Category Archives: Liturgy

Questions and Answers from Recent Correspondence (April 2021)

Pastoral Matters

Q: Is there now any real difference between the ROCOR Churches and the Patriarchal Churches outside Russia? You are under the same Patriarch and all Russian Orthodox? What difference can there be?

A: Although the dividing lines are sometimes rather blurred today, especially in the capitals, generally we in ROCOR are the People’s Church. With other Churches, including Moscow Patriarchal parishes, you always have the impression that the priests are looking over their shoulders at foreign states and embassies, expecting financial or other help. We do not, we cannot, we are local. We have to be self-supporting. The priests survive, the choirs are unpaid. Without the support of the people, we will not exist. This makes us freer, though of course our life can also be incredibly difficult and poor. But who needs marble and gold in their churches? Despite everything they throw at us, all the hatred, jealousy and persecution, we are here and now.

Q: What would you say has been the result of the establishment of a group in the Ukraine under the Patriarchate of Constantinople?

A: The result has been the spread of the tiny, localised and highly nationalistic Ukrainian schism to the small Patriarchates of Constantinople and Alexandria and to the Churches of Greece and Cyprus. All those four Churches are now completely split. Fortunately, the other ten Local Orthodox Churches have remained faithful and not put local nationalism, whether Greek or Ukrainian, above Christ. We are now seeing who is actually Orthodox Christian and who is a mere chauvinist and can be bought to crucify the Body of Christ with thirty pieces of American silver.

Q: Archbishop Job of Telmissos of the Patriarchate of Constantinople has said that Orthodox must accept the Roman Catholic Easter. Could this happen?

A: Archbishop Job is the disgraced bishop of the former Rue Daru Constantinople group. His semi-Uniat, schismatic and tiny Patriarchate is out of communion with the vast majority of the Orthodox Church. I think the less said about any of his strange ideas, the better.

Q: What in the simplest and shortest terms possible is the difference between the Orthodox Church and the Non-Orthodox?

A: My grandson, aged three, recently went inside an Anglican church to see some stained-glass. When he came out, he was asked what he thought. He answered: ‘Huh, well, that’s a pretend church. There were no icons and no candles and they had beds for people to sleep on’ (he meant pews).

I will say no more.

Q: What are the essential qualities to be a priest?

A: There are two: Piety and Intelligence. However, these two qualities need defining:

Piety is not just faith in the heart that God exists, but actual knowledge of God through spiritual experience and therefore love of His Creation. This is very different from pietism, which is emotionalism and sentimentality.

Intelligence does not mean the excellent memory of academic intelligence, intellectualism, which is often very stupid and impious. Intelligence means intuition and experience of human psychology, emotional intelligence, the ability to understand where other people are coming from and how they suffer.

Q: Which is the biggest Orthodox jurisdiction in this country?

A: This is the jurisdiction of lapsed Orthodox, those of all nationalities who are baptised, but who never come to church. It certainly numbers hundreds of thousands.

Q: Why are many Orthodox people passive? Is this a form of clericalism?

A: Sometimes I have the impression that many Orthodox people are like very small children: they will not do anything for themselves or for the Church, unless instructed specifically to do so. This does not only concern big questions, it concerns petty things like blowing out candles, turning  a light on or the heating down, shutting a door etc. I think this comes from the State religion mentality: ‘The clergy will do it’. That mentality is fatally wrong.

Q: Priests should have no right to prevent people taking communion through confession. What do you say to that?

A: I absolutely agree with you. The aim of confession is precisely to help people take communion, not to prevent them. If you were a member of the Orthodox Church and had confession, I think you would know this.

Q: If the Orthodox Church is opposed to contraception, why do virtually all Orthodox couples use it? (As far as I can see they do, since families with two or even only one child appear to be the norm). What exactly is the Orthodox teaching?

A: In answer I will tell you a true story.

Some thirty years ago I met a young Russian émigré woman who thought she was ‘very Orthodox’. She got married to an Orthodox with the blessing of her ‘spiritual father’ and started having children. She had five altogether, even though her marriage was more or less collapsing. Finally, she divorced and became so mentally ill that she had to be taken to a mental hospital and the children were taken into care. In the meantime her ‘spiritual father’,a bishop!!, had been arrested by the police for pedophilia and was duly sitting in a police cell.

She had had five children, not because she loved them, but because in her pride she wanted to be ‘more Orthodox than the Orthodox’, a ‘super-Orthodox’, like her ‘spiritual father’. In other words, the motivation for her life had been sheer pride.

Tell me, what would have been the lesser evil? What would have been better than five unloved, unwanted, unhappy and rejected children, who all now have psychological problems.

The Orthodox teaching on this issue, as on all issues, is love.

Q: Why do temptations happen to us even though we pray ‘And lead us not into temptation’?

A: Temptations are allowed to happen to us in order to make us humble. The sad fact is that in general when there are no temptations, there is no humility. The devil does not know it, but when he tempts us, as allowed by God, he is in fact working for God, he is working to make us humble.

Q: What makes art?

A: Suffering. All great art comes from suffering. Suffering is redemptive for all, believers and unbelievers alike.

Q: What is the difference between a ghost and a poltergeist, if any?

A: A ghost is the souls of a departed human-being which cannot for some reason find rest. A poltergeist is a violent demon.

Q: I recently met an Orthodox woman who continually spoke about demons. I presume this is not typical?

A: Of course not. She is ill. There are people who for psychological, or rather psychopathological, reasons appear to believe more in the devil than Christ. They are profoundly depressed and depressing. These pessimists await the coming of Antichrist, whereas we await the coming of Christ, Who overcame the devil and death.

Liturgical Matters

Q: Why are Orthodox services rather chaotic compared to Catholic and Protestant churches? Everyone seems to be doing different things at the same time.

A: What could be more chaotic than the Holy Spirit?

Q: Do parishes ever need three deacons?

A: I would say no, because there is nothing for a third deacon to do. The only solution would be to have a rota, with the third deacon taking turns to celebrate as the first or second deacon. Even when there are two priests or two deacons, they can do the same.

Q: I recently attended an Unction service and the seven anointings were done altogether at the end, not seven times separately? Is that normal?

A: It is normal in small churches with large numbers of people. Rather than have people milling around seven times and bumping into each other, the anointings are all done at the end. However, in large churches where there is plenty of room and people are disciplined and know how to queue up, the seven anointings can be done separately after each Epistle, Gospel, litany and prayer, as is presupposed. This is a purely practical, not liturgical, question.

Q: Why are Liturgies of the Presanctified so poorly attended, when they do take place? And why not have them in the evening?

A: You mean Vespers with Presanctified Communion, as there is no eucharistic liturgy at these services.

First of all, these are monastic offices. In parishes the only people who can attend are paid clergy, a paid choir and retired people. In our context where we have no paid clergy and no paid choirs and we only have young people and they all work and their older children are at school, there is no possibility to attend them. The only people who might come are mothers with small children. But of course why would they come, when small children are unable to take communion at them because there is no Blood of Christ, only the Body. As I said at the beginning, these are services for monasteries or cathedrals, where there are priests, choirs and at least one reader (essential if these services are to be done properly).

Secondly, they are designed for those who are unable to wait until the next Saturday and Sunday to take communion, in other words they presuppose very frequent communion: that also is very rare. At all the Presanctified services I have been to or celebrated, there were never more than three communions (all of old people).

Very sadly, presanctified services can become a badge of pharisaical pietism.

If they were held in the evening (which is actually uncanonical), when would the fast before communion begin? After breakfast? Personally, I cannot take communion after a day at work. Holy communion needs to be the first thing we do in the day, not the last. Can we really be prepared to take communion after the stress of a day at work? Our thoughts are elsewhere. We need to prepare for holy communion.

Questions and Answers from Correspondence (January-March 2021)

Faith or Works?

Q: What is more important for salvation in the view of Orthodox, Faith or Works?

A: Neither. This is an internal Protestant-Catholic debate.

Without faith, there will be no authentic works, as the Apostle says, ‘Faith without works is dead’. In other words, real Faith always transforms our attitudes to others, where there is faith, there are works. However, just as there are those who claim to have faith and have none and therefore have no works, there are those who claim to have works, but in fact their works are insincere. This emphasis on works is what lies behind the Protestant work ethic and workaholicism, which destroys and deforms the lives of both individuals and whole societies. This stress on works at any cost has given rise to the English saying, ‘as cold as charity’, for many works (of charity) are insincere, the product of those who do them, but they are done for their own ideology, glory and vanity. Not all that is done in the Name of God is actually done in His Name, as is well known and as Christ says in the Gospels.

As for Christians (= Orthodox), we believe that we are saved neither by faith, nor by works, but by Divine Mercy. The post-Schism Western debate is all about humanism, the adoration of the individual, which presupposes that human-beings can attain salvation without God. We Christians say that we are dependent on God’s Mercy for salvation, not on ourselves. Otherwise Christ’s Incarnation and Crucifixion are meaningless and lead directly to atheism, which is exactly what happened in the Western and then in the Westernised world.

Covid Vaccines

Q: Why do so many Eastern Europeans refuse to have an anti-covid-19 vaccine?

A: Every community, not just Eastern European immigrants, has people who will never accept any vaccine, let alone a completely new one, which naturally creates suspicion. However, there are specifics:

For example, in France, which has a very weak democracy, the State has tried to discredit any vaccine other than the French national one, yet even to be produced by Sanofi!, so creating a great deal of scepticism towards any vaccine. On top of that, French national statistics are distorted since those who die with covid in care homes are not counted in the figures for victims of covid (the situation of statistical manipulation and downright falsification is even more distorted in Germany). Worse still, the French State forces people to take the vaccine. This immediately produces massive resistance to it and public protests. There is no understanding by the French State of reverse psychology or representation of the people, just brute force. That is why there are so many violent street protests there.

In Russia and Eastern Europe, where Communist States blatantly and unashamedly lied to their people for 45 or even 75 years, the instinctive attitude towards anything the State proclaims is that it is a lie (which, true, it sometimes is). In other words, the problem here is a total lack of trust in the corrupt governments and in anything they recommend or, worse still, enforce.

Conspiracy Theories

Q: Do Orthodox accept any conspiracy theories?

A: No doubt there are such theorists among fringe and nationalist Orthodox, just as there are in every human group. However, conspiracy theories belong to and come from the atheist world. Christians (= Orthodox) believe and know that there is only one conspiracy against us, that of Satan. Satan of course may and does at various times use various ideological or ethnic groups against us, but Christians know that the world is not ruled by such groups (Bilderbergers, Nazis, Communists, the Vatican, the Franks, the Trilateral, international bankers, BigPharma, Zionists, the Illuminati, the Freemasons and all the other bogeymen). Members of such groups may imagine that they are all-powerful, but this is an illusion and the flattery of the demons, they are all merely puppets manipulated by Satan.

In the same way, every personal sin that we commit is not an expression of our freedom, but of our slavery to Satan. But even Satan does not rule the world – that is his illusion, which comes from his self-flattery. We Christians know that in fact the world is ruled by Christ, for He long ago defeated Satan, together with his death and suffering, through the Resurrection. This is why we Christians have hope, this is why we are fundamentally optimists, this is why we do not fear death, unlike the world and all its conspiracy theorist-manipulated and covid-manipulated zombies.

Q: Does the Orthodox Church believe that Jews murder Christian children ritually?

A: Of course not. This is a purely Roman Catholic invention, beginning in the late 11th century and ending as late as the 1960s. It began in England, spread to France, Germany, Italy, Spain and then, Central and Eastern Europe, including Poland, Bessarabia and the western Ukraine (the Beilis case in 1913). In origin it is linked to the First Crusade which murdered hundreds of Jews in the Rhineland at the end of the 11th century, though essentially it is all about Capitalist greed and jealousy of Jewish mercantile success.

The only Orthodox who support such dangerous nonsense are nominal Orthodox who are in fact anti-Semitic nationalists, rather than Orthodox. They love money and are jealous of rich Jews (strangely, they do not seem to resent so much rich people of their own nationality).

Blood libel first came to the surface in the Orthodox world in what is now Poland (a fundamentally Catholic country) with the case of St Gabriel of Bialystok at the end of the 17th century, a child-martyr, for whom was written a falsified legend, charging ‘the Jews’ with his death. The problem was not with the saint, a real martyr, but with the Polish legend written in his name. More recently the blood libel myth has resurfaced in Russia among a few post-Communist nationalists, like the sectarian, right-wing politico Mikhail Nazarov.

In self-justification such people have even started spreading the incredible (Communist) libel that Tsar Nicholas II was anti-Semitic! In fact, the latter did his best to protect ordinary believing Jews from the exploited and disgruntled citizens of other nationalities and built several large synagogues for them. His problem was with Jews who had lost their faith and renounced their traditions, worshipping money and power (in Marxism, for example) and ready to lie and kill at every opportunity, just as the atheist representatives of other ethnic groups, Russian, Ukrainian, Georgian, Latvian etc.

Today accusations of Jewish ritual murder of Christian children are much more common among Arab nationalists, who hate the Israeli persecutors. The only people today who actually murder Christian children are abortionists, few of whom are Jews and not a single one of whom is a believing Jew. Millions of future Christian children are murdered in Europe every year in this bloody ritual, performed on the altar of Satan.

Liturgical Notes

Q: Do we say Great Lent or the Great Fast?

A: We say either ‘Lent’ or else ‘The Great Fast’. Great Lent does not exist. It is a linguistic mistake introduced by the late Fr Alexander Schmemann, for whom English was a third language. Unfortunately, it was then adopted by American converts, who did not know the origins of English either. In English we say ‘Lent’, the Old English word for ‘spring’, so called precisely because it is the period when the days are ‘lengthening’. There is no such thing as ‘Great Lent’. Days lengthen, they do not great lengthen. The fast does not lengthen, it is fixed. If you do wish to translate, you can say ‘The Great Fast’, just as you can use the translations ‘Pascha’, ‘The Nativity’ and ‘Altar Feast’, or else use the English ‘Orthodox Easter’, ‘Orthodox Christmas’ and ‘Patronal Feast’. We Orthodox are different from Non-Orthodox, but we do not need to distort the local language in order to prove this, we need to respect it. As one kind reader has pointed out, this is mentioned in the early Orthodox Christian writing, The Epistle to Diognetus:

“For the Christians are distinguished from other people neither by country, nor by language, nor by the customs they observe. They do not inhabit cities of their own, or employ a peculiar form of speech, or lead a life in any way different from that of others …”

Q: Which colour of vestments is correct in Lent, purple or black?

A: I am not sure that we should use the word ‘correct’ in such matters. There are a hundred ways of doing the same thing. This is not a dogmatic question. Having said that, here is an answer: Although black is commonly used in Moscow and other parts of Russia as a liturgical colour in Lent, it was introduced there by the German Tsarina Catherine II who brought it in from Catholic Poland, where black in Lent was normal. Purple, not black, is the traditional Orthodox colour on weekdays in Lent. On Saturdays and Sundays in Lent some continue to wear purple, though others, perhaps ‘more correctly’ wear red.

Q: Why does the Moscow Patriarchate wear red as the colour of vestments at Pascha?

A: There are many different liturgical practices in the Russian Church, both inside Russia and also outside Russia (ROCOR dioceses are very, very different from one another, especially outside the USA), depending on the diocese. The Church is nowhere a monolith. True, red is worn in the Moscow Diocese at Easter. But the Church is much bigger than the Moscow Diocese! There are hundreds of dioceses. The red at Easter in the Moscow Diocese and elsewhere appears to come from the confusion between the Russian word for ‘red’, which in Slavonic means ‘beautiful’.

Thus, in the canon of Easter matins we have the expression in Slavonic ‘Paskha krasna’, which means in English ‘the Passover of beauty’. In modern Russian this sounds literally like ‘red Paskha’. Similarly in Moscow there is the central area called ‘Red Square’. This is a mistranslation caused by ignorance of Slavonic. Its Slavonic name actually means ‘Beautiful Square’. In the Church Outside Russia, which preserves pre-Revolutionary liturgical traditions general to the Church and not one particular Diocese, however central that is, only white is worn at Easter.

Q: As you know, I go to different parishes in and outside London. Even in the same jurisdiction, different English translations are used for the Liturgy. Why can there not be uniformity?

A: Why do you want uniformity? In the early Orthodox Church, long before printing, there was great variety. Indeed, many of the services were conducted without the written word and all was done and had to be done from memory. What piety! I think we only need letter for letter uniformity in ‘Our Father’, ‘Mother of God, Rejoice’, ‘O Heavenly King’ and the Creed.

Q: Why are Orthodox services so long?

A: Why are Non-Orthodox services so short?

Fr Sophrony Sakharov and Metr Antony Bloom

Q: When and why did Fr Sophrony Sakharov leave the Russian Church? Who was right?

A: In 1965, after his dispute with the then local Moscow bishop, Metropolitan Antony Bloom. Who was right? Read below:

I first met both of these personalities nearly fifty years ago. One was the ex-Hindu former librarian of St Panteleimon’s monastery, whose mother had been involved in pseudo-mystical movements like astrology, the other was the son of the famous hypnotist Boris Bloom and the nephew of the occultist composer Scriabin. I knew them both many, many times, before I left their philosophical and personal orbits to find bread and drink for my soul. Fr Sophrony Sakharov, the Parisian artist and philosopher, had had to leave Mt Athos in 1947 together with the future Archbishop Basil (Krivoshein) and Fr Silouan (surely a saint and a disciple of St Silouan) of Ste Genevieve. This was because they had fallen into disfavour with the Greek authorities for what they saw as their co-operation with the Nazi occupiers during the Second World War. Fr Sophrony’s knowledge of languages had put him into direct contact with the Germans. Going back to Paris, he left the Constantinople jurisdiction to go to the Moscow jurisdiction.

At that time, 99% of the Russian emigration, in Paris mainly under Constantinople, saw his move to Moscow from Constantinople as treason, and virtually accused him of becoming a Communist. Given Fr Sophrony’s writings in the 1950s about Church life in which he was militantly pro-Moscow and anti-Constantinople, he became even more unpopular with the mass of émigrés there. Even in the 1970s he was still accusing Russian emigres not in the Moscow Patriarchate of ‘lacking love’. This upset the vast majority as it was clearly untrue. In Paris Fr Sophrony also tried to set up a convent in Paris with three women. This was a well-known disaster and further scandalised.

When the Church of England offered Fr Sophrony as an ecumenical gesture a redundant village church and rectory in England for free, he saw this as an escape route, even though he would be forever ecumenically tied. (This is why the now more or less Convent at Tolleshunt Knights can never receive Anglicans into the Church). However, having arrived in England in 1959 with three followers he had found, a Swiss, a German and a Russian, he had not reckoned with Metr Antony Bloom. This local Moscow bishop was also a Paris intellectual from a very similar upper middle-class Russian convert background to Fr Sophrony.

In England Metr Antony had a tiny jurisdiction and only one priest with him, since the vast majority of the small Russian emigration in England belonged to ROCOR and saw representatives of Moscow as Stalinists, especially after one clergyman in Moscow had scandalously served a memorial service for Stalin on his death. However, Metr Antony was desperate to set up a diocese to justify his newly-acquired title as ‘Metropolitan of the Diocese of Sourozh’. This title was pure fiction and he knew it. In order to justify it, he needed to recruit Anglicans as people and recruit priests. A monastery was the easy source for priests. So instead of letting Fr Sophrony’s monks follow their ‘less practical’ pursuits, the typically Parisian anti-monastic Metr Antony tried to push them harder and use them as priests.

The split was inevitable and, despite his previous pro-Moscow writings, in 1965 Fr Sophrony walked out of Moscow for Constantinople and the new calendar. This caused such a scandal in the Moscow Patriarchate that even today there are virtually no Russians at Tolleshunt Knights. Personally, having seen some of the pre-1965 correspondence between Fr Sophrony and Metr Antony, I think it was all six of one and half a dozen of the other. As both characters are long gone, it is largely irrelevant, even though Patriarch Bartholomew has recently ‘weaponised’ Fr Sophrony against the Russian Church by unilaterally declaring that he is a local saint. That was with no investigation of his earthly remains, life, art nouveau painting and almost unreadable philosophical writings.

I am afraid I knew both personalities much too well to have time for 20th century émigré personality disputes. We long ago moved on to the future, which consists of helping to set up Local Churches in Western Europe, North America, Latin America and Oceania on a practical level, and not getting sidetracked into and bogged down in the fruitless byways of the personal philosophical quarrels of the past. Let us leave all these Russian émigré intellectual personalities and futile cults and manipulations, the Berdyayevs, Bulgakovs, Schmemanns, Zernovs, Struves et al and their abstract internal quarrels and ideologies, and their rights and their wrongs, and there were both, to the history books. They are the past.

We look to our future and the mainstream of the Church, the universal and the ancient local saints, to the New Martyrs and Confessors and to the Three Pillars of Orthodoxy outside Russia, St John of Shanghai, St Jonah of Hankou and St Seraphim of Boguchar. Let the past remain in the past, bygones are bygones. Our task and our relevance are to follow the principle of the Incarnation and to build and open new churches in the here and now, despite everything that the self-apppointed authorities, ideologists and dreamers have ruthlessly thrown and continue to throw at us in order to destroy us. All the worst enemies of the Church are nominally Orthodox, but they block out the light of Christ with the very long shadows cast by their own personalities and personal foibles.

A Local Church

Q: Why have all attempts to found a new Local Orthodox Church in the British Isles and Ireland/Western Europe so far failed?

A: The short answer is because no such attempt has ever taken place, for so far there have only been the dreams of individual intellectuals with their cults and often charlatanism.

The reality is that Orthodox life both here as elsewhere in Western Europe has been dominated either by administrative personalities who catered for immigrant communities/nationalist ghettos, or else by intellectual personalities who wanted to adapt Orthodoxy to their notions of Western culture, regardless of Dogma and the Tradition.

The flag-waving nationalist/immigrant communities, like the old nationalist ROCOR Church which completely died out but has been ‘restocked’ from the ex-Soviet Union, like all the other post-1917 Russian organisations, or like the Greek Church in England today, die. Once assimilation takes effect, the children of immigrants no longer wants to belong to a nationalist ghetto, which is foreign to them. Death is the result.

As regards the ‘adaptationists’, they too lose the way, making it up as they go along, and die out because they have neither the Tradition, nor a spiritual purpose, only the psychological one of making themselves feel at home in what was for their parents a foreign country. Often highly intellectual, even the titles, let alone the contents, of their books are incomprehensible. Unlike the apostles, they are unable to express the Tradition in the language of ordinary people.

A Local Church can only come into being, provided that it is faithful to real, and not a watered down version of, Orthodox Christianity and that it also uses the natural local language, and not a foreign language or some intense convert literalist translation into the local language. This golden mean has not existed – so far. But we are working on it.

 

Akathist to the Venerable Gabriel of Samtavro, Confessor and Fool-for-Christ

Troparion, Tone 2

Receptacle of the Holy Spirit, confessor of the faith of Christ who shone forth in Iberia, O Venerable Father Gabriel! Thou who wast rejected by the world, glorified by thy foolishness for Christ and burning with the love of Christ, hearken to us thy people, that the Lord may forgive our transgressions.

Kontakion, Tone 5

Fruitful vine of the garden of Paradise, valiant soldier of Christ, O venerable Father Gabriel and Wonderworker of Samtavro! Thou who didst ascend to the heights of virtue and surpassed the wise by thy wisdom, O most wondrous fool for Christ, beseech the Master and Almighty that He may deliver us from bondage to sin, the violence of the adversary and great hardships.

Kontakion 1

Chosen vessel of the grace of God, fragrant source of miracles, boast of Iberia, O most wondrous Father Gabriel! Now do we offer thee a song of praise, and since thou hast great boldness towards the Lord, deliver us from all misfortunes, that we may cry to thee with love: Rejoice, O venerable confessor Gabriel, fool for Christ and wonderworker!

Ikos 1

Imitating the angelic life, thou didst please God with thy purity and humility, O most blessed Father Gabriel, and thou wast found worthy of acquiring the great gifts of the Holy Spirit! Marvelling at the greatness of thy feat, we call out to thee thus:

Rejoice, well of the wisdom of God;

Rejoice, spring of the living faith.

Rejoice, heart that contained Christ;

Rejoice, tree who has brought forth spiritual fruit.

Rejoice, thou who wast chosen by God from birth;

Rejoice, thou who wast called to serve Him;

Rejoice, thou who didst enlighten the Iberian land by thy miracles;

Rejoice, thou who didst shine forth by thy God-pleasing life.

Rejoice, thou who wast affirmed by God on the rock of faith;

Rejoice, thou who didst preach the Name of Christ with love.

Rejoice, thou who didst endure many sorrows in thy life;

Rejoice, thou who didst enter the Kingdom of Heaven thereby.

Rejoice, O venerable confessor Gabriel, fool for Christ and wonderworker!

Kontakion 2

Seeing the abundant outpouring of miracles from thy shrine, O Venerable Father Gabriel, we are confirmed in faith and piety. Revering thee as a wondrous pleaser of God, with thankful lips we cry to the Lord, the Giver of good things: Alleluia.

Ikos 2

Beseech the Lord to enlighten our reason, O pleaser of God Gabriel, that, shaking off earthly passions and vain cares, we may ascend with our hearts and minds to the heavenly abodes, wherein thou dwellest, and call out to thee thus:

Rejoice, fragrance of the Paradise of Christ;

Rejoice, radiance of the grace of God.

Rejoice, boast and adornment of the garden of the Mother of God;

Rejoice, thou who didst strike terror into the insolent who did sacrilege.

Rejoice, thou who didst strive for monastic solitude from thy youth;

Rejoice, thou who didst call out to God for help.

Rejoice, thou who didst heed the Word of God;

Rejoice, thou who didst obey His commandments.

Rejoice, thou who didst bear the chains of feigned foolishness;

Rejoice, thou who didst put to shame the delusions of this world.

Rejoice, thou who didst love poverty and humiliations;

Rejoice, thou who didst glorify the Name of God.

Rejoice, O venerable confessor Gabriel, fool for Christ and wonderworker!

Kontakion 3

Strengthened by the power of the love of Christ, bestowed on thee from above, O Venerable Father Gabriel, thou wast zealous in acquiring feats like the Fathers of the Ancient Church.  Growing in humility and meekness, thou didst pray for heavenly help, crying out to the Lord: Alleluia.

Ikos 3

Having great faith and firm trust in the Lord, thou didst choose the path of foolishness, O most wondrous Father Gabriel. Singing with love and glorifying God, wondrous in His saints, we call out to thee thus:

Rejoice, ray of the Sun of truth;

Rejoice, thou who wast illumined by the light of Christ.

Rejoice, adamant of the Orthodox faith;

Rejoice, glory and praise of fasters.

Rejoice, thou who dost brighten our hearts with the light of faith;

Rejoice, thou who dost teach us awe.

Rejoice, zealot of piety;

Rejoice, zealous builder of a church of God.

Rejoice, thou who didst save profaned holy places from desecration;

Rejoice, thou who didst reject the threats of persecutors.

Rejoice, thou who didst bear the yoke of Christ with love;

Rejoice, thou who didst serve God diligently.

Rejoice, O venerable confessor Gabriel, fool for Christ and wonderworker!

Kontakion 4

Shunning the storms of the sea of life and seeking solitude and prayer, thou didst come to Betania Monastery, O most Blessed Father Gabriel! Instructed by spirit-bearing fathers, praising Almighty God, thou didst cry out to Him with tenderness of heart: Alleluia.

Ikos 4

When the inhabitants of Iberia heard of thy boldness in glorifying the name of Christ out loud, they marvelled at thy feat. Having put to shame the worship of an idol, thou didst ascend to the cross of sufferings. Singing of thy feat, O Venerable Father Gabriel, we proclaim to thee:

Rejoice, spirit-bearing child of the fathers of Betania;

Rejoice, zealot of monastic feats.

Rejoice, bright adornment of the Church of Christ;

Rejoice, illumination of the Iberian land.

Rejoice, thou who didst enrich thyself by poverty and reason;

Rejoice, thou who partookest of heavenly glory.

Rejoice, thou who didst capture the devil by thy exploits;

Rejoice, thou who didst commit an image of the Godless leader to fire.

Rejoice, thou who didst preach the faith of Christ while in bonds;

Rejoice, thou who didst bring sinners to repentance.

Rejoice, thou who wast confined to a home for the insane;

Rejoice, thou who wast glorified by Divine miracles.

Rejoice, O venerable confessor Gabriel, fool for Christ and wonderworker!

Kontakion 5

Thou wast a star guided by God shining in the firmament of Iberia, O wondrous Father Gabriel. Enduring suffering and reviling for Christ and reckoned among the outcast, now thou dost glorify Him with the saints, crying out to the Lord: Alleluia.

Ikos 5

Seeing thy zeal for God, O venerable one, the enemy of our salvation poured out his fury on thee through the Godless authorities. And thy lot, O Holy Father, was sorrows and persecutions. Singing of thy feats, which astonished the angels, we fall down to thee with love:

Rejoice, fountain of Divine miracles;

Rejoice, heart full of love.

Rejoice, thou who didst endure slander with gracious soul;

Rejoice, thou who didst conquer enemies with love.

Rejoice, thou who didst choose grave slabs for thy bed;

Rejoice, thou who didst shine forth in the abodes of heaven.

Rejoice, thou who didst humbly beg for alms;

Rejoice, thou who didst receive a reward in heaven.

Rejoice, thou who didst touch the tears of the Lord on the Cross;

Rejoice, thou who wast found worthy to hear His voice.

Rejoice, thou who wast freed from prison by the Zealous Intercessor;

Rejoice, thou who wast consoled by the Mother of God.

Rejoice, O venerable confessor Gabriel, fool for Christ and wonderworker!

Kontakion 6

The land of Iberia preaches thee, O wondrous Father Gabriel, swift intercessor in misfortunes and ardent petitioner for the salvation of our souls. Thou didst humbly wear the cross of holy foolishness and thank the Lord in sorrows, and now thou dost teach us to glorify Christ, prayerfully singing to God: Alleluia.

Ikos 6

Thou hast shone forth with grace, like the brightest beacon, like the radiant dawn, O Venerable Father Gabriel. Singing of thy great feat and labours, with love we call out to thee thus:

Rejoice, abode of the Holy Spirit;

Rejoice, receptacle of great gifts.

Rejoice, adornment of Samtavro Convent;

Rejoice, wondrous multiplication of the glory of the saints.

Rejoice, thou who didst subdue the fleshly mind to the spirit;

Rejoice, thou who didst put the cunning of the enemy to shame.

Rejoice, thou who didst conceal the gracious gifts of God behind feigned intoxication;

Rejoice, thou who didst heal those suffering from the disease of addiction to drink.

Rejoice, thou who wast compassionate to sinners;

Rejoice, thou who didst wish salvation for all.

Rejoice, thou who didst despise the intimidations of the enemy;

Rejoice, thou who didst boldly preach Orthodoxy.

Rejoice, O venerable confessor Gabriel, fool for Christ and wonderworker!

Kontakion 7

Wishing to serve the Lord, O Father Gabriel most worthy of praise, thou didst shun all the fleeting and vain things of this world. Following Christ on the path of suffering, with a simple heart thou didst cry out to Him with love: Alleluia.

Ikos 7

The Lord raised thee up, a new and venerable monk, O most praised Father Gabriel, in the hour of the harsh persecution of the Church of Christ. Singing of thy great feat, O most wondrous one, we cry to thee thus:

Rejoice, pillar of Orthodoxy;

Rejoice, sincere friend of Christ.

Rejoice, thou who wast warmed by the grace of God in sorrow;

Rejoice, holy heir of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Rejoice, thou who art filled with Divine love;

Rejoice, thou who didst live an angelic life on earth.

Rejoice, thou who wast persecuted in thy life;

Rejoice, thou who now dost glorify Christ with the saints.

Rejoice, thou who dost call down the mercy of God on sinners;

Rejoice, thou who dost bring those gone astray to their senses.

Rejoice, thou who didst heal a family from barrenness by thy prayers;

Rejoice, thou who didst tell them of the birth of their daughter.

Rejoice, O venerable confessor Gabriel, fool for Christ and wonderworker!

Kontakion 8

Thou wast a stranger and passing visitor in this world, O most worthy of praise Father Gabriel. Seeking the City of Heaven, thou didst choose the thorny path of salvation, thanking the merciful Lord for all things and singing to Him: Alleluia.

Ikos 8

All filled with the grace of God and strengthened in arduous labour by the Lord, thou didst call out to Him: ‘He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust!’ And thou dost teach us to abide with Christ, all calling out to thee:

Rejoice, leader of those seeking salvation;

Rejoice, heavenly seed of the land of Iberia.

Rejoice, champion of the Orthodox faith;

Rejoice, wondrous converser with the saints.

Rejoice, defender of the offended;

Rejoice, comforter of the afflicted.

Rejoice, thou who dost show us speedy help;

Rejoice, thou who dost call us to repentance.

Rejoice, thou who dost drive away the darkness of despair;

Rejoice, thou who dost fill our hearts with hope.

Rejoice, thou who dost rescue us from sudden death by prayer;

Rejoice, thou who dost deliver us from disasters and misfortunes.

Rejoice, O venerable confessor Gabriel, fool for Christ and wonderworker!

Kontakion 9

All the saints and the heavenly hosts received thee with joy, O Father Gabriel most worthy of praise, when the path of thy earthly wanderings ended and thou wast taken up to the heavenly Jerusalem. And marvelling at what a wonderworker and man of prayer the Lord has given us, with thankful hearts we cry to Him thus: Alleluia.

Ikos 9

Orators with their fleshly wisdom are not able to grasp the height of thy exploit, O venerable one. Concealing the great gifts of the Holy Spirit beneath the veil of foolishness for Christ, shining forth in the purity of thy life, reckoned among the insane, thou didst put to shame the wisdom of this world, O most wondrous Father Gabriel. For this reason we praise thee thus:

Rejoice, fragrant flower of Paradise;

Rejoice, thou who wast exiled for the sake of truth.

Rejoice, thou who didst flourish like a palm in thine immaculate life;

Rejoice, most zealous pleaser of God.

Rejoice, thou who didst warm hearts by the radiance of thy holiness;

Rejoice, thou who didst have invincible wealth of the soul.

Rejoice, thou who didst gain the Heavenly Kingdom by thy humility of spirit;

Rejoice, thou who didst inherit the promised land for thy meekness.

Rejoice, thou who didst burn with prayer to God;

Rejoice, thou who didst endure torment for the sake of Christ.

Rejoice, thou who wast strengthened by the grace of God;

Rejoice, thou who wast instructed by the Holy Spirit.

Rejoice, O venerable confessor Gabriel, fool for Christ and wonderworker!

Kontakion 10

Walking the saving path towards the heavenly Jerusalem, thou didst acquire the spirit of peace, O Venerable Father Gabriel. Putting all thy trust in the Lord, now thou dost teach us to follow in the footsteps of Christ and commend ourselves to His good will, singing to Him with love: Alleluia.

Ikos 10

Unbreachable wall of prayer, shield protecting the faithful, warrior of Christ rescuing sinners from the abyss of perdition, we beseech thee, O Venerable Father Gabriel most worthy of praise, forsake not us who are besieged by the storm of passions without thy help, that we may call out to thee thus:

Rejoice, mirror of Divine love;

Rejoice, praise of the meek.

Rejoice, strengthening of the weak in faith;

Rejoice, intercession for the suffering.

Rejoice, instructor of those who seek salvation;

Rejoice, admonition of the proud.

Rejoice, fountain of Divine healings;

Rejoice, heir of the abodes of heaven.

Rejoice, ray who shone forth in the gloom of Godlessness;

Rejoice, preacher who didst denounce heresy.

Rejoice, thou who didst cast down the power of the enemy by fasting and prayer;

Rejoice, thou who wast victorious over evil spirits by humility.

Rejoice, O venerable confessor Gabriel, fool for Christ and wonderworker!

Kontakion 11

We offer thee songs of praise, O most wondrous Father Gabriel. Iberia rejoices, and Samtavro Convent exults, glorifying the merciful Lord Who has given us His saint, with love proclaiming to Him: Alleluia.

Ikos 11

O wonderful light, O guiding star to those living in the darkness of sin, O Venerable Father Gabriel. Vouchsafed the formidable appearance of the Queen of Heaven, thou didst beseech mothers not to destroy their children in the womb. Therefore, as to a zealous intercessor for us we call out to thee thus:

Rejoice, glorious chosen one of God;

Rejoice, thou who didst please Him from thy youth.

Rejoice, thou who didst conquer enemies with the Name of Jesus;

Rejoice, thou who didst call on the Chosen Leader of the hosts for help.

Rejoice, thou who didst seek the Heavenly Kingdom;

Rejoice, thou who didst acquire treasures of the Holy Spirit.

Rejoice, thou who didst loud thunder out the Word of God;

Rejoice, thou who didst put unbelief to shame.

Rejoice, thou who didst wear a diadem in holy foolishness;

Rejoice, thou who didst receive a crown of glory.

Rejoice, thou who didst devote thy life to God;

Rejoice, thou who didst preserve the precious gift of faith from thy youth.

Rejoice, O venerable confessor Gabriel, fool for Christ and wonderworker!

Kontakion 12

Acquiring the grace of God and reaching the City of Heaven by the path of the commandments of Christ, O Venerable Father Gabriel, now in the Church Triumphant with the saints and heavenly hosts, with loud voice thou dost hymn the King of kings and offer Him the song of praise: Alleluia.

Ikos 12

Singing of thy most glorious feats and miracles, we marvel at thy angelic life, O Father Gabriel most worthy of praise, and offer thee our prayers of praise, crying out to thee with love thus:

Rejoice, thou who art clothed in the robe of humility;

Rejoice, thou who wast borne up to the heights of heaven.

Rejoice, fragrant oil of the grace of God;

Rejoice, chosen confessor of Christ.

Rejoice, thou who didst perform the Jesus Prayer;

Rejoice, thou who didst beat adversaries with the Name of Christ.

Rejoice, thou who didst denounce the powers that be;

Rejoice, thou who didst put worldly wisdom to shame.

Rejoice, thou who didst heal a heterodox from grievous illness;

Rejoice, thou who didst enlighten his soul with the light of the faith of Christ.

Rejoice, healer from cancer and manifold ailments;

Rejoice, liberator of those possessed with demons.

Rejoice, O venerable confessor Gabriel, fool for Christ and wonderworker!

Kontakion 13

O wondrous Father Gabriel most worthy of praise, our swift comforter and intercessor! Accept this song of praise from us, beseech the Almighty Lord that we may be saved from everlasting condemnation and torment and be found worthy to sing to Him with thee: Alleluia.

This kontakion is read three times, then Ikos 1 and Kontakion 1.

Ikos 1

Imitating the angelic life, thou didst please God with thy purity and humility, O most blessed Father Gabriel, and thou wast found worthy of acquiring the great gifts of the Holy Spirit! Marvelling at the greatness of thy feat, we call out to thee thus:

Rejoice, well of the wisdom of God;

Rejoice, spring of the living faith.

Rejoice, heart that contained Christ;

Rejoice, tree who has brought forth spiritual fruit.

Rejoice, thou who wast chosen by God from birth;

Rejoice, thou who wast called to serve Him;

Rejoice, thou who didst enlighten the Iberian land by thy miracles;

Rejoice, thou who didst shine forth by thy God-pleasing life.

Rejoice, thou who wast affirmed by God on the rock of faith;

Rejoice, thou who didst preach the Name of Christ with love.

Rejoice, thou who didst endure many sorrows in thy life;

Rejoice, thou who didst enter the Kingdom of Heaven thereby.

Rejoice, O venerable confessor Gabriel, fool for Christ and wonderworker!

Kontakion 1

Chosen vessel of the grace of God, fragrant source of miracles, boast of Iberia, O most wondrous Father Gabriel! Now do we offer thee a song of praise, and since thou hast great boldness towards the Lord, deliver us from all misfortunes, that we may cry to thee with love: Rejoice, O venerable confessor Gabriel, fool for Christ and wonderworker!

Prayer

O Venerable Father Gabriel, wonderworker of Samtavro, thou who didst shine forth in the feat of foolishness for the sake of Christ! Offer up thy prayers for us to the Lord like fragrant incense, Deliver us, O most wondrous father, by thy intercession from every misfortune and disaster, destroy the snares of the demons, quench enmity and heal the sick. The stream of miracles of God from thy holy shrine, O venerable one, does not become shallow, nor does the stream of His mercy to us sinners, who pray to thee, dry up.

Thou who wast vouchsafed the gift of great love from the Lord, who didst bear the burdens of thy neighbours and shed tears for sinners and the suffering, take our prayers and weeping of repentance to the throne of God. May we be vouchsafed by thy help, O father most worthy of praise, to pass through the tollhouses without hindrance and reach the Heavenly Homeland, where the unceasing voice of those who celebrate glorifies the Most Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

 

The Akathist to the Venerable Gabriel of Samtavro, Confessor and Fool-for-Christ was composed in Church Slavonic by Maria Alexandrovna Pukhova of Moscow and first published with the blessing of Archbishop Ephraim (Gamrekelidze) of Bolnisi (Georgian Orthodox Church) in 2018

Translated into English by  Dmitry Lapa and Archpriest Andrew Phillips