Orthodox Survival Course Class 47: Russia and the End of the World, Part C – The Church of Russia in the 20th Century

Listen to the podcast of this talk at https://www.spreaker.com/user/youngfaithradio/osc-47_1

Thanks and Request for Donations

Thanks to our donors! May the Lord reward your love with His grace! To our other listeners: please consider a gift to help me out. If you have PayPal, you can send a gift to my account at frstevenallen@gmail.com. If you want to receive a receipt for a tax deduction, contact me at that email, and I can tell you how to donate to our parish, who in turn will pass the donation on to me and send you a receipt.

Introduction: Our Topic, the Russian Church in the 20th Century

A. Why “the end of the world”? Recall our previous discussions about

i. the kathechon (II Thessalonians 2:6-7) and Orthodox monarchism

ii. discerning our place in history – living “after the end,” relationship of Church to society; a new catacomb age

iii. our task of discerning “Where is the Church”? Faith comes first.

a. principles of discernment: the world, the sects, the Church

b. ecclesiology – go back to Class 43. Confession of faith, union with a true bishop.

B. Importance of Sergianism in addition to Ecumenism

i. term “Sergianism” – its origin

ii. importance: Must see that Ecumenism is not to be understood in isolation, but as one aspect of an all-encompassing Antichrist agenda. Sergianism is the linchpin uniting theological indifference to the creation of the appearance of the Church without the reality of the Church. It creates a church organization in service of the Antichrist New Order that will ensnare “if possible, even the elect.”

iii. new soteriology: “two ways” – confession or compromise – the very essence of the spirit of Antichrist

I. Sources – A Reading List

A. The Russian Golgotha, Monastery Press 2006, see esp. “The Sovietization of the Moscow Patriarchate” by V. Moss 93 pp.

B. Articles by V. Moss, esp. http://www.orthodoxchristianbooks.com/articles/441/did-church-betray-tsar-1917/ and http://www.orthodoxchristianbooks.com/articles/556/how-moscow-patriarchate-lost-grace/

C. Article by Fr. Nikita Grigoriev: https://rocorhistory.blogspot.com/2009/03/rocamp-history-by-fr-nikita-grigoriev.html

D. 1972 History of the Russian Church Abroad by Holy Transfiguration Monastery:

https://app.box.com/s/fare5dzeqrnqmtg8j057ky6m7layu0fu .

Review of this book by Fr. Seraphim Rose: https://startingontheroyalpath.blogspot.com/2014/06/unrewritten-history-of-rocor-1917-1971.html

E. Life of St. Philaret of New York, by Bishop Stefan (Sabelnik): https://blessedphilaret.blogspot.com/2012/12/a-life-compiled-by-rtoc.html

F. Again, Russia’s Catacomb Saints, I.M. Andreyev, Fr. Seraphim Rose. https://russiascatacombsaints.blogspot.com/ .

II. Outline history of the Church in Russia in the 20th century

A. The February Revolution1917 : The synod betrays the Tsar

  • CORRECTION: The new Ober-procurator under the Provisional Government was not Tuchkov (a later, Bolshevik minster) but Prince V. N. Lvov.

B. The October Revolution 1917 and the All Russian Sobor of 1917- 1918 : The patriarch anathematizes the Bolsheviks

C. The Patriarch takes a softer line 1922 – confiscation of church valuables

D. The “Living Church” 1922-1924

E. 1925 repose of the patriarch; three locum tenentes

F. Sergius, the declaration of 16/29, 1927

G. Cainite-Sergianist pseudo-church vs Sethite True Church

H. Stalin’s annihilation of the clergy and churches – 95% by 1940.

I. WWII – the fake church hierarchy created by Stalin

J. 1948 on – WCC, MP as arm of Soviet intelligence, propaganda, and the ongoing destruction of the church in the USSR.

K. Post-Soviet/neo-Soviet MP – the church leadership allied with Putin, now power brokers in their own right

III. The Russian Church Abroad, the Evlogians, the Metropolia/OCA

A. Ukaz 362 of 7/20 November: the Russian Church Abroad was never part of the phony MP created by Stalin. It is *older* than phony MP and, moreover, was actually a real Church.

B. Evlogians – Paris jurisdictions, YMCA, St. Sergius Institute, theological modernism, worldliness. Masonic “Orthodoxy”

C. North America – 1924-1936, 1936-1946. 1946-1970. OCA.

From former Uniates to full-blown modernists.

IV. The MP Acquires Most of the ROCOR.

A. Met. Anastassy’s prohibition and why. Cat and mouse.

B. Russia opens up. ROCOR efforts there. Opposing views.

…To be continued in Class 48!

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Orthodox Survival Course, Class 46: Russia and the End of the World, Part B – Monarchism and Nationalism

Listen to the podcast of this talk at https://www.spreaker.com/user/youngfaithradio/osc-46

Request for Donations

Thanks to our donors! May the Lord reward your love with His grace! To our other listeners: please consider a gift to help me out. If you have PayPal, you can send a one-time gift, or a recurring gift of x amount per month to my account at frstevenallen@gmail.com. If you want to receive a receipt for a tax deduction, contact me at that email, and I can tell you how to donate to our parish, who in turn will pass the donation on to me and send you a receipt.

Introduction – Apology for a Sidetrack

This section of our course, Faith Comes First, is supposed to focus on ecclesiological issues, especially the errors called Ecumenism and Sergianism, the apostasy of the historical Orthodox hierarchies in the 20th and 21st centuries, and the task of discerning where the True Church is in our times, with a view to our being in it and finding our salvation. Two classes ago, we dealt briefly with the history of Ecumenism in the 20th century, chiefly in reference to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and its leadership in the apostasy, but not without reference to specific Ecumenistic teachings and actions on the part of the various official hierarchies. Last week, we began our discussion of the Russian Church in the 20th century, and I spent a lot of time giving background, especially on the saints of the second millennium in Russia, ending with St. John of Kronstadt. Besides St. John’s spiritual character and theological traditionalism, I also referred to his hardcore positions on nationalism and monarchism. These are two subjects that properly belong to our later sections on Family and Society, but since I brought them up, and since they may be controversial (I have already received questions about it), I would like to say a few things about these topics right now. So today we are going to have two excursus (side-trips), on Monarchism and Nationalism.

By the way, I apologize (in both senses) for my getting carried away last time in talking about St. John of Kronstadt’s and New Hieromartyr Vladimir’s positions on monarchism. I apologize in the American sense of “Forgive me if my emotion or strong expression offended you”; I certainly have a way to go in acquiring the discretion to use just the right words to convey truth without getting aggressive. But I also apologize in the original sense, that is, to make a reasoned defense. I must defend my freedom to speak on controversial issues prior to becoming a passionless elder, which probably won’t happen until my final illness and deathbed (I hope). If I – or any sincere truth-seeker and truth-teller – get emotional or say rough things, that’s a lot better than cowardly silence, which is the problem today: The incensive power has been neutered, and men on the right side of life-and-death issues are shamed into silence by effeminate whiners who claim to be offended by hyperbole or rough language. So anyone out there who was offended by my quoting St. Vladimir the New Hieromartyr of Kiev saying that only a monarchist could be a good priest: If you happen to be a liberal democratic priest listening to my talk somewhere out there, I assure you that I do have charitable thoughts about you, and I don’t blame you or say I know that you, in our real life situation in 2019, are a bad priest. I ascribe your position on political theory to ignorance, not malice, until you prove otherwise.

It’s important to remember that you cannot isolate Orthodoxy as purely a theological position or Church membership as something divorced from the rest of one’s life. Orthodoxy does not only have a theology – Orthodoxy is concerned with the whole man, and therefore also with anthropology, domestic life, sociology, politics, and all the rest. There is no subject that is essential to understanding man’s life in this world that is foreign to the Church’s concerns, because She was founded by Christ to save people as they are, not people in the abstract. When people say, “The Church should not get involved in politics (or the arts or education or the family or medicine, or anything else besides having beautiful rituals and constructing magnificent church buildings),” what they really mean is that Satan should rule in man’s life, not Christ. There is no “value-neutral” position on how men live their lives: You are either with Christ or you are against Him. There is an Orthodox way of looking at everything.

As I have said before, “politics” is not a dirty word. It means something very specific, which is the science and art of arranging life in the greater community beyond the family hearth, which is essential to a truly human life. Aristotle calls it the highest level of ethical philosophy, because it incorporates all of the ethical wisdom involving smaller units – the individual, the family, and the clan – and brings it all together in a comprehensive vision, just as architecture is the queen of the visual arts, because it incorporates all of them in a microcosmic ensemble. Of course, God Who loves mankind would be interested in how man arranges his life, and God’s Church would have a position on this. This should not surprise or offend anyone, especially an Orthodox Christian.

So, since I wandered into these topics last time and probably aroused a little controversy, today we will put our chronology of the Russian Church in the 20th century on hold and make two excursus into these sparky topics of monarchism and nationalism. They are not inapplicable, of course, to our understanding of the spiritual meaning of the Church’s history in recent times, and what we learn to today will help us understand the ecclesiological issues we are dealing with. We will, of course, get back to the specific ecclesiological topics of Ecumenism and Sergianism, because that’s the focus of the current section of our course.

Excursus A – Monarchism

A) Theological Aspect – We did a course on this at St. Irene based on Vladimir Moss’s study, Politics from Cain to Constantine (See Appendix below). Link to book:

http://www.orthodoxchristianbooks.com/downloads/559_POLITICS_FROM_CAIN_TO_CONSTANTINE.pdf

i. God is King

ii. The nation is part of the great hierarchy of being.

iii. The monarch is an image and representative of divine authority

iii. Biblical precedent

iv. historical precedent

(Q: Does monarchism justify the full-blown papal ideology? A: No, because of the latter’s tendency to chiliasm. BTW, Fr. Fahey’s books are great, except for the papism – See Fr. Denis Fahey, The Mystical Body of Christ in the Modern World and The Mystical Body of Christ and the Reorganization of Society).

B) Historical role in protecting the nation

i. Dr. M.R. Johnson on monarchy’s restraining oligarchy. See his articles in rusjournal.org, Also see Michael Hudson’s book on debt and monarchy vs. oligarchy: And Forgive Them Their Debts Very relevant to today!

ii. King is living embodiment of national tradition. He is free to protect and rule, unlike politicians, who are controlled by financial elites.

C) Monarchism and America: Can you have an Orthodox republic?

i. Aristotle’s model: Theoretically there are three forms of good government.

Good Form Bad Form

Monarchy Tyranny

Aristocracy Oligarchy

Democracy Ochlocracy

A true king will die for his subjects, as a father dies for his family. A true aristocrat is born and bred to cultivate virtues (he is aristos – excellent, virtuous) and lives for the service of the nation. Example of corrupt aristocracy – Masonic and liberal Russian aristocracy who brought about the 1917 February Revolution. See Moss cc. 32 and 33 of The Rise and Fall of the Russian Autocracy, http://www.orthodoxchristianbooks.com/downloads/591_THE_RISE_AND_FALL_OF_THE_RUSSIAN_AUTOCRACY.pdf

ii. Examples of successful republics: limited size, homogeneity, aristocracy

iii. Problem of republic’s natural tendency to commercialism; the bourgeois culture and its inherent incompatibility with the Gospel. See Christopher Dawson’s “Catholicism and the Bourgeois Mind” in Dynamics of World History (ISI Books, 2007). Tendency of commercial elites to cosmopolitanism (see below!) and therefore disloyalty to nation. Tie of money is unnatural and encourages vice. (Fathers say that avarice is the only completely unnatural vice. Aquinas: In a society where the commercial dominates, the growth of vice is inevitable.) Ties of blood, soil, religion, and culture are natural and encourage virtue.

iv. America

a. Founders’ intention: Aristocratic and peaceful republic of one race and one religion based on virtue and learning. In the early republic only 5% of the population voted (hat tip to MRJ) – free male heads of household who owned property, paid taxes, and were not on public assistance. That they were literate was a given. Importance of yeomanry and small farms.

b. Today’s reality: Multicultural empire owned by anti-Christian and anti-white oligarchs, based on vice and ignorance.

c. The Orthodox monarchist living under this regime obeys the laws that do not conflict with God’s law, but does not adopt the reigning ideology.

Excursus B – Nationalism

A) Matthew 28 – μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη : Make disciples of all nations. Discipleship as encompassing the whole of life. The nation as a natural unit of spiritual identity. Actual church history: National churches in one form or another, whether within empires or in national polities.

B) Patriotism and nationalism – two aspects of love of one’s own, each reflecting the masculine and feminine principles respectively. Patria – the fatherland, the homeland . Natio – the people sharing the same birth. The patriot’s motto is non sibi sed suis.

C) Distortions – militarism, xenophobia (real xenophobia), etc. False accusations of xenophobia, “fascism,” etc.

D) Opposed to patriotism and nationalism: Cosmopolitanism. See Metropolitan Philaret (St. Philaret of New York), in On the Law of God, chapter on “Family and Society; Patriotism.” https://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/law_of_god.htm#n23

E) What is my “nation” if I am in America or another non-Orthodox country?

i. Ancient Western nations had an Orthodox history and saints.

ii. America has a real history, and there are real Americans.

iii. But the Real America is dead or almost. Need to form small, tight-knit communities of Faith and shared culture.

iv. What culture? > Romanitas

Appendix: Summary of our Course on Cain to Constantine by V. Moss

Orthodox Political Theory

A Study of Politics from Cain to Constantine, by Vladimir Moss

Listen to podcast of the first lecture at https://www.spreaker.com/user/youngfaithradio/politics1

Final Class – Summary

Introduction:

We began this mini-course in response to the turmoil in current political life. It is essential that Orthodox Christians look beyond the chaos of contemporary life and understand the timeless truths that our Faith teaches, including truths about political authority and the organization of society.

Our vocation in the current situation is to rise above political passions and witness to the timeless truths of the Faith, in order to help our neighbors.

I. The nature of legitimate authority:

A. All legitimate authority derives from above, from God, and not from below (thepeople”). This is extremely important to remember in light of our country’s political philosophy being so influenced by the 18th century idea of the “sovereign will of the people.”

B. We see right from the beginning, in Genesis, that God established earthly authority in the persons of Adam and his consort, Eve, as possessing a delegated authority over creation.

1. Adam, as head of his family, is the prototype for all earthly rulers.

2. We see here, then, that godly authority derives from God, and is hierarchical, patriarchal, and familial.

II. False Models of Authority

A. The pagan god-king

i. arose after the corruption of the human race

ii. not only is all civic and priestly authority vested in one man, but he is worshipped as a god or The God.

iii. invariably involved with human (usually infant) sacrifice and immoral sexuality, connected to demonically distorted ideas of fertility and material success

B. The Utopias of the Philosophers

i. Plato and Aristotle had many important insights, but ultimately their vision was flawed because of incomplete understanding of human nature, the reality of sin, and, of course, their lack of knowledge of the true God.

ii. Their valuable insights, however, still shed light and can be incorporated into an Orthodox Philosophy of Politics. Examples include Plato’s Allegory of the Cave as an illustration of the need to be ruled not by the most rich or powerful but by the most wise, and his theory of the Tripartite Powers of the Soul; as well as Aristotle’s explanation of three forms of legitimate government (monarchy, aristocracy, and politeia [res publica]) and their corresponding corruptions (tyranny, oligarchy, and mob-rule).

III. True Models of Authority

A. Sacred Kingship in the Old Testament Church

i. Key figure is David, who was called by God precisely because of his personal holiness. He is the archetypal image of the Good King.

ii. The sacerdotal and kingly powers are separate.

iii. The king is not God, and his rule is not arbitrary, but bound by the law of God.

iv. The king protects the Old Testament Church structure (the temple, the priests, etc.), and they are loyal subjects of the king, not rivals to the king.

B. Sacred Kingship in the New Testament Church

i. Key figure is St. Constantine. ii., iii, and iv above are all present.

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Orthodox Survival Course, Class 45: Faith Comes First, Session 4. 20th Century Apostasy, Part II. A Third Rome Has Arisen, and a Fourth Shall Not Be. Russia and the End of the World, Part A

Listen to the podcast of this talk at https://www.spreaker.com/user/youngfaithradio/osc-45

Class 45: Faith Comes First, Session 4. 20th Century Apostasy, Part II. A Third Rome Has Arisen, and a Fourth Shall Not Be. Russia and the End of the World, Part A

Request for Donations

Thanks to our donors! May the Lord reward your love with His grace! To our other listeners: please consider a gift to help me out. If you have PayPal, you can send a one-time gift, or a recurring gift of x amount per month to my account at frstevenallen@gmail.com. If you want to receive a receipt for a tax deduction, contact me at that email, and I can tell you how to donate to our parish, who in turn will pass the donation on to me and send you a receipt.

Introduction – The Russian Church, Big Subject!

The more I’ve tried to prepare this talk, the more I realized that we have to take a long time with it, and therefore this section is going to consist of several talks. It’s just too big a subject! The title of this section refers to the famous expression of Monk Philothei of Pskov in a letter to Ivan III early in the 16th century: “So know, pious king, that all the Christian kingdoms came to an end and came together in a single kingdom of yours, two Romes have fallen, the third stands, and there will be no fourth. No one shall replace your Christian Tsardom …”

Intro to Russian history: Need a good book in English! Need for Dr. Talberg’s book to be translated. His papers are archived at Jordanville and on microfilm at the Hoover Institute at Stanford: http://pdf.oac.cdlib.org/pdf/hoover/talberg.pdf Any volunteers?

Secular books: James Billington, The Icon and the Axe (read for data, not for interpretation). Suzanne Massie, Land of the Firebird (sympathetic intro to Russian culture by a sincere Russophil.) But remember, these are neither Orthodox nor culturally traditional sources. Read only to start your study…much will have to be corrected.

Brief outline of Russian history:

A. Kievan Rus’ – Primary Chronicle – Pagan pre-history; conversion, early centuries

B. Rise of northern city-states – Novgorod, etc.

C. Tatar disruption

D. Rise of Muscovy – St. Sergius and monastic colonization

E. Time of Troubles, emergence of the Romanov dynasty

F. 17th century, early Romanovs, Patriarch Nikon and the schism

G. Peter, the 18th century Westernization, bifurcation of Russia

H. 19th century renewal, but bifurcation intensifies; revolutionary activity

I. The 1905 and 1917 revolutions, civil war >> Soviet Union

J. 1990’s – Yeltsin, Post Soviet Russia 1.0

K. 2000’s – Putin, Post Soviet Russia 2.0

I. The Place of Russia in Sacred History

A. We are part of the sacred history begun in the Old Testament and extending through the New Testament and in the history of the Church until now. A fundamental principle of our Orthodox Survival Course is that we have to understand all history through this lens.

B. Whatever have been the failings of the related Russian peoples in general and the Muscovite state in particular, the big picture is that, after the fall of Constantinople, Moscow really did function as the Third Rome, the center of the Orthodox Empire. This does not mean that the Russians are the holiest or best Orthodox people in some absolute sense – there are saints in every nation, and every nation has its faults. But it does mean that providentially Russia functioned as the great temporal power in the Orthodox world. We did not emphasize this in our earlier survey of the second millennium, because our main concern from the High Middle Ages to the Enlightenment period was with developments in the West. As we arrived at the 19th century, however, we returned to the East and discussed, in particular, the spiritual renewal of Russia that began with St. Paissy Velichkovsky and his disciples in the 18th century, and the dramatic bifurcation between the Petrine secularized society and Holy Russia.

C. The fall of Orthodox Russia ended the Constantinian period of world history, in which the Christian Church was the dominant influence in European society. Many holy men, both before and after the Bolshevik revolution, saw this as a prelude to the reign of Antichrist. We do not know that the Antichrist and the Second Coming are imminent. We are commanded by the Lord to read the signs of the times, and it is obvious that whether or not the world is going to end in the near future, the dispensation of the “Reign of the Saints” has at least been decisively interrupted and given way to a period of history dominated by a Luciferian elite. Russia’s past, present, and future are providentially at the center of this great drama, and we would do well to discern what is going on in the Church of Russia, both in the Russian land and in the diaspora.

II. The Hidden History of the True Russia – The Life of the Soul

We know that our warfare is not against flesh and blood, as St. Paul writes, but against the fallen angels. So the more important part of the history of the Church, of the world, of every Christian nation, and every soul is actually the invisible history of spiritual life. As a background to understanding the significance of Muscovite Russia in history, then, we have to see its outward history in light of its spiritual history, which is the history of its saints. I recommend that you do a course of reading on this spiritual history of Russia that consists of these books, which cover that history in chronological order:

The Acquisition of the Holy Spirit in Ancient Russia by I.M. Kontzevich – The roots of Russian civilization in the hesychastic tradition of the Greek Fathers as passed on to the great Russian ascetics. The bridge between Byzantium and Holy Russia. Very hard to find hard copy. Online: https://www.scribd.com/document/363911471/Acquisition-of-the-Holy-Spirit-in-Ancient-Russia

The Northern Thebaid – translations by Fr. Seraphim Rose of lives of northern Russian ascetic saints. This covers the 14th century, beginning with St. Sergius of Radonezh, to the mid-17th century. These lives demonstrate in action what Kontzevitch was describing in theory. Also, introduction by Fr. Seraphim is a short substitute for Kontzevich’s book, if you can’t get a copy. Available from St. Herman Press.

The Life of St. Paissy Velichkovsky – Another out of print book from St. Herman Press. Find one wherever you can. I cannot find an online version. St. Paissy in the 18th century was the key figure in reviving the hesychastic tradition that brought about the 19th century spiritual flowering in Russia. Also see the teachings of Elder Basil, who was St. Paissy’s starets – Available from St. John of Kronstadt Press.

Life of Elder Zosima of Siberia – out of print, copies available for sale online. Valuable not only for the witness of Elder Zosima, but also for portrait of his family.

The Conversation of St. Seraphim with Motovilov on the Aim of the Christian Life http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/wonderful.aspx Here St. Seraphim, who reposed in 1833, restates the fundamental wisdom described by Kontzevich, lived by the lives of the Northern Thebaid saints, and recovered by St. Paissy. Various versions of the life of St. Seraphim, including a good short and readable version in Dr. Cavarnos’s series on modern saints and a collection of his sayings published by St. Herman Press in their Little Russian Philokalia series, are readily available.

Lives of the Optina Elders – Mostly available from St. Herman Press. Lives of Elder Joseph and Elder Moses from Holy Transfiguration Monastery. Optina was not the only center of holiness in 19th century Russia, but it is the best known and most influential, and what happened at and because of Optina is a microcosm of what is best in the entire period. The latest elders – Sts. Nectary and Nikon – were holy confessors and martyrs of the Bolshevik period.

Also, recall that we recommended A Man Is His Faith, the book by Fr. Alexey Young about Ivan Kireyevsky, the 19th century Slavophil philosopher who worked closely with St. Makary of Optina to publish Orthodox spiritual literature. Available from St. John of Kronstadt Press.

The Love of God – Life of Elder Gabriel – St. Herman Press. A novice from Optina whose monastic life goes on to illustrate a great deal that was right and wrong with the 19th century Russian Church. An amazing book. He reposes in 1915, which brings our historical path right up to the era of the revolution.

All writings of Sts. Ignaty Brianchaninov (new series now being published by Holy Trinity at Jordanville) and Theophan the Recluse. They are an epitome of the spiritual and theological achievement of the 19th century Russian Church.

St. John of Kronstadt – My Life in Christ. Life of St. John by Sursky, available from HTM in Boston. Study by Nadieszda Kitsenko, A Prodigal Saint. St. John of Kronstadt is an apocalypse – a revelation – in himself. The “last and greatest prophet” to warn of the revolution. Combined strict spiritual life with apostolic mission and miracle-working. Was a completely consistent monarchist and “far right” nationalist, member of the Union of the Russian Nation (Soyuz Russkogo Naroda). He was also a confessor, having been tortured by revolutionaries, in an episode revealed in Sursky’s book.

You have to immerse yourself thoroughly in the lives and teachings of these saints in order to have the right lens through which to view Russian history in general and the events of the revolution and the 20th century and 21st century Russian Church divisions and controversies. If you really acquire their mindset, it will be obvious to you that only a thoroughgoing monarchist, nationalist, and patriarchal political, social, and family philosophy, combined with uncompromising traditional Orthodoxy, expresses a comprehensive vision of the true Holy Russia. (Holy New Hieromartyr Vladimir of Kiev said that all the good clergy were monarchists and that a republican could not be a good priest.) Any other synthesis is a distortion created by a pick-and-choose approach of modernists and secularists who serve the spirit of Antichrist.

III. Understanding the Bolshevik Revolution

A. Recall that in our Survival Course, we have characterized the entire period from 1789 and the beginning of the French Revolution, until now, as the Age of Revolution. You could also call it the Age of the Spirit of Antichrist, which followed the Age of Constantine. Fr. Seraphim explores the roots of the revolution especially in his Lecture Six, on the French Revolution. He does not shy away from the role of the secret societies, etc. The Bolshevik revolution is the pivotal moment in the ongoing revolution (the pivot from the end of the Constantinian era to the beginning of the unfettered rule of the globalist Luciferian elite), because it removed the greatest Orthodox power, the katechon – that/he which restraineth (II Thessalonians 2: 6-7).

B. Right now, in our Faith Comes First section, we are focusing on the Church. Later we will return to Bolshevism when discussing Family and Society. Now we are trying to discern “Where is the Church,” and therefore our focus will be not on Russia as a whole but specifically on the Moscow Patriarchate/ Church Abroad (MP and anti-MP)/ Catacomb Church, etc. But to discern “Where is the Church?”, to understand the divisions in the Russian Orthodox ecclesiastical sphere, we do have to have a basic understanding of the Russian – or, rather, anti-Russian – revolution and its spiritual significance.

C. As a general principle of discernment, we can adopt this approach: To discern where the true Church of Russia is, you have to discern which hierarchy or hierarchies most thoroughly reject the Revolution whole and entire without compromise, in all of its manifestations and throughout all of its history until now. What is going on now in mainstream Russian conservatism is not a thorough rejection of the Soviet period in all of its manifestations but a synthesis of Orthodoxy with Sovietism. This is shown in the ecclesiastical realm by the supposed reconciliation of the Sergianist approach with the confessional approach to the Soviet power, and in the political reading of 20th century history dominated by the Great Patriotic War ideology. I am not talking here about judging anyone morally – Who knows how each of us would have responded to the pressures of Soviet life? God alone judges. (Critics of the uncompromising anti-Sergianist position try to disable discussion by saying, “Who are you to judge? You would have compromised also.”) I am talking about our forming intellectual, moral, and theological positions on the basis of which to make informed choices. For example, you can say, “Metropolitan Sergius’s statement on 16/29 July 1927 that the joys and sorrows of the Soviet power are the joys and sorrows of the Orthodox Church” is a profound error without saying, “I know that Sergius was condemned by God to eternal punishment for making this statement.”

D. Reading List on the Church and the Revolution: Above we gave a course of reading about the Russian Church leading up to the Revolution. To read about the Church and its response to the Revolution, the first must-read book is Russia’s Catacomb Saints by I.M. Andreyev and Fr. Seraphim Rose. This book was published by St. Herman Press in the early 1980’s and has never been reprinted. The present management at St. Herman has to re-write the book to justify their belonging to World Orthodoxy, and therefore they have not re-issued it. When it does come out in a new edition, expect them to omit or distort a lot of the authors’ original statements about the Catacomb Church vs. the Soviet Patriarchate. It’s hard to find actual copies of the book, but you can find links to downloading it online from two different sites at https://russiascatacombsaints.blogspot.com/ .

We’ll continue our reading list during our next class! But do get started on Russia’s Catacomb Saints!

Next time we will discuss Dr. Matthew Raphael Johnson and Dr. Vladimir Moss’s contributions. Their role in giving English speakers access to Russian sources.

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Orthodox Survival Course, Class 44: Faith Comes First, Session 3. 20th Century Apostasy, Part I

Listen to the podcast of this talk at https://www.spreaker.com/user/youngfaithradio/osc-44

Request for Donations

Thanks to donors. To our other listeners: please consider a gift to help me out. If you have PayPal, you can send a one-time gift, or a recurring gift of x amount per month to my account at frstevenallen@gmail.com. If you want to receive a receipt for a tax deduction, contact me at that email, and I can tell you how to donate to our parish, who in turn will pass the donation on to me and send you a receipt.

I. Introductory Remarks

Remember, I am only giving you a general introduction to all of this. You have to do your homework!

A. Background: Faith comes first. To deal with the Culture War, first we have to be in the Church, and that starts with confession of Faith. Love has to be based on truth and the struggle for the good. See Excursus B below for the connection of the powers of the soul to the virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love.

B. Summary of our last class. Ecclesiological principles.

1. Making the true confession of faith ontologically changes people. Denying the confession of faith also ontologically changes people.

2. One must have the correct and saving confession of Faith to be in the Church.

3. People who deny the confession of Faith and are therefore not in the Church cannot be bishops or priests.

4. To be in the Church one must be united in the Holy Mysteries to a bishop and his clergy who themselves have the saving confession of Faith and are in the Church.

II. History of the Apostasy of Ecumenism in the 20th Century and Up till Now

Let’s start with situation now and then go back to see how we got here. This will give us a framework within which to understand the details/data of the history starting in the early 20th century. So important to have the framework, because otherwise the data can confuse you, and there are ill-intentioned people who want to confuse you.

A. Current Situation: Atlanticist Establishment/Anglo-Zionist cabal vs. “Russia” or “Eurasia.” Cold Warriors’ delusions: “West” are the good guys. “Holy Russia” groupie delusions: “East” are the good guys.” My experience of watching that YouTube of the MP consecration of that church and then Putin’s talk to the ROCOR-MP hierarchs. Two great pincers of the same monster. Take your pick: Satan or Antichrist. Illustrated in the Ukraine imbroglio. Is the opposition real or faked? Doesn’t matter: The demons in hell fight each other.

Summary:

1. All the big players are in the WCC or in communion with those in WCC.

2. All the big players have some kind of deal with the pope. Lifting of the Anathemas, Balamand Agreement, the EP’s constant prayers with popes, Kyrill’s Havana Statement.

The WCC is obviously in the service of Antichrist. The pope is obviously in the service of Antichrist (or just out and out Satan – cf. the Amazonia Synod going on now in the fall of 2019). So where does that leave the “Orthodox” who cooperate with them? They steadfastly refuse to leave the WCC and steadfastly refuse to denounce the pope and have nothing to do with him. St. Cosmas Aitolos says, “Curse the Pope!”

If you are in a WO group, ask your priest, “Why is our jurisdiction in the WCC?” See what he says. Ask yourself if the answer is one that an intelligent adult with a conscience would swallow.

B. The Ecumenical Patriarchate and Ecumenism

Intro: To organize our discussion, we’ll use the headings “Ecumenism” and “Sergianism.” Again, see The True Orthodox Church and Heresy of Ecumenism – http://hotca.org/pdf/TrueOrthodoxOppositionEcumenism.pdf for a concise explanation of these two terms. The two “big boys” are the EP and the MP. Both are ecumenist and sergianist, but the former is more obviously ecumenist and the latter is more obviously sergianist. Today we’ll talk about the EP.

1. The EP does not really have a flock any more. So it had to position itself as some kind of global papacy for the Orthodoxy. Read St. John Maximovich on this problem at http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/decline.aspx

2. It is well-known that the leadership of the EP has been involved in Freemasonry at least since the patriarchate of Meletios Metaxakis in the 1920’s. Patriarch Athenagoras and Harry Truman, etc, etc. So the EP is an instrument of Anglo-Zionist, Atlanticist global strategy. I don’t think I need to explain to our audience that you can’t be a Christian and a Freemason at the same time. And it is not that the EP leadership is only covertly Masonic. Rather their aggressive leadership of ecumenism puts the Freemasonic philosophy – “brotherhood of man,” etc. – into action. The latest manifestation of this is Pat. B’s obsession with being the “Green Patriarch.”

3. Timeline: Reminder – Read the book by St. Edward Brotherhood, Christian Union? An Orthodox Christian’s Guide to Ecumenism: Past, Present and Future by the St. Edward Brotherhood

https://www.saintedwardbrotherhood.org/christian-union

1920 – Letter “To the Churches of Christ everywhere…”

1924 – Change of the calendar

1948 – Formation of the WCC – as time goes on, they become “organic” members” going to meetings with pagan ceremonies, etc.

1964 – Athenagoras meets with Paul VI

1965 – Lifting of the anathemas

1975 – Thyateira Confession – puts the lifting of anathemas into action by proposing intercommunion with RC’s and Anglicans.

See the Three Sorrowful Epistles by St. Philaret of New York: First two: http://www.st-sergius.org/Bio/Metp/sorrow.html and the third:

https://blessedphilaret.blogspot.com/2008/09/third-sorrowful-epistle.html

1990 – Chambesy Agreement – denies the 4th Ecumenical Council and approves monophysitism – on the basis of this there is practically sacramental intercommunion nearly everywhere with the monophysites, and officially with the Antiochians.

1993 – Balamand Agreement – O and RC “sister churches” with ontologically identical sacraments

See the Excursus below on “Joint Statements”. Boiling the frog slowly: Say they are only “study documents” to give plausible deniability.

Since then Patriarchs Demetrios and then Bartholomew have stayed on the same path. No repentance whatsoever, and, moreover, punishing or threatening those who oppose them. The commemorators of Mt. Athos and those like them are controlled opposition and their witness is, well, not a witness.

More recent years: Open liturgical commemoration of Pope Benedict at the Phanar, staying buddies with Francis the Satanic apostate, ascendancy of Zizioulas, “First Without Equals” ecclesiology. 2016 Council of Crete. It’s really getting crazy.

C. How to Respond? One’s practical situation: Discernment

As we go along, the question one should ask is “How do I respond to all this?” To give a head start on your study of this question I suggest some further reading:

Further Reading:

Two essays by Hiermonk (now Bishop) Maximus, “Why the True Orthodox are Truly Orthodox” and “The Problem of the Conservative New Calendarism”

http://hotca.org/orthodoxy/orthodox-awareness/236-why-the-true-orthodox-are-truly-orthodox and http://hotca.org/orthodoxy/orthodox-awareness/78-the-problem-of-conservative-new-calendarism

So…

1. A World Orthodox believer has this realization: I’ve gotta get outta here! But to where?

2. Be patient, investigate, pray. God wants your salvation more than you do.

3. Fr. Anthony Gavalas story. My practical conclusions – Bishop must be O, not in communion with non-O, have apostolic succession, trying not to be a schismatic, and not crazy. And you have to be able to work with him, and he has to be someone who won’t destroy your family or your parish.

In closing: Let us have the good zeal and love one another. Discerning good zeal vs. bitter zeal or zeal “not according to understanding.” i. Always confess vanity. ii. Ask forgiveness if you go over the line. iii. But you can’t wait till your perfect before you fight for the Faith.

Let us prefer nothing whatever to Christ; and may He bring us all together to life eternal. Amen. (cf. Rule of St. Benedict, end of Chapter 72).

Excursus A: On the Powers of the Soul; the True, the Good, and the Beautiful; and the Cardinal and Theological Virtues

Hippy dippy Orthodox who don’t want to deal with tough questions about confession of faith quote Dostoevsky and say that “Beauty will save the world,” by which they (not Dostoevsky) mean that Orthodoxy is all about aesthetics and emotions, while to be concerned about the dogmas, the canons, etc is “unloving” or “Latin” or “legalistic” and so forth. As long as we have icons, beautiful services, etc, all is well. But of course this isn’t true. The contemplation of the Divine Beauty, and its concomitant virtue, which is Love, are the consummation of our spiritual journey, but they are not the foundation. Let’s do a review to set this straight.

Following Plato (in The Republic) and the Fathers, we understand there are three powers of the soul, that these three powers of the soul each have their respective objects and the cardinal virtues corresponding to these objects (see Wisdom 8:7) , and that three of these cardinal virtues correspond to the three theological virtues of I Corinthians 13:13). The chart below shows how they relate to each other:

Power of the Soul—>Object——>Cardinal Virtue——>Theological Virtue

Logos (reason, mind)——->Truth– > Wisdom/Prudence———–> Faith

Thymos (drive, will)——–>the Good–> Courage/Fortitude—-> Hope

Epithymia (desire)———–>the Beautiful–> Temperance———> Love

The vision of divine beauty is the highest state, the goal, but you have to start with the knowledge of the truth, which motivates your courageous fight for the good, which leads upwards to the vision of the divine beauty. Yes, beauty can motivate the beginning of your struggle (as with the emissaries of St. Vladimir at Hagia Sophia), but you cannot attain the ultimate vision of beauty without the previous steps.

Excursus B: On “Joint Statements”

The patristic attitude towards meetings to clarify doctrine is summarized accurately in these remarks by the Anglican editor of the NPNF series II, volume XIV, on the Seven Ecumenical Councils:

The editor, however, ventures to call the attention of the reader to the fact that in this, as in every other of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, the question the Fathers considered was not what they supposed Holy Scripture might mean, nor what they, from à priori arguments, thought would be consistent with the mind of God, but something entirely different, to wit, what they had received. They understood their position to be that of witnesses, not that of exegetes. They recognized but one duty resting upon them in this respect – to hand down to other faithful men that good thing the Church had received according to the command of God. The first requirement was not learning, but honesty. The question they were called upon to answer was not, What do I think probable, or even certain, from Holy Scripture? but, What have I been taught, what has been entrusted to me to hand down to others? When the time came, in the Fourth Council, to examine the Tome of St. Leo, the question was not whether it could be proved to the satisfaction of the assembled Fathers from Holy Scripture, but whether it was the traditional faith of the Church. It was not the doctrine of Leo in the fifth century, but the doctrine of Peter in the first, and of the Church since then, that they desired to believe and to teach, and so, when they had studied the Tome, they cried out: “This is the faith of the Fathers! This is the Faith of the Apostles!…Peter hath thus spoken by Leo! The Apostles thus taught!…” Henry R. Percival, M.A., D.D., editor’s introduction to the Acts of the First Ecumenical Council, “Nice and Post-Nicene Fathers,” Second Series, Volume XIV

So… why do the ecumenists have these academic discussions and joint statements?

It re-opens closed questions and reframes the questions with innovative, tendentious terminology that determines the outcome.

It changes the Church’s method from confession to “scientific exploration,” which means accepting constantly changing, new conclusions.

Dialogue with error means that error has something good that truth does not have.

It gives the impression that we know something the Fathers did not.

It advances the One World Religion Agenda while at the same time providing plausible deniability.

And the reality is that all of these men involved in these dialogues really hate each other.

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Orthodox Survival Course, Class 43: Faith Comes First, Session 2

Class 43: Faith Comes First, Session 2. Ecclesiology

Listen to the podcast of this talk at https://www.spreaker.com/user/youngfaithradio/osc-43

Introductory Remarks

1. Thanks to donors. To our other listeners: please consider a gift to help me out. If you have PayPal, you can send a one-time gift, or a recurring gift of x amount per month to my account at frstevenallen@gmail.com. If you want to receive a receipt for a tax deduction, contact me at that email, and I can tell you how to donate to our parish, who in turn will pass the donation on to me and send you a receipt.

2. Response to Class 42. Style: It will probably vary. Reminder: the notes are just an outline. You have to listen to the talk.

3. A happy moment that illustrates an important truth: Our unity in the Church is diachronic – it is unity not only with those of our time but of all times and in eternity.

4. Review: Surviving the Great Apostasy. Church, Family, Society. Faith (the Church) comes first. Goals for this section:

A. Give enough background on ecclesiology and Church history to make the present situation if not clear, then at least somewhat comprehensible to everyone.

B. Give an apologia for where I am.

C. Confirm my fellow True Orthodox in their convictions.

D. Get the “World” Orthodox and inquirers thinking about these things, while providing resources for them to learn more.

Topics for this class: Ecclesiology – study of the Church. Also, some reflections on discernment.

I. Ecclesiology: The Church, the Saving Confession of Faith, Union with the Bishop

A. You are here because, probably, you have already thought through a lot of this. I am going to summarize some main points from Scripture and Holy Tradition, try to offer some insight based on these, and refer you to some reading.

B. My goal is not to cover every aspect of ecclesiology, but to make four main points related to the Church and our theme of Faith Comes First:

1. Making the true confession of faith ontologically changes people. Denying the confession of faith also ontologically changes people.

2. One must have the correct and saving confession of Faith to be in the Church.

3. People who deny the confession of Faith and are therefore not in the Church cannot be bishops or priests.

4. To be in the Church one must be united in the Holy Mysteries to a bishop and his clergy who themselves have the saving confession of Faith and are in the Church.

Confession of Faith and ontological status

A handy saying: Homology (homologia) begets ontology (ontologia). Your confession of faith changes you into something new. Denying your confession of faith changes you back into what you used to be (or something worse!) What you are depends on what you publicly confess to believe.

Mark 16, Matthew 28: The great commission. Make disciples —-> baptize (Matt 28). Those who believe —> and are baptized —> will be saved; those who do not believe will be damned. (Mark 16).

To be Orthodox with a big O unto salvation, you have to be orthodox with a little o. That doesn’t mean that every single layman has to understand all of the Church’s theology intellectually, but it certainly means that he cannot stubbornly deny Her doctrine. This applies, obviously, even more strictly to a bishop or a priest.

To be in the Church, you have to have the true confession of Faith.

Matthew 16: The Lord builds His Church on Peter’s confession of faith.

St. Maximus the Confessor: The primary criterion for the status of membership in the Church is the “correct and saving confession of the Faith” (see On the Life and Contest of Our Holy Father Maximos the Confessor, section 24, Patrologia Graeca, volume 90, column 93D, quoted in The True Orthodox Church and Heresy of Ecumenism – http://hotca.org/pdf/TrueOrthodoxOppositionEcumenism.pdf

People who deny the confession of Faith and are therefore not in the Church cannot be bishops or priests.

This should be self-evident, but apparently some people have such a mechanical or superficial idea of the Church’s hierarchy that it is not self-evident to everyone. So, let us turn to St. Gregory Palamas: “Those who do not belong to the Truth do not belong to the Church of Christ either; and the more so if they speak falsely of themselves by calling themselves, or calling each other, holy pastors and hierarchs; [for it has been instilled in us that] Christianity is not characterized by persons, but by the truth and exactitude of Faith.” (see “Refutation of the Letter of Patriarch Ignatios of Antioch,” section 3, in Panagiotes K. Chrestou [ed.] The Works of St. Gregory Palamas, Volume II., quoted in The True Orthodox Church and the Heresy of Ecumenism). The entire history of the Church testifies to this. This is not rocket science.

To be in the Church one must be united in the Holy Mysteries to a bishop and his clergy who themselves have the saving confession of Faith and are in the Church.

Nearly anyone listening to this talk probably already believes this. If you are not convinced of this, go to the sources: Check out Bishop Lightfoot’s Apostolic Fathers for the testimony of the very earliest successors of the Holy Apostles as to the existence of the threefold priesthood of bishop, presbyter, and deacon, the necessity of being in union with the bishop, that unity is in the Holy Mysteries, etc. Read especially St. Ignatius of Antioch’s letters and St. Clement of Rome. Go to the third century and read St. Cyprian of Carthage “On the Unity of the Church.” You will get the picture!

Regarding schism: The terms “heresy” and “schism.” Orthodoxy of faith is is not enough; you must also be in the unity of the Church. Some remarks on this:

i. Distinction between the organism and the organization: though not separate, they are distinct. Prots say they are separate, RC’s say they are the same. O: not separate but distinct. See OSC Class

ii. Main charge today against the True Orthodox is that they are schismatics. A brief response – more detailed response will be in later talks.

II. Reflections on Discernment

As we go along, we have to remember that logic is not enough. You have to pray for discernment, and you have to use some common sense. Don’t get weird.

a. Spectrum: The World <———–The Church———>Sects and Cults

b. The “fragrance of Orthodoxy” – You have to be praying and leading the Orthodox life, so that both your discursive intellect and spiritual intellect are functioning properly, and so that your heart has the right sentiments and your will the strength to do what mind and heart say.

c. Don’t get frantic. The Lord wants your salvation more than you do.

Some Reading:

To read the Holy Fathers online, you can go to newadvent.org: http://newadvent.org/fathers/ Also, for the Apostolic Fathers in particular, Bishop Lightfoot’s translation is a classic. Of course, there are also the three famous ANF and NPNF series from Eerdmans.

To do a quick primer on ecclesiology: Go to Fr. Michael Pomazansky’s Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, chapter 7, “The Church of Christ.” Available from St. Herman Press. Also online at http://www.intratext.com/X/ENG0824.HTM

“Christianity or the Church” by New Hieromartyr Hilarion Troitsky: http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/sthilarion_church.aspx

In closing: Let us have the good zeal and love one another. Discerning good zeal vs. bitter zeal or zeal “not according to understanding.” i. Always confess vanity. ii. Ask forgiveness if you go over the line. iii. But you can’t wait till your perfect before you fight for the Faith.

Let us prefer nothing whatever to Christ; and may He bring us all together to life eternal. Amen. (cf. Rule of St. Benedict, end of Chapter 72).

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Orthodox Survival Course, Class 42 – Faith Comes First, Session 1

Class 42: Faith Comes First, Session 1. A New Approach. Preliminary Remarks

Listen to the podcast of this talk at https://www.spreaker.com/user/youngfaithradio/osc-42

A New Approach:

Forgive me for taking so long to record our next session. I’ve realized I have to take a different approach in order to do our Orthodox Survival Course regularly. If I continue to insist on writing formal, 3,000 word essays, our sessions will come less and less frequently, as I have taken on further responsibilities within our Church in North America. So I have to go to a different approach: We are going to treat our class as a class, in which the teacher has a few notes in front of him and then just talks based on what he knows. I shall henceforward publish my notes in outline form, with main points, reading suggestions, and links to online resources, rather than write finished essays and record them. The drawback is that, speaking off the cuff, I perhaps shall make mistakes in fact or be too rough in my style. Also, to really benefit, you’ll have to listen to the audio recording, because the notes are just that – notes, not a complete essay. The advantages will lie in being able to talk to you more frequently and at greater length, and in our enjoying the more lively style of the classroom or a radio show.

As I ask your forgiveness for your hearing from me less frequently, I must nonetheless humbly once again ask for your support. As I’ve said quietly in the past, my little parish of St. Irene Chrysovalantou in Rochester Hills, Michigan lovingly supports my family as much as they can – I would say their level of giving per household is far above that in average Orthodox parishes – but they cannot support us full-time, and basically they and two other donors within our Church in a North America underwrite everything I do for you, my Internet audience, even though so much of my time is given to these efforts to help those outside our parish. In fairness to them, and so that I can go on doing this, please consider a gift to help me out. If you have PayPal, you can send a one-time gift, or a recurring gift of x amount per month to my account at frstevenallen@gmail.com. If you want to send a relatively large amount for which you would like to receive a receipt for a tax deduction, contact me at that email, and I can tell you how to donate to our parish, who in turn will pass the donation on to me and send you a receipt.

Today’s Class – Faith Comes First, Session 1 – The Need for Preliminary Remarks

In our last class we made the point that Faith Comes First. All the other problems we have and will talk about must be put aside for moment, and we have to focus on Orthodoxy itself, which, after all, is what is most important: What is the connection between our confession of Faith and being in the Church? This is life or death, for extra ecclesiam nulla salus – outside the Church there is no salvation. The big picture is that we cannot combat all the woes of the nihilistic culture till we deal with this fundamental problem of the leadership of the historical institutions of the Church turning traitor and collaborating with the Anti-Christ Revolution. The Church is the answer, and so we have to put the Church first.

Last time I concluded saying that the big question revolves around the apostasy of the official Orthodox hierarchies in the 20th century, and that in this class I’d give you a rundown of the history of Ecumenism in the 20th century and where each jurisdiction stands now vis-a-vis Ecumenism. But later I realized that I need to do some preliminary teaching first, so that we can approach this history lesson and this evaluation of our contemporary situation with greater understanding. As we go along, I plan to keep referring you to books and articles to read, both in hardcopy and online. I think one of my main goals is to get you reading about these things, so that you can make informed decisions about where you belong.

Preliminary Remarks: Topic 1 – Who is listening to this? And who is doing the talking? From what I can deduce, y’all (my audience out there) are people in my own jurisdiction, the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece under Archbishop Kallinikos, those in other True Orthodox (TO) jurisdictions, those in “World” or “official” Orthodox jurisdictions, and those not yet Orthodox who are seeking to learn more about Orthodoxy. So I need to accomplish several goals:

A. Give enough background on ecclesiology and Church history to make this comprehensible to everyone.

B. Give an apologia for where I am.

C. Confirm my fellow True Orthodox in their convictions.

D. Get the “World” Orthodox and inquirers thinking about these things, while providing resources for them to learn more.

Preliminary Remarks: Topic 2 – “Don’t take this personally…” We cannot help but take all this personally – it’s the most personal thing of all, our eternal destiny! In particular, “World” Orthodox might get upset about what I say about their bishops, which by extension is also about their priests, whom they may be fond of and regard as model clergymen, some of whom I myself know personally and have positive regard. It’s all right to get upset about the things that matter. That’s the way life is. If you get upset with me, I don’t blame you!

Preliminary Remarks, Topic 3 – Don’t get sidetracked: Keep your eye on the ball

A. “Grace/no grace”

B. The calendar is “not a dogmatic issue” – read The Calendar Question by Fr. Basile Sakkas – http://hotca.org/orthodoxy/orthodox-awareness/203-the-calendar-question

C. Crude understanding of “canonical”

D. Procedural issues

E. World Orthodox “saints” and “good priests”

F. Visions

Preliminary Remarks, Topic 4 – Don’t fall for logical fallacies

A. ad hominems

B. straw men

C. begging the question

D. appeal to authority

Reading Suggestions:

To get started, do read these four things:

Christian Union? An Orthodox Christian’s Guide to Ecumenism: Past, Present, and Future

saintedwardbrotherhood.org/christian-union

Against False Union by Alexandre Kalomiros

Ecumenism – The Path to Perdition by Liudmila Perepiolkina http://ecumenizm.tripod.com/

The True Orthodox Church and Heresy of Ecumenism – http://hotca.org/pdf/TrueOrthodoxOppositionEcumenism.pdf

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Flee the praise of men

7 September OS 2019 – Friday of the 14th week of Matthew; Holy Martyr Sozon; S. Cassiane the Hymnographer; S. Chrysostomos the New Confessor of Florina

In today’s Gospel, the Lord commands the disciples to be silent about the most astounding miracle: the raising of the dead.

And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him. While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe. And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James. And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly.

And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment. And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat. And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him.Mark 5:22-24, 5:35 – 6:1

“And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.”   You can imagine the scene when that young woman stood up and walked out of the room.  Here is the crowded home of a great personage in a Middle Eastern village, packed with emotional relatives, friends, and dependents, many of them no doubt women. The formerly dead girl walks out the door of the death chamber into this crowd. In the middle of the indescribable hubbub that must have ensued, only the Lord Himself retains complete composure.   He thinks of the child’s simple needs: give her something to eat!   He commands it, just as He commanded her soul to return to her body.   For Him, both are equally easy.

Why did He tell the disciples to tell no one what had happened? Obviously the word would get out: First century Galilee must have been a very small world, indeed. No doubt even the bigwigs down in Jerusalem must have gotten word through the invisible telegraph of gossip within the week. Of course, the Lord had His reasons: He always did and always does. One of them was to give us an example of humility, that we should not seek the praise of men.

St. Theophan the Recluse comments as follows:

Having resurrected the daughter of Jairus, the Lord commanded her parents strictly, that no man should know it. Thus are we commanded: do not seek glory, and do not train your ear for human praise, even if your deeds are of such a nature that it is impossible to hide them. Do what the fear of God and your conscience urge you to do, and as to what people say, act as though it had never been said.Thoughts for Each Day of the Year, p. 187

We may often ask ourselves why we do not feel more peaceful, why we feel agitated or anxious so much of the time.   One reason is that we are always unsure of the approval of other people: “What do they think about me? Do they really love me? Do they think well of me? Are they saying bad things about me?” and so forth.   Because of our vanity – our false image of ourselves based on our own delusions and the opinions of other people – we have a restless, ceaseless hunger for praise, for approval, for the pat on the back, for the assurance that “I’m OK, You’re OK.”   Life turns into the endless search for that perfect mutual admiration society of “friends” who approve of each other and look down on those outside the group.

Peace comes only when we put aside all such concerns and follow those two completely reliable guides to action mentioned by St. Theophan: the fear of God and conscience.   One of the Desert Fathers said that one will have no peace until one realizes that in all the universe there is only one’s soul standing before God.   If we walk always in His presence, what need have we of the praise of men?   If we were really conscious of His presence, and really understood Who He is, and who we are, we would flee praise like fire.

Let us then, daily and frequently, beg the Lord, “Deliver me from vanity! Let me seek Thine approval alone!”   The generous Lord, Who is waiting to give the truly good things to those who ask Him, will no doubt hear our prayer in good time, and He will deliver us from this passion of vanity.   The world will look much different then, and we will begin to understand things as they really are. Losing one’s illusions is like pulling out a rotten tooth: it hurts while it is going on, but there is great relief afterwards.

O Lord, deliver us from vanity and all delusion! Grant us to know ourselves as we really are, to be grateful to Thee, and desire to please Thee alone! Give us the peace which Thou alone can give, and which the world cannot take away! Amen.

raising-daughter-jairus-12c-byzantine-mosaic_large
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Renouncing Satan

6 September OS 2019 – Thursday of the 14th week of Matthew; Miracle of St. Michael at Chonae

In the Gospel passage assigned for the daily cycle today, the Lord Jesus Christ casts a legion of demons out of the Gadarene demoniac. This providentially coincides well with the reading assigned today for the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel, in which the Lord recalls that, before the beginning of time, as the Pre-Incarnate Logos, He beheld Satan fall like lightning from heaven (see Luke 10:16-21).

And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.  And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country. Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea. And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine. And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts. And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel. – Mark 5: 1-20

A Roman legion at full strength was 6,000 men. How could 6,000 demons live inside this one poor man? St. Theophan the Recluse explains it thus?

“My name is Legion: for we are many (Mark 5:9).”  Spirits are bodiless, and therefore they do not fill or take up space like bodies.  This explains why it is physically possible for many spirits to reside in one person.  That it is possible morally for spirits to do this is understandable from their amorality or their absence of all moral principles.  That it is possible for people is understandable from their many-sided contact with the dark realm of the unclean powers, due to the way people’s souls are ordered.  But this only explains what is possible; the reality of demonic possession is subject to conditions which we do not have the ability to determine.  We can only say that spirits do not always enter in a visible way, and possession is not always demonstrated through the possessed person’s actions.  There is an unseen, hidden demonic possession.  There is also a power of spirits over minds, apart from the body, when the demons lead them wherever they wish, through the passions working in them.  People think that they are acting themselves, but they are actually the laughingstocks of unclean powers.  What can we do?  Be a true Christian, and no enemy power shall overcome you.   –  Thoughts for Each Day of the Year, pp. 186-187

On a regular basis now, acts of demonic evil invade our minds through the news media:  mass shootings, family members murdering each other and committing suicide, bizarre ritual murders of celebrities, etc., not to mention the ho-hum, everyday, “legal” demonic rituals of abortion, sodomy, euthanasia, and human vivisection (aka “vital organ transplants”).    Apart from the power of true Faith and Baptism, man has always been prey to his passions and to demonic influence working through his passions and sometimes even possessing him bodily.    During the long period of the Church’s direct or indirect influence on society, however, the demonic influence was kept in check.   Now, at the end of over 200 years of open apostasy by the formerly Christian nations, all the world is engulfed in a tide of demonism, and, humanly speaking, there is no end in sight.   We need not fear it, for we belong to Christ.  But we need to be vigilant and to take action.   We do not throw ourselves off a cliff and ask angels to catch us.

It is critical, indeed a matter of spiritual (and perhaps physical) life and death, to cut out demonic influences in our lives and the lives of those for whom we are responsible, chiefly our children.   It is not an exaggeration to say that demonic mental programming, either overt or hidden, pervades contemporary movies, television (including what is called “the news,” which in fact is simply the propaganda of the anti-Christian elite), and video games in the form of hypnotically powerful imagery, words, and ritual actions.  That there may be “innocent” productions coming out today is a possibility – I hope a probability – but sifting through the pile of toxic waste to find something that will not kill you is a time-consuming and risky process.   Are there not better things to do with our time? If something is not obviously helpful or at least harmless, then just cut it out.

And what about the Internet?  Here I am, using it, to get this message across.  The answer is simple – use it as a tool, for a limited time each day, but do not live in it as an alternate universe.  If it gives you access to good things – good books, good articles, good videos – great!   Thank God we now have such access to many good things that were previously unavailable. But, as we all know, one has to practice enormous discipline and discernment.   Keep track of your time on the Internet for a few days:  How many hours did you spend on useless activity, when you could have been doing something else?   How many temptations arose?   If there were x number of obvious temptations, how many subliminal or unnoticed ones also entered your mind?   Who knows?  Be careful.  I suggest keeping an icon right there in front of you while you are on your “device” (of whatever kind), and always saying a prayer before you turn it on.   I have not yet seen an Euchologion prayer for blessing computers, but we certainly should have one which includes an overt exorcism.   I shall ask the bishop about it.

As for children:  Children do not need and most often will be harmed by video games, television, the computer, and smart phones.   Be strict.  You will save their minds.  They will probably have to use computers when they grow older, of course.   They can learn what they need to know to get started when they are teenagers, in about fifteen minutes.  If your children go to public or private schools that are giving the students IPads instead of books, take them out.   They are being programmed, not educated. If you are using online resources to homeschool your children, always insist on their still having to use books – keep in mind that online schooling is a necessary evil, not a preferred way of doing things.

As for living inside one’s smart phone all day – this is psychic, not to mention spiritual, suicide.

The good news is that, apart from what our job or schooling forces us to, we simply do not need all this stuff.   There are precious and few hours in the day.   The time we do not have to spend at income-producing work should be spent in wholesome activity:  prayer with the family, reading good books both spiritual and secular, singing good songs both spiritual and secular, taking walks, growing vegetables and taking care of animals, working around the house, and on and on.   There was a long list of good things our very recent ancestors spent their time on, that had nothing whatsoever to do with television, radio, video games, professional sports, or the popular music industry.  Nearly all of these “old” activities, in some form, are still available to us.   As they say, “Just do it.”

The further and ultimate Good News is that we are not the hopeless, helpless slaves of this dystopian anti-Paradise, this prison of the mind, this mindless hive of contented monkey-descended sensualists, being put into place before our very eyes at this very moment in history by the visible and invisible rulers of the satanic world-state.   We are children of God, citizens of the Heavenly Jerusalem, and members of the Body of Christ.   By Faith and Baptism, we have been freed forever from service to Satan, whom we renounced at Holy Baptism, along with “…all his works, all his service, and all his pride.”

“Alright, Father Steven, I agree with you,” you might be thinking.  “But what can I do?  I am already enmeshed in x, y, or z you have just described.”

I shall respond with what St. Theophan says above: “What can we do?  Be a true Christian, and no enemy power can overcome you.”  If we are really orthodox Christians (and not just “Orthodox Christians” as a brand name), and we are living our Faith, we will spend a lot of time in prayer, in good works for others, and useful occupations.    We will prefer to use our leisure time in wholesome reading and wholesome hobbies, or driving old ladies to the grocery store, or teaching a child to read, or visiting the sick, or helping a priest start a new mission, or teaching catechism at our parish, or starting a spiritual book discussion group for our friends…or…or – you know the list is endless.  If you do not have the strength to give up this or that, or to re-order your priorities, confess it with tears and do not justify it, and keep praying for the strength to change.  The Lord desires our conversion and salvation more than we do.

Just do it.  Make the Sign of the Cross and charge ahead.

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Island of saints

3 September OS 2019 – Monday of the Fourteenth Week of St. Matthew Holy Hieromartyr Anthimus of Nicomedia, Holy Righteous Theoctistus, the Translation of the Relics of the Holy Passion Bearer Edward King of England

You can listen to an audio podcast of this blog post at https://www.spreaker.com/user/youngfaithradio/september-3

The Holy Orthodox Church is not the property of this or that group of people. It is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, into which Jesus Christ calls men of every nation, race, and tongue, unto their salvation. In recent centuries, however, Orthodoxy has been relegated – even, or rather especially, by many of its supposed adherents – to the mere status of this or that tribal religious tradition, a view eagerly agreed with by secular anthropologists and other, less savory, people.  But the truth is otherwise.

epitaphios

We know from Holy Tradition that the isle of Britain received the Gospel in the Apostolic generation, from no less a missionary than St. Joseph of Arimathea, along with St. Aristobulus the Apostle.   In other words, the Orthodox Church in Britain, though its existence was interrupted for a millennium, is as old as the great Orthodox Churches of the various Greek-speaking peoples, and far older than important national churches such as the Russian and Serbian. At the time of its founding, its people were Britons, Celts related to today’s Irish and highland Scots, but they were in the process of being Romanized. Today their descendants live in Wales and in Brittany on the coast of France. Who drove them into the little corner of Britain we call Wales, and who chased them across the Channel to Gaul? Why, the English, of course.

During the fifth and sixth centuries, barbarians from the north of Germany – the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and Frisians – sailed over to Britain and gradually conquered most of what we call England, driving the provincial Roman Christians (for that is what the Britons had become) into the borderlands and setting up their own pagan societies. One of these groups, the Angles, eventually gave their name to them all, thus “England” and “the English.” Now and then a Roman nobleman (like King Arthur, if he really existed) would give them a beating and win the Christians a breathing space, but by the year 600 AD these pagan Germanic people had thoroughly taken over. They called the Roman provincials they had conquered wealas – “foreigners” – and thus our modern words “Wales” and “Welsh.” (Thus also, strangely enough, “Wallachia” and “Vlach,” because the Slavs who conquered the Romans in the eastern half of the Danube region had borrowed the same word from the Germans. Now, I am descended from Welsh people, and therefore my Romanian friends will be happy to know that I am a Vlach too!).

Icon-St.-Bede

Anyway, why did God let this happen? An Orthodox saint, Bede the Venerable, in his great Ecclesiatical History of the English People, says that it is because the Roman Christians in Britain 1. Were morally corrupt, and 2. Did not love the pagan invaders, but only dealt with them on the fallen human level, as enemies, and made no efforts to convert them to the Faith.   We Orthodox of the 21st century should ponder their fate and why it came upon them.

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Who, then, made the English into Christians?   Other Romans did it, Romans from Old Rome herself, directed by no less a person than St. Gregory the Great (whom we Easterners call “the Dialogist”), Pope of Rome, another Orthodox saint, who reposed in the year 604 AD.   One day in the 590’s, walking through the slave market in Rome, St. Gregory saw some handsome Old English youths up for sale.   He asked his companion, “Of what race are these men?” Upon hearing that they were Angli (Angles, i.e., English), the saint, struck by their innocent faces and noble bearing, replied, “Call them, rather, angeli (angels),” and he resolved to send missionaries to (what had become) England to convert their nation.   Not one to waste time (St. Gregory is one of those great “action men” of history), he sent one of his hieromonks, Augustine, to England with a group of priests and monks, to carry out this resolve.   They landed at Canterbury in Kent on the east coast of Britain and converted the local king, Ethelbert. Augustine became the first Archbishop of Canterbury, and thus began a new Orthodox local Church, which lasted until 1066, when Normans from France, carrying an authorization in writing from the by-then-heretical-and-schismatic pope of Rome, conquered the English and made them into what people today would call “Roman Catholics” (though Eastern Orthodox polemicists have usually preferred less polite, albeit more accurate terms like “filioquists, papists, rantizmates, azymites, etc.” It is actually we who function as the Catholics and the Romans when we are behaving ourselves, but that is another story).   Around 500 years after that, an evil king destroyed all the monasteries, desecrated the relics of the saints, and made the English into Protestants. Today, it seems, his successors, directed by the same spirit or spirits, wish to see them made into Mohammedans. But let us return to the Old English.

edward-king01

This Old English Orthodox Church produced many saints in its nearly 500 year history, one of whom we celebrate today, which is, to cut to the chase, why I have given this little history lesson: the young King Edward, the Passion-Bearer, a pious and Orthodox king who encouraged monastic reform and general spiritual renewal among his people. He was foully murdered by courtiers who hated his spiritual direction and wanted a king they could corrupt for their own ends, and so Holy Church regards him as a “Passion-Bearer,” a holy man who suffered in the Christian manner for the sake of piety. In other words, non-Christians did not kill him for being a Christian; bad Christians killed him for acting like a Christian.   He entered the heavenly kingdom in the year 979, and immediately he began to perform miracles for those who prayed to him and venerated his holy relics. Today, believe it or not, in the 21st century, these same relics, through an amazingly providential history, lie enshrined in the beautiful little church of a monastic brotherhood that belongs to our True Orthodox Church of Greece, in Brookwood, Surrey, England.   You can read more about St. Edward at their website, at http://www.saintedwardbrotherhood.org/edward2.html.

God is wondrous in His saints, of every nation, race, and tongue. As we witness the building of a new global Tower of Babel by those who hate Christ, we who love Him will not defeat them by rejecting the true, Pentecostal, global unity with our Orthodox brethren of every nation, race, and tongue, but by loving them, and by loving, yes, even our enemies, and desiring their salvation.   Our God, the true God, is He “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (I Timothy 2:4).” It is a curious turn of God’s providence that the global language of the new Babel descends from the tongue spoken by those angelic invaders from north Germany.   There is no “chance” in life; there is only the working out of God’s plan in history.   Without putting aside the rich languages of our various national heritages, we must perforce use this English tongue to convert the nations. We have no choice, and let us therefore use it well.

Once, when He descended and confounded the tongues, the Most High divided the nations; but when He divided the tongues of fire, He called all men into unity; and with one accord we glorify the All-Holy Spirit.   

– The Kontakion of Pentecost, by St. Romanus the Melodist

B085JB mosaic of the Pentecost, Katholikon church, Hosios Loukas monastery Greece
B085JB mosaic of the Pentecost, Katholikon church, Hosios Loukas monastery Greece
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Beside ourselves

28 August OS 2019: Tuesday of the 13th Week of Matthew; St. Moses the Ethiopian

You can listen to an audio recording of this blog post at https://www.spreaker.com/user/youngfaithradio/13-matt-tu

In today’s Gospel passage from St. Mark, Our Lord’s own friends and relatives say something rather shocking: they believe He is possessed.

At that time, Jesus goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils: And Simon he surnamed Peter; And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder: And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite, And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house. And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.Mark 3: 13-21

This reference to His “friends” in contradistinction to the Holy Apostles reveals that during His earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus Christ had friends who were not His disciples.   They were simply His friends, the relatives and neighbors among whom He had lived during the time before His three-year mission for the salvation of the human race. Perhaps these friends were among the people who, in another place, the Gospel records as saying, “Is this not the carpenter’s son?” or, in other words, “Is this not just another ordinary fellow like ourselves?” Their saying that “he is beside himself” means, according to St. Theophylact of Ochrid, that they believed He was possessed with a demon.   Being His friends, though uncomprehending ones, they say this out of concern for His welfare. They think Him a victim of evil. Being His enemies, the scribes from Jerusalem, in the passage we shall read tomorrow, will say the same thing out of malice. They call Him a servant of evil.

Does not the same thing occur to us Orthodox Christians?   We have friends and relatives, both non-Orthodox and nominal Orthodox (or even those who claim to be pious!), who try to dissuade us from a Gospel mindset, an otherworldly life, because they believe that it is bad for us, something evil.   It interferes with having a “good life,” and being our friends they want us to have a “good life.”   They think that we are victims of evil. We also have enemies, those who hate the Faith and claim that we are not mere victims but active servants of evil.   Which kind of person, one wonders, does us greater harm? Often, perhaps, it is the former kind, because we are more inclined to listen to them.

Here is a rule of thumb you can count on: Most human beings – the overwhelming majority (99%?), including the overwhelming majority of baptized Orthodox – are, to a greater or lesser extent, in delusion (plani in Greek, prelest in Slavonic). Most are not seeing strange visions or doing obviously crazy things. Most have garden-variety prelest; that is, they are fundamentally mistaken most of the time about what is really going on outside of them and inside of them.   This includes us. The difference between them and us, if there is a difference, is that we know we are mistaken but are working on it. We are crying out day and night, “O Lord, deliver me from delusion!”

If we, who are Orthodox and moreover trying to do something about it (however feebly), are frequently in delusion, what about all the other people out there? In other words, why should we listen to them?   I do not mean that they cannot teach us how to grow vegetables or drive a car or do algebra. I mean that they cannot give us our life orientation. They cannot advise us as to “what it is all about.” Let us not be swayed when they claim that we are out of our minds.   Of course we are, but we know the way back into our minds, and we are trying to go there.   They too are out of their minds, but they do not know the way, and they cannot show it to us.

O Lord, only Truth and only Way, deliver us from delusion, heal our fragmented minds and divided wills, and keep us on the straight path to Thee our Life! Amen.

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