“A Special Calling”

A week or so ago, La Sheppard posted as a comment a wonderful YouTube of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Russia. (It was also sent to me by other readers of this blog.) Needless to say, it was moving. And so, we decided to post it as a stand-alone blog post.

The reason for this came to me this morning, when I received a Tweet from yet another reader. The crux of it is that Patriarch Bartholomew is now considering creating another ukrocephalic church in Latvia. As we commented last week in the post “Where Will He Turn His Gaze Next?”, now we know. No doubt Mike Pompeo has a hand in this and it’s possible, that the original Ukrainian gambit didn’t work out so well. Greece is still up in arms over Ukraine so the EU/NATO/Phanar axis may think it’s better to concentrate their firepower on an insignificant little country like Latvia. I dunno.

Regardless, it doesn’t seem that Bartholomew has gotten the message. His rogue actions will invariably lead many in the Orthodox world to make a choice. As an Orthodox Christian, I would rather we didn’t have to suffer the effects of a schism. As a Greek-American, this is particularly galling because there’s no real way to make sense of what the Ecumenical Patriarch is doing. All things being equal, I would rather stay in a Greek-speaking patriarchate; it’s just more comfortable.

But Ukraine was just a bridge too far. The actions of this patriarch are too much in contrast to normative Orthodox ecclesiology. They stand in stark contrast to the canons –all of them. Worse, it portends a uniate future which is abominable on its face.

Kirill is correct: Russia has “a special calling”. Regardless of how we as Americans or Westerners feel about the Slavic mindset, it has pleased the Lord to choose Russia as the bulwark of Orthodoxy. And so, now is the time when all Orthodox Christians will have to choose. Would that it were not so. In any event, as a proud Greek-American, one who was baptized and raised in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, I choose Russia.



  1. Gus Langis says

    In any event, as a proud Greek-American, one who was baptized and raised in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, I choose Russia. I do as well.
    It’s also time we label as heresy that which leads to our separation from the EP. That is Papism and also Caesaropapism coupled with ethnophyletism. All three ecclesiological heresies.
    Let’s read the Orthodox understanding of Canon 28 and the role of the first among equals in Articles 15 and 16 of the Patriarchal Encyclical of 1895:


    • Gail Sheppard says

      Let’s make it easy for them, Gus (and thank you):

      XV. The divine Fathers, honoring the Bishop of Rome only as the bishop of the capital city of the Empire, gave him the honorary prerogative of presidency, considering him simply as the bishop first in order, that is, first among equals; which prerogative they also assigned afterwards to the Bishop of Constantinople, when that city became the capital of the Roman Empire, as the twenty-eighth canon of the fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon bears witness, saying, among other things, as follows: ‘We do also determine and decree the same things respecting the prerogatives of the most holy Church of the said Constantinople, which is New Rome. For the Fathers have rightly given the prerogative to the throne of the elder Rome, because that was the imperial city. And the hundred and fifty most religious bishops, moved by the same consideration, assigned an equal prerogative to the most holy throne of New Rome.’ From this canon it is very evident that the Bishop of Rome is equal in honor to the Bishop of the Church of Constantinople and to those other Churches, and there is no hint given in any canon or by any of the Fathers that the Bishop of Rome alone has ever been prince of the universal Church and the infallible judge of the bishops of the other independent and self-governing Churches, or the successor of the Apostle Peter and vicar of Jesus Christ on earth.

      XVI. Each particular self-governing Church, both in the East and West, was totally independent and self-administered in the time of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. And just as the bishops of the self-governing Churches of the East, so also those of Africa, Spain, Gaul, Germany and Britain managed the affairs of their own Churches, each by their local synods, the Bishop of Rome having no right to interfere, and he himself also was equally subject and obedient to the decrees of synods. But on important questions which needed the sanction of the universal Church an appeal was made to an Ecumenical Council, which alone was and is the supreme tribunal in the universal Church. Such was the ancient constitution of the Church; but the bishops were independent of each other and each entirely free within his own bounds, obeying only the syndical decrees, and they sat as equal one to another in synods. Moreover, none of them ever laid claim to monarchical rights over the universal Church; and ii sometimes certain ambitious bishops of Rome raised excessive claims to an absolutism unknown to the Church, such were duly reproved and rebuked The assertion therefore of Leo XIII, when he says in his Encyclical that before the period of the great Photius the name of the Roman throne was holy among all the peoples of the Christian world, and that the East, like the West, with one accord and without opposition, was subject to the Roman pontiff as lawful successor, so to say, of the Apostle Peter, and consequently vicar of Jesus Christ on earth is proved to be inaccurate and a manifest error.

      • Monk James Silver says

        Leo xiii was pope of Rome in the late 19th century, so these citations are a bit confusing.

        Whence these quotes?

      • Antiochene Son says

        I was recently reading “The Orthodox Liturgy” by Hugh Wybrew and was struck by the passage about St. Constantine moving the capital to the small village of Byzantium. To paraphrase, when Constantinople was founded in 330, Bishop (St.) Alexander of Byzantium went overnight from being a suffragan bishop under the Metropolitan of Heraclia to the second-ranking Archbishop in the whole Church.
        What do I take from this? The See of Byzantium was nothing special. It became special when Byzantium became New Rome. It became New Rome because the Emperor lived there. Now the Emperor is gone and the Christians are gone.
        Why is Bartholomew still pretending he has the King of Earth and his world-class army backing him? (Unless he in fact does, in the form of the United States—in which case he should be honest and move the Ecumenical Patriarchate to Washington DC).
        It’s obvious that the CIA is trying to do with Bartholomew what it did with John Paul II during the Cold War. (Because the CIA openly engages in doctrinal warfare.)

      • Fr Chad Hatfield says

        If you were impressed with this YouTube of His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All-Russia, I want to recommend a book from SVS Press, titled “Patriarch Kirill in His Own Words”. It has been translated into 14 languages. It will give you an introduction to His Holiness rarely found outside of Russia.

      • Dear Gail,
        With your understanding of Patriarch Kyrill thought you might appreciate this sublime video of  him at a portion of Vespers of Good Friday (4 min 48 sec)

    • Monk James Silver says

      Gus Langis (October 30, 2019 at 6:37 pm) says:

      It’s also time we label as heresy that which leads to our separation from the EP.

      Perhaps Gus Langis means to describe Pat. Bartholomew’s separation from US, rather than the other way around.

      After all, The Church and its self-understanding remained in place, but Pat. B moved away from it.

      A clarification would be welcome.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        I think this is an important distinction that will become even more important as we move forward. WE did not move away from the Church; Bartholomew did when he ignored his brother bishops and went into Ukraine.

        • Matthew Panchisin says

          Dear Gail,

          I think there is much more to Constantinople’s actions than just Ukraine, at the core of the ecclesiastical heresy lies an ethos that is very far removed from the traditions of the Orthodox Church.

    • George and me. As Patrarch Nikon said ‘ I am Russian by blood and Greek by faith. Well we turn that around. 
      It is obvious that Phanar and those  dubious gentlemen buggering in it’s ranks,  have a long Term aim to turn the Orthodox church in to just another failing, falling pseudo western church in worship and belief where the latest # me too  is God.   No thank you. 

    • I tried to put this comment after Gus who said he was a “proud Greek-American” but the system wouldn’t accept it.  So this comment is falling here.  I understand ethnophyletism  relates to Church and ethnicity.   
      But why do so many so called Americans want to be known from the country they recently immigrated from?  And that country is more important than the one they are now living in.  This practice comes off as I am Greek first but I am stuck living in America. It is my second choice   How ethnic can one get? 
       Just for the records, I have some forbears who were born here in the 1730s.  Some of my forbears fought in the Revolutionary War, others in the Civil War, on the northern side,  or as some call it the War between the States.    They paved the way for all the rest who came here later on as did many others of varying nationalities.    And they didn’t refer to them selves as English-Americans, German-Americans, French-Americans or Irish-Americans.  I am all of these.  Should I refer to myself  as English-German-French-Irish American?
      They arrived here, they were glad to be here and they called themselves Americans. That was good enough.  And most of them never looked  or went    back.  It was a new start in life in a new country and at times a brutal one. But they persevered.   
      Dividing the people of this country up into minority groups is one of the worst things that has happened to it.    

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        My paternal grandfather and my dad were born in British Columbia, my grandad was a Royal Air Force pilot in the First World War. Thus I’m the son and grandson of immigrants, though my wife, whose maternal grandparents were both born on Dalmatian islands, says that British Columbia doesn’t count! My paternal grandma was born and raised in Kentucky, but back then she lost her US citizenship when she married a Canadian citizen. That Kentucky girl used to get a big kick out of showing off her 1947 US naturalization papers!
        The Croatians fully assimilated in the second generation, and nearly in the first generation. Being Roman Catholic helped; the RC church was a quick path to intermixture of ethnicities and rapid Americanization. You didn’t have to send to the ‘old country’ to find a suitably Catholic wife, be she Irish, Italian, or Polish. All of those ethnicities were bound to Catholicism, but the Church itself here was not tied to ethnicities.
        Very different with the Orthodox. There are some frustrations for US converts with the seemingly endless inseparability between the Greeks, as Greeks, and the Church, unto the 4th generation and beyond.

      • Gus Langis says

        Lina. To be quite honest I cut and pasted what George wrote as echoing my feelings. Truth be told I probably would have left out the “american” part if I just wrote it out.  Reasons why; first I believe America is an artificial country,  an economic zone where people from the 4 corners of the globe are lured to be debt consumers. If a country does not have a common language, culture, religion and a high level of homogeneity it maybe called a country but it’s not a nation.. Secondly i would love to move abroad someday, there is no sort of feeling as being “home” here.  I dont even believe there should be a single Orthodox Church in America as I consider them all to be metochions, otherwise we would all be guilty of the phyletist heresy. And what will we do when this country starts fracturing? 50 autocephalous churches for each state? Regardless people travel more, intermarry with foreigners more, change religions more, so having an affinity to a specific piece of real estate in a multicultural society no longer holds weight.

        • Complete agreement. People identify with ethnicity, which consists primarily of culture, language, religion, and genetic descent. What is an ‘American’? America is a state, not a country, just like India, with its multitude of ethno-linguistic groups.
          When you have those people going on about how they are 1/64th Cherokee, 2/6 Dutch, 3/9 Swiss, and 12/32 Hungarian, all that says to me is that these people are “mass men”; their identity is shaped by the transient nature of ‘American,’ and its nebulous definition.
          Being Greek doesn’t change. Being Russian doesn’t change. Being ‘American,’ well, is it the same in 2019 as it was in 1776? 1863? 1968?
          Some can argue that ethnogenesis could take place in these United States, but I think that it’s impossible, based on the factors of mass immigration of disparate ethnic, religious, and linguistic groups. If America had stayed WASP-majority (>80%), then maybe, but under current circustances, disintegration is more likely.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Basil, disintegration is very likely in my opinion as things now progress. I do see how with 50 states however, each with its own demographic distribution, can mitigate against political disintegration. Immigrants from the Third-world will migrate and/or assimilate accordingly depending on how intense the core American identity of that state is.

            Case in point: three weeks ago, President Trump had a massive rally in Houston, Tx. It was aimed primarily at the Hindi community of Houston which I take it is very large. President Modi of India was the guest of honor and he whipped up the crowd into a frenzy. My point is that because Texas has an outsized historic identity, the various immigrant groups tend to coalesce and accept the dominant ethnic ethos, which these Hindi-Americans clearly have done (or are in the process of doing). They aren’t going to by into the Hispanic culture of Texas as it’s not dominant. And anyway, as far as the Hispanics are concerned, there are basically three classes: the Tejanos (who fought at the Alamo with Col Travis), the Chicanos, who came later and have not imbibed fully the Texan ethos, and the Latinos, basically every Hispanic group outside of Mexico.

            Contrast this with, say, Washington State. The core American ethnicity there is far more elastic and unhistorical. Hence any immigration to it will be antithetical to the customary ethos. Indeed, the Asian (read: Chinese) demographic will tend to dominate based on their intrinsic cohesiveness and because they see themselves as coming from a superior culture. We see this happening in California and New York where the Asian community is on the warpath about quotas levied against their children in the university system. In Michigan, it is the Moslem community which disdains the core American ethnicity, recognizing it as a failed state (so to speak).

            In both cases (Oregon and Michigan), disintegration is more likely because the founding stock of Anglo-Americans is more passive about its accomplishments. In the South however (of which Texas is a part), the founding stock of Scots-Irish is more assertive even though it constitutes only barely a majority. One reason of course is because of the intense suffering that was meted out to the South by the Union Army, which, even though it left after ten years of pure hell, devastated the South. So much so that the poverty of the Southern whites took the better part of a century to ameliorate. That kind of suffering intensifies the feelings of the victim group and results in an increased solidarity. As such, immigrant groups which migrate to those states tend to accept the folkways of the South.

            This is one reason that the Democrats and RINOs want open borders, to further dilute the core American, largely Christian demographic. If this means allowing Jihadi sleeper-cells or MS-13 to grow in strength, all the better, because these will be the shock troops to cow the Christian majority into submission.

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              I’m going to retreat for a space with a few bottles of dry elderberry wine from the heartland of the United States, and take a respite from this apocalyptic pessimism, discouragement, negativity, and outright hatred (by some) of the country that I, for one, love, as did my ancestors who came here and those of my wife and her family.
              I wonder; do some of you have children and grandchildren? When you are around the dinner table, do you speak like this to them? A counsel of despair, despondency, and futility? To him who sees the nation as a “lure of debt consumers”, I wonder, what is the health of your bank account? Whence these grievances and resentments, neverending? Angry men always and ever find things to be angry about.
              Read some Psalms for respite. Gladden your hearts and make your faces shine!

              • Tim exactly!!  USA will thriving and survive.  Remember the words of St Silouan.  

              • Michael Bauman says

                Tim R and others: As I said here: https://www.monomakhos.com/22258-2/

                The United States is a country and a nation (although I had begun to wonder about that myself). The US and Canada are unique in being consciously created as nations. A big part of that creation is the ideal of freedom based in a Christian understanding of natural law. In fact, John Adams remarked after the ratification of the Constitution that the government created through the Constitution was suitable only for a Christian people.

                My observation over the years is that most people really do not like freedom, especially Christian freedom. Most people do not like the seeming uncertainty, the flexibility and responsibility that freedom, especially Christian freedom requires. Each of those cause fear in people, even shame. In fear and shame, people seek alternatives with which they are comfortable or enter a state of despondency, willingly accepting anything that comes–polities formed by the earthly realities of language, borders and culture with a central earthly authority. That is the old world way of identifying and building nations that has always led to wars.

                As monarchy has largely passed away, so to will the understanding of nation as solely a cultural/linguistic/geographic entity. It will pass away either into the tyranny of globalism or the freedom of life in Christ that resides in the Church.

                Like it or not, there is a truth that the United States was founded on theological/philosophical principles based in the Divine. Those principles can only be fulfilled if we trust in the Lord our God and Him only. That is both the challenge and the hope and the identity of Americans. 1 Samuel 8:7 is both a warning to us and a challenge as is 2 Cron 7:14.

                The destiny of the United States and Canada, the fulfillment of our identity as countries and nations can only be in and of the Orthodox Church; not an uneasy confederation of ethnic pseudo identities the programs of “Orthodox Unity” propose, but the Church.

                We have been given much as countries, much is required of us.

                So, although the United States particularly has a lot to answer for in the creation, maintenance and propagation of debt slavery as the foundation of a neo-fascist economy (not capitalism) and other artifacts of modernism such as the imperialist Wilsonian Democracy, we can be healed, personally and as a country.

                Our true identity as a countries and nations is unique in world history. Our only king is God. We either recognize that and work with that in mind, or disintegration will follow.

                Prior to the contemplation that led to me writing my “Open Letter”, I did not believe these things and it is easy to dismiss them as a Protestant heresy or a desire for papal hegemony. As I noted, both those approaches have been tried and failed.

                It is still possible for the Church and the people in her to repent and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in a different way. It will be a battle. It is not for the faint of heart because it requires learning to be small, still and to eschew any hope of changing the world while focused on the ascesis of repentance/forgiveness, worship, prayer, giving alms locally with a merciful heart and fasting. We will likely fail as the world defines failure/success.

                So, I do not call for any kind of theocracy, God forbid. But in the US and Canada we are still largely allowed to personally and as a people seek union with Christ and live a full Christian Life. Such a life is a scary life because it is centered on the Cross and living by our Lords commitment in Gethsemane: “Thy will, not mine be done”

                Political freedom is but a small part, a by-product of living a Christian life. It is the Christian ascesis that is the real foundation and extends beyond whatever political form we decide to use.

                Our unique reality is under attack to be sure as many people, if not all of us to one degree or another, buy into the spirit of modernism which demands the destruction of freedom (in this day and age a voluntary surrender of it) and requires that we worship money, sex, power and the state(or the pseudo states of Google, Amazon and Facebook).

                “Fear not, I am with you even unto the end of the world”

                • “maintenance and propagation of debt slavery as the foundation of a neo-fascist economy”

                  What? Fascism sought to get rid of deb slavery. Haven’t you heard of Gottfried Feder? One of Third Position economics’ mainstays is the eradication of usury and debt, and the support of systems like social credit.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Basil, but it cannot be eradicated without its existence. Look at the “college loan crisis”. Of course it will take the state to right such an injustice. Not to mention the much longer running farm credit problem that has driven more and more family farms out of business and into the hands of corporate farms.

                    …and the Jews become the convenient scapegoat.

                    Certainly, the mindless acceptance of debt in order to make things easier is a sin.

                    • Dino Tsortanidis says

                      Michael Bauman,
                      The evil one will always encourage, and supply endless “scapegoats”, in that we may deflect our own  sins, and escape our own debts.  Be careful who you dance with brother.
                      owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loves another has fulfilled the law.(Romans 13:8)

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Indeed. Now is the time to intensify our prayer.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Saunca, although you are responding to Lina, I must tell you that I very much enjoyed hearing your family history. It’s very much like mine in some respects. I too, miss the immigrant experience of my childhood here in Oklahoma, although it was much attenuated by the time of my birth. My mother and the other “old-timers” had some great stories to tell. Life was very rich then as everything revolved around the Church and all the major passages of life were of great moment.

        Sadness yes. But perhaps the Lord planted us here even in our hodgepodge of multiple jurisdictions so that somehow, someway, America could become Orthodox. I dunno.

        Regardless, thank you for this contribution. It was delightful.

  2. I am in the OCA and will continue as long as the OCA remains Orthodox.  The MP is squarely Orthodox, of that there is no doubt.

  3. As an American Orthodox Christian of Russian (and Kievan ‘Rus’) descent, I’ll have to go with Russia. I’m not really into deposed schismatics, unordained laymen, and Nazis goose-stepping Galicians that think they’re actually real Ukrainians. (Sorry folks, but it’s true!) May God have mercy, and deliver us from these troubled times!

  4. Nathaniel Adams says

    Something I was just thinking about:

    We’ve all heard the stories of bishops, primates and others at the apex of the ecclesiastical hierarchy misbehaving in one way or another. I believe it was Chrysostom who said something to the effect that the road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.

    I don’t mean to excuse their bad behavior when I say this, but I can’t help but wonder if their ruthlessness is borne of necessity. Given that they have to routinely deal with elites both in government and the business world, they have to know how to play the political chess game. They have to be Machiavellian when it comes to defending the church. It’s a sad reality in a fallen world.

    Is there any truth to this or is this a horrifically stupid argument, granting the mucky-mucks too much leeway?

  5. Ditto here… yet another Greek-American who of course is with Pat. Kyrill and Christ and His Church. I honestly can’t understand how any Orthodox Christian who strives to be with Christ and who believes in the Church could decide otherwise. 
    In this heartwarming talk, Pat. Kyrill mentions that most western secular leaders simply view the Church of Russia as a political arm of the Russian state. To them, this is all just a big game, a big game of Risk where the Church is simply a tool to be used by some nations where she is prominent.  Pat. Kyrill is exactly on the money here.  
    Most of these western secular leaders are not believers anyway, and, to the extent that they are, they are post-Protestant “churchless Christians” who don’t believe in the Church, don’t believe in holiness, don’t believe in saints. They certainly don’t believe in sacramental Christianity, which is the only true approach to Christ.  They view the time we spend in prayer, at confession, at vespers and liturgy, processing around our parish at midnight on Pascha, as complete wastes of time… maybe quaint meaningless rituals but certainly nothing that “enlightened” folk would do.  
    Just like hundreds of years ago, when western Protestants decided to go their own way after a few communications with Orthodox leaders, these guys truly believe that their way is the enlightened way and that we’re the backward ones, unable to think for ourselves and who remain “slaves to meaningless ritual.”   The dynamic is the same now in 2019 as it was in the 1600s.
    For most of us, Orthodox Christians who’ve lived most or all of our lives in the West, we’re well accustomed to this way of thinking.  We love and live with our western secular neighbors, but their view of our church is a significant division that sometimes makes true connection with them not possible.  
    Many of our Orthodox brothers can’t take it — they find our way of life too shameful, I guess? — hence, the desire to make our faith more palatable to Western eyes, the “public Orthodoxy” website nonsense, the >90-95% of native-born Orthodox in the West leaving the faith, the proclamation of a “new church” of unrepentant schismatics in Ukraine and hoping few will care, etc., etc.
    Being an Orthodox Christian in the Western world is incredibly difficult at times and often lonely apart from the Church, yet God calls us to be here and to live here for a reason, as St John of Shanghai and S.F. would say.
    I still find it tough to grasp that C’ple and the CoG are hitching their wagon to a path being driven by these unbelieving, anti-Christian forces. Yet, it’s reality, and God commands us to deal with reality, not to live in a make-believe world of our choosing. 
    Many years to Pat. Kyrill!  Είς πολλά έτη, Δέσποτα!  

    • Anon as usual u say it beautifully. 
      Thst ‘ rainy day ‘, that ‘ time of tribulation ‘ is here.  But we must recall the words of a Russian priest under communism who when asked by a westerner how difficult was it to live in Soviet conditions!?.  He said to affect of, ‘ We are with Christ on the Cross ‘ .  And let us each recall the words of Christ that the Cross is light.  Let those who have eyes and ears understand the times we living  in.  And with joy and peace go quietly forward. 

    • Michael Bauman says

      Anon, you describe the situation poignantly. Thank you. I’d like to expand on the state of loneliness you mention. It is real, but it need not be a problem I think. I am not a gregarious person by nature so I don’t care that much. I have always been in the “strange” crowd.

      My wife is the opposite and when she was received into the Church ten years ago, it strained relationships in her family especially with her children, initially. It hurt, but it was not a fatal blow. It gives all a little taste of the monastic life. There are tools and resources within the Church to help and allow us to overcome such set backs. The most important point is the presence of Jesus Christ. Both my wife and I are in the Church for one reason–He is here. He called us and welcomed us.

      I have long held the only reason to be in the Church is because of love of the Lord and a desire to be one with Him. Just as it says in our Baptism and Chrismation. His love, the tender care of the Theotokos, the intercessions of the saints: that is quite a community.

      I have come into the temple of several Orthodox Churches when there were few people there as yet and recognized that the temple was absolutely FULL of the presence of other people and angels. It is truly awe inspiring–the beginning of worship.

      Certainly, we call all feel the sense of separation from other people but through the grace of God that can be overcome if we are not drawn away from our central focus.

      My wife’s children, for instance, are slowly being drawn in. Indeed, her daughter has become in many ways my daughter. Prayer, love and patience.

      The ones that harden their hearts against you need even more prayer. Prayer is the great connector when done with love for (not at) others.

      • What a blessing to have all of you brethren here
        and read your beautiful words……….WOW!

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        Why are people lonely in the Orthodox church vis a vis their fellow American Christians? I take the issue seriously but wonder about the sense of discouragement.
        I mostly encounter curiosity and respect when I discuss my Orthodoxy with others. On the other hand, I am not by nature particularly reserved, and both by temperament and professional experience can both advocate and dispel misconceptions. At least, I’m not bashful about doing so!
        From one perspective, the whole of Western Christianity is one large mission field for Orthodoxy. We haven’t done well, and the present situation is very bad. It will get worse, because, for example, the verdict of many Orthodox is that others aren’t Orthodox, as we see from Anon’s first paragraph above. He “honestly can’t understand”. I suggest he check his honesty or his understanding. I say this in all seriousness: when people say they “don’t understand”, they almost always actually mean they “don’t agree”. It’s actually not that hard to understand the actions and motivations of other people, inasmuch as we are largely alike.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Tim, you ask, “Why are people lonely in the Orthodox church vis a vis their fellow American Christians?” I have run folks from two general groups that tend to be lonely:
          1. Converts from Protestant sects where there was a great deal of emphasis on “fellowship” and “mission teams”, etc. They miss the frequent interaction with others that is quite different in the Orthodox experience mostly, and
          2. Folks who feel ashamed of being Orthodox. Often this second group will subsume the Orthodox Church in an ethnicity whether Lebanese or Greek. If asked “why do you do that…..” The response is “Oh that’s just a (Greek) (Lebanese) thing.

          Both reactions are failure to recognize and experience and acknowledge what the Church is even when it is right in front of them. Shame always leads to loneliness.

          Of course as Elder Sophrony frequently said, the path to true holiness is the process of bearing a little shame on a regular basis. That is true whether it is the shame of sin we all have (personal and corporate) or the shame at being different and contra the world and the possibility the our very existence offends many.

          The actions of the EP have unfortunately raised the shame level for many people and that alone is a problem, IMO.

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            There are indeed adjustments one has to make when moving from Protestantism to Orthodoxy; I don’t mean theologically, that’s obvious, but in the modes of congregational life.
            For me the two big ones were singing and reading of Scripture before the congregation. I like to sing hymns. This wasn’t too hard to get used to, and I sing as much in the Liturgy as I reasonably can, but I know that for the really musically-minded it can be hard. Any average congregation contains people who can really sing and love singing and music, and they find their way into the choirs of Protestant and RC churches. For such people–and there are a lot of them– this must be a huge adjustment.
            I very much enjoyed reading Scripture from the lectern, and those who like it and are good at it get to do it quite a bit. I was one of them. This I miss.
            Otherwise I find our congregational life quite active and enjoyable, much as I knew before. But then I was in the very-relaxed (to say the least) Presby church.

        • Tim,
          “Why are people lonely in the Orthodox church vis a vis their fellow American Christians? I take the issue seriously but wonder about the sense of discouragement.”
          For what it is worth, I ‘ll tell you how (some) people in the Orthodox Church inside Greece manage to feel very busy as opposed to lonely:
          MAKE THE FIRST MOVE:To start with, if I never make the first move to talk to somebody, then statistically speaking I ‘ll end up having 50% fewer friends than if I did. Actually, if you take two men A, and B in the Church, and they both NEVER make the first move, the chances are that A and B will NEVER have the chance of talking to each other.
          Now practice fully supports the above theory. My wife and I became very good friends with another couple in a new parish but it took us a few years. We always said a formal like “Good morning” and nothing else.Being curious in my nature, I asked them one day about something, and after that slowly but surely we became VERY good Orthodox friends, and we now spend a lot of time together.What is interesting is the wife’s reply to my question (years later)-“Why did you never stay behind after church and talk to us, all these years?”, and she replied:-“I thought you were not interested in us because we are younger and less experienced…”Our lesson: make the first move, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
          FIND OPPORTUNITIES IN YOUR PARISH, PREFERABLY MID-WEEK:These are a few examples, optimally done around Wednesday to fill the week gap.
          EXCURSIONS:Promote and join e.g. day excursions organised by the parish. You will make many friends.
          CHURCH CHOIR:If you are interested in Church Music, join the choir and promote/join rehearsals.
          BIBLE STUDY GROUP:Again, besides the study, you will make good friends.
          NAME DAYS AND OTHER FEASTS:For the name-days, baptisms, weddings etc of the members of your family invite members of the parish,and naturally go to their feasts.
          OTHER IDEAS…..
          I can guarantee you that by following the above actions (not on purpose)we have NEVER felt alone in our Church!

  6. Alitheia1875A says

    Let’s see what happens when Patriarch Bartholomew visits the US next May. He’s going to Washington to meet with the president, Pompeo, etc.

  7. A time is coming when Churches will either side with the new ecclesiology of C’pole and its tilt towards Rome…..or Holy Orthodoxy.  One can see the leanings now. America will suffer the most with its overlapping jurisdictions. But to those who have eyes to see, and ears to hear, the decision will be obvious.
    I will side with the Russian Orthodox Church and those who stand with Her.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Somewhere along the line, Bartholomew lost track of the fact that “where the bishop is, there is the Church.” Metropolitan Onufriy was and is the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine. He is the bishop of Ukraine and he is the Church. No one disputes this. Not even Bartholomew.

      Like a cheap purse being passed off as a Chanel, Epiphany is a knockoff of Bartholomew’s creation. Bartholomew’s lengthy dissertation on why he had the right to install an unordained charlatan, with faux credentials, to head a faux church in another bishop’s territory doesn’t make his actions any more “authentic” than the mickey mouse certification card that comes with a cheap handbag. What Bartholomew has stitched together is already pulling at the seams. Let him peddle his wares somewhere else. The sooner he is separated from the Body, the better. No one wishes him ill and all should be praying for his repentance and restoration but this is something he needs to work out on his own and so far, he’s chosen not to. There is a saying that I think makes a lot of sense: When someone tells you who they are, you need to believe them. Bartholomew is telling us, through his actions, that he is not Orthodox. We need to believe him.

      I stand with the canonical Church, the real one, the one with real bishops, who need no introduction because they carry the credentials given to them by Christ. Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan Onophry have shown enormous grace under the most trying of circumstances. Christ, Himself, must be giving them the wisdom and the strength to endure because one day soon, they’re going to have to lead the Church out of this mess. Like true bishops, they know this can only be done by remaining in lockstep with their brother bishops who have undoubtedly encouraged them to show restraint until the time comes when they can act together, as they should.

      I don’t carry a designer handbag nor would I recognize one if I saw one. I’ve made a single investment and that is in the Church. I know a “knock-off” bishop when I see one. I am not going to be persuaded by a rogue bishop that he is right to continue down a singular path. This isn’t the way of the Church. We all know this and it’s time we all acknowledge it.

      I believe Bartholomew will go down in history as the bishop who united the entire Church. Sadly, however, we will be united against him.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Very well said, Gail.

        If I may add something:  Jesus said that “when you are hated, remember that the world hated Me first” (paraphrase).  Isn’t it ironic that Russia is hated for –what, exactly?  It’s no longer an aggressively atheist state.  It’s no longer communist.  It takes care of its own.  It promotes Orthodoxy.

        Maybe that’s why it’s hated?  I hate to say it but we live in a country in which even straight-laced Mormon bishops have pornographic twitter handles and Texas juries thinks it’s OK to castrate little boys.  What’s next? Oh, yeah, don’t tell me:  “WE HAVE TO EAT THE BABIES!”

        You know, you can’t make this stuff up.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Jonathon Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” may become government policy.

        • George. Eating babies,  with rigani and Virgin kalamata olive oil I hope!!! ? Seriously though,  best not laugh.  They can be recycled as food for ‘ mad’ cows, as in Uk before scandal broke. 

  8. Absolutely brother Mikhail!
    If you reckon that the Greeks then said
    “We prefer the Turkish yoke than the Pope’s tiara!”
    The choice is clear and simple:
    Naturally with the MP!

  9. Coinciding with the final days of the Amazonian Synod, Bartholomew has contributed the preface to a new book by Pope Francis titled ‘Our Mother Earth.’ 
    Some excerpts: 
    “Awareness, [Pope Francis] says, is gained primarily through an “authentic spirit of communion”. We must start again from forgiveness: asking forgiveness of the poor and the exclusive, first of all, in order to be capable of asking forgiveness also of “the earth, the sea, the air, the animals…” For Pope Francis, seeking forgiveness means totally revising one’s own way of thinking; it means profound personal renewal.”
    Pope Francis says that, in addition to reviewing one’s own lifestyle and changing one’s mentality, we must also have a vision. Believers can find this vision in the liturgy, and especially in the celebration of the Mass. Bread and wine are the first foods that humans obtained by transforming the fruits of nature, the wheat and the grapes, through their own ingenuity…And just as in the Eucharist the bread and the wine become Christ because they are bathed by the Spirit, the personal love of the Father; so creation becomes the personal word of God when it is used with love”. 
    See: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-10/pope-francis-the-christian-foundations-for-the-care-of-creation.html

    • Schmemann meets Karamazov: in itself not bad, actually.

      • Greg, yes as words I do not think  anyone could disagree.  But bartholomaios thinks words and conferances are what is all about.  
        A bit like those showy ‘ peace conferances’ The Moscow Patriarchate had to hold to keep Soviets quiet ,  like the 1980s one held in Moscow ‘ Saving the sacred gift of Life ‘.   Words with no meaning and avoid the  elephant in the  room. 

    • Animals cannot forgive. 

      • Michael Bauman says

        Johannes, dogs can and do.  Especially if their owners do.  

      • Johannes, cats do. But it takes time, depending how great your offense was. They might scratch you as a penance or worse 😉

  10. Anyone who accuses Patriarch Kirill of being a KGB agent or the MP being cold heartless bullies needs to watch these videos:

  11. GROUNDBREAKING NEWS: Metropolitans of the Church of Greece Seraphim of Piraeus and Seraphim of Kythira are currently initiating a pan-Orthodox council without the participation of the EP. https://www.vimaorthodoxias.gr/egrapsan-s-emas/ragdaies-exelixeis-peiraios-serafeim-sto-vima-orthodoxias-gia-oukraniko-se-panorthodoxi-akoma-kai-choris-ton-vartholomaio-koini-epistoli-me-kythiron/

  12. Johann Sebastian says
  13. Thank God for Metropolitans Seraphim and Seraphim! Now we will see if the Patriarchs remain silent. If Bartholomew refuses to attend, let him remain in Istanbul!

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Mikhail, I don’t think the EP was invited!

      • He will be invited.  The invitation is being sent “to all the Primates of the Orthodox Church.”  (“. . . προς όλους τους Προκαθημένους της Ορθόδοξης Εκκλησίας.”)  The intention of the two Metropolitans Serapheim is that the there be a pan-Orthodox Synod, even if the Ecumenical Patriarch does not participate.  In other words, the way I read the article in Βήμα Ορθοδοξίας (Vima Orthodoxias), PB will be invited since he is one of the leaders of the local churches but the Synod would take place even if he does not participate in it.
        This interpretation is further confirmed, in my opinion, in the following statement in the article, “Η κοινή επιστολή θα σταλεί εντός των προσεχών ημερών προς όλες τις Εκκλησίες .”  (“The joint letter will be sent within the following days to all of the Churches.”)

      • I believe it. But he should be invited so that everyone can see his “no vote”.

        • Solitary Priest says

          I was speaking to a fellow priest, who belongs to an EP jurisdiction. He believes that Bartholomew has gone too far to back out now. He has hitched his wagon to a Russophobic West, the Ukrainian fiasco proves this.
                What needs to be emphasized is that the hierarchy is no longer dealing with illiterate peasants, as was the case in 1596, when the false union with the Papacy was promulgated in Ukraine and Belarus. Today, the average Joe in the OCA or ACROD, has access to smartphone or computer. And some priests and laity I’ve spoken with are fired up. It would not take much for more parishes and priests to defect to ROCOR. The EP priest informs me that his bishop does not favor what happened in Ukraine, despite being in the EP. The OCA bishop whom I commemorate is also opposed. The priest is just waiting till some official declaration against the EP comes out. He speaks favorably of church life in Russia. I’ve already said that I’m not a huge fan of Putin or Patriarch Kyril. But I could be mistaken. People can repent of their past, St. Paul shows us this. 

          • George Michalopulos says

            Fr, it’s not a matter of Russophobia/philia any more (as I wrote in my own apologia the other day). All things being equal, I’m an Hellene to the core. I would rather attend a Byzantine-rite liturgy (ideally with an all-male a capella chorus but you can’t have everything). But at this point the “purest” or least objectionable expression of Orthodoxy can only be found outside of the confines of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

            If that is Serbia, so be it. Same for Antioch. Africa: I’m all in. Russia, whatever its faults can provide the necessary theological cover. It can hold the umbrella over the heads of all other local Churches which cannot abide the rogue actions of the Phanar that are raining down upon our heads.

            By that I mean not merely liturgy and rubrics but a reliance on proper ecclesiology. I prefer the Old Calendar but that’s not a deal-breaker for me any more. If it came down to a choice between a traditional liturgical church that was under the EP and a less traditional church that was not under Bartholomew, I would have to go to the latter, even if that church had pews and organs (and everybody knows how much I despise those). At this point, it’s just a matter of theological principle. Still, I would rather not have to be confronted with that choice.

            During his entire archpastorate, Bartholomew has always pushed the primatial envelope, conquering papalist ideological territory. With Ukraine, he went too far. The supremacist jig is up, the uniate mask is off.

            • George we in same place.  Although I personally could not put up with organs and razor blades each week. But get you!! 
              Sad as Orthodox we have come to this. But only because the bishops wanted an easy life not to confront.  Hell we all do in life but we all know it ends up bad!!  

            • George,
              ” Still, I would rather not have to be confronted with that choice.”
              The chances are that some of us will have to, sooner than later!
              We need a lot of prayer and illumination from the holy Spirit.
              We also have the example of Saint Mark of Ephesus.