Category Archives: Pastoral Matters

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

 

Ghostbusting

As the years roll by I become ever more grateful to the bishop who ordained me, the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva (+ 1993). Indeed, I can say that mystically speaking we have become closer than we were in life, even though we had first met in the early 80s. You see, with time you become ever more conscious of your debt of gratitude. The following happened this summer.

It happens to every priest from time to time. That is, ghostbusting. The last time it was in a flat in Ipswich, where the previous occupant had committed suicide. Some strange things happened and a bloodstain would not go away. Painted over, it kept reappearing. It needed a priest to resolve the problem.

This time it was in a care home for the elderly in the town of X in the county of Norfolk. I was called up by the manager who explained the situation. An elderly resident had died. Within two days doors had started slamming shut by invisible hands, just as people were about to go through them. Windows opened and closed in the same way, at any time of day or night. Things moved from one room to another mysteriously. An electric kettle would be switched on by invisible hands and boiled dry.

One morning residents had come down to the dining room and had found all the tables and chairs overturned. Worst of all the room the woman who had passed away had lived in for several years was incredibly cold, even though it was a hot summer. Carers were too frightened to enter it and none could stand the cold for more than a few seconds. There was no question of renting it out to a new resident. The manager, a Ukrainian, faced an ultimatum; either she solved the problem or else the staff would leave the home with its 24 residents, forcing it to close.

The activities had focused especially on one young woman. I asked her to wear a cross, which she was happy to do, though she was not Orthodox and did not believe in anything really. I took a list of the names of the carers and the residents and prayed for them, paying special attention to the resident who had died, whose life I enquired about and whose photo I was shown. She had been a Protestant and so had had nobody to pray for her. Then I blessed the whole home with holy water after a short service, prepared to return if necessary, praying for the repose of the soul of the elderly woman.

The next day they phoned me from the home. Everything had returned to normal.

These things happen. Those who are thinking that one day they could be ordained to the priesthood should know this. But if I had not been ordained, nothing could have been happened through me. This is why I pray for the bishop who ordained me and why I am grateful to him above all others who had ignored me.

 

Orthodox Christian Eastern England

Foreword: For the Orthodox Christian Faith, the Coming King and the People of God in Eastern England, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and the Isle of Ely

Today, in this period of the last coming of Orthodoxy in the twenty-first century, Orthodox centres are being established in the large towns and cities of Eastern England. Today’s examples are not being inspired from Ireland (itself inspired from Jerusalem via Egypt), but from Holy Rus (itself inspired from Jerusalem via New Rome), but otherwise all remains the same. On this tenth anniversary of the establishment of our church in Colchester, we understand that we have only just begun. Much remains to be done and, building on the foundations of old, we ask God’s blessing on ourselves. Below we recall the history of our Orthodox Eastern England, our present and our hopes for the future.

Our Background

There were certainly Orthodox Christians in what later became Eastern England (East Anglia and Essex) as early as the third century, if not before. A notable centre for them was the first Roman capital of Britain in Camulodunum (Colchester), which may have had its own bishop at that time. As proof the foundations of an early fourth century Orthodox church and its cemetery were uncovered here only in the 1980s.

However, the four ancient Orthodox centres of what had come to be Eastern England were established in the apostolic period of the first coming of Orthodoxy in the seventh century. The Faith came in the same way as the Eastern English had settled – by sea and waterway, around the coasts and along the many rivers. Whereas the foundations in Essex came about through the Apostle of Essex, St Cedd (pronounced ‘Ched’), the other foundations had been due, directly and indirectly, to St Felix, Apostle of East Anglia. This was centuries before the territorial divisions of East Anglia and the terms Suffolk, Norfolk and the Isle of Ely came into existence.

Although St Cedd was English and St Felix Burgundian and they spoke very similar languages, their missions to Eastern England were both Irish-inspired. Coming as a missionary from Burgundy in France in 630 and probably consecrated by Archbishop Honorius of Canterbury to preach in East Anglia, Bishop Felix has been inspired by the Irish St Columban. It was he who had founded the monastery at Luxeuil in Burgundy, where St Felix had met his sponsor St Sigebert, the future King of East Anglia. In England Bishop Felix also certainly met the Irish missionary Bishop Aidan from the Irish-founded monastery of Lindisfarne. And the Irish-speaking Bishop Cedd, arriving in Essex a generation later in 653, had learned his Orthodoxy from the same St Aidan of Lindisfarne. Here is what they began in each of the four parts of Eastern England.

  1. Suffolk

This was the first region to be evangelized, from the southern diocesan centre founded in c. 630 by St Felix in the Roman coastal fortress known as Burgh. This centre was called Domnoc – probably from the Irish word Domnach, meaning the Lord’s house – and now identified as Felixstowe, so called in memory of the monastery of St Felix. Domnoc was near the estuary of the River Deben which led to the East Anglian royal palace at Rendlesham. This was near the royal burial site at Sutton Hoo and not far from the port of Dunwich (meaning perhaps ‘the port in the dunes’).

All these sites where St Felix was active are in what is now Suffolk, where he probably also founded a church along the River Stour in Sudbury. His diocesan centre was abandoned during the heathen invasion in 869 and transferred to Hoxne in the far north of Suffolk in c. 900, precisely where St Edmund, King of East Anglia, had been martyred in 869. This is represented today by Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, where St Felix probably founded a monastery and is near the geographical centre of Eastern England. The fact that Suffolk was the first region in the east to be evangelized and where so many churches were built led to it being called ‘Salig Suffolk’ or Holy Suffolk.

Local Saints

Sts Sigebert (+ c. 636), Felix (+ c. 647), Jurmin (+ 654), Botolph (+ 680), Edmund (+ 869).

Holy Places

Iken, Hoxne.

Present (in bold) & Projected Orthodox Parishes in Urban Centres

Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich, Lowestoft, Felixstowe.

  1. Norfolk

This centre was founded in c. 630 by St Felix in South Elmham (called ‘the old minster’), now in north Suffolk and established as a diocesan centre in 673. Nearby there was a church at Rumburgh dedicated to St Felix and two localities called Flixton, which also witness to his presence. St Felix was aided by an Irish monk sent to him perhaps by St Aidan. This was St Fursey (with Sts Dicul, later at Dickleburgh, and Sts Foillan and Ultan), who founded a monastery in c. 631 on an inlet from the coast in the Roman fortress at Burgh (Burgh Castle, now in the far north of Suffolk).

St Felix was very active in what is now Norfolk, founding churches along the river systems in the east at Reedham and Loddon, and in the north-west at Babingley, Shernborne and perhaps Flitcham. In 955 the centre in South Elmham was transferred to what is now Norfolk to a place which was called North Elmham in memory of its origin. The centre then briefly went to Thetford and today is represented by Norwich.

Local Saints

Sts Felix (+ c. 647), Fursey (+ 650), Withburgh (+ c. 743), Edmund (+ 869), Walstan (+ 1016).

Holy Places

East Dereham, Bawburgh.

Present (in bold) & Projected Orthodox Parishes in Urban Centres

Norwich, King’s Lynn.

  1. Essex

Today’s Essex (previously this had included much of what is now London) was evangelized from the diocesan centre founded soon after 653 by St Cedd. This ‘cathedral on the marshes’, most of which still stands today, is on the east coast of Essex in the former Roman fortress of Othona (Ythanceaster) which is now called Bradwell-on-Sea. St Cedd was active elsewhere around the coasts of Essex but today’s Orthodox centre is in Colchester, founded on St Edmund’s Feast exactly ten years ago.

Local Saints

Sts Cedd (+ 664) and Osyth (+ c. 700).

Holy Place

Bradwell on Sea.

Present (in bold) & Projected Orthodox Parishes in Urban Centres

Colchester, Southend, Harlow.

  1. The Isle of Ely (today the Marches of Eastern Cambridgeshire)

This was evangelized from the monastery founded by St Felix in Soham, today in eastern Cambridgeshire, and from nearby Exning on the western edge of Suffolk, the birthplace of St Felix’s spiritual daughter, St Audrey. However, it was only in 673 that she founded the monastery in Ely, possibly on the site of a chapel founded by St Felix earlier. Ely came to be the centre of a diocese in 1109.

Local Saints

Sts Felix (+ c. 647), Owin (+ c. 670), Audrey (+ 679), Huna (+ 690), Wendreda (+ 8 c.).

Holy Place with a relic of St Audrey

Ely.

Present (in bold) & Projected Orthodox Parishes in Urban Centres

Wisbech, Ely.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Why We Are Russian Orthodox Christians Although We Are Not Russian

Why Christian?

Humanity has always needed to worship something greater than itself – be it the sun, the moon, rivers, emperors, kings, heroes, ‘celebrities’ or film ‘stars’. Of all the founders of faiths, Christ alone was God and man and so defeated death. All the other founders of faiths, the pagan gods of India and Egypt, the Buddha, of Greece and Rome, of Africa and Scandinavia, and Mohammed, are dead – they were simply sinful men: Christ alone is living because He alone is beyond sin. Despite the spiritual realizations and abstract moral truths which can be found beneath the layers of spiritual impurity in other faiths, the fact that Christ is alive makes Christianity unique. If you believe in the unique and Absolute Resurrection of Christ through His victory over death, then all other faiths fade into relativity and even irrelevance. They are unable to deliver us from practical enslavement to the devil, seen in death and our captivity in hell.

Why Orthodox?

To anyone with any historical sense, it is clear that Christianity must go back to the time of Christ, 2,000 years ago. Thus, all the myriad Protestant sects pale into insignificance because they were all founded less than 500 years ago, sometimes much less, by one particular provincial culture. And indeed, as they put that local culture above the Gospel of Christ, we can see that they are aggressive manmade religions of great spiritual impurity, deformed by a fantastic greed for money, pharisaical moralism and censorious sectarianism. They persecuted Orthodox Christians, each other and arrogantly destroyed the cultures of native peoples all over the world through their ruthless exploitation and asset-stripping of natural resources. These Protestant sects were and are the foundation of modern capitalism which is polluting and destroying the whole planet and leading directly to its end, which it has now made inevitable.

Similarly, Roman Catholicism is not the original Christianity because it was founded less than 1,000 years ago by one particular provincial culture situated at the Western tip of Eurasia. It put its cultural blend of pagan Roman imperialism and crude Germanic barbarianism, above Orthodox Christianity, which it rejected and attacked, pretending to be older than it. Having transformed itself many times, from the very outset it intolerantly and aggressively persecuted and murdered those who disagreed with it in organized violence. It has used worldly politics – armies, crusades, inquisitions, invasions, imperialist colonialism, wars and unprincipled behaviour – in order to attract greater numbers and so gain power. Clearly faith here has been reduced to a mere manmade and centralized religion and has little to do with Christ. Not Christians, but Catholics, slaughtered Orthodox Christians.

History confirms that only the Orthodox Church is the Christ-founded Church, as only She goes back to the first millennium, keeping the fullness of Christianity despite the attempts of States, emperors and politicians to meddle in Her affairs and misuse Her for their own evil ends. With Her near 2,000 years of history, the Church has confessed the Faith without alteration since the start. Geography also confirms that the first Christians were Orthodox. Thus, the words of Christ Who lived in and around Jerusalem were written down in Greek and Greek Christians and all those who have lived for generations in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Asia have always all been Orthodox. For Christ was in his human nature Asian, not European. It is therefore clear that if we want to be with the Church that Christ founded, then we must be Orthodox Christians, the only true Christians, for all others are not complete Christians.

Why Russian Orthodox Christian?

The family of 14 Local Orthodox Churches together form the Orthodox Church because they all confess the identical Orthodox Christian Faith. Without the Lord’s Orthodox Faith we cannot be in the Church, the Body of Christ. The Church is made up of 13 small mononational Local Churches (far fewer than 13 even two centuries ago) and one very large international, not mononational, Church. This is the Russian Orthodox Church which for centuries has led and protected all the others at the cost of great self-sacrifice. Present on every continent, with over 70 nationalities, both inside and outside Russia, it accounts for 164 million Orthodox Christians (75% of the total). It alone is inherently multinational and tries to avoid the pitfalls of nationalism, which is only worldliness under a different name. It not only accepts and welcomes Non-Russians but has always led the field in missionary work worldwide.

Moreover, the Russian Orthodox Church has remained faithful in every detail to the Orthodox Faith, despite vicious persecution and martyrdom by Western ideologies and atheism, of both the Communist and the Capitalist varieties. On the other hand, over the last hundred years some of the 13 very small and so weaker Local Churches have been forced by geopolitical pressures into some lax compromises, for example, abandoning the Orthodox Christian calendar for that of the State, altering the services, abandoning confession and fasting, failing to respect local people and their languages, imposing nationalism. It follows from all the above that if we are conscious Christians, then we should participate in the Russian Orthodox Church, defending Her from the treason, cowardice and deceit of both internal and external enemies, supporting, confessing, living and spreading her Faith, which is the Faith of Christ.

Love – or Why Husbands and Wives Stay Together

Introduction

There are four reasons why husbands and wives stay together and create stable and so happy families. Each of these reasons corresponds to a different part of our complex human nature.

  1. Physical: Sexual Attraction

The reproductive instinct, our hormones, is such that one sex naturally looks for its other half. However, despite the last fifty years of commercial sexualisation and conditioning in Western societies, which has stressed egoistic sexual life (called ‘love’), this is the least important reason for a couple to stay together. If the attraction of boy and girl to each other is only sexual, the relationship will be short. It is guaranteed. It is why modern Western societies are littered with single mothers, fatherless and illegitimate children and lonely men.

  1. Intellectual: A Common Mind

Another aspect, also relatively unimportant, is the intellectual and educational level of husband and wife. The fact that this is relatively unimportant is proved by the existence of many couples with very different intellectual levels. Here we see that the factor of complementarity begins to be vital. Two couples who are very similar easily get bored with one another: too much in common can almost be as much a problem as too little in common. Husband and wife must not be ‘the same’. The attraction of the different is very important. A man is a man and a woman is a woman. If you confuse male and female identities, as the Western world deliberately has over the last fifty years plus, you are asking for trouble.

  1. Emotional: Common Feelings

Men and women are generally quite different emotionally. Men generally hide their feelings, women talk about them openly and willingly and need to do so. But emotional happiness is still just as important for one as for the other. However, again, in this field too, we see the role of complementarity. We often hear women saying: ‘Oh men, they’re all the same’, and men saying: ‘Oh women, they’re all the same’. I would say, fortunately! We need one another and expect each other to behave in certain ways and want and need that.

  1. Spiritual: Souls on the Same Wavelength

To our mind, the most important reason why men and women are attracted to each other and then stay together is because they are on the same spiritual wavelength. This does not necessarily mean that they both go to church or even have exactly the same religious beliefs. What it does mean is that they have common cultural values – for these are the result of spiritual values. For example, they should agree about who will do what in the relationship, who will care for children, who will do the shopping, who will clean, who will provide most of the money. It also includes common tastes in furniture, clothing, colours – things that are in themselves secondary, but actually very important when living together day by day. This is because they all stem from common values – they stem from being on the same spiritual wavelength. This similar wavelength is called love.

Conclusion

Thus, we can see that attraction and the desire to be and to stay together depend on four different factors. When they all coincide, then the relationship will be long-term, indeed, until and beyond death.

Questions from Recent Correspondence (September 2018)

Church Matters

Q: Why does ROCOR still exist? Now that the Russian Orthodox Church is One, and Metr Nikodim Rotov, whom many considered to be a heretic and so to have compromised the Church inside Russia, dead for 40 years, why continue to have two parts?

A: The purpose of ROCOR as an administrative structure has always been purely temporary. Its spiritual purpose is to be St John the Baptist in the wilderness, heralding and preaching of the coming Tsar, for which the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was only the prelude, and then to disappear, its purpose served. Clearly, ROCOR had this purpose during the period of atheist captivity. However, as long as sections of the State (especially education, health, the mainly Western-controlled media) and sections of the population in the Russian Lands are still under corrupting atheist/Soviet influence and therefore there is still no Christian Tsar and Christian Empire based in Russia (‘Rus’), ROCOR will still exist, in some form or other, to tell the Truth and to call to repentance.

Q: Is this September’s decision by the Patriarchate of Constantinople to let widowed priests remarry canonical? And what of their decision to discuss granting some Ukrainians autocephaly in October? Could this be the moment when the Russian Patriarch talks over and becomes the real ’Oecumenical’ Patriarch?

A: Of course, this permission is not canonical! It is pure renovationism. True, some bishops in all Local Churches (as well as among the old calendarists) have always allowed some priests to remarry in such circumstances, turning a blind eye to the canons. However, these have always been exceptional and very rare acts made by economy. What is new here is that Constantinople has decided to do this systematically. This means that in trying to act papally, it has once again canonically cut itself off from the other thirteen Local Churches.

As regards a Ukrainian autocephaly, that would also be an utterly uncanonical act, made under US financial pressure ($15 million has been mentioned as the bribe). So much so that the Constantinople clerical elite would thus fall altogether away from communion with the Church, something that it has been threatening to do since 1925, if not since the fifteenth century. Some would say, ‘Good riddance’, that this might clear the air at long last. But perhaps the situation is not as bad as some say. The Constantinople elite may stand like a lemming on the cliff, but it has not yet jumped. Therefore, we will not push it.

As for the Russian Church taking over as the first among equals in the Church, it would first have to prove itself worthy and competent to do this. This means that all the bishops, and not just some, would have to become real missionaries and pastors, unlike many in other Local Churches too. They would also have to stop behaving like feudal lords and treat priests properly, instead of expelling them from parishes where they are loved, and stop treating Non-Russian priests and people as second-class citizens, instead of persecuting them, learning how to apologize.

Russia

Q: In the light of revelations this month about the murderers of the Skripals, what would you reply to the accusers of the Russian secret services?

A: No-one murdered the Skripals, though someone did attempt to murder them. Clearly, the crime was carried out by people who wanted to incriminate Russia. After all, it occurred just before the Russian World Cup and Russian elections, in which the Western candidate, a CIA recruit with immense Western financial backing, got only 5% of the vote. Had Russians wanted to murder the Skripals, a professional hitman from London could have been hired for the right sum. Pictures of two men walking along a road in Salisbury – no-one knows who they were – MI5 agents? – prove nothing. And the rare poison allegedly used, not kept anywhere in Russia today and the product of a country that ceased to exist 27 years ago, is kept just 8 miles from Salisbury at Porton Down. This is one of the most dreadful chemical weapons producers in the world and why the UN has not shut it down long ago remains a mystery. Also professional assassins would not then have thrown away the bottle used for the poison into a litter bin in a park in Salisbury!

Clearly, the criminals wanted it to be found so as to incriminate someone else. In any case, why would Russia want to kill a retired British spy, who had already served a jail term in Russia and then been released, together with his daughter, who lived safely in Moscow? And both of them, recovered from their illness, whatever it was,  but now under State censorship D-notices, have since been kidnapped by MI5 and disappeared. Who knows what MI5 has done with them? I see no reason why we should believe anything issued by the British Establishment, which has a centuries-old history of systematic lying, perfidious cunning and bloody assassination from the Norman Conquest, when it began, to Cromwell, from Ireland to Iraq and the other 180 countries it has invaded for no reason other than lust for power and riches. That is why a very large number of British people do not believe a single word of the Establishment about the Skripal case.

Q: You seem to admire contemporary Russia, but why? It is so corrupt!

A: I would agree with you about contemporary Russia, but then I do not admire it, just as I do not admire the contemporary West, which is also so corrupt. I admire contemporary Orthodox Russia – about 5% of the whole, quite unlike the rest of contemporary Russia – hopefully the leaven to leaven the lump, but God knows.

Contemporary Non-Orthodox Russia is the hangover from the drunken depravity of the Soviet Union. Every bad thing about it, abortion, divorce, pollution, corruption, statues of and places named after murderous Soviet monsters, usually not even Russians, like Lenin and Stalin, and trained in Western Europe, is the direct result of the Soviet Union. As I have said so many times before, the restoration of Orthodox Russia has only just begun. There is far to go.

The West

Q: Why is it important to venerate the Western saints?

A: Artificially cutting itself off from Eurasia, the Western European tip of the Eurasian Continent and its overseas colonies in North America have produced all sorts of things, from Gothic architecture to siege technology, from scholastic philosophy to the modern novel, from the spinning jenny to the latest mobile phone, from heavy artillery to the cluster bomb. However, the West has never produced a faith. It has only ever adopted and twisted Asian faiths and spiritual philosophies, deforming them into artificial, State-run religions. Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism are classic examples of such manmade religions, with a man, pope or king, that is, humanism, at their centre. Let us recall that Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and nationalist Judaism and Shintoism are all Asian. Even the other continents (the Americas, Africa and Oceania) produced at least animism and then adopted superior Asian faiths with fervour. But not the West.

In other words, Western Europe alone has produced no faith apart from materialist and humanist idolatry. Indeed, the West, living in its parallel universe to the rest of the world, has always destroyed faiths, conquering and erasing all religious civilizations by organized violence (crusades, colonialism, consumerist materialism), whether in the Americas, Oceania, China, India or Russia (in 1917) and Greece (imposing the Western, Non-Christian calendar and modernism after losing its protection in 1917). This organized violence, even though today it may be economic violence or mocking political correctness (censorship) and be called ‘sanctions’, is its only ideology. Our love of the Western saints is to challenge that ideology, to show that there was once a true West and it did have genuine faith – Orthodox Christianity.

Q: What are the consequences of the Protestant rejection of the Mother of God?

A: The Mother of God represents the Incarnation. Without her God could never have become man. Therefore, when Protestants refuse to venerate her and even blaspheme against her, they reject the consequences of the Incarnation. For most of them, Christianity is therefore just a God-slot hobby, something to do on Sunday morning and does not impinge on any way on the rest of life, on politics, economics etc, which are affairs of the pagan State, but is just a private matter.

Q: In your view, why were monarchies overthrown by revolutions?

A: All the destroyed monarchies, Charles I in England, Louis XVI in France and Nicholas II in the Empire, were overthrown by the rich (aristocrats/merchants or oligarchs/businessmen as we would say nowadays) who stole or seized power for themselves, wanting to get even richer and even more powerful. The new regimes, under the lying propaganda camouflage of ‘freedom and democracy’ which the naïve believed in, was and is based on lies and theft, that is, on ‘kleptocracy’, the rule of thieves. Democracy has always been a myth for the naive. This is why ‘democracy’ is inherently hypocritical and constantly produces corruption scandals, both financial and moral.

Orthodox Life

Q: There are those who say that we should not write anything new, only repeating what has been said before, in case we say something wrong. What do you think?

A: This is an extremist viewpoint of people who are negative and insecure ‘converts’, who have never moved on from that early state of mind. It is interesting that in Russia, for example, in the 1990s, beneath the wave of tens of millions of converts, they reprinted massively, but that since the Year 2000 approximately, they have moved on and have produced a huge amount of original and creative works, far greater than anything before.

Q: My Ukrainian wife says that playing cards are satanic. Is this really true? Where is the harm?

A: I think it depends on what you are doing with the cards. If you are playing for money or playing as an addiction, it is satanic. If, on the other hand, you are playing Snap with the children, that is a very different story. As so often, it is not what you do, but why you do it.

Q: Should we fly the Union Jack?

A: If at church, then there should be no flags of any sort. As for the Union Jack, originating in the 17th century, it is a symbol of exploitation and imperialism. It is as alien and contradictory as is the expression ‘British Orthodoxy’. Just like ‘Soviet Orthodoxy’, you cannot have something that cannot exist, something that is a contradiction in terms. Personally, like many others, when asked my nationality, I always reply ‘English’. By all means fly a flag at home, but the Cross of St George, which is also the Standard of Jerusalem, of the Resurrection of Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

Two Types of Missionary Work

Much is done in the name of missionary work. Some of it is good, but some of it is bad, for some compromises are made not in the name of pastoral dispensation (‘economy’), but in the name of seeking after personal popularity, that is, seeking after the vanity of fame, of having their photo everywhere. Those who do this (the name of the disgraced Protodeacon Andrey Kurayev comes to mind, among others…) always fall and their work comes to nothing.

The authentic missionary’s work is deep, it lasts for generations and centuries, it is always heartfelt, a living example of sacrifice. We can think of the apostles, and also equal to the apostles like St Helen and St Nina of Georgia, Sts Cyril and Methodius, St Olga, St Stephen of Perm, St Herman of Alaska, St Seraphim of Sarov, St John of Kronstadt, St Nicholas of Japan, St John of Shanghai….

The inauthentic missionary’s work, always headborne and not heartborne, is superficial and soon fades. Most of those ‘converted’ by its mere intellectualism fall into philosophy and theorizing, or else reformism, or else cynicism, always lapsing and disappearing, like their gurus, the pseudo-elders or self-appointed ‘startsy’, who ‘converted’ them to their personal fantasies.

How do we recognize the true missionary? ‘By their fruit, ye shall know them’.

 

When You Next Have Doubts….

Wonder at the vast night sky, the billions of galaxies and the quadrillions of stars and see God’s majesty and might, even if we are incapable of understanding His purpose.

Consider the distance of the Earth from the Sun and the tilt of the Earth on its axis and how this enables us to have seasons, and that if the Earth were at another distance or tilted at some other angle, no life would be possible on it.

Think about the balance of nature, how all the millions of species depend on one another and how if certain microscopic bacteria did not exist, nether would we.

Look at a snowflake and see how ‘in wisdom He has made all things’.

Pick up an acorn, examine the pattern on its cup. Is this mere chance? See how everything has a purpose, both practical and beautiful.

Taste a pear and ask yourself how it has this unique taste, different from an apple or some other fruit. Is this all random?

Gaze at the rain and think how saltwater is collected across the ocean, rises up, carried in clouds, but falls pure, when and where we need it, and that it too has its own beauty.

Listen to a song and ask why it moves us.

Watch a baby sleeping and understand that no human-being made this.

Smell a rose and grasp that only the Divine Maker can create such scents.

Stare at the sea and wonder at the vastness of the ocean and how its waters move because of gravity and the moon, invisible forces, which no man could ever make.

Touch a tree and try to understand how this grew from a tiny seed, its trunk and patterned bark, its branches, twigs, leaves, blossom and fruit, that come to life and die every year for centuries.

And then admit that you were foolish in your heart to have had doubts and understand that it was all your pride of mind.

The Pastor

At seminary, now nearly forty years ago, a debate raged about which was the most important subject: Dogmatic Theology, Liturgical Theology, Moral Theology, Ascetic Theology, the Holy Scriptures, Patristics, Church History, Canon Law, the Typikon, Languages, Psychology, Homilectics, Philosophy…Each teacher put forward convincing arguments for his subject and how vital it was. I listened attentively, ready to be convinced, but feeling that Moral Theology had a weaker argument, since it is only a branch or consequence, of Ascetic Theology, and that Philosophy was completely irrelevant in our impoverished Diaspora situation.

In retrospect, I now believe that the most important subject was the one not taught: Pastoral Theology. This, for me, is the summary of everything else, all else is contained within it, and it is the gauge of whether a parish works or not: if the priest does not understand the needs of his flock, does not adapt to them, while at the same time the flock adapts to the pastor and he leads them forward, on to repentance and so to an active Church life, then nothing else has any significance.

Sadly, the pastoral crisis rages everywhere. Outside the Church, Roman Catholicism has been largely destroyed by pervert clergy and a majority of Protestant clergy either seem to be atheists or else moralizing fanatics with some personal, sexual problem. However, inside the Church, we have little to be proud of. We have far too few churches and laypeople often distrust clergy, who are often seen as moneygrubbers. This comes about because a few actually are. As we say in Russian: ‘he is not a priest, but a ‘pop’’ (the contemptuous word for an ignorant, dishonest and, above all, heartless priest).

A rotten apple (and Judas was one of twelve apples who was) spoils the basket. Sadly, bandit-priests can be very manipulative – I have seen them, in all dioceses or ‘jurisdictions’, in all Local Churches, in all generations. They can manipulate and flatter naïve or already corrupt bishops, destroy a parish or even diocese, and a group of them can actually compromise whole Local Churches. This is why bishops have to listen to the people: they will boycott parishes, dioceses and Churches, where they allow such priests to perform services, or rather, to perform disservices. They are no example to anyone.

And so we come back to pastoral theology, which, actually and quite simply, is about loving our neighbours.

Blessed Pelagia of Ryazan said the following of the anti-pastor bandit-priest hypocrites, ‘do as I tell you, not as I do’, ordained by naive or else simoniac bishops, including those who before the Revolution betrayed the Tsar (as also did many bishops):

‘Rich priests crucified Christ, rich priests overthrew the Tsar, rich priests will lead the people to Antichrist’.