Category Archives: Missionary Work

The Inevitable Struggle for the Inevitable Local Church

Foreword

The formation of new Local Orthodox Churches is inevitable, indeed it began long ago. One day there will be four new Local Churches in the world – for Western Europe, North America, South America and Oceania. This is not a prophecy, it is obvious and has been obvious to me for 45 years. When? For the struggle for it is also inevitable. Not, I think, in my lifetime, perhaps not even in my children’s lifetimes, but perhaps in the lifetimes of my grandchildren. The formation of a new Local Church in Western Europe is what I have devoted my life to. I hope that, like many others, I will have contributed something positive, however modest, to its foundations.

Introduction

The bane of the Church is any attachment to the world and one of the strongest forms of attachment is nationalism. For example, the Jews could not accept Christ because of their attachment to Jewish nationalism as ‘the chosen people’. Then the Copts and the Armenians broke away from the Church because of nationalism, Western Europe broke away because of Western nationalism, inventing self-justifying ‘Roman’ Catholicism, and the future Protestants broke away from them because of Germanic nationalism. The most flagrant form of this nationalism was perhaps ‘the Church of England’, created by a murderous and power-grasping King.

In much more recent times the unity of the Church has been put under great pressure by flag-waving Greek nationalism, called phyletism, although we still await the repentance of the Phanariot episcopate. Nationalism is by definition worldliness and is therefore anti-missionary. God only speaks the language of the nationalists, be it Hebrew, Latin, Greek or other, and as every Victorian Englishman knew, ‘God is an Englishman’. Nationalist groups inevitably die out, as they are assimilated. Instead of obeying the last two verses of the Gospel of Matthew, they refuse to go out and baptise the world, rather trying to steal the flocks of others, as in today’s Ukraine.

Imperialism

The above is a list of examples of what might be called ‘uncanonical nationalism’, for its extremism always leads to schisms and heresies, that is, it leads to being outside the Church. This we can see with the case of the contemporary Patriarchate of Constantinople, whose schism has taken 100 years to prepare. However, there is also nationalism inside the Church, that is, it is ‘canonical’. Though obviously, by definition, more moderate than the extremist form outside the communion of the Church, it is basically imperialist. Its sign is national exclusivism, it will accept others only if they ‘become Greeks’ or ‘become Russians’, for instance.

This imperialism is marked by the imposition of a single language and a single culture, centralisation and bureaucracy. This is inevitably part of a controlling tyranny, of the bullying and intimidation of both clergy and people at the grassroots. By creating fear and injustice, it hopes to obtain the property and wealth of the people, their church buildings. By mistreating the clergy, this imperialist centralism discourages the missionary impulse, often persecuting any missionary initiative in the name of control and ‘protocols’. Such a mentality is death to the soul and death to the spiritual life of the Church: imperialism is always spiritual death.

Localism

Imperialism is also by definition an attachment to the world, nationalism, but the other extreme of this nationalism is what may be called ‘Localism’. This is the reaction to centralisation, the splitting movement of disunity in the name of some small country, often an artificial one, which has led over the last 200 years to the formation of a whole series of small, ‘Autocephalous’ Local Churches. The most recent example was that which was formed fifty years ago in North America , with the formation of the tiny ‘OCA’, the Orthodox Church in America, a group which in reality united fewer than 10% of Orthodox in North America, perhaps as few as 5%.

The brainchild and scheme of the very practical and frustrated activist Fr Alexander Schmemann, who had taken power from the academic theoretician Fr George Florovsky, the ideologists of the OCA tried to impose US culture, regardless of its lack of spiritual content, on all. Founded not on Orthodox Christianity, this mentality tried to impose the lowest common denominator of local culture – new calendarism, modernism, anti-monasticism, anti-asceticism and anti-spiritual moralism, at best a watered-down rationalistic intellectualism. However, Christ’s Church is founded not on some local human culture, but on His Universal Gospel made incarnate.

Conclusion

For nearly fifty years now we have battled for authentic Orthodoxy, but specifically in the local language (and not in foreign versions of that language!) and for the honouring of local saints, where they exist, and for local traditions which are not opposed to the Church. We cannot ignore the local language, geography and history, we must consult and not ignore experience. All else is arrogance. What we have observed in the last half-century is that every nationalist formation, whether of imperialist or localist nationalism, has died out. Thus, both Greek and Russian Churches have died out here, as has also the attempt to create an Anglican Orthodoxy.

This 21st century will not bring a nationalistic Neo-Anglican ‘British Orthodox Church’, as they wanted. However, it may bring an Autocephalous Western European Orthodox Church, led by His Beatitude Metropolitan N. in Paris. As regards the four peoples and nations of these ‘Islands of the North Atlantic’ (IONA), it would find itself an autonomous part of such a Metropolia. It could have four archbishops, one for England, one for a reunited Ireland, one for Scotland and one for Wales, possibly with vicar bishops. However, realistically, this can only happen under the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church, which alone founds new Churches. May God’s will be done.

 

The Spirit of St Edmund

Foreword

Our Orthodox Kingdom lives and prays beneath the standard of holy Edmund, the King and Martyr of East Anglia (+ 869), and the first Patron Saint of the English Land. His standard is made up of a crown, representing his kingship, his virginity and his martyrdom, against the background of a heavenly blue and crossed arrows. These arrows show how he defended his Kingdom and so won Paradise, being shot through with many of them by violent and heathen men who then beheaded him.

Introduction

St Edmund’s heavenly kingdom is the East Anglian corner in Paradise, but his earthly kingdom was and is made up of what is now Norfolk, Suffolk and the fenlands of eastern Cambridgeshire. However, it spread and spreads its influence across its marches into northern Essex, across the fens into the East Midlands, and in missions still further afield, thus taking his spirit outside his land. St Edmund expressed this spirit in life and in death in the values of Orthodox Christian Civilisation, which are:

  1. Faithfulness

The Old English word ‘geleafful’ (literally, faithful) was the word chosen by missionary monks to translate the Greek word ‘Orthodox’. Thus, faithful Christians are Orthodox Christians and vice versa. Through his confession of the Faith in his life and by his martyrdom in his death, there is no doubt that St Edmund was an Orthodox Christian, faithful to the end to the Gospel of Christ, which he imitated. It is this faithfulness, that is, Orthodoxy that we need and seek to follow today.

  1. Kingship

Edmund was of the noble and kingly line of East Anglia and its last King. He was also the faithful and trusted friend of the holy King Alfred the Great, unifier of England and its greatest Sovereign. Edmund fought alongside Alfred to defend Nottingham in the East Midlands. He was noble in blood, but also in conduct, fearlessly fighting the heathen, but not afraid to die, like the King of Kings, at his own Gethsemane and Golgotha in Hoxne, in the very centre of his Kingdom between north and south.

  1. Care for the People

His tenth-century life described him as ‘wise and honourable’, that ‘he ever glorified Almighty God by his noble conduct’, was ‘humble and devout’, ‘mindful of the true teaching’, ‘among men as one of them’, ‘bountiful to the poor and to widows even like a father’, that ‘with goodwill he ever guided his people to righteousness and lived happily in the true faith’. He chose ‘rather to die for his own land’, ‘never turning aside from the worship of Almighty God or from His true love, whether he lived or died’.

Conclusion

These Trinitarian values are essential as they represent all that is missing here today. Thus, there is little faithfulness and they only argue about how best to betray the Faith. There is little sense of Kingship as there is little nobility, spirit of sacrifice, they are only political opportunists and careerists who replace the Kingdom of Heaven with the Republic of Hell. And there is little pastoral care for the people as anti-missionaries are in power. Therefore, our mission now is to spread the spirit of St Edmund.

 

 

 

On the Contemporary Challenges Faced by the Russian Orthodox Church

Introduction: Excesses and Extremes on the Margins

After the fall of the militantly atheist Soviet Union nearly thirty years ago, the Russian Orthodox Church appears to have gone from strength to strength, both inside and outside Russia. In some respects this is clearly true, but in others it is not the case, as a whole set of enormous challenges remains. The Church suffers from the presence of many marginal individuals, including some clergy, and trends which are outside the mainstream of the Orthodox Tradition and so have little to do with Christianity. As a current example we have the case of Schema-abbot Sergei Romanov, whom I met in 2018 when I visited the Urals.

After meeting him, I was left with a whole set of questions: Why was such a man from a recent, violent criminal background ordained? Why did he have no qualifications? Where did all his great deal of money come from? Why was he left to conduct spurious exorcisms, humiliating his victims, creating obvious psychological damage and dependency? Why was he left in authority when he clearly set himself against Orthodox teachings? Why had he been allowed to set up a cult? Why did his bishop not act? Here are questions that are only now, two years on, being answered, only after much harm has already been caused.

  1. Organisational Temptations

Scandals

Like the case of Romanov, over the last thirty years many mistakes have been made. Desperate to cater to the spiritual needs of the scores of millions of newly baptised, the wrong people were sometimes ordained and consecrated. This is not an opinion, but a fact, as we can see from the number of defrockings and exiles of careerist bishops now in disgrace. There have been too many ‘young elders’, pseudo-elders, charlatans, money-extorters, perverts, careerists, obscurantists and also cultish sects, such as the neo-renovationist Kochetkovtsy. We cannot help thinking that at least some of these scandals are linked to money or else are sexual in nature.

Bureaucracy

The pre-Revolutionary Church already suffered from profound careerism and  bureaucratic centralisation, from the use of decrees and protocols – words that cannot be found in the Gospels. Today’s Soviet-style centralisation is even worse. Paperwork is one of the main complaints of parish priests in Russia. They are being made into administrators, ‘effective managers’, businessmen. This all means money: money-grasping bureaucrats have to be paid. The Apostle Paul did not suffer either from bureaucracy or money; he worked as a tent-maker, not as a careerist. Do we not confess the Apostolic Church? Should we not venerate the saints like him in deed, as well as in word? Why kiss the Gospels, if we are not going to live by them?

Money

This brings us to money problems. Some bishops and priests appear to be extremely rich and many think that all clergy live in their way, with 4 x 4s, Mercedes, yachts and villas. In reality, many clergy are poor. Here there is a total lack of transparency and also a poor distribution of resources. Partly this is to do with the post-Soviet nouveau riche class. They like to donate money to the Church – which is good – but why this obsession with gold, marble and luxury in church? They should first read the Gospels and find out about mammon, as their money so often acts as a source of temptation. For every ‘monumental church’ with its kilos of gold, ten plain but community/ congregational churches could have been built. Money is the rot in the Church today, an infectious disease that spreads everywhere.

  1. Internal Temptations

Churching Society

Three generations of militant atheism and violent persecution left Soviet society completely spiritually ignorant, ready to believe everything and anything, extraordinarily superstitious, with at one time almost African levels of animism at the extremes. In a society of converts, often ritualistic, and with very few experienced clergy and people, all kind of primitive errors still abound. The task of baptising society was not so difficult, but to change the faith of the people from nominal-instinctive to active-conscious is far more difficult. All the more so today when some representatives of the Church have discredited themselves through their careerist love of money and luxury and so made most indifferent.

Liberals

The educated extremes of Russian society (the masses are indifferent and look only to survival) have long been divided into Westernisers and Slavophiles. The very small but very active minority of extreme Westernisers are often highly-educated, with doctorates, and are liberal, modernistic, ecumenist. They condemn the Church, hate piety and support LGBT (they are often themselves homosexuals). As regards coronavirus, they are faithless and so wear masks at every opportunity. Clearly, they have no interest in missionary work, converting others to Christ, as they long ago rejected Christ in favour of the Secular West.

Conservatives

The conservatives are also very small in number but narrow and nationalistic. The extremists among them still think that Lenin and Stalin were wonderful. They rarely attend Church, which is just a nationalistic banner or flag for them to hide behind, so that can like the pharisees condemn others, in self-justification. Often Third Romists, they can often be paranoid in relation to the Western world, confess anti-Semitism, indeed, anti-everythingism, and love conspiracy theories. They would certainly never wear a mask, probably not even believing in the existence of coronavirus. Clearly, they have no interest in missionary work, converting others to Christ, as they consider that Christianity is purely nationalistic and probably think that God is Russian anyway.

  1. External Temptations

Dealing with the Post-Soviet State

The main problem here is the refusal of the State to change, to give up its Sovietism. There is post-Soviet, but there is also outright Soviet too. Thus, in Moscow still lie the remains of that revolting mass-murderer Lenin and in Ekaterinburg, where the Royal Martyrs were massacred 102 years ago, as everywhere, there are street names and statues of the murderers and the whole region is still named after one of them. The media and the education and health sectors (after all there is an abortion industry to support) are full of those opposed to the Church. The State still has little practical concern about the chronically low birth-rate, the chronically high divorce rate and does little to further the cause of ecology.

Relations with the Other Local Churches

Half of the Orthodox Local Churches basically support the Russian Church, but the other half, undermined by petty nationalism, has been bought out by US aggression. This is clear with regard to obvious US imperialism in the Ukraine, the Baltics and the Balkans, where its ambassadors, like pagan Roman governors, new Pilates, have bribed and blackmailed the tiny Greek Orthodox world into the crudest infringements of Canon Law and simple human justice. That world, only a few million in number, has thus discredited itself and it remains a mystery as to why anyone voluntarily belongs to it any more. This is the final Greek tragedy.

Relations with the Non-Orthodox World

Here too the tensions are purely political. The Protestant world, consciously and unconsciously, has long been instrumentalised by the Western secret services to destroy the Orthodox world, in order to divide it and rule it. Since its 1960s protestantisation, much the same has happened in the Roman Catholic world, most obviously under the CIA-appointed Polish Pope. However, it was already opposed to Christ anyway and prepared to invade and destroy the Orthodox world at the drop of a hat, as can be seen in the history of the Crusades, in Uniatism and then in co-operation with the Bolsheviks. All this provokes Russian nationalism and makes many unable to appreciate the remnants of Orthodoxy in the Western world.

Conclusion: Towards the New Jerusalem (1) through Churching the Masses

The Russian Orthodox Church is three-quarters of the whole Church. Thus, its main challenge is that of responsibility. How can the mainstream, often paralysed by such excesses and extremes among certain bishops, priests and people, bring the world’s seven and a half billion people to Christ and His New Jerusalem without compromise? The answer is the same as that when the Twelve Apostles, opposed by all and compromised by Judas, also set out to do the impossible. The few must first Church the masses, the 2% of the Churched setting the example by converting the 98% of the unChurched and showing them that the Church is not about the money-grubbing of the new Judases. And how is that possible? Only by the Holy Spirit.

Feast of the Royal Martyrs, 4/17 July 2020

Note:

  1. The Cathedral of the Wisdom of God in Istanbul was long ago made into a mosque, then a museum and now is to become a mosque once more. Why? Because the local Orthodox have for 567 years failed to convert the local people to Christ. Failing to love their enemies, they have hated them and so made enemies for themselves. What are we to do? We are called on to create a new Church of the Wisdom of God, a New Jerusalem.

 

 

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.