Metropolitan Joseph is Raising the Bar

It appears that His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph al-Zahlaoui of the Antiochian Archdiocese is raising the bar (so to speak).

According to one of my sources, at the most recent clergy retreats on the West Coast, His Eminence made it plain that “he wants reception into the church to be by baptism across the board and exceptions to only be approved by him”. My contact goes on to say that there might be “push back” against him on this matter but he still regards this as “a very major move for us”.

Speaking for myself, I’ve never been one to go against the teachings of most Orthodox jurisdictions in America regarding the reception of converts; that is to say through a confession of faith and chrismation. This may be due however to a cultural bias I have had growing up in Oklahoma based as it is on an understanding of the various Trinitarian denominations in the United States. In other words, they were Trinitarian and Gospel-based.

However, that was then, this is now. In reality, there are no longer any Trinitarian denominations in North America outside of the Orthodox churches. Not in any meaningful sense. The nihilistic juggernaut that is both feminism and faggotry coupled with a horrible misunderstanding of the traditional American conception of what constitutes “freedom” and “equality” have all but obliterated what it means to be a “mere Christian”.

Nor are things any better in Catholicism. Towit:

Now I realize that this is going to be unsettling to some (as it is to me). Regardless, the excision of broad-brush economia in favor of a more nuanced akrivia may be necessary all things being equal. Especially given the fact that the GOA has been taken over by a cabal of laymen who appear to be calling the shots, all the while assuring the laity that things have “turned around”.

There is simply no way that the other jurisdictions (save perhaps Syosset which has long been infected by this particular malady) are going to accept an even more secularized, lay-controlled GOA as a co-equal partner. Especially if those laymen are part of the dying, globalist mindset that is the Boston-New York-Washington axis. If Antioch, long thought of as the most lax of the jurisdictions is going to lead the way in a more rigorous orthopraxia, then I’d say all bets are off (and in a good way).

Regardless, if His Eminence succeeds, this will yet be another nail in the coffin of the Episcopal Assembly of the United States of America.

(These last statements requires more consideration: it’s particularly unsettling to me that in the recent interview, Mike Psaros, makes absolutely no mention at all of the other jurisdictions. One is left to believe that these “turnaround artists” are still swimming in the same MyBigFatGreek ethnocentric pool that has hobbled Greek Orthodoxy in America ever since the forced retirement of Archbishop Iakovos Coucouzis in 1996.)

So yes, perhaps His Eminence is correct to take this major step. Perhaps there is no other option on the table. As such, I am withholding my own criticisms and trusting in the Lord that all this plays out according to His plan.


  1. Michael Bauman says

    Ah yes, the “Antiochians are worldly” trope. Do not forget despite the connections to Constantinople over the years, Russia has loomed large in our history. St. Raphael was schooled in Russia and operated under the grace of the Russian Church here in the United States.

    Still have yet to hear any retractions from those harbingers of doom that predicted that the Antiochian archdiocese would collapse after Met. Philip reposed.

    Met Joseph wants rigor apparently. He has also pretty much stopped approving third marriages. When he was elevated to Met he emphasized the importance of monasticism.

    If I am not mistaken, we Antiochians still are more open to receiving non-Orthodox. The Western Rite can certainly be questioned and it is but it is active and overseen within the Antiochian Archdiocese.

    It would not surprise me if ROCOR and the Antiochians were to come more closely together especially with the continuing troubles with the GOA and the OCA.

    He is centralizing things even more than Met Philip did however.

  2. This is welcome news. The Antiochians seem to be in a state of self-searching since the Crete Incident.

  3. Virginia Dean says

    The Orthodox world is determined to put itself out of business. It swats at the gnat but doesn’t see the unlocked jaws of the Serpent. It’s leaders are narcissistic, ethnic, monastic-mysogynists who would rather sink the ship than move forward. They don’t want to be Catholics or Protestants and, right now, they are less effective, important, and salvific than those they disdain.

    • Virginia, what do you mean by “moving forward?” Following in the steps of the Episcopal Church or of mainstream Protestant Christianity or of rock music and groovy bands in many fundamentalist Churches? Giving in to the whims of trendy Christianity in this Christian–less culture? There is a HUGE crisis in the Christian faith in this culture as well as in Europe. I, for one, applaud the actions of Metropolitan Joseph.

      On the other hand, as new arrivals from Syria and elsewhere, the newly arrived Christians from these countries, need to be accepting of those Orthodox Christians who have fled to the Orthodox Church and they should NOT try to cast aside their American brothers and sisters. Converts to Orthodoxy have struggled on their journeys to Orthodoxy and should be received as a part of the universal Orthodox Faith. Liturgies should be in English, if the Church is to grow and cradle Orthodox should be accepting of those who want to enter the Church.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Virginia, you could not be more wrong.

    • Also Greatly Saddened says

      “It’s leaders are narcissistic, ethnic, monastic-mysogynists”

      Quite possibly some are. And indeed, faithful who have suffered trauma at the hands of clergy or bishops (whether that be verbal abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, spiritual abuse, emotional abuse, what have you) are very sensitive to these issues and need healing. Many women faithful (and many, possibly rightly so?) dismiss many clergy as misogynistic after they have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of clergy (yes, it happens). And no one is surprised that many of the “macho” Orthodox cultures (Greek and Middle Eastern, for example) often have a history of treating women as second class citizens, particularly in the village areas. If you combine treating women as second class citizens with sexual abuse, what results is women whose experience tells them that some clergy/bishops are misogynistic. What these women need is love and healing, something we often forget about. Indeed, some who may be “macho, misogynistic” men probably forgot the Gospel account of after Christ’s crucifixion, how all the disciples (men) ran away, scared. Who were the first to bravely go to Christ in the tomb, unsure of how they would even roll the stone away from the tomb? The women. The myrrhbearing women were the brave ones, while the men fled in their fear.

      But Virginia, even if a fraction of the Church’s clergy/bishops are “monastic-mysogynists” as you say, even that does not negate the Truth of Christ or of His Church. Many clergy/bishops are not paragons of emotional health — many are broken like the rest of us and need healing. We all work to find this healing in our Church community.

      “….who would rather sink the ship than move forward.”

      Ah yes, “move forward,” the tired, shaming trope of the progressive protestants and Catholics who are in the throes of self-suicide. Many well-intentioned Christians in years past fell for this shaming tactic and decided to jump in with the “move forward” crowd, lest they be shamed as fuddy-duddy old traditionalists. But the “move forward” shaming crowd never clearly defines what “moving forward” means, and there is a reason for that. Because the real goal is not to “move forward,” but to shame faithful into being embarrassed for who they are and for what they believe. If these folks can be shamed out of who they are and what they believe, then their old, venerable institutions can be destroyed. The Soviets mercilessly shamed Russians who tried to remain faithful or even who publicly admitted that they prayed.

      This shaming tactic worked like a charm to destroy every mainstream Protestant church out there, and then the Roman Catholic Church. The Soviets tried to destroy the Orthodox Church in Russia by mercilessly persecuting and shaming her faithful, yet alas, they failed (no surprise).

      The truth is that even if one is inclined to shame others into “moving forward” and rejecting who they are and what they believe, and even if this desire stems from real emotional pain and trauma, shaming those who hurt us is a tactic of the devil; thus Christ’s church will never succumb to it.

      • The ship in the West is sinking rapidly. Maybe we don’t want to ape them. Births are well below replacement in Western Europe. If you discounted Latino and Black births, the same would be true here in America. The danger here is that minorities will become the majority and unthinkingly eat up the treasury, leaving nothing but a dead husk and a police state.

        Roman Catholicism (and its Liberal offshoots) and Protestantism can no longer reproduce themselves. Let there be joy in Who-ville!

        Now if we Orthodox can get our act together and start reproducing more abundantly – it is a major government project in Russia, as you may know:

        . . . and they have enjoyed some moderate success.

        • Constaninos says

          There you go Misha. Make America White Again. Another embarrassing racist post by the gun nut Misha. The really scary thing is you actually believe the junk you post. May God forbid that you ever reproduce.

          • Constantinos,

            Nothing can “make America white again” and that is not my goal. For years I have worshiped alongside people of various shades and ethnicities as fellow Orthodox Christians.

            However, given the plantation mentality encouraged by the Democratic Party here and looking to the experience of Third World socialism as a likely indicator of the future if such a program is pursued, I have to caution against it.

            It is not my fault that only a majority of American whites and not a majority of American Latinos or American Blacks have the sense to vote for national salvation rather than national self destruction:


  4. This is a papal move.. Met. Joseph is the only one who can make exceptions–you have to be kidding me. Is there grace in sacramental life outside Orthodoxy or not–it is not up to him. What happens to all those who were received into Orthodoxy through chrismation, which has been the standard practice among Orthodox jurisdictions in the US.

    • Actually, Johnkal, as a bishop it is up to him for those in his jurisdiction. As scandalous as it may seem to our modern ears, Christ gave the power to bind and loose to His apostles and their successors – an awesome responsibility to be sure.

      I myself was received without being re-baptized; and I don’t question it. Nor should anyone question the manner of anyone’s reception as long as it is done under the apostolic authority granted to bishops.

      This is not, IMHO, a matter of whether or not there is grace outside the Orthodox Church, nor is it a move toward a “more conservative stance” as someone suggested or papal move, as you suggest It is a matter of what is best for both the person(s) involved and the people of God with whom they are being united.

      Receiving everyone by baptism in the Orthodox manner removes all doubt in anyone’s mind (both those who are received as well as those in the Church who receive them), regardless of any grace – or lack thereof – that may or may not exist outside the Church or the ‘intention’ or form of baptism employed by the heterodox.

      This decision ensures that what belongs to the Church remains the Church’s alone. It is her Sacrament/Mystery, commanded by Christ. Like the other Mysteries and the Scriptures themselves, they belong to her and to no one else. This is not to say that God cannot use what belongs to her to draw those outside of her context to Himself, but it is to say that nothing done apart from her can or should be trusted. This especially true in our time when there is no longer any uniformity of belief or practice among groups calling themselves (for example) Catholic, Lutheran, or whatever.

      I applaud this decision, and I hope others follow because it removes needless ambiguity and unnecessary suspicion among brethren.

      • Brian, read the creed–“0ne baptism for the forgiveness of sins.”

        • Indeed. No argument. The question is “baptized into what?”

          There is, for example, the baptism into Moses of which Paul speaks (“all who passed through the Red Sea were baptized into Moses”) . There was also the baptism of John, which according to the Acts of the Apostles was considered insufficient. And today there are otherwise sincere believers who are baptized into who knows for sure what? Baptism has all sorts of varied meanings for those in the endless number of Christian sects.

          An Orthodox Christian baptism is one that specifically unites one to Christ and His Church which is His Body, inseparable from Him.

        • May I add respectfully with regard to one baptism…

          There is, as the creed states, ONE baptism. As Saint Paul writes,

          “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

          But the reality of heterodox sects is that they do not have one faith, nor do they have the same faith. Even the best among them do not share our Orthodox (right, true) Faith in its fullness. How then can they be rightly trusted with the one baptism? To be once baptized into Christ is inseparable from the one Faith and the one Body that is His Church. I suspect you know this, but I wonder if you have fully considered the implications for why it is that we do what we do and why it really does matter in practice.

          Remember, I write these things as one who was received by Chrismation, and I am in no way implying that Chrismation is ‘invalid,’ mine or anyone else’s. I am only saying that it is not ideal in our modern context because it doesn’t fully reflect the truth of what Christian baptism, as understood by the one, holy catholic and apostolic Church from the beginning, is.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Brian, the one baptism is to be baptized into Christ’s death. To be Orthodox also means right worship, right glory. That exists, despite individual piety or even the presence of Christ Himself, nowhere else but the Orthodox Church.

            Christ is everywhere present and filling all created things, but God has a very specific manner of worship within which He reveals Himself. Outside that?????

            The ordo for baptism outside the Church is corrupt, heretical even demonic as you point out.

            Besides, the ruling bishop has said what is to be the order of things within the Antiochian Archdiocese. That order has deep traditional roots, is not heretical in any way. So folks, that settles it.

      • Mark E. Fisus says

        Met. Joseph has jurisdiction only in his own diocese.

        • Hieromonk Philip says

          He has jurisdiction throughout the Antiochian Archdiocese, but this discussion is moot because he has made no changes in the Archdiocesan guidelines for bringing converts into the Church. These guidelines are spelled out clearly in the “Priests’Guide.”

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Johnkal, those who have been received into the Orthodox Church through chrismation were received through something called economy or oeconomy. Metropolitan Philip, Metropolitan Joseph’s predecessor, made the decision to receive all converts this way if they had been previously baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. People who enter the Church through economy are just as much a part of the Church as anyone else.

      However, baptism is, and always was, the prescribed way to enter the Orthodox Church. There are reasons for this.

      There are also times when baptism is not possible and exceptions need to be made. An example would be when someone is wounded or ill and not able to be baptized. Economy has been used in these cases.

      I don’t know this but I’m guessing Metropolitan Joseph wants to decide when economy is used until he is comfortable that our bishops and priests know when it is appropriate, as this is new for our jurisdiction and there are probably many instances of people coming in all sorts of way. However, once you’re in, you’re in, so no one has to worry about that.

      There is nothing “papal” about this; Metropolitan Joseph is not creating anything new. He is merely “righting the ship.” His decision to baptise converts brings us more into alignment with some of the other jurisdictions and with the Church herself.

      I applaud it.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Gail, even under Met. Philip there was not a carte blanche. My son and I were baptized in a Trinitarian fashion before coming to the Church but outside the main stream of things. I was asked to provide material on the manner of baptism and the theology behind it. It did not pass muster and my son and I were received by Baptism and Chrismation. My late wife who had been baptized at age 5 in the Methodist church was received by confession and Chrismation. IMO she would have been better off if she had been received the same way as my son and I.

        Now, there is no such thing as main stream.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Michael, thanks for sharing this with me. It drives home the fact that we don’t always know what is really being done or why.

    • Still only Chrismated? They obviously did not read Metallinos’ “I Confess One Baptism.” As I was told I was going to hell by the church secretary for leaving the Southern Baptists when requesting my baptismal certificate from them (for a $50 ‘donation’), having been baptized by them at 13, if Orthodoxy was truly the Truth of the Faith, then Orthodox Chrismation was barely a hand-sanitizer, which I originally got. I went and found one to Baptize me after all this parishional PCing to the protestants…Orthodox. Or not. Yes, it is a Mystery of our faith, and thank God for that.

      • Around 20 years ago I had a nice conversation with Fr. George Metallinos, he was visiting Tacoma, WA. He asked me how I had come to the Orthodox Church and how long ago, among other things. As I answered him I came to the time I was received and when I mentioned being chrismated he at once interrupted me, saying “That’s all right! Really! It’s OK, don’t be concerned!” — He anticipated something I was not about to say, namely that I had reservations about “only” being chrismated. I assured him that wasn’t an issue to me at all. He shook his head and said he seemed always to find laymen who had such feelings. Important to hear what he said next: “My book has been very much misunderstood in America”. Very nice man, too.

    • fr Chris Moody says

      The hierarch most certainly does have jurisdiction, being the primary economos, steward, of the mysteries of God.

  5. Sean Richardson says

    Unfortunately, I’m in disagreement. When I was received into the Orthodox Church a number of years ago, I asked to be baptized, again, and that request required special permission from the bishop because it was not considered Traditional. Looking back on it, my reasons for wanting re-baptism were spurious, and it shouldn’t have happened.
    Met. Joseph is attempting a move toward a more “conservative” stance, but in reality this is an innovation. It shouldn’t happen.
    P.S. When I was received by baptism, there were isolated Orthodox communities that even re-baptized Orthodox from other jurisdictions. Not good.

    • Mariam Visagio says

      It IS traditional to receive by Holy Baptism. There is no grace , nor are there sacraments outside of Orthodoxy, and whatever group decided this many years ago is mistaken, according to Holy Fathers. If this were the case anyone can baptize, no matter what, and just go in for Chrismation.

      • Mariam and others, reception into the Church has been practiced in a variety of ways as indicated by the canon below with certain groups being treated differently from others. To assume that the Holy Fathers were uniform in practice is not true. Second Ecumenical Council (A.D. 381) in its 7th Canon:

        “Those heretics who come over to Orthodoxy and to the society of those who are saved we receive according to the prescribed rite and custom: we receive Arians, Macedonians, Novatianists who call themselves ‘pure and better,’ Quatrodecimans, otherwise known as Tetradites, as well as Appolinarians on condition that they offer libelli (i.e., recantations in writing) and anathematize every heresy that does not hold the same beliefs as the holy, catholic and apostolic Church of God, and then they should be marked with the seal, that is, anointed with chrism on the forehead, eyes, nostrils, mouth and ears. And as they are marked with the seal, we say, ‘seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ As for Eunomians, however, who are baptized with a single immersion, Montanists, who are called Phrygians, and the Sabellians, who teach that Father and Son are the same person, and who commit other abominable things, and [those belonging to] any other heresies – for there are many of them here, especially among the people coming from the country of the Galatians, – all of them that want to adhere to Orthodoxy we are willing to accept as Greeks [i.e., pagans]. Accordingly, on the first day we make them Christians; on the second day, catechumens; then, on the third day, we exorcise them with the act of blowing thrice into their face and into their ears; and thus we do catechize them, and we make them tarry a while in the church and listen the Scriptures; and then we baptize them.”[27]

    • Michael Bauman says

      Sean, sorry but it does not matter whether you agree or disagree except to you. We have good bishops in the Antiochian Archdiocese.

      I knew something like this would have to happen.

      “There is no grace outside the Church” is a hard saying. Not accurate in the broadest sense but it is in the sacramental reality. All Sacraments are of the Church as the Bible is of the Church. That is the truth.

    • Sean,

      Then you were received by those who did not know what they are talking about.

      In Orthodoxy, there is akrivea and oikonomia; stricture and “housekeeping”, so to speak. Strictly speaking, everyone who joins the Orthodox Church from the outside, regardless of whether it is “Oriental Orthodox”, Roman Catholic, Protestant or Anglican – let alone non-Christians – should be baptized in the Orthodox Church. This is not a second baptism if they have received some form of baptism in some other Christian confession. There is no salvation outside the Church and there are no effectual mysteries outside of the Church. Mysteries purportedly served outside the Church convey no grace, they are but empty forms – a bath, if you will. We believe in “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church” and “one baptism for the remission of sins”. The notion that one could have one’s sins absolved and be joined to the Church, dying and being reborn with Christ, outside the Church, is ludicrous.

      Now, per St. Basil and some other saints, and per the practice of the various local Orthodox churches (Russia, Serbia, Constantinople, etc.), some converts who have received a form of baptism are received, in oikonomia (by pastoral grace or laxity), through chrismation, another grace conveying Holy Mystery of the Church. And, in the case of Roman Catholics who have received both the forms of baptism and chrismation (which in their confession is done directly after baptism but not considered a separate “sacrament”), some Orthodox local church bishops have allowed reception by confession.

      This last practice may be an anomaly and carry over from the back and forth of Uniatism and Orthodoxy in Central Europe. I could see where reception after receiving the Mystery of Penance might be used. But, as I understand it, some are received by simple “confession of faith”; i.e., the Orthodox Creed, and renouncing prior heresies. I do not believe that this is proper in any sense and have never heard a sound argument for it, but it has been done. One assumes that, God being merciful, assuming that everyone is operating in good faith, yet unfortunate ignorance, that all defects would be cured by the person’s first reception of the Gifts, yet another grace conveying Mystery.

      However, even chrismation has been abused as a means of reception. Even according to the rule of the Fathers, a triple immersion baptism would have to have been performed and oftentimes this is not the case. Rergardless, we presume that God cures all defects of those who persist in the faith and Holy Mysteries, however they are received.

      Notwithstanding that, some of the more exacting fathers on the Holy Mountain will baptize you regardless of how you were received otherwise before they would admit you to communion or monastic profession.

  6. Joseph Lipper says

    I’ve heard that St Alexis Toth was received from Uniatism by confession and vesting in the altar. Perhaps unusual, but if that is what the Bishop says to do, then it sounds good enough to me.

    • timmy_the_lemur says

      This is normal practice in the Russian church for clergy. It is also not unusual in the Moscow Patriarchate (I’ve personally seen it) for confirmed Roman Catholics to be received by confession of faith. This has been their standard practice for centuries.

  7. Mariam Visagio says

    Wonderful to see a bishop acting Orthodox and doing the PROPER way of reception into the Orthodox Church!!! Bravo!!!

  8. There have been a variety of practices throughout the history of the Church. At different times various groups were received in different ways. Check out the canons and you will see diverse practices. Just look at the practice in USA.

    Mariam, to say there is no grace outside the Church is dangerous and ridiculous. How could anyone come to Christ within the Church if grace were not active and present. Be careful–blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is a serious sin.

    • George Michalopulos says

      johnkal, I completely agree with your last statement. The problem is in your third sentence. Please, let’s not cover what has obtained in North America regarding Orthodoxy with glory. There’ve been good things no doubt –great things even. But as far as orthopraxia is concerned, not so much. Even the most ethnocentric bishops who still believe in the myth of Glorious Ruritania, Greater Slobovia and Holy Lutonia and who serve on the EAUSA would admit as much.

      I’m going to be charitable and say that the hundreds of thousands of immigrants did the best they could with what they had. Rather than criticize a church for its iconography, rubrics, whatever, let’s just get on our knees and thank God that a church exists in the middle-of-nowhere and that its sacraments are valid. Having said that, let us also be honest and pray that things could be better.

      • Met. Joseph’s new position on Baptism, which I am certain, has Met. Phillip turning in his grave, is a capitulation to the conservative elements within his archdiocese. He is not a “defender of the true faith” but rather an equivocator. The result will be that, a Catholic baptism will be accepted if the priest desires it to be accepted and the catechumen will be received through chrismation or if the priest wants, the catechumen to be re-baptized. This is a ridiculous state of affairs and will lead to division in the diocese as well as becoming an obstacle to Orthodox unity. Furthermore, you can enter a GOA church down the street through chrismation, and need to be re-baptized if you enter Orthodoxy through the AOA. Grace exists where Met. Joseph whimsically thinks it exists?

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Johnkal, Metropolitan Philip knew Metropolitan Joseph pretty well. I’m sure Metropolitan Joseph expressed his opinions back in the day. The ONLY thing Metropolitan Philip cared about was unity. Metropolitan Joseph has been faithful in this regard.

          You are mistaken about the result. You do NOT understand how this is going to work. Reread what George wrote. It says Metropolitan Joseph will decide matters of economy, not a priest. If someone is in the GOA, they do NOT need to be baptized to attend an Antiochian parish. This is only for converts outside the Church. I was made a catechumen by a Greek monastery, baptized by the OCA and attended an Antiochian parish! There are no walls within the Church. Before you object, please make an effort to understand what you’re objecting to because you are going to needlessly alarm people.

          No one is going to be rebaptized, as the only baptism that counts is the one done in the Church. There is no division unless you and others create it. The sacraments are the means by which God enacts his grace and baptism is a sacrament.

  9. Something to consider…

    St. John of Shang Hai and San Francisco received Seraphim Rose into the Church through chrismation.

    My patron St. Elizabeth the New Martyr was also received into the Church through chrismation.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Absolutely. I for one have stated where I stand on this issue. However, I have also stated that times have changed. Dramatically. And for the worse (as far as Christian denominations are concerned). Please, don’t get me started on the state of modern Protestantism even here in the Buckle of the Bible Belt. It ain’t pretty.

      The problem may be that in some jurisdictions (i.e. GOA, perhaps Antioch), the reception of converts through Chrismation was not preceded by the rite of Exorcism and the necessary prayers which are said. Perhaps in decades past they didn’t need to be. (Again, timing is everything.) I actually remember receiving converts into the GOA with a minimum of those prayers recited in the past.

      If however, I am wrong on the historical understanding, please feel free to correct the record.


      • I have never been part of a Chrismation in an Antiochian setting in which the exorcism prayers were not used. Period.

      • An economy that may have been justifiable for receiving Protestants a hundred years ago when Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, et al. clearly held faith in the Holy Trinity, the Virgin birth, the full divinity and humanity of Christ is likely no longer justified. When the Episcopalians have bishops who remain in good standing despite their denial of Christ’s resurrection, when Presbyterians and others permit baptism in the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, when some unite in what they call matrimony that which God never intended to unite, when the norms of Christian morality are widely ignored–and when nobody performs triple immersion or exorcisms, and many do not accept that Baptism is a Sacrament–the question as to whether we share to same faith in any essentials becomes pressing. We see the epistles of Jude and Second Peter abundantly fulfilled before our eyes. “But they use the same words that we do when they baptize”; bare words without the fruit mean nothing.

  10. I was under the impression that the basis rule of the Church is strict adherence to the letter of the law (akrivia).

    However, in some cases, this is not the appropriate position to take and therefore, bishops are allowed discretionary deviation from the letter of the law in order to adhere to the spirit of the law (economia).

    Economia is never the basic rule.

    A link to Father Andrew’s site (a ROCOR bishop in England) which explains this well; I do have issues with Father Andrew but I do think this is a clear article:

  11. I am a Hieromonk in ROCOR of many years. I was always instructed that all converts should be received by Baptism and Chrismation unless there was a good reason for not doing so – such as old age and physical difficulty. Clergy from other groups including Roman Catholic were always to be Baptised in order to ensure that their subsequent Ordination was beyond question. On those occasions when I have received converts by Chrismation, I have nevertheless taken them through the Baptism service in order that they may make their promises. I and two other clergy were received by Baptism and we individually noted afterwards, the sensation of a great weight being lifted off us. So I heartily recommend the reception of converts by Baptism for their own good.

    • Yes Father!
      This is the way it should be done. I have always respected ROCOR because of their dedication to Holy Tradition. I pray that it is true regarding Metropolitan Joseph’s “raising the bar.”

      Glory be to God!

      • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

        Cheryl, your heated rhetoric regarding the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) is both surprising and uncharacteristic of your usually temperate posts on this website.

        I shall not attempt to argue with you whether ROCOR’s standard (though not necessarily universal) practice of receiving converts from non-Orthodox Christian communities is wise or justifiable or in keeping with the ancient Orthodox Tradition. Nor do I wish to pursue the complex and varied history of reception of such converts by the Church of Russia and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, to name two autocephalous Churches that have altered their respective practices over time.

        I do, however, take exception to your use of the term “fundamentalist” as an epithet to dismiss traditional Orthodox with whom you disagree on the question of reception of converts–or any issue, for that matter. For reasons that I explain in my article in Touchstone magazine last year titled, “Three Trojan Horses: Insider Attempts to Disorient the Orthodox” (, that particular term is widely misunderstood by those who employ it and especially odious to those who are tarred with it.

        Nor does your cartoonish depiction of the Russian Orthodox Church as “the Church of the Pharisees” serve your purpose well.

        A serious, worthwhile discussion of the theological, liturgical, and evangelistic issues at stake here or elsewhere requires knowledgeable commentary and respectful engagement instead of angry name-calling.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Very well said, Fr.

          If I may: I don’t believe that the word “fundamentalist” has any meaning any more. Or as Fr Hans Jacobse said in another context, it has a “surplus of meaning”. In other words, I can be used as a cudgel in any debate in order to silence your opponent without any real understanding of either its historical context or willingness to engage in an honest dialogue.

          I must say that I’m rather put out by those of us who automatically impute “phariseeism” to those autocephalous churches we don’t like. I myself, as an unreconstructed Cold Warrior fell into the trap early on of “Russia=Bad/America=Good” until I actually met some Russians and then followed the recent history of the Church in Russia. Clearly it is resurgent. I wish I could say the same thing of Orthodoxy in America (or even simply Christianity for that matter). And then I went there and was amazed at what I saw.

          A little humility from American Exceptionalists and liberals is in order if you ask me.

          • Deep Steak says

            guy who labels any foreign policy opinion he doesn’t like as neoconservative says fundamentalist has a surplus of meaning

            that which you complain about most you are most guilty of

        • One must take care when one speaks of “received” practices. Sometimes local churches err and the errors last for hundreds of years before being corrected. That is likely the case with the reception of Catholics by “confession”.

          I believe this Q and A reflects the mind of the Church regarding the question of the reception of converts:

          As to why the Church in America is not growing and has not grown as it “should” or we would otherwise expect it to grow, the reason is the deviation from the pattern of evangelism which prevailed when Orthodoxy encountered non-Christian, non-Orthodox cultures in the past. There was no “meeting them half way” with respect to matters of orthodox theology, ecclesiology and orthopraxis. Only when American Orthodoxy takes a “repeal and replace” attitude toward the rest of American religion will it make serious inroads.

          No American would subject themselves to the war against the passions inherent in Orthodoxy if all they thought they were encountering was the 39th flavor of Christianity-lite.

          PS: A “fundamentalist” is simply a person who has the bald audacity to believe in their religion as originally conceived rather than as remnants of vocabulary left after progressive acid treatment.

        • saunca,

          Interacting with people as self-deluded as you are is pointless. Histrionics and hyperbole are no substitute for dispassionate reasoning.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Misha, Good grief to you always have to be an idiot? Your reasoning, such that it is, is seldom dispassionate. Your reply to saunca was not called for and inappropriate. As a gentleman, I am offended and call on you to get ahold of yourself.

            • “Misha’s ongoing description of the ROC (including, but not limited to, his recent return to the physical slapping of one’s wife, ongoing arguments about baptism and head coverings, the idea that there is ZERO grace outside the Church….this is what I run into with so many members and converts to the ROC) and the decision to not pay dues/money to a foreign Patriarchate who is in bed with a man who fancies himself a modern day Tsar of Russia.”

              Those were the histrionics to which I objected. Search this site in vain and you will never find a post of mine suggesting that there is no grace outside the Church. What I have always maintained, with the Fathers, is that mysteries purportedly served outside the Church do not convey grace. I stand by that because it is the Orthodox Faith.

              When God told Eve that Adam would rule over her, He meant in the physical world, physically. Authority is hollow without the power of coercion. I, for myself, would probably not strike except in self defense. However, I have rank in kenpo and so I know how to restrain and subdue without damage or trauma.

              As far as spanking or slapping, so long as it is not done capriciously but only for cause and only minimal force, I can’t argue against it as a physical expression of the fact that the husband is master of the household and everyone in it. That is as it should be.

              I will never retreat from the conviction that feminism, root and branch, must be destroyed. It comes straight from the devil.

              Regarding Putin, the resurrection of the Russian Church and the Russian economy under Putin has been phenomenal. Russians are once again proud of their country and leader. I do not hesitate to accord him the honor of Tsar of All Rus’. For his efforts and wise administration, he deserves no less. Insofar as I can surmise, he is a true Christian tsar.

              Of course, men are fallible. He could err, apostacize, etc. We should all recall the example of Julian the Apostate. The line between good and evil passes through the human heart and we all are subject to temptation so long as we live in this fallen world.

              But, that being said, I find precious little to criticize about Putin.

              • Billy Jack Sunday says

                I see what the problem is

                This is what happens when someone takes the name of Jeff ‘Speakman’ a little too literally

                • Speakman is in American Kenpo (having crossed over from Goju-ryu karate), Ed Parker’s brainchild. I studied Chinese Kenpo which the Tracy brothers passed down from Mitose, Chow and Parker (early on, before he purged his style of ju-jitsu).

                  Still, though insufferably campy and badly acted, part of me likes his early movies.

                • Billy Jack Sunday says


                  I’m bit familiar with that lineage and have met some students from that line

                  My assumption you meant Ed Parker American KeNpo.

                  Though interchangeable, Kenpo/Kempo, I see a lot of Mitose folks have stuck with the KeMpo spelling – to distinguish from Ed Parker popularized art

                  Both mean fist law or rule of fist

                  “Perhaps it should have been the rule of wrist?”


              • I echo Michael Bauman above. As an Orthodox Christian, I am offended and call on you to get a hold of yourself.

                ” Authority is hollow without the power of coercion.”

                You, sir, have no idea what authority even is. Although your critiques of feminism are often close to the mark, your ideas of authority mirror those of which our Lord said, “But it shall not be so among you.”

                • George Michalopulos says

                  While I condemn all spousal abuse (men very often are the targets as well as women), coercion is allowed in many instances. For example violent coercion can be used to physically remove a drunken driver from the wheel of the car.

                  In instances such as this the police will not attempt to restrain the restrainer. Likewise a spouse is allowed to use whatever force is necessary if the other spouse is behaving in a threatening and/or violent manner.

        • Archpriest Alexander Webster says

          Cheryl, I have read your often impassioned postings on this website and do appreciate the sincerity and depth of your opinions. I would, however, have more respect for your sharing your personal narrative on this very public forum, if you had responded to my invitations dating back to 2013 to discuss via telephone your experiences in various Orthodox churches in the south and elsewhere.

          Other than this reply, I choose not, particularly as a priest, to engage in such sensitive personal exchanges in full view of the rest of the world.

      • We’re one faith says

        It’s best to keep in mind that the OCA and ROCOR have far more in common than any distinctions they may have between them. Every ROCOR parish commemorates Pat. Kyrill, whose ROC granted the OCA autocephaly. Mostly anyone I know who still bears ill will one way or the other is a holdover from the 1960s or 1970s, when relations were more strained. These days ain’t then. ROCOR seminarians study at OCA institutions, and vice versa. Many faithful intercommune, as it should be. We have far more in common than many like to admit.

        As for ROCOR clergy “bailing” on creating an “American” church, one can’t create an “American” church out of thin air. It must have a firm foundation. Many on one side of the fence simply felt that the “American” church wasn’t mature enough or had a strong enough foundation for autocephaly, or that the pull for autocephaly at the time merely rested on a few charismatic personalities. Orthodox Christians are less than 0.5% of the American population — our relative immaturity is a self-evident truth to many. Also, the manner in which the “newer”calendar was stuffed down the throats of many who didn’t want it was highly unpalatable.

        But please, at least acknowledge that the OCA and ROCOR have far more in common than some want to admit.

        • Here’s the history:

          As to the present, it really depends on the OCA parish. Some are very much like ROCOR, some are very modernist; it varies.

          The main difference I perceive between the two is that in ROCOR, Sacred Tradition, including orthopraxis, is not considered optional but simply the way things are done. You will find a variety of practice regarding pews, women’s head covering and calendar observance in the OCA. Even in some of the more traditional OCA parishes I’ve visited, it’s sort of cafeteria Orthodoxy. They may not have pews, Matushka doesn’t cover but some women do, and they’re on the New Calendar.

          This goes back to differences in sensibilities between Great Russians and Carpatho-Russians who wished to resist assimilation into the Russian Church in America. The focal point of the Great Russians became ROCOR and that of the Carpathorus, the Metropolia. Many in the Metropolia having come into Orthodoxy from Uniatism, they were much less conscientious about guarding Sacred Tradition in the sea of the West in which they found themselves, and to which they wished to assimilate and appear non-alien. That is largely the history of the neo-Patristics as to their sentiments, if not their ethnicity.

          Eventually it all came unraveled and now people are taking a much more critical look at the writings of Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Fr. Thomas Hopko, et al.

          OCA has a difficult history which it will likely be challenging to overcome. However, given the resurgence of the Church of Russia, hopefully those parts of the OCA sympathetic to the Phanar will spiral off and those more attuned to Tradition will prevail within the OCA or break off to join the ROCOR.

          Given the progressive convictions of many leading OCA clerics, I seriously doubt that it will be the foundation of a united American Orthodox Church.

          Orthodoxy in America is simply limping along, degraded and vexed by the culture wars.

  12. Antiochene Son says

    Fake news, George.

    Let’s not fall into the hyperdoxy which is practiced in isolated areas of Greece and really nowhere else. Reception by Holy Chrismation is normative for all heterodox Trinitarians, going back to Nicaea.

    But if there is ANY question about the Trinitarian aspect of a convert’s baptism (which is likely to be increasingly the case), they are to be baptized. Nothing has changed.

    • No, Antiochene Son,

      Reception by Holy Chrismation is always an exception, not the rule. It is oikonomia, not akrivea. A bishop can authorize it if there was a triple immersion baptism. Some do it in other circumstances erroneously. But baptism is always appropriate.

      When in doubt, baptize. Baptizing is never, ever wrong because there are no grace conveying mysteries outside the Church.

      • Antiochene Son says

        “When baptism is necessary, there is a baptism. When Chrismation is necessary there is a Chrismation. When a profession of the Faith is necessary, there is a profession of the Faith.” – Metropolitan Joseph

        The method of receiving a convert is what the bishop says it is. And if he’s got it wrong, then that will be his error to answer for at the dread judgment. But that does not make the convert any less Orthodox.

  13. This is fake news. Whoever started this rumor should be ashamed.

    • Thank you for this.

      Several years ago, there were — if I remember correctly — emphasizing the importance of checking on whether traditional invocations of the Trinity were used in baptisms in liberal Protestant settings. Obviously, concerns about that are valid. I would imagine that some converts are requesting baptism, just to be careful.

  14. Billy Jack Sunday says

    Choose the method of receiving a convert in the Holy Orthodox Church that is never appropriate:

    A) Baptism by pouring
    B) Baptism by sprinkling
    C) Charismation
    D) Pie in face

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      “Misha” wrote: ” It is oikonomia, not akrivea.” This is a common error. Oikonomia includes BOTH strictness and condescension. Oikonomia is the Lord’s “household management” formed to save souls. Sometimes strictness is indicated;sometimes leniency” BOTH are the Lord’s glorious Economy! “Baptizing is never, ever wrong?” Misha! We believe in ONE Baptism. That means more than one is against our belief, our Creed. Church Fathers, such as St Basil the Great said Arians should not be baptized (again), because the very CHANCE of doing two Baptisms was too horrible to contemplate. The so-called ‘conditional” Baptism avoids that pitfall, because it contains the proviso, “IF not already Baptized, the servant of God, N., is baptized…” In the 20th century, the once conservative ROCOR decided to take the risk, in that they overturned the RECEIVED centuries-old practice of the Russian Church by re-baptizing Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Armenian converts!

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Your Grace, in my case, I was told I was baptized but the Episcopal Church had no record of it. The only record I have is the society pages. I could see my family saying I was because it was expected. It seems implausible to me that it happened because my mother wouldn’t step foot in a church. In a case like this, what would you have recommended? (BTW, thank you for making it possible for me to be baptized in your jurisdiction under you, whether you were aware of it or not.)

      • Bishop Tikhon,

        Yes, we believe in one baptism for the remission of sins. And it is only in the Orthodox Church that one can receive this baptism which causes us to die and be reborn with Christ and enter into His Church. How could such a grace exist outside the Church? It does not.

        So, yes, I agree with you, if someone has received an Orthodox baptism, then don’t rebaptize them. However, if anyone has received the form of baptism outside the Church, they have not received baptism at all, merely the outward form – a bath, or sprikling. Nonetheless, in economy (and you are confusing two senses of the word), what is lacking (the grace of baptism) in the previous heterodox empty ritual may be provided by the mystery of chrismation. That has always been the understanding of the Church.

        But it is never a mistake to baptize provided that the person has not already received an Orthodox baptism. If they have not, then either baptism or, if they received the form of threefold immersion with the names of the Trinity, reception by chrismation might be appropriate. But regardless of anything whatsoever that happened outside the Church, there is no harm, and much wisdom, in baptizing.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      Billy Jack! For ages, many cradle Orthodox, i.e., babies born into Orthodox families in Orthodox communities, especially in Russia, have been baptized by pouring. These people are called familiarly, Oblivantsy—–“the poured upon!” Priests stand babies in the font and manually scoop up three handfuls of water over the baby’s head. Anybody here who’s never seen that doesn’t get out much. I’ve never baptized anyone that way myself, but I’ve been present at and witnessed on tv many such Baptisms by Orthodox Priests.

      • Antiochene Son says

        I can confirm this, Your Grace. I’ve seen children baptized by pouring in Orthodox parishes. It’s really not a big deal, and nobody is scandalized by it.

        Do we really want to go down this path, questioning the validity of communicant Orthodox people’s baptisms? Nothing good can come of it. That would seem to approach blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which I don’t want to play with.

      • Billy Jack Sunday says

        Bishop Tikhon

        The answer to the question was D: Pie in face.

        Although I think it would be hilarious, blasting someone in the face with a banana cream pie at the same time pronouncing loudly, “You’re Christian!!” would never be appropriate, and certainly not be any sort of recognizable form of Trinitarian baptism

        Why, I, myself, was received into the Orthodox Church by baptism via pouring

        No pies were involved, but there was a nice cake at my Godparents house afterwards.

        • For all those who consistently state that baptism must done by immersion and that acceptance into the Orthodox Church can only be done through re-baptism, I ask that you look at the statement from the Didache and the Canon from the second Ecumenical Council. Church history is messy and often not in accordance with what we believe the church should be advocating today. There has always been diversity of practice in the Church. By the way, the Didache ( teaching of the 12 apostles) is an early Christian document, which reflects practice in the early Church and in some areas was considered part of scripture until the formal establishment of the NT canon.

          Didache Chapter 7. Concerning Baptism. And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whoever else can; but you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before.

          The decisive legislation on this matter was promulgated at the Second Ecumenical Council (A.D. 381) in its 7th Canon:
          “Those heretics who come over to Orthodoxy and to the society of those who are saved we receive according to the prescribed rite and custom: we receive Arians, Macedonians, Novatianists who call themselves ‘pure and better,’ Quatrodecimans, otherwise known as Tetradites, as well as Appolinarians on condition that they offer libelli (i.e., recantations in writing) and anathematize every heresy that does not hold the same beliefs as the holy, catholic and apostolic Church of God, and then they should be marked with the seal, that is, anointed with chrism on the forehead, eyes, nostrils, mouth and ears. And as they are marked with the seal, we say, ‘seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ As for Eunomians, however, who are baptized with a single immersion, Montanists, who are called Phrygians, and the Sabellians, who teach that Father and Son are the same person, and who commit other abominable things, and [those belonging to] any other heresies – for there are many of them here, especially among the people coming from the country of the Galatians, – all of them that want to adhere to Orthodoxy we are willing to accept as Greeks [i.e., pagans]. Accordingly, on the first day we make them Christians; on the second day, catechumens; then, on the third day, we exorcise them with the act of blowing thrice into their face and into their ears; and thus we do catechize them, and we make them tarry a while in the church and listen the Scriptures; and then we baptize them.”[27]

          Additional Information
          Saint Elisabeth (Elizaveta Fyodorovna), recently added to the calendar of Saints of the Russian Church, was received into the Orthodox Church (as was likewise her sister, the sainted Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna) from the state German Lutheran Church where she had been baptized as a child, through the Rite of the Reception of Heretics with ensuing Chrismation–without a new Baptism.

          I understand and accept that one could provide canons that state all received into the Church from heterodox groups should be re-baptized and that some state that there is no baptism outside the Orthodox faith since there is no sacramental grace outside Orthodoxy. This affirms the multiplicity of practices within the Church.

          • M. Stankovich says

            You will pardon me, but this most certainly is not how the Church has ever affirmed its practices, by an individual consulting several books and then spouting forth his “discoveries” as if they are definitive. Secondly, you are sorely mistaken that there are a “multiplicity of practices within the Church.” For heaven’s sake, you are hardly the first to have read the Didache or the proceedings of the Second Ecumenical Council, yet you take on the air of a “state-the-obvious” erudite who, quite unfortunately, forgets to state the obvious: these are documents written in extraordinary times. On the one hand, the Church lived believing the return of the Lord was imminent; they were not prepared to deal with those who “lapsed” after their baptism; and secondly, it was a time of unprecedented persecution, the Lord was gone, and the saints despaired. Again, the letters of the saints reflect their struggle, and at times even seem contradictory, but great was their faith as they attempted, through economy, to save the “savable” who would repent.

            I would directly refer you St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians

            Let all things be done decently and in order. (1 Cor. 14:40) For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1 Cor. 14:33)

            You need to re-read Vladyka Tikhon’s commentary above regarding Economy, and I would also refer you to Fr. John Meyendorff’s Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes for an extensive discussion on the same matter. You have mistaken the application of “Economy” – the means by which the Church manages the Master’s household in His absence – specifically in the interest of an individual’s salvation, for “diversity.” Economy is not a concession, it is not a “pass” for errant behaviour, and it certainly is not indicative of a “multiplicity of practice.” In this much I agree with Scott: the Church always strives for what is modeled for us in the Kingdom which is to come, and that is clearly and unmistakably taught in the words of our Lord: “Therefore, be perfect [τέλειοι] as your Father in heaven is perfect [τέλειος]” (Matt. 5:48). At the same time, we attend to the words of the First Hierarch of ROCOR, Met. Anthony (Khrapovitsky), who wrote to pastors in his book on Confession to bear in mind with the urge to apply “strictness” that today “we are far removed from the time of Grace,” something akin to the “hardness of heart” [σκληροκαρδίαν] by which Moses allowed divorce (cf. Matthew 19:8). As Vladyka Tikhon points out, while Economy serves as a means of reconciliation and relief through repentance, it equally serves to mediate reconciliation by means of recompense and restitution. Both require the wisdom and discernment of an experienced pastor who answers to the Lord for his decision. In either case, pastoral wisdom exercized in the context of Economy is certainly not “multiplicity of practices.”

            Finally, let me say to you without insult that many of these type of errors that you consistently make are founded in the fact that you have been Orthodox for a relatively short period of time. Likewise, they most certainly reflect the fact that you are more prepared to “teach” than you are to listen. You need to seriously reflect on this situation.

            • Mr Stankovich,
              Rather than contradict my assertions you affirm them. Times are always extraordinary and unique and thus the Church responds in different ways always maintaining doctrinal purity. The varied and different practices in the Church most simply and directly are demonstrated by the fact there are 4 Gospels and several liturgies. You could find Church Fathers who interpret the same passage in Scripture in different ways. My statements are a response to those who view the Church as a monolith with historical consistency. As I mentioned—Church history is messy.
              Both economy and strictness must be exercised in the Church as St Paul states:
              19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

              I am a cradle Orthodox but did not embrace Christ until later in life. Only after embracing Christ did I realize the beauty and richness in Orthodoxy. Confession and the Eucharist are preeminent aspects of my life.
              Finally, I realize I have much to learn, especially from people as erudite and knowledgeable as yourself. However, I do believe this blog is a vehicle for the exchange of ideas.

              • M. Stankovich says

                First of all, please pardon me. I apparently, and incorrectly, thought you were received into the Church only last year. My apologies to you. If that is what this business regarding St. Conan is about, I hope it now concludes.

                I continue to sustain my observation that your systematic errors are just that, systematic. We apparently are not yet engaged in an “exchange of ideas,” as you come out of your corner at the bell intent on “schooling” me. While I find your response to those “who view the Church as a monolith with historical consistency,” an interesting turn of phrase, it is amusing to consider your interpretation of Psalm 118 (Septuagint), a full 176 verse of absolutely nothing but praise and love for the Law. Imagine! A “monolith” if there ever was one. And ironically, one of the last things read over you as you are carried to the grave…

                To conclude this “exchange,” I will tell you that, back in the day, when you were accepted into St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, you received a personal “welcome” letter from Dean Alexander Schmemann himself, detailing for you – as he did every Fall at the opening of the school year – that the real education afforded by the seminary did not occur in the classroom or the library, but in the chapel. He would always conclude with a quotation from George Bernard Shaw: “In the presence of great art, a truly wise man does not say a word. He simply removes his hat and allows the art to speak to him.”

                • …the real education afforded by the seminary did not occur in the classroom or the library, but in the chapel.

                  This is not a criticism of Johnkal, but truer words are rarely spoken. There is no better teacher with the capacity to reach into the heart, connecting all the ‘dots’ (as it were), interpreting the Scriptures with the mind of the Church, and thereby transforming our own minds than the full daily liturgical cycle in and as prayer. Sunday only Orthodox Christians have no idea what a rich feast of discipleship they are forgoing.

                  • Billy Jack Sunday says

                    I was taught this many years ago as well, however in a bit of a different context (including dunk or bunk)

                    Nonetheless, we were all taught that the real education took place in the chapel.

                    My senior year, I happened to be seated in the back row of our modest sized chapel. We were all told that we were extremely blessed to have a particular presenter that day (and to be fair, their was quite a buzz of anticipation amongst the students).

                    Everyone leaned forward in excitement and listening eagerness for what encouragement the man might bestow upon the students in the preaching of the Word of God.

                    I, too, leaned forward – but with my hands where my thigh and hip meet – above my femur sockets.

                    I let gravity pull my head slightly towards my knees, suspending my upper body, as if i was staring at my shoes

                    No more than 20 seconds into the sermon, I was sound asleep, perfectly balanced.

                    The gentleman must have preached at least 45 minutes, but I believe it was longer – like maybe an hour or more. I remember the students saying it was quite a long time

                    Anyway, just as the speaker was concluding, upon him saying “Amen.” The students began to vigerously applaud.

                    At that very exact moment, I awoke from my deep sleep, lifted my head, provided an attentive look, and began clapping as well – having started at the same time as the other students – not having missed a beat

                    A student (sitting next to me) two grades below me, but perhaps 10 years my senior – a Greek looking individual named Nick, I believe – exclaimed to me in amused shock and astonishment, “Whoa!! How did you do that??!!”

                    I gave a slight shrug and smirk and said to Nick, “Practice” – and kept clapping

                    I may have missed out a bit on my spiritual formation somewhere . . .

            • Billy Jack Sunday says

              Dr S

              I just found out our Church has a saint named:

              Conon the Gardener

              [Monday, March 5th – Revised Julian Calendar]

              Why am I just now finding this out after many years? Why?? Why did my priest skip over this in catechism class? This should be at least 3rd conversation in when telling people about the Orthodox Church

              Why aren’t we telling everybody about this??

              “Get een da hopper!!”
              “Hasta la vista, bay leaf!”

              Is this not one of the best kept secrets within the best kept secret?

              I’m totally beside myself. We gotta tell everybody about this

              • Billy Jack Sunday,
                Since we are in Lent, and as I’m again accused of being a jerk, by another poster. Please forgive me for putting words in your mouth. I have a bad Greek temper, and don’t think clearly at times. I noticed you mentioned my name a few weeks ago, and thought too bad I am thought that way in my long absence.

                Don’t get all your humor, but if a Bishop says you are George’s muse, you can’t be all that bad. BTW even if Dr. Stankovich gives you a hard time, don’t fret, he means well, even if it hurts your ego a bit.

                • Constaninos says

                  There is no apostrophe after the word jerk. You have not written a complete sentence. There is no BTW abbreviation, however there is an apostrophe after the words By the way. Also, there is no as after the word and in your first sentence. Since your writing is so poor, am I correct in assuming that you never attended high school?

                  • Billy Jack Sunday says


                    I’m a fan of yours


                    I recommend only pointing out spelling and grammar errors if it’s funny – not to imply mental limitations – because the format isn’t the easiest to work with

                    Plus – like I said – spelling/grammar is like sin – we all fall short here and there and everywhere

                    Even worse if we are talking math

                  • Billy Jack Sunday says


                    I’m a fan of yours


                    I recommend only pointing out spelling and grammar errors if it’s funny – not to imply mental limitations – because the format isn’t the easiest to work with

                    Plus – like I said – spelling/grammar is like sin – we all fall short here and there and everywhere

                    Even worse if we are talking math

                    I say this partially because I just made a wreck of one of my postings . . .

                    • Constaninos says

                      Billy Jack Sunday,
                      You’re correct. I have ceased doing that.
                      I’m a fan of yours as well, but you need to step up your game a little bit. You used to be extremely funny, but you’ve been slipping a little bit lately.
                      As the resident comedian of Monomakhos, you are expected to deliver – almost all the time. Your funniest post was to Mr. Stankovich. You’re at your best when you deliver criticism along with sarcasm. You seemed to have become kinder and gentler. Let’s get back to the old Billy Jack Sunday. Keep the more unsavory posts coming. Thank you.

                  • There is no BTW abbreviation, however there is an apostrophe after the words By the way.

                    And you, my friend, incorrectly joined two complete sentences with a comma. Two complete sentences, each containing a subject and a predicate, are joined together by a semicolon, colon, or a comma followed by a conjunction such as and, or, but, or nor. Otherwise, use a period and and start a new sentence.

                    Come on, man. Lighten up.

                    • Billy Jack Sunday says


                      I was contemplating how I’ve seen more times than I can count your name being incorrectly spelled as “Brain.” BTW – have you ever done this yourself as a typo? I’m pretty sure I would have

                      Then I remembered there were a couple of posters calling out Constaninos as misspelling a great name

                      Constaninos is just pulling our leg

                      He’s got a great straight face

                    • Billy Jack,

                      Interestingly, I don’t recall ever writing my own name as “Brain,” even as as a typo. But I am getting older, so it’s bound to happen sooner or later. You are correct, though. People do it all the time when writing to me. I just smile to myself at the compliment, however inadvertent (and unwarranted) it may be.

                      No one will never hear criticism from me about spelling errors, as my own spelling skills are atrocious. Grammar I know pretty well, as well as vocabulary; but if it weren’t for spell-check my ignorance would be manifest even more than it already is.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      I keep forgetting to reply here, but from a young age, I was subject to cruel schoolyard derivations of my name (e.g. the always popular “stinkybitch”). One day I was walking through the clinic at the RJ Donovan state prison at Iron Mountain – within view of the Otay Mesa international border with Mexico – and I kept hearing people yelling out, “Hey, Starfish!” from holding cells. The control officer told me inmates wanted to speak to me and I asked him where they were located. He said, “You walked right passed them. They think your name is “Starfish” because nobody can pronounce it.” There you have it.

                • Billy Jack Sunday says


                  We’re cool

                  Please forgive my more unsavory posts as well

              • Tim R. Mortiss says

                Conan, what is best in life?

            • jonkal,

              Insofar as I understand his above post, Dr. Stankovich is correct that it is probably erroneous to speak of a multitude of practices for reception. We believe in one baptism for the remission of sins. We never get too far away from that. “Baptism”, means “immersion”. Thus “one Immersion for the forgiveness of sins”. Now, human life being fragile and less than ideal, physical health practicalities may militate in favor of infusion (i.e., pouring) which in some cases is allowable as you note. But this presumes that the mystery is served within the (Orthodox) Church. Nothing whatsoever that the heterodox can or might do can in any way serve to cause one to die and be reborn with Christ or be grafted into His Church.

              He does not provide the heterodox with that power.

              The discussion regarding reception of converts is usually a proxy for a discussion about what constitutes the boundaries of the Church. It is imperative that we are clear about this since the Church, and only the Church, is the Pillar and Ground of Truth and the Body of Christ.

              • Misha, to accept your statement above is to accept that there is no grace outside the Church. John 3:8 states, “The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” Certainly, grace works within the Church and of that, we are assured, but I do not want to attempt to “box God in.”

                St Paul writes, Philippians 1:15-19 15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.”

                I firmly believe that grace is at work outside the Church as “God seeks to draw all people unto Himself.” I believe grace was at work at Billy Graham’s crusades as well as in the life of Mother Teresa. I believe grace is present in the Eucharist of the Catholic Church. I would not spit on the Eucharist of the Catholic Church as one “super” Orthodox told me he would do. Do I believe all individuals would be better off as Orthodox—yes.

                • M. Stankovich says

                  Again, you argue, with great fervor, what you believe the teaching of the Church should be – citing your own personal Scriptual “defense” for your position – when the fact remains that you are clueless as to the actual Patristic Tradition of the Church. This is a particularly dangerous practice that leads to heretical conclusions that are not only erroneous, but in fact devisive and outright destructive to what the Fathers analogize as the “seamless garment of the Master,” referring to the unity of the Church. I would refer you to the writings of Fr. Georges Florovsky, perhaps the most prolific Patristic scholar of our generation, and specifically this essay, The Limits of the Church. Please, read this essay with the specific intention of an openness to learn, rather than how it may support your argument. Your position is unfounded and contrary to the Patristic Tradition.

                  • Constaninos says

                    Mr. Stankovich,
                    As you can tell, I have very little knowledge of patristics. The article you cited is very illuminating, to say the least.
                    This is one of the things I struggle with in my mind. It’s economy. We have a clear teaching from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ about marriage and divorce, yet the Church allows up to three marriages for the laity. Our Lord never said one word about same sex attraction, yet we have demonized gay people for eons.
                    If I’m not mistaken, we don’t have a clue as to why some people are gay. We know the various “therapies” to change one’s sexual orientation are unfruitful and in many cases dangerous to that person’s well being. If we don’t know why a person is gay or has same sex attraction, shouldn’t the church apply some kind of economy to these people? As I stated, Jesus clearly taught about marriage and divorce, but said nothing about same sex attraction; it seems to me a more enlightened pastoral approach toward homosexuals should be taken. If a gay person is in a committed relationship with a person of the same sex, is that really so bad? Personally, I would attend a wedding of a close relative or friend whether they were homosexual or straight. Who am I to judge? I could very well be wrong with what I have written, but persecuting gays just isn’t “my thing. Is there a possibility that some Athonite Christian saints may have been gay? I saw a pew research poll that stated significant numbers of Orthodox Christians in the US favor gay marriage.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Costa, it’s not true that Jesus said nothing about same-sex attraction. “Woe to the Bethsaida, woe to thee Chorazin, it shall be better for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for you”. That’s one that stands out.

                      We forget that Jesus was a Palestinian Jew. Homosexuality was verbotten and not openly practiced because if caught, the punishment was swift and severe. Remember, Jesus said nothing at all about a man living with his stepmother either. Or first cousins marrying. Paul however did. Paul however had to deal with this subject because he preached throughout the rest of the world.

                      Most liberals take Jesus’ supposed silence on the matter as an argument for the acceptance of homosexuality. In reality, you can take the argument from silence only so far. As we can see with these other examples cited in the paragraph above.

                    • Is there a possibility that some Athonite Christian saints may have been gay?

                      No, because if they were committing sodomy in spite of their monastic vows, they would not be saints.

                      Might there be saints who were tempted by homosexual attractions, yet bore their cross fearlessly and did not yield to the demonic powers and the brokenness of their fallen minds and bodies? Almost certainly.

                      But these are two different things. The Church’s love and acceptance of sinners is not love and acceptance of sin.

                      The Church allows economy in certain individual cases in order to save a soul. A soul that is bent towards such unnatural behavior, in the experience of 2000 years of saints and divine revelation, is not capable of being saved in that state.

                      The Church accepting homosexual relations would be a pat on the back along the road to hell for those unfortunate souls, and no human can change that reality. You can either accept and abide by reality—that homosexuality is absolutely anathema to salvation—, or reject it and find out the truth in the next life. No pastor worth his ordination would favor that, and that is why it will never be accepted.

                      If someone doesn’t like that, take it up with God.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      In addition to the examples George gives there is also Matthew 5:17-20. Jesus fulfills the Law, he does not abolish it. That includes the prohibition against same sex sexual activity, adultery, fornication, bestiality etc.

                      One must also keep in mind John 21:25 in which John clearly says that Jesus said many things that are not recorded in the Bible.

                      Arguing from silence is never a really good tool especially when the silence does not exist. It is a better course to assume that something is so common and so well understood that there is no need to comment on it (as George alludes to).

                      That being said, there is economy in the Church for those with same sex attraction — it is repentance just as with everyone else. That includes repentance for repeated sinful acts. There is no economy for unrepentant sinners.

                      As for marriage, that is one place that Met. Joseph really is raising the bar. He feels that we have gotten too loose and that economy has turned into license (there is no ‘right’ to two or three marriages but that is assumed by many people). He has to personally bless all third marriages and it is a difficult blessing to obtain. I am pretty sure that also applies to second marriages as well. He may be over-reacting but your sentiment for homosexual economy is a fruit of our accommodating sexual sins like adultery, serial adultery and fornication in the past. Simply applying the teaching of the Church to those afflicted with same sex attraction is indeed wrong and perpetuates the false conclusion that they are a separate class while allowing the rest of us to continue in our sins.

                      Same sex attraction is not in God’s order of things, let alone same sex practice. Neither is much of what passes for opposite sex attraction and practice in God’s order.

                      In our individualist, hedonist culture that is a hard saying. It should not be, but it is.

                      Marriage and sexual activity within marriage is an icon of Jesus’ union with us. Anything other than that is a matter of pride and lust.

                      It is too bad you missed the testimony of one of our brothers in Christ on this blog in the past. He has long been afflicted with same sex attraction. Two things of note that he said:
                      1. Trying to complete oneself within a homosexual union is like two people with glasses half full trying to make two glasses of water;
                      2. After years of spiritual discipline concerning the problem, he walked into worship one day and finally felt as if he could finally approach God as just a regular sinner.

                      While the attraction may never go away, it does not have to dominate one’s life despite the loneliness.

                      As Wesley Hill wrote in his marvelous little book “Washed But Waiting” a cure may not be possible, but that does not mean the only other option is license.

                      Sexual passions are of the flesh, quite literally so they are quite difficult to eradicate while one is in the flesh especially the more one has allowed them fleshly expression. They can be a torment for sure.

                      In their case, guarding the flesh as well as the heart is important in overcoming even if full victory is not possible in this life.

                      “I behold the Bridal Chamber, richly adorned for my savior, but I have no wedding garment to worthily enter. Make radiant the garment of my soul oh giver of Light and save me.”

                    • M. Stankovich says


                      Let me clarify that God did not bless me as an “original thinker,” someone who, after contemplating the great and profound mysteries of the Church and the salvation of our God, sits down and rearticulates difficult concepts for the faithful. I just happened to be lucky – right place, right time – in the presence of some of the greatest theological minds of our generation, and managed to do the smart thing: shut up, listen, and learn. I am a savant, not a theologian.

                      Appreciating this fact, I will answer your question with the words of my beloved Professor of Dogmatic Theology and Ethics, SS Verhovskoy who, quite unfortunately, wrote a pamphlet on marriage that has become obscure. But in that pamphlet he made the point that any relationship between a man and a woman, no matter how debased, no matter how abusive or violent or pathologized, and no matter how discouraged and discouraging, still, through the intervention of repentance, will always (and forever!) bear the possibility that (good that you’re Greek) the two [οἱ δύο] can be joined [προσκολληθήσεται] into one flesh [εἰς σάρκα μίαν] in a great mystery [τὸ μυστήριον τοῦτο μέγα ἐστίν] that St. Paul likens to Christ and the Church [εἰς Χριστὸν καὶ εἰς τὴν ἐκκλησίαν] (Eph. 5:31-32). Imagine! Yet, no matter how one defines love – in its nature, in its depth, in its goal, in its intention, in its expression – or describes commitment, or fidelity, in homosexuality, it is only, at best (as I heard one priest describe it) the aroma of the soup, which always, necessarily, falls short; or as Fr. Alexander Schmemann described it, it exists in a withering garden from which there is no exit.

                      Obviously, this has become a serious concept of “contention” in this world, where we are looked upon as bigoted and insane, despite centuries of Christian practice and an unwillingness to accept that we have misread or “misinterpreted” one scriptural passage or another. This all begs the question, are we obligated to confront this issue, or, as they say, “live and let live?” Prof. SS Verhovskoy held clear opinions, and his response was along these lines: “The Church is in desperate need of Ezekiels; men [and presumably women – it was the mid-70’s] who [figuratively] are in hairshirts with a bone in their hand, challenging the sinfulness of the nations. You, on the other hand, are cowards. Enjoy the remainder of your day.” May his memory be eternal and may he rest with the saints!

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      Rather than Pew opinion polls, I would consult Jesus, who did speak of marriage: “Have you not read that he who made them, from the beginning made them male and female; therefore a man shall leave his mother and his father and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Constanios, it is sexual activity outside of God’s order that de-humanizes as does all sin. That has to be recognized before repentance is even possible. To affirm that homosexual acts are not sinful is to deny the first step toward repentance.

                    • Constaninos,

                      It astounds me that you would share the view of this world by presenting us with these false choices (as though there are only these two) with which we are always presented as it relates to those who engage in homosexual behavior – either to accept their behavior or to hate and persecute them. Nowhere in the Scriptures or the Fathers are these false choices offered or recommended.

                      Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

                      Why would it somehow be deemed necessary either to hate and persecute only one class of the sinners listed above or, by some strange necessity that is foreign to the Church, to accept their behavior and apply “economy?”

                      Who are we to judge indeed! We do not judge. We agree with God and confess the truth of our creation – just as we do with any other sin. Either we do this out of love or participate in their disinheritance from the Kingdom of God by our ‘acceptance,’ a stance that has the appearance, but not the reality, of love.

                      I do not deny that hatred and persecution exists. But neither persecution nor acceptance can be reconciled with the love of God or the apostolic teaching of His Church.

                  • Mr ST, please tell me what heretical conclusion I have adopted. I must worship God in spirit and truth and will repent of my heresy.

                    Sorry you had so much difficulty as a child. Those types of experiences can scar a person for life. May God’s grace offer you healing.

                    • Constaninos says

                      Thank you George, Mike, Brian, Mr. Bauman, Mr. Mortiss, and Mr. Stankovich for your insightful and holy answers to my questions.

                    • M. Stankovich says


                      Again, you do not seem to appreciate the chaotic state in which the new, fragile Church found itself. As I mentioned previously, they fully believed the return of the Lord was imminent, and they quoted His words, “Truly I say to you, there are some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (Matt. 16:28) They were completely unprepared for apostasy after one had been baptized, knowing full well there was but “one baptism.” The Lord had ascended, the Apostles were deceased, and the only guidance was from the Fathers. First, there was Cyprian and Firmilian who guided the Church through the initial stages of the return of those “prodigals” who recognized their error(s) and who wished to repent and reconcile themselves to the Church. Obviously, there were many “interpretations” of the Holy Scriptures, and many emotions and feelings as to the course to take in reconciling these individuals – ranging from akrivia [ἀκρίβεια], a strict application of the canons, the rule, or the law (the “benefits” of which I would, again, refer to the joyous celebration of the Law, which is Psalm 118), to oikonomia [οἰκονομία], meaning the “management of the household”; acting in the place of the Master, as the Master would act Himself (cf. Lk. 16:1ff). Most importantly, it would take a prudent, skilled, and pious mind to guide this process, and it took the form of St. Basil the Great. His personal correspondence to a local bishop, titled, Letter 188, To Amphilochius, concerning the Canons is the Church’s definitive teaching regarding “The Limitations of the Church.”

                      1. St. Basil clearly differentiates and distinguishes heresy from schism from unlawful congregations, and how the Church responds accordingly:

                      By heresies they meant men who were altogether broken off and alienated in matters relating to the actual faith; by schisms, men who had separated for some ecclesiastical reasons and questions capable of mutual solution; by unlawful congregations, gatherings held by disorderly presbyters or bishops or by uninstructed laymen. As, for instance, if a man be convicted of crime, and prohibited from discharging ministerial functions, and then refuses to submit to the canons, but arrogates to himself episcopal and ministerial rights, and persons leave the Catholic Church and join him, this is unlawful assembly. To disagree with members of the Church about repentance, is schism. Instances of heresy are those of the Manichæans, of the Valentinians, of the Marcionites, and of these Pepuzenes; for with them there comes in at once their disagreement concerning the actual faith in God. So it seemed good to the ancient authorities to reject the baptism of heretics altogether, but to admit that of schismatics, on the ground that they still belonged to the Church. As to those who assembled in unlawful congregations, their decision was to join them again to the Church, after they had been brought to a better state by proper repentance and rebuke, and so, in many cases, when men in orders had rebelled with the disorderly, to receive them on their repentance, into the same rank.

                      2. He continues to specify exactly what the the Church understands is the consequence of heresy (apostacy):

                      Those who had apostatized from the Church had no longer on them the grace of the Holy Spirit, for it ceased to be imparted when the continuity was broken. The first separatists had received their ordination from the Fathers, and possessed the spiritual gift by the laying on of their hands. But they who were broken off had become laymen, and, because they are no longer able to confer on others that grace of the Holy Spirit from which they themselves are fallen away, they had no authority either to baptize or to ordain. And therefore those who were from time to time baptized by them, were ordered, as though baptized by laymen, to come to the church to be purified by the Church’s true baptism. Nevertheless, since it has seemed to some of those of Asia that, for the sake of management of the majority, their baptism should be accepted, let it be accepted. We must, however, perceive the iniquitous action of the Encratites; who, in order to shut themselves out from being received back by the Church have endeavoured for the future to anticipate readmission by a peculiar baptism of their own, violating, in this manner even their own special practice. My opinion, therefore, is that nothing being distinctly laid down concerning them, it is our duty to reject their baptism, and that in the case of any one who has received baptism from them, we should, on his coming to the church, baptize him. If, however, there is any likelihood of this being detrimental to general discipline, we must fall back upon custom, and follow the fathers who have ordered what course we are to pursue. For I am under some apprehension lest, in our wish to discourage them from baptizing, we may, through the severity of our decision, be a hindrance to those who are being saved. If they accept our baptism, do not allow this to distress us. We are by no means bound to return them the same favour, but only strictly to obey canons. On every ground, let it be enjoined that those who come to us from their baptism be anointed in the presence of the faithful, and only on these terms approach the mysteries.

                      Surprisingly, at least to me, is that no one has mentioned the monograph/essay of the Russian philosopher A.S. Khomiakov, The Church is One, which probably is more significant for the time in which it was published – the late 19th century Russian epidemic of nihilism – than for what it’s straightforward position actually contends (read a summary here). The “takeaway” is simply, as the harbinger of the Truth and the “last things” entrusted to us by the Lord Himself, we are profoundly aware of where the Holy Spirit resides and guides, and where it cannot possibly be true:

                      Do not be unequally joined together with the unpersuaded [ἄπιστος – literally “unfaithful because they are unpersuaded”]: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion has light with darkness? And what concord has Christ with Belial? or what part has he that believes with an infidel? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Why come out from among them, and be you separate, said the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty.

                      Your compassion, in this case, may appear intuitive, but it is misguided, and, in fact, in error. Is it better that they return to the Church? No, it is essential. “What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion,” (Rom. 9:14-15) and “This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4)

                • johnkal,

                  In Orthodoxy, when we speak of grace we are speaking of divine energies. There are, of course, different forms of grace. The grace of the Holy Mysteries does not operate outside the Church. That does not mean that the Holy Spirit does not inspire and lead the heterodox to do good things. I assume He does. It is just that with the heterodox we have to discern whether they are being used in any given instance by God or by the evil one.

                  As to the “validity” of Latin mysteries, they have none. It is just azymes and wine. I would not spit on them, but they are not the Body and Blood of Christ.

                  • Disgusted says

                    That’s funny. We Catholics have spectacular Eucharistic Miracles that defy scientific explanation — from Lanciano to this day. Yet supposedly it is just azymes and wine? Talk about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

                    How anyone could be attracted to such ignorant bigotry is beyond me. Fundamentalist Protestants who want to have their smells and bells while continuing to luxuriate in their sinful bigotry… Yep. Everyone else… Nope. No wonder the convert boomlet is long over. There’s only so much Bigotry for Christ most normal people can stand.

                    • Antiochene Son says

                      We Orthodox have Eucharistic miracles as well. It’s just that they’re viewed as a sort of divine warning about a serious lack of faith in the clergy or the laity, not something to be celebrated.

                      And the Holy Spirit makes no requirement about what we must believe about anything, even apparent miracles, that occur outside the Church’s visible borders. Indeed the Fathers usually encourage the avoidance of such things. It cannot be a sin for an Orthodox to believe that a miracle outside the Church could be a matter of trickery.

                      I personally think the Latin eucharist is probably valid but illicit, despite the wrong matter of azymes and frequently white wine. But I don’t see how God would judge someone who disagreed, since it has not been revealed what occurs outside the visible church.

                      As for converts, my small parish has received 2-5 every year for as long as I can remember, so…

                    • “That’s funny. We Catholics have spectacular Eucharistic Miracles that defy scientific explanation — from Lanciano to this day. Yet supposedly it is just azymes and wine? Talk about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.”

                      It is not blasphemy against the Holy Spirit to point out, as do the Fathers, that the grace of the Mysteries does not operate outside the Church. As to your “miracles”, I assume that the same Odd Fellow is behind any number of them as inspired Muhammad to invent a new religion for the Arabs to replace Christianity. That modernists tend to lack a demonology does not mean that the evil one and his minions do not exist. Indeed, they are quite active in the “Church of Rome”.

                      If you read Orthodox mysticism, our startsy generally ascribe the reported visions and miracles of Roman Catholic mysticism to demonic activity.

                      The two religions are mutually exclusive and irreconcilable. That being said, I don’t like to dwell on such matters since everything outside the Church is an uncomfortable mix of good and evil where there is a battle between God and the evil one taking place. I do not suggest that God is not active in the Roman Catholic Church. We can see this, for example, in the ministry of Mother Theresa and the selfless lives of a number of their “saints”. It’s just that the evil is mixed in quite intimately with the good in that confession without any clear method of distinction.

                      Better to be Orthodox and reject the devil.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Disgusted, one man’s “bigotry” is another man’s adherence to truth. Misha, in this case, is simply being accurate on what the Orthodox Church teaches.

                      For those who long for the Truth and the Truth alone, no “miracle” or apparent “miracle” will be sufficient or even especially compelling. The standard practice in the Orthodox Church when a weeping icon is manifest is for a bishop to view it and rebuke Satan as the first order of business.

                      Correct me if I am wrong, but the RCC position on we Orthodox is still that we are schismatics and going to hell because we do not submit to the Pope as Vicar of Christ (an all of the other titles the office accumulates).

                      The normative Orthodox position is still the 1848 Encyclical of the
                      Eastern Patriarchs.

                      Dogmatically and theologically there is just not much in common nor is there likely to be. Nevertheless, there is only one Church, one Body of Christ. While the RCC is the only other possible candidate for that position, IMO, it fails in many, many ways.

                      While the Orthodox Church is also full of sin, it remains the Church of the Apostles, the one Holy, Catholic Church.

                      The Sacramental grace (energies of God) transmitted through our right worship is qualitatively different than any thing in the RCC–otherwise you would not hold clown masses as “valid”.

                    • Abongasport says

                      A miracle proves nothing, even the antichrist will do many…


                      I rest my case.

                      Orthodoxy has the same battle for its soul going on. But the difference is that the traditionalists will win in Orthodoxy, though they have not in mainline Protestantism or Roman Catholicism. And the reason traditionalists will win in Orthodoxy is one of the chief reasons I entered the Church, coming out of traditional high church Anglicanism: the center of gravity in the Orthodox Church is not in the decadent West, but rather in Eastern Europe, which is now engaged in an ideological war with Western Secular Humanism.

                      Glory to God for all things.

                  • Misha, you appear to believe in a very small God–one that can be boxed in.
                    I don’t think energies and grace are the same. We are saved by the grace of God not the energies of God. You cannot substitute energies for grace. They are not synonymous as you suggest.

                    • Antiochene Son says

                      Grace is one of God’s energies. This is basic dogma.

                      And grace being a created thing, not God himself, is basic heresy.

                    • Johnkal my dear brother in Christ,

                      The grace of God is God. His grace is His divine energy, though not His essence, imparted to us as the gift of His own life. It is not some created ‘thing’ other than Himself that He has and is willing to give us, nor is it merely an attitude He has toward us. It is His own Uncreated Life. This is why John the Apostle, Evangelist, and Theologian par excellence wrote, “These things I write to you that you may know that you have eternal life” – meaning that the Life in which we share is that of the Eternal God, adding, “This is the true God and Eternal Life.”

                      We just celebrated the life and teaching of Saint Gregory Palamas this past Sunday whom we honor for affirming this very thing against those who taught otherwise. At the Council Constantinople in 1341, Saint Gregory contended for the true dogmas of the Church, teaching in particular that divine grace is not created, but is the Uncreated Energies of God which are poured forth throughout creation: otherwise it would be impossible, if grace were created, for man to have genuine communion with the Uncreated God.

                      .In the Kontakion of his feast, we sing…

                      Holy and divine instrument of wisdom, / joyful trumpet of theology, / together we sing your praises, O God-inspired Gregory. / Since you now stand before the Original Mind, guide our minds to Him, O Father, / so that we may sing to you: “Rejoice, preacher of grace.”.

                      We are, indeed, saved “by grace through faith – and that not of ourselves. It is the gift of God…” But the gift of God is not something he wraps up and hands to us. The gift of God is God Himself, just as a gift of gold is gold itself. The reality of His gift is infinitely more glorious (and wholly undeserved) than anything He owns that he could possibly give us and infinitely greater in fullness than any mere attitude He could possibly have toward us.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      johnkal, strange that you should say this just after we celebrated St. Gregory of Palamas. But, just to be clear what do you think grace is?

                  • Mr. ST, as I requested previously please let me know my heretical views so I can repent. I wish to worship God in Spirit and Truth.

                    You refer to the early Church as chaotic and fragile, which it may have been, but God’s presence was was imminent and powerful. It seems to me, that there may be more of a need of that power and presence in the Church today. The chaos and fragility may be even more present today. There are seemingly ever present scandals that confront the church today, both here and abroad. The early Church may have more effectively addressed the challenges it faced. The epistles are filled with responses to the challenges faced by the early Church. Early Church, contemporary Church, sin abounds both within and outside the Church.

                    We need God’s presence today. We need the direction of the Holy Spirit. We need inspired, prophetic leadership. We need engaged and informed laity. Most of all we need repentance—starting with me

  15. r j klancko says

    there is a greater issue here, the elephant in the room and that is without unity under a singular head, there will never be consistency and every one will be baking their cake with a different recipe and this is tragic, very tragic

    what i would expect of all of our leaders is that they put their egos and ethnic perspectives aside and truly follow Christ and create a unified american church so that there is consistency in liturgics, customs, and interpretations.

    i cannot see why the light of Christ has not illumined all of these hearts and enabled them to be truly followers of the Biblical teachings and put the unity of the faith as a priority — it is truly disheartening to see all of this theological dribble because we all are not and have not been on the same page.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Unity under a single head? Papacy? Consistency is not necessarily a virtue. Rightly dividing the word of truth is the standard.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Saunca, but what will that look like? Right now I have a great sympathy for those that think and feel any “unity” would be at the expense of truth and make it easier for cultural forces to erode the faith. I do not think that is actually correct, but I can empathize with it.

        Jurisdictional unity in and of itself will solve little. It may be a first step, though I doubt it, it is certainly not the end step. It may be necessary to begin the real process of the Church acculturating herself (rather than allowing the American “culture” to dominate) but I really do not know. The Pan-Orthodox approach that MrsDK describes seems a good first step to me.

        The American religious culture is largely skeptic Protestant and quite fractured already. Not a good fit with Traditional Orthodoxy unity and quite difficult to baptize. That is why I think we need to look more deeply into authentic traditional cultures that have their roots here already. Not being a romantic here, but there are definitely some really good elements to work with.

        • Michael Bauman says

          The United States of America is a fractured land with sin and lust of power at the core of our founding. But, that is true of all modern nation-states.

          I do not think it is possible to convert “America” there is not a sufficient cultural identity and consensus to encompass such a conversion. There would have to be several separate missions.

          Perhaps at some point the Church could really unite all of them but not for the foreseeable future.

          • Joseph Lipper says

            In my experience, Orthodoxy in America is at it’s best when it tries to incorporate as much as it can from as many other Orthodox cultures around the world as possible. That’s not an easy thing to pull off, and it’s not for everyone, and some Bishops might frown on it, but it points to the reality of our situation. Our country is a multi-jurisdictional mess of Orthodox cultures from around the world.

            Oh Lord, bless this mess.

  16. Whiskey Six says

    Maybe the issue is that people miss understood someone who English is not thier first language? Or maybe there is a honesty issue with the parties involved. I have seen a bishop or two say one thing in private and in public something completely different…

  17. Tim R. Mortiss says

    Interesting comments. My son and I were received into the GOA by chrismation, the method prescribed for us.

    Several opinions here from several authorities, ancient and cyber. I will sift through these interpretations, and make up my own mind.

    Wait– I won’t. I’m not a Protestant anymore. If the Church said it is all right, then that’s good enough for me.

    • George Michalopulos says


    • Tim,

      Exactly, go with what the bishop says. You can’t go wrong, or at least be blamed, in that event. That’s why we have bishops.

      I, and most traditionalists I dare say, assume that all defects in reception are cured by the Mysteries which are, in and of themselves, occasions for the conveyance of grace. The only question is one of propriety moving forward, not going back and redoing erroneous decisions of the past. God fixes all that in His mercy.

      I once heard the story of a Russian man who was a regular communicant at a parish in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. One day, he was speaking with a friend and it became clear that he had never been received into the Church by any method. As an adult, he just started going and saw what others did (this was at a large parish or cathedral where everybody doesn’t know everybody). So he would fulfill all the requirements and receive communion, not knowing any different.

      When the situation came to light, his friend took him to the priest. The priest didn’t know what to do. So they went to the bishop. The bishop listened attentively and patiently. He then asked, “Have you suffered any ill effects from reception of the Gifts?”. The man replied, “No, not that I am aware of.”

      So the bishop just smiled, blessed him, and said, “okay, then . . .”.

  18. Linda Albert, says

    Twenty years ago, the year before my husband and I started looking at Orthodxy, we were Methodists. We witnessed a baptism “in the name of the Creator, the Reldeemer and the Sustainer.” I was floored. They might as well have invoked Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. And that as I said was twenty years ago. I can only imagine what other ‘gender neutral’ and ‘non oppressive’ language baptism formulas they have come up with since. The other liberal mainline Protestant churches have fallen into lockstep with the feminist / LGTB agenda of purging the church of the vestiges of ‘patriarchy,’ the most glaring and prominent of which is referring to God as Father Son and Holy Spirit. How is a person under the age of 30 coming from one of these churches supposed to be sure of in whose Name they were baptized unless the ceremony was videotaped? Metropolitan Joseph is being justly cautious.

  19. Fr. David Hovik says

    Forgive me for writing on the 2nd Day of Lent. However, I realized many years ago that Orthodox Bishops (minus a few convert Bishops) have never witnessed a so-called baptism outside the Orthodox Church. When people speak to these Bishops about Baptism, they (the Bishops) are envisioning something, that in some way, resembles what they understand as Baptism (within the Orthodox Church). NOTHING could be further from reality. Go on You-tube and type in: Christian Baptism. Then, hang on because you will see every kind of nutty ceremony imaginable… all in the name of Christian Baptism. Mainline Denominations, Pentecostals, Community Churches, the list is endless. His Eminence is courageously facing the REALITY that insanity is reigning in the name of Baptism and something must be done to ensure that people are received into the Holy Church, properly. There are NO exorcism prayers, NO spitting on the devil, NO renunciations, NO affirmations, NO stating of the Creed, NO 3-fold immersion. How can these ceremonies be considered baptism, in any sense of that historic word? I am quite sure that Metr. Joseph will get some heat but I, for one, am very proud that he is facing this issue honestly. This is not a personal criticism of any individual. It is facing the facts that what passes for Baptism outside the Orthodox Church is simply a ceremony with water. Forgive me.

    • Father,

      Thank you for stating and clarifying this truth about the reality of our lives as Christians living in a post-Christian West.

      I’d say that the same thing can be said for other “sacraments” in non-Orthodox faiths. For example, in piety and non-judgmentalism, many Orthodox may envision an Orthodox reverence and respect for the Eucharist when other confessions talk about partaking of communion (which they rarely bother to call “holy”). But in my experience, no other Christian faith comes closer to approaching the Eucharist the way we do.

      Same thing for fasting. These days how many people talk about fasting and what they mean is “no chocolate for Lent” (!) or no eating an hour before communion. Or in the evangelical Protestant world, it’s not uncommon to do a fast according to however you want, whenever you want — “fast for a week or two” if you feel God is calling you to do that. But what each means by fasting no has no consistent definition.

      Met. Joseph is acknowledging the reality that in North America, even though we speak English to each other, the various Christian “churches” speak entirely different languages and come from vastly different frames of reference. The confusion that this causes cannot be understated! Bravo, Met. Joseph!

    • Fr David, would the third or fourth day of Lent been better–maybe the 29th?

      • Johnkal, your sarcasm toward’s a priest’s piety is greatly disrespectful.

        You, sir, are nothing but a crypto-protestant.

        • What was said is at best false piety. If something should not be said it should not be said, any day of the year. Based on what information do you call me a crypto-Protestant?

          • Billy Jack Sunday says


            I’m all for sweating certain members of the clergy, but it is not warranted for Fr. David Hovik

            I wouldn’t discourage him from commenting on this blog. I enjoy his insightful posts and I find him respectful of the laity

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          Is a “crypto-protestant” something like an “Eastern Rite protestant”, as Michael Warren used to put it?

          I was thinking about that yesterday during the Epistle reading. I don’t think St. Paul wrote the Letter to the Hebrews. My excuse is that I was a Protestant for 66 years; there’s bound to be something left over. I don’t worry about it…..

  20. Michael Bauman says

    Fr. David, Amen

  21. Michael Bauman says

    May not be raising the bar after all as the clarification form the Archdiocese on Byzantine Texas seems to indicate that only more caution will be exercised.

  22. The !important real!ty !s , the Only Holy One rema!ns unmoved !n H!s Perfect!on of Love for humanity w!th all genuine Authority placed upon Jesus Chr!st. Nothing can change th!s or overthrow the D!v!ne W!ll of God. The ev!l ones are just shuff!ng cha!rs on the T!tant!c.

  23. Trust !n God.

  24. Billy Jack Sunday says

    A shout out to Billy Graham

    May he find rest in paradise

    Not sure how I feel about his overall legacy – but I admire someone who dedicates their life to spreading the gospel. May all of us find mercy in our Lord Jesus Christ

    His favorite hymn was, “Oh, what a Friend we have in Jesus”

    May we all carry the passion that Billy Graham did to see a great many people find the friendliness and love of God

  25. Gail Sheppard says

    Those of you who came into the Church through Chrismation were doing the will of your bishop. I, on the other hand, thought I knew better and was baptized outside my jurisdiction. I don’t regret what I did, but I also understand that in doing so, I was forfeiting the blessing one receives from being obedient. Whether you were cognizant of it at the time or not, it’s been credited to you and by allowing me, a sinner, to stand next to you in our Holy Church, the blessing you received blesses me. Thank you.

  26. Fr. George Washburn says

    Hi friends:

    I continue to have a large problem with a recurring feature of George’s pseudojournalistic methods. I refer to rapid-fire, single-source reporting on delicate issues.

    Here he chooses to accept one source’s oral impressions of the oral comments of our hierarch on an important issue, comments that George admits to us he believes would be a change from past Antiochian policy. It seems to me that common sense, age, respect for the hierarchy, scripture, and George’s many years in the arena of public controversies about the Orthodox Church should have prompted him to do one very, very simple thing, if not several of them.

    The one thing? Check with the Metropolitan’s office to confirm the change. The other things? Check with multiple sources, not just one, and make sure to ask people of various inclinations so as to avoid getting a single “take” on an issue over which clergy differ.

    I had an experience last month that illustrates the problem. I was to conduct the funeral of a leading member of the local ME Christian community. He and his family were on friendly terms with the Melkite and Maronite parishioners and their clergy.

    When I called both those priests to welcome them to our ceremonies, but remind them we would not be concelebrating, one came joyfully and received a seat of honor in the front row. He got the message of love and respect. So did his parishioners in attendance. The other did not interpret it that way, and stayed away to the unnecessary consternation of some.

    The unwise compulsion to rush into print, to be first to the story, perhaps mixed with the desire to be an influencer of the matters under discussion, or the sheer press of business, prompts George to sometimes shoot first and ask questions later in these matters. Does the method and outcome then amount to one of the six or seven things that according to Proverbs the Lord hates, I.e. Sowing discord among brethren?

    Until George listens to counsel and changes this flaw in the conception of his calling, and his assessment of the good and bad he actually does or could do, Monomakhos will Sometimes still be Automakhos, the church fighting itself unnecessarily.


    Fr. George

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I never saw George as an investigated reporter but maybe that’s just me. I don’t think he gets paid for this, Father! I also think it’s unlikely that he would have been able to shed any more light on this if he called up the Archdiocese and said, “Your Eminence, I’d like you to comment on the recent report that you . . .” What do YOU think our Metropolitan’s response would be? What COULD it be?

      Father, I suspect George may have thought that our Metropolitan could use a little support about now and he got it from our regular posters here. We know our Shepherd’s voice. No one has to tell us what he said. You give us way too little credit.

      • George Michalopulos says

        A very good insight Gail. I think you brought up something that I hadn’t foreseen and that is that His Eminence could use some support right about now.

        Honestly, I wasn’t thinking what the ramifications would be. BTW, the “traditional” view for reception of converts was hastily put out 24 hrs after I published my report but I’ve been told that the “retraction” is no longer operative. (Is it in the Archdiocesan website’s Memory Hole?)

        Anyway, it does seem that on this blog at least, the overwhelming majority of commentary is pro-baptism. For what it’s worth, my source did anticipate that there would be “push-back”.

        And thank you Dear Sister, for coming to my defense.

        • Johannes Ypsilantis says

          Every single Orthodox Christian I know prefers reception by Baptism. I remember the odd circumstance of a priest and catechumen commisserating in preparation for chrismation; the priest consoled the catechumen by relating that he too wished that he had been received by Baptism. We obey the hierarchy.

          • Joseph Lipper says

            Personally, I liked Billy Jack Sunday’s suggestion of receiving converts by “Pie in the face”.

            • Me too…as long as the crust is leavened:)

            • Billy Jack Sunday says

              Thanks Joseph

              In addition, all confessions would be done by bullhorn and periodically accompanied by rimshot

              Penance would be done by carrying a fifty pound bag of rice barefoot down the church isle that is filled with legos – while congregants pelt you with rubber chickens

        • Antiochene Son says

          The post is back up, looks like it has been revised somewhat (removed references to online controversies).

    • Billy Jack Sunday says

      Monomakhos is a blog – a blog – not a reliable news source

      A blog is an open ended discussion forum of what happens to be “the word on the street”

      Can such a medium be misused? Sure, like any medium. But blog style communications have their place – and dont replace other mediums of information/communication

      That being said, I will take the accuracy and integrity and fair play of Monomakhos over the official press release office of the EP any day of the week

      If I were to trust the news source of that office and conduct no fact checks, I would totally be under the impression that the Cretan Council was hands down a success and officially in the Orthodox handbook – despite the insignificant and petty differences of the absent 4 bratty politically pining party poopers

      I hardly see any damage being done here. I see discussion of the issue, but no attack towards an office at all. If anything, I see support either way

      However, I also figure that if Metropolitan Joseph was concerned and would like to make any points of clarification on this blog – he could always log in and post a comment like the rest of us.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Thank you, Billy Jack for defending this blog. I appreciate it.

        • Antonia Dailey says

          We thank you, George. You are doing us all a wonderful service with your blog.
          May God bless you.

        • Fr. George Washburn says

          Greetings, friends!

          George thanks some posters for “defending this blog.” As if I had been “attacking” it or him. I am pointedly suggesting a way to make a big improvement.

          One of our correspondents candidly admits this is not a reliable news source. Exactly my point! It is not! But you will never hear George tell us that, let alone his defenders.

          In the meantime George presents his pieces as factually accurate and reliable, and a great many of the participants here obviously view them as such, and spend much time and energy in disagreements with each other predicated on the factual accuracy of George’s posts.

          In this case he also strongly implies that his preference for the ‘traditional’ as he conceives it may have prompted the quick post sans independent fact checking.

          The reliability of the EP’s Crete PR is a red herring. Irrelevant.

          The Metropolitan’s desire for support here is imagined. He is not a fan of the kind of exchanges that are characteristic here.


          Fr. G eorge

          • George Michalopulos says

            Fr George, for what it’s worth, I’ve never taken umbrage at your criticism of me or this blog. I wish I had the time and resources to make its reportage more newsworthy but then again, CNN has big bucks and they print outright falsehoods.

          • Billy Jack Sunday says

            Fr. George

            I didn’t say that Monomokhos isn’t reliable (or accurate / consistently factual) – I said it wasn’t a reliable news source. It is not a corporate endeavor of multitudes of highly paid professionals and used by governments to disseminate information to the general public.

            It is a one man show blog. It should be held to the standard of a blog. As such, George exceeds in accurate reporting, reliability and fair play. As a blog, there is reasonable speculation within discussion format. That’s the point of this type of blog. As the host, George is the originator of most discussions, and the facilitator of the rest.

            Although I dont view Monomakhos as a reliable news source (officially), I put it on par (or above) with any I’ve known

            I would suggest that a blog is just not your type of preferred medium

            BTW – Your unsavory style of commentary tickles me

            • George Michalopulos says

              Thank you Billy Jack. I appreciate the slack you and others have extended me. Truthfully, I wish I had the time and resources (and talent) to make this blog a true muckraking enterprise.

              Regardless, your words are very kind and I appreciate them.

              • Billy Jack Sunday says


                I believe you already have all the important key ingredients for a true enterprise – and would be a great success – if you, indeed, had all additional needed resources available to you.

                It’s pretty hard for me to convey what Im trying to say – especially if others are opting to try and misconstrue to their own point

                In truth, for me – I have found the hub of Monomakhos the most reliable source of current news information within the context of the American Orthodox reality. My point was simply you are not considered an official news outlet, but rather a personal blog (though striving to be more, and succeeding). That doesn’t mean that the skill set and professionalism isnt there. I just think that if someone is criticizing the publication of Monomakhos, it should be weighed against the publications and reporting of other blogs. In doing so, Monomakhos is second to none for the type of blog that it is.

                As I said before, I found the site after a long search of trying to find more information of the Cretan Council

                My church was all for the council and provided only positive information regarding it. The “official” news publication of the American council of bishops wasnt helpful. Another site that seemed to champion the concerns of the laity in the past was publishing article after article of support. I was only finding a few fragmented reports of opposition to the council, with almost no areas for interaction/commentary

                My godfather and priest, church, official publications from the EP and American bishops official news publication – everywhere I looked – was either very pro council or at least neutral with minimal reporting on opposition.

                Then came Monomakhos

                Personally, I’m glad you arent bought out and writing for any particular entities

                It is extremely valuable to be able to think for yourself and speak your mind

                Once you start writing for others, you begin to lose that

                Therefore, personally, I like your publication format as is

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Billy Jack, you exceedingly kind to me. It’s recognition such as yours which keeps this blog going. Thank you.

  27. Fr. Alban Waggener says

    you need to read the official word at
    don’t take the remarks of one person at a clergy retreat as authoritative

  28. In private I bet you could get a priest who was in the room to tell you what was said. Now there is a public denial they will never publicly say what was said. No one wants to get shipped off to a mission in Wyoming. If you go to the conventions and hang around after hours you will hear all kinds of things priests won’t say publicly.

    • I know more than one family of converts to Orthodoxy from Roman Catholicism.

      One family asked their OCA priest to be baptized. He said no…..we accepts converts from Roman Catholicism by chrismation. They were somewhat disturbed, because they were aware that the Roman Catholics lacked proper form by triple immersion. They were obedient and were received by chrismation. However, the Antiochians were happy to give them the proper Orthodox Mystery of Matrimony after they were received. To this day, in the back of their minds, there is a bit of scrupulosity that they were not received through a proper Orthodox baptism.

      There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism. All converts to Orthodoxy should be baptized.

      I pray for this to be.

      • Antiochene Son says

        Triple immersion is the best way, but it is not required. Baptism by pouring has been practiced throughout the Orthodox world from the beginning of time.

        • Pouring three times as a member of a heterodox formation is not really baptism….is it?

          “For only heretics are re-baptized, since their former baptism was not really baptism.”
          (St Cyril of Jerusalem)

        • Baptism by infusion is only allowed in the narrow case where immersion would be a risk to health and for that matter some consider it a form of baptism. But the Greek verb means “to immerse” and triple immersion is the proper method. We die and are buried and reborn with Christ through the immersion for the remission of sins. If a person received less than triple immersion outside the Church, the Church should probably receive by baptism. Even if there were triple immersion outside the Church, baptism would still be appropriate but oikonomia might allow reception by chrismation. Some allow reception by chrismation after triple infusion (pouring). I was received this way. All one can say is that the chrismation presumably fills all that was lacking regardless of whether the priest made a mistake in the method of reception.

    • Linda Albert, says

      What’s wrong with Wyoming? Reminds me of the years when Butte, Montana was the land of exile for wayward FBI agents that had vexed Director Hoover. But they had access to some of best hunting and fishing in the world. Best kept secret in Virginia. So does Wyoming.

  29. Archpriest John W. Morris says

    Metropolitan Philip did not make an independent decision to receive baptized converts by Chrismation. He was simply following the well established practice of the Patriarchate of Antioch. This practice has the sanction of pan-Orthodox councils, Constantinople 1484 for Catholics and Jerusalem Bethlehem 1672 for Protestants. The Partiarchate of Antioch never accepted the decree of Cyril V requiring the reception of all converts by Baptism.
    The guidelines of the Antiochian Archdiocese specifically state that before a convert is received by Chrismation, the Priest must verify that their non-Orthodox Baptism was “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit.” It that cannot be verified the convert must be received by Baptism.
    The Antiochian guidelines also state that the reception of a convert by Chrismation is not the recognition of a non-Orthodox Baptism. Instead is is the perfection and completion of the imperfect and incomplete non-Orthodox Baptism by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

    Fr. John W. Morris.

    • M. Stankovich says

      Fr. John Morris,

      εὐλόγειte ὁ κύριος!

      Indeed it is a wonderful surprise to see your name here again! In all sincerity, you made my day, Fr. John, and I hope you plan to stay.

  30. r j klancko says

    wow 87 comments on this topic,,, yet we are still faced with the same challenge — we are consistent with our inconsistency

    why not 100 comments on how we can cut all foreign ties, solely use english in our churches and be unified under one leader,,,,, no long beards, no pony tails, no accents so thick you cannot understand a word, no unnecessary richly appointed vestments and miters ( put the money into charitable works, not things, the empires of the past are dead, yet we perpetuate them)

    coming together as an american church, witnessing true christianity,,,, putting all externalities aside, and worshiping, and living together with one mind, one heart, one soul, with a consistent message and practice.

    our out dated ethnic diversity and living in the 18th century are diminishing our numbers and making our message ineffective, not relevant to souls we are entrusted with, and this is just the opposite of our new testament charge which is to spread the christian message and become fishers of men, women, and children

    if we had consistency and vision we would regain the vibrancy we once had

    i pray that we can soon see the light and error in our earthly ways, gret qnd holy lent is the best time to read the new testament and embrace our responsibilities as christians


  31. matthew panchisin says


  32. Michael Bauman says

    Michael S. Your post:

    is beautiful. Thank you.

  33. Concerned but hopeful in the Lord says

    I’m tired of people saying “if they were baptized in the correct form”,
    What does that have to do with GRACE?
    Are you saying if a lesbian episcopal priestess baptizes you, you are now a vessel of the Holy Spirit? She imparted grace to you through her “priesthood”?
    Everybody, sometimes stop analyzing previous practices(who says they are correct?)
    And look at the obvious!
    I confess ONE baptism, the others are baptized but not BAPTIZED into the One Holy, catholic and Apostolic Church.
    How can Chrismation seal an empty vessel? Why do we choose to mess with probably one of most important Mysteria of the Faith.
    Baptize the converts, these people deserve it!!!!!

  34. Michael Bauman says

    Met. Joseph’s raising the bar on marriage takes the form legalism and not pastoral compassion. In its current form it will drive people from the Church with no reason.

    If he continues on his present path he may well attempt to invalidate marriages conducted with the blessing of Met. Philip. Let us see if he addresses Fr. Joseph Allen as he is doing with others.

    • Michael,

      Was this written with tongue in cheek? If not, please elaborate. It doesn’t sound like the Michael Bauman I have come to appreciate – or, for that matter, like the Metropolitan (and I speak as one who is not within his jurisdiction).

  35. Michael Bauman says

    Brian not tongue in cheek, just an extreme personal example. My son wishes to be married to an Orthodox woman with two prior marriages. There is sin involved of which they must repent to be sure and they seem to be working on it. But Met Joseph is making the entire decision himself, ignoring both the priest who knows them and Bp Basil. He has now said that the woman’s restoration after her second divorce which occurred when Met Philip was alive is invalid. Raising the bar is fine doing it in an authoritarian, legalistic, retroactive manner is not helpful.

    Too often we put people in a position where it is better to sin in silence than to actually attempt to do things properly.

    Frankly her second marriage should never have been blessed. So in my view they are paying a heavy price for the mistakes of the past. Especially my son who has never been married and has a less than robust trust of the hierarchy to begin with.

    The circumstances are very complex but everyone who knows them recognizes that them getting married is the best thing for them. The entire community would rejoice. When they first started dating, several Sittis said, “It’s about time”. I was skeptical and warned my son but I now see good for both of them despite the sinful situation. Marriage in the Church after penance will allow them both to heal and have a fruitful family. There is no way that Met Joseph who has never even met them can make a good decision.

    They will face many struggles to be sure it is not a romantic easy “live happily ever after” union as they are both strong willed people, but it is real.

    Yes I am unhappy with the manner Met Joseph is handling it because it could easily drive my son out of the Church even though he has complied with every direction for repentance including physical separation. A lot of carts prior to horses here to be sure which I warned against. A lot of garbage. Still, they are honestly working to make it right.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Michael, would it be alright if I asked everybody who reads this blog to pray for your son and his wife? That Met Joseph exercises mercy on their behalf?

      For what it’s worth, I love it that the old Sittis in your parish followed and encouraged their courtship. It brings to my mind what a community infused with the proper Orthodox phronema would entail. That is to say, that it really does “take a village” to encourage young lovers and bring them into the fold.

    • I see. Thank you. I will pray for everyone involved.

      Lord have mercy.

  36. Michael Bauman says

    Prayers are always welcome and as today’s gospel reminded me, my prayers and fasting are particularly important as his father. Thank you.