Category Archives: Pastoral Matters

Questions and Answers February 2019

Moscow/Constantinople

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rue Daru

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

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

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

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

Politics

Q: Do you think that Brexit will happen?

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

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

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

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

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

Worldliness in the Church

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

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

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

Russian Converts

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

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

The Future

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

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

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

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

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

‘Tsar restores the unity of the Russian Lands’.

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

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

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

Do not be surprised; everything is still possible.

 

Conversations With Those New to the Church

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

 

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

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

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

Q: How should we dress in church?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No God’s Land

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God help us!

Nicuşor Gliga

Norwich, 21st January 2019

 

Q and A October-December 2018

Church Matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Political Matters

Q: Why do American Presidents have such extraordinary lives?

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

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

Human Matters

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

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

Q: Is friendship between men and women possible?

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

 

 

The Orthodox Parish in Norwich

The ‘Matchbox Church’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nicuşor Gliga, Bucharest, Romania 17 October 2018

 

Ghostbusting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Orthodox Christian Eastern England

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

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

Our Background

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

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

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

  1. Suffolk

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

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

Local Saints

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

Holy Places

Iken, Hoxne.

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

Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich, Lowestoft, Felixstowe.

  1. Norfolk

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

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

Local Saints

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

Holy Places

East Dereham, Bawburgh.

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

Norwich, King’s Lynn.

  1. Essex

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

Local Saints

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

Holy Place

Bradwell on Sea.

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

Colchester, Southend, Harlow.

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

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

Local Saints

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

Holy Place with a relic of St Audrey

Ely.

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

Wisbech, Ely.

 

Spiritual But Not Religious

Apparently, the new mass religion is: ‘I am spiritual, but not religious’.

As regards the last half of this statement, I can safely affirm that as an Orthodox Christian priest, I too am of course not religious and indeed I am opposed to religion.

Perhaps I need to explain that, as some may misunderstand.

As far as I am concerned, religion is an invention of States, a power-grab made in order to manipulate, brainwash and exploit their subject peoples. Whether it is Roman Catholicism (invented by the new Vatican Church-State in Rome in the 11th century) or Protestantism (invented by various kings and princes in the 16th century in order to steal power and money from the Vatican Church-State, so making in turn their own State Churches) or any other ism, religions are manmade. Therefore they inevitably die out, just as these particular religions, now bankrupted because they have lost their roots in Orthodox Christianity from which they are distantly descended, are today dying out. This death is as a result of the new manmade religion of Secularism (see below).

Here is why I have always said that I am not religious.

However, I do have faith, in Orthodox Christianity – which is not an ism. I not only believe that God exists, but know that God exists, through personal experience. Faith is totally different from religion. Faith is natural and experiential, either you have that experience or else you do not and it is absent. In that case you must admit that you simply do not know if there is a God or not. On the other hand, religion is an artifice, an invention used for the manipulation and exploitation of the masses by the power-seeking, the greedy, the narrow-minded, and by censorious, self-justifying moralizers. In this sense, of course Marx was right: Religion is the opium provided to the people – just as Secularism is the opium provided to the intellectuals.Anything to make people and intellectuals into self-pleasing zombies.

Thus, I also reject the new manmade religion of Secularism – and make no mistake it is a religion, for there will always be a religion, since nature abhors a vacuum. Secularism is an especially absurd and illogical religion, as it does not believe in Almighty God, but in mere fallible man, whose blood-soaked failings and injustices have been so obvious throughout history! Secularism is the only religion that does not have a Perfect Being to worship but irrationally believes in His absence.

This concept of this man-worship or humanism defines Secularism. Its natural modern extension is political correctness or self-censorship: you must not tell any human-being the truth about themselves because that would be offensive to their fallible human nature. As Orthodox Christians, we know that the Truth sets us free, but Secularism with its self-made mythology and legends does not know this, preferring the enslavement of lies.

Secularism justifies itself on an incredible and laughable irrational superstition – that everything that exists in the whole Universe is the product of random chance. In reality, even the likelihood that a single rock could be produced at random must be about one quadrillion squared to one. Secularism, the offshoot of a heresy of a heresy of Orthodox Christianity, has its Scriptures: The Theory of Evolution. It also has the Antitrinity Dogma of liberty, equality and fraternity, the Antichrist Dogma that fallible man, not the sinless God-man, must be worshipped, its propaganda, called the media, its high priests, such as Dawkins and other atheist celebrities, and its prophets, doom-saying atheist scientists who would bring humanity into despair, if they were believed.

Of course, Secularism is all superstition. As Chesterton said a century ago: ‘When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything’. And this is the nature of the modern religion of Secularism, it is just anything. Today, people believe in anything: Money; New Age; environmentalism; tree-hugging; magic crystals; fengshui; ley lines;horoscopes; sport and physical health (‘wellness’, ‘fitness’, ‘my body is my temple’ – words which are a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit); and immoral and amoral celebrities, the ‘stars’ of screen, music and sport, who are the new saints.

The modern religion of Secularism says: ‘I am spiritual, but not religious’. However, ‘spiritual’ here does not mean the Orthodox Christian Faith, it means listening to the voices of those spiritual beings who are called demons. It means that you can do whatever you want, so guaranteeing your ‘human rights’ of enslavement personal laziness and immorality (which, ironically, it self-justifyingly calls ‘freedom’). Secularism is a completely effortless religion, it requires nothing except the practice of your sins. There is therefore nothing so regressive as this new (in fact very old) religion of Secularism. It is merely the idolatry of vulgar self-worship, for it bans the words sin and repentance, making all spiritual progress impossible and so spiritual regress inevitable.

 

 

 

 

Why We Are Russian Orthodox Christians Although We Are Not Russian

Why Christian?

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

Why Orthodox?

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

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

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

Why Russian Orthodox Christian?

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

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