A Lack of Vision, Courage –and Faith?

Until now, Your’s Truly has been keeping his own counsel regarding the latest inaction by the Holy Synod. The indecision in the matter of the continued vacancy of the Diocese of the South has been troubling on so many levels.

So, where are we?

As can be gleaned from the many comments so far, we in the South are not amused. That Fr Gerasim Eliel was the overwhelming choice of the recent special Diocesan Assembly is without question. That he jumped through all the hoops placed in his path is also unarguable. He played –and we played–by the rules. And yet the goalposts continue to be moved.

Such actions by the episcopate are not edifying in any way, manner or form. More, they deepen the impression among the other jurisdictions that the OCA is not ready for prime-time, despite all our protestations to the contrary. Simply put, the unelection of Fr Gerasim in no way passes the smell test and makes it impossible for those of us in the OCA to make the case to laymen in other jurisdictions that we have a more transparent Church.

That is all true. On the other hand, we cannot say there is no silver lining. Unlike the other jurisdictions, the OCA did hold an election. (Admittedly, three other OCA dioceses had lackluster Diocesan Assemblies and only had one candidate to choose from.) In this election there were four candidates and by all accounts the voting was fair and transparent. Only the Antiochians come as close as the OCA in this regard when it comes to electing a bishop. In this sense, both jurisdictions are to be applauded. Compare that with the way bishops are thrust upon the people in the GOA.

In addition, the super-majority that turned out for Eliel sent a clear shot across the bow of the Syosset Appart, putting them on notice that the South is not to be trifled with. A 55-30-15 vote would have given the Synod a face-saving way out, allowing them to seat their own candidate since nobody had a super-majority. This did not happen.

Clearly, an impasse has been reached. Rather than reach a decision, men who are elected to lead have instead opted to create a quasi-Solomonic stratagem, if only to bide time. If this was their plan, they failed.

Rather than spend any more time gaming the scenario, we should instead concentrate our minds on what such indecision portends. In our estimation that it is nothing less than a lack of faith.

Some of course will state that given the recent unpleasantness in Chicago, the OCA cannot take any chances whatsoever. This is the position of some well-meaning commentators as evidenced by a recent post by Byzantine, Texas. Those that hold this view argue that any candidate must not only be “vetted” but given a trial period as an administrator. Otherwise, another embarrassment. (And then what will the other jurisdictions say?)


Monomakhos for one sees no reason at all why a bishop cannot stand the same scrutiny as a parish priest. If one makes a series of mistakes –including, the major ones–then there’s no reason at all why he can’t be removed from his diocesan seat. The idea that a bishop must be protected at all costs from the consequences of his actions is a dangerous one. Such institutionalism-at-all-costs is what got the Roman Catholic Church in such trouble with the pedophile scandal.

A corollary to this phronema is that once a mitre is placed on a priest’s head he undergoes some ontological change, thereby making it all-but-impossible to remove him. In other words, he undergoes a transformation to a higher life form, This is equally pernicious. An episcopal mitre no more increases the IQ of the candidate than does a fedora.

In addition, the idea that a candidate must have experience as an “administrator” is likewise obtuse. A bishop is an administrator. The idea that Eliel (and Mahaffey, and Maymon, and Brum before him) had no experience in administration while they were rectors of parishes is laughable. This last stricture is nothing less than a slap in the face of every parish priest who has ever served.

Finally, it should go without saying that any candidate should already be vetted. Really, it’s a scandal to even consider that men who are already priests are not eligible in any way from promotion to the episcopate. After all, the Scriptural strictures for the presbyteroi apply to all “elders” of the Church. If a man doesn’t meet the standards for the episcopate, then he shouldn’t be a priest in the first place.

All that being said, the people of God should freely make their selection from a slate of known candidates and the Synod should elect the overwhelming choice from among them. That after all is the canonical norms as stated in the Statutes of the OCA. If they (or the Synod) make a mistake then they should not feel burdened by any inability to rectify it.

The inability (or unwillingness) of the Synod to step up and do the right thing is inexcusable. Get on with it.


  1. It is the westernizing of the Eastern Church. Perhaps the Old Believers make a point here. Thank you for the post.

  2. Still trying to ask specific questions here linked to doctrine and practice.

    The DOS clearly wants Archmandrite Gerasim as its new leader. Why?

    The OCA synod — it has been claimed here — wants Bishop Brum as the new DOS leader. Why?

    This appears to me to be some kind of battle over church life and doctrine. Who fears what?

    • Christopher says

      Is this a divide between those who want to accommodate the New Anthropology: Fr. Robert Arida and his largely “closeted” supporters among the bishops and laity in the NE, and those who do not, namely most of the Faithful and clergy in the South?

    • Jesse Cone says


      I’ll take on your first question, though I’m sure the clergy of the DOS would probably add to or edit my contribution.

      Fr. Gerasim is pastoral. He sees people, accepts people, listens to people, and then shepherds, guides, and corrects them. He is both friendly and demanding. He acts comfortably; with smiles, jokes, and energy.

      He’s good with kids because he’s funny, he’s good for the educated because he’s sharp and well read, and he’s good for the needy and infirm because he is kind.

      Fr. Gerasim is humble. He doesn’t put on airs or stay aloof.

      He speaks several languages. He can–and sometimes does–give the warning before communion in English, Slavonic, and Spanish by himself. I’ve only seen one other pastor do that.

      In short, he is an apt successor to the ever-memorable Archbishop Dmitri.

      • Priest Raphael says

        Let me tell you something about Fr. Gerasim. I attended SVS with him, and he has been a guest in my home. Thus he is a Facebook “friend,” as he certainly is a “family friend.”

        One day I got a private message from Fr. Gerasim, rebuking me for something I had put on FB. “Father Raphael, I don’t ever want to see you ___________ again.” That was it.

        Of course, proud man that I am, I was offended. Then I thought about it, and of course he was right. And he knew he was risking our friendship by rebuking me. He is not my abbot or my bishop, but he had the authority to chastise me because I was wrong. I repented and only feel more highly of him than I did. He is a real “father.”

        I am so glad I have someone like that in my life. The DOS will be as well.

        • Fr. Raphael,

          Yours is the most refreshing comment I have seen on this site in several weeks. Have a blessed Holy Week and joyous Pascha.

      • That, however, does not say anything about the claims the the Synod has its own candidate and is prepared to wait this out; says nothing about my questions concerning the doctrinal nature of this division.

        • Terry, I have to tell you, I haven’t heard anything more than rumor that the Synod wants Bp Daniel Brum (formerly known as Fr David Brum) in Dallas.

          It is obvious that they don’t want Fr. Gerasim, at least for now. However, I couldn’t tell you whether they want another specific candidate, or if they simply want to keep the DOS vacant.

        • I don’t think anyone is going to be able to give you the clear answer that you are looking for. I think that a better way of framing the controversy is to say that the faithful of the DOS know that the OCA is currently in a crisis over the moral teachings of the Church, and that this is a critical time for their diocese and for the OCA. They apparently trust Fr. Gerasim to be a firm hand at the rudder during these turbulent times (or at least trust him more than anyone else who is available), and they are apparently profoundly distrustful that anyone that Syosset appears to favor would be someone they could depend on to steer a steady and true course through the crashing waves.

          During my short time in the DOS in the late 80s and early 90s, whenever something would come up about nonsense allegedly being taught at St. Vlad’s or about alleged shenanigans going on at Syosset, people would basically say, “well, we don’t need to worry about that because we have Vladyka Dimitri and are safe down here in our Southern hidey-hole, and we just aren’t going to think about any of that.” In more optimistic moments in the 80s and 90s when his health was still good, one would hear even more optimistic talk along the lines of “Vladyka Dimitri will eventually straighten things out at Crestwood and Syosset.” There was even serious talk about starting a pastoral school in the DOS so their clergy could be trained largely within the diocese itself under Vladyka’s guidance. Such was the confidence in Vladyka Dimitri’s traditional Orthodox stance, in his spiritual uprightness, and in his force of character. And such was the sense among many that the DOS, to stay healthy, needed to keep itself somewhat apart from much of the rest of the OCA. And I can’t say that these attitudes weren’t helpful — spiritual life did indeed seem to be quite healthy, in part because people felt sheltered and kept safe by their episkopos.

          I considered Vladyka to be a friend, and we stayed in touch after I left the DOS, but I have to admit that I never shared the more optimistic sentiments, for a variety of reasons. And there were definite worries in the DOS of what would happen when he was gone. One priest joked with me that their plans were to do like the Soviet Union with their Premiers, and keep Vladyka Dimitri’s death a secret for as long as possible (when that unhappy day arrived) and hope no-one noticed — the implication being that whoever was sent to replace him would be unlikely to be anybody they would want.

          What I mean to say is that, based on my experience in the DOS, the quite traditional laity and clergy seemed to be uncomfortable with the OCA in the ways it manifested itself in the northeastern and midwestern regions of the country, and particularly in its most politically powerful corners (Crestwood and Syosset). They perceived Vladyka Dimitri (rightly or wrongly) to be a wall that kept them safe from all of that perceived danger, just as many of us viewed Vladyka Tikhon as being a wall that kept us safe out west (although the attitudes had a different flavor than in the DOS). It doesn’t surprise me in the least that many in that diocese have a sense of impending doom at the thought of life without someone who can creditably play the role that Vladyka Dimitri did.

          I don’t remember seeing anything that can be clearly identified as a statement from the Synod that Brum is their “own candidate” for the DOS, but the circumstantial evidence is quite strong that this is perhaps what they intended when they consecrated him. The OCA has never been flush enough with bishops to have permanent auxiliaries in even their largest dioceses — it strains at credulity that Brum was intended to be a long-term auxiliary in the DOW, and at the time of his consecration the only vacant see in the OCA was in the DOS, as far as I know. If the Synod had plans for him other than the DOS, Brum would have respectfully withdrawn his name from consideration for the see of the DOS.

          • Mark E. Fisus says

            Yeah but the Synod must have known that Fr. Gerasim was the DOS preference at the time Bishop Daniel was consecrated.

          • Edward,

            The preference for Brum was “tipped” a couple of times by the then Locum Tenens of the South, +Nikon. Once tip of the hand was when he reported to his diocese last year at the New England Assembly about his tenure in the South and the vacant See of Dallas when he stated that the next bishop would be consecrated, or if he was already a bishop, installed in 2015. This statement was shorty made when Brum was already a Bishop-elect. He again made a similar statement after Brum was consecrated the DOW Aux. Bishop.

            If Gerasim was the clear choice of the DOS, which +Nikon knew, then there would have been no good reason for him to say what he said about Brum.

            The anti-Jonah hysteria is still running through the halls of Syosset and the Synod. Anyone who has read the proposed Statute changes, and in particular the little ditty that states that a Primate must be a bishop of at least 4 years experience (totally anti-Jonah Statute amendment.) And, given that Gerasim has a long history with +Jonah, going back to their University days, and Jonah was the one who encouraged Gerasim to leave the Serbian Diocese and come to the OCA, as well as starting his episcopal preparation process by instructing him to go to SVS, all of this, which is not a negative in the DOS, I firmly believe and know, are marks against Gerasim.

            The latest delay, despite the Gerasim laudations of +Tikhon in his letter to the DOS, runs totally contrary to the actual facts on the ground in the DOS and in Dallas where Gerasim has proven himself worthy of the DOS nomination but also their belief that he should be elected by the Synod.

            And if the 11th Hour smear job by Pokrov made the Synod hesitate, it speaks volumes of their weak-kneed leadership when they can be intimated by a baseless guilt by association Pokrov hack job.

            So we shall see AFTER the AAC, where the DOS will still be orphaned and without episcopal leadership. We shall see if there is another delay, or another fraudulent shoe dropping to convienently allow the Synod some political cover.

            In the end, I still hope that Gerasim will be elected by the Synod because he is worthy. Although why such a man of integrity would want to associate with such a group of men on the Synod gives me pause, but Gerasim is a better man than me. May God continue to protect him and may the DOS stay strong.

        • Engaged Observer says

          For the engaged Orthodox Christian who has an interest in who his hierarch is, what he believes, how he lives his life, and how his Synod operates, there are many other options besides the OCA. I’m not trying to get into a “my hierarch is better than your hierarch argument.” But overlapping with much of the OCA’s Diocese of the South are the Antiochian Diocese of the Midwest with Bishop Basil, ROCOR’s diocese of Chicago and Midwestern-America with Archbishop Alypy and Bishop Peter, and the GOA’s diocese of Denver with Metropolitan Isaiah.

          Many Orthodox Christians don’t know and don’t care who their hierarch is or what they do. Sad to say but perhaps some Orthodox bishops count on this fact. But if you care who your hierarch is and how your jurisdiction’s Synod operates, and if supporting a very questionable episcopal structure concerns you, there are many other options.

          God calls us to be responsible stewards, and I can totally see how some may believe that supporting certain episcopal structures is being irresponsible. God does not call us to bury our heads in the sand while we get a pen out and blindly write a check.

          Blessed Lazarus Saturday and Feast of the Entrance of Our Lord into Jerusalem!

          • You will find few better hierarchs anywhere than the men you mention — I have deep respect for each of them. I am not advocating one way or another. It all comes down to a person’s conscience. Switching jurisdictions is, however, preferable to whining and making silly “demands” online that will be ignored. Life is just too short.

          • Mark E. Fisus says

            It is highly doubtful that choice of hierarch will have much impact on most parishes. What matters most is at the parish level — is your priest a good pastor, and is the parish life healthy? Don’t abandon a parish just because of political intrigue happening far away and far removed from your spiritual life.

            • Engaged Observer says

              Mr. Fisus,

              Au contraire, mon frère! The Orthodox understanding of the bishop and his relationship to the parish and the priest:

              “A bishop is the Teacher of the Faith, the carrier of Sacred Tradition, and the living Vessel of Grace through whom the energeia (divine grace) of the Holy Spirit flows into the rest of the church…. A priest may serve only at the pleasure of his bishop. A bishop bestows faculties (permission to minister within his diocese) giving a priest chrism and an antimins; he may withdraw faculties and demand the return of these items.”

              Even though we tend to ignore it in modern America, the bishop is central and crucial in parish life. The priest essentially serves in his place, since the bishop cannot be in multiple places at one time. We probably ignore this central role of the bishop because it is too depressing to grasp that some Orthodox parishes (in the South especially) have gone nearly 10 years since any episcopal visit, since Vladika Dmitri was able to travel. Talk about being ignored.

              Please, take no offense, I simply disagree with your premise that a parish’s bishop does not matter. In my opinion, it matters a lot. Blessed Holy Week, mon frère.

      • Jesse, from your endorsement it should be obvious to all that he is the SECOND COMING of PAFFHAUSEN.

    • M. Stankovich says


      I did the unimaginable and actually asked a member of the Holy Synod the reasoning behind their decision. I was told, “I, for one, believe everything Fr. Gerasim touches turns to gold. Many agree with me. Several, however, were persuasive in promoting the idea that prudence suggested “testing” any candidate.” Is there an issue of an alternate candidate? No. Cheating the DOS in the All-American Council. Ridiculous. Now why is it that not one of you simple asses had the courage or common sense to pick up the phone and call your bishop and ask, rather than fill this entire thread with mind-numbing gossip and anonymous stupidity? I suspect it is because filth is much more satisfying.

      • If you called +Benjamin and believed what he told you, then I would think very little of anything he said and thus your pompous and judgmental post, of no consequence. And, since you put your name to your posts, than I can conclude you are self- identified stupidity.

        Amazing that this bishop is so out of touch that he can’t imagine that an orphan diocese going into the AAC is of no consequence. Speaks volumes of this bishop’s compassion for another’s flock.

        • M. Stankovich says

          I have too much on my mind to offer you a considered opinion, but I don’t recall asking you what you think. And who are you to conclude that my message was “pompous, judgemental, and of no consequence?” Oh, you are anonymous, so I can conclude you are among the simple asses with a speculative, gossiping opinion to whom my original message was directed. Got it. I’ll be on my way without giving you another consideration. I had hoped to end gossip. You, however, have neutralized my hope with cynical tripe. Nice touch.

  3. Gene Rose says

    I remember very clearly the esteemed DOS Chancellor saying, before assembled clergy of the diocese, at the very beginning of the vacancy in Dallas, that he wanted an Abbot to be the next bishop… because it was a traditional thing and would be beneficial to the diocese.

    He’s strangely silent, now!

  4. Let me ask the OCA members, such as you, George, why you remain in the OCA? If you were to find out tomorrow that your local parish priest had ostensibly given his blessing to a lesbian union, would you remain at that Parish? Would you receive communion from the hands of such a man?

    By remaining in the OCA, you are doing exactly this. You are uniting yourself with Bishops who have given their tacit endorsement to such foulness. Some, particularly in the beleaguered DOS, offer the pitiful defense that wreaks of Pilatian hand-washing, saying, “Oh, those Bishops will do their thing, but here on the local level, we will do things they way they should be done.”

    This is a bogus defense. Fish rot from the head down, and you are firmly ensconced with those who ostensibly endorse homosexuality, as well as a laundry list of assorted perversions.

    You, particularly in the DOS, are not without options. It may require sacrifice, and a possible long distance drive. By remaining, you are ostensibly endorsing such behaviors, so it is time to stop your whining, and do what should be done.

    The OCA Synod has made their choice. It is time for you to make yours. Or do you prefer to continue being the whipping boy for those who know you’ll take it, and come back for more?

    • Heracleides says

      Nail, hammer, head… You nailed it Cyprian.

    • lexcaritas says

      Cyprian, I’ll venture a stab at what George’s response may be–even if the situation were as bad you portray it: He is blessed to be a (founding )member of a uniquely fervent parish, comprised of scores of children and sizeable families with a vibrant home-school coop, and led by a priest (assisted by a burgeoning band of readers and altar servers) who lives on the premises and whose faith is genuine, deep and palpable, in which the rubrics are carefully respected and a rather full offering of liturgies and offices served in a small but beautiful 5-year old chapel that is about to be expanded by reason of growth in membership with a hard-won parish cemetery attached.

      There are bonds of love and loyalty that are not–and should not be- easily severed by rumours of misbehavior at high, but distant, levels.

      If one must flee his parish, must he flee is country, too? The moral decay is everywhere and growing . .. Where exactly would one go before it catches up with him?


      • Christopher says

        Boy lexcaritas, your post really brought back memories. 23 years ago I was part of a “uniquely fervent parish”. While we did not have a ‘vibrant home-school coop’ or cemetery, we had everything else you described. Our priest was an orthodox Christian, and the Faithful were in all aspects supportive and really really did Love in His Name. Our Bishop was one of a handful (4, I believe it was) who had explicitly rejected womens ordination and all the other innovations. I recall processing outside early Easter morning in the dark to ring the bell, breathing in the crisp, cool desert air that surrounded our little church and thinking something exactly along these lines:

        “There are bonds of love and loyalty that are not–and should not be- easily severed by rumors of misbehavior at high, but distant, levels.”

        It is TRUE, is it not! It is! Let there not be a thought that I am being sarcastic or flippant – I am not – it is exactly true!

        Except, we all know how that story ended (I am of course Orthodox today). Am I saying that what is happening in the OCA (or for that matter most NA “jurisdictions”) is analogous? Well, yes and no. No is the easy part, because clearly things are not that bad when it comes to Doctrine and Faith, the Faithfulness of the clergy, the grounding in ancient and Holy Tradition – after all it is the Church and not “a church”.

        BUT, we can answer yes also. The real and irreconcilable divide between those who want to accommodate the New Anthropology (i.e. homosexualism and other aspects of the sexual revolution/cultural religion). I would like to say runs through the middle of the OCA synod but it does not – they are as a whole obviously (the scandal that is Fr. Robert Arida is the evidence that no one can deny – as if it was not apparent already) looking for an angle, a way to subtly accommodate and compromise with the sexual revolution. The majority of the laity in the NE and on the Left Coast appear also to be for this, although one has to admit that it appears to only be a minority of the clergy. The DOS appears to be a shining light of Faithfuness in this regard as the majority of laity and almost all the clergy appear to understand that there can be no compromise and rapprochement with the devil that is the sexual revolution.

        Frankly, I think it is time to admit that the OCA has schism as a real possibility in it’s future. Perhaps it is better to call it a “falling away” because those who go along with the New Anthropology will in fact be leaving Orthodoxy behind.

        Everyone should check this out (especially the resources page):


        This is an effort blessed by Metropolitan Joseph. Can you imagine Met. Tikhon blessing something like this? How could he, as he explicitly supports and praises Fr. Robert Arida “angle” to these issues. It is simply a different way of looking at the sexual revolution, which is the crises of the Faithful at the moment. These two ways are incommensurate and only one of them is Orthodox…

        • Your story nearly brings tears to my eyes as I think of all of the countless Anglican parishes around the world who tried to keep the faith locally, but were eventually and inexorably swept up in the tide created by those at the highest levels in their ecclesiastical bodies.

          A healthy local parish life in necessary, but it is not, in the long run, sufficient. If bishops promote wrong teaching, destructive things happen.

          Dr. Stankovich elsewhere correctly points out that we will have bad things going on in the Church as long as human beings are involved, and that is correct. Christians have survived and even thrived under very adverse conditions within the Church. I think it is important, however, to make some distinctions. I tend not to worry about the alleged personal sinfulness of a bishop. Is he secretly acting on homosexual urges? Does he secretly indulge in pornography? Does he keep a mistress or girlfriend on the side? Is he skimming off money and indulging in a lavish lifestyle? Frankly, none of those things even cause me to raise my eyebrows as long as that bishop serves the services properly and as long as what he teaches and publicly professes is Christian and orthodox. Why? Because I know that the Church has survived many such bishops. Venal and sinful bishops in the past at least had enough respect for the faithful to pretend to believe the teachings of the Church, and they understood that that was part of the tacit deal — they would pretend to be Christian, and the people would pretend not to see their sinful actions. It is a commonplace in Orthodox teaching that clergy are subjected to terribly severe temptations, and that they quite commonly fall as a result.

          So the whole uproar back in the mid 2000’s elicited barely a yawn from me, and I stayed contentedly in my OCA parish without giving any of it a thought. I yawned at the embezzlement of money at Syosset or at accusations of an OCA bishop having a male lover, just as I yawn at controversies over whether a given Russian church leader sports a $100K watch on his wrist or has a mistress. Does personal rot under the surface have spiritual consequences? Of course. We are all much healthier when our clergy both publicly teach the faith and privately live it — would that every bishop were a St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco. I’m just saying that we can survive personal sinfulness in our clergy much more readily than we can survive clergy who do not publicly uphold the teachings of the church.

    • Christopher says

      So, I did, I did see a putty cat!!

      This IS a fight about accommodation of the New Anthropology in the OCA! The OCA IS the first (but it won’t be the last) “jurisdiction” to go the way of “Orthodox Episcopalianism”, or at least the first to come to the beginning of a schism because of it.

      Or am I wrong?

      • Come now, it’s “I did taw a puddy tat!” And of course you did indeed taw one…

        Both Cyprian and lexcaritas have valid points. There is a case to be made for leaving a hopeless situation (if that is indeed what one is facing) and a case to be made for staying and fighting for one’s home — is there really anywhere safe to run where one won’t eventually have to fight the same (or worse) battles?

        What one hopes not to be is the little old lady in the wag that used to circulate in the Episcopalian world many years ago. She and her friend are sitting and watching as the lesbian priestess solemnly baptizes the cat of the gay men she married earlier in the day — in the name of Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer — and then communes the men… and the cat. The old lady leans over and whispers to her friend, “ONE MORE THING, and I’m out of here for sure!”

        • Christopher says

          Come now, it’s “I did taw a puddy tat!”

          Of course, it’s been so long! I have looked for these wonderful cartoons Saturday morning for my children but they don’t seem to be in vogue anymore…

        • Mike Myers says

          OK, that’s pretty funny.

          Since cats are essentially divine, it’s redundant to commune them. You must agree.

          • For an Orthodox Christian to use any form of the word “essence” when talking about divinity and cats in the same sentence is problematic for me. But I do agree that most cats I have known do have a rather unshakable belief in their own divinity — a belief reinforced by the behavior of their owners. Beyond that, I will simply note that I am a dog person.

            My gal-dog and I just did a companionable 11 mile hike in the mountains Sunday afternoon (she probably covered closer to 20, with her constant exploring of her surroundings and, ever the optimistic and skilled pointer, looking for game birds). A couple of inches of snow fell, and in my ear-buds, I listened to Saturday night’s Palm Sunday Vigil service from Sretensky Monastery in Moscow, which I had downloaded. There was one hairy moment on a windy exposed ridge at about 7500 ft while temperatures were falling, but all in all it was a beautiful experience, and one that we share in some form most days.

            But it is a bond of love born of years of such shared expeditions that I would be unlikely to be able to share with any cat, however divine. You must agree.

            • Mike Myers says

              I keed, I keed. Mostly.


              Jubilate Agno, Fragment B, “For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry”
              Christopher Smart, 1722 – 1771

              For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
              For he is the servant of the Living God, duly and daily serving him.
              For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
              For is this done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
              For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
              For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
              For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
              For this he performs in ten degrees.
              For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean.
              For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
              For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended.
              For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
              For fifthly he washes himself.
              For sixthly he rolls upon wash.
              For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
              For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
              For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
              For tenthly he goes in quest of food.
              For having considered God and himself he will consider his neighbor.
              For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
              For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
              For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.
              For when his day’s work is done his business more properly begins.
              For he keeps the Lord’s watch in the night against the adversary.
              For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
              For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
              For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
              For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
              For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.
              For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.
              For he will not do destruction if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.
              For he purrs in thankfulness when God tells him he’s a good Cat.
              For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
              For every house is incomplete without him, and a blessing is lacking in the spirit.
              For the Lord commanded Moses concerning the cats at the departure of the Children of Israel from Egypt.
              For every family had one cat at least in the bag.
              For the English Cats are the best in Europe.
              For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.
              For the dexterity of his defense is an instance of the love of God to him exceedingly.
              For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
              For he is tenacious of his point.
              For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.
              For he knows that God is his Saviour.
              For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
              For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.
              For he is of the Lord’s poor, and so indeed is he called by benevolence perpetually–Poor Jeoffry! poor Jeoffry! the rat has bit thy throat.
              For I bless the name of the Lord Jesus that Jeoffry is better.
              For the divine spirit comes about his body to sustain it in complete cat.
              For his tongue is exceeding pure so that it has in purity what it wants in music.
              For he is docile and can learn certain things.
              For he can sit up with gravity, which is patience upon approbation.
              For he can fetch and carry, which is patience in employment.
              For he can jump over a stick, which is patience upon proof positive.
              For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command.
              For he can jump from an eminence into his master’s bosom.
              For he can catch the cork and toss it again.
              For he is hated by the hypocrite and miser.
              For the former is afraid of detection.
              For the latter refuses the charge.
              For he camels his back to bear the first notion of business.
              For he is good to think on, if a man would express himself neatly.
              For he made a great figure in Egypt for his signal services.
              For he killed the Icneumon rat, very pernicious by land.
              For his ears are so acute that they sting again.
              For from this proceeds the passing quickness of his attention.
              For by stroking of him I have found out electricity.
              For I perceived God’s light about him both wax and fire.
              For the electrical fire is the spiritual substance which God sends from heaven to sustain the bodies both of man and beast.
              For God has blessed him in the variety of his movements.
              For, though he cannot fly, he is an excellent clamberer.
              For his motions upon the face of the earth are more than any other quadruped.
              For he can tread to all the measures upon the music.
              For he can swim for life.
              For he can creep.

            • Mike Myers says

              For an Orthodox Christian to use any form of the word “essence” when talking about divinity and cats in the same sentence is problematic for me.

              For you and at least 11 of your fellow Monomakhiacs, evidently (as of 12:52 PDT). Just had a vision: of y’all, assembling a solemn posse. Torches and pitchforks figure in it. Dead cats, too, dragged on chains. Grim, bloated faces. Indignation suffuses the night air.

              I jested. I shall beware henceforth.


              I am both a dog and a cat person. (Little known fact: some dogs are cat people.) I’m quite fond of nearly all God’s creatures, actually. Certain insects excluded.

              Cats get a bad rap in some ways. In fact they can be quite affectionate and personable. I’m somewhat legendary among those who know me for my cat-magnethood. Seems I’m able to snow them completely. They can also be more chatty than muggles suspect, though this may be more an LA-cat thing.

              • I jested as well, my friend — I thought you might enjoy the dry theological humor, but perhaps it was a bit too dry. I will be there, standing against the posse with pitchforks to defend the poor cats should that day come. We owned a cat of ext%a ordinary intelligence of whom I was quite fond until I discovered I was allergic. My daughter now spoils her in her home, but I retain vistation rights.

                • Mike Myers says

                  I perceive that you would not summer with the pseudo-pious fanatics at Camp Trog, Edward, so I’m not surprised to learn you’d stand with the cat martyrs. On the topic, cats of extraordinary intelligence, more chatty cat videos. Forgive me.

                  I also have a mild cat allergy but ignore it for their sake.

            • Mike Myers says

              But it is a bond of love born of years of such shared expeditions that I would be unlikely to be able to share with any cat, however divine. You must agree.

              To be honest I can’t agree, unless you speak only of yourself. Couldn’t argue with that other than mb recommending a more open mind about possibilities.

              • Mike, that video is too good! Ha! It’s almost as if you know me!

                Although I would note that based on personal experience hunting big mountain lions using relatively small dogs, big cats are no better at long distance endurance hikes in the mountains than are small ones.

                Those big puddy tats would hike companionably with me until they got a little winded — then they would have me for a quick snack and take a nap under a shady tree.

                • Mike Myers says

                  Edward, Kevin spent years cultivating his relationships with these predators and scavengers (lions and hyenas), all of whom were either born in captivity or captured in the wild when young cubs or pups, then reared in captivity. The cubs born in captivity benefited from the example of their elders (the example of their electing not to snack on Kevin. They remain very orally affectionate, however, as you may have noticed.). This is an excellent and IMHO very exalted (read: humane) case study illustrating the natural history of human dominion over (ultra-)wild animals in just a couple of generations, and we can see in it a sort of genealogy in effect, too, just as it is in human (or more accurately, to append appropriate distinctions, human/prehuman history). But now, however, I’m heading off into a discussion that’s very dangerous to carry on in public, so I’ll just leave it at that.

                  I’m certain Kevin wouldn’t risk his life in this way with wild cougars and panthers. I had a rather interesting experience with the black panther captive at the San Diego Zoo. I hope he’s still there — I’m going back soon to see. I want to learn more about him (or her, not sure). SD Zoo has a famous and minimally heart-breaking tiger enclosure. Maybe you’ve been. Tigers (and ligers) are my very favorite cats. Unlike lions, who are by nature pack animals, tigers are much more asocial, at this point in their natural history. This may change. Ligers are fascinating hybrids.

                  Consider whether the fact that you hunt these cougars might have some impact on how well you’d get on with them, as per your hypothetical. Wild creatures sense these things, so I can assure you that your caution is wise and prudent. I’d suggest that you extend this caution to other magnificent beasts of prey, some of whom are quite acclimated to ultra-long marathons in the highest mountains.

                  A parable, from Ernest Hemingway:

                  Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and is said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called the Masai ‘Ngaje Ngai’, the House of God. Close to the western summit there is a dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude. — From the preface to “The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Short Stories.”

    • Gene Rose says

      It’s not always as easy to get out of the OCA as some might imagine!

      • Gene are you locked up in some secret OCA dungeon?

      • Pere LaChaise says

        Yes, because in many locales, where else is one to go to hear Liturgy in English? Where I live, our parish is the only one which provides that.
        The problem I have been seeing is that despite the OCA’s attempts to provide a church for people of no particular ethnic stripe to worship God in the Orthodox manner, the mission has decidedly NOT taken off, except in a few places where religion is generally popular (like the South). One problem is that the OCA has no copyright on Orthodox Liturgy in English and other jurisdictions are doing just as well with it and the OCA’s autocephaly has garnered it none of the advantages it was projected to provide 45 years ago.
        OCA people of 50 years ago have themselves failed to make the transition into a church which has any legs. Most people, even in places where Orthodox churches are fairly well distributed, remain completely ignorant of what those churches are offering. The exception being that ‘Greek Orthodox’ registers vaguely as a church exclusively for Greeks.
        Now that the OCA is no longer the choice of any immigrants that ethnic jurisdictions consider ready-made members on arrival, where do new members come from?
        Simple answer – in most places they don’t, and if one or two do come, the people in the parish don’t know what to do with them.
        We’ve been in this crisis for two generations and still there is no progress toward its solution. The OCA, and Orthodox churches in general, lack vision and an ability to adress themselves to the people on the street.
        A couple decades ago I dedicated myself Orthodoxy, in its nativizing OCA vehicle, assuming that there would be many more like myself coming in for similar reasons. I waited and now I am getting old, and the young are not coming.
        I can’t offer any solution – no one seems to be able to. But the AAC is coming, talking about “Expanding the Mission” – great idea. I hope we do more than just palaver. Unless we can give people a reason to come to our parishes and stay, we are ‘history’s toast’.

        • Pere,

          If you are expecting, I can tell you are hoping, but if expecting the AAC to do much of anything, my suggestion to you is to have NO expectations. That way you won’t be disappointed. Case in point, the recently concluded OCA “School of Missions” in Detroit was profoundly poor in attendance. A group picture, minus the presenters, was just a handful of people. I am not saying that the content of the “School” was poor, it could have been outstanding, but the fact that so few people attended points to a couple of stark conclusions.

          1. Maybe the organization of the “School” its promotion was insufficient, thus the meager response. That would be the best post-mortem. However,

          2. It is more likely that a promotion by Syosset is met with skepticism at best and outright destain at worst. This would be the most dire conclusion.

          I know many OCA clergy, most are fine men, who want their parishes to grow, but at the same time they are tired of trying to defend the OCA as a jurisdiction. Many are simply embarrassed at her recent history and have decided to hunker down, in place, as far away from Syosset as possible. This is tragic but understandable. Those I speak to have little expectation that the AAC will offer anything of substance to help them in their ministries. And, sadly, a good number of them are not planning on attending because they see little justification to spend precious parish resources on a gathering that historically has not aided them.

          This is the malaise the OCA finds herself in while other Orthodox jurisdictions in America, for better or worse, can at least claim a legitimacy, an ethnic identity, and thus rallying for their clergy and people. I think that the Antiochian Archdiocese has done the best in bridging both the Old World and the New. It is pretty much left to its own fate by Antioch to live locally while at the same having a link to that Ancient Church. The OCA must create its own identity and has been attempting this since 1970 but, IMO, failed. As the old saying goes, it is neither “fish nor fowl” with only their “autocephaly” as a reason for people to be attracted. Most people searching for Orthodoxy could care less about this and in fact, many would rather be part of a jurisdiction linked to the Old World.

          I have concluded that the OCA experiment has failed and all the good intentions and AAC’s won’t change her fate. Another case in point. The Theme of the Atlanta AAC is “Expanding the Mission” but more time, effort and money has been spent of amending her Statute. Another mixed message about what is really important to those in Syosset. Most in the OCA pews could care less about her Statute!

          The OCA was a glorious idea but by the mid-1980’s, it was losing membership at an alarming rate and OCA Theme after Theme, all wonderful sounding, has not changed its outreach. I recently was told by a friend in the OCA Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania that at their present rate of contraction, in 10 years the ENTIRE diocese will have less than 900 people! Other OCA Dioceses are suffering the same rate of attrition and is a stark reminder that it isn’t and hasn’t been attracting new converts at any rate sufficient to offset its membership losses for decades. If it were a business it would be looking at closing up shop or possibly searching for a merger.

          Now, the OCA has been tagged as “Progressive” or “Liberal” (not sure exactly what that means) but those terms have been used by commentators in response to statements by Fr. Arida on “Expanding the Mission” by attempting to be missionary inclusive when it comes to gays and lesbians. Even the courageous stance of the OCA Synod back in the 1980’s to declare that the New Calendar was its official liturgical calendar now is seen by many clergy as a mistake, especially when new immigrants, accustom to the Old Calendar, have used this, rightly or not, as some sort of litmus test for “legitimate” Orthodoxy in America. I think that decision was a mistake and should be revisited as one piece in “Expanding the Mission.” But I doubt if anyone will have the energy to even bring the idea up in a resolution.

          Not wanting to turn this into a thesis, I will conclude by saying that your frustration and disappointment is shared by many and I have little expectation that the OCA will take any bold steps in Atlanta to turn in a different direction. Why? Because her leadership still is desperate for recognition of its status while the rest of Orthodoxy here could care less about the OCA. It simply has become a small second-tier voice for Orthodoxy.

        • Pere,

          It should be noted that these challenges are faced by every Orthodox jurisdiction in the United States. They are, in fact, faced by virtually every Christian sect that hasn’t resorted to ‘feel-good’ methods, including the Roman Catholics. I am of the opinion that we are living in the days when “…and because iniquity will abound, the love of many will wax cold.” We see this all around us, sometimes within our own parishes, sometimes even within our own selves.

          However I do not at all believe the situation to be hopeless. As things get progressively worse in the non-Orthodox Christian culture the faithful (that is, those Christians of whatever prior tradition who nevertheless know the Lord) will be forced to seek shelter from the falsehoods and trivialities they see growing in their current communions. This is the upside. The downside is that in the age of the internet, many will land on ‘Orthodox’ sites that are filled with discourse so coarse as to (perhaps in some ways rightly) frighten them away. Unfortunately, many comments on this very site must be included in that category (I do wish some of our more contrary commentators would tone it down a bit with this in mind or, if they cannot control themselves, the moderator would be more cognizant of this fact).

          While those who actually darken the doors of our parishes may be few at this time, we must be ready for them with a plan – both of general welcome and of how to integrate them fully into our communities. More will be coming at some point, and we must be prepared. But you are correct that many simply have no plan at all. Every parish council should be about the business of coordinating such plans with their local priest.

          There are many things that could be said about how to develop such plans, but they all must of necessity begin with us – with simply being who we are called to be. If we ourselves are not fervent in our love for Christ and His Church, our evangelistic ‘programs’ or ‘strategies’ will prove to be nothing more than empty marketing of the kind the world offers, and people will (again probably rightly) turn away. Far too many parishes (especially shrinking ones) look to ‘evangelism’ merely as way to get more people in the door to help pay the bills. We should pay our own bills (which is part of being who we are called to be) and concern ourselves with the things that matter, primarily…

          “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

          Those parishes (and parishioners) that take this seriously are the ones that grow…or will grow. Those that do not generally die a slow death – and perhaps rightly so.

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          A small observation I have made that I offer standing alone, and make no generalizations: the OCA church in this county (that’s county, not country) has received many Russian immigrants as members in recent years, and has added regular services in Slavonic as a result. And the longtime priest, an ‘Anglo-American’ of Episcopalian background (albeit long ago; he’s been the priest there over 25 years) seems to me amazingly fluent in Slavonic…..

          I was there for the Passion Gospels, as I go there for that service every year. He called upon a Russian member fluent in English for the translation of several announcements for the many Russian members of the congregation.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Cyprian wrote:

      “Let me ask the OCA members, such as you, George, why you remain in the OCA? If you were to find out tomorrow that your local parish priest had ostensibly given his blessing to a lesbian union, would you remain at that Parish? Would you receive communion from the hands of such a man?

      By remaining in the OCA, you are doing exactly this. You are uniting yourself with Bishops who have given their tacit endorsement to such foulness. Some, particularly in the beleaguered DOS, offer the pitiful defense that wreaks of Pilatian hand-washing, saying, “Oh, those Bishops will do their thing, but here on the local level, we will do things they way they should be done.”

      As a DOS member, I will answer by suggesting that you are either insane or under the influence to accuse the OCA bishops of giving tacit approval to lesbian unions. Any Orthodox jurisdiction that does that is ipso facto heterodox. Are you saying that all the canonical jurisdictions in the world are either uninformed or, despite the purported tacit approval of lesbian unions by the OCA, remain in communion with the OCA, making them also guilty of supporting such heresy?

      Let me ask YOU: Why are you staying in your presumably canonical Orthodox jurisdiction if it is in communion with the OCA? Or, are you even Orthodox? Finally, when making such a serious charge, it is a commendable thing if you name names and dates, including your own. It is so easy for the Evil One to post on the Internet these days, no?

  5. r j klancko says

    since 1970 the oca has had its challenges, we also know that when bishop job took on the system, bishops dimitry, nathaniel, and nikon – all who suppossedly knew what was going on, failed to support the cause and bishop job had to stand alone. i knew bishop dimitry since 1970 and although the south grew during his tenure, i question whether it was the population shift doing its thing more than his zeal that accomplished the growth – just a perspective based on seeing him in action when he was in new england. so a more balanced , pragmatic, perspective may be needed here.

    we also know that there has been controversy about many of the newly nonimated bishops, bishop candidates – perhaps more conservaive minds need to enter the situation and keep the process on a more even keel. yes the will of the people is the democratic way, however what if the will is not that of the people but one that has been orchestrated – remember from a semantic perspective rthe bolsheviks were actually in the minority but chose a name to indicate the opposite – perhaps this election was not as unaminous as indicated – i have seen orchestration happen at many levels – so it may be best to move forward in a slow and steady manner

    so perhaps there is more here that meets the eye, for example, regarding the antiochian election, it was considered a sham by many, why? because it was a foregone conclusion in the eyes of many that the patriarch’s godson would be the new primate and this was voiced over ten years ago – and this choice was one that caused great apprehension because it was sensed as a reorientation toward the east and not one of becoming part of the fabric of its host country – a stepbackward – a rearanization of a church that at one time led the way in becoming a leade in americar for their american laity

    so my point here is that perhaps the best avenue is to tred slowly and softly and allow the holy spirirt to dom its work – alas time will tell – however, perhaps the best candidates have yet to be identified

  6. M. Stankovich says

    Quite a curious stance you take, Mr. Michalopulos, having been the “safe haven” for groups such as the “Sons of Job,” those merry wive of wherever, and the defenders of Fr. whatever his name was, belle-of-the-Moscow-ball; all disparaging of the Holy Synod, all threatening to one degree or another (from holding the church in abeyance – how’d that work out? – to eternal judgment); all with questionable “facts,” and all anonymous. On the other hand, there are those who continue to be very critical of what they consider the Synod’s rash judgment in selecting Jonah as Metropolitan and his resultant, self-admitted “disaster,” and on the other hand, there are also those in the DOS expressing very legitimate concerns regarding Fr Gerasim’s history, his original presentation of his official “biography,” and his less than direct addressing of these matters when he began visiting parishes. None of this is to say that anything is insurmountable, but if anyone is gun-shy, consider the lament of David, “Yes, they opened their mouth wide against me, and said, “Aha, aha, our eye has seen it!” (Ps. 35:21)

    It seems to me that the internet has brought an entirely new dynamic – comprised of a “brave new world” of cowardice,” disrespect, disinhibition, and “information cascades” where decisions are reached, not by truth, but by the loudness, and often the meanness, of the speaker. Questioning the vision, the courage, and the faith of the hierarchs in question for being overly cautious strikes me as remarkably disingenuous.

    • Daniel E Fall says

      Here, here.

      Nothing wrong with taking it slow.

      • Jesse Cone says

        M Stankovich, Daniel Fall,

        Why did the Synod let the DOS and its parishes spend all that money for the assembly if they weren’t ready to act on the outcome? The Synod has kept the DOS in the starting blocks for quite a while, and there’s not indication they are close to firing the starting gun.

        • Daniel E Fall says

          Well, that is certainly a fair comment.

          I think the Synod has made agriegous errors in the past 20 years. If there is any stalling, it only reflects on them…even the revenge theory reflects on leadership.

          Most corporations have succession planning. It is pretty obvious the Synod has done its planning poorly. If the elected person answered they might be administratively weak-maybe the Synod did the right thing..

          I try to believe in the general goodness of people. If the revenge theory is right-leave the church.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          I am a member of Holy Apostles Orthodox Church, Carolinas Deanery, Diocese of the South, Orthodox Church in America. I thank God that He has put me where I am. I also fervently believe that with Him all things are possible.

          The letter from Metropolitan Tikhon indicates that the Holy Synod will reconsider its decision to postpone the canonical election of Abbot Gerasim when it meets again for its Fall Session in October 2015. Unless the Holy Synod refers FR. Gerasim to a Spiritual Court, I fully expect the Synod to elect him as our new bishop. As others have noted, this has been a long process and many folks have waited patiently. I am perfectly willing to wait until October of this year.

      • Rymlianin says

        Yeah! The Episkies did that and look where it got them.

    • Michael Stankovich writes, “the Synod’s rash judgment in selecting Jonah as Metropolitan and his resultant, self-admitted ‘disaster,'”

      Metropolitan Jonah actually said that the past few years had been an administrative disaster, and that he took responsibility for his part in it. He did not call himself a disaster, nor did he take all the blame for what had happened.

      Skovran’s accusations were garbage three years ago, and they are garbage now. Who asked Fr. Gerasim about his past and found him less than direct? Literally everyone else I’ve seen report on directly questioning Fr. Gerasim about his past, has said he was repentant of his mistakes, and completely forthcoming about them.

      The South has nominated a qualified candidate for the episcopacy, and he deserves fair consideration, not stalling tactics.

      • I am so tired of reading about Metropolitan Jonah and his fall from grace. This all happened in my first year in the Orthodox Church and in the OCA. I met Met Jonah when he conducted a retreat in my area, and was highly impressed by his meditations and the thoughts he shared with us. I did not at anytime think of him as having a mental problem.

        Secondly, I was under the perhaps mistaken belief, that Christianity teaches that we are to love our enemies, and we are to pick up those who fall, not stomp on them when they are down I have not seen or read about one iota of love, concern, aid, extended to Met. Jonah. The last I heard and it might have changed, he was treated as a virtual prisoner. Our services are filled with “Lord have mercy”, which implies to me that we want God’s mercy. But does God expect us to extend mercy to those in need of mercy? Does God have mercy on those who will not extend mercy to others? Judging by that stumbling block of a line in the Lord’s prayer, I don’t think so.

        Thirdly, we have been leading up to Holy Week, and I am reminded that the ministry of Jesus lasted three years before he incurred the wrath of the powers that be. Many of these powers were the religious leaders of his time. Obviously Jesus did not fit their definition of a Messiah. Did God send the wrong person to do the job? I am not saying by drawing this parallel that Met Jonah was Jesus in this case, but the Bible is full of warnings about false shepherds. From my point of view, the shepherds in this case treated the newest sheep in the flock rather brutally. What are they afraid of? Truth has a way of coming out. Might take years but it will out.

        • Take heart, Lina:

          “Verily, Jonah the Prophet was caught but not held in the belly of the whale. But being a sign of Thee, O Thou who didst suffer and wast delivered to burial, he came out of the whale as out of a chamber, and cried unto the watchmen, ‘In vain do ye watch, O watchmen; for ye have neglected mercy.'” – Sixth ode of the Canon of Holy Saturday

          God is good.

        • Daniel E Fall says

          Metropolitan Jonah was not without negatives…sorry. Whether he was due his eventual away is more debate than worthwhile. The mistake of asking resignation or elevating him both the responsibility of the Synod. The reflection of mistake and error is much brighter on the Synod than Jonah, especially considering so many leadership failures.

          A wise captain does not take the ship full ahead into icebergs.

          Further, the past bishop was special, so they don’t want to mess up. Forgive my failure to reference him appropriately and warm regards.

          • Of course +Jonah was not without negatives. I’ve made my own extensive criticisms here in the past. He deserves to be treated with respect because of his former position, and since the ROCOR has decided to grant him asylum (although I don’t know whether this has officially happened yet), I am trying to reserve judgment on what the future will bring for him and for the ROCOR. (I am entitled to my opinion about what I observed about his past as an abbot and a metropolitan.)

            But I continue to have worries, even as I continue to trust the ROCOR Synod of Bishops to do the right thing. I made a project of watching a bunch of +Jonah’s YouTube videos of his lectures at the ROCOR cathedral in DC (inquirer’s class, stuff on the liturgical life of the church) and to say that it was a painful podvig was putting it mildly.

            I agree that the ultimate responsibility lies with the Synod of Bishops who elected him, who failed to lay out a plan for educating and advising him before electing him, and who then made a circus out of handling his ouster. If they didn’t know that he wasn’t up to the task, then shame on them.

            As you say, “A wise captain does not take the ship full ahead into icebergs.” Precisely. Or as I have said in the past, anyone who couldn’t figure out at a glance that the waters were shark-infested at Syosset had no business being metropolitan.

            • painful podvig is pretty much nondescript for me, so I only know painful and that is just not a fair adjective to describe a video

              most people have lauded his videos

  7. Tim R. Mortiss says

    I know nothing at all about the concerns except what I read here; “wait and see” would be my only contribution. I assume all will know better in a year– which will pass in no time at all.

  8. Tim,

    You say “all will be better in a year.” Folks in the DOS have been told to wait much longer – decades is more the waiting period set forth. Good priests in the DOS can hopefully hold their community together, but I didn’t think that this was a Protestant organization that depended on “how good is the local preacher.”

    Thinking back at the strength and conviction of the laity, Holy Father Mark (of Ephesus), pray for us.

  9. Thomas Barker says

    I agree with Tim R. Mortiss, but would add that, broadly speaking, there is an invaluable tool for discerning trouble ahead: the inscrutable hairdo. Consider Donald Trump, Ted Kacynski, Don King, Rod Blagojevich and Fr. Robert Arida. Also, it has been established that the Latins use the mitre and biretta artfully to obviate such detection.

  10. Is that Mr. Stankovich’s glittery, wordy way of saying that he approves of Bishops and priests who are perfectly fine in giving their collective nods of approval to homosexual perversion?

    So many flowery words, but never getting to the heart of the matter.

    And look, I said all that without italicizing anything, for special effects.

    • Daniel E Fall says

      Wow, you really suffer from confirmation bias. He has never advocated anything like that.

  11. The thread on the new martyrs in Libya is closed, so I’ll post this here:


    A few quotes:

    “My father died like a lion,” said a daughter photographed holding a regal portrait of him (Slide 8). “I am now from the city of the martyrs. The city of the brave lions.”

    Bishop Felobous, a relative of five slain laborers. “Their leaving is painful. But we are not sad,” he said. “We are proud of our martyrs. I congratulate ISIS. God is using them to bring martyrs to the world. Everything happens for a reason. I was very sad when I heard the news of the airstrikes led by the Egyptian military against ISIS. God asked us to even love our enemies.”

  12. Just in time for Pascha says

    From the email, showing a new kind of dynamism in the Orthodox Church in America –

    Editorial Board

    Joseph Clarke
    Michael Berrigan Clark
    John Congdon
    Inga Leonova
    Rebecca Magaziner Matovic

    Advisory Board

    Archpriest Robert M. Arida
    Sergei Chapnin
    Archimandrite Cyril Hovorun
    Archpriest Andrew Louth


    • Heracleides says

      Wow. Not surprised to see that Leonova’s Sodomite Coven is alive and well. A virtual who’s-who of OCA gayness. The “Ancient” Faith at its finest.

  13. M. Stankovich says


    The heart of the matter: if you would, kindly demonstrate for me when the Church has ever derived or determined its sanctity or holiness by the sinful or sinless state of its clergy or faithful? And without glittery words or italics-for-emphasis, the answer is “never.” As long as the Church is comprised of fallen human beings, there will be sinners, and the Church has endured the worst of heretics and sinners amongst its clergy. “Tacit endorsement” generally is an invitation to provide unsubstantiated, murderous gossip (speaking of St. John Climacus) that has made its way through the internet mill several times over. If you are “recruiting” from another jurisdiction free of sinful bishops and priests (including homosexuals), you are fooling yourself. Read it again: As long as the Church is comprised of fallen human beings, there will be sinners. I “approve” of obedience and respect for those anointed of God, short of heresy. Their “sinfulness,” as for all of us, is a matter dealt with between them, their confessor, and our Lord.

  14. Reader John says

    What a blessing! I believe that our brothers in the DOS, with their zeal and love for God, will stand strong and lead the ship (of the OCA) into harbor. But, we will all have our time to stand or sleep.

  15. Mr. Stankovich:

    I’d call the approval of lesbian unions by a priest and his bishop heresy.

    Wouldn’t you?

    And while I am not trolling for Rocor, this would not happen with their clergy, or hierarchs in America.

  16. — Frankly, I think it is time to admit that the OCA has schism as a real possibility in it’s future. Perhaps it is better to call it a “falling away” because those who go along with the New Anthropology will in fact be leaving Orthodoxy behind.

    Everyone should check this out (especially the resources page):


    This is an effort blessed by Metropolitan Joseph. Can you imagine Met. Tikhon blessing something like this? —

    OK, so here we have another hint at the actual plot in this drama. Is the point that DOS must be brought under Synod control, for the purpose of finances and growth? Is the goal to keep the ship afloat, period — but without an extreme action that would push the DOS out into another orbit?

    Danger game, if that is what people are suggesting.


  17. Cyprian wrote:

    “Let me ask the OCA members, such as you, George, why you remain in the OCA? If you were to find out tomorrow that your local parish priest had ostensibly given his blessing to a lesbian union, would you remain at that Parish? Would you receive communion from the hands of such a man?

    By remaining in the OCA, you are doing exactly this. You are uniting yourself with Bishops who have given their tacit endorsement to such foulness. Some, particularly in the beleaguered DOS, offer the pitiful defense that wreaks of Pilatian hand-washing, saying, “Oh, those Bishops will do their thing, but here on the local level, we will do things they way they should be done.”


    As a DOS member, I will answer by suggesting that you are either insane or under the influence to accuse the OCA bishops of giving tacit approval to lesbian unions. Any Orthodox jurisdiction that does that is ipso facto heterodox. Are you saying that all the canonical jurisdictions in the world are either uninformed or, despite the purported tacit approval of lesbian unions by the OCA, remain in communion with the OCA, making them also guilty of supporting such heresy?

    Mr. Kraeff: Are you so utterly blinded by your loyalty to the OCA that you are unaware of the situation at the OCA Cathedral in Boston, where a reception for the daughter of the priest and her lesbian lover was held, with the blessing of said priest? Do you actually think this escaped the attention of the Bishop, whose seat is in this very Church?

    CARL KRAEFF WROTE: Let me ask YOU: Why are you staying in your presumably canonical Orthodox jurisdiction if it is in communion with the OCA? Or, are you even Orthodox? Finally, when making such a serious charge, it is a commendable thing if you name names and dates, including your own. It is so easy for the Evil One to post on the Internet these days, no?


    I just named names for you, Mr. Kraeff. I find it difficult to believe I needed to do so. At what cost will you remain in the OCA? What would it take to dislodge you from the oversight of New England hierarchs who actually hold you, and everybody else in the DOS, in utter contempt?

    Lesbian unions meet with their approval. That must be okey dokey for you toO, as you continue to serve as an apologist for them.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Dear Cyprian or whoever you may be:

      If one case, such as the one you related, is sufficient to justify condemning the entire OCA and her Holy Synod, I have to tell you honestly that I do not want to be in the same jurisdiction as you. I do not see in you the qualities that makes one an Orthodox Christian; rather I see an individual who is like the Puritans of old, especially the witch hunters of Salem. If you are an Orthodox Christian, I strongly suggest that you talk to your priest about your postings on this blog.

      • Fr. George Washburn says

        The premise upon which Cyprian rests his boldness needs to be stated in the stark terms which he appears to believe. (One is left to say “appears” because he conceals his reasoning as well as his name.)

        The premise appears to be “When an instance of moral disorder appears to have taken place in a bishop’s cathedral and one cannot see any evidence of an episcopal prohibition, investigation or censure, it is the duty of the serious Orthodox Christian to break fellowship with that parish, its priest, his bishop and the entire synod of which the bishop is a member.” At least that would seem to be his justification for the categorical criticism of Carl.

        If he has better reasoning, I think he should be invited to share it. Along with citations to a greater authority than the mental processes of someone borrowing a saint’s name.

        Oh, and Orthodox authority. Most of us already know what the Protestant separationists say, and they shouldn’t be authoritative here. Are they?

      • So in other words…….you’re not going to answer my questions.

        Alright then.

  18. Metropolitan Joseph has now written a letter to the whole Archdiocese regarding his strong support for the April 25 March for Marriage in Washington, DC. In this letter he encourages us to “make every effort to attend the rally and encourage others to do likewise.” Please read this important letter carefully, as His Eminence outlines his reasons for support.


    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      I would also hope that Bishop Paul of the OCA’s Diocese of the Midwest do the same and post the “March for Marriage” post on the Diocese of the Midwest’s website as well for the OCA faithful that wish to attend. We can’t allow our AOC brothers and sisters to do all the work.

      Peter A. Papoutsis

  19. M. Stankovich says

    I would humbly request your prayers for my mother, Mary, who is critically ill, and entered hospice this morning.

    • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

      Dr. S., I’ve added Mary Stankovich to my daily intercessory prayer list.

    • Sub-Deacon Gregory Varney says

      My prayers are with you. My mother entered hospice in April of 2014 and passed away in January 2015. They took excellent care of her.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      They are going forth from this house.

  20. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    Does anybody know when the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and/or the Various Metropolitans will send their delegation to the “March for Marriage” in Washington, D.C.?

    If because its such short notice to do such a thing will the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese post the March for Marriage post on their Official website? Will the various Metropolis’ post it on their websites? The reason I ask is because I always see the “March for Life” post here in the Metropolis of Chicago’s website but have not as of yet seen the “March for Marriage” post on our local Metropolis website.

    I hope Metropolitan Iakovos and Bishop Demetrios post the “March for Marriage” post on the Metropolis website as soon as possible to give the Greek Orthodox faithful here in the Chicagoland area who want to attend information on when and where this march will occur.

    Peter A. Papoutsis

  21. Paul Stasi says

    Perhaps the delay with Fr. Gerasim has something to do with this – from the people at SNAP and pokrov.org:


    Please read the article for your selves. I find their reasoning faulty at best. The big’un is the following:

    “I can certainly see why the synod would want to give Archimandrite Gerasim a ‘test run,’” said Melanie Jula Sakoda of SNAP, “The last candidate selected for the Diocese of the South, who went on to head the whole OCA 11 days after his consecration, was a complete administrative disaster, particularly in the way he handled sex abuse cases. However, if the OCA is serious about changing the way abuse is handled in their Church, the archimandrite seems like precisely the wrong kind of candidate.”

    So by that logic anybody from the Diocese of the South will inevitably be disastrous? Huh?

    Check out the rest of the article for more amusing musings from our friends at SNAP…convict first, provide proof later.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      I cannot think of a better example for faulty reasoning. Blame DOS if all else fails. Besides, it is wrong history as well. Metropolitan Jonah was not nominated by DOS but by the AAC and elected by the Holy Synod. In contrast, Fr. Gerasim has been nominated by the DOS by an overwhelming supermajority. Metropolitan Jonah’s rise to Primate was meteoric, while Fr. Gerasim’s rise to diocesan bishop has been very slow (not thanks to him or DOS).

      In shot, with communications like that, Pokrov is well on the way to irrelevancy.

      • Oh come on. Isn’t the most plausible explanation for all of this a cultural/doctrinal conflict between DOS and the older, now declining segments of the OCA?


        • Mike Myers says

          The DOS is not declining only in the sense that a huge demographic shift of population from the Northeast and Midwest to the Sun Belt has marked the past few decades in the US. I seriously doubt the respective growth and decline in these dioceses is due to anything more than that.

          I’d like to see hard numbers. I’d bet serious money they are correlated entirely with the demographics.

          For example:


          1970 —–11,196,730—-16.9%
          1990 —–16,986,510—-19.4%
          2000 —–20,851,820—-22.8%
          Est. 2014–26,956,958—-7.2%

          By 2020, the population of Texas will have more than quadrupled since 1950, an estimate based on a conservative 20% rate of growth (average of 21.6% growth per decade since 1950). Pop. increase in this state alone probably accounts for DOS growth relative to diocesan decline in the NE and MidW. By contrast, NY’s pop. will have grown by only ~5 million between 1950 and 2020. ~5 million in NY, ~23 million in TX.

          Quantitative, not qualitative decline. Due to demographics, not spirituality, seems to me.

          • I would look at the number of missions, the number of churches at the crucial 90-active member level (and what directions the numbers are heading) and the number of men seeking the priesthood.

            But, yes, demographics and birthrates etc. are crucial. Go to the thriving churches and count people under 40 and under, well, four. Do the same in the parishes that are frozen or declining. Look for gray hair, the air of a mainline church.

            Look for new life, in other words. You will find it in many regions. But it would be interesting to compare the regions at this point, as in other flocks in the USA.

        • tmatt:

          conflict between DOS and the older, now declining segments of the OCA?

          The notion that the DOS will overtake the remainder of the U.S. in terms of numbers or influence is flat-out wrong. Orthodox outside the Bible belt far outnumber those inside it and will do so for decades to come.

          • Who said anything about OVERTAKING the rest of the country? The issue is growth vs. survival, as well as things like birthrate, number of converts, the number of vocations to the priesthood, etc. One does not have to overtake something in order to reach the point where a region has become essential and impossible to ignore or write off.

        • Kudos to both Carl Kraeff and tmatt.

          The Fr. Gerasim saga as the next bishop of the DOS is both a denunciation of Pokrov and a generational shift on the OCA Synod.

          Pokrov’s impotent attempt to discredit Fr. Gerasim is a disgrace. These bitter women have used guilt by association one too many times. If the OCA Synod delayed their election of Fr. Gerasim, this leads to the second point.

          There is a generational shift taking place in the Synod and Fr. Gerasim’s election will hasten that change. The likes of Nathaniel, Nikon and Benjamin have more days behind them then in front of them. They have influenced the Synod disproportionated for the past 10 years, and I would suggest in a negative manner. Others are free to disagree, but I suggest that his delay is part of a last ditch legacy attempt by these three bishops. What links them? Mutual skeletons.

          With those three men off the Synod, there is a chance for the OCA to become more realistic and sensible without the constant haranguing about autocephaly and all that such a presumed status burdens the OCA jurisdiction.

          In the end, Fr. Gerasim will be elected by the Synod and it will finally point to the decline in the influence of the older generation on the Synod and the ascendence of the younger bishops who must lead well into the future because an OCA without the DOS is dead.

  22. M. Stankovich says

    My mother fell asleep in the Lord, in the arms of her family, at noon on Great and Holy Saturday. I am gratefully to any who kept her in your prayers in her final hours. May her memory be eternal!

  23. The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn’t disappoint me as much as this one. After all, Yes, it was my choice to read through, but I truly believed you would have something useful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of crying about something that you could fix if you were not too busy seeking attention.

  24. George Michalopulos says

    Mike, may her memory be eternal!

    Christ is risen!

  25. Very Rev. Andrei Alexiev says

    Memory Eternal!

  26. Mark E. Fisus says

    This “trial period” for Fr. Gerasim also allows more time for liabilities to be uncovered. As word gets out that he’s the South’s choice, people might come forward with some dirt. Maybe this is just a “speak now or forever hold your peace” moment.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      I sure hope that you are right. I cannot see how the Holy Synod can justify not electing him during the Fall meeting in the absence of very serious new charges that have some basis in reality. I am not talking about mere opinions or rehashing of old ones. As somebody else (Helga?) has already pointed out, Fr. Gerasim’s biography is extensive and he has answered all questions and reservations.

      • Heracleides says

        Come this fall Carl, may we hold you to these words and actually witness the miracle of you unambiguously denouncing the shenanigans of the OCA’s Unholy Synod? Or will you (once again) produce a plethora of new excuses mitigating their actions? Time will tell I suppose, but based on your past posting history I know which option I am betting on. Prove me wrong.

  27. Fr. Gerasim and the DOS should just join ROCOR where such games are not played.