This Sunday we remember St. Anastasios and Daniel who was converted from Islam by St. Anastasios in the mid-1700's. Here is the first page of 4½-page chapter of the life of St. Anastasios that was found in a manuscript at the Athonite Skete of St. Anna.
The last paragraph on page 104 reads:
Elsewhere it is written that from Constantinople Daniel returned to Kerkyra and reposed in the Lord, after first building a church tot he Theotokos of the Myrtle Tree (as it is called to this day), where the account of the martyrdom of St. Anastasios and the vision of Daniel are to be found written in his own hand.
With the recent infiltration of Moslems in America [and everywhere!] we want to acquaint ourselves with the saints who have dealt with them before us. The Moslems might or might not actually cut off our heads, but already they are finding other ways to "cut out our tongues".
Order this successor to the out-of-print New Martyrs of the Turkish Yoke for your home library from St. John Krondstadt Press. $25 hardbound
He likes it!
other uses: mechanic, exterminator, spy, plumber, bomb squad, safecracker, handyman [find leaks], tune guitar,
Reader Daniel shares his thoughts on this news item:
General Informational Sharing: An old OCA monastic property, in Hiram, Ohio (south of Cleveland) is gifted to ROCOR/MP. and thus, to MP pat Kyrill!
Many years ago, I was an unpaid volunteer at this place, when it was a Metropolia old age home. Later that old age home effort there was eventually abandoned (by the incompetency of its director, 'Brother Ignatius' Sudnik),...and that rural farm property went through various church related uses, till it became a serious monastic brotherhood some years ago. NOW!...I read this astounding news: Its long time abbot, Alexander-Cutler, and one other monk priest, [both Americans], the last remaining members of a brotherhood which never prospered or grew, have virtually abandoned the place, & retired to a UOC-MP large women's monastery in UKRAINE, (!).......of all places to retire to!...for Americans! (who ,will be under, in their decrepid failing old age, the KGB agent 'patriarch', and dear, America Loving?, Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian gang?).
And this somewhat extensive rural property, south of Cleveland, Ohio, is being gifted to ROCOR/MP Hilarion-Kapral's West Virginian [overcrowed] Skete of The Holy Cross, for all of the explained reasons here below.
It is an old OCA church property [original owned by the 'Ohio Deanery' of the old Metropolia, after Ignatius Sudnik, who inherited it from his parents, back in the 1940's, was convinced to deed it over to them], which is being...now... GIVEN to the KGB-MP subservient ROCOR/MP, thus changing jurisdictional ownership and control, though...as it clearly is stated here, ...since both of those MP dependent churches recognize Pat. Kyrill and his MP, this change is not really a big matter after all, etc.
ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY! (?)
WHAT BLIND IGNORANCE of the facts of basic fundamental ORTHODOXY!... church canons, church history, especially Russian Church history during and after the Bolshevik revolution, etc., and of Sergianism, etc.
But what is most astounding to me, is that everyone mentioned in this, property hand-over, totally accepts as valid and canonically Orthodox, etc., the MP and its [KGB actor] false 'patriarch' and all of the past grantings by that Stalin created in 1943, MP-'Russian church' of, in 1970, 'Autocephaly' to the North American Russian Metropolia/'OCA', and then in 2007, its granting of 'Autonomy' to the Laverite betraying segment of the old ROCOR which submitted to Moscow.
And why didn't this OCA monastery not prosper and grow in all these long years? – [& why is the Met. Jonah founded, Manton, (a lavish expensive physical facility, which still must make monthly payments of about $5,000.00) ....California monastery also falling apart?] ,...and which has become a heavy financial burden on the OCA's Western American Diocese, to keep going. It cannot support itself anymore.
Because it was/is still, a false pretend monasticism, one bowed down to the spirit of this age, which is APOSTASY, which had lost its savour, its commitment to TRUTH, which is the very center of genuine Orthodox Christian monastic life.
Sergianism, modernism, progressivism, ecumenism....... these are what made this OCA monastery wither and die.
It became, the salt that has lost its savour.. .and is now fit for nothing.....
Now, this OCA property will be a extension of the ROCOR/MP's West Virginian Holy Cross Skete.
This leaves me, almost, speechless.
Orthodox rituals and prayers will be performed, – the appearance.... of Orthodoxy and of Orthodox monasticism, [just as does the MP], but...... is that all that God requires of us?
Is it really?
Can anyone fool God?, the God Who instantly reads our hearts, and Who knows before we even speak, what we will say...... and why..... we will say it.......
Rd. Daniel Everiss
from OCA website:
HIRAM, OH — In a written report issued the week after the annual Assembly of the Diocese of the Midwest on October 8, 2013, Archimandrite Alexander [Cutler] traces the transfer of the monastery to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
With Father Alexander’s recent retirement and relocation, together with Monk Daniel, to a monastery in Ukraine, concerns for ongoing monastic life at the monastery had been a high priority. The report explains the monastery’s new status and the intention of the brotherhood to continue to serve the faithful of northeastern Ohio and beyond.
ANNUAL REPORT OF ST. JOHN’S MONASTERY
TO THE 52nd ASSEMBLY OF THE DIOCESE OF THE MIDWEST
OCTOBER 8th, 2013 – LANSING, ILLINOIS
This is the Report on the Monastery of St. John the Theologian to the Diocesan Assembly of the Midwest for the year October 2nd, 2012 – August 31st, 2013
The report may be accessed here (PDF):
please cut & paste – url not activated on purpose
In the 2nd paragraph the report mentions that the Manton monastery disintegrated, but does not say why. Reader Daniel adds:
(here is not mentioned as to WHY? this mess befell the OCA Manton, northern Californian monastery, named after St. John Maximovitch (!), founded by Met. Jonah Paffhausen: in brief, about half of the brothers left in anger and disgust, and fled for refuge to the not far away, Serbian Platina, St. Herman's Monastery, because of alleged, sexual misconduct & other unmonastic behaviour and spiritual wrong teachings, by the leadership of that monastery, – i.e., active condoned homosexuality, etc,.... which true sour facts, the OCA leadership, still... tries to cover up).
St. Philaret rewritten by RocorMP
THE LOST PEARL FROM THE TREASURY OF THE THIRD FIRST HIERARCH OF ROCA - MET. PHILARET (Voznesensky)
Discovery of the lost treasured words of Metropolitan Philaret.
A concerned faithful
Recently, a cassette found its way into the hands of a faithful member of the former true ROCOR and admirer of Met.Philaret, containing the sermons of this remarkable and memorable prelate. After listening to its contents and comparing them to the text in the books titled "Sermons and teachings of the Most Eminent Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky)" - published in 1989 - a significant disparity was discovered between the words that were actually articulated by Met.Philaret from the pulpit, and those printed in the books. This disparity can be found in the 2nd tome on page 82, which deals with the sermon on "Love your enemy". As it happened, the significant section uttered by the prelate was mercilessly excised from the book by the editor. The editor of this book was Bishop Hilarion, current Archbishop of Australia and New Zealand!
We now request our God-loving readers to familiarize themselves with the segment, which fell under Bhp. Hilarion's censorship. The text of this spiritual pearl of enormous significance, which was denied to the Orthodox faithful by the imprudent hand of the erudite Orthodox bishop, can be found after the third paragraph in the book with the concluding submission: "With regard to the current comments uttered by those 'intellectual' individuals, I must say that it is not the Church that has lagged behind the times, but it is they that have fled to who knows where!"
"To what lengths of lunacy has contemporary mankind gone to! It is not difficult to arrive at this conclusion, if one observes what is transpiring in the world. Recently, there was a press report stating that the organization of the so-called World Council of Churches - which includes nearly all Christian denominations and Orthodox Churches, except one i.e., ROCA - has accepted as a full member, a new religious order that serves satan! Satanism has been embraced by the World Council of Churches!
Consequently, this means that the ill-fated person, which heads this frightening and ungodly teaching - Satanism, will be seated at the same table with representatives of Christian faiths, perhaps assisting in the formulation of ecumenical communion and services that will not displease anyone! This means that the WCC has secured a new brother-in-arms, a new colleague - the leader of this insane Satanism.
Incidentally, in passing, and as I stated before, nearly all Orthodox Churches have joined the World Council of Churches, the most recent being the partial entry of the American Red Sovietonomous Church, which has now existed for a number of years.
All these developments beg the question - where to now? This is to what extent of madness that humanity has reached! Yet they yell that the Church cannot keep up with them. But keep up with what? I reiterate - it's not the Church that has lagged behind the times, but these people that have created their new lifestyle. They are the ones that have fled from the Church to who knows where, and their demise will be frightening!"
In a later content of the book, Met. Philaret warns: "But we, brothers, must watch ourselves...."
In conclusion, Archbishop Hilarion's action invariably begs the question: "Why did he delete this priceless gem from Metropolitan Philaret's collection of sermons?"
• • •
Related to this "rewriting" of our ROCA hierarchs/saints is this post on a Euphrosynos Cafe forum. The poster stumbled upon St. John's report on the Decline of the EP and is utterly surprised to find that St. John S&SF could be outspoken against ecumenism. And the poster thinks St. John never said anything against the MP.
Saint John Maximovitch Openly Antiecumenist?
by romiosini » Wed 4 May 2005 12:06 am
Christ is Risen!
I never knew that Saint John would offen give open lectures directly accusing a certain church of its sick ecumenism... I know that he never openly spoke about the Moscow Patriarchate. Is this article known?
for his service to MP since 1988!
RocorMP bishop Theodosius, Seattle, Washington
vicar to San Francisco RocorMP abp. Kyrill Dmitrieff
Internet Sobor article translated into human English by volunteer [thank you]
Bishop Theodosius RocorMP (Ivashchenko) won praise from the ROC-MP
Reporter: i-sobor incl. November 19, 2013.
Published in the Moscow Patriarchate
Patriarch Kyrill has congratulated ROCOR MP Bishop Theodosius (Ivashchenko) on the 25th anniversary of his priestly ordination. In the text of the congratulations it is said: “Already for a quarter of a century you have been laboring for the benefit of Mother-Church, ‘giving all diligence’ (II Peter 1:5) and sincerely striving to bring forth fruit a hundred-fold in God’s field. During this time, you have passed through diverse obediences, each of which has enriched you with the experience of caring for souls and organizing parish life”.
However, these words of Patriarch Kyrill do not correspond to reality. Igumen Theodosius, for arbitrariness and insubordination to his ruling hierarch, was twice suspended from the priestly ministry: first by Bishop Eutychius, because he had promised, in conformity with a directive, to assume the pastoral care of a parish in Russia, but in a self-willed manner went to serve another; and likewise by ROCOR Bishop Agafangel, by a directive dated 1 December 1999, for a similar violation. According to Vladyka Agafangel’s testimony, Igumen Theodosius had an uncontrollable urge to leave for the USA, and for this reason he abandoned his community in Kiev, then moved to a skete under Igumen John (Magramm) in the USA; but then he let Fr. John down and abandoned him for the sake of a warmer place in California. This man, in his life, has striven only for material comfort. This quality of his, undoubtedly, Patriarch Kyrill has noticed and appreciated.
The MP violating the OCA's 1970-71 Tomos of Autocephaly, etc.
Reader Daniel sharing:
Some of the bad fruits of those who have foolishly submitted to the deceitful KGB controlled MP, 'Mother church': (When did atheist communists EVER keep their promises, in writing or verbally???) – A view from a Portal Credo.ru reporter in New York:
November 15, 2013
The Undetected Skete. How the MP violates the US Constitution
According to the Tomos of autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate in North America extends over St. Nicholas Cathedral in Manhattan, Pine Bush real estate, and 43 parishes. The number and names of the parishes can not be changed. This was decided in 1970, and under this document, signed 15 ROC bishops, including Patriarch Alexy I.
To disregard [spit on] such a document, you must have either serious political ambitions, or a reduced IQ level. So, the current Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA ROC Archbishop Justinian (Ovchinnikov) of Naro-Fominsk made a dashing attempt to expand the possessions of the Moscow Patriarchate in the United States and, apparently, has violated the Constitution of this country.
Coming from "third world" countries, citizens prone to crime, at first it is very difficult to believe that there is a state in the world that lives strictly according to law. The Constitution of the United States supports the statutory rules of their corporations, organizations and companies, and violations or ignoring those rules automatically violates state law to some extent. The OCA is a nonprofit organization recognized by the government and, therefore, those encroaching on its right are in conflict with the law. In other words, a unilateral evil thought-out attempt to change the Tomos of the OCA autocephaly is an offense.
Apparently, not being able to realize this simple fact, the Archbishop of Naro-Fominsk last summer blessed the opening of a new ROC parish in the United States in the city of Spokane (Wash.). But in order not to attract too much attention, they announced the opening of a skete at the monastery of St. Mary of Egypt. There was a Soviet anecdote: "Do not worry, Leonid Ilyich [Brezhnev], we will fly to the moon during the night; the Americans won't notice."
Apparently, they calculated that people will not be interested in digging deeper. But people asked - where is this monastery? It turns out that it is located in upstate New York and is under the MP omophor.
Next read carefully: there was no monastery of St. Mary of Egypt in the OCA's Tomos of autocephaly! It's something new, which miraculously joined the American ROC/MP parishes in 2008, with the outrageous connivance of the administrations of all the Russian Orthodox jurisdictions USA! How this could have happened is absolutely incomprehensible. If you do not believe it, it's on the monastery's website, where the canonical omophorion is indicated in large type: http://mercyhousenyc.org/communities/treadwell-abbey/
Meanwhile, the Orthodox citizens of Spockane (Wash.), hurrying events, posted on their website a touching ad about colleting funds for the construction of a temple instead of the teensy, onstricted skete. And not just some kind of hypothetical temple, and but a specific one - Our Lady of Kazan in the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, which, in their opinion, sounded good.
That's the appeal of this parish uncertain supplies of the monastery with a very real place of gathering funds,
Currently being collected funds for the construction of the first Russian Orthodox Church in the city of Spokane. You can donate directly to the church after a divine service, online, by clicking the "Donate" in the upper right corner of this page, or send a check in the name of Russian Orthodox Church at:
Our Lady of Kazan
Russian Orthodox Church
PO Box 2911
Post Falls, ID 83877
For those interested - the site of this absurdity : http://www.orthodoxspokane.org/index.php/ru/2012-11-15-18-58-58
Apparently, drawn into this adventure, parishioners and clergy, too, still were unconscious that, that their status is actually outside the law, and the skete is a "canonical undetectability" on the map of Orthodox America. And in order to become a recognized parish, it will not be enough to raise funds to physically build a temple, because a 44th patriarchal parish is not provided for in the 1970 Tomos.
Now, in an orderly fashion, that is, from the end – a history of ROC/MP patriarchal parishes in the United States. For many years, everyone trying to get around this historical paradox - well, these thing are recorded in the Tomos of Autocephaly with the filing of such sages as Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov), and Father Alexander Schmemann - and there is nothing to discuss! Hence, it was necessary. So, it was a mutually beneficial solution at the moment. It remained in all official documents and in the national memory that 43 parishes of the American Metropolia did not want to join the jurisdiction of a self-governing Orthodox Church in America, and volunteered to join the lower echelons of a rigid vertical structure of the ROC/MP. Logical? Not quite.
For a few years I personally have been unable in any way to check the reality of this more than strange desire. That is, facts and stories of parishes which broke with autocephaly the point to this decision, but the argument is simply sinks into irrationality. And the argument is always the same - an overwhelming desire for Eucharistic connection with the natal and "grace-filled Russian Orthodox Church". I do not argue: for Orthodox immigrants - this is a strong factor. But by the 70s of the last century immigrants the illusions about their country of origin and the church structure created there were gone. I insist on it - there were none! And they obviously were offered something in exchange for loyalty and a desire Eucharistic unity. Well, the same way as was done recently by uniting the ROC/MP with Metropolitan Laurus' Church Abroad.
Well, the same way as was done recently by uniting the ROC/MP with Metropolitan Laurus' Church Abroad.
The phenomenon of the appearance of Patriarchal parishes in America in the midst of the Cold War is the fact that their status explicitly allowed to work directly with the Soviet Union in many ways - for example, to welcome Soviet citizens under the pretext of religious cooperation, to receive funds in their accounts with which to finance some activities, etc. In the same way the Soviets had over the years created fraternal communist parties around the world. And then just 43 reference points in all American states and even with a residence in Manhattan and suburban dacha near New York. By the way, it has always been assumed that the wiretaps in the historical study of the Most Holy [Patriarch] Tikhon within the walls of St. Nicholas Cathedral were more powerful than those in the consulate of the Russian Federation; therefore many delegations were invited to become familiar with this "hotbed of Russian Orthodoxy".
All this resembles the organized resident network of KGB foreign intelligence. Now it looks a bit naive, but at the time it was an unconditional victory of Soviet diplomacy on the territory of a "potential enemy". It can be assumed that this was the condition of some more important agreement between the U.S. and the USSR. The documents and transcripts of negotiations on the conditions of receiving the autocephalous status were seized from the main Russian archives, and are granted upon request of the ROC/MP Synod, which is already open for free access. In the American archives everything is not on the surface. Well, apparently, even the time has not yet come, and no one was really interested.
But, be that as it may, many years the quantitative presence status of the Moscow Patriarchate in North America remained in the form of a limited contingent stipulated in Tomos of the OCA. No new parishes were opened. But the idea always existed. At the very least, it was born long ago. I have often heard this, and even see how a nice lady approached the Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes with a real offer to help with organization.
And then, three years ago, the Moscow Patriarchate has made a strategic decision: why bother with just one parish - let's unite the whole OCA [to ourselves]! And so, 3 yrs ago, the MP made a strategic decision: to realize this in the United States, they appointed a new manager of patriarchal operation – Archbishop Justinian of Naro-Fominsk. The bishop came to New York directly from Transnistria with his team, which embodies deepest "branch of Orthodoxy" and the success of the encoding Dovzhenko's method. The clergy were heavily fortified by a representative of the World Russian People's Council at the United Nations, sent from Moscow.
When this "SWAT team" was officially introduced the American public at the Russian consulate, the hierarchy of the two other Russian Orthodox jurisdictions crouched in surprise. The operation to bribe the retired OCA Metropolitan Jonah and further co-mingle the OCA into anenslaved cabal autonomy was defeated in no time - in a few short months. Even the urgently flown in from Russia Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), head of the DECR, burned the kerosene in private jet of the oligarch Plastinin for nothing.
Much has been written bout this enchanting attempt to breach Tomos OCA, and it is often remembered as a bright example of the failure of the Russian ecclesiastical diplomacy. But the magical appearance in 2008 of the monastery of St. Mary of Egypt, in the bosom of the ROC/MP for some reason left in the shadows and does not cause these emotions but is against the law of the same order.
The history of the monastery and the numerous interviews given by its 'nastoyatel' are sought on the internet and read with fascination as the "Fan Fan Tulip" [rhymes in Russian]. The only things not found are the circumstances for obtaining the ROC omophorion and the moment the monastery was entered among the patriarchal parishes in the USA. Perhaps we need to look deeper? If you know, tell me how.
In short, the history of the monastery, sometimes called "Treadville Abbey" is closely linked to the personality of its 'nastoyatel', who is still alive, but is aged and ailing, Joachim (Parr). Father Joachim, like many Americans, converted from Catholicism to Orthodoxy, lived on Mount Athos, and returned to New York, dedicated his later life to a noble cause providing help to drug addicts and alcoholics, of which New York always has an excess.
In 1994 he opened an Orthodox Mission in Manhattan, the House of Mercy, named for the Icon of the Theotokos "The Merciful" at 320 East 3rd Street.
Mystical stories of receiving big checks for the purchase and renovation of the building - that 172,000 dollars, 50,000 - father Joachim explains only help from the Mother of God. And if the tax authorities of New York on this occasion did not raise questions, and we will not go back to that.
The community quickly grew to 75 people, and the chapel could not contain all those coming to the service. Since 1995, the liturgy began to take place in a more spacious church premises of the Synod of the Church Abroad on 93rd Street and father Joachim joined the ROCOR clergy. But then again, in the providence of the Virgin was received, to which it was decided to take the path of expansion and a monastery. Well, I'm telling you - "Tulip Fan Fan".
Founded by Father Joachim, the Convent of St. Mary of Egypt is located in Treadville, in upstate New York, which is a three hour drive from Manhattan. The monastery owns 150 acres (62 hectares), and inherited an old (almost three hundred year old) barn that was renovated and became the monastery's property. The Brotherhood has a dozen monks who spend all day in labor and prayers.
And that the local police had a statement about a physical assault, so it does not happen to anyone?
The monastery was founded in 2008 under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. And, besides, father Joachim began to serve an early Sunday liturgy in English at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Manhattan, starting three hours before the liturgy in Slavonic. It should be noted that English-speaking people of the parish come at 7 a.m., and even then are drinking tea with bagels.
So where did the monastery get the omophorion ROC/MP? Just at this time, the Orthodox Church in America was shaken by scandals -the departure of Metropolitan Herman, a financial scandal involving Chancellor Robert Kondratick, the magical appearance out of nowhere of a new Metropolitan, Jonah. All of these unpleasant events apparently pushed to the second and even third agenda items a gross violation of the Tomos of Autocephay. Or maybe it seemed unimportant, as mentioned among concepts such as "mission", "representation", "skete" - as smaller structures. But as a result of the mission, a monastery grew; the skete develops into a temple with a parish.
Let us hope that the resolution of this issue will take place peacefully. But also do not forget that the OCA's Tomos, being an ephemeral church document, written in not quite perfect legal language is supported in these realities by the U.S. Constitution. Like it or not, but it is.
And here's another question from the same church-legal sphere: Did not the Church Abroad, by merging into the fold of the MP, accept all obligations of the mother church in relation to the OCA? Did it not lose the right to open new parishes in the United States, according to the Tomos? Perhaps not. But it is possible that yes it did ...
Also see: History of ROCOR 1917–1971
chapter V – "Ought the OCA to Have Dealt with MP?"
chapter VI – "The Fruits of the Autocephaly"
St. John's Convent
Reader Daniel Comment: Not all who read this, will entirely understand every word or thought,
every sentence or expression, as it contains a lot of deeply theological and philosophical concepts, both in the original Bulgarian and also in this English translation.
Bishop Photii is clearly a highly intelligent man, very well educated and utterly dedicated to Holy Orthodoxy, and to saving souls, The Good Pastor.
This translation was done, essentially, by Vladimir Djambov, of Sofia, a devoted member of Bishop Photii's flock.
Exposition of 2011 (or earlier)
Translated from Bulgarian
Zeitgeist, the Orthodox Church and
Its Mission in Our Modern Times
to a Bulgarian Orthodox priest
posted on Pra-Blah blogspot
Dear Father N.
May God’s grace be with you!
First I would like to thank you for the kind words and best wishes in your letter of March 1st this year, and then I will try and respond to your supplication by sharing views of mine on the Church ‘s mission in our times.
Let me start by examining what was in your letter to me:
I understand that the question of the church calendar is something that seriously concerns you and a field in which you undoubtedly are competent to the possible utmost extent. Such a conversation takes a special attitude within the Church, just as well as a certain level of knowledge. We are still leading a survival fight, and when you chase the overall picture, you miss out on details. Meanwhile, we must not lose sight of the especially great need for a mission towards modern man.
The question of our survival in the Church is for us is not so much a matter of survival in a horizontal dimension, that is the physical and social survival of the Church as an institution – and that, at any cost. Such a view, such an emphatically empirical sense of the Church’s survival has intensively been formed in this country during the years of communist dictatorship. In Russia, under persecution – monstrous in its cruelty – of the faithful, the practical application of this concept for the Church survival was rejected by the majority of the new martyrs and confessors of the Orthodox Faith and was called “Sergianism”. According to that kind of perception, according to that view for the survival of the Church of Christ – not only under persecution but also in [the conditions of] spiritually destructive processes within and without her – the primary, solid, tangible reality of the Church is above all the ecclesiastical institution, the visible structure of the Church as a social body [organism/constitution] in terms of its physical and social functioning. An organism with such an understanding of its own essence inevitably begins to struggle for survival primarily in the mainstream of the laws and logic of this world through adapting and compromising, which ultimately can provide its physical and social survival – but at the same time, put it in a deep contradiction with the Church’s essence as a God-man body. From this point of view, the basic reality for the Church's survival – the heavenly-earthly Church as the Body of Christ, in which we can only survive as living members in Faith, in spirit and in truth, to which the institutional structure is but an external expression – becomes an “idea”, an “ideal”, something sublime, supposedly desirable in word but abstract and ultimately conditional based upon the reality of the institution, on the empirical social organism as a massive church body, which, however, loses its authentic church spirit. And so, in our understanding of the survival battle, the overall and the detail emerge in a somewhat different light. To us overall, basic, and defining is the spiritual authenticity of the Tradition, of the doctrine, of the customs of the Church. Affiliation with this spiritual authenticity and fullness of Tradition is for us the major condition for our survival as members of the Church, the Body of Christ. In this context, the church calendar, too (or to put it more precisely, the paschal-calendar system of the Great indiction), being an expression of the Church’s liturgical unity ever since the sixth century, is to us an integral part of Church Tradition, and not some immaterial detail liable to mechanical separation from the Tradition's fullness. And it is by virtue of this feature exactly of the calendar that it should neither be underestimated, nor grow into an unlawfully enlarged and self-sufficient criterion of “orthodoxy”.
This:"Go you and learn...” [cf. Matt. 9:13] and its implementation is our greatest concern , as well as the lack of real workers in the field, the lack of a tested and established system of functionality that hinders the mission. It is not that there are no attempts in this direction, but we are definitely out of our [modern days] time and the contemporary needs of people. Since I am [highly] impressed with what you have done so far, I would ask you – if time allows and you are willing to – to share your insights and ideas for the Church's mission, not for my sake, but as a vision of a modern church bishop. I see that I cannot avoid the word “modern” but that’s how it is – God has placed us to live in this time and to serve Him in it.
As the topic of the Church's mission in our days is much too broad and complex [multi-layered], I will try to focus on its different aspects, moments of our proportionate to our small powers experience, in this regard included, thereby naturally I assume the risk to offer a sparse, thesis exposition, which could miss out exactly on those sides or problems of the mission, which are of particular interest to you. But I think such gaps could be filled up [to the full] later, if you deem necessary for us to continue our dialogue on this topic.
1) You point out that in our attempt to fulfill the command of the Saviour “go you and learn...” we are far from our time and the contemporary needs of people. I understand you. Actually you pose the vital – I think – issue of the difficult, unsafe, but inevitable meeting of the truthful [authentic] spiritual Church Tradition with the intellectual-and-cultural facts of today. As a matter of fact, what content do we put into the concepts of “time”, “contemporary” [modernity], “Zeitgeist” and hence – into wordings as “modern man”, “needs of the contemporary man”, etc.?
I would tried and talk briefly about the concept of “zeitgeist”. Let me start with a thought of the late Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose): “The more one knows about the spirit of the time, the easier one can remain a true Orthodox Christian in a time like today.” What do we understand by “spirit of the time”?
In the whole range of philosophical and culturological definitions the contents of this metaphor or of this term (depending on the point of view) boils down, in general, to a system of factors that to one degree or another condition, determine our knowledge, our value attitudes and behavior, while [at the same time] they themselves are influenced by current human activities. These factors are perceived as a background set of world-view and individual-scientific understandings and assumptions about the world, and also as value orientations; they all function as a matrix of perceptions, evaluations and actions.
According to Hegel the “spirit of the time” (Zeitgeist) is the objective spirit unfolding in history, which is manifested in all individual phenomena for a given epoch; the set of ideas typical for a certain period. Goethe considered zeitgeist as a predominant spiritual side of an epoch, i.e. as its intellectual-and-value dominant: “If any side stands out strongly, conquers the masses and triumphs over them in a way that the opposite side is shifted to the background and is shaded, then such preponderance is called zeitgeist, that defines the essence of a given interval of time.” And here is one modern understanding of the “spirit of the times” in a popular wording: “zeitgeist is ... a real phenomenon that anyway determines the thinking and behavior of the people living in a given time. This encompasses all the people and becomes the norm for their thinking and behavior. Of course, it is expressed in a different measure and in different ways.” And still another definition with pronounced theoretical-and-cognitive orientation, in which “the spirit of the times” is understood as “matrix schemes for theoretical constructs, invariant with respect to a certain range of theories; a set of specific world-view structures [constructs], intellectual motifs and conceptual tools for staging the problems and their solving.” But how far from the sterile-cabinet, from the classically abstract or from the “super-conceptual” understanding of “Zeitgeist” is the existential, spiritual-and-intellectual insight of Archimandrite Justin (Popovich):
In our chaotic modern times a deity suppresses increasingly the other deities, ever more compellingly shows itself as the only god, ever more mercilessly torments its devotees. That deity is the spirit of the times. Before it worshipping day and night are the jaded inhabitants of Europe, offering it in sacrifice their consciences, their souls, their lives, their hearts... Their god – the spirit of the time – is too complex, it is composed of most heterogeneous elements. It contains within itself all contradictions of modern life – [both] culture and civilization, philosophy and science, Catholicism and Protestantism. It contains within itself the whole tragedy and all the comic side of life – just as it is. And living in accordance with the spirit of the times, one wanders unmerciful and unwanted through the gorges of all these irreconcilable contradictions. And the most terrible part in this is the systematically organized rebellion against the human person. Zeitgeist hampers personhood by its autocratic tyranny, it mechanizes it [the latter]: [stating] you're a screw in the noisy machine of contemporaneity – [then] live like a screw; you are a key in the distraught keyboard of nowness, rattling on whose keys is the zeitgeist – [then] live like a key. Determinism, winding into fatalism, is the main vehicle through which zeitgeist reigns as god: everything depends on the environment, on the surroundings, rather than on personal exploit [PODVIG]; whatever you do, it’s not you who does it, but the environment through you; if you do evil... you’re not the wrong [one], but the environment is, where you thrive. — But all of this – translated into the language of Slavic sincerity, comes to say: “Everything is permissible — all the vices, all the evil-doings, all the crimes, all sins are permissible, because everything that happens, takes place by the irrevocable laws of necessity.“
And in our times, on the verge between two millennia, the zeitgeist is already not mechanizing but it wells up to destroy the human personality for the sake of its freedom, and today the anti-principle “anything goes” [all is permissible] is justified not by the need, but rather by the freedom and rights of the human personality; today the zeitgeist contains not only the tragedy and the comedy of life, but represents its very contents as depleted and frantically rushes, in search of life’s element in absurdity and decay. Modern humanitarians share the perception of a crisis condition of human existence itself after the hurricane of postmodernism, reckoned to be the most vivid expression of the spirit of the times [zeigeist] in the late twentieth century.
Very briefly postmodernism can be described as a cast of mind, as an intellectual style, as a type of philosophical thinking, as a kind of a super-reflective” concept of the cultural facts in the second half of last century. And these facts are [distinctly] characterized by rapid blurring of boundaries between forms of cultural activities, by the trends of the syncretic uniting of art and science, philosophy and religion on a new worldview level, by the rejection of the classical and the non-classical traditions in philosophical thinking, by a nihilistic revolt against ideological concepts and against traditional values; these facts are also distinguished with a pervasive relativism and with a radical value pluralism [of values]. As a type of mindset and intellectual style, as an intellectual-and-creative charge, postmodernism unlocks to the highest level possible the intellectual-and-playful, reflexive, destructive inventions, seeking to push out the sense-forming, religious, moral, aesthetic, constructive beginnings from the thought-and-value motivation of the creative process. In this sense, postmodernism theorists perceived quite positively the loss of stable value orientations. The “eternal values” have been declared totalitarian and paranoid fixed-ideas, which hampered the implementation of creative design.
The postmodernists’ ideal is chaos, referred to by Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) as chaosmos and understood as inherent [of the beginning] an absence of [any] order, and as a state of non-suppressed opportunities. Postmodernists see in the world two main principles – the schizoid beginning of the creative formation and development, and the paranoid beginning of the choking freezing order (from the standpoint of postmodernism any semblance of order needs immediate deconstruction, i.e. it should be relieved [freed] of meaning [sense] through disassembly of the underlying ideologemical concepts, that the entire culture is permeated with). Hence the image of the chaotic and very sophisticated world is a starting point in contemporary art. Postmodernism’s ontological (or rather the de-ontological) dimension can most briefly be designated as the crisis of metaphysical thinking, as a decay of the whole picture of the world. Postmodernism’s epistemological-and-value paradigm includes fundamental concepts such as Super-reflection, Agnosticism, Nihilism (cynicism), Total relativism, Game, Laughter (ironic sarcasm). Perhaps the following thought of Jean Bordiyar (born 1929) captures the hidden slippery nature of the pathologically complex post-modernistic ethos: “the immanent force of seduction to pick up, to deflect everything and everyone from the truth and to bring them back into the game, into the pure game visibilities (my bold – b. F.).” This Mephistophelean “immanent power of seduction” is actually a desire to turn the very human existence into a surreal nightmare, by bringing it down to the element of unconditional freedom to be whatever you [may] want to be; [down] to the element that gives birth to “freedom” from the truth, gives birth to “freedom” from the very humanity of man, gives birth to the “freedom” to sink into the abyss of sub-human with his unleashed desires and drives, euphemistically called “opportunities”; that same element of “absolute freedom” which calls to an unlimited consumption of ever newer and newer “goods” and the delights of the here and now... This is amidst what kind of zeitgeist manifestations – described with the brevity of a dictionary entry – we are called to be true Orthodox Christians, to be living members of the Divine-Human body of The Church of Christ.
Zeitgeist is particularly aggressive towards the Church because the Church is eternal-[in]-time, it is the only visible ontological carrier of eternity in time; through the Church eternity is present in time – and again, only the Church transforms time and enters itself into eternity. And the spirit of our times in its core activities, frantically hates eternity, it hates the truth, it derides it, sprays its seduction and everything and everyone ends up separated, departing from it [truth]. Which is exactly why the Church should not be subject to 'the times'.
In fact, in its life as the Body of Christ, as a Divine-Human organism, the Church is not subordinate to the deterministic laws of the spirit of the times – to which the Church, can only try to strongly suppress it, but it cannot be stopped by it. In this sense, the Church can be harrowed, stretched apart, tortured, replaced, but it cannot be defeated and destroyed. Of crucial significance for each and everyone of us, however, is our place, our share in the cross-and-resurrection exploit of the Church. And the cross-and-resurrection of the Church includes both its mission, its Gospel of Christ, of the fullness of the truth and the grace it carries in its bosom. To me this mission should not subject to a seemingly effective, but all too vague horizontal dimension, let’s say as some common front with traditionalistically thinking people of secular and religious backgrounds with different ideological and religious orientation [in order] to counterstand postmodernism intellectually. The power of the church's mission, of the church's testimony today depends – I think – on our willingness, on our determination to be part with – spiritually-and-morally, as well as intellectually – the living Tradition of the Church; to become – proportionately to our strength – its trustworthy [authentic] carriers and to be able to bring to the minds, the hearts and the consciences of those willing to listen to it..
2) Undoubtedly, the Church's mission from its very beginning leads to an inevitable and – I would say – unsafe meeting of the spiritual tradition and the intellectual-and-cultural facts and trends of a given epoch. This – on the one hand, and on the other, by far not unconflicting are the relationships between the spiritual Tradition and the intellectual tradition (this is what I would call the theological and philosophical reflection) within the Church itself. In clarification of this last thought I would dare cite part of my address after the consecration of the library with our cathedral church (Assumption of the Most Pure Theotokos, Sofia - ed. note) (2000):
“Upon the meeting of the intellectual and the spiritual tradition of the Church there exists one very serious danger that has accompanied the Christian thought development since [early] Antiquity. This is the danger of unduly intellectualizing the spiritual tradition. This phenomenon we meet for the first time in Origen. In his effort to express the truths of Christianity in the language of the Hellenic categorial thinking Origen arrived at un–Orthodox thinking and ultimately – heresy; this is an ingenious and at the same time tragic example of a spiritual tradition intellectualization entering into the direction of pagan thinking, of pagan culture. The opposite example, one of the spiritualization of the Hellenic intellectual heritage, we find in the Cappadocian Fathers – St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian and St. Gregory of Nyssa. They managed to make a really titanic exploit by radiantly transforming the whole system of Hellenic categorial thinking with the grace, strength, and spirit of the spiritual tradition of the Church. This the Church has been doing throughout its already two-thousand year long period of its history. This is a fight [struggle]. A fight for spiritualization of human thought, for filling it with grace. In fact, in order to commune with the intellectual tradition of the Church, one has to have the simplicity of St. Paul The Most Simple and of St. Spyridon. Why is it necessary? Because reading patristic literature is an exploit, a kind of ascesis. It is by no accident that monks have to pray, to work, and to read; therefore reading is a kind of spiritual labour and ascesis. It is very important for us to realize that. And I must say that this is an extremely difficult kind of ascesis. Why? Because when man reads patristic texts, when one communes with the grace-filled experience of the [Holy] Fathers, with their fertile minds, when one communicates via the text with their Christ-faced personalities, one must exercise continuous austerity in denying from one’s own thoughts, judgments, opinions, perceptions of the text, all which thrives from all one’s previous life outside the Church, outside of Christ. This is crucial in order for us to commune genuinely, essentially with the thought, the spirit, and the ethos of the Holy Fathers. In fact, hence the many distortions in our personal spiritual lives, in our views and understandings – from the fact that we – from time to time – even unconsciously layer up, embed into the texts our own perceived perceptions [ideas], our habits of thought, and our habits of evaluation that are in fact foreign to the spiritual and intellectual tradition of the Church.”
3) Undoubted is the difficulty to carefully walk down the narrow royal path paved by the Holy Fathers, which avoids the pits and chasms both on the right and on the left. This involves both the life within the Church and its mission as one of its manifestations [of life]. There are countless examples both of a finite, totally passive, fanatically guarded conservatism that may well lead to degeneration of the Orthodox ecclesiastical consciousness towards sectarianism, and the diverse liberal breadth that – under the pretext of an adequate dialogue with modernity – secularizes, blurs up, and ultimately recodes all the ecclesiastical consciousness into some kind of its own contrasts. On the other hand, our Bulgarian carelessness, rough pragmatism, worn out church-and-patriotic rhetorics, dabbling in church politics, our Bulgarian-and-oriental servility to those who are the strong of the day, the daily rounds, the semi-primitive and quite often semi-pagan rituals in the Church life are a sad phenomenon that – it seems – needs a separate place in each attempt at classification of phenomena in the life of the Orthodox Church (I make this summary assessment in pain and aware that it is by far not absolute, but it, alas, reflects dominant trends in the overall church life in this country). To me, preserving spiritual chastity, striving to abide in purity and in the fullness of the Tradition in spirit and in truth, coupled with a sincere, open, benevolent, holy-evangelical attitude towards people, that should be our starting point for our spiritual-and-intellectual position in our activities as church missionaries today.
4) Let me honestly state that for me – generally speaking a contemporary “reformatting” of Orthodoxy into the neo-renovationist point of view, for the mission of the Orthodox Church today, is unacceptable – a point of view defended by such otherwise talented personalities as Arch-priest Alexander Men, priest Georgy Chistyakov, priest George Kotchetkov, Archimandrite Sergius (Ribkò) in Russia and by other bishops, clergy and theologians in the Orthodox world. However, time since 1965 has proved the sterility of the famous Roman-Catholic “aggiornamento” – the principle adopted by the Second Vatican Council on updating church life and church mission. For the past more than 40 years, Rome has statistically lost and continues to lose a significant number of its followers despite its attempt at adapting a number of forms of church life and the Church mission to the spirit and tastes of contemporaneity. I had an occasion to personally see such for myself, during my visit to the capital of Bavaria – Munich, just in the season of Western Christmas in 1994. Festivities were on the street, and not in temples. It is another issue that from the decrepit shack of church life in our much-suffered [Bulgarian] Fatherland, the number of church-and-public, missionary, charitable, and pastoral aspects of Roman-Catholic Church life, is perceived as a prestigious model for [our Bulgarian] modern church re-building.
5) What is the expression of the missionary work (if we could ever so label our humble efforts in this field) of our little Church? I need hardly explain that these activities are determined by our very small capacities. We do not have the spiritual-and-intellectual and material resource for larger-scale missionary activities, we do not even have training courses for our priests, but as far as we can, we do work in the following field:
• Work with the congregation: Regular, good-faith performance of worship services [liturgies], reading (instead of the so-called “spiritual concert” after the post-communion prayers [zaprichastniya]) and a sermon at the end of the holy liturgy. We try to pay particular attention to the living bond of the priest with the parishioners. The aim is for the parish to be raised up as a spiritual family, as far as this is possible in our conditions. The priests (with very few exceptions) do maintain a pro-active communication with me, they take advise, share problems, almost all of them confess with me, the same as I have one of them as, my cleric [confessor]. Our fellowship is fraternal, open, constructive, for which I am grateful to the Lord.
• Catechetical activities: with us the Mysteries of Baptism and Matrimony are performed after preliminary catechism (if the one baptized is an infant, the catechetic talk is held with the parents or the godfather [adopter in faith]), which takes quite some effort and time of the priests. With the cathedral church in Sofia, as you know well, we have classes for children (Group I) and for juniors (Group II).
• With the help of the “Shroud of the Holy Theotokos” convent, Knyazhevo, nuns, we implement publishing activities, which however, over the last couple of years have encountered difficulties of various nature and have began to flag. We publish the “Orthodox Word” magazine [Православно Слово], the works of the late Fr. Archimandrite Seraphim [Alexiev], as well as other books of spiritual-and-moral contents. One of the monks residing at the bishopric [house], does all the maintenance work for our official web page http://bulgarian-orthodox-church.org, which promises to become the major forum for our missionary activities.
• Another direction in our attempts at missionary activities is the compiling [drafting] of liturgical texts (services, akathists); translation of biblical and liturgical texts into the Bulgarian literary language (an exceptionally responsible activity whose systematic performance calls for a team of collaborators; for the time being two of us are currently working on the translation of the Psalter (after the text of the 70 interpreters) (from the Church Slavonic language - ed. note), of the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, etc.); the liturgical glorification of saints: the holy Chinese new-martyrs (their liturgical veneration was renewed by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in 1997 after a service compiled by us), St. Vissarion of Smolyan (1999), St. Seraphim, Archbishop of Boguchar, [and] Sofia the wonder-worker (2002), and the holy martyrs of Batak (2006).
With this I would finish my exposition. If you have any clarification or any other questions on the subject, please share them, I will try and answer as best I can.
May the Lord strengthen you!
Your humble supplicator in Christ
† Bishop Photii
1] Bishop Photii of Triaditsa (in the world, Rosen Dimitrov Siromahov) was born on July 13th, 1956. He graduated from the “St. Kliment of Ohrida” Seminary in 1981. Till the summer of 1982 he worked as a lecturer in classic languages at the “St. Ivan of Rila” Sofia Seminary. His strong desire to get acquainted with the works of the Holy Fathers in the original, moved him to further his studies at the “St. Kliment of Ohrida” University – in the specialty of, classic philology, which he graduated from in 1989. Since December that same year until his adoption of the bishop rank, he worked as Assistant Professor in Ancient Greek Literature with the Department of Classical Philology at Sofia University.
Bishop Photii’s spiritual development developed under the care of Archimandrite Seraphim (Alexiev) - spiritual son of Saint Seraphim, Sofia Wonderworker. His meeting with Fr. Seraphim was crucial in the life of the young man, then eighteen. At the same time he became also acquainted with the works of the great Russian saint, Theophan the Recluse. These two spiritual mentors – the one with his living word and example, and the other – with his grace-filled works, built up in him the decision to dedicate his life to the Holy Orthodoxy ministry. Among the many-faced treacherous waves of apostasy and degradation rushing against the Holy Church of Christ, Mr. Rosen Siromahov received during the Communist regime a secret priesthood ordination and started nurturing under catacomb conditions, a little flock.
After being tonsured a monk with the name Photii, fulfilling an obedience to his spiritual father and most of all – to the suffering Orthodox Church of Christ, on January 17th (New Style) 1993, he accepted Episcopal ordination at the “Sts. Cyprian and Justina” Monastery, Philly – Greece (i). Thus the monk Photii took upon his shoulders the especially hard nowadays, bishop’s cross, becoming the primate of the Bulgarian Old-Calendar Orthodox Church.
Only nine days after the ordination of Bishop Photii his beloved spiritual father, Archimandrite Seraphim reposed in the Lord. The first worship service, which the Vladyka did on home soil, was his burial service. Thus his first step in bearing the cross is associated with the pain of separation. But it was in this way exactly that the living tradition of the Holy Orthodox Faith has been handed over from father to son, from generation to generation and from age to age in the history of the Holy Orthodox Church. On the day of the funeral of Archimandrite Seraphim, Bishop Photii said these portentous words: “Our dearest Abba offered his health and himself as a living sacrifice on the altar of love of God and of his neighbor. With his affection and patience he constantly followed the example of Christ the Head-Shepherd-: “him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37 ).” These words can actually relate also to Bishop Photii’s ministry over the past ten years. We have witnessed what patience, what spiritual devotion to the Holy Fathers’ covenants of Saint Seraphim – adopted by Bishop Photii through the spiritual children of the saint: [namely] Archimandrite Seraphim and the now deceased Abbess Matuschka Seraphima († 2004), our pastor has performed and is performing this ministry of his with.
The period 1993-2004 was for His Grace a time of intense spiritual sowing. Unfortunately, daily concerns and trials distracted him from his ministry with his pen [feather], but at the expense of this, his profound spiritual preaching of the word continues pouring out from the church pulpit with increasing depth and strength. A number of significant events of our modern times and of our history – both religious and civil – find reflection and spiritual response in his living and active preaching.
In 1995 the Queen of Heaven Herself blessed the deed of the Bulgarian Old-Calendar Orthodox Church through the visit of the grace-filled Iberon-Montreal miracle-working icon and its humble guardian, later martyred, brother Joseph Muñoz-Cortes. In 1999, His Grace performed the liturgical glorification of the Rhodope Hieromartyr, Bishop Vissarion of Smolyan, and three years later – the glorification of saint Seraphim, Sofia Wonderworker, the heavenly helper and protector of our Church community.
The new millennium proved a turning point in human history: the ever craftier apostasy from the truth tightens its hoops with unprecedented comprehensiveness both around the individual and around the whole human society... Sorrows, burdens, hysterical tension of modern times, ubiquitous lies, our ongoing sins – all this burden crushing our souls, weighs on him – our loving and good shepherd. He continues his works, his cross-bearing. With our love and devotion we can – at least a little – ease his burden. So that we may be able to enjoy longer the spiritual fruits of this cross-bearing: born in pen and word, in prayer and act.
(i). The Bishop’s ordination was performed by bishops from the Holy Synod in Resistance (Greek True Orthodox Church), whose apostolic succession ascends to the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. Taking part in Bishop Photii’s hirotoniya was also a bishop of the Romanian Old-Calendar Orthodox Church, which since 1992 is in full canonical communion with the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.