Saint John of Shanghai
Content: The Nativity of St. John the Baptist. About the Apostles Peter and Paul. Some short Theological Writings: A Hymn to God. Will These Human Bones Come to Life? The Cross-Preserves the Universe. The Church's Prayer. The Russian Diaspora. The Meaning of "Anathema." The Decline of the Patriarch of Constantinople. About the Typicon.
The Nativity of
St. John the Baptist
Among the Church's feasts, there are three in honor of God's saint which in their significance stand out from the others devoted to the saints and are numbered among the great feasts of the Church of Christ. These feasts glorify the economy of God for our salvation.
These three feasts are the Nativity of St. John the Forerunner, his Beheading, and the feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.
The apparition of the holy Archangel Gabriel to the priest Zacharias in the Temple, with the announcement of the birth to him and the righteous Elizabeth, of a son who would prepare the way for the Lord, the Savior of the world, and the subsequent fulfillment of this premise, are the first of the events related by the Evangelists.
The announcement of the holy Archangel Gabriel to Zacharias in the Temple begins the New Testament Gospel. The announcement of the same Archangel Gabriel six months later in Nazareth to the Virgin Mary concerning the birth from Her of the Son of God, Who was to become incarnate, is a continuation of the revelation of the Pre-eternal Counsel concerning the salvation of the human race.
Three months after, the Annunciation, St. John the Forerunner was born "in a city of Judah," and six months after him Christ Himself was born in Bethlehem.
These events are closely bound together. "The glorious conception of the Forerunner proclaimeth beforehand the King Who is to be born of a Virgin" (Exapostilarion, Sept. 23, Feast of the Conception of John the Baptist). The announcement of the Archangel Gabriel in the Temple, announced later to all living nearby by Zacharias, in the magnificent hymn, which he sang after the birth of the child, John and the restoration to him of the gift of speech (Luke 1:67-79), is the forerunner of the angelic hymn: "Glory to God in the highest;" which was sung in Bethlehem by the angels when they announced to the shepherds the Nativity of Christ.
The Nativity of John the Baptist is the first joy sent down by God to the human race, the beginning of its deliverance from the power of the devil, sin and eternal death.
It is true that even before the Forerunner, the Most Holy Virgin Mary was born, and angels announced Her birth to Her parents. However, at that time, only Her parents knew of the exalted lot that was prepared for the Virgin Who was born, and they themselves were not fully aware of what had been announced to them beforehand. Therefore, it was only they, who celebrated at the birth of their Daughter, while the rest of the world only later understood the joy that had been announced (to it), by this birth.
For this reason, the feasts of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos and Her Entrance into the Temple were established in the Church and began to be solemnly celebrated significantly later than the other great feasts, whereas the Nativity of John the Forerunner is one of the most ancient and most venerated of Christian feasts. Sermons on this feast have been preserved from the first centuries.
From the day of the Nativity of John the Forerunner, the preparation of the human race begins for meeting the Son of God on earth. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people . . . And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Most High: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways (Luke 1:68, 76). These God-inspired words of the priest Zacharias, after he had regained the gift of speech, were made known in all the land of Judea, causing disturbance to all living there, who asked each other in astonishment: What manner of child shall this be? (Luke 1:66).
Involuntarily the thought arose: Is this not the Messiah Himself? Judea was in an especially tense state of expectation of the Savior. Thus, the child John prepared the way for the Lord by his very birth; and even while he was still in the womb of His mother, by his leaping (Luke 1:41) he announced the coming birth of the Child Jesus, as if crying out: "Christ is born, give ye glory. Christ comes from heaven, meet ye Him" (Irmos, Canticle One of the Canon, Feast of the Nativity of Christ).
Being born exactly half a year before Christ, John the Forerunner by the exact time of his birth depicted his mission of preparing the way for the Lord. He was born at the time of the year (June 24) when the day begins to grow shorter after the summer solstice, whereas the Nativity of Christ occurs (December 25) when the day begins to grow longer after the winter solstice. These facts are an embodiment of the words spoken later, by the Forerunner, after the beginning of Christ's preaching: He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).
"The herald of the Sun, the Forerunner" was John the Baptist, who was like the morning star that announces the rising of the Sun of Righteousness in the East.
Just as the very event of the Nativity of John the Baptist was the antechamber of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, so also the feast of the Nativity of John the Forerunner is also the antechamber of the feast of the Nativity of Christ. "The star of stars, the Forerunner, is born on earth today, from a barren womb, John the beloved of God, and manifests the dawning of Christ, the Orient from on high" (Glory at Lauds, of the Feast, June 24). "The whole creation rejoiceth at thy divine nativity: for thou wast shown forth as an earthly angel, O Forerunner and a heavenly man, proclaiming to us, the God of heaven incarnate" (Cantile Five of the Canon). "O Prophet and Forerunner of the coming of Christ, we who venerate thee with love, are in perplexity how worthily to praise thee; for the barrenness of her who bore thee and the dumbness of thy father are loosed by thy glorious and precious nativity, and the incarnation of the Son of God is preached to the world" (Troparion of the Feast).
About the Apostles
Peter and Paul
The day of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul is the culminating feasts of the Gospel. Although the last event in the life of Christ which is related in the Gospel as His Ascension into heaven (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51), the preaching of the Apostles is closely bound up with the Gospel. The Gospel tells us of their being chosen, and the Gospel indicates beforehand the end of Apostolic activity.
Telling of the appearance of Christ on the sea of Tiberias and the restoration to apostleship of Peter, who by his triple confession corrected his triple denial, the Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian speaks also of the prediction to the Apostle Peter concerning the end of his struggle. When thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whether thou wouldest not. This spoke He, signifying by what death he should glorify God (John 21:18-19).
It was not pleasing to the Lord then, to reveal the face of each of the other Apostles, although, when sending them to preach, He predicted to them, the persecutions that awaited them (Matt. 10:17-36). Now, to the question of Peter about John, Christ replied: If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou Me (John 21:22).
The mysterious words of Christ about John, and the extraordinary circumstances of the latter's end, have been the cause for the opinion, which spread in the Church, beginning from the days of the apostles, that John would remain on earth until the Second Coming. Such a view of the end of the earthly life of the Apostle John is set forth in part also in the hymns on the day of his memorial, where mention is made of his special closeness to the earthly Church. Therefore, the Church does not celebrate the day of the repose of the Apostle John the Theologian, which is a1so revered by the Church as a great feast, as is the day of repose of the Apostle Peter, which was definitely predicted by the Lord. It is precisely to the Apostle Peter and to no one else, that the Lord predicted the culmination of his earthly ministry, because it was Peter who first confessed Him, on behalf of all the Apostles, to be Christ, the Son of God; he was the first to receive the promise of power to bind and loose, which was subsequently given to all the Apostles (Matt. 16:16-19; Matt. 18:18); and it was he who renounced Christ and was again restored to apostleship. Indicating to Peter the culmination of his Apostolic preaching when restoring to him the Apostolic calling, the Lord thereby reveals the essence of the Apostolic ministry.
The preaching of the Word of God not only by word of mouth, but also by deprivations, sufferings and death, constituted the following of Christ and the continuation of His work.
The Apostle Peter, as the most zealous of all and one who strove to be before the others in word and deed, by his example aroused the other Apostle Therefore it is primarily him that Christ addresses. He goes in front of the other Apostles, becomes their "leader;" and it is especially to him that the preaching among the Jews was entrusted, while the Apostle of the Gentiles was the one who received precisely this title, being converted later, the no less zealous Paul (Gal. 2:7-9).
These two Apostles were as it were the commanders of the rank of the Apostles, which is expressed (in the service to them) by the word "leaders."
Without having authority over others, they both stood in front of all others by their warm zeal and labors. Their life was the most brilliant and was a personification of the life and labors of all the Apostles. The end of their earthly labors was especially impressive, thanks to the fact that it occurred before the eyes of the whole world. One of them (Peter) was crucified upside down, and the other (Paul) was beheaded, both in Rome, towards which at that time the gaze of all peoples was directed. The news of this quickly dew to all the ends of the universe, all the more in that they were both known personally in many places; their names were everywhere the Savior had been preached
The Apostle of the Jews and the Apostle of the Gentiles departed to Christ on the same day, as if indicating their equal nearness to God and the oneness of the Church of Christ, in which there it neither Greek nor Jew (Col. 3:11). Therefore, the day on which the earthly labors ended for "the leaders of the Apostles, who labored more than all," who "separated in body, are together in spirit;" became one of the memorable days for the whole Church.
The Apostle John the Theologian was still a1ive then, being in Ephesus, from where he was exiled to the island of Patmes. Not long before his transition into the other world, he wrote the Gospel, by which he completed the three Gospels written before him, and which he had approved. Having already completed his Gospel, he added to it, the account of the manifestation of Christ on the sea of Tiberias in order that quoting precisely the words of Christ about himself, he might refute the opinion that he had been promised by Christ to remain on earth until the Second Coming.
In this afterward to the Gospel written by him, the Apostle and Evangelist John set forth the prediction of Christ to the Apostle Peter concerning his martyr's death, and thus he bound the memory of this death with the Gospel.
Just as the last chapter of the Gospel of John is literally the conclusion of the whole Gospel, so also the feast dedicated to the fulfillment of the prophecy set forth there is as it were the conclusion of all the Gospel events kept in remembrance by the Church.
Being an immovable feast, it is nevertheless bound up with the movable feasts, since the preparation for it-the Apostles' Fast-begins one week after the feast of Pentecost; thus, it depends on the date of the celebration of Pascha.
The feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul indicates the lot of the Holy Apostles here on earth and reveals the glory that followed it.
The earthly lot of the Apostles was to go around the earth preaching of the Heavenly Kingdom, in this emulating Christ by their poverty, endurance of dishonor and sufferings, by their love for the children of the Heavenly Father, their inward torments of childbirth over those who heeded their preaching and their grief over those who paid no heed to their words and finally, by offering themselves as a sacrifice.
However, the culmination of their earthly life is the beginning of their heavenly glory. Their end is for them a dissolving of earthly ties and an ascent to Christ, Whom they loved, in order to remain eternally with Him (Phil. 1:23).
The day of their earthly end is the day of their heavenly birth, end the celebration of it is a solemnity of the coming of the future age for those who have followed Christ in this age. The receiving of the crowns of righteousness prepared not only for them, but also for all who love His appearing (II Tim. 4:8). Coming after the feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit and being in part bound up with it, the feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul culminates the yearly cycle of feasts dedicated to the earthly life of Christ and reveals the essence of His promises.
Just as the Nativity of John the Baptist is the foreword to the Gospel and the beginning of the events described in it, so also the death of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul is their culmination and the afterward of the Gospel.
The Nativity of St. John the Baptist is the beginning of the preaching of the Gospel of the New Testament on earth; his Beheading is the preaching of it in hell; and the day of the Holy Apostles is the realization of it in heaven.
"The firm and God-proclaiming preachers, the pinnacle of the Apostles, Thou hast received into the enjoyment of Thy good things and into repose; for Thou didst receive their pains and death as above all offerings, O Thou Who alone knowest what is in the heart" (Kontakion).
"The feast of the all-honorable Apostles hath come, interceding for the salvation of all of us. Now mystically clapping our hands, let us say: come into our midst invisibly, vouchsafing immaterial gifts for those who praise your feast in hymns" (Glory at Lauds).
The shorter sermons and articles of Archbishop John, no less than his major writings, are deeply theological. Whether inspiring his flock to greater piety on the Church's feast days, or commenting on the meaning of contemporary events, the source from which he draws is always the Church's theology, contained in the Holy Scripture, the Divine services, and the writings of the Holy Fathers. His appeal to this theology is never abstract; he makes use of the Church's knowledge of God and His dealings with men only for the practical benefit of His flock: to raise their minds above worldly concerns, to inspire them with the ideals of self-sacrifice and struggle, to assure them of the victory of faith and righteousness over unbelief and lawlessness.
A Hymn to God
"O Thou Who art above all things! For what besides this am I allowed to utter concerning Thee? How can words hymn Thee? For Thou canst not be expressed by any words. How can the mind behold Thee? For Thou art inaccessible to any mind. Thou alone art unutterable, because Thou past brought forth all things that can be uttered in words! Thou alone art unknowable, for Thou hast brought forth all that can be embraced by thought. All things, both rational and irrational, give Thee honor. The common desires of all are directed towards Thee; all hearts are pained for Thy sake; all things send up entreaty to Thee; to Thee all things that understand Thy beckoning utter a silent hymn of praise. By Thee alone do all things exist? All things strive together towards Thee. Thou art the end of all things; Thou art single and all; Thou art neither single, nor solitary, nor all. O Thou Who art named by all names! What shall I name Thee, the single unnamable! Moreover, what heavenly mind can penetrate the veils beyond the clouds? Be merciful, O Thou Who art above all things! For what besides this am I allowed to utter concerning Thee?" (St. Gregory the Theologian).
The fool hath said in his heart: There is no God (Psalm 13:1). The Prophet David, long before the Incarnation of Christ, clearly showed the reason why men strive to convince themselves that there is no God: Thy are corrupt and are abominable in iniquities (Ps. 52:2).
Moral corruption forces men to tremble before the future judgment; the conscience accuses them of sins. Nevertheless, men wish to sooth themselves, to stifle the conscience. They convince themselves that "there is no God." What else can one call such a self-soothing but foolishness?
Whether we acknowledge that God exists or deny it-still He exists. He ceaselessly declares concerning Himself through the book written by His finger: nature. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaimeth the work of His hands (Ps. 18:1) .
"I asked the luminaries of heaven;" says one church writer: "Are you God? And they answered: No. I asked the air: Are you God? And it answered: No. I asked the forests and groves: Are you not God? And they answered: No. And then all things cried out together unanimously in a loud voice: No, we are not God, but we were created by Him!"
The all nature submits to the Creator and His laws. Only the crown of His creation, tempted by the fallen angel, the devil, rises up against Him.
This is nothing new. Soon after the fall (of Adam) men began to turn away from God. However, an inward voice demands the acknowledgement of a higher power. Those who do not desire to revere the true God only create false gods for themselves. The more corrupt the heart is, the more repulsive and vile is the god men worship.
Nevertheless, here the chief passion of man steps forth; pride, a pride that demands of man that he submit to nothing higher. A battle begins against every religion; men strive to convince, first, themselves that "there is no God;" there is nothing above them. The awareness of their wrongs inspires them to a battle against faith, a battle against religion, to a war against God Himself.
However, the very intensity of this battle only confirms what they deny! If there is no God, then why is there a battle. Do men really fight against what doesn't exist?
An inward voice says to the militant godless that they are lying to themselves, and this voice they strive to stifle with evil deeds.
All the same, even they cannot remain without a god.
The godless at the time of the Prophet Daniel made the king their god, demanding that men turn only to him and the idol erected by him.
The godless in the French Revolution compelled men to worship reason.
The godless of our times have already almost raised up Lenin to be a god: the talks and articles of their leader take the place of Holy Scripture for them, and faith in the Socialist paradise takes the place of the eternal Kingdom of Christ.
A new faith is being built: faith in the non-existence of God.
In order to strengthen faith in atheism, the counsel of the ungodly (Ps. 1:1) is now gathering. The teachers of the new faith and their disciples gather against the Lord, and against His Christ (Ps. 2:2). They address mankind with an appeal to overthrow submission to God, to throw off His yoke from themselves.
He that dwelleth in the heavens shall laugh them to scorn and the Lord shall deride them (Ps. 2:4).
In earlier times the Lord allowed the Egyptian Pharaoh to rise against Him, and Sennacherib, who mocked God, to utter blasphemous speeches?
However, the more the Lord allows, the more frightful is the ruin of the impious! In a moment they have ceased to be; they have perished because of their iniquity (Ps. 72:19).
Now, the hour of the Lord's judgment will come, when the Lord shall speak unto them in Hit wrath, and in His anger shall He trouble the obstinate (Ps. 2:5), and those who are wavering in heart will clearly see the power of God and will have to cry out, like Nebuchadnezzar: Thy Kingdom is an eternal Kingdom, and Thy dominion it from generation to generation (Daniel 3:32).
Shanghai January 25, 1937
Commemoration of St. Gregory the Theologian
Will These Human Bones
Come to Life?
A Sermon given in 1948, when once again there seemed to be absolutely no hope for the deliverance of Russia from the Communist Yoke.
There was no limit to the grief and despondency of the ancient Jews when Jerusalem was destroyed and they were led away into the Babylonian captivity. Where are Thine ancient mercies, O Lord, which Thou swarest to David? (Ps. 88:50), they cried out. But now Thou hast cast off and put us to shame... They that hated us spoiled for themselves and Thou scatterest us among the nations (Ps. 43:10-12).
However, when it seemed that there was no hope for deliverance, the Prophet Ezekiel, who was likewise in captivity, was made worthy of a wondrous vision. Moreover, the hand of the Lord came upon me, he says of this. The invisible right hand of the Lord placed him in the midst of a field full of human bones. The Lord asked him: Son of man, will these bones live? The Prophet replied: O Lord God, Thou knowest this. Then the voice of the Lord commanded the Prophet to say to the bones that the Lord will give to them the spirit of life, clothing them with sinews, flesh and skin. The Prophet uttered the word of the Lord, a voice resounded, the earth shook, and the bones began to come together, bone to bone, each to its own joint; sinews appeared on them, the flesh grew and became covered with skin, so that the whole field became filled with the bodies of men; only there were no souls in them. Again the Prophet heard the Lord, and at His command, he prophesied the word of the Lord. From the four directions souls flew to them, the spirit of life entered the bodies, they stood up and the field was filled with an assembly of a multitude of people.
And the Lord said, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; and they say, Our hope has been lost, we have perished... Behold, I will open your tombs and will bring you up out of your tombs, My people, and I will put thy spirit within you and ye shall live, and I will place you upon your own land (Ezekiel 37:1-14).
Thus, the Lord God revealed to Ezekiel that His promises are steadfast, and that what seems impossible to the human mind is performed by the power of God.
This vision signified that Israel, after being delivered from captivity, would return to its own land; in a higher sense, it indicated the settlement of the spiritual Israel in the eternal heavenly Kingdom of Christ. At the same time, there is prefigured the future General Resurrection of all the dead.
Therefore, this prophecy of Ezekiel is read at the Matins of Great Saturday, when by His death Christ, having broken down the gates of death, opens the tombs of all the dead.
Belief in the resurrection is the cornerstone of our faith. If there be no resurrection, then is Christ not risen; and if Christ be not risen, then is your faith vain (I Cor. 15:13-14). If there is no resurrection, the whole Christian teaching is false. This is why the enemies of Christianity fight so much against faith in the resurrection and it is why the Church of Christ affirms faith in the resurrection. Many times the waves of unbelief have risen high, but they have rolled back before new signs which revealed the reality of the resurrection, of God's bringing to life of what was acknowledged as dead.
In the 5th century, in the reign of the Emperor Theodosius the Younger, doubt in the resurrection of the dead was widespread, so that there were disputes about this even in the churches. It was just at this time that a wondrous event occurred, the authenticity of which is confirmed by a number of historical writings.
In the middle of the third century, in the reign of the Emperor Decius (249-251), by his decree seven youths were walled up with stones in a cave near the city of Ephesus. The son of the head of the city of Ephesus, Maximilian, and his six friends- Jamblicus, Dionysius, John, Antoninus, Martinian, and Exacustodian confessed themselves Christians and refused to offer sacrifice to the idols. They had taken advantage of the time, which had been given them for reflection, and of the temporary absence of the Emperor, and had gone away from Ephesus and hidden in a cave in the nearby mountains, (in mountain called Ochlon). When Decius returned and found out about this, he ordered that the entrance to the cave be walled up with stones so that the youths, deprived of food and air, might be buried alive. When the command of Decius had been fulfilled, two secret Christians, Theodore and Rufinus-wrote down this event on pewter plates that they hid among the stones at the entrance to the cave.
The youths who were in the cave, however, did not know what had happened. On the eve of this event, having found out about the arrival of Decius in the city, and having prayed fervently to God, they fell asleep in a powerful and unusual sleep which lasted for about 172 years. They awoke only in the reign of Theodosius the Younger, precisely when there were disputes concerning the resurrection. At that time, the owner of that place was taking out the stones that walled up the entrance to the cave and was using them for a building, without suspecting in the least that the children whom everyone had forgotten, long before, were still in the cave. The youths, having awoke, thought that they had slept one night, since they did not notice any changes in the cave, and they themselves had not changed at all. One of them, the youngest, Jamblicus, who had previously gone to the city for food, having prayed to God with his friends, likewise went to Ephesus to find out whether they were being looked for, and to buy some food for themselves. He was astonished at the change, seeing churches which, as it seemed, had not existed the day before, and hearing the name of Christ being pronounced openly. Thinking that by mistake he had come across some other city, he decided nonetheless to buy some bread here. When he gave a coin for the bread, the bread merchant began to examine it carefully and asked where he had found the treasure. When Jamblicus affirmed that he had found no treasure, but that he had received the money from his parents, people began to gather, and they tried to find out where he had found such old money. Jamblicus named the names of his parents and friends, but no one knew them. Finally, Jamblicus heard from those present that he was really in Ephesus, that there had been no Emperor Decius for a long time, and that the Christ-loving Emperor Theodosius was reigning.
The head of the city and the bishop heard about what had happened, and in order to test the words of Jamblicus they went with him to the cave where the other six youths were. At the entrance to the cave they discovered the pewter plates, and from them, they found out when and how the youths had been in the cave. Concerning all this, the head of the city immediately informed the Emperor, who personally came to Ephesus and conversed with the youths. During one of these conversations they lay down their heads and fell asleep in eternal sleep. The Emperor ordered that they be brought to the Capital, but the youths, appearing to him to be asleep, commanded him to bury them in the cave where they had already been in a wondrous sleep, for many years. This was done, and during the course of many centuries, their relics reposed in that cave; the Russian pilgrim of the 12th century, Anthony, describes how veneration was paid to them.
This miraculous awakening of the youths was accepted at that time as a prefiguration and confirmation of the resurrection. Everywhere the news spread about this. Several contemporary historians mention it, and it was discussed at the Third Ecumenical Council, which soon thereafter, convoked in the same city. This striking miracle strengthened faith in the resurrection at that time. The power of God, which had preserved the bodies and clothing of the youths incorrupt for many years, was clearly revealed. In addition, just as the Lord raised them from sleep, so will he gather the bones and raise the dead according to the vision of the Prophet Ezekiel.
This prophecy, which foreshadows not only the resurrection of the dead, but also the preservation from destruction of the people who keep God's law, was manifestly fulfilled upon the Russian land.
At the beginning of the 17th century, with the dying out of the reigning house, a time of troubles came upon Russia. The Russian land was without a government. It was torn asunder by internal rebellion and subjected to the attack of neighboring peoples who seized many Russian provinces and the heart of Russia, Moscow. The Russian people became fainthearted and lost hope that the Russian kingdom would continue to exist. Many sought alms from foreign governments, others adhered to various impostors and thieves who pretended to be crown princes.
When it seemed that there was no more Russia and only a few still hoped in her deliverance,-then from a subterranean prison in the Chudov Monastery, resounded the last appeal of the starving Patriarch St. Hermogenes. This document, together with the epistle of Archimandrite St. Dionysius of the Trinity St. Sergius Monastery and the cellarer Abraham Palitzin, reached Nizhni-Novgorod. There, the Russian people were called upon to stand up in defense of Moscow's holy things and the House of the Mother of God.
The document moved hearts and the citizen Cosmas Minin addressed his fellow citizens from the porch of the cathedral with a flaming appeal to sacrifice everything for the fatherland. Immediately contributions poured in and an army began to be gathered. The courageous general, Prince Demetrius Michaelovich Pozharsky, was called to lead it, although he had scarcely recovered from wounds. While acknowledging the infirmity of human power, the Russian people gave themselves over to the protection of the Champion General and the greatest treasure the army took from Kazan, was the miraculous Icon of the Mother of God which had been brought out of the earth by the holy Patriarch Hermogenes while he was the Presbyter Hernialaus.
The Russian army moved, not trusting its weak power, but in the almighty help of God. Moreover, in reality it accomplished what no other force had been able to do. In a short time, Moscow was delivered, and on the same day of the commemoration of the Seven Youths of Ephesus (October 22), the Russian army entered the Kremlin with a triumphant procession, and to meet it, another procession came from the Kremlin with the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God which had been in the captive city.
The Russian land was cleansed of the enemies and imposters, the Russian kingdom was restored and the young Michael Feodorovich Romanov ascended on its throne. Russia was resurrected, its wounds were healed and it went from glory to glory. The Icon of the Mother of God with which Moscow had been delivered, and with it the whole Russian land, became the greatest holy object of the entire Russian people. Copies of it were placed in the capital city of Moscow, and later in the new reigning city of St. Petersburg, which was glorified by a multitude of miracles. Kazan Icons of the Mother of God were to be found in every city, village, and in almost every house. All of Russia celebrated the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, as a great feast.
Again today, the Russian land has been shaken to its foundation, and the waves of unbelief have risen high.
Grief takes possession of the heart, and in perils, the Russian people are ready, like the captive Israelites, to call out: "Our bones are dry, our hope has been lost, we have perished." But the memory of the Seven Youths who arose from sleep, together with the Meeting of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, proclaims the almighty right hand of God, and the word of the Prophet Ezekiel thunders from the depths of the ages with the voice of the Lord: "Behold, I will open your tombs, and will bring you up out of your tombs, My people, and will bring you into your own land, and you shall know that I am the Lord: I have spoken and will do it, saith the Lord (Ezekiel 37:12-14).
Shanghai, October 22, 1948
Preserves the Universe
In the Prophet Ezekiel (9:6), it is said that when the Angel of the Lord was sent to punish and destroy the sinning people, it was told him not to strike those on whom the "mark" had been made. In the original text this mark is called "tau," the Hebrew letter corresponding to the letter "T," which is how in ancient times the cross was made, which then was an instrument of punishment.
So, even then, it was foretold the power of the Cross, which preserves those who venerate it. Likewise, by many other events in the Old Testament the power of the Cross was indicated. Moses, who held his arms raised in the form of a cross during the battle, gave victory to the Israelites over the Amalekites. He also, dividing the Red Sea by a blow of his rod and by a transverse blow uniting the waters again, saved Israel from Pharaoh, who drowned in the water, while Israel crossed over on the dry bottom (Exodus, ch. 14, 17).
Through the laying on of his hands in the form of a cross on his grandsons, Jacob gave a blessing to his descendents, foretelling at the same time their future until the coming of the "expectation of the nations" (Genesis, ch. 48).
By the Cross, the Son of God, having become man and accomplished our salvation. He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on the Cross (Phil. 2:8). Having stretched out His hands upon the Cross, the Savior with them as it were embraced the world, and by His blood shed on it, like a king with red ink, He signed the forgiveness of the human race.
The Cross of the Lord was the instrument by which He saved the world after the fall into sin. Through the Cross, He descended with His soul into hell, to raise up from it the souls who were awaiting Him. By the Cross Christ opened the doors of paradise which had been closed after our first ancestors had been banished from it. The Cross was sanctified by the Body of Christ which was nailed to it when He gave Himself over to torments and death for the salvation of the world. Then it was filled with life-giving power. By the Cross on Golgotha the prince of this world was cast out (John 12:31) and an end was put to his authority. The weapon by which he was crushed became the sign of Christ's victory.
The demonic hosts tremble when they see the Cross, because the kingdom of hell was destroyed by the Cross. They do not dare to draw near to anyone who is guarded by the Cross.
The whole human race, by the death of Christ on the Cross, received deliverance from the authority of the devil, and everyone who makes use of this saving weapon is inaccessible to the demons.
When legions of demons appeared to St. Anthony the Great and other desert-dwellers, they guarded themselves with the sign of the Cross, and the demons vanished.
When there appeared to St. Symeon the Stylite, who was standing on his pillar, what seemed to be a chariot to carry him to heaven, the Saint, before mounting it, crossed himself and it disappeared. The enemy, who had hoped to cast down the ascetic from the height of his pillar, was put to shame.
One cannot enumerate all the various incidents of the manifestation of the power of the Cross. Invisibly and unceasingly, Divine grace that gushes from it saves the world.
The sign of the Cross is made at all the Mysteries and prayers of the Church. With the making of the sign of the Cross over the bread and wine, they become the Body and Blood of Christ. With the immersion of the Cross the waters are sanctified. The sign of the Cross looses us from sins. "When we are guarded by the Cross, we oppose the enemy, without fearing his nets and barking." Just as the flaming sword in the hands of the Cherubim barred the entrance into paradise of old, so the Cross now acts invisibly in the world, guarding it from perdition.
The Cross is the unconquerable weapon of pious kings in the battle with enemies. Through the apparition of the Cross in the sky, the dominion of Emperor Constantine was confirmed and an end was put to the persecution against the Church. The apparition of the Cross in the sky in Jerusalem in the days of Constantius the Arian proclaimed the victory of Orthodoxy. By the power of the Cross of the Lord, Christian kings will continue to reign until Antichrist, barring his path to power and restraining lawlessness (St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on II Thes. 2:6-7).
The "sign of the Son of Man" (Matt. 24:30), that is, the Cross, will appear in the sky in order to proclaim the end of the present world and the coming of the eternal Kingdom of the Son of God. Then all the tribes of the earth shall weep, because they loved the present age and its lusts, but all who have endured persecution for righteousness and called on the name of the Lord shall rejoice and be glad. The Cross then will save all who conquered temptations, from eternal perdition by the Cross, who crucified their flesh with its passions and lusts, and took up their cross and followed afar Christ.
However, those who hated the Cross of the Lord and did not engrave the Cross in their soul will perish forever. For "the Cross is the preserver of the whole universe, the Cross is the beauty of the Church, the Cross is the might of kings, the Cross is the confirmation of the faithful, the Cross is the glory of angels and the scourge of demons" (Octoechos: Exapostilarion, Monday Matins).
Shanghai Exaltation of the Cross, 1947
The Church's Prayer
The Church is the union of all who confess the true faith in the true God, with the Lord Jesus Christ at her head, having as her aim the spiritual perfection of each of her members. The Church is called catholic, that is, universal, as embracing everything.
In the Church of Christ there is neither Greek nor Jew, Barbarian, Scythian, bond, nor free (Col. 3:11); the Church encompasses all peoples; into her enter people from all places and times, living and dead, even the angels.
Therefore, all members of the Church can and should participate in the Church's prayers. During the Liturgy, the "common service;" the Bloodless Sacrifice is offered for all the faithful, living and dead.
Besides this, the Church offers up separate prayers for all that are in misfortune, in various special circumstances and for the reposed, calling on her living members. To remember with fervor those who have departed into the other life, asking God the forgiveness of sins they may have committed and eternal blessedness in the Kingdom of God.
September 10, 1944 Saturday before
The Exaltation of the Cross
The Russian Diaspora
The Russian people as a whole has performed great sins that are the cause of the present misfortunes: the specific sins are oath-breaking and regicide. The public and military leaders renounced their obedience and loyalty to the Tsar even before his abdication, forcing him from the throne. The Tsar did not desire bloodshed within the country. The people affirmed this deed openly and noisily and nowhere did they express loudly their disagreement of the forced abdication. At the same time, there was a violation of the oath given to the Sovereign and his lawful heirs. Besides this, the curse of their ancestors fell upon the heads of those who performed this crime-the Zemsky Sobor of 1613, whose decrees it sealed with the curse of those who would violate them.
Those guilty of the sin of regicide are not only those who physically performed it, but all the people who rejoiced the overthrow of the Tsar and allowed his abasement, arrest and exile, leaving him defenseless in the hands of the criminals, which in fact already predetermined the end.
Thus, the catastrophe that has come upon Russia is the direct consequence of terrible sins, and the rebirth of Russia is possible only after cleansing their sins. However, up to this time there has been no genuine repentance, the crimes that have been performed have clearly not been condemned, and many active participants in the Revolution continue even now to reaffirm that at that time, it was not possible to act in any other way.
In not expressing a direct condemnation of the February Revolution, the uprising against the Anointed of God, the Russian people continue to participate in the sin, especially when they defend the fruits of the Revolution, for, in the words of the Apostle Paul, especially sinful are those who, knowing that they which commit such things, are worthy of death, not only do the same, but consent with them that do them (Rom. 1:32).
However, in chastising, the Lord at the same time also shows the Russian people the way to salvation by making it a preacher of Orthodoxy in the whole world. The Russian Diaspora has made all the ends of the world familiar with Orthodoxy, for the mass of Russia, exiles for the most part, is unconsciously a preacher of Orthodox). Everywhere that Russians live there are built small exile churches, or even magnificent churches and often there are services in buildings which have been adapted for this purpose.
A consequence of the fall of the Russian State, was the arising of file Russian Diaspora. More than a million people were forced to leave their homeland and be scattered about the whole face of the earth.
A significant part of the Russians who went abroad belonged to that intellectual class which in recent times has lived by the ideas of the West. While belonging to the Orthodox Church and confessing themselves to be Orthodox, the people of this class in their world outlook significantly departed from Orthodoxy. The chief sin of people of this class was that they did not build their convictions and way of life on the teaching of the Orthodox faith, but rather strove to make the rules and teaching of the Orthodox Church conform to their own habits and desires. Therefore, on the one hand they were but very little interested in the essence of Orthodox teaching, often even considering the dogmatic teaching of the Church as being completely unimportant; and on the other hand, they fulfilled the demands and rites of the Orthodox Church, but only in so far as this did not interfere with their more European than Russian way of life. From this comes their disdainful attitude towards fasting, their visiting of churches only for a short time, and this rather more for the satisfaction of esthetic than religious feeling, and their complete lack of understanding of religion, as the chief foundation of the spiritual life of man.
In the public realm, this class likewise lived by the ideas of the West. Without giving any place at all for the influence of the Church, it strove to reconstruct the whole life, of Russia, especially in the realm of State government, according to Western models. For this reason, in recent times an especially fierce battle was waged against State authority, and at the same time the necessity for liberal reforms and a democratic organization of Russia became a new faith, not to confess which signified that one was behind the times. Making use in their battle with the monarchy of a slander against the Imperial Family which was widely spread throughout Russia, and likewise being possessed by a thirst for power, the intellectual class led Imperial Russia to its fall and prepared the way for the Communist power.
After the coming to power of Communism, the intellectual class was partially annihilated, and partially it fled abroad, saving its life. At the same time, the Communists showed their true face, and besides the intellectual class a multitude of Russians of other classes was forced to leave Russia, in part in order to save their lives, and in part for ideological reasons, as they did not desire to serve the Communists. Finding themselves abroad, the Russian people suffered great spiritual shocks. In the souls of a majority, a significant crisis was marked by a mass return of the intellectual class to the Church.
However, this positive manifestation also had its negative side. By no means, all of those who returned to faith accepted it in all the fullness of Orthodox teaching. The proud mind could not agree that up to now it had stood on a false path. There arose strivings to make Christian teaching agree with the previous views and ideas of the converts. Therefore, there was a whole series of new religious-philosophical currents, often completely foreign to Church teaching. Of these currents, especially widespread was Sophiology, which is founded on the recognition of the value of man in himself and expresses the psychology of the intellectual class.
Sophiology as a doctrine is known to a comparatively small group of people and very few actually subscribe to it openly. But a significant part of the intellectual class of the emigration is spiritually akin to it, for the psychology of Sophiology is the worship of man, who is no longer the humble slave of God, but is himself a small god, who has no need to be blindly submissive to the Lord God. A feeling of refined pride together with faith in the possibility for a man to live by his own wisdom, is very characteristic of many people who are "cultural" in the modern sense, who place above everything else the conclusions of their own minds and do not desire to be in everything submissive to the teaching of the Church, looking upon it favorably in a condescending way. Thanks to this the Russian Church Abroad has been struck by a series of schisms which have caused it harm up until now and have drawn away into themselves even a part of the hierarchy.
In the future life the judgment will be most severe for those Russians who, being educated in superb colleges, become the fiercest enemies of Russia. One is forced to foresee already that in the future the Diaspora will give many conscious workers against Orthodox Russia, who will strive to make it Catholic or spread various sects. Likewise, those remaining outwardly Orthodox and Russian, will secretly work against Russia.
However, Russia was founded on and grew through Orthodoxy, and only Orthodoxy will save Russia.
To the Russians abroad, it has been granted to shine in the whole world with the light of Orthodoxy, so that other peoples, seeing their good deeds, might glorify our Father Who is in heaven, and thus obtain salvation for themselves. But if it does not perform this purpose and even abases Orthodoxy by its life, the Diaspora will have before itself two paths: either to be converted to the path of repentance, having acquired forgiveness through prayer to God and being reborn spiritually and to being capable of giving rebirth to our suffering homeland; or else being rejected by God and remaining in banishment, persecuted by everyone, until gradually it will degenerate and disappear from the face of the earth.
Moreover, what of the Russian fatherland? Blessed are you, O Russian land, being purified by the fire of suffering. You have gone through the water of baptism, now you are going through the fire of suffering, and you will yet enter your repose. At one time, Christians gathered sand that was drenched with the blood of martyrs, with reverence from the Colosseum. The place of the sufferings and death of the martyrs became sacred and especially revered. Now the whole of Russia is an arena of passion-bearers. Her earth has been sanctified by their blood, her air by the ascent of their souls to heaven. Yea, sacred are you, O Russia. The ancient writer who said that you are the Third Rome and there will be no fourth, was correct. You have surpassed the ancient Rome by the multitude of exploits of your martyrs, you have also surpassed the Rome that baptized you [Constantinople] by your standing in Orthodoxy and you will remain unsurpassed to the end of the world. Only the land that was sanctified by the sufferings and the earthly life of the God-man is holier than you are, in the eyes of Orthodox Christians.
Shake away the sleep of despondency and sloth, O sons of Russia! Behold the glory of her sufferings and be purified; wash yourselves from your sins! Be strengthened in the Orthodox faith; to be worthy to dwell in the dwelling of the Lord and to settle in His holy mountain! Leap up, leap up, arise, O Russia, you who from the Lord's hands have drunk the cup of His wrath! When your sufferings shall have ended, your righteousness shall go with you and the glory of the Lord shall accompany you. The peoples shall come to your light, and kings to the shining which shall rise upon you. Then Lift up your eyes and see: behold, your children come to you from the West and the North and the Sea and the East, blessing in you Christ forever. Amen.
Shanghai, 1938, and
Report to the All-Diaspora Sobor, 1938
The Meaning of "Anathema"
The Greek word "anathema" consists of two words: "ana," which is a preposition indicating movement upward and "thema," which means a separate part of something. In military terminology, "thema" meant a detachment; in civil government "theme" meant a province. We currently use the word "theme," derived from "thema," to mean a specific topic of a written and intellectual work.
"Anathema" literally means the lifting up of something separate. In the Old Testament, this expression was used both in relation to that which was alienated due to sinfulness as well as, to that which was dedicated to God.
In the New Testament, in the writings of the Apostle Paul it is used once in conjunction with "maranatha," meaning the coming of the Lord. The combination of these words means separation until the coming of the Lord; in other words being handed over to Him (1 Cor. 16:22).
The Apostle Paul uses "anathema" in another place without the addition of "maranatha" (Cal. 1:8-9). Here "anathema" is proclaimed against the distortion of the Gospel of Christ, as it was preached by the Apostle, no matter by whom this might be committed, whether by the Apostle himself or an angel from the heavens. In this same expression there is also implied: "let the Lord Himself pass judgement," for who else can pass judgement on the angels?
St. John the Theologian in Revelation (22:3) says that in the New Jerusalem there will not be any anathema. This can be understood in two ways: giving the word anathema both meanings: 1) there will not be any lifting up to the judgement of God, for this judgement has already been accomplished; 2) there will not be any special dedication to God, for all things will be the holy things of God, just as the light of God enlightens all (Rev. 21:23).
In the acts of the Councils and the further course of the New Testament Church of Christ, the word "anathema" came to mean complete separation from the Church. "The Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes," "let him be anathema," "let it be anathema," means a complete tearing away from the Church. While in cases of "separation from the communion of the Church" and other epitimia or penances laid on a person, the person remained a member of the Church, even though his participation in her grace-filled life was limited. Those given up to anathema were thus, completely torn away from her until their repentance. Realizing that she is unable to do anything for their salvation, in view of their stubbornness and hardness of heart, the earthly Church lifts them up to the judgement of God. That judgement is merciful unto repentant sinners, but fearsome for the stubborn enemies of God. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God . . . for our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 10:31; 12:29).
Anathema is not final damnation because until death, repentance is possible. "Anathema" is fearsome, but not because the Church wishes anyone evil or God seeks their damnation. They desire that all be saved. However, it is fearsome to stand before the presence of God in the state of hardened evil as nothing is hidden from Him.
"It is fearsome to fall into the hands of the living God: this is a tribunal of thoughts and movements of hearts. Let no one enter tempting the unblemished faith: but in meekness and fear let us come before Christ, that we may receive mercy and find grace for help at the proper time" (Stichera of the Aposticha, Palm Sunday, Vespers).
The Decline of the Patriarchate
The anti-Orthodox career and statements of the late Patriarch Athenagoras, a 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 departure process, 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 Christ" (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 universalized and 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. These have served to change it from the "pitiful spectacle" described here, 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 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 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 Barb, 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 and collecting a large tax from the newly elected patriarch. Apparently, this tax collection had a great significance in the changing of patriarchs by the Turks. Therefore, it often happened that they again allowed a patriarch whom they had removed, to return to the Patriarchal Throne, 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 that 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 also evident the Greek "Great Idea," to attempt to restore Byzantium, at first in a cultural, but later 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, was 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. 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 firinan 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 release from his authority the dioceses that had been torn away from Turkey, previously. There was talk concerning certain places which in the past, 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. In 1937, he even recognized 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. Actually, now, 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 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 well as the Armenian Patriarch, to wear long hair and ecclesiastic garments, 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 hierarchy 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 St. 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, as well as, 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 Thyatira 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 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.
About the Typicon
The Question of Uniformity in the Church Services Discussed at the Council of Hierarchies of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad 1951 by Archbishop John (Maximovitch).
The divine services and rites of the Orthodox Church, having as their foundation one typicon and preserving commonality in all that is substantially important, are extremely different one from another in practice. Not only are the customs of different countries and local Churches different, but even in the bounds of a single region, sometimes even in a single city, the customs vary greatly in churches located close to each other. More than once the question has arisen regarding the introduction of a single common abbreviated typicon which would be mandatory for all churches. However, what may be only a theoretical decision may be in reality impossible to carry out and even harmful if attempted. The difference in the carrying out of the Church typicon comes about because of the strength of customs that have taken root. Sometimes these customs have deeply sensible meanings, but sometimes the meanings are quite nonsensical; thus, they remain because of the zeal and determination of those who carry them out. Without a doubt, we must take into consideration that which has been accepted as sanctified custom; that is, what has been accepted from antiquity as having been established and which has entered the consciousness not only of the clergy that carry it out but of the laity as well. However, we must give considerably less weight to that which is only common practice; that is, to that which is merely a habit of those who carry it out, not having an inner meaning and not having entered into the consciousness of the laity. We must hold onto the first as long as they are of benefit to our activity, as long as they do not contradict the Church typicon. As for the latter, one may give only a common rule: the closer it is to the Church typicon, the better. Our Church typicon is not a compilation of dead rules and it is not the fruit of some abstract desk work, it was imprinted on the spiritual experience of holy ascetics who came to fully understand the depths of the human spirit and the laws of the spiritual life. The Holy Fathers themselves experienced the battle with the infirmities of soul and body, as well as the means for their healing; they came to understand very well the path of prayerful podvig and the power of prayer. The Church typicon is a guidebook for training and schooling in prayer and the more it is adhered to the more benefit is derived from it. In the case of the inability to fulfill all that is laid out in the typicon, we must fulfill all that is in our power, preserving its general structure and main content. It is necessary, on the one hand, to fulfill the principal characteristics for a given service unchanged in its composition and that which maintains its identity separate from others. On the other hand, we must try as much as we can to fill in those parts of the service, which, changing according to the day, express the meaning and reason of the commemoration of the day's event. Divine Services combine in themselves prayer, which is lifted up to God by the faithful, the receiving of God's grace in communion with Him, and the instruction of the faithful. The latter consists of teaching through reading in the divine services and hymns, catechism, and instruction in the Christian life. The divine services in their composition contain all the fullness of the dogmatic teaching of the Church and set forth the path to salvation. They present invaluable spiritual wealth. The more fully and precisely they are fulfilled, the more benefit the participants receive from them. Those who perform them carelessly and who shorten them by their laziness rob their flock, depriving them of their very daily bread, stealing from them a most valuable treasure. The shortening of the services which comes about through lack of strength must be done wisely and performed circumspectly in order not to touch that which should not be tampered with.
Specifically, at Vespers Psalm 103 must be read in its entirety; if it is sung it is allowable to sing only a few verses, but with majesty. Preferably, the verses of Psalms 140, 141, 129, and 116, which begin with the words "Lord, I have cried," will be always sung in full, all of the stichera absolutely.
On the prescribed days it is necessary to read the Old Testament readings and to perform the Litia.
Matins must be served in the morning. Serving Matins in the evening, except for when the All-Night Vigil service is held, is not allowable because, by doing this, essentially the morning service, which is very necessary for the faithful, is abolished; even a short church attendance in the morning has a beneficial effect on the soul, while sanctifying and giving direction to the whole day. The Six Psalms are not to be shortened; also, it is necessary to read the Lauds psalms in their entirety. Reading should not take the place of singing except when there is absolutely no one who is able to sing, since the effect of singing is much stronger than reading and very seldom is reading able to substitute for singing. Do not dare to leave out the Theotokia after the Troparia and other hymns, for in them is given the foundation of our faith-the teaching of the incarnation of the Son of God and of the Divine Economy.
The Hours must be served exactly without omissions, as they are already so short. All three psalms of each Hour must be read, as well as the assigned Troparia and other prayers. At the end of each Hour special attention must be given to the prayer, which expresses the meaning of the sacred event commemorated at the given hour.
Liturgy must be served, if impossible daily, then at least on all Sundays and Church Feast Days, without taking into account the number of faithful that are able to attend the service. The Liturgy is the Bloodless Sacrifice for the whole world and it is the priest's duty to serve it when required. It is positively forbidden to skip any part of the Service Book (sluzhebnik). It is also necessary to fulfill the given hymns for the Liturgy. Included are Psalms 103, 145, and 33:if Psalm 103 is shortened because of its length (although it is better not to do so), then in any case Psalm 145 must be sung from the beginning to end, except for the days in which both of them are replaced by the antiphons. Psalm 33 is replaced only during Bright Week by the singing of "Christ is Risen"; as for the rest of the year, it is to be read or sung in view of its edification and there is no justification for its omission. That troparia which are appointed for each given Liturgy are to be sung and in their proper order, since they are the festive part of the Liturgy. The Church typicon also refers to preserving accurately the order of the Epistle and Gospel readings. If this is adhered to, then throughout the whole year, in those churches where the services are held daily, the Gospel, as well as Epistles, will be read in its entirety. That order requires that the cyclic reading be read necessarily; its replacement by the festive readings happens only on great feast days, but then the cyclic reading is not omitted; it is read on the preceding day, together with the ordinary readings: on medium rank feast days the consecutive and festive readings are read. The reading of only the festive readings, that is, with the omission of the ordinary, is called "irrationality" by the typicon because when this is done the whole meaning of the division of the readings in the specific order is transgressed and those who do this show their lack of understanding (of the meaning of the divisions).
The remaining sacraments, as in all of the order of services in the Book of Needs, also must not be shortened except for dire need, and even then only by adhering to all that is essential and the order of the service, remembering one's accountability before God for the damage done to the souls of the flock by one's negligence. Everyone, while celebrating divine service, must fulfill it more precisely and with better execution so that, bringing spiritual benefit to others, he himself in the Day of Retribution may be likened to the servant who brought forth the ten talents and hear: Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things.
Go to the top
Missionary Leaflet #
Copyright (c) 2000 and Published by
Holy Protection Russian Orthodox Church
2049 Argyle Ave., Los Angeles, California 90068
Editor: Bishop Alexander (Mileant).