Category Archives: Pastoral Matters

Those Who Lapse and Those Who Last: The End of ‘Euro-Orthodoxy’ and the Beginning of Orthodoxy in Europe

For some 40 years between the 1960s and the end of the twentieth century, some two thousand Anglicans joined certain parishes of the Orthodox Churches in England – mainly those under the then Parisian ‘Sourozh Diocese’. Together with a small number of ordinary (Non-Anglican) English people, they joined the Church for many reasons. Some of us, perhaps especially the Non-Anglicans, joined because we were sincerely seeking, not being influenced by any personality, but called by Christ to help rebuild His Church in the Western desert. For us, the Orthodox Church was and is the only Church, our spiritual home, to which we had come after realizing that this is God’s Will for us and our souls will die without spiritual food, that is, outside the Church. We have lasted and not lapsed because for us, belonging to the Church has always been a matter of spiritual survival, although and because we have been voices crying in the anti-Orthodox and so secularist wilderness.

However, some did not last but lapsed, for it seems that they were not attached to the Orthodox Church and Faith. Dissatisfied with the ever-changing and ever-new fads of Anglicanism, they attached themselves only to some personality or intellectual philosophy, and not to the Church Herself. Some were perhaps received by marginal figures who, without support from Churched Orthodox, needed to build personality cults for themselves among the naïve, ill-prepared, uninstructed or deluded. In other words, attraction operated for negative reasons, by being against something else, and some never accepted the Church as She is. Deluded by anti-Incarnational fantasies, sometimes of Hindu or Buddhist origin, Russian fakirs and charlatans and secondary and superficial attractions, some remained ‘converts’, not actually becoming Orthodox because of their baggage. They joined the Church, but did not become and live as Orthodox Christians.

The fundamental error of such ‘converts’, as they often liked to call themselves, consisted in not first separating themselves from the 900 + years of the anti-Orthodox and therefore also anti-English, Norman-founded British Establishment. This included its Anglican extension under the syphilitic Tudor tyrant Henry VIII and his followers, not least his murderous ‘theologian’ daughter Elizabeth, the genocidal Cromwell and then various other mercantile Dutch, German and ‘British’ Protestant Imperialists with their ‘Rule Britannia’ jingoism that invaded and enslaved the world. In no way therefore were they able to adopt the Orthodox Faith, for they had not first cleansed their minds and souls from the Anti-Orthodoxy, which they had been conditioned and deluded into thinking of as ‘Western Christianity’. Not having first made room in their minds and souls for the Orthodox Church, the only authentic Western or any other Christianity, they could not last and so lapsed.

Unwilling and so unable to live according to the Orthodox way of life and the Orthodox view of the world and so to think naturally in an Orthodox way, many lapsed completely, some returned to Anglicanism, and others lapsed into a fringe ‘Anglican Orthodoxy’. This inability and unwillingness to integrate meant that these latter tended to form exclusive cliques and convert clubs, which made their church into a ‘Halfodox’ hobby, Anglicanism with icons. Thus, some allowed the baggage which they had brought with them into the Church to define their lives and block possible spiritual growth and understanding. This was because their Western-founded Norman Establishment has always called us, the people, ‘Anglo-Saxons’ or ‘plebs’, although we have always called ourselves simply ‘English’. Their alien Norman Establishment has always patronisingly despised us natives and all who ‘go native’, that is, all who are Orthodox Christians in mind and heart, who are foreign to them.

With this mentality of Establishment condescension and pride towards us English, they also rejected the Orthodox people, with our unintellectual and unphilosophical simplicity and uncomplicated and unmoralizing piety. Thus, some refused in their imagined racial ‘superiority’ and intellectual theorizing to ‘go native’. Between about 2000 and 2010, with Anglicanism altogether disappearing into the New Age blur, few Anglicans asked to be received into the Church, while the by then ageing converts from the last century began to isolate themselves and die out. In recent years, however, a new period has begun. Some ordinary (Non-Anglican) English people from the vast majority have begun to join the Orthodox Church. Like the few Non-Anglicans among those who had preceded them, they have had little difficulty in renouncing the Norman-founded British Establishment and its corrupted culture, because they have in any case never even belonged to it.

Thus, unlike some who had preceded them, they have never been tempted to put British Establishment culture above Christ, so betraying Christ, His Church and also His Orthodox England. For this reason they can begin to develop a real English Orthodox culture. Far more importantly, what has happened in England is only an example of the wider situation all over Western Europe. The betrayal of Western Europe by its Christophobic elite, making it into a wayward, schismatic and isolated province through heresy in 1054 and then apostasy, the betrayal of the real England, Orthodox England, finally destroyed in 1066, the repeated Western betrayals of the Christian Emperors and invasions of the multinational Christian Empire between 1204 and 1917, these are what real Orthodox in Europe reject. What we accept is the end of the old compromised ‘Euro-Orthodoxy’ of the philosophers and the beginning of the real Orthodoxy of the saints of Europe, the Restoration of Europe.

The choice for Christophobic and so Russophobic Europe today is fast becoming Apocalypse or Repentance. Europe, on its suicidal death-bed, caught between self-invented Secularism and self-imposed Islamism, has a last chance. If the peoples of Europe can yet throw off the degeneration of their millennial brainwashing, they can still learn that the truth will set them free from stepping lemming-like off the precipice into the abyss. If they can accept that their elites have deluded them into thinking that they are ‘free’, by being enslaved to the elites’ millennial secularist ideology, regardless of whether it is called Roman Catholic, Scholastic, Protestant, Anglican, Conservative, Socialist, Communist, Democratic, Liberal, Agnostic, Atheist, Post-Modernist, then suicide can be averted. If they can accept that their roots are only in the Tradition, Orthodox Christianity, the Church of God, and not in any latecomer manmade religion, then Repentance even at this late hour is still possible.

Can We Kneel in Church on Sundays?

I have a question about something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I’ve read that the Church canons say that you are not supposed to kneel or prostrate on Sundays, but I was wondering how strictly that’s interpreted in practice?

I currently attend a Romanian parish and among Romanians (as you probably know) it is customary to kneel during the Our Father, the Creed, the Gospel reading etc and some people kneel throughout much of the liturgy. I personally think it is a beautiful sign of reverence but I was wondering why it has become customary and accepted in Romania but not in other places, and if the “prohibition” against kneeling on Sundays is really necessary or what the purpose of it really is?

I know some other parishes where people barely show any reverence at all so it still seems to me to be better to kneel or prostrate than to just be completely passive…

Question from a Correspondent in Europe

‘Since some people kneel in church on Sundays and on the days of Pentecost, with a view to preserving uniformity in all parishes it has seemed best to the holy Council for prayers to be offered to God while standing’.

Canon XX of the First Universal Council

The canons you refer to are the above, Canon XC of the Sixth Universal Council and Canon XV of St Peter the Martyr of Alexandria, all from the first seven centuries. So, yes, on paper, you do not kneel on the liturgical day of Sunday (Saturday evening to Sunday evening) and not between Easter and Pentecost (the kneeling prayers read at Vespers of Pentecost are the first when you kneel). Why? Because Sunday is the day of the Resurrection and the period between Easter and Pentecost effectively the afterfeast of the Feast of the Resurrection. If we are risen with Christ, then we are risen and so stand.

So much for the theory. What about practice?

One of the easiest ways to tell the difference between certain converts and Orthodox is whether they kneel on Sundays or not (especially on the Sunday of the Cross during Lent). Converts, whether of the zealot old calendarist or of the liberal new calendarist variety (extremes always meet), refuse to kneel because of their head knowledge, Orthodox kneel because of the movements of their hearts. As one person has said in answer to an uptight convert who insisted that Orthodox stand during services: ‘No they don’t: Russians stand, Greeks sit and Romanians kneel’.

Why this difference? It is all a question of piety – or lack of piety. Sitting is a lack of piety (unless the person is ill, heavily pregnant etc), which has entered the Greek Churches (including the Antiochian) only very, very recently. Pious Russians are horrified when Greeks and Antiochians sit during the Epistle. But kneeling is a great sacrifice. I admire those Romanians who kneel throughout the liturgy as an act of piety which accords with their temperament. I don’t think I could do it physically. Equally standing is also a matter of asceticism.

A common Russian practice among bishops and priests is to kneel at certain points during the Liturgy, for example during ‘Our Father’.

Certain converts, often of a Protestant background, tend to interpret the canons literally, according to the letter. Such individuals, it seems, used to be fundamentalists in their interpretation of the Scriptures, and quote canons as they used to quote chapter and verse, hoping perhaps to send their fellow human-beings to hell (and themselves to a very prideful heaven). If this is the case, then it is all pure phariseeism. (‘Do not heal or do good on the Sabbath day’).

Conclusion: Pray and then do what your heart tells you to do, observing those around you, so that you scandalize no-one. This is called humility and it stands above the letter of the law because it keeps the spirit of the law. When I as a priest see metropolitans and bishops, or for that matter pious laypeople, kneeling on a Sunday, I have no hesitation in kneeling with them. We should refuse to put ourselves above others. I only know that of Christ returns next Sunday, I will neither sit, nor stand, but be on my knees in front of Him.

The Saints Are Calling To Us

Old Europe is mystically calling to us from across the darkness of ten anti-Orthodox Christian centuries. It is calling to us through its long-forgotten saints, from Orleans and Roskilde, from Lisbon and Lindisfarne, from Utrecht, and Barcelona, from Tongres and Turin, from Glendalough and Palermo, from Salzburg and Iona, from St David’s and Cologne, from Oslo and Arles and from ten thousand more cities and hamlets and holy islands and holy mountains. The saints, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, are calling for a Europe that is holy and therefore both personally righteous and socially just.

The saints of this Old Europe are calling us to continue their feats in the Tsar’s Europe, Imperial Christian Europe, which anti-Orthodox Christian Europe has strived so hard to destroy, especially over the last 100 years since 1917. Thus, today, all the saints of the Christian Empire, both of the Old Europe and of the Tsar’s Europe, are reaching out to us. Their call for our repentance is urgent, for after a thousand years’ of patience anti-Orthodox Christian Europe is now at suicide’s door. And its only hope is in its return to the saints, for they are the fruit of the Holy Spirit from down all the centuries.

Sunday of All the Saints of the Western Lands, 2017

How Was the World Made? Facts and Theories

How was the world made? There are many things that we do not know and cannot know in order to answer this question, because quite simply and obviously we were not there at the time. The world was made before we existed. So what can we know about it?

Everyone agrees that we, human-beings, standing at the height of visible creation, are far higher and far more complex than mere liquids, gases and solids, than microbes, plants, insects, fish, birds and all animals. This is why we were made only after everything else. When we make something, we start with the simplest things, the building blocks of life, as they say, and then we go on to other things that are more complex.

All this is why there are so many theories about how we were made, like, for example, the theory of evolution. If you were not present, then all you can have is theories. They cannot be proved, but sadly, such theories are often presented as facts.

In order to help us answer our question about how the world was made, even in part, we can refer to the oldest text that we have about it, that found in the first chapter (one page) of the first and oldest book of the Holy Scriptures, the Book of Genesis. (Genesis means Birth). This was written down thousands of years ago, on the basis of stories handed down by word of mouth for thousands of years before that. What exactly does it say?

Firstly, the first words in this Book say that God made everything. The existence of everything is therefore not an accident or a chance. All exists for a reason. All was made on purpose. If we can understand something about God, then we can understand why all was made. Now we are told by St John in his Gospel that God is Love. It is clear therefore that we were made to love one another. That is why we were made, that is the purpose of our life. Nothing is by chance, all is for Love.

Secondly, it is clear that everything was made in a special order. Just as we do not make a car by starting with the last details like the seat covers and then build the bodywork and the engine, so God too made everything in logical order. In fact, we are told that He made everything in six different phases. Firstly, He made space and time, with light and water (because, as we know, nothing can live without light and water). Secondly, He made the sky and the earth. This was so that, thirdly, He could make all sorts of plants and trees, which can only grow if there is earth. Fourthly, God made days and seasons, creating the sun, the moon and the stars. Fifthly, He made everything that lives in the water (fish etc) and everything that lives in the air (birds etc), each species or ‘kind’, as the Book of Genesis says, separately. In the sixth and final phase, God made all sorts of creatures that live on the land (animals and reptiles), again each species separately, and then He made the first man and the first woman. When He made each of these things, we read again and again that everything that He made was good. After all, why would God make anything that was bad? That would be very strange. Nobody sets out to make something that is bad, but something that is good, that works as it should.

One thing we should notice here is that God made animals and then, separately, the first human-beings. In other words, it is not true that human-beings are animals. Of course, it is clear that higher animals and human-beings are similar. For example, most animals have a head and a face, two eyes, two ears, a nose, a mouth, and four limbs with muscles, as well as organs like the heart, the brain, the lungs, the liver, the kidneys, the stomach etc and there are an equal number of males and females (in itself a miracle), just like us. But this does not mean that human-beings are animals. The resemblances between our bodies only mean that we have the same Maker – God.

Some people especially notice the physical similarities between people and monkeys and say that we are descended from them. But if monkeys had changed into people, then monkeys would no longer exist! The fact that millions of species of plants and animals exist at the same time proves that there is no such thing as evolution. If there had been evolution, then nothing would exist except for people, according to the theorists of evolution the last stage of ‘evolution’. Of course, this does not mean that plants and animals cannot adapt. It is well-known that some butterflies change colour if they live near factories, their wings go darker. Also there develop different species of the same animal, some become bigger and some smaller. This is because, for example, they may live on big islands where there is lot to eat or small islands, where there is little to eat.

Such adaptation also exists among us. For example, in hot countries people have darker skin, hair and eyes in order to protect themselves. On the other hand, in cold countries people have pale skin and often have blond hair and blue eyes. This is all about survival in different climates, we adapt in order to survive. But this adaptation is not the same as some magical and quite unproven theory of evolution, where somehow microbes become whales, bees become eagles, kangaroos become elephants or chimpanzees become human-beings.

We also note that the human race began with one man and one woman, whom we call Adam and Eve: although we are all different, through adaptation to different climates, we all have one common father and mother, we all belong to the same family. This fact is confirmed by modern DNA testing. Why are people white, brown, yellow, black and have different colour hair and eyes, different sizes and heights, slightly different shape eyes, noses, lips and so on? Simply as the result of adaptation to cold and hot climates, to mountains and lowlands, and to diet.

Of course, we also know more about the past from what we have found in the earth.

For example, we now know that the universe is enormous; in fact, we did not know just how enormous Creation is until quite recently. This discovery has been made now, so that we can adore God’s work in wonder, rather than dismiss such a vast and complex universe as some random accident.

We also know that there were many creatures that no longer exist. Some animals have died out quite recently, hunted to extinction, others, like so-called ‘dinosaurs’, whose fossils we can find, lived a very long time ago and died out because of huge changes in climate. Nobody knows exactly when, and scientists disagree with each other about this, constantly changing their theories as they make new discoveries. Some people ask why the Bible does not mention such creatures that long ago died out. This is quite simply because they lived before people did, as the Bible says, animals were made first, so the only way that we can know about them is by discovering their fossils, which we have only done in recent times. The Bible records only the most important things about God and human-beings. We leave the records of disappeared animals like dinosaurs to those who dig up their fossils.

And, thirdly, we also know that although God made everything good, now there are many bad things: death, animals that kill each other, mosquitoes that kill people, rats that spread diseases. The reason for this is also related in the Book of Genesis. Here we learn that God made everything good, but when people disobeyed Him, they became bad. And because they became bad, they died. And this bad and death spread to all Creation, poisoning it.

We should be careful about saying much more than this, because then we would get involved in theories and ideas and so in arguments, which can never be proved one way or the other. It seems to us better to stick to facts.

The above was first published in the second issue of ‘Searchlight’, the ROCOR diocesan magazine for young people. It is available from Mary Kisliakov: mary0170@yahoo.com

Just Another Miracle from the Orthodox World

In Sochi, a shoal of dolphins has returned the icon of the Virgin of “The Sign” to the people …

On May 17, a colonel, along with his wife, were sitting on the seashore in Sochi, enjoying the clean sea air and the vastness of the water. Suddenly their attention was attracted by a shoal of dolphins that swam to the shore: the couple even managed to count them – exactly a dozen. Soon it became clear why these intelligent marine animals had gathered here – they were pushing something out of the water, and when they had done their job, they immediately swam away.

The strange thing that the dolphins brought ashore was all mud and looked very unpresentable at first sight, which made few people pay attention to him, although not only the colonel and his wife were resting near the sea at the time. Eventually, the wife asked her husband to see what the dolphins had pushed out of the sea.

The witness of the event decided to consider the unexpected gift of the marine inhabitants. The colonel raised a mysterious object, cleared it of mud and … experienced a real shock, as a moment later, his wife too. It was an icon of the Mother of God (later it was revealed – of the “Sign”).

The eyes of the Mother of God looked at the man from the ancient icon. As the shrine must have been on the seabed – no one knows, and scientists could not understand why the dolphins realized that it must be urgently delivered to the shore and given back to people. It turns out that dolphins perfectly understood the value of this icon for people and that it does not have a place at the bottom of the sea …

Found in such a miraculous manner, the icon was taken to Moscow by the same person who stands next to Barnabas’s father (in a sweatshirt) – a retired colonel, a veteran of the Alpha group. Her want to show His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kyril, while telling him this truly fantastic story about the miracle …
Nikolai Kaklyugin, Ph.D., a psychiatrist-narcologist

For pictures, see: http://ruskline.ru/news_rl/2017/06/10/chudo_chudnoe/

A Cornish Orthodox Parish?

The pagan ‘Celts’, a group of cruel and warring tribes, invaded the British Isles and Ireland only a few centuries before the Romans came, some arriving not much before them. However, by the first centuries AD these ‘Celts’, some Christian, some, according to St Gildas, definitely not, had separated into two main groups. These were the Irish (in Ireland, and then by emigration, in what is now Scotland) and the Brittonic (in Wales, Cornwall, and then by emigration, in Armorica, the future Brittany in France, and also in Galicia in Spain). The Church in all these lands was represented then by Irish and Brittonic, both Latin-speaking, but both with a strong monastic ethos. So much for the ‘Celtic Church’ myth, about which so much new-age nonsense is talked.

What can we say of Brittonic Cornwall specifically? The word Cornish (Cornovii) is itself Latin, meaning those who live in the ‘horn’, that is to say, those in the horn-shaped peninsula of south-west Britain. Later, by deformation, ‘Corn-wall’ came to mean the land of the ‘Welsh’ (= Non-English) who live in the horn. Cornwall was first taken into England, though only on paper, in the tenth century by King Athelstan. However, in some ways it would be truer to call Cornwall an island, for, surrounded by the sea on three sides, on its fourth side it is separated from Devon and so from England by the River Tamar. Only 70 years ago, and perhaps still today, those who lived on the Cornish side of the Tamar and crossed it spoke quite naturally of ‘going to England’.

Today, it is true that those who have grandparents born on the Cornish side of the Tamar have very different DNA from those born on the English side in Devon, even though the Cornish language has been lost. This is because, Cornwall lies between Wales and Brittany and so became a land through which saints passed, coming from north and south. Thus, Cornwall is a land of local saints and of their names – 140 in all unique to Cornwall. Unfortunately, most of these names are precisely only names. Usually, virtually nothing is known of the saints behind the names, sometimes if they were even saints at all, not even the correct form of their name, not even the century when they lived (usually the sixth or seventh), and sometimes even their gender is unknown.

As for their Lives, when they exist – and that is rare – they were often written over 600 and up to 1,000 years after the saints lived. In other words, most of their Lives are almost completely untrustworthy and sometimes absurd. All that remains is speculation without edification, ‘games with names’, as in the booklets on them, written by the Anglican researcher G.H. Doble in the last century. Here we see all the sadness when people forget their saints, their tradition of holiness. All we can say is that a large number of mainly Welsh monks, nuns, hermits and ascetics came to live in Cornwall in the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries, and that that was a golden age of holiness. In all this two Cornish saints stand out, St Piran and St Petroc.

St Piran (Perran) (+ c. 480) came from Ireland or Wales and settled in the north of Cornwall, giving his name to Perranporth, where he had his hermitage. He is commemorated on 5 March and is now considered to be the patron saint of Cornwall. St Petroc (Peter) (+ c. 564) was a sixth-century abbot who for long was considered to be Cornwall’s most famous saint. He came from south Wales and lived near what is now Padstow (Petrocstow), where he founded a monastery. He later founded another monastery and then lived as a hermit on Bodmin Moor. He was famed for his closeness to the natural world and founded other monasteries. At his repose his relics were venerated in Padstow and later at the main Cornish monastery in Bodmin. His feast is on 4 June.

Any Orthodox who wish to set up a parish in Cornwall would perhaps wish to start in Truro, the capital of Cornwall and which is located relatively centrally. As for a dedication, we would suggest, quite simply, All Saints. However, in any such parish there should be a large icon of Sts Piran and Petroc.

All the Saints of Cornwall, known to the Lord, pray to God for us!

Crete

Last June’s meeting of some Orthodox bishops in Crete, ‘representatives’ of 20% of the Orthodox world, served only to produce schism in its Balkan corner. It left the fifteen million members of the six small Greek Churches (Constantinople, Greece, its Albanian satellite, Cyprus, Alexandria and Jerusalem), fragments of the ethnic Greek Empire that long ago disappeared and which in fact are only one, as well as the Churches of Romania and Serbia, bitterly divided between Orthodox and modernists. Since three of these eight Local Churches have US-appointed Patriarchs, this is hardly surprising.

On the other hand, it brought the mainstream of the Syrian/Lebanese Church of Antioch (in reality the Church of Damascus) much closer to the Russian Orthodox Church, which is 75% of the Orthodox world. The Churches of Georgia and Bulgaria were already close. As for the representatives of the small Local Churches of Poland and of the Czechs and Slovaks, although present in Crete, everyone knows that in reality they are merely fragments of the pre-1917 Russian Empire and so of the Russian Church, and so they can ignore anything that went on there.

The meeting in Crete made clear that those Orthodox who, it seems, are Orthodox only by reason of their nationality, who have fallen to Western humanist delusions (nowadays called ‘personalism’) are in danger of falling away from Orthodoxy altogether. Their essentially filioquist and so secularist desire to replace the Divine, the paradisiac and sinless Holy Spirit, with the human, the fallen and sinful human spirit, is leading them out of the Church. Therefore, this meeting was a catalyst, inasmuch as it means that the Orthodox must once and for all clearly define what the Church is. It must also define how the heterodox both fall outside Her and yet also, consciously or else by passive inertia, still preserve some vestiges of Her heritage. And it is this that leads them to labour under the delusion that their vestiges are Christianity.

There is then need for a genuine Church Council, gathering all fourteen Local Orthodox Churches with their 650 or so Orthodox bishops, including the 350 of the Russian Church, in order to define dogmatically the ecclesiology of the Church. These fathers can build on the theological foundations already laid, notably by St Hilarion (Troitsky) and St Justin (Popovich). This Council must anathematize not only the heresy of ecumenism, but also that of phyletism. For these heresies are closely interconnected, as those who confine the Church of God exclusively to a single race and language (phyletism) are by definition also utterly indifferent to dogma. It is precisely on account of this dogmatic indifference that they are willing to compromise the Church with any fashionable secular dogma, which promises money and power to those who are nostalgic for the money and power that they lost in the distant past.

May 2017: The Third Episcopal Visit to our New Diocese

The reborn Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland of the Church Outside Russia has received its third episcopal visit in four months, this time one made by Bishop Irenei of Sacramento, accompanied by the Myrrh-Giving Hawaiian Iveron Icon. The backlog of outstanding pastoral problems dating back many years has been further shortened and two more priests ordained, as requested fifteen months ago. However, the list of candidates for ordination is lengthening, with six more in the Colchester parish alone. With us local Orthodox having been visited by a bishop twice in the previous twenty years for a few short hours only, we have now been visited by a bishop twice in four months and for days each time.

Each recent visit to the Diocese has been much, much longer than any in the previous thirty years. Thus, on Saturday 13 May there took place the first ever Diocesan pilgrimage to St Albans. This was attended by about 200 faithful, a great many of whom took communion in front of the very fragrant Icon. There followed a service of intercession to St Alban in front of his holy relics. Then Vladyka was taken to Colchester where he was shown the main church, dedicated to our former Archbishop St John of Shanghai (+ 1966), which is the largest Russian Orthodox church in the British Isles and Ireland. He also visited the second (winter) church, dedicated to All the Saints of these Isles. There followed the Vigil Service in the main church.

On the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman, at the Divine Liturgy took place a long-awaited tonsure and priestly ordination, the first ever to take place in the Colchester parish. Communion was, as usual, out of two chalices, all four priests in this multinational parish, English, New Zealand, Romanian and Bulgarian, three of whom have come in the last year, two of whom have been ordained in the last two months, concelebrating with Vladyka. The Icon streamed myrrh and an accompanying monk commented that he had never seen so much myrrh given out by the Icon, literally dripping with it, which is a great consolation after so many years. After this, all ate in the Church Hall and then we visited a retired and ill priest who lives to the east of Colchester.

On Monday 15 May Vladyka visited the site of St Botolph’s seventh-century monastery in picturesque and remote Iken, whose thatched church particularly impressed him. Having read the canon to the saint, we then went on to Dunwich and its museum, where we ate. Then we headed for Burgh Castle, behind whose high Roman walls once probably stood St Fursey’s monastery. Vladyka then made his way to St Alexander Nevsky parish church in Norwich for a service of intercession to the Mother of God at 5.00 with all of the flock who were able to get away from work. Then there was tea in the parish kitchen, after which Vladyka went on to the private chapel at Mettingham in the north of Suffolk for another service.

During his ten-day visit Vladyka was able to visit other parishes, in London, Birkenhead, Cheltenham and Oxford, as well as the parish in Cardiff in Wales. It is our great hope that he will return in August to visit others, especially the parishes in Ireland, perhaps accompanied again by the extraordinary and previously little-known miraculous Iviron Icon from Hawaii. As we desperately need a monastery in our diocese, we hope that he could help found one for our English monks. However, our greatest and long-held hope is that he will come and live here permanently, uniting Russian Orthodox of all nationalities in these islands.

On Authority, Infallibility, Personal Opinion, Episcopal Corruption and the Russian Emigration

Answers to Four Recent Questions

As you have no Pope, where is the infallible authority of the Orthodox Church?

N.G., Oxford

The Church’s authority is the Holy Spirit. Infallibility, restricted in Catholicism to the Popes of Rome when they speak ex cathedra, that is, from their position as Pope, can be expressed by anyone if they speak and are inspired by the Holy Spirit. This is much more democratic than in the Roman Catholic religion that you confess – however, this is no Protestant/’Charismatic’ free for all.

First of all, the gift of speaking through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit requires great spiritual sobriety and is a rare occurrence, demanding spiritual purity in the soul, based on the repentance, humility and ascetic life (fasting and prayer), which is at the heart of Church life. There is no authority without humility, repentance and ascetic self-sacrifice. The Holy Spirit cannot inspire where there is spiritual impurity and worldliness, as we recently saw in Crete.

Nevertheless, all the saints have spoken through the Holy Spirit at some point in their lives, even if only at their martyrdom. This authority is often recognized only after the event, which is why people are not canonized immediately and the saints are often rejected during their lifetimes. We can think of the cases of St Leo the Great, whose message, written some time before, was at once recognized at Chalcedon as the voice of the Church, of St Mark of Ephesus, who defended Orthodoxy through his integrity or, more recently, St Justin (Popovich), who gave us the definitive Orthodox teaching on ecumenism. Christ spoke through them all by the Holy Spirit.

Everything else is personal opinion and has no validity or infallibility, like the opinions expressed at the Crete meeting of a number of Orthodox bishops in June 2016. These were at once rejected, including by many present, since they did not correspond to the catholic tradition and theological conscience of the Church, but came from philosophies like those of eccentric outliers who have infiltrated the Church with the support of secular politics and are inspired by the secular, humanist world.

If you are a member of the clergy, what do you do in cases of episcopal corruption, financial, moral or other?

P.V., Paris

If you are really sure that this is the case from personal experience, and it is not merely some slanderous gossip of ill-wishers and Cold War politicians (like the absurd slanders against the late Russian Patriarch Alexei II that he was a KGB agent!!!!, when he was in fact a KGB victim), in such cases you do what clergy have always done throughout the ages, in Greece, Russia, Romania or wherever – you ask to move sideways canonically. In other words, you move physically and spiritually to another canonical diocese of the Church, without of course creating some division or schism.

This you do in order to avoid compromising your morals and so spiritual life. In such cases of episcopal corruption, you should also discreetly supply proof of the corruption, if you have any, so that the bishop in question can be judged by his fellow-bishops, but this is only possible if they are politically free to do so.

Such cases of personal corruption are quite different from cases of heresy, where a bishop is openly, clearly and publicly preaching heresy, (and not just expressing some unusual personal opinion, with which you may happen to disagree), for example, if he is denying the Holy Trinity, that Christ is the Son of God, the Resurrection or the Virgin Birth.

What do you consider to have been the main two enemies of Orthodoxy in the Russian emigration?

B.M., Scotland

Without doubt the enemies of authentic and often saintly Russian Orthodox in the emigration were, firstly, Russian Westernism, such as I experienced infiltrating ROCOR in London and elsewhere and the Rue Daru group in Paris and elsewhere, and secondly Russian Nationalism in the same cities and elsewhere. The two went hand in hand and fed off each other. Both were acutely thisworldly in their ethos.

By Russian Westernism, I mean the sort of ‘anything goes’ liberalism preached by the Westernized Saint Petersburg aristocrats who were so influential in Russian émigré Church life in all jurisdictions, though in some much more than others, and had no idea of the Tradition. They after all had brought about the Revolution through their anti-Church and anti-monarchist spirit and their exile was in fact self-punishment.

By Russian Nationalism I mean the spirit of Russia first, Orthodoxy (at best) second. This was the spirit that I heard in parishes of all jurisdictions, saying, ‘We would rather close the parish than use a single word in the local language’ (which their children and grandchildren alone could understand). Naturally, dozens of parishes simply died out and closed down because the Faith was not passed on, because the confessed only a sort of exclusive racism. They had no idea of the high missionary calling of the Russian Diaspora.

As the two went hand in hand together, one to the left extreme, the other to the right extreme, the antidote to them both is exactly the same. It is to be an Imperial, that is, a Russian Orthodox, who is faithful to multinational and multilingual Holy Rus, which is the title of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchs of all nationalities. (For example, the last Patriarch ‘of All Rus’ was a Balt, whose surname was von Ridiger, and the present Patriarch is Mordovan).

What held you back the most as a Russian Orthodox clergyman in the old Russian emigration?

P. T., London

There were two basic ‘sins’ in the eyes of secular-thinking old Russian emigres whom I encountered in the 1970s and 1980s before they died out. The first was to be young (unlike them), the second was to be educated (unlike most of them).

Of course, the two criticisms could be valid. For example, the young may lack valuable experience and the educated may lack all-important wisdom. However, in the context of the time, that was not what their criticism was about. What was it about? Firstly, they were so used to having 80-year old bishops and priests, sometimes with Alzheimer’s, that they got used to stagnation and paralysis before their bishops and priests died out. And, secondly, they were so used to having ill-educated clergy, that they had no arguments against the modern, Non-Orthodox world, in which their descendants lived.

In a healthy Church we need young and old, energetic bishops and priests in their thirties (30 is the canonical minimum age for priests, 35 for bishops) as well as older, more experienced ones, as well as well-educated and not so educated bishops and priests – as long as they both have the wisdom of the heart, which is inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Orthodox Christianity in the British Isles and Ireland: Seven Orthodox Churches, Nine Dioceses, One Deanery, Four Choices

Introduction

Every Christian denomination in every country of the world is divided into dioceses and parishes which reflect the geographical area where they are located. Moreover, there may also be internal, sociological divisions. For example, in the town where I live there are several parishes of the C of E (Church of England), but two of these parishes refuse to talk to each other because their views and patterns of worship are utterly different, one is ‘Anglo-Catholic’, elderly and wealthy, the other is ‘happy-clappy’, middle-aged and financially modest. There are also two Baptist churches which refuse to talk to one another, because one is strict, the other is liberal.

In the cities there is a similar situation in Roman Catholic parishes, which can have completely different tendencies (Polish/Irish/liberal/ traditional/‘charismatic’…) and also in monasteries, which belong to different orders. Nowadays, larger Roman Catholic parishes have masses at different times for different ethnic groups in different languages and with different Roman Catholic rites, Polish, Syro-Malabar, Greek-Catholic Ukrainian etc. There is often very little communication between these diverse groups. What is the situation regarding the Orthodox Church in this country? What sort of divisions are there here?

Seven Local Churches and Ten Groups

Of the fourteen Local Churches that make up the worldwide Orthodox Church only seven are represented outside their home countries. In the British Isles and Ireland these seven Churches have nine dioceses and one deanery. These are the following: the Serbian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Georgian, Constantinople (two dioceses, Greek and Ukrainian, and one deanery, Paris), Antiochian and Russian (two dioceses, Sourozh and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia). These nine dioceses and one deanery are not territorial, but are superimposed on one another on the same territory. However, even so there is often little communication between them, as each caters for its own ethnic group. Of these ten groups, the first six, the Serbian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Georgian and the big Greek and the tiny Ukrainian nationalist dioceses of the Church of Constantinople, are largely concerned only with their own ethnic members.

Thus, the above generally appear not to observe the Gospel commandment of Matthew 28, that we are to go out into all the world and teach and baptize all. For example, although a small minority of parishes in the big Greek-speaking Diocese of the Church of Constantinople, mainly Cypriot by ethnicity, do sometimes accept English people, generally these people are Hellenized or even come from a Hellenophile public school background. Moreover, its archbishops, who must have Greek or Cypriot nationality, usually impose Greek names on any they may ordain, such as Kallistos instead of Timothy, Meletios instead of Peter, Aristobulos instead of Alban, and imposes names like Athanasios, Panteleimon and Eleutherios on others. This leaves four choices to the majority of native English speakers who are interested in trying to live according to the teachings of the Orthodox Church without having to change their name and national identity.

Four Choices

The first two of these choices, the Parisian and the Antiochian, appear to cater for two specific small English sociological groups, whereas the last two groups are both part of the Russian Orthodox Church. These are at once sociologically much broader as regards the range of English and other local people within them, but those people sometimes have a Russian connection and they are in a majority Russian Church.

1. The Paris Deanery (also called the Exarchate)

This is a very small Deanery belonging to a Diocese under an elderly and sick French bishop, received and ordained into the Church in 1974, based in Paris under the ‘Greek’ (Constantinople) Church. It has virtually no property of its own. Founded in Paris in the 1920s by anti-monarchist Saint Petersburg aristocrats, who had tried but failed to seize power from the Tsar, it had a small parish in London until 1945. However, in 2006 the group was refounded in this country after a noisy, aggressive and unfriendly divorce from the Russian Orthodox Sourozh Diocese (see below) and it strongly dislikes the Russian Orthodox Church as it is. In 2006 it was 300 strong, out of a then total of about 300,000 Orthodox in the UK, so it represented about one in a thousand Orthodox. Despite its tiny size, in 2006 its foundation was strongly supported by the Russophobic bastions of the British Establishment, the Church of England, the BBC, The Times, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph. It is known for its attachment to the arts, philosophy and intellectualism and ordains easily, providing that the candidates come from ‘the right background’.

It tends to cater for rather elderly, upper-middle class Establishment figures – which is why it belongs to the Western-run Church of Constantinople, which uses the Roman Catholic calendar for the fixed feasts, and not the independently-run Russian Orthodox Church. It is thus rather politicized and its perhaps clubby, county-town members tend to support the elitist Liberal Democrats. Its members, often in groups as small as five or ten, may, like their founder, be attracted to spiritual techniques, such as Buddhism, Sufi Islam, yoga or what is called ‘the Jesus Prayer’ (= noetic prayer in Orthodox language). It is not incarnate in any Local Orthodox Church and mixes different practices and customs, also introducing ‘creative’ customs of its own. Some of its more effete members quite unrealistically call their tiny Deanery ‘The Orthodox Church in Britain’, despite the fact that it is dwarfed by nine much more proletarian Orthodox Dioceses. This is rather like some members of the ‘Orthodox Church in America’, a US Orthodox group with a huge title which the Deanery much admires, but which is also dwarfed by others, numbering only some 30,000 out of 3,000,000 Orthodox in North America.

2. The Antiochian (Arab) Diocese

This very small ethnic ‘British Orthodox’ group, originally 300 in number, was founded as a Deanery as recently as 1996 by and for dissident Anglicans. They came from backgrounds as diverse as conservative Evangelicalism, moralistic Puritanism and charismatic Anglo-Catholicism, but all were dissatisfied with Anglicanism. Having since then converted only a few other Anglicans and apparently (??) without much interest in Non-Anglicans, its ex-Anglican clergy sometimes rely on Romanians to fill their churches. The group is known for its missionary zeal and sincerity, providing pastoral care where other Dioceses have failed to do so, but is also known for its lack of knowledge, pastoral and liturgical, and lack of realism. It has little property of its own. In 2016 this Deanery, which uses the Roman Catholic calendar for the fixed feasts, became a Diocese and the first task of its new Arab bishop, without an Arab base and tradition, is in his own words to teach his clergy how to celebrate the services and so enter the mainstream. In the past it has ordained very easily, providing that its candidates are Anglican vicars. This, however, may be changing.

3. The Sourozh Diocese (also incorrectly called the Patriarchal Diocese) of the Russian Orthodox Church

Directly under the control of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, this Diocese has existed for 55 years. It has had a varied history, having been marked by tendencies of liberal modernism as well as Soviet patriotism under its former bishop and founder, the late Metropolitan Antony Bloom of Paris, with his unique personality cult and curious personal views. After his death most of his closest followers, mainly ex-Anglicans, left to found the Paris Deanery (see above) and now the Sourozh Diocese seems to be more and more for the many ethnic Russian immigrants who have settled in this country over the last 20 years. However, there are exceptions and it still has some very active English groups (as well as dying traces of a Bloomite past), though most of its English clergy are now elderly.

4. ROCOR, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (also incorrectly called ROCA or ‘the Church Abroad’)

This Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland of the Church Outside Russia is one of many dioceses under a Synod of fifteen Russian Orthodox bishops (three of them retired) centred in New York. It was originally founded in 1920 by Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow for White Russian émigrés exiled throughout the world. Self-governing and only indirectly under the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, with which it has excellent relations, ROCOR, once worldwide, is now dominant only in the English-speaking world, especially in the USA and Australia. It has seen many of its ethnically very closed parishes in South America and continental Western Europe shut or else dissolve into the more missionary-minded local dioceses of the rest of the Russian Orthodox Church, centred in Moscow. However, in the English-speaking world it is the voice of Russian Orthodoxy and its missionary-minded Canadian Metropolitan, formerly Archbishop of Australia and New Zealand, is, symbolically, the head of dioceses in New England and ‘Old’ England.

The local Diocese has a chequered history, with various incarnations. These range from noble White Russian roots, which especially after 1945 were infected by unpleasant, very right-wing and nationalistic anti-Communism and a generation after that by equally unattractive Anglo-Catholic sectarianism. The latter movement even tried to prise the Diocese from its faithfulness to Russian Orthodoxy. However, these generational nightmare incarnations thankfully died out with the end of the Cold War, quit the Church or else were pushed to the margins, where as relics they have almost disappeared. Over the new generation, after decades of neglect and nearly dying out in the early 1990s, this Diocese has been returning to its White Russian roots, understood as faithfulness, in Russian or in English, to the Orthodox Tradition, which has so much revived among Russians. Today’s ROCOR mission is to spread the Orthodox Faith and values of the reviving multinational Christian Empire of Holy Russia here and throughout the English-speaking world, as well as in its missions from South America to Western Europe, Haiti to Hawaii, Pakistan to South Korea, Costa Rica to Indonesia, and Nepal to the Philippines.