Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Contemporary Evangelical "Church" In Pagan Worship

Here is the song that is making the rounds in many modern evangelical church services today. The singing of this song is quite often accompanied by dancing, jumping and the tossing of beach balls.

(Gonna Make You Sweat)

Everybody dance now (x2)
Give me the music (x2)
Everybody dance now (x2)
Yeah yeah yeah
Everybody dance now
Yeah yeah yeah

Here is the dome back with the bass
The jam is live in effect and I don't waste time
Off the mic with a dope rhyme jump to the rhythm
Jump jump to the rhythm jump
And I'm here to combine beats and lyrics
To make you shake your pants take a chance
Come on and dance guys grab a girl don't wait make the twirl
It's your world and I'm just a squirrel
Trying to get a nut to move your butt to the dance floor
So you what's up hands in the air come on say yeah
Everybody over here everybody over there
The crowd is live enough as I pursure this groove
Party people in the house move

Left to right (groove) work me all night
Come on let's sweat (sweat sweat) baby
Let the music take control (control control)
Let the rhythm move you
Sweat (sweat sweat) sweat
Let the music take your soul (soul soul)
Let the rhythm move you
Everybody dance now

Da da da da da da da da da da da da
Da da da da da da da da
Da da da da da da da da da da da da (x2)

(Move) everybody dance now
Everybody dance now

Pause take a breath and go for yours on my command
Now hit the dance floor it's gonna make you sweat till you bleed
Is that dope enough indeed I paid the price to control the dice
I'm more precise to the point I'm nice
Let the music take control of your heart and soul
Unfold your body is free and behold
Dance till you can't dance till you can't dance no more
Get on the floor and get ablow
Then come back and upside down easy now
Let me see you move left to right groove
Work me all night

The music is my life
Everybody dance now (x3)

Come on let's sweat (sweat sweat) baby
Let the music take control (control control)
Let the rhythm move you
Sweat (sweat sweat) sweat
Let the music take your soul (soul soul)
Let the rhythm move you

Da da da da da da da da da da (x2)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why Wedding Rings On The Right Hand?

Over the recent holidays I spent time with my Protestant siblings, two sisters and a brother. My brother noticed that I wore my wedding ring on my right hand and, much to the chagrin of one of my sisters, who is anti-Orthodox, asked why it was so. I gave my brother as brief an answer as possible, but have since found this good explanation for the biblical and cultural origins of the practice:

"It has always been the tradition of the Church to place the wedding ring on the right hand of the couple based on biblical references. This is seen very clearly in one of the prayers in the Betrothal Service. A portion of the prayer refers to the biblical references: “For You, O Lord, have declared that a pledge is to be given and held inviolate in all things. By a ring Joseph was given might in Egypt; by a ring Daniel was exalted in Babylon; by a ring our heavenly Father showed compassion upon His prodigal son, for He said, ‘Put a ring upon his right hand, kill the fatted calf, and let us eat and rejoice.’ Your own right hand, O Lord, armed Moses in the Red Sea. By word of Your truth were the Heavens established and the earth set upon her sure foundations; and the right hands of Your servants shall be blessed by Your mighty word, and by Your uplifted arm.” As we see, it was scripturally the practice to wear rings on the right hand, the hand of authority and power completing the pledge of commitment. The power and authority comes from the right hand of God.

The practice of wearing rings on the left hand is rooted in superstition that says that there is a vein that goes from the left hand directly to the heart. This medieval superstition, like many others, was brought to America from Western Europe no doubt. Unfortunately, too many people today just follow what the majority in society do without truly understanding its meaning. Hopefully, with education and faith we will maintain the richness and meaningfulness of the Orthodox faith."

Once again it is the Western practice that is the aberration, not unlike the question of beards on men. The aberration is to be clean shaven, as the Pagans. Western Protestantism is an aberration from the Church established by Christ and His Disciples. Protestants in the West continue to look through a glass darkly at the Church and are puzzled by what they see.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mary-Ever Virgin

From Archbishop Averky: On The Birth Of Christ

"And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son." "Till", "until,"-this does not mean that after the birth of Jesus he "knew" her and began to live with her as a wife. St. John Chrysostom rightly observes that it is incorrect to assume that such a righteous man as Joseph would decide to "know'' the holy Virgin after she had so miraculously become a mother, In this case the word "till." can in no way be understood in the same way as it is interpreted by Protestants and other sectarians-who have no veneration for the Mother of God. These latter choose to believe that until the birth of Christ, Joseph did not know the Holy Virgin, but afterwards he did know her. St. John Chrysostom states on the contrary, that Joseph never knew her. In the Holy Scripture this word is used for example, in the verse concerning the end of the Flood: a raven "went forth to and fro, till the waters were dried up from off t h e earth" (Gen. 8:6), but ever afterwards it did not return. Or, for example, the words of the Lord: "Lo, I am with you always, even till the end of the world" (Matt. 28:20); this, of course, does not mean, as the Blessed Theophilactus rightly observes, that after the end of the world Christ will no longer be with us.     No! then all the more will He be with us.

Here Christ is called the "firstborn" likewise not because after Him the Holy Virgin had more children, but only because He was the first to be born and also the only one.
In the Old Testament God commands that every first-born male child is to be dedicated to Him, regardless of whether or not there shall be other children. If in the Gospel there is made mention of "the brothers of Jesus Christ" (Matt. 12:46; John 2:12; and others), this in no way means that He had brothers after the flesh. Tradition testifies that most likely these were the children of Joseph-the-Betrothed, from his first marriage.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

To My Protestant Friends and Relatives: There Is No Santa Claus

Bless your children this year by telling them the true story of Saint Nicholas who was a bishop in the Orthodox Christian Church in the 3rd Century. Then bless yourself by learning the true story of the origins of the church. Then ask yourself why it is that you and your family adhere to a form of religion that is only about 400 years old and is an offshoot of the Roman Catholic Church. The Reformation was, in fact, a deformation. The original church, established by Christ and His Apostles, is still here. It is the Orthodox Church.

Read The Early Church Fathers from the first and second centuries and see if they believe and practice anything close to what you do. If not...who is right, you or them?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Why We Consider It Impossible To Become A Part Of The Moscow Patriarchate

From The Sower  Vol. 1 Issue 5 

By Metropolitan Agafangel

(This article was first published in the journal «Трибуна русской мысли (Tribune of Russian Opinion)» no. 11, 2009.)

            The signing of the ‘Act of Canonical Communion’ between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad was widely covered in the press.  This ‘Act’ that was signed in Moscow in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior on May 17, 2007, was accepted by a large part of the ROCA.  It was evident already even then that there was a split in the Church Abroad due to the fact that not all of her representatives were in agreement, for they assessed it not as a unification, but as becoming a part of the Moscow Patriarchate, or being assimilated into it.  As a result, there was disagreement within the ROCA, and when the ‘Act’ was signed, I unfortunately was the only bishop who did not support this merger.  The union was rejected fully consciously by approximately 100 parishes (out of about 450 parishes in the ROCA at that time), 70 priests of our Church, and several thousand laypeople. 
The first question relating to what happened was whether this merger itself was indeed necessary, or could the ROCA have continued to exist in the state that she had been in for 83 years?  This question had come up repeatedly during the whole time of her existence, in essence, the question of whether the Church Abroad (like the Catacomb Church in the USSR) should have broken off ties with the deputy locum tenens Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) in 1927.
The question of separating from Metropolitan Sergius was settled by both the Councils and by the whole fullness of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad based on two fundamental reasons:
            1) the illegality of usurping the upper echelons of power of the Russian Church
            2) the impossibility of making the entire flock of the Russian Church submit to the Soviet regime ‘not out of fear, but out of conscience’
These were the deciding factors, and it cannot be viewed as a mistake.  Subsequent questions are these – have the reasons which caused this separation been removed?  If so, should the Church Abroad become part of the MP, or should some other form of communion be established?  These questions continue to be open to discussion, and we are now looking for answers to these very questions.

            As we see it, the situation seems to be thus. The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, considering herself part of the Local Russian Church, has never viewed the present Moscow Patriarchate as the Mother Church. The MP was established in 1943 by dictator Joseph Stalin with the aim of political gain, and was officially headed by the ideological section of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, by the so-called 'soviet patriarchs'.  The ROCA, along with the Catacomb Church (which many viewed as the Mother Church), considered the MP as one of the parts of the Local Russian Church, a part which willingly or unwillingly had fallen under the pressure and influence of the communist regime. The unification of these broken parts, in the opinion of all who had separated themselves from Metropolitan Sergius in Russia as well as those abroad, was possible only by a free All-Russia Local Council of the Russian Church.  Outside of such a unifying Council which would represent the highest authority of the national Russian Church, a genuine and legal (canonical) unification of all the parts of the Russian Church is not possible.  Without convening such a Council, we are not only not obliged to unite with the other parts of the Russian Church, but moreover, we do not have the canonical right to do so, since the parts of one Church can only be united by an authority higher than these parts, the Council.  There has not been such a Council to this day, through this whole sorrowful period of Church division.  Consequently, at this point, we cannot speak of the unification of the ROCA and the MP, but one part of the Church becoming a part of the other, and no more than this.

            Examples are often cited about the unification of parts of the Church which have occurred in the past history of other Local Churches.  During times of war, some churches were broken up because of the effects of the war, and they were united as soon as the reasons which forced their separation no longer existed.  However, in this case, those examples cannot be viewed as some sort of precedent, since the separation of those parts was not caused by any canonical or dogmatic claims, and their inner lives were not interfered with by a third party (as in this case, by the Soviet communist ideology).

            This is how we view the 'unification' which occurred in May of 2007.

            The Moscow Patriarchate, or, rather, her 'ideological' curators, unfortunately, has a different purpose in mind: to destroy all the other parts of the Russian Orthodox Church with the help of the government apparatus of the USSR (now the Russian Federation) and to declare the MP the de facto Mother Church.  This policy begun by Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) continues to this day with the active support of the authorities of the Russian Federation.

            Of course, I myself and my adherents still have various arguments upon which we base our position that it is impossible for us to become part of the MP.  The arguments are many, starting with the methods which were used to secure this union, and ending with the goals to which its organisers are striving.  Furthermore, the acting patriarch, from our point of view, is not the highest church authority, in that he does not head the Russian Church in all its fulness, but only a part of it.

            Definite answers need to be given to the questions concerning the division into parts, if we in deed, and not merely in word, strive for unity in Christ.  We will speak of this later.  But first, we will focus on the canonical (church-law) questions regarding this church division.

            It is known that throughout the entire history of the Church Abroad, beginning with her canonical legalization in 1921 at the Council of Sremskiye Karlovtsi in Serbia until the present, the question of the Russia Orthodox Church Abroad has always been a topic of interest for the communist USSR and its current successor, the Russian Federation.  The Soviet Union was established and existed on communist ideology, which was an ideology of intolerance.  This ideology was the foundation and cementing framework of the government.  The stability of the political system depended on this.  Dissidence and disloyalty were so harshly and persistently suppressed precisely because of this.  In Soviet times all the handbooks and textbooks portrayed the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad as a 'counter-revolutionary monarchist organization'.  Such a label implied a grave criminality in the eyes of the existing system of those days.  Therefore, the matter of 'neutralizing' the ROCA was always on the agenda in the USSR.  Civilian collaborators, who dealt only with this matter, worked in the Soviet KGB.  There was a propaganda department in the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and in the Council of Ministers in the USSR and the KGB there was a Council of Religious Affairs with special subdivisions.  It is simply absurd to speak of a free confession of faith or freedom for the Church in those years.  Such was the background on which the events of the proposed unification unfolded.

            Because of my postion, I can testify that the unification was prepared clandestinely and over time.1  The groundwork was laid through by all manner of truths and falsehoods.  Strictly speaking, clergy and parishes involved in the 'unloyal' oppostion with regard to the MP were not forbidden to separate from the ROCA. Meetings with the leadership of the MP were conducted secretly, unbeknownst to the First Hierarch Metropolitan Vitaly and other bishops.  At the Clergy Conference of the ROCA in Nyack in 2003, they tried to push through a conciliary decision to establish eucharistic communion with the MP.  However, the Council was directly opposed to the organizers' intentions, saying that it was premature to establish such a communion without first coming to terms on major issues.  And this was despite the efforts of specially invited agitators from the MP, namely, Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov), and Protopriests Maxim Kozlov and George Mitrofanov.2

            The proponents of unification did not succeed at the subsequent Fourth All-Diaspora Conference in 2006 either, notwithstanding that this conference was prepared very painstakingly, and an agitator in support of the union was specially invited, the Serbian Metropolitan Amphilochius.  It should be noted that the representatives of our brothers in the Old Calendar Churches of Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria, with whom the ROCA established eucharistic communion in 1994 and who were not in favor of the union with the MP, were not invited to the conference.     

            The next meeting of the ROCA bishops also failed to take definitive action regarding the Act for canonical communion, and even at the meeting of the Synod of Bishops no consensus was reached on this matter, since two of the five members of the Synod were against the union.

            Nevertheless, the union took place against the full opinion of the ROCA and the Old Calendar Churches of Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria.  It is completely obvious that, just as in Soviet times, this was not a conciliar decision of the ROCA, but one that was forced on her.  This is why the subsequent schism occurred in the ROCA, since many people saw canonical and procedural violations in the 'unification' process.  Besides that, the people who did not agree assessed it as an act carried out by a group of 'conspirators for unification' in which case their decision was not a binding one.  Although the majority of parishes in the ROCA accepted the union anyway, this is not an argument in favor of pro-union, since many went with the unification against their will, due to materialistic considerations and the 'human' factor.  If one takes into account those parishes which separated themselves from the ROCA before May 17, 2007, then it is apparent that those who accepted the union are rather a minority.

            Advocates for the union cannot dispute what we have said, except to say that we are all supposed to follow the Synod and the First Hierarch.  However, these people intentionally 'forget' that the supreme authority of the ROCA is not the Synod and First Hierarch, but the Hierarchal and All-Diaspora Councils (and for the Russian Orthodox Church the local Council by the ruling of the Council of 1918).  This pertains to the canonical aspect of this question.

            Now a few words about the questions regarding the separation, that is, the reasons why we consider it impossible at this time to unite with the MP.  As before, there are two reasons: ecumenism and sergianism.

            The representatives of the Church Abroad, the old calendar churches , and even the MP have said much about ecumenism.  There is extensive literature on this topic, and those who wish to clarify this question for themselves can refer to these sources.  I would like to offer just one analogy, maybe not the most discrete for some.  We all know that there is a sin called fornication.  In the sacrament of matrimony, the legal union of man and wife is blessed, and all relationships outside of this union are a mortal sin.  As the Apostle Paul wrote, the fornicator becomes one flesh with the whore.  This refers to fornication in the physical sense.  However, since man consists of body and soul, there can also be spiritual fornication.  In my opinion, ecumenism is exactly that spiritual fornication where a 'copulation of souls' occurs during the common prayers outside of the martimonial union of Christ and the Church.  I am convinced that this is far from mere speculation – this is a real, mortal sin for all who take part in it.

            The question of sergianism is quite a bit more complex.  At least, it is clear that this question is directly related to the antichrist.  It is more difficult to see the heresy inherent in it, but the antichrist himself will not appear in the form of a heretic.  Heretics confess their own sort of Christ who is not the Christ confessed by the Sacred Traditions of the Orthodox Church.  The antichrist will reject Christ outright.  I am deeply convinced that the Russian Orthodox Church has already lived through the age of antichrist.  This was the time of the building of communism.  The coming of the antichrist, or rather, his precursors – «a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns» (Rev. 12:3) – the seven main communist leaders, turned the Russian empire into a completely new state, the USSR.  And the Russian Church was divided into three parts at that time: the Church Abroad, which fled from the antichrist outside of his earthly borders, the Catacomb Church, which fled from him into the «clefts of the earth», and the Moscow Patriarchate, who bowed down to this red dragon.

            The Revelations of Apostle John witnesses to the seven-headed beast, that one of his heads received a fatal blow, «and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.» (Rev. 13:3)  Is this not like the communist system which against all odds did not die, but continues to exist concealed in the current leadership of the Russian Federation?  As the text of Revelations explains, the apocalyptic beast with seven heads is the precursor of the antichrist of the world, a beast who «had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.  And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.» (Rev. 13:11-12).  It turns out that the coming antichrist of the world will take the example of the atheistic soviet regime.   

            However, the most frightful thing for all of us is the fact that neither the Russian people, nor the MP, nor the people of the other post-Soviet republics have gained any spiritual experience from the godless period.  This self-justification can definitively destroy all hope of the rebirth of Russia.  The unrepented sin of having bowed down to the theomachist and apostate powers (that is, antichrist), which we call sergianism, continues to hang over the Moscow Patriarchate to this day.  This sin should have been repented of in the local Council, otherwise all declarations concerning the subject of sergianism remain merely personal opinions of those making the declarations.  Repentance of the sin of sergianism is important for the understanding of the position of the Church of Christ during the recent times of antichrist.  In the opinion of many of the new martyrs and also of the majority of the fathers of the Church Abroad, genuine spiritual freedom of the Church is impossible without repenting of sergianism.  Consequently, the spiritual  rebirth of Russia is also impossible, as well as any opposition to the coming antichrist.  The absence of understanding of the nature of this question even results in the appearance in Russia of «Orthodox Stalinists» (which in my mind is the same as «Orthodox Satanists»).  The hidden stamp of 'Soviet-ness' is equivalent to the stamp of antichrist, which was openly and proudly worn as a red pentagram (red star) by the Soviet military on their caps.  Now, after the fall of the communist regime, the 'pentagram' worship for the Soviet past is invisibly present in the souls of post-Soviet people, even among those considering themselves Russian and Orthodox.  This is just my personal conviction and I have no pretenses to complete objectivity.  I would be glad to be proven wrong in my opinion.  Unfortunately, however, as time goes on, the more I am convinced that it is correct.

            Ecumenism and sergianism are by far the major points of contention and the clearest testimonies to the division between Russia abroad and Soviet Russia.  Soviet Russia has not and cannot become Orthodox Russia without genuine repentance.  In contemporary Russia, as in the former USSR, everything is interwoven into one whole – politics, religion, business, and criminal activity.  In order to maintain this conglomerate, a huge apparatus has been created which, like an octopus, has grabbed the whole body of the Russian government with its tentacles.  Such a system continues to give rise to and reinforces a certain kind of mentality.

            At this point, it is worth pointing out specifically the differences in mentality of those who lived abroad during the rule of the theomachist regime, and of those who remained in the communist USSR.

            Characteristically, the Orthodox people 'abroad' inherited from 'imperial' times an integrated and free personality, as well as consistency in their views.  While with 'Soviet' people, the personality, as a rule, was destroyed, and their views and world-outlook became changeable as a result of the close and protracted contact with the communist system.  It is even possible to say that the major trait of people who lived through the era of theomachism was that their personalities were broken down by Soviet totalitarianism.  It is well-known that from the very beginning of Lenin's seizing power, he insisted on mercilessly crushing any form of opposition to the new dictatorship.  In order to hold onto power, the intention was to break the people through cultivating class hatred, the red terror, confiscation of valuables, creating artificial hunger, and requisitioning farm produce. These all served that end.  I am convinced that the truly diabolical idea of Lenin, to break the people, always lay at the very foundation of the atheistic government that he and his people established.  We can ascertain with bitterness that the theomachists attained their goal.  This breaking down penetrated the Soviet person so deeply, reaching even the 'genetic' level of his soul.  Sad to say, this attribute of a person, like an infectious disease, is able to be passed down to their offspring, the post-Soviet people.  By my observations, the infectiousness of this sickness is so great, that the integrity of a person living and educated abroad, even though he was not born in the USSR, can be destroyed through close contact with bearers of this infection.  Evidence of this are the many and astonishing metamorphases of whole ranks of people abroad, including prominent clergy, whose names are well-known, during the time of the discussions relating to the unification of the churches.  It was not just a question of fear over losing one's diocese or church.  Fear is just an external factor that leads to an internal change in the person.  The change in their world-view and what happened to them was an amazing transformation.  I understand that people have various opinions about what exactly happened to those people who so drastically changed their views.  I naturally have my own opinion regarding the changes in these people – it is not hard to guess what kind of opinion.  Meanwhile, nothing has really changed in the country itself since the days when these people were stalwart opponents to unification.

            We can compare two individuals Metropolitan Kirill (Smirnov) and Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) as vivid examples of a person's conduct in the framework of a totalitarian theomachist regime while under the conditions of growing globalism. Metropolitan Kirill was indisputably one of the more highly respected hierarchs of the Russian Church in the last century.  He was designated by Patriarch Tikhon in his Patriarchal testament as his successor, making him the primary candidate for the Patriarchal throne.  He was also chosen by the bishops of the Russian Church to be patriarch according to a written referendum carried out secretly in 1926.  It is not an insignificant fact attesting to his authority that the Holy Righteous John of Kronstadt willed that his funeral be performed by the then Bishop Kirill.  Recognizing his high reputation among church people, the Soviet government, through their spokesman Tuchkov, offered the Patriarchate to him numerous times, but with certain concessions to it.  However, Metropolitan Kirill, being full of integrity, could not allow any kind of compromise in his faith and conscience, and without thinking twice about it accepted hard labor and death, refusing the deceitful temptation to save the Church with the help of the Soviet government.  For me, personally, he is a great example of an Orthodox person, and I have no doubt that he is truly one of those whose name is written in 'the book of life'.  The opposite example is shown by Metropolian Sergius (Stragorodsky) whose personal history consists of indecisiveness and compromise.  Starting with siding with the renovationists, and ending with serving the Soviet regime 'not out of fear, but out of conscience', the breaking of his person and, as a result, the tragedy of his person, makes an impression.  Of course, he was not the only one, but considering his importance and the role he played in the history of the Russian Church, in my eyes he can be called a representative of an already new generation of hierarchs, the first representative of a truly 'Soviet hierarch'.  He became an example by his 'image and likeness', a pattern for all subsequent bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate, albeit with the addition of more and more 'loyalty'.

            I think that no one can argue that in the USSR people were deliberately selected based on ideology.  In the closed environment of a communist government, it is impossible to escape the rigged selection which is carried out intentionally.  It was impossible to be outside the sphere of Soviet ideology, not to be affected by contact with one's surroundings, through the media, impossible to escape the all-seeing eyes which were quick to detect any ideological enemies of the Soviet man.  In the USSR, it was impossible to live 'unbroken'.  (People who had views like Metropolitan Kirill were, without a doubt, doomed to be eliminated by the theomachist regime.)  Still, the regime put up with the 'broken' somehow.3  The totalitarian system forced the conscience of those living there to constantly seek ways to compromise.  The majority of those who could not find compromises perished in the GULAGs, or simply died out in the suffocating atmosphere of 'Soviet life'.  Even a personality like MP priest Dimitri Dudko could not stand his ground.  Under the pressure of the KGB, he was turned from an opponent to an admirer of Stalin.  Even in some official biographies of some highly-placed bishops of the MP, there are those whose parents and even they themselves who in their youth belonged to the Catacomb Church.  Naturally, their biographies fail to mention how their world-outlook changed so drastically. Well-known clergy and laity 'voluntarily' renounced God.  I do not want to mention here the names of famous scientists and even academicians who started as theologians and ended up as 'representatives of Soviet science and culture'. 

            There is one more vital characteristic of people living in the USSR which makes them different from those who grew up and were educated abroad.  With Soviet and post-Soviet people, almost to a man, their historic roots have been wiped out.  It was not proper to remember and commemorate one's ancestors.

            In this regard, the ROCA has been, and continues to be, a small island of Russian people not having undergone ideological selection.  This is the only untouched remainder of Old Russia.  Therefore, I believe that the spiritual rebirth of Russia is possible only on the foundation of this healthy part of the Russian people.  I believe we should be firmly convinced of this while it is not too late and there are still living representatives of this Old Russia.

            The Moscow Patriarchate has a great opportunity to preach Orthodoxy.  But the main problems are directly related to her Orthodoxy itself.  Calling upon the members of the Patriarchate to work actively to restore health to Russian society, Patriarch Kirill works from the assumption that all is well in the MP itself.  The first order of business should be to establish health within.  (This applies, of course, not only to the MP.)  Otherwise, what kind of morality can be taught to the Russian people by heretic-ecumenists, sodomites, fornicators, and money-grubbers, who are widely planted by the Department for Religious Affairs of the former USSR in the 'Soviet church' with the sole aim of spreading distrust among the Russian people towards representatives of 'religion'.  Even that half-political ideology, which instead of Orthodoxy, is being preached in word and deed by its major spokesmen is not getting the widespread response expected now by the current Russian leadership.  It is already even awkward to expect a response, seeing that too many people consider the mission of the Moscow Patriarchate, within the country, as well as outside of her borders, as a political order directed towards holding power (in full accord with sergianist dogma).  This mission is definitely not viewed as a call to preach to the Russian people Christ Crucified, Who redeemed us for eternity.  It is not difficult to give a prognosis to this situation which is analogous to that which existed in the USSR – a 'political Orthodoxy' taking the form of state ideology which will ultimately end in opposition, much of which will be justifiable.  We see this happening already.

            Believing in the possibility of salvation within the Russian Church Abroad and exclusively in Her, based on our hope in salvation, we continue to preserve the existence of our Church in the way it came to us from our fathers, considering it to be our spiritual heritage and the tradition of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.  For this reason, in the two years since the moment of the signing of the union, nothing at all has changed in the 'Notification' which I sent to our Synod on the very day of the signing of the «Act of Canonical Communion» in the Church of Christ the Savior:

            «In connection with what has occurred on the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord, the entry of part of the ROCA, including the current First Hierarch and members of the Synod, into the Moscow Patriarchate, I must inform my flock as well as all the faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad of the following:

            Insofar as the repentance of the Moscow Patriarchate for the sins of sergianism and ecumenism hoped for by our whole Church is lacking to this day, I find it premature to establish between us eucharistic and administrative unity.  I also find it inadmissible to renounce the spiritual heritage of the Church Abroad which in my conviction cannot be preserved in all its fulness under the conditions set forth in the 'Act of Canonical Communion'.  

            For this reason, I hold fast to the previous Status of the ROCA until a genuine resolution occurs of the questions crucial for our whole Church.  I will continue to regard all decrees and other instructions coming from the church powers of the Moscow Patriarchate in any situation as being canonically invalid.»
In conclusion, I would like to say that I continue to pray for the unity of the Russian Church, but for a unity in Truth, and not a political compromise which of itself cannot be a result or expression of the spiritual condition of Russian Orthodoxy.  I sincerely believe that the spiritual greatness of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad has not lost its significance to this day, both in its entirety, as well as for the possibility of the spiritual rebirth of Orthodox Russia.

1)  For example, a draft of a resolution compiled by the special commission dealing with dialogue with the MP was illegally added to the resolutions of the Council of Bishops of the ROCA in 1996.  This particular draft of the resolution had in fact been rejected; however, Archbishop Mark, head of this commision, referred to this unaccepted resolution as evidence of the ROCA's striving for union with the MP in an extensive interview with a Russian newspaper.

2)  Archimandrite Tikhon declared at that time from the podium without 'batting an eye' that Patriarch Alexis had never cooperated with the KGB, deeply disturbing the participants of the conference with his peremptory confidence, since everyone knew the facts to be to the contrary.

3) In connection with this, I remember a story told by Archbishop Lazar (Zhurbenko) about how an investigator at an interrogation said to him something like, «Who do you think you are, little boy?  You are nothing – we broke Voino-Yasnetsky.»  It is well-known that Bishop Luke was formerly a bishop of the Catacomb Church.

Friday, December 10, 2010

No Condemnation

"There is now therefore no condemnation for 
those who love God and are called according to His purpose."

For the many who are beginning to see the truth of the apostasy of the World Orthodox Jurisdictions, but still remain afraid to leave. Here is the permission and encouragement you might need:

"...But as for those who...severe themselves from communion with their president, that is, because he publicly preaches heresy and with bared head teaches it in the Church, such persons are not only not subject to canonical penalty..., but are worthy of due honor among the Orthodox. For not bishops, but false bishops and false teachers have they condemned, and they have not fragmented the Church's unity with schism, but from schisms and divisions have they earnestly sought to deliver the Church. (Canon XV of the First-Second Council of Constantinople)"

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

A Suffering (ROCOR/MP) Monk

From Monk Theophan of Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville
October 2/15/, 2010

This letter is a concerned voice from a soul who has always belonged to the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCOR).

In 2001, the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR stated in an Epistle that,

"During these days of universal apostasy, which, through the pan- heresy of ecumenism, has even infected most of the Local Orthodox Churches, we must stand united, that the enemy of our salvation may not use our divisions to destroy the voice of our confession in the homeland and the diaspora." [1]

Sadly enough this voice of confession is not heard anymore. Instead, ROCOR/MP moves closer and closer toward the ecumenical Orthodox hierarchs and clergy, while rejecting the True Orthodox Christians, with whom we once confessed our unity. We promised to defend the Truth, but who reached out to support Vladyka Diomid in his lonely fight for the Truth? Who spoke up against the un-Christian World Summit of Religious Leaders in Moscow in 2006? Why are our spiritual leaders silent?

It is well-known that the Moscow Patriarchate together with World Orthodoxy participates in the ecumenical movement. It is also well-known that the Moscow Patriarchate still believes in the salvific act of the Declaration of 1927. And still our hierarchs state that ROCOR, under His Eminence Metropolitan Agafangel, together with all other True Orthodox Churches, who have walled themselves off "during these days of universal apostasy" are outside the Church and their sacraments invalid. How can this be when we ourselves just recently confessed our unity with them?

We are canonical and in the Church. That is our main argument. And yet, the soul is in dire agony, feeling that something is completely wrong. Fr. Seraphim Rose explains it the following way:

"The apostasy of our times, to a degree unique in Christian history, is proceeding not primarily by false teachings or canonical deviations, but rather by a false understanding of Orthodoxy on the part of those who may even be perfectly Orthodox in their dogmatic teaching and canonical situation. A correct ‘Orthodoxy’ deprived of the spirit of true Christianity - this is the meaning of Sergianism, and it cannot be fought by calling it a ‘heresy,’ which it is not, nor by detailing its canonical irregularities, which are only incidental to something much more important." [2]

Obviously, apostasy is not only a deviation from the canons, but first of all a deviation from the spirit of Orthodoxy. Besides the example of Sergianism, one can also mention the New Calendar. Neither of these two can, strictly speaking, be considered heresies. And yet, we know very well the damage they have both caused the Orthodox Church. Canonicity and apostasy can and do, therefore, easily go hand in hand.

Today obedience is no longer understood as a God-pleasing obedience to Christ and His Church, but rather as a complete submission to Church authority, regardless of its teaching. Salvation is no longer attained by following the conscience of the Church of Christ and one`s own conscience, but by blind obedience to the official Church authorities. To be, not in the Church of Christ, but in today`s World Orthodoxy, has become the absolute criterion for salvation. 

These Church authorities are, therefore, not interested in believers who follow their conscience according to the conscience of the Church. We are not only asked not to think, but made not to think.

In the Church of Christ, though, there can be no violence on the conscience. Such violence breaks people morally and creates a spiritual apathy, depriving them of the ability to freely and truly follow Christ. Every Christian must follow his conscience, should it be even unto death. One, though, must do so in a truly Orthodox manner with Christian love, humility and moderation.

We must try to understand that most of the believers, who are not following World Orthodoxy, are acting by their own conscience and the conscience of the Church. Seeing that World Orthodoxy does not have the correct and saving confession of the faith, many sober and pious faithful have walled themselves off not from the Church of Christ but from apostasy. The Old Calendar Movement is therefore not a heresy, neither is it a schism, but a walling off from falsehood.

Having accepted the position of the official Church leaders of the Moscow Patriarchate and World Orthodoxy, together with their spirit of apostasy and conformism, the spiritual leaders of ROCOR/MP have not only compromised themselves in the saddest way, but have also deeply disappointed many of its faithful, as well as many of our pious brothers and sisters inside the Moscow Patriarchate and World Orthodoxy itself, who expected to see this Champion of Truth courageously expose all falsehood. The pain of witnessing this fall is intensified even more when one is asked to accept it as a glorious victory. The tragedy of ROCOR/MP, therefore, is not so much its formal union with the Moscow Patriarchate and World Orthodoxy, but its wholehearted acceptance of their path and spirit.

If our Christian life is to be truly pleasing to God, both a Christian loving heart and a true confession of Faith must be present. It is not only a question of where, but also of how one confesses his faith. Without a Christian loving and humble heart, one`s "confession of Faith" will have no justification in the eyes of God, but will only harm oneself and the sacred unity of the Church. On the other hand, if we reject the salvific Truths, Traditions and spirit of the Church, or perhaps just indifferently follow along, then that will equally endanger our salvation. Both extremes lack the "spirit of true Christianity" - the divine Love of God ̶ and should be avoided. Apostasy, therefore, is simply the deviation from the Royal Path of Christian love towards God and man manifested in heresies and the lack of the spirit of true Christianity.

We observe that World Orthodoxy is getting more and more infected by "the pan-heresy of ecumenism," estranging itself from the spirit of Christianity, while preserving the outward forms of the Church. This has been prophesied by the Holy Fathers and Holy Scripture and the process began a long time ago. That is why many pious Orthodox Christians are quietly stepping aside, in order to protect themselves. Many faithful in World Orthodoxy itself are also slowly beginning to lose patience.

This letter is a concerned and quiet voice. Such voices, though, are labeled as proud, rebellious and full of self-deceit.

World Orthodoxy has taken its course. It is a course based on the wide path of love for this world. It is not the narrow path of the Cross and it is not a path which should be followed.

Monk Theophan Holy Trinity Monastery
Jordanville, NY USA Ss Cyprian and Justina, October 2/15, 2010.

[1] Living Orthodoxy, Epistle of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, 2001. #126, vol.XXI # 6, p.26, left column, last par., line 5. [2] Andreyev Ivan: “Russia`s Catacomb Saints, Lives of the New Martyrs”. Saint Herman of Alaska Press, Platina, California, 1982, p. 257, par. 2.