Category Archives: Pastoral Matters

With the Mother of God in Eastern England

Between 2 and 9 April 2019, for the first time ever, all of a long-neglected region, that of Eastern England, was visited by the Wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God. The faithful gathered in Kent, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, bordering on Lincolnshire to the north and Bedfordshire to the south. 1500 miles were covered in eight days, 38 molebens were served in our five churches in the region and in the homes of the scattered faithful and £2,210 was raised for the Synod of Bishops of the Church Outside Russia. If we had had longer we would have visited even more faithful in this forgotten backwater outside the Capital. (For photos see the ROCOR Diocesan website).

The Icon gave off Her very strong myrrh-like fragrance, wafting in waves, in churches, homes, hospitals and cars, even filling streets while being taken in Her carrying case just the few yards to the doors of houses and flats. This was the fragrance of the Mercy of Mother Mary, for then the long-abandoned felt valued, consoled by this scent from Paradise. The highlights were perhaps the evening moleben and akathist in St Matrona’s chapel of the Lithuanian Orthodox community in Wisbech, the Capital of the Fens, at the Sunday Liturgy of the Annunciation in Colchester, and especially in one home, where two faithful, long-suffering and isolated converted Orthodox were able to pray before Her, showing that they had embraced Orthodoxy with their hearts and not with their heads.

In the first case we felt how, although the people may have had little knowledge, their spirit was great and the Mother of God descended on account of their humility, for they are absolutely devoid of any pretensions. In the second case, we felt how the hundreds of people came from far away with many small children, with all their huge pain at all the past injustices, and cried out to the Most Holy One and She heard them and consoled them, giving them courage. We three priests could barely cope with all the confessions and over 200 communions. In the third case we saw the greatest sincerity, piety, humility, unseen anywhere else here, and intense suffering, and how the Mother of God came and comforted. We have all become Josephs, guardians of the priceless treasure of the Most Pure One.

After a hospital visit to a young married Romanian man who did electrical work in the altar of the church some years ago, but who is now dying of cancer, we saw him comforted by a wafting of fragrance, which all in the hospital ward felt. We saw an elderly Russian parishioner kissing the Icon and her two Romanian carers, who happened to be present, kneeling and joining her. After one akathist, two pious Greek priests who had attended apologized for the behaviour of their Patriarch. Will the autocephaly of Constantinople be revoked by a Council of the thirteen canonical Local Orthodox Churches? Then the Greek Diaspora can be taken under the care of the Greek Orthodox Church in Athens and return to Orthodoxy. Then all in the Church can once again be confirmed as truly One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, that is, in one word, Orthodox.

Our Mother in heaven sees everyone, righteous and sinners alike, our parishioners, Bulgarian and English, Moldovan and Lithuanian, Ukrainian and Russian, Greek and Turkish, French and Italian, Indian and Romanian, Australian and Kazakh, Polish and Latvian. She acts as a magnet to all, Her presence so strongly felt by all. For the unbeliever the Icon is haunted; we know better. Her fragrance is Her Mercy. In the absence of any others, the Mother of God is truly our champion leader. She is in this Her Icon of the Sign, Who Shows the Way. In the Eastern provinces the rejected are being accepted, the persecuted are being comforted, the despised are being recalled, the long-forgotten are being remembered and the long-neglected are being visited.

We have little money or importance in the eyes of the world, our churches have no gold or precious stones, no ancient icons or precious artefacts, we have no great theologians or brains, but we do have faith and hope. The region is waking, as the very long and very dark night ends in the glimmer and hope of the long-prayed for dawn, which we long to see before we die. We feel that in heaven our prayers have been heard and our decades of tears have been noted. Can it be much longer now? Her fragrance still fills our clothes, homes and cars even days after She left us. We live by faith in Christ and by hope for the better.

 

The Mother of God Comes to the Faithful of Eastern England

For the first time in history the Wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God is being allowed to visit the homes of the faithful at all points of the compass in Eastern England. Previously, She had only been taken to London and spent only a few brief hours in some churches in the East.

God willing,

On Tuesday 2 April She will be brought from London to our parishioners to the north-east of Colchester, in Holbrook, Felixstowe, Kesgrave and Ipswich.

On Wednesday 3 April She will visit our parishioners to the west, in St Neots, Cambridge, to the community of St Edmund in Bury St Edmunds, and to the north-west, to the community of St Matrona in Wisbech.

On Thursday 4 April She will visit our parishioners to the south-west, in Chelmsford, Basildon Brentwood, Romford, Ilford, Hatfield Peverel, Witham and Silver End.

On Friday 5 April She will visit our parishioners in Colchester and to the south-east, in Wivenhoe and Great Bromley.

On Saturday 6 April She will visit our parishioners to the south, to the community of the Royal Martyrs in Ashford and then in Bellingham before returning to Colchester.

On Sunday 7 April She will be in the centre in St John’s church in Colchesterfrom 8.00 am until 2.30 pm.

On Monday 8 April She will visit our parishioners to the east, in Colchester, Clacton and Frinton.

On Tuesday 9 April She will visit our parishioners to the north, in Sudbury, Mendlesham and Thetford, before being taken to St Alexander Nevsky church in Norwich.

 

 

Questions and Answers (March 2019) From Recent Correspondence

The Parish Church

Q: Where is the Colchester church financed from?

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

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

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

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

Nationalism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Missionary Work in Western Europe

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

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

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

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

Orthodox Life

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

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

Global Warming

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

A: Basically:

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

On the Present Western Gender Confusion

The primitive and pagan (‘classical’) world did it: pagan Greece and Rome were full of sexual perverts, incestuous, sodomites, bisexuals, pansexuals, pedophiles, copulators with animals etc. Moreover, they glorified these activities in their literature. For pagans such bestiality was considered normal, like all sorts of other barbaric practices (for example, slavery, leaving unwanted newborn babies to die by the roadside). With its catastrophic loss of Faith, the Western world is now returning precisely to these ‘classical’ (i.e. neo-pagan) Western ‘standards’ (slavery, mass abortion and incinerating the unborn, and sexual perversions) and even imposing them on the Free (i.e. Non-Western) World by economic bribery (‘sanctions’).

Now, it is a dangerous thing to mix up the sexes. The very word ‘sex’ comes from the Latin word meaning ‘cut’, showing that the two sexes are cut off from each other, as in the Book of Genesis, where it is clearly stated that ‘Male and female He created them’. It is clear that God created no-one somewhere inbetween: any kind of gender confusion is completely a result of the Fall, either, voluntarily, through personal sin, or else, involuntarily, through the sin that is in the world, ancestral sin.

On the contrary to this, Orthodox Christians have always emphasized and indeed exaggerated the differences and even stereotypes between the sexes. Men and women must dress differently, carry out different roles and tasks, boys and girls must be brought up differently and all sex differences, however small, are prized. Men are men and women are women. All confusion is dreaded. This is in order to stop the inevitable unhappiness which comes from confusing the sexes (as we see so very clearly in today’s world).

Feminists have long tried to alter the Holy Scriptures in order to make out that God the Father is a ‘She’, or perhaps bisexual, and that God the Son is a Daughter or maybe, like Michael Jackson, androgynous. Strangely enough, feminists have never tried to change the sex of the devil. He remains he. Now, Feminism, which started Transgenderism, was born by reaction in ex-Protestant societies, notorious for their repression of women, as in Victorian times. And the one clear fact about Protestant societies is that they all rejected the veneration of the Mother of God.

It is here that the key to ‘Transgenderism’ lies. If you reject the female role in salvation (and the first person in the Kingdom of God is not a mere man, but the Most Holy, Most Pure, Most Blessed Ever-Virgin Mother), clearly you also reject the female sex. And if you do this, then you will find that all you can offer women is to become men. This is what today’s Western world calls ‘equality’. It is not equality, it is the appalling denigration of the female sex, forced down into becoming a man, the ultimate misogyny, the ultimate hatred of women. And from here it is only one step to Transgenderism and all the contemporary tragedies and blasphemies that flow from it.

 

Questions and Answers February 2019

Moscow/Constantinople

Q: What would you answer to those who claim that the present problems between the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Moscow regarding the Ukraine are simply an ethnic problem?

A: No, it is not an ethnic problem, it is a dogmatic problem. It is all about faithfulness to Orthodoxy, that is, to the Oneness, Holiness, Catholicity and Apostolicity of the Church.

Just imagine if the Russian Church had backed atheist-promoted modernists in Constantinople against its persecuted Patriarch (as Constantinople did in the 1920s in Russia against the heroic missionary Patriarch St Tikhon), interfered in the internal affairs and territories of other Local Churches, insisted on a racist and nationalistic ethos and so had opposed itself to any missionary, apostolic work and multinational activity, had fallen away from the Orthodox calendar, messed about with the Liturgy, canonized dubious political figures, promoted freemasonry, practised simony, preached ecumenism and semi-Catholicism (as Constantinople had already done in the fifteenth century), got itself paid by the US State Department, but the Church of Constantinople had remained faithful to the Orthodox Tradition. In that case we would be supporting the Church of Constantinople and not the Church of Russia. Canonical crimes are canonical crimes, regardless of the ethnicity of the culprits.

Moreover, it is now clear that Constantinople will not repent, as it is still justifying its outrageous acts. It is even going to sack the old bishops and appoint new Bartholomew-esque bishops in North America, Australia and the UK and so everywhere dig an abyss between itself and us Orthodox. Therefore, it is clear that this schism is at least semi-permanent. Only repentance on the part of the proud of Constantinople can overcome the problem they have caused and there is absolutely no sign of this at present.

Therefore, given the paralysis and irresponsibility of others, the Russian Church is now reorganizing its administration of the Non-Orthodox world, as in the now 15 countries in the Russian Orthodox Western European Exarchate. (Since the Synod on 26 February Malta has been added to it, leaving only the five Nordic countries and Germany, Austria and Hungary to be added in due course). The same thing is happening in the Russian Orthodox South-East Asian Exarchate with its Metropolitan of Singapore and now four dioceses, Singapore, Korea, Thailand and the Philippines and Vietnam. South Asia, mainly India and Pakistan, is at present a no-go area. (South-West Asia is largely the canonical territory of Antioch, as Africa is that of Alexandria, just as North Asia is Russian canonical territory). In the remaining continents of the New World, maybe we shall one day see a Russian Exarchate for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean and possibly another for South America, leaving the rest of North America and Oceania to ROCOR, if competence is shown.

Thus, all faithful Orthodox of all nationalities will end up independent but in association with the Russian Church. This will recreate the canonical situation in North America before 1917, with all Orthodox united within the Russian Church, before Constantinople introduced division with its ‘jurisdiction’ 100 years ago. Only the modernists in the Local Churches will go under Constantinople. The tiny, modernist and unfaithful minority who want a Protestant, ‘reformed’ Orthodoxy, a Traditionless, gutless and saintless Halfodoxy, disunited, unholy, uncatholic and unapostolic, will follow the schismatics. This is simply a falling away from the Orthodox Church. In these latter times the chaff is being separated from the wheat. This is not some ethnic dispute, where there is truth on both sides, but a dispute in which there is right and wrong, Thirteen Local Churches against One evildoer. This is the great cleansing we have been awaiting for so long, the tares are leaving us.

Q: What is your policy regarding those who frequent churches under Constantinople and who want to take communion and other sacraments in the Russian Church? Do you refuse them?

A: Certainly not! We do not punish the people for the anti-canonical actions of an elderly US-run Turkish Patriarch, whom they never chose. As long as the Russian Church does not have a full network of parishes in the Diaspora, catering for all the faithful of all languages, we will give the sacraments to those who have no choice but to attend nearby Constantinople churches at times, even though they know that their Patriarchate is utterly wrong. Of course, if there are actually those among them who consciously support their Patriarch, then we cannot have communion with them because they are enemies of the Church of God. But such extremists do not approach the Russian Church anyway.

Q: The Patriarchate of Constantinople has only one Western Diocesan bishop, Metropolitan Athenagoras in Belgium. Will he stay with Constantinople?

A: This is none of my business, though I know that he fully shares in the Phanariot ideology. I also note that the only Non-Diocesan Western bishop under Constantinople, Metr Kallistos (Ware), has not expressed any indication that he will move either.

I remember Metr Athenagoras in the 70s when he was a young layman. He and his family left Rue Daru for the Greeks of Constantinople, if I remember rightly, in 1987, after the whole Bruges convert parish (and Peckstadt family) was mistreated by the tyrannical and unjust German Archbishop of Rue Daru, George (Wagner). (He was an ex-Catholic, who managed to alienate Russians with his Russophobia and Western Orthodox with his refusal to recognize any liturgical languages apart from Greek, Latin and Slavonic!! What a disaster – really Rue Daru never recovered from this German intellectual. I witnessed all this first-hand).

At that time the Bruges parish could have joined Moscow, though many of the Moscow bishops outside Russia were very corrupt. (I can still remember how in 2003 the Sourozh Diocese Cathedral was still refusing to have any icon of the Royal Martyrs (‘there is no space for them’, as they so eloquently said, in fact not about their empty walls, but about their empty hearts), even though Moscow had at last canonized the New Martyrs and was negotiating with ROCOR, and how that Cathedral also refused to sell books written by Fr Seraphim (Rose), who was very popular inside Russia.

Or else the Bruges converts could have joined ROCOR. However, to accept the Tradition and disciplines of the Church in all their integrity, as is normal for ROCOR, was far too much for them. They wanted a ‘pick and choose’ Orthodoxy for the consumer age. Such converts play a fantasy game and never want the real thing, skirting around it, like people who skirt around a lighthouse and are then surprised when they are wrecked on the rocks around the lighthouse.

Rue Daru

Q: What do you think is the future for this group after their meeting on 23 February?

A: Here the chickens have come home to roost and decisions have to be made at last after so many decades of putting off the question. These decisions cannot, like Brexit, be continually put off. A few will surely join one part or another of the Russian Church (as some already have), including perhaps the elderly Archbishop Jean himself. However, most will remain under Constantinople, and a few may go off to join various curious Protestant-style or New Age sects, where some of them originally came from.

Q: Will the Rue Daru parish in Rome join ROCOR?

A: I have no idea – you must ask those involved. What I do remember is how ROCOR lost this parish to Rue Daru in 1985 through the incompetent meddling of Bishop Gregory Grabbe, who had sent an old calendarist American convert priest there (he was later defrocked, like several other convert priests whom Bp Gregory had had ordained by the innocent and naïvely pure Metr Philaret). I was there at the time and remember it well. Rue Daru at once ordained a Russian-speaking man for the Rome parish and three months later made him an archpriest (such was the favouritism of Rue Daru also!)

Politics

Q: Do you think that Brexit will happen?

A: Only if the UK is democratic will it happen. Over 45 years have already been spent in the Brussels straitjacket. On the other hand, both the EU and the UK Establishments, including the Remainer Mrs May, are against Brexit. The mere fact that the people were once allowed to express their opinion was a miracle, but since then we have seen the battle of the people against the elite and anything can happen.

Q: Why do countries which have lost their monarchy veer between left-wing and right-wing governments?

A: Because such countries get governed by ideologies/philosophies of either left or right. Whenever this happens, injustices happen because such ideologies are based on ideals, not on reality. Idealistic intellectuals (like Lenin or Hitler) are ruthless because they always force reality to fit their personal ideology, slaughtering all the millions who refuse to accept it and silencing all others by fear. We can see this on a lesser level in recent UK history with the idealistic obsessions of Thatcher (‘the free market’), Blair (meddling in other countries and starting wars) and Corbyn (Stalinist socialism). The question these ideologues never answer is: Does my ideal actually work? And by definition no ideal ever works, precisely because it is ideal, not real, not realistic, not practical. If you govern with an ideology, you will always end up being tyrannical and being hated. You have to govern with a heart.

Q: There are only two faiths in the world which have always been persecuted, Orthodoxy and Judaism. Why?

A: Because they both contain Truth. Where there is no Truth, there is never any persecution. The Truth of Judaism is that God is One and that He is sending His Son to bring justice to the world (The Second Coming). The Truth of Orthodoxy we know (The First Coming).

Worldliness in the Church

Q: Why are there so many Orthodox in the Ukraine, Russia (and maybe other parts of the world, and this may have nothing to do with just Orthodoxy, but all religions) who can be heard saying, “My believing is inside me.  I don’t believe in Church but I believe in God.  I follow Orthodox traditions and go to church sometimes.”  Is this primarily a reaction to the influence and momentum of Communism, like the saying about how the Communists almost accomplished in Russia in 70 years what the Ottoman Empire failed to accomplish in the Balkans in 400 years?

A: You are indeed quite right, this saying is very common, but it is also universal. The reason for this is corruption (’institutionalization’) in the Church; clerics turning the Church and Faith into a business, a mere religion. This makes people cynical. We need churches which are free of the tables of moneychangers and we need bishops (the simoniacs are usually Greek and Romanian) and priests whose main concern is people’s souls, not their wallets. In the West no jurisdiction is free of this; I remember the old ‘pre-Revolutionary’ ROCOR of 45 years ago – it too sometimes had this money, money mentality, which was the bane of the pre-Revolutionary Church. Our universal Russian Orthodox task is not at all the restoration of the pre-Revolutionary Church (as some very ignorant people imagine), but the cleansing of the pre-Revolutionary Church.

Therefore, this is nothing to do with Communism. We need apostolic St Pauls, who work as tentmakers, not rich bishops with fancy cars. This has been the combat of my life; it is why I do not serve in a den of corruption. I have always refused to do so and for that reason they have never wanted me.

Russian Converts

Q:  Why are there personality tensions in the Church inside Russia, for example as in the recent internet conflict between Fr Andrei Tkachov and Fr George Maximov?

A: The Church inside Russia has many converts. It sometimes reminds me of what I saw in the West in the 1970s: young women dressed in long drab dresses and young men with long beards, crosses or prayer knots on display. The neophyte mentality – imitating the external dress of monks and nuns – works regardless of nationality and even if the parents were nominal Orthodox. Converts have to show off – just like neophytes in any religion, from Islam (long beards and a uniform) to Buddhism (people dressed in saffron robes and with shaven heads). It is converts who create this hothouse mentality, usually on the internet. It is all so immature. It is time for teenagers to grow up.

The Future

Q: When will there be a new Tsar in Russia?

A: It is vital to understand that this can only come about when Russian Orthodox are worthy of the last Tsar. You cannot have a next Tsar, if you do not love and venerate the last Tsar and all those who served him – and were martyred for it. Read what others said of the last Tsar and his family:

‘It was the holiest and purest family’. (The Tsar’s valet Volkov, when interviewed by the investigator Sokolov 100 years ago).

‘There, in that house (the Ipatiev House), blossom the great souls of Russia, smeared with the mud of politicians’. (The Holy Martyr Eugene (Botkin)).

When this happens, then we shall see headlines like this:

‘Tsar restores the unity of the Russian Lands’.

‘Christian troops from Russia liberate Eastern Europe from EU tyranny’.

‘Afghans plead with Russian Imperial forces to free them’.

‘Russian Tsar stands on the Mexican border and demands: ‘Tear down this wall, Mr Trump’.

Do not be surprised; everything is still possible.

 

Conversations With Those New to the Church

The following conversations have all taken place in recent times with various newcomers or ‘converts’ to the Church, of several nationalities. (Let us not forget that most Russians are also converts and indeed, in another sense, we are all converts, as on a daily basis we are reconverted, that is, we turn again to Christ every day). We have concentrated these conversations into one conversation with a couple, whom we shall call Ian and Kay for the sake of anonymity.

 

Q: The first question we have is about our names, we are Ian and Kay. Why were we given the names John and Katherine?

A: We are formal in church and bear the names of saints, which we use in full whenever we receive the sacraments. Therefore, Alyosha is Aleksiy, Sergei is Sergiy, Natasha is Natalia, Sonia is Sophia. Similarly Pete is Peter, Mike is Michael. Therefore, Kay, short for Katherine, is Katherine. As for yourself, I fail to see why the priest changed your name to Ian. Was he an English nationalist?! Ian is the Scottish form of Ioann and is therefore closer to the original than John. I shall use the form Ian, whenever you receive the sacraments.

In general in Church we use formal language: Church Slavonic, not Russian; the language of Shakespeare, not street English. Church is a school, it is where we all learn, for example, children learn discipline.

Q: How should we dress in church?

A: In English we have the precise understanding of how we should dress, in the phrase ‘Sunday best’. Everything in Church is different, special, best. Therefore, ladies should not dress in jeans and trousers or, for that matter, long drab skirts. They are not nuns. They should wear something modest, skirt or dress, but something happy and maybe, if they have it, dress in something of the colour of the feast, showing that they are taking part in it, for example, wear blue for feasts of the Mother of God.

Men should not wear T-shirts, jeans, shorts and trainers. We are not at the beach. They should make an effort to dress for Church. We want to look nice when we stand in front of Christ. And we do not have to spend much to buy something nice; there are always charity shops. What you wear outside the Church is of course your business, but I would like to think that Church would influence your choices at home and in the street too.

Why do some convert men dress in black and grow long hair and a beard? They are not monks. Married priests usually do not have long hair and beards, especially if they have to have a secular job too. And they wear cassocks of all colours. Black is a monastic colour. If you want to be a monk or a nun, live under obedience. Without obedience, this is all just playing. Marriage is obedience and if you cannot take the obedience of marriage, you certainly cannot take the obedience of monastic life.

Then there is this strange habit among a few (thankfully, only a few) of wearing prayer-knots or beads (not a prayer rope; prayer knots in no way resemble a rope) around the wrist. What is all this about? You are not monks or nuns. By all means, use prayer knots, but at home, in private. They are not for public prayer, but for the prayer of the heart (not ‘the Jesus prayer’, as Catholics call it) or for other prayers, ‘in your chamber’, as the Gospel says. There is a rhyming Russian saying about young men who wear prayer knots around their wrists: In their hand, prayer knots (chiotki), in their head, pretty girls (tiotki). It means that it is all for show, a pretence.

Q: We are told that Orthodoxy is not a set of ideas, but a way of life. But what is the Orthodox way of life?

A: First of all, Orthodoxy is simply Christianity, the Christian way of life. It is not something exotic or strange. It only seems exotic or strange if you have never been a real Christian, but a false Christian or semi-Christian, that is, if you have always lived outside the Church. Only Orthodoxy is normality. It is everything else that is abnormal, strange and exotic.

An Orthodox way of life means reading the morning and evening prayers. All Orthodox theology is in them. Read them carefully. It means reading the daily Gospel and Epistle, reading the Lives of the Saints of the day, living by the calendar, keeping the fasts and the feasts, and living near a church where the services and sacraments are accessible, and where you can help, cleaning, supporting, singing and serving. It is also important that you give alms, in whatever way you wish.

Q: I know this is not a new question, but what is the correct rhythm for confession and communion?

A: All depends on how often you take communion. Before the Russian Revolution when people took communion only once or twice a year – and so caused the Revolution – confession was obligatory and a prayer rule beforehand was instituted. So the two became linked. During the Soviet period when there were very few churches and priests and you may only have got to church a few times in a lifetime, a three-day fast was also instituted before communion and confession.

However, in the first millennium and again today we can see that many are taking communion normally, at least once a month and even once a week. This has followed the renewal of Church life with the influence of the Optina saints, St John of Kronstadt, the New Martyrs and Confessors and many others. Confession should be at least once every forty days if you are taking communion regularly and if you wish (but not necessarily, if you have the blessing of your confessor not to), every time before communion.

However, we should not fall into the opposite extreme, of obligatory communion for all and without confession. This is spiritual decadence. People fall into spiritual delusion very easily like this. I have seen so many do this and they have all lapsed sooner or later. This was because they began to think they were superior to those who took communion less often. Sheer pride, so that in the end they said: ‘We don’t need to take communion because we are already holy’. I have seen that time and time again. Regular communion is vital, yes, but so is proper preparation and regular confession (though the two sacraments need not be linked in time).

Communion always presupposes that you fast from midnight before communion, that you try and come for the Vigil service beforehand, that at the very least you read the prayers before communion beforehand, if not the full rule, keep the Wednesday and Friday and other four fasts, that you read your prayers, that you are, in other words, striving to live an Orthodox life, as described above.

The whole point of a prayer rule before communion is to inspire prayerfulness. What state should we be in when we come to communion? The words of the liturgy say it all: ‘With fear of God and faith, draw near’. If we do not have the fear of God and faith, we should not draw near. Some say, ‘I cannot take communion because I am unworthy’. Of course we are unworthy – we are all always unworthy. He who takes communion (if there is such a person) with the feeling that he is worthy, is in a disastrous state of pride and spiritual delusion.

You will find that there are periods in your life when you need regular communion, two or three or even more times a month, at other times less often. (Women should not take communion during their monthly period, which is a result of the Fall. Men may also be handicapped by their sexual problems).

Q: Should we do what cradle Orthodox tell us to do?

A: This is theological nonsense. There is no such thing as a ‘cradle Orthodox’. Stalin was a ‘cradle Orthodox’. (As Napoleon and Hitler were ‘cradle Catholics’). Everything depends on whether you were brought up in the Church or not. I have known thousands of ‘cradle Orthodox’ who scarcely know how to make the sign of the cross. Listen to those who were brought up in the Church by pious parents and live by the Tradition. They are Orthodox. It does not matter when you were baptised, it is your long term way of life that matters.

Q: We are both ex-Anglicans. We have thought about writing something against Anglicanism. What do you think?

A: Why? Why be so negative? Are you living in the past? We must live for the present and the future. Only 1% of the UK population is practising Anglican, the same percentage as the number of nominal Orthodox in this country. If you want to talk to others about the Faith, talk to the 95% who have no effective or affective affiliation. And talk positively. But what is the point of talking to anyone and trying to convert them (including nominal Orthodox), if they have no church to attend? The most important thing is to have local living parishes that people can go to before you start trying to convert others.

Q: We both venerate Charles I as a martyr. But can we do that in the Orthodox Church??

A: The Orthodox Church venerates only Orthodox. Did Charles I die for the Orthodox Church? No, he did not. Like Louis XVI, he was basically a Catholic. On the other hand, there is no reason why, as Orthodox, you cannot have his portrait in your house, cannot read about him, invite friends to dinner on his anniversaries, or be members of the Stuart Society – several Orthodox have long been members of it. You may have a personal opinion that he was a martyr. That is fine. But do not make him into something that he was not – an Orthodox saint.

Q: What can you say about sexual relations for married couples? Catholics and Protestants used to recommend ‘the missionary position’. Is that Orthodox practice too?

A: This is your intimate life and therefore by definition, this is none of the priest’s business. What goes on behind the bedroom door of a married couple concerns only the couple. We do not meddle like Catholics or old-fashioned Calvinist Protestants in this matter. All I can say is a few general things. Above all, love each other – all that you do must be by mutual loving consent. This means no perversions or violence, no humiliation of either member in the couple. That is all on this.

No God’s Land

During my temporary stays in Norwich, on Sundays I used to walk from Eaton to one of the two Orthodox churches in Norwich: the Russian Orthodox Church of St Alexander Nevsky, the “Matchbox Church” and the Greek Orthodox Church of the Mother of God, the “ Two Sundays Church” (two services per month). And what do I see on Sunday mornings on this 40-minute walk to church?

People – I suppose Christians or former Christians- jogging or taking dogs for their morning walk, playing with them, or going to cafés/bars for breakfast with friends, or for some shopping or just walking, without any purpose, and looking captivated at an iPhone, a smartphone… In fact, modern man wakes up in the morning and rushes to the toilet with his phone gadget. A friend told me, joking seriously, that these people do not harm the environment, because, instead of toilet paper, they recycle old on line news screens, magazines, books…

I am passing by offices for psychiatry, hypnotherapy, crystal therapy, shiatsu, life coaching, tattooing…Such offices do not lack patients/clients…

Then follow very old churches, initially Catholic than Anglican, now closed. Motionless, silent ghosts in the daylight…There are a few exceptions: old churches still alive but the few parishioners, mostly old,  are like… ghosts!

It’s Sunday morning and I have the strange feeling of going through a no God’s land!

Our Europe, once Christian, is full of such no God’s lands and these lands are continuously multiplying, a sign that the salt is losing its savour, from West to the East, from North to South: “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot by men.” (Matthew 5, 13-KJV)

Tasteless salt, our intellectuals, politicians, ministers, prime ministers, presidents, kings and queens (to the extent that they are allowed to give their opinion) and journalists, all suffer from a  continuous delirium, talking and talking of human rights, defending diversity ( diversity of sins), security, peace, money, projects, general welfare…They don’t see ( and people are following them) that indeed “… now also the axe is laid to the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” (Matthew 3, 10- KJV)

Through a no God’s land, a Christian, conscious of his status, can pass spiritually unharmed only having permanently as companions Jesus Christ, the Mother of God, the Saints, prayer…

God help us!

Nicuşor Gliga

Norwich, 21st January 2019

 

Q and A October-December 2018

Church Matters

Q: The Church faces so many difficulties today. Why is there no new St Mark of Ephesus?

A: Because first of all we have to be worthy of having such a courageous and ascetic saint. And, it seems, we are not worthy, at least for the moment. What is required is someone who will defend the saving truth and the saving reality of the Church, by affirming Her Oneness, Holiness, Catholicity and Apostolicity against those who have lost their faith in the Church. Their heresies will also have to be anathematized. This can only be done at a Church Council, whether Local (say, within the Russian Church), or else Inter-Orthodox.

Q: What is the difference between Church Truth and Church Diplomacy?

A: Truth always wins in the long term, because it is a revelation of the eternal, the permanent. Diplomacy, however, always loses in the long term because it is passing and temporary. The one thing that is certain is that the Truth will always be hated, which is why we are attacked personally. They do not know that we must ‘tell the truth and shame the devil’, because they, true, almost always unwittingly, belong to the devil.

Q: What characterizes Non-Orthodox as regards their understanding of sin and salvation?

A: Outside the Church there is little understanding of the Fall and sin, both ancestral sin and personal sin, and at the same time little understanding of what holiness grace can raise us up to. In other words, there is little understanding of the depths and the heights. This total lack of understanding and even denial of both ends of reality is crystallized by the secularist ideologies of equality and political correctness.

Q: What do the Christmas carol words ‘God rest you merry, gentlemen’, mean?

A: The words of the oldest Christmas carol (most of them are Victorian) go back well over 500 years, if not more, and in a modern translation, they mean: ‘May God keep you in His blessing, O gentlemen’, or, ‘May God’s blessing rest on you, O gentlemen’. In other words, there is a comma in front of gentlemen. ‘Rest’ means in modern English ‘keep’. And ‘merry’, as in Merry Christmas’ or ‘Merry England’, means in modern English ‘Blessed’.

Q: What was the relationship between St John the Theologian and Christ?

A: St John was the son of Zebedee and Salome. Salome was the daughter of Joseph, the guardian of Mary and of her son Christ. So, on paper, St John was the ‘nephew’ of Christ.

Q: Why is blessed water so silvery in colour, for example, at Theophany?

A: This is the effect of the Holy Spirit on water. What is normally transparent becomes silvery.

Q: Is there any reference, obviously indirect, to the Internet in the Scriptures?

A: I would suggest 2 Timothy 3, 7 when the Apostle Paul speaks of the last days: ‘Ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth’. It describes the use and function of search engines.

Political Matters

Q: Why do American Presidents have such extraordinary lives?

A: Because they are almost all pagans and there is a very close parallel between them and the pagan Roman emperors. For instance, there were 53 pagan Roman emperors who terrorized and intimidated the Western and later Christian world in the 332 years between 27BC and 306, the arrival of Constantine the Great. In the 229 years since 1789 there have been 45 US presidents, who now rule over the worldwide, though bankrupt, American Empire from a Roman temple (‘The White House’) on the Capitol. Of these presidents many were slave-owners, including George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, many were crooks (the most notorious recent example being Richard Nixon), some clearly frontmen puppets of the Establishment (among the most recent George Bush II), some extreme narcissists (Clinton and Trump), and four have been assassinated.

From their Roman temple they send out their legions, and foreign legions recruited from their NATO vassals in Europe and elsewhere, to impose ‘freedom and democracy’, that is, to terrorize, intimidate and so tyrannize the rest of the world. Just like the pagan Romans, they are the barbarians and the terrorists, setting up ruthless dictatorships and criminal juntas through ‘regime-change’ from all over Latin America to the Philippines, from South Korea to Iran, from Indonesia to Germany, from Laos to France, from Vietnam to Pakistan, from Italy to Greece, from North Africa to South Africa, from Grenada to Zaire, from Australia to Haiti, from Cambodia to Angola, from Ghana to the Seychelles, from Afghanistan to the Ukraine, from Poland to Bulgaria, from Japan to Taiwan, from the CIA torture-chambers of Lithuania to those in Iraq, from Kosovo to Syria, bombing all those who oppose its tyranny ‘back to the Stone Age’.

Human Matters

Q: How do you avoid becoming bitter when faced with human injustices?

A: The important thing is to pray for those who commit the injustice. You can do this by imaging what they will have to face at the Last Judgement for unrepented for injustices. You will find yourself feeling sorry for them – there is nothing worse than dying and not repenting for the injustices that they have committed. Praying for them will help them, but also you, as it will protect you from the evil of bitterness.

Q: Is friendship between men and women possible?

A: Of course it is, providing that there is no physical attraction. This generally means that the man and woman in question are related, for example, brother and sister, or else that there is a generational age gap. For example, in my own life in Paris I was friends with the emigre poetess, Lyudmila Brizhatova, who was over 40 years older than me.

 

 

The Orthodox Parish in Norwich

The ‘Matchbox Church’

There are no churches with patron saints names like ‘The She-Goat’ or ‘Of One Wood’ or ‘Of One Day’ etc, yet they have taken on these nicknames, which have been suggested either by the founder, or by the material which they have been built with, or by the length of time their construction has taken etc.

In Romania, as well as in other Orthodox Christian countries in Eastern Europe, old churches have been refurbished, new ones are erected, new parishes have been formed to the despondency of Christ’s enemies and of His Church’s enemies. They cannot sleep while claiming to take care of schools, hospitals, and poor people etc. That is the Judas syndrome…

Everything is done with difficulty, with the old lady’s pennies, which are placed out of her poverty in the alms box, with money and/or materials from Christians who are in fortunate positions etc. And not infrequently, until the foundations of the church have been laid, the church life of the new parishes takes place in improvised spaces: abandoned commercial areas, offices, military tents etc.

In the West and the North of Europe, countries, which in former times were mainly Catholic and Protestant, the trend is the opposite. Society has reached the level of progress and civilization in which God is considered to be unnecessary. Houses of worship, some of them having an honourable great age, are rented for some other (secular) activities or are for sale. The buyers convert them into offices, clubs, hotels, luxury bedrooms etc. (https://homes.trovit.co.uk/converted-church-gothic )

This loss of faith is somehow compensated for by the Orthodox-Christian leaven, which has been spread by the fist of globalization, from the former Socialist Orthodox Christian countries. Scattered throughout the world, at those places where they have found propitious conditions, the dough spills have fermented a network of parishes, with houses of worship fitted up in spaces placed at their disposal by Catholic or Protestant churches, either in purchased churches and converted into Orthodox Christian churches, or in new churches, built from scratch.

But Eastern European Orthodox Christian immigrants, with the love of God, who have come either to work or to study etc, do not always have at their disposal a house of worship (a church, a chapel etc) for religious services, when they are only a few in number and are a long way from big urban centres. Then, from hand to hand, they offer love, effort, savings, perseverance, and thus arrange houses of worship where one does not even dare to imagine.

Such a house of worship is the Russian church having as its patron saint Alexander Nevsky (1221-1263) in Norwich, England, organized in a former club, on the edge of a road. On the left side of iconostasis, St Alexander Nevsky is accompanied by St Xenia of Saint Petersburg (18th century). The story of how this church was organized may be found here:

http://www.norwichorthodoxchurch.org.uk/?page_id=136

http://www.norwichorthodoxchurch.org.uk/

Out of a space not much bigger than an apartment in a block of flats, it has come out as a decent little church, as big as a dining room (plus the kitchen). A ‘Matchbox’ church!

A Bulgarian priest and a Russian helper serve with zeal for a handful of parishioners, 20-30 people (it would be impossible to find enough room for a higher number): Russians, Bulgarians, Romanians, English, Africans, Asians… The atmosphere is warm, hospitable. It would be inconceivable to be otherwise inside such a space and with such a diversity of parishioners.

A distinguished lady, who conducts the choir (a group of 3-4 women) was telling me, as if she wanted to apologize for such a small church: ‘This is our church. Hopefully God will listen and answer our prayers from this house of worship’.

It seems to me as if we were in the first Christian century in Rome, when the pagans, who by then had become Christians by risking their lives, were placing their houses at the disposal of a church nucleus: ‘Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Jesus Christ, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give my thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ’ (Romans, 16: 3-5).

Everywhere, Christ gathers the rocks of faith and gives them power to speak: ‘And do not think to say to yourselves, ’We have Abraham as our father. For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones” (Matthew, 3: 9). ‘And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, ‘Teacher, rebuke thy disciples.’ But He answered and said to them, ‘I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out’ (Luke, 19: 39-40).

Well, these stones are those Christians who have not reached a state of petrified indifference.

Nicuşor Gliga, Bucharest, Romania 17 October 2018