Category Archives: Missionary Work

Considerations on Liturgical Translation into English

When, mainly in the last century, it came to translating the Divine Liturgy into English, translators faced choices. Some of them, especially in the Greek and Ukrainian immigrant diasporas, chose popular street English as their preference. Others chose an over-ornate pseudo-17th century English, bristling with deliberate upper-class archaicisms and obscure words, completely incomprehensible to condescended to and patronised immigrants. The first always and aggressively used ‘you’, the second always ‘thou’, with even spellings like ‘Catholick’. ‘Esoterick’ indeed.

These extremes produced a couple of highly eccentric, literally off-centre, translations from England, the ultra-modernist of the late former Roman Catholic Vatican II intellectual, Fr Ephraim (Lash), and the elitist, conservative intellectual translation made by the former Anglo-Catholic Sister Elizabeth Fenton of Tolleshunt Knights, both of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. They were either modernist and ugly for the sake of it, or else archaic and obscure for the sake of it.

99% had already concluded that something else was necessary, a translation made not by an individual whose native language was not English, or whose native language was English and who knew nothing else, but by groups combining both. In our view the best translations to date have been those made by Metr Kallistos (Ware) and Mother Mary, who knew both Greek and Slavonic and also had a love of liturgical English and liturgical beauty. But even here, with the benefit of hindsight some fifty years on, there are perhaps improvements to be made. And, sadly, they translated very little.

But first of all, let us express our gratitude to those who worked on translations in the more distant past, often in very difficult and impoverished circumstances, especially in the USA. Today’s versions are superior to those of the 1960s and 1970s, but the new ones are built on them. We are indeed only dwarves who stand on the shoulders of giants. But let us make some considerations, in the hope that they may in years to come be reviewed by those in seats of authority who will have to work for definitive translations.

Mistranslations

We do not worship the Cross or icons. This in fact is heresy. Let us avoid heretical translations, please.

The mistranslation ‘For those who travel by sea, land and air’ is such a case. Most who sail (which is what the original says) travel not by sea, but by river or by lake. All great civilisations were founded on rivers, be it the Euphrates, the Tigris, the Ganges, the Indus, the Yellow River, the Yangtze, the Nile, the Amazon, the Mississippi, the Rhine, the Seine, the Danube, the Thames, the Volga or the Great Lakes, not on seas. Are we to exclude prayer for those who travel by river and lake? We should be reading: ‘For those who travel by water, land and air…’.

Grammatical Mistakes

First of all, any translation should avoid grammatical mistakes. For example, to write: ‘For unto Thee is due all glory, honour and worship’, when grammatically it should read ‘For unto Thee are due…’, seems an elementary error.

Literalisms

Most literalisms also stem from translators not familiar with English as a first language.

How do we say ‘noetic’ in English? ‘Spiritual’? ‘Of the heart’? ‘Invisible’. ‘Noetic’ is meaningless and the translation ‘intellectual’ is clearly just plain wrong.

‘For a good God art Thou’ is Byzantine Greek word order. It is not English. And we do not distort English word order to fit in with the stress patterns of Greek or just to be literal.

We do not ‘chant’ in English, we sing. We are not Byzantines.

Why say ‘Under Thy dominion’, when in English we have the correct word ‘beneath’?

We do not ‘send up glory’ in English, we offer it up.

And what does ‘effulgence’ mean?

American English

As many translations come from the USA, they contain localisms, foreign to contemporary English English. For example, ‘in behalf of’ instead of ‘on behalf of’, ‘named for’ instead of ‘named after’ or even ROCOOR (German-US grammar – ‘ausserhalb’ takes the genitive, ’outside of’, but English ‘outside’ does not), ‘city’ instead of ‘town’,  and spellings like honor(able), favourable, marvellous, traveling etc

Stylistic choices

Here there are more controversial considerations, which require greater discussion.

For example, should we use the third person singular ‘eth’ instead of (e)s? Goeth or goes? Cometh or comes? The ending was written as ‘eth’ in the early seventeenth century, but it was most certainly not pronounced like that even then, since this was just archaic spelling by printers. Russian priests have great difficulty pronouncing ‘blesseth’, those it is easier for Greeks.

Or from the Great Litany:

For the peace ‘from on high’ or ‘from above’?

For the union ‘of all’ or ‘of all people’?

For this ‘holy house’ or ‘holy temple’. In English temple sounds pagan, Hindu or Buddhist, and of course in French ‘temple’ means only a Protestant chapel.

For ‘the imprisoned’ or for ‘those in captivity’? Many are captive, but only a few are in prison.

‘That we may be delivered from’/‘For our deliverance from’ all ‘sorrow’/’tribulation’, ‘anger’/’wrath’ and ‘need’/necessity’. Do we use English or Latin?

‘Most pure’ or ‘immaculate’. The latter sounds Roman Catholic and is not literal.

‘Most blessed and glorious’ or ‘Most blessed, glorious’? Do we go along with the English style of inserting ‘and’ between the last two adjectives in a row or are we literal?

Let us ‘entrust/commend/commit’ ourselves?

Finally, how do we translate the Greek Theotokos? It was long ago translated into Latin, Slavonic and Romanian. Are we not therefore to say ‘Birthgiver of God’ or ‘Mother of God’ in English? One ROCOR Metropolitan is opposed to Theotokos. It does seem strange to translate into Greek, when we are making a translation into English. And Theotokos is certainly not understood by Russian parishioners.

In times to come the mass of translations will be standardised, as liturgical sense takes over. It is towards that which we work.

 

An Icon for the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

Our Russian Orthodox Faith in the Holy Trinity has long been expressed by the words: ‘For the Faith, For the Tsar, For Rus’, which represent the actions of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit throughout Rus. These words were expressed in recent history in the lives of the three ROCOR Saints, the Three New Hierarchs, the Three New Pillars of Orthodoxy, the Three Saints of the Russian Emigration:

‘For the Faith’ was expressed by St Jonah of Hankou (+ 1925), the first ROCOR saint. Fleeing as a refugee with other White Russians to China and absolutely faithful to the fullness of Russian Orthodoxy, within a very short time of becoming a bishop at a very young age in Manchuria, he established an orphanage, a school and a dining hall for the poor. Thus he combined the love of the Liturgy with practical love for our neighbour, as the Gospel calls us to do, for ‘seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you’ (Matt. 6.33). This is indeed the essence of the Orthodox Christian Faith. St Jonah expressed faithfulness in the face of the betrayal of the Faith by others.

‘For the Faith and for the Tsar’ was expressed a generation later by St Seraphim of Boguchar (+ 1950). (1) He fearlessly expressed the historic values of Russian Orthodoxy in his writings and was a Defender of Orthodoxy against the heresies of the renovationist Paris School in the 1930s and against ecumenism, notably at the Moscow Council of 1948. He asked: What is the role of the Tsar? In his study ‘The Russian Ideology’, he answered that the Tsar is the incarnation of our Faith in social, political and economic affairs. This has become very relevant today, in the wake of the events that have followed the 2016 meeting in Crete organized by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. St Seraphim expressed bravery in the face of the cowardice of others before the political pressures of the powerbrokers of this world.

All of these values, ‘For the Faith and for the Tsar and for Rus’ were expressed by St John of Shanghai and San Francisco (+ 1966). The first ‘universal saint’, as he has been called, he defended the Orthodox Faith and the Tsar from their enemies. He lived all over the planet, celebrating the Liturgy and preaching in many languages, extending the understanding and practice of ‘Rus’ worldwide far beyond East Slavdom, which itself stretches from Carpatho-Russia to the shores of the Pacific. Thus, in our Church we talk about American Rus, Argentinian Rus, Australian Rus, Canadian Rus, English Rus, French Rus, German Rus, Irish Rus, Italian Rus, Peruvian Rus, Swiss Rus and so on. Wherever, worldwide, there is the uncorrupted Christian Faith of the Russian Orthodox world, there is Rus. St John expressed the truth which sets us free from the deceit of those who do not love Christ and His Holy Church.

The Russian Emigration has expressed the truths ‘For the Faith, for the Tsar, for Rus’ with a more refined purity and much more extended significance than ever before. The values of faithfulness, bravery and truthfulness were above all expressed by the Three New Hierarchs after the ‘treachery, cowardice and deceit’ which caused the 1917 Revolution. And these Three New Pillars of Orthodoxy completed their lives on three different continents: St Jonah in China in Asia; St Seraphim in Bulgaria in Europe and St John in San Francisco in North America. It is this, the global reality of Rus, which the Church inside Russia is now learning about from us.

It is for this reason that we propose an Icon showing the Three Saints full length against the blue and green background of the planet – St John walking and blessing North and South America (where his parents went to live), St Seraphim walking and blessing Europe and Africa (where some of his spiritual children went to live), and St Jonah walking and blessing Asia and Oceania (where some of his spiritual children went to live), all beneath the Protecting Veil of the Directress of the Russian Emigration, the Kursk-Root Mother of God, the Icon of the Sign, She Who Shows the Way.

Thus, in this global age, we see all six inhabited Continents of the planet beneath the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God, blessed by the Three New Hierarchs, the Three New Pillars of Orthodoxy, the Three Saints of the Russian Emigration, St John, St Seraphim and St Jonah. Their feasts, on 20 October, 26 February and 2 July are spread almost equally, every four months, throughout the Church year and each represents a new generation of Church life. Together they represent the essential identity, unique service, planetary mission and future of our Church, come forth from the past of Imperial Russia: a mission which today is supported and supplemented by the free Patriarchal Church, of which we are a self-governing part.

 

Note 1:

Some might assert that our part of the Russian Church has only two saints, St Jonah and St John, since St Seraphim reposed as a member of the Moscow Patriarchate and was not canonized by the Church Outside Russia. However, unlike Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky), who spent fifteen years serving as a priest in the then captive Moscow Patriarchate in Communist China but only in 1962 was able to leave, St Seraphim, who reposed in 1950, had no choice in the matter, being unable to leave Communist Bulgaria. But like Metr Philaret, St Seraphim lived outside Russia and never made any compromise with the Orthodox Faith at any time in his life. His refusal to compromise is all the more important given that today most of our flock and many of our clergy were born and grew up in the former Soviet Union.

In today’s situation of the Patriarchal Church, free of the atheist yoke, St Seraphim can be seen as part of the contribution of the Church Outside Russia to the common glory of the Russian Orthodox world and its worldwide mission. And when we consider that our Russian Orthodoxy – and all Traditional Orthodoxy – is effectively being persecuted by an alien and secular mentality which has crept into parts of the Greek Orthodox world and which St Seraphim already opposed in his lifetime, his relevance is all the more important. As we know, a copy of this Icon is to be presented to His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill. What better symbol for our Patriarch of our common struggle than an Icon of St Seraphim together with St Jonah and St John, all the fruit of Imperial Russia, all the fruit of our part of the Russian Church and all our offering to the whole Russian Church and to the whole world for the future.

 

The Russian Orthodox Émigré Contribution to the Future World Orthodox Church

A few years ago the now Metropolitan Tikhon of Pskov asked us the question: What distinctive contribution can the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) make to the Church inside Russia? Here is my answer to him in the light of the most recent events:

Our Orthodox Christian Faith is Trinitarian: God the Father, Who is the instinctive knowledge of the existence of God, God the Son, Who represents the Incarnation of the Faith in all human affairs on earth (as denied for a thousand years by the Western world), and God the Holy Spirit, Who sanctifies all the nations who accept Him. This Trinitarian knowledge has always been expressed in the Russian Orthodox words: ‘For the Faith, For the Tsar, For Rus’. This motto was in turn expressed in recent history by the three ROCOR Saints, the Three Saints of the Emigration:

‘For the Faith’ was expressed by St Jonah of Hankou (+ 1925), the first ROCOR saint. Fleeing as a refugee with the White Russians and absolutely faithful to the fullness of Russian Orthodoxy, within a very short time of becoming a bishop at a very young age in Manchuria, he established an orphanage, a school, and a dining hall for the poor. Thus he combined the love of the Liturgy with practical love for our neighbour, as the Gospel calls us to do. This is indeed the essence of the Orthodox Christian Faith.

‘For the Faith and for the Tsar’ was expressed a generation later by St Seraphim of Boguchar (+ 1950). He expressed the values of Russian Orthodoxy in his writings and was also the great defender of Orthodoxy against both the heresies of the renovationist Paris School in the 1930s and ecumenism, notably at the Inter-Orthodox Council of Moscow in July 1948. He asked: What is the role of the Tsar? He answered that he is the incarnation of the Faith in the life of the State, in social, political and economic affairs. This is why we await the coming of the next Tsar, the White Tsar, whether he is a man of piety, or Christ Himself in His Second Coming.

‘For the Faith, for the Tsar and for Rus’ was then expressed by St John of Shanghai (+ 1966). The first ‘universal saint’, as he has been called, he lived all over the planet and celebrated the Liturgy and preached in many languages, extending the understanding and practice of ‘Rus’ worldwide far beyond East Slavdom, which stretches from Slovakia to the shores of the Pacific. Now we talk about American Rus, Australian Rus, English Rus, French Rus, German Rus, Irish Rus, Peruvian Rus, Swiss Rus. Wherever, worldwide, there is the uncorrupted Christian Faith of the Russian Orthodox world, there is Rus.

Some in Russia would say that this is what they have always believed. True, but the emigration expressed it with a refined purity and much extended significance, all of which became possible only after the catastrophe of the 1917 Revolution.  All three saints together, the Three New Pillars of Orthodoxy, completed their lives on three different continents: St Jonah in China in Asia; St Seraphim in Bulgaria in Europe and St John in San Francisco in North America.

It is this, the global reality of Rus, which the Church inside Russia is now learning from us. Once captive inside the mental borders of the Soviet Union, the multinational Russian Orthodox Church has recently established a Western European Exarchate and a South-East Asian Exarchate, becoming ever more deeply the Church of Eurasia. Now, with the long-expected apostasy of Greek Churches, far too weak to stand up to corrupting American pressure, there has appeared the possibility of setting up a Turkish Exarchate in Asia and solving the old calendarist schism in Greece in Europe.

Moreover, extending to a new Continent, it could set up an African Orthodox Church with local, not colonial, bishops. Beyond this there is the possibility of founding a real North American Orthodox Church, with the future merger of the healthy elements of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) with ROCOR. And ROCOR in turn can, with canonical and practical support from inside Russia, help set up a Church of Oceania and a Church of South America. It is our hope that we shall yet see founded a church dedicated to the Three New Pillars of Orthodoxy, the Pillars of the Russian emigration of three different continents. The future begins now.

Towards an African Exarchate?

The news that the Pope of Alexandria has ceded to Greek State pressure (that is, pressure from the notorious US ambassador in Athens, Geoffrey Pyatt) and recognized the Ukrainian schismatics has been greeted with dismay by some. Despite the venality, there is no need for dismay. The Patriarchate of Alexandria, essentially a relic of Greek colonialism, had done little until recently for the evangelization of Black Africa. Photographs show an almost wholly Greek episcopate and an almost wholly African flock.

Now that the Patriarchate has fallen into the Greek phyletist schism, the Russian Orthodox Church is free to take over the territory of Africa. Where others have failed, it can succeed. It could set up an African Orthodox Exarchate, to become the African Orthodox Church, centred somewhere in Black Africa, in Nairobi or in Johannesburg, for example, establishing a black episcopate. The opportunities are huge and exciting. We greet the news. The cleansing of the Church continues apace.

Western Tragedy and Christian Victory

After the collapse of Communism 30 years ago, the Western elite, obsessed by its control-freak fantasy of global supremacy, launched an extraordinarily aggressive campaign against the Non-Western 85% of the world, hoping to enslave it to its militant secularism. Thus, in the last 30 years it has constantly trampled on freedom and democracy worldwide, launching two illegal wars against Iraq, invading Afghanistan, promoting its version of ‘free trade’ but imposing illegal sanctions against free trade on states such as China, Russia, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea and Turkey, implementing violent ‘regime change’ in many countries, committing genocide, creating millions of refugees by creating chaos through proxy wars, as in Iraq, Syria, Libya and the Yemen, sending troops to West Africa, threatening independent countries with invasion and launching cyber-attacks against all competitors, while hypocritically accusing them of doing the same.

The Russian Federation has been a particular victim of Western aggression. Here the West has for example given refuge to billionaire oligarch thieves of Russian public assets, financed violent demonstrations by marginal political groups against its democratically elected government, arranged false flag propaganda assassinations of Russian citizens abroad (the Litvinenko and Skripal cases, which only the very naïve actually believe were carried out by Russia), overthrew the pro-Russian Ukrainian government by violence and so started a bloody civil war there, rejected the decision of the vast majority of citizens of the Crimea to return to Russia by democratic referendum after sixty years of captivity, set up puppet governments in countries surrounding Russia and sent them NATO troops and arms to strut along Russian borders and, more recently, relaunched its self-bankrupting nuclear arms race against Russia, treacherously breaking all its past treaties and promises.

More recently still it has, through blackmail, bribery and flattery of provincial Greek nationalist vanity, created a split in the 220-million strong Orthodox Church. This was done by separating over 100 bishops of the dying Greek Church in Istanbul, known as Constantinople or the Phanar, as well as the elderly Archbishop of Athens, from communion with the multinational Russian Orthodox Church, by having the Phanar create a Church schism in the Ukraine. Using its local ambassadors, the West then tried to spread this schism to other Local Orthodox Churches, especially in Greece, Serbia, Montenegro and Georgia. Indeed, in an unprecedented case in the latter Church a homosexual metropolitan has just been defrocked for trying to poison its saintly Patriarch. Thus, the West operates through threatening faithful Christians and buying ‘Phanarodox’ careerists, ecumenists, racists and homosexuals, always using the worst of the worst for its base purposes.

The latter anti-zealots are used to fight against and persecute lovers of Orthodox Christianity, especially ascetic monks, sincere married clergy and faithful laypeople. Therefore, in this Church schism, as in many other matters, Western aggression is failing, for although man proposes, God disposes. In the Ukraine, bankrupted by its civil war which the US-installed regime started against the peoples of this recently-invented country (1), the miserable little schism has come to nothing. And this despite the Nazi-style violence, threats and intimidation which have been used by the State authorities against the faithful over and over again. Moreover, most of the 900 Orthodox bishops outside Istanbul have refused to have anything to do with its corruption. And the French Rue Daru Archbishop Jean and 60 parishes in France, the Netherlands and England, have just quit the bullying of the Phanariots for the joyful embrace of their Russian Mother-Church and canonicity.

This has further strengthened the Russian Orthodox Exarchate of Western Europe, as it moves towards unity, gathering all elements together in order to recreate the Local Church here in place of its present spiritual vacuum. As for the Russian Orthodox Exarchate of South-East Asia, which stretches from Korea to Thailand through Laos and Vietnam to Singapore and the successful missions in Taiwan and the Philippines, it too has just been strengthened through the many parishes of the Indonesian mission. These have just been transferred from the jurisdiction of the basically English-speaking Church Outside Russia to the well-financed and well-organized Exarchate. Thus, we see how the tragedy of secularist Western aggression has been marked by the victory of God’s Church, in West and East. Indeed, man does propose, but God does dispose, and the gates of hell shall not prevail. Victory belongs to Christ, not to petty racist nationalism, bribery, threats and perversion.

We now look more confidently to the future. The present schism, provoked by the US State Department through its Greek puppets in Istanbul and Ukrainian puppets in Kiev is the death rattle of the Phanar before its end. As it finally dies out some 570 years after it lost its significance in 1453, its parishes in the USA, Australia and Great Britain emptying, as elderly immigrants die out, having failed to pass on the Faith to the local generations, the Russian Orthodox Church, uniting Eurasia, faces a huge challenge. From the Western European Exarchate to the South-East Asian Exarchate the need for mission is enormous. Outside the Eurasian landmass, where well over five billion people live, it can also help the Patriarchate of Alexandria in its mission of converting a billion Africans and help the New-York-based Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in its mission of converting the billion who live in the largely English, Spanish and Portuguese-speaking New World of the Americas and Oceania.

May Thy will be done, O Lord.

 

Note:

  1. Invented as an idea by the Hapsburgs for divide and rule purposes at the end of the 19th century, the anti-historical concept of the ‘Ukraine’ (simply meaning ‘border lands’) was implemented by three blood-soaked 20th century dictators, Lenin, Stalin and Khushchov. These anti-Russian mass murderers stole most of the territory of ‘the Ukraine’ from surrounding countries, all the while keenly supported by the Western Powers. Thus, the Ukrainian flag is derived from that of 19th century Lower Austria and its trident emblem comes from a cattle brand used in the same area at the time. The current Ukrainian President, a Jewish comedian, cannot even hold a conversation in Ukrainian.

Centralism and Autocephalism: Two False Models of the Church

There was a time when the Orthodox Church consisted of five, and then four Patriarchates, as well as autocephalous Churches in Cyprus and Georgia. Yet today there are as many as fourteen (and some claim fifteen) Independent (Autocephalous) Churches. And most of them are small and some of them are very small indeed. This profusion of autocephalies over the last 200 years is seen as a movement towards Protestant-style nationalism, as with ‘the Church of England’, ‘the Church of Sweden’, ‘the Church of Norway’ etc. On the other hand, today there is a desire by many in the Patriarchate of Constantinople, one of the smallest Churches, to gather all of the Local Churches together, following their model of Roman Catholicism. What is the Orthodox view, between these competing centrifugal and centripetal theories?

It is clear that there can be no such thing as a Church with universal jurisdiction, which is the Papal aberration and its false theology. Any such organization will inevitably fall to the thirst for power and imperialist corruption, precisely as we can see down the centuries in Roman Catholicism since 1054, when it was first invented. This is where the contemporary Phanariot imperialism of Constantinople is wrong and will never succeed. On the other hand, some sort of European tribalism, according to which there should be a national Church for each small tribe living on the Western tip of Eurasia also seems absurd. All of ex-Catholic/ex-Protestant Western Europe forms a very similar cultural area and suffers very similar conditions. Why should each small ethnic sub-group have its own national Church there?

This is the sense of the present Exarchate of Western Europe of the Russian Orthodox Church, whose destiny is to become the single Local Church of Western Europe, replacing the old Roman Orthodox Patriarchate. It should one day include all of ex-Catholic and ex-Protestant Europe, including Germany and all the Nordic countries, together, naturally, with Finland, and possibly with Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, the Czech Lands and Slovakia. Each country could then well develop into a Metropolia with a Synod of bishops, but not into an individual Church, similar to the situation in the Baltic States. This would mean that the present Churches of Poland and Czechoslovakia would give up their politically-motivated autocephalies, which is a possibility.

At the very least, there has to be one Patriarchal Church per Continent. Certainly, there should be one Church for North America, one for Latin America, one for Oceania and one for Africa – as there already is with the Patriarchate of Alexandria. Those who live on each of these Continents surely have so much in common that there would seem to be no need for national or Autocephalous Churches for each country on them. This would mean four Autocephalous-Continental Churches. The problem comes with Eurasia, which is essentially one huge Continent, with over 54 million square kilometres (just over three million forming Western Europe), larger than North America, South America and Oceania put together and nearly twice the size of Africa. Here there are so many cultures that there has to be more than one Local Church.

We have already spoken of one Church for ex-Catholic/ex-Protestant Europe. However, there would also need to be a Church for Balkan Europe, perhaps called the Church of Constantinople (but centred perhaps in Thessaloniki, the city of the Apostles of the Slavs, so without Greek racism or phyletism). This would unite the present six Autocephalous Churches of Romania, Pech (Serbia and all the South Slav Lands), Greece, Constantinople, Bulgaria and Albania into one. Clearly, the Eurasian Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, covering one seventh of the Earth’s surface, would remain Autocephalous. The Arab-speaking Patriarchate of Antioch, still little for the moment, would have to take on itself the evangelization of the Arab Middle East, overcoming the narrow ethnic barriers of controlling families.

There should be Autocephalous Churches for China and India, once they have grown, as these are huge civilizations, whose populations together number one third of the world’s people. And there should also be a Church for ex-Buddhist/ex-Muslim South-East Asia (hoped for and anticipated by the establishment in 2018 by the Russian Orthodox Church of an Exarchate there). As for the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, though tiny, it must remain as the Mother-Church of all. It could also take into itself the Churches of Georgia and Cyprus, which would help internationalize it, as must happen if the Patriarchate of Jerusalem is to be taken seriously once more. This would make Twelve Autocephalous, Patriarchal Churches in all. Would this not be enough for the long-awaited evangelization of the world?

Liturgical English and Missionary Needs

Introduction

The English-speaking world is divided by various forms of English: American, Australian, British, Canadian, Irish and New Zealand. For example, even the name of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) differs. In American English, with its German-influenced grammar, it is called ‘outside of Russia’, in Britain ‘outside Russia’. American also uses the archaic (for Britain) ‘in behalf of’ instead of the British ‘on behalf of’. However, most of our liturgical translations have been done in the USA. And we are profoundly grateful for them, especially for the amazing and always grammatically correct work of the ever-memorable Brother Joseph (Isaac) Lambertson. Eternal Memory to him! Today, we need translations which avoid literalisms, archaicisms, Latinisms and Hellenisms.

Literalisms

In liturgical translation we should avoid word order that is unnatural for English and complicates clarity and understanding. This means avoiding unnecessary inversions, such as ‘Him do we praise’, as opposed to ‘we praise Him’, or ‘ever didst thou’, as opposed to ‘thou didst ever’, or ‘for a good God art Thou’, as opposed to ‘For Thou art a good God’. This includes, with rare exceptions, avoiding inverting adjective use (we are not French!), such as forms like ‘light Divine’ as opposed to ‘Divine light’. Byzantine Greek (and therefore Church Slavonic) word order does not work in an established and codified language like English, where it sounds unnatural and unclear.

Similarly, the literalist translation of ‘philanthropos’ as ‘Lover of Mankind’, rather than ‘Who loves mankind’ clumsily introduces the word ‘lover’ into liturgical English. Calling the Mother of God ‘Mistress’ instead of ‘Sovereign Lady’, is equally clumsy.

Archaicisms

There can be no question of not using ‘thou’ and its verb ending est (in reality pronounced ‘s’) in translations: the ‘you’ form is simply not a translation, but an ideological  modernization. On the other hand, archaicisms need to be rejected, since they only obscure the meaning. For instance, the ‘eth’ ending of verbs for the third person singular (‘he cometh’) is an archaicism. In the 17th century, although the ending was still printed as such by printers, it was already pronounced ‘s’, as it has also been written ever since.

Similarly, the use of the archaic imperative ‘do thou break’ instead of ‘break’ or ‘hear ye’ instead of ‘hear’ is unnecessary. The old form of the subjunctive, ‘pray that he come’ was long ago replaced in contemporary English with ‘may’ – ‘pray that he may come’ etc. Forms such as ‘unto’ instead of ‘to’, upon’ instead of ‘on’, ‘wherewith’ instead of ‘with which’, ‘thither’, ‘hither’ and ‘whither’ instead of ‘to there’, ‘to here’ and ‘to where’, ‘wherefore’ instead of ‘therefore’, ‘in that’ instead of ‘as’, could be avoided. Such archaicisms simply obscure meaning.

Latinisms and Hellenisms

Simple and poetic English, retaining its Old English roots, is always preferable to Latinate Victorianisms, sometimes very obscure, favoured by such as the Episcopalian translator, Isabel Hapgood. Thus: ‘assemble’ could be replaced by ‘gather’, ‘carnal’ by ‘fleshly’, ‘disperse’ by ‘scatter’, ‘distribute’ by ‘give out’, ‘effulgence’ by ‘shining forth’ or ‘radiance’, ‘emit’ by ‘give out’, ‘illumine’ by ‘enlighten’, ‘incorporeal’ by ‘bodily’, ‘inundate’ by ‘flood’, ‘lambent’ by ‘softly shining’, ‘laud’ by ‘praise’, ‘luminary’ by ‘beacon’, ‘manifest’ (adjective) by ‘plain’ or ‘clear’, ‘manifest’ (verb) by ‘show forth’ or ‘reveal’, ‘rescue’ by ‘deliver’, ‘solicitous’ by ‘attentive’, ‘suspend’ by ‘hang’, ‘traverse’ by ‘cross’, and ‘unoriginate’ by ‘without beginning’ or ‘from everlasting’,

Since the terms of Patristic Greek (often itself only a translation from Hebrew or Aramaic) was translated into Patristic Latin from the end of the second century on, there seems to be no reason at all to use Hellenisms. Thus, ‘asceticism’ can be replaced by ‘ascetic life’, ‘chant’ (a clumsy attempt to translate the Hebrew ‘psaltizo’, even though Slavonic uses the ordinary word to sing – ‘pet’’) by ‘sing’, ‘hymnody’ by ‘hymn singing’, ‘Hypostasis’ by ‘Person’ (already used in Latin in the fourth century), ‘noetic’ by ‘spiritual’, ‘invisible’ or ‘of the heart’, ‘stichos’ by ‘verse’, ‘theologize’ by ‘make theology’ and ‘Theotokos’ by ‘Birthgiver of God’ or sometimes simply ‘Mother of God’.

Conclusion

Looking now to future generations and refining the extraordinary pioneering translations of previous generations, mainly begun in the 1960s and 1970s, we have to take into account the pastoral needs of our contemporary flock. Our need for English is because the children of our flock, whatever their national origins, use English as their common language. We need a liturgical English which is both faithful to the spirit of the original but also grammatically correct, clear and accessible.

 

 

Eighteen Russian Orthodox Churches in the Eastern Half of England?

 Introduction: Pastoral/Missionary Experience since the 1970s

In reality, from the very beginning, Church life has always been a struggle against the world and its spirit, worldliness. This worldliness consists of politics, phyletism (a silly and complicated word for crude racism, Greek, Russian, Anglican, French and other, which has always treated us as third-class citizens), narcissism, guruism, phariseesism, sectarianism, favouritism, bureaucracy, sexual perversions, egomania, jealousy and all the other loveless and twisted pathologies.

I could not be ordained for four very good reasons: I was not ex-Anglican, not upper middle-class, I spoke Russian (so I could see through them) and, by far the worst sin of all, they knew that they could not buy me off as, Essex-born, I would always tell the Truth, the very thing they hated and hate the most, for ‘the Truth will set you free’. And the last thing they want is to be free; they prefer to be enslaved to their pathologies.

We can only hope that those who persecuted us in all these ways repented before they died or will repent before they die. The greatest sin of all of them has been their sheer absence of love. For without love, all of them, without exception, have been mere sounding brass and tinkling cymbals. We have not belonged to any ‘Church mafia’, but have been priests of God. I was not used until I was 50 and then it was all in spite of them. Persecution and internal exile were my lot, just as in the old Soviet Union, but I no longer have the energy of youth, when I could have done so much more. What a waste. But for that at least, I will not have to answer at the Last and Dread Judgement.

My direct Church experience over the last 45 years has been in England, in Oxford and Essex for 4 years, in Greece and Paris for one year each, in Cambridge and the Fens for 3 years and in France for 14 years until 1997. I have served in Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, USA and Australia and spent several months since the 1970s in Russia and the Ukraine and also in Belarus and Moldova. Since 1997 I have been back in England. Here I now cover up to 25,000 miles a year doing pastoral work all over the East, in five prisons and ten counties – Sussex, Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Norfolk and Lincolnshire.

Two Problems in the Diaspora and the Need for New Missions

  1. a) The first problem is the ideology of what may be called mononationalism (racism/phyletism), which forbids the liturgical use of other languages. We saw how the old ROCOR quite died out in this country in the 80s and 90s because of its suicidal mononationalism and how other Orthodox groups are now also dying out for exactly the same reason. We have also seen mononationalism (this time Anglican-style) of those who impose English only, with obligatory communion, no confession and the new calendar, in other words, the old-fashioned convert-style ’Anglican Orthodoxy’, which should have died decades ago.
  2. b) The second is the chronic lack of infrastructure, due to the lack of missionary vision of the episcopate of the past, and so today’s disastrous lack of our own premises, priests, singers and finance.

Every few months I am contacted by someone to open a Russian Orthodox mission in the Eastern half of England. This means in the six official regions of the East of England, London, the South-East, the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North-East, with a total population of 37 million. (The Western half of England, meaning the three more Celtic official regions of the South-West, the West Midlands and the North-West, together with the three Celtic countries of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, totals 34 million. Thus, IONA, the Isles of the North Atlantic, has a total population of 71 million).

We recall that all missions must be in centres of population, where there is already a living and authentic Russian Orthodox presence, as in the three living parishes under Sourozh, that is, in the ex-Parisian one in London and the small ex-ROCOR parishes in Oxford and Manchester (which latter is outside our Eastern area). Also all new missions must be accessible to the general public, in places where Orthodox already live, and not be in isolated, essentially private, locations.

The Three Old Missions of the Two Russian Dioceses and Five New Missions

1-3. London and Oxford

The two churches in London, at present of two different dioceses, though not very big and not very central, have long catered for Russian Orthodox in central London, the West End and the western suburbs. However, it is clear that those who live in the east and north of the Capital are poorly looked after. The small church in Oxford, founded by Fr Nicholas Gibbes, effectively already looks after Orthodox in Oxfordshire, North Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

  1. Colchester (Essex and South Suffolk). St John of Shanghai. This parish is our property, bought in 2008 with £180,000 raised in an internet appeal through the orthodoxengland site. It was dedicated to our Archbishop in London (1950-1962), to whom our original mission in Felixstowe was also dedicated.
  2. Norwich (Norfolk and North Suffolk). St Alexander Nevsky. This parish is our property, bought in 2016 with £65,000 raised in an internet appeal through the orthodoxengland site. Since our first parishioners here were from Tallinn in Estonia, the parish was dedicated to the patron of the Tallinn Cathedral.
  3. Bury St Edmunds = Cambridgeshire (Cambridgeshire, West Suffolk, East Bedfordshire, North Hertfordshire). Sts Vera, Nadezhda, Lyubov (Faith, Hope and Love) and their Mother Sophia. Our hope is to move our mission from Bury St Edmunds to a suitable location in Cambridgeshire. In Cambridge itself land is far too expensive and parking nearly impossible. A new mission would cater for those at the present missions in Bury St Edmunds (though many here go to Colchester at present), Wisbech (though some here would go to Boston – see below), in Peterborough, and also for Orthodox in Ely, Chatteris and March, merging them. I served in Bury from 2000 to 2002 and have now been there again for nearly two years, as also in Wisbech. The area includes St Felix’s 7th century monastery in Soham, St Audrey’s birthplace in Exning and her monastery in Ely, St Huna’s hermitage near Chatteris, St Pandwyna’s hermitage in Eltisley and St Edmund’s monastery in Bury.
  4. Wisbech = Boston (South Lincolnshire, West Norfolk, North Cambridge-shire). St Matrona and St Botolph. Our hope is to move our mission from Wisbech to Boston for those in the present missions in Wisbech and King’s Lynn, but including Orthodox in Holbeach and Spalding. All around live thousands of Eastern European fen workers. I have visited Orthodox in Spalding and the area.
  5. Ashford = ? (South-East London, Kent, East Sussex). The Royal Martyrs. We must have a mission in Kent. At present we use St Christopher’s Church near Elmswell Manor outside Ashford, but this may not be the best location.

Ten Possible Future Missions, God Willing

  1. Northampton (Northamptonshire/West Bedfordshire, North Buckingham-shire, South Leicestershire, East Warwickshire). The Protecting Veil. There is a huge Eastern European population all over the East Midlands, as it is accessible from Luton Airport, where Easyjet flies to Vilnius, Riga and elsewhere. I have several contacts in Northampton and nearby Kettering and know the area from missionary visits there.
  2. York (Yorkshire). St Constantine and St Helen. In the centre of Yorkshire, St Constantine was present here when he was proclaimed Emperor in July 306. This idea follows from earlier contacts and a visit to York in March 2019.
  3. St Albans (Hertfordshire/East Buckinghamshire). St Alban. The historic centre of the First Martyr, where I have been on pilgrimage many times over the last 45 years. This location is also accessible for the many Orthodox who live in North London and those in Luton.
  4. Crawley (West Sussex/Surrey). St Michael and all the Heavenly Hosts. A centrally located position, not far from south London, next to Gatwick (hence the dedication) and not far from Brighton.
  5. Winchester (Hampshire, South Berkshire, East Wiltshire). The Resurrection. A centrally-located historic royal centre and the pre-Norman capital of England. Hence the dedication.
  6. Sheffield (Derbyshire, North Nottinghamshire, West Yorkshire). The Transfiguration. A presence in this heavily-populated industrial area, where raw materials were and are transformed (hence the dedication).
  7. Grimsby (North Lincolnshire, South Yorkshire). St Nicholas. A fishing port and hence the dedication.
  8. Derby (Derbyshire, South Nottinghamshire, North Leicestershire, East Staffordshire). (All Saints). A central, collective point and hence the same dedication as its ancient cathedral founded in c. 943.
  9. Durham (County Durham, South Northumberland, North Yorkshire). St Cuthbert. A presence in the city where the relics of St Cuthbert have lain for over some 900 years.
  10. Berwick on Tweed (Northumbria). (Sts George and Andrew). A pastoral centre between Durham and Edinburgh, near historic Holy Island, showing our spiritual unity in the saints of God. This mission takes us beyond north-east England into south-east Scotland and new territory.

Conclusion: Eighteen Missions

With the three old missions in London and the South-East and the two new missions in the East of England, three missions under way and ten potential new missions we could provide access to Orthodoxy for 95% of the 37 million population of the Eastern half of England, and even beyond its borders, who live within a 30 mile radius (as the crow flies, more) of each centre. (It is our experience that people are willing to travel up to 40 miles, or one hour, regularly, but usually not more, to get to church).

Give me the tools and I will finish the job, as I wrote over 20 years ago.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips

Felixstowe, East of England,

12 May 2019

On President Erdogan and the Church of the Holy Wisdom

I have been asked by a US correspondent about our attitude to President Erdogan of Turkey, who has recently spoken about the massacre of Muslims by a Fascist fanatic in New Zealand and about turning Agia Sofia into a mosque again. Now, we have in our parish three Turkish Orthodox parishioners and soon there will be a fourth. Interestingly, they all have the same attitude to President Erdogan, the neo-Ottoman ‘Sultan of Turkey’: they consider that he is a nationalist dictator and find him very unpleasant and distasteful.

In this way, he is perhaps similar to many another tyrannical Middle Eastern ruler. We think immediately of the rulers of Saudi Arabia, who behead people by the dozens every year, keep most of the people dirt-poor and the rich ultra-rich, and have carried out a huge genocide (with enthusiastic Western backing) against the people of the Yemen. Not to mention the fact that they tortured and cut into little pieces a Saudi journalist in their consulate in Istanbul last October. Apparently this barbaric behaviour is quite agreeable to the Saudis and their Western sponsors and guardians. In other words, there is always worse than Erdogan, but, true, there could be better, only be careful – you may end up with worse. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and the Ukraine are outstanding examples. Thus, in Turkey, the US attempt to assassinate President Erdogan in July 2016 would surely have led to incredible strife and thousands of deaths.

Of course, there are Orthodox who strongly dislike President Erdogan, not because they are Turkish, but because they hate his threat that the Church of the Holy Wisdom in Istanbul, for long a tourist site, may yet again become a mosque. However, this is a false problem. The real problem is that the Orthodox have shown themselves unworthy of having an Empire and a Capital. Until the Russians repent for their betrayal in 1917, there will be no Orthodox Emperor, and until the Greeks repent for their betrayal of Christianity which led to 1453, they will never have any power, and until they repent for their latest crimes in the Ukraine in 2019, Agia Sofia will become a mosque. The same is true for apostate Greek Cypriots, the northern third of whose island was occupied 45 years ago by Turkey, with full Western backing, and true for the Serbs in Kosovo, who forgot their Faith and were outpopulated by Albanians.

You always lose your territory when you show yourselves unworthy of having it. You bring it on yourself. Territory does not belong to us, it belongs to God and is only on loan to us for as long as we remain faithful to Him. Thus, Belgium was devastated in the First European War because of its crimes in Central Africa (millions of Africans mutilated or murdered), Britain lost its Empire because it swapped the Bible for the exploitation of natural resources and the same can be said for umpteen other empires throughout history, ancient and modern, from China to Babylon, from the Hindus to the Egyptians, from Timbuktu to Machu Picchu, from the Mayas to Zimbabwe, from France to Austro-Hungary. Power hangs by a thread; it is an illusion to think we have any power, we only have what is granted by God. The USA will lose its power for the same reasons. Spiritual and moral decadence is always followed by catastrophic collapse.

When Greeks or Russians begin converting Turkey to Christ, instead of hiding in their ethnic corners, then Istanbul will become Constantinople again and the Church of the Holy Wisdom will echo to praise for Christ in Turkish from the Turkish Orthodox faithful. But until then, expect only worse and worse. The fruit of non-repentance and self-justification is humiliation. It is the only thing that can bring humility to the unrepentant. In other words, there will be no Church of the Holy Wisdom until you have shown Holy Wisdom.

 

Questions and Answers (March 2019) From Recent Correspondence

The Parish Church

Q: Where is the Colchester church financed from?

A: St John of Shanghai Church in Colchester was bought and equipped in 2008 with money donated for 95% by English Orthodox. The rest came from various kind individuals in ROCOR, from Venezuela to Alaska. Not a penny came from inside Russia. We had no support from there at all, or from many obvious rich people in London or locally, who could have helped us. One English convert used to boast that he had £2 million – he never gave us even £1!

Over the first ten years we spent a lot more money on getting an abandoned building up to scratch. Almost all that money has come from the faithful. They are nearly all quite poor Eastern Europeans, not wealthy ex-Anglicans, so of course every penny they have given us has been valued.

Q: You are part of ROCOR, so is your ethos in the Colchester church Russian?

A: Our ethos is Orthodox. Inevitably, as part of the new ROCOR (not the old ROCOR, which was often nationalistic and even racist), we are multinational, 24 nationalities, with three languages and a Romanian second priest. We are in effect an ‘Imperial’ church, that is a multinational church, simply the church for all faithful and traditional Orthodox locally, that is, within a radius of 50 miles.

Nationalism

Q: Why did the Patriarchate of Constantinople set up a new organization in the Ukraine for schismatics and heretics and then recognize it?

A: Over two decades ago the Polish-American Zbigniew Brzezinski was proclaiming the need for the US State Department to implement a schism in the Orthodox world, following the US takeover of that Patriarchate in 1948. The US has now done this through flattering Greek nationalism in Istanbul, keenly supported by the notorious US ambassadors in Kiev and Athens. There is now little doubt that this schism from the Orthodox Faith will prove to be permanent and that nationalists and other secularists (liberals and LGBT activists) who have infiltrated a few other Local Churches will join that schismatic-supporting Patriarchate.

However, there will also be faithful Orthodox in the Patriarchate of Constantinople who will join us. This is above all the long-awaited schism of the Greek Orthodox world which has undergone Westernization for the last 100 years. Westernization always ends in schism, as we saw in Russia in the 1920s. However, the schism is small, that of a Westernized splinter-group, that of a few hundred thousand against over 220 million in the Church

Q: Why are there still people in Russia who think that Stalin was a great man?

A: Why are there still people in the UK who think that Churchill was a great man? In other words, the answer is because he was the country’s leader at the time of the victory over Fascism in 1945. In other words, the answer is because of nationalism. Churchill was in fact very unpopular with ordinary people in the UK (that is why he was voted out by a very large majority in 1945). He was hated for Gallipoli, his hatred of the miners, his complete lack of understanding for the poor and, abroad, for the gassing of the Kurds, the Bengali Famine in which millions died, and his astounding racism, which was similar to Hitler’s, only towards Non-White races.

Just as some nationalistic Russians forget that Stalin was a foreigner, a Georgian, and caused the deaths of millions and millions of Slavs, people also forget that Churchill was half-American and a profound White Supremacist. In Russia, such marginal nationalists and xenophobes (often anti-Semites) also adore Ivan IV (‘the Terrible’) who was responsible for the deaths of at least 2,000 innocent people. (Though this means that he was a lot less ‘terrible’ than his contemporaries, the Tudors: Henry VIII and Elizabeth I killed at least 150,000 between them).

Q: Did you mention the terror attack in New Zealand in your sermons last Sunday? And what do you think of this massacre?

A: Of course, I did not mention it! People come to church to get away from such grisly secularism. It is the last thing they want to hear about. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.

What do I think of it? I am shocked that Tarrant, this Neo-Nazi White Supremacist, was allowed the freedom to do this. Tarrant had already been reported several times to the Australian government by Semyon Baykov, the ataman of the Zabaykal Cossacks in Sydney, for his terrorist activities in the Ukraine. He had been fighting for the Kiev Fascist regime against the Orthodox freedom-fighters in the Donbass. (The Australian government had ignored his reports). Birds of a feather flock together, fascists fight with fascists.

Missionary Work in Western Europe

Q: Why have only small numbers of Western Europeans joined the Russian Orthodox Church in the last hundred years?

A: It is because most Western people are attached to their very nationalistic culture, which thinks that it is superior to all other cultures, in other words, they are attached to Western worldliness. (Nationalism is by definition worldliness). Let me explain

In order to be an Orthodox Christian, you have to reject the deformations of the last thousand years of Western history. If you do not, but still join the Church, you will not last in it, but will lapse quickly. In other words, you may join the Orthodox Church, but you will never become Orthodox. For example, the later Metr Antony (Bloom) used to chrismate heterodox into Orthodoxy just a few days after meeting them. In this way he received at least a thousand people; but they virtually all lapsed from the Russian Church, attached only to his highly controversial but hypnotic (look at photos of his cold eyes) personality. Most of them lapsed very quickly, though some lapsed only many years later after he had died and therefore the cult was over.

This lapsing was because these ‘converts’ had held on to Western heterodox culture and never accepted Western Orthodox culture from the first millennium and its continuation in the reality of Russian Orthodox culture of today. The same thing happened for the same reason in Paris (where Metr Antony was from), where also at least a thousand heterodox were received into the Paris Jurisdiction (the ex-Exarchate and ex-Russian Church), mainly over the last 60 years, but virtually all of them lapsed. However, here, the ex-Exarchate has actually always boasted that it is ‘Western’, i.e. spiritually impure!! Such impurity cultivates only disincarnate narcissistic intellectual and emotional fantasies, but not spiritual life. To use the language of the Gospels, you cannot build a Church on sand, only on rock. In other words, you cannot be Orthodox without spiritual purity.

Orthodox Life

Q: Is it true that most baptised Orthodox do not attend church?

A: Yes, it is true that most baptised Orthodox only attend church when they have a problem. This is different to the mass of baptised Non-Orthodox, who take to drink, drugs and anti-depressants when they have a problem.

Global Warming

Q:  What is your position on manmade global warming as a religion and political ideology?

A: Basically:

  1. Clearly, it is not good to pollute. Thus, China today is similar to England 150 years ago in terms of pollution. (Thus, when the West boasts of being clean, it is hypocritical because its production for its consumer society and so its pollution has simply been transferred to China etc). Pollution is bad because we should respect and not destroy and disfigure the environment because God made it. Clean air, water and land are literally vital. But does (manmade) pollution create global warming?
  2. Global warming exists, but that is the nature of climate: it always changes. Currently, having come out of the period of the medieval ice age (global cooling), we are simply returning to the climate of 1,000 years ago. So perhaps this climate change is quite natural.
  3. The opinion of most scientists that it is manmade is clearly coloured by the business and political lobbies who pay them very richly for their reports. Significantly, a minority of independent scientists contradict the majority opinion. Are they right? I don’t know, but I wonder.
  4. Spiritually, it is clear that the Western world has entered a period of paganism, nature-worship (‘tree-hugging’). For many, ecologism is the new religion, which has replaced the worship of the Creator with the worship of creation. This is called idolatry and pantheism.