Unseen warfare by St Nicodemus the Hagiorite and St Theophan the Recluse. Cap 3-5.

Cap 3.

On hope in God alone and on confidence in Him

Although, as we have said, it is very important not to rely on our own efforts in this unseen warfare, at the same time, if we merely give up all hope of ourselves and despair of ourselves without having found another support, we are certain to flee immediately from the battlefield or to be overcome and taken prisoner by our enemies. Therefore, together with complete renunciation of ourselves, “we should plant in our heart a perfect trust in God and a complete confidence in Him. In other words we should feel with our whole heart that we have no one to rely on except God, and that from Him and Him alone can we expect every kind of good, every manner of help, and victory. Since we are nothing, we can expect nothing from ourselves, except stumblings and falls, which make us relinquish all hope of ourselves. On the other hand, we are certain always to be granted victory by God, if we arm our heart with a living trust in Him and an unshakable certainty that we will receive His help) according to the psalm: ‘My heart trusted in him, and I am helped’ (Ps. xxviii. 7).

The following thoughts will help you to be grounded in this hope and, thereby, to receive help:

(a) that we seek help from God, Who is Omnipotent and can do all that chooses, and therefore can also help us.

(b) that we seek it from God, Who, being Omniscient and Wise, knows all in the most perfect manner, and therefore knows fully what Is best for the salvation of each one of us.

(c) that we seek help from God, Who is infinitely Good and Who comes to us with ineffable love, always desirous and ready from hour to hour and from moment to moment to give us all the help we need for complete victory in the spiritual warfare which takes place in us, as soon as we run with firm trust to the protection of His arms.

And how is it possible that our good Shepherd, Who for three years went in search of sheep that had gone astray, calling so loudly that His throat became parched, and following ways so hard and thorny that He shed all His blood and gave up His life; how is it possible, I repeat, that now, if His sheep follow Him, turn to Him with love and call for His help with hope, He should fail to turn His eyes to the lost sheep, take it into His divine arms and, placing it among the heavenly angels, make a welcoming feast for its sake? If our God never ceases to search diligently and lovingly for the blind and deaf sinner (like the woman for the piece of silver in the Gospels), how is it possible to suppose that He would abandon him now when, like a lost sheep, he cries out calling for his Shepherd? And who will ever believe that God, Who, according to the Revelation, constantly stands at the door of a man’s heart, and knocks, wishing to come in and sup with him (Rev. iii. 20), and bestow His gifts upon him, who will believe that this same God should remain deaf and refuse to enter if a man opens to Him the door of his heart and invites Him in ?

(d) And the fourth method of maintaining a lively trust in God and of attracting His speedy help is to review in our memory all I the instances of speedy divine help described in the Scriptures. These instances, which are so numerous, show us clearly that no one, who put his trust in God, was ever left confounded and without help. ‘Look at the generations of old”, says the wise Sirach, ‘and see; did ever any trust in the Lord, and was confounded?” (Ecclesiasticus ii. 10).

Armed with these four weapons, enter the battle with courage, my brother, and wage war watchfully with the full conviction that victory will be granted you. For with their help you will most certainly acquire perfect trust in God, and this trust will never fail to attract God’s help and invest you with unconquerable power. These two together will in the end make complete distrust of yourself deeply rooted in you. I omit no occasion in this chapter of reminding you to distrust yourself, for I know no one who has no need to be reminded of it. Self-esteem is so deeply rooted in us and so firmly enmeshed in us, making us think that we are some- thing, and something not unimportant, that it always hides in our heart as a subtle and imperceptible movement, even when we are sure that we do not trust ourselves and are, on the contrary, filled I / with complete trust in God alone. In order to avoid this conceit of the heart and act without any self-reliance, led only by your , trust in God, take care always to preserve an attitude in which the consciousness and feeling of your weakness always precede in you the contemplation of God’s omnipotence, and let both alike precede your every action.

Cap 4.

How to recognise whether a man acts without self-reliance and with perfect trust in God

(Beginning of “SELF-RELIANCE OR TRUST IN GOD” section)

It often happens that self-reliant men think that they have no self-reliance whatever, but put all their trust in God and rest confidently in Him alone. But in practice it is not so. They can ascertain it for themselves, if they judge by what is in them and what happens to them if they fall down. If, when they grieve at their downfall, reproaching and abusing themselves for it, they think: “I shall do this and that, the consequences of my downfall will be effaced and all will be well once more,” this is a sure sign that before the downfall they trusted themselves, instead of trusting God. And the more gloomy and disconsolate their grief, the more it shows that they relied too much on themselves and too little on God; and therefore the grief caused by their downfall is not tempered by any comfort. If a man does not rely on himself but puts his trust in God, when he falls he is not greatly. surprised and is not overcome with excessive grief, for he knows that it is the result of his own impotence, and, above all, of the weakness of his trust in God, So his downfall increases his distrust of himself and makes him try all the harder to increase and deepen his humble trust in God. And further, hating the vile passions which caused his downfall, he thereupon endures peacefully and calmly the labours of penitence for having offended God; and armed with still more trust in God, he thereupon pursues his enemies with the greatest courage and resoluteness, even unto death,

I should like some people to reflect on what I have said above for, although they think themselves virtuous and spiritual, when they fall into some transgression, they are overcome with anguish and torment and find no peace anywhere. Exhausted by this grief and anguish, which they suffer for no other reason but self-esteem, they run, again urged by self-esteem, to their spiritual father, to be freed of this burden. Yet they should have done this immediately after the downfall and for no other reason but a desire to wash away as quickly as possible the filth of sin which has offended God, and acquire new strength to fight against themselves through the most holy sacrament of repentance and confession.

Cap 5. On the wrong opinion of those who deem excessive grief a virtue

It is wrong to regard as a virtue the excessive grief, which men feel after committing a sin, not realising that it is caused by pride and a high opinion of themselves, based on the fact that they rely too much on themselves and their own powers. For by thinking that they are something important they undertake too much, hoping to deal with it by themselves. When the experience of their downfall shows them how weak they are, they are astounded, like people, who meet with something unexpected, and they are cast into turmoil and grow faint-hearted. For they see, fallen and prone on the ground, that graven image which is themselves, upon which they put all their hopes and expectations. This does not happen to a humble man who trusts in God alone, expecting nothing good from himself. Therefore, when he falls into some transgression, he also feels the weight of it and grieves) but is not cast into turmoil and is not perplexed, for he knows that it happened through his own impotence, to experience which in downfalls is nothing unexpected or new to him .

Unseen Warfare Part 1:Cap 1 and 2 . By St Nicodemus the Hagiorite and St Theophan the Recluse . StVladimir Seminary Press .

Part One

Cap 1. What is Christian perfection?—Warfare is necessary to acquire it — Four things indispensable to success in this warfare

We all naturally wish, and are commanded to be perfect. The Lord commands: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt v. 48). And St. Paul admonishes: ‘In malice be ye children, but in understanding be men” (I Cor. xiv. 20). In another place he says: ‘Stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Col. iv. 12); and again: ‘Let us go on unto perfection’ (Heb. vi. 1). The same commandment is also found in the Old Testament. Thus God says to Israel in Deuteronomy: ‘Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God’ (Deut. xviii. 13). And David advises his son Solomon: ‘And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind’ (I Chron. xxviii. 9). After all this we cannot fail to see that God demands from Christians the fullness of perfection, that is, that we should be perfect in all virtues.

But if you, my reader beloved in Christ, wish to attain to such heights, you must first learn in what Christian perfection consists. For if you have not learnt this, you may turn off the right path and go in a totally different direction, while thinking that you make progress towards perfection.

I will tell you plainly: the greatest and most perfect thing a man may desire to attain is to come near to God and dwell, in union with Him.

There are many who say that the perfection of Christian life consists in fasts, vigils, genuflexions, sleeping on bare earth and other similar austerities of the body. Others say that it consists in saying many prayers at home and in attending long services in Church. And there are others who think that our perfection consists entirely in mental prayer, solitude, seclusion and silence. But the majority limit perfection to a strict observance of all the rules and practices laid down by the statutes, falling into no excess or deficiency, but preserving a golden moderation. Yet all these virtues do not by themselves constitute the Christian perfection we are seeking, but are only means and methods for acquiring it.

There is no doubt whatever that they do represent means and effective means for attaining perfection in Christian life. For we see very many virtuous men, who practise these virtues as they should, to acquire strength and power against their own sinful and evil nature,—to gain, through these practices, courage to withstand the temptations and seductions of our three main enemies: the flesh, the world and the devil; and in and by these means to obtain the spiritual supports, so necessary to all servants of God, and especially to beginners. They fast, to subdue their unruly flesh; they practise vigils to sharpen their inner vision; they sleep on bare earth, lest they become soft through sleep; they bind their tongue by silence and go into solitude to avoid the slightest inducement to offend against the All-Holy God; they recite prayers, attend Church services and perform other acts of devotion, to keep their mind on heavenly things; they read of the life and passion of our Lord, for the sole purpose of realising more clearly their own deficiency and the merciful loving-kindness of God,—to learn and to desire to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, bearing their cross with self-denial, and to make more and more ardent their love of God and their dislike of themselves.

On the other hand, these same virtues may do more harm than their open omission, to those who take them as the sole basis of their life and their hope; not from their nature, since they are righteous and holy, but through the fault of those, who use them not as they should be used; that is, when they pay attention only to the external practice of those virtues, and leave their heart to be moved by their own volitions and the volitions of the devil. For the latter, seeing that they have left the right path, gleefully refrains from interfering with their physical endeavours and even allows them to increase and multiply their efforts, in obedience to their own vain thought. Experiencing with this certain spiritual stirrings and consolations, such people begin to imagine that they have already reached the state of angels and feel that God Himself is present in them. And at times, engrossed in the contemplation of some abstract and unearthly things, they imagine that they have completely transcended the sphere of this world and have been ravished to the third heaven.

However, anyone can see clearly how sinfully such people behave and how far they are from true perfection, if he looks at their life and character. As a rule they always wish to be preferred to others; they love to live according to their own will and are always stubborn in their decisions; they are blind in everything relating to themselves, but are very clear-sighted and officious in examining the words and actions of others. If another man is held by others in the same esteem, which in their opinion they enjoy, they cannot bear it and become manifestly hostile towards him; if anyone interferes with them in their pious occupations and works of asceticism, especially in the presence of others,—God forbid! —they immediately become indignant, boil over with wrath and become quite unlike themselves.

If, desirous of bringing them to self-knowledge and of leading them to the right path of perfection, God sends them afflictions and sickness, or allows them to be persecuted, by which means He habitually tests His true and real servants, this test immediately shows what is hidden in their hearts, and how deeply they are corrupted by pride. For whatever affliction may visit them, they refuse to bend their necks to the yoke of God’s will and to trust in His righteous and secret judgments. They do not want to follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Who humbled Himself and suffered for our sakes, and they refuse to be humble, to consider themselves the lowest of all creatures, and to regard their persecutors as their good friends, the tools of the divine bounty shown to them and helpers in their salvation.

Thus it is clear that they are in great danger. Their inner eye, that is their mind, being darkened, they see themselves with this and see wrongly. Thinking of their external pious works and deeming them good, they imagine that they have already reached perfection and, puffing themselves up, begin to judge others. After this it is impossible for any man to turn such people, except through God’s special influence. An evident sinner will turn to-wards good more easily than a secret sinner, hiding under the cloak of visible virtues.

Now, having seen clearly and definitely that spiritual life and perfection do not only consist in these visible virtues, of which we have spoken, you must also learn that it consists in nothing but coming near to God and union with Him, as was said in the beginning. With this is connected a heartfelt realisation of the goodness and greatness of God, together with consciousness of our own nothingness and our proneness to every evil ; love of God and dislike of ourselves; submission not only to God but also to all creatures, for the sake of our love of God; renunciation of all will of our own and perfect obedience to the will of God; and moreover desire for all this and its practice with a pure heart to the glory of God. (I Cor. x. 31), from sheer desire to please God and only because He Himself wishes it and because we should so love Him and work for Him.

This is the law of love, inscribed by the finger of God Himself in the hearts of His true servants! This is the renunciation of ourselves that God demands of us! This is the blessed yoke of Jesus Christ and His burden that is light! This is the submission to God’s will, which our Redeemer and Teacher demands from us both by His word and by His example! For did not our Master and the Author of our salvation, our Lord Jesus Christ, tell us to say when praying to the heavenly Father: ‘ Our Father . . . Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. vi. 10)? And did not He Himself exclaim on the eve of His passion: ‘Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke xxii. 42)! And did not He say of His whole work: ‘For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me’ (John vi. 38)?

Do you now see what this all means, brother? I presume that you express your readiness and are longing to reach the height of such perfection. Blessed be your zeal! But prepare yourself also for labour, sweat and struggle from your first steps on the path. You must sacrifice everything to God and do only His will. Yet you will meet in yourself as many wills as you have powers and wants, which all clamour for satisfaction, irrespective of whether it is in accordance with the will of God or not. Therefore, to reach your desired aim, it is first of all necessary to stifle your own wills and finally to extinguish and kill them altogether. And in order to succeed in this, you must constantly oppose all evil in yourself and urge yourself towards good. In other words, you must ceaselessly fight against yourself and against everything that panders to your own wills, that incites and supports them. So prepare “yourself for this struggle and this warfare and know that the crown—attainment of your desired aim—is given to none except to the valiant among warriors and wrestlers. But if this is the hardest of all wars—since in fighting against ourselves it is in ourselves that we meet opposition—victory in it is the most glorious of all; and, what is the main thing, it is most pleasing to God. For if, inspired by fervour, you overcome and put to death your unruly passions, your lusts and wills, you will please God more, and will work for Him more beautifully, than if you flog yourself till you draw blood or exhaust yourself by fasts more than any ancient hermit of the desert. Even if you redeem hundreds of Christian slaves from the infidels and give them freedom, it will not save you, if with this you remain yourself a slave to your own passions. And whatever work you may undertake, however glorious, and with whatever effort and sacrifice you may accomplish it, it will not lead you to your desired aim, if you leave your passions without attention, giving them freedom to live and act in you.

Finally, after learning what constitutes Christian perfection and realising that to achieve it you must wage a constant cruel war with yourself, if you really desire to be victorious in this un-seen warfare and be rewarded with a crown, you must plant in your heart the following four dispositions and spiritual activities, as it were arming yourself with invisible weapons, the most trustworthy and unconquerable of all, namely: (a) never rely on your-self in anything; (b) bear always in your heart a perfect and all-daring trust in God alone; (c) strive without ceasing; and (d) remain constantly in prayer.

Cap 2. One should never believe in oneself or trust oneself in anything

Not to rely on oneself is so necessary in our struggle, my beloved brother, that without this, be assured, not only will you fail to gain the desired victory, but you will be unable to resist the smallest attack of the enemy. Engrave this deeply in your mind and heart.

Since the time of the transgression of our forefather, despite the weakening of our spiritual and moral powers, we are wont to think very highly of ourselves. Although our daily experience very effectively proves to us the falseness of this opinion of ourselves, in our incomprehensible self-deception we do not cease to believe that we are something, and something not unimportant. Yet this spiritual disease of ours, so hard to perceive and acknowledge, is more abhorrent to God than alt else in us, as being the first offspring of our self-hood and self-love, and the source, root and cause of all passions and of all our downfalls and wrong-doing. It closes the very door of our mind or spirit, through which alone Divine grace can enter, and gives this grace no way to come and dwell in a man. And so it withdraws from him. For how can grace, which comes to help and enlighten us, enter that man, who thinks of himself that he is something great, that he himself knows everything and needs no outside help?—May God preserve us from this disease and passion of Lucifer!—God severely reprimands those who are stricken with this passion of vainglory and selfesteem, saving through the prophet: Woe unto them that arc wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight” (Isaiah v. 21). And the Apostle tells us: ‘Be not wise in your own conceits’ (Rom. xii. 16).

While God abhors this evil conceit in us, there is nothing He loves and desires to see in us more than a sincere consciousness of our nothingness and a firm and deep-felt conviction that any good we may have in. our nature and our life comes from Him alone, since He is the source of all good, and that nothing truly good can ever come from ourselves, whether a good thought or a good action. Therefore He takes care to plant this heavenly seed in the hearts of His beloved friends, urging them not to value themselves and not to rely on themselves. Sometimes He does this through the action of grace and inner illumination, or sometimes through external blows and tribulations’ sometimes through unexpected and almost unconquerable temptations, and sometimes by other means, not always comprehensible to us. Yet, although expecting no good from ourselves and not relying on ourselves is the work of God in us, we on our side must make every effort to acquire this disposition, doing all we can, all within our power. And so, my brother, I offer you here four activities. by means of which, with God’s help, you may end by acquiring disbelief in yourself, and learn never to rely on yourself in anything.

(a) realise your nothingness and constantly keep in your mind the fact that by yourself you can do nothing good which is worthy of the kingdom of heaven. Listen to the words of the wise fathers: Peter of Damascus assures us that “nothing is better than to realise one’s weakness and ignorance, and nothing is worse than not to be aware of them” (Philokalia). St. Maximus the Confessor teaches: “The foundation of every virtue is the realisation of human weakness’ (Philokalia). St. John Chrysostom says: ‘He alone knows himself in the best way possible who thinks of himself as being nothing.’

(b) Ask for God’s help in this with warm and humble prayers; for this is His gift. And if you wish to receive it, you must first implant in yourself the conviction that not only have you no such consciousness of yourself, but that you cannot acquire it by your own efforts; then standing daringly before the Almighty God, in firm belief that in His great loving kindness He will grant you this knowledge of yourself when and how He Himself knows, do not let the slightest doubt creep in that you will actually receive it.

(c) Accustom yourself to be wary and to fear your innumerable enemies whom you cannot resist even for a short time,. Fear their long experience in fighting us, their cunning and ambushes, their power to assume the guise of angels of light, their countless wiles and nets, which they secretly spread on the path of your life of virtues.

(d) If you fall into some transgression, quickly turn to the realisation of your weakness and be aware of it. For God allows you to fall for the very purpose of making you more aware of your weakness, so that you may thus not only yourself learn to despise yourself, but because of your great weakness may wish to be despised also by others. Know that without such desire it is impossible for this beneficent self-disbelief to be born and take root in you. This is the foundation and beginning of true humility, since it is based on realisation, by experience, of your impotence and unreliability.

From this, each of us sees how necessary it is for a man, who desires to participate in heavenly light, to know himself, and how God’s mercy usually leads the proud and self-reliant to this knowledge through their downfalls, justly allowing them to fall into the very sin from which they think they are strong enough to protect themselves, so as to make them see their weakness and prevent them from relying foolhardily on themselves either in this or in anything else.

This method, although very effective, is also not without danger, and , God does not always use it, but only when all the other means we have mentioned, which are easier and more natural, fail to lead a man to self-knowledge. Only then does He finally let a man fall into sin, great or small, in accordance with the degree of his pride, conceit and self-reliance. So that where conceit and self- reliance are absent, instructive failures do not occur. Therefore, if you happen to fall, run quickly in your thought to humble self- knowledge and a low opinion and sense of yourself and implore God by persistent prayer to give you true light, so as to realise your nothingness and confirm your heart in disbelief in yourself, lest you again fall into the same or even worse and more destructive sin.

I must add that not only when a man falls into some sin, but also when he is afflicted by some ill-fortune, tribulation or sorrow, and especially a grievous and long-drawn bodily sickness, he must understand that he suffers this in order to acquire self-knowledge, namely the knowledge of his weakness—and to become humble. With this purpose and to this end God allows us to be assailed by all kinds of temptations from the devil, from men and from our own corrupted nature. St. Paul saw this purpose in the temptations he suffered in Asia, when he said: ‘•’But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth dead’ (II Cor. i. 9).

And I shall add another thing: if a man wants to realise his weakness from the actual experience of his life, let him, I do not say for many days but even for one day, observe his thoughts, words and actions—what he thought, what he said, what he did. He will undoubtedly find that the greater part of his thoughts, words and actions were sinful, wrong, foolish and bad. This experiment will make him understand in practice how inharmonious and weak he is in himself. And if he sincerely wishes himself well, this understanding will make him feel how foolish it is to expect anything good from himself or to rely on himself alone.

This sad development seems to escalate during the EP Bartholomew since the so called Council at Crete 2016 ,and now the open support for the schismatic orthodox church in Ukraine under the unlawful leader Philaret.

The Decline of the Patriarchate of Constantinople

by St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco

Translators’ Introduction: The anti-Orthodox career and statements of the late Patriarch Athenagoras of sorry memory have been so striking that they have perhaps tended to obscure the fact that the apostasy of this one man was merely the culmination of a long and thorough process of the departure from the Orthodox Faith of an entire Local Orthodox Church. The promise of the new Patriarch Demetrios to “follow upon the footsteps of our great Predecessor… in pursuing Christian unity” and to institute-“dialogues” with Islam and other non-Christian religions, while recognizing “the holy blessed Pope of Rome Paul VI, the first among equals within the universal Church of 0rist” (Enthronement Address)—only confirms this observation and reveals the depths to which the Church of Constantinople has fallen in our own day.

It should be noted that the title “Ecumenical” was bestowed on the Patriarch of Constantinople as a result of the transfer of the capital of the Roman Empire to this city in the 4th century; the Patriarch then became the bishop of the city which was the center of the ecumene or civilized world. Lamentably, in the 20th century the once-glorious See of Constantinople, having long since lost its earthly glory, has cheaply tried to regain prestige by entering on two new “ecumenical” paths: it has joined the “ecumenical movement,” which is based on an anti-Christian universalism; and, in imitation of apostate Rome, it has striven to subject the other Orthodox Churches to itself and make of its Patriarch a kind of Pope of Orthodoxy.

The following article, which is part of a report on all the Autocephalous Churches made by Archbishop John to the Second All-Diaspora Sobor of the Russian Church Abroad held in Yugoslavia in 1938, gives the historical background of the present state of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. It could well have been written today, nearly 35 years later, apart from a few small points which have changed since then, not to mention the more spectacular “ecumenical” acts and statements of the Patriarchate in recent years, which have served to change it from the “pitiful spectacle” here described into one of the leading world centers of anti-Orthodoxy.

THE PRIMACY among Orthodox Churches is possessed by the Church of the New Rome, Constantinople, which is headed by a Patriarch who has the title of Ecumenical, and therefore is itself called the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which territorially reached the culmination of its development at the end of the 18th century. At that time there was included in it the whole of Asia Minor, the whole Balkan Peninsula (except for Montenegro), together with the adjoining islands, since the other independent Churches in the Balkan Peninsula had been abolished and had become part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Ecumenical Patriarch had received from the Turkish Sultan, even before the taking of Constantinople by the Turks, the title of Millet Bash, that is, the head of the people, and he was considered the head of the whole Orthodox population of the Turkish Empire. This, however, did not prevent the Turkish government from removing patriarchs for any reason whatever and calling for new elections, at the same time collecting a large tax from the newly elected patriarch. Apparently the latter circumstance had a great significance in the changing of patriarchs by the Turks, and therefore it often happened that they again allowed on the Patriarchal Throne a patriarch whom they had removed, after the death of one or several of his successors. Thus, many patriarchs occupied their see several times, and each accession was accompanied by the collection of a special tax from them by the Turks.

In order to make up the sum which he paid on his accession to the Patriarchal Throne, a patriarch made a collection from the metropolitans subordinate to him, and they, in their turn, collected from the clergy subordinate to them. This manner of making up its finances left an imprint on the whole order of the Patriarchate’s life. In the Patriarchate there was likewise evident the Greek “Great Idea,” that is, the attempt to restore Byzantium, at first in a cultural, but later also in a political sense. For this reason in all important; posts there were assigned people loyal to this idea, and for the most part Greeks from the part of Constantinople called the Phanar, where also the Patriarchate was located. Almost always the episcopal sees were filled by Greeks, even though in the Balkan Peninsula the population was primarily Slavic.

At the beginning of the 19th century there began a movement of liberation among the Balkan peoples, who were striving to liberate themselves from the authority of the Turks. There arose the states of Serbia, Greece, Rumania, and Bulgaria, at first semi-independent, and then completely independent from Turkey. Parallel with this there proceeded also the formation of new Local Churches which were separate from the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Even though it was unwillingly, under the influence of circumstances, the Ecumenical Patriarchs permitted the autonomy of the Churches in the vassal princedoms, and later they recognized the full independence of the Churches in Serbia, Greece, and Rumania. Only the Bulgarian question was complicated in view on the one hand of the impatience of the Bulgarians, who had not yet attained political independence, and, on the other hand, thanks to the unyieldingness of the Greeks. The self-willed declaration of Bulgarian autocephaly on the foundation of a firman of the Sultan was not recognized by the Patriarchate, and in a number of dioceses there was established a parallel hierarchy.

The boundaries of the newly-formed Churches coincided with the boundaries of the new states, which were growing all the time at the expense of Turkey, at the same time acquiring new dioceses from the Patriarchate. Nonetheless, in 1912, when the Balkan War began, the Ecumenical Patriarchate had about 70 metropolias and several bishoprics. The war of 1912-13 tore away from Turkey a significant part of the Balkan Peninsula with such great spiritual centers as Salonica and Athos. The Great War of 1914-18 for a time deprived Turkey of the whole of Thrace and the Asia Minor coast with the city of Smyrna, which were subsequently lost by Greece in 1922 after the unsuccessful march of the Greeks on Constantinople.

Here the Ecumenical Patriarch could not so easily allow out of his authority the dioceses which had been torn away from Turkey, as had been done previously. There was already talk concerning certain places which from of old had been under the spiritual authority of Constantinople. Nonetheless, the Ecumenical Patriarch in 1922 recognized the annexation to the Serbian Church of all areas within the boundaries of Yugoslavia; he agreed to the inclusion within the Church of Greece of a number of dioceses in the Greek State, preserving, however, his jurisdiction over Athos; and in 1937 he recognized even the autocephaly of the small Albanian Church, which originally he had not recognized.

The boundaries of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the number of its dioceses had significantly decreased. At the same time the Ecumenical Patriarchate in fact lost Asia Minor also, although it remained within its jurisdiction. In accordance with the peace treaty between Greece and Turkey in 1923, there occurred an exchange of population between these powers, so that the whole Greek population of Asia Minor had to resettle in Greece. Ancient cities, having at one time a great significance in ecclesiastical matters and glorious in their church history, remained without a single inhabitant of the Orthodox faith. At the same time, the Ecumenical Patriarch lost his political significance in Turkey, since Kemal Pasha deprived him of his title of head of the people. Factually, at the present time under the Ecumenical Patriarch there are five dioceses within the boundaries of Turkey in addition to Athos with the surrounding places in Greece. The Patriarch is extremely hindered in the manifestation even of his indisputable rights in church government within the boundaries of Turkey, where he is viewed as an ordinary Turkish subject-official, being furthermore under the supervision of the government. The Turkish government, which interferes in all aspects of the life of its citizens, only as a special privilege has permitted him, as also the Armenian Patriarch, to wear long hair and clerical garb, forbidding this to the rest of the clergy. The Patriarch has no right of free exit from Turkey, and lately the government is ever more insistently pursuing his removal to the new capital of Ankara (the ancient Ancyra), where there are now no Orthodox Christians, but where the administration with all the branches of governmental life is concentrated.

Such an outward abasement of the hierarch of the city of St. Constantine, which was once the capital of the ecumene, has not caused reverence toward him to be shaken among Orthodox Christians, who revere the See of Sts. Chrysostom and Gregory the Theologian. From the height of this See the successor of Sts. John and Gregory could spiritually guide the whole Orthodox world, if only he possessed their firmness in the defense of righteousness and truth and the breadth of views of the recent Patriarch Joachim III. However, to the general decline of the Ecumenical Patriarchate there has been joined the direction of its activity after the Great War. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has desired to make up for the loss of dioceses which have left its jurisdiction, and likewise the loss of its political significance within the boundaries of Turkey, by submitting to itself areas where up to now there has been no Orthodox hierarchy, and likewise the Churches of those states where the government is not Orthodox. Thus, on April 5, 1922, Patriarch Meletius designated an Exarch of Western and Central Europe with the title of Metropolitan of Thyateira with residency in London; on March 4, 1923, the same Patriarch consecrated the Czech Archimandrite Sabbatius Archbishop of Prague and All Czechoslovakia; on April 15, 1924, a Metropolia of Hungary and All Central Europe was founded with a See in Budapest, even though there was already a Serbian bishop there. In America an Archbishopric was established under the Ecumenical Throne, then in 1924 a Diocese was established in Australia with a See in Sydney. In 1938 India was made subordinate to the Archbishop of Australia.

At the same time there has proceeded the subjection of separate parts of the Russian Orthodox Church which have been torn away from Russia. Thus, on June 9, 1923, the Ecumenical Patriarch accepted into his jurisdiction the Diocese of Finland as an autonomous Finnish Church; on August 23, 1923, the Estonian Church was made subject in the same way, on November 13, 1924, Patriarch Gregory VII recognized the autocephaly of the Polish Church under the supervision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate—that is, rather autonomy. In March, 1936, the Ecumenical Patriarch accepted Latvia into his jurisdiction. Not limiting himself to the acceptance into his jurisdiction of Churches in regions which had fallen away from the borders of Russia, Patriarch Photius accepted into his jurisdiction Metropolitan Eulogius in Western Europe together with the parishes subordinate to him, and on February 28, 1937, an Archbishop of the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarch in America consecrated Bishop Theodore-Bogdan Shpilko for a Ukrainian Church in North America.

Thus, the Ecumenical Patriarch has become actually “ecumenical” [universal] in the breadth of the territory which is theoretically subject to him. Almost the whole earthly globe, apart from the small territories of the three Patriarchates and the territory of Soviet Russia, according to the idea of the Patriarchate’s leaders, enters into the composition of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Increasing without limit their desires to submit to themselves parts of Russia, the Patriarchs of Constantinople have even begun to declare the uncanonicity of the annexation of Kiev to the Moscow Patriarchate, and to declare that the previously existing southern Russian Metropolia of Kiev should be subject to the Throne of Constantinople. Such a point of view is not only clearly expressed in the Tomos of November 13, 1924, in connection with the separation of the Polish Church, but is also quite thoroughly promoted by the Patriarchs. Thus, the Vicar of Metropolitan Eulogius in Paris, who was consecrated with the permission of the Ecumenical Patriarch, has assumed the title of Chersonese; that is to say, Chersonese, which is now in the territory of Russia, is subject to the Ecumenical Patriarch. The next logical step for the Ecumenical Patriarchate would be to declare the whole of Russia as being under the jurisdiction of Constantinople.

However, the actual spiritual might and even the actual boundaries of authority by far do not correspond to such a self-aggrandizement of Constantinople. Not to mention the fact that almost everywhere the authority of the Patriarch is quite illusory and consists for the most part in the confirmation of bishops who have been elected to various places or the sending of such from Constantinople, many lands which Constantinople considers subject to itself do not have any flock at all under its jurisdiction.

The moral authority of the Patriarchs of Constantinople has likewise fallen very low in view of their extreme instability in ecclesiastical matters. Thus, Patriarch Meletius IV arranged a “Pan-Orthodox Congress,” with representatives of various churches, which decreed the introduction of the New Calendar. This decree, recognized only by a part of the Church, introduced a frightful schism among Orthodox Christians. Patriarch Gregory VII recognized the decree of the council of the Living Church concerning the deposing of Patriarch Tikhon, whom not long before this the Synod of Constantinople had declared a “confessor,” and then he entered into communion with the “Renovationists” in Russia, which continues up to now.

In sum, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in theory embracing almost the whole universe and in fact extending its authority only over several dioceses, and in other places having only a higher superficial supervision and receiving certain revenues for this, persecuted by the government at home and not supported by any governmental authority abroad: having lost its significance as a pillar of truth and having itself become a source of division, and at the same time being possessed by an exorbitant love of power—represents a pitiful spectacle which recalls the worst periods in the history of the See of Constantinople.

From Orthodox Word, vol. 8, no. 4 (45), July-August 1972, pp. 166-168, 174-175.

The Recent History of Ecumenism and the Struggle for Orthodoxy (Part A) – Protopresbyter Theodore Zisis

In light of the recent developments in GreeceOrthodox Ethos is pleased to be able to present to English speakers the following translation of Fr. Theodore Zisis’ enlightening lecture on the recent history (mainly in Greece) of ecumenism and the struggle for Orthodoxy.

Reverend Fathers,

Elder Joanikios, Fr. Photios, Fr. Symeon, other Fathers, most devout monastics, ladies and gentlemen:

It brings me great joy to be here tonight with you in Askos [a village near Lagadas, about 45 minutes north of Thessaloniki], because we are joined together with Fr. Photios, by strong spiritual ties which go back many years, but also because Fr. Photios – a mature and conscientious clergyman who took on the priesthood as a duty, as a vocation, and who strives to act in a manner consistent with that great grace which God has given him – strives by means of this gift of the priesthood, to enlighten and inform his flock here in Askos concerning these matters connected with the Orthodox Faith.

As you have heard, tonight I will be speaking about a highly interesting matter. Presupposing that many of you are not fully informed about this matter, even though there have been many efforts to [spread this information]. Tonight, I will try to present you, at the very least, with the developments which have occurred surrounding this major theme of Ecumenism, in the last two or three years. I am going to tell you in simple words what Ecumenism is, what the heresy of Ecumenism teaches, because you need to understand why the heresy of Ecumenism makes us so uneasy, and why Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops and many others are advocates of this heresy.

Why a great well known Serbian Elder – and now Saint – Elder Justin Popovich, described Ecumenism as a ‘Pan-heresy’, and the ‘summation of all the other heresies’. What is Ecumenism? It is not just one heresy. All of the other heresies are contained within Ecumenism!

How does it contain all the other heresies? We all know that the Monophysites are heretics, and that the Monophysites were condemned by the Ecumenical Councils- the 3rd, 4th, and 7th- and by many of the Holy Fathers. The heresy of Monophysitism is condemned. We all know that Iconoclasm was condemned at the 7th Ecumenical Council. We all know that Papism- the Pope of Rome- was condemned at the councils, and even at Ecumenical Councils; the 8th Ecumenical Council, and the consensus of the Holy Fathers considers Papism to be heresy.

Books by Theologians have been published which show that Papism is a heresy. And a much worse heresy than Papism is its child, Protestantism. If Papism holds twenty heresies, Protestantism holds one hundred heresies, it is deceived about one hundred things.

Now look at this… Ecumenism takes all of these heresies into itself. How? Because Ecumenism teaches that all these heresies are ‘churches’ and not heresies; that they are ‘sister churches’; that we are the same as these; that there is no such thing as the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of the Creed. The Saints at the Ecumenical Councils who condemned Monophysitism were mistaken. Monophysitism is not a heresy; they are Orthodox.

The same goes for the Iconoclasts; the Protestants are Iconoclasts. If you go to a Protestant church you will not see icons. They have gotten rid of them. Papism with the filioque, with Papal primacy, with the Immaculate Conception, with all its other heresies… And Protestantism is worse.

Ecumenism pardons all of these heresies. It says, “It doesn’t matter. It is not a bad thing. Our Fathers made a mistake… the Pope isn’t a heretic, the Monophysites, are not heretics. We are all sister churches. We all belong to the Church. They are also churches.”

Do you see how frightful a thing this is? The Holy Fathers as far back as the era of the Apostles, struggled so manfully… If we look at the New Testament, we will see that the Apostles themselves spoke about false shepherds, of wolves in sheep’s clothing, of heretics even in the New Testament.

The Church must condemn such false shepherds and wolves… even the Apostles did this. And in continuation, the Holy Fathers condemned these heresies. And then, now we come along and say that Monophysitism is not a heresy? If we have the time I will provide you with a few recent examples when we entered into joint-prayer with the Monophysites. I will give you a few examples depending on where this talk takes us.

This past year the Copts, the Egyptians, who are Monophysites, elected a new Patriarch and Theodoros, our Patriarch of Alexandria, went and took part in the enthronement of this new Patriarch and even gave him a miter as a gift, and then yelled out ‘Axios’ during the enthronement service.

In other words, he treated this heretical Monophysite Patriarch as if he were a canonical Patriarch, as if he were not heretical. Our Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria extolled him and treated him as if he were Orthodox. As I said, he had a miter made for him, which means that he recognizes his Episcopal office, even shouting out ‘Axios’!

And the Ecumenical Patriarch and others sent congratulatory letters, letters to the same newly elected Monophysite Patriarch. Just now a bishop of the Ecumenical Patriarchate- imagine- went and took part in a Blessing of Waters, wearing his stole, and committed joint-prayer at a service of the Blessing of Waters that the Monophysites held in Egypt. There are numberless examples…

There is a devout Romanian clergyman who some of you know, Fr. Matthew Volkonescu from Veroia, who wrote a letter of protest to the Patriarch of Alexandria saying, “How could you give a miter to a heretical Monophysite Patriarch condemned by the Ecumenical Councils and call him ‘Axios’? Is this not showing disdain for the Holy Canons? Is this not showing disdain for the Holy Fathers and the Saints, who condemned Monophysitism as a heresy?”

I am telling you this, to show you how bad things have gotten. I have brought with me some things from the Internet as further evidence, but I don’t think they are needed. I have brought you photographs which show our bishops, priests, and so on, praying together with, entering into joint-prayers with, all of these… with Monophysites, with Papists, with Protestants.

A couple of days ago a photograph was circulating on the internet, which showed the new Serbian Patriarch Irenaeos serving an Artoklasia, and at this service Papists, heretics, and others all took part. Moreover, they innovated there in that not only the priests participated in the Artoklasia, but also the laity. Usually the priests alone place their hands on the back of the one in front of them when many serve, but there, all of them including the Papists and the laity, crowded around and placed their hands on the back of the one in front of them.

Ecumenism confounds everything. It does not believe that there is Orthodoxy; that there is Truth for which the Saints and Fathers struggled from the time of the Apostles. The Apostles were the first to struggle to preserve the faith, and then after them the Holy Fathers did likewise.

Now this ecumenism was initially inter-Christian, in other words, it was limited to relations between those who were Christian, heretics but Christian. Now, this ecumenism has become inter-religious, what does inter-religious mean?

It means that Christianity is not the lone path to salvation, that people are saved not only by following the preaching of Christ, the Gospel, but they are saved no matter what religion they are. Be they Buddhists, be they Confucians, be they Muslims, be they Jews, all the religions, all faiths are paths to salvation. All save. One does not have to become Christian, to enter the Church, to be saved… whatever religion he is he can be saved. There is no greater blasphemy than this.

There’s no greater denial of the Gospel. Did Christ not come to the world and say, “I am the way, the truth and the life”? That one cannot be saved unless he becomes a Christian? “The one who believes and is baptized will be saved,” and, “the one who does not believe will be condemned.”

When our Lord sent the Apostles out to preach he told them, “if you go somewhere and they receive you and listen to your preaching, and believe your preaching, then bless that house. But if you go somewhere and they do not believe if they do not believe that I am God, that I am the God-Man, then leave that house and even shake off the dust from your feet.” Have no further relations with the unbelievers. And the Apostle Paul clearly tells us, “… What does light have to do with darkness, Christ with Belial?”

What does the light of the teachings of Christ…”We have seen the true light”… have in common with the darkness of delusion found in all these other religions? But now our Patriarchs and the ecumenists are teaching us that it does not matter. This is the great thrust of the new era, the era of Anti-Christ: to take the era of our Lord Jesus Christ out of the middle (way?), to say that the tiThe Ecumenical Movement is therefore, a movement of the Anti-Christ. And daringly I tell you, and let it be heard- the Synaxis of Orthodox Clergy and Monastics has just recently written a text- that Masonry and Zionism have played a large role in this syncretistic movement, syncretistic in that it brings everything together and mixes it all up. They are working behind the scenes. They are not happy with the notion that Christ is the truth.

Even today the Zionists, the Jews, are bothered when we say that Christ is the truth, that Christ is the light. “Is not the Old Testament light? Is not Judaism light? Is not Islam light? Is not Buddhism light?” No, they are not light. They are darkness. The Holy Fathers have written many works against Islam, against these religions, which show that these religions contain innumerable delusions. Imagine.

Today, we find ourselves in the position where there are clergy who teach that Ecumenism, these relations that we have with all the others… You have all heard that the last week of January, has been set aside as the ‘Week of Joint-Prayer’ by the Ecumenists. In other words, all over the world and even in Thessaloniki- I will tell you now- all over the world at the Pope’s instigation, all the Christians get together and pray together. Not just the Orthodox, but all.

Here, in the Church of Greece, it was rare to see this phenomenon. At least the clergy would not take part in such services. For years this was held at the Frankish church in Thessaloniki and a few laity went, a few professors from the Theological School of the University of Thessaloniki, but not a single clergyman. And a decade ago it was only one lone professor who went.

Now, Ecumenism has gained so much ground, that the others have been deceived and go to pray together with the Papists, Monophysites, and all the others. Outside of Greece this is going on officially. Bishops, Patriarchs, Archbishops, Orthodox clergy, are officially taking part in these joint-prayers over the last twelve days of January. The last page of the ‘Orthodox Typos’ has published a column, covering these inter-religious displays, which have taken place.

If one reads this, one will conclude that, we are truly in the midst of a thunderstorm, a tempest, a winter of Ecumenism, a period wherein the heresy of Ecumenism is spreading, is being disseminated. We are in a downward spiral, which no one is trying to stop.

If the Saints… if the Holy Apostles were here today, they would have given their very lives, their very blood, to stop this downward spiral of Ecumenism. They would have labored against all of these Patriarchs, Archbishops, and Bishops who betray the Gospel and ignore the saints. They ignore the Saints… they have officially announced that we ought to leave the Saints behind.

You all know that in the Metropolis of Demetrias, the Metropolis of Volos, a conference was held in 2010 if I am not mistaken, in June of 2010, where Theologians and Hierarchs came to the conclusion that we ought to transitions into the Post-Patristic era. We should leave the Holy Fathers [they say] because the Holy Fathers create problems for us… The Holy Fathers tell us the truth… “The Holy Fathers”, they say, “had their time, but now the situation has changed and we have arrived at the Post-Patristic era, the time after the Fathers. We will change the teachings of the Church because the Church must adapt.”

All that by way of introduction…

Briefly, in whatever time remains Fr. Photios, in whatever time remains, I will quickly speak about some developments that occurred around the time the ‘Confession of Faith’ was published, and before the ‘Confession of Faith’. Here, then, I will present you with a few things connected with these matters. I have previously told you that in 2009 we published the ‘Confession of Faith’. The same year, in 2009, the Holy Community of the Holy Mountain published a text which said what? I will summarize it, I have the texts here, but I don’t want to use up too much time.

The text of the Holy Community of the Holy Mountain said- the text was addressed to the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece- it said, that we have overdone it with our participation in Ecumenism and in the Ecumenical Movement and that we ought to consider ceasing our participation in the Ecumenical Movement. This was in 2009, a little before the ‘Confession of Faith’.

This bothered the Ecumenical Patriarch, and he sent a letter to the Athonites wherein, he tried to justify the Orthodox Church’s participation in the Ecumenical Movement, then towards the end- he was not overly harsh with the Athonite Fathers; he restrained himself- but he told them that their response was misguided and overzealous. “You aren’t well informed. You must trust us because what we are doing has synodal approval. We haven’t decided to do this on our own, but synods have decided to do this.”

Also, near the end of that year- the Holy Mountain again- the Athonite Committee on Dogmatic Questions, whose membership consists of three Athonite Elders: Elder Luke of Philoteou, Elder George the Abbot, and the Abbot anme of Christ has passed, and bring us to the Anti-Christ.

The Ecumenical Movement is therefore, a movement of the Anti-Christ. And daringly I tell you, and let it be heard- the Synaxis of Orthodox Clergy and Monastics has just recently written a text- that Masonry and Zionism have played a large role in this syncretistic movement, syncretistic in that it brings everything together and mixes it all up. They are working behind the scenes. They are not happy with the notion that Christ is the truth.

Even today the Zionists, the Jews, are bothered when we say that Christ is the truth, that Christ is the light. “Is not the Old Testament light? Is not Judaism light? Is not Islam light? Is not Buddhism light?” No, they are not light. They are darkness. The Holy Fathers have written many works against Islam, against these religions, which show that these religions contain innumerable delusions. Imagine.

Today, we find ourselves in the position where there are clergy who teach that Ecumenism, these relations that we have with all the others… You have all heard that the last week of January, has been set aside as the ‘Week of Joint-Prayer’ by the Ecumenists. In other words, all over the world and even in Thessaloniki- I will tell you now- all over the world at the Pope’s instigation, all the Christians get together and pray together. Not just the Orthodox, but all.

Here, in the Church of Greece, it was rare to see this phenomenon. At least the clergy would not take part in such services. For years this was held at the Frankish church in Thessaloniki and a few laity went, a few professors from the Theological School of the University of Thessaloniki, but not a single clergyman. And a decade ago it was only one lone professor who went.

Now, Ecumenism has gained so much ground, that the others have been deceived and go to pray together with the Papists, Monophysites, and all the others. Outside of Greece this is going on officially. Bishops, Patriarchs, Archbishops, Orthodox clergy, are officially taking part in these joint-prayers over the last twelve days of January. The last page of the ‘Orthodox Typos’ has published a column, covering these inter-religious displays, which have taken place.

If one reads this, one will conclude that, we are truly in the midst of a thunderstorm, a tempest, a winter of Ecumenism, a period wherein the heresy of Ecumenism is spreading, is being disseminated. We are in a downward spiral, which no one is trying to stop.

If the Saints… if the Holy Apostles were here today, they would have given their very lives, their very blood, to stop this downward spiral of Ecumenism. They would have labored against all of these Patriarchs, Archbishops, and Bishops who betray the Gospel and ignore the saints. They ignore the Saints… they have officially announced that we ought to leave the Saints behind.

You all know that in the Metropolis of Demetrias, the Metropolis of Volos, a conference was held in 2010 if I am not mistaken, in June of 2010, where Theologians and Hierarchs came to the conclusion that we ought to transitions into the Post-Patristic era. We should leave the Holy Fathers [they say] because the Holy Fathers create problems for us… The Holy Fathers tell us the truth… “The Holy Fathers”, they say, “had their time, but now the situation has changed and we have arrived at the Post-Patristic era, the time after the Fathers. We will change the teachings of the Church because the Church must adapt.”

All that by way of introduction…

Briefly, in whatever time remains Fr. Photios, in whatever time remains, I will quickly speak about some developments that occurred around the time the ‘Confession of Faith’ was published, and before the ‘Confession of Faith’. Here, then, I will present you with a few things connected with these matters. I have previously told you that in 2009 we published the ‘Confession of Faith’. The same year, in 2009, the Holy Community of the Holy Mountain published a text which said what? I will summarize it, I have the texts here, but I don’t want to use up too much time.

The text of the Holy Community of the Holy Mountain said- the text was addressed to the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece- it said, that we have overdone it with our participation in Ecumenism and in the Ecumenical Movement and that we ought to consider ceasing our participation in the Ecumenical Movement. This was in 2009, a little before the ‘Confession of Faith’.

This bothered the Ecumenical Patriarch, and he sent a letter to the Athonites wherein, he tried to justify the Orthodox Church’s participation in the Ecumenical Movement, then towards the end- he was not overly harsh with the Athonite Fathers; he restrained himself- but he told them that their response was misguided and overzealous. “You aren’t well informed. You must trust us because what we are doing has synodal approval. We haven’t decided to do this on our own, but synods have decided to do this.”

Also, near the end of that year- the Holy Mountain again- the Athonite Committee on Dogmatic Questions, whose membership consists of three Athonite Elders: Elder Luke of Philoteou, Elder George the Abbot, and the Abbot and Elder of Philoteou… in September of 2009 then, they produced a new document on our dialogues with the Papists. And they said in this text, that we must be very careful with respect to ‘Papal Primacy’.

This was around the time, when they were discussing the primacy of the Pope in Ravenna, in Cyprus, and elsewhere, and the Holy Elders said that we must be very careful not to accept the Primacy of the Pope at these dialogues. I will read you one or two texts at the end, to show you how far the Orthodox representatives have strayed with respect to this matter.

Around the same time, I have noted that I should read you the statement of a young Hierarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Elpidophoros of Prousa, who addressing the Theological College in Boston in America in 2009… I have a photocopy here and will read it to you at the end… said that the Orthodox should not be bothered when they tear talk of the Primacy of the Pope, and that we too must recognize the existence of a universal primacy in the Church. “Whoever does not recognize a universal primacy is a heretic; it is a heresy.”

Up until now, there has never been mention of a universal primacy in the Orthodox Church- neither of the Pope, nor of our own, of the Ecumenical Patriarch. There is a view, which says that our own [theologians] are starting to play with the notion of the Primacy of the Pope, so that that can get us to adopt a primacy, so that they can grant the Ecumenical Patriarch a similar primacy.

In the Orthodox Church, primacy is only local. The Bishops recognize a primacy of the Metropolitan, or within a Patriarchate, the Metropolitans recognize a primacy of their Patriarch. But the notion of universal Primacy, that there is a Patriarch in Orthodoxy who has universal primacy, is completely incomprehensible for us.

Our polity is not monarchic. The Papal polity is monarchic; there is one at the top. Our polity is synodal. Theologians and bishops are starting to cultivate the notion of primacy, so that we can create bridges in the dialogues with the Papists, so that we get used to the idea that the Pope ought to have universal primacy, and that we come to recognize a sort of primacy in Orthodoxy. All that happened in 2009 roughly… two or three years remain… I will be brief. I will give you just a few indicative examples.

At the beginning of 2010, the persecution of Bishop Artemios occurred within the Serbian Church. A confessor of the Orthodox Faith, who in the past had sent a memorandum to the Holy Synod, to the Hierarchy of the Serbian Church, recommending that the Serbian Church withdraw from the World Council of Churches, this Bishop Artemios was the Ethnarch of Kosovo.

After NATO laid waste to Kosovo and Serbia with bombings, in 2009 remember… NATO laid waste to that area… it appears that the politicians in Serbia decided, “We cannot resist America and Europe… we must submit. But submission means that we must accept the Pope. And how do we signal our submission to the West in the ecclesiastical sphere, except by allowing the Pope to visit?”

And because they knew, that Bishop Artemios was both in Patriotic terms, the Ethnarch of Kosovo with its Monasteries… there are hundreds of monastics in Kosovo… and that he labored the most forcefully against Papism; sadly the Church of Serbia, sadly led by three Hierarchs well known to many of us, and considered fellow disciples along with Artemios, of the holy Elder Justin Popovich; Artemios’ own brothers and fellow disciples, decided not only to remove him from his throne, but also to defrock him, leaving him a simple monk… because Artemios stood in the way of a Papal visit to Serbia.

I do not have the gift of clairvoyance, but at the beginning of 2010, I wrote a text where I said that the reason Artemios and his co-strugglers were persecuted in Serbia was… and we have had the joy and honor of having here with us for a few years Artemios’ protosynkelos and the first among his co-laborers, Fr. Symeon, who is with us here tonight. He was persecuted… he is persecuted. He lives in exile from his homeland. He came to us seeking vindication and found it… he too suffered ecclesiastical punishment… Not having clairvoyance, at the beginning of 2010, I wrote that the whole movement aimed against Artemios is taking place so that the Pope can visit Serbia. And the Pope is now coming to Serbia this year, in 2013.

If Artemios were still within the Hierarchy, it would have been difficult for the Pope to come! Artemios would have protested, so they deposed him. And I am obliged to tell you, that the same thing is slowly beginning to happen here.

The Orthodox voices that are speaking out and being heard, like the very daring and lion-hearted, Metropolitan of Piraeus, and some of us who have struggled against this for years, are being threatened- I said this in the homily in church this morning- we were threatened… the Metropolitan of Piraeus was threatened by a Hierarch who said, that soon all of the voices of the zealot anti-Ecumenists will fall silent.

And using as my base, the appointed epistle passage wherein the Apostle Paul, imprisoned in Rome, writes to Timothy in Ephesus and says, “I am in bonds, in jail, but the word of God will not be bound!” They can persecute us, they can slander us, they can punish us and put us in jail. They deposed Artemios, and they put Fr. Symeon in jail, but Orthodoxy cannot be suppressed.

“The word of God will not be bound!”

At the beginning of 2010 then, the persecution of Bishop Artemios occurred. On the Sunday of Orthodoxy of the same year; a Patriarchal and Synodal Encyclical, was circulated by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. And this Patriarchal and Synodal Encyclical- on the Sunday of Orthodoxy- was defensive. It said that those who accuse us, those who say that we betray Orthodoxy, do so unjustly. We do not betray Orthodoxy [he writes].

The same year, the Synaxis of Orthodox Clergy and Monastics published the ‘Confession of Faith’, they produced a text supporting the persecuted Bishop Artemios and Fr. Symeon, their co-laborers and monastics, Kosovo emptied of monastics.

Elder Artemios, was not your usual Bishop. He was a Bishop who resurrected the ancient Episcopacy, when the Bishops were Monastics. He was a monk and an Abbot. He has tons of monasteries, all of which had Artemios as their spiritual father. They deposed him, and the monastics left Kosovo, turning it into a spiritual desert.

Again in the same year, 2010, another matter arose. Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Messenia, a Metropolitan of the Church of Greece, formulated a teaching. What was this teaching he formulated? He taught that our Church- the Church, the One, Holy Catholic, and Apostolic Church, the Orthodox Church- is not One. Why? Because, from the time of the schism of the Roman Catholics, the Church ceased to be One. The Church is divided.

In other words, though we say in the Creed that we are the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, because Papism went into schism and heresy, because they broke away and left the Church, we ceased to be the Church. We are half, or a part of the Church. We are a division, a part, of the Church.

Bishops reacted to the Metropolitan of Messenia’s teaching, Metropolitan Seraphim of Kythira, a humble Hierarch, reacted, denouncing this teaching concerning the dividedness of the Church. He denounced it to the Holy Synod. Demetrios Tselengides, Professor of Dogmatics at the University of Thessaloniki, came along and supported him and strengthened his case, rebutting the Metropolitan of Messenia for his heretical teaching concerning the dividedness of the Church.

Again the same year, 2010, sadly the Pope visited Cyprus. The Pope, as we say colloquially, has gone door to door to all the Orthodox churches in order to have each of the Orthodox churches bow down to him. All of the Orthodox churches!

And as I have written in the past, this calls to mind the Book of Revelation where, all are led to worship the beast. I have written an article entitled: “With the Lamb or with the Beast? Should we follow Christ or the Pope?”

He has passed through all of the Orthodox Churches one after another: Romania, Bulgaria, Greece. Do you remember the battle we had in 2001 with His Eminence Archbishop Christodoulos, in an effort to prevent the Pope from coming?

This shouldn’t seem strange to you. All the evil that has occurred, all the tragic events [we have been discussing] began the second the Pope set foot in Greece. Holy and Orthodox Greece was polluted by the Pope when he set foot down here. We allowed the heresiarch Pope, the worldly Pope to come… Papism is not a Church. And we received him as a Hierarch, as a Bishop. And the other churches did the same.

The only Orthodox countries which have yet to receive a Papal visit are Russia- it is holding on but he is trying to corrupt Russia- and Serbia. And now under the pretense that the 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan is approaching, they are preparing… the new Patriarch is preparing… under the previous Patriarch, Paul of Serbia, and with Artemios within the hierarchy, they did not dare to discuss the idea of the Pope visiting Serbia. But now he is going to Serbia.

So in 2010 the Pope planted his foot on Cyprus. And some of the Cypriot Hierarchs protested this. And a very well known Orthodox monastery- the Monastery of Stavrovounio in Cyprus, which has an excellent spiritual father, Elder Athanasios-, also protested.

At the beginning of June 2010, a very important event occurred. A conference took place in Volos. This conference, hosted by the Metropolis, by the Academy of Orthodox Studies of the Metropolis, the Holy Metropolis of Dimitri of Volos, had as its theme… A conference was hosted there- listen to the title:”Neo-Patristic Synthesis or Post-Patristic Theology: Can Orthodox Theology be Contextual?”

Basically, they said at this conference, that the Fathers have been surpassed; that they do not speak to our age. The Fathers stand in the way of what these people want to do. They want to get rid of them. Imagine. There are Metropolitans, theologians, professors of theological schools, who participated in this conference, which said, “We don’t need the Fathers! We now live in the Post-Patristic age.”

Thankfully, a number of Hierarchs reacted to this. First, again, Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus, then Metropolitan Paul of Glyphada who produced a catalogue of the ideas expressed by the speakers… a frightening catalogue.

If you were to read this catalogue you would say: “Why are we still sitting here in our chairs and couches? We should get up and start an ecclesiastical revolution, asking that all of these Post-Patristic theologians be defrocked!”

And he submitted this catalogue of positions, to the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece for consideration. It is still considering it. In addition to the Metropolitans of Piraeus and Glyphada, the Metropolitan of Nafpaktos, also wrote a piece characterizing this movement as a new heresy: this new Post-Patristic theology is a new heresy. And the Metropolitan of Gortyna also reacted.

– – –

*Fr. Photios also ceased commemoration of his bishop (together with Fr. Theodore) on the Sunday of Orthodoxy of 2017.

Translated by F.J.P. Transcribed by M.S.

With the permission of ORTHODOX ETHOS.COM

Christos Yannaras on the Theotokos

Christos Yannaras

Theotokos

Excerpt from Chapter 8, “Jesus Christ”, in Elements of Faith (T&T Clark: Edinburgh, 1991), pp. 99-101.

The Church recognizes in the person of the Blessed Theotokos that creature who–alone within all God’s creation, material and spiritual— attained to the fulness of purpose for which the creation exists, to the fullest possible unity with God, to the fullest realization of the possibilities of life. Her consent to the incarnation of the Son was not only a harmonizing of the human will with the will of God, but a unique existential event of co-inherence of the life of the created and the life of the uncreated: our Lady was counted worthy to share by her natural energy (the energy of will, but also of motherhood) in the common activity of the Divinity, that is in the very life of God. Her physical life, her blood, the biological functioning of her body, was identified with the life given effect in the incarnate hypostasis of God the Word. God the Word lived hypostatically as a part of her body; God lived within her womb with her own flesh and blood; her own natural created energy was identified with the energy of the life of the uncreated.

The Theotokos did not simply “lend” her biological functions to God the Word, because a mother does not “lend” her body to her child, but she builds up his existence with her flesh and her blood just as she forms the “soul” of her child with her nursing, speech, caressing, affection. The Church insists that the Son and Word of God did not simply assume flesh in his incarnation, but a “flesh animated by a reasonable and spiritual soul” (St John of Damascus, On the Orthodox Faith 111, 46) just as is the flesh of every human fetus. Christ assumed human nature with the whole of the energies of body and soul which go to make it up and express it. And the symbol of the Theotokos does not stop at constructing the flesh of Christ, but extends even to what we could call formation of his soul, of his human psychology, since the mother is the source and ground for the articulation of the first mental experiences, of the first awareness, of the first baby-talk, of the progressive entry of the child into the world of names and symbols, the world of people.

To be Mother of God, then, the Virgin Mary identified in her existence the life of the created with the life of the uncreated; she united in her own life the creation with its creator. And so every creature, the entire creation of God, finds in her person the gate of “true life”, the entrance to the fulness of the existential possibilities. “In her all creation rejoices, the company of angels and the race of men”. In the language of the Church’s poetry, every image which includes nature is ascribed to our Lady, in order to exhibit exactly the entire renewal of the created which was accomplished in her person. She is “heaven” and “fertile earth” and “unhewn mountain” and “rock giving drink to those who thirst for life” and “flourishing womb” and “field bringing forth atonement”. And the inimitable “semantics” of orthodox iconography translates the figurative statement of these images at one time in outline and at another in colour. It represents the Theotokos and throne of divinity, either as holding a child or praying, or sweetly kissing the Child, or “reclining” at the Nativity of Christ or at her own falling asleep. She is the new Eve who recapitulates nature, not in that autonomy contrary to nature and in death, but in that participation in the Divinity which transcends nature and in the realization of eternal life. Because her own will restores the existential “end” and purpose of creation generally, she gives meaning and hope to the “eager longing of creation”. When the faithful seek the intercession of the Theotokos for their salvation, they are not seeking some kind of juridical mediation, but that their own ineffective will be contained within her own lifegiving will, her will which affirms the saving love of the incarnate God.

St John Chrysostom on the Epistle by Saint Paul to the Galatians

Gal 1Ver. 8, 9. “But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any Gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema.”

See the Apostle’s wisdom; to obviate the objection that he was prompted by vainglory to applaud his own doctrine, he includes himself also in his anathema; and as they betook themselves to

authority, that of James and John, he mentions angels also saying, “Tell me not of James and John; if one of the most exalted angels of heaven corrupt the Gospel, let him be anathema.” The phrase “of heaven” is purposely added, because priests are also called angels. “For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger [angel] of the Lord of hosts.” (Mal. ii: 7.) Lest therefore it should be thought that priests are here meant, by the term “angels,” he points out the celestial intelligences by the addition, “from heaven.” And he says not, if they preach a contrary Gospel, or subvert the whole of the true one, let them be anathema; but, if they even slightly vary, or incidentally disturb, my doctrine. “As we have said before, so say I now again.” That his words might not seem to be spoken in anger, or with exaggeration, or with recklessness he now repeats them. Sentiments may perhaps change, when an expression has been called forth by anger, but to repeat it a second time proves that it is spoken advisedly, and was previously approved by the judgment.”

Fr Andrew Phillips , Orthodox England on The Holy Spirit and the Holy Tradition .

Q: Why does heterodoxy speak so little about the Holy Spirit?

A: The short answer is because of the replacement of the Holy Spirit by the Pope of Rome, and then by anyone with Western values, as expressed by the ideology of the filioque, which changed the Creed. Instead of the Holy Spirit, heterodoxy preaches Western power politics (colonialism and neo-colonialism, the invasions, genocides and asset-stripping of other countries, beginning with that of the Saxons by Charlemagne).

This is combined with ‘contemplation’ and ’meditation’, which is either intellectualism (for example, the Jesuits and Dominicans) or else sentimentalism (pietism with its ‘Jesus loves you’ and charismaticism – which has almost nothing to do with sobriety and the Holy Spirit). Intellectualism says that we must study and show off our intellectual knowledge. It is pagan philosophy (Aristotle and Plato) mascarading as theology. Sentimentalism is all about ‘love’, but never explains how we can attain love through, which is in repentance, fasting and sobriety.

Unlike intellectualism and sentimentalism, real spiritual knowledge comes from the nous, the heart, not as the seat of the emotions, but as the purified centre of the human-being, illumined by the Holy Spirit, which expresses itself as Love.

Q: For Orthodox there is not only Scripture, but also Tradition. But is one more important than another?

A: I must disagree with you. What you say is pure Scholasticism a la Timothy Ware. For us there is no difference between Scripture and Tradition, for both are manifestations of the same Holy Spirit. For Orthodox there is only the Holy Spirit, Whom we must acquire as our aim, and He is the authority of the Church. He is manifested to us in many different ways, through Scripture, the Dogmas of the Church, the canons, the lives and writings of the saints, those who have received ‘theosis’, liturgical life, the Fathers, Church Councils, the sacraments, prayer, asceticism, martyrdom, prophecy etc.

To insist on ‘Scripture’ alone is a sort of Bibliolatry, Bible-worship, made possible only through printing, and to insist on ’Tradition’, or any other items from the above list, including Councils, lends itself to a dangerous vagueness. The Church is governed by the Holy Spirit because the Church is the Glorified and Risen Body of Christ. It is as simple as that.

http://www.events.orthodoxengland.org.uk/from-recent-correspondence-november-2017/