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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






The Calendar Question

Book Review

The Calendar Question
by Priest Basil Sakkas, ROCOR

Defending the tradition of the Church Calendar (a.k.a. "old" calendar) is a different battle for the Greeks and for the Russians.  This is because the national Church in Greece adopted the new calendar.  The Russian Church did not, and neither has the MP.  The Greeks remaining loyal to the Church calendar had to bear severe persecution from their state Church.  The ROCOR did not suffer such serious persecutions over the calendar, but she had to bear watching the Metropolia, her runaway daughter, fall into renovationism and to bear slanderous vilifications from the Metropolia.   

Fr. Basil teaches us, and also at times he speaks directly to all the new calendarists who would scorn and ridicule us to this day.  "Us" includes the Sister Churches, the Old Calendar Churches of Bulgaria, Rumania, Greek, and ROCOR.  The Greeks and Russians fight different battles, but it is the same war – the Mystery of Iniquity trying to destroy the true Church of Christ.  

In 1973 Fr. Basil's book was published by Jordanville.  But before that it was serialized in Orthodox Life magazine.  The first installment starts with the July-August issue of 1972, page 22:



Excerpts from the book:

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However, not having grasped the meaning of the calendar issue, the new calendarists imagine that one day the issue shall be forgotten and that the organism of the Church will dissolve this tumor little by little. Beloved brethren, can time alter the Tradition? Can falsehood be transformed into truth with the passage of time? God forbid! As soon as we have permitted a tiny worm to enter the fruit, no matter how small or imperceptible it is, it will not discontinue being a worm nor will it cease to grow until the fruit has become rotten. In such a case, not only does time not correct these things, but very much to the contrary, it makes them worse; look around you so that you may perceive the truth of these words.

Universal Zionism, the forerunner of the Antichrist, exercises a very subtle and penetrating propaganda in our days, using Masonry also as its right arm. In this manner, it has succeeded in removing from the liturgical books of the Latins all the texts which relate to the deicide committed by ancient Israel, on the excuse that they were anti-Semitic. By removing these passages, the Latins confess that for 2000 years, they have been suffering from an unhealthy anti-Semitism. Insomuch as they are heretics and schismatics, they have understood nothing concerning the theological issue of the Israelite deicide. Ever since 1924 you new calendarists have admitted the corruptive principle of aggiornamento; now how shall you react when the professors of your universities (e.g. the case of Prof. Alivizatos) support the principle of the “revision” of our liturgical texts? Truly, whether we chant such and such a troparion or kontakion is not a dogmatical question (notice, however, the suppression of the name of St. Photius the Great in the newly-published Menaia).



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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



Today the book is out of print.  Amazon has 1 copy for $60.

Scribd offers a download, with a paid membership.

SJKP offers a coil-bound hard copy for $15 + shipping

GOC has the book posted on their official website

R-fragment ROAC posts the book in downloadable pdf form
   (This appears to be the same as the Scribd copy.  Looks like Scribd took their copy from ROAC.)
   This same pdf can also be downloaded from an online file storage account: