Fr Mark Hodges and the First Amendment

It’s nice to see that the OCA (like other jurisdictions) is just as intolerant of free speech as the rest of the American Establishment.  Well, at least there’s some consistency as both the spiritual as well as temporal sphere agree on this one thing.  

Under the new rules, if you’re an American citizen you cannot attend a protest rally.  This is the predicament of Fr Mark Hodges, who attended the massive “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6, just a few weeks ago.  Hodges was one of tens of thousands of people who gathered peacefully on the Mall on that day.  (Just like Gail and I did last month.)  Numbers vary, some estimates said close to 200,000 people were there.

Anyway, it’s all legal; you can check it out for yourself.  Just google “The Constitution of the United States” and scroll down to where it says “The First Amendment“.  (It’s there in black and white if you don’t believe me.)  

Now, some of the people who were in Washington on that day entered into the Capitol building itself and engaged in mayhem.  So far, five people died, three from health related problems (no one died because they were hit in the head from a fire extinguisher as previously reported) and two from gunshot wounds.  The Speaker’s lectern was stolen, as well as Nancy Antoinette’s laptop and a few windows were broken.

This was all illegal and most unfortunate.   They were trespassers and deserved to be arrested but not shot to death.  

Truth be told the crew that entered into the Capitol was a motley one.  But regardless of their attire, Fr Mark wasn’t one of them.  He was outside, hundreds of yards away on the Mall, surrounded by thousands of others who were likewise peacefully marching.  He, like they, were basically minding his own business.

But an anonymous busybody who knows Fr Mark saw him at this “violent” event and turned him in to his diocesan bishop, Archbishop Paul Gassios of Chicago.  And because he committed the crime of exercising his First Amendment rights, Fr Mark has been placed on suspension for three months.  

Now of course all the scared ninnies of the Establishment are calling what happened at the Capitol an “insurrection”, perpetrated by “domestic terrorists”.

What happened there was deplorable and criminal.  Of this, there can be no doubt.  But the march itself was peaceful (not “mostly peaceful” as during all those outbursts of mourning for the late, beloved George Floyd).  The March itself was also completely legal.  The fact that there were tens of thousands of people there is beside the point.   

On the other hand, what happened in Portland, Seattle, Kenosha, Baltimore, and other cities too numerous to list here, was long-lasting, horrible, criminal, and violent.  Hundreds of innocent people died and massive amounts of property was destroyed.  Yet what did we hear from the Democrats in the Congress?  Crickets. 

On January 6th, however, when the riots came to them, our betters in the House of Representatives were shocked into action.  So what did they do?  In no time flat, they got off their asses and impeached President Trump for “inciting a riot”.  Even though he did no such thing.  (Check out his speech for yourself.)  The actual incursion into the Capitol happened almost an hour before he was finished with his speech.  At the end of that speech, he told his listeners that they should peacefully march down to the Capitol. 

Anyway, the Establishment was shaken to the core.  Like many of the pearl-clutchers, Greg Pappas of The Pappas Post has imbibed the Establishment Kool-Aid and uncritically repeated their talking points.  It was “violent”, it was the “second American Revolution” and –get this–Trump was the “most pro-Life president in history”.   https://www.pappaspost.com/ohio-orthodox-priest-suspended-from-priestly-duties-after-attending-january-6-trump-rally/  Oh my stars and garters! 

In essence, Pappas has framed the entire event in an uncritical a narrative as possible and in so doing has painted an almost-defamatory picture of a fine, jovial priest, accusing him of engaging in a criminal act (trespassing) when he clearly was not.  In order to do this, Pappas (as many other “journalists”) has completely misrepresented the entire event, disingenuously conflating the Capitol incursion with the March itself.  (I must say that Pappas, who considers himself to be manifestly interested in all things Greek, doesn’t seem to know a thing or two about how our ancestors got their freedom from the Ottoman Empire.  Spoiler alert:  it wasn’t a walk in the park.)

Pappas, one of the herd of the independent minds that make up our Establishment, is in fine company with the Orthodox hierarchy, who seem to not understand basic concepts like freedom of speech.  In his supercilious fashion, he prefers to wag his righteous finger and tut-tut Fr Mark because as a free citizen, he decided to congregate with people who have significant grievances.  (Again, that pesky First Amendment!) 

When viewed in light of the increasing suppression of free speech, the suspension of Hodges is most distressing.  Daily, almost hourly, we are bombarded with news about blogs, podcasts, and even social media platforms (like Parler) being taken down willy-nilly.  Even Corporate Media types are saying things like “yes, we should have free speech on the Internet but –[fill in the blank here]”.

This growing censoriousness is most worrisome on its own merits.  Already, anybody to the right of Geraldo Rivera is called a “domestic terrorist”.  It’d be funny if it wasn’t so terrifying.  It’s not going to end well.  Having said that, I have begun to sense a push-back.  Fr Mark himself has made the big-time:  many major publications have taken up his cause or at very least, brought his story to the attention of the secular world.

The Daily Mail of the UK for example has turned Fr Mark’s suspension into something of a cause c’elebrehttps://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9173483/Orthodox-priest-suspended-priestly-functions-attending-Trump-rally.html.

And then there’s this from The Wall Street Journal: https://www.wfmj.com/story/43217384/priest-punished-for-going-to-trump-rally-before-capitol-riot.  

What we are seeing here is an example of the “Streisand Effect”, named after the famous entertainer.  This is what happens when elites try to suppress personal or unflattering information about themselves.  It almost always boomerangs back on the person and draws more unflattering attention to said person.  Think of a car backfiring.

So, rather than let Fr Mark enjoy his First Amendment rights to peaceably assemble with others of like mind, His Eminence decided to give in to the anonymous snitch.  He could have taken another approach; he could have said to the person in question, “in America, people are allowed to go to protest rallies”. 

End of story.  Period.  Full stop.  There is no “but”.

Why, even the primate of the GOA went to a BLM march last June.  (Have we forgotten that?)  That was his right.  And BLM, unlike the Stop the Steal organizers does not promote violence.  If I didn’t know any better, I’d guess there’s one set of rules for the rulers and another for the ruled.  Sure looks that way, doesn’t it?  Fr Mark wasn’t even allowed to meet his accuser face-to-face.  No effort was made to resolve the situation privately.  No, under the new regime, anytime some Progressive/Liberal/Leftie makes an accusation, the accused is to be thrown out on his rear and maybe even lose his job. 

Remember Orwell’s 1984?   It wasn’t supposed to be a how-to book.  

Anyway, because Arb Paul decided to take the path of least resistance, this is now exploding in his face.  And I can’t help but wonder how many honest, patriotic American Christians who have been thinking about Orthodoxy are now thinking “yeah —no.”  

Comments

  1. I have been in the company of Archbishop Paul one time and it is not likely that I ever will again (partly due to geography and partly due to my intentional avoidance). However, if I ever happen to be in his company again, he is not going to like what I have to say.

  2. “Anyway, because Arb Paul decided to take the path of least resistance, this is now exploding in his face. And I can’t help but wonder how many honest, patriotic American Christians who have been thinking about Orthodoxy are now thinking “yeah —no.”

    Agreed except you ought to include those honest, patriotic American Christians who have converted and now have regrets about joining what appears to be an group of pacifist, worldly, namby-pamby, cower-before-the-regime-intent-on-destroying-Christianity, type religions–something that the native Baptist/Anglican spirit within me cries out against with a vengeance. We were not raised in the millet system under Islamic oppression, we were not raised as slaves to the godless Soviet regime, we were raised Freemen with certain inalienable rights and one of those is to topple usurpatious *cough cough (Biden)* regimes and to use civil disobedience when the government issues tyrannical dictates. The American Orthodox hierarchy has shown not only its invidious cowardice, but it’s inability to grasp the authentic culture of our common people and it’s unwillingness to respond to our distinctly Western culture and uniquely American principles. At this point I trust no one in the hierarchy because none of them has proven they care about Americans (except our money). *steps down from soapbox*

    Forgive me, I have just about reached my limit with Orthodoxy and all her Byzantine intrigues and insatiable Erastianism.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Sir, I cannot disagree with you. What’s particularly distressing to me (as a Greek-American) is that there is only so much subservience that any one man can take. The millet system was horrible in so many ways (as was Sergianism in Russia). Indeed, it caused a “pseudomorphosis” in the Ecumenical Patriarchate, elevating the least desirable men to the episcopate.

      So here we are: the natural brown-nosing subservience of the Orthodox episcopate happens to coincide with the anti-Christian cultural values of the American Oligarchy.

      I am confident that the Holy Spirit (who guides the Church) will set things aright. I am confident that upon His return, the Lord “will find faith on the earth” –at least some faith. I pray that I and those I love will be among those.

    • Every day it becomes more and more crystal clear that serious Orthodox Christians need to be under the omophor of Patriarch Kyrill and the Russian Orthodox Church. For most Orthodox Christians in North America, that means being in ROCOR. ROCOR is distinguishing itself as the missionary arm to the English-speaking and Latin American world.

      The faithful in the OCA will get there soon enough. As everyone knows that the GOA/C’ple is headed right for Rome, everyone knows that the OCA is headed for splitsville — the modernist/Abp Paul-esque faction will go with the GOA to Rome, and the traditional Orthodox faction will go to ROCOR, where they have belonged since they voluntarily self-dissociated from all canonical Orthodox bodies in 1946.

      Tired of pretending. The above is what will happen, and everyone knows it.

      The “American autocephaly project” died in 1983 when Fr Alexander Schmemann passed away, and its final nails were put in the coffin in 1994 in Ligonier. For further evidence, look no further than the scandals and drama that have plagued the OCA since the early 2000s.

      American Orthodoxy is too tiny, too young, too groundless, and without any deep Orthodox roots to maintain an autocephalous church. Let’s stop pretending. Sorry.

      American Orthodox have amazing native saints here in our land, almost all of whom were firmly grounded/formed in the tradition of the Russian Orthodox Church. Visit the relics of Vladyka John in the cathedral on Geary Blvd in San Francisco, and read about what a fan of the OCA/”Metropolia” he was (i.e., he was not a fan at all). We need to imitate him. Even the Metropolia First Hierarch Metr. Leonty (1950-1965) deeply regretted his passiveness in not actively preventing his flock from voting to leave ROCOR in 1946; he knew that he had abandoned his responsibility as a bishop to lead.

      Like our American saints, (North) American Orthodox Christians need to be firmly grounded/formed in the tradition of the Russian Orthodox Church. We should not become “fake/pretend Russians” – that’s silly – but we must be part of the very multinational Russian Orthodox Church. Only formed in that foundation will we be solid Orthodox Christians ourselves and can begin to evangelize this land.

    • Don’t lose faith, brother. The Church has survived worse bishops than our current batch.

      • I disagree. To use a less personal example, let’s consider the Latins. I’d take Alexander VI and the Borgia clan over Francis and his degenerate enablers among the cardinals any day. A. VI was a great sinner, but he did not hate the Church or its people. He didn’t want to destroy them. He was simply driven by his own greed and lusts.

        In other words, mafiosi are much, much better than your standard public university professors in the humanities. The first group just wants power and fine things, and they degrade their souls in the process. The second group aligns with demonic powers and wants to destroy civilization.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Joseph, that’s an interesting perspective. One unfortunately which has some merit. It reminds of me C S Lewis’ observation that the Robber Baron can have his passions sated whereas the Liberal punishes you because it satisfies his conscience.

          A corollary to this would have been Wm F Buckley’s observation that he would rather be ruled by the first three hundred names in the Boston telephone book than by the entire faculty of Harvard University.

        • Good points, but the first group are actively evil, while the second are either just plain ignorant or delusional in the most part.

  3. I take the view that the clergy should stay out of politics. They are ministering to congregations that most likely represent the whole spectrum of political views. The priest’s job is to bring his congregation to Christ through his example, preaching, performing the services and administering the mysteries. Being a zealot for a political cause has the potential for weakening his credibility and even worse dividing his parish. Our priests need to give us the Church’s view on handling the current political turmoil in our country and in a non-partisan way. I wish Fr. Mark well. He seems like a very good man.

    • George Michalopulos says

      I don’t disagree with you Peter. However, why doesn’t the same rule apply for Arb Elpidophoros?

      That is one reason that people who voted for Trump came out by the tens of thousands on the Mall two weeks ago. And why the Bidenists felt they had to turn the Federal City (I won’t call it Washington anymore –he was a great man and he would be outraged at what they have become) into an armed camp.

      Think of it: even during the depths of the American Civil War, Lincoln had fewer armed men protecting the Federal City than the Oligarchy called up for the other day. And Richmond, the CSA capital, was barely two days’ march away. (Beauregard should have taken it after First Manassas but that’s another story.)

      In the after math of MLK’s assassination, the black populace of DC erupted in massive rioting, resulting in over 100 people dead, and LBJ had called up less men to protect the city.

      But on January 6th, five people died and maybe a few thousand dollars’ worth of damage was done and the Establishment panicked.

      Let us think deeply on these things.

    • Peter,

      The faithful Orthodox clergy only need to preach one sermon. They need to say that abortion is a crime against humanity and is strictly forbidden by the Church. They need to say that homosexual marriage is anathema to the Church. They need to say that Sodomy is forbidden. They need to say that euthanasia is evil. They need to say that God created us…man and woman. If our pastors and bishops had the courage to say these things in no uncertain terms, the people would know who they needed to vote for in elections. If the people disagreed with these things, they would have to discern as to whether or not they should stay in the Orthodox Church. Perhaps they would seek spiritual counseling…or perhaps they would join the Episcopalians. Regardless, our priests and deacons and bishops do not have to get political. The truth speaks for itself. But how many have the courage to speak the truth?

      With the exception of my spiritual father, I have never in my life heard an Orthodox bishop, priest, or deacon speak against the horrors of abortion from the pulpit. Never!!! Not one time!!! How are the people going to know where the Church stands on issues if the clergy are afraid to speak the truth boldly from the pulpit? Where will the people look for the truth if the Church does not feed them? They will go to the world to find the truth. And what will they find from the secular minions as they seek truth? They will find the father of lies.

      God help us.

      • I have on several occasions and many of my close priest friends have done the same. Forgive me, frd+

      • Pat Reardon says

        I have never in my life heard an Orthodox bishop, priest, or deacon speak against the horrors of abortion from the pulpit. Never!!! Not one time!!!

        You may want to go to Ancient Faith Radio and check out a podcast called “Sermons from All Saints.”

        That sermon was preached at All Saints in Chicago at least once a year for nearly a quarter-century.

        During even-numbered years divided by four, that sermon on “the horrors of abortion” was usually preached somewhere toward the end of October.

        • So it is one sermon, at one Church, done repeatedly? That’s great to hear. But shouldn’t every Orthodox priest be preaching this in every Church? Elder Ephraim once referred to abortion as: “The atomic bomb of sin.”

      • AMEN Mikhail. And now, over in the Antiochian Archdiocese, Met Joseph has muzzled his clergy, you know, the ones who had the audacity to …gasp…speak the truth online. It seems the laity who despise the teachings of The Church whined and griped, so of course Met Joseph muzzled them. What a complete disgrace.

  4. Ronda Wintheiser says

    Archbishop Paul is my bishop.

    I may have recounted already here what occurred between us over the past year, but under these circumstances, it seems poignantly relevant to repeat it.

    To preface, I have had a number of warm conversations with him over the past few years, at coffee hour, when he has visited our parish. I found him very approachable, and it didn’t take long for me to feel that at last there was one bishop in the Synod whom I could respect. The others all lost my respect in the debacle inflicted on Metropolitan Jonah.

    Our Synod issued 29 pages of directives last May, when Governor Tim Walz finally lifted the lockdown and allowed services to resume. They included a mask requirement for everyone but clergy and singers. The restrictions on the Eucharist were left up to each bishop, and Archbishop Paul’s instruction was that two spoons be used and that in between each use, each spoon should be dipped in Ever Clear.

    I was nonplussed, to say the least, at that treatment of the Eucharist, and since Archbishop Paul is quite active on Facebook and had friended me several years ago, I sent him a private message and asked him why he felt those precautions were necessary.

    He saw my message, but did not respond.

    After a month, and after he had posted a video of himself talking about the Synodal directives and inviting anyone to ask him questions or even challenge him with regard to those, I sent him another message. Perhaps he had been too busy to respond, I thought, since he was being so generous about approaching him. I repeated my original questions and asked him a couple more.

    He saw that message, too. And did not respond.

    A little later, maybe a few days later, I saw a post of his on Facebook that was an article written by an evangelical Christian making the case that it does not matter who you vote for with regard to the question of abortion since statistically the abortion rate has dropped under Democrat presidential administrations. Presumably that has something to do with the fact that under a Democrat people have more access to contraceptives or some such thing. The piece was making the case for voting for Joe Biden over Donald Trump.

    I commented in the thread; I said that to my way of thinking I would never vote for a candidate who advocates for it to be legal for a woman to choose abortion any more than I would vote for a candidate who advocates for it to be legal for someone to choose to own a slave. That if a candidate cannot get that pivotal, critical question right, I wouldn’t trust him or her with any other question, any more than I would choose an OB/Gyn to attend the birth of my child who runs a little abortion business on the side.

    I told him that I believe that Christians can prevent abortions from occurring in their own neighborhoods simply by visiting their local abortion clinic and offering help and assistance to abortion bound women. I reminded him that right here in St. Paul, just miles from our parish where he has visited, there is a Planned Parenthood clinic, and there is also an organization just two miles from our church that is active at that clinic, organizing sidewalk counselors to go there and pray and attempt to save babies’ lives. I invited him to join me in visiting Pro Life Action Ministries the next time he is in our neighborhood, and to go down to the abortuary with me to pray or speak to moms going inside.

    His response? He did not answer or comment on my comment, as far as I know, but I cannot be sure since he immediately unfriended me. I can no longer see any of his posts.

    It is appalling to me that Archbishop Paul would make such a bald pitch for Christians to vote for a president who is pro-abortion and turn around and suspend an Orthodox priest who is quite active in pro-life activism on Facebook, posting many informative articles about it and encouraging Christians to be active in the pro-life arena.

    This weekend I will be composing a letter to my bishop, and to the Synod as well, and since I can no longer attend services any more, anyway, thinking seriously about leaving the OCA.

    • Seriously? Dipping the holy chalice spoons in Everclear? Sounds like this was thought up by a hungover college student. Man.

      • Ronda Wintheiser says

        FTS, here is his directive so you can read it yourself.

        https://domoca.org/directives-for-reopening-the-diocese/

      • But the MP and (parts of) Rocor which you praised above do this too.

        • Yeah, I think Archbishop Paul was simply following the example of the Moscow Patriarchate. I understand that some OCA parishes are just using one spoon with no alcohol in between. It probably varies by diocese.

        • anonimus per Scorilo says

          So did Saint Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain. Except that he said that the priest should use vinegar, and not alcohol.

          This is in the Rudder, in the footnote to the commentary of Canon 28 of the 6’th Ecumenical Council.

        • Ronda Wintheiser says

          Dear DGB, Rufus, and anonimus per Scorilo:

          First, DGB, I praised no one.

          Secondly, to all of u, the point is that I ASKED my bishop WHY the spoons, etc.

          HE DID NOT ANSWER ME. HE IGNORED ME. He could have explained those things to me, since he INVITED us to question him.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Heartbreaking story Ronda. May God’s mercy and Spirit be with you and guide you.

    • Katja Yurschak says

      Be lucky Abp Paul only unfriended you on Facebook. He basically ruined a parish that I used to go to and when a man at the parish followed me into a dark hallway to get into my face to scream at me (while I was holding my 1-year-old child) I complained loudly to the priest, to Abp Paul, all the way up to the Metropolitan (the man later threatened to punch my husband) ard Abp Paul’s response was basically blame my husband for the entire situation, ignoring OCA guidelines on this sort of stuff (as it bled into the sexual harassment side of things & OCA requirements say the bishop needs to interview the person with the complaint & he never did, and refused to before “settling” the issue). Probably because the guy who did this was a big donor to the church. I don’t know. I was told this guy was supposed to apologize to me in a letter from Abp Paul, but the man never did, and last I knew, he was “acting” Parish Council President. It tore apart a church, and there are like 10 people left there.

      • Katja Yurschak says

        Then, get this, I wanted to file a complaint with the Coordinator for the Office of Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations against Bishop Paul for not following the OCA guidelines regarding the original complaint, and after a lot of hemming and hawing, the woman who runs that office flat-out told me, “well, we don’t investigate bishops”.

        Let that sink in.

        • GOA Priest says

          Katja,

          I’m so sorry that happened to you, but you aren’t alone.

          What you describe is exactly the problem. Monarchical-episcopal-centrism. Accountable to no one, even though the Canons demand otherwise. In our current distorted system, bishops are permitted, even expected, to rule by fiat, and lay people and presbyters will either bow before their glorious mitres or get quickly thrown under the bus,

          It’s repulsive, and it happens in every jurisdiction because it is tacitly permitted by all of us who pay their salary.

        • Solitary Priest says

          The OCA Synod certainly investigated Metropolitan Jonah; though it was an attempt to blacken his name, because he was stepping on the toes of the gaylibbers in our midst. Then they investigated Bishop Mathias, although in this case, the bishop was out of line, texting a young lady, with all the appearances of having a crush on her.
          In my case, my wife had words with a parish council president. She later apologized to him, after he made a big fuss to all the parish . But like a Mafia chieftain, he demanded that she make a public apology before the whole parish. That she refused to do. I suppose had he been about fifty years old instead of eighty, I might have been tempted to hit him and thus risk losing my priesthood . This was more than twenty years ago, my wife died, and the president himself died a few years afterwards .
          The good news is that the priest who replaced me has been able to change things for the better, with the help of the new bishop . I’ve also been serving a parish for over three years with some of the kindest people I’ve ever met. Our parish council president not only is a pious man, but he gives spiritual books to other people to read. God is merciful .

        • Katja,

          So awful and terrible. May our Holy Mother protect you!

          What parish is it? Please say. The only way healing happens is to get this stuff out and let it heal. You have to open a wound and drain the pus to heal it.

          Other Orthodox Christians in America need to be aware.

    • Ronda, thanks for sharing. Sadly, I suspect this is the position held by virtually all Bishops, in all jurisdictions in North America. Sad, sad days.

  5. GOA Priest says

    Unfortunately, nearly without a jurisdictional exception, our merry band of American Lowerarchs are courage-less ninnies who bring shame upon the holy Orthodox Church. And what has happened to Fr. Mark publicly, is being threatened against clergy throughout the US. Fecklesspolitan Joseph’s recent letter is proof, as well as other insidious demands and “requirements” from the Atlantic to the Pacific to “mask” your mouth, and get in line. Elpidoktonosism reigns supreme.

    Apparently Bishop Paul Imagreekios and the other imposters have apparently discovered the See We Are Dead Scrolls which chronicle in great detail how we win the Kingdom by closing churches, wearing masks, rewriting sacraments, sanitizing communion spoons, and reminding the clergy to shut the h-ll up, since they are mere appendages of lowerachical magnificence – it’s all right there in scroll #666. Maybe Ancient Faith will release a proper edition, since the original seems to have been written in crayon.

    Oh, and I apologize in advance if calling a spade a spade offends anyone, but unless and until you’ve walked a mile in our (clergy) moccasins…

    • Axios!

    • We recently celebrated the synaxis of St. John the Baptist. I’ve been thinking of his statement, “You brood of vipers!” I 100% trust the leadership at my ROCOR parish and have no comment re: other jurisdictions, but want to assure you that it seems fitting during this particular moment that you expressed what you did in the manner that you did.

  6. Is the priest the one in the photo dressed up like a Roman?

  7. George Michalopulos says

    Editor’s Note: In the editorial above, I misspoke. In re-reading the third-to-the-last paragraph, I left the impression that BLM does not promote violence. That is incorrect. They are a terrorist group founded on Marxist principles dedicated to overturning “heteronormativity”, the “patriarchy” and the “nuclear family”.

    Monomakhos regrets the error. No sane man, woman or child should ever be seen in their company.

    • anonimus per Scorilo says

      This was satire at its best. You should not excuse yourself for it !

      It should be incumbent on the readers to relax their outrage muscles, and to flex their brain muscles when reading this blog, to understand satire when they see it

  8. Military servicemembers are specifically prohibited from attending “rallies” or any sort of political events like these in military uniform.

    I wonder if the same clear proscription was/is in place for OCA clergy? If so, is the issue not so much that Fr Mark was there, but that he was disobedient?

    Breaking ranks and “acting according to your own mind” is considered virtuous and respectable in the American (protestant) tradition. However, in Orthodox Christianity, being disobedient is not considered virtuous or honorable.

    This is one of the reasons why many (like me) believe that our Orthodox faith is “un-American” in so many ways — not that our faith should change to “become like America” — no, not at all. Orthodox Christians have tried to make our faith “American,” and it always ends as utterly disastrous. Rather, there are many features of American life and culture that are not honorable and need to go into the trash can, because they are inconsistent with traditional Christian life (examples: pretending that the devil does not exist, refusing to honor tradition, maintaining psychological blocks against honoring the saints and the Theotokos, valuing disobedience, etc.).

    I love Father Mark and value his loud voice on protecting the unborn and as a vocal advocate for our faith in Christ and Orthodox tradition, which equals life. However, was he being disobedient in attending this “rally” in clerical garb? If so, then he shouldn’t have done it.

    If, however, there was no proscription on attending this rally in clerical garb, then maybe this is yet another culture clash between the leftist OCA episcopate and their overwhelmingly non-leftist clergy and flock.

    (Yes, it’s no secret, the OCA episcopate (I’ve been told by those well in the know) is overwhelmingly in the Biden camp, just like the GOA episcopate. Not that they should be political at all, but come on, how can Christian bishops support Biden/Harris and their camp, I simply don’t get it — they may as well just sign their own concentration camp orders.)

    • “However, in Orthodox Christianity, being disobedient
      is not considered virtuous or honorable.”

      Surely, as I’m sure St Mark Evgenikos might argue,
      that depends upon the matter at hand?

    • “Sign their own C Camp orders”…..LOL….you and I will be in the camps, but they sure won’t be. They’re in the “elite” camp.

  9. I was for Trump to win but in this case I agree with the Bishop. I feel sorry for the priest but he should think again and admit he was wrong before the Bishop not saying he does not see he was wrong. I think also he should ask for the blessing from the Bishop before going out.
    This is Church not from this world but in this world and so called democracy is from this world so even there are problems priests should behave like Orthodox priests not as some political activists.
    Priest was wrong to take part in political demonstration no matter from which side especially without Bishop permission. Black, white, pro this or that we have our Church and priests should listen to the Bishops. Same thing for Bishops from GOA that took part in resent demonstrations, that was all wrong.

  10. Joe Piscopo says

    this story has hit the 24 hour news cycle

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9173483/Orthodox-priest-suspended-priestly-functions-attending-Trump-rally.html
    “after a church member reported seeing him in a video” — wasn’t church members, but excommunicated lavender mafia
    “He said he attended the rally to ‘stop the steal’ of the election and prevent Joe Biden from becoming the 46th president of the US” NOT TRUE –he said it was about election transparency
    “spotted by a church member in a video that was shared on social media. The church member alerted the bishop to Hodges” –not church member, but lavender mafia

    https://www.newsweek.com/ohio-priest-suspended-could-removed-church-after-participating-capitol-rally-1563533
    “protesters baselessly challenged the presidential election’s outcome”
    “showcases anti-abortion rhetoric, homophobia, transphobia and racism”
    “unsubstantiated allegations that President Joe Biden’s election victory was illegitimate”
    “an open letter, penned by orthodox priests” — not penned by priests, nor by Orthodox, but by the lavender mafia
    “the violent siege that took place at the Capitol complex immediately after the pro-Trump gathering in which Hodges participated,” LIE
    “Priests addressed their open letter,” — not penned by priests, nor by Orthodox, but by the lavender mafia
    “noted that Hodges removed content from his Facebook page that initially substantiated his presence during the “Stop the Steal” event.” LIE

    https://nypost.com/2021/01/21/priest-suspended-for-attending-pro-trump-rally-at-us-capitol /

    https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/us-elections-government/ny-capitol-riot-ohio-priest-suspended-20210121-dvw47md5i5buripkfov6qld7re-story.html
    “Trump-loving Ohio priest”
    “The political priest”
    “he approached the Capitol with throngs of pro-Trump rioters.”
    “Hodges could not be reached for comment on Thursday.”

    https://www.newsmax.com/us/ohio-priest-capitol-riot/2021/01/21/id/1006619/

    https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/535254-ohio-orthodox-priest-suspended-faces-defrocking-after-attending
    “Following Trump’s remarks, the mob approached the Capitol, toppled barricades, overwhelmed Capitol Police and caused mayhem throughout the building.”

    https://www.foxnews.com/us/ohio-priest-suspension-dc-capitol-protest

    https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2021/01/ohio-priest-suspended-three-months-face-defrocking-attending-stop-steal-rally/

    https://www.rawstory.com/capitol-insurrection-2650061365/
    “he participated in the Capitol invasion: report” LIE
    “suspended over his role in the Capitol riots” LIE
    “showcases anti-abortion rhetoric, homophobia, transphobia and racism”
    calls the Orthodoxy in Dialogue inflamatory letter “the report”

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbes-personal-shopper/2021/01/22/best-language-learning-app-2021/?sh=3bee02622dfd

    https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/nation-world/national/article248667625.html
    “unfounded accusations of widespread voter fraud”
    “A pro-Trump mob stormed the building”

    Gene Simmons?!?!?!?!
    https://twitter.com/genesimmons/status/1352306403181023240?ref_src=twsrc

    https://www.cleveland.com/politics/2021/01/ohio-orthodox-priest-suspended-for-attending-trump-rally-at-us-capitol-reports-say.html

    https://www.toledoblade.com/local/politics/2021/01/21/area-priest-punished-for-going-to-trump-rally-before-capitol-riot/stories/20210121122

    https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2021/01/21/priest-punished-for-going-to-trump-rally-before-capitol-riot/

    https://www.aol.com/news/trump-loving-ohio-priest-suspended-181016786.html

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/ohio-priest-mark-hodges-might-be-defrocked-after-attending-capitol-insurrection

    https://www.heraldpalladium.com/news/regional/priest-punished-for-going-to-trump-rally-before-capitol-riot/article_6223c9a8-9110-573c-b8c1-d9e2fa45d4e2.html

    https://www.journal-news.com/news/priest-with-ties-to-southwest-ohio-parish-suspended-after-urging-joining-us-capitol-protest/VQMLG2MWAJH3BG6XJYZLSWHWVM/

    https://www.limaohio.com/news/444448/father-mark-hodges-suspended-faces-defrocking-for-attending-stop-the-steal-rally-at-capitol

    https://fox8.com/news/ohio-priest-says-he-was-punished-for-going-to-trump-rally-before-capitol-riot/

    https://www.wtrf.com/news/ohio-headlines/ohio-priest-punished-for-going-to-trump-rally-before-capitol-riot/

    https://triblive.com/news/world/priest-punished-for-going-to-trump-rally-before-capitol-riot/

    http://www.monomakhos.com/the-first-amendmant-doa/

    https://www.wfmj.com/story/43217384/priest-punished-for-going-to-trump-rally-before-capitol-riot

    https://www.unilad.co.uk/news/trump-supporting-priest-suspended-for-attending-capitol-riots/

    https://www.reportdoor.com/priest-suspended-for-attending-pro-trump-rally-at-us-capitol/

    https://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/news/nation-world/national/article248667625.html

    https://www.wbap.com/news/ohio-priest-suspended-for-attending-trump-rally-before-capitol-riot/

    https://www.wcpo.com/news/state/state-ohio/priest-with-ties-to-southwest-ohio-parish-suspended-after-urging-joining-u-s-capitol-protest

    https://www.mercedsunstar.com/news/nation-world/national/article248667625.html

    https://www.kvor.com/news/ohio-priest-suspended-for-attending-trump-rally-before-capitol-riot/

    https://www.wane.com/news/national-world/priest-punished-for-going-to-trump-rally-before-capitol-riot/

    https://triblive.com/news/world/priest-punished-for-going-to-trump-rally-before-capitol-riot/

  11. Ok here goes.
    I think all of this could have been avoided if Father Mark had asked for his bishop’s blessing before participating.
    Do I agree with Archbishop Paul? I do not know nor will I ever know all the specific circumstances.
    If father Mark had received a blessing to attend, then, come what may, the responsibility would have fallen on Archbishop Paul.
    I don’t agree with using this occasion to put Archbishop Paul in the crosshairs and spew previous grievances against him. He and I haven’t seen eye to eye, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need glasses.

    • Ronda Wintheiser says

      Tanya, if you read the piece, you know that Fr. Mark said that “‘while his bishop questioned ‘the wisdom of a priest attending,’ he personally viewed the rally as an expression of ‘extreme concern over voter fraud allegations in the 2020 election’.”

      Obviously he knew Archbishop Paul frowned on the idea.

      If you read on, you will read that “Gassios reportedly told Hodges that he was ‘guilty by association’ for attending the rally, according to Lima News.”

      Guilt by association. Association with whom or what?

      Trump supporters?

      The rioters?

      I’d like to know what he means by that. Wouldn’t you?

    • Bingo. Tanya, you are spot on. If a priest is wearing clerical garb, then he is representing his bishop. End of story. A priest can’t serve and put on clerical garb without his bishop’s blessing. If a priest is engaging in high profile political activity, even without clerical garb on, then he is still representing his bishop.

      The same goes for the March For Life, which by the way, Archbishop Paul does support:

      https://domoca.org/bishop-paul-participates-in-national-march-for-life/

      Like yourself, I don’t know the details of this situation. However, if Fr. Mark didn’t have a blessing beforehand, then Archbishop Paul has every right to reprimand as he sees fit. A priest is especially supposed to have a blessing when traveling outside of his parish community.

      • Pat Reardon says

        A priest is especially supposed to have a blessing when traveling outside of his parish community.

        Not in my Archdiocese.

        • Father, I have heard that in the GOA one priest visiting from another diocese for a speaking engagement or to celebrate Divine Liturby must get the blessing of the Metropolitan ~ would that be true for Antiochians as well (if I understand correctly?
          Seems perhaps a distinction between the personal and the professional, so to speak…

          Thank you in Christ for any info,
          Nicole

          • Solitary Priest says

            Certainly a priest needs a blessing from the bishop, both his and the bishop in whose diocese he will be serving liturgy. Even if both bishops are in the same jurisdiction. I have done it enough times. Sometimes the bishop will tell the visiting priest to get permission from the rector of the parish he is visiting. That is only common courtesy.

          • Pat Reardon says

            RE: “. . . would that be true for Antiochians as well?

            Yes, dear, this is a normal courtesy.

  12. This is not the first time the OCA has suspended priests, indefinitely, based on anonymous tips.

  13. Michael Bauman says

    My nephew-in-law is a student at Jordanville. He is an autodidact prior to seminary. A former Roman Catholic from Spain who has a great love for our Lord, enormous intellect and an enormous heart with an obvious leadership chrism. The guy is amazing. So is my niece. The marriage has been wonderful for both of them. He is excelling at Jordonville.

    I was talking with him and my niece the other day and asked him what the toughest thing about seminary is. He responded immediately: obedience.

    Thus it always is. Not only for the clergy.

    • Imagine what would happen if a ROCOR priest did as Fr. Mark Hodges did. Would the outcome be any different?

      • Gail Sheppard says

        ROCOR tends to shy away from these things.

        • Exactly, you won’t find ROCOR priests exercising “their first amendment rights” like Fr. Mark Hodges did.

          • jim of olym says

            My OCA priest does not vote in elections, federal or otherwise, as he says he is to represent the Kingdom of God here on earth, rather than earthly kingdoms or governments. This has been his stance since his ordination over thirty years ago.
            I’m sure from things he has said that he is a ‘conservative’, but he has never preached or publicly stated anything related to national or local politics. All the sermons preached in our parish relate to the gospel, and not to popular stuff.
            I think this is the kind of things the Orthodox Church must stand for: the teachings and actions of our Lord Jesus Christ, regardless of the nastiness we have to encounter here on earth in this age.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Jim, that too, is his right. As is his right to not own a firearm.

              The Bill of Rights to the Constitution applies to all American citizens. It is an enumeration of natural rights (which are negative) rather than positive so-called rights (which are ridiculous).

            • Seems to me that Jesus said to “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s. While we have one foot in Caesar’s land and one foot in God’s kingdom, we straddle the circumstances and participate in both.

              • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

                A Protestant preacher I heard on the radio some years ago asked this question in reference to the dominical saying you quote:

                “What is Caesar’s that is not God’s?”

                • ? (just after ?). Touchdown Father.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Father, interesting point. But Jesus was holding a coin with Caesar’s image on it, was he not? What might that say.

                  • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

                    The story from start to finish reveals how our Lord confounds the Pharisees yet again, this time through a clever rhetorical trap.

                    Instead of answering the original question directly (“Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not?”), our Lord resorts to a distraction, namely the coin, which, by the way, would have had an inscription in Latin declaring the Roman emperor “Tiberius Caesar, Worshipful Son of the God, Augustus.” No observant Jew could affirm that blasphemy, so the Pharisees were hoist on their own petard. By answering the way He did about rendering to “Caesar” and to “God,” the Lord provided a false, not a real choice to His interlocutors. The Jews obviously knew that they could not honor Caesar as divine, but they also failed to trap our Lord into open sedition against the emperor. Our Lord escapes their trap by uttering a statement that was neither intended nor received as a truly dual obligation by Jews to God and Caesar. The entire episode is a magnificent moment of God’s wisdom triumphing over human machinations.

                    • Ronda Wintheiser says

                      Thank you, Fr. Alexander!

                      I have heard so many homilies about this passage that said the opposite of what you just said, and I thought there must be something wrong with me that it sounded to me like Jesus was sort of making fun of them.

                      There is such a thing as the wrong question to ask.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Thank you Father. I am with Ronda.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Jim, that must be a blessing. The primary priest at my parish has been there since 1993 the same year my family and I transfered in. He does not preach politics. For one thing there are, inexplicably, folks who support Biden. We also have a significant Ethiopian contingent. He will, from time to time, as does our Bishop, preach against the evil of abortion but not partisan politics.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Do ROCOR priests not vote? Do they not preach against the evils of abortion?

            • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

              This ROCOR priest votes in every national and state election, even if I sometimes write-in the name of a non-Demshevick / non-Republican who is 100% pro-life.

              Only two Sundays ago on the Sunday After Nativity and a day before the commemoration of the Holy 14,000 Innocents slaughtered by King Herod, I preached a homily in Stafford on the Gospel text for that Sunday and the Herodian horror titled, “The Spirit of Herod.” That demonic spirit still thrives among those today who kill preborn children in the womb and engage in various forms of infanticide in our society

              • George Michalopulos says

                Thank you for doing so, Fr.

                Seriously can we dispense with this “obedience uber alles“? I would three crucial words: “Obedience to the Gospel“.

                And yes, as another commentator said (I paraphrase): if the bishops and clergy preached that the Orthodox Church is pro-life, ‘gay marriage’, etc. there would be no need for priests or bishops (I’m looking at you Elpidophoros) to get involved in politics.”

                • V. Rev. Andrei Alexiev says

                  This ROCOR priest also votes and preaches against abortion. I did so this morning, especially since I’m serving an OCA parish; today being the Sunday dedicated to defense of the unborn.
                  Furthermore, being on the new calendar, today was the Sunday of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia. I mentioned St. Tikhon of Moscow, the Patriarch-Confessor, who was Archbishop of the church in North America. May his prayers and the prayers of all the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia preserve our church!

                • Michael Bauman says

                  George, I think it is necessary and proper to discuss the nature of obedience in Bishops, priests/deacons and the rest of us. It is something we US rebels have a difficult time with as well as modernity in general. My opinion should rule afterall don’t you know, freedom of expression (odius phrase) and all of that.

                  You say obedience to the Gospel as if everyone knows and agrees what that means.

                  Two things I know about obedience is that it often entails doing something I do not want to do and doing it with as much joy as I can muster.

                  One other aspect of obedience: it rests on the mutual love and respect between me and my spiritual director.

                  When entered into with integrity and respect it always bears good fruit.

                  It is not a weapon however, or should not be. However, even if the particular incidence of obedience is punitive to begin with, that can be transformed by how it is received.
                  …and that is just regular lay obedience.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Michael you hit the nail on the head when you said “it rests on mutual love…”

                    Bingo.

                • Why is it the responsibility of the clergy to preach about the evils of society?
                  Do we not have access to more of the Churches teachings at our fingertips than in any other time in history?
                  If we are just waiting for Sunday, sitting passively in our pews stretched out with our legs crossed waiting to hear what the priest has to say about every social issue, what does that say about us?
                  I thought the whole purpose of preaching is about the salvation of our souls. As Orthodox Christians are we not taught and guided by the Holy Spirit?
                  It is not possible to understand without God’s grace.
                  We need to stop blaming the clergy and constantly looking for faults and start looking at our own failures and short comings.
                  If you don’t like your priest or bishop, there are a multitude of Saints that God has given us as lights on our path.
                  As my brother would say, stop complaining and get back in the boat.

                  • Ronda Wintheiser says

                    Tanya, it isn’t that they should preach against the evils of society.

                    It is that they should preach against choosing to engage in sinful behavior. Like abortion and homosexuality.

                    That is exactly about the salvation of our souls, isn’t it?

                    • So no christian would have a clue that abortion, sodomy, etc. is a sin because our clergy are not shouting it from the roof tops?
                      My point is that we need to take personal responsibility.
                      We have been taught, we have heard the Good News.
                      When attending services at church, our pastors speak to their flock, not to the general public.
                      In public, I expect our hierarchs to proclaim the Good News and the Faith. I pray they are led by the Holy Spirit and it is not for me to decide topic and content.
                      If we are constantly looking to avoid all divets in the road, we will find ourselves journeying on a wide smooth and dark path.

                    • Tanya,

                      Overall, I agree with you here. Just a minor point, though…

                      You wrote: “We have been taught, we have heard the Good News.”

                      Based upon the beliefs of some who identify themselves as Orthodox Christians, I have to wonder if this is true of everyone who attends Liturgy. Who (if anyone) has actually taught is the real question, I think.

                    • Ronda Wintheiser says

                      Well, Tanya, in my parish there is a cadre of parishioners who publicly and politically advocate for legal abortion and legal gay marriage.

                      I’m pretty sure they have a clue that abortion and sodomy are sins.

                      I suppose you could argue that since they likely do know there isn’t a reason for our priest to address it publicly?

                  • Solitary Priest says

                    Tanya:
                    Allow me to attempt to answer your very real concerns. There are clergy like myself who preach traditional morality. The problem is, I might tell someone that they have to live a chaste life. But Fr. X two states away communes known same-sex couples or open heterosexual fornicators. And then someone uses the example of that priest to “prove” that I’m wrong. This scenario didn’t happen to me, but it’s an example.
                    You tell a parishoner that they can’t commune in a non-Orthodox church. But then they wonder why Bishop Z in the next county is hosting an Ecumenical service with his Roman Catholic counterpart and a Lutheran bishop.
                    You tell a man that he shouldn’t be a Mason, because the church forbids membership in quasi-religious organizations outside of the church. He says ,”What are you talking about, Father? Father Y, my former priest, is a Mason.” Sometimes, if you take a stand, your bishop will back you up. Sometimes, he won’t.
                    The good news is that pious laypeople can read about the faith on their own. We clergy aren’t dealing with illiterate peasants anymore: the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of our founders all have computers and smartphones. Plus, the convert who seeks out the faith does his own research.
                    I quote St. Seraphim of Sarov, who said,” Aquire the Spirit of Peace, and a thousand souls around you shall be saved.” If only all of us took these words to heart.

            • George, that’s beside the point. Fr. Mark Hodges is not being punished for voting, nor is he being punished for preaching against the evils of abortion. I think it’s safe to say that every Orthodox priest in America, regardless of jurisdiction, has the blessing of their bishop to do both of these.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Rufus, the First Amendment is absolute. If you start telling priests that they can preach “against the evils of abortion” but they cannot march in a pro-Life parade, then what good is the First Amendment?

                We are seeing this slippery slope playing out in the various social media outlets who are censoring opinions they don’t like.

  14. Pat Reardon says

    We all agree, I suppose, that this business was unfortunate.

    Although no one has appointed me to do so, let me put in a plausible word for Archbishop Paul, if I may, who seems not to have many friends on this site.

    I am a fan of Father Mark, who also invited me to Washington on January 6.

    Had I counseled Father Mark ahead of time, however, I would have urged him NOT to wear his cassock and cross at that event. Let me explain.

    When a priest dresses in the official garb of Church, he speaks for the Church. He speaks with an immense authority, rooted in the testimony of the prophets and apostles.

    This is why, in my opinion, it is entirely proper for a priest to dress as a priest — in the garb of a priest — when he participates in a pro-life demonstration or in protest in front of an abortion chamber. That is a prophetic and apostolic act. It has everything to do with what the Church is about.

    Such, however, was not the case in Washington on January 6. That was not a gathering at which the Church should have had any official voice. It was a completely political rally (at which I would have felt completely at home, by the way), but that’s all it was.

    I applaud the character, courage, and convictions of Father Mark, but I would have counseled him to do it differently.

    And I would also have cautioned Father Mark not to accuse the Archbishop of an injustice. That accusation itself is unjust, and I urge Father Mark to withdraw it.

    I have no idea why Archbishop Paul felt it was necessary to discipline Father Mark, but I think a plausible case can be made for his doing so.

    The worst culprit in all this business over the past several months was another Orthodox archbishop, who wore his robes and panagia while marching down the street with a large group of Marxists and carrying a sign that said, “Black Lives Matter.” There is the man who should be disciplined.

    • Solitary Priest says

      We seem to be in agreement here, Fr. Patrick. I do wonder why Fr. Mark found it proper to march on Epiphany, when presumably he should have been celebrating the services. We know that the apologists for the LBGT movement, such as the deposed priest SanFillipo , are all to happy to try and take out priests like Fr. Mark.
      However, the same deposed priest earlier blasted Archbishop Paul for having a subdeacon deposed. The same subdeacon was asked to stop his LBGT propaganda by Archbishop Paul. When the subdeacon refused, the Archbishop saw to it that the OCA bishops deposed the subdeacon. So at least in this case, the Archbishop did something right.
      I supported Trump, I believe the election was stolen, but priests should stay away from political demonstrations. I have never publicly endorsed a candidate, nor would I. I believe almost everyone in my flock supported Trump. If anybody didn’t, they never said anything. I would not put a Trump sign on the rectory lawn, because I don’t want to give the appearance of the church endorsing candidates.

      • Ronda Wintheiser says

        Solitary Priest, and Pat Reardon, you make good points, both of you.

        I wonder if you would care to comment on the very political Facebook post I mentioned that Archbishop Paul unfriended me over.

        I could be wrong, but it seems a double standard if not straight out hypocritical to make the suggestion to Orthodox Christians that it is quite alright to vote for a candidate who supports legal abortion just a few days before the election — and that candidate would obviously be Joe Biden — and then discipline a priest who publicly supported the opposing incumbent President Trump.

        No?

        • George Michalopulos says

          Joseph, that’s an interesting perspective. One unfortunately which has some merit. It reminds of me C S Lewis’ observation that the Robber Baron can have his passions sated whereas the Liberal punishes you because it satisfies his conscience.

          A corollary to this would have been Wm F Buckley’s observation that he would rather be ruled by the first three hundred names in the Boston telephone book than by the entire faculty of Harvard University.

      • For what it’s worth I would wear my white physician coat at Planned Parenthood sometimes for weekly prayer as a visual statement that the issue was important to me as a physician and was told it helped folks to think that some doctors saw another more loving way to deal with pregnancy than abortion. At PP, whenever a Catholic priest came to lead us in prayer, we had more “turn arounds” especially with those with rosaries swinging from the rear view window. I love the fact that Archbishop Iakovos marched for a social justice issue with MLK peacefully because it like pro-life resonates with Orthodoxy. I find it difficult to understand the selectivity here of which social justice issues merit an award or approbation or a public appearance in clergy garb and which do not. That’s the rub! Who defines the criteria — Orthodoxy or a secular cultural standard?

      • Ronda Wintheiser says

        Solitary Priest, I overlooked your query about why Fr. Mark was there on Theophany and not celebrating that Feast in his parish.

        He is attached to that parish. He is not THE priest there.

        I know a number of Orthodox Christians who were there and therefore not attending their home parish Theophany services. Is that a really wrong thing to do?

        • Solitary Priest says

          Forgive me, Rhonda, but to miss church services without a good reason, to attend a rally, is absolutely wrong. And even if he were on the old calendar , it would still be Nativity Eve. I quoted St. Seraphim about acquiring the spirit of peace and a thousand souls around you will be saved. I meant it. I am far from acquiring such a spirit, but I’m obligated to preach what the church teaches . I just don’t feel marching in a demonstration is the best way to get our message across. One priests opinion.

    • Father Patrick,

      If this priest had not worn his clerical garb to the protest, as you recommended, then he probably wouldn’t have been noticed. There wouldn’t be the scandal in the news.

      However, I believe even such incognito activity could warrant punishment from the bishop. Priests aren’t supposed to be sneaking around their bishop.

  15. Looks like more and more people are thinking of, or actively, joining ROCOR. I am included in this. Given my current circumstance I cannot, but as soon as I move I will be. If the other bishops want to Orthodox LARP, they are free too, but if there is ever going to be a legit Orthodox Church in America, I am convinced it will be through ROCOR

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Oh, BTW, Georgia has no intention of recognizing the OCU, thankfully.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Rev Frs, Ronda, Petros, Basil, et al:

        I want to thank you all for the rollicking debate over this issue. I am pleased that it has settled on certain salient issues, that is to say whether a priest in clerical garb can/should participate in a political demonstration. (I trust everyone thinks that it’s OK for the same priest in his garb, voting.)

        I can see the wisdom of a priest –whether vested or not–being forbidden from political statements/sloganeering/participation/etc. In fact, it might very well be salutary, both for the priest’s salvation as well as for the Church’s equanimity.

        Having said that, can we all agree that Fr Mark was singled out for disciplinary action whereas Met Savvas of Pittsburgh and Arb Elpidophoros of the GOA are under no such strictures?

        • George,

          Seems that supporting political causes publicly as a bishop or priest is OK, as long as you are supporting the “correct” political causes.

          What the GOA bishops did is OK, what Fr Mark did is not.

          What B.S.

          It’s the same B.S. that we’re spoon-fed daily, that Biden is both a “faithful Catholic” and at the same time uses our tax dollars to fund abortions worldwide.

          His always-trying-to-please-daddy little girl press secretary Ms Psaki said the other day, when asked how Biden can both be a faithful Catholic and support abortion worldwide, “remember he goes to church regularly.”

          As if that matters. But it went unchallenged!

          The message is this: If you think there’s a problem claiming to be both a faithful Catholic and an abortion supporter, then there’s something wrong with *you.*

          It’s the same garbage we get about Abp E and Met. Savvas: If you think there’s a problem being an Orthodox bishop and also publicly supporting Karl Marx and BLM, then there’s something wrong with *you.*

          B.S. No, there’s not. We have the courage to speak out and won’t be intimidated.

          The likes of Abp E and Met. Savvas are entirely pathetic. They should shepherd no one. No one should follow them.

        • Sorry George, but I cannot agree. You are comparing baklava and brownies.
          Archbishop Paul has no authority to discipline Arbp Elpidophoros or Met Savvas so how can it be that Father Mark is being singled out?
          The fair has been indefinitely postponed due to circumstances beyond our control.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Thank you my dear for the head’s up.

        https://orthochristian.com/136849.html

        BTW, it looks like neither Bulgaria and Romania are hopping to get on the EU/Phanar’s Ukrainian schismatic train. (We already knew that Albania was long opposed to it.)

        This of course is not to say that Georgia, Bulgaria, and Romania won’t in the end recognize Dumenko’s outfit but its far from the rosy picture painted by the Phanariote apologists.

        • It’s going to be interesting to see what happens come November (or sooner) if the Church of Russia decides to excommunicate Patriarch Bartholomew.

          Will Russia set up a parallel jurisdiction in Turkey? That would be interesting to see since the Russian Orthodox flock in Turkey probably outnumbers the Greek flock by over 20K at least. Not to mention they would probably set up Turkish language liturgies, something the EP has failed to do.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            Expect Russia to do what is in Russia’s best interest. They are not playing around here. To them, Bartholomew does not exist.

            • Makes me wonder if they’ll be accepting the hundred of clergy in Africa that have petitioned to join the Russian Church

    • A friend told me that ROCOR has opened nearly 40 new parishes and missions in this past year. That’s right, during lockdown year. Imagine what it would be like if Christians had proper freedom of movement and assembly. That’s why I respect ROCOR and, like Petros and others, hope to make my stand as a member of ROCOR as soon as I am able.

      • Is this 40 just in the U.S or world-wide? I know they’ve been doing a ton of mission work in SE Asia and India

        • Mostly USA, I think. All of their SE Asian missions were emerged with the MP’s new SE Asian Exarchate last year, which was probably a good decision, as the MP now has around 4-5 bishops out there.

  16. Priests give up their first amendment rights. That’s just how it is. If their first amendment rights are more important to them than the priesthood, then they can be laicized.

    • George Michalopulos says

      I cannot agree with that assertion. I’m not sure you are correct. However for the.sake of argument, then would this same prohibition exist for the GOA primate?

      Can you at least find me that canon which states this? And can we then apply it to arb LP?

      If not why not?

      The American experiment cannot abide massive, blatant & overt inconsistencies such as this. Unless this is corrected, it will result in disunion.

      • George, we all know the saying, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” I’m not interested in defending Archbishop Elpidophoros, but perhaps this is an example of keeping your enemies closer. I really don’t know. He is an Archbishop not a priest, and I think he was within his own rights as Archbishop to march with BLM, as odious as I find that to be. Perhaps he’s just naive, but perhaps he’s actually sly. Russian bishops have marched with the Soviets. I think that’s just an example of keeping your enemies closer.

        Anyways, who could reprimand him? I’m not even sure if Patriarch Bartholomew could suspend him for that, but an Ecumenical Council certainly could. Good luck with that.

        • “Russian bishops have marched with the Soviets. I think that’s just an example of keeping your enemies closer.”

          Who were those bishops? Nobody that the Church cares to remember (excepting appearances as villains in the Lives of the Saints). Meanwhile, those who acted without their blessings, or even against their direct orders, are the venerated saints:

          https://religionunplugged.com/news/2019/10/16/the-georgian-saint-revered-for-fighting-soviet-communism

          On May 1, 1965, Soviet authorities in the small republic of Georgia were holding the annual Workers’ Day Parade when something highly unexpected happened. A Georgian Orthodox Christian monk named Gabriel Urgebadze lit a massive 26-foot portrait of Vladimir Lenin on fire after dousing it with oil from a small lamp.

          Then Urgebadze preached to a stunned crowd. The authorities were furious. Above the painting, the illuminated words “Glory to Lenin the Great!” were licked by flames.

          “Why are you bowing down before idols?” Urgebadze asked the crowd. “Jesus Christ died and rose again, but your cast idols will never be resurrected. Even during their life they were dead!”

          Today, Urgebadze — who died in 1995 and became St. Gabriel in 2012 — is revered across the country and the wider Orthodox Church as a holy man who guided the nation in its darkest times and now brings miracles to the faithful.

          • “Russian bishops have marched with the Soviets. I think that’s just an example of keeping your enemies closer.”

            Who were those bishops? Nobody that the Church cares to remember (excepting appearances as villains in the Lives of the Saints).

            For example, St Luke (Voino-Yasenetsky) of Simferopol and Crimea doctor and Bishop.

            In 1940, Bishop Luke was sentenced to five years of exile in the Krasnoyarsk area. At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War (World War II), Bishop Luke offered the authorities his services as a doctor, and in 1941 was appointed consultant to the hospitals of Krasnoyarsk.

            In 1942, Vladyka was elevated to the rank of Archbishop and appointed to the Krasnoyarsk kathedra, which at the time did not have a single church. Through Archbishop Luke’s efforts, in 1943 a church was opened in a suburb of Krasnoyarsk. He wrote to Patriarch Sergius:

            “All of Eastern Siberia, from Krasnoyarsk to the Pacific Ocean, gave no sign of church life…If churches in various parts of the Krasnoyarsk area are not opened in the near future, there is a risk that the people will lapse into religious savagery….”

            In 1944, the archbishop was appointed to the kathedra in Tambov.

            In 1946, for outstanding scientific work in the area of medicine, he was awarded the “Stalin Award” for all his scientific publications. He donated almost all of the money to help children who had suffered as the result of the War.

            • Saint Luke was exiled and thrown in prison on multiple occasions. Getting an award for his life-saving and pioneering medical work is hardly “marching with the Soviets.”

              • Despite his work load, he took part in the synods of the Moscow Patriarchate. In 1946, recognition came at last. Some members of the party slandered Archbishop Luke to Stalin and demanded he be executed. Stalin became furious and cursed them roundly and ended by saying: “We cannot execute those people any more; we have to honor them”. And, indeed, Archbishop Luke would be honored by the greatest State medal, the 1st Stalin prize among 15 scientists. The ceremony took place in Moscow. Everyone was present. The only one missing was Archbishop Luke, who did not have the money for a train ticket. The prize was accompanied by 200,000 roubles. He sent a telegram to Stalin asking that the money be distributed to war orphans.

                In the same year, on Stalin’s orders, a bust was made of him, which is now in the Klenisovsky Museum in Moscow, among the busts of great scientists. Many foreign journalists came to him for interviews and special broadcasts were made. His health worsened, however, and in 1946 he would lose the sight in one eye. The Church transferred him as Archbishop to the see of Simferopol and Crimea.

                • Still not ‘marching with the Soviets.’

                  • Well it is true that St. Bishop Luke of Crimea will have better reputation in the West as communists’ prisoner, but he was also fighting in Great Patriotic War shoulder to shoulder with his fellow citizens. He operated thousands wounded solders and saved thousands of lives always under the icon of Theotokos. That is why he was decorated by Stalin not because he was law abiding prisoner.
                    By the way, it is amazing how Western propaganda machine switched gears from the first War years when Roosevelt’s Department of Defense and the Army made a movie glorifying Russian nation and Stalin as a leader in Вели́кая Оте́чественная война́ which today is often simplified as a bloody war between two totalitarian regimes Nazi and Soviets.
                    This movie is now available at Netflix, and also at YouTube
                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrKDBFJoo2w
                    Why We Fight: The Battle of Russia
                    US National Archives
                    Creator(s): Department of Defense. Department of the Army. Office of the Chief Signal Officer. 9/18/1947-2/28/1964 (Most Recent)

                    • Yes, the West’s glorifying of Stalin in the early days of WW2 came on the heels of our 1933 or 1934 restoration of diplomatic relations with the USSR – since 1917, the U.S. had not recognized the USSR as a country.

                      This “normalization” of relations with the USSR was mostly thanks the to the lies of Pulitzer Prize winning NYT pseudo-journalist Walter Duranty, who helped cover up Stalin’s self-imposed famine of his own people in Ukraine. (Stalin starved them, stealing Ukrainian grain to sell to the world to pay for projects in Moscow, so that the USSR would not look so awful to foreigners. The USSR desperately needed foreign investment (including American money) to avoid complete collapse.)

                      Watch the fantastic 2019 movie “Mr Jones,” which goes into the Soviet deception, the Ukrainian famine, and Duranty’s lying.

                      The Pulitzer committee still has not revoked Duranty’s Pulitzer.

                      There was a saying in eastern Europe at the time leading up to WW2: everyone was either a Nazi or a communist; other options were not permitted.

        • The Archbishop is not an American citizen and should not mix in American politics, if not by law then by common courtesy. One of the first rules I learned prior to moving overseas as a missionary was that foreigners do not get involved in the politics of the host country.

    • Pat Reardon says

      I believe even such incognito activity could warrant punishment from the bishop. Priests aren’t supposed to be sneaking around their bishop.

      Great! I put on slacks and a shirt to go to a Cubs’ game, or to vote, or to buy groceries, or to take my wife to supper, or to attend a political rally, etc., and I’m thereby “sneaking around my bishop”? Goodness, this is what you call tough.

      • Father Patrick, it sounds like you have a blessing from your bishop to appear in public without your cassock and pectoral cross. That’s fine. Personally, I regularly bump into my parish priest at the grocery store, and he’s always wearing his cassock and cross. I suppose it’s because that’s what his bishop wants him to do. Either way is fine with me.

        A priest doesn’t stop being a priest when he takes his cassock off though. That’s what your Metropolitan Joseph is saying. Of course you might not be recognized in public as a priest without the cassock and cross. That’s fine too.

        Metropolitan Joseph further says that priests in his Archdiocese are supposed to have a blessing to engage in politics (such as political rallies.) I don’t think he’s talking about private voting. Rather, he’s talking about exactly what Fr. Mark did, attending a political rally. Of course Fr. Mark isn’t part of the Antiochian Archdiocese, but it appears that his bishop, Archbishop Paul, abides by the same principle.

        Whether or not Fr. Mark was wearing his cassock and cross is immaterial. If his bishop didn’t want him to go, then it was disobedience. Not wearing a cassock and cross might have saved him from being caught, but hey, that’s just being sneaky. At least Fr. Mark wasn’t being sneaky about it.

        • Orthodox priests should always wear cassock and have pectoral cross. There must be a canon for that. But today lot of priests have another job as for example OCA is lacking priests. So it is impossible for Bishop to demand this from the priest if he is a part time priest.
          Which on the other hand is absurd to be a part time priest but thats the way things are.
          But if he is full time priest than he should always wear cassock and pectoral cross.

          • Only the Russian tradition has a pectoral cross for every priest. Other jurisdictions only give crosses as an award for at least several years’ service. Nonetheless, you are correct in principle.

        • Solitary Priest says

          Blessing? Rufus, I don’t think you realize that in the Antiochian church, the late Metropolitan Philip FORBADE priests to go around publicly in cassocks. That has changed somewhat nowadays; a young Antiochian priest that I know has always appeared publicly in a cassock, but without a cross. Outside of churches that come from the Russian tradition, the newly ordained priests do not get to wear the cross upon ordination. For example, the Serbs don’t give a priest the cross until long after he has become an Archpriest; it’s almost like the miter in the Russian church.
          Generally speaking, ROCOR priests generally wear the cassock in public, OCA priests may or may not, same with most of the other jurisdictions. The OCA and Ukrainians give the silver cross to the newly ordained priest, later he gets the gold cross, then after being elevated to Archpriest, he may eventually be awarded the jeweled cross, if he lives to be an old timer like me. Heaven knows, I don’t deserve to be a priest at all, never mind the awards!

          • anonimus per Scorilo says

            Father bless

            You forgot the highest of all crosses a priest can get, above the silver, gold and jeweled cross.

            It is the wooden one which is placed on the coffin.

            • Solitary Priest says

              Tanya:
              Allow me to attempt to answer your very real concerns. There are clergy like myself who preach traditional morality. The problem is, I might tell someone that they have to live a chaste life. But Fr. X two states away communes known same-sex couples or open heterosexual fornicators. And then someone uses the example of that priest to “prove” that I’m wrong. This scenario didn’t happen to me, but it’s an example.
              You tell a parishoner that they can’t commune in a non-Orthodox church. But then they wonder why Bishop Z in the next county is hosting an Ecumenical service with his Roman Catholic counterpart and a Lutheran bishop.
              You tell a man that he shouldn’t be a Mason, because the church forbids membership in quasi-religious organizations outside of the church. He says ,”What are you talking about, Father? Father Y, my former priest, is a Mason.” Sometimes, if you take a stand, your bishop will back you up. Sometimes, he won’t.
              The good news is that pious laypeople can read about the faith on their own. We clergy aren’t dealing with illiterate peasants anymore: the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of our founders all have computers and smartphones. Plus, the convert who seeks out the faith does his own research.
              I quote St. Seraphim of Sarov, who said,” Aquire the Spirit of Peace, and a thousand souls around you shall be saved.” If only all of us took these words to heart.

      • Thank you Father Pat for not wearing your Clerical clothing to a Cubs game. I wouldn’t want folks to get the false impression that once can be a Christian and a Cubs. fan. 🙂

    • Pat Reardon says

      Priests give up their first amendment rights.

      This is brand new idea, but I’m not sure it will catch on.

      I can’t think of a single priest who would agree with it.

      On the other hand, for all I know, this “Rufus” may be an expert canon lawyer in disguise.

      • Father Patrick,

        I’m sure you’re aware that Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Archdiocese just wrote:

        “our clergy are not to engage in politics and not post about divisive political issues on the internet or social media without an express blessing from me.”

        Is that an infringement on the clergy’s first amendment rights?

        • Pat Reardon says

          Is that an infringement on the clergy’s first amendment rights?

          No, it is not an infringement on the clergy’s first fundamental rights.

          The First Amendment says, “Congress shall not . . .”

          The First Amendment says nothing about bishops.

          Metropolitan JOSEPH asked us not to engage in public political activity, and I have adhered to that mandate very strictly.

          You may notice how quiet I’ve been on this blog site when the discussion turns political.

          • Micharl Baumam says

            Father Pat,

            Father. Bless.

            Unfortunately what is “political” and what is not seems difficult to discern. Some might consider this blog “political” and therefore off limits.

            Indeed, Met Joseph’s letter could be considered a “political statement” as I did myself.

            Indeed it could be pushed to the absurd that asking for the blessing of all civil authorties is “political”.

            Perhaps “partisan political statements” would have been clearer?

            I am deeply thankful for priests and bishops especially my parish priests: Fr. Paul O’Callaghan anf Fr. Calinic Berger. They have both worked tirelessly during this time of sickness. And our Bishop Basil.

            These are good and faithful men. As are you. As is my brother: Fr. Stevan Bauman of the Bulgarian Archdiocese of N. America and Australia pastored by His Emminence, Met JOSEPH. (another one) a man I consider to be a living saint.

            It is crucial to remember the actual person under the cassock. Each of you.

            Obedience is difficult even during easier times. So I offer my humbled and unworthy prayers for all and each of you.

            I am deeply grateful for each and every priest I have been blessed to know.

            • “Indeed, Met Joseph’s letter could be considered a ‘political statement’ as I did myself. ”

              He sided with masking, which is itself a divisive political issue, not to mention scientifically/medically questionable. So, what’s the Antiochian church bathroom policy these days? In full compliance with the latest “science” and executive orders from Joe Biden? How about the “gender” of the priests?

              • Gail Sheppard says

                My opinion? He is siding with his brother hierarchs in the Assembly of Canonical Bishops who are effectively under Elpidophoros.

              • Michael Bauman says

                . . . I worship in the Cathedral parish of His Grace Bishop Basil.

                Our priests serve unmasked, just as normal. Fr. Paul instituted a Saturday morning Liturgy to make sure as possible that no one was turned away. He is not a young man and yet because both his assistant priest and a priest who lives here on assignment were under COVID restrictions. This last Sunday they were all three back in the altar as well as our deacon.

                At the funeral last night masks were worn but no restrictions on the number of attendees. There was even the normal Trisagion in our small chapel which was stuffed.

                During the funeral people sat where we wanted to.

                We have a number of doctors in our parish many of whom have decided to go to work and go home.

                We have a good digital feed of our Sunday Services and as bad as that is, it is better than nothing.

                Our Bishop is there in the altar every Sunday.
                He is a man I love and respect.

                Oh, and when my late wife lay dying, Fr. Paul and several members of the parish were with me in her room singing prayers for her repose. Guess what, her Guardian Angel came for her just as she reposed. She was quite troubled and was distant from the Church, yet the people of the Church were there and, I believed prayed her into heaven.

                . . . I have always posted by my real name and who I am.

                You can ask George and Gail about me and there are others who post here who know me too. I have been on the blog since its inception. I have commented on the nature of marriage and sexuality often. Just ask our brother Misha.

                Please come and worship with us any time here in Wichita, Ks. It would be educational for us both.

                Oh, BTW, Bp Basil publicly rebuked the young priest of the parish across town for his stance on so called “gender issues” canceled the priest’s scheduled elevation to archpriest and put him on silence about such issues.

        • HAHAHA….sure, best to leave the political posts to the expert leftists over at AFR.

    • The Holy Fathers have such a different take on obedience, don’t they?

      • Christine Fevronia says

        In all this discussion about Fr. Mark’s sad situation, I can’t help but think of our beloved St. Tikhon of Moscow. St. Tikhon was an outspoken critic of the Bolsheviks for two years at the start of the revolution, along with many other Russian priests and monastics who marched, protested, and were martyred. They took to the streets to protest the illegal usurpation of their government. St. Tikhon ended up standing down, so to speak, for four years during the civil war, but then became politically involved again, and was even imprisoned. If one believes that a communist, socialist revolution has overthrown the American government and democracy, isn’t that worth speaking out against? May St. Tikhon of Moscow and all our dearly loved Russian saints who fought with their lives against the takeover of their Motherland, pray to God for Fr. Mark.

        • We should remember too the Black Hundreds – among them many clergy and monastics – who took action against the revolutionaries between 1905 and 1917. They had support from the Tsar, the episcopacy, the clergy, and the people. The clergy had no problems with marching alongside the men in their full vestments.

        • George Michalopulos says

          CF, I couldn’t agree with you more.

          Have we Greek-Americans forgotten that it was the Church in Greece (which was under Cpole then) which ignited the torch of liberty against the Ottomans?

          • Amen to all, yes serious indeed. Again, I believe civil disobedience peacefully is warranted in certain circumstances and Fr Mark has chosen to define how important he believes the issue is — and it surely is to our practice of freedom of religion, pro-life, free speech, not participating in the horrors of abortion or supporting it. To me, the sad part is how many in our country don’t see what is unfolding, but perhaps soon they will. I have learned so much from our Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox in this country as well as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn…I thank Father Mark for his stance.

            Also interesting that we applaud the monks at the Elder Ephraim monasteries for going about their business as usual despite what AE says because I suppose with them we understand the concept of service to God being more important than obedience to men…There are Caiphuses among us too, quite a few right now…I believe the monks wisely discerned Who and who should be obeyed/honored and who should be gently ignored…

  17. Anonymous II says
  18. Interesting issues here.

    * Priests are extensions of their bishops? That seems true in their liturgical role, but is it true in every sphere of their lives? That’s a real question. Isn’t there a difference between the (authority) relationship of a bishop and his priest, on the one hand, and an abbot and his monk, on the other? If there is a difference, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a priest can do any (lawful, moral) actions whatsoever, but it does mean that this “Father, may I?” manner of discerning this situation may need to be thought through more.

    * Double standards — it’s probably so tiresome to people to have to consider the double standards involved in the left and the right in our leftist culture, but I’ll bring them up anyway. Have any OCA priests in the Midwest participated in “BLM” activities this past year? Were they disciplined? I’m not equating the two movements, by the way — just that they’re both “controversial” to large segments of American society.

    * The garb issue — is a priest’s clerical clothing the same as a company uniform? In jurisdictions where priests typically wear business attire when not performing a liturgical action, this seems more obvious. In jurisdictions where priests always wear cassocks — even to Disney World, it isn’t it. For the second group, asking a priest to wear bankers’ clothes to a civic event implies that he must cease to be a priest when participating in a legal, moral activity. The real issue here, I believe, is that lefties see MAGA events as disreputable — immoral, wicked, hideous, whereas they see other civic engagements as fine, republican, praiseworthy. Protesting nuclear weapons — noble, fine, Christian. Protesting what many see as attacks on our republic — well, that’s racist, transphobic, Nazi-ish. This is the real issue; the “representing the Church” schlock is disingenuous or naive. I’d like to see any condemnation of an Orthodox priest who attends the wearing in of a local mayor or other whitebread civic-related issue.

    * The divisiveness issue — this is the strongest objection to Fr. Hodges, I think, and it relates to the other points. It holds that priests should not involve themselves in divisive, partisan events. In a healthy regime, I’d agree with that — where division simply meant which particular group of extended political, personal, and business relations gets a position of power. I don’t think that we’re in that age anymore, though. In addition to the spoils-system issues, subtle policy differences have become major disagreements about the foundation of society. It’s no longer about tax policy. It’s about fundamental issues of human nature and society. The Church cannot be neutral here, as the political consequences most definitely carry spiritual consequences. We’re turning our entire society into a meat-grinder of souls — a terrifying machine geared toward universal damnation. Of course, the bishops should lead. If they don’t, should priests, deacons, and the people of God just stand idly by?

    *

  19. The obedience requested/required is to guidelines by the OCA Synod on social media which selectively silence those standing up peacefully (in MLK fashion) for Orthodox values such as pro-life, freedom of religion and practice, justice, protection of the vulnerable, etc. The OCA Synod then acts in conciliatory if not obsequious ways toward bad actors who honor abortion activitists and they do not criticize any clergy/hierarch who march for BLM which purports to be peaceful but has many violent associations, for example. Or votes for abortion, etc. It’s a neat psychological setup. If (and under Biden they may) the medical professional is required to behave in ways antithetical to Orthodoxy, I will have to disobey and take the consequences, but I will know how unjust the system is, because my right as an individual with a concience has been violated and I will value my obedience to Christ over any human or organization, as I understand we are called to do by the Holy Fathers. Fr Mark’s position seems like that to me. He was there to endorse transparency, particularly important in an election which brought to power a most anti-Christian team, by questionable means. The result will impact the lives spiritually and physically of many many icons of Christ in the US in manifold ways. I thank him for being there for all of us who will suffer.

    The reaction of the OCA Synod and her clergy tells us most about them and both help solidify certain impressions which make choices easier, sad as some are. I don’t want Fr Mark’s present chosen martyrdom to be wasted either. Although I continue to pray fervently for the enlightenment of all, I am wondering if the words from St. Vladimir’s Press 1990 don’t give us direction in 2021:

    “FROM THE HOLY FATHERS:
    With great pains one must seek out an undeceived instructor [or jurisdiction?], and if we do not find one, then the holy fathers have commanded us to take instruction from the Divine Scriptures and the teachings of the Holy Fathers.”

    ~ St. Nilus of Sora From The Bible and the Holy Fathers for Orthodox, St. Vladimir Press, 1990, p. 1071.

  20. All around us, we see not the humility, obedience, and love of Christ but rather . . . pride, divisiveness, wrath, and defiance . . .

    . . . these situations will bring out anxieties, and the anxieties will bring out our passions, but dear clergy, our role is to be icons of our Lord to the faithful – humble, loving, and obedient . . .

    I write to you today as your father in Christ . . .

    During our recent meeting of the bishops, we discussed how the bishops must speak with one voice to our clergy, and our clergy must speak with this one voice to the laity.

    This unity does not stop when we take off our cassock or sign onto the internet – we are always priests!

    We wrote previously that our clergy are not to engage in politics and not post about divisive political issues on the internet or social media without an express blessing from me.

    Let me share with you that during the chaos of the Lebanese civil war, our father in Christ, Patriarch Ignatius IV, distinguished himself from the other religious leaders of the region by rising above the disastrous sectarianism that was raging and stoking violence at the time. He was the one that all sides knew could be trusted because his only allegiance was to Christ.

    You cannot be a priest in the image of our Lord and engage in behavior that does not model His love, humility, and obedience.

    I would like to point out that you are a priest of this Archdiocese, and you venerate my name on the antimension before offering the Holy Anaphora. You owe obedience to Christ and the Gospels, the Mother Church of Antioch, this Archdiocese, and my office as the Metropolitan Archbishop . . .

    Excerpts from “Dear Reverend Clergy”, a letter from Metropolitan Joseph (al-Zahlaoui) of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America to his subordinates, dated January 18, 2021. All emphases mine.

    My friends,

    Assuming these principles are Orthodox-wide, and assuming the priest in question did not obtain a blessing to attend this political rally as a participant (and not as a first-aid responder or other member of the ‘helping professions’), then this priest IMHO has erred.

    Did this priest stand between the police and the demonstrators as we saw in the noble behavior of priests in the Maidan protests, taking no sides, but offering solace and mercy to all? Bishops would have required a blessing even before such noble acts as these.

    That this priest is American has nothing to do with it.

    I personally tire of the immaturity and narcissism evident in so many of our priests. I have seen evil, arrogant, selfish acts on the part of our priests (yes, and bishops), especially from converts. I am glad to see them humbled in this fashion by someone I believe to be a true Good Shepherd, Metropolitan Joseph.

    With all due respect George, this is your blog. But I disagree.

    May those that took upon themselves the holy priesthood finally understand the full measure of the responsibilities they have willingly undertaken! And may God bless them even more for it!

    • Pat Reardon says

      Surely I have lost touch with social reality since my retirement, because Father Hans seems infinitely better informed than myself.

      When he writes, for instance, “I personally tire of the immaturity and narcissism evident in so many of our priests,” I am clearly out of the loop. I wonder, who are these hopeless, unworthy priests?

      This ignorance on my part must have something to do with a total unfamiliarity with what they call “social media.” I have never tweeted. I have no Facebook account. I rarely watch the news on TV, and I don’t subscribe to a newspaper. Come to think of it, I also live on a side street.

      Consequently, to my evident loss, I was completely unaware of these “evil, arrogant, selfish acts on the part of our priests.”

      I am grateful to Father Hans for quoting what appears to be a very fine letter from Metropolitan JOSEPH. I am so badly out of circulation that I have not received a single message from the Antiochian Archdiocese for more than a year. It is certainly my fault. I can’t seem to get this email thing right.

      I do, however, receive occasional smoke signal messages from distant Cherokee relatives in Arkansas. Their latest word was something about Mrs Clinton and her involvement in what they called. I think, the “Whitewater Scandal” or something like that. (The atmospheric conditions in Chicago are not favorable to good smoke signal reception.)

      Anyway, back to Father Hans. I sincerely appreciate his quotations from Metropolitan JOSEPH. Even if I disagreed with the Metropolitan, I would obey him, of course.

      In fact, however, I very much agree with him.

      That is to say, the authority of the priesthood is that of the Apostles. This authority exists solely for the sake of the Gospel. It must not — it MUST not — be squandered on matters like the Paris Accords, fuel pipelines from Canada, the World Health Organization, Black Lives Matter, the vote recount in Georgia, or what Lady Gaga was wearing at last week’s inauguration.

      Let us all pray for our bishops and their continued wisdom, for they watch over out souls, as those that must, in due course, give account of their stewardship.

      • Ronda Wintheiser says

        Fr. Patrick Reardon, I will ask you again.

        Do you see any double standard at all between the bishop suspending a priest who participated in a political rally after having posted an article suggesting that voting for Biden is acceptable even though he supports abortion is no big deal?

        • GOA Priest says

          Ronda,

          I’ll answer. Yes, it is a double standard.

        • Pat Reardon says

          Well, Ronda darling, if priests should stay out of politics, then surely bishops should stay out of politics.

          Metropolitan JOSEPH is, I think, blameless in this regard.

          Certain other hierarchs not so much.

          • George Michalopulos says

            That’s ultimately the point, isn’t it?

            To those who say that Arb Paul has authority over Fr Mark (which he does) but that he and his brother bishops have no authority of Arb Elpidophoros, I think not. Most assuredly, at the next session of the ACOB, all of the bishops should say to their Chairman “do you realize how difficult you are making our job?”

            And then they should draw up a statement saying that NO Orthodox hierarch or cleric can participate in ANY political rally whether vested or not.

            I would submit to all that that would be impossible as it would open up a can of worms. For example, is a pro-life rally political? (Not to worry though, no one from the GOA would participate so it’s a moot point.) Nor should any bishop give an opening prayer at any political convention. (See what I mean by can of worms?)

            And then there’s that pesky First Amendment to the Constitution. Still, in the interests of consistency, I would gladly see a blanket directive applying to ALL Orthodox clergymen/bishops expressly forbidding them from participation in political events.

            Then we wouldn’t be in this mess.

            • Last year the Greek Archdiocese sent Bishop Apostolos to the March for Life.

              • As I recall AE was in Hawaii…Reminds me of the winter in DC at med school when Mayor Marion Barry was vacationing when the storm hit DC and we lost power, the city was shut down, etc. And EVERYONE remembered! Was it for the SuperBowl? I’ll look it up!

              • So, they send a lowly vicar bishop to march against the ongoing genocide of the preborn, but the archbishop himself goes to march in memory of some criminals who died resisting arrest? Cool.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Well, Rufus, I’m torn. On the one hand, I’m glad that the GOA actually made a public stand for the life of the unborn. (Believe me, I know from personal experience how hard it is to get the GOA involved in this issue.)

                On the other hand, will they use Fr Mark’s suspension as an excuse to never participate in “political” events again? Consistency would demand it.

                Although, let’s be clear, Arb Elpidophoros will make things up as he goes along, provided it’s a leftist cause.

                • Yea I reached out to the GOA asking why did Abp. Elpidophoros send out a blessing to Biden/Harris, yet managed to skip any address to the March for Life…which is virtual this year. No response (predictable).

                  Guess he must have been in Istanbul and not able to send a video message like what “happened” for the RNConvention

                • George, I like your idea about the other bishops confronting Archbishop Elpidophoros at any future ACOB. I doubt it would go anywhere, but who knows? It would be worth a try.

                  • Wont happen, or they would have already done it. My guess is eventually other jurisdictions will start to leave the Assembly, my guess is the Serbians and Georgians

          • “Well, Ronda darling, if priests should stay out of politics, then surely bishops should stay out of politics. Metropolitan JOSEPH is, I think, blameless in this regard.”

            I don’t know, one mask is enough to alienate one side, who believe masks are useless and/or the virus is a hoax, while the other side has growing consensus behind wearing a mask over a mask (double masking) plus vaccination. Just because someone isn’t interested in politics, doesn’t mean the politics aren’t interested in you.

            https://www.zerohedge.com/medical/cbs-medical-editor-says-americans-should-wear-two-face-masks

            https://summit.news/2021/01/19/professor-of-medicine-brags-about-wearing-two-face-masks-to-inauguration-despite-having-been-vaccinated/

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Father Pat,

        “Hans” is not Father Hans.

      • You agree with what the Metropolitan said regarding his take on the vaccine?

      • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

        “Hans” above is not me Fr. Hans Jacobse.

        Hans, could you clarify that in your signature, maybe your last name or at least something anonymous so people are not confused?

        Fr. Hans Jacobse

  21. OrthoAppalachia says

    The hypocrisy is very clear. Clergy on the left are allowed to be active and vocal in the public square. Those on the right need to keep their mouths shut.

    Question for all. What is the history of Orthodox clergy participating in political action/speech on the streets? Were suspensions common in situations similar to this?

    • Thank you OrthoAppalachia….spot on!

      Thank you as well Father (GOA Priest) for your comments here.

  22. GOA Priest says

    What passes for “knowledge” among many of our well-meaning Orthodox Christian brothers and sisters is embarrassingly underdeveloped, to wit, Rufus and his comment about presbyters who “give up their first amendment rights. That’s just how it is.” Please, do tell us where you came up with that nugget of fool’s gold. Patriotism is all well and good, as long as it is directed to the motherland that birthed us from its sacred loins.

    While I’m no canon lawyer, its manifestly clear from even a cursory reading of the canons that there is something called ecclesiastical jurisprudence, which DOES NOT include processes for the persecution or censuring of members of the clergy without multiple witnesses within the context of a fair trial of the facts. (Apost. Const. 75) Furthermore, it does not permit any accusation to be brought against a member of the clergy without the accuser’s own reputation being examined and affirmed. (See Chalcedon 21)

    The point is, that, depending upon the situation, our hierarchs flaunt the processes within the Canons because either a) they don’t know them, and / or b) they know that the presbyters don’t know them, and therefore can easily be abused and taken advantage of.

    In this case, what charge has been brought against the priest? Does anyone know? Has anyone seen the official letter (if there even is such a letter) of suspension that explicitly states what canonical breach has occurred with reference to the Canons themselves? (See Constantine I, 6) Is this a first offense? Etc…etc…

    Our lowerarchs seem to suffer from some kind of monarchical dementia that is utterly foreign to our sacred tradition.

    For the most part, our bishops are incompetent dopes who couldn’t pass an exam on even the most basic proscriptions of the the holy Canons that THEY take an oath to uphold.

    • Pat Reardon says

      our hierarchs flaunt the processes within the Canons

      I think “flout” is the verb you’re looking for.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Very well-reasoned reply. Due process in the canons. Whodathunkit?

    • This example shows how is easy missmanipulation with St. Canons and how careful Bishops have to be in applying them wisely.
      In Orthodox Church priest can not leave his parish and not asking Bishop for the permission. Each Bishop in Orthodox Church is same as Pope in RC and orthodox priests are not protestant reverends. As a matter of fact this is one aspect of how protestants fall off as everybody there starts claiming human rights and freedom and starts to examine things by himself and by his brain. And then who needs Bishop, Synod, Sabor…
      This Canon is applied when priest is already put on trial. This priest is only suspended was not taken to a court (yet).

      • GOA Priest says

        Each Bishop in Orthodox Church is same as Pope in RC and orthodox priests are not protestant reverends…”

        I hope you were joking…

        And no, my bishop does not replace the function of my brain.

        • . . . Of course pope is heretic and can not be compared with Orthodox Bishops but mostly because in RC ecclesiology he is over other Bishops which is unacceptable.

          This is Orthodox ecclesiology below…
          http://newtheologicalmovement.blogspot.com/2011/10/on-authority-of-bishops-from-st.html

          ….we propose to consider St. Ignatius’ understanding of the hierarchy of the Church which he so clearly laid out in the three degrees of Holy Order: Bishop, Priest, Deacon.
          “See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. […] Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. […] Whatsoever [the bishop] shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.” (St. Ignatius: Letter to the Smyrnaeans; Ch 8)
          “Let all things therefore be done by you with good order in Christ. Let the laity be subject to the deacons; the deacons to the presbyters; the presbyters to the bishop; the bishop to Christ, even as He is to the Father.” (St. Ignatius: Letter to the Smyrnaeans; Ch 9)
          From these words, we recognize the great emphasis which St. Ignatius places on the authority of the bishop and the obligation of all (including both the laity and the clergy) to be subjected to the bishop. “Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop.” How strong and direct are our Saint’s words! How wrong are those who reject their bishop’s authority and strive forward in pride to do their own will!

          • “Let no man do anything connected with the Church
            without the bishop.”

            What about that which is not connected with the Church,
            ie: who happens to be the legitimate President?

            • Church survived and surpass communism, French revolution, slavery, American civil war and same thing it will surpass democracy. Church is not democratic institution and does not have to answer this question who is legitimate president.
              Now, when lay people are not sure what to do they ask priest.
              Similarly, If priest is not sure he has to ask his Bishop what to do. For example, for priest to allow classical concert in a Church he has to ask Bishop for permission. To write an article, to attend ecumenical gathering even to raise money for some obvious humanitarian cause.
              Bottom line is there is no Church without Bishop and one can not say Bishop is most important priest or chief priest or PM among priests.
              He is icon of Christ at Liturgical congregation.

    • Serious question Fr., why do you, or any other faithful priests and parishes, remain in the Greek Archdiocese?

      • Petros,

        It is a great question. The answers aren’t very satisfying: fear of ending up in a similar or worse situation, a lifetime’s worth of entanglements in the GOA, which include financial realities, familiarity with a particular typikon and liturgical tradition and feeling unsure about “starting over” at an advanced age. I think for most, however, it is the first.

        I know people here have extolled the virtues of ROCOR, but they have also been seriously compromised by cleaning their spoons in everclear! Furthermore, there is an unevenness depending on one’s location — some of the ROCOR bishops seems more with it than others. No one wants to jump from the frying pan into the fire.

        Beyond that, who is actually welcoming us? Who has offered a hand of fellowship to us? What are we supposed to do with our own communities that have many faithful people? Abandon them to the GOA wolves?

        • Of those in ROCOR who were drinking the Everclear kool-aid…I believe most of them saw the ridiculousness of what they were doing and stopped the practice. I’ll take ROCOR over any other jurisdiction any day of the week.

          • GOA Priest says

            Mikhail,

            Perhaps you are correct. But why did they so quickly jump on that idiotic bandwagon? And like I said, at the top you have Kyril who seems good, but some of the others not so much. Irenei strongly advocates wearing masks. Peter cannot be trusted after the debacle in St. Louis. I’m not sure about the others.

            A priest looking for a bishop is in a quite different situation than a lay person looking for a parish,

            • They all jumped on the bandwagon, Fr. GOA priest. It was terribly disappointing. The laity are forced to choose who remained the most steadfast to the holy faith of our fathers. I believe, in general, that would be ROCOR. However, I was extremely disturbed by the words and actions of Archbishop Peter. He mixed up large batches of Kool-Aid.

              • George Michalopulos says

                And yet, Archbishop Peter was the only bishop I know of who condemned all the rioting.

                • This is true.

                  • While the reaction of almost all bishops has been disappointing, we need to keep in mind that these are, unfortunately (we need more young and energetic bishops like MP has), mostly old men who are probably not spending a lot of time consuming non-MSM sources or alternative healthcare sources and, most likely, simply got spooked by all this. They need to, like Patriarch Kirill said when he introduced spoon dipping, keep the weaker faithful in mind, i.e. those that are freaked out by everything that’s happening. So we need to bring this into consideration.

                    That being said, continued ignorance, when we are nearly a year into ‘two weeks to slow the spread,’ is contemptible. A number of bishops have loosened things up in light of the situation and common sense, but many more have not.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Basil, Gail recently had an insight that I found most helpful in understanding the present mess. Basically it was this: it takes great fortitude to withstand great pressure.

                    • …probably not spending a lot of time consuming non-MSM sources…

                      Basil,

                      I am very much inclined to agree. I suspect that in most cases (though not all) a lot of what we see from the episcopate is driven not by bad intent, but by naivety.

                    • Basil, it truly is becoming contemptible. I have spent time in hospitals and doctors offices over the past several months and these medical facilities have loosened restrictions more than my local parish.

              • Mikhail,

                Indeed it was terribly disappointing, and in my mind shows how tenuous our situation truly is.

              • Basically seems to come down to whether or not the hierarchs, clergy KNOW what the Church teaches (the Divine Energies in the Temple) and follow Tradition (unfettered practice in the Temple where Heaven meets our earth).

                Certain wise elders and all Saints know and practice this belief. Few now seem to know and then be willing to teach it, giving the impression that they don’t believe it, which is tragic if they do and tragic if they never learned. I was told by one priest who believes in the Divine Energies that as a pastor he doesn’t want those who don’t believe and are afraid to be embarrassed or feel judged. That Fr Peter has a different mission than he, to teach. But that means he himself is not teaching it in the parish and allowing all to believe that the secular view is accurate, by omission! And when something is not taught in the Temple over time it fades away and the next generation and the next seminary class doesn’t learn it at all. So it seems “obscure” and the American desire to be intellectually superior can be used to discredit the “dear old people who still have that kind of faith.”

                Sorry to repeat but when the Dallas Catholic Bishop for decades forbid the priests from speaking at the Mass about abortion while the RCIA female teacher implied abortion was understandable, is it any wonder that the young Catholic girls showed up at Planned Parenthood for an abortion?

                Fr Peter Heers and some other faithful priests are teaching simply from the Holy Fathers and the Church Tradition. It’s why I joined the Orthodox Church. I just didn’t realize I would be in such a minority, which is why I feel so blessed by the path God allowed for me, for Vladika Dmitri and the beautiful Patristic books and the sons of Vladika who are priests and do know and believe and teach.

                • All this talk of the Divine Energies is getting to sound a little New Age-y to me. Look, I get it that they exist and there’s a distinction between them and God’s essence, but can we just call it the Grace of God? It sounds less weird to outsiders.

                  • Basil, I’m puzzled as to how something as Old-Agey (utterly Traditional) as the Divine Energies seem New Age-y to thee? Could you expand on what you mean by your preferred term Grace of God, how you define the Divine Energies, and how you understand the difference between the Temple and everywhere else in the Orthodox Tradition and writings of the Holy Fathers? If you believe that the Church service should continue without alteration for COVID, is there a spiritual basis for that statement or simply a secular one (such as saying the science doesn’t support the prohibitions)? If you care to share, that would help me understand your surprising words.

                  • Johann Sebastian says

                    New Calendarism also sounds less weird to outsiders.

                    Seeming less weird to outsiders comes back to bite us inevitably.

                    • “Seeming less weird to outsiders” is a forlorn hope.

                      It must be forty years since I heard a radio production
                      of Peter Schaffer’s play: The Royal Hunt of the Sun.

                      What sticks in my mind is the difficulty one Peruvian had
                      in explaining Christianity to the imprisoned Inca Atahuallpa.
                      As I recall, he said something like this:
                      “They take their God and nail him to a tree and they kill him.
                      Then they take him down and they cut him into pieces…
                      and they eat him.”

                      I was an atheist at the time and that image seemed very weird.
                      Now, however, I am an Orthodox Christian
                      and have more context in which to try to understand it.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Basil, . . . the Incarnation alone creates a huge gap. The New Age is all about power and control. The Church all about humility and the sacrifice of Jesus–His condescension. His mercy is energy.

                    So is His Grace but it is easy to make the word Grace conceptual and abstract. Divine energy expresses the reality of His love and His life with us.

                    What do you think is happening when the priest is calling on Our Lord to transform the Bread and Wine into the Body and Blood? Grace yes but Grace is the personal energy of God, i.e., Divine Energy. What do you think is depicted in every icon we venerate? The penumbra is Divine Energy. What is it that sometimes forces people to their knees during the Divine Liturgy?

                    There is no life without energy. Basil you may not realize it but the presence of those Divine Energies is what sets the Church apart from the rest of the world and the rest of Christendom. It is only hardness of heart that prevents us from realizing it.

                    The New Age energy is demonic. Been there, know that. What rescued me and many others I know and love is a desire to know the Truth.

                    The Truth is there is NOTHING new age about the Divine Energies. NOTHING!

                    • I probably wasn’t clear when I wrote my first comment. I’m not denying the divine energies’ existence at all, my beef is with the constant use of this term when we have quite happily used Divine Grace in the past. The terms are interchangeable. If we look at English-language Orthodox literature from the early 20th century until the whole anti-Western, ‘neo-patristic’ thing caught on, grace was the term that the translators used and, in most cases, still do, much like how ‘sacrament’ was used instead of ‘mystery.’ It means the same thing, but is less confusing.

                      Search ‘divine energy’ on Google and you get a swath of Hindu and New Age stuff. Terminology is important and, if we want to communicate the faith properly with people, there’s no need to obfuscate it by using exotic terms when, in the past, we have been quite fine with using terms that are generally understood by most people. Having grown up surrounded by New Age-y types, I feel that the term divine energies is sufficiently confusing – although correct – to be left to specialist and technical discussions.

                      So, to make my point clear:

                      To quote from OrthodoxWiki, which is a nice and quick place to get references: “Grace is the very energies of God himself.”

                      Or Vladimir Lossky: “the Trinity dwells in us by means of that in itself which is communicable–that is to say, by the energies which are common to the three hypostases, or, in other words, by grace–for it is by this name that we know the deifying energies which the Holy Spirit communicates to us.”

                      And again from the same: “The union to which we are called is neither hypostatic–as in the case of the human nature of Christ–nor substantial, as in that of the three divine Persons: it is union with God in His energies, or union by grace making us participate in the divine nature, without our essence becoming thereby the essence of God. In deification we are by grace (that is to say, in the divine energies) all that God is by nature, save only identity of nature . . .”

                      Or Elder George of Gregoriou on Mount Athos, the whole article which is worth quoting: https://www.impantokratoros.gr/Theosis-Orthodoxy.en.aspx

                      So, it’s the same thing and I am not contradicting anything that anyone has (correctly) said about the divine energies, I would just prefer we used the term grace, which is far more common in the Scriptures, the Church’s divine services, and the writings of the Fathers and Holy Elders. I read in Church and try to read as many of the services at home with my family as time permits, and you very seldom see the term ‘energy’ used, while ‘grace’ is everywhere. I, for one, will keep using grace, because “His grace is sufficient for me.”

                      When I tell my Protestant neighbor that I’m not afraid of getting sick from attending my parish (which has managed to keep open throughout the crisis, thank God), I tell him it’s because the grace of God is there and he nods approvingly. If I said that it’s because of the divine energies, he would have no idea what I was talking about. As I learned in the Army: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

                      I hope that has clarified things.

                    • Thank you Michael and Johann Sebastian! ??

                    • “Energies” has three syllables, Basil;
                      whereas “Grace” has only one… 🙂

                    • Johann Sebastian says

                      Well, Basil, I still refer to Pascha as “Easter” and Nativity as “Christmas,” despite my insistence on using the Old Calendar. Why complicate things with exotic names? Right?

  23. Austin Martin says

    The Capitol stormers are patriotic heroes who should have all been given a pardon. At the time when the establishment of both parties massively and openly stole the election, the federal government ceased to be legitimate.

  24. George, I agree with you that the same rule that got Fr. Mark disciplined should also apply to
    Archbishop Elpidophoros. Actually, being the leader of over 500 priests, he needs more punishment.Maybe send him to a re-education camp? Just kidding.

  25. Interesting if true:

    https://russian-faith.com/news/trump-supporters-seeking-russian-citizenship-n4288

    The priest who runs this website (I believe) is an American who fled to Russia a few years ago to escape the degeneracy of the U.S

    • Ronda Wintheiser says

      Petros, yes, it’s true. Fr. Joseph Gleason and his family are personal friends of mine. They left the U.S. to raise their children away from the degeneracy of American culture.

      They are enjoying it very much. I envy them at this point.

      • Same, given the trajectory we are headed it might be a viable option other than the Orthodox communities popping up around the U.S.

        Are they liking it? I would be interested to possibly talk to Fr. Joseph at some point about how they moved and adjusted to life there

      • Any thoughts on whether Fr Joseph abandoned the country and the Orthodox faithful where God had put him?

        I mean, it’s wonderful and nice to flee for a country that you think is a safe harbor.

        But God created Fr Joseph an American, and our Church desperately needs pastors and leaders who can bring our faith to an American audience and who can help those of us struggling to live Orthodox lives in a militantly secular land.

        Why is it more virtuous to flee with his family to Russia rather than to work to be leaven in secular America – working to bring to our culture Christ and His church?

        Maybe I’m being selfish here, but Fr Joseph, we American Orthodox need priests like you here.

        • Maybe we should send all the non-American priests back to where they were born too, then?

          Priests have families and have to bring that into consideration. That’s their first priority. If he felt that moving to Russia was best for his family and the future of his children, so be it.

        • Ronda Wintheiser says

          You can easily ask Fr. Joseph yourself, FTS; you can find him on Facebook easily. But I think I can explain since he is a personal friend.

          He has a great many children, and he felt that they were in danger here. He and his wife chose to go to Russia to protect their children from our secular culture.

          Maybe most people wouldn’t put their children first, but I personally think that is virtuous.

        • George Michalopulos says

          FTS, that’s rather unfair. A family man has to take care of his family. If that means moving, then so be it.

          Personally, I don’t think it’s possible for one man to turn the ship of state around. The Left will have to continue to eat itself before the country as a whole can turn things around for the better.

          • Michael Bauman says

            George, obviously it is not just the Left who is eating its own.

          • Solitary Priest says

            Thank you, George. My leftist brother can’t understand why I put up with a corrupt parish for six plus years. I had a wife and two small children at the time. Even an animal has enough sense to take care of it’s young. He and his wife never had children, they will never understand.
            After that unfortunate experience, I vowed I would never be without a secular job again. And I worked for almost twenty-seven years. I stopped when I was a little over sixty-four. Two reasons; they wanted me to do four or five jobs instead of two. Plus, my fellow employees decided I was a racist, because I voted for Trump. I didn’t admit to it, but they guessed correctly.
            There is a Russian proverb which is difficult to translate, but it’s like this: No man is wiser for someone else’s misfortune.

          • George and Ronda and others,

            I honestly don’t think I’m being unfair. I fully honor Fr Joseph’s freedom and ability to choose what he deems best for his family.

            I do believe, though, that this is a topic that should not be shameful to discuss.

            A man is ordained a priest to bring Christ to the people, to help bring to us the realization of “the Church as paradise,” as Fr Alexander Schmemann used to call it.

            It’s a miracle that the Church in America is even exists, even with all the messes that we have here today. We desperately need men who are faithful Orthodox Christians and who can present Christ and His Church to an American audience. Foreign priests from Serbia or Greece or Russia who barely speak English don’t work – we’ve all experienced that, and other than ministering to a tiny ethnic flock, they are incapable of engaging Americans in our cultural context.

            Fr Joseph obviously had a blessing from his bishop to move to Russia – he’s not a protestant, after all. He had to be released by his bishop to then be received by the local bishop in Russia. If a bishop blesses his move, then that’s that.

            All I’m saying is that it’s reasonable to publicly discuss such actions. He is not a lay person – he’s the leader of a Christian community. Though I’ve never met him, I’m sure he’s a good man. I am not on Facebook, so I would not message him or anyone else via that platform.

            These same conversations were had 100 years ago concerning clergy who fled the Soviets vs those who stayed behind with their communities in revolutionary Russia (either voluntarily or involuntarily). Clergy who stayed behind to minister to their Russian flocks were eventually persecuted mercilessly, as we all know (as were their flocks).

            I don’t think either path was necessarily more virtuous than the other. Some Russian clergy 100 years ago followed their flocks into exile; others simply had no ability to leave, or they did not want to leave.

            It’s a true Greek tragedy — both options are painful, and neither is clearly better than the other. I think Fr Joseph’s situation is probably similar — both options (staying in America to minister to the American flock vs moving to Russia) have both virtuous and difficult aspects.

            I know several priests with large families who are committed to leading their flocks in America, despite all the troubles and Christian animosity that we have here. I greatly admire these men.

            I simply don’t think Fr Joseph’s path — to move with his family to Russia — should be viewed as the “best, most virtuous option.”

            Again, I pray that Fr Joseph and his family are well. I still don’t think it should be shameful – even if it’s uncomfortable – to discuss Fr Joseph’s choice as compared with the choices of other clergy with large families who stay in America.

            He, after all, is a public figure, and from what I know has an online presence and several videos outlining his life and his family’s move to Russia.

            • So FTS, using your reasoning, St Herman of Alaska should have stayed home because he didn’t know enough of the native culture and language to effectively preach the gospel.
              As far as your statement that priests that barely speak English don’t work and that we all have experienced that, I couldn’t disagree with you more. There is a pastors love, God given grace that overcomes communication barriers.
              There was an elderly bishop that I met as a girl and I instantly adored him. I only met him once at the home of my pastor, who later told me that each time they spoke, the bishop always asked about me by name. I felt his prayers and love and although we didn’t speak to each other, he made an unforgettable impact on me.
              I think it is an illness of our time that we feel we must like or dislike, approve or disapprove, or have an opinion on what everyone else is doing. We have become busybodies extraordinaire.

              • Hi Tanya,

                I have no idea how there’s a “logical next step” that my thoughts in any way imply that St Herman should have stayed put in Russia.

                But at some point, one has to let go, which is what I’m doing in this conversation.

                May Christ and the love of the Theotokos always be with you and with all of us!

      • Ronda, re Fr Gleason, do you know if they are able to make a living without outside funding? I ask because many are thinking of going there based on him but there have been requests for donations from outside on the site itself so I have not been certain what their situation is. Hope they are doing well. Thanks for anything you know!

      • Michael Bauman says

        One thing that is becoming increasingly clear is that Mike Pompeo has been dedicated for years to building an “Orthodox Wall” against Russia in a very real politic way.
        As I have mentioned here recently, Pompeo is a man who carries power but he is also capable of exuding charm and likeability. Just watch out for the truncheon behind his back.

        His new position with the Hudson Institute enables him to carry on his efforts.

        The COVID distraction makes his work easier.

        • I’ve emailed Sec Pompeo numerous times asking him to cease and desist. I never got a “thank you for contacting the state dept” reply or anything. Never got one from any of the other persecutors either. Always got a nice reply from the White House. But, then again. I had much nicer things to say.
          I am most likely on some kind of “list”
          No matter, there is only one “list” that counts and no one in this world has access to it.

    • Ronda Wintheiser says

      Petros, or anyone who is interested, here is Fr. Joseph Gleaon’s take on Fr. Mark. As well as a bit more from Fr. Mark himself about his presence in D.C. on January 6th.

      https://russian-faith.com/priest-suspended-attending-jan-6-dc-rally-target-lgbt-attacks-n4324?fbclid=IwAR2oRPqufsPqBSlp4DUaXy3F1Rk0drph8l9blk-3U4iJsHYejFY3_hazBmo

      • Ronda, thank you for this enlightening and important article about Father Mark and his public detractors. What’s the quote about being able to judgie a man by the quality of his enemies? And St. Paisios was quite civic-minded himself, so that quality is desirable, not offensive.

        IF this suspension “for association” is allowed to stand after a fair spiritual trial, it will tell us alot about the Synod. I hope they will not be agreeing with the two men advocating homosexuality who criticized the traditional Orthodox priest Father Mark publicly. Now that would be a bad association!

  26. Hans,

    Where do you get the notion that a priest must ask for “blessing” to do anything? This is serious question. Must a priest get “a blessing” to purchase a new Toyota? What about to engage in lawful intercourse with his wife? What about to attend a sports event, such as a baseball game? Obviously I am being ridiculous, because the expectation of total non-thinking obedience you have implied is ridiculous.

    A parish priest is not under the same obedience to his bishop in the same way a monastic is to his elder.

    A presbyter who lives in the world is under multiple obediences, first to Christ, and then to his spiritual father, his hierarch, his wife, his country, etc. The presbyter IS NOT an “extension” of the bishop. This is faulty ecclesiology.

    The Bishop is at the head of the choir of the presbyters, he is the “chief” priest, NOT the only priest. The presbyter IS fully a priest, not merely an appendage of the Bishop, which is why he has authority to baptize, chrismate, and celebrate the Divine Liturgy. Why else would St. Photios in the 9th century say, otherwise, when faced with the innovations of the Franks. To wit, read his Encyclical to the Patriarchs of 866. (https://pages.uoregon.edu/sshoemak/324/texts/photius_encyclical.htm)

    “Likewise, they [the Frankish western innovators] persuaded them that all who had been chrismated by priests had to be anointed again by bishops. In this way, they hoped to show that Chrismation by priests had no value, thereby ridiculing this divine and supernatural Christian Mystery. From whence comes this law forbidding priests to anoint with Holy Chrism? From what lawgiver, Apostle, Father, or Synod? For, if a priest cannot chrismate the newly-baptised, then surely neither can he baptise. Or, how can a priest consecrate the Body and Blood of Christ our Lord in the Divine Liturgy if, at the same time, he cannot chrismate with Holy Chrism? If this grace then, is taken from the priests, the episcopal rank is diminished, for the bishop stands at the head of the choir of priests.”

    This faulty ecclesiology has presbyters “venerating” the name of the local bishop, inscribed on the antimension, as if the presbyter’s authority is “of” the bishop. Can you find a single ancient commentary on the Divine Liturgy that affirms this practice of monarchical-episcopo-centrism? The answer is no, you will not.

    The Greek is telling — the Presbyter is ierefs, the Bishop is arche-ierefs — BOTH are priests, the bishop being the chief priest among the priests because he alone is able to transmit the very same priesthood (Christ’s) to the presbyter, and administratively oversees (epi-skopos) the functioning of the institutional Church. The Priest of Priests is Christ alone. The bishop is NOT the source of the presbyter’s priesthood, Christ is that source, just as the Lord is the source of the bishop’s priesthood, since he does not cease being a presbyter when made a bishop. I have heard some people refer to their bishop as “our Father in God,” and within the geo-political divisions of the institutional Church, that is true, but the bishop is NOT the source of fatherhood, which belongs to Christ alone.

    Obviously, the presbyters are to work in harmony with the bishop, so that the work of the Church might be done peaceably and in seemliness, after the manner that Christ that demands in Luke 22, in conciliarity with his COUNCIL of presbyters, not as a mini-magisterium where a single voice demands absolute and unquestioning obedience, with reference to no-one but himself.

    We can see the result of this type of ecclesiological thinking, and its fruit is rotten.

    • Father,

      As a laymen this was my understanding of the relationship between Bishop and Presbyter. In fact a popular book, “Eucharist, Bishop, Church” by Metropolitan John Zizioulas seems to teach this.

      Do you have any references from the Fathers on the Bishop/Presbyter relationship? Not a gotch-ya question – asking earnestly.

      Thanks.

      • Be careful; Zizoulas is the architect of the Phanar’s neo-papist ecclesiology. He has also been denounced as a heretic by reasonable Orthodox men.

      • Justin,

        Zizioulas is popular, not patristic.

        He wrongly maintains that the presbyter is priest not by ordination but by delegation, and dates his delegated authority to preside over the eucharistic service to the middle of the third century. This view has been popularized, especially by our own hierarchs, who are the beneficiaries of this false teaching.

        Referring to 1 Tim. 3:8-10, St John Chrysostom says, “DISCOURSING of Bishops, and having described their character, and the qualities which they ought to possess, and having passed over the order of Presbyters, he proceeds to that of deacons. The reason of this omission was, that between Presbyters and Bishops there was no great difference. Both had undertaken the office of Teachers and Presidents in the Church, and what he has said concerning Bishops is applicable to Presbyters. For they are only superior in having the power of ordination, and seem to have no other advantage over Presbyters.

        This is affirmed throughout the patristic writings. Even Schmemann, apart from his own issues, echoed the same thing, noting that presbyters are not priests by “delegation,” but by ordination.

        Zizioulas even goes so far as to claim that the parish is not the Church, but rather the ecclesial reality resides only in the diocese, which does nothing but create a multitude of popes. We can see the result of that today, including in the case of Fr. Mark, who in this ecclesiology is a priest only by delegation, who has been suspended rightly without a trial, without a presentation of facts, without a reference to the anyone but his local pope, Bishop Paul.

        According to St. Irenaeus, the bishops AND presbyters possess apostolic succession: “Wherefore it is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church,—those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the certain gift of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father.”

        The bishops themselves, who are seemingly accountable to NO ONE, and to whom all, including the presbyters are alone accountable, is not in accord with what St. Ignatius who says, that the faithful are ALSO accountable to “the presbyters as God’s high council, and as the Apostolic assembly.”

        These aren’t my ideas, Justin. This is the tradition of the Church.

        • “Zizioulas is popular, not patristic.”

          That is an understatement!

          • Mikhail,

            I was being polite.

            Older than dirt,
            And the wheels keep turning
            If he keeps it up,
            One day he’ll be burning.

        • Father,

          Apart from sections scattered throughout patristic writings, is there a book or volume of books to reference on this top that reflects the patristic view? As a layman trying to understand all this it is often helpful to have a resource that may not be as in depth but at least provides an introduction to the topic/thought.

          Thanks!

  27. Gail, George, thoughts on the OCA Diocese of the South joining ROCOR?

    I’m not familiar with any other OCA diocese and I just assumed they were all like the DoS…but I guess not?

    My experience with the DoS has been very positive, but it doesn’t seem like it fits the “ethos” of the rest of the OCA.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Never happen.

      • If the OCA does go for a split, what do you think will become of the Diocese of the South, will it stay as part of the OCA?

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I think there is reason to hope that they would split rather than go under Elpidophoros.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Who knows? My own take regarding what would transpire within the various dioceses and jurisdictions, is that any forcible union/”autocephaly” under the EP like what we saw in Ukraine will result in divisions within said bodies. Indeed, within parishes within said dioceses.

            In other words, it’s going to be messy. Of course, rather than this being proclaimed a schism, any such divisions will be termed as “continuing [ethnic] tradition”, not unlike the “Continuing Anglicans” after the Episcopalians went all crazy with all their innovations.

    • Archbishop Alexander of the South, while a respectable and interesting scholar, is an ecumenist and, dare I say it, a heretic. He has openly denied that the Monophysites and Nestorians are in heresy. He, for one, will probably welcome union with GOARCH.

      • Definitely a fall from Archbishop Dimitri of blessed memory +

      • Pat Reardon says

        He has openly denied that the Monophysites and Nestorians are in heresy.

        This is a theological judgment.

        Archbishop Alexander’s credentials in Theology are impressive and well known.

        The theological qualifications of “Basil” are . . . . ?

        • What does it matter what my qualifications are? He openly denies what the Church has taught for over 1500 years. If they are not heretics, end of story. If they have repented of their heresy and schism and returned to the Church, then no bishop has the right to say otherwise.

          Academic credentials =/= Orthodoxy.

          And please don’t put my name in quotation marks. My name is Basil.

          • Pat Reardon says

            Basil insists on being called “Basil.”

            I have no idea who he is, but I do want to be fair.

            Basil is at least using a real name, not cowering under some faceless label like “GOA Priest.”

            All right, Basil. Let’s be fair. Let’s call everybody by the name they want to be called by.

            Let’s start using their correct and self-chosen names.

            Let’s not use labels like “Nestorian” for churches that call themselves “Syrian Orthodox.”

            Let’s start referring to the church of Egypt as “Coptic,” not deliberately insulting them with a label like “Monophysite.”

            If you still want to be called Basil — instead of some other label I might be disposed to devise for you — why don’t you show the same civility to the (often and terribly persecuted) Christians of Armenia and Egypt?

            Now, with respect to theological “credentials,” this GOA Priest has just suggested that you enjoy the identical qualifications as those “fishermen all-wise” on whom God poured out His Holy Spirit. Well, heck, let’s check this out.

            The fruit of the Spirit is . . . . .Go ahead and fill in the blanks. I haven’t opened the New Testament yet today, but I seem to remember something about charity and peace, or something along those lines. Does that ring a bell?

            You, Basil, have publicly called an Orthodox hierarch a “heretic,” and you say you don’t NEED any qualifications to do such a thing? Your Father Confessor agrees with you on this matter, does he?

            Now, with respect to the Christians of Egypt and the Fertile Crescent, I don’t have a shred of qualification to render any sort of judgment. I am woefully inadequate to pronounce a single syllable on the subject.

            First, in Syriac I have read only the Bible.

            Second, I have never studied Coptic.

            That is to say, I have never read the relevant literature except in translations.

            In short, I have no right to an opinion on this subject.

            You, Basil, do ?

            Well, when Archbishop Alexander says something about these things, I am prepared to be taught.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              I can’t help much with this discussion other than to say I believe Basil is truly Basil’s name.

            • Great way to avoid addressing my point. I won’t address the appeal to emotion, as the persecution of Christians in the Middle East has literally nothing to do with what I wrote.

              This isn’t about me; I don’t need qualifications to simply repeat what the Church teaches, and has taught consistently for over 1,500 years.

              The Nestorians and Monophysites left the Church in 431 and 451 respectively (more or less) and were condemned at two ecumenical councils as being heretical. All subsequent councils have ratified these decisions.

              The Nestorians and Monophysites have not changed their teachings and, in fact, have doubled down on many things.

              The Church has likewise not changed its teachings.

              The Church has never officially repealed the anathemas against them and the majority of sane and traditional Orthodox hierarchs, monks and teachers maintain the traditional position of the Church, including Saint Paisios of Mount Athos, to whom Saint Euphemia appeared and told “they are heretics.”

              Therefore, they are still heretics.

              I don’t need a fancy PhD on my wall to repeat what the Church teaches. Being Orthodox means following the teachings of the Church and the Holy Fathers, and not coming to my own conclusions. Therefore, I stand on solid ground simply by repeating the teachings of the Church, not by denying them.

              Asking about my father confessor’s POV is quite tasteless, I think, but I will let you know that, yes, he does agree with me. We talk about these things and he wholeheartedly supports the position of the Church.

              • GOA Priest says

                Basil,

                Perfectly stated.

                Your friend, the “cowering” GOA Priest.

              • Pat Reardon says

                In charity, I urge everyone to read the new book, Thinking Orthodox, by one of the current lights of the Church, Dr Eugenia Constantinou.

                • Oh Father! In charity, I beg you to reconsider!

                  I heard her talk on the Theotokos in person (views which she has never retracted and which her host said were surprising) and in which she said that we should ignore the Tradition and the Fathers in favor of academic scholarship, hers included, a thoroughly Protestant and RC western mindset, ignorant of the true spirit of Eastern Orthodoxy.. Disdainful of others who heeded the Tradition and of the Fathers about the Theotokos, as was Abp Alexander about Fr Peter. A telling way of speaking not unlike Hillary on the “deplorables”. I grieve for her western bent, Father.

                  That very attitude of disdain tells us much. And she spoke of the Theotokos from her own imagination in modern ways which were stunning and reminded me of my Catholic days. Patristic priests stayed away from the talk and/or wrote her ahead or afterwards to reconsider her novel stance, reportedly to no avail. But that’s America now. The two parts in my earlier reply to you. Loved her book on Andrew of Crete but oh NO, she is in the rationalistic new way of thinking which is not Patristic or Orthodox. Some of our convert priests are still beguiled by the lure of the intellectual, not yet purged by the spiritual. However, I have yet to meet a Patristic well grounded humble priest who values the western intellect over the Eastern Fathers. She is quite far from being one of the current lights of the Patristic Orthodox Church but perhaps of the modern novel rationalistic New one, perhaps.

                  Why are we often counseled to read about how another nonSaint thinks we should think or interprets Holy Scripture or Tradition? Right there, we leave the fold! The answers are always from the Enlightened, the Holy Fathers, so why the continual shift to the fellow human instead of the Enlightened ones? It’s becoming another litmus test perhaps. Vladika Dmitri’s books were compendia of the Saints’ writings and commentaries on Scripture. We have what we need. He urged us to read them! Have our priests and teachers immersed themselves in them or do they still wish to intellectualize with the elite as opposed to the Enlightened, so to speak? Did seminary lead them astray and plant the seed of intellectual pride and superiority which always does us in?

                  Although you sweetly and deftly avoided the issue earlier, I do think there are two camps in Orthodoxy, not by jurisdiction but by mindset. One is western still with the intellectual academic as supreme and the other wants to learn humbly from the Enlightened ones. Camp #2 for me.

                  Agree to disagree please, Father. I’m a very flawed Orthodox but very grateful for Orthodoxy and can’t bear to see her dishonored. Have no doubt Presbytera is a superior human being. Just praying she will be enlightened and not mislead others.

            • “Let’s start using their correct and self-chosen names.”

              https://archive.totalfratmove.com/personal-pronoun-his-majesty-michigans-campus/

              “Let’s start referring to the church of Egypt as ‘Coptic,’ not deliberately insulting them with a label like ‘Monophysite.’ ”

              How about you start referring to St. Constantine as “Saint” Constantine?

              http://www.monomakhos.com/on-trumpianity/#comment-168999

              “One thing we can be sure of in 325: Nobody, absolutely nobody, summoned an ecumenical council”

              The Orthodox Church teaching is that the Holy Spirit did, no matter how “terribly boring,” and “dead,” it is for this theology/history to be settled for you.

              “The fruit of the Spirit is . . . . .Go ahead and fill in the blanks. I haven’t opened the New Testament yet today, but I seem to remember something about charity and peace, or something along those lines. Does that ring a bell?” . . .

            • GOA Priest says

              Fr. Pat,

              What’s the problem with pseudonymous writing, dear Father? It has been employed throughout history for a variety of reasons, including from within the Church.

              And don’t be ridiculous – I did not confer the office of Apostle on Basil. I merely noted that “degrees” mean nothing in and of themselves. That’s my opinion. Feel free to disagree to whatever degree you wish.

              Basil merely made an observation. If you think Basil is wrong in his observation, then explain why…

              • He can’t explain. He has no opinion on the subject.
                Does he not say so himself?

              • Pat Reardon says

                I merely noted that “degrees” mean nothing in and of themselves.

                I said not one word about degrees; I never mentioned academic education.

                • GOA Priest says

                  Father Pat,

                  Really? I assumed that’s what you meant when you said:

                  Archbishop Alexander’s credentials in Theology are impressive and well known.

                  • Pat Reardon says

                    Only the Church confers “credentials in “Theology.”

                    Only the Church appoints various ministries to teach Theology: priests and deacons, iconographers, readers, Sunday School teachers, and so forth.

                    The highest of these ministries, I hope we agree, is the episcopate, on which the Holy Spirit confers what St. Irenaeus called the Χάρισμα ἀληθείας.

                    Now, Basil called Archbishop Alexander a “heretic.”

                    I simply suggested that, unless someone can make a convincing case for it, that was a reckless and irresponsible accusation.

                    At least in this particular instance, I, for one, have no such competence.

                    Our friend Basil, he tells us, doesn’t need credentials to call archbishops “heretics.”

                    Saint Euphemia appeared and told him so.

                • Then what did you mean by “credentials” and “theological qualifications”?

                  If it’s some charismatic spiritual gift that allows him to discern between right and wrong – rightly divide the word of truth, if you will – then he seems to lack that also, since he does not speak with the same voice as the Church and, in fact, contradicts the Church.

                  In charity, I urge everyone to read the acts of the Ecumenical Councils too see what the Church really has to say on this important issue.

              • Sorry if this is a repeat question, GOA Priest, can only dip in from time to time. But wondering if the GOA has social media guidelines like the OCA’s which actually prevent you from posting opinions under your own name? Ie, are you being obedient to their guidelines perhaps by posting under a pseudonym? Other priests I respected in the OCA were hounded even before the guidelines for expressing their opinions publicly, so the anonymous titles seemed to be required for priestly opinions to be expressed. Solitary priest and OCA priest are descriptive. I use my first name only for professional ethics reasons (ie, my patients are not supposed to know anything about me because that would undo the work we do). As long as George and Gail know we are who we say we are and are not misleading people, why is that a problem for anyone, except to satisfy curiosity? Thanks for any info. I will hope I can find your reply when I get back on tomorrow. Tiny screen and can’t search for names anymore on the site (understand why, no worries Gail & George).

                • GOA Priest says

                  Nicole,

                  I use a pseudonym for fear of retribution from the wolves who run the GOA, and not because of any social media guidelines that the GOA has in place.

                  Speaking openly and calling into question the behaviors and decisions of our lowerarchs, even when done from the actual texts of our holy faith, is simply not permitted.

                  As we have been saying in this thread, obedience for these lowerarchs is a one-way street. We are supposed to obey them, while they can do anything they please and trample our Lord’s Church underfoot. It’s not only their response to coronavirus, the heresy of the moment, that is cause for speaking out, but an ecclesiological breach arising from their insatiable appetite for power based on false theology, like that promoted by Zizioulas and others, and incarnated at all levels of the lowerarchical food chain.

                  Bringing some of these things to light, demanding accountability and faithfulness to the flock, can only be done under the cover of pseudonyms.

                • Pat Reardon says

                  Nicole,

                  He uses a pseudonym because he writes about the bishops very disrespectably and prefers not to be held to account for what he writes.

                  This is very un-manly.

                  You may discern here, dear, the difference between playing it safe and playing for keeps. A real priest always plays for keeps.

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    Father, you keep alluding to a “he.” There is no “he”. There is a they. They come from multiple regions, but it should surprise no one that the West is over represented.

                    Do you honestly think if there were a man he would dare come forward AT ALL? I find that surprising given what I’ve seen in your jurisdiction in years past.

                    • Pat Reardon says

                      Gail, I was not referring to those who brought Archbishop Benjamin’s directive to our attention.

                      I meant an anonymous priest who lowers the standards on this blog site by habitually insulting the bishops.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      Ah, makes sense. Thank you, Father.

            • Dear Father Pat: Re Abp Alexander ~

              I have in the past read all the documents signed by him for many years as a participant in the Orthodox Catholic Dialogue Committee of the Assembly of Bishops (can never remember the exact title!) and on that basis alone (seeing no absentions or objections by him) there is justification for saying that his positions are as Basil says ecumenist and heretical. I am a former Roman Catholic and you were a Roman Catholic monk. I am assuming you see and recognize the differences in the two but I know that RCs like Orthodox are each split into “liberal, ie. Novel, prideful we can improve on the tradition and the Saints” and the traditional camps revering the Saints and Tradition, etc. I was as RC and am as Orthodox in the traditional camp. If you identify with the “progressive development or enlightenment by nonSaints group”, then we would be speaking from different perspectives.

              Again, Abp Alexander seems a caring devout man, no judgment on him as a caring loving person with devotion to Christ. But converting is a long process and I was taught and the Saints confirm that our past tags along and we don’t realize it. Human nature always trips us up! If docs can be influenced in prescribing by pharm dinners or by their employer about a medical decision for a patient , can a priest be influenced by working for and in a RC institution? And even our compassion can be twisted to allow us to change our own beliefs out of liking or caring for others (why the Israelites were encouraged to stay within their group to maintain purity). Aren’t we all human? The nontraditional filters down in his teaching and actions and that is signficant. .

              A second novelty to me: his surprising way of responding to the teaching of Fr Peter Heers revealed a very different mindset and spirit than Vladika Dmitri’s or any devout sound Orthodox or RC priest I know. It does resemble Pope Francis’ and Patriarch Bartholomew’s MOs. And significantly, no apologies offered or apparent realization that they should be (remorse), a prideful approach in contrast to the humility and truth spoken in love of those who are traditional priests in my experience.

              ??
              Nicole

  28. Where do you get the notion that a priest must ask for “blessing” to do anything? This is serious question. Must a priest get “a blessing” to purchase a new Toyota? What about to engage in lawful intercourse with his wife? What about to attend a sports event, such as a baseball game? Obviously I am being ridiculous, because the expectation of total non-thinking obedience you have implied is ridiculous

    This is not ridiculous at all. It is Orthodox Church but you have some protestant way of thinking. Of course nothing is bad or ridiculous to ask your priest to bless your new vehicle but you don’t understand and even worse you mocker. In terms of intercourse with the wife or husband we should pray before the intercourse for blessing from God. Not Bishop. You have it all wrong, sorry to say.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Where did George mention anything about a priest needing a blessing to exercise his freedom of speech? I think you need to go back and reread this post.

      • Sorry, I was referring to what this GOA priest wrote not George. He wrote a lot of things that are not in accordance with Orthodox fate.
        Where do you get the notion that a priest must ask for “blessing” to do anything? This is serious question. Must a priest get “a blessing” to purchase a new Toyota? What about to engage in lawful intercourse with his wife? What about to attend a sports event, such as a baseball game? Obviously I am being ridiculous, because the expectation of total non-thinking obedience you have implied is ridiculous

        I don’t know about freedom of speech but ask any priest if he can leave his parish without notifying his Bishop? It is not possible.
        Not to mention to go and take part in political demonstration.
        I am for Trump but lot of people are not so Bishop has to take care not to make divisions.

    • GOA Priest says

      VSWR,

      You need to re-read what was written. You haven’t understood it. I was responding to Hans, and the question is whether a PRIEST needs a BLESSING from his Bishop, and if so, for what.

  29. cynthia curran says
    • Because Orange Man Bad.

      • Ronda Wintheiser says

        Basil:

        Exactly.

        For Hans in particular, but otherwise to anyone in general who has earned a rant like this:

        It is so infuriating to me that so many people are so deceived and actually have a propensity to be deceived about what happened on January 6th.

        In the first place, we now know that there were several militias from several states who planned a breach to occur on January 6th — in advance. It was PLANNED in advance, not incited by Trump’s speech, for pete’s sake.

        In the second place, some of the people who have been arrested were BLM activists and/or people who cannot possibly be described as Trump supporters and in fact state that they aren’t.

        Even if some of them are, the timing just doesn’t work! Trump’s rally and speech began at about 11:50 am, and it ended at about 1:20 pm. The first rioters at the Capitol arrived there at 12:40 and began grappling with police shortly thereafter.

        It is a 45 minute walk from the Ellipse where Trump gave his speech and the Capitol. I know. I was there in 1988 and I walked that route with a group of people petitioning Ronald Reagan to designate October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.

        If those rioters were incited by Trump’s speech, they would have had to hear something that inspired them to violence shortly after the speech began and then run as fast as they could to get to the Capitol. If they could even have made it!

        But let’s say the militias were there first, and a small number of Trump supporters who heard the speech arrived and discovered the riot going on and spontaneously joined in.

        If that were the case, then Trump’s attempt to incite was a colossal failure, because thousands upon thousands upon thousands of Trump supporters, including Fr. Mark, didn’t get the message.

        I know people who went, and at least one couple said that they felt the speech was uncharacteristically subdued and even boring. So boring that they left the speech early and arrived at the Capitol to find it under siege.

        Any attempt to accuse Fr. Mark Hodges or any other Trump supporter who was there for the rally for the rioters’ violence, or to paint them as Archbishop Paul did as “guilty by association” is nothing short of disingenuous at best.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Very well said, Ronda.

          I remember when Gail and I were there last month and it struck me how vast the distances were between the various points of interest (e.g. Capitol, Washington Monument, the White House, etc.)

        • Bless you Ronda. Facts are so refreshing!

        • Pat Reardon says

          Thank you, Ronda, for this sensible account.

  30. Gail do y’all have Telegram? There’s an Orthodox group I think yall would be interested in called Orthodox Community Initiative. It ties into living around intentional Orthodox communities

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I couldn’t get on. Too many people at the same time. I’ll try again. I would be very interested in seeing it.

  31. According to a friend of mine who attended the parish church of Biden in Delaware, Biden
    Has been excommunicated by the Bishop of Scranton, and several other bishops. He was last denied confession and the Eucharist in South Carolina. He has not been excommunicated by the Vatican, which seems to be rejoicing, from what I read.

    You might want to check this out

  32. Fr. Mark’s story heading on LifeSite News today, and they get it right. OCA priest endures wrath of LGBT activists for his pro-family stance, and it has nothing to do with his involvement in DC, that’s just an excuse to get him booted.

    https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/priest-suspended-for-attending-jan-6-dc-rally-is-target-of-lgbt-attacks

  33. I have been following this conversation since the original post. I only want to say three things.

    1.) The contributions of GOA Priest are very much appreciated.

    2.) Although my sympathies are with Fr. Mark in a general sense (and I find the “guilt by association” to be both unwarranted and offensive) , it cannot be denied that his political involvement far exceeded his attendance at the Rally. I do not think that is a healthy thing for any clergyman.

    3.) Basing any of this discussion on “freedom of speech” (absolute or otherwise) is no foundation on which to defend anyone who represents the Church. Do we not, for example, complain (and rightly so) that our bishops fail to censure the ‘homosexualists’ in the name of freedom of speech, academic freedom, etc.?

    As far as the double-standard, I could agree more. Beyond that, I would advise being more circumspect in how we think about such things.

  34. “Fr. Mark was not suspended for his presence at the rally,” Priest Alexander Koranda said in a statement. “This suspension is the result of various circumstances that is currently part of an internal process.”

    The facts surrounding Hodges’ shelving cannot be currently disclosed, Koranda said.

    “The suspension is not due to one event, but also involves other matters,” the statement continued. “He was not suspended due to his presence at the rally, or due to one specific event.”

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/nypost.com/2021/01/21/priest-suspended-for-attending-pro-trump-rally-at-us-capitol/amp/

    • GOA Priest says

      This is gobbledegook. There is no canonical allowance for secret proceedings against a priest.

      If Fr. Mark is being accused of something that merits suspension, that something must necessarily be disclosed, and the specific canonical breach must be stated.

      The marsupials seem to already be in session.

      • George Michalopulos says

        I completely agree with you GOA Priest.

        I for one am sick and tired of secret “star chamber” trials. And when people ask what’s going on we are told “we don’t know the full story”. That is evil, self-serving nonsense.

        Be open. Be transparent. If there is no patent transgression by the priest/bishop in question, then he has committed no transgression and let him go.

      • GOA Priest, I doubt the proceedings are secret, at least to Fr. Mark Hodges. I’m sure he knows exactly what his bishop has a problem with.

        When a priest is suspended, the hierarchy almost never offers a full public explanation, except maybe if criminal activity is involved in which case the details are already made public.

        In this case, it sounds like either the media and/or Fr. Mark Hodges is trying to spin this as a case of infringement of his first amendment rights. That’s just called taking control of the narrative. Sometimes that’s a tactic used to hide something else.

  35. “You may point out the instances in the gospels where Christ acts forcefully with righteous indignation, but I would point out that every instance had to do with the failures and hypocrisies of the religious leadership of that time – never with the politics of the Roman Empire or the public policies of Pontius Pilate or Herod Antipas. Call your people to greater piety and repentance – not politics. If our people are living Christian lives, the political situation will take care of itself.”

    – Metropolitan Joseph

    • “If our people are living Christian lives, the political situation will take care of itself.”

      What’s the breakdown on the ability of Antiochian churches to function? Are some limited to forty people per liturgy, when they should be serving over hundred? Are some churches effectively defunct? This political situation was supposed to be 15 days, then 30, and is now nearing a year, with talk it dragging on years to come, effectively forever, as the “new normal.”

      • Myst, what we have here is a sincere defense of pious Bendoverism. It’s a school of thought among certain meek Christians who really like the passages about turning the other cheek and being subject to the authorities . . . and who sort of skip over the bits about bringing swords, being wise as serpents, and obeying God rather than men. Yavill Bendover was evidently a kind cleric, but his preaching led to the total destruction of his village because his people subsequently refused to stand up against wickedness. Yavill taught the inner jihad, so to speak, and suffered the outer jihad. Good for Yavill. Maybe not so good for the slain women and children.

  36. Wouldn’t a priest need a blessing to omit serving liturgy on the Feast of Theophany to attend a political rally?
    I don’t know OCA policies—I’m just saying no priest I know would even consider such a thing.
    Perhaps there is more to this than politics.

    • And this sums this all. I hope he served Liturgy that Feast day before revealing on social network how his Bishop was unjust.
      But if this is true all conversation above was time wasting.

      • Johann Sebastian says

        Maybe it’s an Old Calendar parish. They do still (thankfully) exist in the OCA.

        • Yes, I agree it is all about Old Calendar today in Orthodoxy. Those who abide by Old Calendar will survive even modern scholars say it is not dogmatic question. What was born wrong as New Calendar Churches in 1920s will not survive because is not based on true faith but Masonic influence.

  37. There was a saying in eastern Europe at the time leading up to WW2: everyone was either a Nazi or a communist; other options were not permitted
    🙂
    I am not gonna get engaged in anti-Communist vs Communist dispute because that is beyond Orthodox fate that is beyond this dispute but that part of Eastern Europe mast have been small 🙂 There were huge parts in Eastern Europe that appreciated their liberation from Nazi evil brought by Russian (Red) Army.
    And also St Luke has some fine words about Stalin role in WW2 similar as Nobel laurite Sholokhov who wrote Don Flaws Quietly that I recommend to every Orthodox in US to read even is colored in red.
    Sholokhov said about his friend Stalin: There was cult of personality but there was also personality.

    • “Sholokhov said about his friend Stalin: There was cult of personality but there was also personality.”

      I like my Russian strongmen without the mass murder of tens of millions, for example, Lukashenko (1994-now) and Putin (1999-now), but you do you. I don’t grasp why Stalin and Communism should get credit for beating the Nazis, when they’re the ones who weakened the country so much that Finland could wipe the floor with them, and allowed Germany to become a threat with the neutrality pact and division of Poland, and only the intervention of God through icons in battle enabled them to avoid being conquered by said Nazis.

      • It did help that Hitler had not prepared for a winter war
        and the Wehrmacht relied too much on horse-drawn transport.
        But we can put that down to hubris – and the Grace of God.

        • This is also ridiculous I would say horrible statement and underestimating what was really going on.

      • I like my Russian strongmen without the mass murder of tens of millions, for example, Lukashenko (1994-now) and Putin (1999-now), but you do yo
        This is ridiculous statement but comes from your good heart because you want to limit God and you make mistake. You like to have a history without casualties but this is not Christian faith as was when Christ was born or St Elias slaughtered all those unbelievers of his time by himself. Why you mention Finland, Stalin occupied Germany he learned his mistakes in Finland. Why Finland and this statement that Finland can wipe floor. This is also ridiculous.

        • “You like to have a history without casualties”

          I accept that governing countries means you have to kill people, but if you need to kill more people than say Pinochet, then you’re probably just murdering for the sake of murdering.

          “Why Finland and this statement that Finland can wipe floor. This is also ridiculous.”

          Finland humiliated the USSR in the Winter War. Yes, the USSR “won,” but the major result was to make the USSR to seem as least as much of a aggressive threat to Eastern European countries as Germany, while appearing as much weaker than the Germans; therefore Finland, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, join the Axis and help invade the USSR.

          “Stalin occupied Germany”

          Could’ve been done years earlier, at a fraction of the cost.

          My grade for his WWII Statemanship: D-.
          For 1924-53: F-.

  38. Mother of Five says

    Speaking of double standards….this was very enlightening. Truth conquers. Fr. Mark Hodges, we are praying for you and your family!

    http://www.dissidentmama.net/wheres-the-clerical-consistency-part-1/

    • Wow, that is amazing. Perhaps the Synod really is mostly fir Biden, abortions and all, as I heard from a priest. Thank you Mother of Five.

    • Gotta keep those double standards as high as possible.

      The “I support Ukraine” post was rather telling. Funny how the smug rejection of Orthodox Christian teaching on faith and morals almost invariably corresponds to one’s support for schismatics.

      • The “I support Ukraine” selfie was unreal. Why does he have a sparkling gold cell phone cover? Why is he dressed like that? Why is he posing like that?

        It’s very lavender.

    • Dissident Mama says

      Thanks, Mother of 5. It was a doozy of an expose to write, so I’m glad you, Nicole, and Brian liked it. 🙂 Please do share on social media, too, if y’all would. I’ve already been blocked by OiD on Twitter, so that means their cage is rattled. Good!

      • Dissident Mama,

        Thank you for your incredibly powerful expose. Back in the early 2000’s I became a catechumen while away at college and would often attend the OCA cathedral in Manhattan when back home in the Bronx over break. I remember Archimandrite (Igumen at the time) Christopher as someone who appeared serious and even chastised the faithful one Sunday for so many people showing up late. I was also a big fan of Archdeacon Michael. It was incredibly painful to read about what has happened to the Archimandrite and I sincerely pray for his repentance. The bigger story has to be the lack of response from Archbishop Michael, especially as Archimandrite Christopher’s views are so public. One can only surmise that he tacitly approves of the views or is too afraid to do anything. Either reality is terrible.

        I recently ordered a copy of St. John Chrysostom’s “On the Providence of God” and could not have a more appropriate book for our times. May the God who preserved St. John and the faithful from the wolves of their time also preserve us who seek to live in all piety and godliness. And to give us the strength to speak the truth boldly and in love as our beloved Father John did so eloquently.

    • Way to go Dissident Mama!

      My theory as to why the OCA cathedrals in large northeastern cities (New York, Boston, D.C.) are so leftist is that they have hardly any families with children as parishioners.

      Orthodox families with young children don’t go to flagrantly leftist parishes. It’s been said that up to 40% of modern Orthodox faithful in the West are adult and single – and the American adult single population in cities like NYC and Boston and DC are overwhelmingly leftist.

      I haven’t been there in decades, but I’m guessing that Met. Leonty’s former 2nd Street cathedral in the Bowery doesn’t have the “holy noise” of little children running around.

      The Orthodox families in big east coast cities tend to be “ethnic” and therefore go to ethnic parishes. Also they likely appropriately think that “Fr” Christopher Calin is an unstable man in need of help and therapy – definitely not someone who should be leading a parish.

      American leftists with children don’t bother going to church or learning to love God.

      “Fr” Christopher Calin is living off the fumes of those Orthodox Christians who made the 2nd Street Bowery cathedral what it was in the days of Met. Leonty and Met. Ireney. He’s running it into the ground. Travesty that his bishop lets him.

      • It’s actually quite opposite. When Fr. Christopher was assigned the 2nd street cathedral back in the 1990’s, it was almost dead. Through his labors, the cathedral has been turned into a thriving inner-city cathedral, both with many baptized converts and their children and also many ethnic Orthodox with their children.

        Fr. Christopher doesn’t preach politics in his homilies. He does share his political views with his friends on Facebook. (It sounds like at least one of his “friends” is not being so friendly though.) Being an inner-city parish, probably many of his parishioners and their families share similar political views anyways. That’s just a demographic reality. His job is to reach out to urban New Yorkers, not rural farmers.

        So as a priest, does he have a right to express his political views on Facebook? I’ve noticed that many Orthodox priests share their political views on Facebook, so he’s not alone by any means. Perhaps his bishop will ban this, but then it’s likely he would have to ban all clergy from politics on social media. Perhaps that’s what Fr. Christopher actually wants though.

        I’m guessing that conflicting political views shared by other priests on social media are making his job of reaching out to urban New Yorkers all the more difficult.

        • Dear Steve:

          If they “share his views” which are antithetical to Orthodox values (pro-life chief among them), then he has failed in absorbing Orthodoxy himself or spreading it, much less leading his people on the royal path of Orthodoxy. Simply tragic. And the anger in his posts makes us realize that any Orthodox with Orthodox values would be disparaged in his mind and heart as “deplorables”, which, too, is antithetical to the spirit of a true priest. The lack of love in his heart comes across so he has not known Christ’s yet. You say he doesn’t preach about politics, but does he preach about the evils of abortion ~ which is NOT a political but a spiritual issue of the first rank? Does he ignore those values of heterosexual marriage etc ~ which again are not “political” but Orthodox? Again, please ask him to consider becoming Episcopalian rather than fragmenting the message of Orthodoxy in key areas Christ’s Orthodoxy. And Biden/Harris want to prevent states from having any say about abortion? Does he vacation during the March for LIfe? Steve, yours is actually the most discouraging post I have read. I can only imagine the impact of a priest who goes along with anti-Orthodox values, thus destroying souls as well as bodies and psyches. Anaxios to such an anti-Orthodox pretender. Please he can wear robes in the Episcopal Church where his politics are harmonious with all and he is not subverting Orthodox souls! Lord have mercy!

          • Nicole, from what I’ve witnessed, this priest regularly baptizes both infants and adults, counsels women that abortion is not an option for Orthodox Christians, encourages young men and women to be chaste, and blesses marriages exclusively between a man and a woman. He is building up the church in an area where Christianity is often derided or ignored. Many people have found him to be a loving spiritual father and priest. That’s probably why Archbishop Michael awarded him the rank of Archimandrite. And you would counsel Archbishop Michael to hand Fr. Christopher over to the Episcopalians?

        • Steve,

          Thanks for the insight. Like I said, I haven’t been to the 2nd street cathedral in a long time but I miss it and it pains my heart to no end to see the current priest’s public posts on social media. Terrible, inappropriate, and offensive, no matter what one’s political persuasion is.

          But there has to be some connection among the OCA, northeastern city “cathedrals” (NYC, Boston, D.C.), and leftism/homosexuality. All 3 are known to be very permissive of such, if not currently, certainly in past years (I don’t know the current state at these 3 cathedrals). Such a contrast to the ROCOR cathedrals in all 3 cities.

          Anyway, thanks for the insight. But if I still lived in the NYC area, my guess is that I would no longer feel at home in the 2nd street cathedral.

          • FTS, personally, I don’t agree with Fr. Christopher’s political opinions, but I do recognize that in Manhattan these opinions are typical. This last election, 87 percent of folks in Manhattan voted for Joe Biden. If you or even your church comes across as a Trump supporter, it usually means that people there won’t even bother to listen to anything else you have to say. That’s just the reality.

            Like I said, Fr. Christopher doesn’t preach politics in his homilies, and as far as I know he doesn’t do anything liturgically without the express blessing of his bishop. I believe he is obedient.

            Do clergy have a right to express their political opinions on Facebook? Maybe they shouldn’t. I’m sure Fr. Christopher would happily stop posting political views on Facebook if the same was mandated for all Orthodox clergy.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Absolutely he has the right to share his political views on Facebook. As Fr Mark Hodges has the right to participate in a political rally.

          Once you uphold a principle as universal, then life becomes quite easy.

      • Here’s Fr. Christopher Calin own words (from old Orthodox Forum posts) where he attacks St. Paul and the Holy Father’s teaching that homosexuality is a grave sin, and instead publicly implies that homosexuality is just fine and the Scriptures are not clear on the topic of homosexuality.

        “The following news item was posted earlier to no response. Those who insist on the strict patristic interpretation of a few quotes from scripture taken out of context to condemn homosexuality as it is manifested today should read it with new eyes. I believe that his words are prophetic, although he himself may not even realize it yet.” — Fr Christopher Calin [Orthodox Forum on Yahoo]

        https://www.reddit.com/r/OrthodoxChristianity/comments/1vpyb3/rocor_and_the_assembly_of_bishops_thoughts_by_fr/

  39. Michael Bauman says

    Basil the problem for me was the equating Divine Energies with the New Age.

    • The problem for me is the unnecessary use of the term.

      That, and people identifying them with the musical compositions of a Lutheran.

      • Johann Sebastian says

        Says the man who prefers to use a terminology more “palatable” to Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists.

        Should the compositions of Tchaikovsky be sung in churches?

        • Using terminology that is easier for people to understand is not the same as saying that heterodox musical compositions are God’s energies in action. I’m not even introducing new terms, just using tried and tested ones that Orthodox in the West have been using since we started translating things into English.

          It’s not even a question of what music can and cannot be used in church; that’s apples and oranges and has nothing to do with the discussion.

          • Basil, perhaps you answered me earlier when I asked what you meant and how you understand the Divine Energies….the difference between Divine Essence and the Divine Energies is very important in Orthodoxy. Have you read St. Gregory Palamas and learned about him from Patristic priests? That is why understanding and using the actual Orthodox terms can be a lamp turned on in the spirit of others, and they can then see and perceive the differences and the Light of Orthodox Truth. Please forgive if you did answer, I have trouble finding things now because the site is so popular (yay!). Protestant and Catholics (I’ve been both) understand terms very differently than we do. So it makes sense to use the terms which surprise them and which leads to inquiry in explanation. Of course only Patristic Orthodox might agree with these, so that is helpful for clarity also and one reason I ask you, to determine what perspective you bring to the exchange. Once the Divine Energies are explained to us along with Divine Essence, well isn’t that the most appealing, loving and beautiful Reality imaginable???

            Just home from Divine Liturgy celebrated the usual way, and most grateful to God the Divine Essence for the Divine Energies present there!

            • Nicole,

              With a certain fear and trepidation, I am going to dare to delve into this conversation. What I have to say is not related to the question of what terminology (“divine energies” v. simply “grace”) is better. Also, at first glance you may think what I have to say is wrong or at least hard to hear, but I would ask you hear me out all the way to the end because you will find that it is, indeed “the most appealing, loving and beautiful Reality imaginable.”

              St. Greggory’s Orthodox teaching on the distinction between the divine essence and the divine energies is wholly and entirely true, and nothing I say here is intended to contradict this or anything you have been taught that is in accordance with this teaching. Moreover, I would beg your indulgence in advance for any awkward wording (I am not a trained theologian).

              St. Gregory’s teaching has a context. That context is his response to Barlaam (and others like him) who said that the hesychasts (or indeed any Christian) couldn’t possibly be filled with God Himself because God is ineffable, inconceivable, incomprehensible, uncircumscribable, unknowable, etc. Philosophically (and this is the key word here), it is, they said, impossible to be filled with God Himself. Therefore, they said, the grace (or what we would now call the divine energies) that these hesychasts were experiencing had to be something other than God; it had to be created. St. Greggory very rightly saw that such an understanding struck at the very heart of Christianity (and not only hesychasm) which is the teaching and the actual experience that God became man so that man could become god (or be united to God and filled with God), that God has enabled us, in the words of the Apostle Peter, to become “partakers of the divine nature.”

              In our day (after the controversy), we tend to focus on the distinction between the divine essence and the divine energies. However, if we focus only on the distinction St. Peter’s words are heretical. The ‘problem’ (so to speak) and indeed the necessity for formulating the distinction to satisfy the philosophers was not a matter of faith or the actual experience of Christians (not only hesychasts but all Christians). It was a ‘problem’ that was created by philosophy or human reason (i.e., if this is true, then that must be true).

              To illustrate the overall point that I am hoping to communicate, it may help to reduce it to the ridiculous.

              I cannot “get inside” (so to speak) my wife. I do not know what is in her, what she is thinking, or precisely what she is in her essence. In that sense she is complete mystery to me. I do, however, know her. When she kisses me it is she who kisses me. When she hugs me it is she who hugs me. When she speaks to me it is she who speaks. Even though, philosophically speaking, it would be true to say that her kisses, her hugs, her voice are “her energies,” it is a technical point that in actual experience is essentially meaningless. This is how I know her. And I know her – she herself – and not something she created (such as the dinner she cooks for me).

              It is this (and not the technical philosophical distinction) that is the overall point and critical importance of St. Gregory Palamas. We know God Himself. We experience God Himself. And this is what makes it “the most appealing, loving and beautiful Reality imaginable.”

              Glory to Jesus Christ!

              Glory forever!

      • Michael Bauman says

        Basil, when I was in high school, I began to know of God as a vocal student singing The Messiah. It was the energy that comes with singing it that began to open me to the reality of God beyond just a mental image.

        While He has drew me to Himself and His Church over a 23 year period following those first encounters, a rather idiosyncratic path, He still is revealed in His energies in The Messiah.

        God is with us.

        • In the UK, when Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus is sung,
          the whole audience traditionally rises to their feet for the duration.

          The tradition supposedly began when the King (George II) attended a performance of the Messiah and felt it appropriate that the King (for whom everyone else stands) should himself stand for The Lord God Omnipotent. Naturally, when the King rose, everyone else did too.

          Many years ago, I took my late Goddaughter Danielle (who suffered with cerebral palsy and was in a wheelchair) to the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall to see a performance of the Messiah by the Scottish National Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Roy Goodwin.

          As she had grown up in a Muslim family before her conversion, she had never experienced anything like it before. She had quite literally never heard such sounds before. Her eyes shone with delight.

          But when it came to the Hallelujah Chorus and the audience rose, she insisted I got her to her feet and held her erect while the piece lasted.

          Truly, it was a blessed moment.

        • Johann Sebastian says

          For what it’s worth, Bach and Handel were diametrically different people despite their being contemporaries and having spoken the same musical language.

          Both could be quite obstinate and disagreeable when it came to technical matters relating to their profession, but Bach was also known to be intensely humble when it came to the assessment of his talent. He wouldn’t have tolerated any equation of his work with manifestations of the Divine Energy or Grace or any such expression thereof. To him, music was a tool whose purpose was “to glorify God and for the recreation of the mind.”

          Every single one of his manuscripts bears a concluding acronym: S.D.G.–Soli Deo Gloria. To assert that glory belongs to God alone isn’t so out of line with Orthodox thinking, is it?

          • “To assert that glory belongs to God alone isn’t so out of line with Orthodox thinking, is it?”

            Actually it is. Protestantism almost without exception lacks a concept of the difference between redemption and salvation, and that salvation is a process (with a past, present, and future tense), and that everything that synergistically contributes to your salvation; saints, mysteries of the church, family, friends, music, nature; are part of God’s Grace, and thus deserving of of varying degrees of veneration (as opposed to denying you even have free will, because you think that it gives greater glory to God).

          • Michael Bauman says

            Johann, I am merely recalling my experience. Singing The Messiah is different than singing any other work because of the quality and nature of the energy. Experiencing those energies started me on the path to the Church. That energy I have only experienced in connection with Divine things.

  40. PS to Dissident Mama: I did not know about Archimandrite Calin! Did I miss a suspension or spiritual trial or did Mama hit the bullseye?
    https://www.orthodoxytoday.org/blog/2020/08/fr-christopher-calin-endorses-pro-abortion-pro-lgbtq-anti-christian-biden-harris-candidacy/comment-page-1/

    Praying for Fr Mark and Archim. Christopher for entirely different reasons.

  41. Mother of Five says

    As more and more of these things come to light I can’t help but think about the phrase “unreasonable faith” that Archbishop Alexander used in his initial diocesan letter to the South back in March and the tone of disdain he had for those of us Orthodox that I assume he knew would take issue with the restrictions being implemented. I have the sense that many, not all, but many bishops feel they are entitled to commanding obedience and receiving it. And in a perfect world, they are due this respect. However, when you have some bishops (perhaps more than we want to admit to) that remain silent during the biggest crisis our generation has faced thus far, that refuse to answer questions, that talk about love but unfriend faithful looking for guidance, help, answers, anything of help for those Orthodox that are not just elderly, but ALL Orthodox that are affected…that level of respect and trust, that was there, is broken and damaged.

    I feel we are being asked to give unreasonable obedience.

    We grow up respecting our parents, if we are lucky to have good ones, however as we grow older, wiser, we realize our parents are human and sometimes they make very unwise choices and that respect and trust can be broken. For many the children, end up having to take on the roles of their own parents. We can still love them and pray for them, but to be obedient would be unreasonable in some cases.

    God deserves our obedience first and foremost and when bishops and priests fail, the children (family/laity) that see what’s broken should pull together to help each other. That is what I think this year has been for many Orthodox. Those of us who have been abandoned by our churches/priests/bishops have found family here on Monomakhos, Orthodox Ethos, the Duran, From the Amvon, The Arena, The Morning Offering, Dissident Mama, Presbyteria Katherine Baker’s writing, Serbian churches, ROCOR churches, and the list goes on. They have provided a way for us to communicate a common growing concern that strangely Covid has unveiled but in reality was in existence and well hidden long before the “pandemic” revealed these distinct differences in ethos. What we have as laity is a common concern for our parent church and it’s leadership and how to go about preserving The Church despite the breakdowns in leadership. Here we have found those who cling to truth and faith and realize that we may need to take a different path to continue on. Not find a new faith, but we realize now we may need to go to great lengths to preserve and find others grasping onto the essence of our faith and willing to protect it, keeping it undefiled for this generation and those to come.

    The more truth that comes out, especially with double standards as Dissident Mama pointed out, the more I realize as a simple lay person that our leadership is severely jeopardized. The leadership of so many jurisdictions leads the faithful to reasonably question where to place our obedience. I think most of us have realized, for now, it must be with God, and trust that He will provide the parishes and good priests to get us through this strange abyss.

  42. Michael Bauman says

    Brendan and Basil: I take your critique of the use of the phrase “Divine Energies” seriously. Simplicity and the fact that Grace is pretty much a Christian term has merit.

    Although Brendan in the sermons of a certain set of Evangelical preachers, “Grace” has two syllables.

    Nevertheless, the simplicity can, and often does lead to an abstracted understanding of the term.

    Divine Energies is less susceptible to that, I think. In fact Grace and Mercy and Joy are each a manifestation of God’s Being, His energies.

    The Hindus got some things right even if seen through a glass darkly. That we have ceded the use and understanding of the patristic teaching on Divine Energies is sad.
    That does not mean we should not use it.
    Brendan: three syllables rather than one could be simply an expression of the Holy Trinity.

  43. ‘Divine Energies’ has five syllables
    ‘Divine Grace’ (or ‘Grace of God’) has three.

  44. Michael Bauman says

    That’s a hoot. Antidisestablishmentarianism has 11. If I count correctly.

    Maybe we should all swear off big words: (ugh, grunt)

    http://editingmonks.blogspot.com/2009/06/dont-use-big-words.html?m=1

    Plus there are all sorts of big theological words.

    The original point was that Basil thought Divine Energies was “too new age”.

    That is simply a mistake.

    • And the longest word in the English language is “smiles”.

      How so? Because there is a ‘mile’ between the first ‘s’ and the last. 🙂 🙂 🙂