Proceedings of the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR
Prayer Request from Mother Agapia:
Attached is a account of events yesterday at the Convent of the Ascension in Serbia under Abbess Jelena that recently announced its support for Bishop Artemije. As the account shows so graphically, the nuns are now being brutally persecuted by "clergy" for their faithfulness to Orthodoxy.
This article appeared in www.novinar.de on May 25, 2012. Perhaps Novinar.de provides its readers with English translations, but in case it does not here is a translation specially done for you. [This is] less than a quarter of the entire transcript, but it is after midnight, and I must go to bed. However, I think you get an idea of how things stand here. You will get the next installment tomorrow, or the day after.
Hrisostom, Bishop of Žiča, together with the clerics of his Diocese and the police, attempts to expel by force the sisterhood of Ascension Monastery in Ovčarsko-kablarska klisura
[photo] Mother Jelena, Abbess of the Monastery
Mother Jelena answering questions from TV Čačak
We are bringing you dramatic events taking place in Ascension Monastery where Bishop Hrizostom, assisted by the police, has just attempted to expel by force the entire sisterhood and its Abbess from their convent.
Source: Face book reporter, 25.05.2012
01:07 (26.05.2012) Face book reporter [FBR] Biljana Diković on location: Mother Jelena and the sisters are still in the monastery. The police, in what somewhat reduced numbers, are still in front of the monastery gates.
00:35 (26.05.2012) SRBI NA OKUP The story of a participant in today’s events in Ascension Monastery: “What impressed us all the most is not the police but the priests. They carried the nuns out of the church and handed them over to the police. They searched us, dragged us over the concrete and mud, they pulled our hair, verbally assaulted us. They did that so “tenderly” that men, who were standing in front of the monastery, ended up with their trousers and coats torn, and women were left with their skirts and hose in tatters. We were stunned to see priests swearing, badmouthing and hitting us… They care nothing about people… “
00:20 (26.05.2012) SRBI NA OKUP Reporting from Ascension Monastery: “Bishop” Hrizostom has left Ascension but he continued his nocturnal visits to the monasteries in the Diocese of Žiča. At the moment he is in Monastery Nikolje. The man arrested together with Miloje is Nebojša Dejović of Užice. Father Sloba from Monastery Ljuljaci is together with the people in front of the monastery. He was no allowed to approach the nuns who are sitting outside the refectory. There are about 50 Priests still inside. The others have left.
23:56 FBR Biljana Diković on location: Fr. Slobodan Ilić, who had served as parish priest in the Diocese of Žiča for 40 years and after his retirement joined Bishop Artemije, managed to get past the police because of his cleric’s cassock. He tells us that he saw the nuns sitting, all huddled together, on the concrete in front of the refectory where they were dragged to because they would not leave the prayer service which was in progress! Father Slobodan wanted to approach the nuns but other priests would not let him! They quickly hustled him out of the monastery… A group of some thirty faithful is still in front of the monastery gate.
23:40 Fr. Slobodan Ilić: There shouldn’t have been any police intervention! The police was ordered to intervene by Bishop Hrizostom of Žiča. What is a line of policeman doing, advancing on defenseless, unarmed people who are causing no trouble at all? If the Bishop has some issues with the monastery management there are ways to resolve what issues there may be. There is the Church Court... To go against defenseless people and defenseless nuns… The police should not have intervened.
We are returning to the earliest times when Christians were persecuted and thrown to the lions. First it was the Romans, then the Turks and now, to our great misfortune, the persecution comes from the highest echelons of the Orthodox Church!
The people would not be divided; neither would the clerics nor the monastics, had it not been for the highest of the hierarchy who mudded the clear waters and satanized Bishop Artemije.
Instead of giving guidance should anyone have strayed from the right path … They should have taken care of the flock entrusted to them. That was the obligation they undertook when they were consecrated bishops.
22:38 SRBI NA OKUP: Marko D.: Mother Marina is unwell. An ambulance was called for her because Ivan Bosić and other priests dragged her over the ground! At the moment we are at a stalemate. Things have calmed down. The police are bringing water to the people outside, but not to those inside.
22:37 FBR Biljana Diković on location: A couple of minutes ago a two-doctor medical team entered the monastery. I must remind you that two elderly nuns are heart patients. The faithful are still at the monastery gate…
22:36 SRBI NA OKUP: Latest news. The priests are leaving in little groups of 4 or 5. They are escorted by the police all the way to their cars. The faithful are giving them the send-off they deserve.
22:50 SRBI NA OKUP: Hrizostom ordered the priests to come. He threatened them into coming. How humiliating…
22:23 SRBI NA OKUP Marko D.: Bishop Artemije sent a message: “It is sweet to suffer for the Lord.”
22:40 SRBI NA OKUP: First he sends his army of priests, and then he arrives at ten o’clock in the evening, by dark, so that nobody can see him. The people who attempt to stop his car end up in a black Maria. A bishop who arrests his people, threatens and abuses them… Can that be called a bishop? He is nothing but a caricature of one.
22:42 FBR Biljana Diković on location: Two men who were arrested are Ivan Dejović of Užice and Miloje Stevanović of Čačak.
22:30 FBR Biljana Diković on location: The priests are leaving. Hrizostom has arrived. His arrival was marked by the arrest of Miloje Stevanović who stood in front of the car in which he was traveling. Together with brother Miloje another lay brother was arrested. He is known for frequently helping the monastery and was actually at prayers in the refectory with the others… A priest who was trying to throw him out kicked him in the head! By the way, the police was ordered to confiscate cell phones and cameras. They erased photos and pictures taken by the faithful. Then they returned the phones and cameras to their owners. The faithful are shouting at priests: Heretics! Papists! Thieves!... At the police they shout: Whom are you defending? What are you going to tell your children?
By the way, Mother Jelena was about 10 when she first came to the monastery. The spiritual father of the monastery used to be Father Sava who is buried in the monastery’s cemetery. Father Sava had an enormous number of spiritual children who visit his grave and help around the monastery.
22:27 SRBI NA OKUP: Latest news: Miloje Stevanović and Nebojša were arrested a couple of minutes ago. “Bishop” Hrizostom has arrived at Ascension Monastery!
22:23 SRBI NA OKUP Marko D. Miloje arrested, Hrizostom arrives, the police swears at and hustles people!!!
22:16 SRBI NA OKUP: According to the latest information, only “priests” and our beloved nuns are still inside the monastery. A policeman told us that at the moment there are over 100 priests and they were told that more are coming. These priests are now with our nuns. Who can tell what the priests are doing to them. Lord, we pray to Thee to keep close to our nuns so that they may endure this test to the end. The faithful are still at the monastery gate.
22:16 FBR Biljana Diković on location: The police have arrested our brother Miloje from Čačak. People reacted. There are indications that a couple more were arrested. There are moments when the policemen use force and the faithful shout at them: Don’t beat them! Even the Albanian police didn’t do that in Duboki Potok!! The police have linked arms to make a chain round the black Maria where the arrested people are to prevent the faithful to get to them…
21:59 SRBI NA OKUP: All the roads leading to the monastery have been closed. If only this force had been used in Kosovo and Metohija to defend the Serbs and our holy land… If only our priests had as much zeal for their faith as they have for maltreating the faithful and the monastics. I wonder whether that priest who has just hit a kneeling man at his prayers will serve at Liturgy tomorrow. All this goes to show bow deeply mired in wickedness the clergy of the Diocese of Žiča is. May God recall them to their senses.
DOVDE21:53 Face book SRBI NA OKUP: LATEST NEWS FROM ASCENSION MONASTERY: The priests and the police have thrown all the faithful out of the monastery, dragging them, carrying them and beating them. The nuns were maltreated; one was dragged by her hair. The faithful prayed and cried. All cell phones were confiscated and examined; people were searched. At the moment, there are people outside the monastery and a line of policemen between them and the monastery gate. All the cars which had been parked in monastery yard were pushed out. The nuns are still inside and so are the priests. There are about 50 priests inside or, as some information suggests, many more.
 Translator’s Note: Srbi na okup! [All Serbs Rally Together!] is a citizens’ association founded last year by supporters of Bishop Artemije
 TN: Miloje Stevanović, known as Grešni Miloje [Miloje the Sinner], a prominent businessman from Čačak, wnd nuns who followed their spiritual father, Bishop Artemije, into exile.
 TN: Fr. Slobodan Ilić, formerly priest in the Diocese of Žiča, after his retirement joined Bishop Atemije
This is being re-distributed among us at this time. Before all the union talk started, Fr. Joseph Sunderland was originally the Rocor priest of the New Martyr's parish in Mulino, Oregon. He has since taken refuge in the Rtoc. -jh
As a delegate at the Sobor, I would preface this by pointing out that as the resolution was presented and voted on, delegates had no real chance to reflect on it deeply - obviously this was part of the unionists' tactics - Archimandrite Alexis
Some Thoughts on the Resolution of the IVth All-Diaspora Council of the ROCOR
The Resolution of the IVth All-Diaspora Council of the ROCOR regarding its submission to the Moscow Patriarchate reads as a true Soviet document, filled with double-speak and outright untruths. The first paragraph, which begins as a typical boilerplate ecclesiastical statement, quickly betrays its Soviet basis when it confesses “complete trust” in the First Hierarch, Metropolitan Laurus. Those in the ROCOR who oppose submission to the soviet church must have qualms when they recall, among other things, how he and his delegation remained obediently respectful and silent as Patriarch Alexey served a panyhida for Met. Sergius and launched into a panegyric about the heroic struggle Met. Sergius gave to “save” the Russian Church. The ROCOR apologists of soviet submission claim the delegation’s physical absence from the service excuses their silence, but how do they excuse their failure to at least repeat the classic objections of their forebears, particularly to how he “saved” the Russian Church? The soviet patriarch certainly knew that by timing this panyhida, he forced them to betray the truth by their silence.
Worse yet, the first paragraph slyly compels all delegates to “attest that as loyal children of the Holy Church, we shall submit to Divine will and obey the decisions of the forthcoming Council of Bishops.” Any delegate who subsequently leaves the ROCOR, finding the Council of Bishops submits to the soviet church, forswears himself as an oath-breaker, which is a grievous sin, for the meaning of “attest” is “to certify by oath or signature” (Webster’s New World Dictionary). And further, he will proclaim himself opposed to the “Divine will.”
In typical soviet fashion, the Resolution in the second paragraph redefines the word “unanimous” to mean 129 votes for, 6 against (Day 4 of the IV All-Diaspora Council,http://russianorthodoxchurch.ws/synod/eng2006/5ensoborday6.html). While a subsequent posting of the Vote Tallying Committee makes clear that the voting took place paragraph by paragraph and the first two paragraphs passed without dissent, nevertheless the Resolution itself insinuates that the whole resolution passed unanimously (without dissent). The customary procedure for indicating unanimous consent to a resolution is to state this after the text of the resolution. Quite simply, until the vote is taken, no one except a soviet, can know that the outcome will be unanimous—and then it is too late to change the voted text to include this fact.
The second paragraph continues in what has become standard soviet-speak for the ROCOR when it expresses “resoluteness to heal the wounds of division within the Russian Church—between her parts in the Fatherland and abroad,” referring to the MP as the part in the Fatherland. Had they left the clause after the hyphen out, it would have reflected the traditional stand of the ROCOR through the first seventy years of Her existence. But beginning in the 1990’s and especially after the October, 2000 Sobor, the conscious attempt to redefine Stalin’s creation of the Moscow Patriarchate as the Russian Church in Russia became ubiquitous. The opponents to soviet submission place great hope on the next sentence, “Our Paschal joy is joined by the great hope that in the appropriate time, the unity of the Russian Church will be restored upon the foundation of the Truth of Christ, opening for us the possibility to serve together and to commune from one Chalice.” Unfortunately, the pro-soviet bishops and leaders of the ROCOR have defined “in the appropriate time” to be now. Furthermore, the IV Council members just agreed unconditionally to establish “communion from one Chalice” with the soviet church. Long gone are the historical conditions and requirements made by previous Councils of Bishops of the ROCOR.
The opponents of soviet submission also appear quite pleased that the Resolution states, “it is necessary to confirm the canonical status of the Russian Church Abroad for the future as a self-governing part of the Local Russian Church, in accordance with the Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia currently in force.” Unfortunately, they appear not to have read the Regulations of the ROCOR currently in force. These state in the first paragraph, “The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad is an indissoluble part of the Russian Orthodox Church, and for the time until the extermination in Russia of the atheist government, is self-governing on conciliar principles in accordance with the Resolution of the Patriarch, the Most Holy Synod, and the Highest Church Council of the Russian Church dated 7/20 November, 1920, No. 362.” Not only have the pro-soviet leaders of the ROCOR redefined the meaning in this paragraph of the Russian Orthodox Church to mean the Moscow Patriarchate, but they have already declared for many years now the “extermination in Russia of the atheist government.” Thus, the Regulations currently in force not only permit, but now require the submission of the ROCOR to the MP.
The fourth paragraph restates once again the redefinition of the Russian Orthodox Church as the “Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate,” thereby further reinforcing the meaning in paragraph two of “her parts in the Fatherland and abroad,” and indeed throughout the whole document. Then, the paragraph contains the classic soviet and ecumenispeak phrase, “it is apparent that the participation of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in the World Council of Churches evokes confusion among our clergy and flock.” There is no confusion evoked among the Orthodox about participation in the World Council of Churches. There is only confusion among those who attempt to justify it as being Orthodox. The plea following this statement, “With heartfelt pain we ask the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate to heed the plea of our flock to expediently remove this temptation” is unworthy of an Orthodox declaration. It is the plea of the slave begging the master to stop his abuse, and it already has received from the soviet church the contempt it deserves. The proposed union yokes unequal parties. It is a well known axiom of world power politics that the greater and stronger devour the smaller and weaker. The ROCOR in its pell-mell drive to submit to the soviets has embraced this worldly spirit. It can expect the soviets now to concede nothing, since the ROCOR’s committee on union already conceded every historical condition to the MP.
The fifth paragraph proclaims total submission to the soviet church and desire for union. It states, “We hope that the forthcoming Local Council of One Russian Church will settle remaining unresolved church problems.” Aside from admitting the negotiations over the last six years yielded little for the ROCOR, this astounding paragraph yearns for precisely what the objectors claim cannot be. The only way there can be a “Local Council of One Russian Church” is for the ROCOR to cease to exist. No doubt, the authors of this statement remember that the ROCOR traditionally called for the judgment of a future All-Russian Council to sort out the mess of the soviet era and justify the righteous and condemn the unrighteous. But the Council called for in this statement will be different, for there will be no condemnation of the soviets, and since the ROCOR has already submitted, what is there left to sort out? Except perhaps how to dismember the rump ROCOR, which the soviet masters promised them? Perhaps the ROCOR would have done well to look at the experience of the OCA, which the MP promised to give the patriarchal churches at autocephaly. The MP now has more churches in North America, organized into a diocese, than it did in 1970. As for those who think this Council is far in the future, “forthcoming” should tell them it is already upon them.
The sixth paragraph contains one of the most flagrant falsehoods in the document. It states the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia were “glorified both by the Russian Church Abroad and by the Russian Church in the Fatherland,” which is untrue. Certainly, the MP – now explicitly identified as “the Russian Church in the Fatherland” – glorified selected New Martyrs, but they rejected glorifying those who fought sergianism (particularly St. Joseph of Petersburg) and insisted on glorifying sergianist martyrs as if they were exactly the same as those who opposed the soviets. To equate these glorifications is to deny the ROCOR’s glorification in 1981, which of course the soviet church rejects, if they mention it at all. This statement also, finally and completely, sweeps away any memory of the Catacomb Church in Russia, before whose struggles the ROCOR as late as the time of Metropolitan Vitaly proclaimed to bow down. Nor does it acknowledge the existence of the other Russian Orthodox hierarchies opposed to the MP undergoing persecution to this day. If indeed there is an “abyss of the lethal division in the Russian Church,” this Resolution and the submission of the ROCOR to the soviets will do little to heal it.
The last paragraph concludes in typical soviet fashion, for we now learn of the “renascent Homeland” in Russia. First, what of the non-Russians for whom the ROCOR has provided a spiritual home? Russia is not their Homeland, any more than it is for third and fourth generation descendants of the Russians who fled the communists. This is reminiscent of Patriarch Alexey I demanding an oath of allegiance to the Soviet State from the clergy of the North American Metropolia in 1947, which they refused. Will the ROCOR be so bold? Or perhaps, Russianness is now more important than Orthodoxy, as Patriarch Alexey II warned when he stated that the ROCOR is losing its Russianness and its opportunity to submit. Furthermore, if there was any question about the intent to remove the condition in the Regulations of the ROCOR for self-governance until “the extermination in Russia of the atheist government,” this phrase can leave no doubt that the time is now. Indeed, having proclaimed the rebirth (renascence) of [Holy] Russia, the ROCOR has abrogated its own basis. To remain separate now, under this thinking, is to be schismatic from the Mother Church. And in fact, this is precisely what the MP has said of the ROCOR all along. Following this line of reasoning, one must ask why the ROCOR didn’t unite after World War II? That is when it became possible to resume contact with the MP in Moscow. This is the underlying condition of Ukaz No. 362. Even the most ardent pro-soviet adherents of the ROCOR can’t agree with this thought. To do so, they must proclaim themselves graceless schismatics. Which of course, they proclaim those who disagree with and break from them.
Anyone hoping that the ROCOR will remain true to Her historic mission must lament the IVth All-Diaspora Council buried even the memory of that mission. This Resolution points the new face of the ROCOR forward into the maw of the soviet church against which She stood for decades.
Archpriest Joseph Sunderland
Sunday of the Paralytic
1/14 May 2006
An Open Letter from the Parish Council
of the Holy Ascension Russian Orthodox Church
to the God-loving Flock of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
At the IVth All-Diaspora Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) held in San Francisco, USA, in 2006, a large number of the assembled delegates, which included three of our parishioners, expressed the opinion that the issues of ecumenism and sergianism, which had hindered union with the Moscow Patriarchia (MP), had not been resolved and that unification of the two churches was premature. The first draft of the Council’s Resolution proposed immediate Eucharistic and administrative union with the Moscow Patriarchia. That Resolution was voted down (and all copies of the draft were confiscated by the Council leadership). The concluding Resolution approved by all the delegates, did call for union, but clearly stated that it will occur at “the appropriate time, [and] the unity of the Russian Church will be restored upon the foundation of the Truth of Christ.” That Resolution also said that the MP should be informed of our concerns about its participation in the ecumenical movement.
Less than four months after the Council decision, a small group in the Synod of Bishops of the Church Abroad headed by Metropolitan Laurus decided not to heed the voice of the delegates, who represented the entire spectrum of opinion within the diaspora, and began the process which concluded on May 17, 2007, with the signing of the Act of Eucharistic Communion between the Russian Church Abroad and the Moscow Patriarchia. The fifth anniversary of the signing of the Act is upon us, and to our great sorrow, the preceding years have demonstrated that the concerns of the delegates were completely justified.
The Moscow Patriarchia has in no way curtailed its participation in the ecumenical movement in the past five years, and not only continues to be a member of the World Council of Churches, but plays a leading role in that organization. Representatives of the MP and ROCOR (MP) along with other churches regularly participate in joint prayer services with the heterodox, including serving, for example, in Roman Catholic churches. Representatives of ROCOR (MP) now play an active role in the ecumenical movement and have become members of various ecumenical organizations and are normalizing relations not with churches that uphold traditional Orthodoxy, but with churches that are deeply involved in the ecumenical movement. Recently, ROCOR (MP) announced that all the differences between it and the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) have been resolved and allowed its clergy to begin serving with OCA clergy, without any mention of the most important difference that the OCA adopted the New Calendar many years ago or the many other modernist innovations and divergences between them. It is unimaginable to think that the founding First Hierarchs of the Church Abroad would agree to such deviations from traditional Orthodoxy. This gives credence to the claim that instead of defending Orthodoxy as the true faith, given to us by the Holy Fathers, ROCOR (MP) is infected with the spirit of modernism and is leading its flock on a new and risky path.
The Moscow Patriarchia not only remains committed to the basic principles of sergianism, but under the leadership of Patriarch Kirill has become a de facto governmental body of the Russian Federation and is involved deeply in the domestic and foreign policies of the regime. The words spoken by Metropolitan Sergey (Stragorodsky), “your joys are our joys” remain the guiding principle of the Moscow Patriarchia. Instead of devoting itself to the healing of the Russian people and creating a normal, decent life in the country, the Russian government and the MP assist each other in the plundering of the country’s treasures and imposing their control over the population. The MP is similarly engaged in the looting of sacred possessions of other jurisdictions.
At the many meetings with the heterodox the MP speaks of the Christian command to love one another and of mutual understanding, while at home it employs severe measures against all religious groups which do not submit to them. These measures remind one of the darkest hours of the Soviet Union. With the help of local authorities, MP representatives persecute our parishes in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) through legal actions, threats of physical violence, setting fire to churches or confiscating them, and threatening to have clergy and laypeople who do not give in to this pressure to lose their jobs. The MP also persecutes and punishes its own bishops and priests who voice their opinion and call upon the MP administration to atone for the past and to return to a traditional Orthodoxy. Sadly, when the MP decided to censure Bishop Diomid of Chukotka for criticizing the Patriarch’s sergianist and ecumenist practices, several ROCOR(MP) bishops voted for censure and Metropolitan Hilarion abstained. Not one ROCOR (MP) bishop stood up for the principles that defined the Church Abroad. By such actions, ROCOR (MP) condones these decisions and measures by its silence. Throughout its entire history, the Church Abroad defended the rights of true believers in Russia. Much to our dismay, having become members of the ruling elite, the episcopate of ROCOR (MP) has forgotten its sacred duty.
We turn with love in our hearts and hope to our dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the clergy and laypeople of ROCOR (MP), to take stock and stop disregarding our spiritual inheritance, the instruction of our dear First Hierarchs and the concerns of the IVth Council delegates. The divergences that have occurred in the past five years are only the beginning. Judging by what has already taken place and the words of representatives of the MP and ROCOR (MP), there will be even more profound changes in the near future. Things will look the same on the outside, but the ecclesiology will change so profoundly that soon we will not recognize the Church Abroad in the church of Metropolitan Hilarion. Please return to the church that is based on and lives by the principles and values set down by our founding hierarchs. Let us continue together on the Royal Path that was charted by them and the sacrifices made by so many that came before us. Please hear our anguished cry and together let us heal the divisions that have come between us.
Holy Ascension Russian Orthodox Church
May 27, 2012
Sermon on the Rocor-MP union
Rocana News Update this week includes Fr. Andrei's sermon and the two recent Synod Epistles with this introduction:
There is a great deal to read in this week's update. We pass along two Epistles from our Synod of Bishops: the first on Sergianism and the second marking the fifth anniversary of the disastrous union between the MP and the ROCOR Synod. We also forward here the instructive analysis by Father Andrei Erastov on the union. There is much to chew on in these materials. Father Andrei makes the key point that the ROCOR Synod decision to unite with the MP was taken by the hierarchs against the intense opposition of many clergy and laity. In other words, it was taken in opposition to the Orthodox principle of Sobornost. As Father Andrei puts it: "Bishops should act in the Church not as dictators. When they make a decree, they should listen to the mystical voice of the Church, if it accepts or rejects this decree."
The statement by the Synod on Sergianism and Father Andrei make the important observation that the MP's servility before the Kremlin and the addiction of its most senior clerics to a life of luxury is fueling anti-Orthodox sentiment in Russia. To this we might add that the proponents of union in ROCOR before and at the Fourth All Diaspora Sobor in San Francisco argued that by joining with the MP, ROCOR would help move it in the right direction regarding Sergianism and ecumenism. But what happened instead is that ROCOR-MP bishops have joined the MP in practicing both. For instance, ROCOR-MP Bishop Michael recently attended services with Roman Catholic bishops. And when the MP voted to censure Chukotka Bishop Diomede for criticizing the MP's Sergianist and ecumenist practices, the ROCOR-MP Bishops did not support Bishop Diomede. Metropolitan Hilarion abstained and the other ROCOR-MP Bishops voted for censure.
Father Andrei Erastov, a monk in Jordanville prior to the ROCOR-MP Union is now a ROCA monk priest in Australia. He wrote the following thoughtful commentary on the ROCOR-MP Union:
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Brothers and sisters, the union of ROCOR with MP was signed 5 years ago and now both in Moscow and in New York they celebrate this anniversary. It is appropriate for us also to call to remembrance this event, which they celebrate as joyful, but we regard as a disaster.
Bishops are given authority in the Church to teach and to rule. However when a bishop teaches, he conveys not his own ideas, but the teaching of Christ, the Gospel. Otherwise the congregation would not listen to that bishop and accuse him of heresy.
Likewise, when bishops direct, they do not impose on the Church their own will. The Church is directed by the Holy Spirit and not by humans. Bishops are the instrument, through which the Holy Spirit exercises His administration, as the Apostles say in the resolution of their council, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles: “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us..” (Acts 15).
One could say: “They were Apostles, and they were able to directly recognize what seemed good to the Holy Spirit, but how can our bishops, ordinary people, know this?” – They cannot. That’s why they have to act with fear and trembling, so as not to establish something against God’s will, so as not to appear “resisting the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7).
Bishops should act in the Church not as dictators. When they make a decree, they should listen to the mystical voice of the Church, if it accepts or rejects this decree. The defender of truth in the Church is the whole of the Church congregation.
The Church is the Body of Christ, the Divine-human organism; it is not a worldly corporation, whose managers can direct as they like. Such an attitude with regard to the Church is blasphemous.
When the bishops offered the Church the idea of the Union they hadn’t yet sinned; their sin was that they pushed their wish through, in spite of the apparent resistance of the Church.
The process of the unification took several years, during which it became evident that the Church didn’t accept this idea. Was the Union right or wrong? - Let us not forget that the final answer for this question does not depend on logical arguments. The final answer belongs only to the Church. The answer was: No.
Nevertheless, the bishops didn’t change their mind, but instead they started to force the Union through, using hypocrisy, demagogy and intrigue. The Union was organized by people who imagined that they have authority over the Church and they can do with it whatever they want. They imagined that they are the Church. Their sin was that they decided that they can direct the Church as they wish, as if it were a worldly corporation. It was the sin of unbelief in the Church, the sin of Sergianism.
Throughout the several years before the Union it was obvious for any impartial observer, that the final decision had been already made, that it had been made behind the doors by a certain group, - not by the Synod or the Council of bishops, but by an influential clique. It was obvious that the so called “unification process” was only a farce; the decision had already been made, anyway.
The Church was forced into the Union, but the Church is free and cannot be forced into anything. The proof of this is the fact that everywhere, in all dioceses, in all parishes, there are the faithful who resist the Union. They call us schismatics, but in fact this division is a healthy immune reaction of the Church organism to the untruth introduced in the Church; this division is the evidence that the Church is alive and free.
The Church didn’t accept the Union. They went their way, but the Church didn’t follow them. The Church is not where the majority is. In the time of ancient heresies, sometimes only a few remained Orthodox and the great majority joined the heresy. But after some time Orthodoxy triumphed. It will be likewise now as well. The untruth of the Union with Sergianism will be exposed for all.
They demagogically justified the Union by love of Russia and the Russian people, while in reality the Union with Moscow was treason of the Russian people, it was a union with its oppressors. Russia is enslaved by ungodly, criminal authorities; the Russian Church is enslaved by serganists. In such a situation the independent, truthful voice of the ROCOR was precious for Russia. This voice was heard in Russia even behind the Iron Curtain, and especially after the fall of communism.
After the Union ROCOR totally lost its spiritual freedom and as a result lost all its significance and influence, and became just one of the dioceses of MP. Thus, who profited by the Union? – Those, whom the free voice of ROCOR disturbed: Russian civil and church authorities.
We believe, that one day the Russian Church will become free from Sergianism, and then, not from us, whom they name schismatics, but from the Church in Russia they will hear condemnation of their treason.
They say that nothing has changed in the ROCOR after the Union. In reality only daily routine has stayed mostly the same. Most sadly, as a result of the Union they themselves changed. The longer one goes on the wrong way, the more he moves away from the goal. Five years they have been moving in the wrong direction, and they have gone quite far away.
Who would have believed 5 years ago that a bishop of ROCOR would take part in an ecumenical conference, would recognize Roman-Catholicism as a sister-church, as was the case recently; a previously deposed bishop, who has entered into a same-sex union with a male was appointed as a rector of a parish by the Synod in New York. These and similar facts show that their spiritual perception has obscured.
For us the fifth anniversary of the Union is an important milestone. We will now serve a thanksgiving moleben. We give thanks to the Lord, that He didn’t abandon His Church, that He gave Vladyka Agafangel wisdom and strength to lead the Church on the royal path, not deviating to the right or to the left.
from Joanna's note pad
Regarding this part of our Synod's May 10/23 epistle:
... If the Moscow Patriarchate, and with it the former members of the diaspora, now seriously consider themselves to be persecuted and serve molebens for the cessation of persecution of them, we continue to call ourselves a free Church and continually thank God for this freedom. Our former brethren, united by the Synod headed by Metropolitan Hilarion, are now so constrained that it even extends to the inability to achieve what they have declared for five years - to announce the end of the five-year plan of "non-commemoration" and forbid some of their brothers to not commemorate the name of the MP Primate Patriarch Kyrill during services. They understand that this threatens yet another split. It seems that even five years were not enough for some to come to terms with the fact that Patriarch Kyrill is now their primate. It turns out to be yet another deception on the part of the hierarchy: May 17 has passed, the five-year plan has not been completed and has been extended for an indefinite period, until the fruit of the lies does not finally ripen ...
I think that last phrase: does not finally ripen is meant to read: finally ripens. Often negatives get reversed in Russian translations. A famous mistranslation was when the Greeks gave the Russians the recipe for prosphora, the Russians read "salt" as "no salt".
Somewhere it was suggested that the real reason RocorMP Met. Hilarion is not returning to the USA is because the 5-year plan can't yet be celebrated in full.
That there are still parishes which are "non-commemorators" is news to me. I know that two years ago the parish in Nyack was not commemorating, but I've heard nothing else in the past two years from anywhere. Why have we heard so little from the non-commemorators?
I can think of two reasons:
1. the "Forgotten Ones"
2. a certain characteristic "world-orthodox mentality"
The "Forgotten Ones" were mentioned to me two years ago by a Nyack parishioner:
"... you never hear about those who are hurting the most. Those are the people that are left behind because they are too old, or caught in circumstances that prevent them from following there hearts ..."
These are our people who are trapped and suffering. They share a similar parallel circumstance as those who could not leave the Soviet Union with the Rocor. They probably are isolated without internet. Bishop Daniel in Erie was one in a helpless situation who was forced against his will. We don't want to forget these people especially in our prayers.
The "world-orthodox mentality" is pitiful in a different way. It's just plain apostasy. It is described by a member of the Roac in a Euphrosynos Cafe post. We see world orthodoxy pretty much the same as the super-correct do. And I saw this very mentality up close in the OCA.
by Mark Templet » Tue 15 May 2012 3:30 pm
I have noticed a theme running through the many clergyman and numerous laymen of the World Orthodox jurisdictions that I have come into contact with and spoken to about True Orthodoxy. The attitude is what I call the “wacky bishops” viewpoint. The way it works is that they justify themselves and their own spirituality as being somehow separate from these “wacky bishops” who are engaging in ecumenism and so forth. They see this is as somehow only mildly untoward and at most only the personal sin of the hierarchs who engage in it. They believe that this is just something that you put up with in organized religion and that what really matters is what is going on in their parishes. These priests say things such as, “Well, I am not happy with what our bishops are doing with ecumenism, but what can you do? All I can do is look after my parishioners and say my prayers.” This attitude makes the bishops sound as though they are a million miles away from what actually happens in their parishes. This attitude is based on the mindset that because they themselves have not engaged in such behaviors that they are somehow insulated from their affects.
How sad is it to be embarrassed by your own bishops! What do you tell your people when they come to you and ask about these things? “Oh that’s just those wacky bishops, what are you gonna do with them. Just keep saying your prayers and don’t worry about it.” Then the priest proceeds to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on an Antimension with that wacky bishop’s name on it, and everyone states before God during the service that this wacky bishop “rightly divides the word of truth.” I often wonder to myself, what these wacky bishops would need to do before these people would think that they crossed the line!
How utterly fortunate we are, how privileged, how favored, how blessed we are to have Bishops we can love and trust!
EPISTLE OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS
TO THE GOD-LOVING FLOCK
OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH ABROAD
ON THE SUBJECT OF "SERGIANISM."
Christ is Risen!
Reverend fathers and brethren in Christ! We, the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, having gathered in the Theophany Monastery of the St. Petersburg Diocese, welcome our flock in the name of Christ and address you with the following words of exhortation. These joyful days after Pascha are overshadowed by the fifth anniversary of the tragic event of the ratification of the union of the New York Synod with the Moscow Patriarchate. We strongly reject this union and we reaffirm our commitment to the historical path of the Church Abroad, which has always condemned and rejected the concept and ideology of "sergianism."
Historically, "sergianism" marks a complete system of relations in which the church hierarchy cooperates with a godless or openly atheistic power, not only for their own survival, but also for material, worldly benefits. Such a course of action taken by Met. Sergius, and with him all the episcopate and senior clergy of the MP, was always disguised since the Declaration of 1927 as an attempt to preserve the dogmatic and liturgical heritage of the Church, but was never expressed in clear dogmatic or canonical terms, remaining always a manifestation of "church politics." However, this policy of making such an agreement affects the Christian way of life at its very foundation. It is in this sense, that the Confessors of Russia and authoritative fathers and teachers of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad understood the phenomenon of "sergianism". We consider it necessary once again to remind our flock and those Orthodox who are trying to understand the unfortunate divisions in the Russian Church, how we understand the term "sergianism" and that we reject it.
a) We reject the idea that the current Moscow Patriarchia is supposedly the only legitimate heir of the historic Russian Orthodox Church, "the Mother Church," because this organizational structure was created in stages from 1927, then in 1943 in close cooperation and collaboration with the openly godless power through the brutal repression of all who disagreed with such an unnatural union of church and state.
b) We reject all the so-called Patriarchs of Moscow: Sergey, Aleksy I, Pimen, Aleksy II and Kirill who are (according to their own statements) the only legitimate heads of the ROC, through which the only way supposedly that the ROC relationship with the Universal Church is maintained.
c) We reject the thesis that, "whoever is not with the Patriarch, is outside the church," as a vivid manifestation of patriarchal papacy.
d) We reject the very premise of cooperation of Christians and especially priests with any representatives of any godless secular power, when the latter try to impose their political beliefs on the Church, as well as the admissibility of bearing false witness in favor of such a power and betraying one’s brothers in faith for the sake of pleasing it, no matter how this policy is excused by overblown words about the "special wisdom of Met. Sergius".
e) We remind all that the "special wisdom" of historic "sergianism" was etched in history by the blood of the confessors, betrayed in the 1930's, and then after the Second World War, during the so-called repatriation of immigrants at different times. The "white lie" as a principle is rejected by us, not only in itself as a sin, but as the sin of the real betrayal of the victims who met their deaths – new martyrs, confessors and other innocent victims of communist repression.
The political regimes of the former Soviet Union have mutated since the 1990's and are no longer openly godless and have begun to seek religious support and religious cover. The historic "sergianism" of Soviet times cannot manifest itself in the old forms of church policy under such conditions. But "sergianism" itself has mutated. Similarly, we cannot accept the symphony of church-state relations of the official church and the secular government that has developed over the past 20 years, for the following reasons:
a) Historical "sergianism" of the Soviet era, as exhibited in all of the foreign and domestic policies of the MP, is being whitewashed and justified fully and unconditionally in the MP’s church school of today and in the publications of the MP, while convicting completely all those who do not agree with "sergianist" policies and with attempts to make well-known historical figures out to be "sergianists", but who never were. Raised on such historical lessons, the clergy and laity create particular conditions for the formation of church-state relations based on distortions of the Christian viewpoint on this subject that are already built into the foundation. These distortions already constitute a certain sort of "sacred tradition" of the MP and have the authority of the general church behind it, despite its contradiction in regard to the Tradition of the universal Christian Church and the Gospel itself.
b) The consequences of the education of such values, such as the loss of the spiritual freedom of the Church and material independence, are realized by very few in the Moscow Patriarchia, though another value was generally affirmed, that of "for the good of the Church." This includes the material well-being and privileged status of the senior clergy, personally and in a corporate sense, and for which the church's blessing have been sold (on the basis of for everything and for all), as well as the issuing of church awards to just about any powerful political and financial leader, which inflicts great damage to the authority of the Church.
c) The pervasive secularization of the upper echelon of the hierarchy in the "neo-sergianist tradition" is perceived as a kind of necessity while covering up basic human greed, again, whether personal or corporate. The seizure of ROCOR property abroad has clearly shown the substitution of sinful greed for spiritual values in the MP. In the countries of the CIS, where the distribution of public revenues differs sharply, and social injustice and corruption reach the level of national disaster, a life of luxury is a sin and a heavy temptation for most people.
d) As a result of such an Orthodoxy, the faith is rapidly losing credibility in the community. Anti-Christian forces are increasingly becoming more prominent. This is clearly demonstrated by a series of programs on Russian television, articles in the press and on the Internet.
e) On the other hand there is the introduction of temptation resulting from the constant training of false pastors by the MP and resistance brought about by the secularization introduced by sectarian beliefs. The low credibility of the secularized hierarchy is usurped by false elders and spiritual fathers with their unauthorized teachings and the suppression of individual followers.
Rejecting the church structure of the neo-sergianist policy of the MP, we are aware that in terms of personal freedom, this anti-evangelic system has not consumed all the clergy and especially the laity of the MP. Part of this church body, in the best of its ability and understanding, tries to resist this secularization and the shaming of the church, but with limited success.
In such circumstances, we aver that our independent church status is justified by God in as much as we need to reveal a fundamentally different type of ministry and relationship with society and the state, an example of which was shown to us by the founding fathers of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, who preserved the evangelic spirit and bore the Orthodox witness before the heterodox world and thus preserved the freedom of their Church.
One of the most authoritative teachers of the Church wrote about the principle of the construction of the Church: "The main thing is unity, then secondly, freedom, and in all things - love." We the bishops of ROCA are united as one in the categorical condemnation and rejection of "sergianism." The forms of this judgment may be different, and here there is allowed a certain freedom of opinion. Without such freedom there is no Christian love, and without love there is no True Church. "Sergianism" sinned against Christ’s Truth and against the truth of Christ's Love as well. Therefore, while rejecting "sergianism," we must also save brotherly love as a Truth. This royal path which the Church Abroad has always trod is not a slippery slope of compromise, but the narrow path of following Christ and emulating Him. We call upon our God-loving flock to also follow this path.
Chairman of the Synod
Members of the Council:
The following is a summary of Abp. Andronik's video address to the ROCA Synod of Bishops, which was meeting on May 22-25 at the Holy Theophany Monastery of Abp. Sofroniy near St. Petersburg:
The matter of issuing an anathema against sergianism will be discussed at the Synod meeting and I would like to add my personal opinion that I believe it is time for us to take that step. The hierarchs, bishops and clergy that came before us held back from this decision because they still had hope that the Moscow church would renounce sergianism and active involvement in ecumenism. That hope is no longer possible. Patriarch Kirill and his like-minded subordinates are completely given in to sergianism and ecumenism and the time has come for us to make a more final determination of these issues.
The presence of sodomites among the bishops and priests is also very troubling and shameful. It is clear that we cannot have anything to do with churches that allow this to exist, let alone serve with such clergy.
The level of corruption within the MP is also very disturbing. It is run more like a business than a church. Our Savior said it clearly that man cannot serve God and mammon. How can one expect Grace from such a degraded church? One cannot expect repentance either. Sadly, such thoughts would not even enter the consciousness of the MP hierarchy, they would not even understand what the controversy is.
Given these circumstances, a statement is necessary at this point and if it is decided to issue an anathema, I support it.
Thank you D.G. for this summary
Epistle of the ROCA Synod of Bishops
to its God-loving Flock
Dear brothers and sisters!
Five years have passed since the time, when an attempt was made to destroy the Russian Church Abroad. This is ample time to make a final determination of what has transpired. But first one would like to ask: are those who joined the so-called Moscow Patriarchia aware that they lost one of the most precious gifts which the Lord gave His church - the gift of freedom? That freedom, without which there is no life in Christ? Freedom, in which the relationship between God and man is stripped of any foreign "intermediaries" as necessitated by commitments to the strong of this world?
The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad has always called itself a free part of the Russian Church. This is what our church remains to this day. We are truly free from dependence on political manipulation, illegal business, superfluous property and the continuous need to lie.
If the Moscow Patriarchate, and with it the former members of the diaspora, now seriously consider themselves to be persecuted and serve molebens for the cessation of persecution of them, we continue to call ourselves a free Church and continually thank God for this freedom. Our former brethren, united by the Synod headed by Metropolitan Hilarion, are now so constrained that it even extends to the inability to achieve what they have declared for five years - to announce the end of the five-year plan of "non-commemoration" and forbid some of their brothers to not commemorate the name of the MP Primate Patriarch Kyrill during services. They understand that this threatens yet another split. It seems that even five years were not enough for some to come to terms with the fact that Patriarch Kyrill is now their primate. It turns out to be yet another deception on the part of the hierarchy: May 17 has passed, the five-year plan has not been completed and has been extended for an indefinite period, until the fruit of the lies does not finally ripen [until the fruit of lies has ripened completely -V.D. alt. trans. ].
After five years since the day of the signing of the union, for us there is but one conclusion: we are completely certain that we have truly stayed with our fathers and did not break the thread of continuity through them to the historic Russian Church. At the same time it is obvious that those who joined the MP joined to everything which our fathers avoided, the reign of atheism in our homeland from which they guarded our Church all these years.
Since apostasy is now spreading around the world and Christian moral values are being denied right before our eyes even in leading European and American countries, the importance of Church Tradition takes on particular meaning. New, unavoidable mass persecutions of Christians are approaching and have even already begun quietly at the daily level: in some of the "civilized" countries one already cannot openly wear a cross, while the clergy cannot wear their clerical garb. Crucifixes have been removed from public institutions and prayer has been banned in schools. In the so-called developed countries, "sexual minorities" have more rights than other social groups, and their rights are more strongly protected than, say, the rights of Christians.
Children have long been raised not on the basis of Christian values, but on the basis of humanistic values and even the rights of animals are equal to the rights of people. But perhaps the most dangerous is the formation of what might be called "social Christianity" – established and closely intertwined with all other religions, but which is in fact a fraudulent form of true Christianity, and "social Orthodoxy," which is also inextricably intertwined with the world and is a fraudulent form of true Orthodoxy and of the true Church. It is obvious that in this new, truly terrible reality, Christians should not keep in step with the world, but should only remain faithful to Christ.
We, the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad appeal to anyone who may hear us and the words of Holy Scripture: "Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15-16).
Our path in life should not go lie with the world, with its ruinous illusory values, but to Christ, Who gives us salvation from the dying world and bestows eternal life. We continue to tread the narrow path, on either side of which there is perilous sectarianism and apostasy. May this be our way, commanded by the Lord, straight and true!
May 10\23, 2012
Apodosis of Pascha
Apostle Simon the Zealot
Chairman of the Synod
Members of the Synod:
for those unable to attend Services or understand Church Slavonic
Shared with us by Ilarion Marr
The Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke 24:36-53
36 they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and Ms feet.
41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?
42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of a honeycomb.
43 And he took it, and did eat before them.
44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures,
46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47 And that repentance and, remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
50 And he led them out as
far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
ACTS OF THE APOSTLES 1:1-12
1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey.
Troparion, Fourth Tone:
Thou hast ascended in glory, O Christ our God, having gladdened Thy disciples with the promise of the Holy Spirit; and they were assured by the blessing that Thou art the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world.
Kontakion, Sixth Tone:
When Thou didst fulfill Thy dispensation for our sake, uniting things on earth with the heavens, Thou didst ascend in glory, O Christ our God, departing not hence, but remaining inseparable from us, and crying unto them that love Thee: I am with you, and no one shall be against you.
Following is from the LAW OF GOD - compiled by Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy, Nyack New York, translated into English from Russian and published by Holy Trinity Monastery , Jordanville, NY 1996
The Ascension of the Lord
When the day of the Jewish Pentecost drew near, the disciples of Christ returned from Galilee to Jerusalem.
On the fortieth day after the resurrection of Jesus Christ they were iall together in one house. Jesus Christ appeared to them and spoke with them saying, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in My name they will i cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover."
Then the Saviour said to the disciples that soon the Holy Spirit would come upon them, and until that time He charged them not to depart from Jerusalem. He said, "I send the promise of My Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high; for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
Conversing with the disciples, the Saviour led them out of the city as far as Bethany, to the Mount of Olives. The disciples, overjoyed with the words of the Saviour, surrounded Him and started to ask, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?
The Saviour said to them, "It is not for you to know the times or seasons which the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth."
When He had said this, Jesus Christ lifted up His hands and i blessed His disciples. While He blessed them, He parted from them and He was lifted up to Heaven, and soon a cloud took Him out of their sight.
Thus our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ ascended in His physical body to Heaven and sat down at the right Hand of God the Father. His human soul and body took on the indivisible glory with His divinity. In His divinity, He always is and will be in Heaven and everywhere.
The disciples worshipped the ascended Lord and for a long time continued to stand and gaze into Heaven after Him. Then two angels in white robes appeared before them and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into Heaven? This Jesus, Who was taken up from you into Heaven, will come to earth in the same way (that is, in the flesh), as you saw Him go into heaven."
After this the disciples of Jesus Christ returned to Jerusalem with great joy and stayed there together, awaiting the descent of the Holy Spirit. All of them, together in soul, spent the time in prayer and were continually in the Temple of God, praising and thanking God. With them were several women and Mary, the Most-holy Mother of the Lord Jesus Christ, with their relatives.
In those days the apostles, prayerfully, by casting lots, chose from among the other disciples of Christ the twelfth apostle, Matthias, to take the place of Judas the betrayer, who perished.
Ascended to Heaven, Jesus Christ, according to His own promise, invisibly always comes to earth among those who believe in Him and will come again to earth in a visible form to judge the living and the dead, who will then rise from the dead. After this will begin the life of the next age, another, eternal life which for true believers and pious people will be completely blessed, but for disbelievers and sinners will be a time of great torment.
The Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ is celebrated by the Holy Orthodox Church as one of the Great Feasts, on the fortieth day after Pascha.