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


Holy Annunciation Monastery Pilgrims and Monastics


During the third week of Lent 2015, three groups of visitors struggled spiritually and were strengthened in the Annunciation women's monastery in Australia (Elmhurst, ROCA), whose abbot is Hegumen Fr. John (Schmelz). 
Pilgrims have organized tours of the monastery, as they participated in the religious services and helped with the work.
May God grant them health, salvation, and many years! 

Baptism in Portland

newly-baptized Xenia
St. Mary of Egypt Sunday 2015
GOC Cathedral, Portland, Oregon


Award-winning modern classic film
2hr 20min  Drama  Rated R

Synopsis:  Kolya lives in a small fishing town near the stunning Barents Sea in Northern Russia. He owns an auto-repair shop that stands right next to the house where he lives with his young wife Lilya and his son Roma from a previous marriage. The town’s corrupt mayor Vadim is determined to take away his business, his house, as well as his land. First the Mayor tries buying off Kolya, but Kolya unflinchingly fights as hard as he can so as not to lose everything he owns including the beauty that has surrounded him from the day he was born. Facing resistance, the mayor starts being more aggressive…..

2 minutes

Political Satire
Explained here
Putin’s Corrupted Orthodoxy

Ephraimites and the 8th Council

from Joanna's notepad

The recent post "An Example of Ephraimite Abuse" has generated a number of private emails, none of which I can post.  People are afraid to speak out against the "elder" – which is very typical in cult situations, or any situation where demons have a stake in keeping people quiet.  One thing I will talk about, something I've noticed for several years, is that the Ephraimites are extremely concerned with the coming 8th pseudo-council now scheduled for spring 2016.  My world-orthodox friend who visits an Ephraim monastery every Lent, always returns with an increased fear and dread over the coming council, which is going to be cataclysmic and is bound up with the Ephraimite custom-interweaving of conspiracy theories,  – which they say comes from their "clairvoyant elder", but it sounds to me like it came off the internet.  The monks are preparing for martyrdom, – expecting to be tied to the utility poles on the monastery grounds.  The pilgrims are afraid to leave the monastery in fear of the grave danger that some catastrophe would make it impossible for them to return to the monastery, which is the only safe place to be.

Speaking of the coming pseudo-council, one Ephraimite monk was overheard speaking to a small group of pilgrims, and in the presence of other monks.  

He was asked (paraphrase):  "Will (the Ephraim monastery) join up with those who you teach are schismatics, heretics, anti-christian, and masons?"

He answered (paraphrase):  "Yes, but there will be conditions in fine print."

Of course the monk is speculating.  We, too, speculate about where the Ephraimites will go if they are forced to leave the EP.  One x-Ephraimite wondered if they would join the ROCOR, pointing out that Ephraim had joined ROCOR before.  I assume this means the ROCOR-MP.  Or, what about the GOC-K, since some (uninformed) bishops (Etna) in the GOC-K do presently accept Ephraim's supposed eldership?

God forbid it – but what if they try to join our ROCA?  Well, that would be a bad idea for them.  Let them remember what happened to Platina, Boston, and Blanco.  In each case there were complaints, ROCA ordered an investigation, and the monastery, using some excuse, quickly left ROCA to avoid being investigated.

Today's MP Internet Trolls

• Trolls Who Came In From The Cold

• One Professional Troll Tells All

Monsanto at it again

Bill introduced to ban GMO labeling NATIONWIDE
Friday, March 27, 2015 15:36


Subject: HAPPENING NOW: Bill introduced to ban GMO labeling NATIONWIDE

The future of GMO labeling is under attack:
Yesterday, Monsanto’s favorite congressman, Mike Pompeo of Kansas, introduced H.R. 1599 a.k.a. the DARK Act, a bill that would outlaw any federal or state law to require labels on genetically engineered food. Even states that have already passed labeling laws would be prohibited from enforcing them.
With Republicans in control of both houses of Congress and anti-labeling lobbying expenditures at an all-time high, the threat to the GMO labeling movement has never been more serious.
We need phones on Capitol Hill to be ringing off the hook with the message that Americans OPPOSE the DARK Act (H.R. 1599) and SUPPORT the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act (H.R. 913).
HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO: Grab your phone right now and dial 1-877-796-1949. You’ll hear more information about the DARK Act, and then you’ll be automatically connected to your Representative’s office.
This bill may as well be called the Monsanto Profit Protection Act, because it was written for one reason: To protect the corporate profits of big pesticide and junk food companies at the expense of our right to know what’s in our food.
If H.R. 1599 is passed, it could set the GMO labeling movement back decades. There has never been a more important time to stand up to Monsanto and their allies with a call your representative right now:

Thank you for all that you do,
Oregon GMO Right to Know
PS – Just this week the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report showing that Monsanto’s top weed killer for GMO crops probably causes cancer. We can’t afford to let their power go unchecked – call 1-877-796-1949 to be connected with your representative right now and tell him or her that Americans support GMO labeling!

Rare film footage of St. John S&SF

12 seconds

Holy Unction and Visit of Archbishop Andronik

March 27 – 29 2015

From Holy Unction on Friday March 27 until the Divine Liturgy on Sunday March 29, Archbishop Andronik will be serving at the Cathedral. Our Archbishop will also be available to hear confessions in both English and Russian. Following the Divine Liturgy on Sunday March 29, the Sisterhood invites all to partake in a Trapeza – Luncheon in the Parish Hall.

Friday March 27 6:30 pm – Mystery of Holy Unction. The sacrament of Holy Unction provides both physical and spiritual healing through the Grace of the the Holy Spirit. The holy oil carries God’s Grace both to renew the body and cleanse the spirit and the mystery is based upon the Apostolic tradition mentioned in the New Testament. The service is composed of psalms, hymns of supplication, prayers to the saints, seven readings from the Gospels preceded by seven New Testament writings and followed by a prayer on behalf of the penitent. At the end of the service, the holy oil is applied to the forehead, eyes, ears, nostrils, lips, chest and hands of parishioners.
Parish Events Bulletin
Blessed Saint Xenia of Petersburg
Russian Orthodox Cathedral
2 Colchester Square
OTTAWA Ontario (Kanata) K2K 2W9
www.stxenia.ca    tel 613.599.9367    

OC Transpo Teron Station stop no. 3018
bus 93 164 168 60 65 68 169
OC Transpo schedule tel 613.560.9367 stop 3018 

Film Preview Life of Metropolitan Petros

trailer of upcoming GOCTV program now in pre-production

17 minutes

Abp. Averky in procession St. Markella's

Homily Forty Martyrs of Sebaste


Have you noticed, dear brothers and sisters, what our contemporary literature offers us these days? It goes without saying that some of it is designed especially to corrupt people, for there is so much dirt and lewdness, about which is it “shameful even to speak”, as the Apostle Paul said (Eph. 5:12). In general, contemporary literature is so meaningless and vain, and concerned with that which a Christian should not be at all interested in or drawn to. And this is all designed to ruin human souls. 

There is another kind of literature that was at one time loved in Holy Russia by our pious forefathers, that was for them inseparable in their lives, most of all the Lives of Saints. One of the most beautiful episodes in the Lives of Saints is that which the Church commemorates today. This is about the holy forty martyrs who went through an extraordinary ordeal. In the Lives of Saints, we read about all the various kinds of tortures that the first Christians were subject to by their tormentors, and they all died for their Savior, not renouncing their faith in the least. These forty martyrs likewise went through extraordinary suffering, and finally, after many torments, they were driven out onto a lake that was half frozen. Their tormentors were unable to make them give in despite subjecting them to terrible tortures, starvation, and cold, and now the martyrs stood out there giving encouragement to each other, and in spite of their physical suffering and torment, they rejoiced in their hearts, knowing that the Lord was pleased with their trials that attested to their great faith. Then, one of them could not stand it any longer, lost heart, and, as it says in the Lives of Saints, ran away from the frozen lake into a warm bathhouse that had been prepared on the bank especially so that the suffering men would see it as an easy way out of the cold. They had only to renounce their faith, and they could warm themselves there. So, the one man ran from the lake into the bathhouse, but as soon as he entered the warm place, he immediately died. At that moment, one of the guards, a soldier, who was standing nearby and observing the scene, saw forty shining crowns descending from heaven towards the martyrs. There were forty crowns, but now thirty-nine men, for one of them had given up and perished. Seeing this, the guard threw himself into the water and exclaimed, “I also am a Christian!” And all the crowns came to rest on the heads of the martyrs, including this newcomer who joined them. 

Everyone always loved this touching account, and many lectured and gave sermons on this topic. Indeed, when we read about the great fortitude and courage with which the forty martyrs bore their trials, are not we ashamed of our faintheartedness? Today’s Orthodox Christian is often afraid to cross himself in front of others in church, or even to show in general that he is a Christian. It was not a question of such trifles for Christians in times past, however. They boldly accepted even the most cruel torments because they had fiery zeal for the true faith. The Church sets the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste as an example for us during Great Lent, a time especially devoted to prayer and fasting. The Church calls us to emulate them and be stoic and unwavering unto death in remaining faithful to Christ. With these martyrs we saw coming true what is said in Revelations, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). Amen. 

St. Metropolitan Philaret of New York, Sermons, Vol. II, pp. 225-227 

turkeys stroll by Joanna's house

St. Nicholas Convent new website

Recent Posts
Warmth of Women’s Lenten Retreat Thaws Winter Snows    
March 23, 2015

Visit the new website

download audio of Mother Justina's talk
1hr  33 minutes

Fr. Alexander Detained in Uruguay


Fr. Alexander can't return home.

pablo iwaszewicz
San Francisco, CA
20 mar 2015 — News: Today my lawyers had an audience at the Uruguayan Supreme Court .The Ministers of the Court listened . The ministers said nothing. We only know that they are investigating the case(?!) and will soon produce a verdict . Moreover, the DA office reiterated, confirmed and granted me the permission to leave the country but they are waiting for the Supreme Court resolution .I don't have a document to prove it . Another weekend in Uruguay.
Father Alexander.

You're Late!

License to Lie

Demonic Ephraimite Convent

The Blog of Ruth Entry #5  
March 26, 2011


I am the way, the truth, and the life. 
[John 14:6]

“People should never permit falsehood of any kind to invade their conversation, their professional work, their meetings, or their writings.  Either truth or falsehood: towards spiritual independence or towards spiritual servitude.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

To bend the truth is to bend the mind.  To bend the mind is to damage the soul.  Of all people on earth, perhaps no one is more responsible to live in truth than one who has given over his entire life to the Lord Jesus Christ, and above all, one who has taken into his own hands the formation and care of souls.  To devalue truth in oneself, and to set that example before others, is a spiritual crime, and one that inexorably leads to death of the soul.

One Monday as I worked with two sisters and a visiting pilgrim cleaning the monastery guest house, the sister in charge sent me upstairs to get a special broom for cleaning under the beds.  I returned with a long, narrow broom.  She said that that was the wrong broom.  Someone else went up and returned with a long, narrow swivel mop.  It was like the typical dust mop made with strings, only longer.

I said to the sister, "Oh, I thought you wanted a broom. That's a mop."  She replied, "That is not a mop, it's a broom.” Something about this exchange troubled me exceedingly.  Shortly, a second pilgrim who had been cleaning upstairs appeared and inquired whether she should take our mop outside to shake it out.
A few days later, when I asked the abbess about this perplexing exchange, she commented, "Oh… its a monastic thing."

I was deeply agitated as I attempted to grasp the meaning of such a concept.  Somehow, it seemed, a monastic had a special right to alter reality, or more to the point, a monastic in charge could "bend the truth" over an underling.

A few weeks later, this abbess said to me: "If I tell one of the younger sisters that black is white, she will repeat it back to me, and she will believe it.  If I tell you that black is white, you might repeat it back to me, but you won't believe it.  You have had too much experience in the world."

This shocking revelation, a concrete expression of what I had been sensing for several weeks, abruptly challenged my entire repertoire of monastic assumptions.  From this point on, I could no longer brush aside the incongruence I had been noticing at every turn.  This was no small indiscretion to be ignored or relegated to some remote corner of the mind.  This was rather a fundamental modus operandi at the monastery, being not only an alarming foundational assumption, but a convenient and deceitful strategy for indoctrination and mind control.

Now a host of questions flooded my mind.  With the leadership's blanket license to lie, and not just small, "inconsequential" lies, but lies diametrically opposed to the truth, how is one to ever discern truth on any level?  How much of what one already has been told is false?  To what extent is lying the norm?  Does one start small and grow into the ability to lie without restraint?  Is believing a lie rewarded?  Is one punished for not believing a lie?  Under what circumstances can one expect to be instructed falsely?

I know the answer to only one of these questions.  Yes, indeed, one is punished for not believing a lie.  The consequence of being "so worldly" as to reject believing a lie is to be slowly and cruelly ostracized from the monastery and judged unfit for the monastic life… a most blessed fate, in the final analysis.

I submit that the license to lie practiced in these monasteries has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ, Who is Himself the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Rather, it is a direct result of the activity of Satan – who, Scripture tells us, is a liar and the father of lies.

We pass over in silence the world's tacit agreement that truth is no longer relevant.  We know for certain that this applies to the media and to society as a whole.  Now, we discover that for some, truth is as well no longer relevant in the spiritual life.  In fact, deceit in these monasteries is a tool used arbitrarily to bend the mind and coerce the soul into blind obedience.

“You shall know the truth and truth shall make you free."  It is fascinating, astounding. What does this mean?  It means that the path to freedom lies not in the fact that the parliament made a law of greater freedom today, but [rather] that you have to go through the truth.  And if you go through truth just a little, then you will no longer say things such as, 'Well, if the people are good, truth doesn’t matter.’”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

"Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.” 
Psalm 15:1-2

St. John Climacus on Blasphemies

Of all the blasphemies against Orthodoxy out there today, the cult-monastery network of the pseudo-elder Ephraim takes the cake.

Here is what St. John of the Ladder says about blasphemies:

Step 23 – On mad* pride and unclean blasphemous thoughts
 (*'headless' or 'headstrong') 

   51. As one who is shut up in his house hears the words of passers-by without joining in their conversation, so the soul keeping to itself and overhearing the diabolical blasphemies is troubled by what is said by the demon passing by.
   52. He who despises him (the blaspheming demon) is delivered from this affliction.  But he who contrives some other way to wage war with it will end up submitting to it.  He who wishes to conquer the (evil) spirits with words is like one trying to lock up the winds.
 page 144

The conclusion is to not have anything to do with the pseudo-elder Ephraim.  Not to visit his monasteries and not to engage with those who defend him.  It is like they are under a spell or hypnosis – you can't help them out of it.   In the end you will give up, having wasted your breath; and then the devil scores a point against you for having wasted your breath.

Lectionary for The Ladder during Lent:

Moslems gain ground in Russia

20 March 2015
A Russian court's 2012 ban of 65 Islamic books, one issue of the Muslim
journal Novie Grani (New Boundaries), and two short articles as allegedly
"extremist" has been partially overturned, Forum 18 News Service notes.
However, 18 of the 68 texts in the original ruling remain banned. Appeals
are being prepared against these bans. However, courts continue to rule
literature "extremist", opening the way for more prosecutions for their
possession or "mass distribution". These include the Google Translate
Russian version of a collection of sayings of the Islamic prophet Mohammed,
and a video commenting on the attempted seizure by bailiffs of saints'
relics from the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church. Also banned as
"extremist" have been two Jehovah's Witness texts, with the community being
forced to pay for the state's "expert analysis" which contributed to the
ban. Analyses and testimony by Jehovah's Witnesses themselves were refused.
Despite the term "mass distribution", prosecutors have often brought
charges even if only one copy of a text is discovered....

Movie about St Edward

Archimandrite Alexis:
This was a film made by a visitor from Russia, and she has kindly allowed us to send it round.  It is largely in Russian with some English, but she has done an excellent job, and it is well worth a viewing.

Video producer:
          26 minutes       
here is the new link here:
     Sorry, that my filming is not professional, it was the first time in my life, when I filmed something. But I tried my best!
     I suggest to download it to your PC for watching, because I tried to watch it in Internet and understood that the quality is worse, when watching though Internet.  So it is better to watch the downloaded version.
     I made a movie in 6 parts about my trip to England, so this is series #3. :)
In the new version I have added a short intro about the author of the film at the end. And also placed a little video of me, making a film :)

ROCA visitor to the monastery:
The monk at the beginning who explained the icon of St. Edward is Fr. Niphon of St. Edward's brotherhood.  The building that you see at the very beginning is the mortuary building where the exhibits about St. Edward are located.   At the end, the photographer and Fr. Niphon walk from the mortuary building to the Church of St. Edward where his relics are enshrined.

To read in English about what the narrator is saying in Russian:

42 Holy Martyrs of Amorium in Phrygia

Intercessors for Moslem take-overs and persecutions
March 6/19

Come, ye who love the martyrs, and, 
spiritually celebrating the most sacred memory
of the divinely crowned regiment of newly manifest martyrs, 
the unblemished immolation sacrificed eagerly for Christ, 
the holy army of the elect, forty-two strong,
let us cry out to them:  
Subdue ye the savagery of the godless Moslems
and deliver the people of Orthodox mind 
from every evil circumstance, 
by your supplications.
Vespers Aposticha stichera.  Tone VI.

The Holy 42 Martyrs of Ammoria: Constantine, Aetius (Aetitus), Theophilus, Theodore, Melissenus, Callistus, Basoes and the others with them. During a war between the Byzantine Emperor Theophilus (829-842) and the Saracens, the Saracens managed to besiege the city of Ammoria (in Galicia in Asia Minor). As a result of treason on the part of the military commander Baditses, Ammoria fell, and forty-two of its generals were taken captive and sent off to Syria.

During the seven years of their imprisonment they tried in vain to persuade the captives to renounce Christianity and accept Islam. The captives stubbornly resisted all their seductive offers and bravely held out against terrible threats. After many torments that failed to break the spirit of the Christian soldiers, they condemned them to death, hoping to shake the determination of the saints before executing them. The martyrs remained steadfast, saying that the Old Testament Prophets bore witness to Christ, while Mohammed called himself a prophet without any other witnesses to support his claim.

They said to the soldier Theodore, "We know that you forsook the priestly office, became a soldier and shed blood in battle. You can have no hope in Christ, Whom you abandoned voluntarily, so accept Mohammed." But the martyr replied, "You do not speak truthfully when you say that I abandoned Christ. Moreover, I left the priesthood because of my own unworthiness. Therefore, I must shed my blood for the sake of Christ, so that He might forgive the sins that I have committed against Him."

The executioners took each one separately and led him off to be beheaded, then threw the bodies into the River Euphrates. In the service to them, these holy passion-bearers are glorified as: the "All-Blessed" Theodore, the "Unconquered" Callistus, the "Valliant" Constantine, the "Wondrous" Theophilus and "the Most Strong" Basoes.

Example of Ephraimite abuse

True telling of a recent sorry (but typical) incident at an ephraimite monastery.
Story told by a layman. 

icon of
Elder Ephraim 
used by monks
in their cells
So: someone takes a pilgrim's trip to one of these ephraim monasteries, who has gone there before.  Anyway, while there this person meets another pilgrim of the opposite sex whose company is enjoyable.  They begin a little dialogue between them while waiting to see the priest for confession.  Now, because of the harsh cold wind and snow that day, they both decided to go sit in one of their cars for warmth, as both of them were cigarette smokers.  So as soon as they both got in the car and had just finished closing the doors......  Suddenly, to their amazement and extreme shock, out of nowhere there were two monks pounding on both sides of the car's doors, yelling and screaming at both of them to get out of the car right away.  Also saying that this is not acceptable on their monastery property.

Both pilgrims, frightened by the banging and yelling, got out and said, "We know this, and respect this! – but we were only having a cigarette in the warmth because of the bad weather and ice out there, but we can go somewhere else and return later, if even this is a problem."  

The monks got more angry and furious and stated that, "No you are not even permitted to do that," (i.e., no blessing), "now get back inside."  They even followed the pilgrims back inside.  

During confession the priest-monk aggressively and harshly asked one of them if they had exchanged phone numbers, but the pilgrim said to him, "No disrespect here, Father, but that is none of your business," as it has nothing to do with matters of the faith.  The priest-monk got so furious that he said, "You do not have a blessing to give or accept a number."  Then he kicked out the male pilgrim from the property and later on threatened the female pilgrim, too.

So, it's pretty clear, among other things, that they obviously abuse their power, (good example here); and they think they can control everybody with everything in their lives, by threats, slander etc... – anything that works for them and get away with this kind of behaviour.  They do not have these rights! nor the right to embarrass people in front of others in any way!  If there is something to say, just say it in private ...

There have been many red flags about these people for so long, etc., and many other observations I had personally made as well, that were, unfortunately, horrible!  But sometimes somehow you try to give the benefit of the doubt, especially when you have friends who frequently visit the monasteries, convincing you that all those complaints out there are false about them, or you misinterpreted, etc., – that it's always someone just trying to discredit them in any way possible, just because of jealousy, etc.  But when it happens way too many times it's obviously not a misinterpretation.  It's the truth.  In my opinion, they did a good job of this to themselves many times; they've discredited themselves numerous times!  Their lies just keep on growing and multiplying.... this is not accidental or coincidence, it's who they really are, unfortunately.
(name withheld)

St. Philaret explains Vespers to the Youth Group

circa 1964

Discussion with a Youth Group about the Vespers Service
Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky)

When festal Vespers are served jointly with Matins, they are called the "All-Night Vigil."  Small Vespers are generally not served independently, but only on those days when the All-Night Vigil is served, and is served sometime before it.  Daily Vespers are, more often than not, served on all weekdays.  Great Vespers are served on the eve of feast days and other special days over the course of the liturgical year.

Let us now do an overview of the basic Daily Vespers.

Festal Vespers contain certain things that Daily Vespers do not.  Small Vespers are a kind of abbreviation of Daily Vespers much is omitted that is otherwise included in the Daily Vespers.  It recently occurred to me that perhaps my memory had failed me, when I saw an audio recording of a Ledkovsky choir with the label "Bless the Lord, O my soul," composed by me, and further labeled "Psalm 104," when I know that it is Psalm 103, not 104 as written on the tape.  This psalm is a long one.  Therein David described God’s omnipotence and wisdom in the creation of the world with bright, wonderful verses.  Those who had been to Mt. Athos, not recently, but in the good old days, spoke about how, for instance, when they were in some monastery on the eve of that monastery’s patronal fest day, they would append an early Liturgy to their Vigil.  This would occupy 12 to 14 hours without a break to leave the church.  In addition, they told me, "Bless the Lord, O my soul," the Proemial Psalm, would be sung over the course of an hour and fifteen minutes, because a soloist (the choir’s leader or director) would chant each verse, then echoed by the choir.  The choir leader would sing: "O Lord my God, Thou hast been magnified exceedingly," the choir would repeat, and so on.  And this whole long psalm would be sung twice, once by the choir leader and again by the choir.  And so, in the unhurried chant of the monastery, this would occupy an hour and fifteen minutes.

By the way, I read a history once of some pious landowners, who loved to attend church and stood through long cathedral services, once went, rather than to Mt. Athos, to the Optina Hermitage.  In Optina, as in many of our monasteries, there are no long services such as those on Mt. Athos.  But the services were very long, served according to the Typikon.  The landowners arrived with their families, went to the Vigil and there they were grandly singing "Bless the Lord, O my soul."  They stood with some difficulty until "Lord, I have cried" and then went to sleep.  They slept some and then arose, decided to return to church, and arrived for the Polyeleos.  They stayed for the Polyeleos, venerated the icons and returned to bed.

When the service is a daily, weekday service, then this psalm is read.  It is sung at Great Vespers on a feast, otherwise it is only sung at the All-Night Vigil.  The psalm is ended.  Next we have the Great Litany, or the "Litany of Peace."  Why is it called this? – Because it speaks much of peace.  The first three petitions: "In peace, let us pray to the Lord," "For the peace from above," "For the peace of the whole world."  The litany is ended.  According to the Typikon, during Daily Vespers, with rare exception, one kathisma is read.  It is read almost nowhere.  It is read in monasteries, but in churches it is almost never read, although it is indicated.  After the kathisma is the Little Litany, which is an abbreviation of the Great Litany, its beginning and end.  After that is the prayer sung at every Vespers service, taken from the order of the Old Testament Temple: "Lord, I have cried unto Thee, hearken unto me, hearken unto me, O Lord." – the words of the psalm, followed additionally by: "Let my prayer be set forth as incense before Thee."

How do you interpret these words?  What does, "Let my prayer be set forth" mean?  I ask because often the words "set forth" are misunderstood or even taken for another meaning.  The prayer has ended; the wording here refers to the consummation, the fulfillment, of the prayer.  "Let my prayer be set forth as incense before Thee;" in other words, let my prayer be completed and offered as censing before Thee.  At the same time, the great censing of the church begins.  Fr. John (now Saint – ed.) of Kronstadt liked to say, when speaking about the censer, that when the censer is burning and emitting sweet fragrance, the sweet-smelling smoke rises to the sky – "such must be your prayer, and if you see the censer cold, extinguished and emitting no smoke, no sweet fragrance, that is what our prayer usually resembles."  That is why we pray: "Let our prayer be set forth," – let our prayer be fulfilled and arise as incense before Thee.

Little children, when they hear this, don’t understand it very well.  In monasteries and parishes, where the Typikon is observed more or less fully, after these verses excerpts from the psalms are read, although on feasts these are sung.  Eventually we reach the verse, "Bring my soul out of prison, that I may confess Thy name."  This verse is often heard at Sunday Vigils, as it marks the beginning of the singing of the resurrectional "stichera," i.e., separate prayers.  The name "sticheron" remains from antiquity, when the majority of the services were composed, and the prayers were written in poetic verse.  Now it is extremely rare to find stichera composed in poetic verse, but the name has stuck.  Further, each sticheron is prefaced by a verse from the psalm.  When there is a festal service, you can have up to ten stichera – on a daily service, six.

When serving a daily service and you have six sticheral verses, that are sung by tone.  I already spoke to you about how each Sunday, each week, has its own tone – eight in total.  The verses are sung according to the tone of the week.  But that is only the first three, while the second three verses are dedicated to the saint of the day.  Sometimes that saint has been assigned the same tone, sometimes a different one.  For instance, often in monasteries, to make it easier to sing, the tone is announced: "In the sixth tone, Lord, I have cried unto Thee, hearken unto me," and then they sing.  Then, for the following verses, if in the same tone, they say "In the same tone: If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?"  Three verses are sung in this tone, followed by the verses for the saint; then they pronounce the tone (if it is different, for instance, fifth tone) and then sing the attendant verses.  Sometimes, though, it is "in the same tone."  After the singing of "Lord, I have cried unto Thee… Let my prayer be set forth," the verses are sung.  The final verse is almost always in honor of the Mother of God.  After the verse to the Mother of God, we sing "O Gladsome Light."

I have lived 61 years on this earth, and not until I came to Australia did I hear "O Gladsome Light" read.  In the hymn itself we hear "We praise (in Slavonic and some translations, "hymn" – trans.) the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, God."  I remember serving at our monastery in Lesna and saying that I was surprised that some of our churches read it instead of singing it.  Every Vespers service says "We praise (hymn – trans.) the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," (not read), and it is even called the "Evening Hymn."  In the Lesna monastery, the Typikon is strictly adhered to, and the hymn is always sung.

After the singing of "O Gladsome Light," the verse for every day, the prokeimenon, is exclaimed.  After the prokeimenon is read "Vouchsafe, O Lord."  This is, of course, always read, except on Pascha.  During Bright week, all seven days of Pascha, "Vouchsafe, O Lord" is sung.  Nothing should be read, except Holy Scripture, Epistle and Gospel.  Therefore even the prefacing verses are sung.  After this comes the Litany of Supplication: when the deacon or priest concludes a petition with "...let us ask of the Lord," the choir replies, "Grant this, O Lord!"  One Russian hierarch noted, "When we ask something, or children ask something of their parents, they put their whole soul into that request.  But oft times the choir sings, ‘Grant this, O Lord,’ without thinking at all about how we actually want the Lord to grant it unto us, while the faithful doze in church – a very appropriate petition!"

After the Litany of Supplication, the Aposticha are chanted, which also include psalm verses before the stichera.  The verses for "Lord, I have cried" are sung after the Little Litany, while the Aposticha are sung after the Litany of Supplication.  It too almost always ends in a verse in honor of the Mother of God.  A prayer is then read, the words of which are taken entirely from the Gospel: "Now let Thou Thy servant depart in peace, O Master."  I recall that in Harbin we would only sing this prayer once a year - on the eve of the Meeting of the Lord, at the Vigil, and on all other days we would read it.  After "Now let Thou Thy servant depart" follow the prayers: "Holy God," "O Most Holy Trinity," "Our Father."  After the exclamation, "For Thine is the Kingdom…" we sing the troparion to the saint whose memory we celebrate the following morning, then Glory, Both Now, and the troparion in honor of the Mother of God, called the Theotokion the dismissal troparion.  Here the (Daily) Vespers draw to a close, the Litany of Fervent Supplication is read, and then the dismissal the final exclamation: "Christ our God, the Existing One, is blessed…"  We call the dismissal the priest’s final exclamation, when he says that Christ is our true God, by the prayers of the saints (commemorated that day), will have mercy and save us, for He is Good and the Lover of mankind.  Also, without exception, the parents of the Most Holy Theotokos the holy and righteous Joachim and Anna are always commemorated, as are the holy apostles.

These are the Daily Vespers.  The Small Vespers differ from them in that many of the prayers are omitted.  There is no Great Litany in the Small Vespers, no Litany of Supplication, just the Litany of Fervent Supplication at the very end.  And there are many abbreviations in the prayers, and very few sticheral verses.  For example, during the full festal Vespers during a Vigil, before a Sunday, the prokeimenon "The Lord is king, He is robed in majesty" is sung four times, but during Small Vespers only twice.  There are instances when Vespers are served at irregular times.  Then they are combined with other divine services that normally follow them; for instance, on special days during Great Lent and Holy Week.  Then the Vespers are combined directly with the Liturgy, sometimes with the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, sometimes with the Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom or St. Basil the Great.  I would like to remind you on what days we serve the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great.  Ten days a year: the Eve of Nativity, the Eve of Epiphany, on the feast of St. Basil the Great, on the five Sundays of Great Lent, on Great Thursday and Great Saturday.

English Services at Mountain View

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(This is the weekend of the Clergy Lenten Retreat.)

on the upcoming False Synod of 2016

 From: Etna CTOS
Subject: A VERY IMPORTANT DOCUMENT for Orthodox Christians
Date: 15 March 2015
     The following was an address on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, two weeks ago, by His Eminence, Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Phyle.  This excellent presentation touches on the nature of Orthodoxy and, most importantly, on the upcoming False Synod of 2016, which is being planned by the Œcumenical Patriarchate.  Translated from the Greek original.  Please distribute, share and post freely!  

† Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Phyle

The Eternal Boundaries of Orthodoxy and the “New Ecclesiology” of the Ecumenists
I. The “Nameday” of Our Holy Church 
II. The Eternal Boundaries of Orthodoxy 
III. Orthodox Criteria 
IV. In Anticipation of the Synod of 2016
Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece Holy Metropolis of Oropos and Phyle


Homily on the Occasion of the Restoration of the Holy Icons (843) 
Sunday of Orthodoxy, 2015

The Eternal Boundaries of Orthodoxy and the “New Ecclesiology” of the Ecumenists*
† Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Phyle

In holy memory of our Elder and Father, Metropolitan Cyprian, of blessed memory (†May 17, 2013 [Old Style])

Your Beatitude, our Archbishop and Father; 
Right Reverend Bishop Photios of Marathon; 
Reverend Fathers and Brothers; 
Venerable Monks and Nuns;

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
I. The “Nameday” of Our Holy Church Glory to God for all things! 

Invoking the Grace of the Precious and Life-giving Cross and the protection of the Mother of God, let us pray, I beseech you, at this sacred moment, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, that we may be granted a good word, and also good ears and hearts, for our edification, consolation, and fortification in the Orthodox Confession.

On this radiant day, our Holy Church celebrates her Nameday: the names and adjectives “Orthodoxy” and “Orthodox” have been assigned to the One and only Church of the Apostles and the Fathers.

And the reason for this is evident: it behooves the Orthodox Church to distinguish herself clearly and fully from all of those heterodox Christian communities which think otherwise, that is, differently from and antithetically to our right-believing Most Holy Church.

The adjective “Orthodox” is derived from “ὀρθῶς δοκέω” (to think or believe correctly). This appellation emphasizes the correct belief, the correct attitude (φρόνημα), and the correct view concerning the Truth of the Faith that our Holy Church has handed down to us, safeguarded, lived, and proclaimed, for the salvation of the world.

Heresy, cacodoxy, and error have constantly threatened, throughout the centuries, to destroy our Divinely established Church, that is, her unity in right belief and right practice.

It is precisely for this reason that this day has been designated the Feast of Orthodoxy: it is the festal expression of the Triumph of the right Faith; it is the manifestation of the indestructible power of the Orthodoxy of the Church; it is the Feast of the self-understanding of the Orthodox East.

Today, on this Sunday, the Orthodox Church declares with profound and unshakable conviction that (she) is not one of many Churches, one that stands on a parallel and equal footing with the many Christian churches that exist today; she is not a partial or fragmentary church; she is not a Church, but the Church.2   Orthodoxy is Catholic—complete and entire; she is, and is identical with, the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of the Symbol of Faith: the Church which our Savior, the God- Man, founded.

Today, then, the First Sunday of the Fast, our Most Holy Church renews her Confession with the greatest solemnity; she honors her Nameday; she gives thanks to our Lord, Who has kept her garment all-pure and has preserved her as His spotless Bride, as “the Bride of God, an unsullied Virgin Church, snow-white of body, chaste, blameless, and beloved.”3

Every heterodox Christian community, through heresy and schism, in essence does not have a name, having lost its true and proper name, since it has rejected the Catholicity and fullness of the right Faith, of Orthodoxy.

Heterodoxy is nameless, bearing false names, and dead in the sight of God, since it has squandered the wealth of Divine Truth and living Orthodoxy:

Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.... Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.4

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
II. The Eternal Boundaries of Orthodoxy

The One and only Church, of which we have been granted the mercy of being members, there- fore has a name; and this name, “Orthodoxy,” defines the boundaries of our Most Holy Church.

These boundaries, these limits, are, and remain, eternal and immovable: “Move not the eternal boundaries which thy Fathers have set.”5

It is her uncompromising attitude and her adherence to these eternal boundaries that have given the name “Orthodoxy” to our Holy Church.

These boundaries were set and marked out by the Holy Prophets, Apostles, Fathers, and Teachers of our Church, who taught and wrote “even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word.”6

The perennial mission of Orthodoxy has always been single: 

To remain the steadfast yardstick of the boundaries of the Orthodox Faith, which were set once and for all by Holy Scripture and by the Apostolic Tradition preserved by the unanimous wit- ness of the Œcumenical Synods and the Holy Fathers of the Church.7   

In our era, in which syncretistic ecumenism not only confuses but also shifts and demolishes the eternal boundaries between Orthodoxy and heterodoxy, we ought to advert without ceasing to the immovable boundaries of the Church.

We ought to trumpet that wondrous Confession in the “Synodikon” of the Seventh Œcumenical Synod which delineates the eternal boundaries of Genuine Orthodoxy:

As the Prophets have seen, as the Apostles have taught, as the Church hath received, as Her Teachers have expressed in dogmas, as the inhabited earth hath agreed, as Grace hath shone forth, as the Truth hath been demonstrated, as falsehood hath been driven out, as wisdom hath boldly asserted, as Christ decreed, so do we think, so do we speak, so do we preach. . . . This is the Faith of the Apostles, this is the Faith of the Fathers, this is the Faith of the Orthodox, this is the Faith that sustaineth the inhabited earth.8

Syncretistic ecumenism, as an expression of a “fearfully divisive and misleading heresy,”9 cannot possibly maintain that the “new ecclesiology”10 which it preaches, on an individual and also on a collective basis, is this Faith of the Apostles, this Faith of the Fathers, and this Faith of the Orthodox.

The Patristic and Synodal Tradition has established with absolute clarity the eternal boundaries of Orthodoxy, so that it might never be confused with heterodoxy.

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
III. Orthodox Criteria

The Orthodox criteria for recognizing Genuine Orthodoxy are made abundantly clear, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, by Holy Tradition. They are, in brief, the following, in opposition and contradistinction to the “new ecclesiology”11 of the “divisive and misleading heresy”12 of ecumenism.
  a. Orthodoxy believes that the One Church of Pentecost has never been divided in time into putative individual churches, segments of the One Church, whereas the Church supposedly remains One, though outside time and history.
  b. Orthodoxy does not believe that the Church is divided into two different entities: on the one hand, the Church in Heaven, outside time, the only True and Catholic Church; on the other hand, the Church, or rather, the ‘churches,’ on earth, in time, defective and relative.13 
  c. Orthodoxy believes that “just as we could never assert that Christ is divided, so neither could we [accept] that the Church could ever be divided.”14
   d. Orthodoxy does not accept the theory of the Baptismal unity or of the baptismal boundaries of the Church; nor does it accept that baptism—from whatsoever source it may derive—constitutes the “basis of a new ecumenical brotherhood,” the alleged unifying factor, the mystical bond, between Christians, even though they differ with regard to doctrinal beliefs.
  e. Orthodoxy believes that the bond and unity between Apostolic teaching, Apostolic Succession, and the Holy Mysteries is indissoluble, and that the Mysteriological basis of communion in Christ exists in all of the Mysteries, which are united in a common Faith, in a common life, in a common Cup, and in a common Priesthood.
  f. It is impossible for Orthodoxy to make a distinction between the “Christ of the Church” and the “Christ of other churches,” such churches differing doctrinally from one another, or to believe in any such distinction. It is also impossible for Orthodoxy to believe in a “Christ of the Mysteries,” in which mysteries divided churches can participate.
  g. Orthodoxy does not believe that there exist two kinds of ecclesiastical unity: a partial or imperfect kind and a full kind, the former supposedly uniting with Christ through baptism, but not with the One True Church, and the latter supposedly offering fullness of Truth and communion.
  h. Orthodoxy believes that the Grace of the Holy Spirit does act outside her charismatic, visible, and canonical boundaries, which assuredly coincide and are, in fact, identical, though not by sanctifying, illumining, and effecting salvation, but rather “by prompting those outside the Church to repent and return to the Truth and Catholicity of the One Church.”15

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
IV. In Anticipation of the Synod of 2016

The announcement of a date for the convocation by the innovating ecumenists of the so-called “Holy and Great Synod” on Pentecost of 2016 has already given rise to considerable discussions, anxieties, and soul-searching.16

What this amounts to is a Synod with a patently ecumenist outlook, the assignment of dogmatic status to a “new ecclesiology,” the ecclesiological heresy of ecumenism, and the normalization of all of its manifestations and deviations at a theoretical and at a practical level. It will unquestionably be a false synod.

It is incumbent upon us, in view of this tragedy, to be alacritous:
 with thanksgiving to our Lord for granting us the mercy of being Orthodox and of belonging to the Genuine Orthodox Church;
 with self-reproach and repentance, since we, too, are at risk of forsaking the Faith and falling away therefrom;
 with reverence and confidence in our Shepherds, for “those charged with guarding the Faith know what needs to be done”;
 with prayer for our erring brothers and sisters, since there exist among them many who are well-intentioned and disquieted;
 with love and Orthopraxy, for in this way they will give serious thought to the matter and be attracted to Genuine Orthodoxy.

*** I will conclude with a reminder that “Orthodoxy” signifies correct, innovation-free, and genuine belief, right Faith; however, it also means right glorification, that is, genuine, true, and fitting hymnody, praise, and worship of God.

This is the essence of Orthodoxy: a reciprocal relationship between right Faith and right practice. The Truth of our Faith produces right practice, and the rightness of our practice leads us to, and confirms us in, the Truth of the Faith:

Right Faith and right practice: behold the two precious pillars upon which the entire edifice of Orthodoxy is unshakably supported.17

• To the glory of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, the One and Indivisible Trinity, the only True God, unto Whom are due worship and thanksgiving.  Amen!

I thank you!

*A homily delivered at the concelebrated Hierarchical Liturgy on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, February 16, 2015 (Old Style), at the Church of St. Paraskeve, in Monasteraki, Athens.
1. Andreas Theodorou, Ἡ Oὐσία τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας (The essence of Orthodoxy), 2nd ed. (Athens: “Parousia,” 1998), pp. 18ff.
2. Ibid.
3. St. Methodios of Olympos, Banquet of the Ten Virgins, or Concerning Purity, Discourse 11 (Psalm), Patrologia Græca, Vol. XVIII, col. 212CD.
4. Revelation 3:1, 17 (to the “Angels” of Sardis and Laodicæa).
5. Proverbs 22:28.
6. Cf. St. Luke 1:2.
7. Archimandrite Spyridon S. Bilales, Ὀρθοδοξία καὶ Παπισμός (Orthodoxy and Papism)
(Athens: Ekdoseis “Orthodoxou Typou,” 1969), Vol. I, p. 17.
8. “Synodikon of the Holy and Œcumenical Seventh Synod in Defense of Orthodoxy,” in
Tριῴδιον Κατανυκτικόν (Athens: Ekdoseis “Phos,” 1987), p. 157a. 
9. Metropolitan Hierotheos, “B ́ Bατικανὴ Σύνοδος - Ἡ νέα θεολογία καὶ ἡ νέα
ἐκκλησιολογία της” (The Second Vatican Council: its new theology and new ecclesiology), Ἐκκλησιαστικὴ Παρέμβαση, No. 220 (November 2014), p. 10.
• The basic ideas of our homily are drawn from this article, which is a rather lengthy presentation of the dissertation of Protopresbyter Peter Heers, “Ἡ ἐκκλησιολογικὴ ἀναθεώρηση τῆς B ́ Bατικανῆς Συνόδου-Mία ὀρθόδοξη διερεύνηση τοῦ Bαπτίσματος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας κατὰ τὸ Διάταγμα περὶ Oἰκουμενισμοῦ” (The ecclesiological reassessment of the Second Vatican Council: an Orthodox examination of the Baptism of the Church according to the “Decree on Ecumenism”).
• The most important and truly revealing point in this presentation is the author’s acknowledgement that “there are Orthodox theologians who are inspired by the decisions of Vatican II” and that “we are aware of certain Orthodox ecumenists—Hierarchs and theologians—who are animated by the same ideas of ecclesiology and baptismal theology—that is, they express themselves in al- most identical terms—as those found in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and of con- temporary Roman Catholic theology” (ibid., pp. 1-2, 10).
• See also the important article, “Ἡ B ́ Bατικανὴ Σύνοδος ἐν ὄψει τῆς μελλούσης Πανορθοδόξου Συνόδου” (The Second Vatican Council in view of the forthcoming Pan-Orthodox Synod), Ὁ Ὅσιος Γρηγόριος, No. 39 (2014), pp.154-166, and “Ἡ B ́ Bατικανὴ Σύνοδος καὶ ἡ Ὀρθόδοξος Ἐκκλησία” (The Second Vatican Council and the Orthodox Church), Ἐπίσκεψις, No. 755 (October 31, 2013), pp. 18-22 (a communiqué from the international congress at Chambésy, Oc- tober 17-18, 2013).
10. See the declaration, “Ἡ νέα ἐκκλησιολογία τοῦ Oἰκουμενικοῦ Πατριάρχου κ. Bαρθολομαίου” (The new ecclesiology of Œcumenical Patriarch Bartholomew), Ὀρθόδοξος Tύπος, No. 2047 (November 28, 2014), p. 4; see also http://www.theodromia.gr/A9455A79.el.aspx.
11. Ibid.
12. Metropolitan Hierotheos, “B ́ Bατικανὴ Σύνοδος,” p. 10.
13. An Orthodox Priest, “Tὰ προσφάτως διαδραματισθέντα στὴν Ἁγία Πόλι καὶ τὸ
ἐκκλησιολογικό τους ὑπόβαθρο” (The recent events in the Holy City [of Jerusalem] and their ecclesiological basis), Θεοδρομία (April-June) 2014, pp. 270ff.; see also http://www.impantokra- toros.gr/B15881B3.el.aspx.
• This “new ecclesiology,” which has correctly and very aptly been characterized as “ecclesiological Nestorianism,” is set forth in broad terms at an academic level as follows:
“The Church is one, unique, and united before the Triune God, in Whose Name all of her mem- bers are baptized, thus attaining their justification, regardless of which Confession they belong to, united with Christ and with one another in a single body, which cannot be divided into a plurality of bodies.
“The ecclesiastical division that now exists derives from external and earthly factors and not from internal and heavenly ones; it derives from human beings, from their imperfections and sins.
It diminishes as we ascend higher and practically disappears in the sight of God, from Whom, conversely, derives the internal mystical unity of the Church
All of us Christians are sacramentally and ineffably united with Christ and with each other through the sacramental Grace of Holy Baptism...and subsequently through the communion of the Divine Eucharist” (Ioannes N. Karmires, Dogmatik∞w Tm∞ma EÄ, ÉOryÒdojow ÉEkklhsiolog¤a [Dogmatic theology, Part V, “Orthodox ecclesiology”] [Athens: 1973], pp. 241, 242, 243).
14. An Orthodox Priest, “Tὰ προσφάτως διαδραματισθέντα” (see note 12).
15. Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Phyle, “Ecumenism and ‘Baptismal Theology’: The Protestant ‘Branch Theory’ of the Church in a New Form,” Orthodox Tradition, Vol. XVII, No. 1 (2000), pp. 2-11; see also http://hsir.org/p/fts.
16. See Presbyter Father Jiří Ján (Dr. Theol., Charles University, Prague), Πορεία πρὸς τὴν “ Ἁγίαν καὶ Mεγάλην Σύνοδον”: Mία συνεχὴς ἀπομάκρυνσις ἀπὸ τὴν Γνησία Ἁγιοπατερικὴ Ὀρθοδοξία (Journey to the “Holy and Great Synod”: An unceasing estrangement from genuine Patristic Orthodoxy), published by the Holy Metropolis of Oropos and Phyle, February 2015; see also http://hsir.org/p/6i.
• See also Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Phyle, “Genuine Orthodoxy in View of the Challenge of 2016,” http://hsir.org/p/vz.
17. Theodorou, Ἡ Oὐσία τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας, p. 23.