Tag Archives: Autobiography

The Saints and the Bad Old Days

My interest in the saints deepened greatly in the 1970s and 1980s, once I had come into contact with the quite extraordinary spiritual and moral decadence of the Orthodox emigration of various nationalities. These immigrants included self-appointed ‘elders’, fraudulent gurus, so-called ‘Orthodox’ bishops who were not even Christians, bishops and priests who were simoniacs, criminals, perverts, bureaucrats, political appointees and who included the usual assortment of clerical narcissists. At least saints could provide positive models to counter the reality.

In those decadent days, and even much after, there were by and large four criteria for ordination to the priesthood if you were English (and indeed Western in general):

Be an adept of a sect or cult grouped around a bishop or priest (a self-appointed ‘starets’) with their various perversions, or else be an adept of some extremist sect based on a political ideology of left or right. Neither of these options had a future. Bishops and priests do not join political parties or tell people who to vote for (either publicly or privately), we only try to influence the course of events positively, in favour of the Church as the Body of Christ.

Be a freemason.

Be an Anglican vicar.

Be fluent in a foreign language e.g. Greek or Russian.

The first two criteria were spiritually and morally repugnant to me, the third not even conceivable, as I have never been an Anglican and have never had any desire to become one; Anglicanism is quite foreign to me as an Englishman, as it is to most Englishmen: there remained only the fourth criterion.

Hopefully, in the future, the criteria for ordination will become spiritual, that there is a group of Orthodox people in a certain place who put forward a man without canonical impediments who is not unwilling, and whose wife is not unwilling for him, to become a candidate for eventual ordination to the priesthood, once he has passed through all the necessary steps. The bad old days, when married men were excluded from consideration simply because they were married, or men were excluded from consideration because they had spiritual interests, as was the case in my youth, will be over. I thank all those who persecuted me; they made me more interested in the Lives of the Saints.

 

Q and A June-July-August 2019

Theological Matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What is the difference between piety and pietism?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Russian History and the Russian Church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western History

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

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

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

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

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

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

Men and Women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Paradise Just Beyond

This autobiographical work has been updated and printed off in a spiral binding. At 136 pages it is on sale for £5 (£8 by post to the UK and £10 by post abroad). Payment can be made by Paypal. Below is the Contents page.

PARADISE JUST BEYOND

Fragments of a Life

Contents:

Foreword: Towards an Orthodox England

  1. Childhood: A Golden Age 1956–1963
  2. Growing: The Third One 1963–1968
  3. Revelation: The Wind from the East 1968–1974
  4. A Study in the Light: Dominus Illuminatio Mea 1974–1980
  5. Darkness: Disappointments 1980–1988
  6. Light: Service in Europe 1989–1997
  7. Return: Service in England 1997–2008
  8. Providence: Full Circle 2008 – 2013
  9. Mercy: Seek and Ye Shall Find 2013-2019

Afterword: Towards an Orthodox Europe

 

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 Music of My Life

Now there are exactly one thousand pieces of writing here in less than six years, over three a week on average, some articles short, some long, most original, a few simply links to other articles of interest. Here is something personal, which explains something of the musical inspiration behind how I came to write these articles (and many others) over the last forty-five years.

About every four years, between the ages of 4 and 48, twelve pieces of music came to me and reflected and revealed my understanding of the world. These were:

 

The Third Man – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oEsWi88Qv0

This is the music of the 1949 British film, set in post-War Vienna, where my father had ended his War. This music, expressing at the same time tradition and uneasiness, sums up my childhood, which was haunted by tales of the catastrophe that Hitler had brought. Later I understood that it also sums up the mystery of Europe, seen from the East, and its failure to return to the Tradition of Orthodoxy. Instead, it was diverted from the Tradition by its provincial, pseudo-intellectual Western rationalism, which had first misled the Christian Empire, and then chose to die at the hands of an American racketeer.

A Nightingale Sang – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RRNlBGL89g

My father, like all the soldiers of the Eighth Army, loved Vera Lynn and her songs. This was a song that he sang.

Dr Zhivago – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Yd2PzoF1y8

In 1968 I was taken to see this film. It had the usual Hollywood absurdities and self-satisfied Cold War anti-Russian stereotypes of ‘Asian barbarism instead of European enlightenment’ (that same European ‘enlightenment’ which brought two World Wars, concentration camps, the genocide of Non-Western Europeans and the A-Bomb). However, it did introduce me to Pasternak, to Russian literature and music. Indeed, the composer, Jarre, officially French, actually had two Russian grandmothers, which is why the music expresses the Russian spirit so well.

Vltava – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3G4NKzmfC-Q

By the patriot Smetana, this music expresses the lost spiritual beauty and nobility of the Czech Lands, the original missionary lands of Sts Cyril and Methodius, so cruelly snatched and separated from Orthodoxy by the heretics.

Solveig’s Song – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bR3N1yBEGbw

When I was 21, I was introduced to the fresh beauty of Norway, to it mountains and fjords. This music sums up for me the beauty of the North.

Je Ne Regrette Rien – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKPvx38D4GM

Living in France in 1980, I came to know Piaf. Of course, every Christian regrets their sins, but this is not the theme of this song. Piaf herself became Orthodox towards the end of her life.

Vocalise – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuBexGEe1S4

By the extraordinary Rakhmaninov, whose music is so full of Orthodox values, this expresses the melancholy of Russian exile and yearning for the lost Empire.

Jerusalem – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKRHWT6xdEU

Here is the vision of faithful Old England, summed up by William Blake, and our rejection of ‘the dark satanic mills’ of faithless modern Britain, invented in his age of Imperialist exploitation and slavery.

Fado Português – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARS7Zi-Zpkw

Spending several months on missionary work in Portugal over several years from 1992 on, I came to know the melancholy in Portugal and the South, summed up by the fado.

Mes Jeunes Annees – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eB7HI2n0MgY

Trenet, still alive and singing at the time, expresses nostalgia for a lost childhood in the Pyrenees.

Bells – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3G4NKzmfC-Q

Bells Across the Meadows is perhaps the finest piece of music by the little-known English composer Ketelby and expresses the love of the real England.

God Save the Tsar – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEOyvvKhb9k

The Orthodox anthem expresses the Christian Empire to which we all belong. We all have our national flags, but in the centre of each one, we place the unifying double-headed eagle and the hope of the Coming Tsar, who alone can protect us from the global evil that the Western heresy has created.

 

Since then I have heard many other beautiful songs and melodies, but none that has better reflected or revealed my understanding of the world.

Most of a Life

Foreword

I may live another twenty or thirty years, but equally my time on earth may come to an end tomorrow, next week, in a month’s time, or next year. No-one knows, but I have no illusions. Now that I am coming to an end, it is fitting to set down the three tasks of my destiny which have filled my unworthily lived days. It is my belief that others will more effectively continue these tasks after me, just as many others worked on them both before me and at the same time. And although, not always in positions of power, they worked far more efficiently and with far greater success than me, it has often felt as though I were totally abandoned in these tasks. I never chose them – they fell to my lot despite my clear manifold human weaknesses and equally clear unsuitability and unwillingness to fulfil them.

With the Saints

My first task has been the modest contribution to spreading the veneration of the Saints of Western Europe in the Church. This meant fixing them in locally-issued calendars, praying and writing their lives and compiling, collecting and celebrating their services and icons. This was a bitter battle and cost me enormously, for resistance from all sides without exception was very harsh. Isolation was my lot. There were – and are – so many who resist the saints. Altogether, above all by the reposed Monk Joseph (Lambertson) whom I much encouraged, services were compiled to nearly one hundred saints or groups of saints of Western Europe who did not yet have one. Victory came slowly and over forty years later several such saints were included in the official Russian Orthodox calendar, with more to follow.

Church Unity

My second task has been to help contribute to the restoration of the unity of the two parts of the Russian Church and to call others outside it, for example those who had fallen away in Paris, to unity with it. My part was very, very minor, of course, but it must have helped, for people told me it had. Having visited the Soviet Union twice in the 70s and seen the lamentable state of much of the Patriarchate in England and France, I could see that nothing could be done until the fall of the Soviet Union. Only that would bring the liberation of the hostage episcopate there. So it was only in 2000 that it repented for its compromises with the atheist government and so its failure to recognize the New Martyrs and Confessors earlier, as well as for its politically-motivated compromises with heterodox.

Equally, however, the Church Outside Russia would have to reject decades of the spiritual impurity of sectarian politicking with the treacherous and tragic Vlasov movement and its CIA backers, as well as its own embarrassing failure to canonize the New Martyrs until as late as 1981. Victory came only in 2007 with the Act of Canonical Communion, signed in the presence of thousands of us in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, the Russian Patriarch and President and longsuffering clergy of both parts of the Church in attendance. That Cathedral had been built to commemorate the 19th century Orthodox victory over the French atheist Napoleon and rebuilt to commemorate the 20th century Orthodox victory over the German atheist Marx. Thus, the Cathedral became the place of a threefold victory.

A Life for the Tsar

My third task has been to help contribute to the restoration, now inevitable, of the Orthodox Empire, based in Russia under the coming Tsar, just as St Seraphim of Sarov prophesied nearly 200 years ago. This has been and is, if anything, the hardest of all. This is because it involves the Incarnation, that is, the political, economic and social ramifications of our understanding of the Incarnate Christ. Resistance here is ferocious and mocking, for our struggle is with the Devil himself. Firstly, we must defend the holiness of Tsar Nicholas, both in life and in death. Secondly, we must defend all those faithful to him, many not yet canonized. Thirdly, we must promote his shining vision, which was a century ahead of its time but tragically interrupted for a blood-soaked century by ‘treason, cowardice and deceit’, as he described.

Afterword

Some might say that then all has been completed. This is not so. The task for Rus, to spread veneration for the Western saints of the first millennium Church is to develop much further. The task for Faith, to see the full unity of the Russian Orthodox Church in Western Europe in a single Metropolia, the foundation of the future new Local Church, helping build up a little part of it in my native East of England, is nearing its conclusion, but is not complete. Finally, the task for the Tsar, to explain his holiness and defend his healing vision of justice and balance after a century of global injustice and wars, which resulted directly from his overthrow by internal traitors, so-called allies, Great Britain, the USA and France, and enemies, Germany and Austria-Hungary, and to implement that vision, so long delayed, has only just begun.

 

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!

Some Autobiographical Notes

I have been asked a number of questions about how, coming from a simple, earthy English background in rural England, I came to be a Russian Orthodox priest of the Church Outside Russia. Making use of some unexpected time this week, I have looked back through some old papers which I had forgotten and can now answer those questions with some dates.

Q: How did you come to the Russian Church?

A: After a countryside childhood strangely filled with interest in faraway Russia, I started teaching myself Russian in October 1968. I was told to do so in a particular spot in Colchester, which I could take you to now, by a voice heard coming, brought as it were by a wind from the east. So I began to read a lot of Russian literature in translation and Russian history. Two years later, in 1970, I had decided that I wanted to be part of the Russian Church and had begun reading as much as I could to find out about it (very little was available at that time). However, it was only after my sixteenth birthday that I managed to visit Russian churches.

Q: Where? In London?

A: No, my family never went to London, which we always looked on as a different planet, ‘the smoke’ as we still called it. The countryside was our home. I won a bursary and at the end of February 1973 I managed to visit a Russian church in England. This was the tiny Russian Patriarchal house chapel in Oxford, where I prayed at vespers on two successive Saturdays. Then in the same year I won another bursary to visit the then Soviet Union; in fact the first church I visited there was St Vladimir’s Cathedral in Kiev. As I entered those churches, I knew that I wanted to be part of their inner life and that this was my destiny, the whole meaning of my life, regardless of all the barriers that would be put in front of me. I felt that I had always been here, that this was in my blood. (Only in 2004 did I discover any possible though very distant explanation in a Carpatho-Russian great-grandmother – my mother’s mother’s mother). At the end of 1973 I also managed to visit the Patriarchal Cathedral in London, of which I had heard. ROCOR then had no existence outside itself, being largely unknown to the outside world, at least in England.

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

A: As soon as I was free to do so at the age of 18, in 1974, I asked to join the Russian Church. Of course, there were two parts then. Firstly, I met two representatives of the Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), who solemnly informed me that I would not be allowed to join their Church since it was in any case ‘for Russians only’. I also met other, rather fanatical and sectarian individuals from ROCOR, who completely turned me away. I therefore took the only option left to me and joined the Patriarchal Church, presuming that this was identical to the Church that I had seen in Russia and the Ukraine.

However, I very soon found out that the small Oxford Patriarchal parish was dominated by two opposing clans – on the one hand, by haughty Parisian-type modernists, and, on the other hand, by Soviet chauvinist nationalists, for whom the Communist Party could do no ill! I gave myself spiritual life by reading Russian theological books I ordered from Jordanville and elsewhere. Visiting Soviet Russia for a second time in 1976 and spending time there, I saw again how the real Russian Church was different from the Oxford cliques. In 1977 a priest I had met in Russia the year before suggested that I study at the Moscow Theological Academy. I would very much like to have done that, but at the height of the Cold War this was absolutely impossible. That was tragic.

Q: What did you do?

A: I did the next best thing and in 1978 went to live and work in Thessaloniki in Greece for one year. Here, I saw how traditional the ethos could be, quite different from the Church of Constantinople, which I had seen in England, but also, unfortunately, I saw narrow Balkan nationalism and came across the semi-Protestant Zoe and Sotir organizations – closer to Methodism than Orthodoxy! However, I also visited Mt Athos and was especially influenced by Fr Ephraim at Philotheou and the very poor and heroic monks at the Russian St Panteleimon’s Monastery. I remember especially Fr Seraphim, Fr Misail (who wanted me to join the monastery and be the librarian) and the choir director from Odessa. These were real, exemplary Orthodox. It was at this point that I decided that I should go and study at a Russian seminary.

Since I had been told (in fact lied to) that Jordanville only accepted Russians, I took the only option left and went to St Serge in Paris. (The two ‘seminary’ establishments of the OCA held no interest for me since they were both on the Catholic/Protestant calendar and deviated in other ways from the ethos and practice of the Russian Church inside Russia. I knew enough from talking to people who had been to them and from my visits to Russia to understand that they were not right for me. I wanted the real thing).

Q: What happened next?

A: I went to study at St Serge in Paris. There I experienced the battle royal between the two factions in Paris at that time. The first, led by Protopresbyter Alexis Knyazev, a wonderful teacher, was the pro-Russian one that was clear-sighted enough to see that the only future was to rejoin the Russian Church, but on some autonomous basis.

The second group, the Fraternite Orthodoxe, led basically by the Jesuit-educated Count, Fr Boris Bobrinskoy, notorious for having celebrated the liturgy in a Catholic convent with the filioque (!) – so as ‘not to offend our Catholic brethren’, was virtually composed of Uniats. Other members included the fantasist and Athos-hater Olivier Clement and a Georgian priest who spent his time extolling the Second Vatican Council. I soon gave up going to their courses. The modernist and manipulative Fraternite was populated by patronizing aristocrats and fantasist ideologues who preyed on naïve Catholics and converts. Descendants of those who had carried out the Revolution, they absolutely hated Russia and had no intention of ever returning to the sobriety and discipline of the Russian Church. Naturally, I supported the first group which alone was authentic and also realistic.

These two groups depended on the Rue Daru bishop, the weak, elderly but saintly Archbishop George (Tarasov). The Fraternite was clearly waiting for him to die and then seize power, which they only managed to do in full twenty years later. Members of the Fraternite, some soon to become priests, used to hiss, mock and boo Archbishop George publicly. It was awful. I believe that Archbishop George, a former WWI Russian pilot from the Western Front, was a saint. Had he been in good health and lived another fifteen years, he would have returned the group to the Russian Church with the status of an autonomous Metropolia.

Q: Where did you go after St Serge?

A: Having met my wife, who is basically of Anglo-Italian-Romanian origin, and married in Paris, we returned to England. We stayed here for three years, trying to find some sort of balanced spiritual life between the extremes of the pseudo-Patriarchal Church and the Church Outside Russia, with their cliques which were not Churchly at all, quite different from the Church inside Russia, which I had seen in 1972 and 1976, and again at St Panteleimon’s on Mt Athos.

Having discovered the scandalous truths about the extremists dominating both groups in England, we returned disillusioned to France and my wife’s jurisdiction (Rue Daru). Here the new German Archbishop had personally promised us that he was going to steer the Church away from the modernist and ecumenist Fraternite Orthodoxe and back to Russian Orthodox Tradition, but using Western languages whenever necessary. Enthused by this sensible direction and the support of Fr Alexis Knyazev, who was still alive then, I was ordained in Paris in January 1985.

Q: What happened?

A: I had fallen from the frying pan into the fire. Within four months I was asked to become a freemason, which I refused to do, thus signing a kind of spiritual death warrant for myself. Through weakness of character, the new Archbishop had by then taken a suicidal path. He was ordaining freemasons and other members of the Fraternite, while also forbidding the use of local languages, doing exactly the opposite of everything he had promised. He was guaranteeing the death of Rue Daru, whose only hope for survival was in fact to return to one or other of the parts of the Russian Church.

So I surrendered to God’s Will. And in 1987 I was granted the grace of meeting the ever-memorable Archbishop Antony of Geneva, a representative of the real ROCOR, just waiting to return to a politically free Russian Church. Coming from Kiev, where I had first been to an Orthodox service, Archbishop Antony showed me the real, multinational ROCOR, which I had read about, but totally failed to meet in London with its nationalism and sectarianism. In July 1988, Rue Daru held a service in honour of the millennium of Orthodoxy in Rus, attended by the modernist Catholic Cardinal of Paris, but from which all Russian bishops had been banned!

It was the last straw and, thanks to God, Archbishop Antony gladly received a group of 17 of us spiritual refugees into ROCOR at the end of that year. This was actually a turning-point for the Rue Daru group, as ever since then the flow of serious Orthodox leaving it has not ceased, giving up the fight to save it. We now realize of course that that fight was impossible and we had undertaken it out of misplaced idealism. The well had been poisoned from the outset. It was also a turning-point for us, from which we have never looked back.

Q: Looking back, what would you do if you had your time again?

A: A purely hypothetical question. Hindsight, as they say, is a wonderful thing. At the time I had no advice at all, except for very bad advice, and there was no internet. Today, there is no doubt in my mind at all that I should have studied in London and then, in 1977, gone and studied at Jordanville. However, if I had not done what I had done then, how could I know all this now? Only experience teaches.

If I had not done what I did do, I would never have understood the Church of Greece, I would never have met the saintly Archbishop George Tarasov, the heroic Archbishop Antony of Geneva and so many other saintly figures, like the last representatives of the real White Russian movement, Fr Silouan of Athos of the Patriarchate (the disciple of St Silouan), the wonderful Baroness Maria Rehbinder, that exquisite Parisian poetess Lyudmila Sergeevna Brizhatova, the last White officer Vladimir Ivanovich Labunsky, and so many others, the representatives of the real Holy Rus in all jurisdictions of the Russian emigration.

Neither would I ever have understood the tragic renovationist decadence and absurd Soviet nationalism within parts of the Patriarchate outside Russia at that time, the two sides of the suicidal Rue Daru jurisdiction (sadly, today there is largely only one side left) and how ROCOR was nearly enveloped by the marginal extremes of narrow Russian nationalist chauvinism and fanatical old calendarist converts, but saved by the holiness of Metropolitan Laurus and the many with him, who so exactly expressed our values in Holy Rus, Eternal Russia.

There is in even this short, forty-year experience a lifetime of joys and sorrows. I have been privileged to know it all. In that sense I do not regret anything, even though I have met many tragic individuals, seen much waste and many lost opportunities, and seen parts of the Russian Diaspora committing suicide through spiritual impurity. However, I have been even more privileged in that I have also seen the old and artificial disunity fall away and become heartfelt unity and so life in the dynamic present and future. The worst, and it was really bad, is over and the best is now and in the future. Over nearly the last twenty years Providence has allowed me to work freely for the Russian Orthodox Church in missionary work in my own homeland of the three counties of the East of England.