Christ is Born! Glorify Him!


Your birth, O Christ our God,
dawned the light of knowledge upon the earth.
For by Your birth those who adored stars (i.e. Magi)
were taught by a star
to worship You, the Sun of Justice,
and to know You, Orient from on High.
O Lord, glory to You.[1]







  1. Best wishes for the feast for my New Calendar friends!

    But George, wouldn’t Vladyka Dimitri roll over in his grave at that translation being posted by someone in his diocese? How soon the man’s legacy is selectively forgotten…

  2. Daniel E Fall says

    Best post in 2014. Thanks

  3. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    What a horrid idiosyncratic rendition of the Nativity troparion!/

    When did the verb “dawn’ become transitive, for example? Something wrong with “shone?”

    Why try to dumb things down for Americans?

    • Idiosyncratic and horrid indeed. From the standpoint of someone who loves the beauty of the English language, tin-eared, even. And there are some specific problems.

      The Greek, courtesy of an internet search:

      Ἡ Γέννησίς σου Χριστὲ ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν
      ἀνέτειλε τῷ κόσμῳ τὸ φῶς τὸ τῆς γνώσεως
      ἐν αυτῇ γὰρ οἱ τοῖς ἄστροις λατρεύοντες
      ὑπὸ ἀστέρος ἐδιδάσκοντο
      Σὲ προσκυνεῖν τὸν ἥλιον τῆς δικαιοσύνης
      καὶ Σὲ γινώσκειν ἐξ ὕψους ἀνατολήν
      Κύριε δόξα Σοι.

      This is a gorgeous piece of poetry even to the ears of a novice at Greek like me. (Do a YouTube search with the first few words to hear it in Byzantine chant) It is even more beautiful in Slavonic (to a Slavophile like me, of course!)

      To translate δικαιοσύνη as “justice” (as was done in the troparion in original post) is not technically incorrect if one looks at the word in a vacuum — and I think this may be a more common meaning in pagan and secular Greek literature. But it ignores the way that this word-form is used throughout our Christian sacred texts (Old Testament LXX and NT alike). Broadly speaking, it is translated as “justice” only when there is a clear juridical/legal context, and as righteousness when speaking more generally (which happens a lot more). It is all through the Psalms, for instance, in ways that would lead to spiritual nonsense if translated as “justice.” Or consider Matthew 3:15, for another use, and try to substitute “justice” for “righteousness” and see if it fits.

      Monk James is thus (IMHO) correct to follow traditional translations in using “righteousness” — a much broader sense of “things being as they should be in the eyes of God,” if you will. We of course, need to understand “righteousness” in the most full sense that we can. In a world where “self-righteous” is a reproach that is quite narrow-mindedly defined, learning what the Church means by these terms is important. I suppose you could say the same of “justice” — we shouldn’t allow the current connotations attached to the concept of justice, whether from the political left or right, to rob our language of a word that has depths of meaning that can include righteousness of a sort. But there is a reason why English translators have traditionally reached for “righteousness” to convey the idea.

      A similar issue arises with the use of “knowledge,” which we in the West probably have too narrow a conception of — perhaps a reason why the original OCA translators rendered τὸ φῶς τὸ τῆς γνώσεως as “the light of wisdom.” But doing so betrayed an ignorance of English translations of the Bible. The KJV always translates γνώσεως as “knowledge” — and in fact in Colossians, St. Paul refers to σοφίας καὶ γνώσεως — “wisdom and knowledge” side by side. But again, one understands why the OCA translator(s) might have thought that “wisdom” reflected the spirit of things better. But “light of knowledge” is what it says — so Monk James is right on that as well. We just need to broaden our conception of what Christ brought us with His “light of knowledge” — it wasn’t knowledge in the sense of “readin’, ritin’ and ‘rithmetic.”

      Leaving stylistic and poetic infelicities aside, there are issues with Monk James’s proposed alternative. One is the misplacement of “on Earth” in such a way that it sounds like the light that Christ shined was that of earthly knowledge. The original troparion that George posted also has the same word order, but by using “upon,” the meaning is clear. Monk James perhaps feels that “upon” is too archaic to be intelligible to modern man, and thus wants to use “on” — which is fine, but then the word order needs to be strictly watched if the action is to be clearly conveyed, and Monk James didn’t watch it.

      The other inexplicable thing (to me) is Monk James rendering ἐξ ὕψους ἀνατολήν as ” the Source of Light from on high.” This line from the troparion is practically a direct quotation from the Canticle of Zacharias: ἐν οἷς ἐπισκέψεται ἡμᾶς ἀνατολὴ ἐξ ὕψους

      … which the KJV beautifully renders as “whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us”

      Or the RSV: when the day shall dawn upon us from on high

      Or the NAS: With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us

      Or the NRSV: the dawn from on high will break upon us

      The Douay-Rheims renders it with the latin import word of “orient,” exactly following the Latin “oriens” (which in Latin is connected to the word for “rising,” but that connection is lost by the time it gets to English). This may be, at any rate, where the OCA translator(s) got the word used in the most common OCA translation of this troparion.

      In any event, the imagery and metaphor that was chosen for the troparion (as in the Biblical Canticle), is that of the east, sunrise, dawn, and perhaps the most poetically piercing English word possible: dayspring. See further

      Calling it “Source of Light” is to introduce interpretation into a translation — removing, changing, and interpreting the metaphor rather than letting it speak for itself.

      I personally like the ROCOR translation, in part because the word “dayspring” is such an excellent English word, and requires no more explanation than does “Orient.” I guess we could use “sunrise,” but it misses the leaping sense of the start of something completely new that “dayspring captures.” It even neatly completes the circle started by the old Advent hymn “Veni, veni Emmanuel,” where “Veni, veni o oriens!” (surely a reference to the Canticle of Zacharias) was rendered into English as “O come, Thou Dayspring, from on high”

      Anyway, here is the common ROCOR rendering:

      Thy Nativity, O Christ our God,
      hath shined upon the world the light of knowledge;
      for thereby, they that worshipped the stars
      were taught by a star to worship Thee, the Sun of Righteousness,
      and to know Thee, the Dayspring from on high.
      O Lord, glory be to Thee.

      And the usual OCA rendering is perfectly serviceable (and perhaps sings a little better than the ROCOR at one or two points.) —

      Thy Nativity, O Christ our God,
      Has shone to the world the Light of wisdom!
      For by it, those who worshipped the stars,
      Were taught by a Star to adore Thee,
      The Sun of Righteousness,
      And to know Thee, the Orient from on High.
      O Lord, glory to Thee!

      Although, apropos of our discussions about the OCA bureaucracy, I note that on the OCA website, the apparatchiks have changed all of the Thee’s and Thou’s to You-Who’s — in this and every other troparion.

      What do you think, Vladyka Tikhon, did the web-meisters obtain the blessing of the Synod of Bishops to completely eradicate any traces of traditional English in the texts and musical settings put online for choir directors and readers to use.

    • “Woe unto you scribes and” …Never mind, if you have not gotten it by now you may never get it. However, I pray that you do.

    • Steve Knowlton says

      This kind of incorrect usage is very common in parishes, I guess I’ve gotten so used to it, I don’t bother to even analyze it any more. Certainly I don’t waste my time complaining about it. My inner editor died a painful death long ago, and very few people would even know what a transitive verb is.

    • Bp Tkhon, why not praise that he provided such moving words on here, compared to what I have been reading the past few weeks, rather than call it “horrid”.

    • Woe unto you scribes and phar…never mind, if you don’t understand by now you will never understand. Lots of bling but empty heart. Wish you a renewed heart and mind in the new year.

      • Johnkal seems to upset that we discuss translation, as if it were somehow Phariseeism. He seems not to understand that translation is important and Phariseeism is admonishing others to do one thing and then, hypocritically, not doing it yourself. It can also refer to excessive zeal in the finer points of the law, however, this is translation, not fasting regulations. Recall that Christ told his disciples to do as the Pharisees taught but not as they did . . .

        Of course a watered down and dumbed down Christianity seems to be doing oh so well in the modern world. How stereotypical!

  4. Maybe a better translation:

    Your birth, Christ our God,
    shined the light of knowledge on Earth.
    For, through it, people who had worshiped stars
    were taught by a star
    to adore You, the Sun of Righteousness,
    and to know You, the Source of Light from on high.
    Lord, glory to You!

    • Christopher says

      Monk James,

      About a month or so ago you posted a translation of “Our Father…” on a thread here but I can’t seem to locate it. Can you point me to it? Thanks!

      • Monk James says

        Christopher (January 1, 2015 at 2:26 pm) says:

        Monk James,

        About a month or so ago you posted a translation of “Our Father…” on a thread here but I can’t seem to locate it. Can you point me to it? Thanks!


        Our Father in Heaven,
        May Your Name be kept holy.
        May your reign begin .
        May Your will be done, as in the heavens so also on Earth.
        Give us today the Bread we need,
        and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
        And, rather than let us be put to the test,
        rescue us from the Evil One.

  5. primuspilus says

    Ah, so glad the hyperdox didnt take a vacation. Lord knows they couldnt let a genuinely good intention be pulled through the mud.

    Thank you George for your well wishes.

  6. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    KNOWLEDGE! Think about it. Knowledge without wisdom shines not at all…..
    There’s no “source” of light there: it’s the dawn or sunrise of which the poet WROTE. Another attempt to explain or elaborate ,rather than translate, I’m afraid..

    • With all due respect, Your Grace, wouldn’t you agree that using the word “wisdom” is an attempt to “explain or elaborate, rather than translate?”

      As I noted in my missive above (I had a lull in my day and got carried away), in Colossians, St. Paul refers to σοφίας καὶ γνώσεως — “wisdom and knowledge” side by side. They are in two separate words, albeit with some overlap in connotations.

      I do realize (and articulated above) why the OCA translator(s) chose the word “wisdom,” and I really have no objection to it — during my many years in the OCA, that is the version of the troparion I learned first and still know by heart. But it is an interpretation, just as “Orient” is a word that loses the whole imagery of dawn and sunrise when taken out of a Latin context and placed into an English language context…

  7. Among the brickbats which justly can be hurled at that atrocious rendition of the hymn is the fact that “dawn” is not a transitive verb.

  8. Ashley Nevins says

    Sorry to interrupt the Christmas party but a matter of serious OCA importance needs to be addressed.

    I just saw this on a website, “Michell had an earlier conviction for Child Abduction in Illinois. Despite this earlier 1998 conviction he was made a subdeacon by by Archbishop Nathaniel Popp on March 2, 2003.”

    What website was this brought forward to report on?

    What kind of a Christmas are the victims having?

    Members of the OCA there are 3 things you can do to stop corrupt sexual behavior in the leadership of your church:

    1. Back ground check every person in church leadership with a title.

    2. Develop moral church senior leadership that is held transparent and accountable.

    3. Remove any senior leader who appoints a known sexually corrupt leader.

    4. Report all instances of sexual misconduct to the senior leadership of the church and call the police.

    5. Reform the structure and system of authority in the church so that there is greater balance between laity and clergy authority.

    6. Support those who expose sexual corruption in the church and join them in their effort.

    7. Start a ministry in the church for people who struggle with issues of sexual addiction and sexual abuse.

    All church relevancy starts with Christian morality and ethics in administrative competence and a spiritually mature senior church leadership that is held transparent and accountable with consequences. If the structure and system of rule will not really allow that transparency, accountability and consequences you either reform the structure and system or you stay in it and suffer the consequences of a ethically and morally dying church that is relevant only to those who are themselves unethical and immoral.

    The Orthodox have a difficult reality they must face with objectivity or they will face worse consequences as a state of church in America than seen in the present. The real world objective reality of it is that a top down centralized structure of religious authoritarian rule that is a closed, isolated and subjective system with a exclusive we are Gods only only true church viewpoint of itself creates a unsafe and unhealthy dependency upon it. That dependency is codependency and that codependency is religious codependency dependent on the religious addiction of authoritarian power and control to rule over it, indoctrinate it and define it into the mold of what it is. That is idolatry and idolatry molds you into its likeness and Jesus Christ in rule transforms you into His likeness. A molded real world outcome of church can be easily compared to transformed real world outcome of church to see the differences between the two different kinds of churches. Those differences will point to symptoms that point directly to their cause and it the cause that must be dealt with and not the symptoms as the cause or the cause is never dealt with and the cycle of immoral and unethical leadership behavior remains.

    Now, some of you believe that Jonah got treated badly in his removal. You believed he was the solution to what is imploding your church. I remind of you of something he said the day he was enthroned that was very troubling and pointed directly to the problem the previous paragraph is addressing. Jonah said, “I have the most profound respect for the bishops on stage with me”. Now take that statement as a symptom that is pointing to what as the cause of the problem? Who is the problem that has no problem with the corrupt bishops on stage with him? Does corruption not see the corruption on stage with him and so in his mind they are not corrupt but are men who warrant profound respect for their holy rule over the church?

    Now, some of you really felt like Jonah was the answer, but in the objective reality of the real world he really was as much of a problem as the bishops of profound respect on the stage with him. He is a product of structure and system of rule that developed him into a senior church leader. He is a senior leader produced by corrupt church leadership development process that develops what its character is in its senior leaders. Their character is to have the most profound respect for other senior leaders whose characters are ethically and morally corrupt. That is a systemically corrupt church reproducing its corrupt character in its church leadership and as they in turn corrupt the church by their character. It is a vicious cycle of spiraling the church down into church death. That corruption cycle is the systemic corporate bondage the OCA is involved in.

    The interesting thing about top down centralized power and control structure that is exclusive, closed, isolated and subjective is how it has to steal the laity power to prop its idolatry up with since it does not have the power of the Holy Spirit. In that stealing of laity power it renders the laity powerless to stop the corruption cycle. The religious addiction structure and system that turns the laity into religious codependents must steal their power by making them idolatry dependent upon the structure and system and its rulers. The more powerless the laity is made the more corrupt the structure and system of the church becomes. In its becoming more and more corrupt usually one of two things happens, the church is turned into a cult or it implodes. Both can happen.

    Now, the Orthodox believe that their bishops are the direct spiritual line of the Apostles. Oh, really? That word ‘spiritual’ goes directly to spiritual maturity in leadership rule. So, the hierarchy of the OCA is the first 3 chapters of Galatians in how it holds itself transparent and accountable with consequences? How many other Orthodox hierarchies in America practice the first 3 chapters of Galatians among their Apostle rulers?

    Paul would have divided the church over Peter in Galatians had Peter not repented. He was zero tolerance of corruption and was not church unity by corruption. Paul was no religious addict but he stopped religious tradition addiction dead in its tracks when he confronted Peter. Oh, yes, Orthodox, religious tradition is easily turned into religious addiction works and performance over the grace of Christ as our salvation. The Greeks would do well to read those chapters too. They speak directly to their superior Hellenic ethnic and culture thinking. Paul was also addressing exclusive thinking that believed it was superior by position and ethnicity, etc. Paul was Christ inclusive who confronted the Peter exclusiveness. Jesus confronted this too in John 8:31-59. Freedom in Christ is not a systemically corrupt church involved in a corruption bondage cycle. He confronted their tradition bondage’s that they had turned into idolatry. Jesus was not unity by corruption or involved in corruption as His unity. He divided from corruption. If you don’t divide over corruption like Jesus and Paul divided corruption will become an idol god who replaces God in rule and the more it does the more your church is turned into a cult. The good Christians will leave and the spiritually immature who stay will religious codependently enable the corruption by believing in men like one who has the most profound respect for the corrupt on stage with him. All that will result in is greater division by spiritual immaturity that replaces corruption with corruption and incompetency with incompetency. It is the idolatry inside of the religious codependency that causes this and blinds you to who and what you are really placing into rule in your church. Idolatry is deceptively blinding to those who unknowingly practicing it and they by that idolatry will deny their idolatry and the object of their worship as their idol god when it is pointed out and just like it was in John 8:31-59. They were so exclusively right about themselves they could not be wrong about themselves and they were so superior they actually saw Jesus as a heretic advocating apostasy in comparison to how right they were.

    The exclusively God right really only listen to themselves and that is corruption only listening to its corruption as its God. They had turned their orthodoxy into their God and salvation and so they did not recognize or hear God standing right in front of them due to their self idolatry that blinded them. They were highly subjective in the face of the highly objective Jesus. Christ is objective and idolatry is subjective. So, a closed and isolated system is the set up for subjective idolatry of itself as God and especially when it is also tradition based with a top down centralized rule structure. What, in the Orthodox Mind that was not the comparison being made in John 8:31-59?

    All church relevancy and growth development starts with holy moral and ethical Jesus in the Gospels. If your church is in a state of failure that is because Jesus is no longer its holy moral and ethical example and in rule over it and an idol god is.

    If your church is systemically corrupt it has divided itself from Christ and His power. The consequences are serious and can be seen and traced back to their cause.

    The direct spiritual line of Jesus is the Apostles and the direct spiritual line of the Apostles is the Orthodox metropolitan’s. Oh, really, those who have the most profound respect for the corrupt are the direct spiritual line of Jesus and His Apostles? Paul would stand up on a stage with known corrupt and incompetent bishops and say he has the most profound respect for them? If you cannot see the religious codependent making statement of Jonah at his enthronement you are religious codependently blind and are codependently enabling the corruption of your church. That religious codependency creates systemically sick subjective idolatry of misplaced submission, misplaced respect, misplaced honor and misplaced loyalty of corrupt rulers and structure and system of their rule. In such a pathologically sick structure and system of church it makes no difference who replaces who in rule and because the structure and system will only produce sick rulers who mimic the sick structure and system of rule and the religious codependency that idolizes it.

    Any Orthodox celebration of Christmas, the New Year and the upcoming Pasha will not alleviate the reality of what is really taking place in the destruction of the OCA. Christ was born and resurrected to develop a church into this state of corruption and failure? That is to be celebrated? Yes, compare your church to Jesus and then celebrate like James 4:7 does in sin. James is addressing idolatry. The double minded is the religious codependent who is an idolator. It creates instability in the church. A church can be in division and it not be physically divided. When both sides are sick in that division no unity results. The wrong basis of unity will over time undermine and then destroy a church. If that church tries to correct its failing state with what caused it to fail to begin with the church failure will only grow worse over time. With the delusional codependent the solution is the problem and because the problem is the object of their misplaced devotion and love that makes them delusional in viewpoint of it.

    When a church becomes your idol god Jesus, the Gospels and the NT are no longer the objective standard used to compare your church too and it all goes corrupt by the idol being the comparison and the idol will mold you into what the idol god really is and that will show itself in the reality of the real world outside of your exclusive subjective viewpoint of yourselves that does match the objective real world outcome of your church. Who you think you are and who you really are will be exposed as two entirely different things. Reality exposes unreality like objectivity exposes subjectivity and it does not work the other way around. You will notice in John 8:31-59 that the more Jesus objectively exposed their subjective exclusive viewpoint of themselves and what it was really doing to them the more they denied it and the more angry at Jesus they became.

    Religious addiction and religious codependency are the destruction of the OCA. Both are highly self centered and so they are also both highly self protective. The self centered and self protective subjective do not see or hear the objective truth told to them. They refuse to see and hear the truth that will set them free for their exclusive viewpoint that they have of themselves. The orthodox that Jesus confronted were blind and deaf by an exclusive viewpoint of themselves that was really self idolatry. The more self idolatrous a church becomes the more it turns itself into a cult. It only makes Christian rational and logical spiritual sense that it would and because without the objective Jesus in rule over the rule the rule goes corrupt and corruption is the basis of a cult. Corruption is a cults unity, its structure and system and its leadership. Those who are involved in such will subjectively deny they are involved in a cult and no matter what objective evidence is shown that they are. The exclusive Gods only true Christianity and Christians could never be turned int a cult. It is just too exclusive Gods only true truth to allow that to happen. They have too much profound respect for the corrupt to allow that to happen. When irrationality becomes the rationality of your church know it is being turned into a cult. However, if you are of that irrationality you will never believe it has turned your church into a cult for how rational you see the irrationality that has turned your church into a cult. When a senior ruler tells you to have profound respect for the corrupt like he does you will just codependently go along with him and enable the corruption destroying your church. In the mind of the idolator the idol is the solution to any problem. The problem is the solution to the problem in the mind of the idolator. If you say this to the idolators they will make you the problem for pointing out the problem and just like they did with Jesus in John 8:31-59. Yes, I know, some of you have a problem with this and who is pointing it out to you. I am not the one pointing it out to you. Jesus in the Gospels is. He is the comparison who compares. So, if you make Jesus the problem for exposing the problem you got a serious problem. Some of you have a serious problem and that problem exposes itself in the objective real world outcome of the OCA.

    So January 1, 2015 is going to be a happy new year for the OCA with the hope of the problem being solved? It is good that you want to express the blessing of Christ to each other, but you cannot express your church as a blessing of Christ in the state that it is in and that all of you together in what you really base your unity in caused. The religious codependency steals the blessing of a moral and ethical, dynamic, alive and growing church from you. The idol is a liar, thief and murderer. They then picked up stones to kill Jesus for His telling them that. You could see the degree of their problem by the degree that they made Jesus the problem when He told them that. They became highly self protective in their subjective self centered idolatry of themselves. They wanted to kill Jesus to solve Him as a problem and when they were only really destroying themselves by not using Him to solve the problem they were involved in. They didn’t have a problem and any problem that they could have they could solve by their exclusive viewpoint they had of themselves. They were their own idolatry solution that did not need Jesus as the solution. Their we are Gods only true and right triumphalism was obvious and it told Jesus they did not need Jesus.

    The degree of the solution that you cannot find is the degree that all of you are the solution over Jesus being your solution. Every problem your church has is found in the Gospels and every solution to every problem it has is found with Jesus in the Gospels. If you cannot find solution that means you are not really using Jesus as the solution but are using yourselves in place of Christ as the solution. No solution will come until Jesus is the only solution, until Christ rules over your church and its rulers. If your church structure and system of rule will not really allow Jesus to rule over it then you need to reform it so Jesus can rule over it or it will die or be turned into a cult without Jesus in rule over it. If you believe the solution is going to another jurisdiction you need to realize it is the same kind of structure and system of rule. Jumping jurisdictions is not the solution. That is the problem as the solution all over again and that has proved not to work.

    Last time I checked only the truth that sets us free is the only solution. If the lie that puts you into bondage is the solution then the truth that sets you free cannot be the solution. To believe that the lie that places you into bondage is the truth that will set you free of bondage is delusional. How hard is that one? Its really hard if you believe bondage is the truth that sets you free. You simply will not believe that you don’t have the truth that sets you free and no matter what the proof of your bondage is. You will not see how the outward expression of that bondage by its symptoms point directly to the cause of the bondage and no solution to the cause will come. You will see symptoms as cause and never address the cause and you will only go in circles with yourselves, in a death spiral as a church.

    All of you by religious codependency idolatry believe that the direct spiritual line of the Apostles is your solution and when Christ alone, the Gospels and NT are the only solution. The idolatry of corrupt man is rule over holy Christ in rule, the idolatry of your religion as God is it in rule over the Holy Spirit and the idolatry of your exclusive viewpoint of yourselves over the authority of the Gospels and NT is your church end in America. The objective practical reality of the real world is where Jesus lives and He does not live in an irrational delusional reality of idolatry. All it takes is a little idolatry leaven to leaven the whole lump and your church is turned into a leavened lump that is systemically delusional and corrupt.

    This year will not be a happy 2015 for the OCA if it does not face the cause of its problem and stop making the problem the solution to its problem. It will be the same circular without solution forum talk that itself is a symptom pointing directly at the cause that is denied. Can any of you really make a positive new year prediction for the OCA in 2015? You can know why you can’t if you trace the symptoms back to the cause and stop denying the cause when you get there. The cause is so obvious all of you are tripping over it and falling down, but the blind cannot see what causes them to trip and fall down and so they keep tripping and falling down. Idolatry is blinding, religious codependency is blinding, authoritarianism is blinding, closed system is blinding and exclusiveness is blinding. What you place over Jesus blinds you to Jesus and what blinds you to Jesus corrupts you and it cannot provide a solution to the corruption it creates. The blind cannot see the Jesus solution and how they use idolatry as their Jesus solution and then when the failure comes they can’t see why they failed when Jesus was what they thought was their solution. They believe things like if Jonah was allowed to have stayed as metropolitan all of our OCA problems would have been solved. He was not the problem in their minds. He was the Jesus solution in their minds. God had finally answered prayer with Jonah as the solution, but no one noticed what he himself was and what the hierarchy was as the undermining of the solution. Have profound respect for us the Apostles on stage with me was the Jonah message in the church corruption failure and everyone yelled axios! I saw right through it the moment I heard him say it. I then predicted he would last about 2 years. How long did he last? Everyone was so idolatry enamored no one believed me. No one believes what I am telling them now about the OCA.

    God is telling the OCA that it is not the solution to itself and only Christ can be. That is received as the truth by them about as well as that same message was received by those in John 8:31-59. Everything reason why they rejected Jesus as the solution are every reason why the OCA does the same. All causes and reasons of church relevancy and growth and church failure is seen in the Gospels and NT first.

    There are some fine Christians among you and it is sad to see that you cannot experience a dynamic, alive, growing and relevant Christianity like I do. The comparison is not my church to your church. The comparison is both of them to Jesus first. That is what Paul was doing in Galatians and it was what Jesus did in the Gospels. Yes, I know, you did the comparison and Gods only true church is superior to all churches and Christians not of it and therefore nothing changes in the outcome of your church here next year. You conclusion was there is no comparison to our church for it being Gods objective standard of measure. Those other Christians and churches are heresy that practices apostasies in comparison to your church. They are fractured, lost, aimless and adrift if they are not of your church and its state of church. Their only solution is to become Orthodox, to become the state of your church in America. Orthodoxy is the solution to these churches and when Orthodoxy is not the solution to the problems destroying it here, but that makes perfect rational and logical sense to the Orthodox that it is the solution to their heresy and apostasies. Irrationality is rational to the irrational and just like it is the solution to the problem that creates problems it cannot solve. If Christians and churches outside of you are the problem for not being of you it only makes rational sense that since Orthodoxy can’t solve its own problems it is the solution to their problem. That is exactly the message you send in the state of church your church is in. The only ones really hearing that message are the Orthodox. Yet, they can’t hear anyone outside of their exclusiveness tell them what the cause of their failure is. You are really only relevant to your exclusive selves here and so you really only listen to yourselves here. The degree of humility it is going to take to become relevancy to us here is beyond what your superior pride in exclusive claim can spiritually comprehend. Is it humbling to be a part of a corrupt and dying church that cannot find correction? Is it embarrassing and shaming to you, do you feel the conviction of sin guilt?

    I promise you that it is going to become exponentially more humbling for the Orthodox in the next 20 years. You have seen nothing like what you about to see in being humbled. Every time you use the problem as the solution to the problem the more humility in failure will result. Now the GOA has a new save the GOA strategy. You can see it if you want to find it by Google search. There are threats to that strategy denied. That strategy is the set up for the GOA to be humbled like it has never before been humbled in its history here in America. It will take about 5 years for the strategy to reveal the how and why of its failure. Yes, another prediction like the Jonah prediction. Corruption is not the solution to a corruption problem anymore than failure is the solution to a failure problem. To believe that those who led the GOA into a dying state can lead it out of that state without systemic corporate repentance is delusional. A systemically corrupt senior church leadership cannot lead a church out of systemic corruption. Only corporate repentance that repents over the right sin in the right way can. Those in the OCA should know this better than any other Orthodox in America.

    Not to worry, the first among equals church that does not see you as its equal will be the solution that stops the demographic implosion of Orthodoxy in America. You can have great confidence that it will by the moral leadership of EP of Astoria, NY fame. So, as the OCA collapses you can jump jurisdictions to the one that is going to save Orthodoxy in America to help it save Orthodoxy in America. It has a different structure and system of rule, thinking, attitude and behavior than does the OCA and so you can be assured that it will not fail in its save the GOA strategy. Jesus has provided you a way of escape by going to the GOA that operates differently by its structure and system than the OCA does.

    There is great hope for the Orthodox future in America through the GOA. The success of its strategy will stand as a role model to other jurisdictions and if they apply it then it will save those jurisdictions here in America. What the OCA failed to be and do the GOA will be and do and still be able to keep the word ‘Greek’ in its name brand too. That word ‘America’ proved to be a failure in the OCA name brand, but the word ‘Greek’ will not prove to be the same failure. Greek over America is the strategy that will work in America. Greek is exclusive and America is inclusive and so exclusive over inclusive is the strategy that will work. This truly is the Orthodox century for America led by the Greeks who now by their strategy say they are going to become inclusive other centered. Between the Greek metropolitan’s and the Greek monastic elder and the Greek billionaire Jaharis leading the Archdiocene Council how can they fail? With their exclusive Greek Hellenic interpretation of Scripture that has brought this church to this dying point how can that interpretation fail them in the future? With their EP and His American Archbishop leading them how can they fail? By being Orthodox!Orthodox!Orthodox! how can they fail? The answer to the questions is simple, by being Gods only true church they cannot fail.

    Happy New Year.

  9. I thank you, Vladyka Tikhon and Monk James, for verses pretty clear. But what has happened is that people associated with music programs have developed many of translations, or perhaps a favorite monk or two has harmonized rather good translations with rather good intentions. I hope that in the coming years we can love our Orthodox heritage and each other well enough to come to one heart and mind on basic translations so that we can confess our Faith coherently.. Meanwhile, I give the links to a number of sheet music versions

    1. Stan and Nancy Takis:

    2. OCA:

    3. I couldn’t get the AGES ematins melody to load, so here is the text from Father Seraphim Dedes and others at

    Your nativity, O Christ our God, has caused the light of knowledge to rise upon the world. For therein the worshippers of the stars were by a star instructed to worship You, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know You as Orient from on high. Glory to You, O Lord. (3)

    4. St. Anthony’s allows you both Elizabethan (cough!) English or whatever the other kinds is. Don’t know which kind this is, but the troparion we all love is on page 41 of

    5. Antiochian, see page 6 of this packet:

    6. Serbian Archdiocese defers to the OCA on page one of this part of the Menaion:

    7. Resanovic adaptation of traditional chant:

    8. One of the ROCOR translations:

    Basically, every jurisdiction has more than one translation into English, Some jurisdictions charge happily for every piece of sheet music or audio file (if it were not for Stan and Nancy Takis’s private initiative, the only way to learn Greek Archdiocese music would be via memorizing sound files on the Archdiocese website. So, what is the Nativity troparion on the Greek Archdiocese website?

    Your Nativity, O Christ our God, hath shined the light of knowledge upon the world;
    for thereby they that worshiped the stars were instructed by a star to worship You,
    the Sun of Righteousness, and to know You, the Dayspring from on high.
    O Lord, glory be to You.

    So, where did George get his unique version?

    With the birth of Christ and the new Year!

    • Versions, thanks for doing the yeoman’s work of gathering all of that together! Very impressive.

      Part of what makes all of this so fragmenting (and why the thought of unifying is so daunting) is that all of these different translations get set to music, and then people get used to singing and hearing them. There is the famously incorrect translation of the Irmos of Ode 4 at the Canon of Pascha in the OCA books saying that Habakkuk “is like a shining angel” — not even close… But once people have been singing it for ages and it is in everyone’s Pascha choir books, that sort of thing can be hard to root out.

      It is relatively easy, by comparison, to change the translations of things like the litanies that deacon’s chant or prayers read by priests.

      In my pipe dream, I had always hoped that Bp. Tikhon, Abp. Dimitri, Bp Basil of the Antiochians, and leaders in the use of English in the ROCOR could have got together to drive something beautiful that could begin the process of translational unification, but it alas never happened. Of course, it took many centuries for our Greek and Slavonic bodies of texts to come into their permanent form. Perhaps our great-great-grandchildren will see it. I will add that lack of unity is preferable to ghastly but universally used translations. All we have to do is look at the ghastly Novus Ordo English translations in the Roman church to know that there are worse things than lack of unity in the words we read and sing…

      I also want to give a shout-out to what is being done at St. Anthony’s for those who use Byzantine chant — that project is monumental, and the link you provided is a perfect example of their fine work. I’ve corresponded a little with Fr. Ephraim (the chanter, not the elder), and he has always provided me with helpful answers to my questions and he responded gratefully when I pointed out a couple of errors in the traditional language pieces. I particularly like that they do everything in both “modern” (which is the most common things used in the GOA) and traditional liturgical English that the folks in the monasteries clearly prefer (I, too, cough at the word Elizabethan, since it is not an accurate descriptor). One hopes that the availability of the traditional language settings will help those translations catch on.

      One Greek priest I knew laconically said that he believed that in the past, the various GOA translators tried to outdo themselves in studied ugliness of their English because they wanted to make sure that the Greek would always be much more beautiful than the English. Probably apocryphal, but I have to admit that whenever I am in a Greek parish, both my ears and my tense shoulder’s relax gratefully when they switch back into Greek from English…

  10. I have no faith or confidence in bishops and priests anymore. They are so good at acting, but behind the scenes they are molesting children and ruining lives. And the laymen today are so superficial, they just fall for the acts.

    • Ashley Nevins says

      Anonymous, why are you anonymous? I don’t know your reason but I will ask you what your reason is and is not.

      Is the reason why you are being anonymous the following?:

      1. Fear of priest or bishop

      2. Fear of what your parish may think

      In the Garden they hid because of shame.

      Are you shamed afraid of a shame based church?

      Shame will intimidate, coerce and manipulate you if you fall for the lying ACT of the evil one who shames as a methodology to gain power and control over. It is diabolical strategy of the evil one to mind control you and that mind control has been indoctrinated by a church culture that is fear in shame basis.

      You no longer have faith or confidence in the leadership of your church. Do you have faith and confidence in Jesus who is the defeat of fear by shame? If anonymous is not your name then it is an ACTORS name. You are the very thing you are exposing and that is hypocrisy by shame.

      Orthodox, how does a shame based church lead that church into hypocrisies? I am exposing one of the ways that it does. There are several other ways that it does.

      The Orthodox are going to learn the hard way not to put idolatry trust in their structure and system of corrupt shame based rule and if they don’t learn this lesson they will keep repeating the same corrupt failure over and over again and again in a church death spiral that they will be incapable of stopping due to how powerless fear in shame undermines them.

      Your authoritarian top down centralized structure and system of church rule and its rulers are not God. Until the majority of you come into that realization nothing of significance in your church is really going to change for the better. The shame based rule will stop any attempt to break that bondage by the church becoming a model of freedom in Christ.

      Shame is highly self centered and self protective and that is why the name is not spoken. Shame is a closed system in many regards. Place self centered and self protective shame in rule over an already centralized structure of rule in a closed system and you have a formula for church implosion disaster over time. Top down shame based authority pushes the church down and in that push down it molds the church into shame that is afraid.

      Freedom in Christ over shame based idolatry that fears states its name. I disagree with this kind of anonymity if it is based in what I say, but I understand it if the person is involved in a John 8:31-59 in shame bondage like model of church. I understand why you are not freedom in Christ free to state your name.

      Have you stated your feelings to your priest or bishop by an anonymous note to them or have you stated this to to their faces in person unafraid?

      Jesus always stated His name in the Gospels. He was not afraid. If you are not afraid by shame to state your name then what is the reason why you don’t state your name? Are you shame afraid to tell us your reason? Shame is an ACT of a false identity that is not identity in Jesus Christ.

      I have seen priests on Orthodox forums not state their name and they didn’t because of fear by shame of a shame based church authority. Those spiritual cowards are shame base fear in leadership. The priests that stand on the side line and watch their jurisdiction implode are the same shame based fear and the laity that stands powerless on that side line is this same shame based fear that renders them powerless.

      Identity in freedom in Christ defeats shame and states its name. Identity in Jesus Christ is not powerless. Identity in shame is powerless. As long as your Orthodox identity is shame your church will be rendered powerless by shame to change.

      A self centered shame based church lies, keeps secrets, covers up and spins to self protect itself. Sound familiar? It is the church of the fall in the Garden controlled by Satan’s shaming. It is not the church of the resurrection that is freedom in Christ and that defeats the evil one and his shame. It is the church ruled over by John 8:42-44 and its real world outcome proves it and no matter what it exclusively claims to be.

      Orthodox, the real world outcome of your church is telling you what it is really based in and it is not Jesus Christ as its identity it is shame. Most of you have never had this explained to you quite like this before. It is a harsh reality all of you must face or your church remains corrupt and failing in America by shame. The consequences of shame as your church basis are symptoms pointing directly to their cause and the cause is shame.

      The religious addiction/religious codependency state of your church that I have spoken into it about in the past is shame based, shame drives it. It gets worse, shame is your unity and shame based unity is corruption as your unity and because it corrupts your identity in Jesus Christ and turns it into shame to render you powerless to stop the evil one’s destruction of your church by shame. If you don’t get it about this that means the evil has got you right where he wants you.

      Orthodox, idolatry of what shames you defeats you. Shame is not God and those who submit too and follow shame as God are defeated by the shame idolatry of the evil one as their God. Your identity is not to be a shame based religion that has been systemically corrupted by shame. It is to be Jesus Christ alone and who is the only one who can really defeat shame.

      Oh, but, Ashley, our church is not defeated by the evil one and his shame. The fact that we exist proves that. We are Gods only true church and by that truth we have defeated shame and the evil one and our church real world outcome proves it. No church is freedom in Christ over the evil one and shame like our church is and our exclusive claim proves that. We are the most God right church on the planet and by being that God right we have defeated the evil one and shame that are wrong. We are Gods objective standard of measure of what a freedom in Christ church over the evil and shame is and no other church can compare to us in that regard.

      Shame is subjective irrationally delusional in viewpoint of itself. The objectivity of rational freedom in Christ is not irrationally delusional in viewpoint of itself. Freedom in Christ objectivity sees right through the subjective bondage of shame and it does not work the other way around. Shame is blinding and freedom in Christ is sight to see.

      Orthodox, what do you see as the basis of your church? Is it shame or Jesus? Shame pushes down and molds and freedom in Jesus raises up and transforms. Those of true freedom in Jesus Christ stand up to the shame that tries to push them down and mold them into its corruption of identity and they confront and expose it by its name, Satan is shame. They don’t talk symptoms and believe the symptoms are the cause. They take symptoms directly back the cause and the cause is shame and they call it out for what it is and go to spiritual war to defeat it by wearing Christ the armor of God that is the power in a Christ centered identity that defeats any attempt to define us by shame.

      The evil one is very pleased that I am telling you this, right? He will literally try to murder anyone who makes a stand against him like this. By shame he can systemically control many and either destroy them or at the very least hold them down and back to stop Jesus and the Gospel. Anyone who exposes his unseen systemic corruption by shame by calling it for what it is and standing against it is a direct focused target of the evil one and will be attacked by him to stop him or her.

      Are you shame afraid of the evil one? Make this stand and you will face him like you never have before and you will pay a huge price for it. Shame is afraid to pay the price to stop shame when shame controls identity. You might have to pay a price if you state your name.

      Orthodox, you get the church that you pay the price of defeating Satan and shame. You get the church that you allow to have its identity to be placed in, Satan or Jesus and shame or freedom in Christ. The two things that the evil brought to us in the Garden were death and shame. He wants them to be your church basis and identity. He is shaming your church to its death. That is a harsh reality, is it not? Telling you of its harshness makes me harsh on you without grace, right? I bring you severe grace and by spiritual immaturity in shame it is easily interpreted as something else. I am the problem for how I state the problem, right? Time to spiritually grow up Orthodox, get off of the sick religious codependency pabulum as your identity and start eating the solid truth of the Word of God through the living Jesus who is to be your identity or your church will die by shame based spiritual immaturity in a shame based identity. The tough love way I speak into you with reflects the toughness you must have to defeat the evil one and shame in the tough circumstances your church finds itself in.

      Only by spiritual warfare in spiritual violence will you be able to defeat and remove Satan and shame from control over your dying church. Are you shame afraid of spiritual warfare violence and the price it pays to throw the evil one and shame out of your church? Shame based fear will not pay the price and that is Satan having you right where he wants you in rule over you by shame. If you cannot see his scheme it is because he has you by his scheme that blinds you to his scheme by shame that blinds. Bondage by shame cannot see Satan’s scheme of shame. You were just given eyes to see. It is now up to you what you do about what you see by wearing Christ the armor of God, your identity in Jesus Christ, to defeat the evil one and his shame that has power and control over your church and in ways most of you are yet to see by the blinding indoctrination by shame.

      Orthodox, there is a Christianity that can see into you and through you and tell you who you really are and to not believe that means that all of you and your church will stay what they really are. Christ is trying to reach you but you refuse His outreach for the same reasons as those in John 8:31-59 did. Their identity was Satan and shame and not Jesus Christ. That is a difficult reality to face. It is difficult for you to hear someone not of you and who you believe is wrong in comparison to you and tell you what you face and who you really are in your corrupt failed state and when you have an exclusive viewpoint of yourselves and just like those Jesus confronted did and who would not hear Him because of that. Jesus was not of them and so they found Him difficult to hear. You are finding it difficult to hear Jesus. Oh, yes, all of you are too. Your church real world outcome proves it. Shame does not hear freedom in Christ over shame, do you hear that? If you don’t hear that and then don’t take freedom in Christ action that by spiritual violence throws the evil one and shame out your church will die in America.

      Severe mercy is not easy to hear. The more severe the state of your church the more severe will be Gods confrontation come to your church. Yes, I know, I am severe with all of you and your church authority and many of you flat don’t like it or want it. You only expose who you are and why you are who you are when you do. The reaction exposes and just like it did in John 8:31-59. The reaction exposes why the state of your church is what it really is and most of you deny what it really is by your indoctrination by exclusiveness and that is like the exclusive mindset of those Jesus was in contention with in the Gospels. If you cannot see it that because you are it and it is what blinded them to Jesus and His solution to their state.

      Yes, I know, I keep repeating the same theme over and over again and again. So did the OT prophets. Jesus did the same. In affect, they told Him He was hard to hear and believe and that He had them all wrong. They made Jesus the problem for pointing out the problem and so they would not have to face themselves as the problem Jesus told them they were and they didn’t like how He pointed out the problem. No matter how He would have said it to them they would not have liked it and they would have rejected it. Orthodox, you are in a perilous like state.

      • John 13:34
        A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

        Galatians 6:1
        Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

  11. It is good to see that our Savior’s Love one another rings high above all else in the Orthodox Church – including dogma and Church Tradition.

    “A new commandment I give to you, that you love on another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

    Did this dumb American get that right?

    • Gail Sheppard says

      RE: “Did this dumb American get that right?”

      Given our innate imprudence and ignorance, if we can we can pick out the words, ‘Christ, birth, worship and glory” and translate them into “Christ is born! Glorify Him!”, with no need of explanation or elaboration on the part of those who are purportedly far more knowledgeable and wise than we, I’m not sure we’re doing all that badly, Anthony. What do you think?!

      I like this story:

      A bishop and several pilgrims are traveling on a fishing boat from Archangel to the Solovétsk Monastery. During the voyage, the bishop engages the fishermen in conversation after overhearing them discuss a remote island nearby their course where three old hermits lived a spartan existence focused on seeking “salvation for their souls.” Several of the fisherman claim to have seen them once.

      The bishop then informs the captain that he wishes to visit the island. The captain attempts to dissuade him by saying “the old men are not worth your pains. I have heard say that they are foolish old fellows, who understand nothing, and never speak a word.” But the bishop insists, and the Captain steers the ship toward the island and subsequently sets off in a rowboat to visit where he is met ashore by the three hermits.

      The bishop informs the hermits that he has heard of them and of their seeking salvation. He inquires how they are seeking salvation and serving God, but the hermits say they do not know how, only that they pray, simply: “Three are ye, three are we, have mercy upon us.” Subsequently, the bishop acknowledges that they have a little knowledge but are ignorant of the true meaning of the doctrine and how properly to pray. He tells them that he will teach them “not a way of my own, but the way in which God in the Holy Scriptures has commanded all men to pray to Him” and proceeds to explain the doctrines of the incarnation and the Trinity. He attempts to teach them the Lord’s Prayer, the “Our Father”, but the simple hermits blunder and cannot remember the words—which compels the bishop to repeat the lesson late into the night. After he became satisfied that they had memorized the prayer, the Bishop departed from the island leaving the hermits with the firm instruction to pray as he had taught them. The bishop then returned by the rowboat to the fisherman’s vessel anchored offshore to continue the voyage.

      While on board, the captain notices that their vessel is being followed—at first thinking a boat was behind them but soon realizing that the three hermits had been running across the surface of the water “as though it were dry land.” The hermits catch up to the vessel as the captain stops the boat, and inform the bishop:

      “We have forgotten your teaching, servant of God. As long as we kept repeating it we remembered, but when we stopped saying it for a time, a word dropped out, and now it has all gone to pieces. We can remember nothing of it. Teach us again.”

      The bishop was humbled and replied to the hermits: “Your own prayer will reach the Lord, men of God. It is not for me to teach you. Pray for us sinners.” After which the hermits turned around and walked back to their island.

      • Thank you, Gail, for your reply.

        I have read that story several times in the past. Thank you for bringing it back to my thoughts. There are many stories of the Lord using lay persons to illustrate holiness to Priests and Bishops. If I can find any of them in my library, I would be happy to share them.

        In that same vein of thought, though I have on my shelf the writings of early Church Fathers and more contemporary saints, when I struggle with the “hows” of living an Orthodox life while in this world, my “go to” has always been The Way of the Ascetics by Tito Colliander – a layman.

        The point of my statements in this post are, perhaps, a bit disrespectful I fear. May God forgive me for that. But my immediate “concern” was that, here, on the day we celebrate and honor one of two of the greatest moments in human history, both of which are the grandest expressions of God’s Love for mankind, there are those who are supposed to be our leaders, mentors, and examples of Christ, nitpicking over words and translations while we have entered a new age of red martyrs in the Church. I was recently deeply disturbed, even to tears, to read that the Christians of Syria are no longer resident in the land which gave us Saints Isaac and Ephraim. This is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Evil has gained a stronghold world wide and we must not falter. I agree that the rubrics of the Church are extremely important, but for everything there is a time.

        We desperately need to invoke the help of Christ our Lord through the strength of His Love – toward each other and our neighbor. No more so is this so important than to be receiving this message through our leaders in the Church.

        Please forgive the rantings of an old man. I am certainly no one to listen to. Indeed, I must post this before I delete it. My main goal was only to thank you, Gail, for your response to my not-so-thought-out initial post.

        To our brothers and sisters on the Julian calendar – Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

  12. Carl Kraeff says

    How about: “Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, has shone to the world the Light of wisdom! For by it, those who worshiped the stars, were taught by a Star to adore Thee, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know Thee, the Orient from on High. O Lord, glory to Thee!”

    If there is a liturgical language for Americans, it would be the use of Thy, Thou and Thee when referring to God. Thank you Vladika Dmitri and pray for us.

    • As I noted above, the “standard” OCA translation is perfectly serviceable, and indeed quite nicely done. It is the one I first learned, and still the one that our family sings together at the table when it is the Feast, since it is the one that everyone knows. I prefer the usual ROCOR translation — and also like the St. Anthony’s one that “Versions” points to above at (other than I’m not fond of the word “instructed” when the simple “taught” could do — perhaps they needed the extra syllables to make the Byzantine chant work right.

      Abp. Dimitri was a shining star when it came to liturgical English, and his quiet but firm example was too little emulated by his peers. His spirit lives on in his diocese — except for George! 🙂

      And also in the Diocese of the West, and increasingly at St. Tikhon’s Seminary Press, where the translations are gradually improving with each passing year. Probably other places in the OCA as well.

      Abp. Dimitri was very influential at the starting point of my Orthodox life, and we stayed in touch for some years until his health began to fade.

      Please note, Carl, that on the OCA website, they took your very nice troparion and butchered it… As I noted above, I doubt that whoever is running that part of the website has the blessing of the OCA Synod of Bishops to mess with translations in just any way that they want.

  13. Francis Frost says

    From yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:

    The world lost a brave advocate for religious freedom on Christmas Day when Father Gleb Yakunin died at age 80. The Russian Orthodox priest was one of the last of a generation of dissidents who helped bring about the downfall of Communism.

    Born in 1934 in Moscow, Yakunin converted to Christianity in college under the influence of the charismatic theologian Alexander Men and was ordained a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1962. This was at the height of Nikita Khrushchev ’s campaign to root out Russian Christianity, and Yakunin’s public defense of the right of believers to worship freely soon put him at odds with the Soviet state.

    He came to global attention in 1975 when he co-wrote a letter with Church historian Lev Regelson to the Fifth General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Nairobi, decrying the repression of Christians under Communism. The Kremlin-friendly leadership of the Russian Church condemned the statement but Yakunin pressed on, and in 1976 he co-founded the Christian Committee for the Defense of Believers’ Rights in the U.S.S.R.

    Yakunin was arrested in 1979, convicted in 1980 of anti-Soviet agitation, and sentenced to five years in a labor camp, to be followed by five years in internal exile. “I rejoice that the Lord has sent me this test,” Yakunin said in his final statement to the court. “As a Christian I accept it gladly.”

    Prison authorities at various times confiscated Fr. Yakunin’s Bible, denied him family visits and cut his food rations. Thanks in part to pressure from Western activists and Christian leaders and in part to Mikhail Gorbachev ’s perestroika policy, Yakunin was allowed in 1987 to return to Moscow. Elected a member of the Supreme Soviet of Russia in 1990 and later to the Duma, the priest would emerge as one of the toughest critics of the mafia state that replaced Communism.

    In his writings, he lamented how Russians had missed the opportunity for a post-Communist “spiritual revival,” something he blamed in part on what he saw as the Russian Orthodox Church’s too-cozy relationship with the Kremlin. For disobeying a Church edict barring priests from holding political office, he was defrocked in 1993 and later excommunicated. In his final years, he spoke out for Vladimir Putin ’s political prisoners, including members of the rock band Pussy Riot.

    Yakunin lived to see the end of Soviet Communism, but not the transformation of Putin’s Russia into the free country it should be. The fight for that liberation day will fall to others, who can draw inspiration from Yakunin’s example of finding joy in challenging oppression despite the personal costs.

    • Thank you, Francis Frost, for posting this news about Father Gleb. I revere Father Gleb’s work and Christian witness against communism and consider him saintly.. Some of his church activism while defrocked still merits contemplation. May his memory be eternal!

      For those who decry his work in the Duma after the initial fall of communism, may they reflect that Father Stylianos of America and the Metropolia, later the OCA, was a priest when he became the first democratic ruler of Albania and remained an active priest until his falling asleep.

      His humble website is still up at

  14. Michael Kinsey 1380805 says

    Glory be to God. His Truth still shines. Gays are being punished by God, the pinishment is ,is that they like it. Those who do not love God alone and do not serve God alone, thus ignore the Word of God and live by bread alone enter into the great whore and build the beast.This punishment is nor a good tree which bears good fruit.St Paul clearly calls it abomination. Celibacy of a monastic in not enough, if the monks or priest still claim identity as gays. They ignore the Word of God, here , which is, God made them male and female, but prove they do not believe it, saying they are gay.This dire spiritual affliction comes to some of those who ignore the 2 great commandments in their lives.Such as these are not suitable for holy Orders. You ignore this at you own Eternal Peril.

    • Michael:

      Gays are being punished by God, the pinishment is ,is that they like it. Those who do not love God alone and do not serve God alone, thus ignore the Word of God and live by bread alone enter into the great whore and build the beast.This punishment is nor a good tree which bears good fruit.St Paul clearly calls it abomination.

      Michael, do you have an opinion about that part where St. Paul writes that it goes against nature for men to wear long hair? And how about all those pony-tailed Orthodox priests running around? Are they entering into the great whore and beast, too?

    • Wow, the venom on this site continues to amaze me. M. Kinsey who are you to say that gay people are being punished by God? You have spoken to Him lately? A person born with this sexual orientation should not be subjected to this sort of verbal assault and discrimination.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Timothy your post assumes that people with same sex attraction are born that way; are happy in their distorted world and ignores the Scriptural prohibitions.

        However both you and Michael assume that SSA people are a wholly different class of person–either singled out for special treatment or singled out for special oppobbrium.

        You two fit well together.

        No one is born anything but as a fallen human with a particular cross to bear. Through Christ and the Church that cross can lead to salvation. Without the Church or contra the Church, that same cross only leads to pain sadness and away from salvation.

        • Michael Bauman says

          We all carry our sin with a largely hidden sense of shame. If I am forced into confronting my shame, I will rebel and turn aside. If the source of my shame is declared no longer a sin by the wisdom of men, that does not make it so.

          Great care must be taken to allow people to deal with their shame a bit at a time while at the same time not artificially excusing them from having to deal with it.

          Elder Sophrony taught that ‘we must teach them to bear a little bit of their shame’ when talking about the process of confession.

          To enter willingly into one’s own shame bit by bit with a loving guide and faith in our Lord is what repentance is all about. Repentance is definitely not a simple moral transaction although most start there.

          Facing our shame cannot be forced nor can it be circumvented–we will all have to face our shame. I have to face the deep darkness of my own soul. I pray that I live long enough to at least begin the process.

          My basic prayer for others is that they, by God’s grace, come into the Kingdom. I know as I utter this prayer that there are many whom I look down upon who will enter before me.

          I am convinced that a good part of the venom here and elsewhere is simply a diversion tactic to avoid facing the particular darkness close at hand. I certainly have used it that way frequently in my life.

          With that in mind, when I speak of the sin of homosexuality I am aware of two things: one my own concupiscence and the extra requirement I place upon myself to deal mercifully and kindly with people who suffer the burden of same sex attraction while not denying the sinfulness.

          May God forgive us all.

        • Aaron Little says

          Agreed. I see no reason (other than obstinacy) why western hymns should not, on a case by case basis, eventually be incorporated into an emerging/organic ‘American’ Orthodox jurisdiction.

        • Michael….you are partially correct. Gay people are born that way, proven in many scientific and psychological studies and evidence. But you are wrong when you say we assume that gay and lesbians are a wholly different class of person singled out for special treatment. Very curious that you would read that into our posts. Please step back and read carefully.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            Born that way? PROVEN in many scientific and psychological studies? Really? I must have missed that FACT! I have read quite a bit on this subject and this issue is far, FAR from PROVEN. I could explain to you how science really works, as well as genetics, especially epigenetics and whether some behavior are mutable or immutable and how this relates to age, but I won’t and bid you peace.

            Regardless, scripture declares this behavior a sin and as such a person suffering with SSA must be loved and shown the beauty of asceticism and a life of celibacy fully dedicated to Christ and his Gospel. Admittedly, easier said than done, but it can be done.


            • And I could put forth some studies for you, as well, but your mind has already been made up regarding this subject. At least you believe that gay and lesbians should be loved, but they are far from “suffering.”

              • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

                RE: “And I could put forth some studies for you, as well . . .

                Then, by all means, do so, Timothy. I’m calling your bluff. There is not one credible, untainted, incontrovertible scientific study that proves that men and women with homosexual inclinations are “born that way.” Your unsubstantiated contention is merely a mantra echoed by folks who seem hell-bent on sanctifying what is unnatural, unhealthy, and ungodly. I encourage you, Timothy, to consult our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ earnestly in prayer, instead of junk science, and allow Him to help you discern and remove that prelest from your soul.

                • M. Stankovich says

                  Fr. Alexander,

                  In principle, I agree with everything you say, particularly that there is no credible science suggesting that anyone is born homosexual. However, this is different than saying there is no science that may give us insight as why some individuals – and I emphasize that I refer to a specific group among homosexuals who identify as homosexual at an early age; whose orientation is not phasic, fluid, or episodic but static across their lifespan; who have a familial history of homosexuality in 1st and/or 2nd degree relatives (nearly exclusively male); may demonstrate certain physical characteristics; frequently experience childhood gender role-conformity conflict; and may present with certain demonstrable genetic defects that are currently emerging – may develop same-sex attraction.

                  Peter Papoutsis discusses the role of epigenetics – which is, in fact the process of external determinates of gene expression – but it is vastly more complex than his attempt at explanation. Probably the simplest explanation is to suggest a massive board of switches, where a gene is “activated” by turning on a switch, deactivated by turning off the same switch. This can result in a positive, negative, neutral, or paradoxical consequence. For example, turning on a switch activates a gene that repairs “coding errors” within the cell so that it does not replicate a defective cell. Turning off the same switch “deactivates” the same cell’s repair abilities and the cell replicates as defective; this may be inconsequential, or they may be cells that cause disease. A “paradoxical” evolutional consequence is that the genetic defect for Sickle-Cell Anemia also provides protection from Malaria. We are only beginning to see the relationship between multiple epigenetic determinates, and how many of these relationships will never be completely clear.

                  It is currently believed that some individuals may receive a genetic defect that contributes to the development of sexual orientation, and that post-genetically, but in intra-uterine events, may, in the two distinct periods of hormonal “cascades” that determine gender and are thought to contribute to sexual orientation, experience distinct differences and delays. None of these events, however, render, predispose, or pre-determine anyone as homosexual. They are merely at potentiated high risk. What are the epigenetic factors we may cite post-natal? It is a best-guess. We can, however, using current research, largely eliminate many anecdotal stereotypes: attachment disorder of childhood (cf. John Bowlby); childhood trauma, including sexual abuse; lack of appropriate gender-modeling; gender-modeling of homosexual 1st and/or 2nd degree relative (most-frequently cited is a make sibling); invasive, “fluid-boundaried” mother and/or distant/absent/father, etc. This is not to say many of this conditions are not present. But they are not causitive.

                  Finally, I agree with you that “folks seem hell-bent on sanctifying” homosexuality, and are exceptionally well-versed at the media and “person-to-person” mission than we are at promoting the Gospel Truth and the message of the gift of sanctity within the Church. But I also believe some are merely attempting to gain acceptance that same-sex attraction “exists” as a realistic “podvig” for those who bear it, and they cannot be “converted” from it. For them, the Church must be the patch of chastity, singlemindedness, purity, obedience, abstinence, and repentance to which all of us, without exception, are called. This is a message I, for one, do not frequently hear.

                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                    I defer to Michael who knows more and can better explain this as he was the one who got me interested in Epigenetics to this degree. So all I can say is – Yes, what Michael just said.


                    “Finally, I agree with you that “folks seem hell-bent on sanctifying” homosexuality, and are exceptionally well-versed at the media and “person-to-person” mission than we are at promoting the Gospel Truth and the message of the gift of sanctity within the Church. But I also believe some are merely attempting to gain acceptance that same-sex attraction “exists” as a realistic “podvig” for those who bear it, and they cannot be “converted” from it. For them, the Church must be the patch of chastity, singlemindedness, purity, obedience, abstinence, and repentance to which all of us, without exception, are called. This is a message I, for one, do not frequently hear.

                    Yes, I agree as well.


                  • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

                    Thank you, Dr. Stankovich, for a thoughtful and edifying reply. This is the kind of dialogue that honors Psalm 133:1–“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                Actually I have read the studies and I have read them without the political agenda that you espouse, especially the most recent studies on Epigenetics and Homosexuality that actually resolved (somewhat) the long standing evolutionary problem of how Homosexuality escaped natural selection IF its a purely genetic matter.

                Being that epigenetics deals with Gene Expression that is governed by so-called “stressers” and/or ‘Environmental” factors that act upon (Epi) certain parts of the human genome (Genetic) it tends to explain homosexuality as an abnormal expression of one’s natural genetic Hetrosexual Genetic expression.

                In other words, all of us are born genetically heterosexual, but that the gene or genes that “express” that heterosexuality gets skewed due to outside factors and the gene(s) have the possibility or probability of expressing themselves in a Homosexual, Bisexual or “other” sexual way.

                The question of mutability however is an open question and may, and I emphasize the word MAY, be dependent like all other modes of behavior that are so-called abnormal, on how early one catches the so-called abnormal behavior and seeks to correct it.

                This last part, given our current political climate, as well as a n almost complete lack of credible scientific study and peer review, cannot even be considered at this point as it would be ineffectual at best or harmful at worst. Much more study and research into this area is definitely needed, but its not coming any time soon.

                Now there are other studies to be sure, but for right now the epigenetic studies seem the most promising, but even them it is still going to be a mixture of nature AND nurture that will influence and produce one’s sexuality.

                From the Orthodox perspective the Scriptures, Sacred Apostolic Tradition, Canons, Teachings of the Church Fathers, etc., declare Homosexuality, Bisexuality, Adultery, Fornication, Etc., as deviations from the Divine Plan of proper human sexuality that need to be rejected and placed under submission. In Orthodoxy these are referred to as “Passions.” one can qualify them as “Unhealthy” Passions that must be subdued because it separates us from God. One cannot serve two masters. By trying to do so suffering is produced.

                Further, there is no hatred only love and compassion. However, the love and compassion that is shown must also be given with the Gospel of Christ and a clear declaration that one must have a direct experience and relationship with Christ and as such one can become a NEW CREATION in Christ via Baptism, Repentance, Self-Sacrifice and Obedience to the Lord.

                Forget about the studies or the whole political debate on this issue. Its one’s obediance to the Lord that is important and that cannot happen unless and until Christ is fully accepted unconditionally.

                Christ loves you and all of Humanity Unconditionally, why can you not love him unconditionally? “I love you Lord, BUT YOU have to accept Me as a practicing Homosexual.” So who now is you god? Christ or the LGBT god? Once you have decided this issue all other issues fall into place for bad or good.

                This is where you now do have a choice. Choose wisely.


          • Michael Bauman says

            timothy, it is the special blindness of the passions that often prevents us from seeing the premises of our own arguments. It takes a lot of courage and honesty to really examine one’s own premises. Usually they have to be pointed out to us by others.

            Even if it were 100% true that every person with same sex attraction were born that way (not at all proven), that really does not matter. They are born human and born into a shattered and fallen world. Just as the rest of us.

            All human beings are called to be united with Christ. Our desires, especially sexual desires are often road blocks to that unity. Thus the Church guided by the Holy Spirit instructs us to limit the exercise of those desires and blesses only one way of properly entering into conjugal union–real marriage. Even within marriage, the exercise of our sexual desire is constrained. And marriage is clearly between one man and one woman “as it was in the beginning.” There are quite a number of ontological and soteriological reasons for that order. Proper sexual behavior and the constraint involved is not simply a moral issue.

            Those who engage the temptation of their same sex desires faithful as the Church has always taught realize that Christ is more important than their desires–as Wesley Hill so eloquently expressed in his book, Washed and Waiting. His witness is a witness to all of us. Union with Christ is more important than my desires.

            Everyone of us must limit the expression of our sexual desires. You are indeed calling for homosexuals and homosexuals only to be released from this order as a special class. That you don’t see this is the result of your own particular ideological blindness. It is perfectly understandable that you would not see it as ideology of any sort is always a substitute for the truth.

            May God grant us the grace to be freed from our slavery to ideologies of all sorts and enter into His Kingdom, not one we attempt to make up.

            • We could use the entire website to discuss this issue, asthere are very convincing arguments and studies to promote both opinions. It is not a choice and more a genetic issue. Why would any gay or lesbian person want the discrimination and hurdlesthat this sexual orientation presents? No special class is being requested; you are totally wrong. Fairness and equality are being requested. MayGod grant you the insight to reaize that.

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                We could use the entire website to discuss this issue, asthere are very convincing arguments and studies to promote both opinions. It is not a choice and more a genetic issue. Why would any gay or lesbian person want the discrimination and hurdlesthat this sexual orientation presents? No special class is being requested; you are totally wrong. Fairness and equality are being requested. MayGod grant you the insight to reaize that.

                Because that’s what it means to be bound to sin and a Passion. I pray God grants you the insight to realize that.


              • Tim R. Mortiss says

                “Why would any gay or lesbian person want the discrimination and hurdles that this sexual orientation presents?”

                This rhetorical question is wholly fallacious. Why would any adulterous heterosexual person want the risks, personal, moral, and familial, of an extramarital relationship?

                That’s easy. He or she doesn’t want the risks, but takes them anyway. Same answer to your “question”. I think most of us understand the power of the sexual passions.

  15. Sean Richardson says

    I am a convert, and I have to confess that I miss the hymns of my youth a great deal during the Nativity season. While the hymns of the Orthodox Church are beautiful and I do not wish in any way to minimize their significance, I still miss the hymns I grew up with, Protestant though they may be.

    • I too am a convert to Orthodoxy – going on 14 years now!

      In a parish we once belonged to we would be guests at our Priest’s home during the Nativity season to sing the classic Protestant hymns together.

      These hymns, though written under heterodoxy, were written by Godly men and women. Every year my wife and I play these hymns – as well as Orthodox – all throughout the season, usually as background for whatever else we might be doing. They bring us great joy and blessing.

      The Lord is present in all things. This was a large part of my learning as a new convert. If the old hymns of your youth bring you blessing and closer to the Lord in celebration of His advent, then you should by all means enjoy them.

      On one point, however, we must draw a line i.e. bringing these hymns into the Divine Liturgy. Here they do not belong as part of our ancient Tradition.

      I wish you the best the Lord has to offer – His Love.

      Christ is born! Glorify Him!

      • Sean Richardson says

        Anthony, thank you for your lovely words, I agree in every aspect. I attended one Antiochain parish for the Nativity service years ago, and at the very end of the service, after the final benediction, as people were processing up to venerate the cross, the choir burst into “Joy to the World”. It was after the conclusion of the Liturgy, (which was extremely well done, with a terrific sermon), and those in attendance seemed to welcome this minor, post-liturgical variance.

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        Exactly. We too sing the great hymns at our priest’s “Christmas party”. And I love to sing them at a drop of a hat during the season. But they are not to be part of the service itself.

        As you say, they are beautiful and were written by Godly men and women.