Category Archives: Pastoral Matters

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’.

 

 

On Spiritual Delusion (Prelest)

The Greek word ‘plani’, translated 1600 years ago into Latin by St John Cassian as ‘illusio’ and then into Slavonic (not into Russian, where the word means something quite different) as ‘prelest’, means in English spiritual delusion.

We all know what delusion and delusional mean.

We can think of examples among politicians. For instance, there was Gorbachov, who actually thought that by ruining the lives of tens (if not hundreds) of millions of people he was doing the world a service. Apparently, he is still a Communist, having learned nothing from his long life. Today, he cannot appear on any street in Russia for fear of assassination.

Then there was Blair. A man so delusional that he killed tens (if not hundreds) of thousands in the name of his narcissism. Years later, he still justifies himself! There is no repentance because he is so ‘sincerely delusional’ that he actually believes in his delusions. Today, he cannot appear on any street in the UK for fear of assassination.

However, we are talking about spiritual, nor political, delusion. What are the signs of spiritual delusion among its victims?

First of all, there is spiritual pride, the certainty that they are absolutely right, and their decisions and opinions are always categorical, dogmatic, despite long histories of errors and misjudgements. Indeed, this is why they accuse others of ‘prelest’. Humility is a word unknown to them.

Secondly, as they are blind to their own major faults, like the pharisee they can only see the minor faults of others and always find fault and carp. They are full of negativity and criticism and generally depress those who have to tolerate them, which is why people avoid, even flee, them.

Thirdly, they are narcissists, they love having their photos taken (especially with the great of this world), and encourage personality cults around themselves. Thus, they are easy prey to flatterers who learn how to manipulate them very easily and very quickly.

Finally, and above all, they suffer from a complete lack of discernment, which some Church Fathers consider to be the greatest virtue. This is why they make mistakes so consistently, often and almost systematically doing exactly the opposite of what is right. This is known as the Midas touch in reverse.

Questions From Correspondence and Conversations – August 2018

Love and Forgiveness

Q: The Church says that Love can change the world, so why do things seem to be getting worse?

A: Love can change the world but on condition that the world accepts to be changed. This is the whole point: Love is conditional on freedom – you cannot force people to love, you cannot force people to change. All depends on whether we can influence their will to change.

Things seem to be getting worse, but nobody would say that this process of loss of faith is inevitable. At any moment the present process can be halted and even turn back towards Christ. This has happened in history several times. It is called repentance.

Q: In the Gospels it says that we should love God and love our neighbour as ourselves. What is the difference between this sort of love for ourselves and mere selfishness and vanity? How can they be opposites?

A: They can be opposite very simply: Selfishness and vanity come from love for our fallen selves, for our false selves, for our sins, but God’s command to us to love ourselves means to love ourselves as God intended us to be, to become as we were before we fell into sin, to love our true selves. For this we have to know our true selves and to understand what God’s will is for us.

In today’s world, people are taught to hate their true selves. As a result we see suicide, self-mutilation, self-harming, plastic surgery, people who put pieces of metal into their bodies, cover themselves with tattoos or wear heavy make-up, like primitive peoples who deform parts of their bodies (especially necks, lips, ears in Africa and Asia), tattoo themselves (Celts, Polynesians) or wear war-paint, masking their true selves. The cultivation of selfishness and vanity has hit new depths of narcissism, with the abuse of Facebook, the ‘Me World’, ‘Me Time’ ‘likes’ and ‘I love me’.

Q: Aren’t Christians weak because all they do is forgive?

A: No. Forgiveness is dependent on repentance, which does not mean simply saying sorry, like politicians do, but actually means making amends, actually doing something about what you have done wrong. If there is no repentance, there is no forgiveness. Thus, the Christian path begins with repentance (St John the Baptist’s call to actions, not words), passes to forgiveness (like the Prodigal Son who received forgiveness after he had first repented) and only then does salvation begin. Salvation itself is not simply the acceptance in words that we believe in Christ (as in the lazy Protestant myth of salvation), but the confession of the faith in a Christian way of life until our dying day.

Angels, Demons and God’s Will

Q: Do you believe in extraterrestrials?

A: If by that you mean life on other planets similar to the earth, all that I, or anyone else, can answer is no. This is because nobody has discovered such life so far, its existence is mere speculation. On the other hand, we cannot answer an absolute no, because we know so little about our universe. Here we can speculate without proof that somewhere in some of the billions of galaxies there could be a planet capable of supporting life similar to that on ours. On the other hand, there is no reason to think that such life may have developed further than oxygen or water, plant life or insects. All depends on what God’s Will is for the universe that He created.

On the other hand, that there are places inhabited by extraterrestrial life – the angelic realm of heaven and the demonic realm of hell. That there is angelic life, fallen and not fallen, is the experience of the Church, expressed in the Scriptures and Tradition. We know that there is life outside our planet Earth because we confess it every time we say that we believe in God, Who made heaven and earth, that is Who made angelkind and mankind.

The sightings of extraterrestrials and flying saucers seem to have started just after the Second World War, when, in the absence of repentance for the crimes of two World Wars, the earth became receptive to the permanent presence of demons, who had come up from hell to inhabit places and people, impervious to repentance, where they were welcome.

Q: Why can demons not repent?

A: Demons are bodiless, spiritual beings. They were given a choice of good or evil only once, at their creation. Thus, either these spiritual beings remained angels or else they became demons. This is unlike human-beings, who have bodies. Being incarnate, with bodies, gives us the chance to choose good or evil constantly, until our death-beds. However, after our deaths, once we have separated from our bodies, we cannot make such choices, which is why we are dependent on the prayers of others to rise towards God after death.

Q: Three questions: Are there people who have a destiny? And if so, doesn’t that mean that we believe in fatalism? And if everything is according to God’s Will, why does evil exist?

A:  Everybody has a destiny, as understood in the Christian sense of God’s Will. But that is not the same as fatalism, because we have the freedom to choose to follow God’s Will or not, whereas fatalism implies that we do not have such freedom. Everything is according to God’s Will, only if we pray for God’s Will to be done (for example, in the prayer ‘Our Father’). If we do not pray for this, then everything will be according to the will of the demons. This is because nature abhors a vacuum and if God is absent because of our rejection of Him, the demons rush in, in order to take His place. Demons are parasites and in order to live on earth, they must have willing bodies to live in. From the Scriptures we recall that even pigs could not bear their presence and preferred suicide. Only the wills of those who resist demons ally themselves with God.

Orthodox Christianity and Deviations from it

Q: Why are Christians of all denominations not united in One Church?

A: Firstly, there are those intellectuals who place their proud minds, sullied by their impure hearts, above the all-pure mind of Christ. Such, like Arius, Nestorius, Pope Hildebrand, Luther etc, can never accept the Church of Christ because through pride they think that they are above Her. They say, I am of Apollos, Cephas etc, and not of Christ. They will never unite with the Church because they lack the humility to do so.

Secondly, there are those who sully themselves with nationalist politics and put their nationality, Coptic, Armenian, Western European, Greek or whatever, above Christ. They will actually tell you that you cannot join the Church because you are not the right nationality or ‘blood’ and so not the right mentality.

As a result, there are always those who put themselves outside the Church, even though they still maintain that they are Christians. Thus, they create disunity.

Q: Why is the existence of religious values even in personal life under threat today?

A: This is the last stage of the series of attacks on faith which began 1,000 years ago, with the attempt to remove religion from political life (called papism), and so desacralize it. Some 500 years ago, with the Protestant Reformation, there began the attempt to desacralize economic life, enslaving it to bankers, then some 250 years ago the attempt to desacralize social life (the American and then French Revolutions), making religion a purely private affair. Now has come the attempt to desacralize even personal life, from the 1960s on, for example, making abortion legal, confusing sexual identity and sexualizing children, ultimately enslaving each person digitally. How long before each one of us is given a 12-digit personal number, which will identify each individual, subjugating everyone to the World State?

Q: Why don’t Orthodox ally themselves with Traditionalist Catholics?

A: Perhaps you mean: Why don’t Traditionalist Catholics ally themselves with the Church of God?

I understand that there are some things in common but there are reasons why such an alliance has never happened. Firstly, because Traditionalists tend to believe that Orthodox are schismatics, so, with this illusion, they remain outside the Church. Secondly, because many of them seem to believe that liturgical life can be expressed only through Latin, a view which is not ours. Thirdly, because Traditionalists sometimes have very right-wing, almost racist, White Supremacist inclinations which look down on, among others, Eastern Slavs, Greeks, Arabs and Georgians, as inferior races. Fourthly, because they are generally subject to their love of suffering in their mournful and constipated, ‘crucifixionist’ pietism, which is a result of their filioquism, that is, of their secularism, and so lack of faith in the Resurrection. Finally, because they are papists without a Pope and Orthodox do not have Popes.

Tsar Nicholas II

Q: On pilgrimage in Russia we saw a very large icon of the Tsar-Redeemer. Surely this is a heresy? Only Christ is the Redeemer?

A: You are quite right, though I think the word ‘heresy’ is too strong, I think it is just theological illiteracy, the ignorance of the simple. The error comes from the fact that all suffering is redemptive and also from the Tsar’s own words who, seeing the apostasy of Russia’s intellectually educated, but spiritually uneducated (‘the intelligentsia’), said that ‘perhaps a redemptive sacrifice is necessary and perhaps that is me’. Both Metr Anastasy (Gribanovsky) and St John of Shanghai referred to his redemptive qualities. So an icon with the inscription saying, ‘Tsar Nicholas, the Redemptive Sacrifice’, would be quite correct. However, as you say, there is only one Redeemer, far above all saints, but all saints live in Christ, in an inward way imitating His Redemption on their modest level.

Q: Why was Tsar Nicholas II not canonized as a Great-martyr?

A: I had this conversation with the late Archbishop Antony of Los Angeles in 1992. In answer to this question, he told me that he had been in favour at the Synod meeting leading up to 1981, as had Metr Anastasy before him, but he had been a minority voice in the Synod.

I think in general that ‘Great-martyrs’ only earn that title through the veneration of the people. This is what is happening among sections of the Orthodox people in Russia today, who sing of the Tsar as a Great-martyr. His title will officially change only once popular veneration demands it.

Modern Music

Q: What is spiritually wrong with modern music?

A: There are many sorts of modern music, but I suppose you mean the worst sort? In that case you probably find that it has no soul, it is like a TV soap, in that it is artificially manufactured for the tastes of the lowest, it is ‘fake music’, just noise to fill the vacuum in people’s lives. In this way it is quite unlike classical music, which is a poem about the composer’s soul, whereas, at worst, such modern music is a yell about debauchery.

Our Church

Q: Can you tell us something edifying about your Church in England?

A: I can only tell you one thing, that we have survived, we are still here. Despite what everything that Satan has thrown against us over fifty years, we are still here. Despite the pharisees, who like parasites have tried to use the Church to spread their political or pathological illnesses and persecuted us, despite the modernists who have tried to use the Church as a vehicle for their rationalistic reformist fantasies and persecuted us, despite the loveless bureaucrats who practised their hard-hearted ritualism and persecuted us, and above all, despite our own sins, we are still here, hell has not destroyed us. And that is not just edifying, but a miracle because, humanly speaking, there is absolutely no reason why we should still be here and still waging our war for survival, we should have been destroyed years ago.

A Week in the Life of a Priest

It is only thanks to an annual break in a remote place in France, without the internet, that I have time to write up a week’s diary. In this place, called ‘Daybreak’ in French, that you will not find on any map, where the old people speak ‘gallo’ and not French, there is still a sense of the old saints, one of whom lived here as a hermit over a millennium ago. Since, in modern France, Catholicism has been dead once the 1960s and the country is wholly given over to the new consumerist paganism from the USA that has replaced it, the sense of the old saints is the only alternative.

Here is one week in my life, not typical in its details, because every week is different and unexpected, but typical in terms of its fullness.

Saturday 1st

A new month begins and I reflect that today is the 25th anniversary of the death of a man who lived under the pseudonym of Mavr Stepanich. He was a Red Army soldier, who in 1944 was trapped by the Germans in the western Ukraine. Facing certain death in capture (there was no mercy on the Eastern Front), he rook the identity papers from a dead body, that of a soldier called Mavr Stepanovich, who was a Polish Ukrainian fighting on the German side, and dressed himself in his uniform. When he got captured by the Germans, they sent him to Germany as a Ukrainian slave-worker.

After the War, pretending to be a Polish citizen who had been sent to Germany, he managed to get sent to France as a Polish refugee. Here he worked as a nightwatchman until his retirement in 1980. He told me his story in 1993, more or less as a deathbed confession and told me his real name. Most of his life he had lived under a dead man’s name, frightened that he would be found out. His gravestone bore his assumed name, not his real one: even in death he bore another man’s name. So were people caught up in the cruel history of the twentieth century.

There are only two baptisms this afternoon, Moldovan and Latvian. At the Latvian baptism, the young godfather’s wife is Peruvian. Quite the most striking woman I have ever seen, like some Inca princess, certainly not of European blood. The fall of the Soviet Union meant that this Latvian Russian had met her in England and married her. What a destiny…..From Peru to Latvia…What will their children look like?

Latvia was ravaged by the EU. Their factories closed, two thirds of Lithuanians and one half of Latvians have to live abroad. They have been cut off from their parents, except by skype (symbolically for the Baltics, an Estonian invention) and their children grow up speaking German, English, Spanish, French or Italian, relatively ignorant of their parents’ culture and language. The minority cultures and languages that the Soviet Union failed to extinguish are being extinguished by the European Union’s MacDonaldization. I have one Latvian parishioner, whose six children live in six different EU countries. Her family has been broken and scattered by history, her grandchildren scarcely know one another. Little wonder that she reckons that she was better off under the Soviet Union.

Two confessions. One enquiry. Two men lighting candles – they are working tomorrow. The Vigil service.

Sunday 2nd

I arrive at church at 8.00, there are things to get ready and a proskomidia that would take all night, if I had the time. There are about forty people for confession, some come to me, some, mainly Romanians, go to the second priest, who arrives a little after me. There is a huge crisis in Romania, as in the Baltics: 3.8 million, mainly the young people, have left Romania since the country was forced to join the EU just a few years ago. They do not want to be here, but there is no alternative: starve or emigrate. Here is the wonderful European Union.

At church there used to be a prostitute. She has been radiantly happy ever since I married her to her husband and had children. She was deeply ashamed of what she fell into in the past. I am the only person in the world who knows her secret. Now she lives in X. in her new life, but has come today.

A man I have never seen before comes to confession with a secret that he has kept for ten years. He cries as he confesses. He is thankful for confession. At last he has said what he had to repent for.

There are only about 130 at church today. As usual a good twenty are people I have never seen before. As there are so many children and about half the adults take communion, we use two chalices. After the liturgy I have the usual queue of people. Two want a moleben, others want to make appointments for baptisms and house blessings, one wants me to fill in a form, one is asking about weddings. About average.

Monday 3rd

In the morning I catch up with e-mails after the weekend. I get about fifteen a day which need answering. Another fifteen are spam or can be deleted. Most are from England, but a good minority come from Russia, the USA or elsewhere. The phone does not stop ringing.

In the afternoon I have a funeral in an east Norfolk village. The countryside is lovely. What a good place to die. Aged 89, the woman I am burying was born on the other side of the world in Sakhalin, by the Sea of Japan. The village Church of England church is opened to me by the churchwarden. He is well into his sixties, but he tells me that he is the youngest member of the congregation.

Now, as we sing ‘Eternal Memory’, she who is on her last journey is being buried not far from the sound of the waves of the North Sea. She lived through Stalin, the Second World War, the trauma of Gorbachov and then emigration aged 78 to England. She made a deathbed confession to me and I gave her communion two weeks ago. It was a wonderful confession. Another destiny. From the Sea of Japan to the North Sea, half way round the world.

In a melancholy mood, on the way back I think about B., the Russian prince who lived in a council house in C..  He died twenty years ago. He was a brilliant man who came to England in 1946. He had suffered collectivization, seen the deaths of all the members of his family at the hands of Stalin’s thugs and then been kidnapped to Germany by the Nazis. He came to England, worked hard, made all the furniture in his house himself, sang in the Church choir. He was a clean soul.

Then my thoughts shift to my great-aunt Madge, who was a sales girl at Harrod’s who died in the Blitz in October 1940. I never knew her, but have a photo of her. There is no-one to pray for her, except me. What a tragedy. Recently married to my great-uncle, she had hardly lived. Why did she die under a German bomb? Her husband, my great-uncle Albert, died in 1948. They say of a broken heart. He never recovered from losing her.

Tuesday 4th

Fifty miles from home I take communion to L., who is ill and lives here in sheltered accommodation. She is aged 84 and knew Fr Ambrose (Pogodin) in London. He was a wonderful priest, who translated works of the Fathers from Latin. A very gifted man, he went to America, but nothing worked out for him, as he was a man of integrity who found any sort of compromise very difficult. How much talent has been lost to the Church as a result of the politicking and narcissism of some bishops. There is only one person in the diocese for them – themselves. May God rest his gentle soul.

In this town where I am near Cambridge, we need a church. I tried to buy one here three years ago, but could not raise the money. I discover that it is still available. I can see no other suitable premises. We are so desperately short of money to buy suitable premises and provide priests. Now there are at last three of us priests here in the east of England, but I still need another nine.

On the way back, I stop to see the M. family, who are parishioners. We talk. There is much to say.

In the evening there are many phone calls.

Wednesday 5th

Today I leave at 7.00 am to get to O.. It is fifty miles away and I need to see eleven people in all. One of these young men is there because he killed a man in a car accident. The story is sad. He had an argument with his girl-friend, drove away very angry and killed a young pedestrian through dangerous driving and negligence. He admits his guilt and says he deserved a longer sentence. I know that he is haunted by the life that he cut short. And he will be haunted by it for the rest of his life. Can he pray himself out of his fault? What a burden on his conscience.

Afterwards I stop over to talk to F., who has phoned me, saying that she has marital difficulties. Then I call in on T.. She is Russian, aged 28, and has had health problems. I confess her. She lives with a Catholic man, also from Eastern Europe. I meet him. He is a very kind man, who is deeply in love with her, just the right man for her. He is ready to join the Church for her. I encourage them to think about getting married and starting a family.

Thursday 6th

Today I head for Lincolnshire, 100 miles away. Thirty-five years ago I used to live near here. I have two baptisms in the kitchen of a family here. They have two children. They had not had them baptised yet as there was no priest. I bless her house with the baptismal water. Then I meet a woman in a small town. She is from a town on the Volga. Now she works as a cashier in a supermarket in a small town in England. She is Orthodox, but used to go to the local Church of England church, as there is no Orthodox church here, but ‘when they played drums at Easter’, she left and has not returned. She says she wants the real Church. Her 16-year old daughter has conquered cancer, and the mother wants to get married. We fix a date. I bless her house. Nearby is a town with a Methodist church for sale for £250,000. It would be ideal for us. There are a lot of Orthodox here, I could spend a week here.

Friday 7th

I open my e-mails. From my old parish in Portugal, I hear that V. has died. A former KGB operative in Prague, he repented and in 1993 I baptised him and then married him to his Czech wife. He came to church last Sunday in Lisbon and everyone noticed that he looked very pale and very tired, not well at all. He went to sit on a shady bench outside the church. Suddenly he had a heart attack and within seconds he had died. He was aged 68. I will serve a panikhida for him in Colchester today. I already have a moleben to serve today for two people, ordered last Sunday.

In the news I read that a group of Russians have been found in Siberia. Orthodox refugees, they had been living in isolation for decades and had not yet heard that the atheist Soviet Union had fallen. What must their lives have been like?

I go to church. I serve the moleben and panikhida. I help clean the church, with the help of parishioners: they do most of the work. I get ready for a liturgy in Kent tomorrow.

Many phone-calls again.

It has been a full week, with many thoughts about death, which is very unusual, as I have very few funerals. But every week is different, as any priest will tell you.

Why aren’t you a priest? It is the only satisfying job left.