flatter that weakness. US ambassadors in the Balkans have received their instructions, appointing one Archbishop or Patriarch after another. Having spread the poison of Balkanization to the extreme west of the Ukraine, they have returned to impoverished Greece, ever the soft underbelly of the Orthodox world, so weak that it could not even keep the Orthodox calendar and the other values of Christian Civilization, ever ready to buckle under ‘financial aid’.

Some rather extreme people would quote St John the Baptist and say that the axe must be laid to the root of the Church of Greece. Having fallen into racism, it is ‘ready for the chop’. And then they add, and let the Russian Church take over Mt Athos and all those on the old calendar in Greece and set up a real Church. It must seize the leadership of the Orthodox world, of which the Greeks have shown themselves once more, as at Florence, totally unworthy. Extremists add:

‘Stop the ecumenical dances with Rome and Canterbury and the WCC and the Baltic and Finnish Lutherans. Anyway, these have no real influence left — least of all the WCC and Canterbury. Whether Moscow is present or absent in WCC meetings will not matter anything to anyone. These Western bodies are withering on the vine and will never do anything meaningful to alleviate the West’s inborn hatred of Russia. They have not done anything regarding the Ukraine! Whatever Russia does to be friendly to the West will not avail it anything — what the West wants (consciously or not) is Russia’s subjection. The Russian Church has the opportunity to stand fast and stand gloriously alone, as the Third Rome, as the only great Christian Church that still believes in the primacy of truth over (false) unity and (false) charity. If Rue Daru can repent, then why not the old calendarists’?

However, all of this talk is far too premature. Our real concern is the unity of the ten-million strong Church of Greece. If its Archbishop dares to concelebrate with Sergey (‘Epifany’) Dumenko, the head of the fictitious Church of the Ukraine’, there will be a schism in that Local Church. This is our main concern. We leave petty racist jealousy and politics aside. Today the Greek Orthodox Church faces a self-imposed internal schism between the Orthodox and those who are falling into the phyletist heresy of provincial racism. Pray!

 

How to Deal with Disappointments – or Falling in Love Again Every Day

Marriages can all too easily get tired, especially once children appear. Every married person knows this. In Western cultures, firstly in North America, then the UK and all over Western Europe, and increasingly even in Central and Eastern Europe as those countries too are Americanized, secularist values are being adopted. This alien secularism means ugliness, which says: Why bother to be beautiful when God did not make us and we are going to die like animals anyway?

Thus, adopting secularist values, some Orthodox wives give up looking after themselves, constantly criticize their husbands and men in general, dress badly and eat badly, jeans and T-shirts all the time, too weak to swim against the surrounding tide. As regards some Orthodox husbands, they begin looking at other women, giving up the constant self-sacrifice that real men, real husbands and fathers, make for their beautiful wives and obedient children, and fall into alcoholic and other abuses. Like the secularists, they say: ‘We are free, let it all hang out, who cares anyway?. These secularist values are in fact all about loss of respect for God, for others and for self. These ugly values, loss of respect and self-respect are not the values of our Orthodox Christian Civilization.

Orthodox women should keep themselves beautiful, following Orthodox values. They should look after their bodies and looks, disciplining themselves, careful what and how much they eat, looking after their hair, looks, dress and shoes – but keeping modesty, without falling into vanity and foolish expense on vain luxuries and excessive make-up: such care of self is only for their husbands, not for anyone else. As for Orthodox men, they must keep sacrificing themselves at work and in the home, being good husbands and fathers, sharing all income, disciplining themselves too, not abusing their bodies and minds with alcohol, any other drug or tattoos, spending time with their beloved and unique wives and children. They too should look after their bodies and looks, not in order to attract other women, but only their beautiful wives.

At the Orthodox wedding, we are crowned. These crowns have a double meaning: martyrdom and royalty. Thus, in family life we become martyrs through self-sacrifice for each other and for our children. But in marriage we also become royal, we are kings and queens of our households. There is nothing so beautiful as the little wrinkles that come from love. Our marriages have to be constantly renewed: Orthodox married life is about falling in love again every day.

How to Deal with Disappointments – or Discovering God’s Love for Us

Life is made up of joys and disappointments, sometimes the former predominate, sometimes the latter. As popular wisdom proclaims, ‘after rain comes the sun’ and ‘there is light at the end of the tunnel’. However, disappointments are in reality our appointments with destiny, that is, through disappointments we can finally find out what God’s Will is for us. Thus, disappointments are always a recall, a wake-up call, a reality check, reminding us that our only ultimate Appointment is the inevitable one, when we shall stand before the Face of God and our whole lives will be judged in an instant by His mere presence.

Thus, disappointments in life bring many surprises. These come from Providence, which is God’s Love in human affairs despite us, whether international, national, family or personal. affairs. How acutely disappointed the Royal Martyrs or the Patriarch St Tikhon could have been, when they were rejected, persecuted, betrayed and worse. But they were not, because their disappointment led them to God’s will for them, along the path to holiness. It is almost as if we should thank God for our disappointments. Popular wisdom confirms this too, as we say ‘a blessing in disguise’ and that, ‘every cloud has a silver lining’. Glory to God for all things!