An Interview with Mother of Five

A few weeks ago, during the COVID-enforced shutdown of our churches, we highlighted a comment from a young lady who went by the moniker “Mother of Five”. Gail felt that it was good enough to stand alone as an essay in its own right.

She was correct: Mother of Five’s arguments were not only eloquent, they were inarguable. We here at Monomakhos are always on the lookout for such polemics.

She wrote plaintively about what these directives meant to her personally as well the implications for her family. And it generated a lot of interest and commentary. So much so that we felt the need to flesh out her story more. So we asked her if she would be interested in doing an interview. After speaking with her spiritual father and her husband, she agreed.

Because she felt so strongly about what she wrote, she also agreed to speak with her own voice and under her own name. I must say that I had a heck of a time trying to get our equipment to work and it is for this reason that you will see only visual part of the Skype interview that you will see is me, the interviewer. (More’s the shame as she is far prettier than me, so I ask for your forgiveness.)

(At any rate, Nora was a good sport about it and we both had a good time. I hope you will all enjoy it. We broke it up into three parts, each one about 10-15 minutes long.)

Therefore without any further ado, I present to you Mrs Nora Kowalcheck, the Mother of Five:

Part 1;

Part 2;

Part 3,


  1. MultiSpoonAbomination says


    I take it you would not attend this parish?


    • Fr. Deacon John says

      Well….I think the measures depicted are somewhat paranoid overkill but it sure beats having to watch services on a computer screen at home.  I was not permitted to serve for over 2 months and went about bonkers having to watch on my computer, especially during Holy Week.  Being 64 and having Type 2 Diabetes I am considered in the high risk category in some, but thankfully not all, circles.  I am grateful to be back in my home Metropolis and parish where I can now serve without restrictions.  Doxa to Theo!!!!

      • On the contrary, if every Church had directives like this youtube instructional video, I would choose to stay at home and pray in front of my Icon corner. I would locate a monastery that continued in the patristic phronema, and commune there as travel permitted…even if it had to be once or twice per year. 

        • George Michalopulos says

          Totally agree with Mikhail here. I was repulsed by sterility of the entire proceedings.

        • MultiSpoonAbomination says

          Mikhail’s sentiment is shared, I believe, by many whom we will call “the sane remnant.”
          These nearly blasphemous impieties are revolting. Included in them is the priest literally throwing the precious Body and Blood of our Savior down the communicant’s throat.
          What can account for this vile display, except faithlessness?
          And I’m sorry Dn. John, but to the sane remnant the kool aid is too bitter, and they aren’t about to start drinking it.

    • Rhipsime says

      And to think, last year, approximately 90 miles north, there was a priest who was putting the spoon in his mouth after every communicant! 

      (If you are wondering, the bishop – who is now a zealot about multiple spoons – refused to condemn the practice. The priest, apparently, was advised to stop but probably only because word of this made it all the way up, so to speak.)

    • Worship by numbers…
      The script reads like something in the Mishnah…

    • Antiochene Son says

      I would be ashamed if that were my parish. I know the clergy are in a difficult position but why go to the lengths to produce a video of it?
      Also, sanitize your hands and then get a candle BUT DON’T TOUCH THE OTHER CANDLES! What was the point of the hand sanitizer? This is beyond any form of rationality.
      It’s amazing how liberals pooh-pooh tradition and traditional rules, always seeking economia in all things, but become harsh, unbending absolutists when they make the rules. 

      • “It’s amazing how liberals pooh-pooh tradition and traditional rules, always seeking economia in all things, but become harsh, unbending absolutists when they make the rules.”
        Absolutely. They want to destroy everything we have and create their own totalitarian nightmare world.

        • While they are smash anything reminiscent of European colonial history today, modern leftists are more than happy to be colonialists themselves as they forcibly export American-style secularism, LGBTQQwerty rights, and western secular feminist abortion to Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe and everywhere else that doesn’t want these things. 

          Your old European colonialism is bad, but our modern secular colonialism is good.  “If you don’t want our modern secular colonialism, then you’re a backwards country that shouldn’t exist anyway” is the working narrative. 

          The hypocrisy is deafening. As others have said, these modern Marxists have no interest in “rights” but have their sights set on only one goal:  power. 

    • Gail Sheppard says

      The parish isn’t the problem.  It’s the restrictions that are off-putting.      

    • Nora ~ Mother of Five says

      Multi Spoon, 
      This is horrifying. There is no other description. Escorting my children into this space would be like walking them into a nightmare willingly. As a parent there could be nothing more destructive to their faith than this. “Deep State Orthodoxy”

      • George Michalopulos says

        Nora, at first I too, was horrified to watch that video. Then I watched it again and was amused. It seemed so Monty Pythonesque if you ask me.

        • “And now for something completely heterodox…”
          I got introduced to Monty Python by some Brit soldiers when I was deployed overseas. Blasphemous at times, yes, but insanely funny much of the rest.

        • MultiSpoonAbomination says

          With all due respect, if it were a skit then it would be humorous. It is not. This parish and priest believe that their sanctified space is an infectious vector. 

          This is not the time to laugh, but to cry. 

          • Gail Sheppard says

            We’d all be crying on the inside, if there weren’t an atmosphere of the absurd playing on in the background that elevates this to freak show status. This nonsense is unsustainable. It will collapse. We’re kind of just shaking our heads as we watch this stuff play out on center stage. It is truly unbelievable.

          • George Michalopulos says

            MSA, I too am crying on the inside. However, even a condemned man is entitled to a little gallows humor.

            Still, it was ridiculous.

        • The skit is so insanely stupid. Made by tone deaf leadership for pretend “faithful” who aren’t there.  

          The dude in the spacesuit spraying the nave with disinfectant was a sarcastic touch of levity straight from “Ghostbusters.” The priest who “throws” the Body and Blood of Our Lord into the mouth of the young man should be suspended from priestly functions immediately. 

          This video is is a bizarre futuristic blend of Mormonism meets Orthodox Christianity.

          No wonder the Assembly of bishops in America is defunct and does absolutely nothing.  If this garbage is what some Antiochian parishes put out, why would traditional Russian Orthodox want anything to do with them?

      • MultiSpoonAbomination says


        Can you imagine this? — a TOUCHLESS CHURCHING in Albuquerque at the GOA parish.

        The demons are certainly laughing! We have run headlong into the abyss.

        • Mother of Five says

          I suppose we don’t have to imagine this since it’s posted on youtube for anyone to watch. Sigh. 

  2. Rhipsime says

    Blog post with pictures of outdoor Pentecost Liturgy in Clayton, Wisconsin. The entire county has had a whopping 43 cases (1 death) and yet… church still looks like this.

  3. Thanks for interviewing this nice mother! It really puts things into perspective, and makes you think much more deeply. (I hope that Archbishop Alexander gets to see this; he really needs to come out of the clouds. Not that it’s wrong to be in the clouds, but you need to see the earth here and there.)

  4. Very glad to hear Mrs. NK refer to Fr Peter Heers and Abp Golitzin’s written evaluation of him. Fr Peter interviews astute Patristic Orthodox professors, archimandrites, monks, etc who give the theological Orthodox basis for the feelings that Mrs. NK shares.

    In fact one is led to wonder if that is why a priest would echo his Abp Golitzin in his utter dismissal of not just Fr Peter but his entire website — perhaps to deprive the priests, clergy, and faithful of a good foundation in Orthodoxy so they will not see or learn the reason why the Orthodox Church has always done what it has done — and the very important foundational reasons for keeping it as it is.  

    Even if one does not “like” or “respect” Fr Peter for real or libelous reasons, the real question is the CONTENT of what the interviewees shares.  Perhaps that is what their remarks reveal ~ a deep fear that there is a Patristic, theological, historical foundation for what Mother of Five feels.

    Perhaps our best response is to study the interviews and posts on Orthodox Ethos and read the Holy Fathers, Lives of the Saints, Holy Scripture and Church History more, not less.

    Praying that all hierarchs will please explain why you disagree with these interviewed and with your own distressed parishioners respectfully and with sober cogent respectful documentation as the accepted Fathers of the Church and Patriarchs did. (As opposed to the political intrigue and unChristian means employed by those found to be mistaken or false which are strewn throughout and parallel name-calling and labelling to divert from the truth in our daily news). Many of us have been blessed by excellent teaching and thus have read how the Saints and Holy Fathers speak the truth in love. So it’s hard to recognize other means and communication styles as flowing from the same loving and truthful Source.

  5. Dear Mother of Five:
    Thank you very much for your courage and love of Christ and Orthodoxy. Thank God your wonderful Father in ROCOR can provide a haven for you until, God willing, the OCA returns.   Providentially I then watched this video by Abbot Tryphon which affirms your every word and feeling.

    Abbot Tryphon proclaims exactly what we were taught ~ that when we enter the Temple for the Divine Liturgy, we are entering the timeless Heavenly Realm, where the Church Militant and Church Triumphant are present together.  That the Church is always packed with the Angels and Saints.  And that is why the Temple during the Divine Liturgy is utterly different from any other space or experience, a foretaste of our Life after repose, and full of Divine Energies and Grace.

    You will love his beautiful description of why we should read the lives of the Saints and his suggestion about who we should imitate. I think you will identify with the couple at the end. Advice for Converts to Orthodoxy
    Praying that your letter to hierarchs and Abbot Tryphon’s words will be blessed.

    • Nora ~ Mother of Five says

      Dear Nicole, 
      Thank you and I appreciate the kind words, prayers, and supportive comments from you and so many. We have to start speaking out as much as we can and pray God gives us the right words to touch as many as possible and encourage as many as possible. 
      I had never seen this by Abbot Tryphon but it is exactly how I feel and always have about our services and the church building itself and all that is in it. I believe that liturgy presents the best opportunity for me to be as close to our son Jacob as is possible in this life. St. Jacob’s icon hangs on the wall of our church, and many a liturgy I have stood next to him praying that he can feel my abiding love for him especially in that moment. I hope many people will listen to Abbot Tryphon as well, particularly parents and mothers. 
      We must fight now for our faith like we have never fought before. I sent my letter to the Metropolitan and Synod of Bishops in the OCA yesterday. Please pray for it’s reception and a clarity of what is at stake which is, in my opinion, the future of Orthodoxy in the world. 
      Nora ~ Mother of Five

  6. MomOfToddler says

    Dear Mother of Five, 
    Thank you for doing the interview!  What a blessing you have your father’s church.  I think you are under a different bishop in North Carolina.  Where I am, the ROCOR churches aren’t that much different from the OCA (as far as the official policies) except that communion is unchanged.  We have only been once to a ROCOR church….the church is very far.  We were technically able to do everything normally but most people opted for the masks and no singing.  The masks don’t seem to bother my children too much, but my kids are not typical.  Maybe I will hear more when we try an Antiochian church this weekend.  My oldest is very familiar with the Orthodox children’s book The Miracle of St. Nicholas and he is a very black and white thinker, so I have just been blaming everything on communists.  To me, it’s accurate because most of what is happening is not of Christ, so I will not blame it on “The Church.”  He knows that communists closed churches years ago and we have also been preparing him that similar things could happen again here.  So for us, the reason we can’t go the library, the reason parks are taped up, the reason church is changed, is because of “communists.”  What is happening outside the church is the same thing happening inside the church, which is secularism and a shift towards communism/socialism.  Even my toddler is being taught that “communists” are closing the parks.  I do not want them to associate these changes with good leadership that we should trust and “communist” is a good catch all and probably pretty accurate too.  

    • MomofToddler says

      We tried an Antiochian Orthodox church 45 minutes away this morning.  The first thing we noticed was four signs on the front of the building with “stop signs” making sure that we knew masks and social distancing were required.  (How welcoming.) Up until this point, I have only worn a mask one time to buy my children a large stack of used books (Since the library is not really an option anymore. Masks are required for everyone.) My husband and I both felt we couldn’t breath properly.  I was so distracted by the mask.  The church felt empty and dead.  It felt dystopian.  It did not feel holy.  It did not feel joyful.  It did not feel Christian. We were both hoping that maybe, just maybe, the rules were just for show, at least somewhat since I have heard of a few places where this is so.  Given the distance of the nearest ROCOR church, we needed to at least see.  I was shocked to see that even young children were wearing masks.  It didn’t even occur to me to put masks on my young children, despite the masks required sign.  If someone had asked me to put a masks on my children (2 and 7) I would have walked out right then and there.  How disturbing.  We left at the sermon.  It was clear they were going to try to throw communion in our mouths, like in the video above, if we approached.   There were hardly any families there, so it was basically adults, standing perfectly still, with masks on – no joy, no singing, with space between them.  Obviously, we won’t be back.  We will just resign to praying the Typika at our home for the most part.  For the time being, there is a ROCOR church we can get to but its quite far.  The experience there was still far from normal but I would say it did feel “holy” in there. We didn’t feel like we need to leave.  Thanks for listening.  (My community has pretty much been reduced to my immediate family and this blog due to loss of my previous church and homeschool community.  You lose friends to become Orthodox and apparently you lose friends to stay Orthodox!)

      • Gail Sheppard says

        I wish we could do more than just listen.

      • This blog is great for people during times like this, as it brings many like-minded people together when their usual communities turn out to be… disappointing.
        I would propose that George and Gail starting looking into a way of building the wider ‘Monomakhos community’ beyond the comments section. Maybe a real-time chat group or some kind of video conferencing channel.

        • Antiochene Son says

          Maybe George could open a Monomakhos Discord group? 

          • George Michalopulos says

            Nah, I’m not discordant. At least I don’t think so.

            I do like to run a forum in which free speech is treasured and discordant viewpoints are allowed. But also realistic and realistically optimistic viewpoints as well. No Institutional Orthodox or Civics 101 Happy Talk here. Just realism. And hope in the ultimate triumph of Christ.

            • Ha! Showing your age, George@
              Discord is a system which allows you to make your own realtime chat rooms. Might be an option for Monomakhosers/Monomakhoi.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                I don’t think I could handle real time!

              • George Michalopulos says

                Lemme talk it over with the boss

              • Basil, do you know if Jitsi meeting via does the same?  It was recommended to me as open source and encrypted as a more private alternative to Zoom.  But I know so little about tech, this is likely a ridiculous question!  Please teach…Thanks, Nicole

                • I’ve never heard of it. To be honest, I don’t use any of these things but I know people on here might find them helpful. I know Discord is a text app, so no need for video. I had to use Zoom for work and, while better than Skype, I can’t stand of any this video conferencing nonsense that we’ve been subjected to.

      • “You lose friends to become Orthodox and apparently you lose friends to stay Orthodox!”
        That’s definitely how we’ve been feeling around my place too. Orthodoxy is not too popular here in evangelical territory. We lost a few groups of friends when we became Orthodox. We also have no other Orthodox churches in other jurisdictions within a reasonable distance from my house. 
        Thank you for mentioning the St Nicholas book. We’ve been at a loss how to explain to our children (6,4, and nearly 2) as to why we still cannot go to church. My six year old is confused and sad. 

      • Nora ~ Mother of Five says

        Dear Mom of Toddler,
        This breaks my heart to hear. At the same time, I’m glad that you went and experienced, first hand, what it was actually like and shared your experience here and how it felt because I think others who are attending feel the same way but experience great apprehension about sharing just how wrong it really feels. I suspect the reason some people are feeling anxiety is that we know our fellow parishioners are being shamed and scolded for sharing their concerns or even questioning any directive that has been established. Not to mention the shame being thrown around on Facebook from our own Orthodox Christians attacking those of us that have the courage to post anything contradicting the “seriousness” of this “terrible” virus. I know some at my own church who have shared their feelings directly with the priest only to be met with silence. If our hierarchs feel this is “love” at least try to explain it and justify it! But if you press the question, many are being met with a scripted response.
        You articulate the emptiness very well and it is gut wrenching. Sometimes we have to face the reality of a situation to make wise and clear decisions going forward, even when the experiences are not what we want.  I envision all of us, especially parents, standing at a crossroads, with two or three roads before us, trying to figure out which road is right for our families from this point forward. None of us can really know which road is “right”  at this point, but I believe many of us are slowly realizing the roads we absolutely can NOT take. 
        In the current state of the Orthodox world, when churches take time to make instructional videos on how to attend this twisted form of church, which in my opinion is not church at all, I think we have to accept that those in the positions of authority are feeding us anti communion at this point. I know that may sound extreme, but sadly I do not think this is far from the truth. If I try to imagine what “anti communion” would actually look like, the video posted by MultiSpoon would be pretty darn close. 
        As mothers we have to rely on our gut instinct, which I believe is the Holy Spirit, in so many instances. The feeling that something is “wrong” or “off” with anything may be the only justification we have to protect our children from all kinds of bad things, but in many cases I believe this intuition is God speaking to us and helping us to protect our children from that which we do not, and can not know. If our priests and church family are saying “this is how we love our neighbor, why are you so upset?” and inside we feel that there is something off with that statement, it is because something IS off. The definition of love is up for debate every minute of every day and if we can’t decipher as parents between Godly love and secular love we will have an uphil battle or simply lose the battle before we even realize it started with our children. 
        Satan is the author of deception. This “love” that is being used to justify these drastic and perhaps permanent measures at churches all over the world, this “love” that does not allow for toddlers who can’t stay near their mothers to attend church, this “love” that protects only the fearful and shames the faithful who would, in true faith, consume the gifts knowingly after someone with a positive case of COVID had consumed, this “love” is unlike any form of love I’ve ever known or felt. It FEELS wrong. And I believe it IS wrong.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          May God bless all you mothers who are speaking up for the future generations of our Church. Your children will see your actions as further proof of your commitment to Orthodoxy in a world where the lines are starting to blur. This is THEIR Church you’re fighting for.

          • Just a small update.  Our baby was finally baptized this past Saturday.  It was a very joyful event, and, from the Church perspective, completely normal.  Just a couple people with masks.  We had a get-together back at the house.  Twenty-five or so people at the church, about the same at the house.  We’ve all needed this so badly.  

      • Antiochene Son says

        I’m sorry to hear that. My Antiochian parish is taking the guidelines in stride and there were no masks in church today. (they are not absolutely required by the Metropolitan, only strongly encouraged) I hope you find a place where you feel welcome or at least tolerable. 

      • Michael Bauman says

        You tend to lose friends if you follow Christ

  7. Ronda Wintheiser says

    Now that I know who she is, I should ‘fess up to having written something that Mother of Five’s initial essay inspired, especially since I borrowed some of the phrasing and language she used. I hope she will not be offended at that; imitation is, after all, a high compliment. I would have given her credit had I known her name.

    My “version” of the experience of being an Orthodox mother trying to navigate this crisis was recently published in the Duran by Seraphim Hanisch, an American who now lives in Russia, in Part II of a series he wrote about the Church’s response to Covid 19.

  8. Mother of Five and George

    My Orthodox children, grandchildren, and I, have been able to find God fearing and faithful priests in every diocese, that conduct the liturgy in the same manner as they have always done. I am speaking of a liturgy without masks, sanitizers, multiple spoons or spoon dippings, and normal choirs. The faithful meeting without the blessing of the state.
    As a Greek Orthodox Bishop in Cypress stated to the police who came to arrest him, “whom shall I serve,my son, you or God?”
    I do not judge my former priest and parishioners, I believe that we must pray and follow our own conscience.
    I will add, that in these churches, no one has experienced the Corona virus up to this point in time.

    • Dear Sophia,
      I am so heartened to hear what you have found, with one concern and several related questions.

      Were those who celebrated this way doing so by obeying precisely the directives of their hierarchs or by disobeying/disregarding/not reading so as not to know what their hierarchical directive was at the time? I am not aware of any jurisdictions which allowed the “usual” to continue officially in full but hope I am wrong!

      Did priests individually request release from the directives before doing so?

      If priests “disobeyed” without a blessing, were they reprimanded?

      How did any who set aside the directives explain to their flocks who had seen the actual directives?

      Did they or you understand that the directive itself is merely an insurance cover which priests knew would be okay in practice not to heed?

      Abp Peter in ROCOR Chicago diocese would not have applauded Mom of Five’s father in NC but perhaps okay with his bishop?

      And did any of the priests who actively disobeyed the directive put into words to you or their hierarch why?

      Thank you in Christ for any answers you feel comfortable sharing.


      • Gail Sheppard says

        These are important questions, Nicole.   The laity should not be forced to fend for themselves in finding a parish that will serve their families and the clergy should not be put in a position where they have to deviate from the directives of their bishops to serve their parishes.   Frankly, the bishops need to be clear on whom they serve so the rest of us won’t be put in these positions.           

  9. George,

    This is courtesy of our Orthodox Christian friend and columnist, Rod Dreher.

    If you’re a Marxist who’s simply exhausted from rioting over the past few weeks, rest assured that there’s a website for you to find some free vacation offerings from your white friends because, well, they are simply all so wealthy because they are white and all have beachfront properties on Martha’s Vineyard. Here is the link:

    Just make sure that you know, as it says on the site…..
    “We are aware that we are still in the midst of a global pandemic. We will encourage all guests to get tested before going into a new community, and/or quarantine within the residence for five days to make sure that no one is unknowingly spreading COVID-19 to the surrounding communities, especially in smaller vacation towns that may not have large hospitals and could very well deny adequate treatment due to racism.

    “This is a complicated time, and we know that many white people will feel more entitled to take these types of risks in order to take vacations than people of color. We will encourage hosts and guests to discuss what would make both feel as comfortable as possible in order to ensure that as many BIPOC folks as possible can get some much needed rest time in these intense and beautiful summer months.”

    Because those community hospitals on the Jersey Shore or on Nantucket are so eager to deny care to “people of color” when they aren’t otherwise harassing “BIPOC” on a daily basis. Even if they aren’t harassing them daily, they really are, they just don’t know it. (Racism is the new “forever war,” unwinnable, just like the “forever war” on Islamic Terrorism. Setting up a war against non-existent ‘racism’ is thus the perfect war to go on forever. Just like some profit considerably from a “forever war” on Islamic terrorism, there are many who will profit from a “forever war” on “racism” — thus they push for it.)

    I’m sorry, but WTF???? What planet are these loons coming from? And this link comes from YALE LAW SCHOOL?? One of the toughest law schools to get in in the country.

    If this is what our country is coming to, I really want out. Now. Moving to Budapest or to St Petersburg sounds very attractive. Just a few days ago I read that there’s a serious move to change our country’s national anthem to John Lennon’s “Imagine” !?!?! It would be so fitting for the Marxist secularists, as John Lennon challenges them to “Imagine there’s no heaven, It’s easy if you try…. Imagine there’s no countries….” “Imagine” sort of encapsulates their Marxist utopian world, I suppose.

    There’s a link on the above website to request a vacation, if you’re a Marxist who’s just so tired from lobbing Molotov cocktails and want to put your name out there as one who needs some rest for free on some rich person’s (and come on, certainly a white person’s!) beachfront property in Maine.

    I really had to restrain myself from posting some “sham” listings of my own on these sites. I have some good creative ideas. Haven’t done it, at least not yet.

    • Antiochene Son says

      Racism is the new “forever war,” unwinnable, just like the “forever war” on Islamic Terrorism. Setting up a war against non-existent ‘racism’ is thus the perfect war to go on forever. Just like some profit considerably from a “forever war” on Islamic terrorism, there are many who will profit from a “forever war” on “racism” — thus they push for it. 
      Incredibly astute observation! This really nails it.

    • George Michalopulos says

      FTS, I must say that St Petersburgh is the most beautiful city I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting.  I understand that only Prague is more beautiful.
      I just pray that our “liberal” madness does not infect Eastern Europe.

    • Daniel F says

      Sorry to break it to you, but Rod D is not a friend of any serious Orthodox person. This cat is a walking contradiction. One minute he’s bemoaning the current state of life in America, the next minute he’s cozying up to the New York / DC elitist socialites, who push the very agenda Dreher claims to hate. 

      • MomofToddler says

        Can you provide some evidence of this?  Could it be part of his job?  95% or more people today work for companies that push all sorts of agendas, or have to associate with them in their line of work.  (And can we even feel guilty about this, when people in our own church promote the same agendas?)  If he is using his free speech to support traditional Christianity, isn’t that a good thing?  I honestly don’t know much about him, but have no reason as of yet to have anything against him.  (Mark 9:40 For he who is not against us, is on our side.)   Rod Dreher is not a bishop or priest, but a journalist right?  If he is promoting conservative Christianity, and otherwise not steering people in the wrong direction, shouldn’t we speak well of him?  For what it is worth, I couldn’t get through The Benedict Option because it was a bit too ecumenist in its writing style for me, but I get that he is a former Catholic wanting to help reach as many people as possible including anyone that supports traditional Christianity.  I also agree with his overall thesis, but I think it’s also pretty basic/obvious to any practicing Christian that they need to make efforts to preserve their values.

        • Daniel F says

          MoT, I was a faithful RD reader for years, until I sensed something wasn’t quite right. When you say evidence, not sure what you want. All I can tell you is what I came to see after years of reading his multiple blog posts per day. It’s just what I believe. He writes non-stop about all that’s wrong culturally and spiritually in America, but as I said, he seems to crave the approval of non-Christians (like his good buddy David Brooks of the NYT) and others in the elitist crowd, so it keeps him from “going all the way.” The comments sections of his posts are dominated by leftists. Keep in mind, unlike most writers, RD tightly moderates his comments’ section. So it’s most odd that he seems to allow the lefties vitually free reign in the comments’ section. You saw for yourself when you tried to get through TBO. Anyway, he just seems to go back and forth a lot. You’re right, he’s not a member of the clergy. But to me, when we have the Saints, the writings of The Church, etc, why do we need to read a guy who seemingly tries to separate his faith from his profession? I’ll close with this. In the Spring of 2019, Jordanville hosted an excellent conference on Chastity, purity, integrity. They had a great line-up of speakers. And then they also had Dreher as a speaker. The person (I believe it was a Priest) who spoke right after Dreher (Dreher left immediately after he spoke) gently criticized (gosh, that might be even be too strongly worded…perhaps it would be better to say…offered a different path) something RD had said. When RD got home, he wrote a post criticizing the Priest. Keep in mind, a good portion of RD’s regular readers are non-Christians, so that’s why this was in really bad taste to me. Lastly, I hate to bring up Russia because many don’t see that country the way I do. I personally talk to people who live in Russia today and I have friends who have moved there and others who are planning to move there. I visited Russian last fall. I’m a big fan of the country for many reasons, but esp because of the state support for the O Church and for all of the thousands of Churches they have opened in recent years. Anyway, Dreher simply refuses to accept any of this. I guess he still seems to think it’s 1980 there and the Soviet Union is still a thing. Sorry to go on for so long. Look, if you want to read his stuff, knock yourself out. I just don’t have time for writers who talk about their Orthodoxy a lot, except when they don’t want to offend their leftists readers.

          • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

            Thank you, Daniel F, for mentioning Rod Dreher’s post soon after the Jordanville Conference March 7-9, 2019. As it happens, I was “the priest” to whom you refer. I had no idea before your post here that Dreher, who, as you observed, departed from the Conference before I offered the final presentation, chose to include these paragraphs in a column on The American Conservative website a few days later:

            Anyway, I had to leave the conference immediately after my own talk, and did not get to hear Father Alexander Webster’s response. You can hear it online if you follow the link. It’s another one of those commentaries that makes me wonder if the critic actually read the book. Father Alexander says that “something other than the Benedict Option alone is required” for Christians to endure the dark times ahead. He says that without political protection, Christian communities will have a hard time surviving.

            That’s a fair enough point, I guess, but in the book, I say clearly that Christians should fight hard in the political arena to preserve religious liberty. But power is not only something exercised by the government, and besides, Christians who can read the signs of the times would be fools not to prepare themselves now for a time when they will not enjoy freedom like we have today. Father Alexander appears to have overlooked the book’s overarching message, which is that modern culture itself is the greatest enemy of authentic Christianity. If we could somehow keep the current legal status quo on religious liberty, it would not do a single thing to arrest the steep decline in Christian faith and practice in this culture.

            After sending an email to Dreher asking for that text, which he did include in his reply, I sent this message to him during the past weekend:

            Thank you for providing those paragraphs.

            As it happens, I did read your book thoroughly and made numerous notes in the margins. I know I am not alone in my critique of what I deemed an essential passivity in the Benedict Option. Yes, you do urge that some Christians struggle “in the political arena to preserve religious liberty.” But that, I would counter, is already a lost cause, especially if the Demsheviks win the White House in November, whether by legitimate votes or chicanery.

            I must wonder whether you listened carefully to the video recording of my presentation.

            What I suggest and hope for is “political protection” not within the USA but rather from a global counterweight–namely, the increasingly Orthodox Russian Federation–much as St. Benedict and the Monastery of Monte Cassino enjoyed the direct protection of Emperor Justinian and the East Roman Empire after the Byzantines reconquered Italy in AD 540. Even after the Byzantines abandoned Italy (I think it was more than a century later), the Orthodox Christian Empire centered in Constantinople was still a political and potential military force with which to be reckoned. In other words, for more than a century Monte Cassino was well-protected from the later barbarian hordes. If the USA falls under the totalitarian control of the militant, hardcore political anti-Christian left, then our situation would be much more dire than anything St. Benedict had to confront beginning in AD 540.

            But the main focus of my oral presentation and the expanded written version that will appear as the final chapter in our forthcoming edited volume is what I term the “prophecy option.” That is a radical, robust, but very biblical and traditional Orthodox public moral witness that transcends mere political and legal engagement. Its intrinsic worth does not depend on salutary consequences in the present or near future. Such prophetic witness, like that of the holy confessors and martyrs throughout the history of the Church, is a strategy for the long term in the coming era of darkness.

            I suppose we’ll have to see how informed, intelligent critics of the forthcoming book compare your BenOp to my triple-option. I hope those folks will read both chapters carefully.

            And that, as Paul Harvey used to conclude his daily radio broadcast, is “the rest of the story.”

            I also wish to encourage readers of this blog to consider pre-ordering the book based on the Jordanville Conference, Healing Humanity: Confronting Our Moral Crisis, for which I serve as one of three co-editors. In that book (due in print on October 1 this year) readers will find expanded and edited versions of Rod Dreher’s presentation and my own.

            Here is the direct link to the publisher:

            Y’all can decide for yourselves whose case is more convincing!

            • Father, thank you so very much for your reply. I listened to your outstanding lecture as soon as it was made available on AFR and our course loved it. I loved all of the lectures from that conference, save one  🙂   When I saw RD’s post a few days later, I was appalled. And yes, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the publication of the book! Thanks again Father!

            • Dear Father Alexander,
              A specifically Orthodox triple-option healing solution is exactly what we need.  Axios and thank you.  How heartening to know it is in progress! Pre-ordering now. 
              In Christ, 

            • George Michalopulos says

              Outstanding, Fr!

              If I may add my own wrinkle on being resolute and fighting the good fight (by whatever peaceable means available), a lot of Christians and other common-sense conservatives (cuckservatives need not apply) can reverse a lot of the moral rot by just standing up and saying “No!”. If called upon to expand we can just say “I reject your premise”. Or if really pushed, “what are you, insane?”

              Think how much better off we’d be today if we had not surrendered the word “gay” to the homosexualists, or “gay marriage” instead of calling it “sacramentalized buggery”? Same with not calling the baby-killers “pro-choice”. Even calling them “abortionists” stung them.

              Instead, we accepted Waspish niceness in order to not offend people whom we thought were acting in good faith (but never were). Rush Limbaugh got great mileage out of calling feminists “feminazis” and it really stung them.

              Anyway, my 2 cents.

              • Daniel F says

                Spot on George! I believe it was the outstanding economist and social theorist Thomas Sowell who pointed out that people of good will have been taken to the cleaners far too often, because they assume that those who oppose them are also people of good will. Spoiler alert: They’re not. 
                You also touched on something else that drives me insane. Many folks today seem to have this silly notion that to be a Christian means to abide by one, and only one, axiom: Be nice. 
                Thanks again George!

                • George Michalopulos says

                  You’re welcome!

                  Michael, more fun with etymology: did you know that the English word “fancy” shares the same root as the Greek word “phanein”, i.e. that which “appears” or is “manifest”? Like “epiphany”.

                  We also find this word in “sycophant” which in ancient Greek meant “one who appears as a fig” (not a good thing btw).

              • Michael Bauman says

                George, the word “nice” has a rather interesting etymological history:
                nice (adj.)

                late 13c., “foolish, ignorant, frivolous, senseless,” from Old French nice (12c.) “careless, clumsy; weak; poor, needy; simple, stupid, silly, foolish,” from Latin nescius “ignorant, unaware,” literally “not-knowing,” from ne- “not” (from PIE root *ne- “not”) + stem of scire “to know” (see science). “The sense development has been extraordinary, even for an adj.” [Weekley] — from “timid, faint-hearted” (pre-1300); to “fussy, fastidious” (late 14c.); to “dainty, delicate” (c. 1400); to “precise, careful” (1500s, preserved in such terms as a nice distinction and nice and early); to “agreeable, delightful” (1769); to “kind, thoughtful” (1830).

                In many examples from the 16th and 17th centuries it is difficult to say in what particular sense the writer intended it to be taken. [OED]

                By 1926, it was pronounced “too great a favorite with the ladies, who have charmed out of it all its individuality and converted it into a mere diffuser of vague and mild agreeableness.” [Fowler]

                “I am sure,” cried Catherine, “I did not mean to say anything wrong; but it is a nice book, and why should I not call it so?” “Very true,” said Henry, “and this is a very nice day, and we are taking a very nice walk; and you are two very nice young ladies. Oh! It is a very nice word indeed! It does for everything.” [Jane Austen, “Northanger Abbey,” 1803]

                For sense evolution, compare fond, innocent, lewd, also silly.

                From the Online Etymological Dictionary

                • In Englandshire, NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) is the Government body that decides which drugs and treatments will be funded by the National Health Service and which will not. In other words, they often get to make the ‘nice distinctions’ between who may live and who may not.

                • Thank you Michael. Great stuff.

            • Antiochene Son says

              Father you (as well as DanielF’s post) have put words to nagging feelings I’ve had for a long time about the Benedict Option. Thank you. I look forward to the book!

            • Michael Bauman says

              Fr. Alexander, By your prayers.  I am going to say based solely on your rather greater capacity for scholarship and academic rigor it is highly likely that your stance will be more convincing.  Of course that is not the only reason for reading the publication.   

            • Archpriest Paisius McGrath says

              This books sounds exciting and am looking forward to it’s release and reading it. God bless you, Father !

          • Rod’s focus id on building consensus for common causes as Met. Hilarion Alfayev encourages and Rod adds to that goal building actual communities of faithful among all who call themselves Christian. Rod also aims to win over nonChristians to Christ with Southern/Orthodox hospitality and is a good friend to Orthodox, nonOrthodox and nonChristian alike. He does have a special place in his heart for the Benedictine monks in Nursia.   Almost out of Southern (and Orthodox?) politeness he does not promote Orthodoxy specifically or proselytize (although I personally wish he would.)  

            Folks who know him well will tell you what loving hearts and good intent he and wife Julie have.   In these crazy times we can all get a little off kilter and he has chronic health problems which may increase his reactivity during COVID.  He does have trouble seeing past Trump’s style and manner to the good Trump does for religious freedom and pro-life, stunningly important achievements and goals both men share. Hopefully that will change.

            Fr Alexander’s book gets my full support for purposeful Orthodox action as that is my interest.  But having read Ben-Op, I see the beauty in Rod’s (and Met. Hilarion’s) different agenda with non Orthodox.  All different parts of the same Body imo with different paths.

        • Daniel F says

          Oh, somehow, I left off my biggest point. Check out this hit piece below:

          This is a completely slanderous article.  First off, Pat Buchanan was an actual conservative when RD was still heartily cheering for the war in Iraq. Also, Pat Buchanan founded The American Conservative. How’s that for being grateful for having a job? Instead of simply thanking Pat, Dreher writes an article calling him a racist. That’s the day I lost what little respect I had left for RD. 

          • Antiochene Son says

            Dreher occasionally says some good things, but most of the time he is a cuck.

            • Daniel F says

              Well, thank you. You summed up in one sentence what I tried to say in far too many sentences. 

            • I believe that Dreher genuinely detests the soft totalitarianism of the Marxist left, and I believe that he genuinely detests Marxism.  I believe that he genuinely feels that America is a wonderful country full of mostly warm people, and that most peoples of the world have suffered far more than most Americans can begin to imagine.  I believe that he knows without a doubt that less than 2% of the country (the cultural and political elite) that governs what we hear, see, and talk about, is now hell-bent on taking America down a dangerous path, consequences-be-damned, and that most Americans refuse to see it.
              However, he is far more over-the-top emotional than most men and lets a lot of his emotionalism come across in his speech and writing — which is why I think that many men a hard time connecting with his work — and which is why more non-emotive type men (like Fr Alexander Webster) and he conflict.
              He is a fantastic writer, I will give him that much.  I found his book about his sister’s death one of the most compelling books that I’ve read.  I also loved his stories of his first encounters with Orthodox faith and of his first visits to “the bishop,” Abp Dmitri of Dallas.  

              • And yet, as I said, after being invited to speak at an Orthodox conference at Jordanville, the first thing he did when he got back was to write a post ripping Fr A Webster. That can hardly be dismissed as a “conflict.” He literally took cheap shots at the Orthodox folks who invited him to speak. What a total clown. As I also pointed out, he openly talks about his love for the elitist DC/ NYC goons who hate the average people in America.  Funny, did you read his book “Dante”? In the first two chapters, he openly admits that he knew his book “The Little Way…” (the one you loved) was a fraud, by the time it went to publishing. Look, at some point, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it might be time to conclude that it’s actually a duck. Cool that you like him. I think he’s a total fraud. And no, for me, it has nothing to do with any supposed emotionalism. It has to do with the fact that the dude’s a walking contradiction. 

                • Daniel F, truly aren’t we each a “walking contradiction” until fully healed of our passions?  

                  The name-calling and judgment of persons rather than positions are difficult for me to reconcile with Orthodoxy as Vladika Dmitri taught, practiced, modeled for us and for which Rod and all of us loved and love him.  

                  Vladika spoke truthfully in love with  dispassion and love  for the individual as an icon of Christ while defending Orthodoxy beautifully. He disapproved of judging, disrespecting, or humiliating any person publicly. He clarified the nature of and agreed/disagreed clearly with positions, actions, teachings. A beautiful role model.

                  I am not like that myself, so am still a walking contradiction. Thank God for Vladika’s example and prayers and for the Mercy shown to St Dismas and the publican!  

                  • Daniel F says

                    Nicole, point taken. Anytime anyone quotes to me the words of a (hopefully soon to be Canonized) Saint, I try to listen. 
                    That said, there is a difference in a nobody like myself having contradictions, as I struggle while attempting to live the Faith, and in a public figure who always seems to be espousing opposite sides of the coin. I am not judging RD for the way he actually lives his life. I’m criticizing his writings, which are all over the map. If you write publicly, your writings are fair game for criticism. 
                    Given that, per his writings, he can’t seem to decide which side he’s on, I just don’t get why serious Orthodox Christians bother reading his stuff. I mean, we have the Saints and current day writings from Orthodox writers who clearly know what side they’re on.  But, I guess to each his/her own. 

                    • I too love to read the Saints, Daniel F! And love to benefit from excellent teachers who revere the Holy Fathers and revere our beautiful Tradition. Best use of time ever, agreed!

                  • You should read what the Church Fathers have said. Sometimes strong and harsh words are appropriate. “You are impious” and “you are a heretic” are definitely not inappropriate. The Lord himself even called some people “of their father, the devil.”

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      If the delivery becomes a distraction, the message won’t be received. Perhaps it is better to leave the “you messages”, e.g. YOU are impious or YOU are a heretic, to those with the spiritual discernment to know when and how to use them.

                    • No disagreement there, but it doesn’t take a particularly illuminated nous to discern when someones spouting off heretical gibberish or acting impiously. People sometimes just need to be told.

                • Yeah, Daniel, I have no idea if Dreher is a fraud or not. However, I can grasp how the circles that he lives in can rub some ideological hardliners the wrong way. He’s friends with  high profile people like Tucker Carlson and Andrew Sullivan, and he certainly doesn’t restrict his friendships to only Orthodox Christians.  Having had predominantly non-Orthodox friends and family my entire life and never having lived in a predominantly Orthodox environment, I’d say that this aspect of his life – the struggle of maintaining an Orthodox Christian faith in a hostile environment – resonates with me. 

                  I don’t require some degree of ideological purity in the other to be kind or friendly with people. Many Orthodox Christians who restrict their entire lives to other Orthodox Christians (whom they feel meet some threshold of ideological purity) I find it tough to be around – since that’s never been my reality, even during times when I desperately wanted it to be. 

                  Regardless of whether Dreher is  a “fraud” or not (who am I to tell – I don’t know enough to discern that), my impression is that I’d love having a coffee or beer with Rod with some good conversation about issues that matter — much more so than I’d enjoy doing so with others who are ostensibly more ideologically “pure” than him. 

                  In the end, the leftists hate him just as much as they hate you or me or Fr Alexander Webster. We may all be sent to the concentration camps together if/when those times come in the West. 

                  • Daniel F says

                    Once AGAIN…there is a difference in a nobody like me having O friends and Non-O friends. Heck, even for a “super important” elitist like RD, who he’s friends with is not the issue.
                    But when you write ad nauseum, bemoaning the fact that America is going to hell in a hand basket….and then you turn right around and hob nob with the folks whose beliefs and actions are helping to send America to hell in a hand basket, that’s a different matter entirely. 

              • Insightful, FTS,  thank you. Similarly, perhaps his intelligence, sensitivity and love of writing give him an affinity with and appreciation for others of similar talents but different world views as well.   

                • Nicole,
                  Yes, I certainly think so. I also think that while some admire and respect him for his intelligence, sensitivity, and love of writing, some also dislike Dreher because of these same qualities that he’s not shy about displaying. 

          • MomofToddler says

            Well, those sounds like some good reasons.  My only concern and confusion is that the concept of “The Benedict Option” which is basically the Biblical idea of trying to “maintain your salt”  is thought of as a conservative one and often the people that don’t like Rod Dreher and TBO are liberals, whether priests or laity.  This includes people that want to encourage Christians that it is okay to lead a secular life and are opposed to homeschooling, etc.  But perhaps, he is not overall pleasing to either side?  This is just my guess, but I think that many people familiar with the book TBO are Orthodox Christian homeschool mothers that don’t even read Dreher’s other work (like myself). 
            I’m curious what you think of this article by Archpriest Nectarios Trevino:  In it, Dreher’s concept of TBO is pitted against something done/said in the liberal GOA.  My friend recently completely disregarded the article because she had heard something bad about Dreher, even though the thesis of the article and main idea is still quite “traditional/conservative.”  So I’m not saying I disagree with you and I agree that a mature/experienced Orthodox Christian would not get much benefit from reading Dreher.  It’s just that people today are so liberal and secular, that Dreher’s “concept” is thought of as “conservative” which makes things confusing.  I’ve never read many of his articles because they never really interested me.  I prefer reading Monomahkos!  
            I didn’t read your article link because I try to say out of race politics.  It causes me too much stress!  Probably because I’m mult-racial (I won’t say which for the privacy sake.)  Sometimes people will say things that make me feel like I shouldn’t have been born.  It’s a complicated issue I leave to other people to discuss!  Occasionally, I will listen to Candace Owens speak on the subject though.  In my family, we and everyone else are all children of God and we don’t discuss race much.  Today, my children saw a picture of a large family with many children, some of whom were obviously adopted.  I said “It looks like some of these children were adopted.”  My oldest son said, “Oh right..because the children are so old.”  Not sure what he was thinking exactly, but he wasn’t really noticing skin color.  Homeschooled children that aren’t exposed to mass media indoctrination will just see everyone as a human made in God’s image. Unfortunately, when he is older, we may have to get him up to speed…who knows.  We have told him a very few things at this point about that.

            • Antiochene Son says

              The Benedict Option has always struck me as giving up, and I’ve never been a fan. 
              Sure, we need to pick our battles and some are not worth fighting, but this is a nearly wholesale surrender. We are not where the West was at the fall of Rome, not yet. I’d rather work towards an Eastern style takeover of secular society. 

            • Daniel F says

              Thanks for the reply MoT. You know, even before you replied, over the weekend I was thinking about this exchange, and I got to wondering if you read his blog very much. So it was interesting to read you say that you hardly ever do. I think that’s where the disconnect with RD comes in. In his books, he comes across as very conservative. But when you read all of his blog posts (and he posts multiple times per day) as I used to do…you come to discover a  much different person than the writer of the books. Again, my intent here is not paint him as a villain. It’s just that for serious Orthodox Christians, I don’t think it’s at all beneficial to read his work. As you noted, read Monomakhos is much, much better!

  10. Nora ~ Mother of Five says

    I hope parents and priests will listen to this short sermon by Fr. John Whiteford I came across yesterday regarding Passing on the Faith. He articulates the task at hand better than I ever could. I’m grateful for those sermons that are available and articulate what so many of us are feeling and know to be true. 

  11. I feel what Mother of Five is going through and have been dishearten (but not too surprised) by what is going on at my local Orthodox parishes. The underlining reason for this madness is our sin of modernism. We have made parishes more about programs and social events than about worshiping in the love and fear of God. We should not be surprised by these closures and restrictions when our parishes (lay, priests, and bishops) have had more a fear of American culture or being accepted by it than the fear of God. We could have been truly faithful and creative Orthodox to make the rules fit our faith. We could have done many things like having outdoor Liturgies like the Romanians or Georgians. We could have had more Liturgies throughout the week to keep the state happy with our low numbers. We could have been creative and stood for the faith while respecting civil authorities. But instead we have locked onto the two extremes of modernism socialism or individualism. 
    We worry about how our kids will be effected by this lock-down and if they ‘won’t grow up right.’ Our kids are tougher than we think. And besides, all is in God’s hands. During this time we need to look to Orthodox who suffered under communism in Russia and other places for comfort knowing that our faith will be preserved as the Church is the Body of Christ. God is in control. We are not. Thanks be to God.
    I also believe that we need to realize that America is also a foreign land founded on un-Orthodox principals. Our cultural emphasis on freedom is good but our definition of freedom is wrong. We seek the devil’s freedom of doing what we want when we want it instead of the freedom of the cross, of love, of laying down our lives for others.  Just compare the U.S. to Romania or Georgia or Montenegro. People sought to stop the disease but maintained Tradition. They even protested peacefully with processions when the government truly came for their churches!
    Now God has given us the chance to repent, to turn to Him and trust Him with everything. It is truly a frightening time for us Americans who have lived in spiritual malaise.  These lock-downs, protests, church closures are opportunities to focus upon what is truly important: repenting for the Kingdom of God is here! 

    • “We could have been truly faithful and creative Orthodox to make the rules fit our faith. We could have done many things like having outdoor Liturgies like the Romanians or Georgians.”

      Should have just continued things as always, and even bragged about it in the media, and made the state and/or local governments arrest us and then fought them in court and probably made serious bank from damages.  Morale would’ve been sky high, bishops could have been martyrs and saints and been on icons a generation after they reposed, instead they seemed to be competing to who could curry the most favor with the Democrats by going above and beyond government restrictions (churches aren’t required to close?  Close them anyway).  Nobody will believe that we really believe that Christ overcame death and through Him we can share in that victory, if Christians show we’re afraid of death and sickness to point that we avoid gathering to worship God.  This event was like being handed an open book quiz, an easy A , and getting F- with 0% due to fear of touching the exam paper, the book, and sitting in your assigned chair, for fear of getting sick.

  12. There is a great article by Fr. Alexander Schmemann written in the ’60s about the problems of secularism in the American Orthodox Church that I believe is crucial reading during these times. 
    I personally don’t want things to go back to ‘normal’. Instead our faith should deepen during these humble times. May God bless and keep all of you!

    • MomOfToddler says

      I agree.  Things were still very difficult before coronavirus.  At least at my former parish, the “writing was on the wall” for a long time.  
      It wasn’t long ago, I asked a boy to put a toy away at coffee hour that looked like this:  It seems that 98 percent of boys today, Orthodox or not, play with demonic looking toys and it’s not always good guys versus bad guys, which would make it a touch better.  Sometimes they just play “bad guys.”  But yeah,  things were difficult before and now they are close to impossible.  

      • Mother of Five says

        I have been struggling for as long as we’ve had children with the toys and things used in and just outside of church (in the hall that is open to the church) to entertain kids not interested in learning how to navigate the liturgy. I tell my kids, it’s just two hours a week we give our total attention to God. Once they learn toys are permitted it’s hard to ever instill otherwise or pull that back. Yes, it’s harder for the parents, really hard, constantly redirecting and saying, “no, you can’t talk to your friend now/play with the toys now, you can talk/play AFTER church” (if I had a dime for every time I’ve said that phrase…) but just like with many things, the reward for the hard work of keeping them in church and engaging them with the liturgy may be what keeps the faith alive for generations. 

  13. “Should the patriarchs act like emperors, issuing decrees that all believers must obey?  Should bishops see themselves as local governors, demanding unquestioning submission of the people?  Should the clergy be a kind of spiritual army — enforcing the will of the patriarchs and bishops, and carrying out punishment on sinners?” 
    St John Chrysostom  in “On Living In Simplicity” ~ how the church should be governed. Parts 2 and 3 to follow ?

    • Well said, Nicole,
      keep up the good work!

    • Mother of Five says

      I’m looking forward to parts 2 & 3! 

      • Here they are!  On how the Church should be governed ~ St John Chrysostom On Living With Simplicity 

        “How should the Church be governed?  Should the patriarchs act like emperors, issuing decrees that all believers must obey?  Should bishops see themselves as local governors, demanding unquestioning submission of the people?  Should the clergy be a kind of spiritual army — enforcing the will of the patriarchs and bishops, and carrying out punishment on sinners?

        The first consideration for the Church is not how to punish sins, but how to prevent sins from being committed.  And when the sin has been committed, the task of the Church is to encourage the sinner to confess the sin and make amends… This is quite a different attitude to wrongdoing, from that which the State adopts.  Therefore, it requires a different style of government.

        Moreover, each individual is answerable not to a priest, bishop or patriarch, but to God.  So the primary authority of those within the Church is not to issue decrees, but to stir the souls and enliven the consciences of believers; so that by their own volition, they will obey the laws of God.  In short, those in authority within the Church should not see themselves as rulers, but as preachers and pastors.”

        My spiritual father posts emails nightly so I too was waiting for parts 2 and 3 which posted tonight.  Love St. John Chrysostom .

  14. Michael Bauman says

    Nicole, so the Church should eschew all ethnic barriers and social barriers including the political manifestation of such and concentrate on prayer, fasting, Almsgiving, repentance and forgiveness?  
    How does one call a whole nation to repentance and sanity when “we all like sheep have gone astray every one to his own way…” Isaiah 53:6

    We seem to want to form the Church each in our own image and likeness rather than desiring to be reformed together by the grace of the Holy Spirit. God forgive us.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Actually, it’s the image of the agents of change we’re resisting. We’re fine with the Church the way she was.

    • Michael, hello!  I’m not sure if you are responding to the St. John Chrysostom quote or alluding to something else.  I can only “dip in” to whatever conversation is on the screen, so am not up on various discussions sadly.  But I do enjoy what you post and surely recognize the good teaching you have had from Bp Basil ~ same for a fellow parishioner of yours and her husband who also love and have learned from him as you have.  (Met them on various Elder Ephraim monastery trips and she works at Eight Day Bookstore; please say hi to her if you know who I mean.).  Bishop Basil is one of the wonderful Three with Vladika Dmitri of blessed memory and Met Isaiah whom I respect enormously!  

      At any rate, if you would care to orient me a bit, glad to try to answer your question.  But truly, I just love what the Fathers say or my Confessor teaches me about them so nothing new from my brain to offer!

      • Michael Bauman says

        Nicole, my comment was on the essence of real Church government.  The Church should be manage primarily for the realization that God is made man (human) and the rest really does not matter.  God is the source of all things and even if we would rather have our cup pass from us, we are here to learn genuine obedience to Him.  I am 73 and have been obedient only one time in my life.   The fruit of that obedience was a wonderful woman, who came into the Church and, by the grace of God, we saved each other’s lives.   
        I am sick of us spending more time on bishop hoping, ethnicity, and the short comings of the Greeks, Antiochians, ROCOR, OCA ,etc. (depending on which jurisdiction one finds oneself).   
        There are times to change for sure, but the maxim I was told not long after I was received 30 years ago: The Greeks are crazy, the Antiochians worldly, and the Russians are morose seems to rule a lot of folks approaches even today.  
        Incidentally I was also told in 1987 that I did not need to be concerned about what Met. Philip said as he would be dead soon.  I guess if you think 17 years is soon, that person was correct.   But you see the parish into which I was received had been on the Toledo side of the Antiochian split.  
        God forgive me. 

  15. Dear Michael:

    I do pray the hierarchs will be guided by the words of St. John Chrysostom and all the Fathers and Saints.  

    Your prayer shared earlier was wonderful.  Perhaps you would also wish to add a prayer by St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco as Papa Demetri suggested this eve which echoes your original reply.  

    A very relevant prayer by St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco

    My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
    On Thursday we celebrated the Feastday of the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, St. John Maximovitch.  With what has transpired over the past four months, both within our society and our Church, I feel that this Spirit-filled prayer is one you might consider adding to your prayer rule.  We need help!  We need tears of repentance!  We need God’s direct intervention!  St. John please intercede for us!!
    “O holy Hierarch, John — our father, good shepherd and beholder of the secrets of men’s souls!  You pray for us now at the Throne of God, as you yourself did say after your death: ‘Even though I have died, yet am I alive.’  Beseech the most compassionate God that He grant us forgiveness of sins, so that we may come wakefully to our senses — asking that we be given the spirit of humility, the fear of God and piety in all the ways of our life.  As you were a merciful nurturer of orphans and a skilled instructor on earth, be now for us a guide and [source of] Christian understanding amid the turmoil of the Church.  Harken to the groaning of the  troubled youth of our corrupt times, who are tempest-tossed by most wicked demonic possession; and mercifully regard the despondency of our weak pastors, who – caused by the inroads of the corrupting spirit of this world – languish in idle indifference.  O fervent advocate, we cry to you with tears, hasten to make supplication.  Visit us, who are orphaned, scattered over the face of all the world and in our homeland, astray in the darkness of the passions, yet who – by our feeble love – are drawn to the light of Christ and await your fatherly instruction; that having acquired piety, we my be shown to be heirs of the Kingdom of heaven — where you now abide with all the Saints, glorifying our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be honor and dominion, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.  Amen.” 
    Orthodox Agape by Papa Demetri via tinyletter

  16. Daniel F says

    Late to the party here, but to Mrs Nora K, Mother of Five, thank you, thank you, thank you! So grateful for your letter and your courage!! I pray God’s blessings on you and your family! 

  17. The Sacred, Healing, completely Safe Space of the Temple (and all within): Archimandrite Savas Agioreitis “How shall we live during this current persecution of Orthodoxy” (part 3 of 4, newly posted)
    Gail, Mother of Five and Mom of Toddler ~ think you will delight in all his teaching but rejoice especially in that clear point.