And the Moms Have It!

Our friends at The Duran wrote an excellent article on the challenges our moms are facing trying to bring up their families in the Orthodox Church in parishes preoccupied with social distancing.

Hosted by Alexander Mercouris, Peter Lavelle and Alex Christoforou, The Duran is one of our “go to” places for the news.  We were very pleased to be asked to work with them on this story and hope to be able to collaborate with them on future stories, as well.

I think you will recognize the voices of a couple of the moms.  Brava, ladies, for getting the attention of our Russian friends.  We’re mighty proud of you.


  1. Nicholas says

    Thanks for covering that angle. There is no, repeat NO, justification for these restrictions. And if the Church continues to pursue them, then it will be taking the side of government over its own people. We are too broke, too tired, and too stressed to continue this pretend social distancing when millions of Americans have a virus with .26% case fatality rate.

  2. Nicholas says

    I let the moms know. We are essentially in exile with a handful of other families at Western Rite parish that has way fewer restrictions. Kind of peaceful, actually.

    • Nicholas, I didn’t see any indication after clicking on your link, but I’m hoping that this is a canonical western rite parish—AOCA or ROCOR? The reason that I ask this is because there are a number of ‘orthodox’ western rite parishes floating around out there that having nothing really to do with the actual Orthodox Church.

      • Nicholas says

        Antiochian – That is a great point you raise. We’ve been Orthodox for a long time, so we’re aware that the title is easy to put on a sign. Thanks for asking.

        • No problemo. There are lots of flakes out there—and many people get pulled into their flaky orbits. I had a good friend that attended an AOCA western rite parish in Nebraska, and he was always telling me to come out and visit him. 

          • Nicholas says

            The kids miss the Greek Parish. It is huge and beautiful with tons of activities. None of them happening now, of course. Oh, and the priest has been ordered to shutter his social media. He’s too conservative for the hierarchs with the BLM fetish. The wife and I, plus a few other friends, are actually happy at the little Western Rite parish for the most part. I miss the Eastern Liturgy, but the Western Rite has grown on us.

    • MomofToddler says

      Based on your experience posted here and on your blog, we visited our nearest ROCOR parish which is Western Rite which we had not considered before (2.5 hours away).  We had a delightful experience!  My boys were so happy!  My oldest son said “That is my favorite church.”  This evening my youngest son said, “Can we go back to church?”  They miss church dearly (we all do), but know something is wrong with the churches close to us.  My husband and I noted while we were there, we all forgot about the problems in the world.  Isn’t that what the Orthodox Church is about?  Cast all worldly cares aside…not bring them in with you.
      (Also, I do not have a FB account, but there is someone on the public TradOx page posting about leaving the OCA because of something his priest said about communion transmitting disease, Christ body decaying in the tomb and because of the cleansing of the spoon.  He seems to be a new convert with a simple, great faith and many people there are jumping on him and calling him a “Protestant church hopper” for switching to ROCOR- Poor guy!  If anyone has a FB account, maybe you can post some encouragement to him?  Someone following their conscience about a potentially blasphemous communion process should not be called a church hopper.  If he was in the wrong (which I don’t think he is of course) a kinder way to approach it would be.” It’s so great that you are faithful about communion, can I please explain this also to you?” I kind of wish the public page was not public so I did not have to see it and was not tempted to look at it!)

      • Mother of Five says

        Mom of Toddler,

        I have a FB account and am happy to connect with him. Not sure the best way to get his name from you but I think I can connect him to like minded people as well, if only through internet:) He is not alone, sadly. Perhaps, contact Gail or George, I give them permission to give you my direct contact information:) Nora

  3. Sage-Girl says

    Truly in my opinion, any woman who physically gives birth + raises decently another human being to adulthood IS a Saint — we may not see a halo around her face, but it’s there, even if she’s atheist … this feat alone is worthy of a crown ?.
    Yes — the mom’s do have it

    • Sage-Girl,
      “….any woman who physically gives birth + raises decently another human being to adulthood IS a Saint …. even if she’s atheist”
      Where did you read THAT, or did you think of it?

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Actually, there was a monk who said that because women have to “die to themselves” to have children, they are closer to God.

        If God can make a saint out of Saul, I suspect He can make a saint out of an atheist.

        Some atheists are people who just don’t know God yet. Even in my own experience, I’ve known one or two who have found God.


        • “If God can make a saint out of Saul,
          I suspect He can make a saint out of an atheist.”
          I expect Seraphim Rose is well on the way…

          • Gail Sheppard says


          • There is a subtle difference between:
            “….any woman who physically gives birth raises decently another human being to adulthood IS a Saint …. even if she’s atheist”    and
            “If God can make a saint out of Saul,I suspect He can make a saint out of an atheist.”
            God can make a saint out of an atheist mother 
            HE does not do that Automatically and in all cases, just because  I say so.

            Because, if there are say 1-3 billion decent mothers out there on the planet who are automatically saints, then, surely, they need not become orthodox….they are SAINTS already!

        • Sage-Girl says

          ☀️✨Thanks Gail, it takes a woman to understand our drift … 
          it’s true, I’ve met atheists in my time who expressed more generosity + love than church parishioners who I discovered didn’t even believe in basic Orthodox tenets, for them it’s just a nice coffee house hangout. 
          Also, one can say there are aspiring saints … they sacrifice, live in devotion + purity + then, there are Mega Saints — they do all that, but expand into reaching much more: they reach the ultimate, Omega point which is THEOSIS – oneness with Godhead, they have uninterrupted visions + communion with Christ, Theotokos, the Angels —- these are the likes of Elder Paisios, Elder Ephraim, Elder Porphyrios, Joseph the Hesychast or the nuns Mother Gavrilia, Tarso – the Fool for Christ, Saint Catherine, St. Euphemia, Princess Elizabeth of Russia + throw in Joan of Arc + many others I’m forgetting …  
          I tell ya, these advanced illumined beings inhabit a whole other galaxy?⚡️✨

          • Solitary Priest says

            I thought that you were a monastic. How come you keep posting day and night? Don’t you ever presume to tell me I MUST accept monasticism again! Got it?

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Sage-Girl, I would appreciate it if you would allow me respond.


              Solitary Priest, is there some rule that requires monastics to post during certain hours? If so, please share. My guess is there are no such rules. It was just your way of taking a dig because you don’t like the way SG expresses herself.

              BTW, she never said you MUST accept anything. Once again, you’ve got it wrong.

              I am tired of having to trash your posts because you don’t know what’s being said to whom, or by whom. Too often you overreact to absolutely nothing and say something insulting. Others don’t see the stuff you write because you either beg us not to post something after you send it or I pull it to protect you from embarrassing yourself.

              I’m not doing it anymore. I am not your personal trash can. If you’ve got a problem with someone, for any reason, keep it to yourself. If you can’t control yourself, don’t post here. This goes for everyone.

              Do not submit junk like this and lay it at my feet. It darkens my soul to see Orthodox Christians behaving badly like this. The fact that no one else sees it does not mitigate the fact that I do.

              If you can’t have respect for other people, then have some respect for me. This is not a request. It is a condition of posting here. You can disagree with other people all you want but you do not get talk like this to other people. I see something like this again and you’re gone. I don’t care who you are.

              Some of you have the mistaken idea that this is your blog. You think you can say anything you want or redirect the conversation in a way that you find more pleasing. You often insult George and me in the process. We don’t care what you think about us. Not even a little bit. This is a free country and no one is making you stay.

              This is OUR blog and you are a guest. We try to be welcoming but we will not allow our other guests to be insulted, nor will we allow anyone to hijack the blog to make it into something other than what it is. You don’t like the Church stuff, too bad. You don’t like the political stuff, too bad. You don’t like Trump, boy did you got off at the wrong station!

              Go start your own blog. No need for long goodbyes. We’re not going to be posting them anymore, because no one cares why anyone else chooses to leave. I think some of you think you have some sort of celebrity status here. This is so not the case. If you want to leave, just do it. George and I wish you well.

              But if you stay, start following some basic rules of decency. I’m simply not putting up with this BS anymore.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Galina, you speak well on this matter.
                Please, everybody, try to understand that all of us are under spiritual attack, not just our nation but our Church as well.   If anything, we need to stop attacking each other and/or impugning each others’ motives.  Having said that, we have no problem with criticism of arguments but we need to refrain from castigating each other.  We especially need to stop villifying entire groups of people.  It is especially tiresome for Gail and myself to have to worry about which comments to trash and which to publish, or to have to edit comments that are on the whole, OK but because of one or two sentences, veer off into inflammatory territory.
                As St John Chrysostom said: “whenever you see a man who is angry, know that the devil has won a great battle in him”.

    • I refer to my comments in the other thread. If Lutheran pastors can’t be saints, then neither can atheists.
      A saint is someone whose entire being has been penetrated with the divine energies of the Trihypostatic divinity, having lived a life in accordance with the Gospel commands of Christ, and guided by the dogmas and precepts of the Church.
      A saint is NOT someone who did some generic good deed.
      This isn’t legalism, as someone mentioned. ‘Saint’ is the greatest accolade that the Church can give to one of its children, it shouldn’t be handed out like candy at a kid’s birthday party.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        In fairness to Sage Girl, she did not say sainthood should be handed out like candy. Neither is it something that we can fully understand or predict. Many Saints were deemed unworthy by their peers. It is only after fact that one can evaluate their good works and I suspect many go unnoticed. . . but not by God.

        After having been a mom and fighting for the Church with every fiber of my being, I can say, with reasonable certainty, it is the sacrifices I made to bring children into this world, children who know and love God, that was my greatest achievement.

        Sometimes, it is just doing the normal things God asks of us that makes us worthy. For a wife, to respect and follow her husband. For a mother, to have and protect her children. You know, the normal things, like living “a life in accordance with the Gospel commands of Christ, and guided by the dogmas and precepts of the Church.”

        • Gail, none of us is “worthy”. Heaven is not going to be occupied by worthy people or nice people but rather by forgiven sinners. We do not earn salvation. Salvation is a free gift we receive and then express the gift through good works. There is a sense of Pelagianism that characterizes many of the posts on this blog.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            I never meant to imply that anyone was worthy. I used the term “worthy” in the context of effort. There are worthy efforts and there are unworthy efforts.

            I would imagine that salvation is more likely if we comply with God’s wishes. If that were not the case, the Gospel would not be replete with such messages like the parable of the 10 virgins. Those who prepared for the Bridegroom’s arrival, were rewarded. The parable of the great banquet is another example. Those who came when invited were rewarded. The parable of the pounds is yet another example. Those who increased the talents they were given were rewarded.

            Scripture is sort of blueprint for a life. This is not the same thing as saying we earn salvation. Even if we did everything right, Christ could still fail to see His image in our hearts.

            My point is that women who are able to bear children, and do, are doing what God has called women to do. Men who honor their wives are doing what God has called men to do. In both instances, the Church teaches that marriage and family is a legitimate path toward salvation, as it requires one to “die to oneself” in the process.

            Salvation is a “gift.” It’s not necessarily “free” because it requires a heart that is inclined toward God but I would agree it is not earned.

            Good works are no guarantee of salvation and salvation cannot happen before good works. Salvation happens at the end of one’s life when the time for good works is over. No matter how many good works you do, you can turn away from God at any point or turn toward God at any point, like the thief did on the cross. So to tie good works to salvation or suggest salvation comes first would be wrong. The rich man is yet another example. He did many good works but he could not bring himself to do the one thing Jesus asked him to do.

            When it comes to salvation, grace is everything. Without the grace of God salvation is not be possible. Every good work we do is like a filthy rag to God. Isaiah 64:6

            Living in a way that conforms to what is revealed in Scripture is a prescription for a life that will draw you closer to God. The closer you draw to God the more likely you will become more like Him. The more like Him you become, the more likely He will be able to see His image in you when He returns, making salvation possible.

            I’m not seeing Pelagianism in these comments. For those who don’t know, it is “the theological position which holds that the original sin did not taint human nature and that humans have the free will to achieve human perfection without divine grace.”

            The Church teaches the opposite of this. We are not guilty of original sin but we do suffer the consequences of sin, i.e. by inheriting a fallen world which includes death. The Church also teaches that, save for Christ, human perfection does not exist. One cannot use their free will to obtain perfection and fortunately, God does not require it for salvation.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Sure Jk, that is why we cry out Axios when a priest is ordained or Mustahiqu. Because we are Pelagian.

          • “There is a sense of Pelagianism that characterizes many of the posts on this blog.”

            That’s because Eastern Orthodoxy holds to “synergy,” which the West classifies as Semi-Pelagianism, because few in West ever properly grasped man’s fallen nature inclined to sin vs. “original sin,” which lead to errors in faith vs works, free will vs predestination, the nature of God, etc.

            “We do not earn salvation.”

            We don’t earn redemption, because Christ redeemed the whole human race, whether they make good on it or not.  You need to actively cooperate with God, until the very end of your life, to achieve salvation.  Salvation and redemption aren’t the same thing, contrary to common Protestant usage.   

            • Absolutely, we must cooperate with the salvation offered in the person of Jesus. “Whoever receives Him”‘ “whoever opens the door” plus others passages demonstrate mans need to cooperate with the salvation offered in Jesus. One can reject Christ and thus reject their salvation.

      • ST. Constantine? Basil, does he meet your definition of sainthood. Saints are those who set their lives aside for the purpose of serving God. Saints are those who requested and received Gods forgiveness through sincere repentance.Paul address all Christians in his epistles as saints. There is a certain level of Pelagianism in your definition. Heaven will be occupied by forgiven sinners.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Basil, again to be an official saint of the Orthodox Church who is venerated in services the person has to be Orthodox. However, there is no limit on holiness and the works of holiness.  
        Holiness is only acquired through an inner, uncompromising dedication to God and Jesus Christ regardless of the challenges.  There will never be an Orthodox icon of Richard Wurmbrand or any Tropaia written to him or Akathist asking his intercessions.  I would not personally entertain the idea of privately asking for his intercessions even.  
        That does not mean that he was not imbued with holiness in this world.  So, he is sanctified whether he was Orthodox or not.  
        Sorry women, while I agree that pregnancy and childbirth and parenting and being married to obstreperous men are sacrificial acts especially these days and perhaps gives a greater possibility for holiness, they are natural, acts already built into the wrap and woof of creation that excludes them from automatic sainthood.  Belief in and dedication to our Lord God and Savior, Jesus Christ is absolutely required for holiness and a deep humility that eschews any vanity or selfishness.  My mother sacrificed her body, her art and much of what she preferred to do to give birth to my brother and myself and raise us to manhood.  My brother is an Orthodox priest and I am and will die an Orthodox believer.  As much as I honor her and respect all that she gave me, she is not a saint.  For all her sacrifice and love it was the life, vision and testimony of my father (who was really tough to live with for many reasons) who set the tone for both of us to embrace the teachings of the Church.  My mother turned away from the any organized religion because she was a proto-feminist.  She knew God was real and thought it important for us to find him but my father galvanized both of us to act.  He lived by the dictum, which we put on his tombstone:  “It is best to serve God by serving the people who need Him most.”           
        As T.S. Eliot noted in his play “Murder in the Cathedral” to which Pastor Wurmbrand also referred:  “To do the right deed for the wrong reason, is surely the greatest treason.”   By these words the fictional Thomas Becket turned away the temptation to become a martyr for his own glory rather than the glory of God.   
        I was in that play in college (I was one of the knights who killed him), and those words marked my soul and branded me for Christ in a certain way that made it much easier to receive Him when I found out He is real, not long after. 
        Let me repeat:  “To do the right deed for the wrong reason is surely the greatest treason.”    
        May God guide us all to the humility to perceive the “right reason” for all of our right deeds and multiply those deeds to those around us blessing those who love us and those who hate us, praising God for all things.   

        • Sage-Girl says

          MB + Basil + Ioannis:
          OK by me, mothers are Not Saints — + (I’ve never been a feminist) let’s just call these sacrificial mothers almost HOLY — despite their lack of religious cred … to be Holy is something more spiritually accessible to most of us; Sainthood is extremely RARE….
          but we are All called to be Holy — it means to be set apart from secular Godless crowd – we do things different.
          ?As for Joan of Arc — or St. Francis or Padre Pio of Catholic Church, nothing wrong with acknowledging just how extraordinary they were, despite not being Orthodox!

          • Michael Bauman says

            Sage-girl. Having watched and supported my late wife through a long and painful labor, the sacrifice is great. In my late wife’s case it could have killed her, but by the grace of God it did not.  The birth was a moment of jubilation for all of us there and a Thanksgiving to God.  

          • Pio was a fraud who faked stigmata. Francis of Assissi… well, just read this:
            Holy basically means ‘set aside for God.’ So, no, giving birth does not make one holy, especially an atheist. It makes them amazing women that have suffered through an intense labor to bring a new life into the world, but holy? No.
            Sorry, but your musings are simply not Orthodox.

            • Antiochene Son says

              In The Arena, St. Ignaty Brianchaninov holds Francis of Assisi to be the very image of prelest. 

            • Sage-Girl says

              you make good points — please sum it up more simply for me –  differences between Catholic Saints & Orthodox Saints?  I never did get the ”stigmata” phenomena with Catholics + I notice our Orthodox Saints never did stigmata… what’s up with all that?
              Also I’m willing to hear why Padre Pio was a fraud? I read his biography … this makes me feel shocked like when I read here on Monomakhos that MLK was not all I imagined … I’m willing to be enlightened. 
              I know atheists can never be Saints, was trying to draw attention that we cannot know for certain what’s inside a person — just look at how many priests have been defrocked? Outwardly they looked “Orthodox” but inwardly proved to be contaminated!

              • Well, Orthodox saints are those that ‘talk the talk’ (preach the True Faith with all the dogmas and teachings of the Church) and ‘walk the walk’ (God-pleasing ascetic struggle, unimpeachable moral and ethical life, deep spiritual and prayer life) to an extremely high degree, with the grace to do so coming from the Lord (just in case anyone accuses me of Pelagianism again), Who gives His gifts in accordance with their ability to receive them, i.e. how much they have repented, purified their hearts, and submitted their wills to Christ’s.
                Now, people from outside the Church (such as the recently-discussed Wurmbrand) might ‘walk the walk’ to a greater or lesser degree, but they do not ‘talk the talk’ if their preaching is not that of the Church. We can certainly respect these people, but they are not saints. Their fate is in God’s hands. He judges man according to his knowledge of the natural law.
                The wolves in sheep’s clothing, the unworthy clergy and hierarchs of the Church, might ‘talk the talk’ (although the question of whether or not they actually believe what they preach is up for debate), but they do not ‘walk the walk’ if their lives are not up to the standards that Christ expects of His flock, especially the clergy. These people are not worthy of respect. Their fate is also in God’s hands, as He judges all those who know the Truth (i.e. the Orthodox faith) according to the degree in which they follow it.
                Regarding Padre Pio, I read in a few places that he faked his stigmata with acid. Stigmata and other strange things like that only appear in the Western church after the schism.
                Catholic ‘sainthood’ reflects the distorted spirituality and theology of Roman Catholicism, which is very subjective, emotional, and just plain weird at times. Catherina of Siena had a vision of ‘Christ’ giving her his foreskin as a wedding ring. No thanks.

                • Sage-Girl says

                  Yikes! and I’ve heard famous Mother Teresa had doubts regarding her faith… the Catholics indeed are too emotional + suffering centered.   Most ppl I’ve met raised in Catholic school tell me they never want to hear about Jesus again! Go figure.
                  BUT never forget: there’s always gems ? in every group — Bishop Fulton Sheen was pretty cool + my old friend, philosopher/author Lady Alice von Hildebrand + her husband Dietrich von Hildebrand, who praised Orthodoxy as well

      • “If Lutheran pastors can’t be saints, then neither can atheists.”
        Do you mean they cannot become saints?
        That God cannot make them saints?

        • Only if they become Orthodox. It’s really that simple.
          “Outside the Church, there is no salvation.”
          If there’s no salvation, then there is certainly no sainthood. Someone whop preaches heresy cannot be a saint.
          People outside the Church can be righteous in their own way, but the term ‘saint’ has meaning and it shouldn’t be thrown around flippantly.
          Ms. “atheist mothers can be saints” just added Joan of Arc to her list, someone who isn’t Orthodox. If we don’t take ecclesiology seriously, then we’re just LARPing at being traditional Orthodox Christians.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            Well, Basil, let’s do take ecclesiology seriously.

            There is an old saying in the Church: “We know where God is, but we don’t know where God isn’t.

            In other words, we know God is in the Church. That is not to say that everyone in the Church will achieve salvation. Many of the Holy Fathers have opined that very few people in the Church will receive salvation.

            But we also don’t know where God isn’t. We don’t know he isn’t with the Catholics. God saves whom He will. He could save an atheist who turns toward Him at the 11th hour. The last will be first and the first will be last.

            A saint is one who meets the requirements of the Orthodox Church for canonization. God does not need our rules and regulations to determine who are saints in His eyes, I assure you.

            Some people live in a binary world: it either is or it isn’t. God doesn’t think like that.

            1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.”

            1 Corinthians 2:11 says, “ For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. ”

            • Okay then, find me the Scriptural or patristic reference for your old saying. Show me which Holy Fathers taught this. Then show me which Holy Fathers or Church Councils said that outside the Holy Orthodox Church, there could be saints.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                I’m sorry I do not have the time to do the research for you. I honestly don’t care whether you believe me or not. Look it up or ask someone. It is a very common saying.

                To me, it seems pretty straightforward to assume that God is not limited by our institutional boundaries, but maybe it is not so intuitively straightforward to you.

                • “….any woman who physically gives birth + raises decently another human being to adulthood IS a Saint …. even if she’s atheist”
                  -Sage Girl
                  Where did you read THAT, or did you think of it?
                  “Actually, there was a monk who said that because women have to “die to themselves” to have children, they are closer to God.”
                  Not sure about the “…. even if she’s atheist” part, nor would I venture into the kind of knowledge of persons that can be known only to God.  It is fair to say that definitions of sainthood can vary widely and most (though not all) are correct in their own way.  The “saints” of which St. Paul speaks in his epistles, for example, are not necessarily the same as the Saints Church holds up as examples godliness to be emulated.
                  But having said that, the ideas (though possibly not all the specifics) expressed by Gail and others about motherhood do indeed have a foundation in apostolic teaching.
                  “For Adam was first formed, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.  Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”  (Epistle to Timothy)
                  If there is “a monk who said that because women have to ‘die to themselves’ to have children, they are closer to God,” it is this that he would seem to have in mind.   But as with all things that are natural to our common creation (such as the marriage of a man and a woman, for example), there is a qualifier:  “if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.” 
                  “The flesh profits nothing” – which is to say that marriage (for example) or motherhood by themselves cannot make us saints.  However, each in its own way has the inherent capacity to be transfigured into a kind of martyrdom that can indeed, with our cooperation, make saints of us.
                  A woman who freely chooses marriage – and motherhood in particular – out of love is granted perhaps among the greatest opportunities (though not the guarantee) of laying down her life for another.  And no monk or nun has ever known a greater or more selfless obedience than a thoroughly  exhausted mother has to her crying child.

                  • Michelle says

                    Powerful, Brian.  Thank you.

                  • Antiochene Son says

                    Good food for thought, but I really think there is dangerous potential here.
                    The greatest obedience is in following God’s calling for one’s life, whether that is to be a parent or a monastic. Let’s not start comparing crosses with one another. 

                    • AS,

                      No comparison is implied or expressed, though I myself have often heard comparisons explicitly expressed from the other direction. They usually come either from laypersons who idealize monasticism or from foolishly proud monastics (I’ve met a few in my day. They have an ugliness about them that is frightening.). True, humble monastics understand the burdens of living in the world, are happy to be free of them (for their sake and ours), and are compassionate toward those who are not.

              • Basil, if I may contribute my 2 cents:

                Gail is right about “It is a very common saying”.
                To facilitate smooth/friendly/efficient discussions it may help to avoid asking the other person to do a time-consuming search for us, but exactly the opposite, ie that we provide evidence on the opposite.

                So, e.g. in this case, could you find Scriptural or patristic references that:“Holy Fathers or Church Councils said that outside the Holy Orthodox Church, there could be NO saints”.
                What I have in mind is the example of the 14000 children killed by the order of Herodes and they are commemorated as Saints on 29th Dec.
                I pray I am not mistaken.

                • They were members of the Church. The Church is Israel. We are Israel now. That’s why why the prophets and patriarchs are on the calendar and depicted in icons.
                  Now, if we are talking theology, we need to be serious. That’s why – especially in the context of Orthodox Christians having a disagreement – we need to be able to demonstrate the this is what the Church teaches. Just saying “it’s commonly said” is not sufficient. We need Scripture, the Fathers, Councils.
                  “It’s commonly said” that “we know where the Church is, but we don’t know where it is not.” Indeed it is commonly said, but only in the past century, starting with Kallistos Ware and, before him, people like Evdokimov in Paris. It gets said a lot, but is absolutely meaningless because it is not rooted in our Tradition.
                  Now, in response to Gail’s oft-repeated phrase, “we know where God is, but not where He isn’t,” the Church teaches that He is ‘present everywhere and filling all things,” so there is nowhere that He is not. His divine energies are everywhere, preserving and upholding His creation. However, His sanctifying energies, i.e. those that deify a man and draw Him into the life of the Holy Trinity – i.e. making him a saint – are only found in the Church and especially through the sacraments.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    I too, agree that the Church “is Israel”.  Otherwise, the eternal throne that was promised to David is meaningless, as only Christ –David’s descendant–is not the Christ.

                    If you will permit me to go on a tangent, some Protestant sects have not seen the Scriptural and Patristic understanding of God’s promise to David and have gone on misdirections thinking that David has a living royal descendant presently, most often the sovereign of Great Britain.  Though whole Anglo-Israelite heresy.

                    • Yes, British Israelitism and Christian Identity are the two main proponents of this quackery, but you also see shades of it in Da Vinci Code-esque theories.
                      These guys seem to miss Saint Paul telling us to “have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives‘ tales.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Basil, as far as I know, this is a well-known theolegoumenon of the Church. I don’t know whether Gail picked it up from me or from somebody else but as far as I can tell it’s in perfect accord with what St Paul teaches about the conscience & what Jesus Himself said in Mark when the disciples told Him about someone casting out devils in His name.

                “He who is not against us is for us.”

                In any event, given how our bishops have so mishandled so much in the recent past (not just COVID but Ukraine, the moribund Episcopal Assemblies, to name just a few), we as Orthodox need to be exceedingly humble about our own accomplishments. As such, from this point forward, I for one, will refuse to comment on any person’s salvation, regardless of their denomination.

                • Of course, if someone is not against us, then he is for us, as the Lord says. It doesn’t make them a saint, however.
                  By saying that no one outside the Church can become a saint (unless they are, of course, baptized into Holy Orthodoxy) does not mean that we are commenting on their salvation. Sainthood and salvation are not the same. Fathers like Saint Cyprian have clearly stated that “outside the Church there is no salvation” but, at the same time, it is not our business to pry into such things. We have to tend to our own house, like you say.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Basil, I appreciate the nuanced understanding, that is that just because one is saved doesn’t make him a saint.  I can see the wisdom in that distinction.  At the same time, salvation is what it’s all about, isn’t it?  At least I believe (and hope) so.

                    • Antiochene Son says

                      St Paul speaks of being saved as through fire, or as I take it, a person just barely being saved.
                      But sanctity, sainthood, holiness, is built up beyond that. Salvation is just the foundation of the skyscraper of sainthood. No one who is a Saint got there just barely; it was earned through cooperation with the Holy Spirit and the methodical cleansing of the nous.
                      I do think we need to have nuance between salvation and sainthood, because the error of Protestantism is the conflation of both. 

            • George Michalopulos says

              Gail, very well said.  
              If there’s anything I’ve learned from the recent “pandemic” and the subsequent Floyd festivities, is that even those of us who are in the Church (myself included, but especially our bishops), is that we need to be very humble about what we assert.  About anything.
              We have bolixed up so many fundamentals about our Faith that the only thing we can say is “Lord have mercy”.

          • Sage-Girl says

            Come on Basil ? your wiser than that — be more Expansive!
            Keep in mind: None of us will ever know how illumined other people’s souls + hearts are… 
            As my Russian Elder always mumbles:  “humble down, humble down …”

          • Basil, St Augustine, St Gregory of Nyssa and St Issac the Syrian all taught heresy.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              How provocative.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Everybody has heretical ideas. Satan and the world work hard sowing confusion and lies.  There is a big difference between being mistaken and really “teaching heresy” which requires a arrogance of heart and mind that the men on the list did not have except perhaps Augustine. . .

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  I don’t know anything about this. This was JK’s comment.

                • Michael, your statement is a perfect example of a straw arguemeant. All the Sts. I mentioned, put in writing heretical ideas. What one puts in writing is what one believes. It is not like these saints were sitting around a campfire throwing out ideas. At least you acknowledge that the “blessed Augustine” taught heresy even though you attribute ungodly characteristics to him.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    The Venerable Seraphim Rose wrote an excellent book about St Augustine. In the appendix, there is even an Akathist which is said in his honor.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Blessed Augustine never got the chance to be called to account because of the rupture in the Church.  So, my characterization was not charitable.  As to the rest there is a real distinction between heretical ideas and teaching heresy.  
                    Origen was condemned for the heretical fruit of his work.  Augustine’s fruit is clear in the Roman Catholic Church and much of Protestantism.  As to that, a fellow parishoner of mine Dr. Anthony Gythiel an acknowledged modern authority and translator of ancient materials strongly condemned Augustine for the manner in which Augustine distorted time in his theology making it linear among other things which led to the situation described in the article by St. Nicolai I posted a link to.  The fact of the matter is that the other men you mention are held up by the Church for both their wisdom and sanctity.  That does not make them perfect. My personal opinion as to any heretical content in their writings is of no account.  

                    If that be a “straw man” then so be it. I really do not care.  I am surely filled with far more heretical ideas than they are and I can only listen to them as humbly as possible. God forgive me.

            • No one corrected these men when they were alive, and those particular teachings were not considered heresy at the time. A heretic is someone that refuses to listen to the voice of the Church and continues to preach a condemned teaching.
              But, to be clear, Saint Gregory did not teach universalism (see here:, Saint Isaac probably didn’t (see here: and Saint Augustine – if he taught heresy at all (I am more inclined to think that he was just excessive in his speculation) – at least made a formal retraction of any mistakes he ever made.

              • Augustine supported the philioque clause as well as other faulty teachings. Read what St Photios writes about Augustine. Photios acknowledges Augustine’s sainthood in spite on his support of the philioque.

                • Saint Augustine couldn’t “support” the Filioque, because it wasn’t even a thing back then. His Trinitarian theology may not have been perfect, but he wasn’t “supporting” a condemned teaching when he (admittedly) speculated about these things, as it hadn’t yet been condemned, or even become an issue in the Church at that point.
                  Remember, if a Father writes something which is not received by the Church, it is not teaching heresy. Teaching heresy is when someone explicitly teaches something which has been condemned, or refuses to correct themselves when the Church points out the error in their teaching.
                  Saint Photios, like all the Holy fathers, practices the virtue of ‘covering up our fathers’ nakedness.’ You should try the same, rather than sullying the reputation of the great Saint Augustine.

                  • I have great respect for St Augustine and deem him worthy of sainthood. I can find the quotes from St Photios but don’t want to waste my time if you can’t understand the point I am trying to make. Church history is messy, not everything fits into consistent little packages as many think. Church history is filled with inconsistency and paradox.

                    • I know the passage from the great Saint Photios as I read the book years ago. He also mentions Saint Ambrose and Saint Jerome at the same time. What he doesn’t say, however, is that they taught heresy. I’ll get the quote for you, as it is worth reading in full:
                      You bring forth Ambrose, Augustine and Jerome as well as certain other men as witnesses against the dogma of the Church, because you say they hold the opinion that the Spirit proceeds from the Son. They say, One should not charge the Holy Fathers with the crime of ungodliness: one either agrees with their opinions because they taught rightly and are acknowledged as Fathers, or they and their teaching should be rejected as impious because they introduced impious doctrines. These things are said by youngsters in fearful desperation, for the insufferable conclusions of their unprofitable impudence cannot escape in the face of knowledge and zeal. Not content with distorting the word of the Master and slandering the herald of piety, they deem the Fathers’ zealous pursuits incomplete and then turn around and make their Fathers treat the Master and His herald with wanton violence, and then they celebrate this! However, the simple word of truth confounds them, saying, Take care where you are going, how long will you plunge your destruction into the vitals of your soul.

                      What sort of poisonous insanity compelled them to produce the Fathers, holy and mature men settled and established in the truth, as protectors of impiety? Thus, which of us sustains their rights as Fathers? The one who receives them with no contradictions against the Master, or the one who compels them to establish testimony against the Master’s word, and who distorts by perverse sophisms the admirable teaching by which we theologise that the Spirit proceeds from the Father? Is it not evident that heresy attributes the name of Father to those memorable men only in words? For heresy does not begrudge giving the title of Father stripped of all honour, but through sophism, heresy chooses to drive the Fathers into the portion of impious and corrupt men. Do all of these ungodly men presume to honour their Fathers with such privileges?

                      Read through Ambrose or Augustine or whatever Father you may choose: which of them wished to affirm anything contrary to the Master’s word? If it is I, then I insult your Fathers. But if you say it whilst I deny it, then you insult them, and I condemn you of insolence towards the Fathers. But, you retort, they have written so, and the words the Spirit proceeds from the Son are to be found in their writings. What of it? If those fathers, having been instructed, did not alter or change their opinion, if after just rebukes they were not persuaded — again, this is another slander against your Fathers — then you who teach your word [Filioque] as a dogma introduce your own stubbornness of opinion into the teachings of those men. Although in other things they are the equals of the best [Fathers], what does this have to do with you? If they slipped and fell into error, therefore, by some negligence or oversight — for such is the human condition — when they were corrected, they neither contradicted nor were they obstinately disobedient. For they were not, even in the slightest degree, participants in those things in which you abound. Though they were admirable by reason of many other qualities that manifest virtue and piety, they professed your teaching either through ignorance or negligence. But if they in no way shared the benefit of your advantages [of being corrected], why do your introduce their human fault as a mandate for your blasphemous belief? By your mandate, you attest that men who never imposed anything of this type are obvious transgressors, and so you demand a penalty for the worst blasphemy under the pretence of benevolence and affection. The results of your contentions are not good. Observe the excessive impiety and perversity of this frivolous knowledge! They claim the Master to be their advocate, but are discovered to be liars. They call upon the disciples to be their advocates, but are likewise discovered to be slanderers. They fled for refuge to the Fathers, but are found to cast down their great honour with blasphemy.

                      Although they call them Fathers — indeed, they do — they do not attribute to them the honour of being Fathers, but seek to discover how they may become patricides. They do not tremble at the voice of the divinely inspired Paul, whom they turn against the Fathers with great wickedness. For he who had received the authority to bind and to loose — and that authority reaches to the very Kingdom of Heaven itself and is both fearful and mighty — exclaims with a great, mighty and brilliant voice, But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you other than what we preached to you, let him be anathema. [Galatians 1:8] He who is so great a man, Paul, the never-silent trumpet of the Church, surrenders to anathema anyone who dares to receive or introduce any foreign doctrine to the Gospel, and he subjects to great curses not only others who would dare this, but also says it about himself; if he were seen to be obstinate, he urged equal judgement. He sets no limit on this fearful word of judgement but searches the heavens themselves. And if he finds there an angel with dominion upon the earth who evangelises anything contrary to the Gospel preaching, he suggests equal bonds, delivering him over to the devil. And you, who bring forth the Fathers to violate the dogmas of the Master, to violate the preaching of which the disciples were heralds, to violate all the Ecumenical Synods, to violate the godly doctrine preached throughout the whole world, do you neither shudder nor tremble nor cower at the threat [of anathema]? You make them your Fathers without living their life in yourselves. Not even the incorporeal nature of the angels, nor the fact that as pure minds they stand before the Master in devotion, allows occasion for appeal, because they are reduced to equality with earthly things [in being subject to the pronounced anathema]. You call Ambrose, Augustine and other good men your Fathers — alas, such ruinous honour! — but does opposing them to the Master’s teaching make any more tolerable the condemnation for yourselves or on these men? For you neither assign a good reward to your Fathers nor repay your forebears properly for their nurture. The anathema will not pass through you onto those blessed men, because neither your sophisms nor disobediences nor impieties will be found with them. You bear the anathema on your own shoulders because you presume they partake in your impiety. With distinguished deeds, however, and with their whole voice they cry against the anathema which you would bring on them.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Here is an interesting article that is germane to the topic:  

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    JK, Basil is completely in the right here.  Even St Basil the Great’s Triadology was not quite Orthodox, at least initially (if memory serves).  
                    Basil, I would add this proviso to a bishop promoting heresy:  he must not only teach it but do so “bare-headed and open in Church”.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Basil, you are correct. 100%.  

  4. In similar vein:  Orthodox Christian Parenting:  Recipes For Raising Children, revised second edition is now on sale.  With additional content.  Providential timing!  Loved the first edition.  
    Thanks for this new site which is now bookmarked!  

  5. Can you tell us more about The Duran and the three men you mentioned please?  The affiliated shop is in Cyprus but you mention Russia.  Always like to know the source(s) and don’t see that on the site…Thanks much!

    • Gail Sheppard says

      The author of the article lives in Russia.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Alex Christophorou is a Greek-American of Cypriot origin who is based in Athens.  Alexander Mercouris is an Anglo-Greek who is based in London.  I try to catch their podcasts daily.  They are definitely Drain-the-Swamp type of people.

      • Danke George & Gail!  Good to have different parts of the globe speaking.  

  6. Jacob Lee says

    This is what happens when the men in charge are not married. My wife keeps me from going off the deep end. You have bishops raised in a monastery  never having a family running things and they are completely incapable of understanding what they are doing to our Children, nor do they care. 
    They also have no clue when it comes to human behavior. In a time of crisis people look for stability they pulled the rug out from us. The Church is no longer a refuge but it’s a place to be feared as you might catch the virus by going. They have signaled to us that they believe we can get sick by going. Their actions scream loader than their cheap words.
    After months of being closed in some places people’s behavior has changed. Habits are hard to make and easy to break. 
    all this so they can help stop Trump from re-election.

    • No, the problem is that the bishops aren’t raised in monasteries, largely. They are just celibate (I hope) men living in the world, waiting for their episcopal nominations.
      Those raised in monasteries are among the Church’s best pastors.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Jacob, in this, I agree with Basil. I know monastics (both male and female) who are very cognizant of family life and in favor of it. We need more bishops who are monastically formed, not fewer.

        On a similar note, I’ve mentioned in the past how perhaps it would not be a bad idea to have married men (or widowers) with children to be elected to the episcopate. In reading Mo5’s essay, I can’t help but wonder that had her husband been a bishop, these directives would have not been as draconian. I don’t know her husband but I’m sure he’s a willing participant in helping her get her children ready for church and is likewise aware of what taking his kids out of the church mix would have been detrimental to their spiritual well-being.

        Anyway, that’s my 2 cents.

        • I’m not sure about GOARCH (I’ll venture to say no) but both ROCOR and the OCA have a reasonably good pedigree of widowed clergy becoming bishops. Saint Innocent of Alaska was a widower too, if I remember correctly.

        • Jacob Lee says

          We have at least one major branch in America run by a monastic raised bishop…

        • Mother of Five says

          You are right George. My husband, many a morning while I was pregnant and sick with our next child, religiously, got our kids ready for church. On mornings when one child was sick he would help get the others get dressed and take the healthy ones. Many Saturday’s for Vespers he would take all four on his own so I could catch up on laundry or sleep once we had four and the chores seemed unmanageable. The point is, we worked together and the kids saw that demonstrated weekly. Even I have a hard time remembering just how hard it was when we had four children under the age of six. You forget just how hard it is so quickly and grandparents forget even more. That is okay but it is a reason we are ALL needed to make the Orthodox Church function fully. It takes, bishops, priests, mothers, fathers, grandparents, godparents, children, teenagers, widows, single adults, young couples, everyone together helping to love one another and reminding each other how to be kind to others who are in a different stage of life. Being in a church building together allows us to see our neighbors and be reminded of the stages they are in. How many of you have looked at the poor tired mother chasing after her kid or walking in an out with a screaming toddler and felt sorry for her, or even glad its not you! Or the widow sitting alone? Or a new married couple remembering when you were that age. 
          The Bishops, I hope, would think of their own childhoods and remember how their mothers loved them and draw on that to, at the very least, legitimately consider what all of us mothers/parents are telling them. Our children are being hurt by this. There is no denying that. 
          And my husband perhaps feels even more strongly than me on this. Attending church for him and his three adult siblings (all still in the Orthodox faith, as well as all eleven of our combined children) is something they just do because it was just baked into them as children. You can’t take the eggs out of a cooked cake and you can’t take the Orthodoxy out of my husband or his siblings. His mom DID HER JOB! 

          • Gail Sheppard says

            I like that expression: ” . . . baked into them.” That’s a perfect way of describing it!

            One of the things I love most about the Church is how open children are to their Church family. I am seen as a “mother, aunt, grandmother” or wherever I fit within the imagination of any given child and they are not afraid of me. Some preschool aged children even see me as their equal! I am quite proud of that. There is no age difference between us, as we share a meal or play “lipsticks” together.

            George is not adverse to tugging on a child’s hair to get their attention or to pick them up entirely and placing them on my lap. They are used to this. This is the way it is supposed to be. Our Church family is A FAMILY and it is wrong to close us off from one another for such an extended period of time.

            If we had a parish of predominantly older people, what they’re doing might make some sense, if all involved agree. But for parishes full of children, families must be given priority, as every moment away from the Church is a moment lost.

            It should be left up us older people, with the advise of our physicians, whether or not we, too, should participate; not in place of but with our young families. We have the Faith. Our young are on the path and it is incumbent upon each of us to walk along side of them, to steady them so they do not trip or fall.

            George and I would not trade these precious moments for anything. Let alone to avoid being among the 2% at the end of their lives who succumb to a virus. We know the clock is ticking. When it comes time for us to pass, we will be thanking God for the privilege of being able to be part of these family’s lives until the very end, God willing.

            If being separated from these young families (or worse, separating them from the Church) is the price one must pay to squeeze a few more years out of life, it is not worth it. Not to George and not to me.

            For what is life if it is lived in fear of what is to come? It’s empty. An empty, sterile existence. This isn’t life. It’s death.

  7. George Michalopulos says

    Again, looks like Mrs Monomakhos was correct. Please take the time to read this column:

    And then weep at what we have lost, economically, socially and spiritually.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      So sad. It didn’t have to turn out this way. We learned a very valuable lesson: do the research.

      • Anonymous II says

        And yet the governor of Washington has just announced businesses MUST refuse customers – 6 years old and older – if they don’t wear masks in businesses, including grocery stores. At the beginning of July! Isn’t this unconstitutional? I’m really curious why/how he and other governors are blatantly controlling businesses, churches, etc. Remember, this is the fella who supports Antifa and their Marxist BLM ‘demonstrators’ looting and burning our cities. Unbelievable.  

  8. Here is a recent tweet from Mike Pompeo regarding Hagia Sophia:


    Jul 1

    ”We urge the Government of Turkey to continue to maintain the Hagia Sophia as a museum, as an exemplar of its commitment to respect Turkey’s diverse faith traditions and history, and to ensure it remains accessible to all.“

    Makes you wonder what quid pro quo those at the State Department will be expecting from Patriarch Bartholomew this time. My guess, granting autocephaly to the Macedonian schismatics. Metaphorically I have to guess that Bartholomew knows if Hagia Sophia turns back into a mosque that this is the nail in the coffin to whatever Byzantine nostalgia is left. He’s overseeing a flock of less than 2,000 people while Russia just took a massive step to enshrine Christian values in its constitution. Me thinks the See of Constantinople will be defunct soon, if not already

  9. Archimandrite Savvas on how to find a spiritual father during these challenging times in the Church and the world when we need one most:
    Part 2 of 3.  Such a comfort and consolation and with proper documentation from the Orthodox Tradition.

  10. Georgia on my mind says

    I hope you and your family are well during these difficult times. A struggle for all of us, for sure.
    Father , I will get straight to the point, for whatever it is worth. First I will not debate you on how bad or good the virus is progressing, as even doctors and scientists can’t seem to agree.
    What we all do know is the death rate is less than 1%. Father, if our  faith is not strong enough to allow for normal liturgy services, and Sunday School classes, for less than a 1% death rate, then I must question how strong our faith really is.
    For 2000 years of Church has never shut its doors, but now in this “enlightened age”, where everything is questioned, like how a nation that elects a black president twice is, is racist? Or,  even whether or not George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln are worthy of praise, or their likeness on statues, murals, and paintings, called offensive? A great portion of our government agrees with this type thinking, and more so favor the closure of our Churches.
    I see nothing in our secular world forces and powers too enlightened today, except that evil or the evil one is being “enlightened” to a new favorable spotlight. I say this because after a call to remove Confederate Statues, very quickly a domino effect fell to our founding fathers, and now even saints are being toppled, and cries for their removal. Removals  of saints such as California’s Junipero Serra, and now even our  Saint Constantine might be taken down in England by civil authorities, because mobs are demanding it’s removal. Even Jesus Christ and his Mother, our Mother, our  Theotokos, are /will be on the chopping block, because they are perceived as “too white” or “Too European”,  tools of oppression!
    Father, 2000 years our Church, and its people have been thru every hell this world has had to offer, and we never closed our doors, until now. All except our  Monasteries, such as Saint Anthony’s. Are any or all their monks sick? No! No, not even when they allowed open services during Holy Week, and even out of state visitors during Bright Week! They put their Faith, and Belief in God, and NOT our government, and the many politicians who are hostile towards Christians. We must ask who in this world, would like us separated from our Church the most?
    In my opinion the Church should now be open as before the virus crisis. Those that are high risk may wear masks or gloves, or stay home if they like, or not, and of course those not feeling well should stay home, get tested, or at least have their temp taken for a fever before entering our Church. The latter should always be the norm at anytime.
    Now all this is only my opinion , but seeing that our Metropolitan has given the green light, but still the Church is really only half way open, maybe it is time for a parish assembly to vote the direction that our Church should continue, with, or without any virus protocols, such as how limited  our Church services, Liturgies, Sacraments, Sunday school, and even coffee hour will be. I believe this is fair for all in our Church, and from there we can decide what is best for each of us, and our families.
    As for myself? I will not wear a mask in any Church. I except one spoon for communion(we do so far), blessed bread when leaving, normal/resumed Sacramental services, and normal Sunday school for our children. I found it strange to hear you, or any priest say our Holy Sacred Temple needs to be “properly disinfected”.
    I will respect the wishes of our Church after a collective vote, but either way, for me personally, I will no longer attend our beloved Church, and wonderful parish, if this continues much longer, or if Sunday school is cancelled for the rest of the year. I will find a new Church. 
    Father, our children are watching us, we must let them know that our Church is much more essential than malls, liquor stores, Marijuana shops, and Walmarts.
    Father Bless, and Forgive  Me a Sinner,
    This letter was written to my local parish priest at the peak of frustration with my Government, the state of our union, and most important our Orthodox Church.
    I edited out, and added very small portions to my letter, since I needed to remove my Church, my priest’s and my name, out of the letter, out of respect for my priest, and so that that I would not cause division in my parish.
    God bless the Georgian Orthodox Church. They had the Faith to never closed their Church doors. Georgia has a population of 3.7 million people. Out of that 3.7 million, the virus has claimed 15 lives, out of 981 cases. Georgia has one of the lowest death ratios per million in the world. 
    Imagine what a statement and witness of Faith we could have made in America, if we, and our spiritual leaders fought for our Constitutional right to keep our Orthodox Churches open! America would taken notice, and many would have been attending our Orthodox Churches, right now.
    A few might have gotten sick, and even some earthly lives lost to this world, but hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of souls might have been Saved for Eternity, with Christ! 

  11. Georgia…
    I couldn’t agree more with you.

    By the way,
    the multiple spoons actually imply a blasphemy for Christ’s choice of ONE cup for his blood. As if He, one of the Holy Trinity, did not know of future viruses? HE knew very well what he was doing and saying!

    You know, it may be that that priest was blindly following his Bishop’s orders etc, so strictly speaking the Bishop(s) should receive a similar letter.

    • Georgia….
      just a few details to make myself fully understandable:

      Even the very “clever” Judas did not dare say to the Lord:

      “….you know there are scientific doctors in the city who have scientifically proved that diseases can be transmitted by drinking from the same cup…Why are you doing this dangerous thing to us?…Why don’t you use twelve separate cups for us?”

      But of course the “scientific” Orthodox pay more attention to Bartholomew who is called after all “Pan-Agio-tatos” , i.e. “All-Most-Holy” whilst God is simply praised in the Liturgy as mere “Holy God”.
      So Bartholomew and his beloved Brother Francis (see ) know much better than Christ.

      It seems that some present-day disciples of Christ have “surpassed” Judas Iscariot.
      Lord have mercy on me a sinner!

    • Georgia on my mind says

      Yes I agree Bishops should receive these type of letters by the bagfuls, and more importantly from our parish priests, but for the most part we are the overwhelming minority. This whole Covid-19 crisis is much larger than shut-ins, and shut-outs. This crisis is a shifting point, a first of our history, on a global level, for all humanity and more importantly for us Orthodox Christians. Our Church is in lock step with it’s governments. Very few voices speaking against the tide within our Church leaders.

      For the record my parish priest responded to my letter. He is in full approval with state, local, and federal guide lines. Sad to say but i believe most priests feel like he does. To be clear I will include his letter back to me.

      Notice how he relates the mobs from 250 years ago, ironically paralleling, that, to my point, relating to today’s mobs, yet today’s mobs are the ones destroying our country, and what we value in Church and country. I edited out the personal paragraph as to not ID either one of us, nor our parish.

      The Response:

      Two hundred years and fifty years ago, a terrible plague befell the Russian people. The faithful of Moscow flocked to venerate the wonder working icon of the Theotokos of Bogolyubovo, seeking intercessions of the Mother of God. In September of 1771, however, Archbishop Amvrosy of Moscow realized these crowds were unwittingly aiding the spread of disease. To protect his flock, he removed the hallowed icon from public display. For this act of sound reasoning and pastoral care, a mob hunted him down, dragged him out of a monastery into the streets and killed him. Having rejected sense and science, these fanatics also became traitors to Holy Orthodoxy as murderers and desecraters.

      If Panagia felt vindicated by the execution of the archbishop, it was not manifested in subsequent events. The rioters were forcibly subdued by the army, while the plague raged on in Moscow for another year.

      What drove them to this madness? Without a doubt, the belief that this is touted all around Orthodox Church in these days of Coronavirus pandemic:”Holy things can’t hurt you”. How could it be-the murderous mob must have thought-that a wonder working source of divine healing and grace should play a part in the spread of death and contamination? How could the icon of the Spotless and Most Pure Theotokos ever act as an agent of corruption? When the question is put that way, Archbishop Amvrosy’s action might indeed seem like blasphemy.

      But, we here at our parish(name withheld), our Metropolis, or civic, local and federal government all share a common responsibility when it comes to a crisis of health. As you stated so eloquently, I also do not wish to be drawn into a debate that neither you or I are properly equipped to engage. Yes, we have opinions, but I listen to what doctors have to say. That is the predominant view of science and yes, I trust our hierarchs and local authorities who are in charge with the well being of the Orthodox Christian Faithful and the public at large.

      Just like Archbishop Amvrosy, we are willing to make common sense, conservative stands, even if they may be deemed unpopular. We have made the correct decisions and I stand by them.

      I can’t stop British people who don’t like St. Constantine nor do I care to fight people who are offended with blond-haired, blue-eyed images of Christ. Ha, but I will tell you even my kid’s Catholic High School taught that Junipero Serra was a pretty bad dude. Yes, these times are challenging. Indeed, there is a great deal of anxiety an unrest. And you are correct that the Church should be our source of strength, inspiration and even protection.

      But the Church is not in conflict with sound judgement or resists the knowledge of likely places where the virus can spread. This is not a game, a political debate or a time to believe, like the Russian mob in 1771; that sacred places or objects are magically immune to the fallen state of the physical world. We need to prudent, patient, and trusting.

      I love you very much and cherish your family. This is why I support our every decision in these matters. I will not take the well-being or health of even 1% of our community for granted. I am very sorry for the length and emotional tone in my response, and ask your forgiveness if my words are offensive. This is the only way I know to lead, and our parish council shares the same vision. We are consistent with the directives of the Metropolis and we are in compliance with our county. I can’t do any better or differently than that. I hope you can understand and accept that. I remain,

      With Love in Christ,
      Father(name withheld)

      • Georgia….

        Just a few remarks on your (ex?) priest’s reply:

        He says not one word about the Holy Communion which is based on the words of Christ Himself.
        All the rest, icons etc are secondary, ie not like the Christ’s blood and body.

        “Having rejected sense and science, these fanatics also became traitors to Holy Orthodoxy”:
        The words of Christ have eternal validity. The words of science may be proven wrong in even

        ten years, and new things are thought to be the correct ones. How does the priest allow for


        “I also do not wish to be drawn into a debate that neither you or I are properly equipped to

        How is he then properly equipped to blindly trust today’s science?

        “I listen to what doctors have to say”
        WHICH doctors, because their opinions differ a lot, quite often.
        By what criterion does the priest choose the doctors he listens to?

        “I trust our hierarchs and local authorities who are in charge”
        Again, these hierarchs and authorities come and go and they have differing opinions.
        Does the priest automatically change his opinions to agree with the new authorities as they

        are replacing each other?
        And about the authorities, the prophet and king David sas:
        “Put not your trust in rulers, [nor] in the son of man, in whom [there is] no help”.

        “my kid’s Catholic High School”:
        I say this with a reservation, unless there s no other way possible (you can judge it because

        you now the city) I think it is not proper for an Orthodox to put his children in a Catholic

        school etc.

        “We need to (be) prudent, patient, and trusting”
        Do we trust the vaccine manufacturers and not Christ?

        “I will not take the well-being or health of even 1% of our community for granted”
        What are the corresponding measures taken for the higher percentages of deaths, like:

        41.7 Abortions this year
        12.7 Communicable disease deaths this year
        11.0 People who died of hunger this year
        8.0 Deaths caused by cancer this year
        7.4 Deaths of children under 5 this year
        4.9 Deaths caused by smoking this year
        2.5 Deaths caused by alcohol this year
        1.6 Deaths caused by HIV/AIDS this year
        1.3 Road traffic accident fatalities this year
        1.1 Suicides this year
        1.0 Coronavirus Deaths

        • Georgia on my mind says

          To be clear, our Church uses one spoon. Maybe why no need to mention it.

      • Georgia on my mind says

        Not to be cynical, and while there are a good majority of teachers who do it for the love of teaching and children. The teachers unions do not love children. They love power. More proof that Covid-19 is not based in only  science, but politics, and destroy Trump first  and foremost.
        Politicians, and teachers pretend to love our children, but their true colors show very well.
        Why do our politicians always get away throwing away our youth to enrich themselves. How often to we use our youth to fight wars only to enrich the war whores in DC, and the Military-industrial complex? The young go willingly, and with pride for the nation they love! While old fat billionaires get richer off our youth. Apathy to fake threats. Like Moslem terrorist, and now invisible virus threats.

        Trillions of dollars thrown away,”crisis” after “crisis”, again, and again destroying a way of life enjoyed by the majority in our nation, today, just like ,we, today, have lost to the generation of yesteryear when mothers could stay home, and one income would pay the bills. What we enjoy today will be impossible for the future of our nation, when the bills must get paid at some point, or of course a third world war to clean slates, and start anew.

        Either way not good for those we claim we love.

        Here is an opportunity for the old in our  country to show their love for their nation, the future and the youth of America. Sacrifice for our children, and demand the re-opening of our schools.
        Why do we step over a dollar to save a nickel? Teachers go back to school and teach! Prove your love for the children! If a teacher is really high risk, make  safer adjustments for them, our children already have, and have lost a big part of formative years, that they will never get back. 
        The old once again throw the young to  the wolves, while they live fat comfortable live watching TV reruns of a time in our history gone forever, and proclaiming they are doing their duty saving America sitting on their ass.
        Maybe the average age of  our bishops tells us all we need to know about Church closures. 

      • Gail Sheppard says

        I applaud your priest for taking the time to answer you, but that’s about it.

        He begins by saying, “I also do not wish to be drawn into a debate that neither you or I are properly equipped to engage” and yet proceeds to tell you he is right because he “listens to what doctors have to say.” He goes onto say, “I trust our hierarchs and local authorities who are in charge with the well being of the Orthodox Christian Faithful and the public at large.”

        He then speaks of Archbishop Amvrosy and compares dealing with the bubonic plague, estimated to have killed 30% to 60% of Europe’s population, to a virus that 95%+ survive, most without symptoms! This is not “common sense.”

        What’s lacking here are critical thinking skills. Too many do not take the time to ferret out the truth. They’re followers, not leaders, which he imagines himself to be by comparing himself to Archbishop Amvrosy.

        In conclusion, he likes listening to doctors but they are not in agreement, so to whom does he listen? He “trusts his hierarchs (they’re not doctors) and local authorities (they’re not doctors)” and ends with, “We have made the correct decisions and I stand by them.”

        He’s not a doctor either.

  12. Georgia on my mind says

    Gail and Ioannis,
    Yup, says no debate, then schools me. Yet, every time i switch channels just for fun, different doctors different opinions. My two cents? All the the experts and political powers are coming at us with 1/3 science, 1/3 assumptions, and 1/3 political slant. Again I believe this is much larger than a virus. What my beloved priest does not understand is the Church will be on the short list of the target of destruction. This virus is all about control, and testing how far they can stretch us before we snap back. 
    As usual our bishops are lock step with government, and their priest’s company men, in fear  of losing their positions. It’s as if they never read a history book, and know how the story ends with Marxism. Yes again Marxist using the poor, and downtrodden to fuel the fire, and leave a void for evil to fill. 
    When we combine the virus, followed by a horrible  cop murder creating protests, turned riot and looting in the city the crime happened. Then followed by nation wide protests, rioting, and looting. Well now it is full on full on civil war by democrats allowing rioters and looters the freedom to continue. Why? Remove Trump, number one, and finally for leftist, and anarchist; Remove  our history, traditions, culture, and finally destroy our Constitution. So much power and treasure to harvest, while half asleep nation, sheepishly wears their masks, and hide in fear, while others burn, loot, and seek to transform us while we hide in our homes.
    This in my opinion, is more than civil unrest and civil war. This is an invasion upon our land by outside forces. Forces rooted in either  Socialism, Communism, and Totalitarianism, maybe all of the above Whether it one force such as a country like China which seeks to replace us as the one world power; Russian preservation, revenge, and/or envy; or multiple forces that want us to our knees to harvest the fallout is not known yet.  It all fell in place too well.
    Here is a social rant, I found interesting, by unknown author, copied and pasted by many and making social circles:
    Create a VIRUS to scare people. Place them in quarantine. Count the number of dead every second of the day in every news headline. Close all businesses. 40,000,000 out of  jobs. Peak unemployment. Remove entertainment: parks, gyms, bars, restaurants, sports. No dating. No touching. Mask people. Dehumanize them. Close temples and churches. Create a vaccine. Let depression and anxiety and desperation set in.
    THEN…Ignite hatred and civil war. Civil unrest. Empty the prisons because of the virus and fill the streets with criminals. Send in Antifa to vandalize property as if they are freedom fighters. Undermine the law. Loot. Attack law enforcement, but tell government to order a stand-down.
    We are all be baited by adversarial governments who want to destroy America-China, Iran, Russia. And, in an election year, have Democrats blame all of it on the President.
    Can’t take America in a war, destroy from within. We are being conditioned, manipulated, and programmed by multiple agendas as never before…time to DO OUR OWN RESEARCH and MAKE UP OUR OWN MINDS rather than eating everything being spoon-fed to us! SOCIAL MEDIA is going to kill us!
    If you love America, our Constitution, and the Rule of Law, get ready to fight for them.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I’m with you. As my grandmother used to say, “When the archangels back you into a corner, you have to come out fighting.”

      • Georgia on my mind says

        Gail! A corner closing in, like a dozen Christian churches set on fire or their statues vandalized or toppled, by the the “peaceful protesters” ? Or…

        Orthodox Church more faith in government order than God’s Order? Or…

        100 million dollar shrine in NY being funded before the pensions of of the Greek Orthodox clergy? Or…

        No one in the GOA, or NY big boys truly explaining where those millions of dollars went, designated for the shrine, college, and pensions? Or…

        Our Archbishop marching with BLM, a Marxist organization which extorts monies for their causes, and wants to remove our government with a socialist/Communist system? Or…

        Weak leadership and diplomacy, in Istanbul, that they can not lobby to stop Agia Sophia from turning into a mosque? Or…



        Cretan fiasco

        NY Archons or L100 big boys threatening blogs? Or…

        Final straw I would imagine…

        Unification with Rome, and the pope? Or…

        Maybe not, since we have gone from turning the other cheek to just the silent sheep.