Orthodox America


  Ecumenism in an Age of Apostasy by Hieromonk Sava (Yanjic)


Sergianism and the Russian Church

We must know what happened with Russia and her faithful people. After the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, which was organized by a Zionist-Masonic organization, [1] the Communists began actively to destroy the Russian Orthodox Church, which was the spiritual conscience of the Russian people and the guardian of its sacred historical tradition. It was decided that it was simplest to destroy the Church from within. This gave rise to the movement of the so-called "Living Church," which, with the help of the godless regime, wanted to dethrone Patriarch Tikhon and reform the Church along purely Protestant lines, making it an active tool of the godless system. This apostasy reached its height in March, 1927, when Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky), after being held prisoner by the Bolsheviks for several months, was released, and soon thereafter, on 24 June of the same year, issued the notorious Declaration, in which the Russian Church solemnly extolled the godless communist regime. The Declaration openly declared the Soviet Union to be a new homeland; all the joys and successes of the Soviet Union were recognized to be the joys and successes of the Russian Church, and its failures were, similarly, the failures of the Russian Church. Metropolitan Sergius thereby made his church organization an accessory propaganda organ of the communist government.

At that time the regime launched a bloody persecution of the Russian Church, the most frightful since the persecutions against the early Christians of the Roman Empire. Countless priests, monastics, and laity were martyred; thousands of churches and monasteries were closed. Yielding to pressure, Metropolitan Sergius openly denied before the whole world that there was any persecution in Russia for religious beliefs. All those hierarchs and other Christians who refused to participate in his apostasy were branded "political criminals." The Soviet regime arrested them and sent them to the Siberian death camps. Those who defended Metropolitan Sergius claimed that he thereby saved the Church, that otherwise it would have been totally destroyed. But Sergianism is a synonym for the betrayal of faithfulness to Christ for the sake of preserving an external church organization, its earthly welfare, and a false peace. The faithful were compelled to give unconditional obedience to the official leaders of the Church, who supported a policy that was frequently  realized through the government authorities. When this policy finally won out, Metropolitan Sergius occupied the patriarchal throne and the opposition was forced to keep silent. Sergianism became the official policy of the Russian Church, and for decades afterwards was the determining factor in its spiritual and ecclesiastical life. In the years 1969-1970, Sergianism was exported to the West through the establishment of the so-called American Metropolia, which received its recognition from Moscow as an autocephalas Church under Moscow's leadership. Taking an active role in this proceeding was Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad, a well-known ecumenist and latinophile, who died from a heart attack during an audience with the Pope. The hierarchs of the Metropolia not only supported Moscow's course, but often acted as apologists for the politics of the Soviet regime. One bishop of this Church, after visiting Russia, instead of telling about the frightful persecution of the Orthodox faithful and the suffering of the New Martyrs and Confessors in Siberia, coldly reported that people in the Soviet Union were "happy and well educated, and if they complain about the government, well, don't we have the same here in America?"! Today the Orthodox Church of America (OCA), which grew out of the Metropolia, is known for its liberalism and intense ecumenical activity.

After the Bolshevik Revolution, the Russian emigration formed its own church organization under the name, "The Russian Church Abroad," which was headed by Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky). It had the solemn task of freely, without ideological pressures, preaching in various corners of the world the truth of Orthodoxy and the truth concerning the sufferings of the Russian Church, and of continuing the rich spiritual and intellectual tradition of pre-Revolutionary Russia. At that time many bishops openly rejected the Sergianist reforms; among them were Metropolitans Joseph of Petrograd and Cyril of Kazan. In time this movement developed into the so-called Russian Catacomb Church, whose establishment was originally blessed by Patriarch Tikhon and which to this day exists in secret. In recent times more information has come to light concerning this martyric Church, which has no canonical communion with the official Moscow Patriarchate. [3]

The Soviet regime strove to destroy the Church through its spiritual leaders, who served as apologists for the Soviet regime abroad and preached a so-called "communist Christianity," which paved the way for the triumph of communism not only as a universal political regime, but as an ideological and pseudo-religious tyranny. In order to understand this we must explain just what communism is. It is not only a senseless political regime but an ideological-religious system, whose aim it is to overthrow and uproot all other systems - Christianity in particular. Communism is, in fact, a heresy; its foundation is chiliasm, the teaching that history can attain its culmination in an indefinite state of earthly blessedness, like a perfect humanity that lives in perfect peace and harmony. [4] This "gospel" became the official "sacred scripture" of many Moscow hierarchs, who preferred various ecumenical, pacifist, ecological, and interreligious meetings in grandiose Stalinist palaces under the approving patronage of the Soviet government. In this way, the Church provided a perfect alibi for the Bolsheviks' insidious and anti-Christian undertakings. At that time the true Russian Church, the faithful of the Russian land - some bishops and priests together with confessors and martyrs - from Solovki to distant Siberia endured unimaginable sufferings and persecution. None of the Moscow hierarchs said anything about this; it was a forbidden subject. In the eyes of the world there could be only one "truth": in Russia there was no religious persecution; those in the camps were political prisoners. The schism that occurred in Russia in consequence of the Bolsheviks seizing power was, therefore, not simply a political schism between "red" and "white" bishops, as it is commonly portrayed; it was an open conflict between the earthly kingdom and Christ's heavenly kingdom, an open conflict between two different understandings of the meaning of the Church on earth.

On the one hand, there is the "Sergianist" method of preserving the outward church organization at the price of betraying the spirit of Christ's Church and the martyric path on which the Church suffers externally but internally is spiritually strengthened and renewed.

This, however, does not mean that grace has left the Sergianist Church and its present heirs, [even though it] has suffered greatly and has been tormented by the godless actions of its false pastors. The Church must never identify itself with hierarchies and jurisdictions. Even should a majority of hierarchs fall away from the theanthropic path of Christ, the Church will always exist, although it will suffer, like a flock that is scattered by false shepherds. Jurisdictional boundaries cannot, of course, limit God's grace. [5] /.../

It should be noted that in the early years the Moscow Patriarchate had a very cautious attitude towards ecumenism. This is evident from the bishops' council of Local Churches, that took place in Moscow 8-18 July, 1948, on the occasion of the 500-year anniversary of the proclamation of the autocephaly of the Russian Orthodox Church. At this council representatives of the Alexandrian, Antiochian, Russian, Serbian, Romanian, Georgian, Bulgarian, Polish, Czechoslovakian, and Albanian Orthodox Churches rejected participation in the secular ecumenical movement and in the World Council of Churches, [6] which was formed at that time. Nevertheless, soon thereafter, in consequence of pressure from the communist authorities in these countries on the one hand, and the ecumenical Patriarchate on the other, all these Churches soon became members of the WCC. Moscow distinguished itself in this regard when, on 29 December 1969, it announced the possibility of communing with the Roman Catholics. There began to be ecumenical meetings, joint prayers with heretics. Following this course, under pressure of the Soviet authorities there developed an active collaboration of all religions on the territory of the USSR, which, in accordance with this morality, together worked for the benefit of "their great homeland." Today, in the post-communist era, when the official Russian Church is able to act freely, it is noticeable that it is avoiding decisively unshackling itself from its Sergianist past, openly condemning the heresy of ecumenism, recognizing and glorifying the choir of New Martyrs, and remedying known church and canonical disorders that crept in during the time of the Soviet tyranny. It is these deviations that constitute the fundamental disagreements preventing the possibility of the uniting of the entire Russian Church - in the homeland and abroad - into a single jurisdiction.

What Is to Be Done?

This question stands in the mind of many Orthodox Christians today, who daily witness the spread of worldwide ecumenical apostasy on all levels. Numerous examples of modern history clearly show that today everything possible is being done in order to establish an anti-Church, a "reborn" Christianity; dogmas are being revised, church history is being rewritten; there is an intense secularization and modernization of spiritual life. We live at a time that is more dangerous, in many ways, than the time of Saint Mark of Ephesus or the time of the Arian, Monophysite, or Monophylite heresies. At that time our forbears could participate in only one heresy that threatened the Church. Today's ecumenism is like a package, a Pandora's box, from which hundreds of heresies are breaking loose. We know that to this day the Church has always been victorious in her battle against all dangers. For example, after the ill-fated Union of Florence, Orthodoxy experienced a real flowering of its spiritual life. Today there arises a serious question: It is possible that the time has come when Christ's Church can exist only in the catacombs and deserts, and there meet Christ, from where she will return to her historical path.

 At the present time there exist two basic ways in which contemporary Orthodox Christians react to the heresy of ecumenism. The first is battling against ecumenism within the canonically established enclosure of the local Orthodox Churches; the second-leaving this enclosure and cutting off all official ties with those Churches whose leaders actively participate in the ecumenical movement. Those who hold to the first way believe that it is still possible to restore all of Orthodoxy to the patristic path, that the heresy of ecumenism can be overcome, or at least they see that not all possibilities have been exhausted for battling within the established enclosure. They are not creating schisms in the wounded and suffering body of the Church. On the other hand, those who openly leave the official church organization are developing a course that can be defined as an "ecclesiology of resistance." Who is right?

Essentially it is understood that any separation, any divisions in the church body are a negative phenomenon, for the Church is grounded upon love, peace, and concord. In this sense, any division or schism comes from personal and non-church aims and is unjustified, for it rends the robe of Christ. In history, however, we can see that when the Church was attacked by wolves in sheep's clothing, even if these were highly placed church officials, the clergy and the people shunned them and severed relations with them. In this connection it is important to examine the fifteenth canon of the so-called First-and-Second Council of Constantinople from the ninth century:

...So that in case any Presbyter of Bishop or Metropolitan dares to secede or apostatize from the communion of his own Patriarch, and fails to mention the latter's name in accordance with custom duly fixed and ordained, in the divine Mystagogy, but, before a conciliar verdict has been pronounced and has passed judgment against him, creates a schism, the holy Council has decreed that this person shall be held an alien to every priestly function if only he be convicted of having committed this transgression of the law. Accordingly, these rules have been sealed and ordained as respecting those persons who under the pretext of charges against their own presidents stand aloof, and create a schism, and disrupt the union of the Church. But as for those persons, on the other hand, who, on account of some heresy condemned by holy Councils, or Fathers, withdrawing themselves from communion with their president, who, that is to say, is preaching the heresy publicly, and teaching it barehead in church, such persons not only are not subject to any canonical penalty on account of their having walled themselves off from any and all communion with the one called a Bishop before any conciliar or synodal verdict has been rendered, but, on the contrary, they shall be deemed worthy to enjoy the honor which befits them among Orthodox Christians. For they have defied not Bishops but pseudo-bishops and pseudo-teachers; and they have not sundered the union of the Church with any schism, but, on the contrary, have been sedulous to rescue the Church from schisms and divisions. (Pedalion, pps. 470-471.)

On the basis of this canon it is evident that a Christian is obliged to show complete and unreserved obedience to his pastors, even if they should exhibit moral weaknesses and other sins that imply all conciliar decisions. The only case in which it is permitted not to wait for a conciliar decision exempting one from obedience to one's superior is if he openly preaches heresy, inasmuch as he thereby ceases to be a true bishop and pastor. The Apostle Paul teaches us obedience to our spiritual fathers:

Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation... Obey them that have the rule over you and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account... (Heb. 13:7, 17).

But how are our teachers to be zealous for good? Saint John Chrysostom replies: "And what if a (leader) is not good? Does that mean one does not have to be obedient to him? Not good in what sense? If it is in relation to faith, then run from him and have nothing to do with him-even if he be not just a man but an angel from heaven." (Commentary on Hebrews, #34) Holy Scripture teaches us the same: Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again: If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ (Gal. 1:8-10. Many ecumenists deny that they are preaching another faith. Moreover, they openly declare that they possess the correct interpretation of Christ's teaching. Let us see what Saint Theodore Studite says about this: "We who are Orthodox flee every heresy and accept all generally recognized councils, whether Ecumenical or Local. And we likewise firmly stand by the sacred canons which they adopted. For no one can fully teach the word of truth, supposing himself to have the right Faith, if he does not accept the guidance of the divine canons. [7]" (Letter 1:30)

Can a person who scorns the holy canons be Orthodox? Can one consider oneself an Orthodox Christian and an heir of the Holy Fathers and at the same time do what is contrary to the works of the Holy Fathers, martyrs, and confessors of the Faith?

The example of Saint Theodore the Studite is instructive for our time as well, just as are similar examples of Saint Athanasius the Great at the First Ecumenical Council and of Saint Maximus the Confessor at the Sixth. Saint Theodore saw in iconoclasm not only a fight against the holy icons, but a more wide-ranging heresy. The heretics demanded the implementation of a single, broad church reform that would gradually have done away with the veneration of saints, relics, the Mother of God. The Liturgy was abbreviated, fasts and feasts were eliminated, monastic rules were liberalized, monastic holdings were confiscated, the number of clergy and monastics was reduced, and bishops were chosen only with the approval of the royal council. The result was a kind of Eastern Reformation. [8]

But let us return to the ecclesiological basis of "Orthodox resistance." It comes from the contention that those church communities that participate in the ecumenical movement are a sick part of the Church of Christ. This contention differs from the radical ecclesiology of extremist traditionalist groups, that go so far in denying that these Churches have grace [9] that they fall into a much greater danger than ecumenism itself. What at the present time is the basis of the above-mentioned church communities that constitute the front for the Orthodox resistance to ecumenism? These are very diverse. On the question of the Russian Church Abroad alone there are disagreements. On the one hand, the official Moscow Patriarchate never stripped hierarchs of the ROCA of their rank, nor anathematized them; nor did the ROCA do so in regard to hierarchs of the MP; the Serbian Church unofficially is in communion with the hierarchs of the ROCA in view of their spiritual faithfulness to Tradition.

On this question Constantinople [i.e., the ecumenical Patriarchate] holds an extreme opinion. Still earlier, the patriarchs of Constantinople fought to gain a consensus on the matter of the ROCA, officially and definitively declaring it a schismatic group. [10] This harsh contention was prompted by the fact that hierarchs of the ROCA had ordained several bishops for the Greek Old Calendarists, which enlivened that movement considerably. Additionally, the ROCA assisted many opponents of Constantinople's ecumenical course, receiving them around the world under its omophorion. Currently, there is a great deal of controversy over the fact that the ROCA has opened dioceses of its own in Russia, a fact that has badly strained its relations with the MP. The hierarchs of the ROCA explain this by the need to meet halfway those individual parishes and priests that are clearly displeased that Moscow has not renounced Sergianism point-blank, that it does not acknowledge the truth concerning the suffering of the Russian Church, and that it continues to participate in the ecumenical movement. The Moscow Patriarchate accuses the ROCA of fanatical extremism, of broadening the schism within the Russian people, and of taking away her right to assert that she herself underwent those sufferings that came upon the Church in the homeland.

Concerning the Old Calendar question in Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria, the Local Churches that remained faithful to the Julian Calendar had no desire to imitate that movement under threat of severing ties with the new calendar Orthodox Churches, which have an extremely intolerant and aggressive attitude towards their Old Calendarist brethren, an attitude that has frequently resulted in terrible persecutions. [11] Besides, they see no difference between the quite dissimilar positions of the various Old Calendarist groups. The conduct of the Jerusalem Patriarchate is unique; in recent times it has purposely maintained ties with some moderate Old Calendarists and the ROCA, which has had a long-standing presence there in the Holy Land.

However, independent of official church positions and other grounds for schism that have received attention, we cannot but note that these church communities, without going into their irregular and uncanonical status (from the point of view of the modernists-Russian editor), through their anti-ecumenical position, serve today as a living voice of Orthodox Tradition, serving as a strong support for all those who are battling against ecumenism within the official Orthodox Churches. We have only to recall the impact of the so-called "sorrowful epistles" of the head of the ROCA, Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky) (1965-85), who, in 1966, began an active battle, with his open letters to the heads of the local Orthodox Churches and other bishops, in which he exposed the pan-heresy of ecumenism as a sign of the coming kingdom of Antichrist. While these epistles received a very positive response among some Orthodox Churches, the official reaction of all local Churches to this "voice crying in the wilderness" was and remains silence. In agreement with these epistles were Archimandrite Justin (Popovich) and Elder Philotheos (Zervakos), when they warned not only the faithful people but the hierarchy of the danger of the false path of ecumenism. In their works, just as also in the works of Bishop Nikolai (Velimirovich) and Archbishop Averky (Taushev), we can see how the Orthodox Church in truth views ecumenism and the "reforms" of Orthodoxy. Fathers Justin and Philotheos [12] shared the same considerations as those people who left the official Churches in sign of protest against ecumenism, modernism, growing secularization, and cooperation with godless authorities, although they themselves never took that path and from the outset did not approve it, trying to avoid a still greater schism and disturbance. But they continued until they died to profess standing fast in the Truth.

This position, we can say with full justification, represents the royal, middle path, which on the one hand openly opposes the heresy of ecumenism, and on the other avoids the chaotic panic and confusion caused by new schisms, and, at any rate, the "super-orthodox" opinions of individual zealots. In other words, they always bore in mind that it was essential for Orthodox truth to be preached to the heterodox with love, without embellishments-not by means of any false "dialogue of love," but rather by means of a true Orthodox life, by following the Holy Fathers and the holy Ecumenical Councils. The "super-orthodoxy" of individual zealots differs significantly from the spirit of the Holy Fathers, who were strict concerning questions of the truth while at the same time they had ample capacity for love-not for heresy, for heresy itself merits abhorrence and condemnation, but for people who become victims of this great spiritual deception. The exaggerations of the zealot extremists in the battle with ecumenism only harm the truth of Orthodoxy and do not serve for its benefit. Today, unfortunately, many zealots of Orthodoxy declare all ecumenists to be heretics. There used to be people who courageously confessed before heretics the truth of the one Orthodox Church as the Church of Christ. Unfortunately, in recent times more and more people are silent on this score. In so doing, they come to the verge of heresy, for they are silent about the truth of love, which is the same as to deny truth. /.../

In any case, one must not imagine that some Great united Council could bring a complete stop to the apostasy or hinder its advance. It is possible, however, that a local Church, or at least a part of it, can free itself from these destructive nets by hasting to withdraw from the WCC and to cut off all communion with heretics. It is very important here to expose the heresy of ecumenism, which exists and is spreading thanks to the fact that many are unaware of its true course and of its real aims. In any case, if ecumenical activity continues to increase, and if eventually communion with heretics is legitimized, it will be necessary to act according to the above-mentioned canons, i.e., to separate oneself from the ruinous influence of heretics.

Furthermore, on the basis of some writings of more modern church fathers as, for example, Bishop Ignatius (Brianchaninov) [13] and Bishop Theophan the Recluse, we can conclude that it is precisely in our time that the apostasy will overtake the mainstream and that heresy will take complete hold even of the official church administration, compelling the true Orthodox Church to go into the catacombs. Concurring with this prophecy, many contemporary spiritual fathers-for example, Elder Lavrenty of Chernigov, [14] Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose), and Archbishop Averky (Taushev)-foresaw that the new, false "united Christianity" will spread the lie that in all the world it alone is the Church of Christ. Churches will be built, majestic ecumenical "liturgies" of peace (very likely of the type we saw in Canberra and Assisi) will be held, and everywhere there will be talk of a new era of peace and truth. But in all this tower of Babel, which may well bear a perfect external resemblance to the Church, there will be no truth, God's Spirit will be absent. The One and true Church of Christ, the Orthodox Church, living in little catacomb communities in towns, in deserts, and in forests, headed by God-bearing bishops, priests and monks, will be completely hidden from the bright lights of projectors and TV cameras. Many of these little ones will not know of one another. They will be united not by apparent administrative ties but by a unity of Orthodox faith, of patristic tradition, and, most importantly, by a unity of communion in the Body and Blood of the Lord. These communities of faithful may be cruelly persecuted, just as in Roman and Soviet times. The adherents of the false "Christianity" and other united religions will accuse them of being fanatics, of being intolerant and hateful people, opponents of the New World Order and, by extension, of the welfare and happiness of mankind. [15]

Many may be imprisoned in special camps for "reeducation," where they will be severely tortured in an effort to force them to deny the Living God and His Church, and to bow down before the rulers of this world. And thus the Church, like a pure and undefiled virgin, washed in the blood of martyrs and confessors just as in the early years of Christianity, will wait to greet her Bridegroom.

Thus, we are faced with a number of questions. How many Orthodox Christians will be able to await that day, remaining in the faith of the fathers, for the Lord Himself said: When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8) How many Christians will there be then who claim to be Orthodox but who will be separated from the spirit of truth? The answers to these questions will become evident only with the times that are already drawing near.

Two chapters from the book of the same title, published in Prizren, 1995. Translated from Serbian into Russian by K.V. Glazkov inPravoslavnaya Rus, #1 and 2, 2000 [1646, 1647], Jordanville, NY.

About the Author

Born in Dubrovnik in 1965, Hieromonk Sava studied English at Belgrade University before becoming a monk in Crna Reka (Black River) Monastery under Abbot (now Bishop) Artemije. In March 1992 he was sent with a few other brothers to rejuvenate the historic Decani Monastery. He became well known while supplying the world with news of the Kosovo conflict from his computer there in Decani, where he was also engaged in humanitarian efforts.  In 1997, he and Bishop Artemije visited Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY. In June 1999 he moved to Gracanica Monastery, rejoining Bishop Artemije as his personal secretery. Both have recently been in Washington, D.C., negotiating a more equitable solution for Kosovo. In addition to writing theological works, Fr. Sava has also translated Blessed Theophylact's Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew from Greek into Serbian.  

 Church tradition and the example of the Holy Fathers teach us that no dialogue is conducted with Churches that have fallen away from Orthodoxy. To them is always directed sooner the monologue of the Church's preaching, in which the Church calls them to return to her bosom through rejection of every teaching not in accord with her. A genuine dialogue supposes an exchange of opinions, admitting the possibility of the persuasion of the participants in it for the attainment of agreement.... [A]ny agreement with error is foreign to the whole history of the Orthodox Church and to her very being. It could lead, not to unanimous confession of the truth, but to a visionary external union similar to the agreement of the differently-minded Protestant societies within the Ecumenical Movement. May such a betrayal of Orthodoxy not penetrate to our midst! Metropolitan Philaret, "An Appeal to Patriarch Athenagoras," 1966.

And what do we see now in contemporary "Orthodoxy" -the "Orthodoxy" that has entered into the so-called "Ecumenical Movement"? We see the ... renunciation of true Orthodoxy in the interest of spiritual fusion with the heterodox West. The "Orthodoxy" that has placed itself on the path of "Ecumenism" thinks not of raising contemporary life, which is constantly declining with regard to religion and morals, to the level of the Gospel commandments and the demands of the Church, but rather of "adapting" the Church herself to the level of this declining life. Archbishop Averky "Should the Church Be In Step with the Times?"

...For what does it mean to be Orthodox? It means: to be constantly struggling away from man toward the God-man, to be constantly making oneself divine-human through struggles. /.../ In Western Europe, Christianity has gradually been transformed into humanism .. In both [Roman Catholicism] and Protestantism, man has re-placed the God-man as both the supreme value and the supreme criterion. A painful and sorrowful "correction" has been made of the God-man, of His work and of His teaching. Archimandrite Justin Popovich, "The Supreme Value and Infallible Criterion"

...The Eastern Orthodox Church does not have a habit of making innovations, but rather follows the teachings of the Apostles, the Teachers, the Holy Fathers and the Seven ‘cumenical Councils, whose teachings the wise among the Latins and Protestants ought also to follow..., so that they might be delivered from the penances the anathemas and excommunications of the holy ‘cumenical Councils and of the Holy Fathers. We are obligated to pray for them so that God may return them from delusion to the straight path, and so that we may all become one flock with the Ruler and Founder of our true Orthodox Faith as Leader, our Lord Jesus Christ and Saviour, the Deliverer and Liberator of our souls and bodies. Elder Philotheos Zervakos Paternal Counsels

 


 Notes

1. Of 22 members of the first communist government, 17 were of Jewish extraction. In the post-revolutionary period, of 554 political leaders of the Soviet Union, 447 were of Jewish extraction. Clearly, the revolution was organized chiefly by non-Russian forces with the help of highly placed freemasons.

2. Founded in Sremski-Karlovats [Serbia] in 1920, with the blessing of Patriarch Tikhon.

3. The Catacomb Church in Russia never went so far as to declare the Holy Mysteries of the official Church to be invalid. While it separated itself altogether from the official hierarchy, which adhered to the Sergianist course of collaboration with the communists, it did not forbid its faithful to receive the Mysteries in churches of the Moscow Patriarchate if they found this necessary and if they had faith in this.

4. It is important to understand that communism is not only an ideology but a religion. For this reason it is not possible to speak about atheism in communist countries; rather, one must speak about antitheism, about theomachy, militant godlessness. Communism vulgarized familiar church traditions and rituals, substituting its own surrogates. Church processions were replaced by May Day parades, holy icons were replaced by portraits of important leaders, church services-by gatherings, funerals-by civil memorial services, holy relics-by embalmed dummies of party leaders. It follows that communism cannot be overthrown by a simple decree, but, as with any heresy, recovery and healing come only through repentance.

5. In his latter years, Father Seraphim (Rose, 1982) wrote, "The heart of Sergianism is bound up with the common problem of all the Orthodox Churches today-the losing of the savor of Orthodoxy, taking the Church for granted, taking the 'organization' for the Body of Christ, trusting that Grace and the Mysteries are somehow 'automatic.'.. (Not of This World, Platina 1994)

6. From an article that appeared in the journal, Orthodox Press Service (No. 47, 29 Nov. 1994), under the title, "The Russian Orthodox Church examines the possibility of leaving the ecumenical organization," we learn that a commission has been formed within the Moscow Patriarchate to examine conditions for and possible consequences of the withdrawal of the Russian Orthodox Church from the World Council of Churches, and the possibility of dialogue with heretics. One of the principal obstacles to such a dialogue is the uncontrolled proselytism in Russia by Roman Catholics and Protestants. The Vatican, even after the Balamand agreement (1993), continues to consider Russia its missionary territory.

7. Letter 1, 30 (PG 99:1005 D). In this case, the allusion is to the unlawful marriage of Emperor Constantine VI, who contrived to get a blessing for it from Patriarch Tarasius, with whom Saint Theodore thereupon broke communion, for the former had acted contrary to the church tradition. For this confession of the faith and conscience, Saint Theodore was exiled and imprisoned for two years. He was released in 798 when Empress Irene came to the throne.

8. "Not one heresy that has rocked the Church is as dreadful as the heresy of iconoclasm. Demonic in its acts and words, it denies Christ and destroys His personhood. On the one hand, it foolishly claims that it is impossible to depict Christ's bodily form. In so doing it denies the incarnate Logos; even if He did become incarnate, He cannot be depicted. It says that He is a phantom-which is typical of the Manichean "gospel." On the other hand (iconoclasm) destroys to the foundations and burns up God's temples and all sacred objects on which are depicted the face of Christ, of the Theotokos, or any of the saints." (St Theodore Studite, letter II, 81 /PG 99:132 D-132A/).

9. Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina (1955), a leader of the Greek Old Calendarist movement, in answer to the question of whether the grace of the Holy Spirit was present in the Mysteries of the official Church, replied in 1937: "The New Calendar Church is guilty before God for what it has committed, and for that reason true Orthodox (Old Calendarists) cannot have communion with it. However, inasmuch as its priesthood has in no other way strayed from the Sacred Tradition, it preserves the grace of the Holy Spirit." He noted that the official Church "exists in potential but not in actual schism, until the time that a pan-Orthodox Council should assess the calendar reform." On the basis of this statement, two bishops-German of the Cyclades and Matthew-accused Metropolitan Chrysostom of corrupting the fundamental principle of the Old Calendarist movement and separated from him, falling away into extremism, which their followers continue to propagate to this day.

10. In response to the open declaration of the Phanar [‘cumenical Patriarchate] that the Russian Church Abroad was a schismatic group, Archbishop Averky (Taushev) once wrote that the term schismatics should be applied to those who, by their innovations, themselves fall away from the Sacred Tradition of the Church, but not to those who, for the sake of the purity of the Orthodox faith, have withdrawn from such ones. Such a statement reflects that faith which from the beginning has been preserved in the Orthodox Church: the true measure of Orthodoxy is how faithfully we adhere to Sacred Tradition and live according to it, and not how faithfully we adhere to majority opinion. Saint Maximos the Confessor was against the entire Christian East, which had fallen into the monophylite heresy, but it was not he that was in schism, it was all the rest. The preservation at any cost of external unity with heretically disposed hierarchs, ostensibly for the sake of peace in the Church, is actually a true schism and a betrayal of Orthodoxy.

11. There are a few who, like Archbishop Dorotheos of Athens (1956-57), consider that, "The Old Calendarist movement is neither a heresy nor a schism, and its adherents are neither heretics, nor heterodox, nor schismatics, but Orthodox Christians."

12. Elder Philotheos (Zervakos, 1980)  was one of the most significant spiritual personalities of Greek Orthodoxy in this century. Having a keen understanding of patristic Orthodox Tradition, he constantly warned the faithful against spiritual stagnation, against the contemporary dangers of modernism and ecumenism. Although he never severed ties with the official Greek Church, he did not agree with those who departed from patristic traditions and from the Old Calendar. At the same time, he was also strongly critical of those who became extreme zealots and who declared that the official, new calendar Church was without grace, thereby leading astray part of the old calendarist faithful. The same view was held by a number of other spiritual personalities of Greece known for their moderate traditionalism, as for example, Fr. Joel Yannakopoulos and Fr. Epiphanius Theodoropoulos, who considered the extremism of the Old Calendarists equally dangerous to ecumenism. Between these two extremes, in their opinion, one must confess the Orthodox Faith before the heterodox, but avoid so-called "political ecumenism," which takes on heretical and uncanonical dimensions.

13. Bishop Ignatius (Brianchaninov)-spiritual writer and great prophet of 19th century Russia-said that in the end times all official church organizations will submit to the antichrist and to the spirit of this world. He repeatedly drew attention to the fact that in the last times there would be a difference between the official Church and the true Orthodox Church. On the one hand there would be only a church organization without the true spirit of Christ, and on the other - a catacomb community, united by one faith, one spirit, one Body and Blood of Christ. His prophetic words were precisely fulfilled in Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution.

14. Elder Lavrenty (1950) told his spiritual children: "The time will come when even the closed churches will be renovated, not only outside but inside as well. The cupolas of churches and bell towers will be gilded. And when all this is finished, the time will come for the reign of antichrist. Pray that the Lord grant us more time to strengthen ourselves, because terrible times await us. Just look at how everything is being so cunningly prepared. All the churches will look absolutely magnificent, as never before, but one will not be able to go to those churches. Antichrist will be crowned as king in a splendid temple in Jerusalem with the participation of the clergy and of the patriarch." (Nadezhda No. 14, 1988)

15. There was a widely held opinion among pagans in the first centuries of Christianity, that Christians were cannibals, that they held orgies and drank the blood of sacrificed infants.

 

 

 

 

[OA/_private/oabot.htm]