6 Apr 2006

I have read you article about the old calendar (http://www.orthodoxengland. btinternet.co.uk/calendar.htm), and I was very pleased to read it! Thanks a lot for writing this. But, I have one doubt: Today, ROCOR is working for unity with the Moscow Patriarchate (I thank God for it!). But, the MP is in communion with New Calendarist Churches (like the Antiochian, Greek, Bulgarian). What is the correct attitude of us, who love the Old Calendar, towards New Calendarists?

Rafael Daher

The MP, like the Serbian Church with which we have always been in communion, is in communion with Churches that have the new calendar for the fixed feasts. But most MP clergy never concelebrate with anyone on the new calendar. In any case, when a new calendar priest comes to an old calendar church to concelebrate, he immediately has to accept the old calendar.

Our situation is therefore becoming like that of the Serbs. All are free to do concelebrate with them, but very few actually do. If the ROCOR Episcopal Council admits the MP into eucharistic communion with us, those who wish to concelebrate with us will be able to do so, just as they used to do until the mid-sixties, before the Soviet Union put pressure on other Local Churches to isolate us. However, you will find that many will not want to concelebrate with us, because they are freemasons and modernists. They will refuse to repent. For, you see, coming to concelebrate with us will be their confession that they persecuted us and were wrong. It would be an act of repentance on their part.

As regards those on the new calendar, we have to understand that they are on the old calendar when it comes to services which depend on the Easter cycle (the mobile feasts). These services include every Sunday.

It is also vital to distinguish between new calendarists and those on the new calendar. Those who are on the new calendar out of humble obedience to their bishops are not new calendarists. They are simply Orthodox who, against their own will, humbly accept obedience, even though they know that the new calendar is wrong. 'New calendarists' are those who are fanatically ecumenist and masonic and actually believe in the new calendar.

14 Mar 2006

If one were to compare the moral and spiritual health of the United States, and Europe, who would come out on top?

For example, I have several friends who have been to Europe and are Europeans. From what they tell me, American society is much more traditional when it comes to religion and morals, compared to Spain, France, or Germany. At least 150 million Americans go to church weekly (I know this from personal experience, on Sundays, where I live, all the churches are packed to near capacity). Around 40 percent of Americans think abortion should be illegal in all circumstances, and the remain 60 percent usually think abortion should be illegal in most circumstance, or that it should be legal, but, a horrible and atrocious procedure. 8 out of 10 of the people I have met in my travels around the country view homosexuality as sinful, and the majority look upon fornication as a bad thing. If you mention religion in America, it usually is received well.

I often hear Europeans castigating Americans for being devoid of culture. But, how far can this criticism really go. Yes, American culture has 'materialism', but, don't Europeans cultures? After all, it was the European secular/materialist/utopian philosophies which produced communism, fascism, nazism, and militant nationalism, all of which have laid waste to Europe in two world wars, the holocaust, and the gulag. The worst national sin the US has experienced was slavery. African slavery is mild compared to the gulag, and holocaust (though, of course, that is no way excuses either crime). Of course the US pursue bad foreign policies, but, it seems that European opposition seems to be more resentment than principled opposition (there are exception of course). I know you dealt with this issue partly in one of your q and a sections, but, can you elaborate on this more.

Gavin, USA

I agree with everything you say. Europe (including England) is atheist (this will be the theme of the issue of Orthodox England for September 2006), the US is not. From travel in the US, I know how pleasant it is to wear a cassock. It is not pleasant in Western Europe, where there is no respect for religion at all.

The problem is that because American religious culture is overwhelmingly Protestant, it is a religion, not the Church, that is, it lacks the Holy Spirit, having only a rationalistic, moral and ethical basis. So, on the one hand, it is morally upright (an admirable thing in itself, compared to the total amorality of modern Europe, which indeed produced all the horrors of the twentieth century and the preceding centuries - such as slavery or the massacre of the native Americans). On the other hand, American religion tends overwhelmingly to be non-spiritual, philistine, hypocritical, superficial, dollar-based (televangelism), rigid, lacking in sobriety, emotional, in other words it is blinded and lacks discernment - like Protestantism itself. This is what leads the US government to commit such horrors outside the USA (and perhaps inside). (Of course, you are right, most of the European opposition to it is pure snobbery and jealousy; quite probably, if Europeans had the military power of the US, they would do far worse than the US. Most of the European opposition to the US is pure hypocrisy, because the US will get the oil, not Europe. At least in the US moral values are actually taken into consideration - not in Europe).

National politics are conditioned by the religious culture and values (or lack of them) of national elites. This is as clear in Europe, as it is in the US or Iran. In reality, to decide between the spiritual health of Europe and the US is almost impossible. Both are profoundly sick, but in very different ways. However, I cannot help admiring the respect that Americans have for religious values and being horrified at what Europe is now doing to itself - i.e. committing spiritual suicide.

28 Feb 2006

In the Orthodox Church, it seems that a National Church (like Serbia, Bulgaria or Greece, for example), recognizes saints, but, they don't need the input of their Sister Churches in this recognition. Is there any form of checks and balances?

Gavin, USA

In the Orthodox Church, as in the early centuries, any diocesan bishop can proclaim a saint. However, it is foolish to do so if a) other bishops in the same local Church or Synod do not feel the same way, b) if there is not a popular acclamation of the person as a saint, and finally c) if some investigative committee has not first examined the life and works of the person concerned. These are as you call them, the checks and balances.

27 Feb 2006

Reading through Orthodox England, I was struck by the question on the minute's silence and your answer to it. I must say that I had no idea that periods of silence were pagan or masonic, and thought that in the case of Remembrance Day they were symbolic of the silence that ensued when the guns stopped firing. I would normally be supportive of any mark of public respect shown in these Godless days. What would you suggest as a more Orthodox way of remembering the fallen?

Eadmund, Kent

The origin is in masonic rituals. Most of the British government officials at the time (after the First World War) were masons. The important thing for us (whenever we have to undergo a public minute of silence) is to pray. For example: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners, or Lord have mercy on our souls, repeated several times. Silence is dead time. We should always use it (as we should also use a noisy background) for prayer.

When Remembrance Sunday occurs, I simply publicly remember 'all those slain for the faith in the wars of the twentieth century' at the Great Entrance. I think this is more useful than prayer.

26 Feb 2006

I am studying the philosophy of religion. I should very much like to hear what our Church has to say about the problem of evil.

Bozidar, London

I think you know already that Non-Orthodox 'theology' is a rationalistic philosophy and therefore cannot be helpful to us, except, as you say, in explaining to Western people where they go wrong in ways which they can understand, even if they do not accept the Faith. To speak to a Non-Orthodox about God is like trying to persuade a man born blind that the sun exists. As you probably know, one of the best Fathers to answer the Westerners is St Justin of Chelije (Popovich). Always ask for his prayers when you cannot find an answer to a question.

Evil is never necessary, but in our fallen world it is allowed by God in His Providence (plan/dispensation/ekonomia) for our benefit. Thus, suffering can cleanse us of sin, bringing us to repentance. Generally, we only understand the meaning of suffering afterwards. It is revealed to us by God according to the purity of our minds. Sometimes the meaning is revealed to us soon afterwards, sometimes a long time afterwards, only at the end of our lives, sometimes we will learn only on the other side. We live in time: God lives in timelessness (eternity). The eternal perspective changes everything in our understanding. Of course, if we do not have the eternal perspective or do not believe in it, then we will never understand very much at all. As you rightly say, it does all come down to faith.

Have you read the Greek Elder Porphyrios? He reposed in 1991. His Life, in the book 'Wounded by Love' is very good and he talks about many of the problems you ask about. He says that words are wasted with atheists, rather we should pray for them, because though we cannot touch their minds, but we can touch their hearts. Generally, all these atheists are talking about themselves when they talk about the absence of God. They simply express their personal subjective truth (that their souls are empty) in an objective way and try to generalize their experience. In other words, there is no theology, or even philosophy here, it is just their own ill or deficient psychology, which is what atheism is.

24 Feb 2006

I have two questions.

1) Did the Lord Jesus Christ use leavened bread at the Mystical Supper? What evidence do we have for this?

2) In the hymns for the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple, some of them say that the Theotokos was taken into the Holy of Holies of the Old Holy Temple. Isn't this inconsistent with Jewish tradition? If so, do we believe that this was an historical event, one which took place by some special miracle of God? Or, is it just a historically false pious tale meant for instruction?

Gavin, USA

The bread at the Last or Mysterious Supper (the first liturgy) was leavened bread. This we know because in the Greek of the Synoptics it is referred to as 'artos', not as 'aksimon' (unleavened bread). Leavened bread, living bread, represents the rising of Christ. Therefore the use of this by Christ is a direct change to the Jewish usage of unleavened, 'dead', bread. This is why also in the eleventh century the Roman Catholics who changed to using unleavened bread seemed to Orthodox to be denying the Resurrection, i.e. doing like the Jews.

As regards your second question, there is no reference to the Mother of God entering the Holy of Holies at the Feast of the Presentation of Christ (She was the Holy of Holies). However, Christ was borne (carried) into the Holy of Holies. The significance of this is that His human nature was taken into the Holy of Holies. As for the Virgin Mother, the high-priest simply stood her in the place of the Virgins (not of Mothers), which fact enraged the Pharisees.

However, years earlier, at the Feast of the Presentation of the Virgin, it is said in the Tradition that the three-year-old Virgin entered the Holy of Holies, as Zacharias the high-priest was so struck by the special grace of God that he led her into the Holy of Holies, where the high priest himself was allowed to go only once a year. This break with Jewish tradition (the Law) is significant because it represents the forthcoming break with all of the Law and its replacement by Grace.

20 Feb 2006

I am studying a course on the philosophy of religion. Sigmund Freud spoke of theists as being 'mentally ill' and that society creates morality. Moreover, the Church is simply an organised system of control. This was a response to Emmanuel Kant who argued, in his moral argument, that humans seek the 'summum bonum' i.e. objective morality. And in order to achieve this God must exist. Freud said that all humans have 'carnal desires' and that morality derives from expectations of those around us. Specifically, our conscience is based on our mother's expectations. WHAT ARE THE COUNTER-ARGUMENTS TO FREUD AND WHAT STANCE DOES THE ORTHODOX CHURCH TAKE ON HIS ARGUMENT?

My second question has been 'fired' at me many times, and I could never achieve a fully credible response. HOW ARE WE SURE THAT CHRISTIANITY IS THE RIGHT PATH TO TAKE? I would normally reply faith, but, this is never sufficient for the sceptic, the agnostic and completely unacceptable for the atheist.

Bozidar, London

First of all, we must understand that the course you are doing is completely Protestant, that is extra-ecclesial (outside the Church) in its approach. No-one who is in the Church would approach God in this way and they would not need to. To understand God, there is no point in reading or studying. In the Scriptures Christ says clearly that only the pure in heart will see God. In other words, intellectuals, examiners and professors will never understand God, if their minds are not pure, and that means first of all purifying their hearts. (You may like to refer to the article on Gnoseology on our website: www.orthodoxengland.org.uk). (See the Index to the site).

This course is an intellectual investigation of the idea of God (an intellectual investigation of God Himself is impossible, because we cannot understand God with our brains - only with our hearts, as I have said above). This is why there are no Orthodox books on this subject as such, because Orthodox books are based on faith, whereas Western books are based on the absence of faith. (Again, you may like to read the article I wrote on Richard Dawkins under Events 2006 on the same website). As you know Sigmund Freud, like Marx, was an unbelieving Jew. When Freud writes of morality as a human invention, he is of course speaking of his own morality/amorality. Because he denied God, he denied the Absolute, and therefore had to relativize everything. To explain the Church, he therefore had to dismiss it as human manipulation (the mother, for example) and believers as mentally ill.

In fact his philosophy is the result of manipulation and he was himself spiritually ill. Without faith, his brain was subject to demonic manipulation, which he flattered himself as coming from his own intelligence. In reality, he simply uttered the thoughts of the demons, under whose control he 'thought'. It is a waste of time to argue with the sceptic, the agnostic and the atheist. They do not have faith and at once become aggressive, because demons goad them into aggressiveness, if the believer argues with them. Their problems are therefore primarily psychological (because they are infected by demonic thoughts) and therefore they take everything personally.

The only way to convert such people is to show them examples of Christian love by living the Orthodox way of life. Only then will they understand that Christ rose from the dead. Even this fact they deny at the moment because they are in a state of demonic interference. The only purpose of such studies is to form your mind and own capacities for logical argument. This course is rightly called philosophy, because it is not about theology and indeed is often anti-theological. I would strongly recommend that people with weak faith do not undertake such studies. I have known Anglicans study such courses at University and actually lose even their Anglican faith. Such courses are not designed to nourish faith, but only to structure the logical capacities of the intellect.

As you rightly say, it is all a matter of faith. We have faith, they do not. And although we cannot prove with their atheistic logic that God exists, they with own their atheistic logic cannot even prove that God does not exist. Orthodox Christianity is the right path because it alone overcomes death. No religious person of any other religion ever rose from the dead. The Buddha is dead, Mohammed is dead, the rabbis are dead, Marx is dead, Freud is dead; only Christ is alive and all those who follow after Him and live in Him. This is why every Non-Christian religion and philosophy, whatever good they may contain, is a religion or philosophy which leads to death.

4 December 2005
Thank you for your insight on this matter. The reason I ask is because the more I read of his life and teachings, the more I am convinced that the Old Calendarists are in fact schismatics, who have violated the very canons they claim to uphold. Elder Cleopa was quite insistent upon the fact that the Old Calendarists are schismatics because of their refusal to obey the Patriarchate's decision.

He claims that the calendar issue is not a dogmatic one; therefore it is not grounds for canonically ceasing commemoration. He asks rhetorically, "Do we say in the Creed, 'I believe in one calendar? Do we ever sing, 'O holy martyrs of the calendar pray to God for us'?" He goes on further to claim that the calendar was not changed, but corrected, and that it was undertaken with the fear of God. Not all at the council of Athens were ecumenists-- not even most. He asks rhetorically that if Athos, Jerusalem and Russia were on the side of the Old Calendarists, then why are they not in communion with them?

I think he brings up some valid points. You know, despite the 1583 condemnation of the papal calendar, there really is nothing that forbids the Church to actually change the calendar-- just that it simply must not accept heretical/schismatic Rome's calendar. But the revised Julian is not the Gregorian.

And you mention Finland, but does Finland really fall under anathema? St. Nicodemos the Hagiorite says that no anathema ever applies itself, but must be canonically applied by living bishops. This seems right to me. I mean, the apostle Paul anathematized all who do not love the Lord Jesus Christ. I'm quite certain that every time a priest sins he is not auto-anathematized, even though this particular anathema was uttered from the lips of the Pillar of the Church himself. Finland would lose all state support if it were to keep the Orthodox paschalion, and so has canonically petitioned for a dispensation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate to use the western paschalion. The EP has allowed it, but does not allow it for anyone else... this does not seem like the action of the diabolical papist the OCists make His All-Holiness out to be.

You mention schism, and I agree with you. But here is my fear. St. Cyprian, St. John Chrysostom, and many other holy fathers of the Church have severely condemned schismatics. St. Theodore the Studite only broke communion with Constantinople in his day when they openly proclaimed in synod their heresy and anathematized those who would accept it. His apologia makes this quite a big deal-- the crux of the matter really. So far ecumenism has not been openly proclaimed a dogma of the Church and no heretical anathemata have yet been hurled. The East put up with many errant ideas from the Western Church long before it canonically severed itself.

And so ROCOR finds itself in a crisis. Its canonical basis for independence from the Mother Church has come to an end, it would seem. Ss. Tikhon of Moscow and John of San Fransisco have made it very clear that ROCOR must reunite with Moscow when the veil of Sergianism is lifted. It is my sincere hope and prayer that the All-Diaspora Council in May will not only serve to reunite us to Moscow, but will also help us unite to the rest of world Orthodoxy.

Anyway, these are the thoughts running through my mind. St. Cyprian teaches that schismatics are without grace.. but perhaps he is not talking about all schismatics-- perhaps only those who after a time persist in their schism, or who are formally condemned in synod (again, anathemata do not apply themselves. There are some who totally misunderstand ROCOR's canonicity, but ROCOR has not gone out of its way to create alliances among other canonical Churches. It seems to me that it was not only extremist but entirely uncanonical to enter into communion with the OCists of the various balkan countries. May God forgive us.

Your further thoughts would be appreciated.

Isaac, St Louis, USA

I agree with everything that Fr Cleopa says and much of what you say, but I discern several qualifiers.

Firstly, personally I would always avoid concelebrating with those on the new paschalia - but I would not judge them. Certainly many Valaam monks left Finland when they were cruelly persecuted by the new calendarists. It is better to go without State support than compromise, in my view. Otherwise, this is 'the mess of pottage' argument!

Secondly, ROCOR never entered in its entirety into communion with any of the old calendarists. It was only a few bishops who personally authorised concelebration. Thus, the Western European diocese of ROCOR has never concelebrated with them. On the other hand, it has always concelebrated with Constantinople, despite persecution from some fanatics ('extremists') in America - and, it must be said, from Constantinople! As Archbishop Antony of Geneva always said, the new calendar is not a dogma, it is just a 'crass mistake'. Personally, I would never concelebrate with them, on principle, not because I judge them, but because I fear contamination, just as I fear concelebrating with the Finnish Church. And very, very few ROCOR clergy have ever dared concelebrate with the old calendarists. We only had contact with them at all in the (idealistic) hope that we could help get them back into communion to their Mother-Churches. Now that their Mother-Churches have offered them return and to keep the Church calendar, they have no more reason to be separate. At this point, they do become schismatics, because this is obstinacy, persistence in separation. This is a very important distinction.

Thirdly, you must always look at what the Fathers are saying about schismatics. They are always talking about particlular schismatics. There are different reasons for schism. Always look at the specific context. We always have to interpret the canons in their context. What are people's intentions?

Fourthly, as I have always said, from articles written in the early eighties on, we must distinguish between the old calendar and old calendarists, just as we see an enormous difference between the new calendar and new calendarists.

Fifthly, as regards the May Council, we look forward to Moscow and other jurisdictions repenting and getting back into communion with us, as seems very likely (but not 100% certain). Of course, once they have repented, this also means that we will be back in communion with them, which is good for us too. It will stop those schismatic tendencies on the very fringes of ROCOR which have been present since the 1960s, when we (perhaps over-generously) gave them canonical shelter agaisnt the storms of the 1960s, (though, thank God, most of them left us in the mid-eighties, accusing us of liberalism!) I do not agree with you that ROCOR is in crisis. There is no crisis here about it. The old canonical basis for our independence has come to an end, there is now a new one, and this can become the basis for worldwide mission. This is exactly what the Patriarchate is renewing for us.

Sixthly, since the Meletian calendar is the same as the papist calendar for many centuries to come, unless we are Jesuits, we have to admit that it is in fact the same calendar! Again, you cannot change to the new calendar, because it interferes with things like the Apostles' Fast. Read Bishop Innocent's article on it, written in China in the 1920' and 1930s.

Finally, the real problem is of course not the calendar, but everything that goes with it, all the shocking liberalism, intercommunion and modernism propagated by the new calendarists. As I say in my article, old calendarism will prosper for as long as new calendarism tramples on the piety of the faithful. And this is the essence of the problem. Surely, the persecution of piety is in fact hatred for Christ?

1 December 2005
I have been reading the life of the Holy Elder, Blessed Cleopa of Romania. His life is full of miracles and his teachings seem to be fully Orthodox. My question is, is he right in condemning the Old Calendarists of Romania as schismatics?

Also, I'm wondering, from the standpoint of grace. Just as heretics have to be synodally condemned and cast out of the Church, what about schismatics? Are there schismatics who still have grace, as yet uncondemned by the Church?

Much is made from St. Theodore the Studite's refusal to commemorate the Patriarch of Constantinople during Moechianism. But it seems to me that he waited until this heresy was proclaimed synodally, and it was dogmatized (i.e., they anathematized those who did not believe it). Could you comment on this?

Thank you again for your incredible website. It is truly an oasis in the spiritual desert of the internet.

Isaac, St Louis, USA

In a corner of our church hall, we have photos of Orthodox Elders. One of my favourite is that of Elder Cleopa standing side by side with him who is now St Justin Popovich. It says it all. They are both saints.

Despite their noble origins and original sacrifices, the later Romanian old calendarist movement came to be financed by the Communist government, so as to divide and further weaken the 'official' Romanian Church. In reality, they number only a few thousand. They could go back to the official Romanian Church tomorrow and keep the Church calendar, if they wanted to. They refuse this. This is their error. This is why the Western European Diocese of ROCOR, like many others, has not had anythoing to do with Old Calendarism in the last fifteen or so years. Their situation under Communism was one thing, the situation today is another.

Perhaps you have read my new article on the Future of Old Calendarism in the Orthodox Life section of the website? Most of your questions are answered there. Personally, I do not doubt that the sin of schism is greater than that of obeying new calendar bishops. (Though I would draw the line at celebrating on the papist Paschalia, which was anathematised). However, since I am in the Russian Church and do not have to face this problem, I have no right to judge.

We also have to distinguish between a heresy (first it must be condemned as such by a Church Council, as you say) and a schism. Many schisms happen for purely political and ethnic reasons, and have nothing to do with Orthodox teaching (for example the Macedonian schism). This is why schisms are not been condemned as heresies are. With schisms, there is always the chance of unity, once the errors of the 'Mother-Church' (like Constantinople's modernism etc) cease. Heresies, on the other hand, are the refusal of grace. (I say this in the article; that Old Calendarism has a great future as long as the 'official Churches' continue their errors)

As regards the standpoint of grace, we simply do not have the right to put ourselves there. Only Almighty God can stand at that point.

11 September 2005
I would like to ask you a few questions:

1) I come from Montenegro and I am Montenegrin. The greatest problem for my nation is my own Church and Metropolitan Amfilohije Radovic. He and his clergy practically don't recognize the existence of my nation. They connect Orthodoxy with the Serbian nation. I think that especially Serbs and Greeks have never been cured of ethnophyletism.

And I can tell you, from my experience, that 99% of my people don't read the Bible. They think that to be good "Orthodox", they must hate Roman Catholics and Muslims. There is a growing superstition in people. I think that most of them would kneel in front of the devil if that can help them get what they want. They know nothing about Orthodoxy. But my Church doesn't take a lot of interest in that.

A few months ago, the Serbian Orthodox Church canonized some priests who were executed by Communists at the end of World War II. Those people were members of the chetnik movement and they were known as notorious criminals in their own city. One of them was known as the "Slaughterer". There were some priests who were great patriots and who didn't belong to the partisans or chetniks. I think that my Church wants somehow to get revenge against the Communists for everything they did to them. On the other hand, my government glorifies the partisans. In that way, the Second World War has never finished in my country. I'd like to hear your comment.

2) Since you don't want to imitate Russian or Greek Orthodoxy, in which way can you bring Orthodoxy to your own nation? If you want to come back to the England of the first millenium, then the only thing you need from the East is theology and dogmatic teaching. Other things, like liturgy, church architecture, vestments are part of your tradition. Are there some liturgies which were used in the early Church in England?

3) Was sign of the cross in your church made with three fingers, as we Orthodox do, or with the full hand, as Roman Catholics? Because I read somewhere that the sign was made with 2 fingers, as old-rite Russians do now.

4) What is your opinion about unity with the so-called Monophysites. They say that there is no difference between us and that they have never followed that teaching.

5) Do you think that the Old Catholics should return completely to Orthodox teaching and to the mass of Pope Gregory The Great? I think that they could bring Orthodoxy to the Western world.


The Serbian-Montenegrin problem is one of nationalism, phyletism. All the Balkans suffer especially from this spiritual disease of nationalism. As you know, there were even wars between the Serbs and the Bulgarians. There are also problems between Serbs and Macedonians. These problems, like those between Russians, Ukrainians and Moldovans, are especially painful because they are between Orthodox peoples, brothers and sisters. Nationalism is simply an attachment to this world, it is worldliness. When people put the Kingdom of God first, as Christ told us to (Matthew 6,33), then these problems will be solved. Nationalists are like the Old Testament Jews who crucified Christ because he was not a political and nationalist leader who wanted to free the Jews from the Roman Occupation, but a spiritual leader who wanted to free them from the spiritual occupation of their hearts by the devil. Today, nationalists are still crucifying Christ; the only difference is that they are not Jews.

However, it is not right to blame others for being nationalist, we first have to repent ourselves, because we are all worldly, we are all in some way nationalists. We must cleanse ourselves first. Salvation is our aim. If you feel that others are unjust, then pray for them, do not accuse them.

As regards the state of Orthodox people after Communism, then of course spiritually often their level is low. They do not read the Scriptures and do not understand them in an Orthodox context. Here, the clergy and others have a lot of work to do to enlighten the people. However, you should not think that this is only a problem in Eastern Europe. In Western Europe Catholics and Protestants are also ignorant of the Scriptures and throw their Bibles away, as they lose their faith. I would say that 99% of nominal Catholics and Protestants do not read the Bible either. This is our modern world. Why do you not help in this work of enlightening Montenegrins?

The natural result of a post-Christian society is superstition. Once religion has gone, there is only superstition. There is little so superstitious as modern Western society with its horoscopes, crystals, feng shui, shamanism, nature worship ('ecology') etc. This is just the rebirth of paganism.

It is not for me to speak about the canonization of recent martyrs, if I do not know their lives. If they had been criminals and the Church canonized them, then it must be because they repented through martyrdom. I have never heard of the Orthodox Church canonizing unrepentant criminals (though of course the Vatican has beatified the monster Stepinac of Zagreb). For example, the thief on the cross repented first before Christ promised him the kingdom of heaven. It is clear that the fall of Communism, the Church will now canonize its martyrs. This is natural. I do not see revenge here.

Since Orthodoxy died out here nearly 1,000 years ago, all Western people have to 'imitate' (that means assimilate) Orthodoxy from other countries, Russia, Romania, Greece etc. We need everything from there, because everything, including Orthodox Church architecture, liturgy, vestments etc, has been lost. All the living native traditions have died. There is no other way than to assimilate from elsewhere in order to revive. As regards a specific 'English Orthodoxy', this will only grow up with generations of English Orthodoxy. For example, at the beginning, the Russians did exactly as the Greeks, but with time and assimilation, Russian customs grew up and today we have Russian Orthodoxy. This is essentially the same as Greek Orthodoxy, but different in outward customs etc. Eventually, Orthodoxy will become native, with the help of the prayers of the ancient Orthodox saints of the West.

All the early (Orthodox) Western liturgies have been lost. The dead weight of the Vatican after 1,000 years is very heavy!

We make the sign of the cross like all Orthodox the world over and as Roman Catholics did until the fifteenth century, when they changed that too.

It is certain that part of the problem between us and the Monophysites is nationalism. Just as Frankish nationalism together with the filioque separated them from us, so the Monophysites separated from us on account of Egyptian and Armenian nationalism, together with theological reasons. Monophysitism, though in a very subtle form, became for them a national flag. Unity will only be possible for the Monophysites when they accept Orthodox teaching and return to the Orthodox Church. For some of them, this is a real theological problem. For most of them, this is a nationalistic problem. But as I have said above, nationalism is worldliness, so this is in fact a very serious problem.

The Old Catholics are very, very few in number (in most Western countries they do not even exist and no-one has ever heard of them) and are now almost completely protestantized. Since they are not Orthodox, they cannot bring Orthodoxy to the West. Only Orthodoxy can bring Orthodoxy to the West. No mass of St Gregory the Great exists. But perhaps you mean the Service of the Presanctified? But that is not a eucharistic liturgy.

I hope these answers clear up some of your confusion,

24 July 2005
I'm a recent convert who is under ROCOR in the USA. I love your website and much of it makes sense to me. But I must ask you more about the "resistance" situation in Orthodoxy currently.

1) Why are the Old Calendarists incorrect in breaking communion with most everyone... why are the canons they use misinterpreted, etc.

2) Mother Maria Skobstova was recently canonized by the EP. How is one to react to the canonization of a nun from a community that was in schism from ROCOR, a chain-smoker, a socialist, and a critic of the long services of the Church? Was the EP right to canonize her? Why, then, is Fr. Bulgakov (her father confessor) condemned by the Russian Church? What are we to do about all of this? I understand her act of martyrdom was Christian, but people are basing their theology on her! How are we to respond? Can I as an Orthodox Christian in the Church Abroad, pray to Maria Skobstova with a pure conscience?

3) With whom should ROCOR be in communion... with whom should she not be in communion?

Thank you so much for your advice and prayers.

isaac crabtree

Thank you for your message, which contains several questions. Before I try and answer, let me make it clear that all I can give you is my own opinion. It is up to the bishops to answer such important questions definitively. If my answer leaves you in doubt, then ask a bishop. Obviously, I always cede to a bishop in such matters, because they have authority, I do not.

As regards answers to these questions, let us consider some facts first:

Firstly, when speaking of the old calendarists, of whom are we speaking? I understand that there are over 16 different groups of old calendarists in Greece, just as there are some eight different catacomb churches in Russia, plus the Romanian old calendarists and the Bulgarian old calendarists. Moreover, in our minds we have to keep old calendarists separate from Orthodox like ourselves, who use the old calendar. In the same way, we have to distinguish between those who humbly use the new calendar for the fixed feasts and the old calendar for the moveable feasts out of obedience, and the new calendarists. They are those who actually believe in the new calendar and want to use (or already use) the new calendar, even for the moveable feasts, which is condemned by the Church. We should remember that virtually all those on the new calendar only use the new calendar for the fixed feasts, they keep the old calendar for the moveable feasts.

All isms are unchurchly, they are worldly and they all involve the cult of personalities, or make idols out of human institutions or concepts. This includes old calendarism and new calendarism, conservatism and liberalism. From Church history we can see that all isms always divide, splitting into different groups. When divisions happen, as they have in the Greek old calendarist movement, we can see the influence of unchurchly elements and attitudes. Sectarianism always begins in this way, around personalities.

The Eastern Patriarchs of the 16th and 17th centuries, and later, placed only those who use the new calendar for the moveable feasts under anathema, not those who use it for the fixed feasts. This is quite clear from the letters of the founder of ROCOR, Metropolitan Antony of Kiev. (Unfortunately these letters are still not translated into English. I have long wanted to do so, but since I have to waste most of my life in a secular job, so that the parish can live, I have not had time since they were published by Jordanville in 1988). Metropolitan Antony is quite clear that those who create a schism by refusing to commemorate their new calendar bishop are in the wrong. Although, clearly, we avoid the new calendar where possible, two wrongs do not make a right. Obedience must take priority.

As a recent convert, you may not know it, but there have been, and are, several parishes in our Church which use the new calendar for the fixed feasts, including Romanian parishes (which since the fall of Communism, have now left us to return to the Patriarchal Romanian Church). Notably, St John of Shanghai allowed several convert parishes to use the new calendar for the fixed feasts (but, it must be said, as some have slandered him on this point, never for the moveable feasts).

What was the motivation of our Church in entering into communion with the old calendarists and helping them? It was certainly not in order to encourage schism. It was to encourage both sides (official Churches using the new calendar for the fixed feasts, and the old calendarists) to dialogue together, in the hope that the official Churches would take back the old calendarists into their Churches, allowing them to continue to use the old calendar (rather like the Russian Church before the Revolution, allowed old believers to continue with their rites, but as part of the Church). Beyond this, there was the further hope that the old calendarists, once reintegrated, would then help return the official church to the Orthodox (old) calendar. In recent years, one such Greek old calendarist group, with which certain dioceses of our Church were in communion, on paper, received just such an offer from the State Church of Greece. They turned down the offer. Our conclusion: these people are not really bothered about the calendar, they are more bothered about their own little ecclesiastical empire, the cult of their leader.

Our church has always been in communion with the Serbian Church, which is an old calendar Church, which is in communion with new calendar churches (just like Mt Athos or Jerusalem).

Not all the diocesan bishops of our Church were ever in communion with any old calendarists (let alone the extreme ones). In Western Europe our bishops refused to be in communion with those whom they considered to be schismatic. They thought that the hope to reunite the official Churches with the old calendarists and return them to the old calendar unrealistic, idealistic. The involvement of our Church with any old calendarists has always been divisive and controversial. As a matter of fact, I know of only two priests anywhere in our Church who have ever concelebrated with any old calendarists. And I know of one Greek priest under our Church in America who accepted ordination only on condition that he would never have to concelebrate with Greek old calendarists.

As regards Western Europe, we never broke off communion with any of the new calendar Churches, but some of them broke off communion with us – for purely political reasons, under Soviet pressure. This is to their shame, not ours. In Western Europe, concelebrations with the Serbs are perfectly normal. Concelebrations with members of the Patriarchate of Constantinople are regular but rare.

We must also understand what concelebration means. For example, the Greek clergy of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in England do not concelebrate with any Non-Greeks, so ethnically-minded are they. I know members of the clergy in the Patriarchate of Moscow in England who do not concelebrate, because they do not like each other. I know the same of members of the clergy in our Church. However, in all these cases, presumably, if these people were forced into concelebrating by their diocesan bishops, they would do so. On the other hand, I cannot imagine even any Moscow bishop forcing his clergy to concelebrate with the clergy in Finland, who all celebrate the moveable feasts according to the new calendar, and have therefore placed themselves under anathema.

The ROCOR Archbishop who ordained me to the priesthood, Archbishop Antony of Geneva, always used to say that the new calendar is not a heresy, simply a serious mistake. I believe that he is absolutely right. A heresy is far more serious. And no Council of the Orthodox Church has yet assembled and called the new calendar for the fixed feasts a heresy - in over 400 years. Personally, I have never celebrated, or concelebrated, on the new calendar and I will always avoid doing so.

Another problem is that many converts in ROCOR, perhaps especially in the USA, and converts are only a small minority, do not always have contact with the Russian mass. The Russians do not want the new calendar, but at the same time, they do accept reality. A particular problem with some American converts is that they come from the American Puritan background and have a culture whereby they want purity in the Church and go on New England style witch-hunts when they cannot get it. (I have always thought that it is no coincidence that one of the hotbeds of 'Orthodox' sectarianism in America is in Boston). Some of the most 'zealous' converts are the least Orthodox and the most Protestant, but they refuse to admit it.

Any reader of Church history will tell you that the Church has never been pure. There has always been a Judas. It will be like this to the end of time. We live with it in our daily life. It was like this, for example, before the Russian Revolution, when the levels of corruption in the Russian Orthodox Church were extremely high. There is no such thing as a pure Church or pure jurisdiction. Some of the old calendarist sects, for instance, are 100% 'pure' as regards the calendar or ecumenism, but they are full of homosexuals, pedophiles and money-lovers. So what is the point? If we have no love, we are indeed as 'sounding brass', as the Apostle wrote.

Now to try and answer your questions:

1.You only break off communion with others if they publicly preach heresy. This is not the same as sounding off private opinions, as some Greek bishops of Constantinople have done, opinions which are ambiguous. For example, if such a bishop says in an interview that we must love Roman Catholicism, then I would sharply disagree (and so would most Greeks and most Orthodox). But is that public preaching of a heresy? If the same bishop then says that what he meant was that we should love Roman Catholics, then I would agree with him, because the Gospel says that we must love all, including our enemies. In any case, whatever he said, we should still pray for him.

This is the problem with ecumenism. What does it mean? If it means the branch theory, then this has been anathematized and the Moscow Patriarchate has now accepted our anathema. If ecumenism means explaining to a Protestant the Orthodox doctrine of salvation, then I am an ecumenist.

Moreover, I can see no reason to break off communion with another jurisdiction because a few individuals among the millions in it have opinions with which I do not agree. If that is the case, then I would have to break off communion with my own Church! Why opinions? Opinions are Protestant. The Orthodox Church is not guided by opinions, but by the Holy Spirit in Church Councils. Opinions are the path to sects, the way of old calendarism.

2. As regards Mother Maria, you have some facts wrong. She was canonized by only one diocese in the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Paris Exarchate, which is a notorious hotbed of freemasonry. No other diocese of Constantinople venerates her or those canonized with her.

I can in no way agree with this canonization, because it is purely political. There were no miracles, no relics, no investigation of her life and writings, no listening to the objections, no service composed, no popular veneration. Nothing. Even in the case of Fr Alexis of Ugine, whose life I put on the website before ever anyone had heard of the decisions of Archbishop Gabriel in Paris, there were no miracles and no popular veneration, but an incorrupt body. His canonization seems premature; that of the others pure politics.

This is a political canonization, because it was decided by a little clique of people for political reasons, not by popular glorification in the Orthodox manner. It is a Papist canonization. As a matter of fact, the majority of members of the Paris Exarchate itself refuse to venerate her and those canonized with her.

Mother Maria did not live as a saint. I do not know if she died as a saint. The Church can only canonize as martyrs those who died for Orthodoxy. Therefore we do not canonize all those thousands of other people who died instead of someone else in the concentration camps. My impression is that Mother Maria died out of a humanistic love for Jews. I may be wrong, she may have died for Orthodoxy, but I am still waiting for proof. Even her ‘life’ was written by a baptized, ultra-liberal Jew, the late Fr Sergei Hackel.

As regards basing theology on Mother Maria, this is apostasy. Many of the saints of the Church were martyrs, who were converted at the last moment from being Roman, or Soviet, executioners. But we do not base our theology on Roman or Soviet paganism, just as we do not base our theology on the life of the Good Thief, who died on the right hand side of Christ. Our theology is based on repentance. Did Mother Maria repent, before the end, of all her sins and heretical sayings? I do not know. Perhaps, but God has not yet revealed this to us. Until this has been revealed, I will not venerate her, her icons or any of the icons of these political ‘saints’, even including that of Fr Alexis, let alone ask for her prayers. We will see in the future, if her veneration does not take off, and is forgotten, then the whole world will see the nature of that jurisdiction.

As regards Fr Sergei Bulgakov, his heresies were condemned by both parts of the Russian Church. There is no more to say about this and his works have long been discarded in the dustbins of history.

I hope these thoughts are of help to you.

30 January 2005
When my niece and nephew were born, our parish priest came to the house on the eighth day and performed a "naming" prayer. I have some Orthodox friends who are soon to become parents. I wanted to send them information about this rite, but have been unable to find anything on the internet. Can you give me some information on this apparently little used rite? Is this something that should be done?

Maria, New York, USA

This is a very common, indeed normal, practice, in which the priest reads a short prayer over the infant, giving him/her the name chosen. It takes about two minutes, but many clergy like to make it into a pastoral visit to the new parents and also discuss baptism. Nowadays, it does not always happen on the eighth day, and it can take place on another day, for example the nearest weekend to the eighth day.

30 January 2005
Something also that I would like to mention as our option once again is the mission. I had spoken to Vladyka Peter of Cleveland(our Bishop) some months ago about what he recommended for us here in our area. He was very supportive and recommended praying together often then if our numbers grew one of our priests may begin to visit to serve once a month or so. So actually every time I pray concerning the matter and after your recommended prayer of Elder Sampson, the same result! I believe that being discouraged because of others not wanting it as bad, we should keep fighting to establish a parish. We currently gather on Saturday eve for reader vigil then typica Sunday mornings if we don't travel to commune that day I also do Small Compline w/ Akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos or St. Herman of Alaska on Wednseday evenings here at my home. Our numbers are about 7 but that could double(several other faithful remain with children who attend local churches for convenience) if we had a seperate building for services, not just our homes.

The new calendar church is tempting in our area but none of us , and yes we have tried, can do it. My conscience is very disturbed at what I witness there and what our poor community of faithful must resort to. The Antiochian, Greek parishes here (forgive me) in America are so much like cinemas that the intimacy is simply not there. The Russian Church is where I was baptized and through all I have been through in the past years I always run back to Her for refuge, every time. I believe it may be the only place I truly receive that "spiritual feeding" you mentioned and even if the service is in slavonic I can calmly pray.

I seem to have, by writing to you, broken free once again of those chains of indecision. It really helps Father to speak to someone who has a balanced look at Orthodox Christianity as a whole in our troubled times. Thank you and please keep us in your prayers.


I get the impression that the Antiochian mission 30 minutes away may help you, but of course you should not in any way cut yourself off from your ROCOR spiritual home. Thank God there is a possibility of a ROCOR mission under Bishop Peter. God willing, this is the long-term future, but of course to get small, public access premises is the ultimate aim and also to get some sort of choir. A priest will follow very quickly, if you can get this far. Have you thought about a dedication? May I suggest St John the Wonderworker?

I sometimes forget how spiritually weak the new calendar churches in America can be. Many of them here are very close indeed to ROCOR in their ethos. Pews are very rare, organs unheard of, and I have never seen eating in church! I suppose it is because they are geographically closer to their roots and in America the pressure to conform to the modernist Protestant cult of American civil religion is very strong. As regards this disturbing decadence, take it as a spiritual trial. If we can avoid being judgemental, then God will reward us, but if we fall into the trap of spiritual pride, we will show ourselves unworthy of anything else. We must learn to smile (not condescendingly, but with humility) on our common human weaknesses with compassion, not condemn. The main thing is whether we ourselves will be saved. The Lord will look after the others.

30 January 2005
I currently travel to attend a ROCOR parish a few hours away from my home. Locally there are a few new calendar parishes however some of their practices are a bit different to me and I have not been comfortable visiting them. The time has come I believe to compromise my own desires a bit and try with consitency to attend regularly here in town. There is an OCA parish fairly close, I have thought of visiting . My question is, there are Antiochian and GOA parishes closer, the GOA mentions I would have to be re-chrismated to commune there because I was baptized in ROCOR. Where do you believe in your experience would be a "healthy" choice? I do sincerely believe that accepting re-chrismation is sinful and would absolutely not do it. The Antiochian church is also a rather strange place-my confessor, a ROCOR priest, is very understanding and leaves the choice to me. I could use a little help especially because I simply do not want to anger our Lord with a foolish decision, many out there constantly speak of either of these jurisdictions having no grace, which I am very cautious to believe. Perhaps you can assist with a bit of your knowledge on the matter.

I would like to pose another question:

Would it be more beneficial to my soul if-I struggle to live a pleasing life to God refraining from judgment and bearing fruit for Him, in a questionable jurisdiction?


Attend a very strict, traditionally sound pious yet rather dry parish which focuses primarily on resistance to modern Orthodox innovations and new calendar parishes.

Which of these is the true bearing of fruit before the Lord?


I presume that by GOA (I am not familiar with this expression), you mean Old Calendarist? Rechrismation after communion is definitely a sin and expressly condemned. The concept of an Orthodox jurisdiction without any grace is so far out, so bizarre, that I am simply astonished that anyone can think such a thing. Who are these measurers of grace, who make themselves equal to God the Father, from Whom proceeds the Holy Spirit? Do they simply not realize that they are imitating the Puritan fathers who fled Europe, so they could find their own little sect and then persecute everyone else who did not believe in their sect? This is the most unOrthodox, purely Protestant, ghetto concept that I have ever heard of. They would be disbelieved in any ROCOR parish in Europe.

There are two solutions:

1) Move somewhere else. This depends on your job, marital situation and children.

2) Go to a number of parishes (OCA, Antioch and Old Calendarist), wherever you can find spiritual food, but make only one your base (perhaps a ROCOR parish in a distant town, which you could visit a few times a year and there confess and take communion). At other times you could visit other parishes simply to pray. In any case, there is no point in going to any parish of any jurisdiction, if you are not spirtually fed there.

You should feel free to visit any Orthodox parish as long as it helps you to pray. If it does not help you to pray, if it does not seem to give you spiritual food, then either there is something wrong with it, or else there is something wrong with you, or both.

However, if there really is no local parish where you can obtain spiritual food (that is, the problem is not you), then either you move house, or else you simply make the effort, once a month or so, to travel far to a ROCOR parish and at other times you pray at home.

I have great sympathy with your situation. 22 years ago, we were faced with a similar situation and we moved house, indeed, moved country. Nowadays, the mere continued existence of any Orthodox church of any sort in Western countries is a miracle in itself. Do not despair: pray to God as often as you can and He will show you what to do. Ask the Mother of God especially and often, and learn by heart the prayer given by St Seraphim to Elder Sampson (which is on the website).

As regards your second question, the answer is simple: it is better to refrain from judgement and guard your humility than lose your soul in the religion of the pharisee. But I am sure that you know this already.

May the Lord guide you,

12 January 2005
I have a question about the effects of the the sins of our ancestors upon us. I know that the Bible is full of references to punishment of descendants (even of great-grandchildren) for blasphemies and other great sins committed by ancestors.

I was recieved into the Orthodox Church five years ago by Baptism. My Baptism was fully tradtional (via trine immersion), with the three exorcisms preceding. Nonetheless, I suspect that there is some "unfinished business" in this regard.

You see, my father was a Freemason, as was my grandfather before him. My father was a nominal Mason (he never attended lodge meetings), and I never joined. However, my Grandfather was heavily involved, and Masonry was a major focus of his life. All but two of his grandchildren have had major spiritual and psychiatric problems in their lives (I am not one of the fortunate twain, by the way).

Does adult Baptism remove the spiritual effects upon us of the sins of our ancestors, or are further exorcisms required in the case of descendants of Freemasons, witches or occultists? Do the occult activities of our ancestors give demons a special "permission," that they would not otherwise possess, to oppress us? Any light you can shed on this subject would be gratefully welcomed.

M.D.M., Auckland, New Zealand

The references in the Old Testament (especially in Exodus) about sins being visited on future generations (within a limit) refer to the Church's teaching on Ancestral Sin (also known as 'the Sin of Adam').

Since you have been baptised according to the Church's teaching, naturally with the exorcisms, you should not have any particular fear of the heritage of sinfulness from your forefathers. Baptism is complete and one, as we confess each morning in the Creed: there can be no unfinished business in this respect. No further exorcism should even be considered, unless possession has taken place through occult activity.

We must be careful not to blame our own sinful tendencies on the inheritance of the past. We should strive to cast off sinful tendencies, as was the case of the Mother of God. As Christians, we take responsibility for our own actions and sins. If anyone feels that they have a burden of sin, then they must go to confession and communion as often as they can. This seems to be your own case at the moment.

In your own case, I also strongly suggest that you pray in secret and in private, for the souls of those who have been affected by the problems that you mention, especially that of your grandfather. Freemasonry would be particularly serious as a sin, if he were a high-level mason (thirty-third degree or beyond). For those whose freemasonry was social and never reached beyond the third degree, it is less serious, though you should still keep them all in your prayers. In general, for any family which is consciously suffering from an inherited sin, prayers for the ancestors, i.e. the victims of those sins, is very important right up to the fourth generation.

In general, even though our ancestors may have been involved in the occult, through prayer and frequent recourse to confession and communion, we can still free ourselves of demonic attacks. Christ is always stronger than any demon and all the demons together. If we are with Him, they can do nothing against us, whatever the sins of our ancestors.

Never fear: Be not faithless, but faithful: God is with us!

11 January 2005
I have recently had a discussion/disagreement with someone, regarding the spanking of children, and I am now confused as to what to think.

How should an Orthodox-Christian parent approach this issue? Is spanking necessary in rearing children? Does the Bible (or any other religious text) specifically mention anything on the issue?

I have searched your web site, and have read many of the entries on the "Ask Fr. Andrew" page, but was unsuccessful in finding an answer. May you please shed some light on my question(s)?

Panayiota, Toronto, Canada

As far as I can remember, this is not a question which has come up on this site before.

In the Scriptures recommendations for physical punishment come from the Old, not from the New, Testament, for example, 'Spare the rod and spoil the child' (Proverbs). Orthodox from Orthodox countries have to understand that until about two generations ago, strict Puritan/ Protestant morality, which was based largely on the Old, and not the New, Testament, was common in Anglo-Saxon countries. The current fashion for political correctness and anti-spanking in the same countries (Sweden, Canada, Holland, England, Scotland etc), comes from the modern reaction to the excesses of the past. Orthodox should keep a balance, neither falling into the puritanical excesses of physical punishment of the Old Testament, or into the 'do whatever you want' chaos of modern, anti-Christian humanism.

As regards practice, this can be said:

Firstly, if children are brought up in the church, often they do not need spanking at all. A mere stern look, or a raised hand, from a loving but fair parent is usually enough, for the children do not want to lose the love of the parent and indeed fear losing it. The parent is to be merciful but also just in judgement, which is in the image of God

However, as Orthodox Christians, we do not take a humanist, politically correct line, imagining that children are always angelic, innocent etc. There can be cases, even in practising Orthodox families, where from time to time a child may need spanking as a correction. After all, however church-going we are, children are always and inevitably under the Non-Orthodox influence of school, friends, television and other influences of the secular world. We are in the world, subject to the consequences of the Fall, therefore we all sin and therefore puinishment. However, there are a number of conditions to attached to physical punishment of children:

Firstly, it should be a spanking, not beating or hitting of the head or in the stomach, or use of an instrument other than the hand. That is not spanking, that is brutality and abuse.

Secondly, the spanking should always be given without passion, anger, pleasure, and clearly as a deterrent for a specific reason and rule-breaking.

Thirdly, the child should know when he may be spanked and why he may be spanked. Rules and consequences must be applied clearly and consistently, otherwise unfairness can result.

Finally, spanking is a last resort and should never be divorced from forgiveness and repentance, even if these concepts are simplified into a child's level of understanding.

As parents, we used to have a stick, which we used to show to our children when they were young, if they were doing, or about to do, something wrong. It was never, ever used. In fact, of our six children, I think I have only ever had to spank one. It was a heavy spanking when he was twelve years old. It did him the world of good!

The important thing is balance. I hope this is of help to you,

28 December 2004
I know of St Anthony who can be prayed to when searching for lost items

Is there a saint who spcealises in giving patience, especially when dealing with elderly relations?

Joan, Redditch

Anthony of Padua is the person to whom Catholics pray to find lost objects. For patience in general, pray to St Job (and indeed read his book in the Old Testament). You can also pray to the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. There is no specific saint for patience with elderly relatives, however. I would certainly use the Jesus Prayer in such cases.

1 November 2004
The Royal Navy has recently decided to allow a serviceman who belongs to the Church of Satan to openly follow his beliefs whilst on board his ship. What do you say to this? Also, do you have a position on the US Election?

Anthony, Oldham, Lancashire

Either this Satanist will become insane before he has time to cause damage (depending on the positive spiritual forces resisting him on board the ship), or else he will cause catastrophe on board the ship and only then become insane.

As regards political elections, it is wise for the pastors of the Church to keep silence, unless one of the personalities involves directly opposes the Church. In this case, as in so many others, this cannot be said. For example both candidates will continue to allow the faithless to have abortions, and neither of them is going to persecute the Church directly.

27 October 2004
I have immersed myself in your website with great interest. I am interested particularly in how the Orthodox church views such Biblical concepts as speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing, in short the charismata, which are practised widely in "renewed" churches of all flavours, including Roman Catholic. What is the Orthodox view? Are there Orthodox churches where these gifts are used? Or do these fall into the definition "psychic" that I have seen in your other writings?

Peter, Haslemere, Surrey

I think we have to distinguish between Biblical concepts and modern (so-called 'charismatic') concepts. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are indeed Biblical (the Bible itself is also a gift of the Holy Spirit!). In the Orthodox Church you will find all the gifts of the Holy Spirit in operation in different places and at different times, miracles, prophecies, healings etc. Outside the Church we can also to some extent find the gifts of the Holy Spirit - how else would people be able to come to the Church, if they were not first drawn to Her grace, made present on Her exterior? However, if there were no Church, the gifts of the Holy Spirit would obviously not be available to anyone, for the Church is, as the Apostle says, the Body of Christ, and therefore, as the Risen Body of Christ, the bearer of the Holy Spirit in the world. (Of course, here I speak in the ontological or noetic sense of the word' the Church', not in the sense of the administrative organization, for which the term 'the Church' is sometimes used.

As regards the phenomena of the charismatic movement, which is outside the Church, much of it is fraud or else psychic in origin. 'For example, so-called 'healings' are often temporary phenomena, with an emotional, nervous, hysterical origin, without lasting effect. Having said this, some of these phenomena may actually be 'spiritually' inspired, in the sens that they may result from the actions of the Holy Spirit. Other phenomena are undoubtedly 'spiritual', in the sense that they are demonically inspired. (The demons are also spirits) How can we know? Only through the spirit of sobriety and vigilance, part of the Tradition of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Whenever you are present at a 'charismatic' service, always take care to use the prayer of the heart (the so-called 'Jesus' prayer) to protect you. If only one person is praying sincerely in this way, no 'miracles' and 'healings' of the fraudulent or demonic sort can take place.

I hope this explains something of the Orthodox view,

17 July 2004
Recently I visited a new calendar Greek Orthodox parish for a Divine Liturgy on a Sunday. I noticed we were to kneel during part of the service and the Holy Doors on the Templon were not used any longer. Considering the refraining from kneeling or prostrations on Saturday and Sundays is this a new practice for them? Do you know why these things are now done?


In all the Orthodox churches it is very common to kneel, including on Sundays. This has been common practice for centuries. - it is nothing new. The canon that forbids it on Sundays, virtually unknown to Orthodox other than converts, gives way to piety. We should not condemn people for piety. The most canonical Metr Antony Khrapovitsky always knelt on the Sunday of the Cross. Sometimes we keep the spirit, without always keeping the letter. This is better than keeping the letter but not to have the spirit, like the Pharisees. Of course, ideally, we should keep both the spirit and the letter.

As regards not using the holy doors (often mistakenly called the royal doors), this has been common in Greece since the 1920s. Indeed many Greek churches no longer even have holy doors. This is regrettable. Let us hope that all the Greeks will return to the Orthodox Tradition in this matter.

17 July 2004
I would like to know the differences between Roman Catholics & >Orthodoxy. Can they marry. different holidays, etc.

Russell, Cape Coral, Florida, USA

It is difficult to answer your question without knowing from what standpoint you are approaching this subject. Therefore only a general answer is possible.

Firstly, Roman Catholics and Orthodox can and do marry, although practising Roman Catholics and practising Orthodox tend not to: they both tend to marry inside their faiths, not outside them in order to avoid difficulties (the baptism of children, the fasts, the calendar etc).

The Orthodox Church is the Church of the First Millennium. Therefore everything that Roman Catholicism has kept from the First Millennium, you will find in Orthodoxy. However, you tend to find even here that Catholicism has added or taken away, so nothing is exactly the same, but there are parallels.

I hope this very vague answer is of some help.

27 June 2004
Thank you for your answer to my previous question. I would now like to ask you what you think of the work of the "New Chronology" archaeologist David Rohl. Over the past ten years or so he has been conducting intensive archaeological research in Egypt and the Near East and has published several books. His main objective has been to search for authentic evidence of the truth behind the stories in the Old Testament. He has been brilliantly successful in that he has found an almost perfect match between the Old Testament narrative and the ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern archaeological evidence on the ground, going right back to the time of Abraham. He is neither a Christian nor a Jew. Therefore I would like to ask you what you think of his work. Also, I would like to ask you what you think of English "Woodland" poets such as William Cowper and John Clare. By the way, David Rohls' latest and most important work is called "The Lost Testament" (essential reading!) and he also has a website under his own name.

Anthony, Oldham, Lancashire

This is a difficult question to answer since I do not know these writings. In a specific sense, I am therefore unqualified to answer this question - as is the case with so many other questions! However, generally, as you know, many archaeologists and historians have over the decades proved the truth of the Biblical stories through their studies. It may well be that these latest studies are simply a further confirmation of the previous ones.

On the other hand, such studies may perhaps be of limited use. The believer does not actually need their proof, since he believes in the truth of the Word of God in any case. As regards the unbeliever, he will probably go on unbelieving, even if, in Christ's words, the dead were to be raised (as indeed they did). I must have a look at his website at some point. Thank you for indicating this to me.

As regards poetry, this is a very personal matter. I have been an admirer of John Clare for some thirty-five years and have his collected poetry. I find in him a certain spiritual inspiration. On the other hand, I have not found Cowper particularly inspiring. But, as I say, that is all personal.

24 June 2004
Historians conventionally state that the First Crusade was proclaimed by Pope Urban II at Clermont-Ferrand in 1096. However, given what we now know about the Norman Conquest and the religious motivation behind it, would it not be more accurate to state that this was in fact the First Crusade. After all, this assault had all the elements of a crusade, that is, it was "blessed" by a Roman Catholic pope, it led to the installation of an alien Roman Catholic monarchy, Church and noble class. What do you think?

Anthony, Oldham, Lancashire

Certainly. The First Crusade is a term invented by Catholic and Protestant historians. It refers to the first of the series of Crusades in the Holy Land. There were other Crusades both before this (the Norman attacks in the south of Italy, followed by the papally-blessed Invasion of England in 1066) and also after this (the Crusades of the Teutonic Knights in Eastern Europe, which were in part directed against the Orthodox). Moreover there have been more recent Crusades, which continue today. For example there was the Crimean War in the 19th century, the Croat massacres of Serbian Orthodox in World War II, the aggressive proselytising and church-stealing by Roman Catholicism in Croatia, Bosnia, Slovakia and the Ukraine today. Only recently one member of the US government called the invasion of Iraq a 'Crusade'. the Crusades are a mentality, a superiority complex, which proclaim that the end justifies the means.

4 June 2004
I have been reading the orthodoxengland site with great pleasure & profit since the parish purchased a computer for me a few months ago.

I notice in one of your posted answers that you refer to the difficulties of Orthodoxy in England saying, "the religious indifference of England." I was wondering if you could comment further on the relationship between the culture of England and western countries & the growth of Orthodoxy; what the realistic potential of growth of Orthodoxy is; what change(s) would be needed in the culture to be able to accept Orthodoxy.

The situation you describe in your posted answer seems somewhat to be the situation we have here in Canada where it can be quite difficult to 'grow a mission' among English or French speaking Canadians; our culture also is greatly marked by an increasingly European-style religious indifference that does not prepare people for Holy Orthodoxy. On the other hand our situation does seem somewhat better than what you describe in England- we do have actual English & French speaking missions (mainly with the ROCOR & OCA) now in existence for almost 30 years from coast to coast.

Having lived in America for 6 years the differences are quite remarkable- there seems to be something in American culture that makes Orthodoxy not seem quite so foreign to ideals already held. When I go to America I am always struck by how far Orthodoxy has sunk into the warp & weave of the country compared to here.(Here in our small parish the core of the 'convert contingent' are two American students, wouldn't you know it!)

Could you comment further on the cultural pros & cons for Orthodoxy in England & western Europe in general? This question of the relationship between Orthodoxy & the culture of one's country I feel is still greatly overlooked but is of obvious importance.

Fr Raphael, Winnipeg, Canada

There are many reasons to explain the diffrences between Western Europe and the USA in Orthodox terms. We have to distinguish between Western Europe (and countries like Canada, which are more European) and the USA. Here are some facts and considerations:

Historically, the USA was founded to a large extent by religious refugees from Protestant Europe.

The USA has a huge population, five times that of the UK for example.

Several million immigrants of the Orthodox Faith have been present in the USA since at least the late nineteenth century - unlike in Western Europe.

European countries are attached to their national cultures (Protestant or Catholic). Even though the masses gave up practising years ago, they do not become Orthodox because for them to give up their nominal Protestant or Catholic faiths, is to give up part of their national identities.

Especially in Catholic south-western Europe, you will find that many originally Orthodox traditions are still alive, Catholicism there actually still feeds the soul, still has some spiritual life, so why become Orthodox at all?

In Protestant north-western Europe, religious life has degenerated much further, but it has resulted not in an interest in Orthodoxy or indeed any religion at all, but in agnosticism, a word which actually mean indifferentism. England is certainly in this situation.

One of the reasons for the lack of religion in Western Europe, especially compared to the 'religious' Americans, is that in Europe religion has always been allied with States and elites (aristocracies, royalty etc), whereas in the USA, founded by religious refugees, religion has always been free of the State, it is 'popular', that is, of the people, not of the elite, as in Western Europe. Although therefore the US State is not officially religious, US people feel that religion is not compromised by politics, that it is theirs. In Western Europe, the old elites have lost power, and so therefore has religion, religion never was part of the people.

The down side of all this is that religion in the US is generally quite superficial. People there actually change religions rapidly, for example when they move house. The height of this is perhaps in televangelism, which by its sheer lack of sophistication, emotionalism etc just makes Western Europeans laugh.

The up side of that is this US citizens could therefore very easily conceive of becoming Orthodox, they are naturally open to religion, unlike Western Europeans, who are naturally closed to religion. Western Europeans only change religion for some very serious reason, a personal crisis etc. Changing to Orthodoxy is all the easier when you have four or five generations of Orthodox immigrants who long ago lost the ability to speak the language of their ancestors and have wanted to have an English-language Orthodoxy. In Western Europe, Orthodox immigrant parents just send their children back to the old country for the summer and make sure that they learn Greek or Serb or whatever. Thus their cultural roots (foreign to Western Europe) are maintained.

On the other hand, US culture (the 'Coca Cola culture') is not really a culture in the European sense of literature, art etc. Generally, I think Americans who are seriously interested in culture, always refer back to the old country. If the old country is an Orthodox one, they will tend to continue to practise their religion, albeit on a superficial, purely ethnic level, and without the foreign ('unAmerican') language.

Missionary work in all Western European countries is very limited. Potential for growth is and always has been small. You will only find limited numbers of Western Europeans becoming Orthodox. Yes, there are now about fifty little 'missions' in England for example, but they are generally little, often amateur affairs. The English people who have absorbed Orthodoxy into their blood, really know it, are virtually all people who have lived abroad or spent long periods with Greeks, Russians etc, or speak those languages fluently.

Much of the convert Orthodoxy here is a sort of 'Eastern rite Anglicanism', mainly in the Greek, Antiochian and Sourozh Churches (The Sourozh Diocese is officially under the Moscow Patriarchate, but in reality it is like the ultra-liberal (= New England, i.e. European) wing of the OCA and actually in a state of civil war with the Patriarchate and threatening to go under the Greeks. (There are de facto two jurisdictions of the Patriarchate in the British Isles).

Only if in the future some semi-apocalyptic (the final collapse of Catholicism or Anglicanism?) event happens here, will Orthodoxy really take off. Then there will be a possibility that you will have masses repenting and coming to Orthodoxy. That would be the cultural change necesssary. However, we are not there yet.

I hope these notes are of help to you,

5 June 2004
You have been a great help in this subject. Thank you for responding.

Of course, matters of faith and doctrine which have been decided upon by the Holy Tradition are God's Truth. No question about that. Maybe I should rephrase what I said. I view myself as a classical liberal (in the tradition of Hayek, Mises, Locke, Smith, and Ricardo), and often when I read hierarchs attacking the West, sometimes they don't distinguish between the bad aspects of the west and the good aspects. Capitalism, representative government, and liberalism being good aspects; heresy and selfish egoism and materialism being bad aspects.

However, hear is a question which you might be able to help me with. Concerning the history of the pre-Norman invasion English Church. Was the English Church an Orthodox Church? I mean, if it was an Orthodox Church and they firmly believed in the same doctrines as the Orthodox Churches of the East, why would the bishops, priests, monastics, and laity submit so easily to the Norman invaders? Was the English Church even aware of the issue of the Great Schism in 1054? Can you refer to me any writings from English Churchmen of the time demonstrating their Orthodoxy, in opposition to the heresy of the Church of Rome?

Gavin, Beaufort, USA

As a matter of interest, one of the senior journalists on 'The Economist' is Orthodox.

I absolutely agree with you that some Eastern Orthodox either blanket everything Western as bad or else, and perhaps this is worse, they blanket everything Western as good!

As regards the pre-Norman English church, I suppose I am the only person has has written about this and you'll find many detailed answers to your questions in my writings and quotations, especially in 'Orthodox Christianity and the Old English Church', but also in virtually every issue of the journal 'Orthodox England', including the current one.

Before the Schism, the whole Western Church was in communion with the Orthodox East. Of course rituals and so on were different, but the spirit and values were the same. The Schism itself, however, was not a date or a single event, but a process which began in the late eighth century and has not yet finished. Forget 1054, that was unknown in England and indeed in all the West, except in Rome. That is merely a symbolic date. Until people understand that the Schism was a slow process (of spiritual degeneration), they will never understand it.

The senior clergy of the Old English church were all replaced by the Normans when they invaded and the English ones were exiled, imprisoned, tortured etc. In other words, they cut off the head. The parish clergy were not really affected for two generations by this, by which time what the Normans had initiated had fed down.

3 June 2004
Father, Forgive me for any disrespect in asking this question. I have a good knowledge of economics and what I am hearing coming out of some Orthodox hierarchs contradicts sound economic theory. For example, the assumption by His Eminence Archbishop Anastasius of Albania concerning the economies of the world being controlled by a few multi-national corporations is flat out wrong. I used to believe the same thing until I read Ludwig von Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, Lew Rockwell, and hosts of others economists. I believe in the Orthodox Church and that She is the Bride of Christ, and the only True Church; but, not everything hierarchs say concerning things outside of their field is accurate. Especially, on the social sciences. Does this make one a bad Orthodox Christian for disagreeing fervently with the statements of many hierarch?

Gavin, Beaufort, USA

I am not an economist, but I used to teach at Business School and I know Hayek, the Chicago School and of course Keynes. As regards your first question, it is difficult for me to comment, since I do not know the all-important context in which Bishop Anastasios made the statement. It may be, for example, that he was referring to the power and influence of the Bilderbergers or the Trilateral Commission, in which context his statement does make sense.

As regards you second question, again I cannot really comment. Do Orthodox bishops make such statements? I have not heard any Orthodox bishop making such statements, but I only know a dozen or so bishops well, so it is very difficult for me to comment any further. Only someone who knows all the bishops can really respond. It may be that this is something that only occurs in the American context, where some Orthodox bishops feel they have to make statements on specialist themes, like Catholic and Episcopalian bishops often do. And of course, there you can go wrong. Silence is golden.

As regards disageeing with the personal opinions of certain bishops on certain non-theological themes, that is not a problem and does not make you a bad Orthodox Christian. What would make us bad, is if we disagreed with the Church met in Council and inspired by the Holy Spirit (quite different from the personal opinions of individual bishops) on such themes as the Person of Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity, the Mother of God and the Saints. In other words, the dogmas of the Church proclaimed in Council are binding on us all, but personal opinions are not.

I am sorry I cannot be of any more help,

12 May 2004
As an Anglophile American, I'm quite curious as to the state of English Orthodoxy. How many English Orthodox Christians are there? How many parishes? Are they small parishes, and is there a need for priests in England? Not only this, but is Orthodoxy in England growing?


There is a detailed article on the situation of English Orthodox in Volume I of Orthodox England (1997-1998). Not a great deal has changed since then. Generally, it is still true that there are only very small numbers of Orthodox, whether native or immigrant, in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; about 90% of all Orthodox here are in England. Generally, England is still, liturgically and theologically, a backwater of Orthodoxy even in Western Europe, let alone compared to Eastern Europe; the great centres are Paris and certain cities in Germany.

I was reliably informed in 1975 that at that point just over one thousand English people had become Orthodox. Since then some have died, others moved abroad, others lapsed. Taking this into account, I would imagine that the total since then has certainly doubled, if not tripled. There no exact statistics. Certainly the number of English clergy must be tenfold what it was then, since there was then literally only a handful of English clergy.

However, this is all relative. There are very few real English-language parishes, but perhaps about fifty small communities. Some of these are very small, less than ten, with services once a month, perhaps on a Saturday (see the Directory, under Resources on our website). Other parishes like ours number between about twenty and fifty. But such parishes are ethnically mixed. I do not think that there are any purely English parishes; they all contain people of different backgrounds and use different languages, though mainly English, which is the common language.

I don't think there is any need for priests in England. The ones here now are unpaid and have only small communities. English-language Orthodoxy is growing, but very, very slowly. Nominally, Orthodoxy in general is growing, but only through immigration. However, most Orthodox immigrants, Greek, Russian, Romanian and others, are nominal and very few are practising. It should not be forgotten also that older immigants are now dying out and many of them have failed for various reasons to pass on Orthodoxy to their children and grandchildren, who have been assimilated into the religious indifference of modern England. Therefore in reality though nominal Orthodoxy is growing, I am doubtful about the real growth of practising Orthodoxy.

13 April 2004
Please excuse my ignorance, but can you tell me about St. Nicholas Johnson? Also, a friend's granddaughter is being baptised. The child's name is Bronwyn. Is this a saint's name? Or is there an equivalent that is?

David, Groveport, Ohio, USA

Bronwyn is not a saint's name (see this site for the full listing of the Western saints).

St Nicholas (Johnson) was an Englishman born in Russia. On becoming Orthodox he changed his name from Brian to Nicholas. He was secretary to the Grand Duke Michael, brother of Nicholas II, and was martyred together with him and others on Ascension Day, 31 May/13 June 1918. He is mentioned in the stichira at lauds in the service to the Royal Martyrs and is commemorated with them on 4/17 July. His icon is based on the photograph we have of him.

18 March 2004
I've only just discovered your site, and am enjoying it tremendously. Two ideas expressed by you have bothered me, however, and humbly I expess mine to you, so that hopefully we may both see more of God's Truth by any exchange:
1. In one of your articles you go into images of a Christian Orthodox that is non-nationalistic, free from state interference, or the interest of wordly powers and quote that this time in history will be when the church will be unified as per her prayers. Surely the basis of our faith is that Christs Church is always ONE, and that all Orthodox Christians of all ages belong to it. The unity prayed for is a spiritual unity that was, and is and will be. Wanting a "homogenous" obvious structure around the world is a hint of you possibly wanting what you criticise the ethnic ghetoists of - some psychological proof of likemindedness, a sense of belonging to a cultural group? I hope I misunderstood.
2. To follow on from the "psychological" issues attached to our faith, we are physical, psychological and spiritual beings. We have physical and psychological needs. One of the differences that I've noticed between orthodox and protestant psychology is that orthodoxy tries to teach us to constrain or subordinate our physical and psychological needs to those of the spirit (with practical guidelines). The protestant churches are happy to teach us to subordinate our physical and negative psychological aspects to our more positive psychological aspects. For othodox of different ethnic backgounds living in the West this difference becomes obvious. What I see in my own church is a fear of losing Christ/life/spirit should we allow cultural identification with Western culture/values. We have seen the effect of the subtle counterfitting of mind for spirit in the Western world. We have felt the same attacks personally and culturally. When people are afraid, they become conservative and hold on to what they are familiar with. Most of us don't have the confidence (rightly so) to surgically divide our Faith from the practice of our religion - which includes lots of cultural traditions. We have Christ as the central living fountain, and we dare not fiddle with the surrounding environment, because we feel we may obstruct the path to the fountain for out children. We have experienced the throwing out of the baby with the bathwater of the protestants. Our bathwater is dirty (we know it) but the baby is just too precious. Given the persecutions many of our "ghetoish" communities have experienced (still in living memory)the truly wise converts cut us some slack. They and all believers know that our Lord's Church is not of this world. The rest is psychological dross, it doesn't matter.

Alex, Sydney, Australia

I think that there are many misunderstandings here, because as far as I can see, we totally agree!

Our Faith is like wine. Our culture is the wine-glass suitable for the wine. If our Faith is impure, then not only does the wine taste bad, but also even the cleanest wine-glass first becomes opaque and is then deformed by the acidity in the wine and may even leak. This is modern Western culture.

It is also true that we do not pour wine (Faith) into unworthy containers (cultures) at the beginning; here we must be careful where we are putting the wine. Unworthy containers will spoil the wine, even if the wine was first pure. We can see this with liturgical language.

Generally, whenever our culture is more important to us than our Faith, then we end up pouring wine into ugly and unworthy containers. Not only this, but also the wine starts to taste of the container and becomes impure. (Like putting wine into plastic containers which makes the wine taste of plastic). This is the fate of Orthodoxy if the culture surrounding it is unworthy. This is countefeit Orthodoxy. We have seen it in Soviet Russia, where so important was atheist Soviet culture, that Orthodoxy became infected by it and they ended up with a 'Soviet Faith'. They are still trying to purify their Orthodoxy there as a result of this 'Sovietisation of the wine-glass'. But we can see the same thing in Western countries. There is a counterfeit Orthodoxy, where immigrants adopt Non-Orthodox values from the surrounding culture or else converts unconsciously (or consciously) bring Non-Orthodox values to their Faith. The result - counterfeit Orthodoxy, an Orthodoxy which identifies itself with Non-Orthodox, Protestant, culture for example. This is of no use to our souls.

The point is that we must never put our Faith above our culture - unfortunately, that is what is always happening in our modern age of weak Faith. We can often see it among immigrants, because they may hold on firmly to their culture, but often neglect their Faith. It is in this way that Orthodoxy can become mere folklore. There is nothing wrong with 'ethnic' culture in itself. It is simply that it must be in its place. Culture is the servant of Faith, not the other way round. When Faith is strong, as in the past, this folklore did not happen. Indeed this process of putting Faith before culture is how Orthodox cultures were created (they did not fall out of the sky or grow on trees!) - and new ones can still be created, but only as long as we put Faith above culture.

Faith can transform cultures, but cultures can deform Faith.

The Gospel says all this very simply: 'Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you'.

I am not at all for a homogenous Orthodox Church or unified administrative structure. What a nightmare!. If that was so, it would no longer be the Church, just the Coca-Cola Corporation - the same everywhere.

There are many sorts of wine glass. The Greek is very different from the Russian. The model of the Church is the Holy Trinity - Unity in Diversity Allthough we are against homogeneity, we are also against disunity. Again disunity comes when we put culture above our Faith (The wars between the Serbs and the Bulgarians nearly 100 years ago were a clear example of this). The Church is spiritually one, but that oneness should have some sort of visible manifestation, for example when Orthodox do not fight each other, but love each other! That is why we pray for 'the peace of the whole world, the good estate of the holy Churches of God' etc. That is why we must talk to each other.

We must be Russian with Russians, English with English etc. When I preached at the Russian Cathedral in Strathfield, I preached in Russian, when I preach to English people, then I preach in English.

None of this means changing the wine - only the wine-glass, providing that the wine-glass is suitable. Very simply, we must take the best of whatever culture God puts us in and do our best to further transform that culture so that our Faith shines through it. If we have a ready-made wine-glass, like the Russian, it means making sure that both the wine and the wine-glass are clean. If we do not have a ready-made glass, then we must ensure that our Faith is clean and we work by the grace of God to let the wine not only clean but also transform our glass so that it becomes worthy of the wine. If the wine is pure, the glass will gradually be transformed by the wine. But, as I have said, that is never possible if we put culture above the Faith.

Orthodox must keep their Orthodox cultures, not for themselves, but as containers of the One Thing Needful, the Faith. Wherever they are unable to keep them (becuase, for instance, their children can no longer speak the language of the old country), let them keep their Faith, but find suitable containers for it.

I hope these thoughts are of some help. I really do believe that we think the same things.

2 March 2004
I am grateful to you for your very helpful answer to my question on 2/27 about the healings that Jesus Christ made. I was also amazed by the humility and the condescention of the Lord when I read in Mark 5, 9-13 that He allowed the legion of the demons to go out of the man of Gerdessa to the herd of pigs as they asked Him.
He actually responded positively to a proposal of the demons, didn't He.

Dimitrios Tzimokas, Anoixi, Greece.

The case of the Gadarene swine is an interesting one. It is recorded in Mark 5, Luke 8 and Matthew 8 (with some extra details).

Firstly, it shows that demons are parasites because their desire is to enter physical bodies.

Secondly, they themselves asked to enter the swine (pigs), they themselves chose their 'natural' level. This shows that it is only human beings who live like swine, who are liable to become occupied or possessed by demons. Interestingly, the torment of the presence of demons to the swine was so great that they at once committed suicide. There are human beings who react the same way and commit suicide for this reason; however, there are also human-beings so enslaved that they can tolerate the presence of demons inside themselves for years.

Thirdly, why did Christ allow the demons to enter the swine according to their request? (According to St Mark there were some 2,000 of them - a real legion). This was not out of compassion, it was because the Gadarene were pasturing swine against the Mosaic Law, for Jews were not, and are not, allowed to eat pork. This was the reason that Christ first expelled the demons from men, then allowed them to enter the swine so that the swine would not be slaughtered and then consumed for their meat, but so that they would be destroyed and not eaten.

27 February 2004
I just have a simple question to pose:
Why does Christ in some cases (e.g. Mark 7, 31-37) ask people, that he has healed, to tell noone about their healing and the one who provided it?

Dimitrios Tzimokas, Anoixi, Greece

There are several answers to your question. In reality, each case of healing should be looked at individually, but here are some general points.

Firstly, at several points in the Gospels, the Saviour avoids his enemies (starting with the Flight into Egypt as an infant). We can understand this for if he had been killed as an infant, his mission of salvation through preaching the Kingdom, His sacrifice on the Cross and then His Resurrection would not have been fulfilled. Indeed, on more than one occasion, we find the words in the Gospel: 'His time had not yet come'. From this we understand that there was a right time for the events in His life; no healings were by chance and for this reason he ordered the healed to be silent about them.

Secondly, in all cases, this desire for silence shows His humility. He was not a showman, He was genuine and therefore modest. He did not want to attract people who were only interested superficially in sensational miracles. He performed healings out of compassion and love for mankind (philanthropia) and to show them His divinity, not to attract crowds in the way that today film stars and magicians try to attract publicity. Of course, in the end, people were so fleshly in their wrong understanding of Him that they still only accepted Him as an earthly Messiah, a showman, and so crucified Him.

Thirdly, on at least one occasion, after a healing in a synagogue, the demons tried to denounce Him in front of the Jews so as to have Him arrested. He therefore ordered them to be silent (Mark 1,21-28 and Luke 4,31-37).

23 December 2003
I have two questions for you to answer please.
1. The Great Schism is conventionally dated at July 15th 1054.Less than a fortnight earlier, on July 4th 1054 the Crab Nebula (in fact a supernova) was seen in broad daylight. Are the two events connected in the same way that Halley's comet was around at the time of the battle of Hastings?
2. In looking back to pre-Conquest Christianity in Britain is it possible to see no very big differences between it and post-Conquest? In Bede, for example, we find a kind of proto- Purgatory mentioned in the vision of St Fursey; an indication that the filioque might have been accepted and of course the Papacy had a very important role in the religious life of Britain. Can Orthodoxy take this sort of thing on board as long as they are not dogmatic definitions (as the filioque and purgatory) or is there some other way to look at it ?

Terry Pearson

Thank you for your message. I hope you received the answer to your last question about two months ago. It was sent back to me by the Postmaster, but I still have my reply. I have the impression that you have not, since you are still confused about the filioque and the pre-Schism Orthodox Papacy. Perhaps you could read my little 1988 brochure on the subject which gives Pope St Gregory the Great's prescient condemnation of later Papism.

The Great Schism was a process, not a single event. The consequences of the Schism are spread over hundreds of years and indeed are still continuing.

However, as the Gospels say, momentous events on earth are often accompanied by signs in the heavens, for heaven and earth are both the Creation of the same Eternal Mind. Therefore there may indeed be a connection in this case.

I cannot at all agree with you about the concept of 'Purgatory' in St Bede or St Fursey. Their writings and experiences match exactly those of the saints of old and those of more recent times in the rest of the Orthodox Church.

26 November 2003
Being a fan of The Ecclesiastical History by St Bede and an avid reader of your magasine and web-site I would like to ask you a question. Bede seems to reveal a world which had the filioque; which believed in a form of purgatory (c.f. St Fursey's vision) and which honoured the Patriarch of Rome. Perhaps the pre-Conquest world wasn't any nearer to Orthodoxy than to Roman Catholicism. My question is: When did these differences between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism appear in England?

Terry Pearson

As you can read in recent articles in Orthodox England and also in older articles in 'Orthodox Christianity and the English Tradition', there is of course the Orthodox filioque, as recognised by Fathers such as St Maximus the Confessor, St Theodore of Canterbury (who knew the former in Rome) and recent theologians like Vladimir Lossky. I think this is what is confusing you; the difference between the Orthodox temporal mission of the Holy Spirit through the Son and the Catholic eternal procession from the Son, as formulated for the first time by Anselm of Canterbury in the 1090s. This is an old chestnut, which is well-known. You can find more through the Link to Fr John Romanidis website, as given on the Orthodox England website.

As regards 'purgatory' and the vision of St Fursey, I can see no connection at all. Read Fr Seraphim's 'The Soul after Death', where you will find the Orthodox understanding of St Fursey's vision and the Orthodox teaching on heaven and hell.

All Orthodox greatly honour and love the Orthodox Popes of Rome. See our listing of the Orthodox Popes in 'The Lighted Way' or in the calendar of Latin Orthodox Europe There is nothing wrong with Orthodox Rome or Orthodox Popes, we Orthodox go on pilgrimage to the Rome of the Martyrs and have a Pope among our own Patriarchs, the Pope of Alexandria. After all, the word Pope is simply Greek!.

As you can read in recent or early copies of Orthodox England (see for example the recent article with quotations from Gerhard Tellenbach or that on Christopher Dawson), everybody agrees that the differences between East and West began with the development of Roman Catholicism in the West in the eleventh century.

In England, the differences started to appear in the reign of the half-Norman Edward the Confessor, but were dramatically reinforced after 1066.