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


Spiritual Psalter of St. Ephraim the Syrian

Yes! this book is available!  (not out-of print)

Saint John of Kronstadt Press

True Story of momentary blinding

from Joanna's notepad

This morning, before arising, I finished reading the last page of a life in an old Orthodox Life magazine that I was reading last night, but fell asleep.  The next article starting on the opposite page caught my eye:  At the Glorification of the New Martyrs, signed by Metropolitan Philaret and the 1981 ROCOR synod.  I decided to read this, too, before arising.  Or re-read it, if I had already read it before, and I tried to remember if I had copied this into the St. Philaret blog or not.  It is a letter from the ROCOR synod to the children of ROCOR. 

One sentence of the letter did not make sense – the last sentence in this paragraph:  
The Russian Church in the Soviet Union is ...  deprived of the ability to speak its mind and to act according to its conviction.  It is squeezed in the vice of the godless administration which has made the Church’s subjection its task, to be followed by its total annihilation.  It does not have bishops who function and participate freely, who would promulgate an official act of canonization.  They are silent.  But the godless bear witness before the whole world, that there were never any martyrs for the faith, that the believers of Russia’ enjoy complete freedom to confess the faith.

I read over that last sentence several times.  I know what he means, but it is not saying what he means, and it could even be taken out of context to be saying the exact opposite of what he means.  I thought that probably this is just yet another case of poor translation, even though the rest of the letter is perfect English, it can still happen...  I finally decided that when I type this letter into the blog, that I will insert the word "false" in parenthesis so that the sentence reads, "But the godless bear (false) witness...

Later this morning at my computer I was typing the letter into the blog.
I anticipated getting to the point where I was going to insert the word "false".  But when I got to that point I saw that the word "false" was already there in the original text – right there on the same page I had just read so carefully an hour before, and had been unable to see it.

I got up from the computer and prostrated before Christ's icon.  A demon had done that momentary blinding to me.  Psychopaths do it to people, too – it is called "gas-lighting".  Something disappears and then reappears and the victim thinks he is going crazy.  Jonas did it to Nina in this true story 
sneakily taking things out of the regular spot and then replacing them later.  All the while telling Nina she is crazy – and he claims to be a psychiatric nurse (not true) to be further convincing.

I've had other occurrences during reciting prayers, where my words came out twisted saying the opposite of what is meant.  Stupid stuff  – I just correct it and then forget it.  I've suspected  it was demons in the past.  Stupid demons.  Stupid and ugly.

Another sentence in that paragraph caught my attention.  It describes the demonic agenda of the ROCOR-MP union that would occur a quarter century later:
The godless administration has made the Church’s subjection its task, to be followed by its total annihilation.

Bat goes night-night on my back porch

Cute little fat bat.  Joanna's house in Oregon.

The Place of Blessed Augustine in the Orthodox Church

A note from Fr. Gregory

... I think this day (June 15 o.s.) holds the record for the number of different services published in our Menaion. This is the first time I've served (the service to St. Augustine) in English, I think... at least for many, many years, as I've always been in Haiti for the feast at the temple dedicated to him at Cyvadier near Jacmel, on the south coast.  I was impressed by its unusual clarity and richness of detail.  The hymnographer (commissioned by St. John of San Francisco) turned out a true labor of love and a gem in the firmament of the Menaion.  Thanks be to God!

We know a great deal about St. Augustine, in no small part because of his prolific writings, which have been extensively translated into English, including his biographical Confessions, foundation City of God, extensive sermons, and a complete commentary on the Psalms (extensively cited in St. Theophan's Commentary on Psalm 118).  All highly recommended and available from SJKP.

Notably, he was a convert!  In his youth he was an adherent of the Manichaean heresy, which taught that man was made of two parts, the "good soul" and the "earthly body", the one created by God, the other by Satan.  So long as the "soul" was pure and "beliefs" correct, it didn't matter what the "body" did.  Sound familiar?!  Enamored of his mistress and certainly loving his children, he resisted the prayers of his mother Monica for his conversion (he wrote that at one point he prayed to God "Make me holy, but not just yet!").  Ultimately, of course, her prayers prevailed, and he became a profound exponent of the true Faith, battling valiantly against the then-prevalent Pelagian heresy (originated in England, not surprisingly), which in effect taught that heaven was to be gained by hauling oneself up by his own bootstraps, and that Grace had nothing to do with it.

Holy St. Augustine, pray to God for us!


Service from the Menaion available for less than $10 including shipping:
click on Resources & Downloads
then click on Menaion & Akathist Hymn Catalog
Item #1540, June 15, St. Augustine, 10 pages, $4.00

Book Review

1983 edition Table of Contents
 V. Preface
 1. Introduction
 4. A Brief Life of Blessed Augustine of Hippo
 7. The Place of Blessed Augustine in the Orthdoox cChurch
 9. The Controversy of Grace and free Will
15. The Doctrine of Predestination
20. Opinions in Fifth-century Gaul
25. Sixth-century Opinion, East and West
27. The Ninth Century, St. Photius the Great
29. Later Centuries: St. Mark of Ephesus
32. Opinion of Blessed Augustine in Modern Times
37. A Note on the Contemporary Detractors of Blessed Augustine
42. Appendix

The Place of Blessed Augustine in the Orthodox Church
by Fr. Seraphim Rose  

In the first edition of this book, Fr. Seraphim included a preface he wrote himself, referring to himself in the third person as "the author". 

from Matins Ode II
Having penetrated with faith that which is inaccessible to the corruptible mind, O father Augustine, thou didst clearly preach it; and thou didst thunder upon all the ends of the world, setting forth the greatness of dogmas...

from Ode III
...For the whole world proclaimeth thy corrections and struggles and hymneth the labors whereby thou didst toil in teaching, instructing and setting forth the divine doctrines which thou hadst imbibed.

The Place of Blessed Augustine in the Orthodox Church
first edition, 1983

This little study of Blessed Augustine is presented here in book form at the request of a number of Orthodox Christians who read it in its original form in The Orthodox Word (nos. 79 and 80, 1978) and found it to have a message for the Orthodox Christians of today.  It can make no claim to completeness as a study of the theology of Blessed Augustine; only one theological issue (grace and free will) is treated here in detail, while the rest of "the study is chiefly historical.  If it has any value, it is in revealing the attitude of the Orthodox Church to Blessed Augustine over the centuries; and in trying to define his place in the Orthodox Church, we have perhaps thrown some light on the problem of being Orthodox in our contemporary world, where the feeling and savor of true Orthodox Christianity are so rarely encountered among Orthodox theologians.  While setting forth the Orthodox attitude towards Blessed Augustine, the author has also had in mind to remove him as a "scapegoat" for today's academic theologians and thus to help free us all to see his and our own weaknesses in a little clearer light – for his weaknesses, to a surprising degree, are indeed close to our own.

These weaknesses of ours were vividly brought out for the author not long after the publication of the original study, when he met a Russian, a recent emigrant from the Soviet Union, who had become converted to Orthodoxy in Russia but still understood much of it in terms of the Eastern religious views which he had long held.  For him Blessed Augustine also was a kind of scapegoat; he was accused of mistranslating and misunderstanding Hebrew terms, of teaching wrongly about "original sin," etc. Well, yes, one cannot deny that Blessed Augustine applied his over-logicalness to this doctrine also and taught a distorted view of the Orthodox doctrine of ancestral sin – a view, once more, not so much "un-Orthodox" as narrow and incomplete.  Augustine virtually denied that man has any goodness or freedom in himself and he thought that each man is responsible for the guilt of Adam's sin in addition to sharing its consequences; Orthodox theology sees these views as one-sided exaggerations of the true Christian teaching.

However, the deficiencies of Augustine's doctrine were made by this Russian emigrant into an excuse for setting forth a most un-Orthodox teaching of man's total freedom from ancestral sin.  Some one-sided criticisms of Augustine's teaching on original sin even among more Orthodox thinkers have led to similar exaggerations, resulting in unnecessary confusions among Orthodox believers: some writers are so much "against" Augustine that they leave the impression that Pelagius was perhaps, after all, an Orthodox teacher (despite the Church's condemnation of him); others delight in shocking readers by declaring that the doctrine of original sin is a "heresy."

Such over-reactions to the exaggerations of Augustine are worse than the errors they think to correct.  In such cases Blessed Augustine becomes, not merely a "scapegoat" on which one loads all possible theological errors, justly or unjustly, but something even more dangerous: an excuse for an elitist philosophy of the superiority of "Eastern wisdom" over everything “Western."  According to this philosophy, not only Augustine himself, but also everyone under any kind of "Western influence," including many of the eminent Orthodox theologians of recent centuries, does not "really understand" Orthodox doctrine and must be taught by the present-day exponents of the “patristic revival."  Bishop Theophan the Recluse, the great 19th-century Russian Father, is often especially singled out for abuse in this regard: because he used some expressions borrowed from the West, and even translated some Western books (even while changing them to remove all un-Orthodox ideas) since he saw that the spiritually impoverished Orthodox people could benefit from such books (in this he was only following the earlier example of St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain) – our present-day "elitists" try to discredit him by smearing him with the name of "scholastic."  The further implication of these criticisms is clear: if such great Orthodox teachers as Blessed Augustine and Bishop Theophan cannot be trusted, then how much less can the rest of us ordinary Orthodox Christians understand the complexities of Orthodox doctrine?  The "true doctrine" of the Church must be so subtle that it can "really" be understood only by the few who have theological degrees from the modernist Orthodox academies where the “patristic revival" is in full bloom, or are otherwise certified as "genuinely patristic" thinkers.

Yet, a strange self-contradiction besets this “patristic elite": their language, their tone, their whole approach to such questions – are so very Western (sometimes even “jesuitical"!) that one is astonished at their blindness in trying to criticize what is obviously so much a part of themselves.

The "Western" approach to theology, the over-logicalness from which, yes, Blessed Augustine (but not Bishop Theophan) did suffer, the over-reliance on the deductions of our fallible mind – is so much a part of every man living today that it is simply foolishness to pretend that it is a problem of someone else and not of ourselves first and foremost.  If only we all had even a part of that deep and true Orthodoxy of the heart (to borrow an expression of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk) which Blessed Augustine and Bishop Theophan both possessed to a superlative degree, we would be much less inclined to exaggerate their errors and faults, real or imagined.

Let the correctors of Augustine's teaching continue their work if they will; but let them do it with more charity, more compassion, more Orthodoxy, more understanding of the fact that Blessed Augustine is in the same heaven towards which we all are striving, unless we wish to deny the Orthodoxy of all those Fathers who regarded him as an Orthodox Saint, from the early Fathers of Gaul through Sts. Photius of Constantinople, Mark of Ephesus, Demetrius of Rostov, to our recent and present teachers of Orthodoxy, headed by Archbishop John Maximovitch.  At the least, it is impolite and presumptuous to speak disrespectfully of a Father whom the Church and her Fathers have loved and glorified.  Our "correctness" – even if it is really as "correct" as we may think it is – can be no excuse for such disrespect.  Those Orthodox Christians who even now continue to express their understanding of grace and ancestral sin in a language influenced by Blessed Augustine are not deprived of the Church's grace; let those who are more "correct" than they in their understanding fear to lose this grace through pride.

Since the original publication of this study there has been a Roman Catholic response to it: we have been accused of trying to “steal” Blessed Augustine from the Latins!  No: Blessed Augustine has always belonged to the Orthodox Church, which alone has properly evaluated both his errors and his greatness.  Let Roman Catholics think what they will of him, but we have only tried to point out the place he has always held in the Orthodox Church and in the hearts of Orthodox believers.  By the prayers of the holy Hierarch Augustine and of all Thy Saints, O Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us!  Amen.

Hieromonk Seraphim
Pascha, 1980

Confessions of St. Augustine

St. Augustine's feast day is June 15/28.  His service in the menaion was commissioned by St. John S&SF under Metropolitan Anastassy.

Ikos Ode IV
Enlighten the darkened eyes of my heart, O holy hierarch and teach me worthily to hymn they memory and to praise the wondrous life which thou didst live angelically.  Teach me to take thy doctrines into my soul, and guide me in walking the path of virtue, that I may never depart from the path which leadeth to life everlasting.  Show me what I ought to think, to say and to do.  Bind thou my hands and feet with the fear of God: impel me toward the love of Christ, that I may ever perceive and not be deceived by the corruptible beauties of this world.  Strengthen us, that we may assiduously seek the things which are to come; and pray thou ever for us all.

This is the back cover of issue #103 of The Orthodox Word, March 1982, advertizing a new book.  Fr. Seraphim, just before he died, had started to publish St. Augustine's theological texts.

Example of Passive-Aggression

About the relics of St. Alexander of Svir
from Joanna's notepad

I'm convinced that passive-aggressiveness is evil.  It indicates a deep level of hatred characteristic of demons and psychopaths.  Normal people get angry at each other, and might even get into a fist fight.  But that does not mean they hate each other and take secret delight in seeing the other one suffer.  Anger is not hatred.

A normal honest person, if they can't stand the sight of another person, has a difficult time in the presence of the one he dislikes.  He usually can not hide his feelings very well, and has to leave the room and avoid contact with the one he dislikes, or else he risks losing control of his tongue and being uncivil.  This is intense dislike of another person, but still this is not hatred.

Hatred is quite capable of pretending to be the friend of the one they hate in order to cause them harm.  Demons do it all the time.  So do psychopaths. Psychopaths secretly hate humans, just like the demons.  They secretly take deep delight in seeing humans suffering; and especially if they can be the cause of the suffering, they take yet another delight in that.

From an article in Vertograd-Inform, No. 11, November 1998 and translated in Orthodox Pilgrim June 1999, GOC St. Seraphim Sarov Orthodox Church Glen Allen, Virginia:

 . . . Nothing has exposed the cynicism of the Moscow Patriarchate as has the incident of the recent finding of the supposed relics of Saint Alexander of Svir.

In an interview granted by MP-Metropolitan Juvenaly on February 27, 1998 (Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, No. 4, 1998), concerning the remains of the Imperial family, he solemnly declared: "To revere pseudo-relics is inadmissible for the Church.  The Church does not have the right to be in error."

(Part of the MP stall tactics for glorifying the Royal Martyrs was to pretend they had doubts about the authenticity of the relics.)

Saint Alexander of Svir reposed in 1533 at the age of 85, after a life of great hardship and severe ascetical struggles.  His incorrupt relics were recovered 108 years later, in 1641.  In 1918 they were seized by the Bolsheviks and disappeared.  Recently Igumen Lukian, the present abbot of Saint Alexander's Monastery, appointed one of his spiritual children, the nun Leonida, to search for the Saint's relics.  On July 28, 1998 it was announced that the holy relics had been discovered in the now-closed anatomical museum of the Military Medical Academy in St. Petersburg.  The "relics" were then transferred to the church of the Martyr Sophia, and were soon reported to be exuding "myrrh."  The pious faithful began to flock to the church to venerate the "relics," and Patriarch Alexis even served a moleben before them.  Now however, it has been determined that these remains are most likely those of a younger man in his forties, clean-shaven and well cared for, perhaps a Moslem, who apparently died the first part of this century.  Scientific analysis revealed a large incision in his abdomen, and the presence of the chemical formalin in his organs and tissue, both of which facts indicate that he was embalmed, and possibly even used for instructing medical students.  The staff of the academy said that they probably received the remains in the 1930s, and perhaps from the local prison hospital.

The devil takes secret delight in seeing Orthodox Christians (the humans he loathes the most) venerating phony relics.  He takes delight if his deceit is never discovered or a different delight if his deceit is discovered.  Either way he laughs. 


• Judicial Tyranny.  Senior ROCA lifetime member shares this:
Several pertinent and prescient quotes from Thomas Jefferson (and one from Abraham Lincoln) on judicial tyranny:

Metropolitan Anthony Teacher of Pastorship

Orthodox Life 1981 No. 5

Metropolitan Anthony as a Teacher of Pastorship

A report given by Protopresbyter G. Grabbe (now Bishop Gregory of Manhattan) at the solemn convocation in memory of Metropolitan Anthony on 18/31 March 1963 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign, in New York City.

Great people are multifaceted. Even if we read and hear stories which cast light on various aspects of the teaching and activity of Metropolitan Anthony, they cannot, in spite of all the richness of their content, exhaust everything that can be said of this remarkable hierarch.

It was suggested that today I should speak of him as a teacher of pastorship. This, it would seem, is a very definite and, perhaps, limited theme. However, when I began to think of what exactly should be said about it, I saw that it could fill a whole book with its content, even though the articles of Metropolitan Anthony published on subjects in this field are relatively few. Only a small portion of his lectures on pastoral theology were written down by his students and saw the light of day. His most remarkable essay "Confession," which he himself wrote down, during the time he was in Polish captivity, from what he could remember of his lectures, has been published. (*Available in both Russian and English from Holy Trinity Monastery Bookstore, Jordanville, N.Y.
13361.)  He also wrote a certain number of articles in this field. But this, of course, does not exhaust our material: Vladyka Anthony was not only a professor of pastoral theology; he was himself a pastor and an archpastor. The duties of a teacher are not at all limited to writing alone, for pastorship is not only a science, it is also an art. Therefore, in discussing Metropolitan Anthony as a teacher of pastorship, we have to keep in mind his pastoral labors as well.

Metropolitan Anthony showed me much love and trust, having drawn me near to himself even before he called me to the service of the Church, in 1931, as his closest associate. I was therefore able to be a direct observer of his pastoral work. For a number of years I was almost a daily participant in his talks, listening to his profound and brilliant opinions. I never afterwards met a person who would so simply and candidly share his thoughts with others. When speaking with young people, he was devoid of the least hint of superiority. On the contrary, he was inclined to "render great deference to" the person with whom he was talking. In this his humility was apparent, which was what so attracted the hearts of people to him. His letters to me, at that time a young man of twenty-six, so far from his level of experience and knowledge, were full of expressions which made it seem that he was writing to one of his peers. Such disregard of his superiority was characteristic of him, as an observer of the Beatitude about the poor in spirit. In those of his talks which not only I, but many others had occasion to hear (for example Vladyka Nikon, who is here present), there was nothing but sincerity (although concerning myself, at least, this flattering appreciation of my letters and articles was doubtless exaggerated many times over).

In 1930, he wrote to one young author, a child, one may say, in comparison to him, a great master, concisely, vividly and expressively setting forth his thoughts: "I would envy your talent in uniting fulness of exposition with liveliness of content; I would envy it, if envy were not a deadly sin." This in itself was a form of praise and encouragement used frequently by him to warm the spirit and encourage young people to further labor.

But in all this, what was important was that Vladyka was gladdened by the truth which he saw in our articles and, making himself poor in spirit, applied to us an objectively incorrect criterion, disproportionately disparaging himself and exalting us.

This characteristic of humility and self-deprecation was manifest throughout the pastoral activity of Metropolitan Anthony.

In his highly original speech upon his nomination to the episcopacy, he begins by pointing out the vainglory and self-confidence so usual among those who enter upon the path of a new, higher ministry. "It is apparently characteristic," he said, "for every person called to a lofty, holy service to survey mentally the lot which lies before him and to outline beforehand in his heart and in an eloquent speech all those good and wise undertakings which are crowded in his imagination."

How natural it would be to expect from a man, one might even say a genius endowed with many gifts and overflowing with enterprise and brilliance, a fiery speech about new ways and methods of archpastoral work.

But we find nothing of the sort in the speech of Metropolitan Anthony upon his nomination.

He recalls the ardor of the Apostle Peter and how the Lord humbled him until He had raised him to a high level of perfection. "That which a natural ardor of spirit could not accomplish," said Vladyka, "was accomplished by the grace of the Divine Spirit, finding a place for Himself in a heart cleansed through repentance, adorned with faith, strengthened by humility."

"What happened with the Supreme Apostle," he continued, "is a rule of the life which operates in all of God's servants. It is not in daring plans, nor in bold imagination that their power is disclosed, but in the very denial of their natural strength does the power of God find a place."

Vladyka Anthony pointed out that the spiritual gaze of the worker who is newly called into the Lord's field, "should not be directed far away, but rather within himself; not into the future, but on the present: "Give us this day... And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'"

In his speech upon assuming the direction of the diocese of Ufa, Metropolitan Anthony developed this thought in even greater detail. He spoke of the fact that pastoral service, and especially that of the successors of apostolic authority—the hierarchs—consists mainly of internal work: he pointed out that by means of compassionate love the pastor should experience in his soul the moral life, the moral struggle of his flock; that he should put all the joy of his life in the rising to spiritual perfection of the people entrusted to his leadership, and that he should grieve and pray over their sins as if they were his own.

Here Vladyka stated the reservation that the external activity of ruling a diocese is also necessary for a bishop, but that it will be worthwhile only if this external work is a manifestation of the internal activity which is the essence of the pastoral ministry.

While heading another diocese, that of Volyn', Metropolitan Anthony returns to this topic in a series of letters to the pastors there. "If we want to keep by us the sheep for which we are answerable to God, we must uphold their esteem for the clergy and their faith in divinely transmitted grace not only by the authority of our rank, but also by our personal qualities." He reminded the clergy that "the qualities of prayerfulness and skill in teaching" required of them "by the people—and by the law of God are not external qualities and are obtained only insofar as we ourselves practice the interior spiritual life, i.e., struggle with the passions, force ourselves to private prayer, read the Word of God and the holy fathers, humble our hearts and confide our sins to our spiritual father. The teaching role of the priest lies not in eloquence, nor in external learnedness, nor is it in these that the influence of his preaching and of his admonitions in general consists, but in the extent to which he himself has acquired grace-filled contrition and zeal for God and for salvation."

Thus, the first instruction which Metropolitan Anthony gave to pastors is to work on oneself and to acquire a grace-filled closeness to God.

Such a lofty understanding of pastoral service automatically poses the question of who is called to it.

Vladyka Anthony often summoned people who felt uncertainty about their suitability for such a ministry.

He persuaded me personally to this service in a series of letters when, in spite of my studies in theology, I still had not considered it in the least.

One of the most worthy pastors in the diocese of Volyn' told me that after he finished the seminary, there arose a great doubt in his mind over becoming a priest. Metropolitan Anthony somehow found out about this, and called him to his quarters, talked with him for almost the whole night, and finally convinced him to travel the path of pastorship. Vladyka turned out to be right: from one who was not previously conscious of his calling, there came a splendid "good shepherd."

Metropolitan Anthony was wary of those who felt themselves called to the priesthood.  If the call is true, Church will hear it before the candidate does.

On the other hand, Vladyka sometimes treated with a certain mistrust that internal call, of which some seeking the priesthood spoke to him.

Metropolitan Anthony was a man of profound spiritual sobriety and was very watchful for any self-delusion. He considered that "the voice of God" felt in one's heart is often nothing other than the fruit of self-delusion.

Metropolitan Anthony was a man of profound spiritual sobriety and was very watchful for any self-delusion. He considered that "the voice of God" felt in one's heart is often nothing other than the fruit of self-delusion. He wrote: "We think that this voice may be sensed only by that candidate who has been designated beforehand by the Church. The self-appraisal, the state of mind of the person preparing for the priesthood, should have scant significance" (Vol. II, p. 184).

"We think that this voice may be sensed only by that candidate who has been designated beforehand by the Church. The self-appraisal, the state of mind of the person preparing for the priesthood, should have scant significance."

Being wary of self-delusion in those who felt themselves called to the priesthood, and in general warning us ever, in the name of spiritual sobriety, against too great a trust in one's own inner voice, Metropolitan Anthony then called future pastors to a careful preparation of themselves for so lofty a ministry.

Metropolitan Anthony saw the principal portion of pastoral theology "not at all in the enumeration of the individual, official functions of the priest, but in pastoral asceticism, that is, in a detailed and clear, theologically based exposition: 
     1) of the very origin of this pastoral spirit (disposition); 
     2) of its further development and ultimate results; and, finally, 
     3) its manifestation in activity" 
      (Letters to Pastors on Some Perplexing Aspects of Pastoral Work, 2nd ed., Kazan: 1898, pp. 17-18).

The lectures of Metropolitan Anthony and his articles on pastoral theology introduced a new current into this discipline. In his course of lectures which appeared in print in 1957, Archimandrite Kiprian (Kern) calls them "a real event in the history of this science." He justifiably writes that Metropolitan Anthony, then a young archimandrite, "truly brought about a flourishing in the history of the Russian seminary in general and in that of pastoral theology in particular" (Orthodox Pastoral Ministry, Paris: 1957, p. 13).

He continued to inspire this "spring" even after he left his professor's chair. As a bishop, he continued to teach the science and art of pastorship to the clergy subject to him, for, as he maintained, it was not simply a science, but instruction in living.

If, on the one hand, Metropolitan Anthony indicated the same sources of the science of pastoral theology that one can find in manuals published before his own, on the other hand, he joined the principles of living pastoral experience to those of a theoretical textbook.

He pointed out that book learning alone is not sufficient, that life must be studied directly. Following in the steps of the well-known spiritual writer Sturdza, Vladyka pointed out the importance for pastoral experience of visiting the sick and being present at deathbeds. He said that in these cases "one day is more beneficial for the pastor than a whole decade of hook learning" (Pastoral Theology, Harbin: 1935, pp. 39-40).

Prayer is of fundamental importance in pastorship. Metropolitan Anthony calls it "the chief means for receiving spiritual gifts." The pastor, in his words, by means of extensive struggle must foster within himself the element of prayer—the ability to be lifted up to heaven, into the world beyond the grave, and to be, so to speak, at home there" (ibid., p. 41).

It must be said that these words were, without a doubt, applicable to Vladyka himself. He had a remarkable knowledge of the lives of the saints and, hearing his comments on them, one would think that he was speaking of his own good and close friends.

His instructions to pastors are full of directions in the province of prayer. Here we should not fail to mention his remarkable article, "A Letter to a Priest about Prayer." In this article he gives in concise form an abundance of practical advice, which is important for every Christian.

But Viadyka Anthony looked very soberly on the task of the parish priest. Though he himself was a man of prayer and an ascetic, a great believer in monasticism who brought many young people to the monastic way, Metropolitan Anthony understood that before the parish priest lie such practical pastoral concerns that he cannot always tear himself away from them for the sake of any personal struggle of prayer of a monastic nature.

In view of the failure of some persons with the best intentions to "fit in" as pastors, Metropolitan Anthony points to people who look on pastoral service not as "a spiritual union of the pastor with his flock, but as a struggle of obedience in the sense of the mere fulfillment of certain obligations and rules without the acquisition of the pastoral spirit." In his words, such people, "with all the value of their moral qualities, are oppressive to their flock, are bureaucrats." Metropolitan Anthony notes that Chrysostom was right, when he said that many desert-dwellers who have acquired higher contemplation can turn out to be completely useless and unfit when placed on the lampstand of the pastorate. Viadyka warned parish priests that they would not achieve their goal if they limited themselves by giving themselves over completely to the guidance of contemporary "books on asceticism." With all their undoubted merits, he wrote, they hardly give one all that is wished for, but only half, i.e., they open the way to purity, to knowledge of God, but not to the point where the soul becomes sensitive to the spiritual needs of one's neighbor." Vladyka, of course, wanted the married clergy to know and read the ascetic works of the Fathers, but he added that, among "the married clergy, the spirit of pastorship is learned more from their family life, or through direct association with their parishioners and people of good life, than by means of extensive reading."

For a better understanding of the problems of the modern-day flock, Metropolitan Anthony wanted pastors to be acquainted with literature, which portrays man's experience, his feelings, temptations, falls and recoveries from falls in contemporary circumstances. It is therefore one of the most important sources of knowledge of the human soul, which is so important for healing it.

For this reason, Vladyka himself had an interest in secular literature and knew it well. He made a particularly detailed study of Pushkin and Dostoyevsky.  He considered all of this to be very important material for the pastor.

After the struggle of prayer, Metropolitan Anthony accorded special significance in pastoral work to confession.

He pointed out that the conversation between two people in confession is quite an exceptional phenomenon. "All conversations which are carried on between people outside of confession, especially at the present time, have as their goal the concealing of shortcomings and the display of often non-existent qualities." In confession, people talk about sins to which they would never admit under other circumstances, even at knifepoint."

Metropolitan Anthony spoke on this subject with particular love, for he himself was not a theoretician, but a man of action. It was in confession more than at any other time that the compassionate love so dear to his heart could find expression.

Metropolitan Anthony's work "Confession" is one of the most precious pearls among his writings. In it are clearly revealed his lofty personal characteristics, and especially his heart, which was full of love for the repentant sinner. This love, united with spiritual experience, allowed the metropolitan to set forth in his lectures on pastoral theology directions on how to edify in confession people of various dispositions and from various stations in this life. These directions are profound and practical, embracing almost all types of sin and indicating in all cases how to treat them at their very roots.

Such deep, practical instructions are not found in any other manual, and this book should be a reference guide for every spiritual father.

But if Metropolitan Anthony appears in these writings chiefly as a loving director of the spiritual life, on the other hand he was not at all a stranger to the art of administration.

I have on more than one occasion heard the one-sided appraisal of him, that he was far from being an administrator, but this is a profound mistake!

Indeed, Metropolitan Anthony did put prayer and spiritual activity in first place for the pastor, but he never forgot that he was ordained to shepherd Christ's flock, and, with all his goodness, he sometimes resorted to strict measures.

Thus, soon after his assignment to Volyn', he dismissed the secretary of the consistory, who was not worthy of his confidence. In a letter to the pastors of the Church in Volyn' in 1912, referring to the fact that in some parishes the peasants, under the influence of the revolutionary movement, had declared that the Church was theirs and that the Church's money was theirs, had stopped paying their assessments for diocesan needs, and here and there had even locked the church doors against priests they did not like, Metropolitan Anthony wrote: "Of course, we did not hesitate to take the strictest measures in combating such revolts in the parishes: we sealed up the churches that had been locked against their priests, pending the repentance of the parishioners; we cut the instigators off from Communion for a year or more; we attached rebellious parishes to neighboring priests, and so forth."

If in his letters Metropolitan Anthony tried to raise the spiritual level of the clergy subject to him and gave advice on how to carry on their pastoral work, the resolutions he promulgated in the diocese of Volyn' reveal in him an attentive administrator as well.

I think that this latter characteristic has remained unnoticed on the part of many because his image as dogmatist, a teacher of piety and a person of exceptional goodness overshadows the other aspects of his administrative activity.

Published as a separate booklet, Metropolitan Anthony's resolutions for the diocese of Volyn' set forth in detail not only a series of strict instructions concerning liturgics and the fitting splendor of services and the orderly administration of the Church, but also deal with the proper running of parishes in the absence of their priests, on the significance of clerical lands, on the building of churches without technical supervision, instructions to the assistant deans, etc.

He had a fine knowledge of the techniques of church government, but he alleviated the dryness of administration with his love and fatherly indulgence.

I have already mentioned what tremendous importance Metropolitan Anthony attached to the presence of compassionate love in the pastor. He considered it one of those gifts which are strengthened and warmed in the pastor not only by his will and disposition, but also by the gift of grace imparted to him at ordination.

He himself had this gift in abundance. It was manifested in him at an early age and even more when he had achieved maturity.

Vladyka's door was open to all. His apartment was always filled with students, with whom he held endless talks, taking time from his current work and often talking for a long time with one of them, in order to arouse his religious feelings and set him on the path of repentance and moral awakening.

Who can count all the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Heaven who owe the salvation of their souls to the pastoral love of Metropolitan Anthony? 

Pastoral service is difficult, responsible and, like every art, requires talent, knowledge and work.

Great artists have compiled handbooks, have given instructions to their pupils, have shown them the various techniques of their art, but by no means were the pupils always able to emulate them in full measure.

The example of Metropolitan Anthony stands before us as a colossus of pastorship, as a real genius, a great expert in the realm of the human soul.

He no longer instructs us by the living word of his lips, now closed in death. But his salvific discourse has not ceased. Through the example of his life and from the pages of his works, his teaching on pastoral service flows and will flow in an uninterrupted stream.

Translated by Seraphim F. Englehardt from The Church and her Teaching in Life, by Protopresbvter C. Grabbe, Vol. II (Montreal: 1970) pp. 117-128.

How the Celts Saved Britain

How the Celts Saved Britain - part 1: 
1 hour

How The Celts Saved Britain - part 2: 
1 hour

Holy Martyrs of China

June 11/24
Commemoration of the Holy Protomartyrs of China slain during the Boxer Rebellion

Troparion Tone V
In a pagan land ye were enlightened by the Orthodox Faith, 
and having lived in the Faith but a little while, 
ye have inherited the eternal kingdom.
By the purity of your Christian ways
ye put to shame false Confucian piety
and trampled demon-inspired Buddhism underfoot as refuse,
sanctifying the Chinese land with your blood.
Wherefore, we pray: 
Entreat the Master of all,
that He enlighten your land with Orthodoxy in these latter times, 
and strengthen us therein.

Kontakion Tone I
O martyrs of these latter times,
ye whitened your garments in the blood of the Lamb,
and shed your own blood for Christ; 
for which cause ye now minister unto Him day and night in the Church of heaven.
Wherefore, entreat Christ for us, O glorious martyrs, 
that He hide His little flock from the beguilement of Antichrist, 
and that He lead all of us out of great tribulation 
into a land of never-waning light. 

Story told here (world-orthodox website):

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Pre-union Confusion

Where is the Church?

Back in 2007, in deciding whether or not to join the MP, the bottom line for Fr. Theodore was that he did not want to become part of yet another schism.  

He said,  "It is impossible that everyone who is moving towards liturgical communion with the Moscow Patriarch is completely deluded." 

He is right, of course.  Not everyone who went with the union was completely deluded.  Only a few are completely deluded, such as Fr. John Whiteford and Fr. Andrew Phillips.  For many others, though, there was a partial delusion.  Those folks remain in doubt.

Here below, Fr. Theodore summarizes his agonizing reasoning, and gives his final decision to his flock at the last hour.  He wavered and finally fell into the ROCOR-MP.

Archpriest Theodore Shevzov April 2007 Homily
Confused Thoughts of a Priest of the Russian Church Abroad about Liturgical Communion with the Moscow Patriarchate

On April 29, following the Slavonic liturgy, Fr. Theodore Shevzov, assistant pastor of the Presentation of the Lord parish in Stratford, CT shared his thoughts on the upcoming reunification of the Russian Church.

My attitude to the question of Eucharistic (liturgical) communion with the church of the Moscow Patriarchate was not something formed thoughtlessly, shooting from the hip "for" or "against," or in accordance with the American expression "My mind is made up; don’t confuse me with facts." However, I would like to emphasize that I did not form my attitude toward the coming events of May 17-19, 2007 by way of cold logic, but rather serious mulling it over mentally and spiritually.

Most of us know quite well what woes and adversities, and even tragedies befell the Russian Orthodox Church, both abroad and in Russia after the Revolution of 1917, during the reign of the Soviet regime, especially after the death of the Holy Confessor Patriarch Tikhon. We know perfectly well about the terror and the coercion and lying that existed in the USSR, and that the Russian Orthodox Church could not escape.

I think that of these three misfortunes, the most awful and dangerous one, especially for the Church, was untruth, for untruth can change one’s outlook on the world and firmly implant the idea that "the end justifies the means."

As for us - the Church Abroad - we also experienced woes and sorrows. The path our Church took was far from smooth; it was even a sorrowful one. Our greatest misfortune lay in the fact that we were subjected to various kinds of schisms. I will say a few words about the most serious one, as it occurred long ago, during the early years of the emigration, and many people have either forgotten or don’t know about it. 

By the way, it was perhaps the most serious schism in the Church Abroad, for it disrupted unity in the very midst of our Church. It happened in the Summer of 1926, when all, or almost all, of the Church Abroad assembled for the Sobor [Council] of Bishops in the little town of Sremski Karlovtsy, Serbia, then the headquarters of the ROCOR. Chairing the Sobor was Metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitsky), then the [First-hierarch] of the Church Abroad. Metropolitan Evlogy (Georgievsky), Metropolitan Platon (Rozhdestvensky) of America, and Archbishop Anastassy (Gribanovsky) also took part in the Council. Because of the political differences and differences in the conditions of ordinary life in the various countries of the Russian Diaspora, the bishops could not achieve oneness of mind as to the direction of the Russian Church Outside of Russia; Metropolitan Evlogy, who administered the parishes of Western Europe, and Platon, who had earlier been assigned to North America, even walked out of the Council meeting. That caused the most serious and even destructive schism in the Church Abroad, for it disrupted prayerful and liturgical communion within the ROCOR. That event was a source of pain for all of the bishops and the Russian people of the Church Abroad, especially so to Metropolitan Antony and Archbishop Anastassy, who considered any schism in the Church to be a great sin. The intelligent and extremely well-educated professor and theologian Archpriest John Meyndorff, stated quite aptly with respect to the schism of 1926: "There is no question that, the émigrés had the spiritual responsibility to preserve freedom and unity, which were being ever more persecuted in Soviet Russia. In the 1920s, some kind of "fixing of boundaries" was becoming ever more essential. However, central to the question was how to accomplish that defining of boundaries without losing the sense, the spirit of the Church, i.e. without a schism, without a disruption in prayerful communion, without a departure from universal Orthodoxy." Quite unfortunately, that schism and the ensuing lack of liturgical communion between the once united parts of the Church Abroad has persisted to our days, even to the extent of having part of it in America transformed into an autocephalous church in America, with a gradual loss of its Russian roots.

Now, let us turn to today, May 2007. What are we now facing? We are now facing the most important event in the entire history of ROCOR: We hope to establish liturgical communion with the Moscow Patriarchate. For us this is truly an unusual event. In my opinion, this is not a restoration of liturgical communion, for one can restore only that which once existed, and liturgical communion between ROCOR and the current Russian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has never existed. This is something entirely new, and so it is not surprising that many of us are worried and concerned [about it]. Any novelty, anything to which we are not accustomed, can be frightening. I myself have experienced that [concern and worry]. Only a year or a year and a half ago, I was opposed to ROCOR taking such a step. I would pose the following question to myself: How could we forget and discard everything we had read, what we had seen for ourselves, and what had been taught to us from childhood by people whom we greatly respected and loved? Having been schooled and educated both at home and in Russian schools in the spirit of truth and Christian virtues, how could we forget everything that had gone on in the USSR, both in ordinary life and in the Church, involving lying, terror, and forcible coercion? However, later, especially over the course of the past two years, after mulling over and coming to understand the entire question both in heart and mind, I realized that neither did I have to discard anything I had been taught or seen for myself, nor was I being forced to, nor did I intend to change my deeply-held convictions! How then, should we proceed?

We must simply accept Russia, its suffering Church there, and the Russian Church here, as they are today, not waiting for the Church in Russia to become the Church as I would like to see it be, as our instructors teachers, and parents were hoping to see it. To await that is to be day-dreaming. On the contrary, I (we) need not be afraid of actively participating in the creative activity in Russia - just as a priest should not be afraid to go to a hospital, a place where there are difficulties and needs, rather than wait for the sick person himself to get well and have his problems disappear before going to him. No, we must not be afraid, but must only remember and watch that we not be controlled by fear, hatred, enmity, haughtiness, or a sense of being superior to the Church in Russia.

There is an abundance of work to be done in Russia, and we are needed there. I am certain that among the laity, among the priests, and even among the bishops, we will find people of like mind with us. We will be heeded far more readily if we are in liturgical communion with them, not creating and maintaining some kind of parallel "organizational structures" or churches, and not waging a "partisan/guerilla" war with the Moscow Patriarchate but rather helping it defend itself against the various foreign, heterodox sects that are actively striving to establish themselves in Russia. What would be incomparably more fruitful is if we ourselves were to "live not according to falsehood," and help the people and the Church in Russia to do the same.

Now let us see what we would have if we were among those in opposition to liturgical and prayerful communion with the Moscow Patriarchate.

We would either unite with one of the already existing "breakaway groups" that have left our Church or create a new breakaway group. How many more schisms must we endure?

We would either unite with one of the already existing "breakaway groups" that have left our Church or create a new breakaway group.

How many more schisms must we endure?

We would cease to recognize our First-hierarch and the other bishops of the Church Abroad, whom we had heretofore respected and to whom we had been subject. None of our previous First-hierarchs, beginning with Metropolitan Antony, would have ever given his blessing for such a thing.

We would be bereft of liturgical communion with our Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, with the Novo-Diveevo Convent, and with the other churches that I love and in which I served.

We would be bereft of Church communion/association with many of our brethren, priests, and friends, whom we love and respect.

It is as if we were rejecting Russia and the vast majority of Russian Orthodox people in their time of difficulty.

Certain people who do not agree with [having] liturgical communion with the Moscow Patriarchate will say that there are a number of groups, under true Orthodox Russian bishops, and also Greek Old-calendarists under the omophorion of Greek Metropolitan Cyprianos, with whom one could join. Yet, that path would still mean leaving everything for a schism away from the historical ROCOR and all but one or two of its bishops. It is impossible that everyone who is moving toward liturgical communion with the Moscow Patriarchate is completely deluded! 

It is impossible that everyone who is moving toward liturgical communion with the Moscow Patriarchate is completely deluded! 

The First-hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia considered all paths leading to schism to be a great sin. St. John Chrysostom used to say that "schism in the Church is worse than heresy." Thus the right path for us is to heal the schism and to turn to one another and to all Orthodox people in Russia and throughout the world with those words завещаны нам: It is the Day of Resurrection, let us be radiant for the Feast, let us embrace one another…and let us say: Brothers and sisters, even to them that hate us, let us forgive all things on the Resurrection, and thus let us cry out: Christ is Risen!

Archpriest Theodore Shevzov
April 2007

False Elders in Hindsight

     In hindsight we usually can remember the clues, the red flags, the indications warning us that something was terribly wrong.
     Are there clues Orthodox people are ignoring today?  I think so.  (Pseudo-elder Ephraim.)

Fr. Herman Podmoshensky