Category Archives: St Edmund

Christ the Invincible Power

Answers to Questions from Recent Conversations and Correspondence

Q: When did you first become conscious of the Russian Orthodox Church?

A: My introduction to the Orthodox Church was through the local saints of England in my native north Essex, notably St Edmund, but also St Albright (Ethelbert), St Cedd, St Botolph and St Osyth. However, as regards the Russian Orthodox Church as such, my first encounter was almost fifty years ago, just after my 12th birthday, in August 1968. As a result of that revelation, I began teaching myself Russian in October of that year in Colchester because I already knew that the Russian Orthodox Church is my spiritual home. However, I had to wait nearly another seven years until I could take part in Russian Orthodox life, as in those days (it is not much better now) there were so few Russian churches anywhere. I only managed to visit any Russian churches in 1973.

Q: Which part of the Russian Church did you join?

A: Having been told by two of its members that the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) would not allow me to join it because I was English (I had no idea at that time that my great-grandmother was Russian, I only discovered that distant link much later), I had no alternative but to join the Moscow Patriarchate. They may have been many things in those distant days, but at least they were not racists.

Q: What was your path to the priesthood after that?

A: A very hard one. First of all, since I could not live and work in Russia on account of the Cold War at that time, for my first job I went to live and work in Greece. I thought that was the next best alternative. After a year there and visiting the then Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, I understood that the Balkan Churches were no solution to the need for a Local Orthodox Church in the West. They were all inward-looking, culturally very narrow and hopelessly nationalistic. Later, contacts with Romanians and Georgians told me the same about them and in the Romanian case there is the huge problem of simony. So, with Russia closed off, in 1979 with the blessing of Metr Antony (Bloom) I went to study at the St Sergius Theological Institute in Paris, which I had in my ignorance imagined to be a Russian Orthodox seminary.

Q: What was it in fact?

A: It was the remains of a Russian Orthodox seminary mingled with an institute of philosophy and, frankly, of heresy. It openly preached modernism or Renovationism, which is Protestant-based, and is therefore not even remotely interesting to someone coming from a country like England with a Protestant culture, so alien to me. One English priest, rather harshly, called St Serge a Methodist Sunday School. Very harsh, but there was some truth in it.

Q: Why did you not think of going to Jordanville in the USA?

A: For the same reason as before. I was repeatedly told by members of ROCOR that they only took Russians. Remember in those days there was no internet, no advice, you had to make your own way, you went by what local representatives told you, even if it was incorrect.

Q: What happened next?

A: In 1982 I was offered the priesthood by the Moscow Patriarchate on terms which I can only describe as scandalous. I walked out, never to return, and enquired again at the Church Outside Russia. I got the same answer as in 1974, though I noted that this time there were actually a few ex-Anglicans in a separate branch of ROCOR in England. However, these rather eccentric conservative Anglicans seemed to have no interest in the Russian Orthodox Church, but only in being anti-Anglican and they had a huge interest in fanatical Greek Orthodox sects. Never having been Anglican and having lived in Greece, I had no interest in either. This was all the more frustrating since ROCOR had just canonized the New Martyrs and Confessors and naturally I had their icons and venerated them. Nevertheless, in 1983, I decided to emigrate to France and join my wife’s jurisdiction, the Paris Jurisdiction.

Q: Wasn’t that foolhardy? I mean you already knew about the problem of modernism there?

A: What you have to understand is that in Paris in 1981 they had elected a new Archbishop. Under the very elderly and saintly old one, renovationists had come to the fore, taking advantage of his old age, but the new Archbishop promised us personally that he would sweep them away and return his jurisdiction to Orthodoxy and canonical Russian practice. So this was a time of great promise and even excitement. Patriarch Dimitrios of Constantinople even said at the time that the Paris Jurisdiction would be returned to the Russian Church as soon as it was free. So, with hope in a promising future, in January 1985 I was ordained deacon there.

Q: What happened next?

A: in May 1985 I was offered the priesthood providing that I would become a freemason. I refused, scandalized. Then we became witnesses to the complete takeover of the jurisdiction by renovationists. The new Archbishop ordained them one by one, completely breaking his promise – not because he was a liar, but because he was weak. It was the same problem as Metr Evlogy, the first Paris Jurisdiction ruling bishop; he had never wanted to leave the Russian Church, but he was a weak man surrounded by powerful laymen, mainly freemasons and those who had betrayed the Tsar and organized the February Revolution. It was the end of the possibility that that jurisdiction would ever return to the freed, restored and reunited Russian Church. But I only understood that the meaning of that bitter disappointment afterwards.

Q: Why did you not leave such a masonic group?

A: Not all by far were freemasons and I felt that I had to labour on until God’s will for me should be revealed.

Q: When was that?

A: Without doubt it was in summer 1988 when the Paris Jurisdiction celebrated the millennium of the Baptism of Rus. Instead of inviting the Russian bishops in Western Europe to the Cathedral on Rue Daru in Paris and returning to the Russian Church in unity, they railed against the Russian Church and invited the Roman Catholic Cardinal of Paris. I was not only scandalized but spiritually distraught. I was an eyewitness to treason and apostasy. It was the last straw. They preferred heresy to Orthodoxy.

Soon after, I met Archbishop Antony of Geneva of ROCOR, who told me that he would be happy to receive me and that I had no need whatsoever to labour on in such anti-canonical conditions. I jumped at the opportunity. 17 people left with me, including a priest. So we all joined the Church Outside Russia in January 1989. That was a transforming moment because previously I had only known the Church Outside Russia in England. On the other hand, Vladyka Antony, heir to Vladyka John of Shanghai, though traditional, was not racist or fanatical, but missionary-minded. He lived in a different world from the fanatics in England and we freely concelebrated with other Orthodox.

I remember him telling me about the extremists who were trying to take control of ROCOR in New York. He said: ‘But there’s nowhere else to go’. I have not the slightest doubt that he would have returned to Russia, if he had had the chance. I also remember conversations with him about Metr Antony of Kiev (Archbp Antony came from Kiev), whom he had known well in Belgrade and whose name he had taken. He was the real ROCOR. Real Russian Orthodox. At last. It had taken me 20 years to get to that point! 20 years of facing illusions, lies, broken promises and corruption. You would think it would have been easy, but nothing of the sort. All hell was against the Russian Orthodox Church, a sure sign of truth.

Q: What happened next?

A: Well, I was at last living as a proper Russian Orthodox. Nearly three years later, in December 1991 I was ordained priest for the new ROCOR parish in Lisbon in Portugal.

Q: What was your attitude to the Moscow Patriarchate?

A: We were all just impatiently waiting for it to become politically free and free of renovationism. That happened officially with the Jubilee Council in Moscow in 2000.

Q: So why didn’t the Church Outside Russia join up with the Patriarchate straightaway in 2000?

A: It is one thing to proclaim the truth at a Council, but another for the decisions of that Council to be implemented. For example, after that I can still remember how at the London Patriarchal Cathedral they refused to put up icons of the New Martyrs and also, incidentally, they refused to sell the books of Fr Seraphim (Rose) or anything traditional. Priests and people coming from Russia were persecuted by the renovationists because they were ‘too’ traditional. We had to wait for the Patriarchate to free itself from such Renovationism.

Also, it must be said, we had to wait until the fanatical elements that had done so much harm to ROCOR since they had started infiltrating the Church in the mid-sixties had left us. When the extremists did finally leave, almost at the same time, there was a huge sigh of relief, because then we could get on with being Orthodox. So it was we had to wait until 2007.

Q: How do you know that people are free of Renovationism?

A: Easy: The yardstick is veneration for the New Martyrs, especially the Imperial Martyrs. The renovationists hate them.

Q: How do you know that people are free of sectarian fanaticism of the sort you describe as having infiltrated ROCOR?

A: Easy: The yardstick is the willingness to concelebrate with other Orthodox Christians.

Q: What is going to happen in the future? At present there are countries like England where there are two parallel jurisdictions of the Russian Church, one dependent on Moscow, the other dependent on the Church Outside Russia?

A: According to the 2007 agreement, where there are two parallel jurisdictions, ROCOR should, in time, absorb the Patriarchal jurisdiction. This will probably take a generation, so that no-one will be under any pressure and everything will take place naturally, organically. However, in reality, already nine years have passed and we can see that in certain areas, like North America and Australasia, ROCOR will indeed clearly take over responsibility for those territories, whereas in other areas the Patriarchate will take over, as in South America, not to mention South-East Asia. The problem comes in the mixed area of Western Europe, including the British Isles and Ireland. In this area, only time will tell, clearly it is the more competent of the two that will take responsibility.

For the moment we shall lead parallel lives. There is in any case so much to do. I could start 12 parishes tomorrow, if I had the money to buy buildings and get candidates for the priesthood ordained. The state of Orthodox infrastructure and the general pastoral situation here are so appalling as to be scandalous; no wonder so many Orthodox lapse or become Roman Catholic or Protestant. All we pastors meet with is indifference. Those in authority should hang their heads in shame. Why is there not a church, our own property in every town over 100,000? This should have been done a generation ago. For example the teeming millions of London only have two small churches!

Colchester is the 50th largest town in England (and incidentally the 500th largest in Western Europe). It has a church that belongs to us. But want about the other 49 larger ones? Only five of them have their own churches: London, Manchester, Nottingham, Norwich, Birkenhead-Liverpool. That is a scandal. There is no missionary vision at all. Birmingham is the second largest city in the UK with a population of two million. And where do the faithful of the Patriarchate have ten liturgies a year on Saturdays (that’s all the priest can manage)? In the Ukrainian Uniat chapel. The next time you hear some naïve Orthodox boasting about his Church, tell him that. Orthodox should be ashamed of themselves.

Q: So is there competition between the two parts of the Russian Church locally?

A: No, not at all. It all depends on who has the priests and the buildings. A concrete example. I was asked to visit a prison in Cambridgeshire. Now, since there is no ROCOR presence in Cambridgeshire (because through incompetence it refused to set anything up there in the 1980s), I gave the prison authorities the references of the Patriarchal priest who lives in Cambridgeshire. On the other hand, when there was question of the Patriarchate setting something up in Norfolk (it had lost what it had had there a few years before, also through incompetence), but knowing that ROCOR had a presence there dating back to 1966, it was referred to me. So here is a territorial division. Now, where there is a double jurisdiction, as in London (the only case), something will have to be sorted out. But, as you can see, that will be as a result of competence. Only time can settle such matters. The more competent part, the more spiritual part of the Russian Church will prevail and form a united jurisdiction.

Q: So there is no rigid territorial division in Western Europe?

A: No, nobody wants to impose such a system. Let everything be done freely, let the people choose. Though, having said that, we can observe a tendency for ROCOR to dominate in the English-speaking world. Canada, the USA and Australasia are clear examples. For example, with Archbishop Mark of ROCOR retiring to Germany and the ROCOR Diocese of the British Isles and Ireland being taken over by Metr Hilarion of New York, we can even talk about a sort of ROCOR Brexit. Metr Hilarion will in fact be Metropolitan of New England and Old England. That is an exceptional event, historically speaking, and may be significant, a turning-point.

So it is possible that in a generation from now ROCOR will only exist in the English-speaking world, but will unite all Russian Orthodox there. ROCOR will become ROCA – the Russian Orthodox Church in the Anglosphere. That is one quite organic and natural possible scenario, a united Russian Orthodox Metropolia for the Anglosphere, the English-speaking world. The Patriarchate will look after everything else in various Metropolias, in Latin America, in Alaska, in Western Europe, in Asia etc.

Q: So Western Europe would completely go to the Patriarchate?

A: That is the way that things are developing at the moment. All the young bishops and all the dynamism in the Russian Church there is Patriarchal. ROCOR only has three ageing bishops and is not opening any new churches.

Q: Is there a difference between ROCOR churches and Patriarchal churches?

A: I think there is a small one, in general. Strangely enough, ROCOR is at one and the same time more Russian, but also more local, more integrated. We have done the translations, we print in English, we speak the local languages and know the local laws, we were born here. At the same time, however, we are utterly faithful to the best of the Tsar’s Russia, never having endured the Soviet period and Renovationism. ‘To quote the saintly Metr Laurus: ‘We are for the purity of Holy Orthodoxy’. We are Imperial priests and people.

Q: What about your own relations with the Russian Church inside Russia?

A: We are very close to all those who are Churched in Russia and they feel close to us. For example, in Moscow one of the closest friends of ROCOR has always been Bishop Tikhon (Shevkunov), whom some have even suggested will be the next Patriarch. (Bp Tikhon has been in the news recently, since he outraged the British Establishment by inviting students from Eton College to experience Christianity in Russia; not something the atheist Establishment likes). In general, those who especially venerate the New Martyrs and Confessors at once feel at home in ROCOR. I have this nearly every Sunday. People from different parts of Russia, from the Ukraine, from Moldova and elsewhere say that they feel at home, whatever the language, the atmosphere is like at home. In my native town of Colchester, that is a great thing that we have such an oasis of Orthodoxy.

Q: Who are the unChurched in Russia?

A: You find all sorts of people. There are those on the right hand side who mingle superstition with Orthodoxy, for instance, those ritualists who think that holy water is more important than holy communion, who mix in pharisaic sectarianism, puritanism and judgementalism, or, on the other hand, those on the left hand side, who mix in Soviet nationalism, love of the tyrant Stalin, or modernism. But all that is superficial, the majority make their way to the Church sooner or later. You do not waste time on the convert fringes of the Church – otherwise you might end up thinking that that is the Church! A terrible delusion!

Q: Why have you stayed faithful to the Russian Church despite all the difficulties that you have faced over nearly fifty years?

A: Because the Russian Orthodox Church is the Invincible Power. History since 1917 proves it. The gates of hell have not prevailed – and shall not prevail – despite all the enemies and traitors, both external and internal, we have faced. Judas betrayed, but the other apostles triumphed. So tragedy becomes joy. The stone that was rejected is become the headstone of the corner. Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!

A Report from Little Godmanstowe in Edmund’s Land

You will not find Little Godmanstowe on any modern map and there is no point in looking for it by satellite navigation, but it is still there, in the north of Suffolk, between Icklingham and Thetford, on the edge of the forest. True, on large scale maps you can find Godmanstowe Farm, but you will not find Little Godmanstowe itself. That is because today it consists of just one small thatched cottage hidden down a winding, overgrown cart-track, all that remains of a small hamlet that fell into ruin in the agricultural depression at the end of the nineteenth century and was taken off the maps.

Today, in the single remaining farm cottage of the lost hamlet, tucked away behind high hedgerows and surrounded by an orchard, live Sarah Dove, aged 119, and her ‘younger’ brother Moses Dove, aged 115. Recently I was able to visit them. As we sat in their living room having tea by the steady ticking of the old grandfather clock, I asked them the following questions and recorded their answers. (We have kept the spelling of some of their pronunciations, grammar and words of broad Suffolk in our transcript of their answers. The differences all go back to Old English and so are more correct than the deformed modern English).

Q: Moses, how come no-one’s ever heard of you before? You and your sister must surely be the oldest living people in England and probably in the world. You should be famous.

A: Thass an easy one, that is. You see, when we were born in this little old house where we’re still a-livin’, daddy Jesse didn’t register us. He said that weren’t none of the guvvamint’s business, so we didn’t have any of them there birth papers like other folk. He didn’t hold with guvvamint, didn’t see why we needed ‘em. Mary the wise woman, who helped ma give birth, warn’t bothered either. And there were no-one else to say anythin’. Long afore we were born, there used to be other housen round us, but they were all empty, the rain came through the mossy thatch and they all come a-tumblin’ down, so we were all on our own. You see, there weren’t enough work on the land then, the fields were all overgrown and the thistles sprang up, and folk left for Norfolk, to Thetford, a-seekin’ work in the factory. Others went to foreign parts, ‘cross the seas to ‘Stralia and Canada. As for bein’ famous, no thank you! We’re quite happy the way we are, we don’t need to be famous.

Q: If you weren’t registered, then you didn’t go to school?

A: School? We didn’t have time to go to school, we were a-helpin’ at home, in barn, in field, a-hoein’ and a-ploughin’, a-hedgin’ and a-ditchin’, a-stone pickin’ and a-gatherin’ firewood, a-rabbitin’ and a-harvestin’, a-pheasant-beatin’ and a-gleanin’, not to mention the garden and orchard, we were far too busy to go th’old school. Anyway, school were over three mile away and we didn’t allus (always) have shoes. We had better things to do than go to th’old school for all that booklore. Our aunts and uncles, God rest ‘em, larned us to read and count well enough. I can write me name, what more do I need?

Q: Nowadays you won’t meet anyone called Moses. Why did your parents give you that name?

A: In them days you allus had a name from th’old Bible. If that weren’t in the Good Book, that weren’t a name, save for two. Them two were Edmund, in honour of our King, and Audrey. She lived out Newmarket way when she were a young mawther (girl). A mort (lot) of our forebears were called Edmund and Audrey in th’olden days. They were holy ones, like the ones in the Bible.

Q: Who’s on the throne now, do you know?

A: Well, our Sovereign’s King Edmund, he’s still a-sittin’ on his throne in heaven, a’rulin’ over his East Anglian kingdom, lookin’ down on us and helpin’ us here. But if you’re talkin’ about Lon’on, that’ll be old George’s gal, but I can’t rightly remember her name. You see, we were born in the time of th’old Queen, that were all different then, none of them there tractors like now, there were only hosses in the fields and an engine for the threshin’. I saw me first motor car when I were five year old, that were a sight, that were, now they’re everywhere, noisy old things, they are.

Q: And who’s the Prime Minister now?

A: I wouldn’t know that, they come and go all the time. Here today, gone tomorrow. I know there were that there Churchill, that were half American, but after him I lost count. We had other things to do, a-ploughin’ and a-sowin’, a-reapin’ and a-harvestin’, we were too busied with seedtime and harvest.

Q: Do you go into town to do the shopping?

A: Oh no, we ha’n’t been in to Icklingham since I took me pension in 1965. That were when we had the last hosses. They died and I had me pension. I were a hossman all me life, what with general labourin’. Town is all dirt and noise. Anythin’ we need, John Bloomfield the farmer or his wife Audrey fetch and bring round. God bless ‘em both. He’s our landlord. They come round every mortal day and look after us. Mary’s a rare good cook too, bake her own bread. That do smell nice. You see, young John take what he need from our pension and so we live here without a care in the world, no rent, nothin’ to pay, no ‘lectric, no water, he do any repairs we need, he bring all the food we want and logs in the wintertime to mend the fire, lovely and cosy in here then. Ten year ago he had the roof rethatched for us, that cost a fair packet. Bloomfields been farmers here for ever, afore Henry’s time and they’ll be farmers here till kingdom come.

His daddy paid to put on the water in 1961 and had the WC put in. He put in the ‘lectric the year before. Mind you, we don’t like the ’lectric light, bad for your eyes, sooner have natural candlelight, we just use ‘lectric to cook and make the tea and for hot water. Very handy for that. Before that we had water from the well and used a privy in the garden. We still use the well water to make the dandelion and elderflower wine. That taste better like that. Anythin’ we need John get for us, just like his daddy, granddad and great-granddad did afore him. His great-granddad Cyril were a mighty fine man. He’d bring us pheasant and rabbit he’d shot, gave us a right good horkey (harvest home) and a good box at Christmas time. He looked after us right well. Lovely rabbit stews we used to have in them days, better than jugged hare.

Q: What about if you’re ill? Don’t you go to the doctor?

A: Don’t go to the doctor, we’re never ill. We grow our own veg and fruit and eat meat once a week on a Sunday, ‘cept in Lent, o’ course. If we feel poorly, we take a glass o’ Sarah’s elderflower wine and we feel better rightaway. At Easter we have lamb and at Whitsun we have gooseberries from the garden.

The air’s good here. My brother Jeremiah went up to Lon’on once. Never agen. He said the air were dirty. He come back and coughed and spluttered for a whole week. Thass why they call Lon’on the smoke. They do say now they built a road all round Lon’on so as you don’t have to go there. Thank the Lord. Thass all foreign folk there. The best place in Lon’on, said Jeremiah, is Liverpool Street Station, thass the railway station to get out o’ there and hie (hurry) home as swift as you can. Home sweet home. Thass why we’re long livers – fresh air, hard work and never go to th’old doctor. Old Cyril Bloomfield the great-granddaddy, at the end they took him orf to the horspital, thass what finished him off. Came out in a wooden box. Should a stayed at home, boy.

Q: Have you ever been to London?

A: We never been outside Suffolk, ‘cept to cross the border to Norfolk a few times. Been to Thetford twice. Been to Bury (Bury St Edmunds) many a time, at least once a year when I were young. After I took me pension, we took a trip to the seaside once, but there weren’t nothin’ to see there, just th’old water. Don’t go far afield now, there’s a lot to do in the garden and I’m rare slow now.

Q: Do you take a newspaper?

A: That’d be for gentry. What do we need that for?

Q: What about television or radio?

A: We don’t need any old tellyvision, all those pictures a-flashin’ afore you. Thass bad for you. We know what we need to know. We did have a wireless, but that broke after Hitler’s war and we never bothered to have it mended. Thass only bad news on the wireless, what them Lon’on folk get up to and what they be a’ doin’ in foreign parts. We don’t need to know that here.

Q: And the telephone?

A: We never had one o’ those.

A: (Sarah interrupts). Don’t need any o’ those. Every day, rain or shine, we walk up to the wood with our sticks and just sit there. John made us a bench with logs and a plank and we sit there and listen, a-mardlin’ (chatting), a-rememberin’ and a-musin’ on th’old times. That were a hard life afore the war in 14, but that were a good life. That seem like yesterday. The whisperin’ and murmurin’ o’ the leaves and the swayin’ o’ the wheat in the breeze tell us all we need to know. God speak to us through what He made. We talk to th’old trees and they talk to us. In the spring there are bluebells up there and in the summer the peggles (cowslips) come out.

Thass rare nice in the autumn, when the leaves do fall soft as ever leaves did fall. Leaves been a-fallin’ and trees a-growin’ since time began. I love th’old oaks. Stout as England. Our Edmund were tied to an oak by those wicked old Danes. When the Good Lord call us, we want to be buried up there, don’t we, Moses? Thass rare peaceful up there. I just want to fall asleep and not wake up agen and then they can leave old Sarah up there ‘mong the trees with Moses and Aaron, ‘neath the gentle wind on the hill and the swayin’ o’ the branches. Thass where I’ll have my peace and see ma and daddy and everyone on th’other side. On th’other side thass just like here, only far, far better, no aches and no pains, no chores and no frettin’.

Q: Who was Aaron?

A: (Moses). That were me twin brother Aaron. He died when he were only a day old, frail little old thing, he weren’t made for this world, so ma said. We buried him up there ‘mong the trees. He’s a-waitin’ for me now. Been a-waitin’ all these years. I’m a comin’, boy, I’m a comin’ soon.

Q: So there were three of you in the family?

A: (Sarah). No, no, there were seven of us. The eldest were Abraham and Esther, they died o’ the hoop (whooping cough) when they were just little mites. Then there were Abel. He were taken in the Kaiser’s War, out in France, in 1915. He were only 21. Thass his picture over the fireplace (she points to the enlarged photo of a private in First World War uniform), above the photo of ma and daddy on the mantelpiece. John’s father had it made big and framed it up for us on the fiftieth anniversary. They never did find Abel’s body, but there’s a white cross out somewhere in France for him, the poor little mite. Private Abel Dove’s a-awaitin’ for us on th’other side too. They’re all a-waiting for us there. Then there’s me and after me came Jeremiah. He were a worker, he were, never stopped and his little old heart gave out in 1959, God rest his soul. Then came Moses and Aaron, they were the youngest. Now there’s just me and Moses left in all God’s wide world. We’re the last, all alone, a-waitin’ for the Good Lord to come steppin’ ‘cross the fields, a-callin’ us, a-gatherin’ us in like ears of wheat, in His own good time. That won’t be long now. We’re ‘spectin’ Him any day.

Q: Did you never want to get married, Sarah?

A: I’d a married, but there were no min left to marry. They all got taken in the Kaiser’s War. So I stayed at home and looked after ma and daddy. They both died in 1946, after old Hitler’s war, within a week o’ each other. 82 were ma and daddy were 84.

Q: What about you, Moses? Why didn’t you marry?

A: I never were a one for marryin’. I didn’t want to be tied down. I loved to go a-wanderin’ in the woods and fields at night, a-listenin’ to the owls and the little old dormousen nestin’ up, a-watchin’ the clouds by the moonlight. Clouds is God’s angels, each one‘s got a story to tell. Only you have to watch ‘em close to know what they’re a-sayin’. In the summer I allus used to sleep out there, with just the foxes and the badgers and the leaves a’rustlin’ in the night air. In the winter, I’d go up there to walk at night, the leaves all a-rimed white with th’old frost. That were the life for me, next to God’s creatures.

Q: Sarah, what was the most terrible thing you heard of in your long life?

A: Well, I reckon that were the slayin’ o’ the Russian King in 1918, all those poor little children, they didn’t deserve that. Like lambs to the slaughter, they were. They did with them like they did with our Lord. Daddy and ma said the same thing. I was 21 then and that fair marked me. And truth to tell and the devil to shame, ever since then nothin’’s been right with the world, thass all been upside down, people rushin’ about, doin’ each other down, makin’ wars. No more peace ever since.

F’r instance, now they go under the sea and through the sky. Thass not natural. He made the fish to go under the sea. And if the dear Lord had wanted us to fly, He’d a given us wings. Thass angels that fly, thass not for folk like you and me. All those airyplanes, thass upset the weather. And then they went up over the sky where they should never a gone. That were downright presumptious, that were. They had no right goin’ up there. Nothin’ good’ll come of it, you mark my words. Pride go afore the fall. They’re tryin’ to go up like the Tower of Babel, outreachin’ themselves, makin’ tall things as ugly as sin. Well, that’ll all come tumblin’ down agen on their heads. Woe betide.

Mind you, if you go back, things started goin’ awry afore that. Our great-grandma Bathsheba, she were born in 1799 and passed over at 105, used to blame it on old Boney, the Frenchman. (Moses interrupts: Thass when they brought in th’old income tax. Wicked thing that, a-takin’ folk’s hard-earned money. Thass stealin’. Thou shalt not steal, it say, but they still steal through the tax). Well, Bathsheba reckoned Boney were the devil incarnate. Thass our Nelson stopped him, he were a Norfolk man, one of us, one of Edmund’s men. A brave heart he had, he died a’fightin’ for Edmund’s land, our dear land.

Only, after we won and we’d locked old Boney away, that all went to the heads of the Lon’on folk and they started a-takin’ other folk’s lands, just like Boney done afore ‘em, only they did it ‘cross the seas among them poor old black and brown men, a-stealin’ their land and their housen. So they ended up no better than Boney, just as wicked. Thass all wickedness. Black-hearted wickedness. And thass all written down in the big white book in heaven ready for Judgement Day, every deed and every word, nothin’’s forgot. God see it all with His all-seein’ eye. There’ll be a tremblin’ and a shakin’ in those days when He come agen, but there’ll be justice. They’ll say, that weren’t me, but that were they. The Judgement’ll be just, ‘cos the Judge is Just. Just you mark my words. The truth will out. Nothing’s hid that won’t be found out.

But then agen me granddad’s granddad, old Edmund Dove, told him and he told me how the ills began when they went and changed our calendar. Now we’re days and days out and Easter fall weeks afore it should, a few year ago that snew (snowed) at the new Easter! And Christmas come far too early. That don’t seem like Christmas at all. All the seasons are out o’ kilter. Thass against nature. That were them Lon’on folk that went and changed it. Went to their heads, you see. Then they upset our folk out in the colonies in ‘Merica and the colonials took against the German king that them old merchants and bankmen had brought over. They’d got rid of the proper king, you see, all for filthy lucre. That weren’t right either. We didn’t want a German king, we wanted our own king, like Edmund. Edmund were king of the folk in the north and king of the folk in the south, we were all one then, all Christian folk, all proper. Norwich were much bigger than Lon’on in them days, Lon’on weren’t much more than a village. Thass how it should a stayed.

A: (Moses interrupting). That were when all the wrong started, after Edmund’s time. In Edmund’s time there weren’t no Lon’on to speak of. O’ course, that old Henry made it all worse, but it were his great-great-granddad William that came over from France who started it, ‘cos Henry were just a-followin’ in his footsteps. Henry were William, you see, one and the same, ‘cos they had the same devil in ‘em and neither o’ them could keep the faith. Both foreign imps with foreign names, them names aren’t in the Bible. No Henry or William in the Bible. Henry were a Welshman and that William, he were another heathen Dane, but from France. They didn’t love England, our Edmund’s land.

Q: What do you think, Sarah?

A: Oh yes, that were them heathen Danes that arrowed our Edmund to the oak and made him a holy one that started it all, ‘cos they didn’t know the Ten Commandments. They were pirates, you see, thieves. That were the start of it all. Thou shalt not steal, but they stole. We still talk about our Edmund in these parts and when I were a young mawther, they shew me where it all came to pass, over in Hoxne. I went there afore the War, the Kaiser’s War, that is, and I saw it all, a cross in the wheatfields. I remember it like it were yesterday. After the White King have come, Edmund’ll come back, a-marchin’ through the wheatfields with all his host of men behind him, all Edmund’s men and England’ll be England agen, and there’ll be peace for a time. Then that’ll be the end and the Good Lord’ll come back, just like He said He would.

Q: What should we do about bad kings like the German king and William and Henry? Should we rise up against them?

A: No, no, let the Lord judge ‘em. The Lord give and the Lord take away. Here today, gone tomorrow. If we’re worthy, we’ll get good kings. If we‘re not worthy, we’ll get what we deserve. He’ll take ‘em away in His own good time. You don’t want to do like that old Oliver who were sore vexed and chopped off the poor old king’s head. He were a wrong’un, that Oliver, he finished up bad. They cut off his head, just like he’d done to that poor old king. As ye sow, so shall ye reap. All the rum’uns (bad ones) that follow Oliver finish up bad.

Q: What do you think of Brexit, Moses? I mean leaving the European Union?

A: Europe Union? Never heard o’ that. That must be some Lon’on thing. We don’t have that hereabouts. We’re in our own land, Edmund’s land. Everyone should live in their own land, thass where God put us. Thass sovereign land. Thass natural. We live in the house where we were born. We’re Edmund’s folk, we are, allus will be.

Q: What do you think of all the things happening today, Sarah? I mean the terrorists and all these bombs?

A: Thass all the same thing, these Mohameddans with their wicked old bombs. Young John Bloomfield told us about what they’re a-doin’. You see, the Mohammeddans, they ha’n’t got the Ten Commandments. Thou shalt not kill. Thass all written in the Good Book. They haven’t got the Good Book. Just like them old heathen Danes who slew Edmund – they didn’t have the Good Book either. Hellfire, thass how they’ll end up. Sulphur and brimstone, that stink somethin’ awful. Mind you, thass the same thing for them there soldiers they sent out to kill the Mohammedans, they’re not Christian folk either, they haven’t got the Ten Commandments. Thou shalt not kill. Thass crystal clear. Keep the faith, keep the commandments and you can’t go wrong.

Q: So what’s the future of the world, Sarah? It all looks so bleak. Bad is on all sides.

A: Don’t you go a-frettin’ yourself (worrying) about that. The White King is a-comin’ back in Russia to put it all right. You’ll see. They started a-spreadin’ the evil all round, they got William to bring it here from France, they took it overseas, and then, with the passing o’ time, they thought they could take it to Russia as well, but that wouldn’t take in Russia. Thass where the evil were held in check. Before long the White King’ll come back there and sweep all the wicked there clean away, and then he’ll come here and do the same, in the twinklin’ of an eye, that’ll be.

My great-uncle Isaiah, who were married to my ma’s aunt Martha, told me that before Hitler’s war after we’d been allies with Russia. He were a preacher down at the green tin tabernacle, that ain’t there no more now. He walked miles and miles every Sunday to preach to local folk, a rare righteous man, he were, one of the Peculiar People, allus dressed in black, with a long white beard. He knew the Four Gospels by heart and a lot o’ the psalms. He preached a rare good sermon and baptised a rare many folk in the river near Bury, a rare clean soul he were and the Good Lord told him many a secret thing.

You see, at the end o’ time, when Our Lord come back, there’ll be a judgement and the good ones’ll go to heaven and the wicked ones’ll go to hell. Folk nowadays don’t know that and thass why there’s so much wickedness about. All those wicked min who take money and lie and start wars and murder, they’ll all burn in hell. If they knew that, they wouldn’t do it. Too late for ‘em now. Thass a terrible thing, to die without a-sayin’ sorry.

Q: Thank you, Moses and Sarah. I’ve learned a lot.

A: (Moses). You need to live and do, boy! Thass th’only way you can larn. Live with God’s gentle things and you’ll know all you’ll ever need to know.

Note: Many readers have written to me concerning the above, not having noticed the tag ‘Faction’. However, I can reassure them that 99% of the above is true, being based on conversations with various friends and relatives, notably Victoria Saunders, Doris Phillips, Sydney and Louisa Clarke and the Dove family, whom I knew between 1961 and 1979 and who died in the 1980s. The only things that are not true is that the Doves are still alive and live in the fictional and symbolically-named Little Godmanstowe.

Fr Andrew

Three Truths from Childhood

Introduction

Most say that our earliest years are our most formative years, when all else is decided, and that much depends on the happiness or unhappiness of childhood, which determines all that follows. For my part, over six childhood years, between the ages of six and twelve I learned three truths, essentially the only truths I know, that have shaped the rest of my life. You may argue with how I have interpreted those truths, interpretations patterned also by other events and meetings, but I do not think that the truths themselves can be denied, however attached to the world, its Establishment and its delusions people may be.

Western Civilization Has Destroyed Itself

The first truth came to me in a realization when I was still an innocent six years old. I had been brought up on the phrases ‘before the war’, referring to the Second World War, and ‘nothing has ever been the same again’, referring to the First World War. Brought up surrounded by a grandfather who had fought in Baghdad, Jerusalem and Thessaloniki in the First World War, not to mention a host of nineteenth-century great-uncles and neighbours, who had been similarly involved elsewhere from France to Russia, and maiden aunts, maiden because there had been not enough men to marry after the War, I knew all about the tragic results of the Great War.

Born a few years after the end of the Second World War and listening to the stories of my father who had fought in Egypt, Italy and Austria, not to mention to a host of uncles and neighbours, who had been similarly involved elsewhere from France to Burma, and maiden aunts, maiden because there had been not enough men to marry after the War, and living in a tiny town sandwiched between two former wartime US airfields, I knew about that War too. And my father assured me that, even though Nazidom in Europe had in fact been defeated by the extraordinary sacrifices of the Russian peoples, and not by the USA, ever since the War we had been occupied by the United States.

He taught me too that, on account of the above, those who seemingly ruled over us had no power at all, but were just as much puppets and figureheads as the Queen who reigned over us. All was a sideshow in the great American circus. My child’s conclusion was that there had been something wrong with that world, something wrong with a British Empire and a Western Europe, both now collapsed, that had been Catholic and Protestant and had created World Wars and so been dominated by the Far West of America. And it was also clear to me that any solution to such universal wars must also be universal, must come from outside the Western world and must not involve new wars.

English Christian Civilization Was Martyred

The second truth came to me in a realization when I was nine years old, in fact exactly 50 years ago. This was the discovery at my rural primary school of the only figure in English history to be called ‘the Great’, the ninth-century King Alfred the Wise of England. This discovery explained to me that there was something far older that stood behind the plastic falsity of the 1960s that was being unfolded then and behind all the falsity of the old Victorian England (apparent to me as a child), with its hopeless provinciality and Protestant sectarianism, narrow literalism, hypocrisy, philistinism and rigid moralizing, that passed for ‘religion’, but was in fact State-invented idolatry.

A recent invention, that Protestantism had no concept of the Church, and so no concept of Oneness (except with its fellow-sectarians), of Holiness, of Catholicity and of Apostolicity. Its only thought was to reshape the world idolatrously, in its own image, not in the image of the Kingdom of God. Alfred explained to me that England had been founded at a time when we belonged to something far greater, indeed universal, and yet also local, a sunshone Civilization. It explained to me all the mysterious names of local ‘saints’ that in hints and gleams had shone to me, of Edmund, in whose domain my father’s family had always lived, of Albright, Audrey, Botolph, Cedd and Felix, of whom nobody seemed to know anything any more.

And I realized that these legends that had survived were mere crumbs from a huge and now lost banquet table, the hidden and forgotten ruins of a whole Civilization, and that if we could somehow return to that, then there would be no more World Wars and so no more destroyed lives. Soon I discovered that all had been slain with the Norman Invasion exactly 900 years before and that through their ‘Establishment’ they still occupied and polluted minds and hearts and that their invasion had come about because of the spiritual decadence of the English, shown by the martyrdom of the English hero St Edward the Martyr and the slaying of the English hope, Edmund Ironside.

Russia Has a Universal Significance

The third truth came to me when I was twelve years old. This was through the film Dr Zhivago, which I saw at that time. Although there were many things in it that I did not understand, I realized that Russia (then cast as the ever-menacing bogeyman, the Soviet Union, the S.U.) had not always been so, but had also lost its sunshone Civilization, and only fifty years before, in a great betrayal. And that that Civilization had been betrayed because it had confessed the authentic Christianity that had not been invented by self-justifying powermongers, grand inquisitors, to control the masses, like Protestantism or, before it, Catholicism, but had been different and also universal, indeed messianistic, and non-destructively so. And ever since that great betrayal, the world had not been the same.

As a result we lived under the apocalyptic threat of nuclear war and the obliteration of the planet, under the brainwashing and self-justifying propaganda that the other side, in fact also cowering, was going to bomb us into oblivion. And I realized that if nothing had ever been the same again, it had not been due to 1914, terrible though that was, or even to 1917, but due to 1918, the martyrdom of the Christian Emperor. And that as a result of that, the S.U. and the U.S. now menaced the world with its end; it made no difference whether the white star or the red star would unleash that war, it would be the end. Only afterwards did I discover that all such stars were from Antichrist. This most unlikely revelation came to me in October 1968 in my native town, in a place that I can take you to this day.

All this was most unlikely, for how could one believe in the Christian Empire of Russia when that Empire had been overthrown and all but lost and there seemed no hope of its resurrection? Yet I found my path. In order to follow it, I had to go against all the odds, past the traps and rejections of those whom the world had put in control, past the Establishment snobs, the narrow nationalists (of all nationalities), the morally corrupt and compromised, the spiritually deluded dreamers, the self-serving backbiters, the jealously destructive narcissists, until I came to the saints, whom I met and who taught me to ignore all the rest, like so much flotsam and jetsam, and to follow only the holy. They taught me: ‘I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the Lord’ and ‘Let the dead bury the dead’.

Conclusion

How much longer do we have to go? Perhaps not long, but perhaps we can still postpone the inevitable end. Now that the Russian leader has been greeted as a new Emperor Constantine on the increasingly Russian-dominated Holy Mountain, enthroned, unlike the petty EU freemasons who reign over Greece, standing side by side with the Russian Patriarch, celebrating a thousand years of presence there. He, of course, is not an emperor, but he may be the coming Emperor’s forerunner, lighting the way. Perhaps we may still be granted additional time, to restore what has been lost, and speak of mercy and truth and righteousness, those still unheard words of Christ, to the world.

Suffolk Restores St Edmund

The county of Suffolk was buzzing with activities yesterday in celebration of (the new style) St Edmund’s Day. Downpours failed to dampen the spirits as different events honoured the King of East Anglia, who was martyred by Viking invaders on 20 November 869.

Greater Anglia’s St Edmund train was rededicated at Ipswich railway station yesterday morning by the Precentor of St Edmundsbury Cathedral. In Bury St Edmunds, Greene King marked the day by opening its new £750,000 St Edmund Brewhouse at its headquarters in the town. Elsewhere, St Edmundsbury Cathedral hosted a performance of Courage of a King and held a special communion service. Author Mark Taylor was at the Cathedral and at Waterstones signing copies of his new book Edmund: The Untold Story of the Martyr King and his Kingdom, and prizes in the St Edmund’s Day Awards were handed out yesterday evening. Thousands of schoolchildren across Suffolk took part in activities to promote the Saint. And finally councillors from Suffolk and Norfolk, the bulk of the old East Anglian Kingdom, met to discuss uniting several of their services.

St Edmund has always been the patron saint of England, even though St George the Great-Martyr eclipsed him from the 14th century on. In the last few years, however, throughout East Anglia, St Edmund has been promoted and begun to eclipse St George as the local favourite. The Bury St Edmunds MP, David Ruffley, and The East Anglian Daily Times have backed a campaign to get him reinstated as the nation’s patron saint, which has been led by BBC Radio Suffolk.