The Apostolic Mission of Bishops: A Short Reflection

Dr. Bradley Nassif

The following essay by Dr Bradley Nassif is as profound an exegesis on the episcopate as I have ever read. It’s clarity is stark. What did I get out of it? How much we Orthodox are missing the mark. If you’re not sure if your bishop (and the people he pastors) are upholding the standards, ask yourself a couple of basic questions:

1. What is your jurisdiction’s mission statement? Is there clutter on its website about history, obscure canons, or historical oddities?

2. Has your jurisdiction succumbed to institutionalism and if so, has it become legalistic while overlooking the weightier aspects of the Law?

3. Is your bishop a real pastor who reguarly visits the parishes assigned to him? Does his jurisdiction have an active program for the creation of more dioceses?

4. When he does come to visit, does he preach the Gospel to the extent that you remember his words and can hardly wait for his next visit? Does he appear to be a normal man who is merciful but personally moral? Is he at the very least blameless?

5. Finally, does he put on airs or does he appear to be a real servant-leader?

These questions are a good start. I’d welcome others to submit their own. Regardless, I think you’ll enjoy Dr Nassif’s essay.

Source: Antiochian Orthodox Church

by Bradley Nassif, Ph.D.

The purpose of this brief, and incomplete, reflection is to focus on the centrality of the gospel in the ministry of a bishop. It is not intended to promote a partisan perspective on any issue facing the contemporary Orthodox Church – Antiochian, Greek or O.C.A. It simply spotlights what the calling of a bishop is to be.

I want to be clear that this article is not a response to the recent discussions of the Antiochian bishops or the Holy Synod. It is a timeless reflection — a positive statement — of what the primary work of a bishop should be, regardless of his geographical location or the time of history in which he lives. It is vitally important that we understand the bishop’s calling because the gospel of Jesus Christ lies at the very center of his ministry among us.

The Bishop’s Apostolic Mission

The apostolic mission of a bishop in the Eastern Orthodox Church can be summarized in five points.

1. Preach the Gospel. All bishops are to proclaim and interpret the gospel of Christ to the church and to the world.

Bishops should be elected largely on the basis of their knowledge and ability to skillfully communicate the Holy Scriptures. St. John Chrysostom is the prime example of such a bishop.

All bishops are to faithfully keep the gospel clear and central to their ministries.

What is the gospel? The gospel is the “good news” that God became human in Jesus Christ, took upon himself our fallen humanity in order to restore it into communion with God, conquer sin and vanquish death. This he did pre-eminently through Christ’s life, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven. This “good news” must be at the very core of every life-giving action in the church – the sacraments and throughout every liturgical season of fasting and prayer.

Bishops need to preach and teach this message to all their priests and parishioners. They need to boldly call people to repentance and faith and not make the fatal assumption that everyone is a Christian just because they happen to be inside the walls of an Orthodox Church.

I have said this for the past four decades, and I will continue to say it until I die: The most urgent need in the Orthodox world today is the need for an aggressive internal mission of converting our nominal Orthodox people to personal faith in Jesus Christ. Bishops should be teachers, preachers and evangelists of the gospel first and foremost. That is their main apostolic function (see point 2 below).

This requires that we lay people give them a large degree of freedom from administrative and managerial functions. Managerial duties must be done by them, but whenever those duties occupy more attention than the preaching of the gospel, we the people have committed a great sin against our bishops. It is our duty to support our bishops in their apostolic calling by freeing them to focus on preaching, teaching and evangelizing others with the Word of God.

2. Administer the Sacraments of the Gospel.

Bishops are to oversee the celebration of the Eucharist and ensure the sacramental integrity of its parishes. This is a heavy subject so I will forego an extensive theological commentary on it. Suffice it to say that all Orthodox sacraments are sacraments of the gospel.

We speak much about the Eucharist (and rightly so) but we sometimes forget that the Eucharist is rooted in the gospel. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor. 11.26). The death, resurrection and Second Coming of Jesus Christ lies at the very heart of this sacrament, and that is what the bishop is called to preach and to celebrate. He is to be a herald of the good news of God’s love given supremely through his Son, Jesus Christ. Every life-giving sacrament of the Church communicates this good news in one way or another, and it is the duty of the bishop to faithfully make that gospel clear and central to his flock.

The failure to intentionally keep the gospel clear and central is the main reason why so many of our young people are “religious but lost”. They know about God but have seldom been asked to make the Church’s faith their own, even though they have attended Church all their lives. Bishops (as well as priests and lay people) are to do the work of an evangelist.

3. Guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the church.

Maintaining the unity of the church today requires acts of courage and risk taking. Guardianship of the gospel does not mean simply “holding the traditional line.” It also means preventing spiritual decay and ignorance.

Just the other day an Orthodox Christian out of state asked me if the book of Ephesians was in the Bible. I was saddened to have even been asked such a question. All this person needed to do was to open the Bible and look inside the table of contents. But that is the level so many of our people are at in the Orthodox world today. No wonder St. John Chrysostom declared, “The lack of Scriptural knowledge is the source of all evils in the church.”

4. Be a moral example of holiness and wholesomeness.

This implies the usual exemplary personal conduct and spirituality that is the vocation of every baptized Christian — bishops, priests and laity alike.

Another aspect of episcopal modeling would be for bishops to renounce work-a-holism. Compulsive work habits destroy one’s spiritual and mental health and that is simply not a Christian thing to do.

5. Diminish the distance between bishops and their flock.

The worldly values of the Byzantine Empire crept into the episcopal ministry after the Fall of Constantinople (1453). Under the Ottoman Turks, bishops began wearing the literal crown of the fallen Byzantine Emperors as political and spiritual leaders of their millet (Christian sub-cultures). Honorific titles such as “Despot” and “Master” began to be used. The ordination of a cathedral bishop came to be described as an “enthronement”. All this is tied to the legacy of Byzantine politics.

Today we find ourselves in a quandary. We have a strong desire to honor and respect our bishops; yet we do not want to unwittingly perpetuate a worldly and politicized gospel. What would Jesus say about such practices if he were alive today? He once said, “For he that is greatest among you shall be the servant of all” (not an enthroned Despot or Master). Is there a more Christian way to express our desire to hold bishops in high regard?

The true calling of an episcopal ministry requires that the gospel be kept clear and central in the life of the Church. Perhaps we should examine historical accretions that have attached themselves to the office of bishop and which mislead the flock about the servant nature of Christian leadership.

The five points I have outlined above, admittedly incomplete, are shared in order that we might keep our eyes on the ball. That ball is nothing less than the Good News of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the life of the Church. If the goal is the gospel, then a vital means to that end is to keep the gospel clear and central to the apostolic mission of an Orthodox bishop.

Dr. Bradley Nassif is a Professor of Theology, North Park University in Chicago, and a member of Holy Transfiguration Antiochian Orthodox Church in Warrenville, Illinois.


  1. George,

    Thanks for posting this again. I remember reading this when Dr. Nassif first wrote it and the words ring true today. The take away line for me in all of this is the following:

    The most urgent need in the Orthodox world today is the need for an aggressive internal mission of converting our nominal Orthodox people to personal faith in Jesus Christ.

    I am constantly amazed by the lack of knowledge of our Orthodox people. This falls right at the feet of the clergy who are not teaching their people the “true faith.” We spend too much time talking about nonsense and not enough time preaching Jesus Christ! We need to get back to the basics. We need to convert our own hearts before we can ever lead others to the Church.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Father, I understand what you say and why you place the responsibility on the clergy, but I have to disagree to a point. It is the responsibility of each person to prepare his own heart to receive the word and cultivate it. No other person, even the most gifted, can do that for another.

      Those who want the truth will find it. Those who want a fraud will find that. Those who love nothingness wil find that also even if they be standing next to each other at each Divine Liturgy.

      If enough people long for the truth and seek Him with all of our hearts He will be revealed even though the priest or bishop is corrupt and bloated with maggots and even though the priest ignores Him.

      As we call the biships to a higher standard and to repentance, we do great harm to our own souls if we do not repent even more deeply and make amends (as possible) to anyone we have harmed.

      That is one of the prime points I have learned from having been graced to be an unworthy member of +Basil’s Catherdal parish.

    • Ivan Vasiliev says

      “We need to convert our own hearts before we can ever lead others to the Church”.
      Some things never change! This has always been true and always will be true. In many ways, our “crises” today are simply replays of a very old tape. All the saints knew this which is why they give us advice like that of St. Seraphim of Sarov: ‘Acquire the Spirit of peace and thousands around you will be saved’

  2. Archpeiest John Morris says

    An excellent article. Every Bishop should read it.

    • Tymofiy Hawrysh says

      Every bishop is to keep the gospel clear and central in the life of the Church. Every priest as active hands of the bishop in a city is to keep the gospel clear and central in the life of his parish. Every baptized Christian is to keep the gospel clear and central in his/her life and the life of each family and parish. What a light will shine when we all do this together. Let’s not talk about it. Let us all love the Lord and live the gospel. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

  3. Michael Bauman says

    Can’t speak for anyone else, but my bishop, His Grace Bishop Basil scores high on all of these. He spends Advent and Lent with us at his Catherdral. the rest of the time he is on the road visting his other parishes and attending to his other duties.

    If you are in the heartland, you can easily find out by visitng any of the Antiochian parishes and asking about him.

    • Michael, the exact same thing came to my mind and heart. EVERY time we hear Bishop Basil preach, we yearn to hear and learn more.

      Bishop Basil and Metropolitan Jonah were two of the best examples of Jesus Christ centered bishops I have ever known.

      • Pat,
        Were you blessed to have known, or ever stood or sat in the presence, of the Blessed Archbishop DMITRI? Where ever he was, he preached the Gospel, at the ambom, at coffee hour, traveling by car to visit the faithful in his diocese. And where he was, we were all gathered in the love of Christ which he taught us and brought to us just by his presence.

      • Here’s another example of a very good Bishop who also got himself forcibly retired (apparently) from the OCA. Wonder why he doesn’t appear on the list of retired Bishops of the OCA on the web site?! (Anybody know the background on that?)

        • Lola J. Lee Beno says

          He died several years ago. That’s why he doesn’t appear on the list of the retired Bishops – this list only lists those who are living.

          • Thanks, Lola! That makes sense. Probably if I’d given it more thought, I would have figured that out, too. (I’d like to think so anyway! LOL!)

          • Quite right, Mitrich. The linked article is not telling the truth when it states, “Bishop Basil undertook a new journey to the United States, where he converted thousands of Protestants, Catholics, and atheists to the Russian Orthodox faith.”
            That’s just plain ridiculous. I believe you can count the number of Protestants, Cathollics and atheists in
            America whom Bishop Basil converted on the fingers of one hand, at MOST>

            • Your Grace, I can well believe YOU can only count those he converted on the fingers of one hand. Only God knows in reality. In any event, technically we members of the Church convert no-one. Christ alone through the Holy Spirit works conversion (occasionally allowing some of us to participate through our witness). I suppose it would be more accurate to say that he had an influence (through the Holy Spirit’s use of his radio preaching ministry) and thus a hand in the conversion of thousands.

              I am actually more interested to know if the article was telling the truth when it asserts that Bp. Basil found himself up against a “powerful lobby” promoting “non-Orthodox practices” in the OCA when he came to the U.S. and which led to his being forced into early retirement?

              • OCA member! That’s not what the article you referenced said at all! It said this “Bishop Basil undertook a new journey to the United States, where he converted thousands of Protestants, Catholics, and atheists to the Russian Orthodox faith.” Where i went to school, “he converted” does not mean he played a part in conversions,” ”
                Here is an example off Bishop Basil’s apostolic, missionary conduct as ruling bishop of the Diocese of the West, OCA:
                He “disciplined” the parish of the Myrrh-Bearing Women in Bryte (West Sacramento), California by directing that all parishioners come to Confession and Communion at a Liturgy. AFTER that Liturgy, he directed them all to the Parish Hall where he performed a service of EXORCISM on them, requiring all those people who had partaken of the Mysteries of the Body and Blood of Christ to ‘breathe and spit” on the Devil! There are several clergy still serving in the OCA who were in the Diocese of the West at that time who may attest to the verity of my account. I don’t see where this fits the Nassif paradigm at all.
                Bishop Basil was also a widower; nevertheless, when telling us of how wicked the parishioners of that same parish were, in that they had hit and knocked down Archpriest Dragoliub Krapcevich’s WIFE, he said, in the same breath, “But she had it COMING: she had a terrible mouth!”
                I don’t see where that fits the Nassif paradigm at all.
                I’m not one to say that Bishop Basil had the airs of a (Ethyl) Barrymore down pat as so many did. What an idea! I’ve heard nothing but positive things about his ministry after he got out of diocesan administration, which can be a terrible trial and temptation for any believing man..

                • Your Grace, you write:

                  That’s not what the article you referenced said at all! It said this “Bishop Basil undertook a new journey to the United States, where he converted thousands of Protestants, Catholics, and atheists to the Russian Orthodox faith.”

                  Just to clarify, if you will notice in my comment, I said “I suppose it would be more accurate to say he had an influence . . . “ Never anywhere do I assert the article said anything other than what you have quoted.

        • Heracleides says

          What a wonderful testimonial. Truly, the joke that is the OCA was/is not worthy of such Bishops as Basil and Jonah. Lord have mercy.

          • George Michalopulos says

            I have a sneaking suspicion that in order to be a saint, you have to be abused by Syosset.

        • That was lovely. OCAmember. Thank you for sharing it. I, too, would like to know more about the history of this saint of God.

        • Jim of Olym says

          I knew several people who knew Bp. Basil. they regarded him highly. I do too.

          • Bishop Basil served for many years at St Nicholas, the OCA primatial cathedral in D.C. where Metropolitan Jonah chrismated me last December. My godmother was Vladyka Vasily’s personal assistant for many years, and he was her spiritual father who received her into the Orthodox Church. She has told me so many wonderful anecdotes and stories about him which have deeply touched my soul. I believe he is among the saints in heaven. Many of my young friends pray to him.

            • Fan of your website says

              Dear Ryan,

              I hope you can write down some of those stories and put them on your website for those of us who have never heard those stories and never gotten to know this Bishop Basil, perhaps a saint of the twentieth century. It seems an important thing to do, to recount his life in detail.

              May you have many years as an Orthodox Christian and may I congratulate you on the anniversary of your chrismation! May God bless you, Metropolitan Jonah, and your godmother and godfather!

            • Yes, Bishop Basil (Rodzianko) served on and off several times a year at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington, D.C. He also served in the little home chapel he had in the apartment where he lived: : full hierarchical with dikiri and trikiri, eagle rugs, the whole bit! Ryan’s godmother must be Marilyn Swayze (sp?) a most devoted handmaiden of Bishop Basil’s after her conversion. Everyone remembers how much she adored him, God bless her! Ever-memorable Father Dimitry Grigorieff also used to report on his activities from time to time, though usually in not such an “acolytish’ way..

              • ChristineFevronia says

                Is this the same Bishop Basil who the current OCA’s liasion for External Affairs Kishkovsky tried to get committed due to a supposed mental illness that Kishkovsky tried to put on him?

                • I believe that’s the one!

                • M. Stankovich says


                  Vladyka Basil (Rodzianko) is a Saint. I spent hours in his presence, never uttering a word, only listening to him tell me of his loving relationships with his friends (can you imagine!) St. John Maximovitch, St. Nikolai Velomirovich, and St. Justin Popovich. His wife was healed in a miracle attributed to St. John Maximovitch, and considered in the canonization process of St. John. He experienced indescribable suffering in Serbian prison camps, his cassock torn from his body & his beard torn from his face; he was released only by the direct intervention of the Archbishop of Canterbury, after ministering & comforting fellow political prisoners in the harshest of conditions .

                  The greatest ministry of his life was broadcasting, daily, on the the Voice of America, from recordings he made in a single-bedroom apartment that he fashioned into a chapel, a “production studio,” a study & space to receive his many visitors, and the smallest of spaces to sleep (and he was a tall man!). “Vladyka Vasilii” was known to countless numbers in the Soviet countries over the years, who later flocked to meet him personally. He was embarrassed but so amused to tell the story of casually speaking with a man in Russia about the man’s “spiritual father,” and when Vladyka asked who this “father” might be, the man said “Vladyka Vasilii on the radio!” And the crown was his invitation by Patriarch Alexy II to deliver the “Holy Fire” from the Holy Sepulcher, in a procession through the streets of Moscow that the press described as an event not seen since before the revolution. I have written of many of these events of his life – and it only scratches the surface – and you can find them by searching my posts.

                  ChristineFevronia, I ask you, please, to leave Vladyka Vasilii (Rodzianko) out of any discussion that is unworthy of the Saints. Venerable Bishop Basil, pray to God for us!

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    MS, I envy you that you knew Vladyka Basil. Why then are you not appalled that the same people that molested him here in America used the same program to so hurt Metropolitan Jonah? Even if the latter is unworthy the fact remains that the Syosset Putschists prided themselves about using the “Rodzianko file” in order to remove His Beatitude. Do you not see the irony? Leaving aside your personal distaste for His Beatitude, how can you praise the very malefactors who hurt Bishop Basil and their disciples who looked upon their evil ways with awe?

                • That’s a pretty serious charge, ChristineFevronia! Please tell us what evidence supports your claim about Archpriest Leonid Kiskhovskly trying to have EVER-memorable Bishop Basil (Rodzianko) committed! My understanding was that there was a barrage of letters and phone calls from concerned Laity and some clergy in the Diocese of the West that caused the Holy Synod to offer Bishop Basil an honorable retirement unless he elected to try and hold on to the Diocese of the West, in which case, canonical proceedings would be undertaken. I’ve known Father Leonid since 1965. He is not a conniver nor a manipulator, like the cabal that went after Metropolitan Jonah in Santa Fe. He’s not perfect, but who is. This charge of yours sounds very much like something planted by the mother of “Voices of Russia!” In fact, Father Leonid is one of that site’s greatest and most often cited villains. Just say ‘Lyonya” and the site will begin secreting vile and miasmic imprecations and vilifications. The only suggestions I ever heard relative to Bishop Basil’s mental balance during his incumbency in the West, came from both Fathers John Meyendorff and Alexander Schmemann. Surely, if Bishop Basil was one-half the Saint that some hangers-on claim him to be, one must ask where THEY, Father John and Father Alexander, were when he lost the Diocese. What did THEY have to say; after all, Father John was related to him! If I’m not mistaken, both of them stated they regretted the part they had played in bringing him to America! And just because Mark Stokoe, back then, tried very hard to “get” Bishop Basil, doesn’t necessarily say anything positive about Bishop Basil. Perhaps such a file, if it exists, would be his private file, no?

                  • Heracleides says

                    You come across as a tad jealous Bishop. Is it perhaps because Bp. Basil is now a saint and eventually will be declared as such whilst you (and your pal Nikolai Soraich) are not even in the same league much less ballpark?

                    • I don’t believe I was ever jealous of Bishop Basil of blessed memory, Herarcleides. What an idea! You’re entitled to it, of course. No doubt you knew him better than i? How did that come about?

                    • I’d like to correct another idea that Heracleides expressed. Bishop Nikolai (Soraich), who came into the OCA some time after Bishop Basil (Rodzianko) had left for DC,, also supports the idea that the OCA Holy Synod mistreated Bishop Basil, and that is one of the many areas where my good friend, Bishop Nikolai, and I differ. Bishop Nikolai also uses the case of Metropolitan Vladimir (Nagossky) as an example of a hierarch wrongfully persecuted by the OCA Holy Synod. This difference of opinion of ours has not adversely affected our friendship and mutual respect. It’s my personal conviction that neither hierarch, Bishop Basil or Metropolitan Vladimir, was mistreated by anyone at any time. My opinion is that the action of today’s Holy Synod relative to Metropolitan Jonah is entirely unprecedented. I am jealous, perhaps, of a few people: Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick, because of his virtues, abilities, and wonderful wife, Bette, whom I refer to as ‘Her Pulchritude,” a finer example of a Priest’s helpmeet I do not know. I’m also sometimes jealous of Bishop Nikolai’s ability to give people, especially erring clergy, a break or a second chance. As a life-long bachelor, I am basically a selfish man and I suppose I may envy Bishop Basil (and other widower-hierarchs) because, unlike me, they married and had a family life, sharing everything. I am also jealous of Father Alexander Lisenko, now a monastic with the name Alexei, at Manton, because he and his spouse, Emilie, adopted two sons. I consider the adoption of orphans to be the highest of virtues. Likewise, I am jealous of Archpriest Basil Rhodes and his spouse, Joanie, who also adopted a son and a daughter. I think if I spent more time, I could provide Heracleides with a real multitude of people whom I envy–am jealous of. This does not, though, alter my conviction that Bishop Basil of blessed memory made a mess in his administration of the Diocese of the West, but was never mistreated, as Metropolitan Jonah was. In fact, the discretion with which the Holy Synod back then handled Bishop Basil’s case is remarkable compared to the total lack of discretion in the matter of Metropolitan Jonah’s pre- and post-retirement treatment by them.
                      And I’m surprized that anyone would consult Bishop Basil’s personnel file (Every member of the clergy has a file). The most accessible file in a matter of the disciplining of a Hierarch would be that of Ever-Memorable ARchbishop Dimitri (Magan), who was removed from his See as a disciplinary measure based, according to the published minutes of the Greater Sobor of Bishops (Holy Synod) of the Metropolia at that time , on his making disparaging remarks about the First Hierarch then, Metropolitan Leonty.
                      What is the source of this improbable story about “consulting the Rodzianko file?” is it not Stan/Barbara Drezhlo? It sounds so much like it. The same paranoid, conspiracy-seeking style and willingness to imagine rather than prove.

                    • Heracleides says

                      Bishop Tikon: “This does not, though, alter my conviction that Bishop Basil of blessed memory made a mess in his administration of the Diocese of the West…”

                      THIS coming from you??? Lol – I definitely need a new keyboard.

                      Seriously, what other revisionist Snake Oil are you peddling now? Attempting to slap lipstick on Lefty Kishkovsky of NCC infamy is one thing; trash-talking, no matter how subtle, a reposed and highly regarded Bishop (especially by those outside of the OCA) is quite another matter.

                      I think this calls for a new graphic.

                    • You’re right, “Heracleides!” I don’t consider “those outside the OCA” to be at all qualified, as we were in his own diocese, to comment on or evaluate ever-memorable Bishop Basil’s service in THE DIOCESE OF THE WEST, i.e., the ONLY place where his mettle as a diocesan bishop was tested. I know only what the other clergy and faithful of his diocese know about his service there, while you know nothing, just like Sgt. Schulz, “I know NUTHING, Herr Kommandant” would be a good slogan to put up under a cartoon of the brave “Heracleides”, posting “Cartoons from the Underground, i.e., Sewers!”
                      “Heracleides” never knew the man at all. Actually, “Heracleides” doesn’t find Bishop Basil all that interesting or likeable; rather, what caused the old mucilage in his (or her) veins to start flowing like water, was an opportunity to once again try to get under Bishop Tikhon’s hide! Give it up, my boy (or my girl), I’ve gone up against industrial strength wiseacres, and after service as a sergeant in the US Army and a Captain in the US Air Force, i’ve held leadership positions and dealt with a multitude of leadership situations soldiers and airmen for many years. No one flourishing as a cartoonist-with-a-pseudonym in the backwaters of an Orthodox blog is going to have much success ‘scoring!” May he (or she) keep banging his (or her) head against the wall until it clears up!
                      Is it true that Archbishop Benjamin keeps enlarged copies of “Heracleides’s” cartoons on his office wall and uses them to show “the high moral and Orthodox tone of Monomakhos?” I understand he’s fondest of the ones featuring him personally. Good luck!

                    • Considering that Bp. Benjamin is your protégée, I’m not at all surprised that you know what is hanging on the walls of his boudoir. As for my bits of satire – funny how you approved when you passed along the booking photo of your pal Bp. Benjamin for my use… but then you are an OCA bishop – nuff said.

                    • The “Voices of Russia” blue ribbon for imitation goes to……”Heracleides”! Same judgments; same spirituality; same sense of “humor”; same crudities (not vegetables, by the way); and, above all, Same Bogeymen!
                      Shouldn’t “Heracleides’ expressed surprise that I DIDN’T know what was hanging in His Eminence’s office? I asked…
                      “Heracleides” also wrote, “Nuff said.” Let’s start our stopwatches….

  4. I’ve only managed to slog my way as far as this howler: “Bishops should be elected largely on the basis of their knowledge and ability to skillfully communicate the Holy Scriptures. St. John Chrysostom is the prime example of such a bishop.”
    One (1): Where may we find evidence that St. John Chrysostom was “elected? ” Where may we find evidence that he was elected “based on (his) knowledge and ability to skillfully communicate the Holy Scriptures?” If no such evidence for his election can be found, how can his APPOINTMENT by the Basileus serve as any example for us Americans?
    Two (2) How is it that the great Apostle Paul of our Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church never gave us advice lke this man’s? Especially when he seems to have given us OTHER standards?
    Why should I read further? The writer seems to be some sort of fabulist, going by the quoted sentence. Or else he’s incredibly careless and undisciplined in his thoughts and teaching….
    How regularly did St. John Chrsysostom visit the parish churches subordinate to the Constantinopollitan see? Who were some of his clergy?
    What did St. John Chrysostom (or any of the Cappadocian Fathers) teach about Church Growth? Were they concerned with it? Or did they leave that to the Emperor and his armies? Who were the missionaries of St. John Chrysostom’s missionary department? Besides sermonizing against the sins of the Empress (“Jezebel”) (and “the Jews” ) during the Divine Liturgy, what were some of his other pastoral exemplary accompllishments?

    • Archpeiest John Morris says

      Your Grace:

      You completely miss Dr. Nassif’s point. Why do you think that we call St. John Chrysostom which means “Golden Mouthed.” We do so because of his preaching of the Gospel and homilies on the Holy Scriptures. He became Patriarch of Constantinople because of his reputation as a preacher. How he became is a technicality that Dr. Nassif was not really addressing.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Your Grace–On the one hand, I agree with Dr. Nassif. On the other hand, I also agree with your criticism. It was very sloppily written indeed, which is surprising in that he is a professor of theology.

    • Michael Bauman says

      St. John is perhaps not the best example, maybe St. Martin of Tours? Wasn’t he the one dragged from hiding in a barn by the people who wanted him for their bishop?

      Church growth is either the real product of the Holy Spirit in which we cooperate or the fake product of modern marketing and ethically deficient sales techniques. We don’t really need a bunch of people that as St. John also noted, “…are as a millstone around the neck of the Church.”

      Still, can’t help but feel you response is a bit grumpy. Hope you are feeling OK (really).

      • George Michalopulos says

        If memory serves, Chrysostom was kidnapped from Antioch by the people of Constantinople and forced to be their bishop.

        • Chrysostom was kidnapped by “the people” of Constantinople? I don’t believe it. He was, rather, kidnapped by some agents hired by higher clergy-bureaucrats in Constantinople, then as now, worried about all threats to their primacy.
          Try to imagine “the people of Constantinople” migrating to Antioch, grabbing a helpless cleric out of his cathedral and then migrating back to Constantinople!
          And did the people of Antioch institute legal/canonical proceedings? What were they, chopped liver? Was there no Archpriest Morris in the Antiochian Church then?
          Perhaps they established a day of fasting and mourning in the Calendar to commemorate the invasion of Constantinopolitan Faithful?

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says

            Your Grace:

            Back then one did not disobey the Emperor, not even the people of Antioch. St. John Chrysostom became Patriarch of Constantinople due to the influence of the eunuch Eutropius who was the real power in Constantinople. St. John had to leave by night to avoid arousing the ire of the people of Antioch.
            Why do you feel it necessary to make such sarcastic attacks against me? It is unbecoming for an Orthodox Bishop to attack other Orthodox, even a priest like myself. I have tried to be as respectful as possible, but find it very difficult to deal with your constant personal attacks. I am really no interested in getting into a constant spitting match with you or anyone else. Let us call a truce and when we disagree discuss the issues as mature adults and with the respect due one Orthodox Christian to another without personal attacks or sarcasm.

            The Very Rev. John W. Morris

    • George Osborne says

      Dear Your Grace, Bishop Tikhon:

      Whevever I see the words “church growth” in a sentence (especially if it seems they should be boldened and underlined based on context as I believe yours would be), I begin to shudder, involuntarily wince and look for someplace to hide. In the way back when, I graduated from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. Say what you want about the Baptists, but I’ll tell you one thing, when you got out of the program with a M.Div. or M.Th., you knew the Bible in the original languages! Maybe nothing else, but you did know the Bible.

      However, my point was I attended during the sad heyday of the church growth movement popularized by Wagner et al at the Claremont Seminary in your neck of the woods. That movement was most unfortunate as it lead directly or at least indirectly to the “growth at all costs” school of thought via popularization and “relevancy.” Er, the same warmed over tripe the OCA is feeding parishes now. Relevant youth programs, blah, blah, blah. I mean no disrespect at all…far from it actually…but I was there on the Omaha Beach of the church growth movement, saw it in action, and say the dismal and unedifying failure as it unraveled in the light of experience versus naive enthusiasm.

      Whatever Dr. Nassif’s actual seniments may be, there really is such a thing as, shall we say, “New Testament” or perhaps Apostolic” evangelism. It is not Claremontian church growth, formulistic and over mathematical, but something I fear Orthodox are afarid to ask today and that is if a person has a relationship with the Lord. No, I can hear the tsk tsk in the background “Oh another konvert decieved by prelest, blah, blah. But the entire question of evangelism is simply doing whatever is necessary to present the claims and personhood of Jesus Christ to everyone in the world. The Liturgy and the Mysteries sustain us but there is and must be inevitably a work of the Holy Spirit that opens the eyes of the soul. Frankly, this means evangelism is most noticibly silent, I think. As Francis of Assissi said “Preach the Gospel. Everywhere. At all times. To Everyone. In every circumstance. And if absolutely necessary, use words!” Perhaps this is what Dr.Nassis is saying– and this time we will use St. Paul– A bishop must be apt to teach…..when necessary, using words if all else fails.

      • Sean Richardson says

        Thank you George Osborne for your thoughtful words. I never thought I’d hear the name Wagner and Claremont Seminary coming up in a discussion of “Church Growth” and the Orthodox Church. One thing that Wagner did suggest that perhaps we might pay a little attention to, although it would be a mistake to put too much weight on it, is that numbers do count. There are reasons people attend certain churches, Orthodox churches, and reasons they do not attend other churches. If a church is growing, there are reasons for it. If a church is not growing, then likewise there are reasons for this as well.

        In the forty years since I converted to Orthodoxy I’ve attended a variety of Orthodox churches, depending on where I have lived (mostly, but not entrely OCA and Antiochian). Often I have driven past closer Orthodox churches to attend one that was farther away, but one that I was able to grow in, find a spiritual home in and enjoyed more. Again, there are reasons parishoners attend certain Orthodox communities and avoid others.

        It is my humble thinking that suggests that we need to be more self-critical, within our own parishes, to see what we are doing that is working, that is opening the doors to those who seek Orthodoxy and Orthodox Christian truth, and what we are doing that is closing the doors to Orthodoxy. It is a joy to my heart and soul to attend certain Orthodox churches that are so alive and spirit filled, while it pains me greatly to attend a church that is slowly dying, for obvious reasons that no one cares to see.

      • Archpriest John W. Morris says

        I served with Dr. Bradley Nassif on the North American Orthodox Lutheran Ecumenical Dialogue. I found him to be a staunch defender of Orthodoxy. He has one major advantage. He knows his Bible and can quote chapter and verse back at Protestants.

    • M. Stankovich says

      PG 64 – St. Chrysostom, On the Priesthood:

      Book II, 8: “For had I accepted the office, I do not say all men, but those who take pleasure in speaking evil, might have suspected and said many things concerning myself who had been elected and concerning them, the electors.”

      [Ὅτι καὶ μέμψεως αὐτοὺς ἀπηλλάξαμεν διὰ τῆς φυγῆσ Ταῦτα καὶ πλείονα [much/many] τούτων λέγειν εἶχον ἄν, δεξαμένων ἡμῶν τὴν ἀρχήν.”]

      Book III, 2: “But, as it is, the greater part of the Church does not know me even by name: so that even my refusal of the office will not be manifest to all, but only to a few, and I am not sure that all even of these know it for certain; but probably many of them either imagine that I was not elected at all, or that I was rejected after the election, being considered unsuitable, not that I avoided the office of my own accord.

      [ Ὅτι οὐδὲ διὰ κενοδοξίαν ἐφύγομεν Εἰ δὲ πρὸς δόξαν ὁρῶντας τοῦτο πεποιηκέναι φασί, περιπίπτοντες ἑαυτοῖς ἐλεγχθήσονται καὶ μαχόμενοι φανερῶς· οὐδὲ γὰρ οἶδα ποίους ἂν ἑτέρους πρὸ τούτων ἐζήτησαν λόγους, εἰ τῶν τῆς κενοδοξίας ἡμᾶς ἠθέλησαν ἀπαλλάξαι ἐγκλημάτων.]

      Now, as near as I can tell, our “τα ευρισκόμενα πάντα” John appears to believe he was elected; therby suggesting there is, indeed, reason to plod on – Marchons ! Marchons ! Qu’un sang impur! Abreuve nos sillons!, for the French – if further impetus is needed.

      Of equal interest is what our Father John has to say as corollary to the brief essay of Dr Nassif: what is a Bishop to do if his flock is rife with anonymous gossiping, accusing, naysaying, two-faced, arrogant, and self-righteous rodents and hounds? Defend yourself as best you can in the image of St. Paul, bear up, and continue on. Justice belongs to the Lord. Can you imagine? Now there are few sweeter words to have been uttered, or more comforting divine advice to live by, no?

    • Sean Richardson says

      I always enjoy Your Grace’s writings, even when I don’t agree with them. It is difficult to go back in history and pick-and-choose this bishop of that bishop based on their accomplishing one aspect of what Dr. Nassif suggests (ex. St. John … a great preacher). What we tend to want today, in our bishops, is that they fulfill ALL of the requirements, and when they fall short in one area, then we become unduly hostile critics (when have we ever heard anything about St. John’s administrative capabilies, or how often he visited the parishes of his diocese?). More than anything else, I want my bishop to preach the gospel, visit the parishes, lead a moral Christian life and have a vision of establishing new churches and a vision for converting the people of America. That would be terrific!

    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

      As Francis of Assissi said “Preach the Gospel. Everywhere. At all times. To Everyone. In every circumstance. And if absolutely necessary, use words!” Perhaps this is what Dr.Nassis is saying– and this time we will use St. Paul– A bishop must be apt to teach…..when necessary, using words if all else fails.

      St. Francis never said this.

      The truth is the Gospel cannot be comprehended unless it is first spoken. How shall they hear without a preacher? So, no, it’s not “if all else fails.” It begins with the preaching. Peter preached, and then the Lord added to the Church those that would be saved.

      And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly[a] received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them (Acts 2: 40-41),

      The Gospel constituted the Church in the beginning and it constitutes it anew in every generation. That’s why it must be preached.

      Even our liturgical forms affirm this. The Gospel is read and taught (preached) before the antimension is unfolded.

    • I’m shocked by the above response of Bishop Tikhon to the essay by Dr. Nassif.
      Not only does he vehemently disagree with Dr. Nassif,
      but he also indicates that he doesn’t think much of St. John Chrysostoms’ episcopate either.
      Perhaps he will enlighten us here as to just what would have been correct in both cases.

    • Will Harrington says

      Your Grace, that word, elect, it does not mean what you think it means. Words have more than one meaning and, I suspect, it is only because democracy is so prominent in our culture, that you jumped to the conclusion that election must mean selection by popular vote. It does not. Even Webster’s, that quintesentially American dictionary lists, as the first definition, “to pick out or choose”. Dr. Nassif was quite correct in his usage of the word.

    • Isaac Crabtree says

      Vladyka, Chrysostom is the model bishop, the model priest, the model monk. You are absolutely right about Nassif’s article, here. If Chrysostom is and should be our example, most of his external things he mentions, while they might be nice, are not necessary.

      If Chrysostom is really our model bishop, then I argue the list should be something like this:

      1) Attain illumination of the heart through obedience to the commandments of the Gospel and the monastic tonsure.

      2) Show others the unpolluted Tradition of internal and external piety and devotion, encourage the study of real spiritual books, starting with the Gospels, the Epistles, the Psalms, and their classic commentaries like The Herald.

      3) Always teach the Christian to have his four “best friends” with him: Death, Judgment, Paradise, and Hell. And warn the flock against spiritually destructive trends in society and in our lukewarm Church– especially against education “falsely so-called.”

      4) Encourage REAL monasticism– not monks with iPads seeking groupies, not Byzantine-themed gay bars, not bishop wannabes. Such a thing in our day will require heavy reliance upon the “old world.”

      5) Bishops are “fathers” but also monks. A monachos is one who is alone with God. Part of that is a separation and concealment of inward life.

      6) Show us how to live, suffer, and die as real Christians.

      Above all– we don’t need programs or silly trite phraseology like “actualizing the Gospel.” We don’t really even need a bunch of unbelieving academics who want to cut up the Tradition of the Church into what they fancy and what they don’t.

      We need bishops to be saints. We need a life infused by the spiritual power of Christ, so that we can open their graves and find myrrh, recognizing such to be the same myrrh that flowed into our hearts during his lifetime by his grace-giving words and example.

      • Thanks, Isaac!

      • Michael Bauman says

        I rather suspect that if our bishops were saints most parishes would be empty. Saints are not warm and cuddly. How many parishoners are able to bear the Gospel that saints would preach?

      • Isaac, I believe you misunderstand Dr. Nassif’s article if you think what he is advocating negates the traditional role of a Bishop to preach and teach the gospel with his life as you have described it. It seems to me there is a lot of overlap between what Dr. Nassif says and what you describe as the role of the Bishop in your points above.

        I’ve mentioned it before, but for a real life example of a Bishop such as you describe and for an inspiring story of the salvation of a regional church from devastation after decades of scandal and corruption, see this book:

        Some of the things Bp. Meletios, the subject of this story, did (such as organizing regular gatherings for youth and others at a local community center for spiritual education) may similarly be construed as “nice, but not necessary” since they also fell outside the parameters of what you state, but they were integral to the fulfillment of his mission in that place. Similarly, I believe Dr. Nassif’s insights of how a Bishop’s preaching the gospel in our current American context among nominal Orthodox should look are perhaps not exhaustive, but nevertheless pretty much on target as far as they go.

        Being personally acquainted with Dr. Nassif, I know he is speaking from experience here. Dr. Nassif (like the Archbishop of the Antiochian Archdiocese to which his parish belongs) is perhaps weak on the advocacy and appreciation of the role of traditional Orthodox monasticism as a foundation for healthy Church life. Since he was raised in the Orthodox tradition, I’m quite sure Dr. Nassif is aware of how corrupt monastic practice can sometimes become (even the traditional monastic literature warns of these ever-present dangers). It’s unfortunate that encounters with hypocrisy and a Pharisaical “Orthodox traditionalism” and triumphalism in one’s impressionable years can be very hard to overcome, and such experiences are perhaps more common among cradle Orthodox like Dr. Nassif than we’d like to think. In fact, the pastor of my parents’ Evangelical church was baptized Orthodox, as were his parents and grandparents before him, but his parents eventually left their Orthodox Church in discouragement when they found their Priest was repeatedly insensitive to and alienating their son (now the Evangelical pastor) when he was a youth, but that the Evangelical church down the street was reaching out to youth with the message of Christ in a way they could connect to and which made them feel cared for and want to grow in their faith! I also know that it was an encounter with the vibrant faith of some Evangelicals in his young adult years that rekindled and deepened Dr. Nassif’s faith in Christ and ultimately restored his interest and participation in his own Orthodox Christian tradition.

        We can brag on the wonderful truth, depth and sobriety of our Orthodox tradition including our monasticism (with good reason) and trot out our apparently more precise and expert knowledge of our own Orthodox tradition and history for display in forums like this, but if there is a dearth of Christ’s love somewhere in that mix, it’s all for naught (1 Corinthians 13). In fact, it’s worse than that–it’s destructive of the communion for which Christ died and rose again.

        • Isaac Crabtree says

          I really enjoyed the Antiochian monastery’s article regarding his heresies.

          • Isaac, can you clarify who is the subject of “his heresies?” Also, do you have a link to the article you liked?

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says

            To Isaac Crabtree:

            There are lots of monks in America with an Antiochian background. Our Archdiocese has just bought a land with buildings for a women’s monastery. There are also plans to establish our own monastery for men. However, I wonder if we should compete with other jurisdictions just so we can have our own monastery. Is it not better for us to send our potential monastics to help build up the monasteries that other jurisdictions have already established but need monastic vocations? After all we are all members of the same Church. When I was in Canton, all the Orthodox the area supported St. Gregory Palamas Monastery, which is under the Greeks. All the Antiochians in West Virginia support Holy Cross Hermitage which is under ROCOR. Ideally all the Orthodox should support the local Orthodox monastery. We should also support each other’s missions. When I was in the Houston area, we had an extra epithios that we gave to a local ROCOR mission.

            • Good points, Father. I agree.

              I asked Dr. Nassif shortly after my conversion if he knew why there was only one monastic (an elderly nun) at that time under Met. Philip, while there were several monasteries for both men and women under the other jurisdictions. That was when he made a comment (the details of which I don’t recall) something to the effect that Met. Philip had had some experience and/or concern about corrupt monastic practice and so had apparently been reluctant to push in that area. I have since read comments to this effect about Met. Philip from others as well.

              Judging from Dr. Nassif’s article about the Desert Fathers, I would say he has quite a deep appreciation for healthy monastic practice and the legacy of our holy monastics. To be honest, I don’t think it was necessarily accurate for me to imply in my comment to Isaac that Dr. Nassif shared Met. Philip’s attitude, as he described it, about corruption in contemporary monasticism. I have never actually discussed that with him. I was thinking in Dr. Nassif’s case of the story he told in one of his AFR podcasts how as a boy (of about 10 years at the time) who lost his own father early in life, he had eagerly anticipated having pizza at Pizza Hut with his parish Priest. (In a tribute to his mother here:http: //, Dr. Nassif has also alluded briefly to another aspect of the privation of his early life as one of four kids raised by a widow on a waitress’s wages.) The special time that he was so joyfully anticipating with his spiritual father became a painful and crushing experience when his Priest used the opportunity to chastise him for ordering a sausage pizza on a fast day. His Priest’s strong disapprobation of his youthful mistake made a deep impression–unfortunately, just not one that spoke to the young Nassif of the reality of Christ’s unspeakable kindness and mercy. I can contrast this experience of Dr. Nassif’s with the memory shared in an article by Serge Schmemman about his own father (Fr. Alexander) whose quiet modeling (not forced imposition) of reverence, prayer, and keeping the fasts of the Church had a deep and positive spiritual impact on his son.

              • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                Dear Karen:

                Until fairly recently we had very little healthy monasticism in this country. The monastery that portrayed itself as the prime example of Orthodox monasticism in this country was the source of a major scandal the details of which I will not go into. There have been other scandals involving monastics, which I also will not go into. All too often monasticism in this country was associated with Old Calendarism, not the use of the Old Calendar, but the belief that Orthodox who use the New Calendar are grace less heretics.
                Now we have healthy monasteries like Holy Cross Hermitage in West Virginia that have excellent relations with the local Antiochian parishes. That changes everything. The Antiochian Archdiocese recently made an offer on a piece of land with buildings that can be turned into a monastery for women. There are also plans to establish a monastery for men that will bear fruit in a few years.
                The Metropolitan wants real healthy monasticism led by an experienced monastic knows what what he is doing. All too often in American groups of men have gathered without proper guidance from an experienced monk and formed monasteries that proved to be dysfunctional or suffered from spiritual pride by acting to undermine the position of the parish clergy.
                In the meantime, a significant number of Antiochians have joined already existing monasteries. I wonder if we should compete with struggling monasteries by established competing monasteries or support already established monasteries by sending those with monastic vocations to monasteries under different jurisdictions who need additional vocations. Why duplicate the efforts of others if we can experience the spiritual blessings of monasticism and support monasticism by supporting a monastery under ROCOR, the OCA or the Greeks?

                • I think that the Church of Antioch has provided a unique type of monastic witness in the Middle East, one marked by a special sort of openness and hospitality. It is a shame that the Antiochian Archdiocese has not attempted to follow this model– and especially the model of Deir el-Harf here in North America….

                • Thank you for that background, Father. The Abbess, Mother Alexandra, of St. Thekla’s Monastery being founded under Met. Philip’s omophorion, is a former member of my parish. She recently visited and we learned she is expecting her first two novices in the next several months. We should pray for all of them.

  5. Dr. Nassif’s essay is most encouraging to me. I hope I will have the honour of meeting him someday.

    Thank you for publishing it here, George. And thank you Dr. Nassif for writing it. This is the approach to episcopacy that was demonstrated by +Dimitri of Dallas and +Basil of Wichita and +Jonah of Washington, DC and, I think, +Isaiah of Denver. It–and the Gospel which it proclaims–that brough our house into holy Orthodoxy.

    I agree with Dr. Nassif’s warnings about inflatedf imperial titles and ceremonial crowns and sceptres. Holy Father might be enough of a title that says more than other abstract and stentorious epithets, and it would be better to reserve crowns for liturgical use only and avoid them in posed photographs and non-liturgical ceremonies. Otherwise, we inflict occasions of tempation on our servant -shepherds and encourage them to forget their true calling.

    George’s third question strikes home for me: <> It would be better if the Church were structured to allow this. Frankly, there should be enough bishops and smalle enough dioceses to allow each to visit each ofhis parishes at least four times a year. In other words, no diocese should be larger than about dozen parishes and none should be further from the Cathedral than can be reached by car in 4-6 hour drive. We have been commended by Christ to make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all things that He commanded His own disciples. There was a sense of urgency which is generally lacking today. We have other priorities and a host of canons, useful in some contexts and at some times and circumstances, but not all of them always. Episcopal celibacy and monachism is an example. It is a worthy ideal that was insituted at a certain era for good reason. But it ought not be the principal criterion or sine qua non. Between two otherwise equally worthy candidates, it ought to be deteminative; but before that we ought to be focussing on those qualities set forth by Dr. Nassif in his brief article and by the original Apostles and Evanglists themselves in the Scriptues and the Apostolic Fathers.

    Furthermore, having been in hierarchical communities all of my life, I note the danger of clericalism. As in any profession, the temption of those who have been admitted and licensed to practice, there is a temptation to make it hard for others to enter thereafter since a scarce resource is more valuable than one which is more common. But t one of our jobs as pastors is teach holiness by word and authentic example and then to train and equip those who are becoming saints for the work of ministry/service so that we ought to be intentionally developping an increasing number of men, young and old, to become acolytes, readers, subdeacons, deacons and, yes, monks bishops and women to become nuns and deaconesses to the young and other women. It ought to be a priorty that no parish have no fewer than two deacons and a priest-curate or -vicar to assist its pastor. Systemmically, this has become accepted as unimiportant however, and this is a conclusion borne out by the facts, that by far and away most parishes have a pastor only and no deacon at all.

    A ready solution is to hand provided the apostolic misson of the Church be put front and center and proper priorities put in place to carry it out.


  6. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    Excellent presentation, as Dr. Nassif has already given us—over the years—ample reason to expect of him.


  7. I have had the opportunity to engage with only two men elevated from the priesthood to the episcopacy: Archbishop Benjamin and our former Metropolitan, Jonah. I will not comment on #4 – but both are, in my estimation, very good examples of 1, 2, 3, and 5. As we all know, there has been a severe argument between them regarding #3.

    Too, I remember most of Bishop Benjamin’s sermons from visits to our church or to the monastery, some going back several years. They are memorable, poignant, and to the point. The priests he’s worked with feel comfortable with him, enjoy his company, and he is almost always available to them. He also visits parishes often.

    The main thing I remember about Bishop Jonah is how much he was always there for me, and as far as I can remember, every priest who ever asked for his help.

    I simply cannot fathom the private war that went on between Benjamin and Jonah, because at one point they were very close friends, and Bishop Benjamin was a nurturing presence in Jonah’s life. You have never heard that in these pages; but I was there, I saw it first hand. That’s why I have been stunned, shocked by what happened.

    The only reason I began posting on this site was my beloved friend seemed surrounded on all sides by wolves; too, priests that he had once concelebrated with seemed to abandon him because the shifting sands under their feet told them he was going to be persona non grata. He was alone in no-man’s land and I wanted to aid him.

    What a pity that the only thing to unanimously unite our synod in decades was maybe their antipathy towards their young metropolitan.

    Maybe I’ve got this all wrong, but I have learned to trust my experience with people, and getting along with others in a professional context has been the main focus of my career. It’s absolutely essential. I know how to do that, I sincerely do. Because I saw a professional culture antithetical to the nurture and support of his administrative work, I felt duty-bound to speak up.

    A leader cannot lead without support. It’s that simple. Delegation is the name of the game. Subordinates become your hands reaching out to the world, doing for you what you do not have the time to do, and with your blessing too.

    Imagine what happens when at every turn you are not able to do that? Everything grinds to a screeching halt. Internecine warfare is the worst possible outcome for an organizational structure. Everyone engaged in such a struggle becomes an equal-opportunity loser. That’s why I made comments previously about this kind of conflict being inspired by the devil, because it so destructive as it takes no prisoners. The combatants become everything they once eschewed and get stuck in the web, like the tar baby in the Uncle Remus Tales. It starts at the top.

    In most cases the apple does not fall far from the tree, but in some cases it does fall far – very far – from the tree. The mystery of what “actually” happened in 2011-12 will one day work itself out. I do know that ROCOR has a home for Bishop Jonah if the OCA will ever release him.

    I think the main thing – and George poignantly alluded to this in his comments concerning Laurie Paffhaussen – is that politics is people at its root. When we speak about someone we admire and want to emulate, someone we have a relationship with, we are not attracted to them because they play their cards like Machiavelli. We are attracted by their love.

    I once went to a funeral at a distant church. The two bishops (above) were there, and a friend dear to both of them lay in the casket. With infinite tenderness, the then Metropolitan Jonah laid his omophorion over her face, forgave all her sins past and present, and said good bye. The spiritual grace, the completeness of it, flowed from every atom of his being. Yes – at the gateway of death – her spiritual father was there for her and now she was going home under his sail. It took place in only a few moments. It was an exceedingly beautiful thing to watch. And it wiped away everything I had had on my mind up to that time, because the incontrovertible presence of the Holy Spirit was there.

    As you read through the pro and con arguments on this website regarding the truth of all the whodonits, remember that love is what first brought us to the church, and love is what brought the Son of God to you. I have a favorite passage from a Herman Hesse book upon which I often reflect when it comes to the church

    “He was overwhelmed by a feeling of great love, of the most humble veneration. He bowed low, right down to the ground, in front of the man sitting their motionless, whose smile reminded him of everything that he had ever loved in his life, of everything that had been of value and holy in his life.”

    True contact with God brings humility, and with it, all the things we value most.

  8. Notice from St. John the Baptist Cathedral, Washington, D.C. says

    Dear Brothers & Sisters,

    Please be advised that on Friday, November 30th, His Eminence Metropolitan Jonah of the OCA will give the first in a series of talks on Holy Scripture. We will gather for his talk in the new library on the upper floor of the parish hall at 7:30 pm.

    The children’s choir will rehearse in the church and not in the upper living room, as was first announced. We don’t want their singing to interfere with the Metropolitan’s talk. The rehearsal will begin at 7:30 pm.

    The dance group will rehearse as usual in the main parish hall at 7:00 pm.

    The Holy Kursk Root Icon will arrive on Saturday at 4:00 pm, in time for the start of the English Vigil.

    In XC,

    Fr. Victor



    4001 17th St. Northwest, Washington, D.C., 20011
    (202) 726-3000


    All jurisdictions of Orthodox and Orthodox enquirers welcome. Blessedly long question and answer period. Bring bible in English, Greek or Slavonic or other language of choice. The Orthodox Study Bible is useful.

    Try to eat a little something before coming. Prepare by reading I Corinthians, chapter 4.

  9. Notice from St. John the Baptist Cathedral, Washington, D.C. says

    Victor Potapov

    Dear Brothers & Sisters,

    Please be advised that on Friday, November 30th, His Eminence Metropolitan Jonah of the OCA will give the first in a series of talks on Holy Scripture. We will gather for his talk in the new library on the upper floor of the parish at 7:30 pm.

    The children’s choir will rehearse in the church and not in the upper living room, as was first announced. We don’t want their singing to interfere with the Metropolitan’s talk. The rehearsal will begin at 7:30 pm.

    The dance group will rehearse as usual in the main parish hall at 7:00 pm.

    The Holy Kursk Root Icon will arrive on Saturday at 4:00 pm, in time for the start of the English Vigil.

    In XC,

    Fr. Victor


    preferred bible: Orthodox Study Bible or King James in English, bibles in Slavonic, Russian, Greek, and Arabic also welcome. Question and answer period. This week: I Corinthians, chapter 4.

    Try to eat a little something before coming. Open to all jurisdictions Orthodox and Orthodox enquirers.



    4001 17th St. Northwest, Washington, D.C., 20011
    (202) 726-3000

    • Heracleides says

      Fr. Victor, I cannot express the depth of my thankfulness to both you and that of all ROCOR for your welcoming embrace of Met. Jonah in these dark days. There is much more I would like to say beyond this, but am unable to properly frame it with mere words. May our God and Savior bountifully bless you and ROCOR for your ongoing Christ-like witness.

    • What kind of an idiot recommends the KJV.

      • Well, +Archbishop Dmitri, of thrice-blessed memory recommended the KJV. So I guess you think he was an idiot. You Photius should apologize.

        Most people who actually study the Holy Scriptures will have several different versions of the Bible at their disposal, including, if one is fortunate enough, also in different languages. If one only has the English language to rely on for their study, then several different translations are essential, of which the KJV is one.

        No English translation of the Bible is perfect, thus the more at your disposal the better, and for liturgical purposes, the KJV offers a level of presentation that can be uplifting to the heart of the listener.

        But then again, maybe you prefer the Good News Bible with those nifty line-drawings.

        • I loved the Archbishop, and of course knew of his love for it, and of course we all know about his very nice liturgy book. No man is perfect, and His Eminence had many flaws, some not yet exposed thank God. Just because a beloved Hierarch promoted and approved of its usage does not make him right. Generally speaking we are piss poor on biblical scholars in the Orthodox Church here in America, and no priest in the OCA can possibly be called on to rule on scripture translation, they are not qualified. There are many excellent translations out there and most are flawed, but the popular KJV is not among them. You don’t have to assume that all non KJ users automatically default to the Burlap Bag Chrome Plated Hot Rod Push-up Bra Victoria Secret Bible, but it does seem that in the Orthodox Church in the US, increasingly an odd element does clings to the KJV like Dogma in a boiling pot of heresy.This element is usually far of the mark of a (+)Dmitri Royster, for whom there is deserved respect and love.

          So, com’on brothers and sisters, burn that KJV today!

          • Will Harrington says

            Photius, Invective is not a convincing argument. You can do better.

          • When we have a better translation that is liturgically sound, accurate, and can match or better the music and majesty of the language of the KJV, maybe. Until then…no way. The KJV sounds like church the way incense smells like church, and icons and domes look like church.

      • Photius kindly asks,

        What kind of an idiot recommends the KJV.

        Archbishop Dmitri of blessed memory.

      • Notice from St John says

        During the bible study, often the Greek New Testament and various of our Holy Fathers are used to be illustrative of the text. Most people bring the Orthodox Study Bible but some people in the group have specialist knowledge of various texts and translations and bring that with them for the discussions. The Metropolitan has suggested reading the passages three times, praying before reading, and coming with questions or comments after that to the bible study. There are also children there sometimes asking very wonderful questions. And monks.

        I was just mentioning what some people bring. The Metropolitan’s suggestion was the Orthodox Study Bible.

      • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

        Someone who comprehends the natural lyricism of English.

        • Oh please, that old tired excuse. What percentage of your parish is that? You are not doing your people any favors Father.

      • The Orthodox Study Bible uses the NKJV as its’ text for the New Testament.

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          It does because the NKJV is based on the text used by the Greek Orthodox Church. The Old Testament is a translation from the Septuagint used by the Orthodox Church rather than the Masoretic Hebrew text used by the Protestants. The Septuagint is actually several hundred years older than the Masoretic text.

      • Idiot? Tsk, tsk. OCA DOS, OCA DOW, and ROCOR among others recommend KJV.

      • One that can read English

      • What kind of an idiot recommends the KJV?

        An “idiot” akin to our beloved Archbishop Dmitri (Royster) the first and former Bishop of Dallas and the South.

        Now go find some lye soap and wash out your mouth.

      • Archpeiest John Morris says

        Despite its outdated language, the King James Version is based on the Greek version of the New Testament used by the Greek Orthodox Church. What must be avoided is something like the New Revised Version, which is not an exact translation, but has been modified to change the language to so called “inclusive language.”

        • Monk James says

          Archpeiest John Morris says (November 30, 2012 at 8:15 pm):

          Despite its outdated language, the King James Version is based on the Greek version of the New Testament used by the Greek Orthodox Church. What must be avoided is something like the New Revised Version, which is not an exact translation, but has been modified to change the language to so called “inclusive language.”


          Like most people who take this tack, Fr John Morris is mistaken here.

          The fact is that the four-hundred-year-old language of the KJV (‘Authorised Version’) is inappropriately EXCLUSIVE in its usage, where ‘men’ is identified not only with the semantic field of ‘male human beings’ but of ‘people’ as well. This results in great distortions of meaning in addition to the KJV’s other errors of translation.

          Diction, no. Nobody can seriously challenge the sonority of the KJV. It’s just the translation which is often bad. There are many examples of this, in bothe the Old Testament and the New, and it doesn’t matter that the KJV’s translators had Constantinople’s standard text at hand. They still blew it in several important locations. Reading the translators’ letter to their readers tells us just how inferior they considered our greek text to be. They were wrong.

          Errors of this sort, informed by earlier errors in translation, have found their way into our english-language service books.

          Just as one egregious example (there are many others) of the problem, I adduce kai pantOn kai pasOn at the end of the Anaphora of the Divine Liturgy.

          The first word here is of grammatically masculine gender, the last of feminine gender. The phrase means ‘all men and women’, unistakeably exclusive language.

          The church-slavonic translation misses this, as does every single one of the translations of the DL into English, including the greek team at Holy Cross seminary, Archimandrite Ephem Lash, Bp Basil Essey, and the OCA.

          When I pointed this out in a conversation among theologians, I was accused of being ‘politically correct’. You’d have to know me better, I suppose, to appreciate the absurdity of the charge.

          Since we need accurately rendered liturgical texts, we must prioritize efforts to produce accurately rendered scriptural texts, since we pretty basically sing the Bible in church.

          And altogether, I consider the NRSV (especially in the New Testament) a very respectable effort at representing the Bible in English. But then, I know the difference between appropriate and inappropriate ‘inclusive language’ and I make the necessary adjustments as I study the text with several versions in English and the original languages at hand.

          It would be good if everyone could do that before expressing an opinion on the subject.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Monk James, “man” traditionally subsumes both sexes just like “cow” does for cattle and “geese” does for those birds. I don’t pretend to be the linguist that you are (and I am mightily impressed by your erudition so I’m treading on thin ice here) but the Greek word “anthropos” is not indicative of the male sex but it is masculine in gender: ho aner (the man), he gynai (the woman), ho anthropos (the human), not to anthropos (neuter). The English of the KJV was not as sophisticated as Attic Greek to be sure but it is still correct in its own context IMHO.

            • George Michalopulos says (December 1, 2012 at 9:18 pm):

              Monk James, “man” traditionally subsumes both sexes just like “cow” does for cattle and “geese” does for those birds. I don’t pretend to be the linguist that you are (and I am mightily impressed by your erudition so I’m treading on thin ice here) but the Greek word “anthropos” is not indicative of the male sex but it is masculine in gender: ho aner (the man), he gynai (the woman), ho anthropos (the human), not to anthropos (neuter). The English of the KJV was not as sophisticated as Attic Greek to be sure but it is still correct in its own context IMHO.


              George Michalopulos is very confused here, so it’s good that he kindly offers only a humble opinion.

              With a capital M, ‘Man’ is inclusive as a species; ‘men’ is inevitably of masculine gender now, and hasn’t meant ‘people’ for a good long time. ‘Cow’ is inevitably feminine, ‘bull’ is inevitably masculine while ‘cattle’ and ‘kine’ are inclusive, or of both grammatical genders.

              In English grammar we have only natural gender: creatures of the female sex are of feminine gender, and those of the male sex are of masculine gender. This includes not only human beings and animals, but also plants which depend on sexual reproduction.

              Then we ackowledge that there are four grammatical genders in English: masculine, feminine, neither, and both. This last gender is also known as inclusive, and it was just as operational in the 17th century as it is now, although a little more consistently now that we have a much higher rate of literacy in the anglosphere.

              In rare and unusual pockets of dialect, English retains ‘man’ with the meaning of ‘person’. Fr Ephrem Lash in England recounts his observing someone shouting at a woman to get out of the way of an oncoming truck: ‘Step back, man!’ In North America, this would be perceived as very strange.

              In the same way, if the KJV (like Shakespeare sometimes) needs footnotes and translations/explanations on every other page, it would seem to have lost its place as the preferred vehicle of the scriptures in English, no matter the cachet it once enjoyed when it more closely resembled the patterns of the spoken word.

              • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                I may be wrong, but I believe that at the time it was published the OCA forbade the use of the NRSV because of its inclusive language. We have allowed a few feminists, especially women English professors in the Modern Language Association, to take control of our language and make it mean something that it never really meant. When we speak of mankind, we include all humans, not just those of the male sex. In the creed “for us men and our salvation….” was never understood to exclude women, but was a generic term used for mankind. It is a feminist myth that the use of generic terms like men and mankind were used to oppress women.

              • “Men” has two meanings. One refers specifically to males, the other refers to human beings of both genders. “Mankind” does not refer solely to males, but to all human beings. I do not know where Monk James was raised; however, it may have been in some rare and unusual pocket of dialect.

              • Patrick Henry Reardon says

                “In rare and unusual pockets of dialect, English retains ‘man’ with the meaning of ‘person’. Fr Ephrem Lash in England recounts his observing someone shouting at a woman to get out of the way of an oncoming truck: ‘Step back, man!’ In North America, this would be perceived as very strange.”

                I relate only an impression, but it seems to me that man-eating sharks also have not yet gotten the message.

                • Where I’m from it’s not that rare at all….and the he/she silliness just puckers a face up like a big bite of fresh quince.

              • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

                “In rare and unusual pockets of dialect, English retains ‘man’ with the meaning of ‘person’ ”

                Monk James, only in rare and unusual pockets does anyone think that this has changed. My daughter’s neighborhood girlfriends use “guys” to describe what their group of friends are doing, even when the group is entirely female, “Lets go guys!,” etc. Meanwhile, all the classic works of English are still around with the original and correct meanings, while the mass influence of “his/her” and other politically correct butchering of the language is mostly confined to English 101 classes. In popular culture almost everyone has read Tolkien, and/or seen the movies based off his works, and/or the computer games based off them like LOTRO (a MMO, a “Massive Multi-player Online”) which has hundreds of thousands of players per server. Only once in my over two years of playing LOTRO has a “newbie” player ever being briefly confused by all humans, male or female, being labeled “man” in the game, something like “Was that a man or hobbit burglar” (the only two races that can be burglars, and information useful for tracking them in order for monster players to kill them) and the response was “No it was a woman.”

          • M. Stankovich says

            To this moment I grieve the loss of Fr. John Meyendorff, my confessor, counselor, and confidant, who told me of his desire to one day conclude his life in the mission of translating the writings of the Patristic Fathers not available to us in English. Obviously his sudden death was a tremendous loss on many levels, but the loss of his abilities and scholarly contribution to the body of Patristical literature is notable. May his memory be eternal.

            Thus, I have no appreciation for this frivolous, pointless waste of energy as to what someone may “adduce” regarding translation. Is there theology at stake in the matter of kαὶ πάντων καὶ πασῶν? Aristotle used the specific phrase in his Politics: «μάλιστα δὲ καὶ τοῦ κυριωτάτου πάντων ἡ πασῶν κυριωτάτη», referring to “the inclusion of all others.”; Plato’s Law (626e) used the two words interchangeably to describe the best “of all” and the most shameful “of all”; and PG 20, the 12th Command of the Shepherd of Hermas includes the phrase, “πάντων καὶ πασῶν τῶν ἐτολῶν τούτων κατακυριεῦσαι” meaning, “every one of these commandments,” meaning all-inclusive. Did anyone need to know all this to get the point of “And all mankind?” Egregious? You waste my time.

            As near as I can tell, there is one scholarly translator in this place, and that is Mr. Papoutsis, who quietly goes about his business, occasionally informing as to his progress and providing some very helpful, very satisfying commentary as to the state of the current field of translation, scriptural & liturgical. I tip my hat to him and am grateful for both his work and his commentary. It would seem considerably more reasonable and prudent to me to encourage true scholarship, rather than being scolded by someone playing bible word trivia. “ὅπου γάρ ἐστιν ὁ θησαυρός ὑμῶν, ἐκεῖ ἔσται καὶ ἡ καρδία ὑμῶν.” (Matt. 6:21)

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              Thank you for the kind word Michael. Usually I get the opposite. Although personally I am in the shadow of greater men then me when it comes to translation, and personally identify with Ronald Knox in regards to the grief that poor man received while he was translating the scriptures. I am no Knox, no Tyndale, nor a Fr. Pat who’s pastoral reflections give me such an insight to the scriptures that I feel wholy inadequate to read and understand them let alone translate them.

              However, you reminded me of something very significant that just occured in the field of Greek New testament textual studies. in September of this year the NA 28th Edition of the Greek New Testament came out and will be available for purchase here in America after Dec. 15 via Amazon. In this current edition of the Greek New Testament new NT papri were discovered in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East that has caused a great upheval in the Catholic (Universal) Letters of the New Testement. For example in Jude 5 it used to read:

              “Now I desire to put you in remembrance, though ye know all things once for all, how that he, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.”

              This the textual scholars told us was the original reading of the text. Well, NOT SO anymore. the new reading that the Nestle-Alan Greek New Testament institute is saying is the original reading is:

              Now I desire to put you in remembrance, though ye know all things once for all, how that Jesus, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.

              Did you catch it? the NA28th Edition of the Greek New Testament is stating that it was JESUS that saved the Children of Israel from the Land of Egypt and afterwards destroyed them. If the original reading is JESUS and it was JESUS that led the Children of Israel out of the land of Egypt what is Jude 5 saying about JESUS? That Jesus was, is and always has been GOD! This is an amazing admission coming NOT from any Christian confession, but from pure textual critics. This is incredible to say the least. That a canonical book/letter of the New Testament Equates Jesus with God in regards to Jesus’ Divinity and that this was the original reading of this epistle. WOW is an understatement.

              Take that Bart.


              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                Hello all:

                I recently was told of this New and Modern English Translation of the Septuagint from my friend and fellow translator Michael Asser. Here is the link:

                I have yet to inspect the text, but will be odering the several English Translation Volumes of the Septuagint for review and will let you know what I find, but for now I do urge all English-Speaking Orthodox Christians to support all efforts to translate our Old Testament into English. Its been far to long and it seems that the floodgates are finally giving. Praise be to God.

                Peter A. papoutsis

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says

            To Monk James.

            As everyone knows any English translation is only a translation. We all know that we must turn to the original Greek text when interpreting the Bible. I do disagree with you on one point, until very recently men or mankind was generic and did not exclude women. It is only the demands of the feminists who dominate the English department of most of our universities and the Modern Language Association who have made an issue where there really is no issue. To me humankind and all the efforts at so called inclusive language do violence to the English language and are are artificial. When the choir sings “And of all mankind.” at the end of the Anaphora it was never meant to exclude the female sex.
            There are some legitimate linguistic concerns with some of our translations. Our liturgical texts come from male monasteries. Thus we pray for our fathers and brothers, which I am sure originally meant the fathers and brothers of the monastery, not our biological fathers and brothers as it would in a parish. It should read “our fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters'” in a parish non-monastic setting. We have the same sort of problem with memorial services for the Saturdays of the Souls. Thus, I would not object to tweaking some of our texts to make them more gender inclusive.

        • Agreed. New solutions are needed.

          • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

            If we wish to be gender inclusive,perhaps we could adopt Hungarian or its distant cousin,Finnish?Not only,does neither language have a masculine or feminine gender,but there is one pronoun for “he”,”she,”or “it”; o” in Hungarian,”han”,in Finnish.The same holds true for all the Uralic languages.I admit to having dabbled in the above two languages,but sad to say,not very successfully,same with the New Testament Greek I studied at st.Tikhon’s or the Modern Greek I studied in Houston.

    • Father Victor!

      Please give Metropolitan Jonah my warmest regards! We miss him at St Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas.

      And please remember my parents, Anatole and Maria Slepuchow in your prayers.

  10. Fr John Hennies says

    So His Grace the irascible Bp Tikhon has spoken again, putting us all in our place with his implacable correctness. His caustic gracelessness entirely misses the point of the fine piece of writing he criticizes.

  11. The OCA’s Archdiocese of Canada covers the entire country, a landmass larger than the continental U.S.; in terms of square miles (sorry, still don’t do metric), it’s the largest diocese in the world, yet has only one non-retired Bishop. The EP has two Bishops (both over 70) to cover the same territory; the Serbs, one; the Ukrainians, three ruling Bishops and (I believe) two vicar Bishops; the Bulgarians, none resident in Canada; the Antiochians, one; ROCOR, one; the MP, one vicar Bishop. Including the UOCC vicar Bishops, that’s 11 resident in Canada. Yet each jurisdiction has to spend God-alone-knoweth how many thousands of dollars each year for episcopal travel and baggage fees for the episcopal regalia, and each Bishop has to spend God-alone-knoweth how many hundreds of hours per year in flight time, just getting to and from the airport, and (what with security measures) just sitting around in the airport. We are spending a huge amount of money which would be more properly spent on real witness and mission work at the parish and diocesan level, and killing our hierarchs with schedules no human should have to meet. Why?

    Because we collecively refuse to take seriously the administrative unity mandated by the Sacred Canons, starting with Apostolic Canon 34, and the fundamental unity mandated by the Lord Himself in John 17:20ff. In my cranky opinion, it’s long past time for the people paying the bills to not only pray for the proper canonical order of the Church in North America but to start demanding it of their hierarchs. Why should we continue pouring hard-earned money into any diocesan moneypit if it’s going to be wasted so needlessly? In Canada, right now we have enough Bishops to have at least one in each Province; in the U.S. there are even more Bishops.

    So had we but the will to be obedient, we could fairly quickly (within five years) re-align ourselves into one administrative body, and re-align diocesan structures, so as to enable more effective witness and mission, more frequent episcopal oversight of parishes and clergy, and far better stewardship of resources. Instead, however, we quibble over the definition of “barbarian lands.”

    There are days when I utterly despair. The rest of the time I have to laugh to keep myself from going postal.

    Fr. Philip

    • Fr Philip,


      Isn’t it high time for the Archdiocese of Canada to unite with Canadian Orthodox Churches and leave the OCA? There is no pension for your clergy to worry about, you have government health care already, you can’t send money over the border to the USA, etc. Talk about sending the right message, the OCA Archdiocese of Canada could be a model for unity in Orthodox Canada by joining with the MP and eliminating at least one redundant jurisdiction.

    • Yes, it’s amazing how much time is spent doing homage to the idols of ethnicity and nostalgia. You cannot serve God and idols.

    • My Gosh Father! You make perfect sense! Change your name and move, you could be defrocked for practical sanity.

      God bless ya!

  12. Reader John says

    “If Jesus were alive today”????? He is!

  13. “Mission Statement?” Let’s get rid of the 1980s buzz words. The New Testament spells out the mission statement. “Blameless bishop?” Only one man was/is blameless. He never made Himself bishop. Chances are pretty good that Orthodox and Oriental jurisdictions will just have to settle for human beings to serve in the office of overseer.

    • George Michalopulos says

      “Blameless” is one of Paul’s criteria. It doesn’t mean perfect, only that the candidate in question can’t be blamed for X, Y, or Z.

      • pelagiaeast says

        I caught the video of our new Metropolitan. Metropolitan Status Quo. No agenda, no vision except….
        sigh. Not expecting any waves from this one.
        Lord, have mercy.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      Greggo asks, “Blameless bishop?”

      Yes, blameless.

      Whatever it means, “blameless”is the right word—see First Timothy 3:2, where it is listed as the first qualification.

      • George Osborne says

        In our current OCA context, I’ve often reflected on whether or not “blameless” means “pure” or “hasn’t been caught yet!”

  14. jckstraw72 says

    i didnt read this article, but i find it hard to have much respect for Bradly Nassif, the Greek Orthodox “theologian,” after i saw him, in a newscast, call for bishops to “do their job” and excommunicate Elder Ephraim and his monasteries if they didn’t divulge where they got every single penny for building their monasteries. what a load of phooey.

    • Isaac Crabtree says


      This weird antagonism for traditional monasticism, or traditional anything, is the hallmark of modernism which is the terminal disease of American Orthodoxy. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that Elder Ephraim’s got committed spiritual children who don’t mind that he doesn’t do a podcast on AFR?

      Notice how the saintly Athonite never responds to his critics, just like His Lord. Meanwhile, he’s the spiritual father for half of Mt. Athos, a disciple of Elder Joseph the Hesychast, and truly, truly a just man. I just don’t think one Elder Ephraim is enough to silence all the modernistic remaking of Orthodoxy into Eastern Anglicanism. God gave him to us poor Orthodox who are fed up with the wind-baggy academic conferences with boomer prematurely-ordained converts with the holy chrism still dripping off their ears.

      Sure, we’ve got Fr. Josiah in Riverside, monks in Platina, monks in West Virginia, some very good Greek priests from the homeland, and ROCOR, but as far as air-time and English publications, the modernists continue their advance in America, which frankly sees through them and isn’t convinced to look further when our priests dress like Lutheran pastors. We don’t need an academic conference, we need to hear about how Christ will save us from our sins. Learning the traditional teaching about the holy commandments of God might help, too.

      • Isaac,

        I have to agree with you. I had the opportunity to meet the elder 12 years ago in Chandler, AZ. My roommate there translated for us. His wife had previously been healed of cancer through Elder Ephraim’s prayers.

        When the elder and Fr. Paisios spoke to my wife, they already knew at a glance the most intimate details of our lives; and as he said to me at the time (3:00 AM in the morning) “Wherever I am, Paisios is; wherever Paisios is, I am”.

        I had heard about Elder Eprhaim 10 years earlier from a nearby parishioner visiting St. Tikhon’s in Pennsylvania. When someone can read your soul in such a manner, it is a God-given grace, a highly valuable and unforgettable experience. An elder is not someone who gives “good advice”. It’s something much much more than that.

        I read recently about the deposition of a Greek Archbishop in 2000 – Spyridon – who now lives in Lisbon. The circumstances sounded eerily like the deposition of Metropolitan Jonah in 2012, and somewhat like what happened in Ben Loman to the church there in the 1990s; and to what happened recently in Manton, CA. These were once thriving, happy communities.

        You hear the same kind of stuff about Elder Ephraim.

        The truth? Dark forces intercede in the affairs of men. Bishops and clerics with little mind-control (and maybe a high opinion of themselves) become hypnotized and hyper-focused on the faults of a colleague. Their group-mind is irresistibly led to remember every little detail of fault and miscue – every dislike and unsuccessful interaction with the protaganist – and this fantasy of resentment is gathered into a cloud. It hovers like a swarm of stinging-bees around the bishop or metropolitan being attacked. It wounds the wounders too, as well as the wounded. It’s a terrible thing to become complicit in the spiritual torment or death of a soul.

        If you read through the reports and listen carefully, you’ll hear, “He didn’t do this. He didn’t do that. He let us down here. He let us down there”. Ad infinitum. That’s why none of this stuff has ever held up in a court of law. It’s all believable, but only real if you want it to be so, not because it’s actually so.

        Holy men used to attack holy men. How ingenious. Who would have thought? Deeply disturbing. I just wonder how they’ll feel when they realize they’ve been had. We should all know better than to participate in such tragedy. As someone said elsewhere on this thread, humility and self-justification don’t mix.

        I think that’s why the ancients said that if you wanted a battle royal, just commit yourself to your cell. Look no further than the door. Archbishop John of Shanghai & San Francisco alluded to this struggle when he was asked what was “behind” the attacks that dragged him into a San Francisco court room.

        • I love traditional Orthodox monasticism (well, let’s say I’m extremely spiritually edified by it–my flesh doesn’t love it, that’s for sure). The most treasured books in my library apart from my Bible and prayer books are those that recount the lives and wisdom of our holy Elders/Eldresses or people’s real-life contemporary encounters with them.

          That said, there are some very disturbing accounts I have read that have the ring of truth to them according to analogous experiences I have had in other contexts (unfortunately), not about Elder Ephraim himself, but around the attitudes and behavior of a few of his spiritual children (including one of his Abbesses).

          This is what I take away from all that. For all their gifts and holiness, our Elders are not God, and we ought not to confuse them (even in their clairvoyance) with God! They will be the first to tell you that they are fully capable of sin and error–indeed, they understand themselves as the greatest of sinners. What you say about the powers of darkness working hardest where the Light is strongest is certainly true, therefore, we ought not assume because Elder Ephraim is a holy man, that he or especially one of his spiritual children could never make a mistake–and one that the evil one is likely to work especially hard to exploit with very destructive consequences.

          Finally, I would like to ask you and Isaac to also consider this account:

          and this astute observation and good advice from Elder Paisios:

          May God have mercy on all of us. Forgive me, a sinner!

      • Jim of Olym says

        Gee, Isaiah, you seem a bit angry here. Tell us more how you actually feel, please!
        Is the modern world with hot and cold running water, flush toilets, granite counters et all, going to hell in a hand basket? Please let us know so we can recapitulate the Holy Mountain. I’ve been to St. Anthony’s and they seem to have had modern conveniences all over the place.

        • Isaac Crabtree says

          Jim, contemporary life isn’t the problem, and being “non-Athonite” isn’t either. It’s the cold intellectualism of unbelief that comes to infect and then kill living, spiritual Orthodoxy, where the Faith becomes little more than a Greek or Galician, or an American, Country Club.

          Modernism sees the Church as a merely human institution that must be changed, particularly by shortening services, concocting new services, never talking about hell or judgment, doing away with fasting and ascetical disciplines, throwing doubt on the lives of the saints, poo-pooing piety, encouraging laxity and lack of seriousness. Modernism is all about this world, comfort here, achievements here. It is a forgetting of eternity and comes from despair. It is ready to compromise Orthodoxy with foreign religions because it fails to comprehend the heights of our Faith and the utter lowliness and pale shadows that heterodox Christianity possesses. Modernism, despite its protests, is vehemently clericalist– if you do not have a doctorate or some high-level ordination, you can’t be taken seriously. They have forgotten that it is the very people of God who are charged with the keeping of the true faith (see the Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs from 1848). Modernists tend to dislike reading the saints, but own all the works of Fr. A Schmemann and certain other living contemporary writers.

          Forgive me– I am naturally a judgmental person and its something from which I need God to save me. I know American Orthodoxy is stronger than modernism and will survive it, by God’s grace. I did not intend my last post to sound like I hate people in American Orthodoxy.

      • Patrick Henry Reardon says

        Jmical laments, “our priests dress like Lutheran pastors.”

        Not all of them, surely.

        Some of them dress exactly like Iranaian Ayatollahs.

        • Patrick, you have the wrong person for comments on Lutheran clergy dress attire. See Isaac Crabtree.

        • Isaac Crabtree says

          I like this joke, Fr. Patrick. One recent Greek elder has called the rassa (not sure whether he means inner or outer) “the flag of the Church of Christ.”

          We met years ago at a conference in St. Louis, and while your talk was good, I noticed something later in your books: you tend to call post-schism Roman Catholic saints with that honorific– “Saint So-and So” and you even call “Bonaventura,” biographer of Francis of Assisi, the “Seraphic Doctor.” I know you’re Orthodox, Father, I know that. Do you really believe that these people should be called by the same title as the saints of the Church? I know you write for a broad audience, but I just wonder if perhaps that could confuse people into thinking that Orthodoxy was compatible with Roman Catholicism?

          • Patrick Henry Reardon says

            Isaac Crabtree comments, “I noticed something later in your books: you tend to call post-schism Roman Catholic saints with that honorific– ‘Saint So-and So’ and you even call ‘Bonaventura,’ biographer of Francis of Assisi, the ‘Seraphic Doctor.'”

            This is common practice in secular historical works, encyclopedias, etc.

            It is encouraging to learn that someone reads my books.


        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          For some reason messages are not being threaded like they used to be on this site.
          This is in response to the comment that some Orthodox priests look like Lutheran clergy.
          I do not know of any Orthodox clergy who wear dresses. The trend in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and all other Protestant sects that have gone for women’s ordination is that fewer and fewer men are going into their ministries. Very soon the vast majority of mainline Protestant clergy will be women ministering to congregations which are mostly women. Men are being driven out of mainline American Protestantism because they cannot stomach the feminist theology being preached by many women clergy. That alone is reason enough to oppose women’s ordination.

        • No, none of our clergy dress exactly as do Iranian Ayatollahs or any other Ayatollahs , Father Patrick, no, not one. Their outer robe, for example, is open from top to bottom with no closure near the neck at all and is frequently of a sheer grey color. The Orthodox Riassa or Rason is actually a variation on the classical philosopher’s robe.

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says

            Your Grace:

            Most Americans do not know that. In the part of the country in which I live people would not know the difference between what a Irianian cleric wears and what an Orthodox priest wears.
            I believe that you have made an historical mistake. The Rasso, or Jibby, as we call it comes from the judges robe in the Ottoman Empire, because under the Turks Orthodox clergy had a judicial function within their communities. That is one way that the Melkite Uniates gained followers. They were not as strict as Orthodox officials when enforcing Ottoman law. At one point an Orthodox Bishop could sentence someone to be a galley slave. The Uniates also gained a following because their fasting rules during Great Lent were not as strict as the Orthodox rules. .

            • You mean that Father Patrick thought our rason was identical to the outer robe of an Ayatollah because he’s an American?
              And now you claim that the Ottoman judges also wore a robe derived from the classical black philosopher’ robe? But the Turks must have invented something. Any ideas? And where was my “historical’ mistake, by the way?

      • Archpriest John W. Morris says

        Just what do you mean by modernism? What doctrine or dogmatic decision of the Ecumenical Councils or writings of the Holy Fathers does any person in a responsible position in the Orthodox Church in any jurisdiction reject? I am tired of being called a modernist because I wear a clerical shirt when I go to the grocery store. I believe and teach every doctrine of the Orthodox Church without exception. I totally agree that if any Bishop or Priest denies any teaching of the Orthodox Church they should be given the opportunity to repent of their heresy and if they refuse they should be deposed immediately.

        • Isaac Crabtree says

          I just wrote this above, so forgive me quoting myself, Father. Here’s what I think modernism is:

          Modernism sees the Church as a merely human institution that must be changed, particularly by shortening services, concocting new services, never talking about hell or judgment, doing away with fasting and ascetical disciplines, throwing doubt on the lives of the saints, poo-pooing piety, encouraging laxity and lack of seriousness. Modernism is all about this world, comfort here, achievements here. It is a forgetting of eternity and comes from despair. It is ready to compromise Orthodoxy with foreign religions because it fails to comprehend the heights of our Faith and the utter lowliness and pale shadows that heterodox Christianity possesses. Modernism, despite its protests, is vehemently clericalist– if you do not have a doctorate or some high-level ordination, you can’t be taken seriously. They have forgotten that it is the very people of God who are charged with the keeping of the true faith (see the Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs from 1848). Modernists tend to dislike reading the saints, but own all the works of Fr. A Schmemann and certain other living contemporary writers.

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says

            As you define it, I totally agree with your rejection of modernism. However, I do not know anyone who is doing what you describe as modernism. The Church is not a human institution. The Church certainly must not change to conform to modern secular society. The Church is the Body of Christ. and is led by the Holy Spirit. However, you cannot ignore history. There has been development throughout the history of the Church. At one point a Bishop wearing a Saccos and Crown was an innovation. At one point the iconostasis was an innovation. For the first 300 years the Church did not use incense because it was associated with pagan worship, but no one today could even think of an Orthodox Divine Liturgy without incense. Even the fasting times developed over time. The celebration of the Nativity of Christ was not introduced until the time of St. John Chrysostom. The procession with the Cross after the fifth Gospel during the Service of the Passion Gospels is a 19 th century development, yet I cannot think of Holy Week without it, although I understand that this procession is not a part of the Russian tradition. I may be wrong, but I believe that in the Russian tradition the priest does not throw bay leaves around the Temple following the Epistle during the Liturgy on Holy Saturday. Originally the Divine Liturgy began with the Little Entrance, which was the actual entrance into the temple. The people waited in the Narthex until the Bishop arrived and then entered and began the Liturgy. The Antiphons were a later development. The Great Litany was chanted after the Gospel, not at the beginning of the Liturgy as we do it today. Therefore, one must be intellectually honest and recognize that the Holy Spirit has led the Church to make minor changes in how we live the unchangeable Holy Tradition of the Church. However, we do not make radical changes or change for the sake of change. Some of the things that we do no longer have the original meaning. A couple of years ago Holy Trinity Press published a a book on the Divine Liturgy. The author stated that the reason why we hold the veils and Aer over the incense is to drive the bugs away from them. It is well known that the reason we wave the Aer over the gifts during the Creed is also to keep the bugs away. I do not have a problem with bugs, but I still hold the veils and Aer over the incense and wave the Aer over the gifts during the Creed for the simple reason that that is what we do. On theory is that we began to put zeon in the chalice because it was cold in the mountains of Cappadocia and the wine was freezing. We have a furnace in my Church and the wine will not freeze, but I still put the zeon in the chalice, again because that is what we do in the Orthodox Church. All our liturgical texts evolved over time. The Triodion, Pentecostarion and Menaion were not used during the first centuries of the Church. What does not change is the dogma of the Church, but even with dogma the Church found it necessary to clearly define its dogma at the Ecumenical Councils. There is no room for change or modernization in the Orthodox Church, but there has been evolution and enrichment. There is also room for local traditions to differ from one country to another without violating the Holy Tradition of the Church. We certainly do not need a Vatican II bastardization of our services.

            • Isaac Crabtree says

              I just +1’d your response, Fr. John. Organic development, and even unfortunate turns, are part and parcel for Church history. Have you ever heard about how the Russian Church used to have different choirs chant different Psalms *simultaneously* during the all-night vigil (until the Ecumenical Patriarch corrected this abuse)? In my own limited knowledge this organic development and pastoral changes based upon differing circumstances includes many, many, many more examples that mainly touch upon the outward life of Christians– the monastic tonsure, the “tongs” for lay communion, penitential canons, fasting disciplines, musical settings. Amen to all of your post, and I hope you don’t think I’m arguing that we go back to the 1st Century, or even to the 19th Century, in terms of those practices the Church’s conscience has thought best to change.

              I have heard about the aer thing, although I would just mention as far as those “practical” origins, that’s hardly the whole story. The Church isn’t dumb– it retained those practices because they conveyed something spiritual, something eternal, as I’m sure you would agree. You no longer necessarily need to keep flies out of the chalice (although I’ve heard of occasional ones having to be consumed by deacons over the years), but you do it now for the spiritual realities it symbolizes. As when you pour in the zeon and say something like “the warmth of zeal, full of the Holy Spirit.”

              Modernism takes this same information, however, and concludes differently than you do. Modernism believes in change for the sake of change. I know, for instance, of a priest in a big cathedral who does not do many of the inaudible prayers– AT ALL. It’s not that he does them out loud, or absolutely silently… He doesn’t do them. That’s modernism.

              I know of priests who think that laity can come to Holy Communion without any kind of serious preparation or a relatively recent confession. That’s modernism. Bishop Thomas of the Antiochians had a very good sermon on that subject in WV.

              A priest at one of the parishes I attended told us that the recently departed wouldn’t want us to pray for them. Yikes. I don’t know what that is.

              Not believing in the traditional understanding of the departure of the soul and the intermediate state wherein it awaits resurrection and judgment, the necessity of prayers and commemorations for its repose, the fearful encounter with angels and demons mentioned by the hymns– this appears to be rampant in the U.S.– is probably a form of modernism.

              Modernism is this-worldly and doesn’t call us to anything higher. Modernism is what took over the ECUSA, where now many of those left within are people who like the aesthetics of the services, or who put those first beyond any of the moral or dogmatic compromises of their hierarchy.

              • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                You and I are in basic agreement. I agree with every point that you have made. If those sort of things are being done, the Bishop needs to step in and stop them. I actually have no idea how long it takes me to serve the Divine Liturgy, because once I begin the Liturgy, I tune everything out including time. I once had to take over for my bishop who got sick and was literally on the floor of the altar. That was quite an experience, to be praying the Anaphora and see the bishop on the floor. But nothing is more important than the Divine Liturgy. I say all the prayers. Some of them are meant to be said in a low voice, but they are there to be said. I do not think that reading them silently or scanning them quickly is really praying them. I was taught that the people in the Altar should be able to hear the priest pray the prayers. You cannot serve the Orthodox Divine Liturgy if you do not pray the prayers. Of course it is easier when you have a deacon. It is always difficult to come in from the Great Entrance, put the gifts on the Holy Table cense and have to begin the Ektenia of the Prothesis and try to find a place to say the Prayer of the Prothesis. It is also difficult to find a place for the Prayer before the “Our Father…” if one has to chant the Litany before it. The Liturgy of St. Basil is also difficult to do without a deacon.I usually begin the Anaphora in a low voice and then when the choir has finished singing, I raise my voice and complete the prayer. I preach about Confession and proper preparation for Holy Communion. I cannot imagine any Orthodox Priest telling people that the departed do not need our prayers. Of course we pray for the departed. We only do Memorial Services for Orthodox, but we do them on the 40th day and yearly anniversary and have general Memorial Services on the Saturdays of the Souls.
                I would not compare us to the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church is and always has been Protestant. It lacks the grace that is present in the Orthodox Church. I firmly believe that God will not allow the Holy Orthodox Church to fall victim to rampant heresy.
                Actually, I did go through a time when I had to wave the aer to keep small flies away. For about a month there were dozens of small flies flying around the Altar. We finally found that someone had left a pan of kibbie ( a sort of Lebanese meat loaf) in an oven in a stove we only use once a year for our annual Lebanese dinner for a year. Once we cleaned that up the flies went away.
                Please be assured that despite my clerical shirts, pews and Evening Diving Liturgies, I would be the first person to physically fight any effort to “modernize” the Liturgy or other services of the Orthodox Church or to compromise our doctrine. To quote Metropolitan Philip, “I am dogmatic about the dogma of the Church.”

                • This is how I understand and serve in it-
                  “The celebration of the Lord’s Supper is always an ‘eschatological’ event in which the eschaton, the Age to Come, breaks in upon this present age: and so, although occurring in time, it transports the participants to a point altogether outside of time–to the ‘heavenly places’ where there is no past, present, or future, but only the eternal Now.’
                  (From The Festal Menaion, STS Press, 1998, pg. 40.)

              • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                One final note. No, I do not believe that the Church is dumb, but I even if I do not understand why we do everything, I do what is in the service book. One example suffices to show what I mean. Normally during Daily Vespers we move the Ektenia after “Gladsome Light” to the end of the service. I have yet to read any explanation why the Church made that change, but the Church knows more than I do, so I follow the service book. My belief is that we must do what the Church does even if we do not know exactly why we do it. The Divine Liturgy is an ascent to Heaven and is beyond our comprehension. It is a mystical experience of God, not something that we can or should try to explain rationally

  15. Archpriest John W. Morris says

    The following has been posted on the Antiochian web site:

    It is with great sadness that we report that His Beatitude Ignatius IV (1920-2012), Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, fell asleep in the Lord today, December 5th, 2012, at St. George Orthodox Hospital in Beirut Lebanon, after having suffered a stroke earlier this week. There are no details yet available regarding services or the funeral, but these will be announced as soon as they are known.

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      It is with great saddness that we hear and receive this news that His Beatitude Ignatius IV has fallen asleep in the Lord. His service to the Church was immense and from what I know, from the few Lebanese friends that I have here in Chicago, was truly a saintly hierarch and man of God. May his memory be eternal and may God receive him and place him in a place of light and refreshment where God’s eternal glory delights all.

      I shall pray for his Beatitude tonight in my prayers, and that a worthy successor be found to lead the Antiochene Orthodox Church after him. Yet, there was only Beatitude Ignatius IV and he will be missed. Glory to God and to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the repose of his soul.

      Peter A. Papoutsis

      • Archpriest John W. Morris says

        Please remember the faithful Orthodox Christians of Damascus as they gather next week for the funeral and burial of His Beatitude. As everyone knows, the fighting between the opponents of Assad and his supporters has made Syria a very dangerous place. At least two of our priests have been martyred. The insurgents are infiltrated by radical Muslims who went door to door in Homs telling the Christians to leave. The insurgents have fired upon Assad’s forces from Christian neighborhoods so that Assad’s people will shell the homes of Christians. Our fellow Orthodox Christians in Syria are in great danger of being forced to live under Sharia law and Islamic persecution. Please pray that our people will be safe during the Memorial Services for our Patriarch and for the Holy Synod of Antioch which will soon meet to chose a new successor to the throne of Sts. Peter and Paul the founders of the Church of Antioch.

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          I have heard that His Beatitude’s services in Beirut were very well attended. Even the Ecumenical Patriarch came and presided along with representatives of all the autocephalous Orthodox Churches. Please pray that all goes well in Damascus when they have the final services for His Beatitude at the Patriarchial Cathedral which as we all know is in the middle of a war zone.

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says

            I have read press reports that all went well in Damascus and that there were no problems caused by the civil strife in Syria during the services. Thanks be to God.

  16. Possible Positions for Metropolitan Jonah says

    Many OCA bishops and archbishops are doing double and triple duty to cover existing bishoprics. And that is before we consider major Metropolitan centers that ought have their own bishop with his own administrative staff and parish visitation schedule. Shouldn’t each state and state capitol or largest city in a state have a cathedral with a bishop. Are we serious about the Tomos of Autocephally and growing a single Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America free of all foreign bishops and not considered a Diaspora? Here are bishoprics that need a bishop:

    Diocese of Detroit – with traditionally large populations of numerous ethnic groups, this Diocese could certainly be separate from the Romanian Episcopate, especially as the Romanian Episcopate churches have been in danger of leaving for the Romanian Patriarchate abroad.

    Diocese of New England (and why is there no separate Diocese of Boston? New England is large!)

    Diocese of the South – a growing archdiocese

    Diocese of Alaska – the heart of American Orthodoxy should go vacant?

    Diocese of Western Pennsylvania – traditionally separated from the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania

    Diocese of Washington, D.C. – I know, I know, the Synod of shrinking bishops came out with a statement to the effect that this diocese is umbilically, if recently, connected to the office of OCA Primate, but it really wasn’t always and, quite frankly, has been treated as a spot for very occasional spot visits on those days that the Nativity and Pascha Christians show up or when it doesn’t interfere with the Primate’s preferred schedule. Jonah was an exception, both spiritually and locally, and those who would not like to sing eis polla too terribly often or come under frequent scrutiny just didn’t like this. My suggestion is to provide the overworked and understaffed Primate du jour with only the stavropegal, i.e. monklike institutions to administer and to allow him otherwise to keep a national visitation schedule befitting a national Primate I.e. Let’s get real about the Tomos

    Diocese of the Midwest Lotsa Orthodox in the Midwest, enough for a bishop per state, so, nuff said. Howsabout a Bishop of Chicago alone?

    Why not regional, geographical Archbishoprics, bishoprics of heavy populous cities and capitals, and a more central Primatial spot, hopefully in a lower rent, centrally located, high unemployment area with an established number of Orthodox churches? Why not take a look at bishoprics we have had in the past. Howsabout a Bishop of Baltimore. In getting real with the Tomos, why not establish archbishoprics and bishoprics in all the places where our Greek Orthodox brethren are keeping ancient bishoprics and metropolitanates alive, gracing each of these with a get real American name?

    FINALLY – Metropolitan Jonah could be one or another of these archbishops. We could give him a whole administrative staff instead of just a driver this time so he could concentrate on one or another of those little things that our church needs, for example, teaching the FAITH. Have we no vision?

    • “Why not regional, geographical Archbishoprics, bishoprics of heavy populous cities and capitals, and a more central Primatial spot, hopefully in a lower rent, centrally located, high unemployment area with an established number of Orthodox churches? Why not take a look at bishoprics we have had in the past. Howsabout a Bishop of Baltimore. In getting real with the Tomos, why not establish archbishoprics and bishoprics in all the places where our Greek Orthodox brethren are keeping ancient bishoprics and metropolitanates alive, gracing each of these with a get real American name?”
      Why not? I admire your enthusiasm, PPML, but 1) where are the bishops going to come from? & 2) where is the money going to come from? Try to answer those questions and you’ll soon see “why not” at this particular juncture. Further, some would suggest that the OCA needs to get its moral house in order before embarking upon missionary expansion (Matt 23:15).

    • The ‘bad guys’ in our OCA’s Holy Synod have already made it clear that they will not work with Met. Jonah in ANY way short of keeping him in administrative chains.

      The only way for MetJ to be honorably restored to episcopal responsibilities in our OCA is for the ‘bad guys’ to be overcome by the ‘good guys’ in our Holy Synod.

      Short of a few well placed funerals, resignations, or retirements, this is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

      But God is good, and our OCA is our Lord Jesus Christ’s own body, as are all of the orthodox churches together.

      Let us all hope and pray for God’s grace, mercy, and peace.

      • Ukaz No. 362

        The Resolutions of His Holiness the Patriarch [Tikhon], of the Sacred Synod and Higher Ecclesiastical Council of the Russian Orthodox Church

        20/7 November 1920

        With the blessing of His Holiness the Patriarch [Tikhon], the Sacred Synod and the Higher Ecclesiastical Council united together, have deliberated concerning the necessity, supplementary to the instructions already given in the encyclical letter of His Holiness the Patriarch in case of the cessation of the activity of the diocesan councils, of giving to the diocesan bishops just such instructions in the event of the severance of relations between the diocese and the Higher Church Administration, or the cessation of the activity of the latter and, on the basis of past decisions, we have resolved:

        By an encyclical letter in the name of His Holiness to give the following instructions to the diocesan bishops for their guidance in necessary cases:

        1). In the event that the Sacred Synod and the Higher Ecclesiastical Council for any reason whatever terminate their ecclesiastical administrative activity, the diocesan bishop, for instructions in directing his ministry and for the resolution of cases in accordance with rules which go back to the Higher Church Administration, turns directly to His Holiness the Patriarch or to that person or institution indicated by His Holiness the Patriarch.

        2). In the event a diocese, in consequence of the movement of the front [during the Russian Civil War], changes of state borders, etc., finds itself completely out of contact with the Higher Church Administration, or if the Higher Church Ad ministration itself, headed by His Holiness the Patriarch, for any reason whatsoever ceases its activity, the diocesan bishop immediately enters into relations with the bishops of neigh boring dioceses for the purpose of organizing a higher in stance of ecclesiastical authority for several dioceses in similar conditions (in the form either of a temporary Higher Church government or a Metropolitan district, or anything else).

        3). Care for the organization of a Higher Church Authority as the objective of an entire group of dioceses which find themselves in the position indicated in paragraph 2, is the indispensable obligation of the senior bishop of such a group.

        4). In the case of the impossibility of establishing relations with bishops of neighboring dioceses, and until the organization of a higher instance of ecclesiastical authority, the diocesan bishop takes upon himself all the fullness of authority granted him by the canons of the Church, taking all measures for the ordering of Church life and, if it seem necessary, for the organization of the diocesan administration, in conformity with the conditions which have arisen, deciding all cases granted by the canons to episcopal authority, with the cooperation of existing organs of diocesan administration (the diocesan assembly, the diocesan council, et al., or those that are newly organized); in case of the impossibility of constituting the above indicated institutions, he is under his own recognizance.

        5). In case the state of things indicated in paragraphs 2 and 4 takes on a protracted or even a permanent character, in particular with the impossibility for the bishop to benefit from the cooperation of the organs of the diocesan administration, by the most expedient means (in the sense of the establishment of ecclesiastical order) it is left to him to divide the diocese into several local dioceses, for which the diocesan bishop:

        a). grants his right reverend vicar bishops, who now, in accordance with the Instruction, enjoy the rights of semi-independent bishops, all the rights of diocesan bishops, with the organization by them of administration in conformity to local conditions and resources;
        b). institutes, by conciliar decision with the rest of the bishops of the diocese, as far as possible in all major cities of his own diocese, new episcopal Sees with the rights of semi-independent or independent bishops.

        6) A diocese divided in the manner specified in paragraph 5 forms an ecclesiastical district headed by the bishop of the principle diocesan city, which commences the administration of local ecclesiastical affairs in accordance with the canons.

        7). If, in the situation indicated in paragraphs 2 and 4, there is found a diocese lacking a bishop, then the Diocesan Council or, in its absence, the clergy and laity, turns to the diocesan bishop of the diocese nearest or most accessible to regards convenience or relations, and the aforesaid bishop either dispatches his vicar bishop to administer the widowed (i.e. vacant) diocese or undertakes its administration himself, acting in the cases indicated in paragraph 5 and in relation to that diocese in accordance with paragraphs S and 6, under which, given the corresponding facts, the widowed diocese can be organized into a special ecclesiastical district.

        8). If for whatever reason an invitation from a widowed diocese is not forthcoming, the diocesan bishop indicated in paragraph 7 undertakes the care of its affairs on his own initiative.

        9). In case of the extreme disorganization of ecclesiastical life, when certain persons and parishes cease to recognize the authority of the diocesan bishop, the latter, finding himself in the position indicated in paragraphs 2 and 6, does not relinquish his episcopal powers, but forms deaneries and a diocese; he permits, where necessary, that the divine services be celebrated even in private homes and other places suited therefore, and severs ecclesiastical communion with the disobedient.

        10). All measures taken in places in accordances with the present instruction, afterwards, in the event of the restoration of the central ecclesiastical authority, must be subject to the confirmation of the latter.

        © 2012 Protection of the Mother of God Church
        A Parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

        • The Ukaz, on the surface and underneath the surface is almost obsessively addressed to the problems of diocesan bishops and the measures they may take in their dioceses to address those problems.
          The Ukaz would apply, for example, to the existing dioceses of Paris and New York and their bishops, but also to the Dioceses of Kiev and Kishinev. However the elected and enthroned Bishops of Kiev and Kishinev, Antony (Khrapovitsky) and Anastassy, respectively, both had LEFT their dioceses and had nothing further to do with them, or the dioceses with those hierarchs, at all. Therefore, the Ukaz granted no authority whatsoever to the bishops taking refuge in Constantinople or Yugoslavia, but did so to the bishops of New York and of Paris, etc. IN their dioceses. Amazingly, the bishops in Yugoslavia simply ignored one of the fundamental conditions of the Ukaz and usurped authority and privileges ILLICITLY.
          This fact helps explain St. Tikhon’s command to dissolve the Church Administration in Yugoslavia and placing all the European Bishops and parishes under Metropolitans Eulogios of Parisand Eleutherios of Lithuania. it was through the extraordinary KINDNESS of Metropolitan Eulogios that he obeyed the orders of St. Tikhon and then, almost immediately personally RE-constituted the Synod in Yugoslavia!

      • Are there any ‘good guys’ there?

    • No….. so it seems.

  17. Defend the Faith says

    Heracleides says:
    December 27, 2012 at 10:19 pm
    Considering that Bp. Benjamin is your protégée, I’m not at all surprised that you know what is hanging on the walls of his boudoir. As for my bits of satire – funny how you approved when you passed along the booking photo of your pal Bp. Benjamin for my use… but then you are an OCA bishop – nuff said.


    In as much as Bishop Tikhon gave Bishop Benjamin (and for that matter Bp. Nikolai too as Chancellor) every chance to succeed, giving him several chances to overcome his additions, I suppose you can “blame” them for not being tough enough with Benjamin. Metropolitan Herman wanted his deposed. But his hand was stayed by +Tikhon, Nikolai and Kondratick. They should have retired him when he got his DUI in Las Vegas. He should have entered treatment sooner. It is ironic isn’t it that +Nikolai was branded a harsh and even mean bishop by the usual OCA suspects, Kondratick a “machiavellian” character, yet the new OCA leadership has displayed in spades the actions they accused their nemesis of doing in their rise to power.

    But the face of the new OCA is not these retired bishops and clergy but +Benjamin and the others. His actions against +Jonah and others is now the reality of the OCA; and I say, well, you wanted to run the Church, so now you are, +Benjamin, Jillions, Wheeler, Kishkovsky, Hopko et. al.. It is your proven track record that continues to diminish the OCA under your leadership.

    The new Metropolitan is now under the direction, not just of the synod and MC but the OCA legal team. Lawyers dictated to +Tikhon just a couple of weeks ago what his role is and isn’t as Metropolitan. The told him that he can’t make a move without consulting with them. This is the Church of Best Practices, a fully controlling Metropolitan Council. This is the new way of OCA leadership. The is the brand of Orthodoxy being peddled by the OCA.

    So now we watch and see. We comment on their actions. They have no one to blame for their mistakes, the litany of which George and Jesse and others have detailed shines upon them. We have seen a Church that was respected by the Russians and at the least tolerated by the Greeks because they believed in the leadership of those who once ran the OCA. We have seen all of that vanish. Their role in the ACOB is one of polite indifference.

    Folks like Carl K. and our dear Michael S. have hitched their wagons to this new OCA. They dream of bygone days of Fr. Alexander and Fr. Meyendorff. Jillions quotes them ad nauseam in his embarrassing diary, a useful exercise into the pompous adulation of her new leaders. But what those two historical figures dreamed of was in fact on its way to being accomplished. But now, hardly. Both Fr. Alexander and Fr. John saw the OCA as a fully engaged Church here in America, and it was. But now, it is a laughing stock domestically and internationally. Rebuffed by her biggest supporter, Russia, now leaders like +Benjamin have to figure out a way to rebuild the OCA. However so many trusts have been broken, I hardly see an aging Hopko or Kishkovsky even coming close to the reputation of the greats of SVS and STS past. In the parlance of today’s kids, “they don’t have the juice!”

    The new history of the OCA is being written everyday by our new leaders. Another case in point of how poorly things are run is that the little “special” AAC in Parma lost money. Delegates left there uninspired and feeling taken advantage of by a tightly controlled atmosphere in which their questions and input as delegates in the OCA brand of a conciliar church, were ignored and rebuffed.

    The old bugaboo about Syosset was that it controlled things, but if it did it did so at least with respect for others and a chance for them to speak and air their concerns and differences. It had a heart for second chances, but today, Jillions rifles through clergy files looking for dirt on others. Talk about Machiavellian! But those days are gone and never to return. We have new leaders, including the wise Bp. Mark Maymon who is trying his best to return to the Diocese of the South as their bishop. A man that Metropolitan Philip reorganized his entire Archdiocese to get rid of but the OCA (big mistake by Jonah) took in no questions asked. Yes, +Jonah believed in second chances, but +Mark Maymon bit off +Jonah’s hand as quickly as Santa Fe, just weeks after being saved by +Jonah and brought into the OCA. And +Philip just shakes his head and says, “he is not my problem any longer.” If this is the type of man the Diocese of the South wants, and he is certainly the type the synod wants there, well then he will be your problem and further evidence of how far and how fast reason and sound judgement has escaped those now in charge.

    The census figures in the OCA will continue to fall, the income will continue to dry up. People will continue to leave, Orthodox Churches will distance themselves from the OCA, but the “righteous remnant” will be there, the usual OCA suspects in charge, who will be the last to know that they were good at tearing things down but unable to build things up. And that will be their legacy.

    The spiritual lifeboats for those who wish to escape and save themselves from what has become the OCA are at the ready. It will be difficult for clergy to leave, but some have already and others are looking to leave. It will be easier for the laity. They are leaving and will continue to leave and we will never know how many would have considered the OCA as members, but who went elsewhere because the OCA brand of Orthodoxy was not what they were seeking.

    • Heracleides says

      I can’t find one thing you’ve written above with which to disagree. About the only quibble I might have would be in regards to Bps. Tikhon & Nikolai and their protégée, Bp. Benjamin. Benjamin didn’t spring from the ether; he was nurtured step-by-step towards the episcopacy by Tikhon and Nikolai and one only has to look at their records to see that the fruit didn’t fall far from the tree(s). That their hand-raised viper has turned on them is unfortunate – not for those two – but for everyone remaining in the OCA.

      • It is indeed true that both I and Bishop Nikolai were overly tolerant of and/or oblivious to the extent of Bishop Benjamin’s ingratitude and vanity. We both have said so publicly and have repented of our misguided generosity. The expression, “Lend a dollar and lose a friend” was demonstrated very dramatically in his case. It reminds me very much of the vicious and murderous attitude of so many who were given helping hands from Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick and Metropolitan Theodosius. But “Heracleides” is wrong to even hint that either Bishop Nikolai or I cultivated Benjamin’s vices and sometimes thug-like behavior since he was elected to rule the Diocese of the West. I feel that Bishop Benjamin’s behavior in no way resembles my behavior of Bishop Nikolai’s behavior and that “Heracleides” has just got a chip on his shoulder. He’s an echo of Barbara/Stanley Drezhlo in idiom and style…
        Archbishop Benjamin has not followed ANY examples of my or Bishop Nikolai’s behavior, contrary to “Heracleides’s” claims. It is, rather, “Heracleides” who follows the examples of Barbara/Stanley Drezzhlo”s behavior, for which may God be merciful towards him, whoever he or she is.
        I don’t look for any major developments in Metropolitan Jonah’s life until possibly as late as Pascha. There’s really not much to be said here on that topic, it seems to me. If, of course, Metropolitan Jonah decides to take a public position on ANYTHING relative to his calling, there might be something worth discussing. For all we know, however, EVERYTHING expressed in his favor by Helga, George, et al may be actually alarming to him!

        • George Michalopulos says

          Your Grace, as for “alarming” Jonah, I’m afraid you may be right. I was told last year that going each morning to the computer and seeing what was on Monomakhos gave heartburn to the Synod, Jonah included. In retrospect, I don’t think I made the Primate’s job any easier. After all, he was on the Synod too and had to work with them.

        • Heracleides says

          Are you perhaps hearing “Voices from Russia” in your head, Bishop? Or is it simply that you and Stan-the-Man share a similar sartorial fashion sense? You certainly seem fixated upon the pitiful bloke as of late.

          Seriously though, what you’re attempting to do in reference to me, i.e. trying to link me with your man Stan, is straight out of Saul Alinsky ‘s playbook, Rules for Radicals. No doubt you were a huge fan of his during your 1960’s glory days. Being a master level social worker who was compelled to study the works of Alinsky as part of earning my degree, I must tell you professionally that you’re efforts in this arena are rather weak and transparent – something which undermines your entire effort. That said, it is always best to address deception, no matter how inept, head on: I am not Stan Drezlo – never have been, never will be. If he happens to find you as distasteful as I and scores of others do, it’s purely coincidental.

          Now, start your silly stopwatch, and we’ll see if you’re up for some public accountability.

        • Jane Rachel says

          George, the Holy Synod, including Metropolitan Jonah, should have heartburn over this mess. (I include Metropolitan Jonah because he made a public statement that the OCA was “raped,” and we all know what he meant.) What is the tactic called when the blame is shifted from the culprit to the person who protests? The Holy Synod caused the mess, didn’t they? King David cleaned up the mess he caused, so why aren’t they following his example? Much truth has been said here on Monomakhos. Several people who comment here know what happened, and who was lying, and why they were lying. I am convinced Father Kondratick is not guilty of the accusations made against him. I suppose that wrong will never be made right. And he is not the only one to have been thrown under the bus to protect the Almighty Image.

    • M. Stankovich says

      Defend the Faith,

      I would suggest that prior to undertaking a further spectacle of publicly gorging yourself on, as the Fathers have described, “returning to vomit,” you clarify – in no uncertain terms – that you have said nothing about the Faith. Yours is a verbose, hot-breathed, re-working of the same old story, unchanged & unchallenged by corroboration or any semblance of verification, but make no mistake, it has nothing to do with the Faith. In all fairness and honesty, you would better represent yourself as “Defend the Story.” Wear the medallion proudly, as bitterness becomes you.

      In that your “observations” regarding history, the actual dreams and strategy of the architects of the Orthodox Church in America, and your appreciation for the enormity of the sacrifice and effort of those who literally suffered persecution to deliver the Faith to you is so dramatically shallow, only a jackass could not discern it. And you certainly would know.

      • George Michalopulos says

        MS, the only people that have “suffered persecution to deliver the Faith” to us have been men like Bps Basil, Innocent, and now Jonah. If anything, it’s been Syosset that’s done the persecuting.

        • Johann Sebastian says

          Let’s remember the early history of the OCA, aka The Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in North America. The early architects consisted, on one hand, of White Russians fleeing Bolshevist persecution. On the other, there were Carpatho-Russians who had maintained a sort of crypto-Orthodoxy as Uniates under the Austro-Hungarian crown, and weren’t received particularly well by the Latin bishops they were required to report to upon coming to America.

          These groups suffered intense persecution, maybe not to deliver the Faith, but certainly for their maintenance of it. The former group was fleeing an emergent situation and the latter had fled centuries of suppression, only to be confronted with more persecution in this country.

          • M. Stankovich says

            Johann Sebastian,

            What an essential point you make! These laid the groundwork for the Church in America, establishing much more than a “crypto-Orthodoxy,” but a path set by the Saints – notably St. Alexis (Toth) – into the fullness of the Church. The OCA was fashioned and formed on their foundation, and there simply is no question. It is impossible to appreciate the richness of Orthodoxy in America and ignore the role of the ROGCC in continuous generations.

        • George.I don’t believe you can provide a shred of evidence to support your bizarre declaration that Bishop Basil or Bishop Innocent “suffered persecution fo deliver the Faith to us”, ok?
          I was present at the meetings of the Holy Synod when the case of homosexual sexual abuse by Bishop Innocent (Gula) in Alaska was presented to the Holy Synod. The leaders the impetus, the muscle and the leadership within the Holy Synod in suspending Bishop Innocent were our senior Hierarchs; Archbishop Peter, Archbishop Kyrill, Archbishop Dmitri, and Archbishop Gregory, while Bishops Job, Seraphim, and Mark (Forsberg) contributed little to the discussion but exchanging headshakes and alarmed glances. Vladyka Dmitri was in full possession of ALL his faculties then, as he was when he led the charge against Bishop Basil. Vladyka Dmitri knew the Diocese of the West rather well, having been Archbishop John (Shahovskoy)’s Vicar as Bishop of Berkeley while living in Menlo Park, He was the trusted friend that the clergy and faithful besieged by phone and letter to do something about Bishop Basil’s show-off persona which caused him to issue numbered “Ukazes” by the bushel basket and to cause Faithful to be exorcised AFTER (not before) being communed with the Holy Mysteries of Christ. Vladyka Dmitri knew and trusted the witness of parish lay leadership in that Diocese and of its clergy. As far as non-Hierarchs leading the charge, they were Archpriests George Benigsen, Nikolai (Vieglais), Boris Simeonoff, Alexander Schmeman, John Meyendorff, as well as the Americans: Archpriests Michael Prokurat, Thaddeus Wojcik (diocesan chancellor then), Seraphim Gisetti, Joseph Hirsch and others.
          i find your tacit implication that Vladyka Dmitri joined up with other senior hierarchs of the OCA to ‘PERSECUTE” either Bishop Innocent Gula or Bishop Basil Rodzianko to be dishonoring his memory. if YOU, George, are that willing to reach, reach, reach, no matter whose memory you “throw under the bus,” I feel I must regretfully take a truly FINAL departure from this forum, and not in order to strike out at you or anybody, even “Heracleides Drezhlo”. In fact, I apologize for not really understanding the spirit at work here, and that is a fault of my understanding, reflecting on none of you.
          +Tikhon, Bishop, retired–OCA.

          • Bets as to how long the Bishop’s “final departure” will last this time? I’m thinking he’ll be posting again well before the end of Janurary.

            • Johann Sebastian says

              Heracleides says, “Bets as to how long the Bishop’s “final departure” will last this time?”

              Whether or not we agree with what they have to say, it is incumbent upon all of us, especially those of us who are Orthodox, to speak of and address our clergy with the respect accorded them by their orders.

            • By January 15th,,,,you are on….

      • Defend the Faith says


        Who the heck are you to lecture anyone? You are some side line hack who pops in here to try and make sense out of your life with your holier than thou comments. You are irrelevant to the OCA discussion since you are not a member, just a commentator who happens to be friends with the architects of its demise. Get back to your own parish, if you even have one and work out your own salvation. Yours is the dream life when you can try and justify the murderous actions of your friends. You are just plain warped.

        • M. Stankovich says

          Madonna mia, pal, I live for these moments: some anonymous fragonard, without the slightest acknowledgement of irony, asks “who the heck are you?” You have single-highhandedly restored my faith in… well, nothing.

          As near as I can tell, you qualify as nothing more than an indistinguished caller, stuck on hold & listening to the interminable voice of your Jonah saying, “Please don’t hang up. Your symbiosis call is important to us.” And the punch line: he will never answer. Never, ever. And that, in total, is your gig: complaint, castigation, conjecture. You are void of the simplest insight, strategy, direction, and hope for the future, yet you would suggest that I am irrelevant? Pal, you should be pulled from your cowardly “shadows” and made to answer for what you are so shamelessly arrogant, yet for which you are so blatantly ignorant. “Surely you also are one of them; for your speech betrays you.” (Matt. 26:73)

          I recall reading a memoir of cathedral & seminary life immediately prior to the Russian revolution, and the lament of the Rector of a Moscow seminary that the “despair runs so deep that it has invaded the very walls, which must be torn down for us to go on.” My thought is if you and your stagnant “complaint line” are indicative of the future of the OCA, let it die. By the “wisdom of men and the Grace of the Holy Spirit,” the Church, however, has orphaned you into a moot, pointless minority “discussion.”

          So, I suggest considering a wisdom, suitable for framing, delivered to us from the rooms of a God-given program: “Take the cotton out of your ears, and put it in your mouth.” Σοφία· Ὀρθοί!

          • Defend the Faith says


            You continue to amaze me with your pompous self-love. Your sad attempts to make yourself important only confirms to me the sad reality that you are a constituency of one. Enjoy reading your own press clippings. Not sure who is more full of themselves, you or Stan/Barb? It is a real toss up.

            Since you are not a member of the OCA, why should anyone really listen to what you have to say about it?

            Happy New Year.

      • M. Stankovich! The expression, ‘returning like a dog to his vomit” applies to an act of apostasy; to the return of a convert to his former delusions. Its use by you is quite bizarre in the context into which you inserted it.