There Should Be No Such Thing as Poetic Justice When Honoring a Reposed Hierarch

I just received this letter from Gail Sheppard, one of our more prolific correspondents. To say that I was surprised by its contents would be an understatement. In any event, we should all be so forgiving.

As you all know, Gail has had her own issues with the late Metropolitan Philip Saliba. And that’s putting it mildly. Regardless, she has from time to time commented on his historical legacy in a forgiving manner. Like me (and I must assume many others), she believes that the late Metropolitan deserves a more fitting final resting place, one that befits the Primate of a major jurisdiction. Especially one who presided over a modern Pentecost.

I think we should all thank her for bringing this to our attention.


Dear George,

I ran across something the other day that bothered me on so many levels that I have to share it with you.

A pilgrim visited Metropolitan Philip’s grave and posted the attached picture on the Internet.  I must admit, I was first drawn to the dead vegetation on his grave and thought, “Well, this is poetic justice.”  (God forgive me.) 

However, upon further reflection, I find I am extremely dismayed by what I’m seeing.  Metropolitan Philip wasn’t perfect but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t respect his office or honor him for the things he did to strengthen the Archdiocese.  As far as I’m concerned the one act of bringing in the EOC may offset every negative thing he ever did.  If one is to be remembered for the good, nothing can take that away from him.  (And anyway, none of us are perfect.)

So what does it say to the world when we plant the body of a hierarch in the ground like this?  That we don’t care about our hierachs?   The Diocese of the South honored Archbishop Dmitri with a beautiful chapel/mausoleum in Dallas.* I would think the Antiochian Archdiocese should do at least as much for Metropolitan Philip.  At the very minimum, someone should be keeping up his grave by removing the dead vegetation.  If I were there, I would do it myself.  Honestly, it’s appalling.

Would be interested to know what you think.



P.S. The chapel in Dallas which serves as a mausoleum for the late Arb Dmitri Royster is indeed very lovely. If in Dallas or environs, one should make the effort to make a pilgrimage there –Ed.


  1. constantine says

    Are you sure the vegetation is dead?

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Though there is grass and green vegetation all around, there appears to be just dirt or some kind of dead moss on his grave and two plants look like they’ve been partially pulled up for you can see black near the roots.  To me, it looks dead.He was purportedly buried at the bottom of a hill in a small, shaded cemetery, which includes the graves of several other prelates including St. Raphael of Brooklyn.  These are better pictures.  I still think his grave needs some care.

      • The reddish brown material on the Metropolitan’s grave looks to be pine straw (dried pine needles), a common mulch very effective for keeping weeds out.  The little plants are fine, just waiting for  fresh mulch underneath.
        What is disgraceful is that St Raphael (the patron saint of my church) is in what appears to be a group grave-site that still calls him merely a bishop.  Obviously his relics were never disinterred and cared for properly.  Thank you for this information, Gail.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Thanks, Isidora. It does make me feel better pine straw and that the plants aren’t dead! – I do agree that referring to Saint Raphael as a “bishop” is of far greater concern. I had no idea his relics were never disinterred or cared for. Seems to me they should be doing something about that. Isn’t the relic of a patron saint part of the antimension placed in the center of the altar?

          • constantine says

            Glad you feel better, but, didn’t you jump the gun there? How do you feel about that?

        • Thanks, Isidora. I said exactly the same thing. Regarding the burial of Saint Raphael of Brooklyn and why he is buried with others, you can read about that here:

          Saint Raphael of Brooklyn’s relics were transferred from Mount Olivet Cemetery in New York along with the others in 1989; eleven years before he was canonized a Saint, and the tombstone reflects that fact. I have visited the grave, the cathedral there, I have venerated his relics and stood on that site and I can tell you, it was a powerful experience. I am sure some will have a problem with the idea that his relics are not buried in a separate grave, but the reason seems clear enough to me. Would Saint Raphael of Brooklyn insist that he be separated from his brothers, and be as displeased and disgusted as you are?

  2. Dear Gail,
    Abp. Philip Saliba  will always be remembered for arranging acceptance of the 2000 member of Evangelical Orthodox Church (originally Crusade for Christ), whilst the then Phanar Patriarch Demetrios refused to even say hello to their delegation Gillquist et al.

    Read p.149 of “BECOMING ORTHODOX”

    The fact that Abp.Philip is not properly remembered and honored is typical for the majority of bishops like him.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I guess you’re right.

      • If it were my father’s grave I would feel.ashamed.  One does not need or want vast mauseleums,  but just simple decency. 
        I as non -american am not privy to the late bishop’s life,although I gather Gail, who i highly respect from her posts, has suffered much in a situation that i know little,  and I am no fan of western collared shaven bishops, but what ever, his body deserves more respect 

    • …and for helping Syria.

    • Phlip not only received the EOC but then proceeded to use his (far to compliant) American convert clergy to be shills for the Syrian government.  The meeting with patriarch Demetrios is a hilarious episode, the doddering old man being actually run out of the room by his handlers lest he actually meet with people seeking to be converts to Orthodox Christianity.  Just what St. Andrew would do.   The gravesite of the late Met is completely trivial.  Look at the grave of Met. Anthony Bloom.  Humility is not a problem to the humble (and I certainly am not).  The grave of the absurd Iakovos is quite a looker.  And what will they do with it when the place gets sold?

      • Bob: ” to be shills for the Syrian government”
        Are you a shill for the “moderate” ISIS?

        • Actually no, I try to shill for an Orthodox Church free of ties to overseas and formerly existing governments.  An American one free of funny hats imposed on the clergy by Ottomans.  It’s a fond hope, I may never see it.   

          • Bob: “An American one free of funny hats imposed on the clergy by Ottomans.”
            Did Ottomans imposed “funny hats” on Russia? Or funny ties and t-shirts on Americans?

            Bob: “It’s a fond hope, I may never see it.”
            Let us hope so,

      • Dear “bob”: I guess we should just keep bombing Syria to smithereens.

      • Fr. George Washburn says

        Hi friends:

        Bob’s comment about convert clergy (I am one of the originals) shilling for the Syrian government is an example of the kind of completely unsupported generalizations that make these Internet discussions so problematic.

        First, Bob is an anonymous ‘witness,’ not to say pundit, unwilling, for whatever ‘reasons,’ to attach his real name to an opinion that amounts to a swipe at a large group of of people ordained on Sayidna Phillip’s watch. An axe to grind? Who knows?

        Second, what are anonymous Bob’s credentials for making such a sweeping statement? Did he read something written by others? See a grateful comment or two attributed to a couple of clergymen who visited Damascus in an official delegation and said they were treated well by government officials?

        Third, Bob doesn’t define his term ‘shill.’ If he wanted us to take the comment seriously, I would think he’d use the term to mean something more or less like ‘more than one statement by a meaningful percentage of the convert clergy condoning a specific evil by the Assad dynasty.’

        If we can estimate two or three hundred convert clergy were ordained during Sayidna’s administration, how many ‘shills’ would it take to make a valid generalization about the group? Five percent, i.e. ten or fifteen of them? More? Less? Why?

        Does Bob realize that ME cultural norms sometimes invite, if not require, the kind of flowery language that they don’t take lieterally but we devalue because our culture strongly favors literal interpretation? We have no idea. Maybe he doesn’t either?

        And now, let me apologize for giving the comment more attention than it deserved!

        Fr. G

        • Michael Bauman says

          Fr. George, just want to say Axios to you and the others.  As a friend of mine, with long ancestry in the Church, says: “None of us are born Orthodox, we all have to convert”.
          Many years.

  3. Metropolitan Philip Saliba also founded Antiochian Village and made it possible for the Orthodox Study Bible to exist. At the risk of being chided yet again by Gail for being contrary, I have to say I don’t think that his gravesite is a problem (in another photo it looks better, and I am sure the groundskeepers/gardeners are going to make sure the plants will be healthy, even if they need replanting). Thanks for the link to the blog, it was wonderful to read!

    • The vegetation would have gone through winter, and the bushes planted there would just be leafing out in June. Looks like a light mulch on the ground. Someone could contact Antiochian Village before jumping to conclusions.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      It is a good blog!

    • Met Phllip did not make the study Bible happen.  Converts to the Church did.  If the Orthodox in general were to be responsible for an English Bible it would happen some time around the year 2500.  Notice how Narthex Press and other atrocities sound?  It would not be worth reading even then.  No, for English we can and should thank Protestant martyrs.  Nobody else.  Remember even the venerable Hapgood book is by an Episcopalian.

      • “bob”:I should know. I was there.

      • I agree heartily about translations. Kezios is a very minor talent as are all of the people involved in GOARCH renditions, including Seraphim Dedes. Well, at least there is incremental improvement over Kazan (“ointment-bearing women”) and the sense of overt disparagement of the English language is fading with time and many iterations of translation effort among the English-as-a-second-language churchmen who think they have hegemony over Orthodox Church life here.  
        Continued addiction to Greek prosody in hymns is ruining all efforts at translation at the outset, demonstrating that musical considerations trump linguistic. Showing utter disregard for the grammar and stress of English in order to preserve a customary way of singing an oriental melody does nothing to further noetic and aesthetic appreciation of the services.
        The history of the art of translation of Greek hymnody shows clearly that rhyme and scansion along with exact melodic rendition must be jettisoned for the sake of comprehensibility in the target language. This is why Arabic, Bulgarian and Romanian ‘byzantine’ chant have different melodies than the Greek ‘originals’ – melodies must be constructed anew to accommodate the language in which they are sung, not to cosset the laziness of chanters who’d rather just sing by rote without exercising any art.
        The newest edition of chants for Liturgy published by GOARCH is nothing new at all but just a repaginated edition of their execrable edition from nearly half a century ago. They are clearly not interested in moving forward on translation for the new century already nearly a quarter past – with all their ‘expertise’, considerable wealth claims to demographic preponderance and vaunted scholarship (cough), they come up with NOTHING. 

        • Antiochene Son says

          If Protestants managed to translate hymns for centuries while maintaining the original melodies, there is no reason we can’t do the same. Imagine trying to sing “A Mighty Fortress” to an unpoetic, unmetered, slavishly literal translation of the German original. 
          English is capable of high poetry and many contemporary translations are perfectly comprehensible. I look forward to checking out the new Octoechos of HTM. 
          Chant is meant to be sung in choirs, which is impossible if chanters are supposed to improvise on excessively literal texts. Contrary to the opinions of some, orthodox hymns are not mere prose poems. 

          • Alitheia1875 says

            Since you mentioned HTM, allow me to say all of their translations are quite good, both language wise in the sense of understanding the original Greek (and they are masters at that) while being able at the same time to fit the language to the tones. No one has done it better. And, yes, the proper translation of the last three words of the Lord’s Prayer, are “from the evil one”.

            • Monk James Silver says

              I regret that I cannot agree with the high opinion of Alitheia1875 regarding the quality of translations produced by Holy Transfiguration Monastery.
              The books are gorgeous, beautifully printed and bound, but their contents are dreadful.
              Even in ‘Our Father’, their correct rendering of ‘evil one’ at the end cannot redeem their errors in the rest of the prayer.  In addition to those errors, their translation here is affected (like most of their efforts) by a rigid, uncomprehending literalism (‘Our Father …in the heavens….’  Really?) which destroys the intended meaning of the sacred words.
              This lack of skill causes them to misrepresent these meanings in English, and that’s bad enough in the more usual prayers.  But their renderings of many hymns introduce words/concepts not found in the original Greek at the same time as they omit others which the Greek text includes, witness their version of the Pentekostarion.
              Starting with their 1974 Psalter, wrongly (in my opinion) hailed as some sort of monument in English-language liturgical literature, they couldn’t manage to distinguish between makarios (‘happy, blissful’) and eulogEmenos  (‘blessed’ —  one or two syllables), and these words are important in the psalms and elsewhere in the scriptures and the services.

              At the same time, the editors went in at length about ‘butter’ as a substitute for what they thought was ‘the fat of a sheep’s tail’. They seemed to think rather highly of themselves for making that adjustment. Oh, please.

              Then, for all their self-vaunted expertise in translation, they completely miss the meaning of Psalm 142b, which hopes only that the Lord’s ‘good Spirit will lead me on level ground’ —  nothing more involved than that in the words themselves, although they easily lend themselves to loftier spiritual interpretations. Maybe HTM’s inaccurate rendering of this line was influenced by echoes of a widely used mistranslation (perhaps made by a harried parish choir director untrained in scripture and languages?) commonly sung to a Russian composer’s melody as the Communion Hymn of Pentecost. 

              And I’d also call attention to HTM’s inability to understand Psalm 117a, which they get completely backwards.   This verse is especially important, since it occurs just before the communion of the laity during every Divine Liturgy and at the beginning of the Morning Service on most days, not to mention its prominence in the services of Palm Sunday.  They write ’God is the Lord’, not realizing that ‘Lord’ is a euphemism for the Name of God, kyrios replacing Hebrew  YHVH in the Greek 70.  Anyway, this is not rocket science, just translation, and HTM’s translations fail consistently.

              When all of their errors in translation are added to the tortured and artificially archaic style to which HTM seems committed, I have to say that, on balance, their work has done more harm than good to the cause of vernacular liturgy.

  4. Much more scandalous is the fact that St Raphael’s relics remain there buried in the ground.

    • Michael Bauman says

      bob, Whether St. Raphael’s relics remain buried or not it is still possible to venerate him. My departed wife was at the Village not long after his body was translated there. Standing by his grave she was endued with peace and her heart lifted up.

      At my parish, since it was St. Raphael who sent us our first priest, we have a beautiful icon of him at the back of the Temple that is easy to venerate that includes a small relic of his. He is a powerful intercessor.

      I do not know where you live, but if you are anywhere near Wichita, you can stop buy St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral (note no ethnic modifier).

    • Antiochene Son says

      St Raphael must have been disinterred at some point, because his relics are placed in every new Antiochian altar when it is consecrated.
      But yes, his relics ought to have a shrine. Maybe some wealthy benefactors should front the cash? I doubt the Archdiocese would say no if it was funded. 

  5. Fr. George Washburn says

    Good morning, friends!  Happy 4th!  
    I remember being surprised to finally figure out a few years ago that all too many times, by simply opening our mouths, we unwittingly confess what goes on inside.  Isn’t this true of the internet as well?
    Gail is commendably and consistently candid about her critical reactions to His Eminence.  
    Someone with a different take on life could see real beauty in the wooded seclusion and simple dignity of the cross and black rail.   Or realize that on any given day most living, planted landscapes (I am headed to the garden for some needed work later this morning) can use some TLC.  After all, in harmony with Sayidna’s wishes, it was meant to be a simple memorial, not a shrine.
    And if it *had* been designed and built with more pomp and circumstance, as in Dallas, what would the critically-minded be posting?  Why, probably a criticism like “what were they thinking, it’s too much!”  
    Was Jesus right?   Are we really like kids playing in the marketplace, equally displeased  with dance tunes and dirges?

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Of course, Father. Because I think the vegetation on Metropolitan Philip’s grave should be kept as green as that which surrounds it, it’s just another example of me being critical of His Eminence. And because I was curious about why a hierarch was not laid to rest in a mausoleum, as is done almost everywhere, it naturally follows that I must be incapable of appreciating the beauty of being laid to rest in wooded seclusion, in a simple grave, like the one I selected for my son. It is, of course, your duty to point out my failings in this and every regard because, well, . . . Not sure I can finish this sentence without your help, Father. Why do you do this?

    • George Michalopulos says

      I’m sorry Fr, but I must protest.  In my opinion a hierarch/primate of Philip’s stature should be entombed in a more fitting resting place in opinion.  As I wrote in the preface to Gail’s letter to me, I felt inspired to write these words:  “…he presided over a modern Pentecost.”  

      Strong words to be sure, but I stand behind them.

      Given her own tumultuous relationship with the late Archbishop, I believe that Gail was being incredibly gracious in bringing this to our attention.  Clearly, she wrote this not out of some sense of “poetic justice” but out of Christian charity.

      As for your comment regarding the resting place of the late Arb Dmitri Royster of Dallas, I can assure you that the grief that struck the people of the Diocese of the South spurred many of us to do whatever it took to honor his wishes, which was to be buried in the Cathedral which he built from the ground up.  Admittedly, he wasn’t a primate but he was the founder of a missionary diocese which I believe showed the way to evangelize America.  It wasn’t easy by any means but we weren’t deterred because he was our kindly grandfather and we loved him and treasured his legacy.   

      • George, should Metropolitan Philip have a greater “shrine” space than Saint Raphael of Brooklyn’s grave? Of course not, and I do not assume you think so, either. Father George Washburn has stated in his post that the simple grave was in accordance with Metropolitan Philip’s wishes. “A simple memorial, not a shrine.” I truly do not see a problem with the vegetation, as it was June and the bushes will definitely grow in that small space, probably covering it in a couple of years. The same black ground cover is under the mulch on the other grave shown in the photos. The bushes do not look as though they have been “pulled”; however, in winter weather they could easily have heaved with the frost, and that’s what it looks like to this northern gardener.

  6. Helen T. says

    Thanks, Gail for this story to George in that it caused me to go back to “Becoming Orthodox” and re-reading about the miracle of their coming in the first place.  This conversion story should always be a flying banner to anyone who converts into Orthodoxy.  It caused me to remember my miracle.  Sorry all if this is a bit tangential.  I was told when I went to the office of my Baptist church in Houston for a reprint of my Baptismal cert that when asked why I needed it (for proof of this while changing to Orthodoxy), and I told the secretary, she said, after a second’s hesitation, “you know, you’re going to hell for this, don’t you?”  I looked at her, took the certificate and walked out – needed it for Chrismation.  Later got a full-on immersion Orthodox Baptism…

    • At least she was being consistent with her beliefs, unlike many ecumenist Orthodox hierarchs, clergy and laity.

      At least you know where you stand with someone who calls you a heretic.

    • I thought the only good thing Baptist did was full  immersion? 

      • Baptists also discourage premarital sex because it might lead to dancing.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Jk, other way around, I think. There was an extensive little treatise published in the late 19th century or early 20th called: “The Evils of Dance with Christ at the Ball”

          Since my mother was a born dancer, she had picked up a copy to read for humor. I read it about 50 years ago now and my mother’s copy is no longer in my possession but it was fascinating.

  7. And as i understanding it the Orthodox church  gives acceptance  to any Baptism done in name of Trinity?  I am really confused here. Not my  fault we do not even agree amongst the national churches on this. 

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Nikos, interestingly this is not so.  Under Metropolitan Philip the Antiochians would not baptize anyone previously baptized under the Trinity.  (There are some indications this may have changed under Metropolitan Joseph.)  The monasteries baptize everybody.  ROCOR baptizes everybody, I believe.  The OCA baptizes some and Chrismate others.    

      • This variety of practices in the USA is reflective of the non-canonical absurd situation in America. One can be received into Orhodoxy by chrismation in one jurisdiction and go down the street to another jurisdiction where baptism is required. Even more absurd is the practice in the Antiochean Archdiocese, as stated to me by Bishop Joseph, that one can choose to either be baptized or chrismated. Either there is sacramental grace outside the church or there isn’t.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          One would think, Jk.

          • Gail and everybody thank u re Baptism. Yes what a mess.  
            And the ‘ choice’ is totally absurd and bringing sacraments  down to meaningless mumbo jumbo, as the Phanar action in Ukraine. The basis of our faith is being destroyed.  As in so much, multiple bishops etc bring disaster. Just imagine Elpidophoros, well consistency  there as he will tell a non Orthodox to stay where they are until he joins them. 

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        My youngest son and I, both having been baptized in the Presbyterian church, in my case in 1948 and in his 1979, were received into the Church by Chrismation. His four children, having not been previously baptized, were baptized at our GOA church about a year ago.
        It was a special blessing to see four children, ages 11, 9, 8, and 6 baptized together. Their awe and piety was miraculous to view. 
        As far as my son’s and my reception by Chrismation goes, it doesn’t concern me in any way.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I remember you telling us this story before. What a legacy and a true blessing!

    • Nikos, Cosntantinople council of 1756 established baptism as means of entry into the Church for all Western heterodox Christian confessions.
      Read “I Believe in One Baptism” by Fr. George Metallinos for the full theological basis for this necessary decision, a decision that ALL should follow today.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        I’ve been arguing that for years.

      • Helen T. says

        Basil, and Gail, I was not offered Baptism then.  Was told later by another priest that the Orthodox (did he mean Antiochian?  Greek?  Romanian?  Which ones?  All of them?  He never clarified…) did not want to OFFEND the neighboring heterodox affiliations by re-Baptising over them!!!!  That was what infuriated me when I heard it later!  I had just read Metallinos’ book and was furious that Orthodox Baptism was not offered me.  They were more concerned about their ecumenical partners than me.  Made me to this day think they did/do not take Baptism seriously, seeing it only as ceremonial, procedural, a lot of trouble, rather than for the Mystery that it is.  I found my Orthodox Baptism elsewhere anyway, leaving that particular church.  So if technically speaking I have had two Baptisms in my life, and we believe (or some of us anyway) that Orthodox Baptism is the only one (as I do now), then there should be no offense to the outsiders.  But there still is…signs of the times…

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I completely understand your frustration.  No hierarch should insist we forfeit a sacrament in the name of economia.  Discretionary deviation from the norm was not intended to become the norm.  If the purpose of baptism is to unite us with the Body of Christ, and if one accepts the Orthodox Church is the Body of Christ, how can any “church” outside of it unite us to it?   
          We are diluting what it means to be Orthodox and when we do these things and it leads to other errors.  For example, we wouldn’t be entertaining the idea of unifying with Rome or talking about primacy if we understood that we are separate from Rome.  If we are not separate, what did Rome separate herself from?  –  We wouldn’t be entertaining the idea of redefining “church” to mean any confession of faith that calls itself “Christian” either.  In today’s world, anyone can call themselves anything.  Even one’s gender is up to interpretation.  
          With respect to Constantinople, our hierachs have more to worry about than Ukraine.  Our very Faith is being compromised.  The Church knows it and we need to respond.  Bartholomew has brought us way beyond the precipice of something that can be easily undone.
          In Ukraine, we now have the physical manifestation of a schism that started in the heart of Constantinople.  Somewhere along the way, the Patriarch of Constantinople became “a schematic.”  There, I said it!  This isn’t a Harry Potter novel where no one dares uttering Voldemort’s name, referring to him instead with such expressions as “You-Know-Who” or “He Who Must Not Be Named.”
          Our You-Know-Who, became schematic, and went into another canonical Church’s territory, and granted autocephalous status to other schematics.  It’s that simple.           
          The actions of any primate who brings the Church into schism are to be condemned.  If every Local Church and Mt. Athos were to say what the MP has said, i.e. we condemn the actions of the Patriarch of Constantinople in Ukraine and cease joint participation in all sacraments, including communion, baptism, and marriage, at any church worldwide controlled by Constantipole until such time as the Patriarch of Constantinople repents of his actions in Ukraine, we wouldn’t need a council.  Let the CP try to regain control of Mt. Athos!  If the Church were to stand united, the GOA would be forced to rethink its union with their new archbishop.  It would save them heartache down the road.  Like many “mothers of the bride,” I will tell you this:  it’s not the groom that is the concern, it’s his family (Constantinople) and the influence they have over him. 

          • Oh, Gail, this is stunning to read.  My chrismation incident was in the Antiochian jurisdiction; I went over to the Greeks.  And about considering ourselves separate, there are still some of us that genuinely believe ourselves to STILL be separate from Rome. Why would we go to the trouble (and all that it entails) to convert from protestantism and bypass RC to become Orthodox anyway? Honestly, it seems like a real-life miracle of these days for anyone to convert to Orthodoxy, certainly very hard work of the Holy Spirit.  Except in these circles here I would not dare open up conversation about Orthodoxy or Greek Orthodoxy to outsiders on the off chance they would start reading up on current shenanigans of the CP and think whatever.  We are in a serious mess because of CP and the newcomer has not even really started his messing up things here in America.  Everyone knows chaos is the work of o ponorou so why don’t they work overtime to unite on some level here, of Orthodoxy in America truly united for once?  How perfect an analogy, the messed up family of the groom.  Spon on!!!

            • Gail Sheppard says

              I figured you came from the Antiochian jurisdiction. Like you, I couldn’t be baptized either. I waited 3 1/2 years before I got the opportunity to be baptized through the OCA due to the pending transfer of employment of my husband. No catechumin should have to wrestle with these issues. Most don’t. They just follow their bishop which absolutely covers them. They’re just as Orthodox as the rest of us. It’s the bishops who make these arbitrary rules that I have a problem with. Metropolitan Philip would not allow anyone to be baptized if they had been previously baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Metropolitan Joseph now allows both which is probably the best he can do, as he is not a free agent. Middle Eastern influences are still very much a part of the landscape.

              • Helen T. says

                Didn’t take it as Middle Eastern, saw it only as politically correct even back then in 1998, but must have been as you say, coming down from Met. Philip’s edict…still PC…left there before even knowing if they even had a Baptismal font for adults…By what Bob says below, and Bob correct me if am wrong, Metallinos was concerned that people like me even took it as seriously as we did?  

              • Michael Bauman says

                Gail and Helen, there are some important milestones in my life where I could have had different results if I had gone Bishop shopping. 
                I early on decided not to do that.  Simple obedience has always meant more to me.  It is interesting that despite being baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Bishop Antoun of blessed memory directed that I be received by Baptism, the same with my son.  My wife, Pamela, had been baptised in the Methodist Church when she was 5.   She was received by confession and Chrismation.  
                My wife Merry was received the same way through confession and Chrismation.  To hear here tell it, her experience of cleansing and healing and joy was quite similar to mine.  
                I have also witnessed several adults be baptised in my parish.  
                I think we tend to get what is needful for us.  

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  I wonder if it was the timing. May I ask what year you were baptized? I was obedient, too, from the perspective that accepted I could not be baptized in the Antiochian Archdiocese and requested/received permission from my priest when I had the opportunity to be baptized somewhere else.

                • Helen T. says

                  Michael, I didn’t know of Bishop shopping, so to speak.  I was mad that I was manipulated for PC…learned so much after switching, and also learned the shenanigans of bishops.  I knew of it in RC, but thought we were different.  Forgot that we are all human, but sorry that we as individuals have to do so much legwork to be informed.  Yes, we do get what God needs us to have, for sure. 

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    There is clearly a long held practice in the Antiochian Archdiocese to accept those baptised in other Christian traditions by Chrismation.  Personally I think our Bishops give too much weight to the reality of those services outside the Church.  
                    It is easy to think in cynical terms about why they do that.   Nevertheless I think most of it comes from ignorance of the actual theological reality.   
                    My Bishop Basil has spent his entire life in the Orthodox Church, growing up in a pious family.   During a men’s retreat he led  several years ago, a recent convert from a Calvinist background was describing some of the “total depravity of man” ideology quite familiar to many of us who grew up in the hetrodox world.  Bishop Basil’s jaw began dropping further and further.  His comment at the end was said in amazement:. “Where do they come up with this stuff”?
                    It was as he had never heard it before. 
                    There is an assumed commonality that does not exist.   Part of it is simple trusting ignorance. 
                     Personally, for Protestant converts at least, they should be Baptized and Married once they come to the Church.  Also, any divorce prior to coming to the Church should not be held against them.  
                    My beloved Bishop who shows what Christian love is and rightly divides the word of truth in so many ways, says otherwise.  Who am I to object, especially when my obedience to him in the midst of my objections has born such wonderful fruit?
                    That is not, BTW, a criticism of what occured with you and Gail.  What is needful is given in either case I think.  
                    It would be nice if there was a uniformity though.  

                    • Anonymous for the sake of obedience says

                      I know many people who never got over not having been baptised on reception. The fact that they can’t get over it is the most upsetting thing for them. It’s something that not many people want to acknowledge. 
                      I know this myself as it would haunt me. I would bring it up in confession and I would be reprimanded for it. This would only compound the problem as what was most upsetting was the fact that I could not get over it. 
                      It’s commonly known that the Ephraimite monasteries re-baptise after chrismation. It’s less well known that ROCOR bishops will bless rebaptism after chrismation for pastoral reasons in order to assuage fragile a conscience.
                      I know this because I was blessed by a ROCOR bishop to be baptised 5 years after chrismation for the sake of my conscience. Personally, I viewed it as an act of great economy and charity that my Bishop offered me. If Chrismation can fill what was missing in a heterodox baptism earlier in time, and that baptism only becomes operative at the time of Chrismation then clearly time is no problem to God.
                      I view my subsequent baptism as the one that was filled by my Chrismation and not my earlier heterodox one. I just did not know it then.
                      I view those that wish to refuse the joy of baptism to the heterodox as the ones lacking in charity. The bishop that blessed my “rebaptism” holds a place in my heart as a man of real charity.

                • Michael, the subject is very intriguing.
                  A few decades ago the French RC Theologian Fr. Placide Deseille, AFTER 25  YEARS of thinking and reading he decided to become Orthodox. He went to the Holy Mountain (I think Simonopetra Monastery) and they told him he only needed chrismation. BUT he insisted to have Baptism as well.
                  Interesting, eh? 

      • In 1997 I met Fr. George Metallinos.  He was visiting a friend and we chatted a while.  He asked about how I had come to the Orthodox Church, what my path had been.  I rambled on for bit and mentioned when I had been chrismated.  He at once exclaimed “That’s all right!  It’s not a problem at all!  There have always been people received by economia.”  He was anticipating some enquiry about the big topic; should I have been baptized??  I assured him that was never a question to me.  He sighed and said “My book as been very much misunderstood in America”.  I think he’s right.  A lot of people went off half cocked ordained or not.  

        • The difference is between economia and the normalization of economia found today, which is partly due to ecumenism.

          Economia begins in the Didache, when it gives various methods of baptism if the correct procedure cannot be followed. Likewise, the Holy Fathers allowed for economia if the situation did not allow for the person to be received in the normative manner.

          Now we have everyone received by economia, falsely so-called, because it’s PC, expedient, etc. It’s an abuse of the concept of economia. And that’s wrong.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            I agree 100%.

          • Steven J. M. says

            Basil or anyone else, 
            I tend to agree and yet we have at least one example in Fr Seraphim Rose – who many, including me, see as a saint – who was only Chrismated.
            What kind of thinking do we introduce here?

            • Steven J. M. says

              I just did a cram session on the subject of baptizing or chrismating heretics and found a very interesting essay, linked below. Haven’t had time to check the facts, but on the face of it, it’s a good read. 
              Quick summary: tradition allows for some heretics or schismatics, including Arians, Macedonians, Novatians, Appollinarians, RCs, protestants and Anglicans, to be admitted by only chrismation, whereas others, like Eunomians, Montanists and Sabellians, need to be baptised. This has sometimes changed, depending on how much hostility there was between Orthodoxy and RCism in particular, but the crux of it is that leniency is actually the way to go. 

            • Saint Alexis Toth was also received – along with all his people – by economia, and no one to my knowledge is denying his sanctity.

              Calling into question bad pastoral practice is not questioning someone’s salvation or holiness.

          • M. Stankovich says

            I don’t believe that you fully grasp the concept of “economia.”
            The first uses of the word οἰκονομία(ς) are found in both Plato and Aristotle, and the verb refers to the management of a house/husbandry/family, and the office of οἰκονόμος as indicating the “manger.” The term then appears in the prophecy of Isaiah, addressing the fact that in the coming Day of the Lord, the evil man shall be “cast into a great and unmeasured land, and there you shall die: and He will bring your fair chariot to shame, and [cause] the house of your prince to be trodden down. And you shall be removed from your stewardship [τῆς οἰκονομίας σου], and from your place.” (Is. 22:17ff) This similar idea appears in the opening of Ch. 16 of the Gospel of Luke, where the Lord tells the parable of the “unrighteous steward”: “There was a certain rich man, who had a steward… [Ἄνθρωπός τις ἦν πλούσιος ὃς εἶχεν οἰκονόμον…] that has left us with the wisdom that, “He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much.” (Lk. 16:2ff)]. There are other interpretations beyond the simple office of “management/ administration” to which the Ancient Greeks referred.
            In Fr. John Meyendorff’s, Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes, he notes that, “In both historical and theological literature, the principle of oikonomia is often referred to illustrate the particularly Byzantine ability to interpret the law arbitrarily to suit political or personal purposes. Such a use betrays an obvious misunderstanding of the term, and is an injustice both to the principle itself and to its proper application.” To properly understand his point, it is helpful to backtrack.
            Fr. John points out that, “Viewed from a juridical point of view, the entire body of Byzantine canonical sources hardly constitutes a coherent whole. The attempts at codification are far from exhaustive, and do not eliminate important contradictions. They were never intended to provide the Byzantine Church with a complete corpus juris.”  Further, he notes that Western “polemicists” criticized the Byzantines for not having a “codified” system of the Canons, as they saw the “Church as a divine ‘institution’ whose internal existence could be adequately defined in juridical terms,” while the Orthodox saw the Church as,
            “First of all, a sacramental communion with God in Christ and the Spirit, whose membership, the entire Body of Christ is not limited to the earthly oikoumene (“inhabited earth”) where law governs society, but includes the host of angels and saints, as well as the divine head. The management – τῆς οἰκονομίας – of the earthly Church was certainly recognized as a necessary task, and there the use of juridical terms and concepts was unavoidable; but these concepts never exhausted the ultimate reality of the Church of God, and could be determined occasionally by the councils, or even left to the benevolent and, in principle, Christian care of the emperors.”
            But most importantly, “they recognized that there was no “canonical legislation” in heaven (for if “justification comes by the law, then Christ died in vain” (Gal. 2:21)), and that their task was a limited one.” In other words, the Lord did not “set us free,” in order to enslave us to the Canons!

            The Orthodox understanding of οἰκονομία derives first, from the words of St. Paul in his letter to the Epeshians, that “designates in the New Testament the divine plan of salvation:”

            “He has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan [οἰκονομία] for the fullness of time, to bring together [ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι] all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Ep 1:9-10)

            The point being that St. Paul would have us clearly understand that we should be seen as “servants of Christ and stewards [οἰκονόμοἰ] of the mysteries of God,” (1 Co 4:1) but specifically, the “management” or “stewardship” belongs to those who fulfill the ministry of leading the Church: “The Church, of which I became a minister according to the divine office [oikonomia] which was given to me for you [δοθεῖσάν μοι εἰς ὑμᾶς]” (Col 1:24-25). In the Pastorals, the oikonomia belongs particularly to the Bishops: “For a bishop [τὸν ἐπίσκοπον], as God’s steward [ὡς Θεοῦ οἰκονόμον], must be blameless” (Tt 1:7).

            This is essential to understand, because, in that St. Paul acknowledges the ministry, “which was given to me for you,” he fully acknowledges that he – and all Bishops – are ultimately responsible to God Himself for all decisions made pursuant to their stewardship – in other words, while we may critique, criticize, or outright disagree with a decision a Bishop has made, ultimately, only he stands accountable before God, and not us. And so, Fr. Meyendorff notes,
            “Among the Greek Fathers, oikonomia has the standard meaning of “incarnation history,” especially during the Christological controversies of the fifth century. In a subsidiary way it is also used in canonical texts, and then, obviously, places the pastoral “management” entrusted to the Church in the context of God’s plan for the salvation of mankind.”

            And so, we find ourselves with this often quoted Letter of St. Basil the Great to the Bishop Amphilochius as an “authoritative part of the Byzantine canonical collections, whereby he affirms the “he Cyprianic principle about the invalidity of baptism by heretics, continues: “If, however, this becomes an obstacle to [God’s] general oikonomia, one should again refer to custom and follow the Fathers who have managed [the Church].” The “custom” to which Basil refers was current “in Asia,” where “the management of the multitude” had accredited the practice of accepting baptism by heretics. In any case, Basil justifies “economy” by the fear that too much austerity will be an obstacle to the salvation of some.”
            My sense is that this specific, dynamic understanding that “places the pastoral ‘management’ entrusted to the Church in the context of God’s plan for the salvation of mankind,” becomes convoluted in a mindset of a common Western notion whereby the Canons are compared to the US Federal Sentencing Guidelines, and that a failure to apply a strict application (ακρίβεια) of the Canons is “placating,” or making it “easy” on sinners; thus, οἰκονομία is interpreted as “conceding” to the weakness of irresponsibility, rather than a pastoral decision made specifically in the interest of an individual, specifically in the interest of their salvation. Too frequently, this is explained as a “get out of jail free” card, or simply an “unsettling” manner by which the weak, in not being held “accountable,” are made “weaker.” I wonder if the complaint regarding this form of “reconciliation” is simply not “sour grapes,” such that, “If s/he can get away with it, why can’t I?” And worse, critical of the fact that, as St. Paul makes abundantly clear, a pastoral decision, invoked between the Bishop and their spiritual child, is a decision for which the Bishop alone is answerable to God Himself, and no man. And in the end, God Himself will judge.
            It is remarkable that our God has entrusted us with this power to “lessen the burden” of those who struggle, without compromising the integrity of the Church.

      • Basil thanks. 

  8. Oh please people .. Gayle and George have stated what the photo shows. A gravesite that needs attention. If one is into the “Rustic / Natural” feel you may like the way it looks. There can be simplicity of the gravesite but an unkempt gravesite that needs weeding, racking and clipping should be brought to the attention of those in charge. I also believe a more dignified gravesite should be considered.

    • rjklancko says

      actually it is met antony who needs the honor,,, phillip began well, but as i am told,  the so called arab mafia took over, he instituted more arabic,,, he threw out the russian music in favor of nasal byzantine music,,, he pushed the american clergy one side and turned his back on the western rite……. it is even worse now,,,,, and unlike their brother melkites and syriacs they have not been championing the cause of the christians in the middle east,,, and have not been making overtures to become more of the fabric of America,,, for example where is the antiochian archdiocese wing of st judes hospital????  — yes he did abor in the vineyard of Christ, however the foundation laid by met antony of blessed memory unfortunately was not continued.  met antony was the visionary, the builder, the person who made things happen. none the less it is a tragedy when a gravesite is not cared for, no matter who is buried there.
      i wonder about the grave sites of met samuel daoud, archbishop michael shaheen, bishop sophronois bishara, and the others who led the middle eastern christians in the usa

      • Estonian Slovak says

        What is wrong with Byzantine music? I will refrain from being snarky. You may thank Gail for that.

        • Exactly.   Equal tradition. And some 19c Russian music like a smultsy hollywood film. At least no organ!  

        • George Michalopulos says

          I love authentic chant of any kind:  Gregorian, Byzantine, Znameny and Ruthenian plain chant.

      • Please rjklancko let’s be fair and careful.
        Music, like Painting and Architecture is an Art, not religion or faith in God.
        Proper Byzantine Music should not be Nasal! That is wrong.
        Saints of our Church like St.John of Damascus have written Byzantine Music. However if you prefer to listen to Russian Music nobody can force you otherwise. You can certainly  choose a parish with Russian Music, and I a parish with B.M. this is not dogmatic.
        Remember there is something similar with Byzantine  Iconography or Painting and Traditional Architecture of Church buildings. Dramatic changes in styles may cause misunderstanding and problems.
        Careful not to scandalize the brothers and sisters in Christ.
        But, at the end of the day, there is one thing:
        Faith in Christ, not ethnicity, or music, architecture, painting.
        Or, like somebody has said:
        Love Christ with all your heart
        and you will know what to do in every case…  

    • Dionysia, here is a link where you can see another photo. The bushes are spirea, I believe. I don’t see any weeds. Perhaps the spirea was a favorite of Metropolitan Philip’s. My experience with spirea is that they grow slowly. Kindly take a look at the photo seen in the link and then, if your opinion remains the same, we will just disagree. Metropolitan Philip wanted a simple grave site, and I think he should have it. Otherwise, it would be against his wishes.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Beryl, Dionysia had this link. It’s the one I provided yesterday.

        • Solitary Priest says

          Can we quit arguing about the Metropolitan’s grave and just pray for his soul?  I hope to be buried next to my wife when my time comes, but I’m far more worried about the condition of my soul when God calls me. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

          • Gail Sheppard says

            This brings up an interesting question. Maybe you can help answer it for me, Father. Why do we continue to pray for those who have passed into the next life? If all is said and done in this life, as is suggested by the rich man in Luke 16, why do we Orthodox continue to pray for the souls of our departed at 40 days and even thereafter? Are we able to alter the outcome of their lives with our prayers?

            • Solitary Priest says

              God is able to, of course. It was Martin Luther who lifted those few books out of the Old Testament. Regarding those who have passed on, we cannot know their fate, but nothing stops us from praying for them.
              The rich man in the Gospel of Luke was not a real man like Zaccheus or Mary Magaline. Rather, this was a parable to show what MIGHT happen to those who disregard Our Lord’s commandments in this life.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                Thank you, Father.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Gail, as we pray for those who have departed, we are also praying for ourselves. It may well include the softening of our own hearts for those who we feel did us wrong in this life.

                  Never forget that prayer does not change “things” it changes those who pray, our hearts. Even Jesus went through this on the Mount of Transfiguration. The KJV says of that moment, “As he prayed, he was changed.”

                  Salvation is not linear nor is it bound by our conception of time and space.

                  I, for one, applaud the charity of your heart for one who wronged you. Perhaps you were allowed to see a grave uncared for in order to engender that charity both for yourself and for the rest of us.

                  To me the greatest act of Met. Philip was working with Archbishop Michael Shaheen to begin healing the internal schism that plagued the Antiochian Archdiocese at the time. Both men, of blessed memory, were strongly urged by their advisors not to get together. Both men ignored their advisors and met anyway.

                  • George C Michalopulos says

                    Michael, when I first heard that story about Met Philip, I was inspired. If memory serves, Met Michael only had a miniscule number of parishes under his omorphor whereas Philip had ten times as many.

                    According to the story I heard, Philip went to him and said “let’s bury the hatchet. You’re more senior, you be Metropolitan.” That took a lot of guts. Just think how different this mindset is from the Phanariote supremacists who think the whole world belongs to them.

                    I’ll leave it there.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      George, it was before my time, but the two Antiochian parishes here in Wichita were on opposite sides. I saw the after affects. At the time of the schism they were only blocks apart (maybe six). They would not go to each other’s services either, I think. It caused bad blood or was the result of bad blood, I do not know. Despite the official healing, it took a couple of decades for folks to get over it. Some of the older folks had to die I think.

                      Interestingly enough the mission to unwed mothers that we have here in Wichita, The Treehouse, was started by two women, one from each parish, who felt something needed to be done to reduce abortions. They got together, prayed, sought guidance from their priests and it has become a shining light of the belief of the Church. Volunteer staff come from both parishes as well as St. Michael (Western Rite) and other Christians in Wichita. “Saving the world one diaper at a time.”

                      God can fix anything we mess up.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Yes indeed! Wonderful story btw

            • Monk James Silver says

              While this question wasn’t addressed to me, I’d like to offer a response, just in case it’s helpful.

              We mortals, like all of God’s creation, are bound by time. We come into existence at one point i time, and we go out of existence at another point in time because we are temporal. This is a result of our sinfulness. The good news is that death is only a temporary, painful (and expensive!) inconvenience, since Christ promised to raise us all from the dead, a promise He proved was true by His own resurrection.

              God alone is eternal, without beginning and never ending, always NOW.

              Because of His eternity and because He created all things nd knows all things, God knows just exactly how each of us will use the free will with which He created us — one of our several divine characteristics, sharing His own image and likeness.

              What appears to us to be time (a creation of God)is just our experience of change, age, and death. It didn’t have to be this way, but this is an effect of our sinfulness, and not God’s original design. We had the free will to frustrate that plan, and so we did.

              But what we do is merely an aspect of God’s perfect knowledge, in which there is no past nor future, just NOW. God doesn’t determine what we do, He just knows what we do and will do.

              As a result, we can pray for those who are dead as far as we experience death, but who are always in the mind of God.

              God knows just how to apply our prayers for the dead (and for the living, for that matter) in the way He knows is best for them, and time is not an issue for Him, only for the perceptions of us who are limited by it.

              That’s His job. Ours is merely to love people and pray for them, both the living and the dead, and so we do.

              Please forgive my clumsy words — these are deep mysteries.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                Thank you, Father James. I don’t find your words clumsy at all! I found them helpful and I appreciate it.

                So if God knows what we will do, and, of course, it makes sense that He would because He’s omnipotent, why would He allow us to wallow around in the mud, so to speak? How can this be good for anybody? I understand that we can’t know the mind of God but I’d be interested in hearing your response.

                I’d be interested in hearing what others have to say about this, as well, but I would hope, JUST THIS ONCE, people would take the topic seriously and not use this as an opportunity to trash someone else.

                Hey, George, it’s my birthday on Tuesday! Can you give me this one present? Can you suppress those comments that are just plain snarky for snarkiness sake? Pretty please?!

                Because I lost my son it’s important to me.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Of course Gail.  Let’s all to honor her request.  The afterlife is a serious subject and we need to treat it reverently.

                  Nothing wrong with criticism just no snarkiness.

                • Steven J. M. says

                  Hi Gail
                  I didn’t know this part about Orthodoxy until recently. But I’ve since learned – from a priestmonk whose Orthodoxy I trust – that people who die and aren’t saved go Hades (or the antechamber of Hell) where they await the Final Judgement. From here, they might go to Hell, they might not. Once in Hades, though, they can do nothing towards their repentance, and yet we who are still alive can, which is connected to how God wants people to be helped through people, and not just Him. For this reason, we light candles for them, pray for them, commemorate them and do good deeds, like almsgiving, in their name. In a certain respect, they are in a good position, too, because they can no longer sin, which means that the good that’s done for them ‘sticks’, and isn’t diminished by further sins.
                  This whole aspect of the Faith is what informed the life of St Xenia from Petersburg or wherever. Her husband died suddenly at a drinking party and hadn’t confessed or communed perhaps ever. Extremely worried, the Saint lived the rest of her life as a Fool for Christ, dressed as her husband, wanting to be called by her husband’s name, while she went about parts of Russia doing Godly works for the sake of his soul.
                  An example like this suggests the husband was probably saved. Lesser efforts could even lead to salvation. Who knows? But even if a person’s deeds for the dead don’t manage to pull them out of Hades, it’s taught that the soul will still suffer less.
                  Aside from what we personally can do, my suggestion is for people (who haven’t already done so) to get the names of the departed to a monastery and have the monks pray for them. The Orthodox departed will be commemorated during the Liturgy and the non-orthodox during the monks’ private prayers. 

                  • Monk James Silver says

                    Steven J. M. (July 4, 2019 at 9:11 pm) says:

                    Hi Gail

                    I didn’t know this part about Orthodoxy until recently. But I’ve since learned – from a priestmonk whose Orthodoxy I trust – that people who die and aren’t saved go Hades (or the antechamber of Hell) where they await the Final Judgement. From here, they might go to Hell, they might not. Once in Hades, though, they can do nothing towards their repentance, and yet we who are still alive can, which is connected to how God wants people to be helped through people, and not just Him. For this reason, we light candles for them, pray for them, commemorate them and do good deeds, like almsgiving, in their name. In a certain respect, they are in a good position, too, because they can no longer sin, which means that the good that’s done for them ‘sticks’, and isn’t diminished by further sins. SNIP


                    With the exception of one small detail, this is pretty much the Roman Catholic description of what they call ‘purgatory’.

                    The exception is that the RC theory considers ‘purgatory’ to be the antechamber of Heaven, since everyone who is in ‘purgatory’ has not been damned, but is in the process of being purged of the remnants of their sins until they are fit for Heaven

                    But wherever he got this theory, this whole story, no matter the monastic priest’s other good points, is not at all representative of the authentically Orthodox Catholic Christian Tradition, which trusts the very little bit which Christ our Lord has reveled to us about life after death: we will die, He will raise us, He will judge us, and send us to our everlasting destination.

                    Christ tells us nothing about an intermediate or personal judgement, only judgement. When His disciples press Him for details, He demurs and tells them only that ‘There are many places to dwell in My Father’s house. Were it not so, I would have told you.’ But He didn’t, and that’s all we know, since that’s all He revealed about the subject. Can’t we be satisfied with the Lord’s own words?

                    That the notion of ‘purgatory’ is false is self-evident because it depends on a process, which implies change and the passage of time, but once we leave this life, we are literally out of time.

                    As we pray at the Kneeling Service, we hope that the stains of our sins will be dissolved in the ocean of Christ’s mercy. The infinity of God’s mercy and the perfection of His justice operate in ways too amazing for us to contemplate. This is a powerful metaphor, but its mysterious resolutions won’t work unless we have truly repented our sins. To that end, we must repent while we yet live.

                    But since God is not limited by time as are we, all the prayers and offerings and acts of kindness we do for the sake of the dead are at God’s disposal to use (from our perspective) WHENEVER He judges it good and helpful, not necessarily (or only) after the death of our dear ones.

                    Altogether, ‘purgatory’, whether explained in Latin or Greek, is just a pious fantasy, and not the faith of the Orthodox.

                    • Steven J. M. says

                      Ahh I think I’m beginning to understand more your initial post to Gail’s question. It initially baffled me completely, but now less so. Thanks!

                    • Matthew Panchisin says

                      Dear Steven J. M,
                      A middle state certainly is known within the Orthodox patristic tradition in the Church.
                      Constantine Cavarnos presents an excellent summary in his booklet, The Future Life According to Orthodox Teaching, maybe it is available from Jordanville.

                    • Constantinos says

                      Monk James,
                      Christ told us quite a bit about the after life. ” Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
                      Now, this is one of the problems with Orthodoxy; the Orthodox wrongly believe they are the true church. The Roman Catholic doctrine is much better. Instead of this orthodoxy versus heterodoxy nonsense, the RC says that the true church subsists in the Catholic Church.
                      Now, this anti- ecumenical sentiment in Orthodox has been to Orthodoxy’s detriment. The reason is so obvious it is pathetic. With some exceptions, the greatest move of God was suppressed in the Orthodox Church. Naturally, that movement is the Charismatic Renewal. The Charismatic Renewal is undoubtedly from God. Even the Orthodox Christian Laity acknowledge this. In fact, that is their raison d’ etra.
                      As Orthodox Christian priest Father Timothy Cremeens says, we need to be baptized with God’s Holy Spirit. This promise of Christ is for all Christians for all generations. As Father Eusebius Stephanou has stated, “the Orthodox Church is sacramentalized, but not evangelized. The baptism in the Holy Spirit completely changed his life, and it will do the same for you. We can be assured that we belong to Christ because His Spirit is in us, and upon us. We must move in the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. The truth is many Orthodox don’t know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Beryl amazes me because she worked with Youth With a Mission. I wasn’t going to post any more, but I find my intelligence and contributions are so vital, I feel I have no choice.
                      By the way, Basil, “my holy example was meant to be funny.”

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Costa, we Orthodox Christians have surely fallen in these respects. In fact, under the archpastorate of Bartholomew, we have backslid even more. Not because he is “over all Orthodox” –he is most certainly not, but because his novel teachings have thrown a huge monkey wrench into the Orthodox witness to the world.

                      What I will now say will sound counter-intuitive: because he has fallen prey to his own press clippings, and because his acolytes have likewise reduced themselves to propagandists, the Orthodox witness to the world has been hobbled. Because of this, we can rightly assume that the Orthodox Church is the true Church, because it is being hobbled. The Adversary is working overtime to make us look ridiculous. Because of our sinfulness (myself included) he has many helpers in this sorrowful endeavor.

                    • Steven J. M. says

                      Dear Matthew Panchisin
                      Thanks a lot for the additional info. I’ll look this book up for sure because the matter at hand certainly is important and raises many questions. 

                    • Constantinos: “the Orthodox wrongly believe they are the true church. The Roman Catholic doctrine is much better”
                      If you are serious, then you are not Orthodox.

                    • Antiochene Son says

                      Baptism of the Holy Spirit is Chrismation and only Chrismation. 

                    • Constantinos said,

                      “I wasn’t going to post any more, but I find my intelligence and contributions are so vital, I feel I have no choice.”

                      What an admirable display of self restraint.

                • Hi Gail,
                  When we celebrate Pascha, we are witnessing with the whole Church, past present and future. When I say my prayers, I approach it in the same way. God created time and is above time. So I pray for the departed as I pray for the living and put all in God’s hands. Perhaps one of my descendants is right now in the future and praying to God for my blessed repose and God hears their prayers and is helping me in unknown ways here in the present.
                  I’m not very articulate, so forgive me. I would recommend the book “Time and Man” by Georgios Mantzaridis St Tikhon’s Seminary Press.

                  • Helen T. says

                    Gail, and Tanya, am reminded of Dr. Nicole Roccas’ book, “Time and Despondency” and her explanations of time and especially what despondency is.  Reading it this past Lent and the one before has explained much to me about what time really is – way beyond our 24 hours, etc.  Suggested in sisterly love,

                  • Monk James Silver says

                    Matthew Panchisin (July 7, 2019 at 12:18 am) says:

                    A middle state certainly is known within the Orthodox patristic tradition in the Church.

                    Constantine Cavarnos presents an excellent summary in his booklet, The Future Life According to Orthodox Teaching, maybe it is available from Jordanville.
                    All of these theories, without exception, are private thoughts with no basis in divine revelation. At best, they can be taken as metaphors, and at worst, superstitions. The fact remains that we know nothing about what happens to us after death except what our Lord Jesus Christ told us: we will die, He will raise us, He will judge us and send us to our everlasting destination of salvation or damnation. That’s all.

                    Consider the very vexed matter of the ‘aerial toll houses’. This theory, attributed first to the purported visions and dreams of a fifth-century saint, became the topic of some rather heated debate over forty years ago between Priest Michael Azkoul and Deacon Lev Puhalo. Neither of them bothered to explain what people believed before these ‘visions’ were reported or were willing to accept the idea as a metaphor. The deacon disbelieved the toll houses entirely and the priest affirmed their reality with no proof beyond unsubstantiated hearsay, nd especially without scriptural support..

                    The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) directed both men to stop arguing and publishing their thoughts on the matter, since its truth or falsity was not verifiable in any way.

                    That directive hasn’t deterred some other writers, even within the ROCOR, from continuing to argue about it, even recently and in public, to the great confusion of the faithful..

                    Among other things, the bishops said:
                    ‘Taking all of the forgoing into consideration, the Synod of Bishops resolve: In the deliberations on life after death one must in general keep in mind that it has not pleased the Lord to reveal to us very much aside from the fact that the degree of a soul’s blessedness depends on how much a man’s life on the earth has been truly Christian, and the degree of a man’s posthumous suffering depends upon the degree of sinfulness.

                    ‘To add conjectures to the little that the Lord has been pleased to reveal to us is not beneficial to our salvation, and all disputes in this domain are now especially detrimental, the more so when they become the object of the discussion of people who have not been fully established in the Faith. Acrid polemic apart from the spirit of mutual love turns such an exchange of opinions from a deliberation into an argument about words. The positive preaching of truths of the Church may be profitable, but not disputes in an area which is not subject to our investigation, but which evokes in the unprepared reader false notions on questions of importance to our salvation. ‘

                    The entire statement of the ROCOR bishops can be read here:

                    • Matthew Panchisin says

                      Dear Monk James Silver,

                      I remember that from some years ago, the Synod’s response was written because of the method of inquiry and the way that a specific subject matter ‘aerial toll houses’ was disturbingly discussed in some places by “unprepared readers”.

                      The booklet by Constantine Cavarnos, The Future Life According to Orthodox Teaching still remains a very good read relative to the Orthodox patristic tradition and the middle state, we need not dismiss it as out of hand, especially in totality and with prejudice. I’m sure the Synod did not get rid of it or turn it into something that it is not.

                      In closing, as far as the concoction which you have presented against The Future Life According to Orthodox Teaching, suffice it to say there are bishops within the Synod who understand it and consider it well written.

                    • Estonian Slovak says

                      Monk James;
                      You are confusing Fr. Michael Azkoul with Fr. Seraphim Rose. Fr. Michael was with the then deacon Lev Puhalo on that issue. They still are on the same side, though Fr. Azkoul is now with the Greek Old Calendar church and Puhalo is an OCA retired bishop. Church politics makes for strange bedfellows as well.

                    • Monk James Silver says

                      Estonian Slovak July (10, 2019 at 10:26 am) says:

                      Monk James;
                      You are confusing Fr. Michael Azkoul with Fr. Seraphim Rose. Fr. Michael was with the then deacon Lev Puhalo on that issue. They still are on the same side, though Fr. Azkoul is now with the Greek Old Calendar church and Puhalo is an OCA retired bishop. Church politics makes for strange bedfellows as well.

                      I apologize for my confusion, and I thank ‘Estonian Slovak’ for the correction.

                  • Constantinos says

                    Now, surely you must know that I threw that line in to be funny. Do I think I am smarter than the average Orthodox? No, I just think I am more open minded. Thanks, brother.

                    • Monk James Silver says

                      Matthew Panchisin (July 9, 2019 at 9:51 pm) says:

                      Dear Monk James Silver,

                      I remember that from some years ago, the Synod’s response was written because of the method of inquiry and the way that a specific subject matter ‘aerial toll houses’ was disturbingly discussed in some places by “unprepared readers”.
                      A close reading of the statement of the ROCOR bishops (nothing I ‘concocted’) shows that they decided to end public discussion of the matter because — as I keep pointing out — our Lord Jesus Christ revealed very little about our experiences after death. That’s the one and only reason they gave for making this decision.

                      Christ tells us that we will die, He will raise us, He will judge us and send us to our everlasting condition. That’s all.

                      People who want to fill in the blanks, so to speak. which they think He left in His teaching on the matter do so at their peril, the opinions of some otherwise respected theologians and even bishops notwithstanding.

                      We don’t get to add anything to the Gospel, or to take anything out of it, and any opinion contrary to the Gospel is not the faith of The Church.

                    • Matthew Panchisin says

                      Dear Monk James,
                      For many centuries, there has been quite an extensive amount of exegesis (to draw out) by the Holy Fathers, Bishops and Priests “filling in the blanks” relative to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, expressed in the Orthodox way, which is good to read or hear as we often do in the Church.
                      You can’t actually be advising us to just get rid of the future life according to Orthodox teaching from them as well as the synopsis booklet.
                      I suspect for some reason that you are speaking with an overly focused degree of attention to just the ‘aerial toll houses’ issue, which would explain all the exclusions and disregard of other considerations.


                  • Constantinos says

                    Antiochene Son,
                    Did I not refer you to Father Timothy Cremeens and Father Eusebius Stephanou? Also, St. Symeon the New Theologian would most certainly disagree with you.
                    When you are chrismated as an infant, you are sacramentalized, but not evangelized.  Now, listen up, brother. I believe most Orthodox Christians do not know Jesus Christ. Why do I say this? Evangelism. How many people have you personally led to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? The Orthodox don’t even evangelize when inquirers come into the church services.
                    As I’ve stated this before, there is a certain former Matushka who has never said hello to me in eleven years. Surely, she is going to have to answer to God for her lack of hospitality. She is that way with everyone. Whenever a new person comes into the church, I always make it a point to introduce myself and try to make that person or family feel welcome. Should I not boast about that? No, my boasting is in Christ.
                    In my evangelical days, God used me to bring hundreds of people to Christ. The overwhelming amount of the time was through the Holy Spirit; on rare occasions, it was from positive thinking. I was a soul winner for Christ, and I tried to disciple most of these people. Many I couldn’t disciple because they came to Christ through people I brought to Christ. In other words, I hit critical mass, but I was a devoted prayer warrior for Christ.
                    If a man belongs to Christ, that person has to be a soul winner. For the most part, the Orthodox are God’s frozen chosen. Now, when I attend the local Catholic Church, the people are most warm and friendly, but I go much farther. I make it a point to ask each and every person their name, and I remember them, and call them by their names. This has made me probably the second most popular person in the church. I wish the Orthodox Church was into personal evangelism. If you want to know if you belong to Christ, ask yourself how many people you have led to Christ through the Orthodox Church. If you haven’t led anyone to Christ through the Orthodox Church, instead of casting judgment on others, you look into your own heart, and see if you really belong to Christ.
                    Now, I will end this post with these wise words, don’t sit in judgment of those (like me) who love and are doing more for Christ than you are. The people who sit in judgment probably haven’t done one thousandth as much for Christ as I have. I’m blessed that God has seen fit to have used me so mightily. Instead of criticizing me. look at the beam that is in your own eye. You jealous critics would do well to emulate a true Orthodox Christian like Brian, instead of trolling me like “Martin Basil, and Antiochene Son” do.

                    • Antiochene Son says

                      This entire post is nonsense and warrants no response. Enjoy dabbling in heresies formulated in separation from Christ, if that’s what you want to do.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      St. Sissos, the Great: “Humility is believing that every man is better than you”

                    • Monk James Silver says

                      What happens when you greet everyone at the Orthodox church, and learn their names?

                    • Monk James Silver says

                      Matthew Panchisin (July 11, 2019 at 9:57 am) says:

                      Dear Monk James,

                      For many centuries, there has been quite an extensive amount of exegesis (to draw out) by the Holy Fathers, Bishops and Priests “filling in the blanks” relative to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, expressed in the Orthodox way, which is good to read or hear as we often do in the Church. SNIP


                      This parable is just that, an allegory which describes fictitious characters in an imaginary situation in order to make a real point.

                      Here, the main point which our Lord Jesus Christ makes is that we must do our best in this life and repent our sins here and now, since there will be no opportunity to do that after we die. It was NOT to suggest that people condemned to Hell can communicate with Abraham/Heaven and intercede for those who have not yet died, although that is the setting of the story.

                      And at no point does our Lord suggest that there is anything like any sort of process for us to go through after death, not even aerial tolol houses.

                      So why bring up this parable and the exegetical tradition built on it?

                • M. Stankovich says

                  We know that our God is a “just Judge,” [cf. “There is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord, the just Judge, will render to me in that day.” (2Tim. 4:8)], and that He is “good,” and that “His mercy endures forever.” (cf. 1Chron. 16:34; Ps. 105:1; Ps. 106:1; Ps. 117:1, 3, 4, 29; Ps. 135:1, 2, 15, 16, 19, 22) Further, if  the account of the repentance of Nineveh tells us anything, it is that our God hears us, considers our petitions, and it is completely possible for us to “change His mind”:
                  “And proclamation was made, and it was commanded in Nineveh by the king and by his great men, saying, ‘Let not men, or cattle, or oxen, or sheep, taste [any thing], nor feed, nor drink water.’ So men and cattle were clothed with sack cloths, and cried earnestly to God; and they turned, every one, from their evil way, and from the iniquity that was in their hands, saying, ‘Who knows if God will repent, and turn from his fierce anger, and [so] we shall not perish?’ And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil ways; and God repented [καὶ μετενόησεν ὁ Θεὸς – literally, “and God changed His mind”] of the evil which He had said he would do to them; and he did [it] not.” (Job 3:7ff)

                  • To you all.. Why do u all complicate the simple words of Christ and look for meaning in them beyond the obvious.? He was always using imagry and life situation to make his point as to how to live in the kingdom of God NOW.. It’s enough for me.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Nikos, because God is often hidden in plain sight and we have to go exploring in order to actually see Him. Of course, the exploration often leads us back to our starting point, but with newly opened eyes. Unfortunately, as unruly and disobedient children, we just have to know for ourselves, regardless of the pain.

                • Gail,
                  I’d like to add to what Fr. James has written above (which expressed the inexpressible mystery quite well, I think) the words of Fr. Michael Pomazansky…

                  “Our Christian Church life of prayer is uninterrupted mutual communion with the heavenly world. It is not simply an “invocation of the saints,” as it is often called; it is an interaction in love. Through it the whole body of the Church, being united and strengthened in its members and bonds, increaseth with the increase of God (Col. 2:19). Through the Church we are come unto the Heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the solemn assembly and the church of the first- born, which are written in heaven, and the God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect (Heb, 12:22-23). Our prayerful interaction extends in all directions. It has been commanded us: Pray for one another. We live according to the principle of Faith: Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s (Rom. 14:8). Love never faileth (I Cor. 13:8). Love shall cover a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8).

                  “For the soul there is no death. Life in Christ is a world of prayer. It penetrates the whole body of the Church, unites every member of the Church with the Heavenly Father, the members of the earthly Church with themselves, and the members of the earthly Church with the Heavenly Church. Prayers are the threads of the living fabric of the Church body, for the prayer of the righteous man availeth much (James 5:16). The twenty-four elders in heaven at the throne of God fell down before the Lamb, each having harps and vials filled with incense, which are the prayers of saints (Apoc. 5:8); that is, they offered up prayer on earth to the heavenly throne.”

                  By the way, the passage to which Solitary Priest refers (in those books Luther tossed) is this:

                  “On the following day, since the task had now become urgent, Judas and his companions went to gather up the bodies of the fallen and bury them with their kindred in their ancestral tombs. But under the tunic of each of the dead they found amulets sacred to the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. So it was clear to all that this was why these men had fallen. They all therefore praised the ways of the Lord, the just judge who brings to light the things that are hidden.  Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out. The noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen.  He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection in mind; for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead.  But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be absolved from their sin.”
                  -2 Maccabees 12

                  There is always hope in Christ!

                  • George C Michalopulos says

                    S.P. lovely~ And now we can see why Martin Luther felt he had to excise these books from the sacred canon.

                  • In one word Gail to save all the writing. IN RELATIONSHIP, LIVING AND THE DEAD 

                • Solitary Priest says

                  Gail, if I may, I recommend reading a page per day of The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian. I wish I had started this habit years ago, when I was a foolish young priest. I’m no longer young, but probably still foolish. I rejoice that God has at times rescued me from my own stupidity. I am not a worthy instructor, but reading St. Isaac has helped me.

                • Dear Gail, I know I am not smart enough or well read enough to shed any light on this issue.  But I am grateful for all the prayers that so many here have offered for me and my loved ones.  You are a treasure on this blog.  You and yours will be in our unworthy prayers especially on Tuesday and may our great and merciful and loving God welcome your dear son into his Kingdom!

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    Oh, I would disagree. You have plenty to teach us only you have chosen the harder path because you teach us by example. Thank you for your prayers, Michael. I am most grateful. I also have said prayers for you and your circumstances. I know well the battle.

                • Monk James Silver says

                  Gail Sheppard (July 4, 2019 at 8:08 pm) says:

                  Thank you, Father James. I don’t find your words clumsy at all! I found them helpful and I appreciate it.

                  So if God knows what we will do, and, of course, it makes sense that He would because He’s omnipotent, why would He allow us to wallow around in the mud, so to speak? How can this be good for anybody? I understand that we can’t know the mind of God but I’d be interested in hearing your response. SNIP


                  We can always look at the story of Job for a little inspiration here. It might at first seem that Job (and we ourselves) are merely the butt of some sort of cosmic joke, pawns in a bet between God and Satan. But that would be a serious misinterpretation of the scriptural example, which encourages us to keep faith with God in spite of adversity, no matter its origin.

                  In that story, Job’s humility and faithfulness are the main virtues we’re supposed to learn from, and the troubles we experience in our own lives are certainly an opportunity for growth in those areas — if we take them the right way.

                  Yet the human condition — originally created by God as ‘good’ — is distorted by sin, not only by our own sins but everyone else’s, too. Here is the ‘mud’ you write of, and we can be cleansed of that mud only by tears of repentance and renewal in Christ after each time we fall into sin, since that’s what we sinners must do in order to accept the salvation which Christ so lovingly offers us.

                  But, as St Paul teaches us, ‘where sin abounded, grace became more abundant’, o there is an end to this, if we will embrace it.

                  And, as our Lord Jesus Christ explains in His parable of the lost sheep, ‘There is more joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine who never strayed.’

                  On balance, then, perhaps we can see trust in God, humility, and repentance as the virtues we’re expected to learn from the troubles in our lives.

                  Please forgive my poor words. May the Lord forgive all of us our sins, and lead us into His heavenly Kingdom.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Gail, you can see a bit of my perspective in my post above: Salvation is not linear. As Monk James says, quite eloquently. It has been shown to me, that as I repent, the burden of sin is lifted for many, even those who are “dead”.

                  Repentance as we know it is apparently not possible for those who have reposed. However, forgiveness through repentance impacts the entire body. Thus we have Forgiveness Vespers and Saturdays of All Souls.

                  As Monk James says, it is a deep mystery. A mystery we can not penetrate with our rational minds much at all. Nevertheless, Christ’s resurrection calls us all to life.

                  So, as you pray for your son and seek Christ’s mercy, His mercy is made more manifest in the entire Body. Just as the deeds of mercy do when we give alms and sacrifice for others still living. It is all one. The third part of the Trinitarian aspect of mercy is humbly receiving it—allowing ourselves to be changed by the Holy Spirit.

                • “…why would He allow us to wallow around in the mud, so to speak? How can this be good for anybody? I understand that we can’t know the mind of God but I’d be interested in hearing your response.”
                  I would recommend you read the book of 2 Esdras (or ‘Ezra’ -same person, but not the book of Ezra found in most Bibles).  Ezra asked many of the same questions.  The answers he was given, if not altogether satisfying to the natural intellect, provide a great deal of perspective to a mind of faith (which I know you have).

              • Michael Bauman says

                Monk James, your words are beautiful and display a poetry of soul that I have not witnessed in your before, forgive me for not seeing it.

            • Steven J. M. says

              I tried responding once but the computer went funny so it’s unlikely that attempt will show up. A shorter version, then: check out the life of Saint Xenia from Petersburg. That was all to do with saving her dead husband’s soul.
              Our ability to help in this regard is linked to God wanting people to help others as well as the important connection between soul and body and its relevance to salvation. Obviously the dead are no longer in body.
              Do good deeds for the departed as well – not just pray for them. And get their names to a monastery where the Orthodox departed will be commeomorated during the Liturgy and the non-orthodox during the monks’ private prayers

            • Gail Sheppard: “If all is said and done in this life, as is suggested by the rich man in Luke 16, why do we Orthodox continue to pray for the souls of our departed at 40 days and even thereafter? ”
              This rich man was a special case. He digged out “a great chasm” separating him from those who are or can be saved. He feasted for years while seeing a poor suffering man on the street, without giving him a crumb from overloaded table. He was like some predatory guys from Wall Street,  (not all there are like him to be sure).

        • You are correct Gail Sheppard. 

        • Thank you Gail Sheppard.