Category Archives: Modernism

On the Draft Catechism Produced in Moscow

Russian Version: https://stbasil.center/2017/11/01/o-proekte-katehizisa/

A draft catechism has been compiled in Moscow and is now being discussed. We have seen it. It is very long and has clearly been composed by intellectuals (judging by their condescension to ‘ordinary Orthodox’ and lack of observation of how we ordinary Orthodox live our faith). And it is also clear that they have copied from the post-Vatican II Roman Catholic catechism, or versions of it, like the pseudo-Orthodox Parisian ‘Dieu est Vivant’ catechism, which dates back some 35 years to modernist Catholicism. This draft is based on an over-complicated, self-justifying intellectual approach, full of quotations from the Scriptures and the early Fathers, some of them taken out of context, some of them taken from a heretical document falsely attributed to St Isaac the Syrian. Rather than a question and answer approach, it has adopted a patronizing approach, ensuring that very few real Orthodox will ever read it, which is for the best.

This draft catechism is clearly marked by modernism, suggesting like the Parisians’ hero-heretic, Origen, that salvation is for all and that Darwin is also Orthodox. Its bureaucratic language and Western jargon about ‘human dignity and rights’ and ‘a social concept’ expresses not Orthodox theology, but the politically correct ‘scientific’ theology of Western doctoral students. Unlike ROCOR’s Fr Seraphim Slobodskoy’s simple and classic catechism ‘The Law of God’, which is also very popular inside Russia, this draft is not accessible to ordinary Orthodox. Clearly, the whole thing has been written by those closer to the humanism of Pope Francis than the Orthodox Faith and people. Someone in Moscow, who has studied in a Western University, wants a Vatican II-style Council in the Orthodox Church. For example, this draft never mentions our Russian Orthodox dress code and seems to think that fasting is not very important.

Marked by the language of secularist rationalists from outside the Church, the document presents the Church of God as a religious institution, not the Risen Body of Christ, radiated and penetrated by the Holy Spirit. The authors want to make this institution acceptable to the secular world by avoiding the dogmatic revelations of the Holy Spirit and all areas of controversy. Orthodoxy is just a ‘confession’ and heretical groups outside the Orthodox Church are also called ‘Churches’. It seems to prefer political correctness to the Truth that sets free. Thus, there is little about the Fall and its consequence of ancestral sin. A sign of Roman Catholicism comes in its attribution of papal-like powers to the Patriarch of the Russian Church and equally to its superficial description of the filioque heresy. A sign of Protestant-style Judaism comes in its over-emphasis on the Old Testament, as if the New Testament were just an extension of the Old.

The authors of this draft are clearly involved in the ecumenical heresy, which is conducted by intellectuals who have little or no contact with ordinary Orthodox and is conducted behind our backs, even behind the backs of bishops. There is here no dogmatic clarity at all, and yet that is the very thing we expect from a real Catechism. There is here no theology in the Orthodox ascetic sense. It would be better to throw away this draft of intellectuals and start again, this time employing Orthodox writers, who have ascetic, dogmatic and pastoral experience. They will know what is acceptable to us who strive to live an Orthodox way of life in our monasteries and parishes, where ordinary Orthodox strive to observe Russian Orthodox values and, for that matter, our dress code. Whoever the authors are, they need to realize that the 1960s are over and imitation Roman Catholic/Protestant Paris-Crestwood ‘theology’ with it. Get real! We live in 2017.

 

Fr Nicholas Lossky

Last Monday we learned of the death in Paris of the son of Vladimir Lossky, Fr Nicholas Lossky, at the age of 87. Coming after the deaths of Fr Elie Melia, Elizabeth Behr-Sigel and Olivier Clement, we are seeing the dying out of the generation of Paris ecumenists and modernists, those born in the 1920s and 1930s. We can only think of two remaining bishops in the Constantinople jurisdiction, both ill and in their 80s, who still represent this viewpoint. This is the end of old-fashioned ecumenism.

Long before he was ordained, as a liberal academic Nicholas Lossky represented the Anglicanophile element among the Paris Russians. Thus, as a true Anglican, in his lectures at St Serge he defended the Norman Occupation of England in 1066 (completely unlike Fr John Romanides who in Thessaloniki at the same time supported Robin Hood against the Normans). Nicholas was also a clear supporter of the centralist European Union, even though he had remained faithful to his father’s memory and through him to the Moscow Patriarchate, though only in its strictly ecumenist and new calendarist form as it could exist in the past. The piety of the Russian Orthodox faithful in Russia was alien to him, as was the veneration for the Imperial Martyrs.

It is a warning to us all to move with the times and not to get stuck in the past. Eternal Memory to Priest Nicholas!

 

‘Pan-Orthodox’ = Non-Orthodox?

Even in the Russian Orthodox Church we sometimes hear of ‘Pan-Orthodox’ organizations, assemblies, conferences, meetings, even of ‘Pan-Orthodox liturgies’. But what does this mean? Every liturgy is ‘Pan-Orthodox’, inasmuch as all Orthodox are invited to partake, indeed the whole world is called on to pray. Sadly, the phrase ‘Pan-Orthodox’ really means ‘only for selected Orthodox’. In fact, it means ‘for new calendarists only’ (thus, excluding 85% of Orthodox), and for ecumenists, modernists, freemasons and liberal intellectuals (thus, excluding 99.9% of the rest). How has this distortion of meaning come about?

This distorted word has come from two opposing visions of the unity of the Church, especially in the Diaspora. The first vision for unity, the ‘Pan-Orthodox’ one, is based on a levelling down to the lowest common denominator, in fact, on protestantization and secularization. The other vision for unity, the Orthodox one, is based on a levelling up to the highest common denominator, in fact it is ascetic and leads to holiness. Although the first vision will at first be more popular and more common, because it is not Spirit-bearing, it will not last. It is therefore only the second vision that endures and triumphs.

We can see this in last year’s ‘Pan-Orthodox’ (!!!) meeting in Crete. This has caused a huge crisis in the Greek and new calendarist (for example Romanian) world, which attended it and signed various papers, and that world is now concerned with the ‘reception’ of that peculiar meeting. This is utterly irrelevant to the majority of Orthodox, who are hardly aware of this crisis, since they refused even to attend such an absurd meeting with its Non-Orthodox agenda and have since forgotten it and laugh when they hear it called ‘a Council’. We are pre-Crete and post-Crete and living; they are con-Crete and dead.

We would rather suffer martyrdom than sign any of those papers. Such is ‘Pan-Orthodox’. In order to be ‘Pan-Orthodox’, you first have to be Orthodox. That is what the ‘Orthodox-lite’, ‘Euro-Orthodox’ ecumenists, modernists and liberals have no understanding of. In being all things to all men, they have ended up being nothing to no-one, in other words, a laughing-stock of those in the past. This is why we ignore them, safe with our Orthodox bishops and Orthodox faithful. This is why we shall continue to be authentically ‘Pan-Orthodox’, welcoming all, multinational and multilingual and faithful to the Tradition.

Which Jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church Should I Join?

Although fourteen Local Orthodox Churches make up the whole Orthodox Church of 216 million, only seven of them are represented by their jurisdictions outside the Local Orthodox Church homelands in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. However, since the Churches of Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria and Georgia generally care only for their own nationals, only three of these jurisdictions are open to Non-Orthodox. These three depend on the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Antioch and Moscow.

However, in Western Europe and North America there at present exist two groups in the Russian Church – that directly under Moscow and that under the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and so indirectly under Moscow. In North America, there is actually a third group, known as the OCA (Orthodox Church in America), originally largely Carpatho-Russian but now basically English-language, which was founded by Moscow. Anyone wishing to join the Orthodox Church may therefore have a choice to make.

Generally speaking, in Western countries, where Orthodox Christians are only a small minority and Orthodox churches are few and far between, this choice will be decided geographically. If you only have one Orthodox church geographically near you, then that is the church to join. However, if you live in or near the capital of a Western country or in or near a large city or town, there may well be a choice to make between the various jurisdictions. What needs to be known in order to choose?

1. The Patriarchate of Constantinople

This jurisdiction is dominated by Greek nationalism (the Greek flag) and generally sends away any Non-Greeks who knock at its door. It should also be known that this Patriarchate is both heavily involved with the Vatican and is run by the US political elite. For it, Washington is the ‘Second Rome’ and therefore the official ethos is modernistic, ecumenistic and generally liberal Protestant, according to the anti-Russian, Anglo-Saxon Establishment model. This is true even of Non-Greek parts of it, even though they try and imitate a few selected Russian customs. Having said this, there are exceptions, with some excellent pastors and pious people, so that any generalizations can be disproved by exceptions to the rule. If you are fortunate, you may live near a church of this jurisdiction that is not nationalistic and so is interested in missions to the Non-Greek world and has spiritual depth and content.

2. The Patriarchate of Antioch

Part of this jurisdiction is dominated by Arab nationalism, but the other part, mainly in Western countries, is dominated by a spirit of mission with a conservative-evangelical Protestant style, with a certain, rather peculiar and amateurish imitation of a few selected Russian customs. The ethos of this part, largely run by ex-Evangelicals, is to proselytize, that is, its ethos is to recruit as many like-minded converts as possible to itself. Some criticize it for this because as a result it cuts corners, fails to observe the canons and has a Protestant feel to it that attracts few cradle Orthodox (and it is not even very interested in this), certainly none who are anchored in the Tradition. Having said this, no-one would criticize this part of Antioch for its lack of zeal, only for its lack of depth and of knowledge of the Tradition. If you are fortunate, you may live near a church of this jurisdiction that has spiritual depth and content.

3. The Patriarchate of Moscow

A criticism of this jurisdiction is that its Patriarch and hierarchy are corrupt. Those who make such assertions never have any proof of them and are engaged in Western-sponsored, anti-Russian politics. However, even if, for the sake of argument, we agree that they were true, we would answer: So what? The Patriarch is not the Head of the Church, for Christ is the Head of the Church and the Patriarch does not run the Church, for the Holy Spirit runs the Church. Such political criticisms show a Papist way of thinking. The parishes of the Patriarchate of Moscow outside the former Soviet Union, mainly in Western Europe and South America, display several tendencies. Some are nationalistic and, Soviet-style, arrogantly imperialistic, some are modernistic, others follow the Tradition and accept Non-Russians. If you are fortunate, you may live near a church of this jurisdiction that has spiritual depth and content.

4. ROCOR

The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) exists mainly in North America, Australasia and Western Europe. As such it has been responsible for much missionary and translation work. It has in its near-100 year history also been subject to many sufferings and persecution, as it has been without the political protection of a powerful State. Thus, the best of ROCOR has been a Church of Confessors and Missionaries, as in its saints like St John of Shanghai. However, other parts of it have been involved in nationalism, excessive strictness to the point of phariseeism and depressing right-wing politics. Today, as part of the Russian Orthodox Church, it has sometimes given the impression of drifting and having lost its identity. This drift has come about whenever its faithfulness to the Tradition has been in doubt. If you are fortunate, you may live near a church of this jurisdiction that has spiritual depth and content.

On the Non-Inevitability of Modernism

Once upon a time the pseudo-science of Marxism used to proclaim that its claims, like death and taxes, were inevitable. In a similar way the supporters of the theory of evolution used to proclaim that it too was the only ‘truth’ that counted, until real scientists pointed out that it was only a theory among many. Similarly, the EU used to proclaim that its aim of a United States of Europe was also inevitable, ‘like a man riding a bicycle you have to carry on towards it, otherwise you will fall off’. Actually if you are cycling (especially towards a cliff edge), you can easily stop without falling off and turn back, which is exactly what the pragmatists of Brexit have done. Modernists also use the same pseudo-scientific argument of inevitability to justify themselves. In a post-modernist world, their argument is particularly absurd and old-fashioned.

Thus, forty years ago I remember a priest of a modernist Western diocese of the old Patriarchate of Moscow (who later defrocked himself, ran away from his wife and then committed suicide) using exactly the same argument. ‘The Catholics had Vatican II, and we will follow them. It is inevitable. We will get rid of the iconostasis, have women around the altar table, have deaconesses, do away with clerical clothing and be modern like the Protestants and then the Catholics. It is just that we Orthodox are behind the others’. I have been reminded of his words recently, as a member of the Paris Archdiocese has said that since one of their priests in Belgium already accepts homosexual ‘marriage’ and that a priest under Constantinople in Finland actually does such ‘weddings’, ‘the rest of the Church will follow’. Inevitability? As in Crete?

A member of the Constantinople Archdiocese in North America has also recently questioned why New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was recently given the ‘Patriarch Athenagoras Human Rights Award’. After all, Cuomo is well known for his outspoken advocate of the pro-death (erroneously called pro-choice) movement. On 17 July 2014, Governor Cuomo referred to the defenders of the pre-born child as: “these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life … they have no place in the state of New York.” It seems a strange criticism when two years ago Vice-President Biden, who so lavishly praises the present Patriarch of Constantinople and has also tried hard to further the Church schism in the Ukraine and is another politician who is openly supportive of abortion, also received the same dubious masonic award.

To some it seems that an Orthodox Church accepting everything that liberal Protestantism and liberal Catholicism accept, including homosexual clergy, teenage girls ‘dancing’ around the altar and guitar ‘masses’, is inevitable. After all, they say, ‘we are all subject to the same sociological processes’. Such people, inherently secularist and faithless, have no understanding that this is a typically Catholic/Protestant/Secularist/Western attitude. The Church is precisely the only organism (not organization) that is not subject to ‘sociological processes’ (four Local Churches resisted Crete), but to the processes of the grace of God, processes of the Holy Spirit. If the apostles and martyrs had been subject to ‘sociological processes’, they would have censed the demons (‘gods’) as they were asked to. Instead, they refused – and became saints, the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

The point is that none of the incredible secularization undergone by Protestantism and Catholicism in the last fifty years (or in the previous centuries either) is inevitable. However, this is true only as long as long as we have the Holy Spirit and not empty-hearted rationalism, that is the ‘fleshly wisdom’ of the spirit of the world – and we know who the prince of the world is. As the apostate scholastic Abelard wrote 900 years ago in the Prologue to his work ‘Sic et Non’: ‘The Fathers had the Holy Spirit, but we do not’. For the interest of the apostate descendants of Abelard, the word ‘Fathers’ means ‘the (Orthodox) Church’, in other words: ‘The (Orthodox) Church has the Holy Spirit, but the others do not’. There is nothing inevitable about modernism, just as there is nothing inevitable about any other form of apostasy.

The Tradition is One

An integral part of the destructive ideology peddled by modernists is to deny the existence of the Tradition. Making out that there is no such thing as the Tradition, they claim that there are therefore only human customs, thus, very typically for them, reducing the Inheritance of the Holy Spirit to relativistic humanism. They are wrong – the Tradition exists and this is precisely the deposit of the Holy Spirit that the Apostle calls us to guard (1 Tim 6, 20).

There is only one Tradition, just as there is only one Church. True, there are local customs, but some of these are bad and come from spiritual decadence. These have come into the Church in recent times through Western influence and can be encountered especially in Greece, Cyprus and in parts of Romania and the Patriarchate of Antioch, which have been exposed for some generations to Western decadence. In their parishes in the USA and elsewhere, some of these groups actually use organs and people sit in pews during Church services! Of course, this is no part of the Tradition and is only justified as a custom because it is what heretics do. Here there are clear cases where the Tradition is being lost. However, modernists justify all this saying that ‘you can have organs or not have organs, you can have pews or not have pews – these are merely differences of custom’. This is a lie.

Such people are simply victims of modernist decadence and have lost the Tradition. Much more seriously, and this is now widespread among those who come from heterodox backgrounds, there is the custom of communion without confession and even persecution of those who do not take communion. This is like saying that communion is medicine which can be administered without a diagnosis. The fact is that if you take the wrong medicine because you do not have a diagnosis, you can die. Though the modernists hate the Scriptures because they are not politically correct, the Apostle Paul wrote about communion for damnation in the first century: ‘For this cause many are weak and sickly among you’ (I Cor 11, 30). Similarly, there is the modernist practice of forcing women to take communion during menstruation, which also goes against the Holy Spirit.

Another widespread modernist practice is to change the services, justifying arbitrary changes contrary to the Tradition. All of this goes hand in hand with the use of the papal calendar instead of the Orthodox calendar. Here too modernists assert that there are two calendars, therefore we can use either. In reality, there is only one Church calendar. The fact that we accept as Orthodox those who use the papal calendar for the fixed services is economy, a dispensation made for the sake of their salvation. Another abuse is celebrating without an iconostasis. This can happen initially in missionary circumstances, but after a few weeks any real Orthodox parish will have an iconostasis. Not to take a blessing on seeing a priest is another abuse – not part of the Tradition. Connected with this is the refusal of women not to cover their heads (I Cor 11, 13) and generally wear improper and immodest dress in church.

It is no good like Anglicans, who do not understand what the Church is, saying that in the Church there are only various human customs and so that we can ignore them or compromise them in amoral ‘pick and mix’ consumerism. In reality, there is right and wrong, good and bad, black and white, and there can be no compromise between right and wrong, just as there can be no concord between Christ and Belial (2 Cor 6, 15). The Tradition is One.

Two Extremes: Calvinism and Modernism

By Calvinism, which has its roots in Augustinianism (which is rather different from the teaching of Blessed Augustine of Hippo), we mean the human tendency to despair. This is the tendency to see all as black, that salvation is impossible, whatever efforts we make – despite the Gospel saying that with God all things are possible – that depression is our life. It is the source of dour Scots, serious Swiss and earnest Dutch. This is the error that says that God has no mercy, only truth.

By Modernism, which has its roots in Pelagianism and Origenism, we mean the human tendency to self-exaltation. This is the tendency to see humanity as already saved, that no confession and repentance are necessary for forgiveness, that the effect of holy communion is magic, automatic, requiring no effort on our part. This is the source of modern humanism and secularism and, in the Church context, renovationism. This is the error that says that God has no truth, only mercy.

As ever, Orthodoxy, the faith in the God-man, transcendent and immanent, neither Monophysite or Nestorian, neither Origenist or Calvinist, has balance, truth and mercy, repentance and forgiveness, the Tradition of the Holy Spirit.

Christ the Invincible Power

Answers to Questions from Recent Conversations and Correspondence

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What was it in fact?

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

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

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

Q: What happened next?

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

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

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

Q: What happened next?

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

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

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

Q: When was that?

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

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

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

Q: What happened next?

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

Q: What was your attitude to the Moscow Patriarchate?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Who are the unChurched in Russia?

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

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

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

1916-2016: 100 Years of Saints and Traitors

Introduction

100 years ago there began the last stages in the greatest injustice in world history – the betrayal of Imperial Christian Russia. Then on the point of victory in the First World War and so of liberating New Rome, called Constantinople, and also the Holy Land, it was also about to liberate the peoples of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany, so undoing the injustices in Central Europe and the Balkans and in the tyrannical Second Reich of Bismarck, so reconstituting a free Poland, and perhaps also righting the injustices of Western colonization worldwide. Had it not been betrayed, there would never have been any Bolshevik genocide (millions of dead), no Third Reich and no Hitler, no World War Two, no Teutonic holocaust of the Slavs (30 million dead) or of the Jews (over 5 million dead), no American fire bombs and atom bombs on Japanese civilians (1 million dead?), no Communist China (30 million dead?), no abortion holocaust (100 million dead?), no……

In May 1945 one Russian soldier – he later became a priest – was standing in the ruined Reichstag in Berlin. Surrounded by incredible destruction, but also great relief, victory had come at a huge price on the Russian Easter Day, which that year had coincided with the day of the feast of St George the Victorious Soldier-Martyr. There, in the Reichstag, the soldier saw Tsar Nicholas II surveying the scene, examining every detail, thinking that in 1917 he would already have stood there, surrounded however not by destruction but by an intact capital of culture. The ghost of Tsar Nicholas has haunted Europe ever since it betrayed him in 1917. He has been here all the time, to this very day, looking with eyes of pity at the merciless destruction and self-destruction of the Western world, as it sinks into its self-made abyss. Betrayed at the last moment in 1917, according to a plot prepared in detail in 1916, he looks on the lost souls and cultural heritage of the Western world and his heart weeps.

Inside Russia

The first sign that the plot had been implemented was the assassination of the peasant-healer Rasputin in December 1916, betrayed by decadent Russian aristocrats, who hated the Christian peasantry, and murdered by British spies, who hated Russian Orthodox. Financed by its enemies (Germany and Austro-Hungary) and by its ‘allies’ (Britain, France and the US, who had already financed Japan’s transformation into militarism and its murderous attack on Russia in 1904), sabotage and treason laid the Tsar’s Russia low. In 1917 this developed into anarchy (the so-called ‘Revolution’), which was created by ‘liberal’ opportunist traitors in February and exploited by ‘Bolshevik’ opportunist traitors in October. Anarchy (falsely called ‘Revolution’) was fabricated in the salons of the jealous and the ignoble, grand dukes and princes, generals and politicians, freemasons and lawyers, industrialists and bourgeois – ‘have money, want power’ – traitors to the people and their Tsar.

All of them were utterly unfaithful to the three (three because Trinitarian) tenets and principles that had upheld the Christian Empire of the Tsar. These were: the Faith (uncompromised Orthodox Christianity); the Tsar (the Anointed Christian Sovereign); and Rus (the multinational Christian Empire). As atheists and apostates, they committed sabotage and treason with regard to all these values, which represent Faith in the Father, the Incarnation of the Son and the Presence of the Holy Spirit. Those who remained faithful to these three tenets inside Russia were the New Martyrs and Confessors and those who venerated them. The salt of the earth, they were the ones who were to begin the great restoration that has been under way since the official fall of Bolshevism twenty-five years ago, but in fact long before, from the moment of their exploits. Thus the traitors were countered by the saints and, although the traitors still do not understand how or why, the saints always win.

Outside Russia

After the anarchy, there began the resistance and then the defeat and so emigration of those known as ‘White Russians’. Once in the emigration (though even before), it could plainly be seen that here too there were saints and traitors. To the left hand side there fell away those who betrayed the Faith and the Tsar. To the right hand side there fell away those who betrayed the Faith and Rus. On the left hand side were the renovationists, who so hated the Russian Church that they left Her, compromising Her Faith, and so hated the Tsar that they actually justified their treason, which had led them into the self-punishment of exile. On the right hand side were the nationalists, who so hated the Russian Church that they made Her into a narrow nationalist flag, forgetting Her multinational mission, and so hated Rus that they allied themselves with its crazed Teutonic enemy, not understanding that the victory of 1945 was the people’s victory, the victory of repentant Rus.

There were also those who understood that the task of the emigration was to keep faith with all three tenets. We knew that as long as all three principles were respected, all would be well and it would be simple to reunite with Russia once it was free again and restoration had begun, with the New Martyrs and Confessors officially venerated there. We understood that the Faith could not be compromised by heresies, dreamy and disincarnate renovationism and personality cults, regardless of the fact that we lived outside Russia. We understood that the memory of the Tsar, the universal Christian Emperor, had to be kept for restoration, in order for a new Christian Emperor to come and oppose the worldwide evil that has been unleashed ever since Tsar Nicholas was deposed. We understood that our mission is to make Rus universal, worldwide, regardless of race and language, and that our mission is among the people and must not be compromised by political Establishments.

Conclusion

In our own times we are seeing a daily miracle: over the last 25 years we have seen in the Russian Lands what we and those before us had been praying for over the previous 75 years, the slow restoration of the Tsar’s Christian Russia. Yes, it has been a slow and tortuous process, with many hesitations, deviations and falls, but the general direction has been right. This process of restoration is of course far from over, indeed, in many respects it has only just begun, but the icons of the New Martyrs, including those of the Royal Martyrs, are everywhere. As the new Cold War NATO occupies the Ukraine and Estonia, attempting to destabilize governments from Macedonia to Moldova and Armenia to Kazakhstan, and prepares to attack all along the Russian borders, its aircraft and submarines, tanks and troops everywhere threatening resurgent Russia, the last bastion of Christianity in the world, we see the desperation of the world’s elite in its bid to impose its New World Order.

Having destabilized all Latin America and much of Africa, striving to undermine China and India and using tides of poor Muslim immigrants to threaten European identities, having destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq, Libya and Syria, and attempting to destroy the Russian Orthodox Church and Faith, the satanic New World Order’s proposed Orthodox Council has led only to our clear identification of the unrepentant traitors in our midst – by waiting for them to reveal themselves, we now know who is ready for cleansing. The tiny but immensely powerful elite that stands behind the USA, the EU, NATO, the whole Western world indeed, and pulls the strings of its media, puppets and all the deceived and gullible, knows that if Russia resists it successfully, its aim of global domination and control will be foiled and the coming of the Kingdom of the Great Deceiver, Antichrist, that it knowingly and unknowingly seeks will be postponed, perhaps even for many years to come. May it be so, O Lord.

The Magic of the Mantra: On the Heresy of Name-Worship

The early twentieth-century heresy of name-worship, the worship of the name of God as if it were God Himself, is a curious amalgam of absurd and ignorant, magical and superstitious idolatry and pagan and intellectualist, Platonizing and Hinduizing pantheism. The crisis of name-worship came to a head in Russian monasteries and cells on Mt Athos in 1913 with acts of violence carried out by ‘name-worshippers’. After the heresy had been condemned by the Russian Holy Synod and the Patriarch of Constantinople as a heresy, the Russian authorities were frightened that the ultra-nationalist Greek authorities of the time, using a ‘foreign’ heresy as an excuse, would send troops and chase all 7,000 Russian monks off Mt Athos. Two Russian naval boats were sent therefore to prevent bloodshed and they took off Mt Athos 736 monks, with 26 ringleaders, who were involved in the heresy of name-worship. It was then found that some of the violent and leading name-worshippers were not monks at all, but novices, army deserters, runaway convicts and drunkards dressed as monks.

It must be said that even after 1913 sympathy for name-worship remained, especially at St Panteleimon’s Russian monastery on Athos, petering out only after the last monks, who had been present in 1913, had either left or died out by the 1950s. Although this crisis only came to a head in 1913, provoked by a book about the so-called ‘Jesus Prayer’, written in 1907 (‘In the Mountains of the Caucasus’), it is clear that elements of the heresy were present in Russia even before this and can be found indirectly in the mid-nineteenth century Russian booklets ‘The Way of a Pilgrim’ and ‘The Pilgrim Continues His Way’. Far more popular among naïve and pietistic heterodox than in Russia (most Russian Orthodox have never heard of them), these booklets, which were in the nineteenth-century criticized by St Ignatius (Brianchaninov) and corrected by St Theophan the Recluse on account of their spiritual danger, do suggest that one can ‘see God’ quite easily. Living outside the Church and its spiritual disciplines of the Psalter and the liturgical cycle and entertaining intellectual and philosophical dreams and fantasies, many unChurched converts to Orthodoxy of all nationalities, Russian, Romanian, Greek and Western, have fallen into spiritual delusion (‘prelest’) as a result. The magic of the mantra indeed.

This explains why although name–worship initially attracted the attention of uneducated peasant-monks, it then became attractive to politicized liberal intellectuals, notably of the Paris School, notably the heresiarch Bulgakov. In their out-of-focus and wishy-washy, ‘spiritualist’ and anti-State philosophy of Disincarnation, some of these individuals found in name-worship a way to attack and undermine the Russian Church authorities, Church discipline and, in Protestant-style, denigrate the sacraments. Seeking self-justification under the mask of ‘spirituality’, they fell into the delusions of pride, abandoning the Russian Church and the Orthodox Tradition. Such pride can easily be identified because it leads its victims to sectarianism (celebrating the services differently from the rest of the Orthodox world) and aggressive and angry self-justification. Doubt them and they at once become enraged. Indeed, this is very common among such individuals, but we always pray both for those who love us and those who hate us, as St Basil the Great ordains. Fortunately, such delusions have never attracted rooted Orthodox in traditional monasteries and parishes, and those in such prelest remain very marginal, attracting unChurched converts and heterodox.