Category Archives: Orthodoxy

1918-2018: The Hundred-Year Nightmare Ends: As Day Breaks the Third Rome Wakes Up At Last

Introduction

Parroting the words of the Russophobic Brzezhinzki school of string-pullers in Washington, President Poroshenko has declared that with autocephaly granted to the Ukraine ‘one of the basic geopolitical problems of the world has been solved’, adding that: ‘This is the fall of the Third Rome as the concept of Moscow having world domination’ and that autocephaly is ‘part of our pro-European strategy’ and ‘the basis for the path of development of our State and our nation’. Clearly Poroshenko, a Jew by his father and who has been seen on one occasion taking communion from the Uniats, believes in the Neo-Nazi chant of his extremists, who, instead of the traditional greeting ‘Glory to Jesus Christ’ uses: ‘Glory to the Ukraine’. In other words, he lives in a world of illusions and xenophobic lies.

In reality, the Ukrainian affair was ordered by the scared US State Department, which has used its puppet fantasist Patriarch Bartholomew to carry out its plan. The latter wanted petty revenge for the failure of his Crete junket, but in fact he has had to cut off his nose to spite his face. This marks a very positive turning point. It marks an end to the dalliance of those in the Russian Church who cultivated the dangerous Phanariot illusions of apostasy, secularism, modernism, ecumenism and venality, illusions of an Orthodoxy for show. Now Moscow has to wake up from the illusions of ‘Church diplomacy’. Now at last the tiny group in Moscow concerned can stop playing with the World Council of Churches, the Vatican and the Phanar and start being the Third Rome. We have waited for so long.

Assuming the destiny of the Russian Orthodox Church, all can now tell the Truth. After all, it is not diplomacy that sets us free, but the Truth that sets us free, and the Church is the last bastion of the Truth in this world of illusions. This means that the paralysis is at last ending. Some in Moscow weakly allowed the Phanar to interfere in the Russian Diaspora in Paris, then, much more recently, in the Ukrainian Diaspora, then in Estonia, then in the Sourozh Diocese, now at last they are waking up. We who have been abandoned for so long by the Third Rome, all the while defending it, can at last be heard. The Orthodox world can now be reconfigured – providing that the Russian Church acts responsibly, in concert with the Twelve Disciples, the other Local Churches, as the Third Rome.

I can recall nearly 40 years ago how Fr Alexei Kniazev, the rector of the St Sergius Institute in Paris, told us seminarists how he went to Constantinople in 1966 and put the question directly to Patriarch Athenagoras: ‘So are you the Oecumenical Patriarch or are you just a petty Balkan bishop?’ He never received an answer, except between the lines, and so soon after tried to join the Moscow Patriarchate – which irresponsibly rejected him. So today we ask that Moscow assumes once more the role of the Third Rome. In this matter it is not the Russian Church that is the servant of the Russian State, it is the Russian State that is the servant of the Russian Church. For the Russian Church is not Russian, but God’s, as the Church does not belong to Russia, but Russia belongs to the Church.

History

Let us recall how all this came about:   

In 1948 the freemason and notorious atomic mass murderer, Truman, obsessed with the unchallenged power of having the only weapons of mass destruction in the world, decided to take over the Patriarchate of Constantinople. His gangsters removed the Patriarch Maximos V and duly installed his fellow-mason Archbishop Athenagoras as Patriarch. In the same year Truman set up the World Council of Churches as a Pan-Protestant propaganda tool. The Local Orthodox Churches in capitalist countries were humiliatingly forced to join it. In 1961 the Ukrainian tyrant and atheist Khushchov forced the Russian Church and other Local Churches in socialist countries to join it, thinking that he could both finally finish off the Churches by 1980 and at the same time undermine the Americans.

In reply, the US State Department soon organized the Second Vatican Council and successfully protestantized the Vatican’s worldwide operation, their greatest following success being to enable the CIA to have the Polish Cardinal Wojtyla elected in order to undermine the Soviet Empire. When that Empire did duly collapse and its countries became the vassals of the ‘Truman Doctrine’, Washington declared itself the victor, briefly assuming world hegemony and ‘the end of history’. Of course, such nonsense did not match reality. The attempt to secularize and so enslave the Orthodox Church could never succeed, as it had with the Protestant and Catholic denominations. The Body of Christ cannot be enslaved by the world, because the Holy Spirit inhabits Her and transfigures Her.

Of course, the devil had tried to enslave the Church. In the 1920s he used his slave, the British freemason Patriarch Meletios Metaksakis (elected with £100,000 of Anglican money channelled through the British State), to set up a ‘Pan-Orthodox Conference’. In 1923 this imposed the Western calendar on its slaves. However, this was not enough. In 1961 Patriarch Athenagoras reactivized this ‘Conciliar’ process and in 1977 Patriarch Dimitrios nearly concluded it, but was sabotaged by St Justin (Popovich). It took nearly another forty years for the next apostate puppet in the Phanar, a graduate of the Gregorian University in Rome, to set up a ‘Council’ in Crete in 2016. However, the free Orthodox world boycotted it, as just another attempt to secularize the Church, ignoring its dogmas and canons.

 Conclusion

Now that the Church is free from the apostatic deadwood of the Truman Doctrine of US world supremacy, including over the Church of God, we can at last move forward. Ignoring the arrogant ignorance of primitive Muscovite nationalists, the Russian Church and State can now assume the burden of the Third Rome, for none now can doubt that the Second Rome is well and truly fallen and that ‘a fourth Rome there will not be’. Let us forget the expensive mascarades of diplomacy, for they have utterly failed. Only the Russian Orthodox Church, supported by Russian Orthodox statesmen, can hold the world back from its end, whither it rushes like a suicidal lemming. The Third Rome, the Patriarchate of Holy Rus, stands Risen from the Crucifixion of Atheism and we await its saving words of the Resurrection.

Now we have to be an example to all those who seek salvation, but do not know how to get there. Russia was destined to be an ark of salvation for the many peoples and has no other meaning. If it does not do this beneath the standard of Christ – no other standard will do – it will disappear from the face of the earth and then the whole world will end. Noah’s Ark is here, ready for the flood of fire that hangs over the planet. We await only its captain, the coming Tsar, who will take up the mantle of the Tsar-Martyr, the great benefactor of World Orthodoxy, reformer and builder of churches from New York to Nice, Patron of all the Local Churches. Then all the apostates and traitors will have the opportunity to repent, even at this eleventh hour. We await the Council of New Jerusalem, outside Moscow, to enlighten the world according to the Light of Christ and not to the darkness of men.

 

The Patriarchate of Constantinople Falls into Schism

Just as the then tiny First Rome fell ingloriously in 1054, so now 964 years later, in 2018 the tiny Second Rome has also fallen ingloriously. For this is the historic meaning of the Phanariot decision to interfere in the canonical territory of the Russian Mother-Church, on US orders. As Metr Hilarion of Volokalamsk precisely predicted at the time in May 2016, the Phanariots would take their petty revenge in the Ukraine for the Third Rome’s refusal to support the heresies that Constantinople was peddling in Crete in 2016.

Now having taken on the notorious Ukrainian schismatics, including the defrocked and married Soviet-American ‘Patriarch’, Filaret Denisenko, and another Ukrainian group, run by the Canadian and US secret services, it means that the Phanar has finally lost its way after a century of anti-canonical errors. It all began with the hubris of power-seeking and flock-grabbing, followed by ecumenism and the new calendar, now it has ended in canonical ignominy. On Monday 15 October the Third Rome will make its judgement.

Already Archbishop Kliment (Vecherya) has called on all to discuss the possibility of anathematizing their Patriarch. We can only pray that this elderly man may yet repent for his insanity and foolishness. However, whatever happens, the Phanariot decision now clears the air. With several hundred thousand modernists and semi-Uniats who support the anticanonical Phanariots gone from the Church, it leaves some 217 million Orthodox to get on with Orthodoxy and at long last dissolve the logjam caused by the Phanar.

Despite the danger of persecution of the canonical Church in the Ukraine, now we can at last expect progress on relations between the Local Churches, the internal issue of the Diaspora, especially in the USA, but also in Western Europe and Oceania, on a century of Phanariot interference in the Russian and Ukrainian Diaspora, as also in Estonia. We can also expect progress on the external issue of the heresies of the Roman Catholic/Protestant world. We are breathing a sigh of relief. We can now go on unshackled and unhampered by deference and diplomacy to the spiritually and politically bankrupt.

 

 

Spiritual But Not Religious

Apparently, the new mass religion is: ‘I am spiritual, but not religious’.

As regards the last half of this statement, I can safely affirm that as an Orthodox Christian priest, I too am of course not religious and indeed I am opposed to religion.

Perhaps I need to explain that, as some may misunderstand.

As far as I am concerned, religion is an invention of States, a power-grab made in order to manipulate, brainwash and exploit their subject peoples. Whether it is Roman Catholicism (invented by the new Vatican Church-State in Rome in the 11th century) or Protestantism (invented by various kings and princes in the 16th century in order to steal power and money from the Vatican Church-State, so making in turn their own State Churches) or any other ism, religions are manmade. Therefore they inevitably die out, just as these particular religions, now bankrupted because they have lost their roots in Orthodox Christianity from which they are distantly descended, are today dying out. This death is as a result of the new manmade religion of Secularism (see below).

Here is why I have always said that I am not religious.

However, I do have faith, in Orthodox Christianity – which is not an ism. I not only believe that God exists, but know that God exists, through personal experience. Faith is totally different from religion. Faith is natural and experiential, either you have that experience or else you do not and it is absent. In that case you must admit that you simply do not know if there is a God or not. On the other hand, religion is an artifice, an invention used for the manipulation and exploitation of the masses by the power-seeking, the greedy, the narrow-minded, and by censorious, self-justifying moralizers. In this sense, of course Marx was right: Religion is the opium provided to the people – just as Secularism is the opium provided to the intellectuals.Anything to make people and intellectuals into self-pleasing zombies.

Thus, I also reject the new manmade religion of Secularism – and make no mistake it is a religion, for there will always be a religion, since nature abhors a vacuum. Secularism is an especially absurd and illogical religion, as it does not believe in Almighty God, but in mere fallible man, whose blood-soaked failings and injustices have been so obvious throughout history! Secularism is the only religion that does not have a Perfect Being to worship but irrationally believes in His absence.

This concept of this man-worship or humanism defines Secularism. Its natural modern extension is political correctness or self-censorship: you must not tell any human-being the truth about themselves because that would be offensive to their fallible human nature. As Orthodox Christians, we know that the Truth sets us free, but Secularism with its self-made mythology and legends does not know this, preferring the enslavement of lies.

Secularism justifies itself on an incredible and laughable irrational superstition – that everything that exists in the whole Universe is the product of random chance. In reality, even the likelihood that a single rock could be produced at random must be about one quadrillion squared to one. Secularism, the offshoot of a heresy of a heresy of Orthodox Christianity, has its Scriptures: The Theory of Evolution. It also has the Antitrinity Dogma of liberty, equality and fraternity, the Antichrist Dogma that fallible man, not the sinless God-man, must be worshipped, its propaganda, called the media, its high priests, such as Dawkins and other atheist celebrities, and its prophets, doom-saying atheist scientists who would bring humanity into despair, if they were believed.

Of course, Secularism is all superstition. As Chesterton said a century ago: ‘When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything’. And this is the nature of the modern religion of Secularism, it is just anything. Today, people believe in anything: Money; New Age; environmentalism; tree-hugging; magic crystals; fengshui; ley lines;horoscopes; sport and physical health (‘wellness’, ‘fitness’, ‘my body is my temple’ – words which are a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit); and immoral and amoral celebrities, the ‘stars’ of screen, music and sport, who are the new saints.

The modern religion of Secularism says: ‘I am spiritual, but not religious’. However, ‘spiritual’ here does not mean the Orthodox Christian Faith, it means listening to the voices of those spiritual beings who are called demons. It means that you can do whatever you want, so guaranteeing your ‘human rights’ of enslavement personal laziness and immorality (which, ironically, it self-justifyingly calls ‘freedom’). Secularism is a completely effortless religion, it requires nothing except the practice of your sins. There is therefore nothing so regressive as this new (in fact very old) religion of Secularism. It is merely the idolatry of vulgar self-worship, for it bans the words sin and repentance, making all spiritual progress impossible and so spiritual regress inevitable.

 

 

 

 

The Music of My Life

Now there are exactly one thousand pieces of writing here in less than six years, over three a week on average, some articles short, some long, most original, a few simply links to other articles of interest. Here is something personal, which explains something of the musical inspiration behind how I came to write these articles (and many others) over the last forty-five years.

About every four years, between the ages of 4 and 48, twelve pieces of music came to me and reflected and revealed my understanding of the world. These were:

 

The Third Man – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oEsWi88Qv0

This is the music of the 1949 British film, set in post-War Vienna, where my father had ended his War. This music, expressing at the same time tradition and uneasiness, sums up my childhood, which was haunted by tales of the catastrophe that Hitler had brought. Later I understood that it also sums up the mystery of Europe, seen from the East, and its failure to return to the Tradition of Orthodoxy. Instead, it was diverted from the Tradition by its provincial, pseudo-intellectual Western rationalism, which had first misled the Christian Empire, and then chose to die at the hands of an American racketeer.

A Nightingale Sang – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RRNlBGL89g

My father, like all the soldiers of the Eighth Army, loved Vera Lynn and her songs. This was a song that he sang.

Dr Zhivago – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Yd2PzoF1y8

In 1968 I was taken to see this film. It had the usual Hollywood absurdities and self-satisfied Cold War anti-Russian stereotypes of ‘Asian barbarism instead of European enlightenment’ (that same European ‘enlightenment’ which brought two World Wars, concentration camps, the genocide of Non-Western Europeans and the A-Bomb). However, it did introduce me to Pasternak, to Russian literature and music. Indeed, the composer, Jarre, officially French, actually had two Russian grandmothers, which is why the music expresses the Russian spirit so well.

Vltava – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3G4NKzmfC-Q

By the patriot Smetana, this music expresses the lost spiritual beauty and nobility of the Czech Lands, the original missionary lands of Sts Cyril and Methodius, so cruelly snatched and separated from Orthodoxy by the heretics.

Solveig’s Song – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bR3N1yBEGbw

When I was 21, I was introduced to the fresh beauty of Norway, to it mountains and fjords. This music sums up for me the beauty of the North.

Je Ne Regrette Rien – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKPvx38D4GM

Living in France in 1980, I came to know Piaf. Of course, every Christian regrets their sins, but this is not the theme of this song. Piaf herself became Orthodox towards the end of her life.

Vocalise – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuBexGEe1S4

By the extraordinary Rakhmaninov, whose music is so full of Orthodox values, this expresses the melancholy of Russian exile and yearning for the lost Empire.

Jerusalem – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKRHWT6xdEU

Here is the vision of faithful Old England, summed up by William Blake, and our rejection of ‘the dark satanic mills’ of faithless modern Britain, invented in his age of Imperialist exploitation and slavery.

Fado Português – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARS7Zi-Zpkw

Spending several months on missionary work in Portugal over several years from 1992 on, I came to know the melancholy in Portugal and the South, summed up by the fado.

Mes Jeunes Annees – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eB7HI2n0MgY

Trenet, still alive and singing at the time, expresses nostalgia for a lost childhood in the Pyrenees.

Bells – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3G4NKzmfC-Q

Bells Across the Meadows is perhaps the finest piece of music by the little-known English composer Ketelby and expresses the love of the real England.

God Save the Tsar – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEOyvvKhb9k

The Orthodox anthem expresses the Christian Empire to which we all belong. We all have our national flags, but in the centre of each one, we place the unifying double-headed eagle and the hope of the Coming Tsar, who alone can protect us from the global evil that the Western heresy has created.

 

Since then I have heard many other beautiful songs and melodies, but none that has better reflected or revealed my understanding of the world.

Orthodox Church Statistics

With various irresponsible and inaccurate articles being published at present, suggesting that the Orthodox Church has 250 million (or even 300 million!) members, we are republishing our statistical survey of the Orthodox Church. We would be grateful if anyone can correct the statistics presented, if they are incorrect. Thank you.

 

The Orthodox Church is a family of Local Churches, just like the Churches of the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Romans, the Thessalonians, the Colossians etc, as described in the letters written to them by the holy Apostle Paul. Each of the fourteen Local Orthodox Churches has a main administrative figure, a chief bishop known as a Patriarch, or in the case of smaller Churches, a Metropolitan or Archbishop. However, the Church as a whole has no earthly head, because the head of the Orthodox Church is our Lord Jesus Christ. His authority is expressed in the Orthodox Church through the Holy Spirit as revealed, particularly through Church Councils and the saints. Below you will find details of the Orthodox Churches and their approximate sizes, totalling in all over 218 million members with some 843 active bishops.

1. The Russian Orthodox Church 164,000,000

Also known as the Patriarchate of Moscow, this accounts for 75% of Orthodox. It cares for Orthodox living in the canonical Russian Orthodox territories, spread over one fifth of the planet (the former Soviet Union except for Georgia, plus China and Japan) and peopled by 62 nationalities. These territories include the Russian Federation, the Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Transcarpathia (the main part of Carpatho-Russia), Kazakhstan, Central Asia and the Baltic Republics, such as Latvia (250,000). The Russian Church also includes the self-governing, multinational Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (400,000 worldwide, mainly in the Americas and Australia as well as parts of Western Europe.), the Japanese Orthodox Church and the Chinese Orthodox Church.

2. The Romanian Orthodox Church 18,800,000

Also known as the Patriarchate of Bucharest. Apart from in Romania, there are also many Romanian parishes in the Diaspora, especially in Western Europe.

3. The Greek Orthodox Church 10,000,000

Under the Archbishop of Athens, this Church cares for all Orthodox in Greece.

4. The Serbian Orthodox Church 9,000,000

The canonical territory of the Patriarchate of Belgrade covers Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Croatia and Slovenia. There are also many Serbian parishes in the worldwide Serbian Diaspora.

5. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church 4,500,000

The Patriarchate of Sofia covers Bulgaria and has a few churches in the Diaspora.

6. The Georgian Orthodox Church 3,500,000

The Patriarchate of Tbilisi covers Georgia and a very small Georgian Diaspora.

7. The Patriarchate of Constantinople 3,500,000

This includes Greek Orthodox in Istanbul (about 1,000), those on Greek islands such as Crete and Rhodes (700,000), and above all the Greek Diaspora in the Americas, Western Europe and Australia. There are also twenty-four autonomous parishes in Finland and small groups of other Non-Greek Orthodox elsewhere.

8. The Patriarchate of Antioch 1,800,000

The canonical territory of the Arab Patriarch, who lives in Damascus, includes Syria, the Lebanon and Iraq. There are also parishes in the Diaspora, including some 10,000 ex-Protestants in the USA and 300 ex-Protestants in the UK.

9. The Patriarchate of Alexandria 1,600,000

Although for historical reasons its Patriarch is a Greek and his appointment is in the care of the Greek government, this Patriarchate is in Egypt. It also cares for St Catherine’s Monastery on Mt Sinai, but the vast bulk of its faithful are Africans, spread over 54 African countries.

10. The Orthodox Church of Cyprus 700,000

Under an Archbishop, this Church cares for all Greek Orthodox in Cyprus.

11. The Polish Orthodox Church 600,000

Under the Metropolitan of Warsaw, this Church cares for Orthodox of all origins who live mainly in eastern Poland.

12. The Albanian Orthodox Church 200,000

Under the Archbishop of Tirana, this Church cares for Orthodox in southern Albania, most of whom are of Greek origin.

  1. The Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia 170,000

Led by a Metropolitan, this Church cares for Carpatho-Russian, Slovak and Czech Orthodox, as well as large numbers of recent Ukrainian Orthodox immigrants to Slovakia and the Czech Lands.

14.The Patriarchate of Jerusalem 130,000

Although its Patriarch is a Greek and his appointment is in the care of the Greek government, this Patriarchate cares for Arab Orthodox in Palestine and the Jordan.

 

 

 

 

700,000 Orthodox Now Live in the UK

The UK government has stated this week that 395,000 Bulgarians and Romanians (a good minority of the Romanians actually Moldovans – Romanian passports cost them $10) now live in the UK. This means that with some 160,000 Cypriots, about 100,000 Russians (only a few from Russia – a majority of them are economic and political refugees from the Baltic States and the Ukraine) and other Orthodox minorities (mainly Serbs), there are now some 700,000 Orthodox in the UK. This means that at least 1% of the population is Orthodox: a total transformation from ten years ago, since when at least 400,000 Orthodox have arrived here, let alone 20 years ago, when the Orthodox population was tiny.

However, the fact is that we are not at all settled evenly. Outside the London area Orthodox are still a tiny minority and the further from London, the fewer we are. Possibly 500,000 live in London and the south-eastern corner of England, with very few in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Moreover, the fact is that any parish can only count on a practice rate of 5%-10%. Even so, if there are between 35,000 and 70,000 practising Orthodox in the UK, we are faced with a challenge: to organize appropriate infrastructure, in order to keep our children in the Church.

It must be said that the past gives us no examples. Both parts of the Russian Church lost their flocks to ethnic exclusivity and the acid bath of modern Western culture. The Greek (Cypriot) immigration has done no better. And dreams of middle-class ex-Anglicans of an English Orthodox or even, absurdly, a ‘British Orthodox’, Church, made up of intellectual converts from the tiny minority of Anglicans have to be abandoned. the utter failure on the part of all Orthodox administrations to provide adequate infrastructure is scandalous.  We no longer need words – we need actions. On the other hand, never has the use of English in the services been so important. What is to be done?

The Church Which Might Have Been

It is a matter of speculation as to what today’s Orthodox Church would have looked like, had secularism not been spread from the West by the uprooted aristocracy and intelligentsia. Having abandoned Orthodox civilizational values, that is, lost the Christian Faith, they used this alien secularism to justify their overthrow of the Russian Empire in 1917. This disaster left the smaller and weaker Local Churches Emperorless and in disarray, victims of a foreign calendar and political interference, and unable to conduct missionary work.

The division of the Church into today’s fourteen mainly national Local Churches, many very small, seems unlikely. Surely Church structures would have become denationalized and so far bigger, possibly with one billion Orthodox, perhaps in Five Patriarchates. These would have taken turns to govern Mt Athos, which would have become far bigger and the true international monastic centre of the Church, where ten-yearly administrative Patriarchal Councils could have been held. The Five Patriarchates might have been:

Patriarchate of Rus (in Moscow, 750 million?), covering the Russian Empire, with the Autocephalous Catholicosate of Georgia,  plus Ten Autonomous Churches, some of which, with several million members, would by now be close to Autocephaly and Patriarchal status. With five in Asia and five in Europe and its Diasporas, these would cover: China and Tibet; Korea; Japan; the Isles of Asia (Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines); South East Asia (Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam); Europe (covering independent Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, as well as the Czech Lands, Slovakia, Hungary and the sixteen ex-Catholic and ex-Protestant countries in Western Europe); the 13 countries of South America; Mexico, the seven countries of Central America and the Caribbean; Anglo-America with Alaska and Greenland; Australasia.

Patriarchate of Alexandria (in Nairobi, 120 million?): All Africa.

Patriarchate of Antioch (in New Delhi, 60 million?): Covering the Asian Arab World, Iran, Afghanistan and the Indian Subcontinent.

 Patriarchate of Constantinople (in Bucharest, Athens, Belgrade, Sofia and Nicosia, 50 million?), made up of the Five Autocephalous Balkan Union Churches, the nationality of the Patriarch alternating, covering: Greece, with two Autonomous Metropolias for Albania and Turkey; Romania; Serbia, with four Autonomous Metropolias for Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Croatia/Slovenia; Bulgaria; Cyprus.

 Patriarchate of Jerusalem (5 million?): Covering Palestine on both sides of the Jordan and the Holy Places.

 

 

Questions and Answers – July 2018

Q: What in your view is the greatest problem for the Orthodox Church in the UK today?

A: Without doubt it is the pastoral crisis, the chronic shortage of priests and lack of our own churches. Why? Well, who wants to be a priest when you are not paid and you have to find your own churches? Among Catholics, Anglicans and Protestants all the infrastructure, churches, houses and salaries, is already provided. What an easy life they have!

My ‘parish’ covers five counties and 7,500 square miles (20,000 square kilometres). I only have two permanent churches here, which I have had to obtain and fit out, and two assistant priests, neither of whom is available on weekdays. Here there is the failure of bishops to provide priests (lack of a seminary, as opposed to a centre for ivory tower intellectuals who do not understand real Church life) and to provide for their priests. And, frankly, this is the case over most of the world. How can we have a Church that gives no pastoral care? This is why children are not being baptized, couples are not being married and people are not being buried by priests. There are no local priests. This is indeed a DIY church. We shall perhaps look back on this period as the most decadent in Church history.

Q: When did the contemporary Church begin to venerate the local saints of the West?

A: The turning-point came in 1952 when St John of Shanghai submitted a list of local saints for veneration to the Synod of Russian Bishops Outside Russia. All his ROCOR disciples followed him, from Archbishop Nathanael of Vienna to Archbishop Antony of Geneva, from Fr Seraphim Rose to my sinful self. This movement was followed and imitated by other jurisdictions a generation or two later, without repentance for their earlier rejections. I can remember in 1975 when I submitted a list of these saints, how mocked I was at the time by the Sourozh Jurisdiction, the Thyateira Jurisdiction and the Paris Jurisdiction. The attitude was racist. How times change!

Q: Why does the West reject ascetic life? The Catholics made their Church into a State and none of them has any concept of fasting or even standing for services.

A: The great problem for the Church has always been how to deal with the world. The Orthodox view is to do our best to sanctify the world, suffering persecution and even martyrdom if necessary, submitting to martyrdom. The Western view has been to conquer and control the world: the result of this is the secularization of the Western ‘Church’ – their ‘Church’ has become the world.

This rejection of ascetic effort goes back to the filioque. This says that the Holy Spirit (all truth and authority in Church life) proceeds from the Son and therefore from all those who represent the Son on earth. In 800 this was interpreted to mean Charlemagne, who called himself the Vicar of Christ and began massacring the Saxons in the Name of God (= Caesaropapism). In the later 11th century, however, it was the Bishop of Rome who changed his official title from Vicar of St Peter (in reality the title of the Patriarchs of Antioch) to Vicar of Christ and his ‘Church’ became more powerful than any State (Papocaearism). So began Papal-sponsored massacres in 1066 in England and then in ‘crusades’. So began clericalism. In the 16th century everyone became vicars of Christ, and so was born Protestantism. Anyone had the right to go off and start their own ‘church’, regardless of repentance and ascetic practice. So was born anti-ascetic humanism. So was born sitting down, sing-song hymns and clapping your hands – in effect an early form of karaoke, ‘fun-religion’.

Q: Why are liberals so hostile and aggressive to the Russian Church when only about 5% of the Russian population actually practises the Orthodox Faith?

A: The trouble for the liberals, who also represent only about 5% of the Russian population, is that the culture of the Russian Federation and of countries like the Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova is still largely Orthodox in practical domains, that is outside attendance at Church services, regardless of the narrow Protestant understanding of ‘practice’ as ‘going to church’. (The Orthodox understanding of ‘practice’ is how we live our life, which is totally different from ‘God-slot’ Protestantism, based on guilt, or obligatory attendance Catholicism). Liberals are angry at their failure to root out Christian cultural values from everyday life of the 90% in these Orthodox countries, which is what they have achieved in the West over the last fifty years. Our way of life which persists disturbs them, delaying and thwarting their plans for totalitarian domination of every aspect of life.

Q: According to the West, Russia is Asiatic. Is this so in your view?

A: First of all, this is racist and ethnocentric: the word ‘Asiatic’ is used to mean ‘barbaric’, ‘savage’ and cruel’. So everyone in Asia, with its fine and delicate culture, is so? Secondly, it is incredibly hypocritical: it was the West that invented the Crusades and the Inquisition, the Maxim gun and modern artillery, chemical weapons and the bomber, Communism and Fascism, the concentration camp and the Atomic bomb, the cluster bomb and the drone. Are these not cruel and barbaric? Thirdly, it is geographically incorrect, since 90% of Russians live in Europe and all the Slav peoples originate north of the Carpathians – in Europe. Fourthly, it can be argued that in any case there is no such thing as ‘Europe’. There is only one Continent – Eurasia, Europe is an artificial invention at the western tip of a single Continent. All the other continents, Africa, Australia and the Americas are clearly different continents because they are separated from one another by the sea. Not so little Europe, which has been artificially separated from the mass of Asia by the relatively low hills called the Urals. In the south of Asia, India and China are both considered Asian, and yet they are separated by the giant mountains of the Himalayas, not the hills of the Urals!

The charge of ‘Asiatic’ is always made to justify Western barbarianism. The next time that the West commits some war-crime, we should say: ‘What do you expect of Europe? It is so European’.

Q: What makes a good candidate for the priesthood?

A: A kind-hearted man, who knows the services and is understanding with others, patient and a good listener, who is not stupid and not intolerant, not money-minded and not a careerist.

Q: Why is the West so fond of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth, yet ignores or even condemns her sister, the Tsarina Alexandra?

A: Both were ex-Protestants who joined the Orthodox Church and both were martyrs, and so whatever their sins and mistakes, they were washed away by their blood. However I think the West is fond of the errors of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth, for example her naïve dabbling in politics, condemnation of Gregory Rasputin, whom she had never even seen, let alone met,  and her purely Protestant desire for deaconesses, which was naturally rejected by the Church. In some respects she did not fully become Orthodox until the last year of her life, unlike her younger sister Alexandra who joined the Orthodox Church out of love and never tried to change anything, integrating the Faith very quickly, as it says in the Akathist to the Royal Martyrs, she was ‘an example’ of one who turned from Protestantism to Orthodoxy. That irritates the demon of the West, which can only understand Orthodoxy through the deforming prism of its errors. This is why it absurdly accuses St Alexandra of being fanatical, neurotic and hysterical. St Alexandra is a convert who became fully Orthodox and she should be the patron-saint of all who convert to the Orthodox Faith.

Q: Since you like the old calendar, why don’t you join the old calendarists?

A: There is a great difference between being faithful to the old (= Church) calendar and being an old calendarist. Isms are always fatal. The question that I ask old calendarists is: Why do you claim to be Orthodox (and indeed ‘super-Orthodox’), when you are not even in communion with the 215 million members and 900 bishops of the Orthodox Church?

Q: What are the chances that Gregory Rasputin will be canonized, do you think?

A: At the present moment they are near zero. Only two or three bishops are in favour, although there are many priests and people in favour in a few dioceses, like Ekaterinburg, in which diocese Gregory was born and grew up. So a local canonization could happen there in a few years time. The situation is very similar to that of the chances of the canonization of St Seraphim of Sarov in the 1880s (when it had been considered, but was opposed by most of the Synod of bishops), the Royal Martyrs in the Church Outside Russia in the 1960s and 1970s (when, as I remember, it was opposed by many, despite the long-held view of the future St John of Shanghai) or inside Russia in the 1980s (when it was opposed by large numbers of bishops, clergy and people).

In other words, for canonization to take place you need a certain spiritual maturity, you have to be spiritually ready, spiritually awake, and that leads to unity. In a Church of converts, which is what the Russian Church today is, we do not find that. There is still not sufficient consensus on the understanding of the past, neither of the Soviet period, nor of the pre-Revolutionary period. Many supposedly Orthodox academics and also bishops are opposed to the canonization of Gregory, just as their forebears were opposed to the canonization of St Seraphim of Sarov and the Royal Martyrs in the past.

We must wait until such people come round to reality and wake up to the new research done in the Russian State archives, which has completely overturned the old prejudices and ignorance of the anti-Orthodox past, both of the Soviet and similar pre-Revolutionary periods. Similarly, such intellectuals, even ‘theologians’, detest the veneration for Gregory among the devout masses who in turn detest the Church bureaucracy. At present, this canonization is supported only by the most committed and well-educated Orthodox. We must be patient and wait for the ignorance of others to dissipate. We do not divide the Church.

Q: What forms do the ‘the right side’ and ‘the left side’ take, in the spiritual sense of these terms?

A: The enemy wields a double-edged sword. The right side is Establishment Religion: Phariseeism / Talmudism / Monophysitism / Nationalism / Ritualism / Fascism / Old Calendarism. The left side is Sectarian Religion: Saduceeism / Hellenism / Arianism / Scholasticism / Rationalism / Liberalism / New Calendarism.

Q: How can we protect the English language against its bastardization today?

A: We should use and revive the terms of disappearing English. We should use expressions like: my sainted aunt / until the cows come home / till Kingdom come / how far afield? / by George , and use such words as, mild, meek, noble, which the younger generation hardly knows. I am sure that you can expand on such a list.

Fr Nicholas Gibbes: The First English Disciple of Tsar Nicholas II and the First English Priest of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

A Talk given at Barton Manor near Osborne House on the Isle of Wight on 7 July 2018.

In this centenary year of the martyrdom of Tsar Nicholas II, his August Family, their servants and the Grand Duchess Elizabeth, it would be well to recall their first English disciple and the first ever English Russian Orthodox priest, Fr Nicholas Gibbes.

Charles Sydney Gibbes, for short Sydney Gibbes, was born 142 years ago, on 19 January 1876. In the 19th century this was for all Orthodox the feast day of St John the Baptist, the voice that cried in the wilderness. His parents were called John and Mary – more English than that you cannot find. His father was a bank manager in Rotherham, just outside Sheffield, in Yorkshire. Amusingly, this would later be recorded by a Russian civil servant on Sydney’s residence papers in Russia as ‘Rotterdam’.

With no fewer than ten siblings, Sydney grew into a stereotypical, Victorian, Protestant young man of the educated classes. He received his education at Cambridge, where he changed the spelling of his surname to Gibbes, from Gibbs, as the adopted form is the older, historical one. This change was typical of his love of historical detail and accuracy. Sydney is described as: severe, stiff, self-restrained, imperturbable, quiet, gentlemanly, cultured, pleasant, practical, simple, brave, loyal, lucid, witty, crisp, vigorous, honourable, reliable, impeccably clean, with high character, of good sense and with agreeable manners. He seems the perfect Victorian English Yorkshire gentleman – not a man with such an unusual destiny.

However, as we know from history, underneath Victorian gentlemen lurked other sides – repressed, but still present. For example, we know that Sydney could be stubborn, that he used corporal punishment freely, that he could be very awkward with others, and he is recorded as having quite a temper, though these traits mellowed greatly with the years. My good friend from Oxford days long ago, Dmitri Kornhardt, recalled how in later life tears would stream down Fr Nicholas’ face when celebrating services in memory of the Imperial Martyrs, but how also he would very rapidly recover himself after such unEnglish betrayals of emotion.

Underneath the Victorian reserve there was indeed a hidden man, one with spiritual sensitivity, who was interested in theatre and theatricals, spiritualism, fortune-telling and palmistry, and one who was much prone to recording his dreams. Perhaps this is why, when after University he had been thinking of the Anglican priesthood as a career, he found it ‘stuffy’ and abandoned that path. Talking to those who knew him and reading his biographies, and there are three of them, we cannot help feeling that as a young man Sydney was searching for something – but he knew not what. The real man would eventually come out from beneath his Victorian conditioning.

Perhaps this is why in 1901, aged 25, he found himself teaching English in Russia – a country with which he had no connection. Here he was to spend over 17 years. The key moment came in autumn 1908 when he went to the Imperial Palace in Tsarskoe Selo and became the English tutor of the Imperial children. In particular, he became close to the Tsarevich Alexis, with whom he identified very closely. Why? We can only speculate that there was a sympathy or else complementarity of characters; together with Sydney’s bachelordom, this may have been enough for the friendship to develop. In any case, he became almost a member of the Imperial Family and a profound and lifelong admirer of what he called, as an eyewitness, their exemplary Christian Faith, close family life and kindness. His meeting with this Family changed his life forever and he only ever spoke of them with profound admiration.

In August 1917 Sydney found himself following the Family to Tobolsk. Utterly loyal to the Family, in July 1918 he found himself in Ekaterinburg, the city in the Urals between Asia and Europe, East and West, after their unspeakable murder in the Ipatiev House. He helped identify objects, returning again and again to the House, picking up mementoes, which he was to cling on to until the end, and still reluctant to believe that the crime had taken place. Coming almost half way through his life when he was aged 42, this was without doubt the crucial event in that life, the turning point, the spark that made him seek out his destiny in all seriousness. With the murder of the Family, the bottom had fallen out of his life, his raison d’etre had gone. Where could he go from here?

He did not, like most, return to England. We know that he, like Tsar Nicholas, had been particularly shocked by what he saw as the British betrayal of the Imperial Family. Indeed, we know that it was George Buchanan, the British ambassador to St Petersburg, who had in part been behind the February 1917 deposition of the Tsar by treacherous aristocrats, politicians and generals. This coup d’etat was greeted by Lloyd George in the House of Commons as the ‘achievement of one of our war aims’. (We now also know from the book by Andrew Cook that it was British spies who had assassinated Gregory Rasputin and also that the Tsar’s own cousin, George V, had refused to help the Tsar and His Family escape).

In fact, disaffected by Britain’s politics, from Ekaterinburg Sydney went not west, but east – to Siberian Omsk and then further east, to Beijing and then Harbin in Manchuria. Off and on he would spend another 17 years here, in Russian China. In about 1922 he suffered a serious illness. His religiosity seems to have grown further and after this he would go to study for the Anglican priesthood at St Stephen’s House in Oxford. However, for someone with the world-changing experience that he had had, that was not his way; perhaps he still found Anglicanism ‘stuffy’, I think he would have found almost anything stuffy after what he had been through – seeing his adopted Family wiped out. Finally, in 1934, in Harbin, Sydney joined the Far Eastern Metropolia of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.

There is no doubt that he did this as a direct result of the example of the Imperial Family, for he took the Orthodox name of Alexis – the name of the Tsarevich, whom he naturally saw as a martyr. He was to describe this act as ‘getting home after a long journey’, words which perhaps describe the reception into the Orthodox Church of any Western person. Thus, from England, to Russia and then to China, he had found his way. In December 1934, aged almost 59, he became successively monk, deacon and priest. He was now to be known as Fr Nicholas – a name deliberately taken in honour of the martyred Tsar Nicholas. In 1935 he was made Abbot by Metr Antony of Kiev, the head of our multinational Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, and later received the title of Archimandrite.

Wishing to establish some ‘Anglo-Orthodox organisation’, in 1937 Fr Nicholas Gibbes came back to live in England permanently. He was aged 61. Of this move he wrote: ‘It is my earnest hope that the Anglican Church should put itself right with the Holy Orthodox Church’. He went to live in London in the hope of setting up an English-language parish within the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. In this he did not succeed and in 1940 he moved to Oxford. In this last part of his life in Oxford he became the founder of the first Russian Orthodox church in Oxford at 4, Marston Street, where he lived in humble and modest circumstances. In recalling the address of that first church, dedicated to St Nicholas, we cannot help recalling that today’s Russian Orthodox St Nicholas church in Oxford is not very far away from it.

Not an organiser, sometimes rather erratic, even eccentric, Fr Nicholas was not perhaps an ideal parish priest, but he was sincere and well-respected. In Oxford he cherished his mementoes of the Imperial Family to the end. Before he departed this life, on 24 March 1963, an icon given to him by the Imperial Family, was miraculously renewed and began to shine. One who knew him at the time confirmed this and after Fr Nicholas’ death, commented that now at last Fr Nicholas was seeing the Imperial Family again – for he had been waiting for this moment for 45 years. He was going to meet once more those who had shaped his destiny in this world.

In the 1980s in an old people’s home outside Paris I met a parishioner of our Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, Count Nikolai Komstadius. He had met Fr Nicholas in 1954, in connection with the false Anastasia, but perhaps had seen him before, since his father had been in charge of the Tsarskoe Selo estate and he himself had been a childhood friend of the Tsarevich. I remember in the 1980s visiting him. In the corner of his room in front of an icon of the martyred Tsarevich there burned an icon-lamp. He turned to me and said: ‘That is such a good likeness, it is just like him and yet also it is an icon’. Not many of us lives to see a childhood playfriend become a saint and have his icon painted. Yet as a young man in his thirties Fr Nicholas had known a whole family, whom he considered to be saints. Indeed, he had been converted by their example.

There are those who have life-changing experiences. They are fortunate, because they stop living superficially, stop drifting through life and stop wasting God-sent opportunities and so find their destiny. Such life-changing experiences can become a blessing if we allow them to become so. Fr Nicholas was one such person, only his life-changing experience was also one that had changed the history of the whole world. For a provincial Victorian Yorkshire bank manager’s son, who had grown up with his parents John and Mary, he had come very far. And yet surely the seeds had been there from the beginning. To be converted we first of all need spiritual sensitivity, a seeking spirit, but secondly we also need an example. Fr Nicholas had had both, the example being the Imperial Martyrs. As that late and wonderful gentlewoman Princess Koutaissova, whom many of us knew, said of his priesthood: ‘He was following his faithfulness to the Imperial Family’.

In this brief talk I have not mentioned many aspects of Fr Nicholas’ life, such as his possible engagement, his adopted son, his hopes in Oxford. This is because they do not interest me much here. I have tried to focus on the essentials, on the spiritual meaning of his life, his destiny. Those essentials are, I believe, to be found in his haunted and haunting gaze. Looking at his so expressive face, we see a man staring into the distance, focusing on some vision, both of the past and of the future. This vision was surely of the past life he had shared with the martyred Imperial Family and also of the future – his long hoped-for meeting with them once more, his ‘sense of completion’.

 

A Question on ‘Pan-Orthodoxy’

There is a custom in the capitals of certain countries of the Orthodox Diaspora of holding a service called ‘Pan-Orthodox Vespers’ on the evening of the Sunday of Orthodoxy. I first attended such an event in 1975 at the Serbian Church in Birmingham, when the then Fr Vladimir Rodzianko preached against ‘jurisdictions’. I am sure that most of the people present had no idea what he was talking about. Apparently the custom continues, over 40 years later, though few Orthodox know about it or are interested in it. We know who we are, we confess the same Faith, and we have no need of political demonstrations, which change nothing for the rest of the year.

Although the custom is not bad in itself, I have always found it very strange. It does not exist in Orthodox countries, where the average town of, say 50,000-100,000 people, will have several Orthodox parishes, each of which lives its own life. Nobody has ever thought of meeting together as parishes on one Sunday evening a year. (True, the parish rector and one lay representative from each parish do meet when their bishop calls them to a yearly Diocesan meeting). And in the town where I serve, where there are several Anglican and Catholic parishes (the Catholic parishes represent different national groups), the local Anglican or Catholic churches would never dream of holding a ‘Pan-Anglican’ or ‘Pan-Catholic’ Vespers once a year.

It is said that ‘Pan-Orthodox Vespers’ promotes Orthodox unity, although I cannot see how. But why is this necessary? The fact is that all the Orthodox churches are already spiritually united. There is simply an administrative and linguistic division, which occurs in any case and always has and will. For example, in Orthodox countries, parishes are divided between dioceses (sometimes using different languages) and the link of unity is provided by meetings and synods of their bishops, who represent each diocese. In the Diaspora, it is the same thing, only the various dioceses are for some reason not called dioceses, but  ‘jurisdictions’, which is a purely secular term.

And there is something very strange here: the term ‘Pan-Orthodox’ has come to be divisive! Even the foreign term ‘Pan’ (as opposed to the English word ‘All’) suggests that there is something narrowly ethnic here. And the minority who promote ‘Pan-Orthodox’ Vespers often represent very divisive trends. For example, many of them do not use the Orthodox calendar for the fixed feasts, as do 80% of Orthodox, but aggressively use the papal calendar and want to impose the papal Paschalia. Surely, if they were concerned by unity, they would return to the majority Orthodox calendar, which 100 years ago was universal, and not try to promote a heterodox calendar and sometimes heterodox values?

Then these promoters of unity engage in such practices as abandoning the sacrament of confession, have no iconostases in their churches, sing Protestant Christmas carols during the Nativity liturgy after the troparia, shout out names for commemoration at the proskomidia during the Divine Liturgy (which they call ‘the holy liturgy’), and ban all languages other than English! One day perhaps someone will explain such things to me. I have been waiting for an answer for 43 years. I have always thought that Orthodox unity can only be based on the Universal Orthodox Faith, not on minority modernist deviations.