Category Archives: Pastoral Matters

Liturgical English and Missionary Needs

Introduction

The English-speaking world is divided by various forms of English: American, Australian, British, Canadian, Irish and New Zealand. For example, even the name of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) differs. In American English, with its German-influenced grammar, it is called ‘outside of Russia’, in Britain ‘outside Russia’. American also uses the archaic (for Britain) ‘in behalf of’ instead of the British ‘on behalf of’. However, most of our liturgical translations have been done in the USA. And we are profoundly grateful for them, especially for the amazing and always grammatically correct work of the ever-memorable Brother Joseph (Isaac) Lambertson. Eternal Memory to him! Today, we need translations which avoid literalisms, archaicisms, Latinisms and Hellenisms.

Literalisms

In liturgical translation we should avoid word order that is unnatural for English and complicates clarity and understanding. This means avoiding unnecessary inversions, such as ‘Him do we praise’, as opposed to ‘we praise Him’, or ‘ever didst thou’, as opposed to ‘thou didst ever’, or ‘for a good God art Thou’, as opposed to ‘For Thou art a good God’. This includes, with rare exceptions, avoiding inverting adjective use (we are not French!), such as forms like ‘light Divine’ as opposed to ‘Divine light’. Byzantine Greek (and therefore Church Slavonic) word order does not work in an established and codified language like English, where it sounds unnatural and unclear.

Similarly, the literalist translation of ‘philanthropos’ as ‘Lover of Mankind’, rather than ‘Who loves mankind’ clumsily introduces the word ‘lover’ into liturgical English. Calling the Mother of God ‘Mistress’ instead of ‘Sovereign Lady’, is equally clumsy.

Archaicisms

There can be no question of not using ‘thou’ and its verb ending est (in reality pronounced ‘s’) in translations: the ‘you’ form is simply not a translation, but an ideological  modernization. On the other hand, archaicisms need to be rejected, since they only obscure the meaning. For instance, the ‘eth’ ending of verbs for the third person singular (‘he cometh’) is an archaicism. In the 17th century, although the ending was still printed as such by printers, it was already pronounced ‘s’, as it has also been written ever since.

Similarly, the use of the archaic imperative ‘do thou break’ instead of ‘break’ or ‘hear ye’ instead of ‘hear’ is unnecessary. The old form of the subjunctive, ‘pray that he come’ was long ago replaced in contemporary English with ‘may’ – ‘pray that he may come’ etc. Forms such as ‘unto’ instead of ‘to’, upon’ instead of ‘on’, ‘wherewith’ instead of ‘with which’, ‘thither’, ‘hither’ and ‘whither’ instead of ‘to there’, ‘to here’ and ‘to where’, ‘wherefore’ instead of ‘therefore’, ‘in that’ instead of ‘as’, could be avoided. Such archaicisms simply obscure meaning.

Latinisms and Hellenisms

Simple and poetic English, retaining its Old English roots, is always preferable to Latinate Victorianisms, sometimes very obscure, favoured by such as the Episcopalian translator, Isabel Hapgood. Thus: ‘assemble’ could be replaced by ‘gather’, ‘carnal’ by ‘fleshly’, ‘disperse’ by ‘scatter’, ‘distribute’ by ‘give out’, ‘effulgence’ by ‘shining forth’ or ‘radiance’, ‘emit’ by ‘give out’, ‘illumine’ by ‘enlighten’, ‘incorporeal’ by ‘bodily’, ‘inundate’ by ‘flood’, ‘lambent’ by ‘softly shining’, ‘laud’ by ‘praise’, ‘luminary’ by ‘beacon’, ‘manifest’ (adjective) by ‘plain’ or ‘clear’, ‘manifest’ (verb) by ‘show forth’ or ‘reveal’, ‘rescue’ by ‘deliver’, ‘solicitous’ by ‘attentive’, ‘suspend’ by ‘hang’, ‘traverse’ by ‘cross’, and ‘unoriginate’ by ‘without beginning’ or ‘from everlasting’,

Since the terms of Patristic Greek (often itself only a translation from Hebrew or Aramaic) was translated into Patristic Latin from the end of the second century on, there seems to be no reason at all to use Hellenisms. Thus, ‘asceticism’ can be replaced by ‘ascetic life’, ‘chant’ (a clumsy attempt to translate the Hebrew ‘psaltizo’, even though Slavonic uses the ordinary word to sing – ‘pet’’) by ‘sing’, ‘hymnody’ by ‘hymn singing’, ‘Hypostasis’ by ‘Person’ (already used in Latin in the fourth century), ‘noetic’ by ‘spiritual’, ‘invisible’ or ‘of the heart’, ‘stichos’ by ‘verse’, ‘theologize’ by ‘make theology’ and ‘Theotokos’ by ‘Birthgiver of God’ or sometimes simply ‘Mother of God’.

Conclusion

Looking now to future generations and refining the extraordinary pioneering translations of previous generations, mainly begun in the 1960s and 1970s, we have to take into account the pastoral needs of our contemporary flock. Our need for English is because the children of our flock, whatever their national origins, use English as their common language. We need a liturgical English which is both faithful to the spirit of the original but also grammatically correct, clear and accessible.

 

 

Q and A May 2019

The Corruption of the Constantinople Episcopate

Q: What do you make of the appalling allegations against certain members of the episcopate of Constantinople, which are now making their rounds on the internet? Is this fake news? Or, if is true, is it time for us to have a married episcopate?

A: When I first saw the allegations, clearly not fake news, I wondered what the fuss was all about: these stories have been well-known for decades, though, true, they have never been issued on the internet. The corruption of Orthodox bishops in the Diaspora is well-known. There was the Russian bishop in Paris, sent to Siberia, when Moscow actually got to realize it was all true, the Serbian bishop who had to ‘retire’, the episcopate of a certain group in the USA known as ‘the gay mafia’, who therefore fell under the thumb of a certain priest who had the dirt on them, the Greek and Russian bishops in Europe with their boyfriends or multiple mistresses, the one they called ‘Johnny Walker’ (we know how he died) and the chain-smoking bishops from the Middle East and the alcoholic Slavs. All this has been well-known for decades and generations. However, the latest stories with Rolex watches worth 400,000 euros and all the sordid details worthy only of British gutter tabloids, do bring it down to a different level (or depth).

Of course, the Protestant-minded immediately call for married bishops. I am completely opposed to this. First of all, it would be completely unfair on their wives. It is difficult enough for the wife of a priest to have her husband. The wife of a bishop would never see him. Then, secondly, it would introduce nasty careerism among married clergy. It is bad enough among certain hieromonks and archimandrites, without polluting the married clergy.

There is only one solution: to stop electing bishops from among candidates who are candidates simply because they are not married. Otherwise you will simply end up, at worst, with pedophiles and homosexuals who only have contempt for married priests, women and children (as among the Catholics) or, at best (?), with narcissistic professional bachelors who have no love for anyone except themselves and their favourites and operate a mafia against real pastors. We have seen enough of both sorts and suffered enough from them during 40 years. They are the only enemies of the Church and always have been. They wreck dioceses and ruin lives. There is only one solution: monastic renewal. If you are not living a monastic life in a monastery and you have no pastoral experience and love for the people, you cannot become a bishop.

As for the sort of bishops described in Constantinople, they must all be defrocked asap. We have had enough of them. All they do is bring the Church into disrepute and upset and persecute the sincere parish priests and the pious faithful. And, above all, they can be corrupted by the US State Department which has all the dirt on them all and so can blackmail them – just like the KGB did in the days of the Soviet Union, just like the CIA does in the Ukraine today.

Q: What do you think of the appointment of Metr Elpidiphoros as the new Greek Archbishop of America?

A: His name means ‘bearer of hope’. However, he is the bearer of despair. Expect schisms in the Greek Church in the USA, Australia and Great Britain. Indeed, they have already begun, with priests and parishes leaving them for canonical Orthodoxy. It is the beginning of the end for the rule of Constantinople. Sad though it is, it is inevitable and, ultimately, this will be a positive event. God is not mocked. We have to live for the future, not for the corrupt past. All will be providential. And Providence is God’s Love in history.

Russian Orthodox Church Matters

Q: I recently visited Russia and saw and heard some strange things from some people. For example, someone told me he knew an Orthodox man who was sure that Stalin will one day be canonized. An Orthodox woman I met said that she thought the Russian Church should become like the Catholic Church. Are such views widespread?

A: Today’s Russian Church is 90% a Church of converts, so inevitably you do occasionally come across extremes and marginals, or to put it very frankly, ‘weirdos’, nationalists, ecumenists and what have you. On top of this, you can also encounter among some clergy the hangover from the Soviet period – centralization and bureaucracy (though this was to some extent also present before the Revolution). I should not worry about it. This will all pass, it is all a phase of growing up. And it all only affects some; most are solid. Remember to look at the wood, not at the trees.

Q: The Russian Orthodox Church has for several months now an Exarchate in Paris. You had written a lot about this before it happened. Why does the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (including yourself) not participate in it?

A: The Russian Exarchate is for the moment very much on paper only. It is centralized, bureaucratic, missing bishops on the ground in Italy and Scandinavia, which like Germany is not included in it. The Exarchate is so far not real, not local, not skilled, not pastoral. And I know this from concrete contacts at the very highest AND the very lowest level. It is not at all ready to operate like the best of the Church Outside Russia (where it exists) and does not even want us to take part in it! Our offers of help have been rebuffed, several times, as they prefer to take orders from Moscow, where they understand nothing of the situation on the ground. It is not ready – by far!

When the Russian Exarchate is ready to be pastoral and to become a real Exarchate of (and not merely in) Western Europe, then we shall see changes. For now it clearly lacks the necessary pastoral skills and local knowledge, being a disincarnate  export from Moscow. It will need several years to grow up. The task, duty and mission of the local Church Outside Russia in Western Europe are precisely to prepare the terrain for this moment, filling the largely empty infrastructure created by Moscow, going before, like St John the Baptist.

Speaking as the only priest in the Russian Church who has ever been awarded a jewelled cross by Patriarch Kyrill (seven years ago) and a second such cross by Metropolitan Hilarion of New York (three years later), I believe that the Exarchate is not viable without ROCOR.

Pastoral Psychology

Q: What is the difference between low self-esteem and humility?

A: Low self-esteem comes from being humiliated, insulted and bullied. The victim of humiliation and bullying stops believing in themselves and doubts everyone and everything and can hate themselves and even self-mutilate. However, this is in contradiction with the last two words of the commandments, to love God and love our neighbour as ourselves. We must love ourselves. Not because we are anything other than sinners, but because God loves us. Anyone who believes or has experienced that fact that God loves them, will not fall victim to low self-esteem, but will become humble. Low self-esteem is the result of believing in the opinions and actions of nasty narcissists and sadistic bullies, whatever rank they may hold, more than in God.

Q: Is it true that there are only two choices in the Church, marriage or monasticism?

A: Only as an ideal. I would say, and I think I have said this before, that in reality there are two and a quarter choices. The quarter choice is for all those who for some reason do not fit in to either of the main choices at present. In other words, we must always be prepared for exceptions and exceptional circumstances. For example, there are, though they are very rare, celibate priests, neither married, nor monastic.

 

 

Q and A from Recent Correspondence (April 2019)

Notre Dame

Q: What are we to make of the fire?

A: In my view this is a judgement on the atheist government and people of France. Beware: here may be next.

The Heterodox Easter

Q: Why is there a difference of one week between our Easter and the Catholic and Protestant Easter this year? And why does their Easter often fall one week or more too early?

A: Sometimes there is a difference of several weeks between the Orthodox Christian Easter and the secular one; this is because the Catholic-Protestant world takes the wrong full moon and so is a month or more too early. This year the difference is only one week. This is because the Catholic-Protestant world has its Easter at the same time as the Jews have their Passover. For the Jews this year’s Passover begins on the evening of Friday 19 April and, as usual, will last one week until the dawn of Friday 26 April. Our Easter is therefore on the 28 after their Passover has finished

All this is because in the 16th century the then Pope of Rome, Gregory XIII, decided to ignore the canon of the Holy Apostles which says that the Christian Easter must not coincide with the Jewish Passover, since the Resurrection of Christ took place the day after that year’s Jewish Passover, on Sunday, which became the Lord’s Day. As Christians, and so not putting ourselves above the apostles and the Church, the Orthodox Church adheres to this canon.

Q: Many people seem to say that Western Christianity is dead among native Western Europeans. Would you agree with that?

A: I can give an illustration from the town where I live. From a population of 25,000, this year about 200 nearly all elderly people gathered for a happy-clappy/pop-music Good Friday ‘service’, which was supposed to unite all Western Christians in the town. This is less than 1% of the population gathering for what for them is the key moment. For in their religion they do not cry ‘Christ is Risen’, but ‘Jesus is dead’. We can see that within 20 years no-one will be left. True, some Catholic churches live on thanks to Poles and other Catholic immigrants, including Polish priests, mainly from Eastern Europe, Portugal or Malabar India. True, some Protestant churches survive thanks to Afro-Caribbeans. True, there are patches of piety left, mainly in the south of Western Europe. But, on the whole, the game is over. Yes, I agree.

The Ukraine

Q: Do you think the new schismatic church in the Ukraine has a future?

A: It does, but only as long as people continue to put their (fictitious or non-fictitious) country in place of Christ – just like any other political, nationalist and xenophobic organization. So many individual churches and parishes of every single diocese have died out in the Diaspora for exactly this reason, that they put their nationality first – and many of them were not even schismatic but, on paper, canonical! It is not just in places like the Ukraine. Both Macedonia and Montenegro also have such nationalist myths which replace Christ with their provincial ‘nations’.

However, in this country too there are ungrounded converts who put forward a ‘British (i.e. an adjective describing a fictitious and politically constructed country, just like the Ukraine) Orthodoxy’. American nationalism also figures highly among some convert groups there and in France the French nationalism of some in the old Rue Daru group, which is now crumbling and will soon disappear as such, also plays a significant role. If it is Glory to your nation first, then spiritual death awaits you, inevitably. I saw this in the old ROCOR diocese in this country which completely died out as a result of its nationalist racism and Cold War politics. Let the dead bury the dead. This is the spiritual law of the withered branch.

The Contemporary Church

Q: One experienced archimandrite told me that in his view the greatest weakness in our Orthodox Church is the lack of leadership on the part of the episcopate. Would you agree with that?

A: I agree that this is a problem, but I think that the real problem is more radical than that. I think that the chronic lack of leadership is a result rather than the cause. In reality, the lack of leadership is caused by the lack of love (sometimes even outright contempt and hatred) of many bishops for the clergy and the people. Hence all the injustices, favouritism and the fact that so many leave the Church in disgust or else join old calendarist schisms: Why stay in the Church when bishops behave in such a worldly and unloving way? Make up your own Church instead – just like the Protestants.

This lack of love is itself caused precisely by the worldliness of many bishops, their view of the Church, its ‘bureacratization’, seeing it as a mere personality cult (like the old Sourozh diocese which disappeared into schism after the death of its worshipped personality), as a mere institution for paperwork (the temptation of contemporary and pre-Revolutionary Moscow) or as a personal empire of a network of spiritually empty buildings (the temptation of contemporary Constantinople and in the schismatic Ukraine). All these examples trample on the reality of the Church as a Divino-human organism and the spiritual needs of the clergy and their flock. This worldliness, seen for example in ethnic narrowness, is the denial of the Oneness, Holiness, Catholicity and Apostolicity of the Church. What we need is an episcopate which is Churchly, not worldly. All our problems are caused by the lack of the Church, the real Church, which means Love.

For instance, in ROCOR we will never forget (though foolish triumphalists, sectarian bigots and pharisaical self-justifiers do forget it) how it was politically-minded ROCOR bishops who put St John of Shanghai on trial. This was an event from which, 55 years later, ROCOR is still recovering and by which it was almost spiritually destroyed.  In the Greek Church you have the similar example of St Nectarios of Pentapolis (+ 1920), dismissed by his own Patriarchate and the scheming ambitions of its pseudo-Christian bishops. His Patriarchate of Alexandria only started spiritually recovering from this scandal after the canonization of St Nectarios, 41 years after his repose in 1961, when the schemers had died and at once missions to native Africans at last started, some thirteen hundred years late! This situation is exactly parallel to that of St John: ROCOR and the Church inside Russia were reunited in 2007, exactly 41 years after St John’s repose in 1966. This is spiritually significant.

We are always persecuted by false brethren, who are false precisely because they have no love. However, it must be added that the lack of love is displayed by everyone at times. We are all sinful, not just bishops, and we are all crucified for our sins and those of others. But this crucifixion is called salvation.

The Head and the Centre of the Church

Q: Where is the centre of the Church, Constantinople or Moscow? And who therefore is its Head?

A: The administrative centre of the Church changes over time. However, the spiritual centre of the Church is for all time Jerusalem, the place of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, and nowhere else. Her Head is Christ, the Risen God, and no-one else. Any other opinions are theological, historical and racist nonsense.

Orthodox Civilization

Q: People talk about ‘Orthodox Christian Civilization or Western Secularist Civilization’. But what practically is the difference?

A: (Orthodox) Christian Civilization proclaims the Gospel words, that we must ‘seek first the kingdom of heaven’ because that is our destiny after our inevitable death. In other words, we put God first. As a result the lives of men and women must be dedicated to churches and monasteries and bringing up in family life children, the rising generation, to fill them. Men are programmed to be providers, to sacrifice themselves to care for wives and children (this is called being husbands and fathers), mothers are programmed to sacrifice themselves to bring children into the world and bring them up.

Western Secularist (anti-Christian) Civilization is an Anti-Civilization because it alone is not based on spiritual values. It puts money (mammon in the form of the dollar or capital, worshipped in the idolatry and ideology of Capitalism) and material well-being first. The result is that it destroys and pollutes the planet through raping its natural resources with incessant wars for the sake of capitalist consumerism. As regards the lives of men and women, they are subject to individualism, another word for narcissistic egoism, which is the curse of modern Western society, with its indulgences and permissiveness, which result in sexual debauchery and disease and very common mental and physical illnesses, resulting from the consumption of drugs such as alcohol, tobacco, anti-depressants and narcotics. To hell with bringing up children; the vanity of narcissism has no place for them – hence abortion. This is why Western (and Westernized) societies are literally dying out, with populations shrinking and female fertility and sperm counts rapidly falling.

Neophytes

Q: Why does such a high proportion of converts lapse?

A: Simply because many embrace Orthodoxy only with their heads and not with their hearts. To embrace the Church with your head, intellectually, means that as soon as a problem appears, you lapse. To embrace the Church with your heart means that you overcome problems because you are there for Christ, not for simple ideas or mere personalities.

Q: Should laypeople take monastic names when being received into the Church?

A: I am against this. Over the last 45 years, I have noticed time and time again that those who take monastic names, like Seraphim or Silouana, often later lapse. This is because to take a monastic name without the humility that comes from monastic discipline and obedience is always a sign of spiritual illusion (‘prelest’). The same people tend also to dress as monks and nuns, pretending that they are what they are not; they usually lapse relatively quickly because they have made the mistake of associating the outward with the inward; they have built their house on sand and it falls when the storm comes. As the French say: ‘The habit does not make the monk’.

Happiness

Q: Is personal happiness possible in this world or is it a sin?

A: Of course it is possible – and desirable – but you have to fight for it. You will not obtain anything through passive fatalism. It is passive fatalism that is the sin. Satan wants you to be unhappy, God does not. To believe otherwise is to believe like the Jews in God, Who was misunderstood by them in the Old Testament and Who is misunderstood by those other fatalists, the Muslims. (Indeed, the very word ‘Islam’ means ‘submission’). Life is too short not to fight for even the relative happiness which we can have in this life. Don’t give up in despair and fight for happiness even here below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the Mother of God in Eastern England

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Mother of God Comes to the Faithful of Eastern England

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

God willing,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Questions and Answers (March 2019) From Recent Correspondence

The Parish Church

Q: Where is the Colchester church financed from?

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

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

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

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

Nationalism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Missionary Work in Western Europe

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

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

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

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

Orthodox Life

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

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

Global Warming

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

A: Basically:

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

On the Present Western Gender Confusion

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

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

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

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

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

 

Questions and Answers February 2019

Moscow/Constantinople

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rue Daru

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

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

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

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

Politics

Q: Do you think that Brexit will happen?

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

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

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

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

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

Worldliness in the Church

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

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

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

Russian Converts

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

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

The Future

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

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

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

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

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

‘Tsar restores the unity of the Russian Lands’.

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

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

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

Do not be surprised; everything is still possible.

 

Conversations With Those New to the Church

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

 

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

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

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

Q: How should we dress in church?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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