Monomakhos Readers: Why We Pray for the Dead

The other day I kindly asked you, Dear Readers, to answer Gail Sheppard’s profound question about prayers for the dead. Truth be told, I myself have been wrestling with that very question (as I’m sure we all have at one time or another). In any event, Gail genuinely appreciated the time and attention you took to respond to her question about prayers for the dead.  She didn’t want any of your comments to be lost so she suggested I devote a post to the many benefits of prayers for our departed. 

Here are some of the thoughts you shared with her.  May they be a blessing to you, as they were to her.  She thanks you from the bottom of heart for your response. As do I.

Father (Monk) James:

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.

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

***

Michael Bauman: 

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.

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.”
* * *

Brian:  

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).
 
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Esdras+1&version=NRSV

* **

Solitary Priest:

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.

***

Martin:

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 dug “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).
***

Steven J.M.:

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 commemorated during the Liturgy and the non-orthodox during the monks’ private prayers

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.

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.

***

Brian:

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!
***

M. Stankovich:

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 Judgewill 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)
***

Tanya:

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.
***

About GShep

Comments

  1. John Sakelaris says

    And there is 2 Maccabees 12:39-45, courtesy of Biblegateway.com, covering the deeds of the good Judas Maccabeus.
    39 By the following day it was urgent that they gather up the bodies of the men who had been killed in battle and bury them in their family tombs. 40 But on each of the dead, hidden under their clothes, they found small images of the gods worshiped in Jamnia, which the Law forbids Jews to wear. Everyone then knew why these men had been killed. 41 So they praised the ways of the Lord, the just judge, who reveals what is hidden, 42 and they begged him that this sin might be completely blotted out. Then, Judas, that great man, urged the people to keep away from sin, because they had seen for themselves what had happened to those men who had sinned. 43 He also took up a collection from all his men, totaling about four pounds of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. Judas did this noble thing because he believed in the resurrection of the dead. 44 If he had not believed that the dead would be raised, it would have been foolish and useless to pray for them. 45 In his firm and devout conviction that all of God’s faithful people would receive a wonderful reward, Judas made provision for a sin offering to set free from their sin those who had died.

  2. Steven J. M. says

    What a terrific idea. Anything to encourage prayers for the departed is such a great service. Thanks!

    • Tomorrow I will have the yearly  memorial for my late mother ( to whose name I add others of family, my late father etc and those I know have no one. ( to pray for them. )  We have made the zito ( koliva) and have the wine and bread that is  tradition here. 
      Several points.   ANYONE WHO DELIBERATELY  DOES NOT REMEMBER THE DEAD IN THIS WAY IS NOT ORTHODOX.  I note many converts seem not to. 
      Here in Bulgaria this rememberance of the dead with the notices stuck up on house doors etc, in a secular country, is very strong and general. 
      Why.?  Well not because as medeval catholicism taught for money that   we can shift them on to heaven!!!  Rubbish.  
      But medeval catholicism had a wider truth in that for the Parish, the Sunday liturgy was the occassion to remember all their dead on the Parish beade roll, offered in the Mass  
      We remember the dead as an act of RELATIONSHIP,  A CONTINUATION FROM LIFE. 
      We remember the dead from the lived continual experience of the Church. 
      The rest we leave to God.  I leave all the fancy theology and the  rest to u guys.  NOT NEEDED. 

      • Lutheran no more says

        Nikos said: “We remember the dead as an act of RELATIONSHIP, A CONTINUATION FROM LIFE.”
        Absolutely! As an “evangelical protestant”, I was taught that those who died were with Jesus, and no more worry need to be had for them. I lost my father when I was eight years old and this left a huge void in my heart. When I began to grow in Orthodoxy, I learned to reestablish this lost connection with my dad through prayer.

        • Lutheran no more. Thank you and memory eternal to yr father. 
          Yes the memorial was wonderful and the sharing of the food and wine after. It is this act of relationship and its deepening.  And you know u can ask yr deceased ones to pray for you as you for  them. Death does not cut this connection but deepens it. Bishop Antony Bloom spoke and wrote about this often. He was Russian surgeon doctor in London. As u probably know. 
          Protestant ideology has vandalised spirituality in it’s reaction to extremes of  medeval catholicism as with it’s “I’m saved ‘ ,  by Christ’s blood. Once and for all.  No understanding that we are saved and fall every day til we die. It’s spiritual lazyness and arrogance and misreading of  Gospels. 
          By yr fruits you shall know them and we certainly do. 
           

  3. I recall in the lives of the newly-revealed Martyrs of Mytilene, Nicholas, Raphael and Irene that they revealed to many people in a certain village of Mytilene that they received much comfort from prayers for the dead, candles lit at their graves  and incense burned at their graves. The revelation of the location of the bodies of these three saints was in my opinion one of the greatest manifestation of God’s presence in the 20th century. I suggest you get a copy of their lives. “Orthodox Word” published it back in the 1960’s. I will summarize their lives here.
    In 1959, in a village on the island of Mytilene(Lesbos), Greece, some of the villagers, mostly children and older women, began having recurring dreams about three people, Rapahel and Nicholas, one of whom was a deacon, and Irene, the ten year old daughter of the mayor of the island back when the Ottomans took over the island, I believe somewhere in the early 1500’s. Now the faithful of the island had always gone in procession to the site of the martyrdom on Bright Tuesday. But, as the centuries passed, though they continued the procession on Bright Tuesday, they had forgotton why.  In the dreams, the villagers were told that the Saints wanted an icon painted, and they described themselves to the villagers, and the famous iconographer, Photios Kontoglou did paint their icon, copies of which have been widely distributed. Irene had been boiled in oil in the presence of her father, to convince him to renounce his faith. The deacon had been tortured by having his jaw sawed off. To conclude what is a long story, in the villagers’ dreams, the Saints began asking that their relics be dug up and put in the church. When asked to do the digging, the men of the village, most of whom were communists ridiculed the old ladies and children and refused to dig. But, when offered money, they did dig on the spot indicated in the dreams. And then, Thavma ton Thavmaton, there was little Irene, I believe still in the urn, and the other two, with the deacon having no jaw. Today, the church with the relics of the three, newly-revealed martyrs is one of the most visited in Greece.
    Forgive me on the details which come from the memory box of a mind that has seen better days. But, please get a copy of the Martyrs’ lives, it is extremely inspiring. I’m sure someone can post here where to find their lives. Their feast is celebrated every year on Bright Tuesday. A small, but growing number of GOA churches are celebrating Divine Liturgy in honor of Saints Raphaels, Nicholas and Irene. There are a couple of GOA churches named after the Martyrs, and a few churches in North America have pieces of their relics, including the chapel at Holy Cross Seminary.
     
     
     

    • George Michalopulos says

      Astounding!

    • Thank you for the discussion on the newly-revealed Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene. The link below is to a talk by Visiliki Ralli, one of first people in the village that St. Raphael spoke with. She gives eye witness accounts of many of the events, not all recorded in books. This is part 1 and I do not know where part 2 is. Also I do not know how to obtain that book she wrote. This Youtube channel, Vasileia, has many additional interesting videos with English subtitles. You might be interested in Fr. Nikon’s talks on various subjects. Archbishop Pavlos talk (I love you because you are you)  applies to many situations.  The link to the more recent talk by Mrs. Ralli is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99f5_Zf-UCg.  Older footage with several eye witness accounts is here (also subtitled): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lf_NhvhU0xM&t=87s

  4. A monk once told me that the words and hymns and prayers in a memorial service and a funeral service are just much  for those attending the service as they are for the departed person.

  5. Helen T. says

    Going to a Russian memorial service for a woman who was cremated (yes, problem there, but didn’t know at the time) involving standing for 4 hours in the funeral home while the Russian priest read out the Service for the Dead and prayed for her was the final eye-opening event for me to go into an Orthodox church and inquire.  I converted that night…That was the first time anyone had said that prayers for the dead were needed, wonderful and helpful for them.  The large book from St. Anthony’s, “The Departure of the Soul” has cleared up any doubts I might have had these years of the process of dying and why we pray for the dead.

  6. Gail Sheppard says

    You all have no idea how much you’ve helped me.  The whole aspect of time being just a construct for our physical beings is mind-blowing, as we used to say.  Your comments served as one more reason why we follow what the Church teaches even if we don’t completely understand why. I know some of you have prayed for my son, Andrew Chase, in the past when I was just too compromised to pray myself.  He was 28 when he died, and a large part of me died with him that day.  He tried to say, “Mom.”  That was his first word and that was his last; his life felt like water running through my fingers.  I just couldn’t hold onto him.  It is a surreal experience for a mother to lose a life she brought into the world. It doesn’t seem possible, somehow, that I shouldn’t have just been able to “will” him alive.  

    There is a black, empty space inside of me where Chase used to be.  I can’t bear to even look at his pictures because the loss is just too painful.  I have not put a marker on his grave, nor have I been back to stand at the foot of it because I cannot bear to think of him there.  The first time it rained, I was beside myself thinking he would be cold and wet in the ground.  My brain is just not rational where he is concerned.  But more recently, I’ve had this feeling that I should be praying for him and frankly until you shared with me all the reasons why it seemed like it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. Praying more diligently is going to bring a lot of tears, as the mere thought of him always does, but someone once told me the tears of a mother availeth much.  So, I’ll pray and accept the tears, in the hope that they will credit him.

    Chase really was such an extraordinary person.  In many respects, I didn’t even know him until after he passed.  Oh, I knew he would have stood in front of a bus to protect me, of that I was certain, but what I didn’t know was all the ways he helped so many others.  My son had this whole other life apart from me!  That I didn’t see this until the end seems ridiculous.  When he passed it was Christmas Eve and many of his friends were away for vacation with their families.  I expected very few would be able to attend his funeral and was embarrassed that the only chapel that was available was the largest one, at the largest cemetery in the United States, where he was buried.  But I was wrong.  The chapel was filled.  People were even standing in the back.  Of course, my entire parish was there, something else I hadn’t expected, with so many others whom Chase had befriended, young and old.  I heard story after story of his bravery and kindness.  Even a police escort showed up.  Something we hadn’t paid for because the chapel was just steps from his grave, but if you knew Chase, this would not seem strange at all.

    I’d like to share a little bit about him.  Chase never learned to walk.  At about 9 months, he just stood up and ran one day and his entire life was like that.  He knew no fear and he was too smart for his own good.  He scored at the 9th grade level at mathematical concepts and application by the time he was in kindergarten.  He was a handsome kid, too.  This particular combination made living in the world extremely difficult because he was just not like anybody else.

    He wasn’t shortchanged in the heart department either.  When he was 5, his teacher told me that he was “wiggly”, so she put him on a point system.  Every day he wasn’t “wiggly,” he got a star and at the end of 30 days, if he had 30 stars in a row, he could get a toy.  He was really invested in getting that toy and the teacher let him bring home a potential selection of firetrucks, police cars, etc. 

    Finally, after 30 days of straight gold stars, he was able to claim his prize.  I came home early from work that day because it was such a big deal.  I said, “Chase, what did you get?”  He was hiding it behind his back.  “Was it the police car or the firetruck?  Let me see!” He slowly brought his hands in front of me so I could see his prize.  It wasn’t a police car or a firetruck or any of the things we had discussed.  Inside his little fingers was a ring for me.  It had a little blue stone.  He said apologetically, “I know it’s not great, Mom, but when I’m bigger, I’m going to put diamonds around it for you.”  That was my son.  He had this extraordinary heart.

    I’d like to share one last thing with you.  I mentioned that I have a birthday coming up this week and every year I pull this out.  It is a poem he wrote to me on my birthday when he was 18:

    My Dearest Mother

    Today is your special day
    I have little to give but much to say.
     
    A little less than a half a century ago
    The Lord made an angel but no one would know
    She had a rough life and growing up was hard
    But she stuck with the Lord and made Jesus her guard
     
    Now that she’s grown
    And has a family her own
    Yes, now finally she’ll reap what she always has sown
     
    But soon her son was out in sin
    And she tried everything to bring him in
     
    She never gave up and never stepped down
    And for that, she saw him walk the platform in a gown
     
    Now her son has returned never to leave again
    Oh, how he can’t thank her enough for bringing him in
     
    After all this I just want you to know
    I love you dearly and thank you for not letting me go
     
    You’re the greatest mother a son could have.
     
    Happy Birthday,
     
    Your son, Chase
     

    He always signed his letters, “Your son, Chase.”  I think he did it because he liked saying he was my son.  What a treasure to have a son who thinks you’re that special.

    Thank you all again from the bottom of my heart.
     

    • California says

      Gail,
      Your large, warm heart has so much love. If only more in our church were willing to feel what they need to feel and confront and deal with those feelings, regardless of the fear, pain, anger, shame, or whatever else may present itself. Feeling what we need to feel and working through these feelings is the path toward healing. Do not be afraid to get a therapist and/or support group, since most of us cannot work through all of this on our own. 
      Our Church tradition teaches that no one has ever suffered or will ever suffer more than Our Holy Mother, who also lost her Son. May her prayers and kinship bring you comfort and healing. Many prayers for your son, always. Memory eternal!

      • George Michalopulos says

        Gail, I wish I had known your precious son.

        • Matthew Panchisin says

          Dear George and Gail,
           
          In reference to prayers for the dead, I think first and foremost the Orthodox Church is profoundly a grace filled place of reconciliation, it is the very nature of the Church, man being reconciled with God through the Grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Love of God the Father and the Communion of the Holy Spirit. It is simply a continuation of the spirit of reconciliation, as such very often prayers (more precisely mysterion) panikhidas or parastas are offered within the liturgical life of Christ’s Church, therein the new commandment “That ye love one another; as I have loved you,” is manifest throughout time, love is transcendent.
           
          “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age. Amen.”
           
          Time and time again panikhidas or parastas and private prayers are offered by the servants of God, we know the constancy of reconciliation well, we sin and struggle yet in the Church with the blessing of God’s Bishops and Priests (in confession and communion, mysterion) there is blessed reconciliation even with all of our shortcomings. Shine! Shine! O New Jerusalem! The Glory of the Lord has shone on you! Exalt now and be glad, O Zion! Be radiant, O Pure Theotokos, in the Resurrection of your Son!
           
          God’s love, the intercessions of the Theotokos for us and those that have departed this life remains radiant, ultimately it is a matter of essence, the incarnation and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the one who is the God-man, the word became flesh and dwelt among us.
           
          Man is made in the image and likeness of God as such there are many intimately most beloving intercessors, saints, archangels and angels who are radiant with love.
           
           “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”

          “And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.”
           
          I think that the reality of the Orthodox Church being the place of reconciliation is also why the Church fathers so lament schisms and speak out against those that create them and support them in words and deeds.
           
          Martin Luther precipitated many removals that continue on to this day, outside of Christ’s Church I remain convinced that anything can happen. Nevertheless, we have seen and know that for Orthodox Christians, prayers can never in reality be “vain repetitions etc.”.

    • Mrs. Sheppard, I do not know when/why/how your son died (nor is it my business to know); however, I affirm that your son is greatly blessed to have the ongoing love of his mother.  Your faith is strong.  Your prayers are strong.  May Christ heal you of any pain, and may Panagia shelter you against buffeting from the world.
      I never questioned that prayers for the dead were efficacious.  I just continue sad that my stubbornly atheistic father very probably is in “an uncomfortable waiting place” (to be euphemistic about the matter).  I shall pray for his soul always.  I place no credence whatsoever in the appalling book coming out from a Dr. Hart, in which (from advertising text) he proclaims the heresy of “universal salvation”.  Rather a bandwagon of his, I take it.
      Again, though, my prayers for your wellbeing and for the soul of your son.

    • Gail, thank you for sharing this. I greive with you as your sister in Christ as I rejoice with you in Christ’s Glorious Resurrection.
      I will remember your son in my prayers. 
      Not long ago, there was a spiritual presentation at my parish and our little group was discussing Church praxis and prayers for the departed. I began to think about how long it takes to remember others and I actually timed how many names I list in one minute. It worked out to about 2 per second with the average of 100 per minute. No time at all! So, if 10 people spent one minute a day remembering 100, that’s 1000. If those 10 people prayed for 10 minutes, that’s 10,000 people!
      Makes one appreciate the impact of all the monastics praying continually for mankind.

    • “It cannot be that the son of those tears should perish.”
      -Saint Ambrose of Milan to Saint Monica regarding her son, Augustine.
       
      One of my favorite replies of God to Ezra’s questions (2 Esdras) is this:
       
      “Thou comest far short that thou shouldest be able to love my creature more than I.”
       
      God Bless you, Gail, and give you peace.

    • Helen T. says

      Dearest Gail,
        Som of us, like me, only know you from here.  I wish I could spend time with you in person, but distance probably prevails.  What you wrote about your son tells me what a wonderful person you are in real life.  Your heartfelt writings above confirm why we pray for the dead and remind me that no matter how much my heart is broken when I remember the closest one in my life to repose, my mother, that I have to try to put my pain aside and ask God to relieve hers, for I do not know where she is – in His light or not.   I can only remember a story I heard early on of the monk who prayed for his mother knowing she was not in God’s light and in his waking vision, he saw that he reached his hand down in the flames to her, she grabbed it and he pulled her out.  When he came to himself, he was at peace and his hand was badly burned (there was no fireplace or fire nearby).  Maybe others of you remember this story more correctly but when I first heard it I nearly lost it thinking of my mother.  and of course, she reposed before I found Orthodoxy, and we know that prayers cannot be said in Liturgy for them if they are not Orthodox.  I have asked the nuns of St. Paisius to pray for her from time to time not thinking my efforts count for anything.  But maybe they do, and certainly knowing your story above, God hears your prayers for your son, Chase.  May your love for him shine to us as an example of how we should be towards our departed family and friends, for what do they have after they die, but us?  Gail, thank you for writing today.

    • Dear Gail,
      I debated if I should post, since I have nothing of wisdom to bring that can heal your heart. Still I can’t help myself. After reading your post, my heart bleeds for you. Whenever I hear about a parent losing a child my heart literally drops and feels heavy in sorrow. My  thoughts always goes  to my own children, and I pray God to spare me such pain.

      All I can offer are my prayers for your son, and for your broken heart.

      Please remember. You are in good company, in that our Mother, the Blessed Theotokos, has suffered your pain as well. She knows what you are going thru, and I cannot imagine, in her most merciful heart, will not intercede not only for you, but most importantly, for your son Chase. God bless you and your entire family Gail.

      Sincerely,
      Dino Tsortanidis
       

  7. The following talk by Priest-Monk Kosmas may shed additional light:
    Do the Dead Need Our Help or Do We Need Theirs? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKvtG8gAtss

  8. Gail my heart bleeds for you but apart from the teaching of the Church, the lived experience, i can say that the memorial services,   the trisagion at the grave, maintain and deepen a relationship.  PLEASE HAVE THEM DONE FOR ALL YR SAKES. We never fully know a person in this life. Death deepens year by year that relationship.    God bless and MEMORY ETERNAL. 

  9. Some one asked me recently why we have the days nationally to remember the end of WWi etc. I said, not to remember war, but to remember and if believer, to pray for the dead.  They had never thought of that. 

  10. Gail,
    You will be separated from Chase for less than the blink of an eye when measured against all eternity. All of your pain, sadness and nostalgia is nothing less than overflowing love. These feelings – rather than being relegated to days gone by – are harbingers of what is to come. This love you have for Chase will be fully satisfied and transformed when you spend all eternity with him in the presence of Christ. The best is yet to come! God bless you!

    • Michael Bauman says

      Mike, I know you mean well, but what you say is a bit like a slap in the face to one in grief. Frankly, it is “New Age” clap trap. It is like saying, your grief is meaningless. Grief is not meaningless. In fact it is fully acknowledged in the Orthodox funeral service: “I weep and I wail”. That is part of the catharsis that goes on for the bereaved during the service. Our grief is, too, lifted up to God.

      Grief of a loved one never goes away, nor should it. That is part of our prayer of Memory Eternal. When a human being dies, it is a terrible thing.

      We put it away in the back of our heart and it is gradually overcome by joy, but the knowledge of loss is always present because grief is love. This is especially true when one looses a child.

      It is not healthy to deny it with sugar coated “spiritual” platitudes. While I may be speaking only for myself and my own reaction to such things when I was grieving the loss of my wife, I do not think it is just me as my wife agrees with me.

      When my wife, Pamela, died 14 years ago, I felt as if half of my soul were torn out. Despite the fact that God has given me a loving and beautiful wife, Merry, for the last 10 years the scar is still there covered in scar tissue, just as the scar in Merry’s soul for the loss of her husband is still there. We work around the scars by acknowledging the love we each have for our spouses, reposed.

      Mike, if you have not, sit down and read through the Orthodox funeral service. You will find a much different understanding of death and loss than your comment currently suggests.

      Gail, know that you are not alone in your grief, God shares it, I share it. My wife Merry who lost a son at birth, shares it. All who have lost someone dear, share it and we lift you up in prayer.

      • Michael,
        I also know that you also mean well. I do not mean to brush aside someone’s grief. Forgive me Gail if I added to your pain. My intent was the exact opposite. In my profession I have a front row seat to the rawest of  pain and the depth of despair. As a father of nine I fight the many many moments of sentimentality with the spiritual reality that we live for the next world. Sentimentaly based on this life has the potential to paralyze me if I let it. (I fully realize the difference between the death of a loved one and my example). I apply this very medicine to myself daily. What lies just on the horizon for those of us who profess Christ necessities that we constantly keep before our eyes the remembrance of death and the reality of the afterlife. What comes of as sentimental is a steely eyed determination to fight to do Gods will in my life. This life is but the blink of an eye when compared to eternity. I do not diminish Gail’s pain one iota. My eyes teared up as I read her post. I hope in some small sense I was able to bear a sliver of her pain. If we cooperate with the will of God we will in fact spend all eternity together. She should have real hope that she will be united with her son – again and forever. I can’t take all her pain from her – only God can transform it. No satanic new age required. If the current trajectory of our society continues we have a very near Christian geonocide on our hands. We need a steely eyed focus of what this life is really about and for. This does not diminish the reality that death is not natural and is a result of the fall. This is at the core of why it is such a profound struggle in so many ways – to include our little dialogue here. I take solace in the fact that even Christ shed tears for Lazarus. He also ascended His Cross in the greatest act of heroism the world has ever witnessed. He also rose again – and lives! So shall we!
        Michael- I’m also sorry for your loss. I will say a prayer for you now. Memory Eternal upon the souls of Pamela and also Merry’s former husband. We all have different ways that we deal with our scars. None of us leave this life unscathed. 
        God Bless.
         

  11. Zelo Kardimas says

    Kyriakos Mitsoakis is the great grandson of Venizelos sister Katingo and his wife’s grandfather was a Polish pharmacist Grabowski. Meletios Metaxakis was a cousin of Venizelos. Andreas Papandreou’s mother was the Polish Sofia Mineyko and his father was a close associate of Venizelos. 1952-1970 Constantine Caramanlis married Amalia Kanellopoulou, the niece of Panayiotis Kanellopoulos. In 1976 there was a nepotal union of the Karamanlis and Papandreou clans. And you thought Prince Albert’s dreams of uniting Europe by royal amarriage was bad?See https://larouchepub.com/eiw/public/1985/eirv12n19-19850514/eirv12n19-19850514_038-is_the_state_department_in_collu.pdf

    • Constantinos says

      George,
      Why do people always refer to Ecumenical Patriarch Metaxakis as Meletio Metaxakis? Shouldn’t it be Ecumenical Patriarch Metaxakis of blessed memory, and May his memory be eternal? People always jump on his Masonic membership. So what? Big deal. He was only a Blue Lodge Mason because Greece didn’t have the Scottish Rite or the York Rites.
      When we think of the masonic pillars of the community, they are ALWAYS at least 32 degree Scottish Rite, York Rite Masons along with being Shriners,. He was none of those things. All the great Masons I know are Scottish Rite, York Rite, and Shriners. Great men like Sam Nunn, and former US Attorney General Elliot Richardson. You can sense a goodness, dignity, gentlemanly demeanor, and courtliness about them. In essence, they are the best society has to offer. Motto: If you want to be a truly great man, go through the Scottish Rites, York Rites, become a Shriner, and attend Blue Lodge regularly. What Orthodoxy desperately needs is more Masons, then you won’t have all the B.S that goes on in Orthodoxy. I have never met an Orthodox Christian who was half as good as a real Mason unless that Orthodox Christian is also a Mason. Thank God for this noble fraternity.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Costa, the reason his memory is execrated is not because of his Masonic membership. That has very little to do with it. It is because of all the damage he did to the Church in general (and the See of Cpole in particular):

        1. Instituted the New Calendar without convening a real council.
        2. Threw the Russian Orthodox Church under the bus in order to make nice with the satanic Bolsheviks who created an illegitimate “Living Church” to replace it.
        3. Dusted off the title “Ecumenical” and gave it a near-blasphemous meaning which was never used that way before.

        I’m sure there are more that others can think of. Almost everything about his ministry was a scandal. I came up with these three just off the top of my head. Regardless, they have done incalculable damage to the Body of Christ.

        Lord have mercy!

        • Michael Bauman says

          George, did he not also instigate persecutions against those in Greece who opposed the new calendar through his alliance with the Greek state? Persecutions that led to the death of many?

          He abandoned Constantinople when the political climate was no longer in his favor becoming the Patriarch of Alexandria and, I believe was campaigning for Patriarch of Antioch when he died. His blatant trading for office also makes him unworthy.

        • George, as Christians we should be very careful and accurate when talking about the Lodge. 
          “Costa, the reason his memory is execrated is not because of his Masonic membership.”
          Now Christians and Meletios Metaxakis “par excellence” should believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God. Does the Lodge agree about that, when it has members of any religion including those who reject the above.
          Is this what Meletios promised to do in his ordination? No, because the texts they then say are standard. Is this fact alone not enough reason “reason his memory is execrated”?  How can there be another stronger reason than that?
          I think Costas has not yet REALLY made up his mind whether he is with Christ (more accurately the Holy Trinity)  or somebody else, we cannot work for two Masters, says Christ.
           

          • Constantinos says

            Ioannis, I am 100% committed to the Lord Jesus Christ first and foremost. I made up my mind to follow and serve our Lord Jesus Christ a long time ago. Like millions of other Christians, including many priests, I see no conflict between Christ and the Lodge. I can guarantee you one thing, freemasonry makes a man a better Christian. Connie Marker, a devout Greek Orthodox Christian, and a world famous professional wrestling referee was very devoted to his Greek Orthodox Church and his freemasonry because there is no conflict. This is a question that each Orthodox Christian lay man must decide for himself. It’s between the Orthodox Christian and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I believe our Lord has abundantly blessed the lodges through their great philanthropic work. Don’t be a sheeple. Think for yourself. If you don’t like freemasonry, you don’t like the US because our country was founded on the principles of freemasonry.  Of course, the greatest American in history, George Washington was a devout Anglican, and a devoted freemason. If you don’t like it, you may feel more comfortable in Saudi Arabia, Nazi Germany, or any other  totalitarian regime. Without freemasonry, there never would have been a United States. 

            • Constantinos said:”I can guarantee you one thing, freemasonry makes a man a better Christian.”

              1)
              Is this a joke?
              So, according to Constantinos, Christians are not good enough if they are not freemasons!So, the Christian Teaching alone (which does include Philanthropy) is not good enough? Lord have mercy!

              “And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments [is], Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this [is] the first commandment.” (Mark 12:29-30)

              2)
              Only a couple of weeks ago you declared, Costa, that you had left the Lodge,now you come back saying Christians need it to become better. So, naturally NOW you go back to the Lodge and you intimidate the rest of us who do not want to join.

              Costa, please make up your mind,
              or is this some new method of promoting freemasonry
              e.g. by trial and error?

              • Constantinos says

                No, Ioannis, 
                I haven’t left the lodge, and wouldn’t. It’s definitely not for Orthodox Christians of the Russian persuasion. Stick with Russian totalitarianism. Doe you really think I would leave the lodge after just joining?
                 

                • Well Costa this is what you wrote only three weeks ago :


                  Constantinos says
                  July 1, 2019 at 5:58 pm
                  George,
                  Being an honest man, I can admit when I am wrong. In this instance, I was wrong about freemasonry. I came across a book by a mason named Robert V. Lund. Perusing the book on Amazon, he makes some very dangerous connections between freemasonry and occult systems such as the Rosicrusians and Theosophy. Since there is such a thing as esoteric masonry, it is completely incompatible with Orthodox Christianity, and a Christian should avoid the lodge at all costs. There’s nothing in it for the Christian. I was wrong. Now, I could use some approbations for admitting I was wrong. May others follow my holy example. Outside of this news, I’m still not going to post anymore.
                  Link:
                  https://www.monomakhos.com/ode-to-greatly-saddened-part-vii-2/#comment-141651

                  Now you say:

                  “I haven’t left the lodge, and wouldn’t.”

                  How does that fit with what you said above:
                  “…a Christian should avoid the lodge at all costs…

                  • Constantinos says

                    Ioannis,
                    You called me your good friend; let’s leave it at that, shall we? It’s not that I am unable to answer your question, it’s just that I think Michael Stankovich is right. This subject is rather boring, therefore I will no longer discuss it. I’d rather speak with loving kindness like Michael than win all the arguments in the world. I’m really not interested in crossing swords with you or anyone else at this point. Thank you.

                    • BTW Costa, I trust you can understand that 
                      “no answer” IS an answer, like
                      Zero IS a number.

                      Everything will be just fine Costa,
                      for as long as you do not write things like,
                      “all the B.S that goes on in Orthodoxy.”
                      or similar contempt about the Orthodox Church, the body of Christ.

          • Constantinos says

            Dear George,
             You know how much I love our country. You may find this kind of interesting. Mount Vernon produces a Masonic George Washington Byer’s Choice Carolers doll. I quote, ” Washington was among many founding fathers who were Masons including Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton. The Marque de Lafayette was also a Mason. Masonry was a theme throughout Washington’s life, and was observed at his death.”
            I maintain that if a man doesn’t honor our greatest American ever, that person is guilty of treason against the US.  These people should be deported from the US. Remember, Orthodoxy had absolutely nothing to do with the founding of the greatest country in world history. I look at these posters who come against me as being irremediably dumb.  It seems like Orthodoxy destroys some people’s ability to think rationally, and logically.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Costa, there you go again.

        Just in case you haven’t noticed, the Orthodox Church is the Church of the maimed, the halt and the lame. It is good to strive for moral uprightness and leadership but the picture you paint of Masonic men is that they are in no need of salvation.

        • Constantinos says

          Mr. Bauman, I’m not talking about eternal salvation; I’m talking about doing good deeds and being a respected leader in your own community in the here and now, brother. As Ben Franklin said, ” Plough deep while sluggards sleep.” 

          • George Michalopulos says

            I kinda like that. Old Ben was a wise fellow if you ask me. Still, good deeds are good in and of themselves, yet if you perform them (and we should) then this tells me that the person performing them is goodhearted. And wise. Why not enter the Church and live the fullness of life in the here and now?

            • Constantinos says

              Dear George, I agree with you completely. You are 100% correct.

              • Constantinos: “Dear George, I agree with you completely.”
                 
                Then do it, please! And forget about other, strange altars.
                 
                 
                 

                • Yes Martin, indeed!
                  Our dear friend Costas should make a big and definitive decision one of these days. It is a tyranny for him to try to stand on two boats with legs open, looking down on the waves.
                  He should  jettison all of the leftover masonic baggage and go completely on board the new Ark of Salvation, the Holy Orthodox Church of Christ, which has the complete truth and does not need “improvements or supplements”  from freemasonry or any other man-made philosophy or religion.

      • George Kender Comney says

        It is because monmax are shilling for the evil magog, see: 
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundations_of_Geopolitics

        • George Michalopulos says

          Mr Comney (a descendant of the Comneni family?), I rather like Aleksandr Dugin’s political thought.

        • Monk James Silver says

          George Kender Comney (July 18, 2019 at 11:47 am) says:

          It is because monmax are shilling for the evil magog, see:
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundations_of_Geopolitics

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          Right. The Gospel According to Wiki.

          The Russians have Dugin & Co. just like we Americans have Brzezinski & Co. two global conspiracy theorists regarding each other as the imaginary ‘Magog’, all fitting in nicely with international politics as understood by madmen.

      • Monk James Silver says

        Constantinos (July 18, 2019 at 8:29 am) says:
        (SNIPPING Masonic propaganda)

        ‘What Orthodoxy desperately needs is more Masons, then you won’t have all the B.S that goes on in Orthodoxy. I have never met an Orthodox Christian who was half as good as a real Mason unless that Orthodox Christian is also a Mason. Thank God for this noble fraternity.’

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        Freemasonry is a religion in and of itself. There is no room in Orthodox Christianity for another faith and its false gods, or for the people who profess such a faith, no matter how good and decent they may seem to be otherwise.

        We are reliably told that the devil himself can appear as an ‘angel of light’, and the saints consistently warn us against such deceptive appearances.

        • Constantinos says

          Monk James,
          Please allow me to ask you a question. Was George Washington an angel of light? How about the other Masonic founding fathers? George Washington is the greatest American in US history. He was also a devout Anglican and a dedicated freemason.
          Let’s remember: Orthodoxy had absolutely nothing to do with the founding of America. This country was built on the principles of freemasonry.  Freemasonry leaves the worship of God up to the individual Mason, just like the US Constitution. Thousands of devout Orthodox Christians unanimously state that their freemasonry has made them better, more dedicated Orthodox Christians.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Costa, I have no problem with history and historical facts.  Yes, George Washington was a Mason and a slaveholder.  I care not.  I think he was a great man.  I’ll even go so far as to say he was providential.   One of the greatest who ever lived.  His salvation is not for me to discern.  I got to worry about my own.

          • “This country was built on the principles of freemasonry.”
             
            Glad we can admit that now. So, what about Albert Pike’s Morals and Dogma, where he explicitly states that Lucifer is the god of the Masons?
             
            Does it not disturb you that our country was built on the ‘principles’ of an admittedly Luciferian brotherhood?

            • Just in case anyone doubts what I wrote:
               
              https://www.rusjournal.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Masons.pdf
               
              Read this excellent article from an Old Calendarist priest.

              • M. Stankovich says

                “Excellent article,” you say. Where is Francis Frost when you need him.

                This deposed priest – deposed by the OCA for his refusal to stop his Nationalism political activities – invests an considerable amount of time on his website badmouthing  and trashing “world Orthodoxy” (i.e. everyone but HOCNA et al., which he refers to as True Believers) while apparently “tolerating” being defended in the context of “conspiracy”:

                “The question has to be asked whether an outside group was putting pressure on his former colleagues to denounce him, due to his association with Matthew Heimbach [another classy white nationalist, and apparently an Orthodox Christian as well] and the Traditionalist Worker Party.”

                Um, why am I thinking that, like too many I have read about who make their way to HOCNA claiming “persecution” and how everyone but them have apostacized from the Orthodox faith, some for horrendous charges of pedophilia, this gentleman because he “does not care for political correctness if it prevents the truth from being spoken [him and me]. The Orthodox Church was supportive of National Socialism during the war and saw Hitler as a valuable ally against atheistic Communism [60-year old water under the bridge, bro’]. This is not a popular thing to say in countries that are run by the same banking system that bankrolled Communism and the Western Church would rather we did not know this [behind every great conspiracy is the “secret” that somebody doesn’t want us to know].” And we need an Orthodox priest to be intimately involved with Neo-Nazis and the Traditionalist Worker Party for what reason? I got money that says your “post” was a Google “lucky hit,” that randomly appeared. I find this particularly irresponsible on your part and offensive in that this fellow refers to Masons as “creeps,” when he meet the diagnostic criteria himself. 
                 
                As for the content of this article, I read through it several times and I still don’t get what these Masons are up to; but then again, I don’t have a Ph.D. in History from the University of Nebraska. But in my estimation, that is exactly what is wrong with this presentation: as he notes, it is an amalgam of “information” he has gathered about the historical Masons and their beliefs. He is building a case for the imposition of their historical beliefs as the identical contemporary beliefs and revelation of the “evil of Masonry,” by citing publications, such as The Spirit of Freemasonry, which was published in 1775. Is this an accurate depiction of Masonry in 2019? To put it another way, let’s suppose we put together a quiz to determine the level of knowledge and understanding of Orthodox Dogmatic Theology of the stereotypical ethnic American Orthodox Christian. We’ll use seven questions, one dogmatic principle established at each of the Ecumenical Councils (or for that matter, alternately, seven principles from the Nicene Creed heard at every Liturgy). What would be your best guess be as to the average score? I do not believe it uncharitable to presume 1 or 2 correct answers at best, and 0 to 1 as infinitely more likely (and necessitating the whole bunch being excommunicated as heretics?). Johnson would have us believe that “it is certainly not exaggeration to say that Lucifer controls the Phanar, and most of those in communion with it [That would be me and you]. Keep in mind as you read these things that many of the hierarchs in “world Orthodoxy” [I am presuming this refers to any hierarch outside of HOCNA et al.?] accept these teachings, and have taken oaths that prove their acceptance of these.” WAT! This is certainly the proverbial “fine kettle of [dubious] fish.” Personally, I am unwilling to accept this as more than the typical sophistry (OED, Specious but fallacious reasoning; employment of arguments which are intentionally deceptive). 
                 
                My point here is that to suggest that becoming a Mason in 2019 has no resemblance to what was Masonry historically in 18th century France and England, and is patently ridiculous. The FAQ on a Masonic educational site pretty much covers it:

                I hear and read about Free Masons being satanic, taking part in pagan rites, attempting to create a New World Order (NWO), such as the New World Order videos on YouTube, and their plans to take over the world. Is any of this true?

                No. In fact, let’s consider this, rationally, at greater length. Entire countries and civilizations have come, gone and changed in the several hundred year period during which Freemasonry has existed.

                If Freemasons were, in fact, attempting to take over the world, (having approximately 300+ years in which to accomplish such a feat), one could only come to the logical conclusion that these Masonic secrets are either tremendously well-kept (from both Freemasons and non-Freemasons) or… that after all this time, Free Masons aren’t very effective planners.

                I read and hear a lot about the belief in Masonic pentagrams in the streets of Washington, D.C., secret Masonic conspiracies, Anti-Christian and anti-Bible beliefs, etc. If I become a Free Mason, will I learn more about these?

                No.

                Why not?

                There aren’t any… which is why none can be “uncovered”. If your sole reason to join Freemasonry is to learn more about these types of Masonic myths, media hype, the occult and other supposed Masonic secrets, you will be deeply disappointed.

                And further:
                 
                The requirements to join Freemasons, are:

                1. You must be a man of good repute.

                2. In most U.S. states, you must be over the age of 21. Some states vary, so you will need to ask.

                3. You must believe in a Supreme Being. (This is a requirement in the majority of jurisdictions around the world.)

                4. You must be able to support yourself and your family.

                5. You must live a moral and ethical life.

                6. You must have a strong desire to want to make a difference in the world. By your actions, you want to make yourself a better man, and make your community and the world a better place to live.

                Now, here I’m thinking Costa’s point about, “What Orthodoxy desperately needs is more Masons” – and I would clarify, “desperately needs more Masons who live by the principles required for membership – is a lucid observation. If only we lived our lives pursuant to the “principle” espoused in the Gospels…

                Monk James states,

                “Freemasonry is a religion in and of itself. There is no room in Orthodox Christianity for another faith and its false gods, or for the people who profess such a faith, no matter how good and decent they may seem to be otherwise. We are reliably told that the devil himself can appear as an ‘angel of light’, and the saints consistently warn us against such deceptive appearances.”

                Had he uttered these words in 1795, I believe he would have a case. But if we examine Fr. Alexander Schmemann’s “Two No’s and a Yes (“No to secularism, no to ‘religion,’ and yes to the Church.”), he is very clear: 

                “It is here that we reach the heart of the matter. For Christianity help is not the criterion. Truth is the criterion. The purpose of Christianity is not to help people by reconciling them with death, but to reveal the Truth about life and death in order that people may be saved by this Truth. Salvation, however, is not only not identical with help, but is, in fact, opposed to it. Christianity quarrels with religion and secularism not because they offer ‘insufficient help,’ but precisely because they ‘suffice,’ because they ‘satisfy’ the needs of men. If the purpose of Christianity were to take away from man the fear of death, to reconcile him with death, there would be no need for Christianity, for other religions have done this, indeed, better than Christianity.” (For the Life of the World)

                You will not convince me that contemporary Masonry is attempting to be anything that resembles what Fr. Alexander describes as “the purpose of Christianity,” I conclude by repeating my analogy: Halloween is not a “feast of the initiation into darkness,” despite what may be confounded in its origin. In fact, it’s all about the candy bro’, nothing more, nothing less. 

                • Monk James Silver says

                  Well, Michael Stankovich, your words in support of the benignity of Freemasonry are just so much bilge. You have been greatly deceived.

                  You need to look more deeply into the significance of the practices and rituals of Freemasonry, and discern their significance _vi-a-vis_ Orthodox Christian liturgy and its meaning, starting with Baptism and the Resurrection of Christ.

                  And then you must explain why masonic rituals are unacceptable or at least not for Christians, if you know how.

                  The fact that an ordinary. garden-variety Mason might be unaware that the cultic and non=Christian practices and rituals of the lodge’s religion are unchristian and even antichristian is not at issue, God help them.

                  The truth is that the higher-ups of the masonic order are quite well aware of what all this means, and they are not Christians — they are Masons first, last, and always..

                • What nonsense. Pulling up a man’s sketchy connections in order to try and critique his work is lame. His article is mostly  a series of quotes from Masonic texts, let them speak for themselves.
                   
                  If Monk James is correct in stating that Freemasonry is a religion in and of itself – and I believe that he is – then your approach to this issue is completely off.
                   
                  If someone wants to know the doctrines of Orthodox Christianity, we show them the Holy Scriptures, the writings of the Holy Fathers, etc., all written thousands or hundreds of years ago, with our faith remaining unchanged. Three Romes have come and gone and our faith remains the same, but somehow Freemasonry, after only a couple hundred years, has completely changed because of the rise and fall of political entities.
                   
                  Just because the majority of Freemasons are completely ignorant of its tenets at higher levels does not take anything away from the fact that this is a fundamentally dark and gnostic-esque religion, connected with various doctrines that are antithetical to Christianity, just as the fact that a good number of Orthodox Christians are ignorant of the fundamentals of the faith doesn’t take anything away from our status as the True Church of Christ.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Basil, regrettably I have to agree with both you and Monk James on this. And I say this as a former member of the Blue Lodge. I studied deeply its literature and I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was a very religious element to it all (and I’m not just talking about its liturgies).

                    As for the Scottish Rite, its premier ideologue (Gen Albert Pike) was a self-described Luciferian. It’s gnostic roots are apparent everywhere. Best to leave it alone.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Yesterday, I was casually telling one of the docs in our “garage band” about this discussion. He told me that the Scottish Rite Center was 10-minutes from my house and has a open luncheon on Mondays, so I went there today.
                       
                      I was invited to join a small group of men (to say that the event was “sparsely attended” would be charitable) – two of whom were “higher-ups of the masonic order.” As they are desperate for new members (they didn’t tell me until the end that they could not sustain the Center financially, and that it was quietly on the market for sale) they were disappointed when I explained that I was there to ask a few questions about their understanding of the “nature” of the Masonic Lodge, and why they were Masons. I then read them part of this discussion, including quotes from Mr. Johnson’s “essay.” Among their comments was there adamant insistence, “We are not a religion, and we discourage any member attempting to use or promote Masonry as a religion.” wow. I attempted to discern their idea of “ritual,” and told them the concepts presented in The Sacred and the Profane by Mircea Elliade. They simply were not at a level of appreciating the “depth” of such a discussion, and had no hesitation in saying so. Yet despite telling me they found the prescribed rituals interesting – one even said they are “fun and enjoyable,” “We are not a religion.”  On man said something very interesting, something I had never considered: “Back in the day, when I was in a Greek fraternity in college, we conducted prescribed ‘rituals,’ but no one ever believed it was a religion, or accused us of being a religion.” They were very clear as to what they derived from Masonry, as one man said, “I get half or more of my sales contracts through our members.” Another said, “I can always tell if a business lead is a Mason by their honesty and integrity. Our manner of speaking, our “language,” and how we present ourselves  identifies us to one another.” All of them spoke about their pride for their charitable activities, especially providing medical care to childre, When I mentioned that people on this site had said they would never take their child to a Shriner’s hospital because they were “evil and dark,” they said that they considered this form of prejudice foolish and ignorant. “Do think we eat children?” All in all, I was a pleasant and informative lunch (they paid my “donation).
                       
                      To say my initial comment was “support of the benignity of Freemasonry,” is ridiculous. I was attempting to disrupt yet another “shame storm.” Wasn’t it less than a month ago, when I said the crisis in the Orthodox Church was secularization, compartmentalization, and indifference, I was told a number of time I did not seem to understand that these are the “last times” (Apparently I am in good company: “But of that day and that hour no man knows, no, not the angels which are in heaven, and neither the Son, but only the Father.” (Mk. 13:32)) and that homosexuality threatened the integrity and structure of the Church. Madonna Mia! Make up your mind already. It seems that speculation of this sort leads one to say, “Take heed, watch and pray: for you know not when the time is,” (Mk. 13:33) and to “Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” (Mt. 6:33) St. Tikhon of Zadonsk summarized it this way: “With you sins before you, live your life as if today is your final day.”
                      Mr. Michalopulos wrote, “I studied deeply its [Masonic] literature and I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was a very religious element to it all.” From what I know of its origins, this seems to me a fair statement regarding the Masons. Basil writes, “Just because the majority of Freemasons are completely ignorant of its tenets at higher levels does not take anything away from the fact that this is a fundamentally dark and gnostic-esque religion.” wow. When I read The Spirit of Masonry , from 1775 (or rather, before I got too bored reading) I remembered Fr. Alexander Schmemann, in the context of a discussion on ritual, symbolism, and liturgy, telling the story of his first time on a NYC bus: “It was 1955. I was recent to America. I started up the stairs only to be face-to-face with Admiral Nelson.” What he saw a Knight of Columbus in full regalia! The point of this is to say that, the second, “No” of Fr. Alexander’s “Two No’s and a Yes” was “religion,” and the Knight of Columbus was emblematic of “religion”; not the Church (which was the “Yes”), but “religion.” The shallow, superficial “aroma” (OED, distinctive fragrance exhaled from a spice, plant, etc.). In other words, things that “smell of the Church,” but are not the real Church. To say that, “Three Romes have come and gone and our faith remains the same, but somehow Freemasonry, after only a couple hundred years, has completely changed because of the rise and fall of political entities,” is to say that they are not characteristic of a religion. More importantly, the Masons officially states they are not a religion, and I accept that. 
                       
                      The Masons were struck by the notion that the they are perceived as a threat to the Orthodox Church. I am not. But I do wait to see next month who or what constitutes the “fatal blow” to Church that send us running for the hills.

                    • Monk James Silver says

                      While it’s clear that Albert Pike largely professed gnostic beliefs, his veneration of ‘Lucifer’ must be seen only in that context, and not as an indication of any sort of devil-worship on his part.

                      To a large extent, allegations of satanism against the Freemasons were the almost single-handled work of the pseudonymous ‘Leo Taxil’ toward the close of the 19th century. Late in life, ‘Taxil’ recanted most of his charges against the Masons.

                      But even though the Lodge can perhaps be acquitted of any charge of satanism, it remains thoroughly infected by Gnosticism, and that is a school of theological thought which has been consistently rejected by The Church as heretical and incompatible with Christianity since the third Christian century.

                      Study the history of the Origenists (not Origen himself) to learn about this conflict and its implications.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Agreed. There is a distinction between Satanism and Luciferianism in the minds of the latter’s votaries. At present, I am torn as to if this is a “distinction without a difference” however.

                    • Well, they Masons say they aren’t a religion, so we need to believe them, I suppose. You’re a smart man, Michael, I’m sure you know about useful idiots.
                       
                      “Many such high-ranking men – Pike included – have openly and publicly admitted that the low-ranking Masons are deliberately misled, while the true philosophical “wisdom” of the fraternity is restricted to its more elite members.”
                       
                      Above quote taken from On the Masons and their Lies by Michael Witcoff, a convert to Orthodoxy from Freemasonry.
                       
                      Again, I would trust the statements of a religion’s founding fathers over modern adherents any day. If some Greek tells you that Orthodoxy is just for his people, do you take that at face value or do you go and look at what Scripture and the Fathers say?
                       
                      George, I say that there is a distinction between Satanism and Luciferianism in that the adherents of the latter believe that Lucifer is the ‘good guy’ in this big cosmic struggle, but I would also say that there is no difference. You serve a ‘good Lucifer’? You still serve the father of lies.

                    • Monk James Silver says

                      George Michalopulos (July 23, 2019 at 8:26 am) says:

                      Agreed. There is a distinction between Satanism and Luciferianism in the minds of the latter’s votaries. At present, I am torn as to if this is a “distinction without a difference” however.

                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                      The signal difference between Gnostics and Satanists is that the Gnostics do not necessarily identify Lucifer with Satan, at least not as Satan is understood in Christian Tradition. Satanists, though, pretty much insist on their identity, one spirit sharing (at least) those two names; they have other names and titles for him, too..

                      The historical record, especially in light of the retractions made by ‘Leo Taxil’ in which — among other things — he recanted his allegation that Albert Pike had conducted ‘black masses’ (worship of the devil), makes it clear that while Pike was an advanced Mason, he was a Gnostic and not a Satanist.

                      Pike, in fact, is credited with originating some of the Masonic rituals practiced even today as part of their Gnostic religion, but there is nothing overtly satanic about it. As a possible exception, it might be said that the god they worship is not the God Who reveals Himself in the Bible, or the Holy Trinity, and they especially avoid adoring the incarnate God, our Lord Jesus Christ.

                      This doesn’t mean that they worship Satan — merely that they don’t worship the true and only God revealed in judeochristian tradition.

                    • Basil: “Well, they Masons say they aren’t a religion, so we need to believe them, I suppose. You’re a smart man, Michael, I’m sure you know about useful idiots.”
                       
                      Perhaps continental Masonry of  Grand Orient is not religious since the middle of XX century? I do not know much about their beliefs.

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      The whole issue of Masonry can be summarized by M. Stankovich’s description of the meeting he recently attended: “sparsely attended”.
                      And even that, as he said, is putting it charitably.
                      Masonry is almost wholly defunct, outside of the preoccupations with it found here so often. The beautiful Temples in the big cities of the land have long since been sold off and converted to other purposes. The one in my city was abandoned by the Masons in favor of smaller quarters over 60 years ago. It has more than 10 splendid ballrooms, and is now a popular “event venue”. Proms, wedding receptions, military-unit balls, etc.
                      Old photos attest to the fact that in the ’20s and perhaps into as late as the ’40s there would be Masonic balls and soires all the time, and the multiple ballrooms would see continuous use. Men and women would dress up for these every weekend. Masonry was a (benign) social force.
                      This was several generations ago, now.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      You’re quite correct, masonry is quite defunct.

                    • Monk James Silver says

                      George Michalopulos (July 23, 2019 at 6:18 pm) says:

                      You’re quite correct, masonry is quite defunct.

                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                      That fails to explain why ‘Constantinos’ and Michael Stankovich have gone to such great lengths to defend the Freemasons here, and why MS’s free lunch with a few Scottish Rite men was designed to attract new members.

                      The fact that ‘Constantinos’ and those Scottish Rite members can speak of the integrity and reliability of the Masons of their acquaintance — especially in financial relationships — suggests that they are still alive and well, and quite active.

                      The additional fact that the Masons are speaking disingenuously about the Lodge’s being a religious institution must be taken at face value. It struck me as being much like the Muslims who practice _taqqiya_, an Arabic word for their moral flexibility in telling lies to non-Muslims if the purposes of Muslims be served by such deceptions.

                      But, assuming that those 33rd-degree Masons really don’t think/don’t know that Freemasonry is a religion different from and actually opposed to Christianity, then I would ask them why they have temples and rituals? Why do they insist that members must believe in a god — any god — and that they worship that god in their services?

                      It’s been said that the devil’s greatest weapon against us is that many people don’t believe that he even exists, so he’s free to do damage to us unrecognized for the evil influence he truly is.

                      This is undoubtedly also true of people who don’t think that Gnosticism — including Freemasonry — is injuring and weakening the faith of Christians, no matter how benign the Gnostics might appear to be.

                    • Very well said, Monk James Silver.

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      Monk James Silver asks: “… why [do] they have temples and rituals?”
                      Yes, they do, but now their temples are, as in my city, one-story cinder block buildings, they having abandoned two generations ago their beautiful multi-story, huge buildings, replete with endless meeting rooms, ballrooms, and, often, movie theaters.

                      The point is that they are a shadow (of a shadow) of their former size and influence. And this is not because the forces of light have overcome the forces of darkness. It is because, quite a long time ago now, folks got tired of fraternal social organizations that had formal initiations and rituals. These used to be very popular in this country, having nothing at all to do with anything so deep as Gnosticism.

                      There were many organizations of this nature parallel to the Masons. One was the Knights of Pythias. The old Pythian Temple in my city, though much smaller than the Masonic temple, is a breathtaking architectural model, with a main meeting room, oval in shape, clad in the finest woodwork imaginable.

                      Yet the Pythians have been extinct for generations. This old local temple has been kept from ruin ‘by the fingernails’ over the decades by occasional groups of guys who band together in preservation efforts.

                      Talk of Freemasonry as a menace is beyond out of date; it was ancient history in my late parents’ time, and they’ve been gone for decades now.

                    • ChristineFevronia says

                      I thoroughly enjoyed “Inside the Freemasons” on Netflix. I learned a lot from that miniseries, set in modern day Britain. Very informative indeed.

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      Here’s an interesting, very short Wikipedia article about the “Golden Age of Fraternalism” in the USA:
                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_age_of_fraternalism
                      As the article points out, there was a huge movement for fraternal societies in the late-19th- early 20th centuries here. Up to 40% of adults belonged to one or more fraternal societies by the early decades of the 1900s. For years, interestingly, the Odd Fellows outnumbered the Masons.
                      Ordinary people used to love these institutions. They provided innumerable social opportunities, when folks lived public social lives, long before television and, indeed, before movies.
                      All long gone with the wind.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Costa, while I agree that Masonic principals were central to the establishment of the United States, the first seven presidents were all Masons after all. There were many other philosophical and governmental principals that were used too. The Iroquois Confederacy was just one such contributor. Quite substantial in many ways. Not to mention the Roman Catholic colony of Maryland represented in the Continental Congress by Caesar Rodney.

            It is also historically untrue that Orthodoxy had nothing to do with the founding. A man of import in North Carolina politics and culture, Phillip Ludwell III was probably the first Orthodox convert in the new world.

            The First Known American Convert to Eastern Orthodox Christianity

            Philip Ludwell III is the first known convert to Eastern Orthodox Christianity in the Americas. He was a prominent figure in pre-revolutionary Virginia and a relative by blood or marriage of many great early figures in American history from George Washington to Richard Henry Lee of the great Lee family of Virginia. The scion of one of the largest landholding and politically prominent families in early Virginia, he was born at Green Spring near Williamsburg on December 28, 1716, making him a contemporary of Benjamin Franklin, with whom he shared a friendship.

            One year after his marriage in the summer of 1737 to Frances Grymes, herself the granddaughter of a governor of Virginia, the young Ludwell traveled from Williamsburg to London, England. Twenty-three years later, in 1761, the Orthodox priest in London, Fr Stephen Ivanovsky, wrote:

            In 1738, during the incumbency of the late Hieromonk Bartholomew Cassano at this holy Church, an English gentleman named Ludwell, born in the American lands and living there in the province of Virginia, came to London seeking the True Faith, which he, with God’s help, has swiftly found in the Holy Graeco-Russian Church. And so on the 31st of December of the same year he was confirmed in the same with the holy Chrism.

            The papers of the Lee family state that, upon Ludwell’s return to Virginia, he brought with him a protégé named John Wayles, who would later make his mark on history as the father of both Martha Wayles, wife of Thomas Jefferson, and Sally Hemings of Monticello.

            Life in Virginia

            In 1740 Ludwell returned to Virginia. From 1742 to 1749 he was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses where he argued for higher taxes on the importation of African slaves and headed a committee to seek a cure for cancer. In 1752 he became a member of the Royal Governor’s Council and served in this capacity until his death in 1767. As a member of the Council he was instrumental in obtaining a commission for a young George Washington as Colonel (commanding officer) of the Virginia Regiment in 1755.

            Meanwhile he continued to secretly practice his Orthodox faith, which at that time was treasonable. At some point in the 1750s he embarked upon an English translation of the “Orthodox Confession of the Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Church”, composed in 1640 by the Orthodox Bishop Metropolitan Peter Mogila of Kiev. Ludwell dedicated his translation to “the devout Christian reader,” and quoted the prophet Jeremiah:

            Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the Ways, and see, and ask for the old Paths, where is the good Way, and walk therein, and ye shall find Rest for your Souls.

            By 1751 he had three daughters: Hannah, Frances, and Lucy. In 1753 his wife Frances died.

            London: His Final Years

            In 1760 he moved with his daughters to London where they were received into the Orthodox Church on Holy Wednesday, 1762. In the same year, with the blessing of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Russia, Ludwell’s translation of Mogila’s catechism was published in a cloth edition. The Russian Synod also authorized Fr Stephen Ivanovsky in London to give the Ludwell family the consecrated elements of bread and wine to take back to Virginia and to prepare for them appropriate forms of Orthodox prayer for use in their native land.

            One extant copy of what may be this ordo has been found in bound, but handwritten, form. It includes Ludwell’s translations of the three principal Orthodox liturgies, morning and evening prayers, the service of confession and other texts.

            Philip Ludwell died in London on March 14, 1767 after a long illness. His funeral rites were served at the Orthodox Church there and he was buried at the Anglican church of St Mary Stratford Bow where there was a family vault. Over two hundred years later his life and inspiring story of faith is becoming known and reshaping our view of early America.

            For more information go here: https://www.ludwell.org/

          • Monk James Silver says

            Constantinos (July 18, 2019 at 7:52 pm) says:

            Monk James,
            Please allow me to ask you a question. Was George Washington an angel of light?

            (My responses are set off by arrows — I can’t seem to write here with italics or in boldface.)

            >>Ask away! That George Washington was at the heart of the movement to establish the United States of America as an independent sovereign nation is an accepted fact of history. I am not in a position to judge his moral character, only his deeds and their effects, which were, on the whole noble and good. When St Paul teaches us that even the devil can appear as an ‘angel of light’, he is warning us that people can be evil in their hearts no matter how good they appear on the outside by virtue of their deeds and demeanor.

            >>It’s way above my pay grade to pass judgement on or even to have an opinion about the state of GW’s soul and spiritual life, although it is recorded that he was merely a nominal Christian, probably as a matter of political and social convenience, who never participated in even his own Anglican religion’s version of Holy Communion. That’s a danger sign, which may be explained by his adherence to the religion of Freemasonry, in whose rituals he assiduously participated instead of those of Christianity.<>t is untrue to say that GW was ‘a devout Anglican’; the historical record does not support this assertion. Everything I wrote in the paragraph above, _mutatis mutandis_, is also true of the other American founding fathers who were Masons.<>No. The United States was conceived largely in terms of the ‘French Enlightenment’, with big doses of Deism added to the mix. The Masons (a rather recently organized group at that time) picked up some of those ideas, but did not originate them. We can be grateful to Heaven that Orthodox Christianity does not establish countries or get involved in politics, but it remains true that The Church and its Tradition guide the lives of Orthodox Christians who are involved in politics and nation building, both governors and citizens, rulers and subjects
            alike.<>This is only partially true, because Freemasonry insists that all its members believe in some god — not necessarily the judeochristian God Who reveals Himself in the scriptures, especially in Jesus Christ – and the lodge provides ample opportunity for members to worship the god to whom they refer as the ‘Grand Architect’, although there are other names for him, such as ‘Jabulon’, or so I’m told.

            >>The U.S. Constitution, on the other hand, allows complete freedom of religion. Americans can follow (within reason — I suspect that sacrificing children would be illegal) any religion they like, or none at all and be completely godless. This second option is not available to the Masons, who are generally under the impression that their false god subsumes even the God of the Bible.<>In such a small group as putatively Orthodox Christian Masons, ‘thousands’ and ‘unanimously’ are meaningless descriptors _vis-à-vis_ the entire population of Orthodox Christians in the world for whom the Gospel and the Tradition of The Church are sufficient to help them lead godly lives.

            >>You yourself wrote here recently that you had left the lodge because you didn’t need it anymore, but you don’t write now as if you’ve embraced anything The Church has to offer. So are you enlightened on your own now, individually, with no need of a spiritual structure of any kind?.

            >>In any event, the imaginary scenario which you suggest can happen only in a climate of great ignorance, where Orthodox Christians are not properly instructed in the Faith, and so are left as easy prey to cults such as the Freemasons.

            >>It’s not always the fault of the laity when this happens, since sometimes historical events such as the oppression of The Church by Turks and communists makes it all but impossible to teach the Faith, but it can still be done and has been done by the grace of God, and with no help at all rom the Masons.<<

            • Constantinos says

              Monk James,
              There’s an interesting new book called In the Hands of a Good Providence by a member of the Mount Vernon staff; it’s about George Washington’s religious beliefs. From the historical record, it does seem that Mr. Washington was a devout Christian. Before the revolution, Mr. Washington was a dedicated member of the Anglican Church; after the Episcopal Church was formed. As to the fact he didn’t receive communion could have had more to do with the horrors of war than any other factor. One fact remains; he was a regular attendee at church each Sunday, and was an active vestry man. Sometimes, he would visit other churches, such as the Roman Catholic Church, and other Christian denominations.
              As for myself, I attend the Divine Liturgy each and every Sunday without fail; have a rule of prayer every morning, and read the Bible daily, however, I’m disheartened by many things transpiring in the Orthodox Church at this time.
              Back to the presidency, I think it is safe to say that George Washington was a much more moral man than Abraham Lincoln, who was not a Christian. It is also known that Martha Washington was a devout Christian, although neither she nor George used the language of later Evangelical Christians in the Episcopal Church.
              Well, I thank you for your cordial response to my post. Ps. I’m not actively involved in the lodge. I don’t attend the blue lodge, am not a member of the Scottish Rite, York Rite, or the Shrine. I remain an admirer of the fraternity but it is not in my personal interest to be an active participant. Instead, I am a lifetime member of the Pilgrim Society which is devoted to maintaining the legacy of the Pilgrims.

              • George C Michalopulos says

                Costa, you bring up an interesting point re Washington’s communion (or lack thereof). The historical record is not settled. According to one source who attended St John’s Church, she witnessed the new president receive the Eucharist at the kneeling rail in the Anglican fashion. I’ll try to find the citation.

                Regardless, you are correct about the reticence of politicians receiving the Eucharist. In post-Constantinian times, politicians would not even receive baptism until they finished their political life. This was especially true of the warrior class. I don’t want to rehash the canonical sanctions regarding those who take part in military action, but it does prick the conscience of all sincere men. Especially those, like Washington, who committed atrocities. (Like the slaughter of the Hessians on Christmas day for example.)

                And Washington was a sincere man.

        • Monk James Silver:
          “Freemasonry is a religion in and of itself. There is no room in Orthodox Christianity for another faith and its false gods, or for the people who profess such a faith, no matter how good and decent they may seem to be otherwise.”
          I couldn’t agree more with you Monk James Silver!

          Constantinos has said, as you quoted him:
          “What Orthodoxy desperately needs is more Masons,”
          “all the B.S that goes on in Orthodoxy.”
          “I have never met an Orthodox Christian who was half as good as a real Mason unless that Orthodox Christian is also a Mason.”

          These statements prove:
          -Firstly he uses harsh language. Does he want us to say here “all the B.S that goes on in Freemasonry”?
          -Absolute ignorance of the  real Orthodoxy, otherwise he wouldn’t even think of using “all the B.S “.  Orthodoxy is the real Church of Christ (as discovered by Gillquist et.al) the Church of millions of martyrs of the older times and more recently after the Communist Revolution (financed by Westerners!). Orthodoxy is related to own martyrs for Christ, not to deaths of millions of Red Indians or other millions of shackled slaves from Africa. Orthodoxy is not simply for this life, for nations, Kings and Presidents and ethnicities. It is about ETERNITY with Christ in a place where American, Greek, or Russian, etc, passports have no value. 
          -Obviously he has never met a devout Orthodox Christian.
          -He, correctly, esteems George Washington and other for their ethnic/political work. But,
          -he does not likewise esteem Constantine the Great (he ignores he has his name, originally!) who liberated the Christians. Surely he has at least the same status as G.Washington (I forgot, Constantine was no mason!).
          -he has never mentioned here the Prophet and King David who was so especially beloved by God , that God did things for Israel just because his servant David asked for. (What a pity he wasn’t a mason!). 
          King(!) David said: “Trust not in princes, nor in the children of men, in whom there is no safety” (Ps.145,3, LXX)
          So, you don’t have to be a Mason just because G.Washington was one.
           
           
          I take this opportunity to make things easier for Costa to understand, by providing possible straight answers to his straight points:

          “What Orthodoxy desperately needs is more Masons,”
          What Constantinos desperately needs is more Masons.

          “all the B.S that goes on in Orthodoxy.”
          all the B.S that goes on in Freemasonry.

          “I have never met an Orthodox Christian who was half as good as a real Mason unless that Orthodox Christian is also a Mason.”
          I have never met a devout Mason who was half as good as a devout Orthodox Christian who was not a Mason.

          • M. Stankovich says

            I have not commented to this point because, frankly it is of little interest to me. But as it drags on, it strikes me that this whole Masonic business is analogous to “celebrating” Halloween. Every year as we near this “feast,” there is the customary dire messages about ghosts, goblins, witches, and the like, blah, blah, blah. Then, I would answer the door to find, for example, to see two little girls dressed as bunnies. After my typical day, the arrival of such visitors was such a joy that, as I closed the door after providing some candy, I wondered, “How could anyone could imagine this is some sort of “indoctrination” into darkness?” It’s all about the candy bro’, nothing more, nothing less.

            I have known my share of Masons, to a man, all Greeks. On the several occasions I questioned them about their “Lodge Life,” they were very clear that they were primarily Masons because of the fraternity of “good people,” and the business connections to be made. It was no more “religious” than Halloween, except without the candy. And for heaven’s sake, it’s not the Ku Klux Klan we’re talking about. I was reading an article about the “Death of the Masonic Lodge,” that mourned the loss of “decency” that Masons brought to the community; for example, Masons had a “dress code” for attending their activities, which necessitated men wearing a suit and tie. In the greater scheme of things, this may seem petty, but it is in line with an entire “attitude,” an attitude that found decency, decorum, charity, fidelity, and love for one’s family as essential to a moral life. This author noted the attempts of the Masons to encourage new members (their membership has fallen dramatically in the past 15-years) by “easing” the standards; “Come as you are!” has supplanted the requirement for “proper dress.” It doesn’t help.

            Hey, the veil has been lifted on that whole Salem witch business, and many people were burned at the stake as the result of shared hysteria (and in some cases, with the hope that by “snitching” on real witches, they might save themselves), not demonic practices. Halloween is all about the candy, bro’, nothing more, nothing less. Likewise, I would venture to guess that many Masons know very little about the Freemasony of 18th century Paris, but know a bit about the struggle to be “good, honest people” and attempting to live one’s life to a higher standard, unfortunately not necessarily found in “structured religions.” Ironically enough, I just began reading A Decent Life by Todd May:

            “A philosophy of goodness that leaves it all but unattainable is ultimately self-defeating. Instead, Todd May stands at the forefront of a new wave of philosophy that sensibly reframes our morals and redefines what it means to live a decent life.”

            Sadly, this message – “Well done, you good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your Lord” (Matt. 25:21) – is being brought to us by other than the church.

            • Constantinos says

              Michael,
              Thank you for your intelligent commentary. You are a breath of fresh air.  Also, thank you for the gentle. loving spirit in which you communicate.  The real lesson I take from your post is we should be kind to one another by the example of your words and the manner in which you convey them. Everyone of us on this forum can learn from your kind example. Thank you for your wisdom.

            • michel  agree.  I yawn when i see all this masonary stuff. 
              In the mean time the enemy is at the gates, with the gates wide open, BUT ITS THE MASONS STUPID!! ? 
              The obscession with hair splitting. 

              • Solitary Priest says

                Well, sir, you are obsessed with Roman collars and beards, or the lack thereof. Several more competent priests than myself have explained on this blog why Masonry is unacceptable for Christians. Metaxakis was a Mason, and he started this calendar change, which caused unnecessary division within the church.

  12. Monk James Silver says

    Tim R. Mortiss (July 24, 2019 at 8:07 pm) says:

    ‘Monk James Silver asks: “… why [do] they have temples and rituals?”
    Yes, they do, but now their temples are, as in my city, one-story cinder block buildings, they having abandoned two generations ago their beautiful multi-story, huge buildings, replete with endless meeting rooms, ballrooms, and, often, movie theaters.

    ‘The point is that they are a shadow (of a shadow) of their former size and influence. And this is not because the forces of light have overcome the forces of darkness. It is because, quite a long time ago now, folks got tired of fraternal social organizations that had formal initiations and rituals.’

    PROBABLY NOT; This shift is more likely an aspect of modern secular culture’s recently acquired tendency to avoid religion altogether. Since Freemasonry is a religion, it experiences its share of anti- (or at least non-) religious attrition.
    .

    ‘These used to be very popular in this country, having nothing at all to do with anything so deep as Gnosticism.’

    THAT MIGHT BE SO, BUT ONLY IN THE LOWER ECHELONS OF THE LODGE. The Gnostic content and meaning of Freemasonry, especially in its rituals and lore, has been amply well demonstrated over time, and directly acknowledged by some of the ‘Masters of the Craft’.

    ‘There were many organizations of this nature parallel to the Masons. One was the Knights of Pythias. The old Pythian Temple in my city, though much smaller than the Masonic temple, is a breathtaking architectural model, with a main meeting room, oval in shape, clad in the finest woodwork imaginable.

    ‘Yet the Pythians have been extinct for generations. This old local temple has been kept from ruin ‘by the fingernails’ over the decades by occasional groups of guys who band together in preservation efforts.’

    THE PYTHIANS ARE NOT A GOOD EXAMPLE OF THE PHENOMENON. Like the Oddfellows and a few other fraternal organizations, they are not at all religious in nature. Nor does this involve the Knights of Columbus, which was founded as a Roman Catholic alternative to the Masons, which RCs are still not allowed to join, last I heard. But the KofC is an intentionally religious Christian association at the same time as it is pointedly not a religion in and of itself, as is Freemasonry. Unlike the Lodge, the KofC functions entirely within Roman Catholicism.

    ‘Talk of Freemasonry as a menace is beyond out of date; it was ancient history in my late parents’ time, and they’ve been gone for decades now.’

    THEY ARE NOT GONE! That they appear to be reduced in numbers, we can admit But they’re still very active and trying to increase their membership in ways which might have surprised people of your parents’ generation.

    The Masons are no more nd no less a menace to society and culture than is any other anti-Christian organization. The fact that even some of the most sincerely dedicated members of the Lodge don’t realize that they are competing with The Church for the salvation of the human race is irrelevant. The Lodge largely replaces The Church whenever it gets the chance, and it shows no signs of retreating from that battle.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      “That they appear to be reduced in numbers, we can admit.” But appearances are deceiving, right? 
      I rest my case. I can’t add to my arguments. I’m a thoroughgoing non-Mason myself. An odd fellow, maybe, but only in the generic sense.

      • Monk James Silver says

        Then let us say that,  while we hope to understand each other, we might finally have to agree to disagree.

        May the light of Christ enlighten us all.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Tim, I respect you brother. Your insights and comments over the years have been both instructive and fun. In this case however, you do not appear to appreciate the insidious nature of heretical thought. Heretical thought does not require visible organizations and large numbers of outward adherents to be continuously destructive.

        Once a heresy is born and articulated, it never goes away. Each spreads and mutates like a virus. All are deadly. Heretical thought is an adulterator that, once introduced into our minds and hearts makes it more difficult, at least, to approach God as He is. All of us pay the price. All heresy and all heretical thought causes division, disruption and difficulty. If there is an example of any heresy that the Church has condemned as such that is not alive and well in the minds and hearts of men to this day, I do not know of one. Perhaps you do?

        One critical aspect: the Masonic ideal of an egalitarian approach to God is deeply insidious and opposed to the revelation of God through the person of Jesus Christ and in His Church. All of the other manifestations of that ideal share in the violation of what God has told us about Himself: “No man comes to the Father except by me.” “I am the way, the truth and the light”. “That shalt have no other Gods before me”. Indeed the whole corpus of Scripture, the lives of the Saints and the teachings of the Church though the ages testify to the lies of Masonry. That they do good deeds in this world, for this world does nothing to off set the destructive nature of their lies about the nature of God and our interrelationship with Him through His Son, our Lord.

        Sorry, but if we do not share the Holy Eucharist with Protestants and Roman Catholics and do not allow Orthodox to share their communion how should we allow communion for professed Masons who’s theological principals are even further from the truth?

        It is egalitarianism that is the heretical idea and that is endemic in our culture. The Masons have been one of the main proponents of that false idea. The fact that they are fading away indicates to me that they have largely done their job.

        My introduction to the Masons came while I was in high school. All of my classmates who were involved in the Masonic youth groups were infamous for their wild parties, which seemed to be an integral part of being a in the group. The drinking and sex parties were legendary and this was in the mid 1960s in Wichita, KS. That and the entitled attitude the kids had was more than enough to dissuade me from any interest. In the 1970s I visited the Temple in Detroit: the model they had of the Temple in Jerusalem and frankly occultic interpretation of that was, in retrospect, chilling, although at the time I was less concerned about that and it was attractive to some extent.

        A few years ago, I worked in a building that was owned by the Masons, the Temple was across the street and the Shriner main offices were next door. The top floor of the building was a Masonic party room. There were many stories of less than moral activities taking place their on a regular basis (wink, wink, nod, nod).

        I don’t know how much reality the stereotypical “drunken Shriner” has, but enough for it to become a stereotype used in American entertainment. I even played one once in a play I was in. So even the moral rectitude promoted by some on this blog has large holes in it for me.

        Bottom line, all things considered, Orthodox Christians who are serious about living a sacramental life of prayer, worship, repentance and almsgiving, have no business being a Mason no matter how defunct they are. Those that have been need to repent, as our Baptismal Rite directs, renouncing all errors of their former confession to become full members of the Church again. Our God is a jealous God. Fortunately, He is also merciful.

        May His mercy and grace in forgiveness of our sins be bountiful in your life my friend.

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          I would be finished with the subject, Michael, but your detailed and thoughtful post needs a response.
          I have a feeling that my views have been a little bit misunderstood, though I think I’d been clear. I hold no brief for Masonry. I don’t argue against the Church’s position. I don’t know enough about Masonry, nor do I care enough, to pass judgment on the meaning of its beliefs and rituals, at least at the ‘high level’. If the Church has concluded that they represent heretical thought, so be it.
          I just reject the idea that it represents a conspiracy. That’s all. These discussions usually arise with somebody talking about Freemasonry as a dark conspiracy. If it once was, it doesn’t amount to much anymore. 
          As for wild parties, I don’t know. But the old photos on the walls of the old lodges are of the early 20th-century middle classes, the men in suits or tuxes, and the matrons in nice dresses. The banquet halls and ballrooms full.
          This vanished generations ago. Odd Fellows, Masons, Pythians, Woodmen of the World. The Slavonian Hall; the Normanna Hall. A time when there was public social life, people dressed well, and liked a little ceremony and dignity  with their entertainments. They were not glued to boxes or screens, not even cinema screens.
          They were all Protestants, true. Therefore heterodox and some heretics anyway, I suppose.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Tim, briefly: It is a mistake to lump Masonry with other fraternals.  It began as a workers guild which initially guarded the secrets of the of the craft of masonry. Only revealing those secrets to initiated. Gradually a political agenda developed that was geared to producing rulers and acquiring political power. 

            They were quite successful at that throughout the first half of the 19th century here in the US. They also made a much bigger deal out of being a secret society. Occultism has long been part of the ethos.

            The only actual conspiracy is that of Satan against God, the Church and His people.  Unfortunately the Masonic Lodges took up that cause, IMO by articulating and promulgating heretical and occultic ideas and practices. Both the RCC and the Orthodox recognize that. 

            That they seem to be dying indicates to me that Masonic ideas have become largely accepted especially in the ruling oligarchy. 

        • Michael B
          thanks for the well put
          and helpful post!

    • The point I’d like to make is that most people (correctly, in my opinion) don’t think that Freemasonry is a threat to the Church/society/civilization/etc., because it’s past its sell-by date and can no longer serve as an effective way of undermining traditional Christianity. You won’t find me blaming the Freemasons for everything that goes wrong.
       
      Nonetheless, it IS a threat to the souls of those poor Christians that get duped into joining it, because it IS a religion.
       
      Similar case: I’m not worried about the dying religion of Zoroastrianism becoming a threat to the Church, but I would certainly dissuade my friends from joining it, lest they lose their eternal souls. Freemasonry is in exactly the same boat, although it does try to conceal its true nature, unlike our friendly Persian fire-worshipers.

      • Speaking about Zoroastrianism, I remember seeing a commentator on one of the talking head news shows a year or two ago — at the height of the “Russia did it” frenzy post-2016-election — when this person was talking about the Orthodox faith of many Russians….

        This commentator said that “it is common knowledge that the Orthodox faith that many Russians are members of grew out of and is a branch of medieval Zoroastrianism.”

        I’m pretty certain that the commentator was retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters — someone whom I had previously thought was maybe not crazy, but after he said that our Holy Orthodox faith is an outgrowth of medieval Zoroastrianism, that confirmed in my mind that he’s a completely deranged nut. And many Americans take what passes as TV news seriously. We gave up our cable TV years ago and don’t miss it at all.

        Does anyone have any ideas where this wacky idea that Orthodox Christianity grew out of Zoroastrianism came from? To be honest, I’m not even clear what Zoroastrianism is.

        • George Michalopulos says

          I’ll tell you where, Anon: Peters pulled it out of his ass while smoking crack. The buffoon. He finally stormed off the set on some FOX talking-heads show when somebody called him a neocon. Good riddance!

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          Probably he got the idea from the Russian custom of putting their dead on high towers for the vultures to eat.

          • Monk James Silver says

            Probably not. Ralph Peters was just an ignorant bigot.

            If it was thought that he knew such an esoteric detail about prechristian Russia more than a thousand years ago, it’s safe to assume that he would have known that such a practice had been gone from Russia for all that time. But, as was painfully self-evident, he really didn’t know anything at all. about Russia and its religious history.

            Then, of course, there is the matter of how the people of ancient Rus actually treated their dead. Although there was a certain reverence for fire in both Zoroastrian and Slavic cultures of the time, it is a bit excessive to suggest that the Russians followed the Persians — who dd not practice cremation — in their custom of exposing the dead.

            For a more thorough discussion of prechristian Slavic funerals, which seem to have overtones of Scandinavian practice rather than Middle Eastern influences, perhaps see
            https://www.slavorum.org/slavic-burial-traditions-of-ancient-times/

            • George Michalopulos says

              None of this excuses the fact that Peter is a blithering idiot. If this is what our war colleges turn out, then we’re screwed.

  13. Michael Bauman says

    It is common knowledge amongst the Evangelicals, the Mormans and Jdubs that Russia is a heathen nation that had never known Christ and all her people in need of them to teach those poor backward people the truth.  Or it was when the wall came down. Russia responded to such arrogant ignorance with laws to restrict them.

  14. Tim R. Mortiss says

    The Roman Empire had such laws, too. Perhaps these current ones will work as well.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Tim, restrictive laws alone always fail to curb behavior especially highly motivated behavior.  Nevertheless the arrogance, ignorance and outright venality of those early “missionaries” was so destructive Russia felt compelled to try.  As Martin has pointed out, there are other religions which are recognized.  
      Of course, any such law highly offends and cries for “religious liberty” abound.  Many of these are hypocritical  because they come from the same folks who deny free exercise here.

  15. Michael Bauman says

    Tim, I also must say that the modern corollary to restrictive laws fail is no law at all. That is worse. However, laws only work when they reflect the moral and social consensus of the society enacting the law. The foundation of all good law is common law, IMO.

    Lacking that consensus or strong common law, as we do in the US, generally means the resort to more and more law for smaller and smaller infractions attempting to replace common law with statutory law. At that point “the law” often burdens those who are generally law abiding while not protecting anyone really. “The law” is then often seen as capricious and only for the ruling oligarchy to enforce against everyone else. Vigilantism tends to increase in such situations and the “law” breaks down even further. Unless corrected, that leads to societal collapse and revolution.

    In the US that happened twice before and the result was The American Revolution and the Civil War. Now we are seeing more and more political situations in which there is no common law at all, just “law” imposed on a society that only benefits the ruling elite (or so it seems). Even those laws that should still have a base in common law like “Thou Shall not murder” become subject to ideological distinctions that vitiate the actual purpose of the law.

    Forgive me for stepping into your professional territory, but it is what I have gleaned from my study of the history of government over the years.