Category Archives: Pastoral Matters

Coronavirus Again

Today, like every day, some 350,000 children will be born into the world and 150,000 people will die, among them some hundreds, mainly elderly or already seriously ill, from coronavirus. Whatever happens in the coming months, whether, despite all the media hype, the virus soon peaks as in China, though leaving tragically many thousands with their lives shortened, or if it does indeed become a worldwide tragedy in which several million will die, three things may happen.

Economic

Economically, this could be the beginning of the end of consumerism, that is, the worship or idolatry of things (materialism). This would mean the start of a new way of life of self-limitation, as the Russian writer Solzhenitsyn, horrified by Western consumerism, called for nearly fifty years ago. Certainly, such a new moderation of consumption will be welcomed by all who put the spirit above matter.

Political

Some politicians, seeing how they can control the masses with the help of manipulative media may be tempted to curtail freedoms more permanently. This is already clear in Western European countries of Roman Catholic culture with their dictatorial states. A global concentration camp may be possible – what a temptation for some – control, mass hysteria induced by the thought police media.

Spiritual

Some are already suffering from paranoia and depression as a result of hysteria and panic created in all the Western and Westernised countries of the world. Why should this tragic virus not be a call to repentance? Could it develop into the end of the Western illusion of consumerism in post-Soviet Russia? Even before the Revolution the prophets foretold that salvation would come from China.

What can we say, except that all is possible and that any more speculation is a waste of precious time? Much depends on us being responsible, but all is in God’s hands.

Questions and Answers from Correspondence (December 2019 – February 2020)

The Church and the Outside World

Q: Do we need a Westless world?

A: That is both meaningless and impossible. What we need is a world in which the Western world has been restored to Orthodoxy through repentance and so to spiritual purity. What we need is a sinless world.

Q: I feel scandalised by the kow-towing of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to the US State Department and its introduction of more meddling politics into Orthodox Church life, causing schism. I am so upset that I feel like abandoning the Church.

A: The Church, starting with its hierarchy, has always been the victim of politicians, who often appointed their friends and cronies as bishops – quite uncanonically. First it was pagan Roman Emperors with their allies, anti-Christian Jews, then it was pagan Persians, then pseudo-Christian Popes of Rome, then pseudo-Christian Emperors, then the Ottomans, then pseudo-Christian Russo-German rulers, then the Western Colonial Powers, then nationalism, Western materialists, Capitalist or Marxist, and today the politico-financial elite based in the USA, who persecute the Church.

There is nothing new here. One of the Twelve was called Judas and there will always be judases amongst us. Remember the famous response of St Basil the Great to the Emperor Valens in Caesarea in 371, who had demanded the theological submission of St Basil, who flatly refused. The imperial prefect expressed astonishment at Basil’s defiance, to which Basil replied, ‘Perhaps you have never met a real bishop before.’

Thus, only recently the Church Outside Russia had to be completely independent of the Church inside Russia, so as to remain free of bishops there who were subjugated to the KGB. Now – and actually for many decades – we have Greek bishops subjugated to the CIA. So what? We will continue to operate independently of all those who have sold their souls for a mess of pottage. The Church lives thanks to the Saints and the prophetic voices of those who actually believe and implement their Faith, who remain independent of their ‘diplomatic’ compromises and their anti-Gospel and anti-missionary ‘protocols’.

Yes, you would be quite wrong to abandon the Church. You do not abandon Christ. That would be to do exactly what the apostate bishops do. And you can always tell who they are by their refusal to venerate the saints. Just as they despised St Seraphim of Sarov, ‘a dirty peasant’, and persecuted and exiled St Nectarios of Egina (so loved by St John of Shanghai), who should have been Patriarch of Alexandria but consorted with Non-Greek ‘blacks’ whom he wanted to bring to Christ, so in the old Soviet Union they refused to canonise the New Martyrs and Confessors. And so it is today. The compromised hate the saints because the saints are not of this world – whereas they are of this world. The world hates the spiritual. Our Lord told the disciples this: as it hated Him, so it would hate them too. Our attitude to the saints is the touchstone of whether we belong to the Church or not.

Beware of bishops who are ideology-driven, head-driven, and not love-driven, heart-driven. Ideologies come not only from outside, from the State (money and power), but also from inside, from the passions and delusions that in turn come from the passions, or from both.

Q: How do you recognise someone who had been KGB-trained? Someone told me that a person who tried to become a parishioner in our parish in the USA told me that he could recognise KGB training in her.

A: There were three stages to their training. In the first stage they try and bribe you with presents to get you on side. If this does not work, they go on to the next stage, which is flattery: ‘everyone has his price’, as they say. They find someone’s weak spot and flatter it. If these two stages do not work, then they turn to the third stage, which means turning nasty. This involves slandering their victims and then denouncing them.

Sadly, some of our bishops have fallen to these tactics through naivety. However, I have been told that Western spy services use the same techniques. The KGB had no monopoly on cunning and nastiness. I am sure that it was the same in Ancient Rome.

Q: A friend told me the following: ‘Protestants follow the Bible; Roman Catholics follow the Pope of Rome; Orthodox follow the Holy Spirit’. What do you think of this definition?

A: Well, Protestants do not follow the Bible. If they did, they would be Orthodox. As regards the Roman Catholics, I think I would agree with you. As for the Orthodox, I think this is very idealistic. It would be more exact to say ‘Orthodox should follow the Holy Spirit’. There are an awful lot of Orthodox who do not, including time-serving clergy and a number among the episcopate who are fonder of money and power than of Christ. The proof? If all Orthodox did follow the Holy Spirit, there would be no Protestants or Roman Catholics; all would be Orthodox.

Q: Why are Evangelicals so moralistic and violently anti-LGBT? And why do they seem to give unconditional support to Zionist Jews and yet are very anti-Muslim?

A: They are moralistic because moralism is all that is left once spirituality has been removed and been lost. This is how Puritanism began in the sixteenth century. Today, among Protestants this has created a world where everything is geared to ‘fun and comfort’, to Disney life, and not to ascetic life. As for their support for Zionist Jews and hatred for the Zionists’ enemies, the Muslims, we should remember that Evangelicals, despite their name, are very much concentrated on the Old Testament. For instance, it was Jewish bankers in the Netherlands who financed the very expensive Civil Wars of Cromwell. Jews have always supported Protestants against Catholics and Orthodox. ‘Divide and rule’. The Pharisees were after all also moralists.

Wherever there is liberalism, modernism and atheism, you will also find moralism. This because wherever there is no spirituality, moralism rules. As a result, this moralism is always hypocritical because you cannot be moral if you do not have any spirituality. There was nothing so moralistic as Soviet Communism. You find the same hypocritical moralism in Socialist parties (e. g. the Labour Party in Britain) or among modernist ‘Orthodox’.

Q: What spiritual dangers do you think are the worst in today’s world?

A: It seems to me that there are three principal dangers: phariseeism, modernism and fatalism. The first means the spirit of ritualism, formalism, nominalism, in other words, of idolatry. The second is the spirit of aping the Western secularist world in its modernist and ‘liberal’ renunciation of Christ, in other words, the loss of the sense of the sacred due to materialism. The third is the spirit which says, let us abandon everything, there is nothing more we can do, there is no hope, the end is coming anyway, in other words, the abandonment of responsibility. All three dangers are in fact inspired by Satan, as they all play into his hands.

Inside the Church

Q: Why is safeguarding so little talked about in Orthodox churches?

A: Simply because pedophilia is extremely rare in the Orthodox Civilisation of the Church; it nearly always comes from the outside Western world, from Western culture. In Orthodoxy, in principle, we have married clergy in the parishes. (There are exceptions, but they are abnormal). Pedophilia among so-called Christians comes from the craze for clerical celibacy, which attracts perverts to paid jobs. I have in the last fifty years heard of only seven cases in the Orthodox Church worldwide, two in the USA, one in Australia, two in the old Soviet Union, and one in France and one in Canada (both by former Anglicans).

Having said that, in our diocese we do have an up-to-date safeguarding policy. In any public institution we have to protect our children from outsiders who may want to prey on them.

Q: Why do Orthodox insist on kneeling on Sundays despite the canon against it?

A: Your refer to Canon XX of the First Universal Council, repeated elsewhere. Many kneel because we are Orthodox, that is, because we are often unworthy to stand before God. Let us not be attached to convert pride.

Q: Should we read the so-called ‘secret prayers’ aloud?

A: Rationalists (Schmemannites, Archbp Paul of Finland and the whole semi-Protestant Parisian School from where they come, with its lack of sense of the sacred, which is both its essence and its bane), will tell you that they must be read aloud so that ‘the people can understand’. This is a classic piece of clericalism! Do they really think that they, with their ‘superior education’, or anyone else, can understand how bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ?! However, for us, the most important thing is the mystical aspect of the ‘sacramental prayers’ (‘secret prayers’ is really a mistranslation). The way clergy read these prayers must inspire prayerfulness, the mystical sense. Shouting them out like some sort of academic text is totally inappropriate.

Q: What is most necessary for converts?

A: I think it is spiritual sensitivity. This is the only way of being able to distinguish between fraud and authenticity.

Q: How do we approach our patron saints?

A: We should live their lives insofar as it is possible. It is interesting that Nicholas and Maria are probably the most popular names for Orthodox and it is the spirit of St Nicholas that exists strongly among many Orthodox men and the spirit of the Mother of God among many Orthodox women.

Q: What do you think of the books ‘The Way of a Pilgrim’ and ‘The Pilgrim Continues His Way’?

A: I think like a lot of literature read almost only by neophytes, they can be dangerous. They fill the head with fantasies, instead of with sobriety. Convert literature belongs to the ‘Symeon-Silouan-Seraphim’ (favourite convert names) school of convertitis and makes the naïve and inexperienced think they are already saints and know better than those with decades of experience in reality.

Q: Why are spires not used in Orthodox architecture?

A: Because we believe in the Incarnation. Spires point skywards to a lost God. God is not lost among us, but is incarnate. Orthodox architecture says that heaven is on earth, inside the church, which contains heaven (inside the iconostasis) and earth (in the nave). This is why domes, cupolas and caps are used – they point to God inside the church building, present in the sacraments.

Q: Should we keep Valentine’s Day? He was after all an Orthodox martyr.

A: St Valentine of Terni is commemorated on 14/27 February. Hs association with love etc is simply because of the pagan Italian custom of keeping that day as the first day of spring, when the birds and the bees begin. The commemoration of St Valentine with this day is thus completely coincidental. So this custom is extra-liturgical, though it goes back a long way, probably over 2,000 years, and in this country both Chaucer and Shakespeare mention it, so it is not a piece of modern commercialism like so much else.

Should we keep it? I think this is a purely personal matter, like keeping New Year’s Eve or Boxing Day, or any other secular, but not spiritually negative (unlike Hallowe’en), celebration. I am sure that the average Orthodox woman would be glad of some extra attention on this day, but there is no obligation at all from the Church.

Q: Do we bless candles at the Feast of the Presentation, the Meeting of the Lord, on 2/15 February?

A: This is a purely Roman Catholic custom, adopted in Belarus and the Western Ukraine under Roman Catholic influence, but there is a prayer on the Great Book of Needs for blessing candles on this day. Personally, I can see no need for it, unless the faithful ask for it. It is unknown to the older and more Eastern Orthodox world, though it is harmless in itself.

Q: Is the story that St Simon the Zealot came to Britain true? This is what it says: ‘He arrived in Britain in 60 AD and was crucified on 10 May the next year by the Roman Catus Decianus in Caistor, now in Lincolnshire’.

A: People sometimes ask me for the map reference to St Simon’s holy well near the River Cover in Yorkshire. This is in Coverdale between the villages of West Scrafton and Caldbergh, near where he is supposed to have lived (grid reference SE 086 849, Ordnance Survey sheet 99). However, Orthodox Tradition proclaims unanimously that St Simon was martyred in Abkhazia by the Black Sea. So possibly he visited Britain (as also to many other places), but he was not martyred here. The problem is also that the British tradition of his martyrdom here is very late, I think thirteenth century. I think it is more likely that crusader-pillagers brought back a small relic of him and left it in Caistor and perhaps, north of it, in Coverdale. This is similar to the case of St Joseph of Arimathea and Glastonbury.

Q: What Orthodox name would you give to someone called Lynn?

A: Angelina.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q and A from Correspondence in November 2019

The Orthodox Church

Q: Two questions:

1. The Orthodox world has been in crisis since Crete. A schism now separates the Russian Orthodox Church and others from the Greek Churches, which are one by one falling away. What do you think is the answer?

2. Constantinople has been canonizing a number of elders on Mt Athos. What should our attitude be when we know that Patriarch Bartholomew is schismatic?

A: Two answers:

1. As the Phanariot schism spreads from the Ukraine to the Diaspora, Greece, the Patriarchate of Alexandria, the Czech Republic and Latvia, recruiting the marginal semi-Orthodox liberals, modernists and homosexuals on the way, the quick answer is to say: ‘Stand firm!’, and to those who have fallen away: ‘Repent!’. But this repentance and standing firm also concerns parts of the Russian Church.

I think the Russian Church must show that it is not in any way compromised or practises double standards. It can do this by proving in theology and in practice that it wholeheartedly rejects the three heretical isms which have so troubled the peace of the Church for over a century: modernism and ecumenism (adopted from the Protestant world) and Eastern Papism (adopted from the Vatican). It cannot reject any of these without first renouncing its membership of the Protestant World Council of Churches and renouncing what some see as the hypocritical diplomatic compromises it has made with the Vatican – Western Papism.

In renouncing modernism, ecumenism and Eastern Papism, the Russian Church can consequently support the Orthodox calendar and offer its services in mediating between Local Churches which use the Papal (so-called ‘new’) calendar and those who wish to return to the Orthodox calendar, including old calendarist groups, so helping to heal needless schisms. In this way it can show that it is at the centre of healthy forces in the wider Orthodox Church, that it fights for the piety and purity of Holy Orthodoxy.

2. I fear that as long as only a schismatic, and now a heretic (as his publicly-expressed opinions about Catholicism which brought Athonite monks to tears are heretical), has canonized them, I do not think we can accept them as saints. Whatever our feelings of veneration for them, a schismatic, with whose views these elders would never have agreed, cannot canonize. A decision will be taken once he has gone and a canonical Patriarch has taken over.

Q: What do you think is the most important task for the Orthodox episcopate today?

A: The episcopate must learn to love, care for and show understanding of priests and deacons, avoiding causing injustices.

Q: What do you consider to be the most important question for any Orthodox in the Diaspora?

A: I believe that this question is: Does my Faith export? In other words, is my Faith accessible to those who are not of my national background? If the answer to this question is ‘No’, then you can be sure that your Faith will die out. This is because if it is not accessible to those who are not of your national background, then it will also be inaccessible to your Diaspora-born children and grandchildren.

Orthodox Teaching

Q: Why do Orthodox refuse to allow cremations?

A: The central belief of the Orthodox Church is in the Resurrection of Christ, as is expressed in the Church Year and in the words of the funeral service itself. So, for us, to deliberately burn up someone’s body is to deny the Resurrection. Therefore, for us, someone who wants their body to be cremated is saying that they have lapsed from the Church. They are no longer Orthodox.

Q:  I have a problem with the so-called Mowgli question. If little children have grown up in total isolation or even were nursed by wild animals they can’t integrate human life at all, they behave like animals and can’t learn any human skills etc. What is with their souls then? Where is this ‘spark’ of God and the image of God in them?

A: Just as a baby’s body is primitive compared to an adult’s body, so is its soul, undeveloped, inexperienced, untrained. Thus, on the one hand, it has innocence and purity, on the other hand, no experience of reality and is totally unable to survive without interaction with adults, firstly, primarily, its mother.

This is why small children are so attracted to animals, especially young ones, kittens, puppies etc. They have no immortal souls, but they do have innocence and instincts.

Feral children, adopted by wolves and others, do not get this attention, and often remain with untrained souls, almost, we could say, feral souls. Like animals, they often have only instincts to guide them.

The soul has to be trained and educated. This is true also for adults. It is why we have spiritual fathers, monasteries etc.

Russia and the Russian Church

Q: Two questions: First: Why did Patriarch Kyrill call President Putin a miracle? After all, Putin called the fall of the Soviet Union a catastrophe, which it surely was not. Second: Are you an optimist or a pessimist regarding the future of the Russian Church?

A: President Putin is indeed a miracle, but only relatively, in comparison with the monsters who went before him since 1917. That is the context in which Patriarch Kyrill was talking. And in that context you cannot but agree. Clearly, however, President Putin has many failings. He has failed to root out corruption and to remove the many relics of evil Communism. He can therefore only be a transitory figure. His long reign has only come about because so far the country has not been worthy of finding anyone better. He will be followed either by better or by worse. I do not know which, but I hope for the best.

The collapse of the Soviet Union was indeed a geopolitical catastrophe – millions died as a result from becoming refugees from unjust borders, from the collapse of industry, the closure of factories and mass unemployment leading to starvation, the collapse of the medical system, from despair and suicide, often a slow suicide through alcoholism, as alcohol had become the only consolation for tens of millions after the Soviet system. All this went unreported in the West because the West was partly responsible for it.

Yes, of course this does not mean that we do not rejoice that the evil tyranny of the Soviet Union is over, but its collapse was still a geopolitical catastrophe because of the totally unjust way in which it collapsed, the absurd borders of various Republics, the civil wars that followed and are still going on nearly 30 years later and the massive organized theft of public assets by so-called ‘oligarchs’, which followed the collapse.

There was one incredibly grave error made by the Soviet Union, for whose Stalinist tyranny many older Russian people are actually nostalgic, such is their nationalism but also the unpleasantness of many present-day aspects of life in Russia. This grave error of the Soviet Union was that it thought, like Stalin (and like all imperialists throughout history), that a great empire is not spiritual, but geographical. (Stalin had no concept of the spiritual). And until the Church has been rebuilt inside Russia, there can be no spiritual empire of Russia. So, what can we say about the Russian Orthodox Church today?

First of all, the Russian Church is fully independent of the Russian State, despite the ridiculous propaganda claims of Western politicians and journalists. But that does not mean that the Church does not suffer from the human failings of members of the clergy who put their own careers and personalities above Christ, just as they did in the times of the Soviet Union. This hangover from the past, ‘a Soviet reflex’, is a great problem.

Firstly, what is desperately needed by the Russian Church is the restoration of parish life, which was wiped out by atheism after 1917 (and it was already often weak before the Revolution). This restoration must be led by real pastors, not money-money careerists. The parish is a family, if it is anything at all. Here the experience of the Russian emigration can be helpful. The financial affairs of parishes must be transparent – and they are not at all at present inside Russia.

Secondly, as for the monasteries and the episcopate, they require real monks, neither mere intellectuals and wishy-washy diplomats with meaningless doctorates, nor the feudal and the jealous, who persecute zealous and happily-married clergy. Only reforms here will put an end to Church bureaucracy, to ‘managers’ and ‘administrators’ in the place of loving pastor-bishops.

So I am neither a pessimist nor an optimist. Let us wait and see.

The Ukraine

Q: Why should the Ukraine not have its own national Church? Russia, Romania, Greece and others do, even a little country like Albania does.

A: The short answer is because the vast majority of Ukrainian Orthodox do not want one!

On another level, there are two reasons why not, one is theological-ecclesiological, the other is political.

1. As we have said in a previous answer elsewhere, there are two alien trends in the Church – neither is Orthodox, but have been imposed from outside or by traitors from inside. The first is the centralist concept of one Universal Church, with its deified leader placed above all others, in fact replacing Christ. This is Papist Catholicism and among Orthodox this mentality has been absorbed and adopted from the fallen First Rome only by today’s Constantinople. The second centrifugal trend comes from Protestant nationalism, according to which every national ruler must have and control his own erastian national and nationalist Church (as in England, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark etc).

It is this very recent 19th and 20th century trend that has led to small minorities of Orthodox in Poland and Czechoslovakia, Albania, Greece, and also countries like Romania and Bulgaria, having their own national Churches, which is not necessarily normal. The trend is now being spread and propagandized by local xenophobes in Macedonia, Montenegro and the Ukraine, funded by the US State Department whose slogan is ‘Divide and Rule’, just like the old pagan Roman Empire, on which the US administration is closely modelled. This is a rejection of the Christian (= Orthodox) Theology of the Holy Trinity, which says ‘unity in diversity’ and is confederative in style.

2. The second reason is that only a real country could have its own Church in any case. The Ukraine, like for example Belgium (invented by Great Britain after the Napoleonic Wars), is not a real country, having been thought up by the Hapsburgs at the end of the 19th century. Their fantasy was then implemented by four of the most monstrous and genocidal atheist dictators in history, Communist and Fascist: Lenin, Stalin, Hitler and Khrushchov.

If the Ukraine wants its own Church, it must first of all carry out referenda all over the Ukraine to determine whether the peoples who live there (only about 20% speak various dialects of ‘Ukrainian’ or rather Galician) actually want to belong to the Ukraine. Probably 50% + would vote to join Russia, which they belonged to until 1922 and others would join Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Poland. Then you could ask the remainder whether they wanted their own Church. Perhaps they would want a Uniat one anyway – though the centralist Vatican would never grant it independence because Roman Catholics, like the centralist Phanariots, do not do independence.

In general, the mere concept that each country must have its own national Church comes from petty nationalist provincialism and isolationist xenophobia. Nationalism is anyway simply an attachment to this world, worldliness. It merely provides ammunition for those who want to exploit in order to divide and rule, as today in the Ukraine, which is a puppet of the US State Department. The First Rome fell to Catholicism (Latin nationalism) and later to Protestantism (Germanic nationalism). The Second Rome fell to Greek nationalism, which had already helped cause Egypt and Syria to fall away from the Church into their national heresies. Will the Third Rome fall to Russian nationalism? We hope not, because a Fourth Rome there will not be.

As we have said elsewhere, our Orthodox ecclesiological model is the Holy Trinity, Unity in Diversity, the Family, the Multinational Confederation. I can see no reason why, rather as in the old Pentarchy of the first millennium (covering the three Continents of Asia, Africa and Europe), we should not have Continental or, in the case of Eurasia which is Multi-Civilizational, Regional Local Churches. For example, we could end up with thirteen Local Churches, presided over by Jerusalem. As we have said elsewhere, these could be:

For Eurasia: the Jerusalem, the Russian (including the present Polish and Czechoslovak Churches, which were artificially hived off from the then captive Russian Church by Constantinople in order to weaken it, as it is also doing in Estonia and the Ukraine today), the Antiochian (covering the territory of the Asian Muslim world), the South-East European or Constantinopolitan (including the Romanian, Serbian, Greek, Bulgarian, Cypriot, Albanian and Constantinopolitan), the Western European, the Chinese, the Indian, the South-East Asian and the Japanese. The Continental Churches would be: The African (the Alexandrian), the North American, the Latin American and the Oceanian.

Moldova

Q: Why does Russia not return Moldova to Romania?

A: As we have already replied in an earlier such question, it cannot, because Moldova does not belong to Russia!

As you know, for most of the last 200 years Moldova (Bessarabia) has been part of the Russian Empire and then of the Soviet Union. It belonged to the Russian Empire because it was the Russian Empire, which freed it from the Turks before Romania ever existed. As you will also know ‘Romania’, even the very word, is an invention of a German Saxon. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moldova has been an independent country and has not wished to become part of Romania. Moldovans – and I have been to Moldova – tell me that there are three reasons for this.

Firstly, they say that their grandparents told them the horror stories of the interwar period when Moldova was a province of Romania, especially about the Romanian Fascist treatment of minorities. The experience was not good. Secondly, they tell me that although Moldova is corrupt, Romania is far more corrupt, as we can see from the recent mass demonstrations in Bucharest against corruption in the Romanian government. Thirdly, Church Moldovans are horrified by the simony, new calendar, ecumenism and general decadence which have penetrated parts of the Romanian Church.

This question is of course in any case one for Moldovans and has nothing to do with Russia. If Moldovans want to become part of Romania, they can. But I suspect that this will not happen until Romania has become democratic, prosperous and not corrupt. At present Romania is shrinking fast, as the young move abroad for work and choose to live in countries where corruption is not the norm. I think the ball is in Romania’s court. If it wants to attract Moldova, it must present a different and attractive face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Questions and Answers (October 2019)

Q: How should we react to the many stories throughout history, but especially today, of clerical corruption, for example, of priests stealing money, committing crimes and bishops who are morally corrupt or perverts etc?

A: Firstly, many of these stories may well be slanders. How do we know that they are true? Where is the proof? A lot of people (especially atheistic journalists) invent such stories in order to justify their own corruption and laziness, saying: ‘If priests and bishops do it, then I can too’. It is so often just self-justification and it is very easy to slander. Such slanders do great harm. Let us not forget how St Nectarios of Aegina was slandered and how St John was slandered by his fellow-bishops who put him on trial. The righteous need the patience of Job.

But even if all such stories were true, so what? Corruption is the problem of those who are corrupt. Tomorrow they will die and their bodies will rot in their graves and their souls will go down to hell. Let them do their worst – they will suffer terribly for it and their names will go down in history as the monsters they are. They will have to answer for their corruption at the Last Judgement.

God only wants one thing from us, to save our own souls, not to save the world or to save corrupt bishops and priests, but just to save ourselves. Let us do simply that and leave the others in their self-made mess. They will either repent or else will have to face God, Who is not mocked. I tremble for them.

Let us interest ourselves not in scandalous stories, but in real stories, in the Lives of the Saints.

Q: Some people say that all the problems of Orthodox come from others, for example, from Communists, Catholics or Jews. Do you agree?

A: No, this is complete nonsense. The problems of Orthodox come from Orthodox, from ourselves. The grave error of all conspiracy theories is that they blame others for our own failures. They reject the concept and reality of personal sin. This is anti-Christian. Yes, there are many siren voices who urge us to shipwreck. True, they are all enemies of Christ (whom, by the way, we are called on to love, not to hate), but there is no need to listen to such voices. If we do listen to them and obey them, then we become the enemies of Christ, we are entirely to blame, responsible for rejecting Christ, instead of rejecting the siren voices. We do not blame others, we blame ourselves. That is called Christianity. Self-reproach is the beginning of salvation.

Q: Why after 1917 did the White Movement fail and not defeat Communism, the Reds?

A: Simply because there was no such thing as the ‘White Movement’. Most so-called Whites were merely anti-Bolsheviks, not White at all, but February revolutionaries, Kerenskyites. Just because they were against Communism, it does not at all mean they were ‘White’. Many, perhaps most, so-called ‘White’ anti-Communists, were crude nationalists and atheists, so in fact traitors to the real Whites. Many were no better than the Reds and indeed committed the same atrocities. This is an excellent example of ‘the enemies of my enemies are not necessarily my friends’. It has been estimated that only 10% of the so-called Whites were actually White, that is, actually Orthodox, fighting for the restoration of Orthodox government. Yudenich, Kornilov, Kolchak, Denikin and so many well-known generals were not White – after all, the Tsar was brought down by the treason of generals. The only well-known Generals who were White were Diterichs and, to a lesser extent, Wrangel.

Q: Is today’s Russia close to being Orthodox?

A: No, it still has very far to go. For example, there is always the danger both from Western-style ‘liberals’ (militant atheists) as well as from unChurched nationalists. It is because of them all that Lenin’s mummy still lies in its stew in the centre of Moscow. Statues to him still stand in provincial Russian towns. (Just like the statues of the equally evil Cromwell and Napoleon, which defile England and France). You cannot glorify the New Martyrs and the new torturers, God and the devil. Many such unChurched nationalist ‘Orthodox’ also still admire the Georgian bandit and mass-murderer Stalin. Why?

This is simply because he was on the winning side in World War II. In reality, that war was won by the generals and above all the sacrifices of the people, not by the disastrous Communists, who shot brave soldiers in the back and in 1945 sent millions of freed Russians, who had been captured by the Nazis, to Siberia, to perish there. Stalin was a disastrous and incompetent leader who allowed the enemy to get to the gates of Moscow and Saint Petersburg within six months. Thus, nearly 30 million citizens of the USSR were slaughtered in World War II under Stalin, whereas under Tsar Nicholas II in World War I just over one million died and the Germans had only conquered Russian Poland and a small part of Lithuania after three years of huge losses for them. As for the Austro-Hungarians and Turks in World War I, they were defeated by Russia.

And then there are still many place names of those like Lenin, Stalin, Sverdlov and others who committed the obscenities of the USSR. President Putin has been unable to undo all this and that is clearly his greatest failure.

Q: What does the Church say about racism?

A: The Pharisees said that too many ‘foreign’ Greeks had become Christians and this was one of the reasons they refused to become Christians. Thus they lost the Church which passed into the hands of others. All nationalities have committed the same error and so lost the Church, in 1453 and most recently in 1917. There is no place for racism in the Church.

Those who were racist to me in my youth are all dead now. Let that be a warning.

Q: Are some nationalities privileged in the Church?

A: Sadly, often yes. But this always ends up badly, as we can see in ROCOR in Miami today, not to mention several other places.

Q: How do we avoid negativity?

A: By focusing on Christ and the saints. However, this does not mean that we should be dreamers and live in the clouds, like those who do not want to know about the real world. Such people call those who tell them the truth ‘negative’. Such dreamers never achieve anything, however much money they are given by the deluded, as they are disincarnate.

Q: Can ordinary Greeks take communion in our Russian churches?

A: Yes, of course, I give them communion every Sunday. Ordinary members of the Patriarchate of Constantinople are not directly concerned by the actions of their treasonous elite. But I now make a habit of asking Greeks who are unknown to me whether they are actually Orthodox or Eastern Catholics (‘Eastern Papists’) at the confession which is obligatory for adults before communion. As the Ukrainian Archbishop Theodosy of Boyarka has said:

‘Orthodoxy versus ‘Phanarodoxy’ runs as a line not just between Churches, but within the Local Churches themselves; that is, between the ascetics of faith and zealots of the canons of Orthodoxy on the one hand, and ecumenists, religious liberals and Greek ethnophyletists on the other hand. And if, by God’s intervention and admonition, the Phanariots – the new Papists – do not come to understand the Truth and come to repentance, then such a global division between Orthodoxy and ‘Phanarodoxy’ is wholly possible and not far off. But in that case, the Orthodox Church will only be cleansed of a foreign element, of new heresies.

If we are speaking about a schism between individual Local Orthodox Churches within their borders as a consequence of the current inter-Orthodox situation, then theoretically, unfortunately, even this is possible. And by human reasoning, everything is leading to this. But I hope the Lord will not allow this, otherwise, the prophecies of the saints, including of recent times, would have said a lot about it. But they did not. On the contrary, they spoke otherwise, saying a lot that inspires optimism. I believe the Lord will correct the situation with such circumstances so that over time, Orthodox will only remember with a smile the miniscule but proud heresy of Eastern Papism, which will by then have sunk into oblivion’.

Q: What is the most urgent need for Orthodox in Western Europe?

A: I can tell you now that it is NOT writing books about ‘Orthodox’ philosophical theories of ‘spirituality’ and academic theology, where the authors describe what they do not do and cannot provide. Our most urgent need is premises, parish churches. The RCs and C of E have them and they are fully equipped, with Church halls and clergy houses. Why can’t Orthodox do that? Shame on us.

How to Deal with Disappointments – or Falling in Love Again Every Day

Marriages can all too easily get tired, especially once children appear. Every married person knows this. In Western cultures, firstly in North America, then the UK and all over Western Europe, and increasingly even in Central and Eastern Europe as those countries too are Americanized, secularist values are being adopted. This alien secularism means ugliness, which says: Why bother to be beautiful when God did not make us and we are going to die like animals anyway?

Thus, adopting secularist values, some Orthodox wives give up looking after themselves, constantly criticize their husbands and men in general, dress badly and eat badly, jeans and T-shirts all the time, too weak to swim against the surrounding tide. As regards some Orthodox husbands, they begin looking at other women, giving up the constant self-sacrifice that real men, real husbands and fathers, make for their beautiful wives and obedient children, and fall into alcoholic and other abuses. Like the secularists, they say: ‘We are free, let it all hang out, who cares anyway?. These secularist values are in fact all about loss of respect for God, for others and for self. These ugly values, loss of respect and self-respect are not the values of our Orthodox Christian Civilization.

Orthodox women should keep themselves beautiful, following Orthodox values. They should look after their bodies and looks, disciplining themselves, careful what and how much they eat, looking after their hair, looks, dress and shoes – but keeping modesty, without falling into vanity and foolish expense on vain luxuries and excessive make-up: such care of self is only for their husbands, not for anyone else. As for Orthodox men, they must keep sacrificing themselves at work and in the home, being good husbands and fathers, sharing all income, disciplining themselves too, not abusing their bodies and minds with alcohol, any other drug or tattoos, spending time with their beloved and unique wives and children. They too should look after their bodies and looks, not in order to attract other women, but only their beautiful wives.

At the Orthodox wedding, we are crowned. These crowns have a double meaning: martyrdom and royalty. Thus, in family life we become martyrs through self-sacrifice for each other and for our children. But in marriage we also become royal, we are kings and queens of our households. There is nothing so beautiful as the little wrinkles that come from love. Our marriages have to be constantly renewed: Orthodox married life is about falling in love again every day.

How to Deal with Disappointments – or Discovering God’s Love for Us

Life is made up of joys and disappointments, sometimes the former predominate, sometimes the latter. As popular wisdom proclaims, ‘after rain comes the sun’ and ‘there is light at the end of the tunnel’. However, disappointments are in reality our appointments with destiny, that is, through disappointments we can finally find out what God’s Will is for us. Thus, disappointments are always a recall, a wake-up call, a reality check, reminding us that our only ultimate Appointment is the inevitable one, when we shall stand before the Face of God and our whole lives will be judged in an instant by His mere presence.

Thus, disappointments in life bring many surprises. These come from Providence, which is God’s Love in human affairs despite us, whether international, national, family or personal. affairs. How acutely disappointed the Royal Martyrs or the Patriarch St Tikhon could have been, when they were rejected, persecuted, betrayed and worse. But they were not, because their disappointment led them to God’s will for them, along the path to holiness. It is almost as if we should thank God for our disappointments. Popular wisdom confirms this too, as we say ‘a blessing in disguise’ and that, ‘every cloud has a silver lining’. Glory to God for all things!

 

Q and A June-July-August 2019

Theological Matters

Q; How can we know God? Surely those with education are at an advantage here?

A: We must distinguish between knowledge and understanding, which is real intelligence, the ability to make sense of things, not simply the remembrance of facts. Knowledge is open to all who have a good memory, as also are academic careers. However, having a good memory does not mean understanding. We do not understand with our brains, but with our hearts. And though not all have good memories, all have hearts. Unfortunately, most people do not use their hearts.

Sometimes hearts lie fallow like fields because their owners live only a physical life, using only, and often abusing, their bodies. Sometimes hearts are quite unused, lying like stony ground because of the overuse of the brain and priority given to knowledge, to mere facts. Sometimes hearts are so full of superficial and deluding emotions, at best ‘emotional intelligence’, that they have no depth – thus they are choked with weeds.

To cleanse our hearts, thus sowing faith and gaining humility, is to take the first step towards knowing God, that is, towards understanding, towards spiritual intelligence, what is called the ‘nous’ in Greek. Knowledge is an illusion; we must know how to interpret knowledge, factual information, before it can be of any use in the main task, which is spiritual advancement. Like the illiterate fishermen of Galilee, the martyrs did not have university degrees and we do not need them in order to become martyrs; in order to become a saint the first thing we need is humility, not education.

Q: Where does Orthodoxy stand in the Creationism/Evolution debate?

A: Creationism is basically Protestant in its rationalist word-for-word literalism, because it lacks any understanding of the beyond, of the sacramental and mystical reality of life, whereas Evolutionism is basically Roman Catholic, since it is an intellectual, not to say, Jesuitical, rationalization. In other words, both secular isms attempt rationalistically and humanistically to limit our understanding of the acts of God to the size of our tiny human reason.

The Orthodox understanding is the sacramental understanding of life, which understands the significance of outward details in their relation to the inward facts of God and salvation. Everything in visible Creation represents the heavenly. St Nicholas (Velimirovich) wrote of this especially clearly in his ‘Signs and Symbols’, as he was profoundly Apostolic and therefore Patristic in his thought. Orthodoxy is the way of the Holy Spirit, of grace, of the ascetic, of the Tradition. We should not make isms. Thus, God created all things, man lived and fell, and so man must repent. That is all we need to know. Everything else is just rationalistic speculation, intellectual games. Let the impenetrable mysteries of God the Creator, how and when He created, remain. We can never know these mysteries, we can only catch glimpses of what is beyond the veil. God is infinitely greater than man.

Q: Many non-believers say that God is a crutch, invented by and for weak-minded and weak-willed people to get them through life. What would you reply?

A: Although God made man in His own image, fallen man continually attempts to make God in his own image. Thus, God is a crutch only if you make Him into a crutch for yourself, which is what Voltaire (‘if God did not exist, man would have to invent Him’) and later the proto-Fascist and also madman Nietzsche proposed. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries especially, ideologues tried to use the idea of God to justify this ‘crutchism’, not to mention Fascism, Communism, racism, capitalism and consumerism (‘riches are God’s blessing to those who believe in Him’ – one of the recent American exports to China).

However, to make God in your own image is called idolatry, as it makes the Living God into a manmade idol. Idolatry is continually denounced in the Old Testament, to which most of the world now seems to have returned. Why? Because the world has largely abandoned the New Testament because of its laziness and deluded lack of faith, summed up in the words: ‘Christianity is too hard’. This has been the slogan of the West for a thousand years and has justified all of its falls from Orthodoxy. As Chesterton truly said of the West: ‘It is not that Christianity has failed, it is rather that Christianity has never been tried’.

Q: What is the difference between secular unity (of the US and EU type) and Church unity?

A: Secular unity is always of the ‘one size fits all’ sort, as practised by the pagan Roman, British, European and any other secular Empire, including the Papal and the Phanariot. Church unity is always unity in diversity. It does not impose one language or one approach, but says there are ‘many mansions in the Father’s Kingdom’.

Q: Why does Catholicism place such emphasis on suffering for redemption and what they call ‘atonement’ or ‘reparation’?

A: This is not only true of Catholicism, but also of Protestantism, which inherited it from Catholicism. It originates in the Catholic (Anselmian / late 11th century) cult and doctrine of the Redemption. This asserts that we were saved by Christ’s suffering on the Cross before the punishing feudal God the Father who demanded His Son’s death as a propitiatory sacrifice and demands human suffering. This is to confuse cause and effect.

For Orthodox we were saved by the Resurrection (the Crucifixion was of course the necessary path to the Resurrection). Christ freed the captives from hell through his Resurrection, which came about after His Crucifixion, when His soul went down to Hell and defeated the devil, who alone is the author of suffering. This is why heterodox celebrate Good Friday and not Easter Sunday. This is why piety among them is seen as suffering and even false suffering, pretending to suffer, seeking suffering, when in fact they make others, not least Orthodox, suffer.

Q: An American from St Vladimir’s has tried to persuade me that Judas repented, because that is what it says in the King James Gospel before it says that he ‘went and hanged himself’. How do I answer this?

A: St Vladimir’s has often been a hotbed of American Protestantism.

It is true that Judas did regret what he did (‘he repented himself’ in early 17th century English in Matt 27), but this is not repentance. We can imagine that almost all suicides regret what they have done in their lives (Hitler must have regretted many tactical mistakes, such as invading Russia, before he died), but regret is not at all the same as repentance. When people throw themselves under trains, and it often happens, they die full of regret. But there is no repentance. Otherwise they would not commit suicide so selfishly (and create inconvenience to the lives of tens of thousands and mental breakdown to train drivers) and would have made up for their feelings of regret, which wipe away the feeling of regret. Ask the Apostles Peter and Paul in prayer and they will tell you what repentance is.

Q: What is the difference between piety and pietism?

A: Piety is the natural effect on human behaviour after the human heart has been touched by the Holy Spirit. Pietism is a disease, an artificial affectation, the self-willed effects of an intellectual and pathological decision to pretend to be pious. It can easily be diagnosed because it is always coloured by priggish, self-righteous pride, aggressiveness and vanity, a lack of humility and love for one’s neighbour.

Q: What do you make of the Pope’s decision to change the wording of the Lord’s Prayer in Italian from ‘Lead us not into temptation’ to something like ‘Avoid putting us to the test’, because otherwise some might think that God tempts us?

A: There is nothing new in this change. The Anglicans did the same some fifty years ago and the change seems to be yet another example of the Protestantization of Catholicism. True, the rewording is something of an explanation of the original words. However, temptations inevitably happen to us in the fallen world (they happened to Christ, for example, in the wilderness) and they are very positive if they are resisted, as they build us up, making us stronger and mature. (There is no maturity without undergoing temptations). Even ignoring this, the ‘rewording does seem very strange: by what authority does the Pope ‘correct’ the Saviour’s wording? And why does he think that believers can be so infantile as to think that God deliberately leads us into sin? Is he the Pope of doubters and sceptics?

Q: What do you think of Vladimir Lossky’s ‘The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church’?

A: I think it is an excellent academic overview of the Church’s theology, written by an Orthodox if Paris-trained intellectual. My only regret is the title, which is clearly aimed at Non-Orthodox. First of all, ‘Eastern Orthodox’ means in reality only Orthodox who live in the Middle East – Russians, for example, never call themselves ‘Eastern Orthodox’. I am not Eastern Orthodox. And then, why ‘mystical’? All theology is mystical, i.e. meta-rational, above the reason. Otherwise it is not theology, merely philosophy. A better title would be: ‘An Academic View of Authentic Christian Theology’.

Q: How do you keep faith alive today in such conditions of cynicism, of what they call post-modernism?

A: Cynicism is by definition the lack of faith. Post-modernism is the lack of any ideals caused by the lack of faith. For us there is only one ideal – Christ (and therefore all those who tried to follow Christ in and through the Church, the saints and the righteous. This excludes a lot of the people who claim to be in the Church, especially those among the senior clergy, for as the proverb says, ‘A fish rots from the head’). St Seraphim of Sarov did not live in Saint Petersburg (true St Xenia did, but as a tramp or drop-out), Elder Nikolai Guryanov lived on an isolated island in a lake and his teachings are still mocked by know-it-all-and-understand-nothing ‘Orthodox’ intellectuals in Moscow today. There is no surprise here, for Christ Himself did not live in Jerusalem (where they killed Him), but in the ‘backward’ province of Galilee. Thus, my answer is simple: Have faith in Christ, and if you do not have that, seek faith in Christ – and you will find faith. Then you will have an ideal and the cynicism that sinful men create will not vanquish you.

Q: When the clergy wear red in honour of the feasts of the martyrs, there is often so much gold colour in the red that it is more gold than red. Why?

A: To represent the glory of the martyrs. Martyrdom is not a defeat for us, but a victory. Red leads to gold; the blood of martyrdom to heavenly crowns.

Russian History and the Russian Church

Q: Was it only the Bolsheviks who destroyed Imperial Russia? What part did other countries in the First World War play in its destruction?

A: The only Christian Empire, Imperial Russia, was primarily betrayed by the loss of faith and so apostasy of its own leaders of the left and the right. And this long before the Bolsheviks came to power. Indeed, it can be said that the Bolsheviks were only latecomers, the opportunist flotsam and jetsam of history, a band of ruthless terrorists and thieves, the lowest of the low. They were led for the most part by apostate Jews and many of their victims were pious Jews. The Bolsheviks did not lead or start the so-called ‘Russian Revolution’ in any way, they were just parasites on the back of history. They never admitted this, because lying was inherent to their nature, as Solzhenitsyn later pointed out in his ‘Do not live according to lies’.

All the forces that destroyed Imperial Russia can be seen in the murder of the healer and prophet Gregory Rasputin, who is venerated by some pious Orthodox, especially inside Russia, as the first martyr of the Revolution three months before the others. His depraved murderers were: the liberal Anglophile/Francophile and transvestite aristocrat Yusupov; the right-wing Germanophile politican and so-called ‘monarchist’ Purishkevich; and two British spies, one an Odessa Jew under the alias of Sidney (Solomon) Reilly.

In this we see all the enemies of Christianity; the liberal modernist ecumenistic pro-British and pro-French traitors (later of the Paris School, whose sorry liberal influence parts of the OCA is still trying to cleanse itself of; it even denounces normal, middle-of-the-road Orthodox as ‘conservative’!); equally treacherous, pro-German (and later pro-Nazi), nationalistic, moralistic and pharisaical narrow-minded right-wingers; the apostate West, of Britain, France and Germany (later of the USA); Zionism.

However, it is Russian people themselves, both the elite and all who passively followed them, who are primarily responsible. They did not have to listen to any of the siren voices coming from the West and the West cannot be blamed for any of the primary responsibility. Maturity is the taking on of responsibility for the consequences of one’s own sins, as the New Martyrs did. Immaturity is blaming others: typically, children do that all the time – adults should not.

Q: When will unity between the various groups in the Russian Church come in North America and Western Europe? And what about the calendar question? Surely ROCOR would never agree to take on parishes, like the OCA ones, which use the new calendar for the fixed feasts?

A: There are at present three groups in North America (ROCOR, OCA – which are probably about the same size, even if the OCA has hundreds of tiny groups – and some 40 MP parishes) and two groups in Western Europe (about 70 ROCOR parishes and 200 MP parishes). They are all basically parts of the Russian Church, even though the OCA has a piece of paper granting it ‘autocephaly’ – though everyone knows that that independence is more or less a myth.

Unity will come with time. Both ROCOR and the OCA (and to some extent the MP parishes) were at daggers drawn during the Cold War because of their inherent political secularism and lack of spirituality. The OCA suffered from extreme Paris liberalism and the disease of ‘autocephalism’, uncanonical actions and downright episcopal immorality, the persecution of married clergy (not unknown elsewhere), with the result that it is still controlled by prematurely-appointed protopresbyters (the norm is 55 years of priesthood), like a Presbyterian Protestant group.

ROCOR suffered from what can be called in one nightmarish word ‘Grabbe’ (= narrow-minded phariseeism, inward persecution by the spiritually proud, loveless, racist, ritualist, exclusivist ghettoism and right-wing sectarianism of the ‘One True Church’ variety). However, now that the political extremists everywhere have either died, left, or else are at last starting to die out from old age, having inflicted intense suffering on others almost all their lives, there is hope for the future.

We have all suffered enough; when the last vestiges of these trends have gone, the Church will be free at last to move forward: I just hope we will not all be too old ourselves after over forty years, so far, of unnecessary delay and frustration.

For only when both groups have freed themselves from this extremist past can unity take place. There is already hope. Metr Jonah, once of the OCA, is now a retired Metropolitan in ROCOR, as is Bishop Nikolai (formerly of Alaska). And both current Metropolitans are well-disposed to one another. But both have to drag their groups behind them and in ROCOR we have certainly suffered from much extremist aggressiveness from the OCA in the past, but that was sometimes mutual. This process could take another generation and there must be progress on both sides. In Western Europe, hope for progress is also there, but ROCOR has suffered so much in the past from immorality or incompetence on the part of bishops of the MP. Trust has to be built. And that will take time.

The new calendar? A problem? How short are memories! Until 1991 ROCOR had several new calendar Romanian and Bulgarian parishes. There was no problem with that. If people are so weak that they need to have the fixed feasts on the new calendar, ROCOR can accept them by economy.

Q: Why does the Russian Church not hand back the Moldovan Orthodox Church back to Romania?

A: The simple answer to this is that only the Moldovan Orthodox themselves can decide which Patriarchate they want to be under; it is not for the Russian Church to do anything. You cannot ‘hand back’ what does not belong to you. The Moldovan Church is part of the Russian Church of its own freewill. The days of dictatorship in Eastern Europe are over, sadly the Romanian Church does not seem to realize this: if Moldovan Orthodox themselves, after nearly 200 years, with one short gap, within the Russian Church, wish to go under the jurisdiction of the Romanian Church (which, like Romania itself, did not even exist 200 years ago), they will do so.

What must be avoided is any kind of uncanonical, political and imperialist interference, including force and bribery, on Moldovan territory by the Romanian Church to make the Moldovan Orthodox change jurisdictions. This would be the same basic lack of canonicity and US-backed ecclesiastical imperialism as recently exercised by Constantinople in the Ukraine with such disastrous results, resulting in the Constantinople schism and its fall from grace. Moldovans have all told me that they don’t want to join the Romanian Church, as it is corrupted by simony. If the Romanian Church first sorts out its own house, perhaps the Moldovans would like to join it, providing they do not have to use the Roman Catholic calendar. That is up to them.

Q: Why does the Russian Church insist that bishops be monks? The Greek Church does not.

A: The answer is in the words of the ever-memorable Metr Antony (Khrapovitsky): ‘A scholarly monk who has been removed from his monastic setting and who is unable to form an attachment to another Church institution is liable to be tempted to love nothing but himself’. Of course, in the Russian Church too anyone can formally become a monk, without actually being so. So there is no guarantee that a Russian bishop is better than a Greek bishop because he is formally a monk. He can be exactly as narcissistic despite outward resemblances.

In fact, it is not the lack of nominal monasticism, but the lack of genuine monastic life among the Orthodox Christian episcopate, Greek or Russian, which is its bane. However, something similar can be said of those in the married state: he who is not obedient to marriage and does not love his spouse and children can also end up ‘liable to be tempted to love nothing but himself’. This is the danger of the refusal to marry or to become monastics, that is, the danger of celibacy without monasticism. Both the bachelor and the spinster, or for that matter, Roman Catholic priests, suffer terribly from the temptations of selfishness. All the best Roman Catholic priests I have met have been married with children (behind the backs of their bishops).

Q: Some people think that we will one day have a Tsar in Russia?

A: Of course, we will. That is exactly what we in England, and elsewhere, have been praying and working for over the last 100 years. He will not only be a Tsar in Russia, but a Tsar for all Orthodox everywhere. Our task now is to be like so many St John the Baptists, preparing the way, forerunning.

Western History

Q: When in history does the mentality ‘the West is better than the rest’ originate?

A: This mentality can first be found in the racist cruelty of the pagan Roman Empire, with its barbaric invasions, plundering and asset-stripping of other countries and endemic slavery. However, after the invasion of the West by the Germanic barbarians, the West was humbled and this proud and self-adoring mentality largely disappeared under the influence of the Christian enlightenment provided by humble Orthodox saints.

This situation lasted until the eleventh century – with the notable exception of Charlemagne’s massacre of the Saxons in the late eighth century, which happened precisely because he was trying to revive the pagan Roman Empire and so created what later came to be called Roman Catholicism. Thus, after the Year 1000, we can see this mentality very clearly in the Norman massacres in England after 1066 and in Jerusalem under the barbarian Crusaders in the late eleventh century, and again in the plundering of the Christian capital of New Rome in 1204 by other Roman Catholics. ‘Kill them all, God will recognize His own’, shouted the murderous Roman Catholic Dominicans in 13th century France – that too was the same mentality. All those who did not accept this mentality of the New West had to be terrorized and massacred into submission.

The Spanish and Portuguese Conquest of the Americas, annihilating the advanced civilizations there and so creating in their places the jungles of Guatemala and the Amazon, was the same. So were the massacres of Polish-led Uniatism in the 17th century. Other Western European countries simply followed this mentality in developing the slave trade and Empire-building, The war-crime massacres of the Carpatho-Russians by the Austro-Hungarians in the First World War and the German massacre of 30 million Slavs in their holocaust in the Second World War was only what the Spanish and the Portuguese, the British and the French, the Belgians, the Dutch and the Italians had already done to the Native Americans, Africans and Asians. And as for that notorious American general who some sixty years ago more or less said, ‘Bomb them back to the Stone Age’, he only repeated a tradition that was already 900 years old.

Q: What do the terms ‘Anglo-Saxon’ and ‘Byzantine’ mean?

A: Non-Christians and non-conscious (= Non-Orthodox) Christians use these terms to mean Orthodox English and Orthodox Roman. In the same way Non-Christians and non-conscious Christians call the late medieval revival of paganism ‘The Renaissance’ and also almost everywhere use the term ‘Christian’ to mean Non-Orthodox Christian, i. e. heretical. (For instance, they write: ‘Christians sacked Byzantium’, when what they mean is ‘barbaric anti-Christian heretics plundered the Christian Capital’). When secularist historians write of ‘Normans versus Saxons’, or ‘Franks versus Gallo-Romans’, they mean heretics versus English Christians or versus Western European Christians. Today, they say ‘modern versus traditional’ – it still means heretics versus Orthodox Christians.

Men and Women

Q: Why are there more women than men in churches?

A: Women are generally more sensitive and emotionally open than rationalizing men, who get blocked from faith by their brains, and so women access faith more easily, instinctively, by feeling and intuition. This is very positive. On top of this, every woman who has given birth has been through an experience that can only be likened to a near-death experience. Rare is the woman who does not admit the existence of God after giving birth. However, the downside of this is that women’s religious practice can be less sober and is more often coloured by sentimentalism and emotionalism, which in turn can lead to superstition, the disease of seeing ‘coincidences’ everywhere and misinterpreting them, fetishism or ‘lucky charmism’ and, in extreme cases, hysteria. Pathology always seeks to justify itself through religion.

Q: Should women stay at home and look after their children?

A: Please do not generalize! Every woman is different and free to choose what is right for her. Just like every man.

Q: What is the ideal age gap between a husband and wife?

A: I don’t think there is any such thing. True, very, very often in couples the husband is slightly older than his wife, but there are no rules here, as human psychology and experience are so varied. There are always the rare exceptions, even of very happy marriages where the age gap is 20 years and more, either cases where the husband wants to be mothered, which the wife in question is happy to do, or cases where the wife wants to be ‘daughtered’, which the husband in question is happy to do.

Q: What did you think of the recent Women’s Football World Cup?

A: As I have little interest in sport, I was only dimly aware of it until the last matches. However, I thought it was very typical that the four semi-finalist teams turned out to be from the four ex-Protestant countries, Great Britain, the USA, Sweden and the Netherlands. Clearly, this phenomenon of women playing traditionally male sports is not about equality before the law (of which everyone is naturally in favour). It is about women renouncing being women and everything that is distinctive about women: womanhood, femininity, motherliness, about becoming like men, and at that, often becoming like the worst and most vulgar of men.

Has no-one thought that women players can fall over and hurt their breasts or childbearing organs and become infertile? Men should be protecting them from this. This so-called ‘equality’ of the sexes which is preached and propagandized by the post-Protestant world is just more cultural imperialism. The post-Protestant world even when it was still Protestant already had no veneration for the Mother of God, but tended rather to despise her blasphemously. And so it goes on. The phenomenon of women playing man-invented sports is not about equality. It is about the reduction of women to the level of men, about homogeneity and sameness, about the levelling down of womankind to mere economic units, according to which reproductivity is a hindrance.

Personal

Q: How do you become a priest? And how did you become a priest personally?

A: You do not become a priest first, you become an active layman first, taking part in parish life, working in the parish, praying,  gong to confession, taking communion, lighting the lamps, singing, reading, cleaning, helping, learning the services, reading, asking questions, helping in the altar if invited to. Priesthood is the end point, not the start. After a few years you may then end up as a reader. From there on you pray for God to continue to guide you.

As for me personally, it was a miracle. In my day if you mentioned such a thing as becoming a priest, you got humiliated, bullied, mocked and threatened. And of course there was no internet in those days, so no factual information, just negativity, prejudices and discouragement. I was recently astonished to see a brochure from Jordanville actually encouraging young men to become clergy! Just the opposite of a few decades ago. Young people have it so easy nowadays. In my day, there were two huge impediments to being ordained, one was being young, the other was being educated. So much talent was wasted – little wonder the Church is still desperately short of clergy. I would not want to be a bishop at the Last Judgement.

In my day, most jurisdictions would only ordain you if you belonged to the right ethnicity (or else if you agreed to be morally or financially corrupted by the bishop in question, for example by agreeing to become a freemason). (I remember how in order to become a deacon, I waited for ten years and had to be able to read the Six Psalms fluently in Slavonic, better than Russians could; you were always a third-class citizen; one rule for Russians, another for Non-Russians). One jurisdiction only ordained upper-middle class men – and your social class was decisive for them, so coming from my background I was out. Another jurisdiction, which appeared a couple of decades later, only ordained ex-Anglican vicars. One person there told me that you could only become a priest in that jurisdiction if you first became Anglican and got ordained as a vicar.

Frankly, I don’t know how I became a priest, except that it was a miracle worked through the prayers of St John of Shanghai and through the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva, his spiritual son. I certainly received only hindrances and everything that has happened has taken place despite everyone, except Archbishop Antony.

Q: If you had your time again, what mistakes would you have avoided?

A: The question is of course impossible because if I had not made and then learned from my mistakes, I would not know what I know now!

However, I can clearly say that, given the absence of the Russian Orthodox Tradition, as I had already experienced it in Russia, in the Sourozh Diocese of the then enslaved Moscow Patriarchate in England, I would have gone straight to the University of London in 1974 and to the ROCOR Cathedral. On graduation, I would have gone straight to Jordanville.

However, I would always have belonged, as now, to the St John of Shanghai wing of ROCOR and not to the highly conservative, political, secular, old calendarist wing. It was that wing that more and more dominated ROCOR for forty painful years between the 1960s and 2007, when it was finally defeated, though sorry and painful vestiges still survive. The battle against this wing lasted for over four decades and took a great deal of our energy. It was the representatives of that wing who put St John on trial in San Francisco in 1964 and in so doing they put all of us on trial for decades to come. Personally, I was only found innocent and exonerated in December 2016, when the persecution stopped.

St John was the last bishop consecrated by Metr Antony (Khrapovitsky), who said of him, ‘If I do not consecrate him, no-one will’. In turn, St John was the spiritual father of the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva, who was converted to monastic life by Metr Antony and by his understanding of the Redemption, as he told me in Paris in 1987. In turn, when I was ordained by Archbishop Antony, I think the last priest he ordained, he said, ‘If I do not ordain you, no-one will’.

This is where I will always belong, to the old traditions of the Western European Diocese of St John and his spiritual son Archbishop Antony, and not to some false and invented set of myths, invented by latecomers to the Church. Archbishop Antony, born in Kiev and living in Western Europe, would today be in the Exarchate, as he was a forerunner, pioneer and prophet of it.

 

 

 

At Last an English-Speaking Russian Orthodox Bishop of London

From the Synod of Bishops of the Church Outside Russia, held in San Francisco on the 25th anniversary of the canonization of St John of Shanghai, more good news reached us yesterday, St John’s feast-day. This is that our new bishop, Irenei (Steenberg), is to be granted the title ‘of London and Western Europe’ as he arrives here permanently. This comes 90 years to the day since the last Russian Orthodox bishop of London, Bishop Nikolai (Karpov), who was consecrated as Bishop of London and Vicar of the Diocese of Western Europe on 30 June 1929.  Bishop Irenei becomes then the second Russian Orthodox Bishop of London to be consecrated since 1054. However, unlike Bishop Nikolai, he is English-speaking and has already lived in England for ten years. It means that, after so many decades in the wilderness and unrelenting striving, the refounded and now constituted Diocese of Great Britain and Ireland of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia can expand further, the new backlog of candidates for ordination can be dealt with and more parishes opened.  With three priests in Wales, one in Ireland and several in England, much has been achieved after the transformations since January 2017 there is still much to be done. The only Russian Orthodox bishop living permanently in London, Bishop Irenei will be arriving in London on 5 July, St Alban’s Day.

After the establishment of the Russian Orthodox Exarchate in Paris, another dream after 45 years of waiting has come true!

 

On the Prayer of the Heart

Q: Can the Jesus Prayer be dangerous?

A: Everything can be dangerous: it all depends on the user. Thus television can be used to broadcast spiritual programmes or else scenes of debauchery and violence; computers can be used to establish a gambling addiction or else to provide Church information websites. So too the Prayer of the Heart (miscalled by some the Jesus Prayer – a purely Non-Patristic term) can be dangerous.

If the Prayer is used with the imagination and mental images, as a form of meditation or contemplation as Roman Catholics do, which is strictly forbidden by Orthodoxy, it leads to a state of delusion. Thus, if someone repeats ‘the Jesus Prayer’ over and over again as a mere technique, without love for others, with a cold heart, because he thinks he will go heaven in this way, without seeing anything except his ‘prayer’ and his own selfish and narcissistic ‘spirituality’, this leads to spiritual death. He sees and loves only himself and his own speculations, reflections of his own sinful mind, not God, only his imagination of God. This is the definition of spiritual illusion (plani/illusio/prelest). This is an illusion because such prayer has no humility, no heart, it is merely an intellectual desire. This is precisely NOT the prayer of the heart, but the prayer of the head, accompanied by delusional emotions. I have seen very many who have fallen in this way. They always end up by lapsing from the Church, because in their insanity the think they are too good for the Church, above others.

In other words, if you want to get to heaven by yourself, by pride, you will meet the Devil, the Deceiver. We can only get to heaven with God, with humility. That is the only way. In prayer, we must pay no attention to feelings, thoughts and mental images, especially if they give us a feeling of sweetness and make us ‘feel good’ or feel relaxed. They are all there to distract us.

The key to all this is humility. If prayer makes you humble then it is good. Others will let you know about this, whether in a monastery or in your family – listen to them and their frank opinions. If you feel insulted and offended by them, then you are in a state of pride, spiritual delusion. If ‘prayer’ makes you feel superior to, better than, others, and you cannot possibly go to their ‘inferior’ churches, then that is not prayer, but the thought of yourself, not of God.

This is why there is no meditation in Orthodoxy. For Orthodox it leads to sin. Self-concentration and focusing on your internal abilities only increases pride. But we seek humility. This difference is a result of the different theology or understanding of how the Holy Spirit comes to us. For Orthodox it is directly from God the Father, for Roman Catholics through some human mediation, thought (contemplation or meditation), study or manipulation. This is why for Orthodox there is no difference between action and contemplation. All is one.

 

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.