Category Archives: Greece

Christ the Invincible Power

Answers to Questions from Recent Conversations and Correspondence

Q: When did you first become conscious of the Russian Orthodox Church?

A: My introduction to the Orthodox Church was through the local saints of England in my native north Essex, notably St Edmund, but also St Albright (Ethelbert), St Cedd, St Botolph and St Osyth. However, as regards the Russian Orthodox Church as such, my first encounter was almost fifty years ago, just after my 12th birthday, in August 1968. As a result of that revelation, I began teaching myself Russian in October of that year in Colchester because I already knew that the Russian Orthodox Church is my spiritual home. However, I had to wait nearly another seven years until I could take part in Russian Orthodox life, as in those days (it is not much better now) there were so few Russian churches anywhere. I only managed to visit any Russian churches in 1973.

Q: Which part of the Russian Church did you join?

A: Having been told by two of its members that the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) would not allow me to join it because I was English (I had no idea at that time that my great-grandmother was Russian, I only discovered that distant link much later), I had no alternative but to join the Moscow Patriarchate. They may have been many things in those distant days, but at least they were not racists.

Q: What was your path to the priesthood after that?

A: A very hard one. First of all, since I could not live and work in Russia on account of the Cold War at that time, for my first job I went to live and work in Greece. I thought that was the next best alternative. After a year there and visiting the then Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, I understood that the Balkan Churches were no solution to the need for a Local Orthodox Church in the West. They were all inward-looking, culturally very narrow and hopelessly nationalistic. Later, contacts with Romanians and Georgians told me the same about them and in the Romanian case there is the huge problem of simony. So, with Russia closed off, in 1979 with the blessing of Metr Antony (Bloom) I went to study at the St Sergius Theological Institute in Paris, which I had in my ignorance imagined to be a Russian Orthodox seminary.

Q: What was it in fact?

A: It was the remains of a Russian Orthodox seminary mingled with an institute of philosophy and, frankly, of heresy. It openly preached modernism or Renovationism, which is Protestant-based, and is therefore not even remotely interesting to someone coming from a country like England with a Protestant culture, so alien to me. One English priest, rather harshly, called St Serge a Methodist Sunday School. Very harsh, but there was some truth in it.

Q: Why did you not think of going to Jordanville in the USA?

A: For the same reason as before. I was repeatedly told by members of ROCOR that they only took Russians. Remember in those days there was no internet, no advice, you had to make your own way, you went by what local representatives told you, even if it was incorrect.

Q: What happened next?

A: In 1982 I was offered the priesthood by the Moscow Patriarchate on terms which I can only describe as scandalous. I walked out, never to return, and enquired again at the Church Outside Russia. I got the same answer as in 1974, though I noted that this time there were actually a few ex-Anglicans in a separate branch of ROCOR in England. However, these rather eccentric conservative Anglicans seemed to have no interest in the Russian Orthodox Church, but only in being anti-Anglican and they had a huge interest in fanatical Greek Orthodox sects. Never having been Anglican and having lived in Greece, I had no interest in either. This was all the more frustrating since ROCOR had just canonized the New Martyrs and Confessors and naturally I had their icons and venerated them. Nevertheless, in 1983, I decided to emigrate to France and join my wife’s jurisdiction, the Paris Jurisdiction.

Q: Wasn’t that foolhardy? I mean you already knew about the problem of modernism there?

A: What you have to understand is that in Paris in 1981 they had elected a new Archbishop. Under the very elderly and saintly old one, renovationists had come to the fore, taking advantage of his old age, but the new Archbishop promised us personally that he would sweep them away and return his jurisdiction to Orthodoxy and canonical Russian practice. So this was a time of great promise and even excitement. Patriarch Dimitrios of Constantinople even said at the time that the Paris Jurisdiction would be returned to the Russian Church as soon as it was free. So, with hope in a promising future, in January 1985 I was ordained deacon there.

Q: What happened next?

A: in May 1985 I was offered the priesthood providing that I would become a freemason. I refused, scandalized. Then we became witnesses to the complete takeover of the jurisdiction by renovationists. The new Archbishop ordained them one by one, completely breaking his promise – not because he was a liar, but because he was weak. It was the same problem as Metr Evlogy, the first Paris Jurisdiction ruling bishop; he had never wanted to leave the Russian Church, but he was a weak man surrounded by powerful laymen, mainly freemasons and those who had betrayed the Tsar and organized the February Revolution. It was the end of the possibility that that jurisdiction would ever return to the freed, restored and reunited Russian Church. But I only understood that the meaning of that bitter disappointment afterwards.

Q: Why did you not leave such a masonic group?

A: Not all by far were freemasons and I felt that I had to labour on until God’s will for me should be revealed.

Q: When was that?

A: Without doubt it was in summer 1988 when the Paris Jurisdiction celebrated the millennium of the Baptism of Rus. Instead of inviting the Russian bishops in Western Europe to the Cathedral on Rue Daru in Paris and returning to the Russian Church in unity, they railed against the Russian Church and invited the Roman Catholic Cardinal of Paris. I was not only scandalized but spiritually distraught. I was an eyewitness to treason and apostasy. It was the last straw. They preferred heresy to Orthodoxy.

Soon after, I met Archbishop Antony of Geneva of ROCOR, who told me that he would be happy to receive me and that I had no need whatsoever to labour on in such anti-canonical conditions. I jumped at the opportunity. 17 people left with me, including a priest. So we all joined the Church Outside Russia in January 1989. That was a transforming moment because previously I had only known the Church Outside Russia in England. On the other hand, Vladyka Antony, heir to Vladyka John of Shanghai, though traditional, was not racist or fanatical, but missionary-minded. He lived in a different world from the fanatics in England and we freely concelebrated with other Orthodox.

I remember him telling me about the extremists who were trying to take control of ROCOR in New York. He said: ‘But there’s nowhere else to go’. I have not the slightest doubt that he would have returned to Russia, if he had had the chance. I also remember conversations with him about Metr Antony of Kiev (Archbp Antony came from Kiev), whom he had known well in Belgrade and whose name he had taken. He was the real ROCOR. Real Russian Orthodox. At last. It had taken me 20 years to get to that point! 20 years of facing illusions, lies, broken promises and corruption. You would think it would have been easy, but nothing of the sort. All hell was against the Russian Orthodox Church, a sure sign of truth.

Q: What happened next?

A: Well, I was at last living as a proper Russian Orthodox. Nearly three years later, in December 1991 I was ordained priest for the new ROCOR parish in Lisbon in Portugal.

Q: What was your attitude to the Moscow Patriarchate?

A: We were all just impatiently waiting for it to become politically free and free of renovationism. That happened officially with the Jubilee Council in Moscow in 2000.

Q: So why didn’t the Church Outside Russia join up with the Patriarchate straightaway in 2000?

A: It is one thing to proclaim the truth at a Council, but another for the decisions of that Council to be implemented. For example, after that I can still remember how at the London Patriarchal Cathedral they refused to put up icons of the New Martyrs and also, incidentally, they refused to sell the books of Fr Seraphim (Rose) or anything traditional. Priests and people coming from Russia were persecuted by the renovationists because they were ‘too’ traditional. We had to wait for the Patriarchate to free itself from such Renovationism.

Also, it must be said, we had to wait until the fanatical elements that had done so much harm to ROCOR since they had started infiltrating the Church in the mid-sixties had left us. When the extremists did finally leave, almost at the same time, there was a huge sigh of relief, because then we could get on with being Orthodox. So it was we had to wait until 2007.

Q: How do you know that people are free of Renovationism?

A: Easy: The yardstick is veneration for the New Martyrs, especially the Imperial Martyrs. The renovationists hate them.

Q: How do you know that people are free of sectarian fanaticism of the sort you describe as having infiltrated ROCOR?

A: Easy: The yardstick is the willingness to concelebrate with other Orthodox Christians.

Q: What is going to happen in the future? At present there are countries like England where there are two parallel jurisdictions of the Russian Church, one dependent on Moscow, the other dependent on the Church Outside Russia?

A: According to the 2007 agreement, where there are two parallel jurisdictions, ROCOR should, in time, absorb the Patriarchal jurisdiction. This will probably take a generation, so that no-one will be under any pressure and everything will take place naturally, organically. However, in reality, already nine years have passed and we can see that in certain areas, like North America and Australasia, ROCOR will indeed clearly take over responsibility for those territories, whereas in other areas the Patriarchate will take over, as in South America, not to mention South-East Asia. The problem comes in the mixed area of Western Europe, including the British Isles and Ireland. In this area, only time will tell, clearly it is the more competent of the two that will take responsibility.

For the moment we shall lead parallel lives. There is in any case so much to do. I could start 12 parishes tomorrow, if I had the money to buy buildings and get candidates for the priesthood ordained. The state of Orthodox infrastructure and the general pastoral situation here are so appalling as to be scandalous; no wonder so many Orthodox lapse or become Roman Catholic or Protestant. All we pastors meet with is indifference. Those in authority should hang their heads in shame. Why is there not a church, our own property in every town over 100,000? This should have been done a generation ago. For example the teeming millions of London only have two small churches!

Colchester is the 50th largest town in England (and incidentally the 500th largest in Western Europe). It has a church that belongs to us. But want about the other 49 larger ones? Only five of them have their own churches: London, Manchester, Nottingham, Norwich, Birkenhead-Liverpool. That is a scandal. There is no missionary vision at all. Birmingham is the second largest city in the UK with a population of two million. And where do the faithful of the Patriarchate have ten liturgies a year on Saturdays (that’s all the priest can manage)? In the Ukrainian Uniat chapel. The next time you hear some naïve Orthodox boasting about his Church, tell him that. Orthodox should be ashamed of themselves.

Q: So is there competition between the two parts of the Russian Church locally?

A: No, not at all. It all depends on who has the priests and the buildings. A concrete example. I was asked to visit a prison in Cambridgeshire. Now, since there is no ROCOR presence in Cambridgeshire (because through incompetence it refused to set anything up there in the 1980s), I gave the prison authorities the references of the Patriarchal priest who lives in Cambridgeshire. On the other hand, when there was question of the Patriarchate setting something up in Norfolk (it had lost what it had had there a few years before, also through incompetence), but knowing that ROCOR had a presence there dating back to 1966, it was referred to me. So here is a territorial division. Now, where there is a double jurisdiction, as in London (the only case), something will have to be sorted out. But, as you can see, that will be as a result of competence. Only time can settle such matters. The more competent part, the more spiritual part of the Russian Church will prevail and form a united jurisdiction.

Q: So there is no rigid territorial division in Western Europe?

A: No, nobody wants to impose such a system. Let everything be done freely, let the people choose. Though, having said that, we can observe a tendency for ROCOR to dominate in the English-speaking world. Canada, the USA and Australasia are clear examples. For example, with Archbishop Mark of ROCOR retiring to Germany and the ROCOR Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland being taken over by Metr Hilarion of New York, we can even talk about a sort of ROCOR Brexit. Metr Hilarion will in fact be Metropolitan of New England and Old England. That is an exceptional event, historically speaking, and may be significant, a turning-point.

So it is possible that in a generation from now ROCOR will only exist in the English-speaking world, but will unite all Russian Orthodox there. ROCOR will become ROCA – the Russian Orthodox Church in the Anglosphere. That is one quite organic and natural possible scenario, a united Russian Orthodox Metropolia for the Anglosphere, the English-speaking world. The Patriarchate will look after everything else in various Metropolias, in Latin America, in Alaska, in Western Europe, in Asia etc.

Q: So Western Europe would completely go to the Patriarchate?

A: That is the way that things are developing at the moment. All the young bishops and all the dynamism in the Russian Church there is Patriarchal. ROCOR only has three ageing bishops and is not opening any new churches.

Q: Is there a difference between ROCOR churches and Patriarchal churches?

A: I think there is a small one, in general. Strangely enough, ROCOR is at one and the same time more Russian, but also more local, more integrated. We have done the translations, we print in English, we speak the local languages and know the local laws, we were born here. At the same time, however, we are utterly faithful to the best of the Tsar’s Russia, never having endured the Soviet period and Renovationism. ‘To quote the saintly Metr Laurus: ‘We are for the purity of Holy Orthodoxy’. We are Imperial priests and people.

Q: What about your own relations with the Russian Church inside Russia?

A: We are very close to all those who are Churched in Russia and they feel close to us. For example, in Moscow one of the closest friends of ROCOR has always been Bishop Tikhon (Shevkunov), whom some have even suggested will be the next Patriarch. (Bp Tikhon has been in the news recently, since he outraged the British Establishment by inviting students from Eton College to experience Christianity in Russia; not something the atheist Establishment likes). In general, those who especially venerate the New Martyrs and Confessors at once feel at home in ROCOR. I have this nearly every Sunday. People from different parts of Russia, from the Ukraine, from Moldova and elsewhere say that they feel at home, whatever the language, the atmosphere is like at home. In my native town of Colchester, that is a great thing that we have such an oasis of Orthodoxy.

Q: Who are the unChurched in Russia?

A: You find all sorts of people. There are those on the right hand side who mingle superstition with Orthodoxy, for instance, those ritualists who think that holy water is more important than holy communion, who mix in pharisaic sectarianism, puritanism and judgementalism, or, on the other hand, those on the left hand side, who mix in Soviet nationalism, love of the tyrant Stalin, or modernism. But all that is superficial, the majority make their way to the Church sooner or later. You do not waste time on the convert fringes of the Church – otherwise you might end up thinking that that is the Church! A terrible delusion!

Q: Why have you stayed faithful to the Russian Church despite all the difficulties that you have faced over nearly fifty years?

A: Because the Russian Orthodox Church is the Invincible Power. History since 1917 proves it. The gates of hell have not prevailed – and shall not prevail – despite all the enemies and traitors, both external and internal, we have faced. Judas betrayed, but the other apostles triumphed. So tragedy becomes joy. The stone that was rejected is become the headstone of the corner. Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!

Some Autobiographical Notes

I have been asked a number of questions about how, coming from a simple, earthy English background in rural England, I came to be a Russian Orthodox priest of the Church Outside Russia. Making use of some unexpected time this week, I have looked back through some old papers which I had forgotten and can now answer those questions with some dates.

Q: How did you come to the Russian Church?

A: After a countryside childhood strangely filled with interest in faraway Russia, I started teaching myself Russian in October 1968. I was told to do so in a particular spot in Colchester, which I could take you to now, by a voice heard coming, brought as it were by a wind from the east. So I began to read a lot of Russian literature in translation and Russian history. Two years later, in 1970, I had decided that I wanted to be part of the Russian Church and had begun reading as much as I could to find out about it (very little was available at that time). However, it was only after my sixteenth birthday that I managed to visit Russian churches.

Q: Where? In London?

A: No, my family never went to London, which we always looked on as a different planet, ‘the smoke’ as we still called it. The countryside was our home. I won a bursary and at the end of February 1973 I managed to visit a Russian church in England. This was the tiny Russian Patriarchal house chapel in Oxford, where I prayed at vespers on two successive Saturdays. Then in the same year I won another bursary to visit the then Soviet Union; in fact the first church I visited there was St Vladimir’s Cathedral in Kiev. As I entered those churches, I knew that I wanted to be part of their inner life and that this was my destiny, the whole meaning of my life, regardless of all the barriers that would be put in front of me. I felt that I had always been here, that this was in my blood. (Only in 2004 did I discover any possible though very distant explanation in a Carpatho-Russian great-grandmother – my mother’s mother’s mother). At the end of 1973 I also managed to visit the Patriarchal Cathedral in London, of which I had heard. ROCOR then had no existence outside itself, being largely unknown to the outside world, at least in England.

Q: Which part of the Russian Church did you join?

A: As soon as I was free to do so at the age of 18, in 1974, I asked to join the Russian Church. Of course, there were two parts then. Firstly, I met two representatives of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), who solemnly informed me that I would not be allowed to join their Church since it was in any case ‘for Russians only’. I also met other, rather fanatical and sectarian individuals from ROCOR, who completely turned me away. I therefore took the only option left to me and joined the Patriarchal Church, presuming that this was identical to the Church that I had seen in Russia and the Ukraine.

However, I very soon found out that the small Oxford Patriarchal parish was dominated by two opposing clans – on the one hand, by haughty Parisian-type modernists, and, on the other hand, by Soviet chauvinist nationalists, for whom the Communist Party could do no ill! I gave myself spiritual life by reading Russian theological books I ordered from Jordanville and elsewhere. Visiting Soviet Russia for a second time in 1976 and spending time there, I saw again how the real Russian Church was different from the Oxford cliques. In 1977 a priest I had met in Russia the year before suggested that I study at the Moscow Theological Academy. I would very much like to have done that, but at the height of the Cold War this was absolutely impossible. That was tragic.

Q: What did you do?

A: I did the next best thing and in 1978 went to live and work in Thessaloniki in Greece for one year. Here, I saw how traditional the ethos could be, quite different from the Church of Constantinople, which I had seen in England, but also, unfortunately, I saw narrow Balkan nationalism and came across the semi-Protestant Zoe and Sotir organizations – closer to Methodism than Orthodoxy! However, I also visited Mt Athos and was especially influenced by Fr Ephraim at Philotheou and the very poor and heroic monks at the Russian St Panteleimon’s Monastery. I remember especially Fr Seraphim, Fr Misail (who wanted me to join the monastery and be the librarian) and the choir director from Odessa. These were real, exemplary Orthodox. It was at this point that I decided that I should go and study at a Russian seminary.

Since I had been told (in fact lied to) that Jordanville only accepted Russians, I took the only option left and went to St Serge in Paris. (The two ‘seminary’ establishments of the OCA held no interest for me since they were both on the Catholic/Protestant calendar and deviated in other ways from the ethos and practice of the Russian Church inside Russia. I knew enough from talking to people who had been to them and from my visits to Russia to understand that they were not right for me. I wanted the real thing).

Q: What happened next?

A: I went to study at St Serge in Paris. There I experienced the battle royal between the two factions in Paris at that time. The first, led by Protopresbyter Alexis Knyazev, a wonderful teacher, was the pro-Russian one that was clear-sighted enough to see that the only future was to rejoin the Russian Church, but on some autonomous basis.

The second group, the Fraternite Orthodoxe, led basically by the Jesuit-educated Count, Fr Boris Bobrinskoy, notorious for having celebrated the liturgy in a Catholic convent with the filioque (!) – so as ‘not to offend our Catholic brethren’, was virtually composed of Uniats. Other members included the fantasist and Athos-hater Olivier Clement and a Georgian priest who spent his time extolling the Second Vatican Council. I soon gave up going to their courses. The modernist and manipulative Fraternite was populated by patronizing aristocrats and fantasist ideologues who preyed on naïve Catholics and converts. Descendants of those who had carried out the Revolution, they absolutely hated Russia and had no intention of ever returning to the sobriety and discipline of the Russian Church. Naturally, I supported the first group which alone was authentic and also realistic.

These two groups depended on the Rue Daru bishop, the weak, elderly but saintly Archbishop George (Tarasov). The Fraternite was clearly waiting for him to die and then seize power, which they only managed to do in full twenty years later. Members of the Fraternite, some soon to become priests, used to hiss, mock and boo Archbishop George publicly. It was awful. I believe that Archbishop George, a former WWI Russian pilot from the Western Front, was a saint. Had he been in good health and lived another fifteen years, he would have returned the group to the Russian Church with the status of an autonomous Metropolia.

Q: Where did you go after St Serge?

A: Having met my wife, who is basically of Anglo-Italian-Romanian origin, and married in Paris, we returned to England. We stayed here for three years, trying to find some sort of balanced spiritual life between the extremes of the pseudo-Patriarchal Church and the Church Outside Russia, with their cliques which were not Churchly at all, quite different from the Church inside Russia, which I had seen in 1972 and 1976, and again at St Panteleimon’s on Mt Athos.

Having discovered the scandalous truths about the extremists dominating both groups in England, we returned disillusioned to France and my wife’s jurisdiction (Rue Daru). Here the new German Archbishop had personally promised us that he was going to steer the Church away from the modernist and ecumenist Fraternite Orthodoxe and back to Russian Orthodox Tradition, but using Western languages whenever necessary. Enthused by this sensible direction and the support of Fr Alexis Knyazev, who was still alive then, I was ordained in Paris in January 1985.

Q: What happened?

A: I had fallen from the frying pan into the fire. Within four months I was asked to become a freemason, which I refused to do, thus signing a kind of spiritual death warrant for myself. Through weakness of character, the new Archbishop had by then taken a suicidal path. He was ordaining freemasons and other members of the Fraternite, while also forbidding the use of local languages, doing exactly the opposite of everything he had promised. He was guaranteeing the death of Rue Daru, whose only hope for survival was in fact to return to one or other of the parts of the Russian Church.

So I surrendered to God’s Will. And in 1987 I was granted the grace of meeting the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva, a representative of the real ROCOR, just waiting to return to a politically free Russian Church. Coming from Kiev, where I had first been to an Orthodox service, Archbishop Antony showed me the real, multinational ROCOR, which I had read about, but totally failed to meet in London with its nationalism and sectarianism. In July 1988, Rue Daru held a service in honour of the millennium of Orthodoxy in Rus, attended by the modernist Catholic Cardinal of Paris, but from which all Russian bishops had been banned!

It was the last straw and, thanks to God, Archbishop Antony gladly received a group of 17 of us spiritual refugees into ROCOR at the end of that year. This was actually a turning-point for the Rue Daru group, as ever since then the flow of serious Orthodox leaving it has not ceased, giving up the fight to save it. We now realize of course that that fight was impossible and we had undertaken it out of misplaced idealism. The well had been poisoned from the outset. It was also a turning-point for us, from which we have never looked back.

Q: Looking back, what would you do if you had your time again?

A: A purely hypothetical question. Hindsight, as they say, is a wonderful thing. At the time I had no advice at all, except for very bad advice, and there was no internet. Today, there is no doubt in my mind at all that I should have studied in London and then, in 1977, gone and studied at Jordanville. However, if I had not done what I had done then, how could I know all this now? Only experience teaches.

If I had not done what I did do, I would never have understood the Church of Greece, I would never have met the saintly Archbishop George Tarasov, the heroic Archbishop Antony of Geneva and so many other saintly figures, like the last representatives of the real White Russian movement, Fr Silouan of Athos of the Patriarchate (the disciple of St Silouan), the wonderful Baroness Maria Rehbinder, that exquisite Parisian poetess Lyudmila Sergeevna Brizhatova, the last White officer Vladimir Ivanovich Labunsky, and so many others, the representatives of the real Holy Rus in all jurisdictions of the Russian emigration.

Neither would I ever have understood the tragic renovationist decadence and absurd Soviet nationalism within parts of the Patriarchate outside Russia at that time, the two sides of the suicidal Rue Daru jurisdiction (sadly, today there is largely only one side left) and how ROCOR was nearly enveloped by the marginal extremes of narrow Russian nationalist chauvinism and fanatical old calendarist converts, but saved by the holiness of Metropolitan Laurus and the many with him, who so exactly expressed our values in Holy Rus, Eternal Russia.

There is in even this short, forty-year experience a lifetime of joys and sorrows. I have been privileged to know it all. In that sense I do not regret anything, even though I have met many tragic individuals, seen much waste and many lost opportunities, and seen parts of the Russian Diaspora committing suicide through spiritual impurity. However, I have been even more privileged in that I have also seen the old and artificial disunity fall away and become heartfelt unity and so life in the dynamic present and future. The worst, and it was really bad, is over and the best is now and in the future. Over nearly the last twenty years Providence has allowed me to work freely for the Russian Orthodox Church in missionary work in my own homeland of the three counties of the East of England.

Bishops of the Church of Greece Condemn the Anti-Christian EU

The extracts below show that some in Greece are at long last waking up to the inevitable destruction of their country by the EU and coming persecution. However, this is only the beginning. Other formerly Orthodox, new calendar countries like Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria, which are also selling their souls for the EU mess of pottage, failing to heed the warnings of the spiritual forces in their countries, now face having to introduce exactly the same policies as apostatic Greece just has, probably in 2016. If Montenegro, Serbia, Moldova and the Ukraine are also spiritually feeble enough to fall into EU apostasy, the first stage of which is violently enforcing the Catholic-Protestant calendar and joining the US-run NATO, they too will inevitably have to institute anti-Christian laws.

Athens, 17 December 17 2015

Metropolitan Ignatios of Larisa and Tyrnavos:

“Sin is being officially legalized in our country… Homosexuality…leads people to inevitable spiritual death… The politicians are following the stench coming from “civilized” countries which before us recognized that black is white, that bitter is sweet, and that unlawful is lawful…

Thus, “Let us attend”. “Let us lift up our hearts”. This is Orthodox Greece. This is our treasure. They envy us and intend to take this treasure from us. Let us not fall into this trap! Let us not be traitors!”

Metropolitan Pavlos of Sisanion and Siatista:

“Perhaps it is time to close our doors before those ‘politicians’ who visit us allegedly for respect, but in reality for populist purposes?

“Does anyone sincerely believe that the Church can betray its eternal values and adapt to the momentary needs of each historical era?

“The undeniable right of the Church is to bear witness to the truth. And homosexuality is inconsistent with Church life.

“Gentlemen of the government! Perhaps tomorrow you are going to demand that the Church accepts bestiality and pedophilia? Some expect that as soon as ‘the Free Cohabitation Law’ is adopted, you will be forced to legalize pedophilia.

“Europe will put pressure on you. And you are ready to do anything. Do you really think that we will ever agree with this?”

Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus:

“The adoption of the new law is officially opening the page of state persecutions against our faith. The politicians shamelessly refer to the European consensus concerning legalization of sodomy, but they conceal the fact that post-Christian Europe has become Sodom and Gomorrah. Persecutions are approaching. We will be threatened, we will be reviled, we will probably be imprisoned and murdered. But we must remain faithful even unto death. We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29), remembering that In the world you shall have tribulation (Jn 16:33), because the world hates you, for the Lord has chosen you out of the world (Jn 15:18-19). And we should not forget the words: And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul (Mt 10:28).

“On behalf of the Holy Metropolis of Piraeus we officially announce to all the politicians who will vote for legalization of the moral insanity, that all contact with them will be stopped.”

The Greek Tragedy

The Church unites East and West, looking both ways like the double-headed eagle. Therefore the Church finds itself in the middle, that is, on the Cross between the two thieves. The Church hangs between Eastern terrorism, with its crucifixions and beheadings of Christians in the Sudan, Libya and Syria which cause mass emigration, and Western terrorism, with its enslavement to usury (cloaked by the word ‘debt’) and the Western-sponsored destruction of stable governments, such as those in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yugoslavia. Which of the two thieves, who both railed against Christ at the beginning will repent? (Matt 27, 44, Mark 15, 32 and then Luke 23, 42-43). We do not know, but for the repentance of the Western thief, we can say this much:

Debt is usury and usury is enslavement, and enslavement is always a source of evil. Therefore, debt is always to be avoided as far as possible; at best it can only be a temporary necessary evil. Usury was and is forbidden by the Church. Catholicism, which for many centuries kept much of the heritage of the Church from the first millennium, forbade usury until the late 18th century. Thus, in France, usury in its modern, capitalistic form, was introduced with the atheists of the French Revolution. In Protestant England modern usury had was introduced in the seventeenth century under Cromwell, who was financed by Dutch Jews. In both cases, usury was connected with mass murder, with millions of dead.

Although usury has always existed and always been condemned, modern, approved usury, part of the system, is the product of Protestantism, especially of Calvinism. This is why Protestant countries are famous (or notorious) for their banking systems and their peoples are famous (or notorious) for being careful or ‘economical’ with money and savings, even encouraging small children to save in ‘money-boxes’. For example, we only have to think of Switzerland (Calvin’s homeland), the Netherlands, Scotland (homeland of John Knox, a disciple of Calvin), England, Scandinavia and colonies in North America and South Africa. England is, in the words of Adam Smith, ‘a nation of shopkeepers’ (like Mrs Thatcher), obsessed by consumerist shopping, and run by accountants. It is always very strange how on the news in England, you hear about bank rates, interest rates, exchange rates and stock exchange rates as if they were important. They are not news.

Modern Capitalism is Mammonism. The Son of God tells us that you cannot worship God and Mammon. For a long time, people in Protestant countries hypocritically said in self-delusion, ‘But we do not worship Mammon, only God’, relieving their guilty consciences by setting up charities and trusts. Now post-Protestantism, what is called ‘Consumerism’, is at least honest and not hypocritical. It says: ‘But we do not worship God, we only worship Mammon’. Thus, at least the pretences have stopped. And so we can clearly see that modern Capitalism is simply not Non-Christian, but anti-Christian. Christ or Antichrist? We had better decide whose side we are on.

As for once Orthodox countries, they have copied the Mammonism of the West. For the first time, this year, 2015, people in Russia have at last talked about Orthodox banking. But it may be too late. Too late, it would seem, for Greece. The Greek fault, and it is the fault of all Orthodox, was and is to accept usury-based Western banking and so debt. The Greek elite accepted loans from greedy Western bankers, so then they could buy greedy Western consumer goods. Now the Greek elite which took the money is in hiding together with the bankers who gave them the money. As for the Greek people, they are like children who were told that they had been given free toys. Only the toys turned out to be time-bombs which are now exploding.

Worse still, having committed apostasy by joining the EU, Greece is now having to face a tidal wave of immigration from countries which have been destroyed or destabilized by Western meddling, caused by that delusion of pride that the West has something to teach the rest of the world, that it ‘knows better’. Most of these immigrants are Muslims whose countries are in the grip of terrorists whose violence has been unleashed by money from Western allies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Thus, Greece is caught between the terrorism of Western usury and the terrorism of Eastern chaos. However, this is not the Greek tragedy – this is only the consequences of the Greek tragedy. The Greek tragedy, like the Russian tragedy in and after 1917, is the abandonment of Orthodoxy. The price for that is now being paid.

The Path to Unity

The Path to Unity

Woe unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord…And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.

Jeremiah 23, 1 and 3

The Path to Disunity

Since 1917 and the Western-organized fall of the Christian Empire, the Third Rome, the forces of this world have contrived to divide the Confederation of Local Churches which forms the Orthodox Church. This they have done in three stages.

Their first aim was to attack, paralyse, dupe and so divide those in the key Church, by far the biggest, the most multinational and missionary-minded and that on which the others largely depended, the Russian Orthodox Church. If extremists of any sort, whether modernists, nationalists or sectarians, could be brought to divide this Church, its territory being one sixth of the planet, then its influence there and all over the world could be destroyed. Thus, the forces of this world provoked Protestant-minded, renovationist modernists, both inside Russia (the Communist-sponsored Vvedensky and those with him, including the present neo-renovationists) and outside Russia (the Protestant-sponsored YMCA Paris Schism), nationalist groups (Ukrainians – Galician autocephalists and the present careerist Philaretists, Belarussians – autocephalists, misled Carpatho-Russian Americans – autocephalists) and tiny right-wing sects (Suzdalites, Agathangelites, Tikhonites (from Tikhon Paseka), Diomidites etc). It did not matter to them what ism they used in order to attack, paralyse, dupe and so divide, whether Marxist Communism, Hitlerite Fascism or liberal-consumerist Capitalism. More directly they also used other isms, Catholicism and Protestantism, sending in the 1920s Catholics (D’Herbigny) and in the 1990s more Uniats and US Protestant sectarians to try and divide the Russian Church.

Although the struggle continues, against all that the forces of this world planned, the Russian Church and so Orthodox Russia are gradually being restored. The forces of this world have largely failed and will fail, as long as the blood and seed of the New Martyrs and the tears and sweat of the Confessors who are rebuilding the Russian Church oppose them.

The forces of this world then set out on the second part of their campaign. This was to attack, paralyse, dupe and so divide those in the other, smaller Local Churches by introducing modernism and its symbol, the Catholic-Protestant calendar. They started in the weakest link in the chain, Turkish-occupied Constantinople, and began replacing its Patriarchs with Western puppets. This of course created schism. The forces of this world expanded their activities, interfering in the other four Greek Churches (the Church of Greece, its autocephalous offshoot in Greek Albania, the Church of Cyprus and the Patriarchate of Alexandria) as well as in the Latin Church (Romania, where they have yet again recently meddled in the appointment of a Patriarch), in the weakest of the Slav Churches (Bulgaria) and in the Arab Patriarchate of Antioch (where they have created a terrorist war), as well as trying to subjugate the Czechoslovak and Polish Churches. Everywhere they tried to introduce the Catholic-Protestant calendar and other modernist practices. Thus, altogether 20% of the Church was contaminated.

They have succeeded only in part and only temporarily.

The 20% contamination by modernism left the other 80% of the Church, in the Russian Lands, Serbia, Georgia and Jerusalem, all but uncontaminated. As they could not be allowed to remain intact, the forces of this world proceeded to the third and most recent part of their campaign. They have attacked the Serbian Church (dividing its territory, handing over some to Catholic control, some to Muslim control, some to Macedonian and Montenegrin nationalist schismatic control, and then trying to divide its episcopate), the Georgian Church (supporting a pro-modernist and anti-patriotic coup d’etat, calling it ‘regime change’ and trying to introduce consumerist sodomy), the Patriarchate of Jerusalem (where the previous Patriarch strangely languishes in prison and a schism has been established via the former US ambassador in Qatar, who allowed US premises to be used for services outside the canonical territory of Jerusalem on that of the Patriarchate of Antioch) and again in Russia (a coup d’etat by Western-backed Catholic nationalists from Galicia who have started massacring the Ukrainian Orthodox people. Everywhere they have also used the tiny, US-controlled Patriarchate of Constantinople to sow discord and division against the Russian Church, whether in Finland and Estonia (age-old territories of the Russian Church), using dissidents in the Russian emigration in France, North America and England, or more recently in Czechoslovakia (refusing to recognize its autocephaly and dividing its episcopate) and the Ukraine (where the Patriarchate’s US masters are tempting it to recognize politically-backed, uncanonical schismatics, as they have already done in Estonia)).

Here too, in this still continuing third part of their campaign, what the forces of this world have forgotten is that though they propose, God disposes. For only He lives in eternity and shows His loving and visionful Providence, whereas they live in their visionless spiral of infernal hatred, which they are trying to establish as an earthly kingdom.

The Path to Unity?

We do not know the future, how God will dispose. That is in His hands. But we can already see where the forces of this world may lose their way:

In Syria, as a result of the US-fomented war, contrary to what was proposed, the Patriarchate of Antioch has recognized who its friends are. Recognizing that it has no support from Constantinople, which is in the hands of the US-backed, anti-Syrian Turks, the Patriarchate of Antioch is now looking to the Russian Church.

In Africa, the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, once run as a colonial department of the Greek Foreign Ministry, is too poor to expand very much. It needs Russian help and such help would inevitably be anti-phyletist. In such a case the Patriarchate could be taken over, as would only be just, by native African bishops, just as the once-Greek colony of Antioch was taken over by native Arab bishops with anti-phyletist Russian help.

In another Greek colony, Jerusalem (as also in Constantinople), most of the faithful are now Russian. And in Jerusalem Russians support, as is only just, native Arab candidates as future bishops.

Many in the Churches of Greece (and so also in the Church of Greek Albania) and Cyprus (here the US-backed Turks were allowed to invade and occupy the island, which made anti-US feeling even stronger), their economies brought low and their peoples impoverished by joining the neo-feudal EU vassal of the US, are now looking to Russia for help.

The Church of Serbia still looks to Russia and adheres to the Orthodox calendar despite EU-backed political interference in its internal affairs and the now US-owned media.

The Churches of Romania and Bulgaria, in difficulty as the old generation of monastic elders has died out and members of the spiritually impoverished and so pro-Uniat middle generation, which grew up in the simoniac Communist period, has come to power, still have spiritual power in the monasteries and among many in the younger generation.

The Church of Georgia still has excellent relations with the Russian Church, despite US attempts to destroy them by encouraging the 2008 Georgian invasion of Russia-protected territory, where the US-run regime slaughtered 2,000 civilians in half an hour in an unprovoked and compassionless attack by its puppet government.

The Churches of Poland and Czechoslovakia are allied to Russia, the latter all the more so after recent US-backed Greek meddling there.

The Church of Constantinople looks ever weaker, as the rest of the world begins to recognize that it has since 1453, quite literally, been wearing the Emperor’s (new) clothes, that the real leader of the Orthodox world is the Russian Patriarch and that they have to talk to him if they want to talk about serious problems. More and more members of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and not only on Mt Athos, can see this themselves. The illusion of the absurd but vanity-consoling US interpretation of Canon 28 of Chalcedon is transparent to nearly all. Even some in the US are wondering whether it is worth spending more money that they do not have in Istanbul in order to maintain the vain illusion.

In the Diaspora, the Russian Church, recovering from paralysis, has begun to take responsibility and bring unity. And in the Ukraine itself, where the forces of this world thought they could destroy the Russian Church, their plans are backfiring. Most are now talking about the disintegration and dissolution of the purely artificial Ukrainian ‘State’, a conglomerate creation of four imperialist tyrannies, the Habsburg, the Leninist, the Stalinist and that of Washington. Its collapse is for many now just a question of time (according to some, months, though others reckon a few years). 84% of the Ukrainian people are now publically asking for their country to be run by President Putin – far better than continuing under the tyranny and poverty of the corrupt and unrepresentative Kiev puppet junta. This is completely reliant on US subsidies for survival, at great expense to the EU, whose members are suffering bitterly from its anti-Russian, or rather anti-European, sanctions.

Some 55% of the Ukraine, the east and the south, together with Transdnestria, may well return after nearly 95 years to Russia (some of it, the Crimea, already has done so by democratic referendum). 25% of it, centred around Kiev, may become once more the ancient Malorossiya, a southern variant of Belarus. The only part, some 15%, that is really Ukrainian and where the various dialects of Ukrainian are spoken, the largely Catholic Galician borderland, which is what the word ‘Ukraine’ means, may mostly return to Poland. It was from here that the Georgian tyrant Stalin tore it away in 1939, earning the undying and understandable hatred of its people. The two small remaining parts of the present Ukraine, some 5%, may return to Romania (the Orthodox calendar intact, so again helping the Romanian Church to return to the Tradition) and Hungary. And the part that may return to Hungary, that which the Kiev bureaucrats still call ‘Transcarpathia’, even though they are the only Transcarpathians, as they are the ones who live across the Carpathians, could become the kernel of a fifteenth Local Church, a Hungarian Orthodox Church.

Given the excellent relations between Hungary, which has a democratically-elected anti-EU government, and the Russian Federation, which supports all National Resistance and Sovereignist movements against the tyrannical EU, this could happen. Only a few years ago the Russian Church won its legal battle for control of the Budapest Orthodox Cathedral – all is set for a new Local Church to be born. Thus the 500 parishes of ‘Transcarpathians’, that is Carpatho-Russians (or Ruthenians = Latin for Russians), would be at the heart of another Local Church. For it is they who are at the heart of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, they who have contributed to the Polish Church, one of whose constituent peoples is the Lemkos (north-western Carpatho-Russians), and it is they who through their noble and illustrious son from Presov Rus, Metr Lavr (Skhkurla), contributed to Diaspora unity between the Russian Church and one of its constituent parts, the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). The vast majority in the latter had only been waiting for freedom at the Centre of the Church to be reconciled with Her.

Of course, nothing is certain; the above are all possible scenarios, only some of which may actually happen. Nevertheless, they are possible, whereas only a few decades ago, when we lived oppressed and isolated by all the forces of this world, they seemed impossible. The visionless who thought short-term, unlike St John of Shanghai and those like him, whose world-view they should have been trying to live by instead of studying philosophy, failed to see that the world would change. Today, we live in a different world from the past. Now a small minority of countries that have stopped being Christian huddle together in a bankrupt union of less than a billion, a union of Eurosodom and Gomorrhica. And the three largest Christian countries, Brazil, Russia and China, are bound together in a union with others, covering half the world’s population.

What the forces of this world were proposing only three or four decades ago, and which made those who had no faith in the Holy Spirit despair, today seems ever less probable. Then the Establishment-compromised, who had in their youth taken the easy, Establishment-approved path and refused to take up the Cross of the Russian Church, mocked us, denounced us and despised us. Now, older, they have only to take up the Cross and they too will walk. Unlike the Donatists and Neo-Donatists, we will welcome them back with open arms, as the loving Father did the Prodigal Son of old.

Germany Versus Greece

Matt. 18, 23-35

Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, who would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought to him, who owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, who owed him a hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me what thou owest. And his fellow servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after he had called him, said to him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

Matt. 25, 14-30

For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them another five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained another two.
But he that had received one went and dug in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.

After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought another five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst to me five talents: behold, I have gained besides them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst to me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents besides them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strewed: and I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strewed: thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it to him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

European Parliament, Strasbourg, 8 July 2015

Threats and Bullying, But Greece Stood Firm

By Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage tells Alex Tsipras: “Your moment has come -lead the Greek people out of the euro with your head held high”. “Get back your democracy; get back control of your country. Give your people the leadership and the hope that they crave.”

European Parliament, Staatsburg, 8 July 2015

“Thank you. What we’re seeing in this chamber this morning and indeed across the whole of Europe is an irreconcilable cultural difference between Greece and Germany. A split between the North and the South of Europe. The European project is actually beginning to die. Nobody in this room will recognise that the peoples of Europe are saying, we were never asked whether we want in this. This has been foisted upon on us and we need to understand why the EMU doesn’t work. Those monsters Kohl and Mitterrand, backed up by the clever but dangerous Delors believed that if they put in place an economic and monetary union then as night follows day, there would be political union and there would be an acceptance of this project and the North and South of Europe would converge. That we would all start to love each other and we would all start to feel a European identity, that we would all start to show allegiance to the flag and the anthem.

Those, of course, that criticised this were told we were extremists and we lacked vision. Well one vision we didn’t lack is we understood the countries of Europe are different and if you try to force together different people and different economies without first seeking the consent of those people it is unlikely to work and the plan has failed. This isn’t just Greece we’re talking about today, the whole of the Med now finds itself in the wrong currency and yet virtually nobody in the political arena has the courage to stand up and say that. Indeed, I feel that the continent is now divided from North to South, there is a new Berlin wall and it is called the euro. The old enmities have been resumed. Just listen to the way the German leader of the CDU group this morning attacked Mr Tsipras. He was actually disgusting but it shows the way North and South feel about each other.

Mr Tsipras, your country should never have joined the euro, I think you acknowledge that. But the big banks, big business and big politics forced you in. Goldmans Sachs, the German arms manufacturers, they were all very happy when the bailouts began. They weren’t for the Greek people, those bailouts were for French, German and Italian banks. They haven’t helped you at all. These years of austerity, years of high employment and increasing poverty, none of it’s worked. In fact, your debt GDP ratio has gone from 100 percent at the start of the crisis to 180 percent right now. It would be madness sir, to continue on this course.

You have been very brave. You called that referendum. When one of your predecessors tried to do the same the bully boys in Brussels had him removed. They tried their best again, Mr Juncker said you would have to leave the Euro and leave the EU. Even Mr Schulz, the president of the parliament, who one would have thought might have been neutral, said that if the Greeks voted no then power supplies might even go down. There were threats and bullying but the Greeks stood firm. But sir, you cannot have your cake and eat it. They will give you no more these people. They cannot afford to, if they give you more they have to give other Eurozone members more.

So your moment has come, and frankly if you have the courage you should lead the Greek people out of the Eurozone with your head held high. Get back your democracy; get back control of your country. Give your people the leadership and the hope that they crave. Yes it will be tough in the first few months but with a devalued currency and with friends of Greece all over the world, you will recover.

A Unique Opportunity

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

Matt. 10,34

In its hubris the Western world, Euroamerica, has most foolishly been destroying its own power base. Having carefully taken over Eastern Europe, including Non-Catholic/Protestant Greece, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria, not to mention bombing Serbia and trying to operate coups d’etat in Georgia and now Moldova, Macedonia and Armenia, it has had mixed success. It has tried to prise the present territory of the Ukraine, inhabited by 80% of Russian speakers, from its national and historical identity through a violent coup d’etat, installing a corrupt puppet regime there and then starting a bloody civil war.

Now Euroamerica has set Greece against it by bankrupting its people and humiliating them. Backed by their spiritual leaders on Mt Athos, the Greek people have staged a democratic revolt against its feudal Western leaders. They want freedom. And the only way of obtaining freedom, whether in the Ukraine or in Greece, is by allying themselves with the Russian Federation and so the Eurasian Economic Union and BRICS, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. For it is these countries which have now set up their own International Bank against the Western run IMF and also rejected universal sodomy as preached by the Western freemasons.

In other words, we may now be seeing the end of the EU Fourth Reich, the end of post-Cold War US hegemony and its promotion of sodomy. The US and the EU between them have thrown both the Ukraine and Greece into the arms of the only country in the world that can recreate the only Christian Empire, which the West firstly overthrew in New Rome in 1204 (which led directly to its final fall in 1453) and secondly overthrew in the Third Rome in 1917. The West did not expect the Christian Roman Empire to make a comeback; the resurgence of the Third and Final Rome was not part of the pagan Western script.

The pagan Western script said that after the fall of Communism, Russians would become so Westernized, so zombified by bread and circus consumerism, that they would give up their Christian Civilization. Therefore, pro-Western bandits, disguised under the names of privatizers and oligarchs, would steal the riches of the country and its drunkard President would ensure its penetration by Protestant robot-missionaries, freemasons and ‘Non-Governmental Organizations’ (= CIA fronts). As for Greece, in decadence ever since the Western overthrow of the Christian Empire in 1917, it was already falling like a ripe fruit, showing the way to the fall of Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria and the other fringes of the Christian world.

However, the pagan Western script failed to take into account the sword of the monasteries, the parish clergy, the people and their Faith. Yes, it is possible to install pro-Western patriarchs, metropolitans, archbishops and bishops, oiled with sufficient sums of money, false diplomas, new palaces and flash cars, shave their beards and dress them as fallen Christians, but the Church does not depend on a corrupted elite; it depends on the Holy Spirit Who inspires and informs the Faith. And for this reason Greece, like the Ukraine, now have a unique opportunity, to escape the clutches of the US and its vassal EU and return to their destiny as vital parts of the restored Christian empire, centred in Moscow, Roma-Nova. The West proposes but Almighty God disposes.