Category Archives: Phariseeism

The End of the Two Russian Emigre Church Groups

Introduction

The two Russian émigré Church groupings that took shape in the 1920s in order to be independent of the by then Soviet-controlled Moscow Patriarchate were only ever meant to be temporary formations. Time and time again the leaders of both proclaimed that they would return to the Mother-Church inside Russia as soon as the Soviet Union had fallen. As we know, even though the USSR fell in 1991, it took many years after this before they eventually did reunite, in 2007 and 2018, but both for the same reason – that they could not canonically survive and function normally, if cut off from the far larger Mother-Church, centred in Moscow.

Unity Against Extremes

We in Western Europe, frightened especially of strange political and sectarian trends coming from the US since the 1960s, very much wanted to see both Russian émigré groupings reintegrate the Russian Church and canonical norms. And we also wanted to give them back their real missionary purpose. This was the purpose defined by, among others, St John of Shanghai and Western Europe, that of witnessing to and spreading Orthodoxy worldwide, helping to form new Local Churches, while still remaining faithful to the Orthodox Tradition. In other words, both groups had to avoid two temptations or extremes. The first was that of being a closed inward-looking, exclusivist and so sectarian ghetto, which would inevitably die out, as do all ghettoes and sects. The second was that of assimilating completely or else basically becoming an Eastern-rite Protestantism or Eastern-rite Catholicism, or in any case being absorbed by the local dominant culture and also dying out.

The small Paris group, where we have family and close friends, and which reunited with the Mother-Church only in 2018, lost over 40% of its strength in so doing, for the secularising, assimilationist party mostly left it. That was in fact a cleansing. It meant that the group could go on with its mission to help build up a Local Church in parts of Western Europe, but faithfully following the Russian Tradition, while remaining independent of Russian internal politics. In other words, it wished to become a European OCA (Orthodox Church in America). With three bishops at present, it hopes to consecrate another three bishops. However, it remains a Paris-centric Church and its presence in the British Isles, as in many other parts of Western Europe, is very small and very weak. Nevertheless, it has made and will continue to make an important contribution to a future Local Church in Western Europe, into which it will eventually merge.

Americanisation

The larger, though still small New York-based group, with twelve bishops, took another line. Unable to be an ethnic ghetto because of assimilation and the loss of Russian, it chose to become an ideological ghetto. In 2021 it duly cut itself off from the Paris group in a schism, even though both were supposed to be united in One Church. The New York group had seen most of its original Russian emigres and their descendants die out or be assimilated into secular culture despite – or perhaps because of – CIA funding. Thus, it had become almost wholly reliant either on parishioners from the former Soviet Union or else on poorly integrated and puritanical converts seeking their ideal of an exclusivist fundamentalist ‘One True Church’ sect. They knew nothing of the real Russia and real Russian Orthodoxy, but only a Disneyfied, made in the USA, fantasy version. It was this second and highly politicised convert ethos that came to dominate the New York group.

In order to assert its control elsewhere and ensure its power fantasy of ‘another century of existence’, New York decided to ‘retire’ the old school of bishops and clergy. It would send out cultish new bishops to intimidate and close down opponents and financially exploit the peripheries of its group in Australia and Western Europe. Ass imperialists they would force those peripheries into the unipolar, ultra-conservative, New York convert mould, even ‘correcting’ their language for Americanese! This would mean their group becoming ever smaller and narrower and more isolated, creating schisms with other Orthodox, cutting itself off from mainstream Orthodox, from the majority. Parishes in insular Australia were already largely Americanised, but Western European parishes, with their tradition handed down from St John of Shanghai and Western Europe, were not. Geographically next door to Russia, Russian Orthodox in Western Europe know the real Russia and Russian Orthodox culture. They could have nothing to do with the fantasy version, cultivated on the American island far away.

Western Europe

Thus, Western European dioceses would have to be repressed and basically destroyed to fit the new and loveless, unipolar ideology of the US imperialist mould with its power-seeking and money-making ethos. The American crazy convert mentality of ‘money, money, money’, podcasts for ‘incels’ and ‘orthobros’, with punishing homosexuals or misogynists a la Andrew Tate, was alien to Orthodox in Europe. Harsh and jealous right-wing Americans and Americanised extremists, with their politicking, Vlasovite, CIA-funded Possevs, Radio Liberties and Voices of America, would never be acceptable to genuine Russian Orthodoxy in Western Europe. Thus, the New York group with its aggressive Americanisation and bullying schismatic sectarianism signed its own death-warrant in Europe. A censorious and sectarian Russian old calendarism had no attraction for normal Orthodox Christians, whether for the converted, or for Russians. Isolationism and hate-filled sectarianism repelled.

Therefore, most ex-Soviet parishioners did not feel at home in the New York group in Western Europe and would have preferred to attend Patriarchal churches, linked with their homeland, had they been available. Talking to the Orthodox bishops with whom I had studied at seminary or whom I had known when they were young priests, the reaction to the Americanisation or ‘convertisation’ of the old European ROCOR was universally the same: amazement and sadness at the destruction of a genuine spiritual, ascetic and liturgical heritage and its slandering by know-nothing neophytes without monastic experience. However, looking at the schismatic and sectarian mentality responsible, the whole thing then began to appear laughable. The reaction confirmed just how bad the New York group’s reputation had become in recent years. ‘Oh, that uncanonical sect’, was the typical dismissive reaction among clergy of other Local Churches.

The Coming Collapse

Once the divisive conflict in the Ukraine is over and the Patriarchal Russian Church returns to its freedom and so destiny, the fate of the New York group will be decided. In Western Europe, it has no future. It is out of communion with the mainstream. Its remnants will flee its uncanonical extremism and be absorbed into the dioceses of canonical Local Churches, especially of Moscow, which will by then be free to receive them. That is, once Moscow has freed itself from the effects of the divisive and all-absorbing conflict in the Ukraine, when it can begin decentralisation through a sweeping programme of autocephalisation and autonomisation, eliminating oligarchic corruption and the gay mafia.

Thus, outside Western Europe and Africa, in Australia there will surely develop a separate Metropolia (especially if Australia and New Zealand come out of their US-imposed political control and isolationism and join the BRICS political and economic bloc), as also will Latin America. In Northern America (the USA and Canada) the New York group will slowly integrate the future Local Church, founded by the great St Tikhon, whose life-giving presence is still in the OCA, which will be redefined. Surely it will be joined by the 40 or so Moscow parishes, still for the moment outside it, and perhaps be renamed.

Conclusion

After the conflict in the Ukraine is over, now providentially to be hastened by Prigozhin’s treacherous mutiny, and with the removal of certain divisive traitors in the Church, the unity of the at present very divided Orthodox Family must be restored. This will have to be through an authentic Orthodox Council unifying the totality of the Local Churches, in which Catholicity and Conciliarity alone reside. Worldwide, this will mean radical changes to both leading Patriarchates, Constantinople and Moscow. Only the reaffirmation of the Catholicity of the whole Orthodox Church can deliver us from a narrow, centralised, political and ethnic model of Church life. This has already happened so many times in our two thousand-year history. Only a real Council can lead to canonical Orthodox unity everywhere, not least in the Diaspora of Western Europe, the Americas and Oceania.

 

The Church of Scandals?

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

Psalm 145, 3

Moscow refuses to give independence (Autocephaly) to the Churches in the Ukraine, Moldova, the Baltics, Western Europe, and so its churches empty. People vote with their feet. Reality takes over. In Latvia even the State grants the Latvian Orthodox Church Autocephaly!

Some are scandalised by this. Why? Nobody should be surprised at this. In the 19th century Protestant British politicians gave the Church of Greece its Autocephaly and later the secular and nationalist Bulgarian government gave its Church Autocephaly. It took time for others to recognise it, but eventually those who objected just had to face reality and recognised it. In the last century the Churches of Poland and Czechoslovakia went through similar trials and in Brno in the Czech Lands the tribulation continues to this very day. The recent case of the Serbian Church and the Church of North Macedonia is just one more example of politicians declaring Autocephaly and a Mother-Church just having to accept a fait accompli after 60 years. Reality is always stronger than any theory or ideology, just as the pen is always mightier than the sword.

Bishops closed churches because of State orders regarding covid. Some faithful were scandalised by such bishops. Our church, like others, just went into the catacombs and we remained secretly open, faithful to Christ. ‘Woe unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither allow them that are entering to go in’ (Matt: 23, 13).

In the USA many are scandalised today by the actions and words of Archbishop Elpidiforos. Others are scandalised in the USA by the actions and words of Metr Joseph of Antioch, by his mistresses and his money. In England a bishop stays at a hotel with his boyfriend. They spend the Saturday evening drinking beer in the bar before going up to their rooms. They did not know that the hotel manager who saw it all was Orthodox, a parishioner of the local church. The scandal was endless. Ordinary people are better than bishops. That is how it seems to so many simple believers, who are certainly not saints, but neither are they hypocritical pharisees. But we still pray for the salvation of all of them.

As one commentator put it: ‘It seems that bishops impose one set of standards and canons on clergy and laity, but they do not observe those standards and canons themselves and even cover up for each other’.

The number of well-known bishops of ALL jurisdictions whom I have known personally over the last fifty years who stole money, were freemasons, had boyfriends, had mistresses (and children), or caused schisms is almost endless. So what? Why are you scandalised? They will have to answer for their souls at the Last Judgement. As for us, we should be working on the salvation of our own souls and our answers at the Last Judgement.

For decades I have said that either bishops should be real monks, who have spent a minimum of ten years living the monastic life day in, day out, and learning how to love others through poverty, chastity and obedience, or else they should be allowed to be married, as in the first six centuries, indeed in some parts of the Orthodox world, for the first twelve centuries. You cannot have it otherwise. The Church is not a Californian cult. To paraphrase the bishop St Basil the Great: ‘O self-proclaimed Princes of the Church, your skulls pave hell’.

What can be said to the people who are scandalised by all this?

First of all, just remember that of the Twelve one was called Judas and he was a traitor. Do we celebrate him? Of course not. But we do celebrate the Eleven who remained faithful and Matthias, making again the Twelve. Stop looking at the negative. The negative you will always have with you if you keep looking at it. And look at the Positive, Christ, Who is always with us.

I will not throw away my basket of apples, just because one of them is rotten. And even though there are a thousand baskets of apples and in each basket there is one rotten apple, I will still not throw away the thousand baskets of apples because of a thousand rotten apples.

I go to church to meet Christ because He is there. I have no other reason to go to church. As for those who have other reasons to go to church, all we can do is to pray for the salvation of their souls.

The Church of Scandals? No, the Church of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Life, the Last Battle and the New Orthodox World (N.O.W.)

‘Tell the people: Although I have died, I am alive.’

St John of Shanghai

Foreword: The War

Forty-five years ago I was told by one who could have known better that, as I had been waiting for years to join the Orthodox Church, I now faced a choice: I could either join the Greek Church of Constantinople or the Church of Russia; it was all the same. But only to him was it all the same, as, in spite of, or rather because of, his great intellect, he was spiritually confused. He lived in an alien compromise, washing his hands before the critical choice. I joined the Russian Church because, since the age of twelve, I had known through revelations to my soul that my destiny was most definitely in the Russian Orthodox Church. However crippled it may have been after 1917, I was destined to share in that agony, indeed, although it seemed foolishness to the Jews and to the Greeks alike, only by sharing in that agony could I hope to find my own salvation. I sensed even then that what he had told me was somehow untrue. At best it could only have been a delusion. It was not all the same – and recent very sad events have shown this to all absolutely clearly. Let me explain:

The Church is not to be found in a people who believe that it is a chosen people. Many Hebrews believed that they were the chosen people, but they stoned the prophets and crucified the Son of God. To this day many of their descendants reject Christ, some considering themselves superior to the rest of humanity. Then the Western European elite came to believe in their ‘exceptionalism’ (that is, their claim that they too were above God) too, all in order to justify their organized barbaric aggression. So a thousand years after Christ, they too fell away from the Church, rejecting the Holy Spirit and seizing control of the Church in the West in order to justify their conquistador power-grab. So, like pirates, they began persecuting us ordinary Christians and conquering the rest of the world by fire and the sword. Then their secularist descendants, in turn the Portuguese, Spanish, French, British, German and finally American elites, did exactly the same, demanding world hegemony (‘globalism’), also rejecting Christ because they consider themselves superior to the rest of humanity. (Hence their anti-Semitism: the other ‘chosen people’, the Jews, were rivals to them, therefore they had to be eliminated). In the Church there has now come the turn of certain Greeks, telling us that only they are Christians, that God speaks only Greek, and, as one very well-known Cypriot archimandrite told me, even that their pagan ancestors had prepared the way for Christ! Many Russians fell victim to the same delusion, in the same way believing in themselves instead of believing in God, taking communion only once a year. So they lost everything and overthrew the God-appointed Christian Emperor in 1917. Only through the blood of the New Martyrs and the tears and sweat of the New Confessors did repentance eventually begin to come to them.

All these ‘chosen peoples’ failed to understand that salvation comes only from the Heavenly Jerusalem of the Church of Christ through the Mercy of God and the Holy Spirit – not from some earthly ‘Jewish Rome’ of some mythical ‘chosen people’. For this reason, once I had chosen the Russian Church, I was to spend the rest of my life at war, in tireless battles, in unceasing strife, in the trenches, on the Western Front, fighting for real Christianity, for the real Russian Orthodox Church, together, of course, with many others. We all fought against the narrow-minded, nationalist delusions and impurities of those who had lost the big picture, who could not see the wood for the trees. They told us that only Russians could be Orthodox, that only their own exclusive little fragments of the great Imperial Orthodoxy, which had not undergone the blood, tears and sweat of others, could be right, that God’s Church needed ‘saving’ or ‘reforming’ (naturally, by themselves!). Some of them even persecuted and took to court as a common criminal the greatest saint among them all, St John of Shanghai. Little wonder that the Lord sent me to a military Church. I never sought any of this; it was all imposed on me. My soul would have died had I not taken part in this spiritual warfare. My life has been unceasing warfare in four battles, all fought beneath the Protecting Veil, which my patron-saint saw and which is the only reason why I am still alive.

Three Battles

My first battle was to take part in the struggle to help free that small part of the Russian Church Diaspora in England, which was dependent on Moscow, from spiritual impurity. After nine years, by 1983, I realized that I would fail in this. It was a task quite beyond me, with my very feeble abilities and from my modest, provincial, rural background; the enemies were invested with the strength of a personality cult, with all the authority of men and their city establishments, they had no time for a ploughman’s grandson. I was knocking my head against brick walls. So I left into exile, seeing my limitations. I understood that it would take far-reaching political changes inside Russia and indeed the departures or deaths of some outside Russia before this battle could be won (I did not know then that this would mean twenty-four years). Victory was inevitable, but only God Who created time, could in time bring the victory. My battle had been premature. By myself I could do nothing. It was good for me to know this.

My second battle was to take part in the struggle to help free that small part of the Russian Church Diaspora, which was dependent on Constantinople (Rue Daru), from spiritual impurity. I fought in Paris and thought that this battle was winnable. It was – almost. However, after six years in 1988 there came a turning-point when I saw that I would fail in this battle too. The intrigues of freemasons in high places meant that I could not help win this battle – all my friends were in low places. I knew then that this Paris group would eventually (I did not know then that this would mean thirty years) disappear into spiritual irrelevance. Those who had betrayed the Tsar and made him and his Family into martyrs had also betrayed the Church. So I left, having understood that here too it would take far-reaching political changes inside Russia and indeed the departures or deaths of some outside Russia before the battle to bring even a part of this group home to the Russian Church could be won. Victory was inevitable, but only God Who created time, could with time bring the victory. My battle had been premature. By myself I could do nothing. It was good for me to know this.

My third battle from the first day of 1989 onwards was to take part in the struggle to help free that part of the Russian Church Diaspora, which was dependent on New York (ROCOR), from spiritual impurity. Here there was a much greater chance of success, for the contaminating Protestant disease of ‘super-correctness’ (as another disciple of St John of Shanghai called it), with its ignorance, phariseeism, extremism, sectarianism, old calendarism, psychological (not theological) deviations of convertitis and Cold War money, had many opponents in the USA itself and even more in Western Europe where I was fighting on the Front. And above all, my Diocesan Archbishop supported me and I supported him. The ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva, a spiritual son of and the European successor to St John of Shanghai, was in effect the first real Orthodox bishop I had met. We had an identical understanding of the Church. By myself I could do nothing, but now I was far from being alone; I was simply one of very many, a little cog in a large machine. I did not know then that this struggle would take eighteen years, for only in 2007 did the Church win the day. I was taking part in our first victory, together with millions of others, in the Church of the New Martyrs and Confessors, to which I had always belonged in spirit. Only geography had ever divided us.

After the Three Battles

Once this battle, in which I had played only a tiny role, eventually from my provincial home-town, had been won by the many, especially by the bishops who had been inspired by the grace of God, I knew that the two other houses of cards where I had earlier lost the day would fall in their turn. I just did not know that it would take another twelve years. Between 2007 and today, in 2019, I have seen both these first lost battles won. History won them. What I knew in the past, that they would be won only in God’s own time, has come to pass. What we have fought long and hard for has been obtained. Thus, we now at last have for our Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland a bishop, pleaded for during over four decades. He is Orthodox, understanding the local language and people, not phyletist, venerating the local saints and not denying them, missionary-minded like us, encouraging us and not destroying us, not under the control of laypeople, in good health, and who will be resident here in just a few weeks from now.

Secondly, the Russian Orthodox Exarchate of Western Europe, awaited for over three decades, was at last established in Paris only a few weeks ago. This means that our House will be built on rock, not on sand, and that the ‘Euro-Orthodox’ fantasy of the Paris Brotherhood is now dead. The future Local Church of Western Europe will be authentically Orthodox. For what we have sought for and fought for since 1988 now is. There is now a real Orthodox Exarchate for Western Europe, with many regional dioceses and young bishops, hundreds of parishes and several monasteries, venerating the local saints and not denying them, the foundation of the new Local Church. Led by Metropolitan John in Paris, who bears the name of our missionary father in Christ, St John of (Shanghai and) Western Europe and so continues in the tradition of Archbishop Antony of Geneva, it will of course need much more time to develop. It consists of the generally newer Russian Orthodox parishes of Western Europe, in many dioceses and with many bishops. However, alongside it and complementing it, also stand the two (Western European and German) dioceses of ROCOR, with their five bishops, two of them younger and active. This consists of the generally older, more integrated, Russian Orthodox parishes of Western Europe, a few of them until recently under Constantinople, but now at last come home. The two parts need each other and hopefully their bishops will meet regularly in order to help each other in their own joint Synod.

However, in this Year of the Lord, 2019, there is the last mystical battle (last for me) in the series of mystical battles in this Hundred Years’ War, which for a century has so deformed Church structures in the Diaspora. This battle is also against spiritual impurity, against masonic ecumenist and modernist intrigues. However, this last battle is the battle inside the Russian Lands, inside historic Rus’; it is therefore not a local battle for English, French and American Rus’ in London, Paris and New York, for part of the small Russian Diaspora, it is a general battle which concerns the whole Church. This is taking place today in the Ukraine, but it affects all. For the Church is the mystical centre of the world and it is the Ukraine which is now the mystical centre of the Church. And this is why we have come here now, sent to fight from the Western Front to the Eastern Front. All will stand or fall by their attitude to what is happening in the Ukraine today, to this battle between Christ and Satan. Whose side are you on?

The Fourth Battle

The internal administrative centre of the false Orthodoxy against which I fought in all our four battles, was formed in Istanbul a century ago. It came into being only because of the long-planned overthrow of the restraining protection of Imperial Tsardom. However, the Western disease which had overthrown the Christian Emperor and so the Christian Empire and then brought that centre into being had already infected Russia and elsewhere before that. For the disease contaminated all nationalities, including many in the Russian Lands and from there in the Diaspora. The disease came to be called renovationism and the renovationists were keenly supported from Istanbul. Today it has become crystal clear that the whole of the supposed Orthodox world has now to side either with real Orthodoxy or else against real Orthodoxy. The time of reckoning has come; the time of compromise is over. No-one can stand by any longer with the indifference and conceit of Pilate. Even though this battle is of exactly the same nature as the series of three battles which we fought in the Diaspora before this one, now it is not the Diaspora, but the Ukraine which is the sword that divides. The battlefield has changed to the Ukraine, but the battle is the same one; it is the battle for spiritual purity, for canonicity, for real Orthodoxy.

Gradually, over the last two months, one Local Church after another has decided to side with spiritual purity, canonicity and real Orthodoxy and so support Metr Onufry and the Church of God of the Ukraine. The rest of the Russian Church with ROCOR was the first to support him wholeheartedly. The Local Churches of Serbia, Bulgaria, Antioch, Poland, the Czech Lands and Slovakia, Cyprus, and unofficial but spiritually free (= non-political) voices in the Churches of Greece, Jerusalem, Alexandria and Georgia, followed. So far, thirteen out of eighteen Athonite monasteries have joined us. And a few days ago the episcopate of the basically Carpatho-Russian OCA (Orthodox Church in America), which had dithered for several weeks and where some had for years even been threatening to desert the Church for Istanbul, decided the same. This is their spiritual victory and our very great comfort after decades of spiritual slumber, of wandering far from the Church with American phyletist delusions. It means that the little OCA is maturing, at last deciding to accept its destiny, abandoning its eccentric spiritual isolation and so finding its positive identity by returning to its roots under St Tikhon. Inspired by the breath of new life, it can at last begin to play a significant and fulfilling role as one of the component parts of the future, united, much larger, multinational Russian Orthodox Churches of the three continents of the New World, of the Americas and Oceania.

This leaves the episcopates of only two Local Churches, the large Romanian and the tiny Albanian, not politically free and sitting on the fence, paralysed like Pontius Pilate ‘for fear of the Jews’. They are silent, neither supporting nor rejecting, awaiting instructions from above on whether to support the petty nationalism of the phyletist schism of Constantinople or not. The false church in the Ukraine, founded by the US-backed separatists in Kiev, is officially under a certain Sergei Dumenko. He is actually a Vatican- and US-approved puppet-layman, therefore both pro-Uniat and pro-LGBT, and not a metropolitan, His false church has been seen to be without grace, without sacraments, without the Holy Spirit. His church is that of ‘the Ukrainian god’, as one Ukrainian minister has put it. His enthronement in Kiev six days ago was ignored by all the Local Churches. His so-called ‘Church’ is only a regime-manipulated charade of empty rituals, just another small ultra-nationalist organization – an absurd anachronism in this global world. It is supported by teams of police-backed Nazi bandits who intimidate and beat up Christians, because Nazis have no concept of the meaning of the word ‘Christian’. And these anti-Christian men of violence are directly supported by an alien and corrupt political regime in Kiev, supported by alien and corrupt regimes elsewhere, and, to their eternal shame, by Greek ‘bishops’ in Istanbul.

Afterword: The Victory

The decadent, self-appointed, Paris-School ‘theologians’ from the past slip away one by one. With them their secularizing ideologies from the past, Ecumenism (anti-Orthodoxy; against the Father), Modernism (anti-Sovereignty; against the Son) and Liberalism (anti-People; against the Holy Spirit), slip away into spiritual irrelevance. Their books of intellectual fantasy-philosophy are ready for the dust of forgotten library shelves. Those who frustrated, wasted, impeded and persecuted us for so many decades are leaving the stage and we are beginning to see the future clearly now. For the New Orthodox World (N.O.W.) is taking shape. The New Orthodox World (NOW) is led not by anachronisms, relics from the past in cities of empires which have not existed for centuries, but by vibrant and missionary multinational Local Churches, Autonomous Churches and Exarchates worldwide. These are not narrow and corrupted nationalist museums for State rituals, flag-waving and cultural nostalgia or the playthings of disincarnate but very aggressive, politicized and politically correct, liberal intellectuals, but living organisms, cleansed to prepare us all to meet the King before He returns in all His glory. And in the New Orthodox World, NOW, there is the Heavenly Jerusalem of the Church of Christ, awaiting Him and resisting the Enemy of Mankind, who comes before Christ in order to create disunity, disorder and distress among us.

The death-threat which I received three years ago, sent me because the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, did not stop me or deter me for a single second. In a dream, come to me after receiving that death-threat, I opened my front door and saw an agent on my doorstep. He at once fired his revolver at me, but the bullet rebounded off my priest’s cross, killing him instead of me. He fell to the ground and his corpse was dragged away to a waiting car by his colleague, who in fear and astonishment uttered powerless curses. I left and hid in a secret and remote place where I could not be found. I was rescued by the prayers of one who long, long ago had also taken refuge in such a place and I was taken to a faraway land. I have never paid any attention to dreams, especially such dramatic ones, but I remembered this one. However, I only really understood its meaning and symbolism on my first day here. It means that, like all of us, I will die when God decides, not when men decide, for though man proposes, God disposes. It means that the bullet rebounds, for if men want to kill the truth, they kill only themselves (exactly as they have done for the last one hundred and five years, with their atheist wars, one after another). And those who try to kill the Church in the Ukraine are committing spiritual suicide; indeed, their death-bearing bullet has already lethally rebounded onto themselves.

Victory has been ours in the Diaspora, because we have been willing to die for the Church of God and our enemies have not – because they are inherently attached to this world and so fear death which is of this world. Victory is ours in the Ukraine, because we are willing to die for the Church of God and our enemies are not – because they are inherently attached to this world and so fear death which is of this world. This is why we shall win this last battle now – because we do not fear death, for we believe and we know that Christ is the Life-Giving God, Who rose from the dead and freed the captives in hell. They, however, have only heard of the Risen Christ as a theory and symbolic myth for their heads. They believe it not in their hearts. Therefore their heads, like their lives, are full of the philosophies and works of death. But we do believe and we know and we tremble in awe before the Living God, Who is the Great God, Who works wonders and Who is with us, so that none is against us. Let the dead bury the dead. As for us, we shall not die, but live, and we shall declare the works of the Lord. The Lord is our Enlightenment and our Saviour, whom then shall we fear?

Archpriest Andrew Phillips

Kiev, 1-8 February 2019

 

 

 

 

St John and What is Above Conservative and Liberal

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

Einstein

There is nothing new in being conservative and being liberal. Some by nature will always prefer the old, others the new, some will always be pessimistic, others optimistic, some will always be negative, others positive, some will always be closed, others open, some will always be individual, others social, some will always be introverted, others extroverted, some will always be cautious, others visionary, some will always be literal, others allegorical, some will always be passive, others active, some will always be turned to the past, others to the future, some will always be turned to the Divine, others to the human.

In the time of Christ there were Pharisees (fundamentalist conservatives) and Saducees (syncretistic liberals). The former detested it when good was done on the Sabbath day, the latter rejected the Resurrection and miracles. After Christ there were Monophysite conservatives who saw Christ as God alone and liberal Arians who saw Christ as man alone. Then there was the literal school of Antioch and the allegorical school of Alexandria. Later, in Catholicism, there were liberal Scholastics and conservative Scholastics, and in Protestantism there were doom and gloom Calvinists and liberal protestors who rejected all authority.

In our own times, the Roman Catholic and Protestant worlds have long been much divided between conservative and liberal. This has become particularly clear in recent years with the appearance of the question of attitudes to homosexuality, but it has in fact been clear since the 1960s. It is a sad fact that such a division has also appeared in the Orthodox Churches, most obviously in the USA. Here there are old calendarist sects and new calendarist sects, even though the latter often infiltrate and hide behind the Church. They all claim to be Orthodox but, out of communion with the Church of the Tradition, they are not.

Even inside the Church, there are dioceses (‘jurisdictions’) of Local Churches that attract conservative Roman Catholics and Protestants and others that attract liberal Roman Catholics and Protestants. However, the conservatives are shocked when they learn that Orthodox have as a norm married priests, as well as allowing Church divorce, Church remarriage and allowing non-abortive contraception. The liberals are shocked by standing for long services, fasting, prayer rules, modest dress and saints’ names. All of them forget one thing and, if they do not recall it, they too will eventually find themselves outside the Church.

What they forget is the Spiritual. And the source of the Spiritual is the Holy Spirit, which unites both conservative and liberal, as it is beyond, higher than, both of them. We can see this in the life of St John of Shanghai. The ecumenist liberals hated his asceticism, the source of the grace he acquired, his love of the services, the saints, in a word, his love of Orthodox Tradition. Anti-missionary conservatives hated his missionary work, his consciousness that the Tradition of the Holy Spirit is for the whole world. That is why they, clergy and laity, nationalists, right-wing politicians and CIA agents, put him on trial – and lost.

As for us, we follow St John and the Tradition of the Holy Spirit, Holiness. Our spiritual father, Archbishop Antony of Geneva, was the spiritual son of St John (who was born in the same year as my grandfather) and so we are St John’s spiritual grandchildren. Many forget that St John was Archbishop of Western Europe (1951-1962), for far longer than he was Archbishop of San Francisco. Here in Western Europe he is our patron saint. He stands far above the anti-missionaries and nationalists, the intellectuals and modernists. He stands far above petty conservatism and liberalism, for he was and is inspired by the Holy Spirit.

It is on this basis alone that we can look forward to building an Orthodox Metropolia of Western Europe and from there a new Local Church. No Local Church can be built without the urge to acquire the Holy Spirit, that is, without the search for holiness. The quest for holiness means monastic and ascetic life, fasting, prayer and almsgiving, repentance, that is, confession and communion, and the veneration of the saints, including the local saints, who acquired the Holy Spirit.  And so we come back to St John of Shanghai, who all over Europe rejected both the ghettoes of the Pharisees and the Halfodoxy of the modernists.