THE ORTHODOX CALENDAR AND THE FUTURE OF OLD CALENDARISM
I love the Orthodox Calendar, because I am Orthodox. I dislike the heterodox calendar, because I am Orthodox. In 1925 the heterodox calendar was forced on to a small number of Local Orthodox Churches by a freemason. He was Patriarch Meletios Metaksakis of Constantinople, the first ‘Eastern Pope’, according to the apt expression of the great Serbian father St Justin of Chelije, some thirty years ago. It was then imposed by secular authorities and those of a similar masonic mentality on the Patriarchates of Alexandria and Antioch, and on the Romanian Church and later the Bulgarian. According to these modernists, although the Heterodox, like the Muslims and the Jews, have a right to their own calendar, the Church of God does not have a right to its own calendar.
The heterodox calendar was never introduced for any spiritual, or even vaguely positive, reasons. It was introduced for secular reasons, so that Orthodox could be forced into becoming like heterodox. They could be forced into pride of mind, known as rationalism, into ecumenism, modernism and reformism, into worshipping the stars, rather than the Maker of the stars. The new calendarists preferred astronomy to the Gospel. Have they never sung the troparion of the Nativity? For, in reality, we are called, like the Wise Men, to worship not the stars, but the God from before eternity.
The heterodox calendar signifies the primacy of the State, and therefore the world, over the Church. We do not agree with this, believing that we should, as Christ tells us to, ‘seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness first’, and not second.
The heterodox calendar was not introduced by a Pan-Orthodox or Oecumenical Council and accepted rapturously by the guardians of the Orthodox Christian Faith, the people. It was introduced by force, locally, by a small and unrepresentative clique, under the pressure of the world. For this reason the key Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the key monastic centres of Mt Athos and Sinai, the key Church of Russia, by far the largest Local Orthodox Church, as well as the Churches of Georgia, Serbia and other parts of the Slav Orthodox world, have never accepted it. Even today, the heterodox calendar for the fixed feasts is still only accepted by about 25% of the Orthodox world.
Moreover, as soon as the heterodox calendar was introduced, it created divisions, serious divisions indeed, even to the point of martyrdom. Holy New Martyr Catherine, pray to God for us!
As soon as it was introduced, there began a movement of Old Calendarism. Fairly quickly, however, this movement split because of personalities. Thus the Greek Old Calendarists have split into over a dozen different, bickering Synods, their integrity ensnared in the careerism, ambitions, passions and dislikes of their leaders. True, in Bulgaria and Romania, this did not occur, but there, only tiny numbers from the State Churches have migrated towards Old Calendarism. The average Bulgarian and Romanian Orthodox has not even heard of Old Calendarism.
Today, Old Calendarism seems to be most active in Greece and in the Western world. It exists only on account of the modernist and ecumenist compromises of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the leaders of the Church of Greece. Each infringement of the holy canons by their bishops recruits new members for Old Calendarism. Be it in Greece, Italy (where Constantinople refuses to receive Italians into Orthodoxy by ‘secret’ agreement’ with the Vatican), the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Sweden, Africa or North America, wherever you go, you will find Old Calendarism, but above all in the Greek-speaking Orthodox world.
Some judge Old Calendarism severely. Overlooking the great ascetic piety of many ordinary Old Calendarists, they accuse Old Calendarism of schism, phariseeism, sectarianism, obscurantism, Donatism. It is after all true that a great many holy people in Romania and Greece have stayed within the official Churches. They have kept the spirit of the Orthodox Calendar, even though they were not allowed to keep the letter of the Orthodox Calendar.
Although the sympathies of many holy Elders, such as Fr Cleopa (Ilie), Fr Justin (Parvu), Fr Paisie (Olaru), Fr Arsenie (Boca) and Fr Arsenie (Olaru) in Romania, or of Fr Philotheos (Zervakos) and Fr Amphilochios of Patmos in Greece were, and are, with the Orthodox Calendar, they never became Old Calendarists. Why? Because they considered that the harm of schism was greater than that of obeying bishops who were, and are, in the wrong. In other words, they showed humility. Given the sectarian bickering of the various Synods of Old Calendarists, each of which declares the others ‘without grace’, perhaps they were, and are, right.
However, it is difficult for me to comment. In the Russian Church we have had many problems, but we have not had to face the calendar problem. I thank God that I do not live in a country where the heterodox calendar has been imposed by the State through the episcopate. I thank God that I have not had to live in eastern Finland and south-eastern Slovakia, where the local bishops have imposed not only the heterodox calendar, but also the heterodox paschalia, which surely puts them under anathema. In my life I have had to face many dilemmas, such as priesthood in exchange for freemasonry (and I refused, thus remaining a deacon for seven years), but I have not had to face the dilemma of Old Calendarism.
All I can say is that the day that Local Churches, such as the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria and Antioch and the Churches of Greece, Romania and Bulgaria, return to the Orthodox Calendar and Orthodox practice as regards ecumenism, Old Calendarism will disappear. But as long as those Churches are influenced by freemasonry and modernism, Old Calendarism will continue and even prosper. If they continue thus, Old Calendarism has a great future before it. The fact is that the Old Calendarists will not return to their Mother-Churches, for as long as their hierarchies wallow in freemasonry and therefore modernism and ecumenism.
To all you ecumenists and modernists, I say: You have brought this on yourselves. Worse still, it is written that, although ‘schismatics’ (as you claim the Old Calendarists to be) sin, those who cause schism are to be judged more severely. Tremble then, if you insult Holy Orthodoxy and break the hearts of the faithful, causing the little ones to fall. As for me, I shiver when I hear the words:
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged around his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea (Matthew 18,6).
May God forgive us all!
October/1 November 2005