Newsweek 0n Kursk Root Visit To Russia

MACHINE TRANSLATI0N of a post from: [Sep 28, 2009 at 5:42 PM]

Russian-Soviet war [Newsweek]

Red and white face foreheads: Russian Orthodox Church Abroad has questioned the official view of Russia's history

Last week, in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior was a line - almost as long as the funeral of Patriarch Alexy II and Boris Yeltsin. Almost all were in the hands of the same blue book with akathist (praise) of the Kursk icon of the Mother of God - one of the most respected icons in Orthodoxy. According to legend, in the XIV century it slashed in half the Tatars, and then, when both parts were found, they have made to each other - and they have been accustomed. After the revolution, the white icon was taken abroad, and it became the main sanctuary Russian diaspora. Now - the first time in 89 years - an icon for a few days brought to Russia. Read More ...

The Kursk Mother of God Icon in Russia

The Kursk Mother of God icon received the triumphant celebration and veneration in Russia that it so richly deserves. The devoted believers of Russia stood in line for hours and were able to bestow their prayers, supplications, and tears on this sacred icon. The sea of people that met the icon in Kursk is an amazing sight. May the Mother of God through her intercession bring spiritual comfort and strength to the believers in Russia and ease their heavy burden.

The members of the ROCOR(MP) delegation that accompanied the icon are seen in the photos standing nearby like proud owners of this sacred object that belongs to no man. Hopefully, they will be able to withstand the enormous pressure being brought to bear to have the icon remain in Russia. Even Prime Minister Putin paid his respects (and it is hard to say no to Vladimir Vladimirovich). The reception they received most likely only confirms in their minds and those of others how just is their cause to unite with the Moscow Patriarchate (MP).

The reception of the icon is truly awe-inspiring and the ROCOR(MP) delegation would probably say it shows how religious freedom is spreading throughout Russia. Sadly, their innocent optimism blinds them to the fact that just the opposite is occurring; the MP is restricting religious freedom for many religious groups and keeps religious expression under its tight control. Again, optimism or faith would compel some to say that regardless of the attempts of the Russian government and the MP, God’s Will will be done and Russia will throw off the yoke it has borne so long. We all pray that this be so, but we have to deal with the realities in Russia and of a world that is rapidly becoming militantly anti-religious.

The Russian Orthodox Church has become the state religion, completing the misguided work started by Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodskiy) in 1927. The fall of communism brought the end of the political commissars of the Communist Party, who maintained tight ideological control over the people throughout the country. Wishing to prolong this control, the Russian government once again uses the Russian Orthodox Church for this purpose, just as it did in Stalin’s time and throughout the decades. Military chaplains are being trained anew, religious courses are being developed in schools, etc. It seems innocent on the surface, but the focus of these efforts is to keep the people in a passive state, obedient to the government.

Many of the leaders of the MP are avaricious businessmen and politicians in clerical robes, who run the MP like a giant corporation that tolerates no competition. Only large, politically-useful religions are allowed in Russia; Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Judaism and Islam. All other faiths face constant harassment and restrictions. The Old Believers in Russia are being pressured steadily to submit to the official church. Most of the other denominations of the Russian Orthodox Church are being hounded relentlessly and must also either submit or forced to disband. The most glaring example is Metropolitan Valentin’s Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (ROAC), whose icons, religious items, and property are being forcibly taken from them by government officials and the corrupt courts.

The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA), headed by Metropolitan Agafangel also faces constant pressure and harassment. Local governments do the bidding of the powerful and try to apply crippling regulations or simply outright threats. Any church not belonging to the MP, are often forbidden to display a cross on their buildings. It is as if, if you did not purchase a franchise from the MP, then you are not allowed to be a church.

Again, ROCOR(MP) members blithely stand by while all this occurs, having forgotten the valuable lesson they learned in America and elsewhere about religious freedom. They cluck knowingly, imitating their new masters, that these disparate groups are schismatic and need to join the MP for their own good. Having compromised their principles, they cannot see how they are also being swept up in World Orthodoxy and how tenuous their own future is. Also, the MP may enter into some sort of alliance with the Catholic Church in the near future. What excuses will ROCOR(MP) use to justify yet another abandonment of the principles of Orthodoxy?

Rather than keep to the teachings of the Church Fathers and the earlier First Hierarchs of the Church Abroad, the ROCOR(MP) leadership continues instead to imitate their new masters and concern themselves with material wealth; suing churches, evicting elderly people, etc. Another scandal is brewing and will be publicized soon. The nuns of the Novo-Diveevo monastery in Spring Valley, New York, USA, were given an ultimatum, recognize the MP as legitimate or be forced out.

Members of the ROCOR(MP) church take heed! Almost all the ROCOR(MP) monastic communities opposed the union and refuse to recognize the MP as the Mother Church. Many that went along with it, did so out of necessity, not conviction. Monastic communities are the conscience of the church, its soul. One ignores their opinions at one’s great spiritual peril. Awaken to the powerful currents of change that are sweeping your church away from traditional Orthodoxy. Awaken before it is too late and you must cry bitter tears.

Russia Fades Away

----- Original Message -----
From: Gontscharow, Dimitri
To: Undisclosed-recipients:
Sent: Tuesday, September 22, 2009 4:49 PM
Subject: FW: Eternal Memory!

20/09/09 - George Illiodorovich Schidlovsky reposed in the Lord this morning in New York. Eternal memory!

From Met. Agafangel’s Forum:

Russia fades away…

George Illiodorovich Schidlovsky reposed in the Lord on September 20, 2009, in New York. Holy Russia lost yet another of its inhabitants. Because of such unique people as George Illiodorovich, I was able to understand that a person who is Russian and Orthodox and a nation that is Russian and Orthodox actually exist. It is amazing, but only in the USA did I meet real Russian people. Here, in the USSR, they simply could not exist, as people who are Russian in spirit and in essence, were foreign to the Soviet regime. One after another, the real citizens of Holy Russia depart, and due to our sins, a worthy replacement does not take their place.

Time for Solidarity

Subject: Fwd: Russian Orthodox Official: Time for Solidarity
Date: Wed, September 23, 2009 10:59 am
To: (more)

Begin forwarded message:

From: Archbishop Chrysostomos
Date: 23 September 2009 16:53:16 BST
To: Joshua
Subject: Re: Russian Orthodox Official: Time for Solidarity

Dear Joshua: May God bless you.

One wonders where the solidarity with truth, Orthodoxy, and Holy Tradition fit into this curious scheme!

This is how Sergianism was supported, of course. One bows to false authority in the name of "saving" the Church (in this case, of course, the false authority is the Papacy). There were actually some in the ROCA who openly said this, in arguing for union with Moscow: they were saving their dying Church and its relevancy.

The ultimate problem is that when one believes that compromise is the only way to "save" the Church, one avers, whether wittingly or unwittingly, that the Church is not Divine and above human powers, but a human institution subject to human machinations. In the case of Papism, we see that this compromise argues for the survival of the Church by human cooperation under a human "vicar of God", instead of synergy with, and fidelity to, God Himself.

It is no wonder that neo-Papal Patriarchalism (attributing to Patriarchs more than a dignity of honor and something more than the status of other Bishops) and compromise are preached so openly in Orthodox ecumenism. The underlying desire for power, worldly recognition, importance (imagine, importance in the Church!), and relevancy have usurped the virtues of suffering, dependence on God, the centrality of the next world in setting our priorities in this one, and the inevitability of being slandered, misunderstood, persecuted, and set upon by the world if one adheres to the Faith.

Even many Orthodox anti-ecumenists, including some who are unwisely extreme in their opposition, will eventually succumb to arguments such as those of Archbishop Hilarion of the Moscow Patriarchate. Why? Because when Church leaders turn to concerns over social influence, political power, and authority when Christianity is assaulted, they turn away from God. Moreover, their hidden ambitions and desires for worldly honor feed the demonic forces that produce this kind of "religious atheism."

We face spiritually deadly enemies in the name of religion that we little understand from a psychological and spiritual standpoint. At a time when love in the world can only be genuine when it is based first on a love of God, imagine where these high-sounding ventures will actually lead! False unions are evil.

Least Among Monks,

+ AC


> Evlogeite.

> Russian Orthodox Official: Time for Solidarity
> ***Caution. This is the "take" from a Roman Catholic news agency. --Al
> Russian Orthodox Official: Time for Solidarity
> ROME, SEPT. 21, 2009 ( Russian Orthodox Archbishop
> Hilarion Alfeyev says there are so many reasons for Catholics and
> Orthodox to cooperate in our de-Christianized world that it is time to
> move past divisions and competition and exist in solidarity and mutual
> love.
> The archbishop affirmed this after he met in the Vatican on Friday
> with Benedict XVI and on Thursday with Cardinal Walter Kasper,
> president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The
> cardinal invited the archbishop, who since March has been the chairman
> of the Department of External Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate.
> Archbishop Alfeyev was already well-known at the Vatican, having
> previously been the Russian Orthodox Church's representative to the
> European Institutions in Brussels. He is also an accomplished
> composer, using his music to bring East and West together. His
> interpretation of St. Matthew's account of the Passion was performed
> at the Vatican before Easter in 2007; his Christmas oratorio premiered
> that year at a Catholic Church in Washington, D.C..
> With his new role in the Russian Orthodox Church, the archbishop met
> with the Pope on Friday, later telling a group of journalists that he
> hopes the Holy Father and Patriarch Kirill will be able to meet soon.
> "We support the Pope in his commitment to the defense of Christian
> values" he said. "We also support him when his courageous declarations
> arouse negative reactions on the part of politicians or public figures
> or they are criticized and sometimes misrepresented by some in the
> mass media."
> "We believe that he has the duty to witness to the truth and we are
> therefore with him even when his word encounters opposition," the
> archbishop affirmed.
> "Personally, I hope that sooner or later the meeting that many are
> awaiting between the Pope and the patriarch of Moscow will take place.
> I can say with responsibility that on both sides there is the desire
> to prepare such a meeting with great care," he said.
> This meeting, Archbishop Alfeyev acknowledged, would represent a
> major step forward in relations between Catholics and Orthodox.
> Much to do
> The Orthodox prelate re-emphasized that at present there are enormous
> possibilities for cooperation between the two Churches.
> Before us, he said, there opens the vast expanse of "today's
> de-Christianized world."
> "All Christians, and especially we Orthodox and Catholics, can and
> must respond together to these challenges," the archbishop affirmed.
> "Together we can propose to the world the spiritual and moral values
> of the Christian faith. Together we can offer our Christian vision of
> the family [and] affirm our concept of social justice, of a commitment
> to protect the environment [and] to defend human life and its
> dignity."
> The Church "is not a supermarket of the spirit," he continued; the
> Church "makes life fuller, more human and divine."
> The archbishop then expressed his hope that the relationship between
> Catholics and Orthodox develops more intensely and that the problems
> that remain between the two traditions be soon overcome.
> He further pointed out that the patriarch of Moscow would like to
> open a new page in relations between the Ecumenical Patriarchate of
> Constantinople, pursuing an open and sincere dialogue.
> Constructive ties
> The archbishop was on his first visit to Rome since his appointment
> to the external affairs office.
> Cardinal Kasper spoke to Vatican Radio after his meeting with the
> Orthodox representative, affirming that "the meeting reflected the new
> situation between the Catholic Church and the Patriarchate of Moscow:
> We have overcome all the tensions that existed in past years and at
> present we have a normal relationship, tranquil and even positive,
> constructive."
> "From the beginning, Hilarion expressed his high esteem for Pope
> Benedict XVI, who is much appreciated in the Russian Orthodox Church;
> later we spoke of our relations, especially the theological dialogue
> that will take place in Cyprus in the coming weeks," the cardinal
> explained.
> The International Mixed Commission for Theological Dialogue between
> the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church as a whole will meet next
> month for its 11th plenary session. The Church leaders will examine a
> draft document outlined during a 2008 meeting in Crete. At present,
> the commission is reflecting on the role of the Bishop of Rome in the
> communion of the Church in the first millennium -- before the Great
> Schism of 1054.
> This was the topic of discussion during the 10th plenary assembly of
> the Mixed Commission which, in 2007, brought together 30 Catholic
> delegates and
> 30 Orthodox to reflect on the ecclesiological and canonical
> consequences of the sacramental nature of the Church.
> During the Ravenna meeting, the delegation of the Patriarchate of
> Moscow decided to withdraw because of conflict among the various
> members of the Orthodox delegation.
> Cardinal Kasper explained that that situation has been resolved: "Now
> [the Russian Orthodox] wish to return to dialogue; they have overcome
> these tensions between Moscow and Constantinople on the case of
> Estonia, and wish to collaborate normally."
> He continued: "[W]e also spoke about our bilateral relations: By way
> of example, a concert they wish to have here in Rome; I suggested, [in
> turn] that we might also have an exhibition in Moscow.
> "We have spoken of the exchange of priests, of theologians and of all
> that which might help to improve relations and also to overcome the
> prejudices and resistance that exist in Russia against the Catholic
> Church and ecumenism; however, little by little, we can also overcome
> this."
> "Both sides are determined to go forward," Cardinal Kasper affirmed,
> admitting that "for the moment, a papal visit to Moscow is not on the
> agenda," though "they do not reject a meeting with the Pope."
> Beginning to love
> On Sept. 17, Archbishop Alfeyev attended afternoon prayer with the
> Sant'Egidio Community, in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere,
> addressing a greeting to those present.
> On that occasion, thanking the members of the community for their
> "contribution to dialogue" and their commitment to the poor and the
> neediest, he spoke of the common challenge represented by "a
> de-Christianized world," dominated by "consumerism, hedonism,
> practical materialism and moral relativism."
> "Only united will we be able to propose to the world the spiritual
> and moral values of the Christian faith; together we will be able to
> offer our Christian vision of the family, of procreation, of a human
> love made not only for pleasure; to affirm our concept of social
> justice, of a more equitable distribution of goods, of a commitment to
> safeguarding the environment, for the defense of human life and its
> dignity," said the Orthodox prelate.
> "Therefore, the time has come to move from a failure to meet and
> competition, to solidarity, mutual respect and esteem; I would even
> say, without a doubt, that we must move to mutual love," he stressed.
> "Our Christian preaching can have effect, can be convincing also in
> our contemporary world, if we are able to live this mutual love
> between us, Christians."

The Anschluss Of MP and ex-ROCOR


Subject: Re The Anschluss Of MP and ex-ROCOR
Date: Fri, September 18, 2009 9:45 pm
To: (more)

To: Exarchate Clergy and Faithful
From: SGPM [St. Gregory Palamas Monastery ]

This was sent to the monastery this morning. We felt that it was worth passing on. It describes the tragedy of the ROCA/MP in sensitive and moderate terms.

From: xxx

To: Bishop Gabriel

Sent: Thursday, September 17, 2009 3:48 PM

Subject: Russian Church

Dear Vladyka Gabriel,

Bless, Master,

My father was a stone-alcoholic. He was not one who preferred either beer, wine or booze; he drank them all, even mixing them in one drinking session. He paid the price for this and died at age 53 when I was only 17 and a senior in high school. I was called out of class the day that he died and by the next week I was working full-time and did not, at that time, return to school. You see, the only thing that my father left us was great debt. He drank and gambled all of his money away, even though he was well-paid as a union newspaper pressman in New York. Naturally, I discussed this with my mother (who became Orthodox before I did), asking her if he was a drinker when she married him. Her answer was "yes." I then asked her why, knowing that he was an alcoholic, she married him. She said that she thought that if they married, he would change for the better and quit drinking. Of course, sadly, that never happened.

The reason that I tell you this is that I see parallels in this experience and the union between ROCOR and Moscow. Even though the oft-stated conditions for reunion were not met, the union moved forward in hopes, I guess, that Moscow would change its ways and that ROCOR would be a good influence. The human condition being what it is, the more powerful and more grand gobbled-up the smaller entity and used it to further its own ends of world influence. I have sent you articles over the last couple of years that clearly demonstrate this fact, and I'm sure that you have more personal knowledge of such things than most. I have observed such happenings with much sadness and despair. I was hoping that one day someone would say, "This isn't working-out, we need to do something."

You are well aware of the disingenuous way that the meetings considering the union were conducted. Can anything good and holy come from such shenanigans? If the guidance did not come from the Holy Spirit, then where? When I became Orthodox 23 years ago (I was Orthodox in my heart for many years before), I certainly had a broad range of choices of Churches in the area of my home. My mother and I chose ROCOR for one reason and one reason only. It certainly wasn't because it was the most convenient or that we enjoyed the Slavonic and Russian, as we are not Russian and are all-American. The reason was that ROCOR, in spite of many pressures, clung fast to the total, unwavering, steadfast Truth of the Orthodox Faith. We knew that we could worship in Truth and in Love. Mom is gone now and has been for 20 years (next month) and my consolation is that she did not experience the betrayal that I and my wife feel. It's hard to realign one's beliefs after so many years, but when we did, we felt greatly blessed and rewarded.

I have personal knowledge that many who went along with the union did so very reluctantly, feeling boxed-in by their own circumstances and, yes, many of these are clergy. Others that I know still attend Church because there is nowhere else to go, but refuse to take Communion. Others, like myself and my wife, can't, out of conscience, attend a ROCOR Church, and we feel crushed and betrayed by our Bishops and priests. Relationships among former parish members are, to say the least, strained. Friendships and stronger relationships are severed, at times even within families. These are some of the fruits that this union has borne. My own former pastor voiced strong disagreement before the union but, when push came to shove, he went along to get along. Shortly thereafter, he was made an Archpriest! How many times were such stories repeated in the last couple of years?

Now I have learned that one of your priests, Fr. Demetrios Harper and his Matushka will be studying in Greece and, as a condition of receiving a stipend there, Father will be serving in the ecumenist, new calendar State Churches of Greece. How far have we come in the short time between when St. Met. Philaret was the First Hierarch and today! I have also learned that ROCOR has taken the extreme step of defrocking Met. Agafangel, a man of conscience and faith. Apparently this action was not taken because he deviated from the Faith but because he refused to do so. Amazing!

In the long history of the Church we number among the Saints heroes who stood fast in the truth in the face of severe pressure to betray that Truth. Consider St. Athanasios, St. Maximos, St. John Chrysostom, St. Mark of Ephesus (my patron) and, most recently, St. Met. Philaret and a host of others who are now all numbered among the saints for their unwavering allegiance to Christ and His Church. Glory be to God!

Is ROCOR drifting towards the ecclesiology of Moscow or is Moscow coming closer to that of the former ROCOR? As a result of the union, is ROCOR becoming more or less entangled in the affairs of the ecumenists? My dear Vladyka, I think you know the answers to these questions. While we feel betrayed, we are unimportant. It is the betrayal of Christ's Truth that is all that matters.

Please pray for xxx (my wife) and me as I pray for you. Please give what I have said prayerful consideration. Excuse me for being blunt; I mean no disrespect to you. It is my broken heart that is speaking. I look forward to the day when a True Union, forged in Truth and in Love, can be forged among all Orthodox Christians.

Kissing your right hand and with prayerful best wishes,
xxx, Reader

Example of Renovationism

The January-February 1973 issue of Jordanville's bimonthly publication, Orthodox Life, has an article titled, "ON ANTICHRIST" by St. John Damascus. I'm not going to copy the whole article here.  What is of interest here to us is the preface to the article.  The preface exposes a renovationists' tactic. So here is that preface:


We do not want anyone to misunderstand the purpose of this series from the Fathers on Antichrist. There will be several series from the works of the Fathers because every Orthodox Christian must have a consciousness of the Fathers of the Church. That the first such series should be on the subject of Antichrist is no effort on our part to predict that the day of Antichrist is now a measurable distance in the future. It may very well be, for the times most certainly lead to such a conclusion. But it is not for us to say.

This series is first of all, a response to the tampering with our Divine Service books which is proposed or even being carried out in some apostate "Orthodox" churches. Under the guise of "brotherly love" certain of the nominally Orthodox bodies have undertaken to "remove all unfavorable references to the Jews from the Orthodox services books". If one is not overwhelmed at the pride of people who could propose to improve upon what the Holy Spirit has given through our God-bearing Fathers, then one must notice one thing:

Precisely what these faithless ones wish to remove from our Service Books is all reference to and warning about the Antichrist. Does one suspect that this action is without significance? It is for this reason that we have chosen to bring this subject to the fore in this first series from the works of the Holy Fathers and from the Divine Service Books, so that Orthodox Christians will have the possibility to compare exactly what is being taken from them rather than to listen to some well-sounding emotional platitudes about fraternalism with non-Christians.

source: Orthodox Life Vol. 23 No.1, page 19

St. Philaret 0n "Jurisdictions"

The following is an excerpt taken from a conversation Metropolitan Philaret [canonized 2008] had with his students at Holy Trinity Seminary on March 22, 1966, the day of the commemoration of the Holy Forty Martyrs. The conversation was published in the November 1971 issue of Pravoslavnaya Zhizn [0rthodox Life in Russian] pp. 7-16.

0f course you have heard of the so-called "jurisdictional disputes." You have of course heard -- jurisdictions, jurisdictions, jurisdictions! This all unfortunately, sometimes takes on such a tense and unpleasant character. I once heard from someone an amusing anecdote which I liked very much:
A certain Russian [emigre] was drowning in the ocean. He had gone out for a swim, swam too far and began to drown. His wife raced along the shore pleading for help. She asked a certain Frenchman. The gallant and well-brought-up Frenchman threw himself into the water to save the victim but, as soon as he reached deep water, he shouted, "I do not know how to swim. Will it be better if two men drown instead of one?" The wife came up to an Englishman. "Help," she pleaded, "He is drowning." The Englishman brushed aside her plea saying, "You cannot save everyone!" and continued to bathe by the shore. Then she came up to a certain Russian [emigre]. "Save that Russian there, your countryman. He is drowning!" The Russian then shouted, "Which jurisdiction?"
You see what can be the nature of such so-called jurisdictional disputes, what an ugly character they can bear. Relations are completely strained, tainted, confused. Here one must firstly, in defending one's truth, always be as gentle as possible toward those traveling an incorrect path. 0ne must not become embittered. Does animosity ever gain anything?

Generally speaking imagine to yourself that three men are traveling along a road. They go along and one makes a wrong step and goes off into a swamp; two of the men proceed correctly. Then a second man veers off to the right and begins to proceed incorrectly. Now the third man proceeds alone. Voices ring out, "Why are you separated? You must reconcile." How shall this be done? The one who remained on the correct path on which all three had at first been traveling, ought he to turn off somewhere or not? Who should turn back? The ones who went astray, correct? So it is here.

You yourselves know that our Church Abroad never split herself off from anyone, and has never swerved. She travels the same road as when she was founded by His Beatitude Metropolitan Anthony. Those who have deviated -- let them return.

Bishop Nektary always says very insistently: "I do not even recognize the subject of three jurisdictions. There is only one jurisdiction -- the Church Abroad." *[St. John said this, too. What they were saying is that in reality there are not three jurisdictions, but one jurisdiction wherein some have gone astray. -jh]

The Church in Russia, whatever she may be there -- the Moscow Soviet hierarchy and the Catacomb Church -- that is another matter. At the present time we have no direct ties with them -- but here there is only one jurisdiction, as His Eminence Nektary perfectly correctly says -- there is the one Russian Church Abroad, and groups that have split off from her. They must think of returning, rather than our Church thinking of going over to them, and having swerved off of the correct path, also allow ourselves to be pulled into the swamp. If people now argue so much about the subject of jurisdictions, it is, again, only for the reason that Truth is not dear enough to them. For the sake of some kind of external peace and reconciliation such persons are prepared to accuse us of not wanting to be reconciled, of harboring bad feelings toward those in error.

People do not want to learn the Truth because they are essentially indifferent to it. They want only an external peace, like the peace about which the communists shout so much: about peace for the whole world, in order to cast together in one heap principles which are totally irreconcilable and which can not be reconciled. It is like trying to lump hot coals together with firewood. Will they lie quietly together? It is clear that a fire will flare up. So it is here. This artificial, external peace will never be achieved. The Lord spoke about this very thing through the Prophet: There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked [Is. 57:21] -- and there will not be any!

So, I repeat, talk of a reconciliation between the so-called "three jurisdictions" -- as people who do not understand the matter explain -- is being raised now because people do not hold the Truth dear. He who comes to know the Truth objectively and calmly will always grasp the matter at hand and find the correct path. Take, for example, the wonderful, peaceful, objectively-written work, the documentary book about this schism written by our Nikolai Dimitrievich Talberg. Do many know of it? In it, the history of what transpired, is elucidated calmly, intelligently, and objectively. I have given it to people who did nor know the history of the schism -- once they have read it they say: "Now everything is clear." But people are not interested and they do not want to read.

And so it is my wish that you would be spared this fate, and that the Truth would always be dear to you. And if Truth will be dear to you, then you will always be able to defend it.

source: 0rthodox Life, Vol. 49 No. 6, p. 46

There Is No Devil

Saying that Sergianism is over is just like saying that Communism is over - and just like saying that there is no devil. It is a state of mind that counselors refer to as "denial."

0n page 380 in N0TW, in the chapter, ZEAL0TS 0F 0RTH0D0XY, Fr. Seraphim says:
... [something vast and complicated] is happening today: that those who feel 0rthodoxy ... are battling together against an enemy, a heresy, that has not yet been fully defined or manifested. Separate aspects or manifestations of it [chiliasm, social Gospel, renovationism, ecumenism] may be identified and fought, but the battle is largely instinctive as yet, and those who do not feel 0rthodoxy in their heart and bones ... can't understand.
To the list of those aspects we can add "C0NTEMP0RARY SERGIANISM".

It is interesting to note that the MP-R0C0R hierarchs who want us to believe sergianism is over, point out that "sergianism" does not have a formal definition [...has not yet been fully defined...]. And, typical of a demonic twisting of logic, they use that fact as a reason for why the issue should be ignored. In this battle, how much easier it is for the enemy if we do not see him and just let him do his dirty work unheeded. How much easier it is for the enemy if he does not even have to try to hide, since we ignore him of our own will.

Related Post: Fr. Nikita Grigoriev 0n Sergianism, Nov.'08
Boris Talantov's Essay


√ September issue The Shepherd

Memory Eternal Fr. Vladimir Shishkoff

by Igumen German Ciuba

With the repose of Father Vladimir Shishkoff a chapter of church history is ending. I know that I am not alone in feeling an immense debt of gratitude to Father Vladimir for all the assistance he provided over the years. There was a time when he was the face of the Synod, and he represented it well, with dignity, zeal and love.

For those who did not know Father Vladimir or have forgotten him, I would like to share a few recollections.

Fr Vladimir grew up in the large and thriving Russian community that formed in Yugoslavia after the Bolshevik Revolution. He was an altar server at the Russian Church of the Holy Trinity in Belgrade, where he absorbed the church services and their typicon. He was perhaps one of our last links to Metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitsky), of blessed memory, our first Primate. After World War II, he came to the U.S. with his family. He served in the American army in Japan. He studied at Dartmouth University and became a civil engineer. He worked for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (at one time his office was in the World Trade Center), and he was connected with the construction of the Verrazano Bridge.

For many years he was a subdeacon for the late Metropolitan Anastassy (Gribanovsky), of blessed memory. He was a spiritual son of Archbishop Adrian (Rymarenko) of Rockland, the founder of Novo-Diveevo Convent, and later of the late Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky), of blessed memory. A descendant of the famous Russian statesman and writer Admiral A.S. Shishkoff, he married the daughter of Father George Grabbe, later Bishop Gregory of Manhattan, of Washington and Florida, who for many years was the administration of our Synod.

In middle age Father Vladimir was ordained to the sacred priesthood, while continuing to work as an engineer. He was sent to Our Lady of Kazan Church in Newark, New Jersey, where the parish was in very poor shape, having experienced a scandal with a previous priest and being located in a slum of Newark. Fr Vladimir later reminisced that when he first came to his church, there were roaches running across the altar. Under his direction the parish acquired and moved to a lovely former Episcopal church in a better neighbourhood of Newark, which over the years Fr Vladimir decorated with many beautiful icons, all the while preserving the distinctive brick architecture of the church. The parish grew and thrived under Fr Vladimir's rectorship. The services were done "po ustavu." Every Friday night an Akathistos to the Mother of God of Kazan was served.

Although he was a staunch Russian patriot, he welcomed everyone, Russian or not. He used to say that the Russian language never saved anyone. Father Vladimir was a dynamo of energy, always on the go, always helping someone.

He and his perfect complement, Matushka Mary, were emblematic of Russian hospitality. Everyone was always welcome at their house; one never knew who would turn up for dinner (poor Matushka always had to be prepared!). They always had people staying with them. For many years, until his repose, they took care of the invalid Abbot Gerasim (Romanoff); later they took in Matushka's father, Bishop Gregory, when he retired. And there were others - a recovering alcoholic, a new immigrant, a needy clergyman - all found refuge with the Shishkoffs at their home in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and later in Elmwood Park.

When Fr Vladimir retired from his secular job, he went to work at the Synod on 93rd Street as an assistant to Bishop Gregory. There he was instrumental in bringing many people into the Russian Church Abroad.

Though Fr Vladimir did not have a formal theological education, he was very well-read; he had an excellent library, and knew the services, canons and history of the Church very well.

Fr Vladimir was a man of fiery character and commanding presence. I remember back in 1981, when my Roman Catholic grandmother passed away, Fr Vladimir came to the funeral home to pay his respects. When he walked in, tall and distinguished, dressed in a long winter ryasa and carrying a silver-tipped cane, a hush fell over everyone at the wake, and one of my aunts said, "He's like Moses!" Fr Vladimir used his strong character, his booming bass voice and his confident mind in the service of the Church. Many times he would be sent out by the hierarchy as a trouble-shooter to some parish where there were problems. To such situations he brought common sense and good order. One always felt that there was an authoritative figure one could turn to in moments of doubt and difficulty. Fr Vladimir was able to unite in his person strictness and gentleness, insistence and understanding, zeal and love, single-mindedness and tolerance, prayerfulness and sociability, spirituality and worldly experience.

I came to him as a young man, a student and a seminary drop-out, and he took me in to his parish, made me a reader and later sponsored my ordination to the holy priesthood. Especially in the difficult first years after ordination, Fr Vladimir was always on call for advice and direction. He affected my life deeply, and I am privileged to have known him.

In later years Fr Vladimir, a man of strong and unshakable convictions who feared no one, could not in good conscience accept the changes which the Russian Church Abroad underwent after the fall of communism and the failure of our initial policy of confrontation with the Moscow Patriarchate, which led to the creation of what is now called the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church, under Metropolitan Valentin of Suzdal. He was loyal to his beliefs, and sadly ended up isolated from the rest of his beloved Russian Church Abroad. In his last years he suffered what was surely a great podvig for a man of his mind and energy, reduced to the life of a frail invalid in a wheelchair. In everything his support and help has been Matushka Mary, whose sweetness and calmness fittingly contrasted with Fr Vladimir's peppery and energetic character. Matushka cared for Fr Vladimir at home, just as she had cared for so many others over the years, with patience and kindness.

May God grant his servant Archpriest Vladimir rest in that place where there is no more sickness, sadness or sighing, no more politics and jurisdictions, but life unending!

Abbot German Ciuba
[R0C0R-MP hieromonk]


Harry Potter Illustration Offends Many Orthodox

Fr. Gregory sent this email out on his mailing list September 2, 2009

Harry Potter Illustration Offends Many Orthodox
by The Editor on August 30, 2009

The front page of the August 30th Dallas News Points section featured an illustration which is offending many area Orthodox Christians. The illustration accompanies an article by Michael Paulson, a religion reporter for the Boston Globe. Many Orthodox Christians are deeply saddened or even outraged at this depiction.

Many who do not hold icons sacredas the Orthodox domay not see this as a big issue. To the Orthodox though, this is sacrilegious and offensive in the extreme. Orthodox Christians are trained from an early age to “read” icons, and the halo with a cross background surrounding a figure is iconography’s way of saying: “This person is God.” Picking up the Points section of the paper, many Orthodox react as if the headline reads, “Harry Potter is God.”

The article is available online at the Dallas News <> . The article itself is fairly innocuous, but the illustration is detestable to many.

While the illustrator may not understand the theological ramifications of this image, educated Orthodox do. Icons are sacred, and a blasphemous illustration is, wittingly or unwittingly, a mockery of Christianity.

Take a moment to speak to your church leaders about this topic and consider writing the Dallas News <>  to let them know your thoughts on the matter.

A RocorMP iconography student shared this comment:
... my daughter asked me how the illustrator knew enough about Orthodoxy to make an icon. I said it wasn't a very good icon. She mentioned the artist probably didn't know the Pantocrator pattern with the halo with the cross was only for Lord Jesus, but I told her I can prove the artist did know. Whose Face did they replace with Harry's? ... 

Remembering Fr. Seraphim

August 20/September 2

Fr. Seraphim translated and wrote the introduction to St. John Maximovitch's book, The 0rthodox Veneration of Mary, The Birthgiver of God. In the introduction Fr. Seraphim first writes about himself in the third person. Next he writes about his spiritual father. It is a glimpse into both of their souls, and St. John's deep influence on Fr. Seraphim. -jh

Introduction: The 0rthodox Theology of Archbishop John Maximovitch
by Fr. Seraphim

Not too many years ago [this was written 1978] the Abbess of a convent of the Russian 0rthodox Church, a woman of righteous life, was delivering a sermon in the convent church on the feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God. With tears she entreated her nuns and the pilgrims who had come for the feast to accept entirely and wholeheartedly what the Church hands down to us, taking such pains to preserve this tradition sacredly all these centuries -- and not to choose for oneself what is "important" and what is "dispensible"; for by thinking oneself wiser than the tradition, one may end up by losing the tradition. Thus, when the Church tells us in her hymns and icons that the Apostles were miraculously gathered together from the ends of the earth in order to be present at the repose and burial of the Mother of God, we as 0rthodox Christians are not free to deny this or to reinterpret it, but must believe as the Church hands down to us, with simplicity of heart.

A young Western convert who learned Russian was present when this sermon was delivered. He himself had thought about this very subject, having seen icons in the traditional iconographic style depicting the Apostles being transported on clouds to behold the Dormition of the Theotokos; and he had asked himself the question: are we actually to understand this "literally," as a miraculous event, or is it only a "poetic" way of expressing the coming together of the Apostles for this event ... or perhaps even an imaginative or "ideal" depiction of an even that never occurred in fact? (Such, indeed, are some of the questions with which "0rthodox theologians" occupy themselves in our days.) The words of the righteous Abbess therefore struck him to the heart, and he understood that there was something deeper to the reception of 0rthodoxy than what our own mind and feelings tell us. In that instant the tradition was being handed down to him, not from books but from a living vessel which contained it; and it had to be received, not with mind and feeling only, but above all with the heart, which in this way began to receive its deeper training in 0rthodoxy.

Later this young convert encountered, in person or through reading, many people who were learned in 0rthodox theology. They were the "theologians" of our day, those who had been to 0rthodox schools and become theological "experts." They were usually quite eager to speak on what was 0rthodox and what was non-0rthodox, what was important and what was secondary in 0rthodoxy itself; and a number of them prided themselves on being "conservatives" or "traditionalists" in faith. But in none of them did he sense the simple authority of the simple Abbess who had spoken to his heart, unlearned as she was in such "theology."

And the heart of this convert, still taking his baby steps in 0rthodoxy, longed to know how to believe, which means also whom to believe. He was too much a person of his times and his own upbringing to be able to simply deny his own reasoning power and believe blindly everything he was told; and it is very evident that 0rthodoxy does not at all demand this of one -- the very writings of the Holy Fathers are a living memorial of the working of human reason enlightened by the grace of God. But it was also obvious that there was something very much lacking in the "theologians" of our day, who for all their knowledge of Patristic texts, did not convey the feeling or savor of 0rthodoxy as well as a simple, theologically-uneducated Abbess.

0ur convert found the end of his search --the search for contact with the true living tradition of 0rthodoxy-- in Archbishop John Maximovitch. For here he found someone who was a learned theologian in the "old" school and at the same time was very aware of all the criticisms of that theology which have been made by the theological critics of our century, and was able to use his keen intelligence to find the truth where it might be disputed. But he also possessed something which none of the wise "theologians" of our time seem to possess: the same simplicity and authority which the pious Abbess had conveyed to the heart of the young God-seeker. His heart and mind were won: not because Archbishop John became for him an "infallible expert" -- for the Church of Christ does not know any such thing -- but because he saw in this holy archpastor a model of 0rthodoxy, a true theologian whose theology proceeded from a holy life and from total rootedness in 0rthodox tradition. When he spoke, his words could be trusted -- although he carefully distinguished between the Church's teaching, which is certain, and his own personal opinions, which might be mistaken, and he bound no one to the latter. And our young convert discovered that, for all of Archbishops John's intellectual keeness and critical ability, his words much more often agreed with those of the Abbess than with those of the learned theologians of our time.

THE THE0L0GICAL WRITINGS of Archbishop John belong to no distinctive "school," and they do not reveal the extraordinary influence of any theologians of the recent past. It is true that Archbishop John was inspired to theologize, as well as to become a monk and enter the Church's service, by his great teacher, Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky; and it is also true that the student made his own the teacher's emphasis on a "return to the Fathers" and to a theology closely bound to spiritual and moral life rather than academic. But Metropolitan Anthony's own theological writings are quite different in tone, intention and content: he was very much involved with the theological academic world and with the intelligentsia of his time, and much of his writing is devoted to arguments and apologies which will be understandable to these elements of the society he knew. The writings of Archbishop John, on the other hand, are quite devoid of this apologetic and disputatious aspect. He did not argue, he simply presented the 0rthodox teaching; and when it was necessary to refute false doctrines, as especially in his two long articles on the Sophiology of Bulgakov, his words were convincing not by virtue of logical argumentation, but by the power of his presentation of the Patristic teaching in its original texts. He did not speak to the academic or the learned world, but to the uncorrupted 0rthodox conscience; and he did not speak of a "return to the Fathers" because what he himself wrote was simply a handing down of Patristic tradition, with no attempt to apologize for it.

The sources of Archbishop John's theology are quite simply: Holy Scripture, the Holy Fathers (especially the great Fathers of the 4th and 5th centuries), and -- most distinctively -- the Divine services of the 0rthodox Church. The latter source, rarely used to such an extent by the theologians of recent centuries, gives us a clue to the practical, un-academic approach of Archbishop John to theology. It is obvious he was thoroughly immersed in the Church's Divine services and that his theological inspiration came chiefly from this primary Patristic source which he imbibed, not in leisure hours set apart for theologizing, but in his daily practice f being present at every Divine service. He drank in theology as an integral part of daily life, and it ws doubtless the more than his formal theological studies that actually made him a theologian.

It is understandable, therefore, that one will not find in Archbishop John any theological "system." To be sure he did not protest against the great works of "systematic theology" which the 19th century produced in Russia, and he made free use in his missionary work of the systematic catechisms of this period (as, in general, the great hierarchs of the 19th and 20th centuries have done, both in Greece and Russia, seeing in these catechisms an excellent aid to the work of 0rthodox enlightenment among the people); in this respect he was above the fashions and parties olf theologians and students, both past and present, who are a little too attached to the particular way in which 0rthodox theology is presented. He showed equal respect for Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky with his "anti-Western" emphasis, and for Metropolitan Peter Mogila with his supposedly excessive "Western influence." When the defects of one or the other of these great hierarchs and defenders of 0rthodoxy would be presented to him, he would make a deprecating gesture with his hand and say,"unimportant" -- because he always had in view first of all the great Patristic tradition which these theologians were successfully handing down in spite of their faults. In this respect he has much to teach the younger the theologians of our own day, who approach 0rthodox theology in a spirit that is often both too theoretical and too polemical and partisan.

For Archbishop John the theological "categories" of even the wisest of theological scholars were also "unimportant" -- or rather, they were important only to the extent that they communicated a real meaning and did not become merely a matter of rote learning. 0ne incident from his Shanghai years vividly reveals the freedom of his theological spirit: 0nce when he was attending the oral examinations of the senior class of his cathedral school, he interrupted the perfectly correct recitation by one pupil of the list of Minor Prophets of the 0ld Testament with the abrupt and categorical assertion: "There are no minor prophets!" The priest-teacher of this class was understandably offended at this seeming disparagement of his teaching authority, but probably to this day the students remember this strange disruption of the normal catechism "categories," and possibly a few of them understood the message which Archbishop John to convey: with God all prophets are "major," and this fact is more important than all the categories of our knowledge of them, however valid these are in themselves. In his theological writings and sermons also, Archbishop John often gives a surprising turn to his discourse which uncovers for us some unexpected aspect or deeper meaning of the subject he is discussing. It is obvious that for him theology is no mere human, earthly, discipline whose riches are exhausted by our rational interpretations, or at which we can become self-satisfied "experts," -- but rather something that points heavenward and should draw our minds to God and heavenly realities, which are not grasped by logical systems of thought.

0ne noted Russian Church historian, N. Talberg, has suggested (in the Chronicle of Bishop Savva, ch. 23) that Archbishop John is to be understood first of all as "a fool for Christ's sake who remained such even in episcopal rank," and in this respect he compares him to St. Gregory the Theologian, who also did not conform, in ways similar to Archbishop John, to the standard "image" of a bishop. It is this "foolishness" (by the world's standards) that gives a characteristic tone to the theological writings both of St. Gregory and of Archbishop John: a certain detachment from public opinion, what "everyone thinks" and thus belonging to no "party" or "school"; the approach to theological questions from an exalted, non-academic point of view and thus the healthy avoidance of petty disputes and the quarrelsome spirit; the fresh, unexpected turns of thought, which make their theological writings first of all a source of inspiration and of a truly deeper understanding of God's revelation.

Perhaps most of all one is impressed by the utter simplicity of Archbishop John's writings. It is obvious that he accepts the 0rthodox tradition straightforwardly and entirely, with no "double" thoughts as to how one can believe the tradition and still be a "sophisticated" modern man. He was aware of modern "criticism," and if asked could give his sound reasons for not accepting it on most points. He studied thoroughly the question of "Western influence" in 0rthodoxy in recent centuries and had a well-balanced view of it, carefully distinguishing between what is to be rejected outright as foreign to 0rthodoxy, what is to be discouraged without "making an issue" over it, and what is to be accepted as conducive to true 0rthodox life and piety (a point that is especially revealing of Archbishop John's lack of "preconceived opinions," and his testing of everything by sound 0rthodoxy). But despite all his knowledge and exercise of critical judgment, he continued to believe the 0rthodox tradition simply, just as the Church has handed it down to us. Most 0rthodox theologians of our time, even if they may have escaped the worst effects of the Protestant-reformer mentality, still view 0rthodox tradition through the spectacles of the academic environment in which they are at home; but Archbishop John was "at home" first and foremost in the church services at which he spent many hours every day, and thus the tinge of rationalism (not necessarily in a bad sense) of even the best of academic theologians was totally absent in his thought. In his writings there are no "problems"; his usually numerous footnotes are solely for the sake of informing where the teaching of the Church is to be found. In this respect he is absolutely at one with the "mind of the Fathers," and he appears in our midst as one of them, and not as a mere commentator on the theology of the past.

The theological writings of Archbishop John, printed in various Church periodicals over four decades have not yet been collected in one place. Those presently available to the St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood would fill a volume of something more than 200 pages. His longer writings belong for the most part to his earlier years as a hieromonk in Yugoslavia, where he was already noted as outstanding among 0rthodox theologians. Especially valuable are his two articles on the Sophiology of Bulgakov, one of them revealing convincingly , in a very objective manner, Bulgakov's total incompetence as a Patristic scholar, and the other being of even greater value as a classic exposition of the true Patristic doctrine of the Divine Wisdom. Among his later writings one should mention his article on 0rthodox iconography (where, incidentally, he shows himself much more aware than his teacher, Metr. Anthony, of the question of "Western influence" in iconographic style); the series of sermons entitled "Three Evangelical Feasts," where he uncovers the deeper meaning of some of the "lesser" church feasts; and the article "The Church: the Body of Christ." His short articles and sermons are also deeply theological. 0ne sermon begins with a "Hymn to God" of St. Gregory the Theologian and continues, in the same exalted, Patristic tone, as an inspired accusation against contemporary godlessness; another, spoken on Passion Friday, 1936, is a moving address to Christ lying in the tomb, in a tone worthy of the same Holy Father.

We begin this series of translations with Archbishop John's classic exposition of the 0rthodox veneration of the Mother of God and of the chief errors which have attacked it. Its longest chapter is a clear and striking refutation of the Latin dogma of the "Immaculate Conception."