After my death our beloved Church abroad will break three ways ... first the Greeks will leave us as they were never a part of us ... then those who live for this world and its glory will go to Moscow ... what will remain will be those souls faithful to Christ and His Church. ~St. Philaret of NY


An Abuse of a Saint

About the Various Blessings of St. John

There appears to be a tendency to want to attribute it to our popular departed spiritual heroes that they support certain pet agendas.  Thus, the super-correct are certain that St. Philaret is the patron of the fragments.  And world orthodoxy says that Fr. Seraphim was headed towards it during his life.  The new calendarists are certain that St. John accepts their calendar; and the western-riters believe that St. John has blessed their use of the western rite.  The letter that follows, edited for Remnant Rocor, addresses this latter abuse in particular.

Dear Fr. S.,

Virtually all the current advocates for various western rites misuse St. John Maximovitch's  specific and local original blessing for the Gallican rite experiment in France.  It is presented as paramount "proof" that what they are doing today is blessed by God.  But the voice of reason says, "Wait a minute!  What the western rite is doing today, is just not soundly Orthodox.  It is causing much confusion and division among the faithful, and on a local level, it only seems to serve the ecumenists and other enemies of our Orthodox Faith."  And we, western rite critics, are depicted as somehow impious souls who resist the commands of a saint.  But this is absurd.

As a long-time resident of San Francisco, and I've spoken with a number of Russian people who had been close to St. John in China, Europe, and America, who related to me many of their personal observations of many things which St. John said and did.  This includes things, people and projects that he blessed when he was the ROCOR Archbishop in that city.  [Also I heard of the various miraculous healings he did.  And, not all of those healings are recorded in various writings about his life.]

At one time, in San Francisco, St. John blessed it that every Saturday morning Hollywood cartoon films (Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, etc.) could  be shown for the little children to enjoy at his St. Tikhon's Orphanage & Church.  So, does that blessing of a saint mean that today, all over the Orthodox world, such cartoon movies are blessed to be shown to all Orthodox children?  My point is that the saint's blessing for the cartoons was specific and limited and not a universal approval for Hollywood cartoons.

Once St. John gave his blessing as a penance to a man who was trying to impress the bishop with his piety.  The man told him, "Vladyka, I am the worst of all sinners! I have committed ALL sins!"  To which Vladyka responded, "Well then, my son, since you are that terrible of a sinner, as penance, I bless you to go out into the street, and lay down on the trolley tracks, and let the trolley run over you."  The frightened man responded: "Oh no!  Vladyka, I am not that bad!"  (St. John hated lies, of any kind, small or big ones).

Does that specific blessing of St. John [given as a penance for the man's supposed many sins] mean that the man should then commit suicide?  Or that any and all who sin that much should also commit suicide?  Of course not.  St. John was blessing an individual (deceitful) person with his specific command/blessing, not the whole world!  And, the saint also gave his blessings for many specific purposes and to many people.  He blessed, as that is what Orthodox bishops do!  

There are testimonies that sometimes he later regretted some of his blessings, and then he took them back.  St. John was a very real human being.  Only the Good Lord makes no mistakes, as He alone is perfect.  Saints are not perfect, they are just closer to God than most of us, i.e. they share/participate  in God's virtues, but to a much lesser degree.  They reflect God, in this world, though imperfectly, as we all are supposed to struggle to do.  But we all still remain flawed human beings.  Can we say that all of St. John's saintly blessings, in the long view of church history, were 100% correct, in all cases?  But of course, not.

For the current western rite advocates to persist in repeating that a saint approves of what they are doing, is actually showing much disrespect for a saintly bishop, who was, after all, a real human being, who thus made some errors.  We have no proof whatsoever that St. John Maximovitch ever thought that his specific blessing for experimentally using the western rite in France would be universally applied to all.   He blessed a sizable number of French people, in their native country of France, (who had come to him with their appeal), to use their resurrected/doctored 'Gallican Rite' in their French language (with mostly Russian church music and Russian tones being used).

It is also recorded that, before his passing, St. John had made plans in San Francisco, for some regular English language services to be conducted at his San Francisco cathedral, as his outreach to Americans.  This plan was opposed by many in the Russian community, who seemed to mainly see their 'Russian religion' as their private Russian nationalistic preserve.  They saw the surrounding non-Russians, 'The Americans,'  somehow as a threat.  (The Kremlin and the MP later, used that chauvenistic ethno-centered Russian emigre nationalism to fool and to haul into their fishing net exactly those Russians in America, by appealing to their 'devotion and love for the Russian Motherland'.) 

But St. John had trouble finding those who could conduct those English services.   Those English services would have been the done in the standard Orthodox worship and ustav, not any western rite.  There was no hint of him or his clergy doing any missionary outreach in his Western diocese in any other rite but the standard Orthodox Rite.  He did not promote the western rite in America in general, though some claim his occasional blessing to a very few, here and there, to quietly continue to worship, in what rituals they were used to, before becoming Orthodox.  Dom Augustine Whitfield in the south was perhaps one such quiet exception.]

I firmly believe that if St. John could tell us today what he thinks about all this current western rite chaotic mishmash, he would strongly condemn it and say, "That is not what I had in mind!"

Of all the main character qualities of St. John, two stick out in my mind:

1) he was firm in his devotion to solid Orthodoxy (which is why he opposed the Stalin created MP, and why he could not have gone along with that 2007 union with the MP).

2) he believed in church order at all times.  This disorderly western rite three-ring circus could not have been to his liking.  This current ecumenist plot, this western rite nonsense, he could not have approved.

The time ages ago, when such local ritual and worship differences were viable, is now long gone and over.  Yes, perhaps back when St. John blessed it for France, then it might have been right.  Now we are in the age of massive world-wide apostasy and probably the End Times.  Now, we who call ourselves Orthodox Christians need to not be doing any unnecessary divisive things.  We need to stand up for genuine Orthodoxy and for what is truth, holding firm to what is most unifying and most meaningful to us all, i.e., our Sacred Orthodox Worship and our Holy Orthodox Faith, unchanged and untainted.

Just my honest observations-
Rd. Daniel Everiss in the USA

...from the book The Calendar Question

The difference which existed between St. Basil the Great and Macedonius as regards the issue of the Holy Spirit is the same as exists between the Russian Church in Exile and the Greek Church as regards the calendar issue. It is true, that, for missionary reasons, the Russian Church has not only practiced and continues to practice economy concerning the Western calendar, but also concerning the Western Paschalia and the Western Rite. We regret this, but let those who wish to be scandalized, be scandalized, and let those who wish to understand, understand.

If, for example, the Russian Church in Exile were to permit one of Her own Russian communities to exchange the Orthodox calendar for the Western calendar, this would certainly place Her on the same level as Archbishop Chrysostom Papadopoulos. But when She is confronted with communities who are, spiritually speaking, barbarians, Her duty is to draw them towards Christ and the Truth, even if she must condescend as regards the Western calendar and Paschalia “for a certain time.”

Let him who is of good faith note the following well:

1 Several years ago, the Dutch Orthodox Mission sought to be placed under the canonical jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Western Europe and later Archbishop of San Francisco, John of blessed memory. The mission was granted the use of the new calendar and the Western Paschalia as well as the Western rite.

2 The French Mission which already used the Gregorian calendar and the Western Rite asked that it also be permitted the use of the Western Paschalia like the Dutch. Yet the same Archbishop who granted the Western Paschalia to the Dutch refused it to the French.

3 Several years afterwards, the present Archbishop of Western Europe, the Most Reverent Anthony, deprived the Dutch of the Western Paschalia, which had formerly been permitted them.

4 The French communities under the canonical jurisdiction of the Synod (under the leadership of the most Reverend Abbot Ambrose) that is, those of Lyons and of Paris, abandoned the Gregorian calendar and adopted the Orthodox calendar.

5 Recently two Russian communities, one in Florida and the other in Pennsylvania, sought to join the Synod of Metropolitan Philaret. These communities were formerly under the so-called “Metropolia” which had permitted them to change to the Gregorian calendar. However, our Synod requested that they reject the Gregorian calendar and return to the Orthodox calendar. The communities did not accept this proposal and therefore, their request to join the Synod was also rejected.

Hence, it is evident that the Synod knows when to be lenient and when to be strict in the application of economy. Any intelligent man will understand that he finds before him a true “governing of the household” (from the Greek ecos—“ house,” nomia—“governing”), where condescension and strictness, allowance and refusal, and permission “under certain conditions” are found simultaneously. The spiritual benefit of the faithful is the purpose of every act and everywhere ascendance in spiritual matters can be seen. But in the case of the hierarchy of Greece, descendence is to be seen. It does not matter so much at what level one is found, so much as what direction he is taking.

If one were to ask the Russian Synod in the Diaspora why She permits the partial usage of the Gregorian calendar within Her jurisdiction, She would reply: “In order to save souls, I must sometimes walk according to the ‘pace of little children’ like the Patriarch Jacob” (Gen. 33:14). But if one asked the same question of Chrysostom Papadopoulos and Meletius Metaxakis, what would they answer? Was the Orthodox calendar, perhaps, a hindrance to the salvation of the faithful and, therefore, it was necessary to change it? Behold, therefore, how it is possible to take true facts and present them from a wrong and distorted angle in order to give them another interpretation, according to the method of Fr. Athanasius Gievtits.

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