The Abuse of Iconography: a Postscript

In Ephesians 6:12-13, St Paul warns Christians that things are not always what they seem. The physical world is real and we work out our salvation here but it is often a distraction: we think that we are fighting against this injustice or that malignant principle but in reality, there is always a spiritual element hidden somewhere in the mix and the physical battle is merely a distraction.

Plato called these things in the temporal world “accidents”. What we mortals see were merely shadows of more real, spiritual archetypes. Paul developed this further when he posited that there were spiritual agents which were at work, “principalities and powers” as he called them, and that these were the real actors behind the scenes. These spiritual agents were what we are really wrestling against, not merely human beings or material institutions.

We see this every day in the normal interplay between people and institutions. It seems that there are always hidden agendas that animate the cause of the day or the “principle” for which we fight. In the political sphere, we send young men oversees to “make the world safe for democracy” but it is American oligarchs that reap the benefits of American blood and treasure. Likewise, in order to create “equality” at home, we are told that we must destroy the normal hierarchies which exist in the natural order. In other words, in order to disguise the real intent of our battles here on earth, we clothe them in the virginal robes of some high-minded principle.

So it is in the Church. We have much that is good and beneficent for worship: hymns, vestments, architecture, iconography and so on. Taken together they not only enhance worship but evangelize in ways that nothing else can. As such, they must be guarded with a jealousy that must border on intolerance; as warriors, we must be ever-ready to draw a rhetorical sword.

It is in the province of iconography that Fr Alexander F C Webster drew such a sword last year when he castigated the Dean of Harvard for hosting an exhibit of questionable Byzantine iconography. And for this, we must thank him. (This was over a year ago, as of yet, he has not received the courtesy of a reply.) That being said, it should be remembered that while Harvard was the venue for this unfortunate exhibit, we cannot forget that all Harvard did was display the handiwork of Orthodox artists.

Harvard’s studied ignorance to Webster’s letter is certainly a cause for concern. There is however a broader picture which, to my mind, is even more troubling. As already mentioned, the iconography in question was not crafted by non-Christians or even anti-Christians but by Orthodox Christians. These Orthodox liberals (whom I choose to call Fordhamites) see nothing wrong with their works, whether literary or artistic. And this is most unfortunate. They are clearly the tip of the liberal spear in the Orthodox Church, pushing us further into the spiritual miasma which is the current zeitgeist.

I would rather not have to bring this up (and personally, I’m at my wit’s end when it comes to inter-jurisdictional warfare), but we must put our cards on the table: the Fordhamites are in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. We could ask why but this misses the larger point, which is that no Orthodox jurisdiction should countenance such artistry. Period. To be sure, no jurisdiction is simon-pure in all its endeavors. Yet this is why we have bishops; why then did no bishop from the GOA speak out against this travesty?

We are glad that Fr Alexander stepped into the fray and may God bless him for it, but why didn’t anybody in the GOA speak up? Is it because they were ignorant or perhaps fearful of speaking up? Or is it possible that they either don’t care or are in agreement? None of this speaks well of the GOA. Surely there was one bishop, one theologian, one priest even, who could have displayed the same umbrage that Fr Alexander did. But as far as I know, we hear nothing but crickets.

This could have been a softball that the new GOA archbishop could have hit out of the ballpark and to much acclaim I daresay. Other primates here in America (such as Metropolitans Tikhon of the OCA and Joseph of Antioch) had no trouble shutting down such modernist endeavors in their respective jurisdictions when they arose. Recently, Bishop Basil Essey of Wichita reprimanded a priest who wrote sympathetically about gay marriage. And in contrast to the secular world, none of these bishops suffered any blowback for standing up for the truth. They and their jurisdictions are stronger for it.

Make no mistake, the iconography in question is merely a proxy for a greater spiritual battle. We know that several churches that are aligned with the Ecumenical Patriarchate are sympathetic to the modernist agenda. We have heard, for example, that the new Ukrainian sect which was uncanonically created out of whole cloth by Patriarch Bartholomew, has stated that it is on board with the LGBT agenda. Such sentiments raise red flags everywhere among the more traditionalist-minded Orthodox Christians, especially those who are not in the GOA.

Is the spiritual nonchalance that was on display at Harvard a portent of things to come, should the American jurisdictions succumb to Bartholomew’s grand plans? That is the question that each of us must ask. Hopefully, the powers-that-be in the GOA will engage in some soul searching and think long and hard about these issues. And I certainly hope that the bishops in the other jurisdictions are thinking about the ramifications of what union under the Ecumenical Patriarchate could be. It’s not too late. But if there is no turnaround in the GOA, if things such as this exhibit keep on plodding along, then I not only see unification in America not happening but being most undesirable under the present circumstances.


  1. Fordhamites — spot on term. They have been contaminated by the “spirit of Vatican II” that flutters among the Latins. These latter folk are embarrassed by their faith and proclaim it only ironically. This form of blasphemy is second nature to them, and they sincerely cannot understand traditional piety. Our wayward brethren have assimilated — catching pneumonia from that “other lung of the Church.” A danger of ecumenism in this age of apostasy . . .

  2. It is inaccurate to describe such artists as ‘Orthodox’.
    These are the sort  of people whom St Paul describes in one of his letters as being ‘with us but not of us’.
    And  this is just as true of their very odd theological opinions as it is of their distorted ikons.

  3. Tongue in Cheek says

    If it serves the advancement of Hellenism… 
    It is a great honor for Greek Americans that ‘Hellenistic’ art forms are being featured by one of America’s premier universities. 
    Fr. Webster’s plea went unheard due to a glaring omission in his last sentence.  Anyone who understands the Greek community knows it would have been more effective had it read instead  “…so deeply and needlessly offensive to the Ecumenical Patriarch, spiritual leader of the 300 million Orthodox Christians around the world.”
    Long live Hellas, the founders of civilization and keepers of wisdom!

    • As a greek I want to say it’s not right to judge a people and venerable church on the attitude of rich greek Americans and Phanar. Even if at the moment they seem all there is, and I have uttered harsh words too.
      The Greek Orthodox spiritual and liturgical tradition, of which I do not count bastardised western models; NOT because they are western. Thst is fine in it’s time and place, but because they are a cheap copy of what can be had better elsewhere at best, and kitsch crap at worst. But this tradition is of supreme importance for Christianity and the Church and is the Source of Slav tradition etc. And has been safeguarded with much suffering.
      No I am not claiming some superior position. I CONDEM THAT TOTALLY. But let us not denigrate those humble hard working communities who founded their greek churches with Faith and love and sweat and tears and Joy. AND with no liturgical guidance on tradition either. What did they know.?
      But what the good bishop in Denver is saying is shaming. It can only be changed with repentence. Also with TIME IN JAIL, and pay back. Above all the fish rots from the head. There is the cause. And the head is about to visit in summer I believe. The faithful and clergy, or at least the faithful, if any left, as judging by the video, NOT MANY, should organise a boycott of the pseudo papal circus. As did the greek cypriot community by and large in 1990s when the Phanar papal show came to uk. That would be the most appropriate and shaming response, if they have shame. But to go through the motions and glitz dinners and Archon self indulgent crap and to clap and smile, will be to say THE GREEK AMERICAN FAITHFUL,BEING PEASANTS, AND BARBARIANS, KNOW THEIR LOWLY PLACE AND SHOULD SUCK IT UP. ALL OF IT. At the moment Sadly it looks as if they will. In which case, THEY SHOULD STOP MOANING AND ENJOY THE POP(E) CIRCUS.
      My experience of GOA goes back almost a decade now and judging by it all, the decline has been sudden. God help us all.

  4. The iconoclasm of the Fordhamites is but the tip of the iceberg. They are also aggressively pursuing the institution of the female diaconate as well as all areas of the LGBT agenda. If you disagree with them, they call you a fundamentalist. If you write something in support of the holy tradition of the Church on one of their twitter feeds, they call you a troll. They believe that when their apostasy is opposed, it is a confirmation that they are doing the right thing. It saddens my heart to see these deranged ideas being peddled as the truth. But here is the real rub: they would not be spouting their new Orthodox liberal ecumenism if they did not have the green light from the top of the food chain. That is why you see and hear no resistance or corrections from the GOA hierarchy. It is disheartening to watch this jurisdiction collapse.

    • Mikhail, true!
      It’s as if they, the few ones, are saying to me:
      “It’s for MY own benefit, stupid!”
      The ultimate solution is the Chrysostomic paradigm:
      Find a holy monk WHO DOES NOT WANT to be a Bishop:
      Kidnap him to the Cathedral and make him bishop by force!

    • It is disheartening to watch it indeed… I love GOA but what is happening to our church? Is this why Elder Ephraim left to join ROCOR and had to go back cause Patriarch threatened him?
      What’s going on? Especially with GOA?

    • George Michalopulos says

      I sincerely hope that you are incorrect.  For my money, the powers-that-be (such as they are) in the GOA are rather clueless.  The average GOA bishop (not all) and the overwhelming majority of the L100 class have their sights set on retiring in a Greece that is relatively free from collapse.  
      In the hellenocentric mindset of the East-of-the-Hudson River GOA elite, Orthodoxy is merely a cultural appendage to a life of leisure on some Greek estate.  Look at how few GOA bigwigs showed up for the bogus Athenagoras “human rights award” which they bestowed upon that charlatan Dumenko.  They know that it’s a joke; none of them even heard of Ukraine before Bartholomew made it an issue.  
      Even their apologists (one of whom styles himself as an “Archon Maestor”) have no knowledge of history, canons or Orthodox spirituality.  It’s all Byzantine nostalgia for them.

      • George as always u get it point on.   Archon maestor!!   What did CHRIST SAY? , But hey who is Christ? And we can read Dostoyevsky ( The grand Inquisitor on that!!) .  
        Tolstoy wrote his Novel Reserrection, for which he was excomunicated, as a protestant against the formalism then found in the Russian church’ s bureaucratic system with clergy having no belief outside their own comfort.  Well if only he had known about 2020 Greek America..  Perhaps a copy of the Novel should be given to all the clergy and faithful to read. Would they understand it’s meaning?  

        • Archpriest Alexander F.C. Webster says

          Nikos, what specifically do you mean by these two comments?

          (1) “the formalism then found in the Russian church’ s bureaucratic system”

          (2) “clergy having no belief outside their own comfort”

          I hope you do not lend any credence to Lev Tolstoy’s angry, pompous, and inaccurate (or extremely exaggerated, at best) charges in that novel published in 1899–which, by the way, the undergraduate students in my course at George Mason University in Virginia on “Religious Themes in 19th Century Russian Literature” are reading even as I post this comment!

          • Solitary Priest says

            Thank you, Fr. Alexander! As I recall, the Russian Orthodox church gave Tolstoy years to repent. When he remained defiant, they had no choice, but to excommunicate him. 
                 Give me Dostoyevsky and Solzhenitsyn over Tolstoy any day. The former was a revolutionary who repented, and later supported both the Church and the Monarchy. His writings caused me to become Orthodox.
                 Solzhenitsyn, half Ukrainian and half Jewish(according to some sources), was a Soviet man who later became a Russian patriot and monarchist. Why not? St. Paul was Saul before his conversion.

            • Monk James Silver says

              It was reliably reported at the time that Tolstoy was moved to repentance near his death.  He sent word through a couple of his disciples that he would like to speak with one of the Optino elders, who was willing to come to him, but Tolstoy’s wife prevented that meeting.
              May the Lord have mercy on him and on us all.

              • Archpriest Alexander F.C. webster says

                RE: “It was reliably reported at the time that Tolstoy was moved to repentance near his death.”

                Not quite, Monk James. That dubious claim appeared most recently in an article in the New York Times in January 2011.

                This is what probably happened:

                “[Tolstoy’s] final existential crisis led him to flee his home in the early hours of October 28th, 1910. Accompanied by his physician, Dushan Makovitsky, Tolstoy arrived at Optina Pustyn toward the end of the day. During the difficult trip he asked frequently about the elders at Optina Pustyn. Despite his refusal to reconcile with the church, his anguish apparently led him to seek the wisdom and solace that they might provide. After spending the night at the monastery, Tolstoy approached the hermitage on the morning of the 29th. At this critical moment he was beset with doubt and the fear that he would not be received. Instead, he made his way to his sister Maria at the Shamordina Convent and even mused about staying nearby for a period of time. But the arrival of his daughter Alexandra (Sasha) on the 30th again roused him to flight. Together with Makovitsky, they made their way on the 31st to Astapovo Station, where Tolstoy died a week later.”


                Whatever may have motivated Tolstoy to try to meet with monks from Optino Pustyn Monastery (which the truly great and devout Fyodor Dostoevsky visited together with Vladimir Soloviev three decades earlier), it is most improbable that it was to recant his decades of commitment to the solipsistic unitarian “religion” he had created and to return to the Holy Russian Orthodox Church that he had mocked so viciously and mercilously in his creative works (especially the novel Resurrection) and expository writings on “religion.”

                • Monk James Silver says

                  The version I heard many years ago (no NY Times in sight) had two of the elders from Optino come to Ostapovo, but his disciples prevented them from visiting Tolstoy at the direction of his wife. 
                  That report was long considered reliable, but I wasn’t there, so I am unable to attest its accuracy.  It’s not surprising that there are other versions of the even circulating even now, especially since even the most easily verifiable facts of history were often manipulated by the godless sovyet government  for most of a century..

            • Archpriest Alexander.  As usual I should have been clearer. No I don’t give any support to tolstoy and his  juvenile philosophy that was an early run out of 1960s.!!   His hypocrisy in living of the rent of his peasants!!   He meant well no doubt, but was a dilitante dreamer. In many respects typical of the naive liberals, who took over to disastrous affect, in march 1917. AS Prince Lvov.  They brought the cataclysm they railed about. 
              Well what did I mean?   It is clear from numbers  of account  that not all was as should be in 19c Russian church.  Some clergy were clergy as a job and drunkedness was not uncommon.  The Parish as a concept was dead.  Worship was passive. These are all issues that the bishops brought up in their concerns when following the 1905  troubles, they gave their concerns for the then forthconing Council.  As we know it did not meet til 1917 before communist coup. 
              And we know that in early yrs of 20c the Church was losing it’s hold on the newly rising proletariat in the cities. And after 1905 the old believers grew and the sectarians.  We know this from the bishop’ s replies for the promised Council.  And that there was a lack of churches to meet the needs of the new working class. One area had one church for 40K people.  Yes churches were being built but the situation was as said. 
              And of course, as always and at all times, along with the human failure was great holiness,  the multiple of saints,   the beginning of musical and liturgical renewing and the staretz and of course, after Tolstoy ‘ s death the nefarious influence of Rasputin and the promotion of his protogees,  Pitirim and Varnava, whose scandalous life styles and abuses at Alexander Nevsky Monastery did much to damage the Church.  
              Yet it was this Church that brought forth Tikhon and that faced the 70 yrs of communism with so much blood.   This is the paradox.  Judas at the Last Super. The dark side of the Church as Sergei Fudel wrote.  
              And if there had not been the Revolution, that is the communist coup,  the Church was entered on period of renewing itself. Sadly the last Tsar was a devout believer,  and lover of the Church, but made the most appalling appointment to church  via Rasputin and who ran the Synod as procurator and of course the Black hundreds.  
              This is the always situation of Church  in world but  thst does not mean we must not struggle against the wrong. 
              Re Russian literature,  my Love is Chekhov.  To read The monk, The Bishop, etc is to understand that Chekhov struggled with his unbelief and understanding belief. He was searching.  Dostoyevsky yes. And also Bunin who i love  and Solzenitsyn, a towering Figure whose  opust magnus,  1914, 1916,  is awe inspiring in it’s depth of detail and puts War and Peace in the shade.
              And not to forget Pasternak.  His poetry and Dr Zhivago is quite theological!!   A great work of spiritual literature 

              • Fr Andrew Philips offers a different perspective on Rasputin at:

                • Brendan sorry, yes,  Rasputin is a complex Figure and a good book to read is the magisterial Rasputin by Douglas Smith. He was actually wanting to do some good and saw through the careerists but he did get some horrendous figures appointed through the empress.  
                  In July 1914 if he had not been in Siberia in hospital stabbed,  he may have stopped the russisn mobilization. 

                  • Nikos, the more I consider those who slag off Rasputin
                    and the more I consider those who defend him,
                    the more favourably disposed I become towards him.

                    • Brendan,  as i said a good book to read is Douglas Smith magisterial  opus, Rasputin.    Yes I am more sympathetic to him than may come across.  His death was seen by the people as the elite stopping one of theirs getting close to Tsar as a soldier said..  
                      It’s truly tragic that the tsar who claimed that the St Petersburg chattering classess were not the people, as represented by Rasputin,  was actually correct, but that in 1914 he was forced to go as it were,  with the chattering classess who as now, make all the running.   
                      Sadly those in Terms of personnel he got  appointed to church, were corrupt and questionable characters and was involved in the forced glorification of St John of Verkhotoury ( hope I have that right).  
                      His being a Klytsy was always a question bandied about  and considered and denied.
                      But  he personally  supported, and spoke up for jews and gays etc and must be said the empress found Barnava and Pitirim delighful.. 
                      What ever his many failings,  what Rasputin was not,  was rapacious and self seeking.  He gave as much as he got if not more.  In all respects!!!
                      But for the Church a disaster.  Of course Bishop German of Tobolsk who castrated himself, although a martyr, Feofan who went mad and Iliodor, the  true mad,  anti -semitic fanatic  monk, who became a New York Baptist, are hardly figures of renown. 

                • Brendan yes very good article, as always .  The only point I would make is that Varnava and Pitirim were, shall we say, not without sin!!  But the rest very true and much in line with the excellent Douglas Smith book. He also   write an  excellent,very tragic one, on the fate of the Russian aristocracy too. 
                  Re. Liturgical english.  We send up o Good One.,   at least to be We offer up.! 

                  • Generally speaking,’we offer up’ tends to ‘we present to’;
                    whereas: ”we send up’ tends to ‘we deliver to’ – but context is all.

                    In any case, ‘offer’ may have another use, as in:
                    Τὰ σὰ ἐκ τῶν σῶν σοὶ προσφέρομεν

                    which I, if it were up to me, would translate as:
                    ‘to you of your own we are offering’

                    • Monk James Silver says

                      That’s good, but we have many other instances in our prayers where ‘offer’ is a good translation of prosferO  (‘bring forward’).  .  We have yet to deal with the meaning of anapempO., which is somewhat different.

                  • Monk James Silver,

                    “We have yet to deal with the meaning of anapempO., which is somewhat different”.
                    A Greek dictionary written by ten professors says:
                    στέλλω εἰς τα ἂνω,
                    ……….. ἒξω,
                    ……….. μακράν,

                    • Monk James Silver says

                      Exacty.  And the synonym given first here is ‘send up’. 
                      Subsequent meanings such as ‘send out’  and so on are more paraphrastic, less literal, and not helpful in our liturgical context.

              • Archpriest Alexander F.C. Webster says

                Well said, Nikos!  Thanks for that extensive reply, which was well worth the wait.  I concur fully with your remarks.
                I would add, however, Chekhov’s hauntingly beautiful and moving short story, “Easter Eve,” and Ivan Turgenev’s “Living Relic,” also deeply moving and unexpected from another great Russian writer in the 19th century who struggled honestly with questions of faith.

                • Fr Alexander thank u. I learn so much from yr Comments and Easter eve is so moving.  I always feel that when the canon is chanted, ending in ‘This is the day of Reserrection’,  It moves me to tears, but all around so many hardly hear it.  Chekhov gets this exactly. And only a person with spiritual awareness would see that. 
                  Thank you.   So good to discuss other things than the usual!! 

                • To add. Re Pasternak. If you have not. To read his poem,  In hospital.  I know it almost by heart and having had a hospital career it is close. And last yr when i lay in hospital, the words came close. 
                  His poetry is beautiful and very Orthodox. 

                • Fr Alexander re reading Reserrection.  Yes it’s a book the liberal elite would home in on and yes it exists,  but to also read Solzenitsyn or Bunin or And Chekhov etc IN TANDEM.  But no of course not.!!!  
                  An excellent book on revolution is by Orlando Figges,  ‘A People’s Tragedy.’  Now he is generally anti -Tsar but to be fair, an excellent writer on Russia and with much fine detail,close argued  and an honest man. But at end of day does not see the Wood for  the Trees or set 19c Russian Empire, in context.But still  strongly recommend. There are some home truths such as state of peasant belief and declining worker belief and reactionary local clergy etc.  But he of course does not see or sense or understand the rest.  That is the spiritual life and renaisance in church art and music and rest.  Because at end he is a secularist. AN HONEST ONE and a fine writer on Russian affairs.  His books on Stalin and life under Stalin should be a must. 
                  There is a new book by an american author, published last year  who makes a revisionist case for Tsar Nicholas  but I actually do not rate his book too much as tending to be too broard brush,as it were.  
                  An excellent study is Nicholas ii, Dominic Lieven.  He writes well and in context and with knowledge and depth.   

  5. These deformations of Orthodoxy have been going on for decades, coming not from atheists, but from heretics within the Church.  The hierarchs seem happy to pretend nothing is happening (indeed they are usually leading the assault) and thus things just keep going from bad to horrible.  The conservative laity, clergy, and monastics in “official” World Orthodoxy must obey the canons to get out, abandon the ship of heretics, and by doing so cut off their money supply.  Join the True Orthodox, for example those from various countries including America who are united in the Genuine Orthodox Christians under Kallinikos.  The Orthodox Church is not the schismatic World Orthodox patriarchates–as much as they want you to think so–it is adherence to and love for a Faith and Tradition as delivered by our Lord Jesus Christ, the Apostles, the Fathers and the martyrs.  As long as “conservative orthodox” continue to put their money in the “Fordham-like” baskets, their toothless grizzling serves the same purpose as the orchestra on the Titanic.

    • Isidora again u put it so well.  IT IS TIME TO ACT.   Quietly to walk away.  When they turn up and find no one in church cos they elsewhere, their byzantine Fantasy world will be revealed.  Their fancy titles and emperor ‘ s clothes will be seen for what they are AND their secular friends will drop them as quick as quick can be. 

    • Isidora,
      “the Genuine Orthodox Christians under Kallinikos” are they now in communion with ROCOR, anf if not, why not? Are they in contact with ROCOR to (again) have full communion. Is there some big problem e.g. MP, or what?
      Thanks in advance.

      • Alitheia 1875 says

        The GOC under Archbishop Kallinikos is not in communion with ROCOR because ROCOR is in communion with the MP after being a synod in resistance for decades. The GOC will not enter in to communion with any group that is attached to the ecumenical movement.

      • Just a tidbit, when the EP bishop of Gaul  recently called St. John of Shanghai a schismatic saint, he was not kidding. If you read Elder Ephraim’s letter defending ROCOR when he briefly joined them, you will see that in Greece ROCOR is literally viewed as an old calendarist sect. Elder Ephraim was slandered as having joined the old calendarist schismatics which was the reason for him writing the letter to the bigwigs explaining ROCOR has apostolic succession and are not schismatics.  This is another little fact new calendarist Greeks hide from ROCOR adherents

        • Gail Sheppard says

          What?! Good grief.

        • Monk James Silver says

          Since Fr Ephraim came from the monastery of Philotheou in Athos, which is almost entirely on the old calendar, such a reaction is a bit odd —  even for neometric Greeks.

  6. It is disheartening to watch it indeed… I love GOA but what is happening to our church? Is this why Elder Ephraim left to join ROCOR and had to go back cause Patriarch threatened him?

    • Solitary Priest says

      Sage-Girl, I don’t know all the details, but years ago I was told that Fr. Ephraim went to Constantinople to confront the Patriarch over his Ecumenism betraying the Faith. That is when he was told, come back or else.
            My guess is that the monasteries connected with Fr. Ephraim tried to compensate for being under the EP by being super strict. Thus, catechumens really had to leave the church at the appointed time, non Orthodox couldn’t attend liturgy, etc.
           For what it’s worth, such strict practices were NEVER the rule in ROCOR, except in a few zealot parishes which later became part of the HOCNA cult. 

      • Solitary Priest: thanks kindly; are you really a tonsured priest?
        poor Elder Ephraim, I imagine he was deeply hurt by many Greek Orthodox that didn’t appreciate his work; such jealousy, cannot understand it – I heard over years several married priests disparage him. I’ve met many clergy… let’s just say, very few are worthy to wear the robe. But the few Gems I’m proud to have known is why I keep going church.
        I’m suspecting there’s tension between Monastics and the married clergy & laity. They just don’t understand this ineffable calling to Monastic path— to live the “Angelic Life”… 
        p.s. Rasputin is reported to have seen apparition of Virgin Mary – he couldn’t have been such a bad guy if it’s true, yea?

        • Solitary Priest says

          I’m an ordained priest, a widower. I ought to accept the monastic tonsure like Fr. Kallistos, my late spiritual father. I am definitely not worthy to wear the robe. Because Rasputin saw the Mother of God, that doesn’t necessarily make him a saint. I’ve read sources in Russian that claim his influence in Russian state affairs has been exaggerated. I do tend to think that the Empress Alexandra, like so many converts, was over zealous in some respects. But it is also true that Russian society at the time was drifting away from the Faith. St. John of Kronstadt predicted dire events for the Russian people, if they didn’t repent. We see what happened with the revolution in Russia.
              A wise old married Protopresbyter of ROCOR once said, that we can’t be letter of the law in some things, such as insisting Catechumens leave the church at the appointed time. His name was Fr. Valery Lukianov, he reposed in 2018. I believe he very well may be revealed as a Saint someday. And so may Fr. Ephraim, if it is pleasing to God.

          • Solitary Priest – Please DO accept the Monastic tonsure!
            I encourage you to join us in living the “Angelic Life”…?
            I too am widowed + very lucky to have spiritually trained for years with a genuine holy Geronda + Heirarch who gave me Tonsure as a small schema monastic.

            I don’t think too many Orthodox folk know that persons like me can be Tonsured too + Not have to live in cloistered monastery – I don’t. Since I read Desert Fathers at 14, I was inspired to find a way to live that…
            I do Not wear the schema robe in public, that would be scandalous. I’m in the world, have part time job, live with my old aunt + uncle but planning excitedly to build my “own personal monastery”. I’ve lived in world so long, it’s daunting task to join demanding hermitage, but still I’m part time hermit…
            I envisage a private Big house to personally invite serious, holy Orthodox women + men to live with me — yes holy men too, cause they’re infinitely helpful + gifted in ways that balance things out. I discovered after many retreats in monasteries how often a man was necessary + had to be called out to rescue us gals from countless physical ordeals etc. Besides I’m used to holy men from early age.
            Wish me luck & maybe you can visit!
            May It Be Blessed.?

      • If anyone wants to read Elder Ephraims letter about ROCOR canonicity which he had to defend as the Greeks only recognize them as russian version old calendarists, here it is from 1991:

  7. Rhonda Dodson says

    Ref the schismatic-OCU, not only do they endorse the LGBT agenda (as does Constantinople), but their iconography in their temples incorporates Nazi symbolism, they regularly commemorate Ukrainian Nazis, they regularly concelebrate with the UGCC & openly advocate uniting the two groups, thus establishing a reunion between Rome/Constantinople.

    • Someone please explain what is

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Short Version: The OCU are Ukrainian schismatics to whom Bartholomew granted autocephaly against the wishes of just about all the Autocephalous Churches. Their leader, Filaret (secular name Mykhailo Antonovych Denysenko), had previously been part of the Moscow Patriarchate but was disposed decades ago. – Bartholomew went into the MP’s territory and reinstated him. After receiving autocephaly, Filaret was unceremoniously kicked out by his spiritual child, Epiphany, to whom Bartholomew gave the title “Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine”. (This is the same title Metropolitan Onufriy, the legitimate bishop, holds. Bartholomew recognizes both of them, it seems.) The OCU are nationalists who care about uniting Ukraine against Russia.

  8. Thanks Gail-
    re: OCU, I do not hear good things about them… but I do hear good about Bishop Onufriy 

  9. Yes Gail,
    that’s what a beloved Elder, a Russian Orthodox Met. had to say about Met. Onufriy.  
    I wonder – what makes it so hard for most of us to find a geronda among Greek Orthodox Hierarchs?  For me, as a Greek Orthodox American, I found him among the Russians, by chance, at a Xmas dinner – he welcomed me to table next to him + viola, we talked forever + spiritually bonded. Now this I’ve never seen any Greek clergy do! The Russian other Bishops, Mets I’ve met since are incredibly accessible, unlike the distant Greeks.
    Why is that?

    • Gail Sheppard says

      He is a Saint in my book. This situation must be amazingly difficult for him and yet he continues to keep his tongue and encourage his flock.