Sunday, September 30, 2007

A miserable day

To borrow a worn cliché, I have had better days. I felt ill going to bed last night and sure enough this morning I woke with the distinct aches, chills and hot flashes that announce the flu. Everyone in the house except for one is also sick. Hoping for some saving grace in my day; I dragged myself from bed a while ago to check the scores of the critical ballgames in the NL East only to see that the Mets were routed by Florida and Philly beat Washington. Thus the Mets complete the worst late season meltdown in baseball history. There is no joy in mudville tonight, and that is a pain for which no pill has yet been invented. I am too sick (literally) and disgusted to comment further.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Remember the Maine!!!

John Maine pitching the game of his life today at Shea Stadium

With 17 games left in the regular season the Mets enjoyed a very comfortable 7 game lead in the NL East. Last night they hit a new low in one of the most spectacular late season collapses in baseball history when they lost to Florida and Philadelphia won against Washington thus loosing for the first time since May their fist place in the division. Today with two games(!) left in the regular season and trailing the suddenly resurgent Phillies by one game the Mets annihilated the Marlin 13-0 and came within 4 outs of the club's first ever no hitter. John Maine pitched what must be recorded as the game of his life and one that will be remembered for years if the Mets can actually turn things around.

For now they remain alive and waiting for the results of the Philly-Wash game where at this writing the score is 1-0 Wash going into the top of the 4th. If Philly looses then the division will be tied again with one game left for each team. If Philly wins there remains at least the possibility that the Mets could win tomorrow and if Philly looses their game then there would be a sudden death tie breaker on Monday in Philadelphia.

If that is not complicated enough for you, the question of the NL wild card has not been resolved! I would try to explain that one but I already have a headache and it's hard to type when I am in the processes of removing my fingernails one at a time as I monitor the Philly - Wash game.

GO METS!!!!

Remembering the other war

I respectfully commend to the reader this remarkable piece from the New York Times...
IT'S strange that a military graveyard should be so lovely, but lovely is the only way to describe the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, 26 miles northwest of Verdun. As exquisite as any French park or chateau grounds, the cemetery is a formal garden of perfectly clipped trees, immaculate lawns, fountains and roses and long white rows of grave markers. Given its beauty, it's also strange how empty the place is — and stranger still since this is the largest American military cemetery in Europe, the burial site of 14,246 United States service members who died in the war to end all wars.

When we Americans think of travel inspired by world war, Normandy is what springs to mind, and in fact each year more than a million visitors crowd the Normandy Cemetery and the nearby Pointe du Hoc and Utah Beach Monuments. Yet the countryside north and east of Paris is rich in memories — and monuments — of United States involvement in the other world war. Twenty-six years before D-Day, more than two million American soldiers were in France fighting in battles whose names now sound as archaic as jousting sites — Oise-Aisne, Château-Thierry, Aisne-Marne, St.-Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne. What's astonishing when you travel to these battlegrounds is how much remains on, or just below, the surface and how few people there are looking for it.
Read the rest here.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Profoundly embarrassed

As a lifelong Republican I am appalled and embarrassed at the insulting snub delivered by the four leading candidates for the GOP nomination in next years presidential elections. The top four all sent their regrets due to "scheduling conflicts" when invited to a debate at Morgan State University, an historically African American college in Maryland. Of course no one in or out of the party is buying it. It is certainly being seen as a slap in the face by black Americans, and rightly so. You are not going to get people to vote for you if you won't ask them to. The fact that blacks vote disproportionately for Democrats is not an excuse for insulting them. Our failure to engage them with honest discussion and explain where we stand and why, while inviting their input can only be seen as a contributing factor to this trend.

The simple and unpleasant truth is that the GOP can not continue to play the race card (which it has occasionally and shamefully done) and hope to win elections in an increasingly pluralistic America. Beyond the obvious immorality of such tactics it is a recipe for political suicide. Jack Kemp (former cabinet member and Republican VP nominee) succinctly summed it up when asked about the matter. He responded by wondering aloud if we are going to hold our meetings in some suburban country club in the future. Abraham Lincoln must be turning in his grave.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Three Queens

The original Queen Mary with the Normandie and three other unidentified liners in New York circa 1930's

Taking a short break from all of the depressing news in the world today, I take pleasure in noting a forthcoming historical moment. On January 13th 2008 New York will play host to royalty. For the first time probably since the early 1960's and quite possibly for the last time ever, there will be three active service transatlantic ocean liners (as distinct from cruise ships*)in New York Harbor at the same time. The venerable Queen Elizabeth 2, the massive Queen Mary 2 and the brand new Queen Victoria will all be pier side at the same time. The Cunard White Star Line is currently fitting out the new Queen Victoria in preparation for her maiden voyage.

For many New Yorkers this will be like a trip down memory lane. There was a time when the presence of three liners would have been noteworthy primarily due to the absence of more. New York has always been the primary transportation hub of the East Coast. Back before the nightmare of air travel dozens of oceangoing passenger ships entered and left the harbor daily. It may cause some nostalgia for an age when scores of reporters daily crowded the piers of the lower west side waiting to see who was arriving or departing on such oceanic leviathans as the Normandie, the original Queen Mary, the SS United States, Aquitania, Olympic, Berengaria, Majestic, Mauritania and scores of others. They were the pride of nations and great companies now mostly forgotten in history, like the French Line, the Hamburg Amerika Line, the Canadian Pacific Line and the tragic White Star Line (merged with Cunard during the depression). (Photo is the palm court on RMS Aquitania.)

To some this will seem like a throwback to another era. And indeed it is. From the moment Charles Lindbergh few the Atlantic back in 1927 the days of the ocean liner were numbered. Though it would be several more decades before the jet airplane sealed their fate, by the 1960's most of the great liners were being removed from service with fewer and fewer passengers willing to spend four to six days crossing an ocean that could now be bridged in about as many hours. Most of these ships of state wound up suffering ignominious ends in the scrap yards. (Photo is a first class bedroom suite on the SS Paris)

When Cunard launched the QE2 in the late 1960's as a replacement for the original Queen Mary**, there were not a few people who laughed at the folly of building a new transatlantic liner in the modern age. And it was more or less universally accepted until a little over 10 years ago that she would be the last of her breed. No one would ever build another ship primarily for commercial transatlantic passenger service. The 1970's and the first part of the 1980's seemed to support this view. The QE2 struggled financially and even turned to pleasure cruising during the winter months to break even. There was little serious discussion of replacing her on the North Atlantic run when she eventually would be decommissioned. (Photo is of the first class lounge on the Empress of Britain.)

Then something odd happened. Business began to pick up. It was generally assumed for years that those sailing on the QE2 fell into one of three categories. Old and nostalgic people, those terrified of flying, or those who (like myself) while not being afraid of flying nonetheless detest it as the most barbarous form of transportation invented since the slave galley. Whatever the reasons there was a noticeable uptick in business beginning in the late 80's and this trend continued into the 90's. Then came the Titanic. Cruise lines and shipping companies were buried in the wake of the blockbuster movie about the doomed White Star liner. And the rest as they say, is history.

The Queen Mary 2 was launched a few years ago and has been a huge hit. The brand new Queen Victoria is presently fitting out in preparation for her maiden voyage. The sad note to all of this is that the QE2 is about to bow off stage. After 40 years of service her time has finally come. But it is a testament to the flame kept alive by her and the Cunard Line that there will be not one but two liners in service to replace her. On a bright note it appears she will escape the breakers yard, the fate of so many of her great predecessors. Plans are afoot to have her converted into a 5 star resort. Not a bad retirement for the grand old lady.

In the meantime there remains, at least for the foreseeable future, a pleasant alternative to the horror of modern air travel for those going to or from Europe.

*Setting aside the various forensic differences, one apt observer noted the difference between a cruise ship and an ocean liner was the difference between a night club and a 5 star grand hotel.

**She was spared the fate of most her contemporaries being permanently moored in Long Beach CA as a floating hotel and museum.


The Queen Mary 2

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Rediscovering Confession

It would appear that confession is making something of a comeback among certain faith groups. Some like the Roman Catholic Church are not hugely surprising. But the revival of confession (albeit often without a sacramental understanding) among Protestants is I think a rather interesting phenomena. This from the Wall Street Journal...
This February at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI instructed priests to make confession a top priority. U.S. bishops have begun promoting it in diocesan newspapers, mass mailings and even billboard ads. And in a dramatic turnaround, some Protestant churches are following suit. This summer, the second-largest North American branch of the Lutheran Church passed a resolution supporting the rite, which it had all but ignored for more than 100 years...

...Several factors are feeding the resurgence. Aggressive marketing by churches has helped reinvent confession as a form of self-improvement rather than a punitive rite. Technology is also creating new avenues for redemption. Some Protestants now air their sins on videos that are shared on YouTube and iTunes or are played to entire congregations. And the appetite for introspection has been buoyed by the broad acceptance of psychotherapy and the emphasis on self-analysis typified by daytime talk television.

"Every day on Jerry Springer we see people confessing their sins in public, and certainly the confessional is a lot healthier than Jerry Springer," says Orlando Bishop Thomas Wenski, who last March sent out 190,000 pamphlets calling on Catholics to confess.

Scholars also say the return to confession is part of a larger theological shift in which some Catholics, mainline Protestants and evangelicals are returning to a traditional view of churches as moral enforcers. Catholic leaders have sought to make the tradition less onerous to keep it from dying, while Protestants are embracing it as a way to offer discipline to their flocks. Several Protestant pastors said they felt their churches had become too soft on sinners, citing the rise of suburban megachurches that seek converts with feel-good sermons, Starbucks coffee and rock-concert-like services, but rarely issue calls to repent.
I am not very comfortable with the theology behind a lot of this. But it is certainly an interesting development. From a more Orthodox point of view I would post the comment of Kolokotronis from over at Free Republic (in response to a Roman Catholic posting the Latin Church's formula for absolution as an affirmation of the theology of the priest acting in persona Christi).

"For your information and discussion"
Ok, the article says this: "The formula of absolution used in the Latin Church expresses the essential elements of this sacrament:..."

"God, the Father of mercies, through the death and the resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."


You see, this is one of those examples of the truly vast difference between the Latin and Orthodox Churches; its that post 11th century atonement theory rearing its head again. Couple that with the notion that it is the priest doing the absolving and we see in rather stark relief the differing phronemai of the Churches.

As Fr. Deacon John Chryssavgis noted in an article on the sacrament of confession, "It is the reduction of sin to a punishable legal crime, an act of law­breaking inviting a penalty that is almost wholly absent in patristic literature." He goes on to say, "The word for "confess" in Greek (ἐξομολογοῦμαι, ὁμολογῶ) does not bear the contemporary meaning peculiar to it. When we say "confess" we imply that we accept, recognize or witness an event or fact. But this is not the original mean­ing. The point is not of admitting, more or less reluctantly, a hitherto "unrecognized" sin, but an acceptance of and sub­mission to the divine Logos (exomologesis) beyond and above the nature and condition of man. It is this Logos, the Word of God, that man seeks to regain, or rather to com­mune with. To confess is not so much to recognize and ex­pose a failure as to go forward and upward, to respond from within to the calling of God. Created in the image and likeness of God, man bears before himself and in himself that image and likeness. In repenting he does not so much look forward as reflects and reacts to what lies before and beyond him."


In Holy Orthodoxy The Church teaches her children "Have you committed a sin? Then enter the Church and repent of your sin ... For here is the Physician, not the judge; here one is not investigated but receives remission of sins." +John Chrysostomos.

Finally, the idea that the priest is anything more than a witness on behalf of the Christian community is completely unknown to patristic authors and the notion that the priest in any way "absolves" the penitent is seen only in Russian Orthodoxy as a result of later Western influences on that particular church. Even there the notion is increasingly condemned, especially outside of Russia proper.

Food for thought.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Old Links

Just a quick note to let the reader know that some of the links in older posts that had stopped working may now be up. The New York Times had until recently limited its free online access to news articles posted within the last week while restricting access to its archives and many of its columnists for subscribers. Thus any links to NY Times articles that were over a week old were not good unless you wanted to pay for the article. However as of yesterday the Times has opened up its archives back to 1987 for free. Also all areas of the Times web site that were restricted to subscribers are also now free.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Recreational Tourism Monasteries and Death Camps

They are by all accounts a magnificent corner of Northern Russia, still in a near wilderness state. Indeed until recently you would be hard pressed to find a lot of evidence of human habitation in the Solovetsky Islands. There is the ancient monastery and of course the remnants of one of the Soviet Union's first concentration camps, complete with mass graves.

Today however it appears that some are trying to turn this place where untold thousands were murdered, many of them martyrs, into a sort of recreational park for tourists.
...The islands, also known as Solovki, are one of the holiest sites in Russian Orthodox Christianity, and the 40 or so monks who reside here consider the land their own. Their predecessors settled here in the 15th century, creating a monastic dynasty that lasted nearly 500 years. They built the white-walled Transfiguration Cathedral, capped with silver cupolas, and enclosed it in fortress-thick walls of granite. An intricate canal system linking dozens of lakes still supplies fresh water to the islands’ 1,000 inhabitants.

Fiercely opposed to religion, the Soviets imprisoned or killed most of the clergy members and lopped off the cupolas. Having only recently returned after a banishment of nearly 70 years, many of the monks are now alarmed by the efforts of entrepreneurs like Ms. Smirnova to open the islands to tourists.


...Buried beneath the wild blueberry fields and gangly forests of knotted dancing birches are the bones of thousands of inmates who perished at one of the first and most notorious Soviet prison camps: the Solovetsky Camp of Special Purpose, described by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn as the harbinger of the gulag.

Through the camp’s 20-year history, hundreds of thousands of prisoners — aristocrats, clergymen, intelligentsia, common criminals — toiled through brutal winters and mosquito-plagued summers, succumbing to disease, starvation and execution. Prison officials experimented with methods of torture that were later refined at prison camps throughout the Soviet Union. The horrors that occurred here remained an official secret even after the camp closed in 1939.

Sounds like my idea of an awesome vacation get away. While we are at it, does anyone know if there are any good roller coasters near Auschwitz? [/sarcasm]

Read the story here.

An Anglican Bishop Writes About The Epsicopal Church

Bp. Harold Miller of the Diocese of Down & Dromore (Church of Ireland) has written a piece on the theological and liturgical trends in the American branch of the Anglican Communion. I very rarely post Protestant writings, but this is just so dead on that it needs to be read by anyone who is seeking to understand the current crisis confronting our brothers and sisters in The Episcopal Church (TEC). I am not going to post excerpts. But I strongly encourage everyone to read his post.

Via Kendall Harmon.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A couple of plugs

A couple of quick recommendations for the reader... First if you are not already a regular reader of Fr. Stephen's blog and have any interest in icons, I strongly encourage you to check out his recent series of posts on the subject. I believe they started on or around September 1. Secondly there is a nice recap of the recent conference hosted by Fordham University on the subject of St. Augustine from an Orthodox perspective by Dr. William Tighe in the current edition of Touchstone Magazine. I regretted not being able to attend the conference at the time, and that regret has been greatly magnified after reading Dr. Tighe's report. I do not believe the article is currently on the WEB so if your not a subscriber you might have to visit your local library.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

O Joyous Day!

The Motu Proprio takes effect at midnight.

The Holy and Life-Giving Cross

Troparion - Tone 1

O Lord, save Your people,
And bless Your inheritance.
Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians
Over their adversaries.
And by virtue of Your Cross,
Preserve Your habitation.

Kontakion - Tone 4

As You were voluntarily raised upon the cross for our sake,
Grant mercy to those who are called by Your Name, O Christ God;
Make all Orthodox Christians glad by Your power,
Granting them victories over their adversaries,
By bestowing on them the Invincible trophy, Your weapon of Peace.

Many Years!


To Met. +Daniel Ciubotea of Moldava who has been elected to be the sixth Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church. +Daniel is widely seen as a member of the progressive (a relative term in Orthodoxy) wing of the hierarchy. He is an academic with a strong background in theology and has been the leading representative of the Romanian Church in ecumenical discussions with other religious confessions, notably the Roman Catholic Church. Some observers are opining that his election represents a defeat for the "old guard." The Romanian Orthodox Church is the worlds second largest Orthodox jurisdiction with about 20 million members (after the Russian Church with over 100 million).

Read the story here

And a Roman Catholic perspective here.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

BECOMING INVISIBLE AND SUDDENLY APPEARING

I didn't know yet, my Lord, that you exist, you who made me from clay and gave me all these goods. I didn’t know yet, that you yourself was my un-proud God and Lord. Because I had not received yet the grace to hear your voice in order to know you; you had not yet come and said mystically to me that ‘I am’. I was unworthy and unclean, still having the ears of my soul obstructed by the clay of sin, and my eyes under the command of disbelief and of the sense and fog of the passions. And I was seeing thus you my God, but without knowing, not having first believed that God, as much as possible being seen, he is being seen by some, I could not discern that God or God’s glory is this, which, sometimes thus, sometimes otherwise, is revealed, but the miracle being unusual astonished me and filled the whole of my soul and of my heart with joy, so that I was seeing even my very body partake of that ineffable grace. But I didn’t know yet clearly who you are, whom I was seeing. I started to see more often the light, sometimes inside, when my soul enjoyed serenity and peace, sometimes outside somewhere far away appeared to me or it was wholly hiding itself and hidden it was bringing sadness unbearable to me, because I was thinking it will no more in any way be revealed. And while I was mourning and weeping and showing all kinds of strangeness, obedience and humility, it was revealing itself upon me just like the sun, that cuts the fatness of the cloud and little by little appears friendly in the shape of a sphere. This way then you, the ineffable, the invisible, the untouchable, the immovable, the everywhere forever and in everything present and filling everything, at all times, to say so, in day and night being seen and hidden, going away and coming, becoming invisible and suddenly appearing, little by little you drove away the darkness inside me, you drove away the cloud, you made thinner my fatness, the dirt of my spiritual eyes you cleaned perfectly, removed the obstacles from the ears of my mind and you opened them, you surrounded and removed the covering of insensitivity, and besides these, all passion and all carnal pleasure you drove to perfect sleep and perfectly you exiled it away from me. ...

These are God’s wonders towards us, brothers! And while we are elevated to a greater perfection, no more like before without shape or form the shapeless and formless comes, or the presence and arrival of His light in silence works in us - but how? In some form, yet God’s form. God is revealed not in a shape or outline, but in incomprehensible, wonderful and formless light formed is revealed simple - nothing more can we say or express - , He starts to be revealed clearly and to be known in a great familiarity and to be seen much clearly, the invisible, invisibly speaks and hears and, as if a friend to a friend, face to face, who is by his nature the God speaks with them who have been born from Him by grace Gods, and as a father loves and by his sons He is loved in a great warmth and He becomes for them a strange vision and a more terrific sound, without being able either to be spoken by them worthily, or to be neglected, covered in silence. Because by the yearning for Him they always are lit up and mystically by Him resound.

Speech 35

Christ does not bless those who just teach, but those who have already worked His commands and received the Grace to see above and look in themselves the Light and the Thunders of the Spirit, thus having understood in a real vision, knowledge and energy of the Light, all that are going also to say and teach to the others. This is how, as we said, must rise those who try to teach others, so that they won’t talk about things they don’t know, deceiving and dooming themselves and those who believe their words.

Who is blind to the One, is completely blind to all. Who sees the One, has vision of all - and at any rate is removed from their vision, and in the vision of all becomes, and outside of all he is. Inside the One he sees everything, and while being in everything nothing of any thing does he see.

Whoever sees in the One through the One, sees clearly himself and all men and all things, and hidden inside the One, he doesn't see anything of any thing.

Who has not worn the Image of our Lord Jesus Christ, the heavenly man and God, inside his mind and spiritual man, sensing well and knowing Him, is just blood so far and flesh, the sense of spiritual glory unable by words to receive, just as who are born blind, unable are to know the light of the sun by words alone.

Practical and Theological Chapters 4 & 51-53

- St Symeon the New Theologian

Hat tip to Kolokotronis

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A Noteworthy Roman Anniversary

Today (September 8th) is the centennial anniversary of the Papal Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis of Pope Pius X. It was the culminating moment of the Roman Catholic Church's resistance to the world of the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, Marxism/Socialism and pretty much everything that came with it that touched the Western Church. In his encyclical +Pius X condemned what was loosely termed modernism. It would be followed by a syllabus of errors connected to modernism and by a decree requiring all clergy and eventually anyone holding any position of trust within the church to swear an oath against modernism, which remained in force until the late 1960's.

The ripple effect of Pascendi can still be felt today. Although not as well known as many others, it remains one of the most important papal documents published in the last couple of centuries. It was the primary wall that Rome constructed in its steadfast resistance to the intrusions of the modern world on an ecclesiastical mindset that had not substantially changed since the medieval period of Western Europe. And it took an ecumenical (from the Roman POV) council to break free of that mindset. Today it is the cornerstone on which much of the resistance to Vatican II has been built.

Depending on whom one asks this period in church history (roughly 1907-1965) evokes differing responses. To many who live in the modern (post conciliar) church it is not something they want to go back to. It was a period where orthodoxy was enforced so strictly that priests were actively discouraged from discussing matters of theology. Seminary instruction placed a very heavy emphasis on scholastic theology. Each diocese had committees that were responsible for monitoring their clergy for the slightest hint of "modernist" sympathies. All published works by clergy (and a remarkable number by layman that were not even religious in nature) were subject to review by the Holy Office and strictly censored. It has been widely noted that the first half of the twentieth century did not seem to produce the usual flow of heavy duty theological works that emanated from the Latin Church (not saying there were none). Often those that did appear seemed oriented to restoring the status quo ante. And it was a period when the church seemed in some quarters to support dubious causes including anti-semitism (the Dreyfus Affair) as also various right wing politics ranging from monarchists (notably in France) to fascist dictators (Spain & Italy).*

Others however see the same period as a sort of golden age. Religious orders proliferated. There was no shortage of clergy and the missionary spirit was alive and well. In the United States catholic schools were full and parents were warned of the dire danger to their souls if they permitted their children to attend public schools. Abortion was illegal and the prohibition of divorce was not yet quietly circumvented by annulments. There were long lines for confession on Saturday nights (instead of the vigil masses for those who don't like getting up on Sunday mornings). On Sundays the reverence for Holy Communion was such that most of those who had been in line for confession the night before would still not receive and many people communed only once a year at Easter.** Women wore hats and gloves to church and men a coat and tie. In Rome the Pope was still carried around on the sedei with ostrich feathered fans and he wore the jeweled triple tiara symbolizing his absolute universal jurisdiction over the church and the world. And of course, everything was still in Latin.

It is to this world that many traditionalists desperately wish to return. For them Pascendi is like quoting scripture. Lefebvrists and others of a similar world view see modernism as the "smoke of Satan" that +Paul VI once famously opined had invaded the church. How, they ask, can Pascendi have been right and Vatican II also? Again depending on whom you ask you will get differing responses. Pope +Benedict XVI has been making a case against the hermenuetic of rupture. In this he has been joined by many thoughtful conservative Catholics who are usually strong supporters of Doctrinal Development. But both those on the right and the left have a simpler answer in which they concur on one point. Both Pascendi and Vatican II cannot be correct. They are mutually exclusive. Those on the left will tell you that Pacendi was a desperate attempt by a reactionary Pope to stick his finger in the damn as it was preparing to burst. Effectively a shout of "stop the world I want to get off!" And those on the right will tell you that Vatican II was the triumph of modernism and a heavy blow against the church. In support of which they will cite the compelling evidence of the chaos that has reigned in the Roman Church post Vatican II. Who is right?

Its a bit dangerous for an Orthodox Christian to tread here since we would of course argue that they have all missed the proverbial bus. Thus I will restrict my opinions somewhat. Broadly speaking the defenders of the hermaneutic of continuity are probably closest to an accurate position especially in matters of dogma. But it simply can not I think be argued that, especially in terms of church discipline, that which +Pius X condemned so vociferously has not in fact been at the heart of much that has gone wrong in the Western Church since 1965. Further almost all of the bizarre theological ideas and heretical nonsense that has cropped up post Vatican II can logically be tied to modernism. Indeed the very term has crept into widespread usage outside of the Roman Church. It is often heard in Orthodox circles (and with the same negative imputation assigned by +Pius X).

All in all it is an anniversary worth taking note of and a document deserving of far more attention than it has gotten.

*It is widely and falsely claimed that the Roman Church supported the Nazis. It did not. However despite condemnations of Fascism by Pius +XI the church remained closely tied to the Fascist regimes in both Spain and Italy. Similar charges could of course be laid at the door of the Orthodox Church in other times and places. For a brief examination of the Dreyfus Affair I recommend Barbara Tuchman's treatment in The Proud Tower.

** This was another issue that +Pius X addressed by encouraging more frequent communion. The results were mixed as many clung to the idea of communion being their "Easter Duty." It must also be noted that this mindset still exists in some quarters within Orthodoxy. Today of course the reverse situation now exists in the Latin Church with long lines for communion on Sundays and few for confession. More than one Catholic has expressed concern that there is a danger of becoming a church of six sacraments.

Friday, September 07, 2007

An update on the Orama comments

Canon Kendall Harmon over at T-19 is reporting that he has received an email from a spokesman for Bp. +Orama denying the remarks previously quoted by the UPI and various places on the internet including here. I have not seen this email, however I doubt Kendall would have posted anything about it if he did not recognize the source. The spokesman also (again via Kendall) claims that a formal retraction from the press will be forthcoming. If this should occur I will of course take note of it here.

An Amplification: Saturday 09-08-07
Pending further credible information one way or another as to the veracity of the original news story I do not know with certainty whether or not the quoted comments were actually made. However no retraction that I am aware of has been issued by the press as of this writing, and the denial has not been repeated by any other source including the bishop himself. For these reasons frankly I am compelled to opine that it remains quite possible and perhaps even likely that the original story was accurate. I sincerely I hope that I am wrong and will gladly post a retraction if the evidence warrants it. If anyone has new information on this from a credible source please drop me a line or a comment. Until then I stand by my earlier post on this subject.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Memory Eternal: Il Maestro (Luciano Pavarotti)


The English language is simply inadequate to convey the loss. May his memory be eternal!

The Choir of Valaam Monastery

The below is a video with background music provided by the choir of Valaam Monastery. I regret that I don't know which hymns they are singing since it's in Slavonic. But its quite beautiful.

An outrageous comment

According to the UPI the below remarks were made by the Nigerian (Anglican) Bishop +Isaac Orama of Uyo.
Sept. 2 (UPI) -- Uyo, Sept. 2, 2007 (NAN) The Anglican Bishop of Uyo, Rt. Rev. Isaac Orama, has condemned the activities of homosexuals and lesbians, and described those engaged in them as "insane people''. "It is scaring that any one should be involved in a thing like that and I want to say that they will not escape the wrath of God,'' he said. Orama told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) today in Uyo, that the practice, which has worsened over the years, was "unbiblical and against God's purpose for creating man''. Homosexuals - 2 "Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman. Those who practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live because they are rebels to God's purpose for man,'' the Bishop said. He noted that the Anglican Church in Nigeria had continued to lead the fight against the practice especially in the US where it led the opposition to same sex marriages. "The aim of such fight is to provide a safe place for those who want to remain faithful Anglicans and Biblical Christians,'' he explained.(NAN) NS/IFY/ETS
This prompted me to take the unusual step of posting the below comment over at Fr. Jake's site (yes, that Fr. Jake) where +Orama's comments were receiving much attention.
Bp +Orama's comments are repulsive and shock the conscience. I condemn them unreservedly. The only thing that is satanic here is whatever could impel a servant of God to make such remarks about any of God's children.
Whatever one's opinions regarding the current problems in many of the mainline Protestant sects and their alarming departure from Christian orthodoxy, this clearly is way over the top. I am not normally in the habit of advising other churches about matters of internal discipline, but Bp. +Orama needs to be called on the carpet for this . No one who calls themselves a Christian and wishes to be so recognized by any decent person should feel anything other than revulsion and yes, anger over these comments.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Anti-Patristic: The Stance of the Radical Old Calendarists

by Monk Basil of the Holy Monastery of Saint Gregory on Mount Athos

In the magazine "Holy Kollyvades"1 an article by Fr. Nicholas Demaras was published, in which the Sacred Monastery of Saint Gregory is criticized for its stance regarding Ecumenism and Zealotism.

The occasion of this article was my departure from the Zealot Fathers of the Holy Mountain and my taking up residence in the aforesaid Sacred Monastery. My reason for leaving is the entirely mistaken ecclesiastical line which the Zealots and remaining G.O.C. [Genuine Orthodox Christians] Old Calendarists have adopted. Among my many arguments for this decision was the stance of Saint Sophronius regarding the heretical Monothelites.

In his article Fr. Nicholas deals mainly with the stance of Saint Sophronius. The bishops of the Church are also accused of preaching the heresy of Ecumenism through the change of the calendar, the dialogues, joint prayers and other innovations. Simultaneously our Sacred Monastery is also criticized because we do not sever ecclesiastical communion with our bishops, despite the (supposed) explicit injunction of the holy Fathers and the requirement of the 15th Canon of the First-Second Synod (861)2.

I lived with the Zealot fathers who, in all other respects, are beloved virtuous monks. I admired their piety, their love for monasticism, and their struggling spirit. I ascertained, however, that they are maintaining an anticanonical schism, misinterpreting the teaching of the holy Fathers and ecclesiastical history.

With the blessing of my venerable elder Father George, I will for the moment respond concisely to the accusations of the article in order to prove that our stance is absolutely in agreement with Orthodox Ecclesiology. The basic criterion for this answer derives from the patristic teaching regarding heretics and bishops who act anticanonically.
A. THE PATRISTIC TEACHING
1. About condemned heretics

The stance of the holy Fathers regarding heretics was always the same. Saint Tarasius of Constantinople says that "in nothing do we find the fathers disagreeing, but as they are of the same spirit, they all preach and teach the same"3. Thus, Saint Gregory the Theologian teaches that we should turn away from heretics as being foreign to the catholic Church4. The heretics, according to Athanasios the Great, are wolves and forerunners of the Antichrist5, whereas, according to Basil the Great, worse than Judas6. Saint John of Damascus commands that we not give communion to heretics, nor take their own,7 since, according to Saint Theodore the Studite, the communion of heretics is a poison which darkens and blackens the soul8.

The commemoration of a heretical bishop is a defilement9, whereas, according to Saint Symeon of Thessalonica, even attending church with heretics is forbidden10. The Saints urge the heretics to abandon their heresy and to enter the catholic Church, otherwise they are not benefited by their good works11, nor can they inherit the kingdom of God12.
2. Concerning those who unite with condemned heretics

According to Canons 1 and 2 of the 3rd Oecumenical Synod,13 whoever affiliates himself with heretics falls from ecclesiastical communion and the priesthood. Therefore, Saints Savvas and Theodosios, together with all the monks of Palestine, declared that they were willing to shed their blood rather than to accept union with the Monophysites14. The unions with the unrepenting Latins in the years 1274 and 1439 were faced in the same manner. In other words, the Fathers interrupted ecclesiastical communion with whoever accepted the union of Lyons (1274). They furthermore preferred tortures and death, like the venerable Haghiorite martyrs15 and Saints Meletius and Galaktion16. Saint Mark Eugenicos also urged the Orthodox not to commune with whoever accepted the false union of Florence (1439). He used to say: "Flee from them, as one flees from a snake"17.
3. Concerning those who preach heresy

The sacred Dositheos of Jerusalem, interpreting Orthodox Ecclesiology very beautifully, presents the way in which the Church faces those who preach within Her heretical dogmas: "Heresy which springs up, if it spreads, an Oecumenical Synod judges and condemns"18. While after the Synod the unrepentant heretics were completely cut off from ecclesiastical communion.

In some cases the ecclesiastical communion with these innovators was cut off even before a Synodical judgement.19 The 15th Canon of the First-Second Synod allows this action, as long as it is done with the goal of freeing the Church from the schism and heresy of erring bishops20. Because ecclesiastical schism is not something simple, however, the final judgment and cutting off of heretics from the Church, as we previously mentioned, was entrusted to Oecumenical Synods.

The reason for the aforesaid is that heresies are not easily and immediately realized by the faithful pleroma of the Church. Some people communed with bishops who preached heretical beliefs out of ignorance, others for reasons of economy or some other potentially justifiable cause. As such, it wasn't right for them to be considered heretics before the final decision of an Oecumenical Synod. Hence, no sacred Canon or holy Father ever imposed on the Orthodox pleroma the cutting off of ecclesiastical communion with the heretics before a Synodical condemnation, nor was any clergyman punished for maintaining communion prior to said condemnation. This is, of course, not the case with those who continued to maintain communion [with heretics] after the Synodical condemnation.

Quite a few examples from ecclesiastical History prove that from the appearance of heretical teaching up to the final condemnation, there was a period during which the Church tried, through Her representatives, to bring to repentance the "new" teachers, implementing the path of oikonomia, which was recognized by all the holy Fathers. Thus, for example, whereas Monotheletism was first preached in 615, its main opponents, Saints Sophronios and Maximos, do not seem to have interrupted communion with the heretics before the Synods of the West (640-649), which anathematized them.

Oikonomia is also encountered in the case of the stance regarding the Latins. We reach the above conclusion even if we accept the extreme case, to wit, the popes officially preached the heresy of the Filioque in 1009 as opposed to spreading it unhesitatingly from the 10th century.21 The Zealots maintain that the division happened immediately, since Sergius of Constantinople removed the pope from the diptychs in 100922. They furthermore present a related testimony of the sacred Dositheos.

Their perversion of history and the obfuscation of this sacred Father's words are very apparent. The sacred Dositheos writes that the remaining patriarchs did not remove the pope from the Diptychs in 1009, but instead after forty five years (1054). It is, of course, understood that Constantinople was united with the above patriarchs during this whole period. This oikonomia towards the Latins happened because "the Patriarchs, according to the ancient ecclesiastical custom, instead of implementing the canonical justice of Keroularios, awaited the correction of the Roman Church, hence they also suffered long"23. "The Easterners (in other words), had, by way of oikonomia, kept silent for a long time, thinking the Italians would move their innovations towards the better, but [the Italians] having remained in their own stubbornness, [the Easterners] cut them off from ecclesiastical unity"24.

When also Saint Gregory (the father of Saint Gregory the Theologian) out of simplicity signed a semi-Arian creed (361), the monks cut off communion with him25. Saint Gregory and others, however, did not separate from him. This fact the Zealots usually hide, as well as the judgments of the sacred Father concerning the monks26. The union was achieved after Gregory convinced his father to publicly pronounce an Orthodox Symbol of Faith (364)27. What is more, in his first Peaceful homily, given on the occasion of union, the great Theologian censures the [zealot] monks indirectly for their rebellion, hastiness and audacity. He advises them not to return to "their own vomit", as it is preferable that we remain in the common body of the Church when we are not perfectly sure.28.
4. Concerning those who transgress the sacred Canons

How they deal with those who transgress (more or less) the sacred Canons, without touching the dogmas, is completely different. Canons 13, 14 and 15 of the First-Second Synod strictly forbid the interruption of ecclesiastical communion with bishops who fall into whatsoever"crime" before Synodical judgment. The holy Apostles had allowed the interruption of communion for reasons of "piety and righteousness"29. The word "righteousness", however, was easily misinterpreted, resulting in various schisms which were condemned by the Church. These successive schisms—which were mainly by the Studites, and which continued until the days of Saint Photios the Great—were the reason why the Saint and his Synod legislated these Canons.

Also, about fifteen years before the Synod of Saint Photios, "the holy Methodios synodically brought forth an anathema against the monks of Studium who cut themselves off from the Church, because they opposed what was said and written by Theodore against Tarasius and Nicephorus"30. The tactic of Saint Methodios to accept by oikonomia the ordinations of the Iconoclasts had caused schisms. The Venerable Saint Ioannikios condemned these schisms in various ways, maintaining that the Church must be united because justification for these schisms due to reasons of faith did not exist 31.

Likewise, the older short-term schisms of Saint Theodore the Studite in response to the oikonomia applied by the holy patriarchs Tarasius and Nikephorus "did not seem like a small fall to the Fathers, but nevertheless again they were corrected"32. Even his biographer, Michael the Studite, did not dare support the action of Saint Theodore33. These schisms were condemned by the sacred Methodius34 and Dositheos35, among others. Many monks of that time—notably those who shone forth as great Saints—also did not follow the Studites. Among them was the great confessor Theophanis, who in his "Chronography" mentions the breaking off of Saint Theodore from the "holy Church" and the "most holy patriarch"36 Nicephoros. Again, the cause of their condemnation was that that there did not exist justification owing to matters of faith, but rather a deviation from the sacred Canons.

Of course, the aforesaid notwithstanding, Saint Theodore is a great confessor; and he is a model on account of his heroic struggles against the iconoclastic heresy. Only his short-lived schisms for the above acts of oikonomia cannot comprise a rule for the Church.

Unfortunately, the Zealots publicize these schisms ad nauseam, presenting them as an ecclesiastical law and unbreakable rule, precisely because they also do not have reasons of faith for their schisms. They furthermore call "Adulterers" the opponents of the Studite—as he also called them for a time; and most of the time they hide the names of his opponents, or fail to call them Saints!37 The reference is to the Saints and Confessors Nicephoros of Constantinople, Michael of Synnada, Euthymios of Sardeon, Aimilianos of Kyzikus, Theophylactus of Nikomedia and other great Fathers.

Saint Daniel the Stylite also called to repentance those monks who separated themselves from the Church without reasons of faith. He exhorted them thus: "not without danger do we separate ourselves from our holy mother"38.

In general, all the schisms which took place on the pretext of exactitude never genuinely expressed the phronema of the Church. Needless to say, those who did not participate in these schisms were also not considered to be outside of the Church.
B. ECUMENISM AND ZEALOTISM
1. The Zealots' mistaken evaluation of Ecumenism

In the last century a modernistic tendency—seminal elements of which were observed even earlier—began taking shape in the bosom of the Church. This coincided with an intense effort to approach various heretics. One of the many sour notes heard during this time was the correction of the ecclesiastical calendar (1923-1924). This was the occasion of the schism of the Zealots from the Church. Of course, it would have been a great blessing if the calendar had remained unaltered and all of the Orthodox had continued to celebrate the feasts together.

Three great Synods condemned the Gregorian calendar at the end of the 16th century. The historian F. Vafeidis writes that "during that year (1583) a Synod gathered in Constantinople, which mainly condemned the Gregorian calendar; for according to this calendar it happens that we celebrate [Pascha] with the Jews, which is contrary to the Synod in Nicaea."39 The Zealots, when they mention the above phrase, [often] stop after the word "calendar", omitting the rest!40 It seems they believe that the main work of the Synod was the condemnation of the Gregorian calendar per se.

In fact, as the historian stated, the main reason for the condemnation of the Gregorian calendar was concelebration with the Jews—i.e., the alteration of the Paschalion [so that Pascha occasionally coincided with Passover—ed.]. This, however, never occurred, and we hope that it will never occur.* In other words, the full meaning of the above quote removes from the Zealots a reason for schism, since the change of the festal calendar [i.e., the Menaion—ed.] does not touch the dogmatic nature of the First Oecumenical Synod41, and consequently it does not comprise a heresy.

Therefore, based on the most strict Canons of the First-Second Synod, and especially on the 15th—which the Zealots constantly call upon—, the calendar schism was completely anti-canonical.

Furthermore, most of the Zealots preach that all those who accepted the new calendar, or who commune with the new calendarists, are excommunicated and are thus without divine Grace!

Of course, the Zealots were not so naïve as one might think based on their odd ecclesiology. They knew they needed a dogmatic reason. One had to be found at all costs.

Unfortunately, they were aided by those who promoted a syncretistic ecumenism through ecumenistic dialogues; excessive longing for union with the heretics; occasionally imparting to them the holy Mysteries; the isolated cases of recognizing their mysteries as valid; the acceptance of an ecclesiastical character in their confessions; and joint prayers, among canonical transgressions.

The Zealots, therefore, declared as heretics those responsible for the above actions, and thus the longed for reason was found, albeit delayed. For them it is not important that the calendar schism occurred a few decades earlier. The important thing is that the dogmatic justification was found! They also rejoice that they were delivered "just in time" from the Ecumenists.

In any case, many times, during periods when heresy was being preached, the holy Fathers implemented praiseworthy oikonomia towards heretics in order to help them change their train of thought. They never, however, instigated schisms on account of some clairvoyant ability [that gave them insight into the outcome of the controversy—ed.].

Unfortunately for the Zealots, it must be stressed that the above canonical transgressions, no matter how grievous and worrisome they are, do not comprise in and of themselves heresy. They comprise "crimes" against the Canons of the First-Second Synod, as well as transgressions of other sacred Canons, but not heresy. Heresy is "to deviate in something from the dogmas laid before us, concerning the correct faith,"42 and estrangement from the faith43.

What about the sporadic and unofficial—i.e., devoid of any Synodical recognition—unorthodox declarations, agreements or theories of isolated Ecumenists? These do not comprise an official proclamation of heresy. Even the most extreme Zealots teach that the sporadic proclamations of the heresy of the Filioque—which was preached for centuries, and to a much greater degree44 than the Protestant branch theory—did not comprise a cause for schism45. Therefore, since these heterodox teachings have not been [officially] recognized or become hardened and settled, they do not comprise a cause for schism.

The faithful do have a responsibility, of course, constantly and fervently to struggle against these heterodox teachings, to wipe out or at least limit them, so that finally the Ecumenistic attitude and tactic arising from them may cease.

Even the lifting of the anathemas of 1054 against the papists by Patriarch [Athenagoras] of Constantinople—an act condemned by many Orthodox as a very great "achievement" of the Ecumenists—was a formal "gesture of love", without any relationship to the theological positions of the Orthodox and the Papists. It did not mean the Schism was over, nor was there any change in the teaching, canonical order, divine worship or ecclesiastical life of the Church, nor was there restoration of sacramental communion46.
2. Similar situations from previous times

Similar canonical transgressions, as well as direct or indirect deviations from Orthodox Ecclesiology, have occurred in times past, especially in parts of the world where the heterodox were a majority. Notably, these transgressions did not result in schisms. Unfortunately, the Orthodox diaspora has brought about an increase in these worrisome and unacceptable transgressions and deviations.

Subsequently we will mention a few occasions of oikonomia, canonical transgressions and unofficial (direct or indirect) ecclesiological deviations, on account of which the holy Fathers did not, however, interrupt ecclesiastical communion with those responsible. These cases, of course, are much milder than the official declaration of the Filioque in the Symbol of faith, or the huge spreading of the heresy of Monotheletism. Despite this, as we have previously mentioned, for many years the Fathers employed the establied method of oikonomia in these more serious cases.

1. The Fathers of the Third Oecumenical Synod condemned Nestorius. They did not, however, anathematize his "father"47 and teacher Theodore of Mopsuestia, who had already died, "so that some people will not, by being devoted to the man out of respect, cut themselves off from the churches. Their application of oikonomia in this was most excellent and wise", according to Saint Cyrill48.

Later on, when an issue arose whether to anathematize the heretic Theodore, the sacred Cyrill wrote to St. Proclus of Constantinople and urged him for the sake of "oikonomia"49 "not to allow him to be anathematized, as this would become a cause for disturbance"50. As St. Theodore the Studite wrote, "the divine Cyrill practiced oikonomia so that those of the West would not be cut off (by oikonomia he communed with them), who in the diptychs mentioned Theodore of Mopsuestia as indeed a heretic"51.

2. The 95th Canon of the Penthekte [Fifth Oecumenical] Synod defines that, kat' oikonomia, Nestorians and Monophysites can be accepted with a simple libellum52. This Canon was also used by St. Theodore for the Iconoclasts53.

Therefore, these applications of oikonomia were accepted by the Orthodox without creating schisms. Today's "super-Studites", however, accept the new calendarists with chrismation. What is more, they claim to act "out of extreme economy," saying that canonically they ought to rebaptize them (as if it were a case like the Manicheans!).

3. St. Photius bore the iniquitous customs of Rome as long as they did not impose them on the Church of Constantinople. He knew that "what is being neglected is not the faith"54, and consequently there was no reason for schism. Deviations included fasting on the Sabbath, eating non-fasting foods during the first week of Great Lent, forbidding Priests to marry, allowing Chrism to be administered only by the bishops55, and overturning the apostolic restriction concerning the eating of choked animals and blood. Thus, according to the Eighth Oecumenical Synod (879), the restoration of the relationships between Saint Photius and Rome occurred through the recognition of the Symbol of Faith without the addition56, though Rome did not cast off the aforementioned customs.

4. The holy Fathers bore the Western church of the 10th century, which was undergoing the age of "the reign of fornicators"57.

5. During the age of the Latin occupation the sacred the Germanos the New of Constantinople, along with his Synod, allowed kat' oikonomia the Cypriot Bishops to accept the profiteering demands of the Latins. Specifically "for their successors to be appointed by the Latin archbishop, who also has the right to judge even every episcopal decision that has been appealed by one of the litigants."58

6. Following the schism of 1054 there was always a longing for union. At times many epistles were exchanged and dialogues occurred, specifically 1098, 1113, 1136, 1154, 1169, 1175, 1206, 1214, 1232, 1234, 1250, 1253, 1254, 1272, 1333, 1339, 1366, and 1438. Furthermore, in 1253 concessions also occurred59; and in 1136 and 1234, conciliatory solutions were suggested by the Orthodox, such as the phrase "the spirit proceeds from the father through the son"60. Schisms on account of the dialogues, however, did not occur, except during the false unions of 1274 and 1439.

Today, both the Haghiorite fathers and all pious Christians proclaim that they will never accept union with the Latins, Monophysites or other heretics if they do not denounce their heretical dogmas.

Unfortunately, in texts of the Zealots we observe much confusion. The Latin-minded ones which accepted the Union of 1274 are identified with those who today engage in joint prayers, dialogues, excessive pro-union efforts, or other similar activities. Likewise, the words of St. Mark of Ephesus concerning those who accepted the false Union of Florence are also applied to them, as if they are the same as those who actually entered into union with the heretics! If matters were so simple Orthodoxy would have been lost centuries ago.

7. St. Mark, when discussing the prospect of true union with the Latins, named them not brothers but "fathers"61. His teacher and great opponent of the Latins, Joseph Vryennios, had previously held union discussions with the Latins. He furthermore wrote a consultative homily regarding the union under consideration. In it, however, he fiercely condemned the "Ecumenists" of his age: in other words, those who wanted—according to the "branch theory" of that day—to be united with the pope even though the Filioque remained in the Symbol. He urged, without separating from those irresponsible parties, that any union must occur in a correct manner—i.e., that the Orthodox not be subjected to error, so that "we do not fall from the intention"62 (of true union in Christ.)

8. Many transgressions or deviations (direct and indirect) from the Orthodox phronema—transgressions that are similar to today's—occurred in those times, especially in parts of the world where the Latins abounded. A multitude of testimonies during the 16th and 17th centuries indicate that it was customary for the Orthodox to commune with the Latins, and vice versa. To this we add the commemoration and recognition of Latin bishops, isolated concelebrations, mixed Mysteries, the granting of Mysteries to heretics, funerals for heretics, studies in heretical schools,63 the granting leave to the papist Capuchins to confess and teach, etc. Even Metropolitans and monks confessed to Latins (in areas occupied by the Turks and Latins), something which the sacred Makarios of Patmos condemned fiercely, without, however, initiating a schism.64

During the middle of the 17th century "the monasteries of Athos repeatedly called the Jesuits to found a school on the Holy Mount for the spiritual training of monks"!65 Also in the same period "in many places, in Jerusalem, in Alexandria and other places, in one church, in one area, the easterners chant, and in the other [the westerners chant]"!66 During the same periods dialogues also occurred with various branches of the Monophysites and Protestants, who were liked and defended by a significant number of Orthodox Christians. Nevertheless, schisms did not occur in the Orthodox Church, even though holy Fathers struggled against union with groups such as the "Lutheran Calvinists"67.

9. St. Nikodemos condemned the "Latin-minded ones" of his age, or "volunteer defenders of the Latin false baptism", as he named them68. In 1755 the Eastern Patriarchs synodically decided that the Orthodox "who came from the Latins should be baptized, because until then the Latins were accepted into Orthodoxy mainly by chrismation. Despite this, the Latin-minded ones fought this decision and continued accepting those having the papal sprinkling of the Latins merely by chrismation.

St. Nikodemos grieved over the great falsification, corruption and misinterpretation of the sacred Canons, and for the "fruit that is fatal and an accessory to the perdition of the soul" which was born of them69. He also mourned over the severe transgressions of the sacred Canons (especially Canon 6 of the Fourth, and Canons 14, 19, and 23 of the Sixth). As well he grieved for the Simoniacs, who, according to Saint Tarasius, are worse than the Pnevmatomachi70. He wrote that this God-hated (according to Saint Gennadios) heresy had become a virtue71, and that most are ordained for money72. Simultaneously he prudently censured the theologians of his age for their heretical and blasphemous mindsets73.

The Saint, along with the other Kollyvades Fathers, struggled fiercely for the sacred traditions. Yet nowhere can we find that they interrupted communion with the Latin-minded ones or the other erring Orthodox. These prudent zealots, contrary to those of today, were able to discern the difference between the Latin-minded ones of their age and the more egregious Latin-minded ones who entered into the false unions of 1274 and a 1439.

St. Nikodemos knew that there are "two types of governing in the Church"74: exactitude (akribeia) and economy (oikonomia). Although he was a lover of akribeia, he implemented oikonomia, as a long as there was no officially preached heresy. He taught that when hierarchs or priests transgress, we must toil to convince them that God's will should be done, without however making schisms which desolate our souls75.

10. The sacred Synod of the Church of Greece, in Her decision of 1834, officially allowed marriages with heretics (they were unofficially done prior to this), a decision which is "illegal and contrary to the sacred Canons"76. Constantine Economos relates also the dissolution of more than four hundred monasteries, the approval of forbidden marriage relations, the founding of theological schools according to Protestant models, and many other painful things that occurred during that time.

It should be obvious, of course, that the above canonical transgressions are condemnable. Moreover, whoever takes them as a model for their relationship with the heterodox is not imitating the holy Fathers, who struggled for their elimination.
3. Contemporary Zealotism

We believe that the inconsistency of the Zealots is made clear when they equate the severity of the calendar change or joint prayers with the fearful heresy of Nestorius, which overturned the "mystery awaited of the ages" 81 and corrupted the meaning of the salvation of the human race.

Contemporary Zealotism cannot be seen as in agreement with the teaching and action of the holy Fathers. It rather resembles the Studite schisms [arising from canonical infractions] (we do not mean, of course, those which happened in a praiseworthy manner and with an utterly confessional mindset against the heresy of Iconoclasm). This resemblance leads to its condemnation, since these particular Studite schisms were not recognized by anyone, but instead were condemned. In reality, however, the present-day schisms do not exactly resemble these Studite schisms either, since at that time there were not so many mutual defrocking and "Churches". The unsuspected and lightening-quick defrockings and "acquittals" of zealot clergy can find no parallel in church history.

The Zealots have fallen into a multitude of contradictions, from which it is impossible for them to be freed, since they persist in their positions. Specifically:

1. When they want to justify their schism due to the calendar change (1924) or one of their internal schisms (in other words, situations that do not involve heresy), they call upon the Studite schisms (which justify a schism for canonical transgressions) or the 31st Apostolic Canon, which allows a schism for reasons "of piety and righteousness". They do this, as we have noted, by misinterpreting the word "righteousness".

2. When however they want to justify their schism due to Ecumenism, or in order to prevent one of their internal schisms, they call upon the 15th Canon of the First-Second Synod (which allows schism only for reasons of heresy).

Of course the invocation, on the one hand, of both the Studite schisms and of the 31st Apostolic Canon, and on the other hand of the 15th Canon of the First-Second Synod, creates a huge contradiction; for the latter was instituted (as we have said above) in order to avert the Studite schisms and to clarify or interpret properly the 31st Apostolic Canon!

The above contradictions are what contribute to the Zealot divisions. The Zealots typically explain the existence of nine churches for the Genuine Orthodox Christians, as well as other independent groups, as the fruit of bad administration and human passions. We are not in agreement. Rather, their schisms are an outpouring of their utterly deluded and distorted ecclesiology. Their divisions will never end as long as they invoke the Studite schisms and the 31st Apostolic Canon for disagreements over the consecration of metropolitans82, ordinations83, constitutions84, the publication of an encyclical against the new identification cards85, iconography86 and other minor issues. (There even exists a group of "Hexagonists"!) The presidential chair of "the Synod in Resistance" was created out of three schisms, which brought about an equal number of defrockings. These activities remind us of the schisms of those abandoned by divine Grace, such as the Monophysites, Protestants and Old Believers.

Their internal schisms prove how groundless is their schism from the Church. The ease with which they characterize the remaining Zealots as heretics reveals that long ago that they have lost an understanding of the true meaning of heresy and ecclesiastical schism. The simple people have become confused because they are constantly found in a different group without even realizing it!

Every group believes that they alone constitute the Church of Christ, resulting in the performance of rechrismations between themselves. According to information we received, an archbishop was even reordained. They have approximately fifty bishops in Greece for only 60-70,000 people. Years ago the "Andrewite" group in Greece had ten bishops and eighteen priests. Half of the groups have bishops consecrated by either one hierarch or no hierarch at all.

In 1955 one of the two groups was left without a bishop. By necessity they took refuge in the graceless (according to their theory, since they communed with the new calendarists) Russians of the Diaspora87. The ends justified the means. Unfortunately they were not able to recognize that this was matter of abandonment by God, which their impasse had revealed.

The Zealots, despite their polemics against Ecumenism, appear to fully implement Ecumenist practices. This is so, because the "heretical" new calendarists are [often] allowed to receive divine Communion and other Mysteries [in their churches].

We reiterate that the means by which they deceive and gather to themselves followers is the misappropriation or misinterpretation of Church history. In time this should be more fully revealed in a detailed and systematic refutation of zealot ecclesiology.

For all these things we believe that whoever joins the schism of the Zealots in order to fight syncretistic Ecumenism is making a serious mistake before God. They harm themselves, as well as those who are properly struggling against Ecumenism, and who are in need of strengthening. Despite our strong words of correction, we love the Zealots and pray that God will enlighten them to be enlisted in the Church, which would allow them to follow the old calendar, as has happened in previous instances. We are certain that the Church will exhaust every oikonomia to effect their return and will show the foremost care for them, since, moreover, they are not heretics.
C. THE CASE OF ST. SOPHRONIOS

Father Nicholas criticizes me for what I wrote concerning the stance of Saint Sophronius during the period of Monotheletism. He said that from this I concluded that the Fathers did not cease commemorating heretics before a Synodical diagnosis occurred. I never said such a thing. Rather, I wrote that, based on the stance of Saint Sophronius, especially in his address "to the concelebrant"88 regarding the heretic Sergius of Constantinople in 634, the obvious forbearance and oikonomia of the Church to those officially proclaiming heresy is proved. By implication, of course, this oikonomia prevails much more today—an age during which no similar heresy is being so openly preached. Father Nicholas describes the ecclesiastical condition during that time and concludes that in 634 no heresy was officially being preached. As such, he argues that there was no reason for interrupting communion or applying oikonomia.

He specifically supports the following:

1. The events leading up to the heretical "Exposition" of Sergius (638) consisted of discussions and other efforts to ensure the triumph of the Orthodox position. Clarification was needed concerning the definitions of Chalcedon, which solved very difficult ideological problems.

2. In 634 Saint Sophronius rightly calls Sergius a concelebrant because the latter's Monothelitism is not officially proclaimed until in 638.

I answer the above as follows:

His first argument is surprising. After carefully researching the writings of more than twenty-eight historians I realized that a clarification of the Definition of Chalcedon (which had occurred 170 years before) was not at all in view at that time. On the contrary, the only goal was a means for union with the Monophysites. As a result, the following expression: "two natures in Christ on the one hand, but one energy and will"89. This confession comprised the bare minimum threshold for Monophysitism, since all the Monophysites accepted one energy and will90..

Father Nicholas writes that efforts were put forth for the Orthodox positions to prevail. Does this not reveal that heretical views existed against which the Orthodox ones had to prevail? It is clear that the Zealots label certain periods when heresy was preached in one of two ways, according to their whims: "a period of heresy" or "a period of struggle for Orthodox positions to prevail" (concealing by this choice or words that heresy was truly being preached.)

Moreover, in ten points of the article Father Nicholas admits that Sergius had an heretical phronema (mindset), that he negotiated union (which also was achieved), and that Saint Sophronius reacted to the union and condemned Monoenergitism. These events are not, however, described in chronological order. Moreover, the terms "union with heretics" and "heresy" are also avoided, resulting in confusion. His is, for the most part, a copy of the synoptic history of Stephanidis.

The following precise enumeration of the ecclesiastical situation at that time will thus prove how groundless Father Nicholas' second argument is:

Sergius of Constantinople sent to the bishop of Pharan Theodore a false libellum of Minas of Constantinople (+552), asking his opinion about the monenergetic and monothelite positions of this libellum. Theodore accepted it. Sergius also sent this libellum to a certain heretic, Paul, stating his and Theodore's agreement with it. These two events, which must are surely not the only ones, are mentioned by Saint Maximus in his dialogue with Pyrrus91. The historians place them around 615-618, since it is certified later in the homily of St. Maximus.

The Saint mentions that Sergius also wrote to the Severian George Arsa and asked him to send patristic statements about the one energy. He furthermore told him that based on these statements he would enter into union with them. Saint John the Merciful became acquainted with this epistle and wanted to depose Sergius. However the invasion of the Persians (619)92 in that year prevented him.

Around this time Saint Maximus embraced the monastic life. He was frustrated by the condition of the Church due to the expansion of Monotheletism93. As a result, when he saw the heresy "expanding rather completely"94, he departed around the year 626 to Africa, where Orthodoxy prevailed.

In 626 Sergius also wrote to Cyros of Phasidos, certifying the heresy95. In 629, based on the acceptance of one energy and will, he is united with the monophysite bishop Athanasius, whom he actually recognizes as Patriarch of Antioch96. Cyrus ascends in 630 to the throne of Alexandria and begins a struggle for union with the Monophysites97. Saints Sophronius and Maximus unsuccessfully try to prevent him 98. Cyrus united with the Monophysites in 633 based on the heretical confession "one theandric energy in Christ"99.

Sergius, who had already projected "in many ways his own illness" and corrupted "the majority of the Church"100, accepted this union. He was furthermore united in the same year with the heretical Armenians, based on the same heretical confession101. Saint Sophronius then went to Constantinople, and "with the appropriate humble-mindedness of his schema"102, entreated Sergius not to renew this old heresy. Frustrated by Sergius' lack of repentance, however, he goes to Jerusalem and informs the believers that the patriarch and the pope are heretics103.

Sergius was troubled by these Orthodox voices. He decided to abandon Monoenergitism and to limit himself to milder Monotheletism104. In the "Vote", which he published around the end of the 633, he preached the heresy in a milder form. St. Maximus hoped for a moment that he would disavow the "innovation"105, which had occurred in Alexandria. Furthermore in his epistle to Abbot Pyrrus he likened Sergius with Moses106.

In 634 St. Sophronius ascended to the throne of Jerusalem. He sent his enthronement epistle to Sergius and the patriarchs, striking a blow against the heresy of one energy and will. Nevertheless, he refers to Sergius as "the most holy of all bishops, and most blessed brother and concelebrant Sergius"107. He asked him to accept his dogmatic epistle and to send him the "longed for letters", which will clearly express the correct faith108. Unfortunately, Sergius did not change, and in 638 he publishes his heretical "Exposition".

So we see that Saint Sophronius was in communion with Sergius until 634, even though the latter preached heresy from about 615, had caused the frustration of St. John in 619, had corrupted the majority of the Church, and had accepted the unions of 629 and 633.** We have no historical witness that the sacred Sophronius cut communion until his repose in 638.

These events triumphantly proves the point of which I spoke, to wit, that the Church was longsuffering and used economy towards bishops who then preached heresy. These events also show that the Zealots are wrong when they argue that the 15th Canon of the First-Second Synod is obligatory109. In the Synod of the Lateran (649) against the Monothelites there is clear talk about this oikonomia. In his libellum Sergius, bishop of the Cypriots writes the following: "For until today we kept silent owing to oikonomia, thinking they would correct their own teachings"110.

I will conclude by refuting one more argument of the article. Father Nicholas mentions that St. Maximus did not accept the conciliatory "Formula" (Typos) and cut communion with the heretics. "Finally", he concludes, "because he was chased from Constantinople, the Saint managed with the convincingness of his teaching to call Local Synods in Chalcedon (646) and in Rome (641) during the reign of Pope John the Fourth, and in 649 with St. Martin, which condemned Monophysitism and his Monophysitic expressions".

This is a perversion of history. For the sake of the simpler readers I will only say the following: Sergius' lack of repentance became finally became clear in 638111. Saint Maximus then began new struggles to convene Synods which condemned Monothelitism (641, 646, 649). During this period the Saint must have also cut communion with the heretics. The "Formula (Typos)" which Father Nicholas mentions, was published in 648112. Saint Maximus was led in 653 to Constantinople to be judged113. He was chased out in 655 and sent to exile in Vizyi of Thrace, and finally to Laziki114, where he died as a confessor.

So Father Nicholas in his article commits an historical error when he writes that St. Maximus, after being chased out in 650, managed to call the Synods of 641,646 and 649! Accordingly, the result would be [if Fr. Nicholas' historical math were correct] the Zealots' beloved conclusion, namely, first the breaking of communion and later synodical judgment.

Finally, we posit that Zealotism and syncretistic Ecumenism actually comprise two great ecclesiastical deviations, both of which bring about many harmful things for the Church. We pray that the God-man Jesus will protect His Church from both of these extremes, abundantly spread abraod His illuminating Grace, "so that we will all say the same thing, and schisms will not be among us"115.
Endnotes

* The author probably has in mind only the Church of Greece. Concerning all of the Orthodox Churches, "The sole exceptions are the autonomous Church of Finland, which adopted the uncanonical Western Paschalion at the instigation of the Patriarch of Constantinople, after the so-called "Pan-Orthodox" Congress of 1923, as well as several parishes in Western Europe, including that of Froisek (Switzerland), which celebrate Pascha at the same time as Roman Catholics and Protestants and thereby, at times, with the Jews, contrary to the First Canon of the Council of Antioch...." A Scientific Examination of the Orthodox Church Calendar, p. 173.

** See also the Life of St. Meletius the Confessor. During the Antiochian Schism he was consecrated in part by Arians, in full knowledge thereof. His irenic, conciliatory personality is similar to that of St. Sophronius.

1. Volume 27 July-December 1999.
2. P.G. 137, 1068 A-C. Presided over by St. Photios the Great.
3. S. Milia "Of the sacred synods...collection, Paris 1761, vol. 2, p. 737.
4. Letter 102, P.G. 37, 196A.
5. Faith of the saints...The Fathers in Nicaea, P.G. 28, 1641C.
6. Letter 240, P.G. 32, 897A.
7. Precise exposition of the Orthodox faith, ch. 13, (86), P.G. 94, 1153B.
8. Letter 24, book 2, P.G. 99, 1189C.
9. Saint Theodore the Studite, Letter 220, book 2, P.G. 99, 1669A.
10. Interpretation concerning the divine temple, ch. 28, P.G. 155, 708D
11. Saint Anastasius of Antioch, Guide, P.G. 89, 48C.
12. Saint Ignatius the Godbearer, P.G. 96, 508C.
13. P.G. 137, 349-353.
14. Saint Symeon Metaphrastes, Life and lifestyle of our venerable and godbearing father Theodosius the Ceonobiarch, 49, P.G. 114, 517C.
15. A. Dimitrakopoulou, History of the schism, Leipsia, 1867, p. 70-74.
16. Saint Nikodemos, New Eklogion, p. 320-322.
17. Orthodox Christians...everywhere upon the earth, 6 in Jn. Karmiris, The dogmatic and symbolic monuments of the Orthodox and catholic Church, in Athens 1960, vol. 1, p. 427.
18. Dodekabiblos, book 4, ch. 10, 3.
19. Saint Cyrill of Alexandria, letter 11, P.G. 77, 81BC.
20. Saint Nikodemos the Haghiorite, Rudder, Athens 1970, p. 358.
21. F. Vafeidou, Ecclesiastical History, 113:1.
22. Concerning ecclesiastical communion and the memorial and the 15th sacred canon of the 1st and 2nd holy synod, related to them. Holy Mountain 1993, p. 62.
23. Op.cit. book 8, ch. 2:6.
24. Op.cit. book 6, ch. 7:9.
25. Presbyter Gregory, Life of Saint Gregory, P.G. 35, 261C.
26. Orthodox Informer, Sacred Metropolis of Oropos and Filis, vol. 27, p. 1, 2.
27. Presbyter Gregory, op. cit. P.G. 35, 261D-264A.
28. Ch. 19-20, P.G. 35, 745-748.
29. Canon 31, P.G. 137, 96C.
30. M. Gedeon, Patriarchal Charts, Athens 1996, p. 185.
31. Saint Symeon Metaphrastes, Life.....of our venerable father Ioannikios, ch. 51, 52, .P.G. 116, 85A-88B.
32. Concerning Tarasius and Nicephorus the holy patriarchs, P.G. 99, 1853C.
33. P.G. 99, 157CD.
34. Concerning Tarasius and Nicephorus the holy patriarchs, P.G. 99, 1853D.
35. Op. cit. book 7, ch. 4:5.
36. P.G. 108, 992B.
37. Orthodox Informer, Sacred Metropolis of Oropos and Filis, vol. 3427, p. 1.
38. Les Saints Stylites, Bryxelles 1923, p. 85.
39. Op. cit. 216.
40. Voice from the Holy Mountain, that is: Response to...the censure of the Calendar accusations," Holy Mountain 1981, p. 16.
41. 1st canon of the synod in Antioch, P.G. 137, 1276B-1277A.
42. Saint Symeon the new Theologian, Catechism 32.
43. Basil the Great, Canonical epistle 1 (188), ch. 1, P.G. 32, 665A.
44. V. Stefanidou, Ecclesiastical History, Athens 1970, 22, p. 343-344.
45. Concerning ecclesiastical communion and the memorial and the 15th sacred canon of the 1st and 2nd holy synod, related to them. Holy Mountain 1993, p. 62.
46. Jn. Karmiris, The dogmatic and symbolic monuments of the Orthodox and Catholic Church, Graz ..1968, vol. 2, p. 1024 (1104).
47. Saint Cyrill of Alexandria, letter 79, P.G. 77, 341A.
48. Letter 72, P.G. 77, 345B.
49. Op. cit. P.G. 77, 345D.
50. Op. cit. P.G. 77, 344B.
51. Letter 49, book 1, P.G. 99, 1085C.
52. Saint Nikodemos the Haghiorite Rudder, Athens 1970, p. 305. English editor note: "As for Manicheans, and Valentinians, and Marcionists, and those from similar heresies, they have to give us certificates (called libelli) and anathematize their heresy, the Nestorians, and Nestorius, and Eutyches and Dioscorus, and Severus, and the other exarchs of such heresies, and those who entertain their beliefs, and all the aforementioned heresies, and thus they are allowed to partake of holy Communion." (The Rudder, p. 401)
53. Letter 40, book 1, P.G. 99, 1052C.
54. Saint Photios, Letter 2, book 1: P.G. 102, 605C.
55. Saint Photios, Letter 13 book 1: P.G. 102, 724-725.
56. F. Vafeidou, op. cit. 112, 1.
57. Op. cit. 136, 1.
58. K. N. Satha, Library of the Middle Ages, Venice 1873, vol. 2, p. 85.
59. V. Stefanidou, op. cit. 23, p. 384, Feida, Ecclesiastical History, Athens 1994, vol. 2, p. 588.
60. F. Vafeidou, op. cit. 146, 4.
61. Op. cit. 149, 2.
62. The discovered texts, Thessalonica 1991, p. 400.
63. V. Stefanidou, op. cit. 51, 52.
64. Evangelical Trumpet, in Athens 1867, p. 327.
65. Theodoretus monk, Eucharistic participation in the Holy Mountain, 1972, p. 35-37.
66. Op. cit.
67. Saint Nikodemos the Haghiorite, Christoetheia, in Chios 1887, p. 377.
68. Rudder, Athens 1970, footnote on the 46th apostolic canon, p. 56.
69. Op. cit. p. 12.
70. Op. cit. p. 719.
71. Op. cit. interpretation of the 22nd of the 6th, p. 238.
72. Op. cit. footnote 6, p. 696.
73. Op. cit. footnote on the 124th of the synod in Carthage, p. 527.
74. Op. cit. footnote on the 46th apostolic canon p. 53.
75. Concerning constant communion, Volos 1961, part 3, objection, 12, p. 117.
76. Constantine Oikonomos of the Okonomons, The preserved ecclesiastical writings, Athens 1864, vol. 2, p. 246.
81. Eph. 3:9.
82. Periodical "Church G.O.C. (Genuine Orthodox Christians) of Greece", Athens, vol. 1, p. 15.
83. Periodical "The voice of Orthodoxy", Athens, issue 880, p. 10.
84. Periodical "Ecclesiastical tradition", Athens, issue 104, p. 39.
85. Periodical "Church G.O.C. Greece, Athens, issue 1, p. 24.
86. Periodical "Preacher of genuine Orthodox" Athens, issue 214, p. 214-265.
87. S. Karamitsou, The ordinations of the G.O.C. from a canonical viewpoint, Athens 1997, p. 19.
88. Synodical epistle, P.G. 87, 3, 314A.
89. F. Vafeidou, op. cit. 74, 1.
90. V. Stefanidou, op. cit. 14, p. 242.
91. P.G. 91, 332B-333A.
92. Op. cit.
93. As the biographers of Saint Symeon Metaphrastes, Nikodemos, Agapios, mention, Life and struggles of Saint...Maximus, P.G. 90, 68-110.
94. Life and struggles of Saint Maximus, P.G. 90, 73D-76A.
95. Dialogue...concerning the ecclesiastical dogmas, P.G. 91, 333A.
96. Religious and ethical encyclopedia, Athens 1962-1968, vol. 11, p. 103.
97. P. Christou, Hellenic Patrology, Thessalonica 1992, vol. 5, p. 260.
98. Op. cit. p. 268.
99. F. Vafeidou, op. cit. .74, 2.
100. Dialogue...concerning the ecclesiastical dogmas, P.G. 91, 333A.
101. Religious and ethical encyclopedia, Athens 1962-1968, vol. 11, p. 103
102. Dialogue...concerning the ecclesiastical dogmas, P.G. 91, 333B.
103. Dositheos of Jerusalem, op. cit. book 6, ch. 6:4.
104. F. Stefanidou, op. cit. 14: p. 244.
105. Maximus the Confessor, letter 19, .P.G. 91, 592
106. Op. cit.
107. Synodical epistle P.G. 87, 3, 3148A.
108. Op. cit. .87, 3, 3200B.
109. Theodoretus monk, Orthodoxy and heresy, Athens 1982, p. 63.
110. Dositheos of Jerusalem, op. cit. book 6, ch. 7:9.
111. A. D. Kyriakou, Ecclesiastical History, 101.
112. Op. cit.
113. Maximus the Confessor, Explanation of the movement...during secretus, ch. 1, P.G. 90, 110C.
114. Maximus the Confessor, Concerning what was done...discussed, ch. 33, P.G. 90, 172B.
115. 1 Cor. 1:10.

Originally posted here from a translation of the original article published by St. Gregory Monastery in Greek.