Category Archives: Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

An Icon for the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

Our Russian Orthodox Faith in the Holy Trinity has long been expressed by the words: ‘For the Faith, For the Tsar, For Rus’, which represent the actions of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit throughout Rus. These words were expressed in recent history in the lives of the three ROCOR Saints, the Three New Hierarchs, the Three New Pillars of Orthodoxy, the Three Saints of the Russian Emigration:

‘For the Faith’ was expressed by St Jonah of Hankou (+ 1925), the first ROCOR saint. Fleeing as a refugee with other White Russians to China and absolutely faithful to the fullness of Russian Orthodoxy, within a very short time of becoming a bishop at a very young age in Manchuria, he established an orphanage, a school and a dining hall for the poor. Thus he combined the love of the Liturgy with practical love for our neighbour, as the Gospel calls us to do, for ‘seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you’ (Matt. 6.33). This is indeed the essence of the Orthodox Christian Faith. St Jonah expressed faithfulness in the face of the betrayal of the Faith by others.

‘For the Faith and for the Tsar’ was expressed a generation later by St Seraphim of Boguchar (+ 1950). (1) He fearlessly expressed the historic values of Russian Orthodoxy in his writings and was a Defender of Orthodoxy against the heresies of the renovationist Paris School in the 1930s and against ecumenism, notably at the Moscow Council of 1948. He asked: What is the role of the Tsar? In his study ‘The Russian Ideology’, he answered that the Tsar is the incarnation of our Faith in social, political and economic affairs. This has become very relevant today, in the wake of the events that have followed the 2016 meeting in Crete organized by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. St Seraphim expressed bravery in the face of the cowardice of others before the political pressures of the powerbrokers of this world.

All of these values, ‘For the Faith and for the Tsar and for Rus’ were expressed by St John of Shanghai and San Francisco (+ 1966). The first ‘universal saint’, as he has been called, he defended the Orthodox Faith and the Tsar from their enemies. He lived all over the planet, celebrating the Liturgy and preaching in many languages, extending the understanding and practice of ‘Rus’ worldwide far beyond East Slavdom, which itself stretches from Carpatho-Russia to the shores of the Pacific. Thus, in our Church we talk about American Rus, Argentinian Rus, Australian Rus, Canadian Rus, English Rus, French Rus, German Rus, Irish Rus, Italian Rus, Peruvian Rus, Swiss Rus and so on. Wherever, worldwide, there is the uncorrupted Christian Faith of the Russian Orthodox world, there is Rus. St John expressed the truth which sets us free from the deceit of those who do not love Christ and His Holy Church.

The Russian Emigration has expressed the truths ‘For the Faith, for the Tsar, for Rus’ with a more refined purity and much more extended significance than ever before. The values of faithfulness, bravery and truthfulness were above all expressed by the Three New Hierarchs after the ‘treachery, cowardice and deceit’ which caused the 1917 Revolution. And these Three New Pillars of Orthodoxy completed their lives on three different continents: St Jonah in China in Asia; St Seraphim in Bulgaria in Europe and St John in San Francisco in North America. It is this, the global reality of Rus, which the Church inside Russia is now learning about from us.

It is for this reason that we propose an Icon showing the Three Saints full length against the blue and green background of the planet – St John walking and blessing North and South America (where his parents went to live), St Seraphim walking and blessing Europe and Africa (where some of his spiritual children went to live), and St Jonah walking and blessing Asia and Oceania (where some of his spiritual children went to live), all beneath the Protecting Veil of the Directress of the Russian Emigration, the Kursk-Root Mother of God, the Icon of the Sign, She Who Shows the Way.

Thus, in this global age, we see all six inhabited Continents of the planet beneath the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God, blessed by the Three New Hierarchs, the Three New Pillars of Orthodoxy, the Three Saints of the Russian Emigration, St John, St Seraphim and St Jonah. Their feasts, on 20 October, 26 February and 2 July are spread almost equally, every four months, throughout the Church year and each represents a new generation of Church life. Together they represent the essential identity, unique service, planetary mission and future of our Church, come forth from the past of Imperial Russia: a mission which today is supported and supplemented by the free Patriarchal Church, of which we are a self-governing part.

 

Note 1:

Some might assert that our part of the Russian Church has only two saints, St Jonah and St John, since St Seraphim reposed as a member of the Moscow Patriarchate and was not canonized by the Church Outside Russia. However, unlike Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky), who spent fifteen years serving as a priest in the then captive Moscow Patriarchate in Communist China but only in 1962 was able to leave, St Seraphim, who reposed in 1950, had no choice in the matter, being unable to leave Communist Bulgaria. But like Metr Philaret, St Seraphim lived outside Russia and never made any compromise with the Orthodox Faith at any time in his life. His refusal to compromise is all the more important given that today most of our flock and many of our clergy were born and grew up in the former Soviet Union.

In today’s situation of the Patriarchal Church, free of the atheist yoke, St Seraphim can be seen as part of the contribution of the Church Outside Russia to the common glory of the Russian Orthodox world and its worldwide mission. And when we consider that our Russian Orthodoxy – and all Traditional Orthodoxy – is effectively being persecuted by an alien and secular mentality which has crept into parts of the Greek Orthodox world and which St Seraphim already opposed in his lifetime, his relevance is all the more important. As we know, a copy of this Icon is to be presented to His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill. What better symbol for our Patriarch of our common struggle than an Icon of St Seraphim together with St Jonah and St John, all the fruit of Imperial Russia, all the fruit of our part of the Russian Church and all our offering to the whole Russian Church and to the whole world for the future.

 

The Western Captivity is Ending: The Restoration of Orthodoxy is Gathering Strength

Introduction: Miracles

In 2007 the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and the Church inside Russia were miraculously reconciled before me, as I stood confessing ex-Soviet generals and others in the miraculously rebuilt Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. Then, as a priest from the Rue Daru Archdiocese concelebrated, I did not think that it would take that Archdiocese another twelve tumultuous years to return to its Russian Mother Church. However, this miracle too has come about – in 2019 – and its Archbishop Jean has now become Metropolitan Jean. Who cannot be moved to see his photo, with that of the distinguished Protopresbyter Anatoly Rakovich and others, at last reunited with the Russian Church? Here are joy and triumph come from the grace of God.

True, his Metropolia is tiny, with only some sixty, mainly small, parishes, largely in France, but also in Belgium, the Netherlands and England. Nevertheless, it is both historic and important, as it includes many who have worked tirelessly for the Orthodox evangelization of mainly French-speaking countries in Western Europe, translating, presenting the Faith and celebrating the Liturgy. This unity became possible only after 2000, once the New Martyrs and Confessors had been canonized in Moscow. This meant that the Church inside Russia and its representatives abroad would now progressively be unshackled from enslavement to the State and from renovationism by their veneration for the New Martyrs and Confessors, who witnessed to Christ against both.

The Past

Thus, the century from 1917 on until today of colossal Orthodox decadence is coming to an end. Marked successively by the forced introduction of the Roman Catholic (‘new’) calendar, the spread of ecumenism, the shortening of the Liturgy, the dismantling of iconostases, the installation of chairs and pews in churches, the establishment of a largely homosexual and anti-monastic episcopate who persecute married clergy and monks alike, the contempt for the canons and the services and the absurd ideology of Eastern Papism, all led by Constantinople, controlled and manipulated  by Anglo-American geopolitics, and aped by others equally weak in faith, the decadence is ending. We thank God for this grace, for it comes from Him, not from men.

We naturally welcome this historic event with a joy beyond words. We helped in the fight against the double-bladed sword of renovationism and sectarianism everywhere, despite phenomenal injustices and persecution. Only our native Eastern English stubbornness helped; others, including a ROCOR Archbishop, told me that they would have given up long ago and walked away from the disgraceful and scandalous. The fight was harsh, the combat was rude. The Centre in Moscow, held captive by Communism and betrayed by renovationist internal enemies both inside and outside Russia, was occupied, the barbarians were inside the City. There was no alternative for those faithful to Russian Orthodoxy but to join one of the two Non-Moscow émigré groups.

The first group was the Church Outside Russia, ROCOR, worldwide and embracing over 85% of the Russian emigration. In the late 1940s, its Synod moved from Europe and has since been based in New York. Sadly, from the 1960s on it was to spend a long period darkened by the accession to power in it of those promoting Cold War sectarianism, phariseeism, ritualism, nationalism and CIA-funded politicking. In 2007 the sectarians left for the only place they could go – to various old calendarist sects. ROCOR now appears to be turning into the Russian Orthodox Church of the English-speaking world. Now dominated by the new immigration, the old largely having died out, the sectarian mentality has today been consigned to the dustbin of history.

The second group was Rue Daru, geographically limited to a few countries in Western Europe and embracing less than 15% of the Russian emigration. It has always been based in Paris. Founded by anti-Tsar, revolutionary, Saint Petersburg aristocrats, liberals, intellectuals and freemasons who soon broke away from ROCOR, it was from the start contaminated by a Western captivity to Protestant, pseudo-intellectual renovationism and fanatical Russophobia. This it later spread to the ex-Uniat Metropolia in the USA, which, today called the OCA, is only now freeing itself of its captivity after over fifty years. Now dominated by the new immigration, the old largely having died out, the renovationist mentality has today been consigned to the dustbin of history.

Conclusion: The Future

Today Metropolian Jean stands with authority, the aggressive enemies of Orthodoxy like the Fraternite, Struve, Behr and others who so persecuted and mocked us, gone. The obstacles they presented fell with their deaths and despite a few neo-renovationists, 1960s rebels against their émigré parents, agents of Western spy services, those married to or paid by Roman Catholics or arrived from Moscow in the 1990s with a political axe to grind, or naïve converts, nothing now stands in the way of restoring Orthodoxy and abandoning the hopelessly old-fashioned half-Catholic/half-Protestant ‘Euro-Orthodox’ mentality. This means restoring the Russian Tradition, abandoning the Catholic calendar and other liturgical and canonical eccentricities.

The remains of émigré Russian Orthodoxy, ROCOR in Western Germany, Switzerland and Great Britain, Rue Daru in France, and Moscow everywhere, are now in the One Russian Church. The Church has been cleansed; parasitic, secularist-minded elements have fallen away. The bad old days are over. Persecution by racists and renovationists is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. We have now moved a step closer to establishing a United Russian Orthodox Exarchate in Western Europe, faithful to the Tradition, venerating the local saints in the local languages, the foundation of the restored future Orthodox Church of Western Europe, our combat against the traitors and their injustices, and our dream of nearly fifty years, done. This is a miracle of God.

 

Brexit and the Rue Daru Break-Up: How Politics Strangely Mirrors Church Life

Brexit and the USA

For nearly fifty years it was virtually impossible to get a job in the British diplomatic service if you were anti-Common Market (later called the EEC, then the EC and finally the EU). When the alien UK Establishment turned its back on the English people and the English-speaking world and finally joined the then Common Market on I January 1973, Ireland and Denmark, whose economies depended on the UK, were also reluctantly forced to join it. Today we live in a different world. When a crassly undiplomatic (not to say inept and stupid) British Establishment diplomat in Washington insults the US President, he has to sack himself. The world has changed. Britain has turned to the USA and the stodgy old pro-EU diplomats are lost. They have not seen the way the tide has turned in the last ten years. This is a sea-change but also a return to the past; the European flow has ebbed.

The UK is about to have a Prime Minister who was born in New York and was until recently a US citizen. Shades of the half-American Churchill? The UK is about to dissolve, as the purely artificial Northern Ireland at last returns home to form the long-dreamed of United Ireland. As for Scotland, it will inevitably regain its independence after over 300 years, leaving Wales to become independent. As for England, enslaved to upper middle-class Norman Britain for nearly 1,000 years but the eighth largest economy in the world, it is about to abandon Continental Europe after the Establishment’s disastrous fifty-year flirt with the EU and return to itself. Where does this leave Continental Europe? It will inevitably return to Eurasia – from which it cut itself off. It will increasingly come under the influence of the Russian Federation (China standing behind it), a Russia which is also European.

The Two Parts of the Russian Orthodox Church

All of these present events have been foretold by events in the Russian Orthodox Church. Here an American bishop from the USA has been appointed from the Russian Church in New York to Great Britain and Ireland to replace a Continental European bishop: it is a Church brexit. And so a whole diocese has been reborn under the wise direction of the Canadian-born Metropolitan Hilarion of New York. It is clear that the future of the Russian Orthodox Church here is with the New York-based ROCOR, which over the last twelve years, since Moscow and ROCOR were reconciled in 2007, has become an American-Russian Church, the Church of the English-speaking world and countries in the US ‘backyard’, like Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Haiti, other countries in Latin America, countries of Australian Oceania and now also Great Britain and soon to be reunited Ireland too.

Meanwhile, in Continental Europe at the end of 2018 the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow established an Exarchate, centred in Paris, only last Wednesday opening another new parish, this time in the Faroe Islands. (Eurasian in its double-headed essence, the Church also added nine new parishes to its South-East Asian Exarchate, in Myanmar (one), Vietnam (two), South Korea (two) and the Philippines (four)). Already with some 200 parishes, the Russian Orthodox Exarchate, dependent on Moscow, with its six bishops in Continental Western Europe, is expanding with Rue Daru priests (like the elderly and senior Fr Jean Gueit) and Rue Daru parishes joining it, as they leave the sinking Rue Daru ship. Here there is nothing new: this process has been going on for thirty years already. In the coming months there will be several more newcomers/ returnees.

This tiny group, hopelessly divided, with the ‘liberal’ side insulting its lone bishop in the true intolerant anti-episcopal Rue Daru tradition, has to choose: to be faithful to the Russian Tradition, which it used to claim to belong to, or join the ‘Euroliberal Tradition’ of Constantinople, which the Institut Saint Serge and the Bussy Convent have already chosen. That suicidal and schismatic path is for those who have no tradition, typical of the equally suicidal EU, which has abandoned the Christian Tradition and so has no tradition. Those who choose the Russian Tradition will live and prosper. And this is true for Continental Europe in other senses too. The choice has become clear: either return to your Christian roots or become an irrelevant schizophrenic secularist/Muslim backwater. The EU ship, like the Rue Daru ship, is sinking: stop rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, it is too late.

 

On the Coming Centenary of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR)

 Introduction: The Decisions of the June 2019 Synod of San Francisco

At the meeting of the Synod of Bishops of the Church Outside Russia in San Francisco at the end of June 2019 a number of decisions were taken. Notably the title of Bishop Irenei (Steenberg) was determined as ‘of London and Western Europe’ – a striking title against the political background of Brexit. The archpastors also agreed to have a special Icon painted for the 2020 centenary of the establishment of the Church Outside Russia. The Church was founded on 7/20 November 1920, as expressed in the words of Decree No 362, issued by the holy confessor Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow and the Synod in Moscow.

The hierarchs approved the text of the announcement of a competition to paint the Icon in honour of the centenary. They called on all diocesan bishops to organize celebrations and devote youth and music conferences, diocesan assemblies, clergy retreats, symposia and other events to the centenary. Finally, the Synod agreed to call a Council of Bishops on the centenary to be held in Germany. The Synod concluded with the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the canonization of the ‘Abbot of the Russian Diaspora’, St John of Shanghai and San Francisco on 28 and 29 June.

Our Suggestion

It is our humble suggestion that on the anniversary all celebrate a service of thanksgiving, with special petitions of thanksgiving for the past and present and entreating God for his guidance for our Church in the future. These petitions would express the spirit of the twofold task of the Church Outside Russia at its best: a deep love for and faithfulness to the authentic Russian Orthodox Tradition, all the while witnessing and preaching before the Non-Orthodox world around us.

As regards a special Icon, we suggest the following. Let us recall how a thousand years ago, controversy surrounded the question as to who is the greatest Father: St Basil the Great, St Gregory the Theologian or St John Chrysostom. As the question had no issue, following a vision, in the year 1084 the Church established the Feast of the Three Hierarchs on 30 January, after the January feast days of all three of them. Let us now do the same. This new Icon should specifically portray the Three New Hierarchs of the Church Outside Russia, who have all been canonized in the last generation. These are St John of Shanghai, canonized first, St Jonah of Hankou and St Seraphim of Boguchar. The Icon would show them against a world map, with, going from west to east, St John in California, St Seraphim in Bulgaria and St Jonah in China.

St John of Shanghai (Canonized in 1994)

St John of Shanghai and San Francisco, also called St John of Shanghai and Western Europe or simply St John the Wonderworker (1896-1966) was a pastor and spiritual father of high reputation and wonderworker, known for his powers of prophecy, clairvoyance and healing. He is the most international of saints, having visited every continent, except Oceania (though he had and still has many spiritual children there who had known him personally in China). The first global saint, he served in Slavonic, Chinese, French, English, Dutch and other languages.

He was born in 1896 in the village of Adamovka in the present-day Ukraine. He came from the same family – not of Serbian origin (a common myth) – as that of St John of Tobolsk. From 1907 to 1914 he attended Poltava Military School and then received a degree in law in 1918. His family took him to Belgrade in 1921, where in 1925 he graduated from University with a degree in theology.

In 1926 he became a monk and was ordained hierodeacon by Metr Antony of Kiev, who gave him the name of St John after his saintly relative. Later that same year he was ordained priest. For several years afterwards he worked as a teacher of theology and in 1929 he was appointed to teach in the seminary in Bitola. The principal of the seminary was the future St Nicholas (Velimirovich). In 1934 he was consecrated bishop by Metropolitan Antony (the last bishop he consecrated) and assigned to the Diocese of Shanghai.

In Shanghai Bishop John found an uncompleted Cathedral and an Orthodox community deeply divided for nationalistic reasons. Making contact with all the various groups, he quickly involved himself in the existing charitable institutions and personally founded an orphanage and home for the children of the poor. Here he first became known for miracles attributed to his prayers. As a public figure it was impossible for him to completely conceal his ascetic way of life. Despite his actions during the Japanese invasion, when he routinely ignored the curfew in pursuit of his pastoral activities, the Japanese authorities never harassed him. As the only Russian hierarch in China who refused to submit to the authority of Soviet atheists after the War, in 1946 he was made Archbishop of China.

When the Communists finally took power, the Russian colony was forced to flee, first to a camp on the island of Tubabao in the Philippines and then mainly to the USA and Australia. Archbishop St. John travelled personally to Washington to ensure that his people would be allowed to enter the country.

In 1951 St John was assigned to the Archdiocese of Western Europe with his see first in Paris, then in Brussels. Thanks to his work in collecting Lives of saints, several pre-Schism Western saints became known to Orthodoxy and continue to be venerated to this day. His charitable and pastoral work continued as it had in Shanghai, now among a much more widely scattered flock.

In 1962 St John was once again reassigned, this time to San Francisco, where there were apparently intractable problems. Here too he found a divided community and a Cathedral in an unfinished state. Although he completed the building of the Cathedral and brought some measure of peace to the community he became the target of slander from those who became his political and sectarian enemies. They went so far as to file a lawsuit against him for alleged mishandling of finances related to the construction of the Cathedral. He was naturally exonerated, but this lawsuit was a great cause of sorrow to him.

On 2 July (on the secular calendar) 1966 St John reposed while visiting Seattle at a time and place which he had foretold. He was entombed beneath the altar of the Cathedral he had built in San Francisco, dedicated to the Mother of God, Joy of All Who Sorrow. In 1994, the 28th anniversary of his repose, he was canonized. His relics occupy the shrine in the Cathedral and his feast day is celebrated on the Saturday nearest to 2 July.

St Jonah of Hankou (Canonized in 1996)

St Jonah (Pokrovsky), Bishop of Hankou (1888-1925), served in Northern China in the years immediately following the Bolshevik Revolution. Born in Kaluga in Russia with the name Vladimir, he was orphaned at the age of eight and was taken in by a kindly deacon who ensured he received an education. He went on to attend, graduate and eventually teach at the Kazan Theological Academy. While a student, he became a monk of the Optina Brotherhood and was given the name Jonah.

In 1918 the Revolution forced the young hieromonk to leave Kazan. He was arrested by the atheists and suffered beatings to the point of losing consciousness and imprisonment. Thus, sharing the fate of the New Confessors of Russia, by Divine Providence Fr Jonah was freed by the White Army beyond the Ural Mountains. Fr Jonah withdrew to the borders of Western China and was subjected to all kinds of hardships while crossing the Pamirs, often forced to grab on to jagged ledges and the sparse shrubbery of the ice-covered cliffs with wounded hands. After crossing the Gobi Desert, the group finally reached Beijing, where Fr Jonah was received into the Mission there and soon consecrated Bishop of Manzhuria. (St Jonah was officially the bishop of Hankou in Hubei province, but actually worked in the town of Manzhuria, the modern day town of Manzhouli).

During his short time as bishop, St Jonah transformed the Orthodox community in Manzhuria. He established an orphanage, a school and a dining hall for the poor. He worked tirelessly for his flock and was deeply loved by them. At the end, Bishop Jonah had been caring for a priest who died of typhoid fever, but subsequently contracted chronic tonsillitis and then developed blood poisoning. As he was dying, he wrote a final epistle to his flock, reminding them of the need to love one another, confessed one final time to Archbishop Methodius of Beijing, received communion, blessed those around him. Then he put on vestments which had belonged to St Ambrose of Optina and began, loudly and with prostrations, to read the canon for the departure of the soul. Finally overcome with weakness, he lay down on his bed and said, ‘God’s will be done. Now I shall die’, and indeed within minutes he reposed.

That same evening a ten-year-old crippled boy, who had been suffering from an inflammation of the knee joints, had a dream. All medical efforts had proven fruitless. He was unable to walk or even to stand. In his dream he saw a hierarch vested in white who said, ‘Here, take my legs. I don’t need them any more. And give me yours’. He woke up and was miraculously healed. From a photograph he identified the hierarch in his dream as Bishop Jonah who had reposed that very night on 7/20 October 1925. Though his life was short, his memory endured long after his repose. His feast is on October 7/20.

St Seraphim of Boguchar (Canonized in 2016)

The future St Seraphim (Sobolev), Archbishop of Boguchar (1881-1950), is known as an ardent defender of the purity of the Orthodox Faith and Tradition, standing up for the monarchy and denouncing the Bulgakov heresy, modernism and ecumenism, and is known as a wonderworker. Before his death, he said to his spiritual children, ‘If I find boldness before the Lord, I will not leave you’. The night after his burial, he appeared in a dream to one of his spiritual sons, a monk, and said, ‘Why are you weeping? I have not died, I am alive.’

Born in Ryazan on 1 December 1881, his mother called him Nicholas. An excellent student, after attending the local parish school he entered the local seminary and in 1904 Saint Petersburg Theological Academy, during which this brilliant and already learned student became a monk, taking the name Seraphim. Fr. Seraphim taught for a year at a priest’s school in Zhitomir before being appointed assistant supervisor of the diocesan school in Kaluga. The pupils there loved Fr. Seraphim greatly. While he was still in Kaluga, he often went to the Optina Hermitage, where he visited the elders Anatoly, Barsanuphy and Joseph. Fr Anatoly treated him with special love and was his father confessor. After two and a half years, Hieromonk Seraphim was transferred to the seminary in Kostroma. In 1912, Hieromonk Seraphim was appointed rector of the seminary in Voronezh. Within a year he had so transformed the seminary that it was judged by the Synod inspector to be the best in the country.

On 1 October 1920, on the feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God, in the Cathedral of Simferopol, Archimandrite Seraphim was consecrated bishop by Metr Antony of Kiev. It was a great comfort for him that on this occasion, by God’s inscrutable ways, the great sacred treasure, the wonderworking Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God ‘of the Sign’, was present in the Cathedral. Soon after this, to his sorrow, he had to leave his native land. He spent a short time in Constantinople before moving to Bulgaria where, in August 1921, he was appointed Director of the Russian Orthodox monastic communities there.

Living in ceaseless ascetic endeavour and difficult conditions in Bulgaria, he caught tuberculosis. Despite his serious illness he cared for his flock with fervour. He served frequently and gave sermons three times a week, calling his flock to repentance, to grace-filled reformation and to the most basic virtue – humility. Especially noteworthy were his sermons on Forgiveness Sunday, when, after his appeal, many people who had quarrelled with each other for years tearfully begged forgiveness of one another.

As an archpastor he made the rounds of the Russian parishes in the Bulgarian provinces, and visited Russian schools. His talks and his warm and loving personality left a lasting, grace-filled impression everywhere. In difficult material conditions, he also cared for poor and sick Russians. For some he arranged free hospital treatment, others he placed in homes for invalids, for some he obtained pensions, some he fed at his place, and some he settled in his monastery. Nor did he overlook destitute Russian monks on Mount Athos. He formed a committee to collect help for them and in his sermons he appealed to parishioners to donate to this holy work.

In 1934 he was given the title of archbishop. Spiritually gifted from his early years and constantly engaged in a fiery struggle with the passions, while still a relatively young bishop he attained spiritual heights. Several of his spiritual children recorded cases of his clairvoyance, which manifested itself even at great distances. For his angelic purity he received the gift to perceive the most subtle deviations from Orthodox Christian truth. He watched over Orthodox Christian life and was its conscience, as it were. Where he observed irregularity, he uncompromisingly exposed it, not fearing to suffer for the truth. As a result, he produced some priceless theological works.

H e refuted the heresy of name-worship, but his major work was the refutation of the modernist Sophianist Parisian philosopher Fr Sergius Bulgakov, for which in 1937 he received a Master’s Degree in theology. He was rushing to complete this work by a certain deadline when he fell ill with a fever. He implored the Mother of God, to whose prayerful intercession he had resorted all his life, begging her to heal him. And what happened? His temperature dropped immediately and he was able to finish his work within the allotted time.

He poured out all his love for the Saviour in his theological works, fervently defending the truths of Orthodoxy. ‘My books are my blood’, he declared. And truly he lay down his life for Christ in the struggle with heretics, sparing neither his strength nor broken health. He constantly worked at night. This upset his brother, Archimandrite Sergius, in view of his weak health. Knowing this, he wrote secretly. In the evening he would lie down and when everyone else had fallen asleep he would get up and continue writing, taking advantage of the night-time quiet, considering it his pastoral duty to defend the truth. It is not by chance that the Lord called him to the next world on the day when the holy Church celebrates the Triumph of Orthodoxy and its defenders, on 13/26 February, his feast-day.

The Three Temptations

The Church has always faced three temptations, both past and contemporary, but they have never been as strong as in our day. These temptations are: ritualist and sectarian nationalism (phyletism); corrupting mammonism; secularist liberalism.

Ritualist and Sectarian Nationalism (Phyletism)

The first global saint, St John was entirely international and politically free, not fanatically narrow, sectarian, racist or ritualist. He faced down the temptations of nationalist flag waving, uniting the Orthodox communities in Shanghai, Western Europe and San Francisco. He always placed Christ above any nation and people and was never influenced by any worldly political pressures, either from the Japanese Empire, the Soviet Empire or the American Empire. He was always faithful, resisting sectarianism of all sorts. He strongly disliked the ritualizing tendency of some to cut services short, reading and singing very quickly, with the result that people cannot understand the services.

Corrupting Mammonism

St Jonah transfigured Church life in Manzhuri, establishing an orphanage, a school and a dining hall for the poor. He worked tirelessly for his flock, and was deeply loved by them. We see that he was loving, he did not seek to amass money, but worked voluntarily, showing the Church to be a community, that we are saved together. He thus avoided the temptations that tempted the Church before the Revolution and today, especially perhaps, though also in many Local Churches, in contemporary Russia: the idolatry of Mammon, chasing after money, setting tariffs for every sacramental action, which so discredits the Church and repulses the people. He was utterly detached from love of money, love of ‘gold and marble’, remaining incorruptible.

Secularist Liberalism

St Seraphim was faithful to the Tradition, not modernist and ecumenist. He never suffered from the immigrant inferiority complex of conformism to this world. He was profoundly Patristic, filled with the grace that comes from ascetic life. He was not in any way afraid to stand up to heresy, as in the case of his resistance to the fantasies of Bulgakov. And at the Moscow Council of 1948 he stood up for Orthodox unity, resisting the tide of Secularism, which the Western Powers were trying to impose on the Orthodox world through the Greek-speaking Churches, notably standing up for the Orthodox calendar and also the Orthodox, not absolutist, principle of the monarchy.

Conclusion: The Three New Hierarchs

All three hierarchs expressed the Unity, Holiness, Catholicity and Apostolicity of the Church, all having the essential in common, however each having a special ‘hypostatic’ characteristic. This characteristic put them above the world and its triple temptations. St John resisted through his humility, St Jonah through his non-possession and St Seraphim through his obedience to the Tradition.  If these temptations are resisted, the Church Outside Russia will continue. If ever it forgets them, it will face extinction.

The feasts of these Three Hierarchs are evenly spaced throughout the year, approximately every four months, in February, June/July and October. We suggest that their commemoration and celebration of their Icon be introduced on 7/20 November, after their three feasts, on the anniversary of the foundation of our Church. Eventually, a special service, based on the separate services to the three saints, or an akathist, could be compiled, entitled to ‘The Three New Hierarchs’.

Holy Hierarchs John, Jonah and Seraphim, pray to God for us!

Archpriest Andrew Phillips,

Church of St John of Shanghai, Colchester, England

St Alban’s Day, 5 July 2019

 

Our Orthodox Identity and the Future Configuration of the Russian Orthodox Church

Our identity as Orthodox Christians is in our belonging to and confession of the Faith of the One Church of God, founded in Jerusalem by the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost in 33 AD. This Faith of the Church is incarnated in Christian Civilization, the one and only Christian Empire which forms the Orthodox World, the Orthosphere. Today, in conditions of persecution by Western Secularism, this Christian Orthodox Empire, the reflection of the Kingdom of Heaven, stretches from Jerusalem and the Middle East to the greater part of Europe outside its apostatic Western tip, across Siberia to the Alaskan coasts, covering one eighth of the Earth’s inhabited surface. However, this world also includes our oases, which act as Embassies of the Christian Empire, all over the Planet. Our physical passports show many different nationalities, but our spiritual passports show that we belong to this One Global Church and Faith.

For example, our church in Colchester is built of timber and iron from England and the main doors carry Orthodox crosses which were fashioned from an old fishing boat from Felixstowe, the town named after the seventh-century Apostle of the English East, St Felix. However, inside the church there are icons and sacred artefacts from across today’s Orthodox world. Thus, the iconostasis comes from Moldova, the two kissing icons by the holy doors are from Crete and other items in the church come from Carpatho-Russia, Siberia, Poland, Macedonia, Romania, Cyprus, Serbia, Syria, Russia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Greece and Montenegro.

We do not belong to those Civilizations which never received the Word of Christ, either because they existed before His Unique and Transfiguring Revelation and so far have still not known Him (the interconnected Hinduism, Buddhism, Animism), or else because they rejected Him for worldly and nationalistic reasons after His Loving Revelation (the interconnected Judaism, Islam, Western Secularism). The latter, its tentacles now spread around the world, is the fruit of the strange and deluded deviations from the Orthodox Church, known as Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, which rejected the Church of God and Her Orthodox Christian Faith. Unlike them, our Christian Empire is not the worldly Empire of Rome. This was the mistake of Old Rome and much later of New Rome, both of which succumbed to local racial nationalisms: Latin-Germanic (Catholic-Protestant) and Greek, both of which claimed to have authority superior to (the ‘first without equal’ heresy) that of the Kingdom of God. But the thisworldly Kingdom of Rome is not the Kingdom of God.

The various territories of the world are cared for by the fourteen Local Orthodox Churches, all part of the Christian Empire. Eleven of these cover only tiny canonical territories, for instance, Palestine and the Jordan (the Church of Jerusalem), Czechoslovakia, Albania, Cyprus, Poland, some Greek islands and immigrant enclaves (the Church of Constantinople), Georgia, Bulgaria, Greece, ex-Yugoslavia and migrations (the Church of Serbia) and Romania and migrations. The other three Local Churches cover much larger territories: most of the Arab world and migrations (the Church of Antioch) and the Continent of Africa (the Church of Alexandria).

The Church of Russia is a special case, as it totals 75% of the faithful and consists of two parts. The territory of the first part, administered from Moscow, covers the vast majority of the Eurasian Continent, excluding the above territories of the twelve much smaller Local Churches also in Eurasia, their immigrant outposts in Western Europe and also, in the future perhaps the British Isles and Ireland. This Eurasian landmass, in fact one Continent, is thus almost all administered from Moscow, although parts of it, like the Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Latvia, Japan and China, are largely autonomous. Indeed, they yet become fully independent, as have done the Churches of Poland and Czechoslovakia.

However, the second part of the Church of Russia, once called the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA), which evolved into today’s Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), is centred in New York. This has come to be specialized in the care of Russian Orthodox in the three remaining Continents of the world, outside mainland Europe, Asia and Africa, that is, in North America, South America and Oceania. Perhaps its vocation is to become the Orthodox Church of the Anglosphere and Latin America, as such using five languages: English (the USA, Canada, the British Isles, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand), Spanish and Portuguese (Latin America and the Caribbean), with some French (Quebec and some Caribbean islands) and some Dutch (Surinam and some Caribbean islands).

If this is to be the case, perhaps ROCOR will one day change its name again to correspond to this new reality, which has evolved and become visible especially over the last decade. Perhaps its name will change to something like ROCALA: The Russian Orthodox Church of the Anglosphere and Latin America. True, at present, ROCOR still has a few parishes in countries allied to the USA in Asia and in Western Europe (the vast majority of these are in Western Germany). The future of these parishes may in a generation from now become administration from Moscow. This would be in exchange for the parishes in the Americas (from which both Moscow bishops were expelled last year), Oceania and the British Isles and Ireland, where there are a few parishes still illogically administered from Moscow and not New York. Thus, as regards Great Britain, at present there are only three established parishes with property administered from Moscow, two small ones in Oxford and Manchester, which are ROCOR foundations, and the large one in London, which members of ROCOR helped found. In the post-Brexit world it would be illogical for Moscow to have a jurisdiction here, though until recently the opposite was true. Mistakes have been made on both sides.

Not all is clear, but it seems that in the future, as the geopolitics of US withdrawal from Eurasia after the defeats and disasters of its over-reach in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Ukraine and Syria, and Trump’s statement that NATO is obsolete, we may see all Russian Orthodox in Europe and Asia administered from Moscow. Those in the English-speaking world and Latin America may, however, come to be administered from New York.

May Thy Will be done, O Lord!

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

The Russian Orthodox Missionary Revolution Begins

Outside the Russian Church, the twelve universally-recognized but small Local Orthodox Churches (in order of size: Romania, Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Antioch, Alexandria, Poland, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Albania and Jerusalem) look after only 25% of all Orthodox, on average 2% each. This means small territories and narrow ethnic groups. The two exceptions are the Patriarchate of Alexandria, which looks after the vast African Continent, and the Patriarchate of Antioch, which looks after the Middle Eastern Arab world outside Africa as far as the Emirates and Iraq as well as Arabs and others in the Diasporas. But what of the rest of the world which have never been Orthodox? Who cares for this? Certainly not these twelve small and generally rather nationalistic Local Churches

Neither is it the former Patriarchate of Constantinople. The collapse of that tiny Patriarchate into the papist and phyletist heresies and its resulting falling away from communion with the Russian Orthodox Church is tragic. All we can do is to wait patiently for its repentance. Just as we have been waiting for the repentance of Rome for a thousand years, so we shall wait for Constantinople’s repentance too. However, every cloud has a silver lining. Constantinople’s recent fall from the Church and so self-elimination has led very swiftly to the Russian Church’s decision to set up a mission and build a new church in long-ignored Turkey and establish two new missionary Exarchates.

One of these is for Western Europe, though at present it covers only Andorra, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, Italy, San Marino, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Portugal, France and Switzerland. The second is for South-East Asia (Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, North Korea, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand). Clearly, these are the foundations for new Local Churches. Indeed, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeev) has described their long-awaited establishment as missionary.

http://ruskline.ru/news_rl/2018/12/29/nasha_zadacha_missionerskaya_prosvetitelskaya/

Thus, if we look at the world scene today, we can see that for the first time in history, most of the world is now catered for in terms of Orthodox missions. There is the tricontinental Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, based in New York, which fundamentally looks after North America, South America and Oceania. Indeed, in the last twelve years, it will have consecrated six American bishops and one Australian bishop. As for Eurasia outside the territories of the twelve Local Churches, the Russian Orthodox Church caters for the multinational Russian Federation, China (naturally, including Taiwan), Japan and now also South-East Asia and Western Europe through its two Exarchates.

This means that in reality the only territories of the world which are not catered for officially are Iran and South Asia (Afghanistan, BangladeshBhutanIndia, the Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka), in which countries conditions are such that missionary work is very difficult, even sometimes dangerous. However, South Asia contains one quarter of the world’s population. Perhaps one day we shall see two more Exarchates, one for Iran and one for South Asia.

We have come a long way from the anti-missionary bishops of the past who so persecuted us. We well remember Archbishop George (Wagner) of the Paris Archdiocese, who forbade the use of any language in services except Church Slavonic. Indeed, he considered that only three languages should be used liturgically – Greek, Latin and Slavonic. (He considered that the Romanian Church should return to using Church Slavonic).

He and another bishop of his background also unapologetically forbade the veneration of the local saints of Western Europe. Both bishops wrecked their dioceses, with a great many clergy and people fleeing their tyrannies, indeed as far as the USA and Canada. ‘I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the Lord, so did we sing in those dark days of the dark past. Their dioceses have still not recovered and, it seems, probably never will. The vital missionary forces left and their dioceses were abandoned to the ghetto and spiritual death, while others looked elsewhere for spiritual life and grew strong and numerous.

With these two new Exarchates in Western Europe and South-East Asia, which will only grow, the Russian Orthodox missionary revolution of East and West has begun in earnest.

 

The First 300 Years of Russian Orthodox Churches Outside Russia: 1617-1917

Introduction

Although several Russian churches in Europe date back to well before the Russian victory over the atheist tyrant Napoleon and the liberation of Paris by Russian troops in 1814, ignorant and ethnocentric Western Europe only began to understand the reality of Russia then. The Russian Empire was not after all some kind of Asian khanate, but a fully-fledged modern Empire. Russian science and art flourished with names of world renown and the theological academies brought fame to the Russian Church, amazing obscurantist European scholarship. Although the treason of 1917 put an end to this, today, with freedom come, we are once more seeing Westerners taking a more enlightened attitude to the Russian Orthodox Church, whose presence among them now dates back 400 years.

1617-1817

The 1617 Peace Treaty established the legal status of a Russian priest in Stockholm’s Ryssgarden. Services were conducted in premises which merchants rented. A real and more or less permanent Russian church was founded in 1700, with a diplomatic representative in Sweden, and from then on services were conducted almost continuously. In 1684 an embassy mission to China opened. Church life began in Berlin in 1718. In 1721 a church opened in London. In 1727 the embassy in Paris started Orthodox services. That same year under Anna Petrovna, Grand Duchess of Holstein, a church was set up in Kiel and lasted until 1799. A church which lasted briefly was founded in Tokaj in Hungary in 1749.

From 1759 till 1765 there was a church in Königsberg. A church was set up in Madrid in 1760 and in Vienna in 1762. A church opened in Copenhagen in 1797. The Russian embassy in Constantinople (1802) marked the establishment of the church there. That same year two more churches were founded, one at the court of Ekaterina Antonovna, Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and the other in Üröm, near Budapest, the location of the burial vault of Alexandra Pavlovna, Palatine of Hungary and sister of Emperor Alexander I. In 1804 a church opened in Weimar and in 1808 in Ludwigslust (Mecklenburg-Schwerin). A church was founded in The Hague in 1816.

1817-1917

A church opened in Bern in 1817, later moving to Geneva. That same year a church opened in Teheran. The Stuttgart church was organized in 1819. The church in Rome was founded in 1823 and in Rothenburg (Kingdom of Wurtemberg) in 1824. Emperor Nicholas I sent an ambassador to newly liberated Greece and a Russian church was set up in Athens. In 1844 churches were set up in Naples and Wiesbaden. In 1847 Archimandrite Porfiry (Uspensky) opened the Mission in Jerusalem. A church was set up in Amsterdam in 1852, Baden-Baden in 1858 and Nice in 1859. Two churches were set up in 1862, in Brussels and Dresden, and in 1865 in Karlsruhe and in 1867 in Pau in France. In the following year churches in Karlsbad and Florence were built. In 1870 the mission to Japan began under the future St Nicholas of Tokyo.

In 1874 a church opened in Prague. There was a church in Coburg-Gotha from 1874 to 1905. In 1876 a church was set up in Bad Ems and in 1878 in Vevey in Switzerland. The church in Marienbad opened in 1882. An Orthodox community opened in Argentina in 1888. A church was set up in Franzenbad in 1889, in Biarritz in 1890 and in Menton in France in 1892 and in Merano in Italy in 1897. Two Church missions were founded in 1897 ─ one in Urmia in Persia and the other in Seoul in Korea. In 1898 a church was built in San Stefano, near Constantinople, and in the following year in Darmstadt and in Homburg. Three churches were founded in 1901 ─ in Hamburg, Herbersdorf (Silesia) and Kissingen. Finally, by 1910 there were churches in Sofia and Budapest. Several churches were attached to the main ones in cities like Berlin, Constantinople and Nice.

Conclusion

Thus, by 1894 the Synod and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs oversaw 51 churches with 96 clergy and during the reign of the Tsar-Martyr, this increased to 56 churches. In addition, in 1912 the United States Diocese had 286 churches, while the Japanese Mission had 266 communities, the Beijing Mission fifteen, the Urmian Mission seven and the Korean Mission one. Since the flood of refugees from atheism after 1917, hundreds more churches have opened, and not counting the thousand or so in autonomous Japan and China and in autocephalous Poland, the Czech Lands and Slovakia and North America, the total in 2017 is about one thousand, all dependent either on Moscow or on the Church Outside Russia, now based in New York.

(Our thanks to Deacon Andrei Psarev for information supplied for this article)

Principles of the Coming Russian Orthodox Metropolia of Western Europe

Introduction

We first called for a Russian Orthodox Metropolia of Western Europe early on thirty years ago, in April 1988, against the background of the then dying Cold War. Far more importantly, 15 years later, in April 2003, after the Cold War, but before the reunion of the two parts of the Russian Church, Patriarch Alexis of Moscow did the same. 30 years on, there is still no Metropolia, but we feel that, despite all the frustration, impediments and delays, its time is at last coming. A Metropolia, and then Church, that is Orthodox, but also Local, is inevitable in Western Europe. What principles must this Metropolia adopt?

  1. Faithful to Orthodoxy, not Heterodoxy

First of all, we say ‘Away with nationalistic Finnish, French and American ideas of ‘localism’’ (Finland / Rue Daru / OCA), which ignore the integrity of the Orthodox Faith, putting the local flag before the Cross. Instead of ideas propagated in Paris and transferred to the USA, we choose a Metropolia that is both faithful and local. This cannot be based on anti-canonical compromises, on spiritual betrayal of the Faith, in the name of State-sponsored or of self-imposed cultural conformism. We must keep the Orthodox calendar and Church canons, ignoring old-fashioned modernism and ecumenism.

  1. An End to Old-Fashioned Ecumenism

It is this latter ecumenism that has especially delayed the formation of a Metropolia, the foundation of a new Local Church. There were those who said: ‘We must not offend the Catholics/Protestants. We must not give local titles to our bishops’. Such voices were those of traitors to Orthodoxy, those who saw us and see it as a mere piece of foreign exoticism, of folklore. No Metropolia could be born until those voices had fallen silent – and they were still very strong in 1988 and in 2003. It is time to move forward to the free and independent future, to the Autocephalous Church of Western Europe.

  1. Bilingual and Missionary

Unlike the old Russian immigrants (and those of other nationalities), who were intent negatively on preserving and pickling the past, even when nobody any longer knew what it meant, and so guaranteed that they would die out – the future Metropolia will have to be bilingual. Here too we put the Cross before the flag. Only in this way will we be able to pass on the spiritual heritage and values of Russian Orthodox Civilization in a missionary fashion to both the descendants of Russian immigrants and to native Western Europeans. Only in this way can a truly Orthodox and a truly Local Church be born.

  1. Pastoral, not Bureaucratic and Racist

One of the greatest problems in Church life at all times is the tendency to put administration above pastoral care, to put marble and gold above church buildings and, above all, human souls. (We can think of the Irish and Rome). There can be no more second-class (or third-class) citizens; non-Russians must be treated as Russians. The past, all too recent past, is a very dark area indeed in this respect. In such a Metropolia, the foundation of a true Local Church, there can be no racism. The old-fashioned attitudes and mistreatment of native Orthodox is not acceptable and must be severely sanctioned.

Conclusion

Fifty years ago, with the Russian Church paralysed, there was still a hope that Constantinople would abandon its Greek imperialism and take responsibility for the Diaspora. It utterly failed to do so. Indeed, the spiritual decomposition of the Constantinople with its new lurch into Eastern Papism, means that its serious clergy and people now want to join the Russian Church (although the long-term solution would be for the Church of Greece to take over the Greek Diaspora and make it Orthodox). The recent, long-awaited appointments of new bishops in Western Europe and those to come, carried out by both parts of the Russian Orthodox Church, are all steps towards the future Metropolia.

 

 

1,000 Words on the Four Generations of ROCOR

Introduction: The Past 1918

The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) was effectively formed after the martyrdom of the Imperial Family, even if it was only on 20 November 1920 that the besieged and persecuted Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow and his Synod in Moscow issued Decree № 362. This instructed all Russian Orthodox bishops outside Soviet territory, unable to keep in contact with a free Moscow, to organize themselves as an independent Synod.

With personal experience and knowledge of both the bright moments and the dark moments in the life of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) over the past almost fifty years, here is a brief sketch of the near-centennial history of ROCOR. This is a history which is varied, filled with diabolical temptations and insidious attacks from internal and external enemies, and yet one in which faithfulness has always in the end prevailed.

The Old ROCOR: 1918-1943

In exile, ROCOR, with over 30 bishops, organized its monastic and parish life worldwide. It included many of the best theologians from the Church before the 1917 Revolution and bravely stood up both to the compromises of senior Church representatives captive in the Soviet Union and to the modernist heresies of the schismatic Paris Jurisdiction. Thus, patriotically, most members of the Church rejoiced in the successful defence of the Russian Lands following the racist Nazi invasion of 1941.

However, there were also more worldly émigrés, dangerous sectarian elements, who were more politicians than Churchmen, and threatened the future of the Church. Especially after the repose of Metr Antony of Kiev in 1936, the first Primate of ROCOR, these elements slowly began to threaten the integrity of the Church leadership. Indeed, just before and during the Second World War such secular political elements even tried to compromise the ROCOR episcopate with Fascism.

The Threat: 1943-1968

After the Second World War these elements, now resettled in the USA, started to try and compromise the Church with the CIA and other dependent spy services. From the 1960s on, indeed, these elements tried to isolate the Church, putting the future St John of Shanghai on trial and linking ROCOR with fanatical old calendarists, making out that all the Local Churches had mysteriously ‘lost grace’, which they alone had conserved.

According to such phariseeism, on account of the political compromises of a few hostage-bishops in Eastern Europe, 100 million Orthodox were condemned, ‘deprived of grace’! Such was the theological nonsense of these extremists. However, these Donatists were opposed by the mass of the Church, who remained faithful to the old ROCOR, remembering the history of the Church before the Revolution and the whole bimillennial Church.

The Time of Troubles: 1968-1993

The situation worsened at the end of the 1960s, though gallant bishops, like the ever-memorable Bishop Sava of Edmonton (+ 1973), Bishop Nectary of Seattle (+ 1983), Archbishop Antony of Geneva (+ 1993) and many faithful priests and laypeople, all disciples of the spirit of St John of Shanghai, resisted. They held faith with the missionary heritage of the Church and genuine monastic life, with the Orthodox Tradition.

Meanwhile, on the political wing, one senior archimandrite debauched nuns and sold and stole property in Jerusalem for $6 million, money which he pocketed, though at last he was defrocked for this and his other crimes. However, his father tried to ally ROCOR with old calendarism and later opened communities which were not on the canonical territory of ROCOR. Some very dark events took place then.

The Rebirth of ROCOR: 1993-2018

In 1993, 75 years after the slaughter of the Royal Martyrs, came the long-awaited canonization of St John of Shanghai, who had so long awaited the canonization of the Royal Martyrs. This was a turning-point, for it meant that the Johannite wing of the Church, the spirit of St John, was winning, whereas the political wing, with its spiritual and moral hypocrisy, love of ritual, pomp and show, was being defeated. Meanwhile, in Moscow in 2000 the compromised of the Church inside Russia repented, at last canonizing the first of the New Martyrs and Confessors, nineteen years after ROCOR, and rejecting political and spiritual compromises. The final victory came in 2007 when ROCOR accepted the repentance of those in Moscow who had compromised themselves during the Soviet period.

However, some in ROCOR itself had also had to repent for the errors which had compromised it with the nonsense of politicized individuals and their naïve followers. In effect, both the old ‘Moscow Patriarchate’ (MP) and the anti-historical sectarian trend in ROCOR in the 1960s-1990s were finished. Even the term ‘MP’ is now used only by polemicists, who cling to the unpleasant past in order to justify their sectarian present. Since 2007, there has only been the Russian Orthodox Church: the 98% inside the Russian Lands and the 2% outside them. We are united by our common saints, the Royal Martyrs, all the tens of thousands of New Martyrs and Confessors who followed them, and the confessor-saints of ROCOR: St Jonah of Hankou (+ 1925), St Seraphim of Sofia (+ 1950) and St John of Shanghai (+ 1966).

Conclusion: The Future 2018

Approaching the third decade of the 21st century and its centenary, today’s ROCOR must stand steadfast in its uncompromising faith. It must stand against geriatric ecumenism, political or academic compromises, which make theology and so Church life into an ideological or intellectual game. It must oppose those who value property and money over human souls, always siding with the saints. ROCOR must be the Local Church, on whatever continent we exist.

Throughout Western Europe, the Americas and Australasia, ROCOR must stand for the local people, whatever their native language and origins. It must stand for already Orthodox people, as well as for people who seek to live according to the Orthodox Tradition. We must stand against ideology, bureaucracy, centralization, politics, what is done for mere show and prestige, for the Orthodox Tradition without either compromise or sectarian foolishness.