Count the Number of the Beast: 666

Rassophore-monk Vsevolod

... I have an opinion as to this number [666], though I do not know for certain, for many names have been found in this number when it is expressed in writing. Still we say that perhaps the scription of this same seal will give us the word "I deny."..

Of such kind, in the time of that hater of all good, will be the seal, the tenor of which will be this: "I deny the Maker of heaven and earth, I deny the baptism, I deny my (former) service and attach myself to thee, and I believe in thee."

 ... truly those who are engrossed in the affairs of life, and with the lust of this world, will be easily brought over to the accuser [Antichrist] then, and sealed by him. - Saint Hippolytus of Rome

"Discourse on the End of the World and on Antichrist"

 In the Apocalypse, the holy Apostle John the Theologian indicated the number of Antichrist in these words: And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their forehead... Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six (Rev. 13:16, 18). Ever since then, there have been many interpretations of this number. In their exegeses the Holy Fathers have proceeded from the fact that the number of the beast [i.e., Antichrist] is the number of his name, as it says in verse 17: ...the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. During the time of Antichrist, everyone will be offered to receive the mark of the beast, and therefore Christians ought to know the essence of what this means and just what this number signifies.

On this subject, a majority of Christians today fall into one of two basic categories. To the first belong those who are altogether indifferent to this question, who consider it to be of little import and who even laugh at those who are interested in it. It would appear that such apathy, such a lukewarm attitude, reflects a shallow, superficial faith. In the second group are those Christians who, possessing "zeal without knowledge," are led astray by the enemy into overly literal interpretations, finding the number of Antichrist in trademarks, in documents and on currency - an extreme approach that frequently leads to the development of a pharisaical-sectarian spirit.

What is the genuinely Orthodox approach to this subject? We shall try to explain. The Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church allow of various explanations of the number of the beast. Most often the name is sought in the correspondence between the number of the beast and the sum of letters of this or that name. Thereby people have arrived at many descriptive and even proper names of Antichrist, and likewise his title. They have deduced such names as "Wicked Leader," "Ancient Envier," "Truly Malicious," "Unrighteous Lamb," and others.

Doubtless, any descriptive names corresponding to the number 666 can, of course, be applied to Antichrist. However, we must direct our attention not to an external search for names, but to ascertaining the inner meaning of the name of the beast. After all, the Apostle John the Theologian indicated specifically that in order to comprehend the name of the beast it was essential to have wisdom, i.e., Christian love of wisdom, and not simply an arithmetical formula.

We know that Divine names - as, for example, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, and others - can contain a condensed form of the entire Christian confession. The hesychast fathers often point this out in speaking about the Jesus Prayer. Antichrist, in seeking to counterfeit Christ in all respects, will also have a name that expresses, in condensed form, his entire false teaching. The name of Antichrist will be a kind of brief but precise symbol of the antichristian faith. It will contain in itself all the fundamental theses of this false teaching. Only in this way can one explain how the acceptance of the inscription of this name, the mark of the beast, will be a denial of Christ and His Church.

It is this denial of true Christianity that constitutes the principal reason for setting the seal of Antichrist. Clearly, then, the acceptance of this seal is not connected to any trademarks or commercial marks on documents, money or even on the flesh (for example, prisoners in labor camps wear numbers on their clothing, and slaves used to be branded).  This is not the seal of Antichrist. The acceptance of the mark must be joined with a conscious denial of Christ and the acceptance of the law of Antichrist.

It is interesting to trace how, over thousands of years, Satan has been preparing mankind to accept his religion. Many pagan cults confess some kind of divine triad. The ancient Romans had Jupiter, Juno and Minerva; the Hindus have Brahma, Siva and Visnu; in the Egyptian religion one finds the trinitarian group of Osiris, Isis, and Horus. The concept of a trinity also exists in Buddhism and among the ancient Slavs and Celts. In the Graeco-Roman religious cults this idea was reflected in the veneration of the three-bodied goddess Hecate, the three-headed Scylla, the triune divinities of the Cabiri. At the gate of Hades stood guard the fiendish, three-headed dog, Cerberus. Numerous divine triads have been revered by pagan tribes of the Americas and Africa. The cult of voodoo, which is related to modern satanism and still practiced today, believes in some anti-trinity.

These confessions may be said to contain fragments of true revelation. If satan did not exist, one could say that these pagan peoples revered the true God-in-Trinity, even though their concepts of just Who this is were in many ways distorted. But because the world of dark spirituality is in fact a distorted representation of the Divine world, and the devil in his actions imitates God in a distorted fashion, it follows that the distorted divinity of the pagans is a false god, endeavoring to pass for the true God. Through the lips of the Prophet David, the Church warns us that all the gods of the heathen are devils (LXX, Ps. 95:5). It is evident that, under the guise of these pagan "trinities," satan himself is concealed together with his minions. This is iconographically supported: in the Christian art of Europe and Abyssinia one finds three-headed, three-faced or three-horned depictions of satan, symbols of the satanic false trinity. Two thousand years ago, as Christianity spread throughout the world, it disarmed and bound the religion of satan, as this was manifest in numerous pagan cults. In the time of Antichrist this religion of evil will again, in one form or another, come to dominate the world.

In what will the religion of Antichrist consist? It is enigmatically expressed for us by the Apostle as the number 666. As we see, this number is composed of three sixes: six hundreds, six tens and six ones. If we turn to Holy Scripture, we see that the number six rarely figures in either the Old or New Testaments, whereas the number seven is used in the Bible as a symbol of completeness, of fulfillment, of perfection, of wholeness (often in the sense of absolute perfection). In Christ, humanity is shown an example of the fullness of the Godhead (cf. Col. 2:9). The Antichrist, by contrast, will unite in himself all incompleteness, all imperfection, and deficiency. The symbol of imperfection - that seeks to appear as perfection - is none other than the number six. In the number of the beast this imperfection is raised to its extreme: it is not merely six, but six hundred, sixty-six!

If the Son of God co-exists indivisibly and in unconfused union with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the son of perdition, Antichrist, exists in the closest possible union with satan and his false prophet. The three of them together represent a false trinity, as it were: the spirit of malice-the beast-the second beast. These three deficient persons, one in their spiritual essence, are united in a single incompleteness, whose symbol is 666. And so, the number of the name of the beast contains in condensed form the entire diabolical confession of the false religion of the Antichrist. Herein lies the evil power of this bestial name.

The "moral" teaching of satan can also be expressed as a type of triune evil:  evil reasoning, evil feelings, and evil will. This anti-moral teaching can also be symbolically expressed by the name of the beast, more precisely, by the tripartite number of this name. For this reason, the acceptance of this name of Antichrist in the form of some seal will in fact be a denial of Christ and His Church.

The son of perdition, the Antichrist, inasmuch as he is a man, will give the devil the possibility - through him - to act openly in the world, and, with the help of the false prophet, to deceive and destroy people. The greater part of humanity will gladly accept this proud message of the man-god, whose principal postulates will be: "Man! Know that your 'I' is a part of the divinity. You are truly a god! You are a law unto yourself. No one has any authority over your 'I.' An example for you is your messiah [Antichrist], a great man, who knows that he is a god!" The false religion of Antichrist can be characterized as a humanist religion, in the sense that it is not divine; it is vain, transitory. This is why the number of the beast is called in the Apocalypse, the number of a man (Rev. 13:18). The number of a man is the name of the man-Antichrist, who will reveal himself to be a god, but who in essence will be merely a pathetic slave of the fallen angel.

Let us say now a few words about that close unity of the three persons of the false-trinity. According to the teaching of the Orthodox Church, the whole life and activity of Antichrist will be connected in one way or another to satan, to whom he will be in conscious and voluntary submission. Antichrist will be close to the devil as no other person in the history of the world. He will be a real instrument of satan. In turn, the false prophet, who is called in the Scriptures the second beast, will be Antichrist's closest ally. Through Antichrist, satan will give enormous power and authority to the false prophet, who will act with all the authority of the first beast, and will compel all the earth and all those living upon the earth to bow down before him. Through the miracles that the beast will grant the false prophet to perform, the latter will deceive many, telling them to make an image to the beast (13:14): And he will be given power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should all be killed (Rev. 13:11-12, 14-15). From the second verse of the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation, one can conclude that it is precisely thanks to the false prophet that many people will accept the mark of the beast. However, three and a half years later the reign of lawlessness will come to an end, for the Lord Jesus Christ will appear in glory and overwhelm all the enemies of God. And the devil will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever (Rev. 20:10).

Many people think that the seal of the Antichrist will be something like a stamp or brand, or an electronic chip implanted under the skin. The basis for such thinking lies in the fantastically rapid development of science and technology in this direction. Most likely, however, this scientific development is designed to distract mankind's attention from the real mark of Antichrist, which will have nothing to do with the advances of science, technology or medicine. At a time when people's suspicions and anxieties are fixed upon some innovation of progress-the implantation of computer chips in humans, for example-the real seal of Antichrist will be imprinted quietly, without any particular commotion.

In a spiritual sense, this satanic mystery - the imprinting of the mark of Antichrist - will be the antithesis of the Christian Mystery of Chrismation, which, we recall, is the placing of the seal of the Holy Spirit, while imitating its external form. Just as in the Mystery of Chrismation, the priest anoints the newly-illumined on the forehead and hands, so, too, in the placing of the mark of Antichrist, his servants may well anoint people with some kind of "sacred" oil, which will symbolize the voluntary acceptance of Antichrist and his religion. The iconographic tradition of the Orthodox Church supports this supposition. In the iconographic sketch, illustrating the pouring out of God's wrath upon those bearing the mark of the beast - that is, the seal of Antichrist (Rev. 16:1,2) - we see satan wearing a fiery three-horned crown (symbolizing the trinity of evil); he is signing people on the forehead with the mark of the beast - the seal of Antichrist. Moreover, he is using a brush, dipping into a vial that he is holding in his other hand (The Illuminated Bible, 1914). Why is it that the illustration depicts satan himself placing the mark?

Because it symbolizes his spiritual presence among those numerous servants of the religion of Antichrist, who will actually place the mark upon the peoples of the earth.

Of course, the sign of Antichrist may be placed by means other than a brush - by some other "sacred" instrument or simply by the hand of a servant of the universal (Antichrist's) religion. Whatever the actual means, the aim is to induce people to renounce Christ.

Let us return now to the two groups of people whom we mentioned at the beginning of this article, and see how they will react to the mark of the beast. It is very likely that both those who are indifferent to the question of accepting the stamp and those who zealously study marks on currency, documents and manufactured goods, endeavoring to detect the mark of Antichrist-both groups will be found outside Christ's Church. The first because, even in accepting the mark of Antichrist, they will console themselves with the thought that this is merely some innocuous, ecumenical rite. And the second, because even before the placing of the marks (or even before the coming of Antichrist), they will accuse the earthly part of Christ's Church with having accepted the mark of Antichrist, although in fact this will be simply some credit card or new type of personal document. Furthermore, such zealots "not according to knowledge" will proclaim that their group alone - which has rejected these "marks" (cards, documents, products with certain symbols, etc.) - is the true Church. Clearly, this will be nothing but a new schism or sect. Already now we find many sad examples of such splinter groups, and they will only increase in the last times.

The salvific Royal Path consists in, first: not accepting (only) those innovations of civilization that are clearly connected with the renunciation of Christ, and, secondly, not participating in any non-Orthodox rituals, for this path leads to Satan's principal ritual - the acceptance of the seal of Antichrist, i.e., the renunciation of Christ, under the guise of an outwardly innocuous, symbolical act. One must also remember that an important sign of the mark of Antichrist is that it will be made upon everyone throughout the whole world. This allows us to draw two conclusions: 1. whatever registration methods are used by individual governments are not the actual mark of Antichrist (although they may be preparatory), and 2. we must be very vigilant towards registration methods of a worldwide scale, if they in any way concern a confession of faith. Such an approach will guard us from falling into fatal extremes.

To some it may appear that keeping oneself from accepting the stamp of the Antichrist will be easy. We should not forget the warning in Scripture that in the last times even many of the chosen will be deceived, that is, many Orthodox Christians. How is this possible? It is important to understand that the principal danger lies not in the fact that this stamp will be masked and presented in the form of some technological innovation, but rather in the fact that modern, "civilized" man will be ashamed, he will be embarrassed not to accept it. This will be the greatest temptation to overcome-and many will not. Just listen to the logic: "Why do you refuse to take part in this measure that involves all of humanity, that is being instituted worldwide? After all, it symbolizes unity and the brotherly love of all peoples. It is a symbol of our unity under the aegis of a lawful global authority that has been given to all men from above. Are you against peace and order? Do you want a reign of chaos and enmity? If you are people of good will, you must take part in these cultural enactments that concern all mankind." Of course, it will turn out that one such  "innocent" enactment will be, in fact, the rite of bowing down before the God-hating Antichrist. Only a discerning vigilance, illumined by the grace of God, will be able to preserve us from such subtle deception of the last times. What will be the consequences of accepting the mark of Antichrist? They will be truly horrific, destroying human souls. The fruit of denying God is always dreadful, for life without God is death.

Will one be able to repent after having accepted the mark of the beast? On the one hand, there is little hope that a person who does not have enough faith and spiritual strength to refuse the mark will be able to repudiate it once he has voluntarily accepted it. On the other hand, our attitude towards the mark of the beast must be free of all unorthodox fatalism and fetishism, for no seal or mark, in and of itself, can have any power over a man. The powers of evil behind this mark have power only over those who personally submit to them, who deny Christ. According to the Orthodox teaching, the power of Christian repentance is stronger than the power of evil. The history of the Church knows numerous examples of people who accepted the spiritual seal of satan himself, people who signed a pact with the devil, voluntarily entrusting their souls to him. And here we have a testimony of God's love for mankind: even some of these apostates repented and became saints. The Lord, by His authority, annulled their pact with satan. We have only to recall the life of Saint Cyprian, a formidable satanist who became a saint after repenting and turning to Christ.

The Orthodox Church teaches us that, up to the time of his physical death, each person, by God's mercy, has the possibility to repent. Therefore, we would deny God's mercy were we to say that people who accept the mark of Antichrist will have no further possibility of repentance. While they are still alive, this possibility will be available to them. Desiring their repentance, the Lord will send down upon them dreadful pestilences, as final, decisive measures for their spiritual restoration. (cf. Saint Andrew of Caesarea, Commentary on the Apocalypse) But, alas, Sacred Scripture clearly states that those who consciously accept the mark of Antichrist will no longer have any desire to repent. They will bite their tongues from pain, but even so they will not cease blaspheming God and they will not repent of their deeds (Rev. 16:10-11). If, among those who bow down before the beast, there should be some isolated cases of repentance, this conversion and repentance can be regarded only as a miracle of God. The conscious acceptance of the soul-destroying stamp under the assumption that one can later repent is a terrible and unforgivable sin in the eyes of God. Therefore, while there is yet time, let us prepare ourselves for the coming trials. Such preparation consists in fulfilling all the soul-saving precepts and ordinances of our Mother, the Orthodox Church. While we still have the opportunity and spiritual strength, let us tirelessly entreat the Merciful God with the words of the Lord's Prayer, as the Saviour intentionally ordained: "Our Father ... lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one."

Holy Trinity Monastery, 1998 (Translated from the Russian by Mary Mansur)

Letter Exchange between Fr. Igor Chitikov and Vl. Agafangel

A Letter from Archpriest Igor Chitikov and the Parish Council of the Church of St. Andrew Stratelates 
Bishop Agafangel's Answer.

His Eminence 
Most Reverend
Bishop Agafangel
PSEA Chairman

October 5\22, 2008
Hieromartyr Phocas

Your Eminence, bless,

The Parish Council of the Church of St. Andrew Stratelates in St. Petersburg, Florida, met on October 5, 2008, and reviewed the current status of our parish.

After the Act was signed, our parish remained with its bishop, the Most Reverend Bishop Gabriel, who spoke out, as you had, against the signing of the Act. Our rector, Archpriest Igor Chitikov, wrote and spoke about the unlawfulness of the Act and called for the dissolution of ROCA. After the Sobor of Bishops, we were finally convinced that the bishops who had left ROCA would not return. Then when our beloved Bishop Gabriel was removed from the Synod administration and transferred to Canada, we made the difficult decision to leave ROCOR(MP).

We carefully investigated the circumstances of your censure and saw that the game-playing of the "two ukazes" was symptomatic of the cheap "political strategies" of the functionaries of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate. Unfortunately, those who never lived or worked in the former USSR, often do not see or understand what is truly occurring there. For us, the entire last year was a year full of political maneuvering. Before we knew it, we found ourselves in a ROCOR MP which had become a banal, post-Soviet department outside of Russia.

We are deeply grateful to you, that you understood our circumstances and took us under your omofor. Yet we have concerns regarding the forthcoming Vth All-Diaspora Sobor. We are troubled by the following issues:

1. In our opinion, ROCA has fulfilled its mission. What grounds are there to create a church body outside of the borders of the Homeland, similar to the many divisions in the Greek Church based on the calendar? Would it be more correct for the parishes in the US and Canada to integrate into the bodies of the lawful churches here? 

2. What is the basis for the canonization of Metropolitan Philaret? What documentation exists for this? How does one become familiar with this documentation? Who makes up the committee for canonization? Since when is Met. Philaret more venerable in the Church Abroad than Metropolitans Anastasy or Anthony? 
The reason we are writing this letter to you was the decision to include our parish in the ranks of parishes in Bishop Andronik’s diocese. We believe this was done prematurely. We did not make any requests to Bishop Andronik, since there was no administrative district here in our Church before May 17, 2007. We turned to you not as the head of some new church body, but as the only ROCA bishop (out of the ones listed on May 17, 2007) who did not agree with the "Act of Eucharistic Communion." We do not consider the MP to be our enemy. But we firmly believe that there is no one in North America who has the right to force us to be an "Embassy of Russia" (in the words of Archpriest V. Potapov). On the other hand, we are even more worried about becoming part of another orthodox schism.

Your Eminence’s humble servants,
Archpriest Igor Chitikov and the members of the Parish Council


Dear Friends in Christ Fr. Igor and members of the Parish Council!

You brought me great pleasure that you react in an engaged and straight-forward manner to events transpiring in the Church. This is a testament to your concern for your salvation, which can also help us to see and recognize our possible errors.

The questions which you pose to me should be decided rightly only at a Sobor. I can only give my personal opinion of them.
1. My personal opinion can be summed up by saying ROCA will fulfill its mission only then, when a lawful and free Local Sobor of the Russian Church is held at which ROCA will have to give an account of all the time of its existence as a part of the Russian Church separated from it because of political events, and whose dogma was changed due to these events. Our founding bishops, along with all those who split with Met. Sergey (Stragorodsky), considered such sobors to be the supreme administrative bodies of the ROC and we are subject likewise to them. We are not self-contained and exist independently only until the situation of the entire Russian Church is finally settled. Before we consider the matter of "integrating into the bodies of the lawful churches here," we should, I believe, carefully consider these bodies, and if possible, develop good relations with them. Only after that, should we consider your question. We do not have the right to make decisions that will lead to confusion among our flock and push our now much smaller Church to the edge of schism. We should be able to prove and explain the correctness of any of our decisions. All decisions must be made at a sobor and we should learn how to obey decisions made on a sobor level. 

2. A final decision about the canonization of Met. Philaret must also be made at our Sobor. The grounds for it are: the incorruptible remains of the holy man, the many miracles resulting from praying to him (these accounts were even printed earlier in Pravoslavnaya Rus (Orthodox Russia)), his disciplined and ascetic life, as well as his steadfastness in confessing the Orthodoxy of the Holy Fathers. Accounts of the miracles are being gathered and will be presented at the All-Diaspora Sobor. This reverence of Met. Philaret does not diminish in any way our love and respect for Metropolitans Anastasy or Anthony. 
The decision to accept your parish was made personally by me, because of the desire of the parish to engage in missionary activities. Therefore, the final status of the parish must be decided together with you and Bishop Andronik, since the parish is located in territory under his authority. In spite of this, I pledge to you that the status will not be imposed upon you. It will be confirmed only with everyone’s agreement. This is spelled out in our list of parishes.

Yours in Christ,
+Bishop Agafangel

October 7\September 24, 2008 – Holy Protomartyr and Equal-to-the-Apostles Thecla


Canonical Release Has A Post-Condition

Upon the ROCOR union with the MP...

In 2007 ROCOR-MP Bishop Alypy agreed to release Priest Mark Gilstrap (St. James, Tulsa) to the GOC. The release was then soon granted by Administrator Bishop Peter at a Diocesan Council.

As a belated condition for Priest Mark Gilstrap's release, he was required to close down a 15 year old ListServ mailing list, which was characterized by free and uncensored content regarding the Union with Moscow.

"Indiana" Orthodox List - Synod List CLOSED as of June 2007.

Visit the parish website

Book Review Reveals Hidden OCA History

Book Review
Reviewed by Michael Woerl
(This is an old 1994 book review, but very timely.  ROCOR-MP is now in communion with the OCA and all of World Orthodoxy, thus inadvertently admitting these lies about itself. -jh)

A History of the Orthodox Church in America (1917-1934)
by Bishop Gregory (Afonsky)
former Bishop of Alaska of the OCA
Saint Herman's Theological Seminary Press, Kodiak, Alaska 1994.

The work under consideration here represents the latest effort of "The Orthodox Church in America" to prove that "The Orthodox Church in America" (OCA) is canonical and legitimate, and consequently, that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) is not.  This perennial campaign has been characterized by deceitful, exaggerated, and at times irrational claims.  This exercise in self-validation on the part of the OCA employs a technique known as "the Big Lie," that is, repeat a lie often enough, and eventually people will begin to accept it as the truth.  The present book does not depart from this standard feature of polemical practice of "The Orthodox Church in America," with the result being that the lie (or, rather, lies) is repeated yet again.  All the justifications to demonstrate the canonicity of the Orthodox Church in America and the illegitimacy of the Russian Church Abroad have appeared before in one form or another.

Nevertheless, there are several peculiarities in this work which add a novel dimension to it. One of these is found in the title itself: A History of the Orthodox Church in America 1917-1934.  Since there was no organization in existence prior to 1970 bearing the sobriquet "The Orthodox Church in America," the title is misleading, as is the author's use of this designation throughout the book.  At various times in the study the term, "The Orthodox Church in America," can refer to 
   a) the original Russian Mission in Alaska;
   b) the pre-revolutionary Russian Diocese; 
   c) the American Metropolia; 
   d) the post-1970 Metropolia—"The Orthodox Church in America"; or, finally, 
   e) the different jurisdictions of the Orthodox Church which are represented in America. 

The use of the same phrase to describe five distinct ecclesiastical bodies, as well as the deceptiveness of the title, which suggests that this is a history of Orthodoxy in America during the years under consideration, is "madness with a method."  The "method" here is that the reader will come to accept the post-1970 American Metropolia—"The Orthodox Church in America," as including in itself all of the other possible meanings of the term, therefore, I use quotation marks around the phrase "The Orthodox Church in America" to emphasize the confusion.  The work's main preoccupation is with the American Metropolia during the years 1917-1934, and it also recapitulates all of the most mean-spirited and vulgar polemics against the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, which is continuously referred to as the "Karlovtsy Synod in Exile," and repeatedly denounced as "uncanonical."

Another peculiarity is the cover, which bears a reproduction of an icon entitled Three Saints of North America (Patriarch Tikhon, Father Herman of Alaska, and Metropolitan Innocent of Moscow). Inside the cover, the reader is informed that this icon is "by the hand of Theodore Jurewicz."  Father Theodore Jurewicz is a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, serving the parish of the Nativity of the Lord in Erie, Pennsylvania.  This fact raises an interesting question: why does a book that devotes a considerable percentage of its pages to denouncing the "uncanonical Karlovtsy Synod in Exile" have on its cover an icon painted by a clergyman of that very same "uncanonical Karlovtsy Synod in Exile"?

More peculiar yet is the distribution of this work. Complimentary copies were mailed to virtually every Orthodox parish, monastery, and publishing house in the United States, an undertaking of considerable expense, especially for a jurisdiction that has made no secret of its present financial difficulties.  One cannot help but question the rationale behind mailing free copies of this book all over the country.  As a matter of fact, the only way it makes sense is if it is seen as one aspect of the strategy to legitimize the OCA by constantly proclaiming its legitimacy – if it is the only argument people hear then "it must be true."  What is truly lamentable is that with Church budgets severely strained, money is wasted on this transparent attempt to justify oneself with the most base of propaganda techniques.  Thirsty souls in this land, afflicted with the famine of the word of God, are sated not with a new, free copy of The Spiritual Counsels of Saint John of Kronstadt or Christ is in our Midst for their Church library, but are only fed lies and distortions of the truth.

As stated above, this work contains nothing new, only a repetition of all the tired half-truths and ill-informed opinions that "The Orthodox Church in America" and its predecessor, the American Metropolia, have felt compelled to disseminate in order to defend their own legitimacy at the expense of the Russian Orthodox Outside of Russia.  In doing so, this work includes some blatant contradictions, the most amazing being the treatment accorded the noted Ukase #362, issued by Patriarch Tikhon on November 20,1920.  This Ukase gave Russian hierarchs the right to "organize a unit of higher church authority'' 1 in the event that communications with the Patriarch in Moscow were impossible, or if the Patriarchate ceased to function altogether, due to persecution of the Church by the Bolsheviks.  When referring to "The Orthodox Church in America," the author informs us that "This decree directly concerned the North American Diocese by allowing the Diocese, which was separated from the central authority in Moscow, to exist as self-governing; it was even permitted to organize itself into a Metropolitan District." 2  With regard to the Russian Orthodox Outside of Russia, however, the author presents a completely different interpretation of Ukase #362, stating that this Ukase cannot be a basis for the existence of the Russian Orthodox Outside of Russia because the Ukase was written solely "for the purpose of being useful to governing bishops in Russia," 3 and again, "Decree #362 made by Patriarch Tikhon together with the Holy Synod and Higher Church Council was directed to diocesan bishops in Russia during the Civil War." 4

The author also berates the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia as being a "self-proclaimed" entity, bemoaning the "fact" that "the Karlovtsy Synod in exile" had "begun to attribute to themselves authority," 5 was "appropriating for themselves authority," 6 "trying hard to expand its own authority," 7 and had engineered its own "uncanonical self-generation." 8  Yet again, the story is different concerning "The Orthodox Church in America."  When explaining the "autonomy (autocephaly)" 9 of this body [and one may rightly ask, just what is "autonomy (autocephaly)" for the author here tries to equate two terms that do not mean the same thing], the author has nothing but praise for the much vaunted "All-American Councils" for "[achieving] complete independence from its Mother Russian Church," 10 by declaring "the right to self-governing existence,'' 11 and pronouncing, solely on its own authority, "the Russian Orthodox Church in America to be a Self-Governing Church," 12 and further, that "such a Church is in fact a Local Autocephalous Church." 13  Which, of course, leaves the reader with a question: Did "The Orthodox Church in America" become a "local autocephalous Church" by this pronouncement of one of its "All-American Councils," or by the "tomos of autocephaly" received from the KGB-dominated Moscow Patriarchate in 1970?

By the author's logic, what is good for the goose ("The Orthodox Church in America") is not good for the gander (The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia).  This work sets out not to ascertain historical truth, but to "prove" that "The Orthodox Church in America" is a legitimate, valid, autocephalous Church.  This "proof" is demonstrated by gathering information, true or false, in or out of context, that will conform – even if by force – to the agenda at hand.  The contradictions in this work can be summarized briefly: "The Orthodox Church in America" commits acts a, b, and c, and is therefore good; The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia commits the same a, b, and c, and is therefore bad.

Many of the author's most serious allegations have been previously discredited, others are so ridiculous as to merit no response whatsoever but two outright fabrications that appear in this work will be addressed.  The first of these is that "The Orthodox Church in America received its foundation from the Russian Church in 1794, when an Orthodox Mission was sent to Alaska.'' 14  If this was intended to mean that the first appearance of Orthodoxy on the North American continent was that of the Russian Mission of 1794, no one would take exception.  That is not what is intended, however.  What is intended is that the reader accept the notion that the organization now in existence known as "The Orthodox Church in America" is the sole, true heir to the Russian Mission of 1794, and that there is a historical continuity between the two.  It has been pointed out that there are "artless attempts in the 'history' of the OCA to establish that the pre-revolutionary Russian missions in America were somehow the precursors of this body," which fail in light of the fact that "the majority of the forebears of the OCA faithful were Greek Catholics (Uniates) who returned to Orthodoxy in the U.S." 15

A most interesting perspective on this claim of "The Orthodox Church in America" to be the continuation of the original Russian Mission and Diocese can be gained from the remarks of His Grace, Bishop Nicholas of the Aleutian Islands and Alaska, of blessed memory (+ 1915).  These remarks were part of Bishop Nicholas' Farewell Address, delivered on the occasion of his return to Russia after shepherding the Diocese from 1891 to 1898.

Bishop Nicholas firmly warned his flock against those "carried away by zeal beyond their reason... teachers, who, to please those heterodox confessions, would not only relax the rules and statutes of Holy Church, but even alter the very dogmas of faith by introducing certain opinions never accepted by the Church... there be those who...out of their reticences and careless words, would weave whole systems for the justification of their unorthodox views, striving to impose all this upon our Mother the Church, with the object of lowering her to the level of the heterodox churches and communities, and thus opening free access unto Her vitals to all those who, until now, were debarred from her by their errors... such teachers and teachings are the more dangerous, the more sincere and well-meaning they appear to be and the greater the learning with which they disguise their errors and frivolousness.  Therefore, beloved, keep away from such teachers and teachings, that you may not, because of them, forfeit your salvation." 16  With its claim to be "heir" to the original Russian Mission and Diocese, "The Orthodox Church in America" claims Bishop Nicholas as "one of its own."  Yet, after reading Bishop Nicholas' Farewell Address, it would not be difficult to surmise that not only would Bishop Nicholas not claim the present day "Orthodox Church in America," with its penchant for modernism, minimalism, ecumenism, and sterile academic "theology" as a continuation of his labors for the Church of Christ; he would see in it the very haven of those "teachers and teachings" whom he warned his flock against!  And, no doubt, staunch proponents of "The Orthodox Church in America" could see only "Karlovtsyite fanaticism" in the remarks of Bishop Nicholas!

Another fabrication contained in this work is that "The Metropolia...has never been part of the Karlovtsy Synod in Exile."  The author reiterates this falsification of historical fact several times. 17  The author's "creative" approach to history is "proven" by his contention that since "The Orthodox Church in America" dates its beginnings from the 1920's, and since "Orthodoxy in America was not founded by the Synod Abroad," 18 "The Orthodox Church in America" could NEVER have been part of the "latecomer" Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia! Employing such "logic," one could also claim that since Alaska was not "founded" by the USA, and since the native peoples of Alaska predate the founding of the USA, the native peoples of Alaska are not, and could never be, part of the USA!  Despite the convoluted logic employed to "prove" this fiction, it is no secret that the American Metropolia was an integral part of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia from 1920 to 1926, and again from 1935 to 1946.

One can better grasp the distinction between what constitutes a mission, a diocese, or the development of an autocephalous Church when we move from the polemics surrounding the history of the Russian Church in North America to the example of Orthodoxy in China.  "The Chinese mission [of the Russian Orthodox Church]...had its commencement at the close of the 17th century, and has existed without interruption since 1714 [written in 1904]." 19  To paraphrase the author of the work under consideration, while it is undoubtedly true that "Orthodoxy in China was not founded by the Synod Abroad," nevertheless, this very same Synod Abroad exercised jurisdiction in China from the 1920's until after World War II, when the communists came very near to wiping out Orthodoxy in China.  The jurisdiction of the Synod Abroad extended over the Diocese of Peking and Harbin in China, and was unreservedly recognized by Archbishops Methodius of Harbin and Innocent of Peking, and Bishops Meletius of Zabaikal, Nestor of Kamchatka, Simon of Shanghai, Jonas of Tien-Tsien, and Dimitrius of Hailar. 20

The Church in China, in fact, was probably more mature, more flourishing, more stable, and more fruitful than the Church in America.  Founded some 100 years prior to the Mission to Alaska, the Church in China counted more than 225,000 faithful, both Russian emigres and native Chinese.  The administrative center was in Harbin, Manchuria – a city which held 20 Orthodox churches in its boundaries, – including the huge Cathedral of the Annunciation, which could hold 3000 worshippers.  21 Several monasteries and convents were located in China, one of which was the Kazan Icon Monastery, which attracted about 10,000 pilgrims on great feast days. 22  The major journal for the Orthodox in China, "Heavenly Bread, was printed with 7500 copies per issue," and "calendars and prayer books were published, in some cases in editions of 100,000 copies." 23  Hierarchs from China attended Synod meetings in Sremski Karlovtsy, and the Synod in Sremski Karlovtsy appointed bishops for China.  (Just, of course, as hierarchs from America attended Synod meetings in Sremski Karlovtsy, and the Synod in Sremski Karlovtsy appointed bishops for America).  One such was the young Bishop John (Maximovitch), appointed by the Synod Abroad as Bishop of Shanghai in 1934.  This is the same Bishop John that was glorified as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in 1994, and is venerated by Orthodox Christians in all jurisdictions worldwide. Perhaps the very fruitfulness and maturity of the Church in China, and its hierarchs, is the key to understanding why it recognized the authority and jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

Like the Church in China, therefore, the Mission of the Russian Orthodox Church in America never developed into anything more than a diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church.  All polemics and wishful thinking aside, (and not even considering the issue of the other ethnic jurisdictions greatly increased in number during this century who also make up some of the Orthodox churches in America), simply put, there has never been, and there is not at this present time, a distinct, legitimate Orthodox Church of America.  But many are turning to Orthodoxy now, often entering the splintered manifestations of the Russian Church in this country, either the OCA, the ROCOR, or even a few of the existing Moscow Patriarchate churches.  So naturally it is important for them to understand who their "mother Church" is, who retains the legacy of the Orthodox faith they seek. The aftermath of the Russian Revolution allowed for three alternatives:

1) Follow the subjugated Moscow Patriarchate.

2) Follow the bishops who originally were part of the Russian church administration until its subjugation by Metropolitan Sergius to the Communists, and who, as a matter of conscience and for the welfare of the Church as a whole, refused to unite themselves to a corrupted body.

3) Place oneself under neither the Moscow Patriarchate nor the ROCOR, but under no one.

Throughout this period of Russian church history (1917 to the present), which certainly has been a turbulent and confusing one, ROCOR hierarchs have followed a consistent path, one first charted by those Russian hierarchs whose fate it was to stay, confess the truth in their native land, and perish as martyrs.  The same simply cannot be said for the OCA. Many words have been written by Bishop Gregory (Afonsky) and his fellow apologists in the OCA, but many words said many times to many people do not make them any more true.  This reliance on many words serves to hide the inconsistency of their position, for the OCA in all its permutations, has at various times followed all three of the above alternatives. From 1920-1926 and 1935-1946 they recognized the authority of the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia; that this is so is almost embarrassingly obvious and true proof of this recognition of authority can be seen in the list of hierarchs in the Russian Desk Calendar Reference for 1941.  From 1946-1970 they were in effect under no one, for five bishops separated themselves from the ROCOR, but would not recognize the authority of the Moscow Patriarchate, and had absolutely no claim to calling themselves an autocephalous Church.  Fully aware of the illegitimacy of their position, in 1971 some prominent theologians of the OCA brokered a deal with the Moscow Patriarchate, one that even the other Patriarchates protested was an uncanonical move.  However, this canonical irregularity will continue to be overlooked in practice and deemed unimportant by the other Patriarchates as long as the OCA adheres to what is of greater concern to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in particular, the path of modernism and ecumenical unity.

Ultimately, however, the most damning aspect of Bishop Gregory's study is not what he says to cover up this inconsistency of the OCA, but what he leaves out.  He writes, "After the Message of Metropolitan Sergy of 16/29 July 1927, proclaiming loyalty to the Soviet government, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad held on 27 August/9 September 1927, in Sremsky-Karlovtsy, decided to sever administrative ties with the Moscow Church Authority... From here on the Church Abroad was to be independent, recognizing Metropolitan Peter (not Sergy) as the true Head of the Russian Church.  All the decisions of Metropolitan Sergy were invalid for the Russian Church Abroad." (p.66)

Bishop Gregory tells us precious little else about Metropolitan Peter, nor about all the other bishops in Russia who, just like the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, followed his lead and not Metropolitan Sergius.  The story Bishop Gregory does not tell is hardly an insignificant matter.  In brief, Sergius was one of four bishops who bowed to Communist authority; Peter was the acknowledged leader of nearly 250 bishops who were imprisoned and for the most part ultimately killed because they would not compromise the integrity of the Russian Church and recognize Metropolitan Sergius as its head.  The hierarchs of the ROCOR have from the beginning of the troubles following the Russian Revolution consistently and continuously taken the stand and followed the lead and the spirit of Metropolitan Peter and all the New Hieromartyrs of Russia, the authentic voice of the Russian Church, and have been faithful guardians of its flock of spiritual children in the lands of North America.  The ROCOR is one in mind and spirit with those such as Archbishop Seraphim of Uglich (11935), the immediate predecessor of Metropolitan Sergius as locum tenens in 1927, who understood the spiritual essence of the problem facing the Russian Church, and was not concerned so much with the material preservation of the Church, but its spiritual purity, a purity that at some point cannot be defended with legal arguments, claims of canonicity, or brokered deals, but, as he realized, can only be left in the hands of God:

All the predecessors of Archbishop Seraphim in the position of Substitute of Locum Tenens were in prison, and he knew that the same fate was awaiting him as well as the successor he would choose in case of his own arrest.  Therefore, when entering into the exercise of the authority of this position in December, 1926, he did not assign any successor.  When, at his interrogation by the GPU, he was asked: "Who will be the head of the Church if we do not free you?" he only replied: "The Lord Jesus Christ Himself."  At this reply, the astonished interrogator looked at him and said: "All of you Bishops have left substitutes for yourselves, as did Patriarch Tikhon and Metropolitan Peter." "Well, I myself have left the Church to the Lord God," repeated Archbishop Seraphim, "and I have done this on purpose.  Let it be known to the whole world how freely Orthodox Christians are living in a free government." (p. 155).

The hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Outside of Russia follow and defend the position of Archbishop Seraphim and all the martyr bishops who trusted not in the wisdom of the world but in God. Those sincerely seeking to "understand" the issues dividing the various jurisdictions will not allow themselves to be cast into doubt by the obfuscations of Bishop Gregory's work, but will immerse themselves in the Lives of these martyr-saints of our century and listen to the voice of those who placed their hope in God, for those who in trust in Him will understand truth (Wis. 3:9).*

1) Rodzianko, M. The Truth About the Russian Church Abroad, Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, New York, 1975, p. 8.
2) (Afonsky), Bishop Gregory. A History of the Orthodox Church in America, 1917-1934, Saint Herman's Theological Seminary Press, Kodiak, Alaska, 1994, p. 33.
3) Ibid., p. 63.
4) Ibid., p.64.
5) (Afonsky), Bishop Gregory, op. cit., p. 54.
6) Ibid., p. 63.
7) Ibid., p. 65.
8.) Ibid., p. 72.
9) Ibid., p. 11.
10) Ibid., p. 89.
11) Ibid., p.95.
12) Ibid., p. 95.
13) Ibid., p. 98.
14) Ibid., p. 9.
15) "Questions and Comments from Readers," Orthodox Tradition, Center for Traditionalists Orthodox Studies, Etna, California, Vol. XIII, Number 1 (to appear January 1996), no page number.
16) (Ziorev), Bishop Nicholas, "Farewell Address," Orthodox Life, Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, New York, No. 1, 1994, pages 4-5.
17) (Afonsky), Bishop Gregory, op. cit., pages 49, 50, 79, 82.
18) Ibid., p. 50.
19) Smirnoff, Very Reverend Eugene, Russian Orthodox Missions, Stylite Publishing Ltd., Powys, Great Britain, 1986 (first edition 1903), p. 75.
20) Holy Transfiguration Monastery, A History of the Russian Church Abroad, 1917-1971, Saint Nectarios Press, Seattle, Washington, 1972, pages 2~27.
21) Seide, Georg. Monasteries and Convents of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, Monastery of Saint Job of Pochaev, Munich, Germany, 1990, p. 62.
22) Ibid., p. 63.
23) Ibid., p. 63.
*From Orthodox Life, vol. 45, no. 6, Nov.-Dec. 1995, pp. 38-48. In the final paragraph, the author wrote: "Those sincerely seeking to 'understand' the issues dividing the various jurisdictions will not allow themselves to be cast into doubt by the obfuscations of Bishop Gregory's work, but will immerse themselves in the Lives of these martyr-saints of our century and listen to the voice of those who placed their hope in God, for those who in trust in Him will understand truth (Wis. 3:9)." There is no better book to begin this "immersion" than Russia's Catacomb Saints, by Ivan Andreyev and Fr. Seraphim Rose (Platina, CA: St. Herman of Alaska Press, 1982). It is out of print, but a veritable masterpiece that is worthy of much tree-shaking to find. Read the Introduction, or about St. Cyril of Kazan and St. Joseph of Petrograd.

∞ ∞ ∞

Another review 
Orthodox Tradition 
Vol. XIII, No. 1, 1996
The Orthodox Church in America

I just read a book entitled A History of the Orthodox Church in America 1917-1934, by Bishop Gregory Afonsky. It argues that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia is not valid, that the OCA has been in America since the earliest Russian missions, and that the ROCOR submitted itself to the Nazis and therefore did just what it accuses the Russian Bishops of doing with the communists. (M.A., AK).

Though some of his ecumenical indiscretions and excesses have been the cause of not a little scandal, Bishop Gregory, the former OCA Bishop of Alaska, has never been known for a polemical spirit or for gratuitous attacks on those Russian jurisdictions opposed to the modernistic spirit, impious innovationism, and often irresponsible ecumenism of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). He is generally characterized as an objective, sober, and pious man who is not, in his heart of hearts, part of the ecumenical frenzy that has led to a widespread departure, among modernist Orthodox Bishops, from a confession of Orthodox primacy. The book in question, printed in Kodiak, Alaska, in 1994 by the St. Herman’s Theological Press, does not, however, reflect this characterization; it is not an objective, pious, or sober work.

The book rehashes many of the polemical arguments and distortions of fact put forth for so many years by the late Fathers Alexander Schmemann and John Meyendorff and by various quasi-scholarly OCA sources in a number of articles about the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA): history narrated not according to events and on solid documentation, but by the selection and inclusion of certain facts and documents—those favoring the thesis at hand (that is, that the Orthodox Church in America traces back to the early Russian missions in America)—and the exclusion of others (that is, of anything that compromises this thesis). Moreover, documents from the communist era are presented as though the Moscow Church was at the time free from the influence of the communist insurgents and as though Patriarch Tikhon, for example, acted with full knowledge of the activities of the Bishops outside Russia.

We will set aside a detailed examination of the artless attempts in this "history" of the OCA to establish that the pre-revolutionary Russian missions in America were somehow precursors of that body. We will mention only in passing Bishop Gregory’s failure to note that the majority of the forebears of the present-day OCA Faithful were Greek Catholics who returned to Orthodoxy in the U.S., not displaced Russians. But we cannot pass over the absolutely misleading attempts, throughout this less than precise narration, to argue that the ROCA was rightly disavowed by the Moscow Patriarchate (as though, as we mentioned above, the communist régime played no rôle in such pronouncements) and that the original protection granted to its Bishops under the OEcumenical Patriarchate was subsequently withdrawn. It was precisely the opposition of the Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad to communism, ecumenism, and the calendar change which led to its alienation from Moscow and Constantinople, following the birth of the "Living Church" in Russia and its support by the innovators who had come to power in the Great Church of Constantinople following the Russian Revolution. It was for this very reason, indeed, as Bishop Gregory fully well knows, that the Serbian Church informally took the exiled Russian Bishops under its wing, creating a spiritual tie between the two Churches that exists to this day.

The accusation that the ROCA was a Church of monarchists is one which carries with it the prejudices of modern political thought against this supremely Orthodox form of government. But at the time of the Russian Revolution, the conflict between good and evil was precisely a conflict between communism and monarchy. It could not have been otherwise. In context, then, this accusation is meaningless and plays on unjustified prejudice. Nor would any objective observer condemn the ROCA for having supposedly succumbed to the philosophy of Nazism—another outrageous accusation— simply because one of its Bishops praised Adolph Hitler for his anti-communist stand and his help in establishing a Cathedral under the jurisdiction of the ROCA in Berlin. Citing such evidence to convict the ROCA of capitulation to the Nazis, in the face of wholly reasonable accusations that the Russian Church under Patriarch Sergei placed itself in the hands of atheistic communism (the goal of which was the annihilation of Orthodoxy), is not worthy of a man of Bishop Gregory’s stature. One is embarrassed for him and his jurisdiction.

There is no mention, in this book, of the realities of the Russian diaspora after 1934, when what was to become the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Metropolia actually submitted to the authority of the Bishops then under the guidance of the ROCA. This body, which in the 1940s separated from the ROCA at the famous Cleveland Sobor and which was considered uncanonical by the whole Orthodox Church, later became the Orthodox Church in America by way of negotiations with the Moscow Patriarchate when it was still under the communist yoke. These events help to place Bishop Gregory’s imaginative history in perspective and expose the myth of a continuous Russian presence in America, under the omophorion of the OCA, for what it is—just that, a myth, an untrue fabrication.

Certainly we cannot claim that those loyal to the ROCA, in recounting the history of Russian Orthodoxy in America, have not at times oversimplified what is a complex and difficult task. Nor is that Church without its polemicists. In this sense, Bishop Gregory has done nothing novel in adjusting history to suit his own ends—though such adjustments are easier for the ROCA, since the reliable data of history vindicate it and not the OCA. But certainly one would not have expected such a book from him. Nor, we hope, will anyone convict him of a serious misdeed in writing what is not a serious or objective, let alone scholarly, analysis of his subject.

√ also see the articles on the Remnant Rocor blog labeled OCA

Renovated Orthodoxy

from The Orthodox Word #35
November-December, 1970

In past centuries the greatest peril to the Church of Christ came from false teachers who were singled out and condemned because of their dogmatic errors. Thus the early Fathers and Councils condemned Nestorianism, Arianism, Monophysitism, Iconoclasm, etc. But the enemy of man's salvation does not sleep, and in our day, when there is no basic new heresy—unless it be that conglomeration of heresies, ecumenism—he has inspired various currents of "renovationism" within the Church, which have attacked chiefly the life and practice of traditional Orthodoxy, beginning with the outright Protestantism of the "Renovated" or "Living Church" in Russia in the 1920s, through the reforming uniatizers of the Church of Constantinople (Patriarchs Meletios Metaxakis and Athenagoras, Archbishop Iakovos) to the numerous would-be reformers who may be found in almost every Local Orthodox Church today.

In this article the work on liturgical theology of one well known and widely respected contemporary Russian theologian is carefully criticized and its "reformist" tendency pointed out. In all fairness it should be noted that Fr. A. Schmemann probably does not see himself as a "reformer," and it will doubtless be left to other less sensitive souls, another generation removed from the life of genuine Orthodoxy, to draw the inevitable iconoclastic conclusions from Fr. Schmemann's already Protestant views.

The author of this article, Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky, one of the last living theologians to have graduated from the theological academies of pre-Revolutionary Russia, has taught theology to generations of Orthodox priests, and now teaches and resides at Holy Trinity Monastery at Jordanville, New York. (Text from ORTHODOX WAY, Jordanville, 1962. All page numbers in the text below are from the English edition of Fr. Schmemann's book.)



BEFORE US is a work of Archpriest (now Protopresbyter) Alexander Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology (Paris, YMCA Press, 1961; English translation: The Faith Press, London, 1966). The book is presented as an "introduction" to a special course in liturgical theology projected by the author. In it are indicated the foundations of a proposed new system of theology, and then there is given an historical outline of the development of the Rule or Typicon of Divine services.

The basic part of the Introduction to Liturgical Theology—the history of the Typicon—is based primarily on Western scientific investigations in French, English, and German, and partially on Russian sources. The author is convinced that he has succeeded, as he expresses it, in "escaping the Western captivity" while using non-Orthodox sources. He writes: "We categorically reject the understanding of the Peace of Constantine (i.e., the era of Constantine the Great) as a 'pseudo-victory' of Christianity—victory bought at the price of compromise" (p. 86). But such affirmations are not enough in themselves, and we consider it our obligation to focus attention on the book's contents in one respect: has the author indeed escaped the Western captivity? As many facts testify, he has in fact not escaped it.


IN INVESTIGATING the chief stages of development of the Rule of Divine services, or Typicon, the author looks upon them as upon an ordinary historical manifestation, formed as a result of the influence of changing historical circumstances. He writes: "Orthodox writers are usually inclined to 'absolutize' the history of worship, to consider the whole of it as divinely established and Providential" (p. 72). The author rejects such a view. He does not see "the validity of principles" in the definitive formulation of the Rule; in any case he acknowledges them as dubious. He rejects or even censures a "blind absolutization of the Typicon" while in practice this is joined, in his observation, to a factual violation of it at every step. He acknowledges that "the restoration of the Rule is hopeless;" the theological idea of the daily cycle of services he finds "obscured and eclipsed by secondary strata in the Ordo" which have lain upon the Divine services since the 4th century (pp. 161-2). The ecclesiological key to the understanding of the Rule, according to the author, has been lost, and it remains by the historical path to seek and find the key to liturgical theology.

Such a view of the Rule is new to us. The Typicon, in the form which it has taken down to our time in its two basic versions, is the realized idea of Christian worship; the worship of the first century was a kernel which has grown into maturity in its present state, when it has taken its finished form. We have in mind, of course, not the content of the services, not the hymns and prayers themselves, which often bear the stamp of the literary style of an era and are replaced on by another, but the very system of Divine services, their order, concord, harmony, consistency of principles and fullness of God's glory and communion with the Heavenly Church on the one hand, and on the other the fullness of their expression of the human soul—from the Paschal hymns to the Great Lenten lamentation over moral falls. The present Rule of Divine services was already contained in the idea of the Divine services of the first Christians in the same way that in the seed of a plant are already contained the forms of the plant's future growth up to the moment when it begins to bear mature fruits, or in the way that in the embryonic organism of a living creature its future form is already concealed. To the foreign eye, to the non-Orthodox West, the fact that our Rule has taken a static form is present as a petrifaction, a fossilization; but for us this represents the finality of growth, the attainment of the possible fullness and finality; and such finality of the form of development we observe also in Eastern Church iconography, in church architecture, in the interior appearance of the best churches, in the traditional melodies of church singing: further attempts at development in these spheres so often lead to "decadence," leading not up but down. One can make only one conclusion: we are nearer to the end of history than to the beginning… And of course, as in other spheres of the Church's history, in this one also we should see a destiny established by God, a providentialness, and not a single logic of causes and effects.

The author of this book approaches the history of the Typicon from another point of view; we shall call it the pragmatic point of view. In his exposition the basic apostolic, early Christian liturgical order has been overlaid by a series of strata which lie one upon the other and partially supplant each other. These strata are: "mysteriological" worship, which arose not without the indirect influence of the pagan mysteries in the 4th century; then the liturgical order of desert monasticism; and finally the final working over which was given by monasticism that had entered the world. The scientific schema of the author is thus: the "thesis" of an extreme involvement of Christianity and its worship in the world of the Constantinian Era evoked the "antithesis" of monastic repulsion from the new form of "liturgical piety," and this process concludes with the "synthesis" of the Byzantine period. Alone and without argumentation stands this phrase as a description of the stormy Constantinian Era: "But everything has its germ in the preceding epoch" (p. 73). The author even pays tribute to the method that reigns completely in contemporary science: leaving aside the idea of an overshadowing by Divine grace, the concept of the sanctity of those who established the liturgical order, he limits himself to a naked chain of causes and effects. Thus does positivism intrude nowadays into Christian science, into the sphere of the Church's history in all its branches. But if the positivist method is acknowledged as a scientific working principle in science, in the natural sciences, one can by no means apply it to living religion, nor to every sphere of the life of Christianity and the Church, insofar as we remain believers. And when the author in one place notes concerning this era: "The Church experienced her new freedom as a providential act destined to bring to Christ people then dwelling in the darkness and shadow of death" (p. 87), one wishes to ask: And why does the author himself not express his solidarity with the Church in acknowledging this providentialness? 


WE ALL KNOW what an immense change in the position of the Church occurred with Constantine the Great's proclamation of freedom for the Church at the beginning of the 4th century. This outward act was reflected also in every way in the inward life of the Church. Was there here a break in the inner structure of the Church's life, or was there a development? We know that to this question the self-awareness of the Orthodox Church replies in one way, and Protestantism in another. A chief part of Fr. A. Schmemann's book is given over to the elucidation of this question.

The era of Constantine the Great and afterwards is characterized by the author as the era of a profound "reformation of liturgical piety." Thus the author sees in the Church of this era not new forms of the expression of piety, flowing from the breadth and liberty of the Christian spirit in accord with the words of the Apostle: Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty—but rather a reformation of the interpretation of worship and a deviation from the early Christian liturgical spirit and forms: a point of view long ago inspired by the prejudices of the Lutheran Reformation.

A propos of this, it is difficult to reconcile oneself also to the term "liturgical piety." In the ordinary usage of words, piety is Christian faith, hope and love, independently of the forms of their expression. Such an understanding is instilled in us by the sacred Scriptures, which distinguish only authentic piety (piety is profitable unto all things — I Timothy 4:8) from false or empty piety (James 1:26, II Timothy 3:5). Piety is expressed in prayer, in Divine services, and the forms of its expression vary depending on circumstances: whether in church, at home, in prison, or in the catacombs. But we Orthodox scarcely need a special term like "liturgical piety" or "church piety," as if one were pious in a different manner in church than at home, and as if there existed two kinds of religiousness: "religiousness of faith" and "religiousness of cult." Both the language of the Holy Fathers and the language of theology have always done without such a concept. And therefore it is a new conception, foreign to us, of a special liturgical piety that the author instills when he writes: "It is in the profound reformation of liturgical piety and not in new forms of cult, however striking these may seem to be at first glance, that we must see the basic change brought about in the Church's liturgical life by the Peace of Constantine" (p. 78). And in another place: "The center of attention is shifted from the living Church to the church building itself, which was until then a simple place of assembly… Now the temple becomes a sanctuary, a place for the habitation and residence of the sacred… This is the beginning of church piety" (p. 80), a "mysteriological piety." In his usage of such terms one senses in the author something more than the replacement of one terminology by another more contemporary one; one sense something foreign to Orthodox consciousness. This fundamental point is decisively reflected in the book in the views on the sacraments, the hierarchy, and the veneration of saint, which we shall now examine.


THE AUTHOR adheres to the concept that the idea of "sanctification," of "sacraments," and in general of the sanctifying power of sacred rites was foreign to the ancient Church and arose only in the era after Constantine. Although the author denies a direct borrowing of the idea of "mysteries-sacraments" from the pagan Mysteries, he nonetheless recognizes the "mysteriality-sacralization" in worship as a new element of "stratification" in this era. "The very word 'sacrament,'" he writes, citing the Jesuit scholar (now Cardinal) J. Danielou, "did not originally have the meaning in Christianity that was subsequently given it, a mysteriological meaning; in the New Testament Scriptures it is used only in the singular and with the general significance of the economy of our salvation: the word "sacrament' (mysterion) in Paul and in early Christianity signified always the whole work of Christ, the whole of salvation;" thus, in the author's opinion, the application of this word even to separate aspects of the work of Christ belongs to the following era. 

In vain, however, does the author cite a Western scholar concerning the word "sacrament," if in St. Paul we may read the precise words: Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries (sacraments) of God (I Corinthians 4:1). The Apostles were stewards of the sacraments, and this apostolic stewardship was expressed concretely in the service of the Divine stewardship: (a) in invocatory sermons, (b) in joining to the Church through Baptism, (c) in bringing down the Holy Spirit through laying on of hands, (d) in strengthening the union of the faithful with Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist, (e) in their further deepening in the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, concerning which the same Apostle says: Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom (I Corinthians 2:6-7). Thus the activity of the Apostles was full of sacramental (mysterion) elements.

Basing himself on the ready conclusions of Western researches in his judgments on the ancient Church, the author pays no attention to the direct evidence of the apostolic writings, even though they have the primary significance as memorials of the life of the early Christian Church. The New Testament Scriptures speak directly of "sanctification," sanctification by the Word of God and prayer. Nothing is to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayers (I Timothy 4:4-5). And it is said of Baptism: Ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified (I Corinthians 6:11). The very expression cup of blessing (I Corinthians 10:16) is testimony of sanctification through blessing. The apostolic laying on of hands cannot be understood otherwise than as a sanctification.

A special place in the book is occupied by a commentary on the sacrament of the Eucharist. The author maintains the idea that in the early Church the Eucharist had a totally different meaning from the one it subsequently received. The Eucharist, he believes, was an expression of the ecclesiological union in assembly of the faithful, the joyful banquet of the Lord, and its whole meaning was directed to the future, to eschatology, and therefore it presented itself as a "worship outside of time," not bound to history or remembrances, as eschatological worship, by which it was sharply distinct from the simple forms of worship, which are called in the book the "worship of time." In the 4th century, however, we are told, there occurred a severe reformation of the original character of the Eucharist. It was given an "individual-sanctifying" understanding, which was the result of two stratifications: at first the mysteriological, and then the monastic-ascetic. 

Notwithstanding the assertions of this historico-liturgical school, the individual-sanctifying significance of the sacrament of the Eucharist, i.e., the significance not only of a union of believers among themselves, but before anything else the union of each believer with Christ through partaking of His Body and Blood, is fully and definitely expressed by the Apostle in the tenth and eleventh chapters of the First Epistle to the Corinthians: Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's Body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many die (I Corinthians 11:27). These teachings of the Apostle are concerned with individual reception of the holy Mysteries and with individual responsibility. And if unworthy reception of them is judged, it is clear that, according to the Apostle, a worthy reception of them causes an individual sanctification. It is absolutely clear that the Apostle understands the Eucharist as a sacrament: The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the Blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the Body of Christ? (I Corinthians 10:16). How can one say that the idea of "sacrament" was not in the Church in apostolic times?

Maintaining the idea of the total "extra-temporality" of the Eucharist in the early Church, Fr. A. Schmemann considers as a violation of tradition the uniting to it of historical remembrances of the Gospel. He writes: "In the early Eucharist there was no idea of a ritual symbolization of the life of Christ and His Sacrifice. This is a theme which will appear later… under the influence of one theology and as the point of departure for another. The remembrance of Christ which he He instituted (This do in remembrance of Me) is the affirmation of His 'Parousia,' of His presence; it is the actualization of His Kingdom… One may say without exaggeration that the early Church consciously and openly set herself in opposition to mysteriological piety and the cults of the mysteries" (pp. 85-6).

Despite all the categoricalness of the author's commentary on the words: This do in remembrance of Me, it contradicts the indications of the New Testament Scriptures. The Apostle says outright: For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till He come (I Corinthians 11:26). That is, until the very Second Coming of the Lord the Eucharist will be joined to the remembrance of Christ's death on the Cross. And how could the Apostles and Christians of the ancient Church pass by the thought, while celebrating the Eucharist, of the sufferings of Christ, if the Saviour in establishing it, at the Last Supper, Himself spoke of the sufferings of His Body, of the shedding of His Blood (which is broken for you, which is shed for you and for many), and in Gethsemene prayed of the cup: Let this cup pass form Me? How could they not preface the joyful thought of the resurrection and glory of the Lord with the thought of His Cross and death? Both Christ and the Apostles call upon us never to forget the Cross.


THE AUTHOR adheres to the idea that only in the post-Constantinian era did there occur a division into clergy and simple believers, which did not exist in the early Church and occurred as the result of a "breakthrough of mysteriological conceptions." The very idea of the "assembly of the Church," he says was reformed: "In the Byzantine era the emphasis is gradually transferred… to the clergy as celebrants of the mystery" (p. 99). "The early Church lived with the consciousness of herself as the people of God, a royal priesthood, with the idea of election, but she did not apply the principle of consecration either to entry into the Church or much less to ordination to the various hierarchical orders" (p. 100). From the 4th century on, he continues, there can be traced the "idea of sanctification," i.e., consecration to the hierarchical ranks. Now the baptized, the "consecrated," turn out to be not yet consecrated for the mysteries; "the true mystery of consecration became now not Baptism, but the sacrament of ordination." "The cult was removed from the unconsecrated not only 'psychologically,' but also in its external organization. The altar or sanctuary became its place, and access to the sanctuary was closed to the uninitiated" (p. 101); the division was increased by the gradual raising of the iconostasis. "The mystery presupposes theurgii, consecrated celebrants; the sacralization of the clergy led in its turn to the 'secularization' of the laity." There fell aside "the understanding of all Christians as a 'royal priesthood,'" expressed in the symbol of royal anointing, after which there is no "step by step elevation through the degrees of a sacred mystery" (p. 100). The author quotes St. Dionysius the Areopagite, who warned against revealing the holy mysteries "to profane impurity," and likewise similar warning of Sts. Cyril of Jerusalem and Basil the Great. 

In the description cited here of the Constantian era and thereafter, the Protestant treatment is evident: the golden age of Christian freedom and the age of the great hierarchs, the age of the flowering of Christian literature, appears from the negative side of a supposed intrusion into the Church of pagan elements, rather than from the positive. But at any time in the Church have simple believers actually received the condemnatory appellation of "profane?" From the Catechetical Lectures of St. Cyril of Jerusalem it is absolutely clear that he warns against communicating the mysteries of faith to pagans. And St. Basil the Great writes of the same thing: "What would be the propriety of writing to proclaim the teaching concerning that which the unbaptized are not permitted even to view?" (On the Holy Spirit, ch. 27). Do we really have to quote the numerous testimonies in the words of the Lord Himself and in the writings of the Apostles concerning the division into pastors and "flock," the warning to pastors of their duty, their responsibility, their obligation to give an accounting for the souls entrusted to them, the strict admonitions of the Angels to the Churches which are engraved in the Apocalypse? Do not the Acts of the Apostles and the pastoral Epistles of the Apostle Paul speak of a special consecration through laying on of hand into the hierarchal degrees? 

The author of this book acknowledges that a closed altar separated the clergy from the faithful. But he gives an incorrect conception of the altar. One should know that the altar and its altar-table in the Orthodox Church serve only for the offering of the Bloodless Sacrifice at the Liturgy. The remaining Divine services, according to the idea of the Typicon, are celebrated in the middle part of the church. An indication of this is the pontifical service. Even while celebrating the Liturgy the bishop enters the altar only at the "Little Entrance" in order to listen to the Gospel and celebrate the sacrament of the Eucharist; all remaining Divine services the bishop celebrates in the middle of the church. The litanies are intoned by the deacon at all services, including the Liturgy, outside the altar; and the Typicon directs priest who celebrate Vespers and Matins without a deacon to intone the litanies before the Royal Doors. All services of the Book of Needs (Trebnik) and all sacraments of the Church, except for the Eucharist and Ordination, are celebrated outside the altar. Only to augment the solemnity of the services at feast day Vespers and Matins is it accepted to pen the doors of the altar for a short time, and that only for the exit of the celebrants at solemn moments to go to the middle of the church. During daily and lenten services the altar, one may say, is excluded from the sphere of the faithful's attention; and if the celebrant goes off into the altar even then, this is rather in order not to attract needless attention to himself, and not at all to emphasize his hierarchical prestige.

One must consider an evident exaggeration the idea of the appearance from the 4th century of a new "church" piety. Christians who had been raised form the first days of the Church on images not only of the New Testament but also of the Old Testament, especially the Psalter, could not have been totally deprived of a feeling of special reverence for the places of worship (the House of the Lord). They had the example of the Lord Himself, Who called the Temple of Jerusalem "the House of My Father;" they had the instruction of the Apostle: If any man defile the Temple of God, him shall God destroy (I Corinthians 3:17), and although here in the Apostle the idea of temple is transferred to the soul of an, this does not destroy the acknowledgment by the Apostle of the sanctity of the material temple.


SPEAKING OF the invocation and glorification of saints in the form in which it was defined in the 4th to 5th centuries, Fr. A. Schmemann underlines the excessiveness of this glorification in the present structure of our Divine services, and he sees in this an indication of the "eclipse of catholic ecclesiological consciousness" in the Church (p. 166). But is not the trouble rather that he does not enter into the catholic fullness of the Orthodox view of the Church?

What is it in the Divine services—something significant, visible to everyone—that distinguishes the Orthodox Church from all other confessions of the Christian faith? It is communion with the Heavenly Church. In this is our pre-eminence, our primogeniture, our glory. The constant remembrance of the Heavenly Church is our guiding star in difficult circumstances; we are strengthened by the awareness that we are surrounded by choirs of invisible comforters, co-sufferers, defenders, guiders, examples of sanctity, from whose nearness we ourselves may receive a fragrance. How fully and how constantly we are reminded of this communion of the heavenly with the earthly by the content of our whole worship—precisely that material in place of which Fr. A. Schmemann intends to build his system of "liturgical theology!" How fully did St. John of Kronstadt live by this sense of nearness to us of the saints of Heaven!

Is this awareness of the unity of the heavenly and the earthly justified by the Revelation of the New Testament? It is completely justified. Its firm general foundation is found in the words of the Saviour: God is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for in Him all are living (St. Luke 20:38). We are commanded by the Apostles to remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their lives (Hebrews 13:7). Protestantism is completely without an answer before the teaching of the Apostle in Hebrews 12:22-23, where it is said that Christians have entered into close communion with the Lord Jesus Christ and with the Heavenly Church of angels and righteous men who have attained perfection in Christ. And which for us is more necessary and important: to strive for ecumenical communion and union with those who think differently and who remain in their different opinion, or to preserve catholic communion of spirit with those teachers of faith, lamps of faith, who by their life and by their death showed faithfulness to Christ and His Church and entered into yet fuller union with Her Head?

Let us hear how this side of the Church's life is accepted by Fr. A. Schmemann.

He affirms that there occurred an abrupt change in the Constantian era in that there appeared a new stratum to worship in the form of "the extraordinary and rapid growth of the veneration of saints" (p. 141). As the final result of this, with us "the monthly Menaion dominates in worship… The attention of liturgical historians has been for some time directed at this literal inundation of worship by the monthly calendar of saints' days" (p. 141).

Concerning this supposed "inundation" of worship we shall note the following. The execution of the daily Vespers and Matins requires no less than three hours, while a simple service to a saint takes up some four pages in the Menaion, occupying only a small part of the service. In the remaining services of the daily cycle (the Hours, Compline, Nocturn) the remembrance of the saints is limited to a kontakion, sometimes a troparion also, or it does not appear at all; and it occupies a small place in the services of Great Lent. If the day of worship is lengthened by a festive service to a saint, precisely thereby it acquires that "major tone," for the diminishing of which the author reproaches the contemporary Typicon.

Let us continue the description given in the book of the glorification of saints. The author writes: "In the broadest terms this change may be defined as follows. The 'emphasis' in the cult of saints shifted from the sacramentally eschatological to the sanctifying and intercessory meaning of veneration. The remains of the saint, and later even articles belonging to him or having once touched his body, came to be regarded as sacred objects having the effect of communicating their power to those who touched them… The early Church treated the relics of martyrs with great honor—'But there is no indication,' writes Fr. Delahaye, 'that any special power was ascribed to relics in this era, or that any special, supernatural result would be obtained by touching them. Toward the end of the fourth century, however, there is ample evidence to show that in the eyes of believers some special power flowed from the relics themselves.' This new faith helps to explain such facts of the new era as the invention of relics, their division into pieces, and their movement or translation, as well as the whole development of the veneration of 'secondary holy objects'—objects which have touched relics and become n turn themselves sources of sanctifying power."

Let us note: under the pen of an Orthodox writer this description shows a particular primitivization and irreverence.

"At the same time," the author continues, "the intercessory character of the cult of saints was also developing. Again, this was rooted in the tradition of the early Church, in which prayers addressed to deceased members of the Church were very widespread, as evidenced by the inscriptions in the catacombs. But between this early practice and that which developed gradually from the 4th century on there is an essential difference. Originally the invocation of the departed was rooted in the faith in the 'communion of saints'—prayers were addressed to any departed person and not especially to martyrs… But a very substantial change took place when this invocation of the departed was narrowed down and began to be addressed only to a particular category of the departed."

Thus it turns out, according to the author, that if we appeal with the words 'pray for us' to the departed members of the Church without reference to whether they were devout in their faith and life or were Christians only in name, then this fully corresponds to the spirit of the Church; but if we appeal to those who by their whole ascetic life or martyr's death testified to their faith, then this is already a lowering of the spirit of the Church!

"From the 4th century onward," continues the excerpt from the book, "there appeared in the Church first an everyday and practical, but later a theoretical and theological concept of the saints as special intercessors before God, as intermediaries between men and God."

This is a completely Protestant approach, unexpected from an Orthodox theologian. It is sufficient to read in the Apostle Paul how he asks those to whom he writes to be intercessors for him and intermediaries before God so that he might be restored to them from imprisonment and might visit them; in the Apostle James (5:16): The prayer of a righteous man availeth much; in the Book of Job (42:8): My servant Job shall pray for you; for him will I accept.

The author continues: "The original Christocentric significance of the veneration of saints was altered in this intercessory concept. In the early tradition the martyr of saint was first a foremost a witness to the new life and therefore an image of Christ." The reading of the Acts of the Martyrs in the early Church had as its purpose "to show the presence and action of Christ in the martyr, i.e., the presence in him of the 'new life.' It was not meant to glorify the saint himself… But in the new intercessory view of the saint the center of gravity shifted. The saint is now an intercessor and a helper… The honoring of saints fell into the category of a Feast Day," with the purpose of "the communication to the faithful of the sacred power of a particular saint, his special grace… The saint is present and as it were manifest in his relics or icon, and the meaning of his holy day lies in acquiring sanctification (?) by means of praising him or coming into contact with him, which is, as we know, the main element in mysteriological piety."

Likewise unfavorable is the literary appraisal by the author of the liturgical material referring to the veneration of saints. We read: "We know also how important in the development of Christian hagiography was the form of the panegyric… It was precisely this conventional, rhetorical form of solemn praise which almost wholly determined the liturgical texts dealing with the veneration of saints. One cannot fail to be struck by the rhetorical elements in our Menaion, and especially the 'impersonality' of the countless prayers to and readings about the saints. Indeed this impersonality is retained even when the saint's life is well known and a wealth of material could be offered as an inspired 'instruction.' While the lives of the saints are designed mainly to strike the reader's imagination with miracles, horrors, etc., the liturgical material consists almost exclusively of praises and petitions." (pp. 143-146).

We presume that there is no need to sort out in detail this whole long series of assertions made by the author, who so often exaggerates the forms of our veneration of saints. We are amazed that an Orthodox author takes his stand in the line of un-Orthodox reviewers of Orthodox piety who are incapable of entering into a psychology foreign to them. We shall make only a few short remarks.

The honoring of saints is included in the category of feasts because in them Christ is glorified, concerning which it is constantly and clearly stated in the hymns and other appeals to them; for in the saints is fulfilled the Apostle's testament: That Christ may dwell in you (Ephesians 3:17).

We touch the icon of a saint or his relics guided not by the calculation of receiving a sanctification from them, or some kind of power, a special grace, but by the natural desire of expressing in act our veneration and love for the saint.

Besides, we receive the fragrance of sanctity, the fullness of grace, in various forms. Everything material that reminds us of the sacred sphere, everything that diverts our consciousness, even if only for a moment, from the vanity of the world and directs it to the thought of the destination of our soul and acts beneficially on it, on our moral state—whether it be an icon, antidoron, sanctified water, a particle of relics, a part of a vestment that belonged to a saint, a blessing with the sign of the cross—all this is sacred for us because, as we see in practice, it is capable of making reverent and awakening the soul. And for such a relationship to tangible objects we have a direct justification in Holy Scripture: in the accounts of the woman with a flow of blood who touched the garment of the Saviour, of the healing action of pieces of the garment of the Apostle Paul and even of the shadow of the Apostle Peter (St. Luke 8:40-48, Acts 5:14-15, 19:11-12).

The reason for the seemingly stereotyped character of church hymns, in particular hymns to saints, are to be found not in the intellectual poverty nor the spiritual primitiveness of the hymn-writers. We see that in all spheres of the Church's work there reigns a canon, a model: whether in sacred melodies, in the construction of hymns, or in iconography. Characteristic of hymns is a typification corresponding to the particular rank of saints to which the saint belongs: hierarchs, monk-saints, etc. But at the same time there is always the element of individualization, so that one cannot speak of the impersonality of the images of saints. Evidently the Church has sufficient psychological motives for such a representation.

As for the petitions to saints, they have almost exclusively as object their prayers for our salvation. Is this reprehensible? Is there here a lowering of church spirit? Thus did the Apostle Paul pray for his spiritual children: I pray to God that ye do no evil; and for this also we pray, even for your perfection (I Corinthians 13:7)> If in prayers, especially in molebens, we pray for protection from general disasters and for general needs, this is only natural; but these molebens do not even enter into the framework of the Typicon.


WE SHALL CONCLUDE our review with a question of secondary importance, namely, concerning Church feasts as they are presented in the book.. The author agrees with a Western liturgical historian that for ancient Christians there was no distinction between Church feasts and ordinary days, and he says in the words of this historian (J. Danielou, S.J.): "Baptism introduced each person into the only Feast—the eternal Passover, the Eighth Day. There were no holidays—since everything had in fact become a holy day" (p. 133). But with the beginning of the mysteriological era this sense was lost. Feast days were multiplied, and together with them ordinary days were also multiplied (So asserts the author; but in reality it is precisely according to the Typicon that there are no "ordinary days," since every day there is prescribed the whole cycle of church services). According to Fr. A. Schmemann, the bond with the liturgical self-awareness of the early Church was lost, and the element of chance was introduced in the uniting of feasts among themselves and the "Christian year." The author gives examples: "The dating of the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord on August 6th has no explanation other than that this was the date of consecration of three churches on Mount Tabor" (p. 136), whereas in antiquity, according to the author's assertion, this commemoration was bound up with Pascha, which is indicated also by the words of the kontakion: that when they should see Thee crucified… The dates of the feasts of the Mother of God, in the words of the author, are accidental. "The Feast of the Dormition on August 15th, originates in the consecration of a church to the Mother of God located between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, and the dates of September 8 (The Nativity of the Mother of God) and November 21 (Her Entrance into the Temple) have a similar origin. Outside the Mariological cycle there appeared, for similar reasons, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (connected with the consecration of the Holy Sepulchre), and the Feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist on August 29th (the consecration of the Church of St. John the Baptist in Samaria at Sebaste)" (p. 137).

In these references of the author, a characteristic sign is his trust of Western conclusions in the face of, as we believe, the simple conclusion from the order of the church-worship year. The Byzantine church year begins on September 1st. The first feast in the year corresponds to the beginning of New Testament history: the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God; the last great feast of the church year is in its last month: the Dormition of the Mother of God. This is sequential and logical. The Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord occurs at the beginning of August doubtless because the cycle of Gospel readings at about this time approaches the account of the Evangelist Matthew of the Lord's Transfiguration, and the commemoration of this significant Gospel event is apportioned to a special feast. As for the words of the kontakion of the Transfiguration: From that time forth began Jesus to show unto His disciples, how that He must go into Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day (St. Matthew 16:21, 17:9, 22). Therefore the Church, in accordance with the Gospel, six days before the Transfiguration begins the singing of the katavasia "Moses, inscribing the Cross" (it may be that the bringing out of the Cross on August 1st is bound up with this), and just forty days after the Feast of the Transfiguration is celebrated the commemoration of the Lord's suffering on the Cross and death on the day of the Exaltation of the Precious Cross. And the designation of the time of this feast is also scarcely accidental: this time corresponds, like the time of the Feast of the Transfiguration, to the approach of the Gospel reading at the Liturgy of the Lord's suffering on the Cross and death. Here is one of the examples that indicated that the structure of Divine services in the Typicon is distinguished by proper sequence, harmony, and a sound basis.

If it be represented that in the church calendar a strict sequentialness of the Gospel events is not observed, this is because the Gospel remembrances take in many years and in the calendar they are arranged as it were in the form of a spiral embracing several years: it contains a series of nine-month periods (from the conception to the nativity of St. John the Baptist, the Mother of God, the Saviour), two 40-day periods of the Gospel, etc.

In the concluding part of his book the author, not in entire agreement with what he has said up to that point, is ready to come closer, it would seem, to the historical Orthodox point of view; but just here he makes such reservations that they virtually conceal the basic position. He says: "The Byzantine synthesis must be accepted as the elaboration and revelation of the Church's original 'rule of prayer,' no matter how well developed in it are the elements which are alien (?) to this lex orandi and which have obscured it. Thus in spite of the strong influence of the mysteriological psychology (?) on the one hand and the ascetical-individualistic psychology on the other—an influence that affected above all the reformation (?) of liturgical piety, the Ordo (Rule) as such has remained organically connected with the 'worship of time' which, as we have tried to show, contained the original organizing principle. This worship of time, we repeat, was obscured and eclipsed by 'secondary' layers (?) in the Ordo, but it remained always the foundation of its inner logic and the principle of its inner unity" (p. 162).

Such is the author's resume. It remains for one to be satisfied with little. It was too much to expect that our Rule has preserved even the very principle of Christian worship!


WE HAVE CONSIDERED in so much detail the book of Father A. Schmemann because in the future there will be given the Orthodox reader, based on the views presented in this book, a liturgical dogmatics. But if the foundations are so dubious, can we be convinced that the building erected on them will be sound? We do not at all negate the Western historico-liturgical and theological science and its objective values. We cannot entirely manage without it. We acknowledge its merits. But we cannot blindly trust the conclusions of Western historians of the Church. If we speak of worship as members of the Orthodox Church, there should be present to us that principle in the understanding of the history of our worship and its present status by which the Church Herself lives. The principle diverges fundamentally from Western Protestant attitudes. If we have not understood this principle, our efforts should be directed to finding it, discovering it, understanding it.

The logic of history tells us that in public life departures from a straight path occur as the consequence of changes in principles and ideas. And if we maintain the Orthodoxy Symbol of Faith, if we confess that we stand on the right dogmatic path, we should not doubt that both the direction of church life and the structure of worship which was erected on the foundation of our Orthodox confession of faith, are faultless and true. We cannot acknowledge that our "liturgical piety," after a series of reformations, has gone far, far away from the spirit of Apostolic times. If we see a decline of piety, a failure to understand the Divine services, the reason for this lies outside the Church: it is in the decline of faith in the masses, in the decline of morality, in the loss of church consciousness. But where church consciousness and piety are preserved, there is no reformation in the understanding of Christianity. We accept the Gospel and Apostolic Scriptures not in a refraction through some kind of special prism, but in their immediate, straightforward sense. And we are convinced that our public prayer is made on the very same dogmatic and psychological foundations on which it was made in Apostolic and ancient Christian times, notwithstanding the difference in forms of worship.

But is Father Alexander Schmemann prepared to acknowledge that the character of his piety is different from the character of the piety of the ancient Church?