Heresy to the Nth Degree?

So, we’ve been waiting for this.  May 19th, the GOA began talking  about opening the doors to many, if not all, their parishes in New York City.  Guidelines for the reopening were sent to all the parishes in that diocese.  Some parishes have since opened. 

Archbishop Elpidophoros Lambrianides of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, implemented some significant changes to our Tradition.  Troubling changes.  Everything from how we commune, to how we venerate the icons, greet one another, engage in fellowship, to participating in Divine Liturgy has been modified. 

Though he specified these were “temporary” changes, it’s hard to understand why he would move forward with them now, after the lifting of the restrictions in the outside world.  This leaves one to wonder if what we’re seeing really is just “temporary”.  After all the hard work it took to draw up these directives, what’s to say this isn’t the “the new normal”.  Viruses aren’t going to go away.  

We have listed some of the changes below (for the complete directive, please click on to the link below):

Communion can only be offered to the faithful following the conclusion of a Divine Liturgy (which the laity will not attend[!]) and it must be done via appointment.  Because appointments can only be made for individuals or families that have been living together for the duration of the lock-down, this would exclude any and all Orthodox family members who were previously quarantined elsewhere or are returning home after caring for another family member. 

                        Careful, you don’t want to get too close now, do we?

H’ors d’oeuvres trays will replace the communal basket of bread to discourage the touching of the antidoron, though there is little evidence to suggest the virus can be contracted this way.  

The doilies are a nice touch, perhaps we can get into the catering business?

The communal spoon is to be replaced with multiple spoons and instead of venerating an icon with a kiss, we are told to bow or make a sign of the cross.  

The laity is to be excluded from attending Divine Liturgy, purportedly per the City of New York.  Monomakhos is unaware of any New York City mandate restricting people from participating in the Liturgy, as this is the same as “going to church” for anyone else, but this was the explanation given by the Archdiocese for this rule.

We are to drop the kiss of peace we offer to one another in fellowship.  In fact, there is to be no fellowship among the laity both in or outside the Church. 

The parish halls are to remain closed.  At all times, the faithful must maintain social distancing.  At the conclusion of their “personal prayer time”, the faithful are to exit the building and return directly to their vehicle without congregating or lingering.

So, in addition to wearing masks, being sanitized and tracked, standing “X” number of feet away from each other, having to make appointments for communion, not sharing spoons, not venerating the icons with a kiss, and forfeiting fellowship both before and after services, we also cannot participate in the Divine Liturgy.

No one in the history of Orthodox Church has worshiped this way EVER.

The entire thing flies in the face of our Holy Tradition: “that which is ‘handed on’ from one generation to another.  In addition to the witness of Faith in the Scripture, the Orthodox Christian Faith is celebrated in the Eucharist; taught by the Fathers; glorified by the Saints; expressed in prayers, hymns, and icons; defended by the seven Ecumenical Councils; embodied in the Nicene Creed; manifested in social concern; and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, it is lived in every local Orthodox parish. The life of the Holy Trinity is manifested in every aspect of the Church’s life and the Church, as a whole, is the guardian of the authentic Christian Faith which bears witness to that Revelation.”

The question now becomes this:  Are we going to allow this or not?   At the very least, these new rubrics are a violation of the traditional Orthodox formula:  “lex orandi, lex credendi”.  

Is heresy far behind?  One would think so, because these directives indicate that we don’t really believe that the Chalice contains the real Body and Blood of Christ.  If it were, they wouldn’t be turning themselves into pretzels to protect us from it and from the Church itself.


  1. anonimus per Scorilo says

    What about the Russian Church (and some OCA dioceses) which recommended in March “disinfecting” the spoon after every communicant with strong alcohol ?
    What about all the bishops in Romania and +Augustinos in Germany who solved the “problem of the communion spoon” by excommunicating all the faithful until the government gives them the green light to give communion as usual? (when ? maybe next year …)
    What about some of the Orthodox in Austria and Italy who receive the Holy Body with a tiny bit of the Holy Blood in hand ?
    If the Greeks in America are labeled heretics for what they are doing, then, in all honesty, so should be the Russians and the Romanians.
    But then the guys putting the “heretic” label start looking a bit like the driver in the joke, who heard on the radio: “Attention ! there is a crazy guy driving against traffic on the highway !” and said “only one ? I see hundreds !”

    • George Michalopulos says

      The GOA pretends to be the gold standard here in America. I am an American. We need to tend to our own knitting here.

      • anonimus per Scorilo says

        With things like salami during Lenten retreats and, to first approximation, zero confessions and zero converts, the GOA is as far away from being the gold standard as it gets…

      • RIP (reluctant internet poster) says

        Except we haven’t actually tended to that knitting, so to speak, have we?  It took me a minute to catch up, given that I’d been away from the Church for some time, but correct me if I’m wrong here:  we seem to still be in the same position Fr Alexander Schmemann lamented…checks arithmetic….Fifty Six years ago ( 
        An old friend of mine says, “the argument is never about the argument.”  Meaning, this isn’t about how “the bishops” are dealing with *this particular situation.*  Nor is it about The Wheel, et al, or Met Jonah (to point to just two issues which have raised problems over the past several years).  
        The root of the problem is what Fr A described all those decades ago, is it not?  When I left the Church, it was SCOBA.  Now it’s ACOB (or whatever).  It’s still an anti-canonical mess.  It was an anti-canonical mess for, what, a century before COVID so I have no earthly idea why we’d expect it would magically become fine during a nearly unprecedented civil crisis.  Met Isaiah says this, the OCA says, that, the GOA says some other thing.  Why is anyone who’s been Orthodox for more than 10 seconds surprised, much less angry, at the resulting chaos? There is no proper and canonical Orthodox synod of bishops in America to make decisions about this or anything else.  There are three Orthodox parishes in my town and my town has…three different bishops.  What a shock that there’s confusion.
        That being said, when I converted 20 years ago, I was aware of all this.  I converted anyway, because the general state of the visible Church is always kind of a mess.  Christ wouldn’t have needed to reassure us that the gates of hell would not prevail if it didn’t look like it was going to sometimes.  Which is NOT a defense of anything this or that bishop has done in this crisis, just a statement that I’m not surprised and I didn’t expect much.  They don’t care to solve the more fundamental problems, so why should I expect them to  (or be angry at them for not being willing to)  solve these more difficult problems?
        Or maybe they’re just being sensible.  Maybe they have it right and you and me and Fr Josiah and Fr Peter should be quiet and obedient.  The basic problem is that we can’t know whether that’s the case because they haven’t cared for the Church in America for literally a hundred years.  So I understand people not trusting them with on current crisis.
        The more interesting question is what people are going to do.  I was raised Baptist.  In that milieu,  if one heard something one believed heretical from the pulpit, one just left and went somewhere more personally agreeable.  What’s raising my eyebrows currently is that I’m starting to see the same thing amongst Orthodox Americans.  I’ve never heard that from Orthodox Americans before.  
        I don’t know the answer to that question.  What I do know is that Orthodox should be careful to be Orthodox and not behave like a Baptist out of frustration.
        But if we want to protest something, maybe let’s protest the anti-canonical mess that America has been for a century which is why we’re in this situation to begin with. 
        Which is to say, maybe just calling ourselves “canonical” to contrast ourselves with old calendarists and others wasn’t the best solution.

    • Michigan Orthodox says

      As upset as I am, I will say that if the choice is between innovating like this or not serving communion at all, better not to serve it.
      But it’s best to go forward with faith. Heck, make the state prove the body and blood are corruptible. 

      • RIP (reluctant internet poster) says

        “As upset as I am, I will say that if the choice is between innovating like this or not serving communion at all”
        I just can’t take this anymore.  No, MO and everyone else here, that’s not your choice.

  2. The heresy is already here. This man’s teaching is a nightmare. He has already declared that non-Orthodox spouses can receive Communion. He has already declared that the Communion spoon (which represents Panaghia) can carry disease. He is already supporting the new Iconoclasm of the Church by forbidding the kissing and touching of Icons. This will be but the tip of the iceberg.  And guess what? The OCA seems to follow him like a lost puppy. But the best is yet to come. When P. Bartholomew reposes…this man will be “first without equal.”
    Lord have mercy!

    • Mikhail,
      I heard Abp. Elpidophoros on a COVID Q&A say that according to the Orthodox teaching, the Communion meal itself cannot carry the virus.
      As for is declaration that non-Orthodox spouses can receive Communion, whether he said this is a curious issue. I would have to have numerous witnesses present give an explicit transcript of what he said. His own retelling of it later was that he said that it was just his own opinion of what he would do, not what he was deciding for the Church. But his own retelling could be inaccurate “damage control”, because others’ retelling of what he said was that Yes, the heterodox spouses may commune. But I didn’t see anyone put the whole talk in transcript or explicit quotation form. I would have to follow up with them, and the time for that is waning….

      • Hal ,
        I listened to him say that he believes that the Communion spoon can carry disease. And I listened to him say that he supports non-Orthodox spouses receiving Communion. Add to this his oppressive Covid directives in addition to his writings regarding the EP as “first without equal”…and I am convinced he is a very dangerous wolf in sheep’s clothing.
        You have free will to defend him if you wish.

        • What is the nuance or difference if he said he would give communion to non-orthodox but he is not deciding for the Church? What would he than do if he is “primus sine paribus” as he already thinks about himself  in US Episcopal Counsel and of his eminence Patriarch Bartholomew in Universal Church?
          Perhaps his words are subject to misinterpretation, but Abp. Elpidophoros seems to believe that the Ecumenical Patriarch is a sort of Pope, the Vicar not of Christ, apparently, but of God the Father! He also seems to believe that those who disagree with this view are heretics.
          In 2009, then-Archimandrite Elpidophoros delivered a memorable speech at Holy Cross School of Theology which may still be found online, for example at In this speech he makes the following interesting statements, which he has elsewhere expanded into his well-known thesis that the Ecumenical Patriarch is “primus sine paribus”:
          “Let me add that the refusal to recognize primacy within the Orthodox Church, a primacy that necessarily cannot but be embodied by a primus (that is by a bishop who has the prerogative of being the first among his fellow bishops) constitutes nothing less than heresy. It cannot be accepted, as often it is said, that the unity among the Orthodox Churches is safeguarded by either a common norm of faith and worship or by the Ecumenical Council as an institution. Both of these factors are impersonal while in our Orthodox theology the principle of unity is always a person. Indeed, in the level of the Holy Trinity the principle of unity is not the divine essence but the Person of the Father (“Monarchy” of the Father), at the ecclesiological level of the local Church the principle of unity is not the presbyterium or the common worship of the Christians but the person of the Bishop, so to in the Pan-Orthodox level the principle of unity cannot be an idea nor an institution but it needs to be, if we are to be consistent with our theology, a person… In the Orthodox Church we have one primus and he is the Patriarch of Constantinople.”

          • Johannes says

            The local Bishop is the personified principle of unity of which he speaks.
            Jesus Christ is the Primus.

        • Mikhail,
          I think that this is the video where Abp. Elpidophoros says that the Eucharist can’t have the virus. It’s been months seen I’ve seen the video though, and maybe he said something else elsewhere.

  3. Ukrainian cleric of RCC claims Christ could be infected with coronavirus

    • The “Prince’s” and “Royalty” of the Orthodox Churches have become political tools, to be used and paid as the pols see fit.  The only way to “change” in America is through a complete denial of mammon to the royalty!

    • George Michalopulos says

      Isn’t this the outfit that Epiphany Dumenko wants to unite with?

  4. The RC priest writes:
    “…Christ could become infected with the coronavirus.”
    How to respond to this? Well: Is not the Lord ‘Perfect God and Perfect Man’?
    As Perfect Man, he would doubtless have a perfect immune system
    and would therefore be immune to coronavirus.

    • Sage-Girl says

      Exactly Brendan, has anyone ever heard of Jesus being sick in the Gospels?

    • To be precise, when we say “perfect” God and “perfect” man – by the the word perfect we mean “fully” or “completely.”  But whether He could have gotten sick when He was “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Romans 8:3), willingly sharing in all of our weaknesses yet without sin, is really beside the point.  
      In the Eucharist we are partakers of His resurrected and glorified Flesh and Blood.  
      Sickness is commonly thought of as a cause of death (and in terms of our mortal bodies it is), but in reality it is the product of the death and corruption in us.   This death and corruption, however, is not in our glorified Christ.
      “And we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. The death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God.”

  5. Reverend Alciviadis  Calivas writes ;

    • That was sick and deranged. It is no wonder that Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology is a sinking ship.

      • This is classical slick spin from the Reverend Calivas to approve his ideas of removing single spoon that our Church has been using for more than thousand years and to come to conclusion that this process is inevitable. Well, it might be inevitable in US where all decision are done by Bartholomew’s puppet called Episcopal Council but majority of the Orthodox world is against this heresy. Reverend manipulates and misguides with recent events and experiments in Russian Church as disinfection was only in Moscow area and not in whole MP and it ended in a complete disaster. They tried with plastic disposable spoons after, but that is another issue. Also, we have clear decision of Romanian Patriarchate which is completely rejecting reverend’s ideas. The only thing he has as an applicable argument is a short note by St Nichodim in Pidalion on the 28 Canon from the Fifth-Sixth Council in Trullo in 691. But this short note is driven purely by iconomia and not to invent another way of communion to replace one chalice and one spoon and cloth as we have today.

        • I commend Fr. Calivas for wrestling with a difficult and divisive issue. Unfortunately, many do not realize the diverse and varied elements of church tradition; Orthoxy is not monolithic. Fr Calivas clearly and decisively demonstrates the differing traditions of the church concerning the Eucharist. His insights are obviously offensive to some because they don’t fit their faith paradigm. Fr Calivas should be applauded for his knowledge and willingness to address a pressing issue.

          • His insights are offensive because he’s speaking blasphemies. Our holy fathers would have deposed him for writing such a thing.

        • You will notice that St. Nikodemos is referring to those who are already sick and dying…and a careful reading indicates much more going on with reference to grapes and the holy bread being mixed. So they are using St. Nikodemos as a strawman for their pernicious heresies. Hey, I have an idea! Since these geniuses are suddenly enamored with St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite…let’s implement everything he has recommended from the Rudder and the Exomologetarion.

      • It is interesting that those hygienic problems in US are pushed through the bishops that regularly attend US Episcopal Counsel run by His Eminence  Elpidophoros. They even went so far in their communiques to forbid eggs for Pasha and willow or palm branches on Palm Sunday.  But none of the bishops involved dare to present his own apologia for the removal of one spoon. So they let this work be done by the priests like Fr. Calivas did for Greek Church in US . For example in OCA, similar to Greeks, Metrpolitan Tikhon and several other bishops put as a strawman Fr. Jean Claude Larchet who is in general free lancer ( sometimes even supporting schismatic bishops), and does not even belong to any OCA parish.
        It is also interesting that Fr. Larchet recently changed his mind 180 degrees since 2009.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I dislike the constant reference to St. Mary of Egypt. To my knowledge, the Church has never used a Saint as an opportunity to make separating the Faithful from the Church palatable. This, too, is an innovation.

          • I agree Gail. This type of reasoning reminds me of those who selectively use Holy Scripture out of context to support their point of view. It must be interpreted as a whole. In the same way, Holy Tradition must not be severed into pieces to make the flavor of the day easier to swallow. 

          • There are other misquotes like
            Luke 4 12 And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God
            This would mean that when we come to the service and approach  to take communion we are tempting our Lord but is all completely wrong. It means do not sin (again and again)…
            Also i read recently from His Eminence Archbishop Irénée of Canada in regards to open Churches :
            It is with the following words of St.Paul in mind that I have come to this decision, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being” (1 Cor 10:23-24). Therefore, while it may be legal to open churches and gather together in certain provinces at this time, I strongly recommend against it.
            This is so strange and has no sense at all…. What does he want to say? How he connected this to the virus?

            • Gail Sheppard says

              He’s doing what a lot of people do: quoting Scripture out of context. I have a better one that I think is more fitting: “And he cautioned them, saying, ‘Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”

              Per Blessed Theophylact: They are like leven because [like sourdough] it swells up with itself and full of old corruption. Anyone who has spent his life in corruption, unable to say anything spiritual that might be of sweetness to the listener, may be said to offer leaven, that is, to offer teaching which corrupts others with its moldering evil, and which in time causes others to regret they had followed that teaching.”

            • VSWR, I am genuinely curious, do you see His Eminence equating “life-threatening consequences” (his words) of the virus with St. Paul’s “others’ well-being” as an egregious misapplication of scripture?
              I can understand if you, or many, disagree with his decisions or rationale or presuppositions, but as far as his meaning and how he connected it in the letter, I thought it was quite clear.

              • For example, from the Desert Fathers one monk just received blessings and is shining from the divine energies when another one call him to share some food. The monk does not want to answer and pretends as he does not hear. Next thing he realizes is that he is back in his hut and has lost divine state he was in.
                This is as closest as I can get to what Bishop was trying to tell what happenes if we dont think about others and is related to Orthodoxy and blagodat in the Church, but still I don’t see connection with the virus. 
                Most of us when we go to the Church we go to the Church, for the service, to Kingdom and to become Body of Christ. We don’t go for ourselves or with some other intensions as Bishop is trying to say.
                St Paul is talking as always in similar cases that we are free to sin in this case we sin as we use somebody intentionally or unintentionally, but how we sin when we go to Liturgia?

            • “There are other misquotes likeLuke 4 12 And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy GodThis would mean that when we come to the service and approach  to take communion we are tempting our Lord but is all completely wrong. It means do not sin (again and again)…”
              I’m afraid that you are misquoting here – the text Luke 4v12 does not at all refer to sinning again and again it is exactly about deliberately putting yourself in danger and expecting God to catch you – read it carefully – it is not a misquote to refer to this text in regard to deliberately putting yourself (and of course others) in danger by exposing yourself to the virus.

              • It has nothing to do with putting us deliberately  into danger. It might be if the devil asked Christ to help him when he jumps from the cliff 🙂 
                It is about how we should fight sin (demons). Never sin and be forebearing.
                Below is explanation of that verse by St. Teofilakt
                Christ calmly drove away the devil and thus taught us that demons should be defeated by meekness.
                13 And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from Him for a season.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  And yet, in the 2,000 year life of the Church, the practice to receive the Eucharist has always been either (1) drinking from the Chalice or (2) using the common spoon.

                  Likewise in the Catacomb Church, Christians were always on the front lines of a plague.

          • RIP (reluctant internet poster) says

            Gail, I see you and others reference feeling separated from the Church frequently.  It distresses me that anyone would feel this way because…you aren’t.  Not being able to go to church and receive communion is not the same thing as being separated from the Church.  God has not abandoned us.  He is constantly shoving grace at us from all directions!  
            I commend to you this from Fr Zacharias (disciple of Elder Sophrony, who was a disciple of St Silouan):

            • Gail Sheppard says

              I don’t feel separated from God, RIP. It is the leadership in the Church that is doing the separating. That’s quite different.

              • RIP (reluctant internet poster) says

                Then I have apparently misread you, so I ask clarification.  What have they separated you from, aside from temporarily being able to receive communion?

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  This isn’t about me. This is about the bishops and the fact that they are separating from Tradition. If they are successful, what we now know as Church will cease to exist. The buildings will still be there, of course, and there will be some people doing some orthodox things in them, but the grace will be gone. We see examples of this on every block.

                  You may not be Orthodox, which might make it harder for you to understand what I’m talking about. I am a convert to Orthodoxy. Choosing to be Orthodox is not like joining a local church. When you become Orthodox, your commitment is to THE Church; not to A Church. You become part of this immense Body which knows no walls and for whom time does not exist. In this world, tradition is equally important as scripture (or it is supposed to be.)

                  Living a sacramental life in the Church is different from going to church on Sunday. The Church has what outsiders call “smells and bells.” It is more experiential than anything else and we submerge ourselves in it. We need to do it regularly and often or we lose our connection to it.

                  The Church is a living, breathing organism that has something going on every day, often several times a day. The life of the Church never stops. The Eucharist, the prayers, the incense, the tones, the Liturgical cycle, the services, the icons, the clergy, the monastics, and the Faithful (there are too many pieces to name) are all part of it and each are essential. You can’t swap things in and out for extraneous reasons, even for a plague. It would be like taking a battery out of a car. The car would be there but because it wouldn’t run it would cease being a car. If you take “the Church” (tradition) out of the Church, what you’re left with is a building absent of grace.

                  The grace isn’t extinguished it just moves away, as do the Faithful.

                  • Molon Labe says

                    A few concerns here:

                    Quote: “In this world, tradition is equally important as scripture (or it is supposed to be.)” 

                    This is a near-heretical statement. Nothing is as important as scripture. Especially tradition, which as you say, in many cases goes back a thousand years. A thousand years! The Church existed for another thousand before that. Do you know how things were done then, before old wise men (none of whom were the Son of God, or any relation of God in any other way) codified these “traditions”? These are fallible men, sainted thought they might be. Do not compare man made constructs (spoons, cups, buildings, etc) with the Word. 

                    Quote: “We need to do it regularly and often or we lose our connection to it.”

                    Speak for yourself, and yourself only.
                    Quote: “If you take “the Church” (tradition) out of the Church, what you’re left with is a building absent of grace.”

                    I suppose the Indonesian, or Ugandan converts one can read about on are coming to the Church because they’re there for the thousand year old Greek tradition? This is why other churches outnumber us 40x, “THE Church” notwithstanding.

                    Quote: “The grace isn’t extinguished it just moves away, as do the Faithful.”

                    Oh, and we’ve had such great numbers before this crisis! Ha! I’m not saying tradition means didly-squat, but you must understand that it is secondary, tertiary, quaternary to Scripture and the messages contained within. Obsessing over spoons and cups just seems silly.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      You see my name up there on the top. It’s says Gail Sheppard. You?

                      Orthodox teaching may fly in the face of what YOU intuitively believe, but everything I said was true.

                    • Will Harrington says

                      Just one correction. Tradition is what is passed on. Scripture it is not a thing set apart from Tradition but it is part of Tradition both in the understanding that the scriptures have been handed down to us and the very canon of scriptural books is given to us by Tradition. The separation of the two is artificial, but there are Traditions and there are traditions. It is important not the get too worked up about small t traditions, though this happens a lot. I think, concerning this current issue, I will only say that it is important to remember that we will not be judged by what our bishops do, but only by what we do. It sounds trite, but I really do have enough on my plate, what with being lousy at prayer and having so much to repent of, that I am in no position to judge Vladyka Paul and I am just grateful that we are allowed to attend services even if only with a third of our parish at a time. Too many of us, my wife and I included, have health problems and had already decided that we should not attend services before Vladyka made that decision. Fortunately it turns out that the risk is much lower than expected but when your temple is Father’s garage our current limitations are reasonable. The only change to receiving the gifts is that the spoon is dipped in everclear between receivers. I believe that the decisions our Bishop made were made out of an abundance of love and caution. I don’t know your bishops so your mileage may vary.

                    • Scripture is Tradition.  The RC counter reformation crated the split dielectic.
                      Look guys, let’s cool it down a bit.  I am sympathetic to the frustration over innovation.  On the one hand innovation should be resisted BUT not to the point it drives someone out of the Church otherwise you end up in the same boat as the Old Calendarists and you can see how that turned out.
                      Better to take a break from all this and spend some time in prayer and come back in a few months and see where things sit.

                    • There was Tradition before there was Scripture.
                      Indeed, Scripture is written Tradition,
                      and is interpreted in the Light of Tradition.

                    • Molon Labe says

                      Will, I appreciate your explanation regarding the difference between Tradition and traditions. I did not mean to speak lowly of the men that preserved, passed on, and interpreted the Scripture. If this is the meaning of Tradition, then I agree with you, and with Dan below. That’s not how I understood it from the above post, however, or the sense I’ve been getting from most of the comments on the blog in past weeks. 

                    • Antiochene Son says

                      We preserve all that we have received or we preserve none of it. Dividing between essential and non-essential is exactly what brought about the destruction of Vatican 2 to the Latins. 
                      Did V2 mandate iconoclasm? No, but thousands of Latin churches tore out their high altars, threw relics in dumpsters, and painted over beautiful artwork. Why? Because it was non-essential I guess.
                      What we believe about spoons and chalices directly affects what we believe about the Eucharist. Everything in Orthodoxy depends on everything else. 

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      ML, what Gail said is not heretical, quasi or otherwise. Scripture is part of the Tradition of the people of God. it is in fact, the written part of Tradition.

            • “We must wisely machinate ways…”
              I wish he had used a less cynical verb.

            • As much as I respect this monk, the article sounds just like the justifications of so many people I’ve known who don’t want to attend church because “God is everywhere.”
              “Communion is cool and everything, and I’m glad it works for you, but I get God’s grace from being in nature.”
              If communion can be had anywhere and in general, why offer it in a particular place at a particular time?

          • George Michalopulos says

            Quite right. To use the example of St Mary of Egypt, quite possibly one of the central figures of the Great Fast, to encourage people to stay away from church is something I can’t wrap my head around.

        • Archpriest Paisius McGrath says

          Glorious Feast of Ascension to all! VSWR, could you elaborate on how you understand the interview with Jean Claude Larchet to be a straw man?

          • As I said some Bishops use Jean Claude Larchet or other priests instead of speaking themselves against one spoon, one chalice and one cloth because they know it might sound heretical. Those Bishops will say that you can not get virus through holly communion, but would not say that for the spoon. But to elaborate or to write apologia they would prefere to have priests do the job.

  6. In the mean time some good news  for the use of single golden spoon from Patriarchate of Romanian Church. 
    Romanian Church rejects single-use spoons for Communion even in time of pandemic

    The Romanian Orthodox faithful were blessed to begin attending open-air services on Friday, May 15, following a period of quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Regarding the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, the Romanian Patriarchate completely rejects any changes to the manner of communing the faithful. One-time use spoons and chalices are unacceptable for the Orthodox Church, the statement reads:
    For the Universal Orthodox Church, there are no sacred (sanctified) objects for single-use, but for perpetual use (Chalice, disk, star and spoon), objects that are cleaned before and after every use. In the practice of the Universal Orthodox Church, the use of the common spoon in the Eucharist has not been a source of contamination for any Orthodox believer in the past or the last two months of the pandemic.
    “Therefore, the Romanian Orthodox Church, according to its centuries-old liturgical tradition, cannot accept, even in times of pandemic, the use of the single-use chalice and spoon for Communion of the faithful during the Divine Liturgy,” the statement concludes about the celebration of the Eucharist.

  7. Nicholas says

    About 2008 or so, I was talking to one of the big wigs in the OCL at the OCA cathedral in Dallas. He was waxing on about Orthodox unity in the United States. I cautioned him to be careful what he was wishing for, as in my mind the most likely way that God could effect union would be to completely crush the existing structure. New York State, home to GOA and OCA (really), is getting crushed by the shutdown. Individuals may be fleeing in the near future for Red States that have overcome this panic and are moving on. As Northern states lose economic and demographic power, how will that affect ecclesiastical structures? Will dioceses go bankrupt? Maybe even whole jurisdictions? What happens in the aftermath of those bankruptcies? Can we really afford multiple bishops in one city? Can you have two struggling ethnically-based parishes across the street from each other, both claiming Orthodoxy? Poverty clarifies the mind in a way that excess does not. We have prayed for unity and purification. And in this crisis, God may very well have decided to give us those gifts good and hard. What if we simply can no longer afford to be stiff-necked, ethnically-based, and tolerant of corruption? This really could be the opportunity that God seizes to really make things right.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Very well said, Nicholas.  Either poverty will “concentrate the mind” or persecution.

    • RIP (reluctant internet poster) says

      With respect, you guys really do need to stop politicizing this (or not. Just saying how ignint it comes across).   Wyoming isn’t suffering less from COVID because it’s red, it’s suffering less because it’s more rural.  Same for Modoc v LA counties in CA.  
      Which is to say, you’re succumbing to the same fallacy state governors have when they’ve tried to apply the same remedy to different counties.   
      It took pushback for him to accept it, but even Newsome in CA is starting to see this.  This can’t be generalized from the White House, nor can it be generalized from state houses.  Pray for each county health officer.
      But if you really need a white hat/black hat scenario, sure, fine, whatever.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Not fair.  The rural/urban divide re contagion is real.  The issue is why the NYC model is being pushed on the red states when it wasn’t necessary.  Even L.A., a blue city wasn’t suffering but Newsome acted as if CA needed to suffer in like manner.

        And that was a political issue.

        • RIP (reluctant internet poster) says

          “Not fair. The rural/urban divide re contagion is real.”
          What’s not fair?  That the rural/urban divide re contagion is real was exactly my point.  
          “Even L.A., a blue city wasn’t suffering but Newsome acted as if CA needed to suffer in like manner.  And that was a political issue.”
          Do you mean Orange County?  You can’t mean LA because LA County has two thirds of the state’s covid deaths, which is why I contrasted it with Modoc (a rural county).  I live in CA and have had too much time on my hands to not know what’s going on in my state.
          “The issue is why the NYC model is being pushed on the red states when it wasn’t necessary. ”
          See, there you go politicizing it again.  It’s got nothing to do with red or blue. And what’s being “pushed on the red states?”  These decisions are made by governors and county health officers.  If the governor of a state is Republican, who’s pushing anything on him?  Who’s impeding governors’ abilities to set health policy in their states?  

        • Archpriest Paisius McGrath says

          The urban/rural divide is real clearly. But I find the red vs blue states(red=Republican, blue= Democrat) stateto be a highly questionable political construct that is media drive and of recent origin. Especially given the political historical fact that blue formerly referred to Republican and red formerly referred to Democrat. Further, as Mississippi goes to no business closed and all open on June 1 and that all along it’s essential- non essential business distinction so porous as to be almost meaningless, is the change not more about it’s rural character which led to being less hard hit by this virus that about it being a Republican dominated state, I wonder?

          • George Michalopulos says

            No essential dispute with you Fr.  I well remember when Red=Dem & Blue=GOP.
            These are indeed constructs, meant to divide.  However, the fact remains that there is an ideological divide that is quite real and the bi-coastal/flyover divide is quite real, generally speaking.

      • A highly useful insight to characterize the basic “two sides” of the coronavirus lockdown debate has been to view it along the lines of those who do not feel safe being vulnerable as opposed to those who have learned how to handle their own vulnerability and who feel safer being risk-takers.
        This division correlates well with urban vs rural divisions and Democrat vs Republican divisions.  By and large, those who have intense fear about their safety and who have strong aversions to personal vulnerability look to others to fill that void and to care for them.  These people, by and large, have generally looked to the Democrat party when it comes to politics, since the Democrats put out more of the “we will take care of you” mantra that people with this kind of sensitivity are looking for.  Most of the “Karens” or “Gretchens” who publicly shame others whom they do not think are adequately looking out for the safety of others fall into this category.
        In contrast, those who have learned how to soothe their own safety fears are typically more OK with taking risks.  These folks by far more often vote Republican.  The military is a classic category for this.  If you’re an experienced risk taker in special forces or with prior military deployments, the coronavirus is not much of a concern, and you’re not looking to the government to help you care for yourself (you already know how to do it).  The military historically votes Republican by overwhelming margins.  Business owners, too, fall into this category, since by definition, starting a business requires one to assume at least some risk and to be comfortable with it.  Same thing with the faithful who worship God — most readers of this website.  We have learned (even trained ourselves) to put our trust in Christ — “not in princes or in sons of men” — and our faith has trained us to be very, very wary of those in secular leadership who pretend to offer all of the answers.
        Many of those who eagerly await Dr Fauci’s and Dr Birx’s every word or who fervently believe in wearing a mask everywhere — because today’s fad-or-science-du-jour says that it is best — sadly have never learned how to care for or trust themselves, or how to trust God.  
        Caring for oneself and soothing ourselves when we experience fear — and even trusting God — are learned skills that often must be taught.  To some, these skills seem to come easier than they do for others.  I don’t know why.
        My opinion is that this phenomenon more accurately describes the vast divisions we now see in our society: those who have learned how to feel safe and how to deal with their feelings of vulnerability when they arise, vs those who have never learned these habits and who look on others (typically the government) to soothe and comfort them. 
        Obviously, the former category is the far better one to be in, in my opinion:  having Christ as the firm foundation for our lives and as the anchor for our own safety is always best, as he tells us in the Scriptures (Matthew 10:37).  Relying on anyone else (including the government) to soothe and comfort us simply is not reliable.  Yes, the government can and should help in some instances and in some scenarios, but it can never be “all things to all people,” as some want it to be.
        My opinion is that these starkly different approaches to life explain why, so often, those on the political left simply don’t understand those on the political right, and vice versa.

        • Michelle says

          This is insightful, thank you.

        • That’s one possible explanation. Another one, among many, is one side being selfish individualists blinded by pride, compared to compassionate team players sacrificing for the common good. Depending on which side you’re on, one of these is more flattering to you than the other. But it’s not like humans to pick self-serving narratives, is it?

          • Gail Sheppard says

            I take it you see yourself as a compassionate care taker. You get to be the compassionate team player and we get to be the selfish, individualists blinded by pride. Nothing self-serving about your narrative, is there James? You may not realize it but you are essentially demonstrating what FTS said is true. – You’ve had your say.

            • Well, you got my point exactly when I phrased how the “other” side might put things. Nobody on the left would agree with what FTS said, and nobody on the right would agree with what I said. But undoubtedly both sides say things like that. So…how useful is either “insight”? I’m just expressing frustration over how hard it is for people who tell themselves different stories to even begin to communicate. 

          • James,
            I appreciate your comment, even if I don’t agree with you.  Your post perfectly illustrates the concept of “motive attribution asymmetry,” which is rampant these days.  This concept stipulates that “my side is operating from a position of love and compassion; the other side is operating from a position of hate.”
            What do you do when both sides think they are operating from positions of love, but cannot perceive that in the other?  I’m sure you believe, as a “compassionate team player,” that you are operating from love.  But those who have felt from the beginning that the over-the-top coronavirus responses were overblown and too dramatic also feel that they are operating from positions of love.  It is, in fact, very loving to not want to see your friend’s business collapse because the government forces it to close.  It’s very loving to not want your daughter to miss high school graduation because the governments close schools across the country for what are often reasons not supported by science or by the data.
            Though I firmly disagree with you, I do believe that from your perspective you are operating from a position of love.  When we assume that the other side must be operating from a position of hate, no relationship or communication is possible.  This is why so much “dialogue” about how to proceed during coronavirus is not dialogue at all but is really just each opposing side screaming at each other.  
            The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is the classic example of “motive attribution asymmetry.”  Both the Israelis and the Palestinians believe that their side is motivated by love, and the other side is motivated by hate.  Which is why there has been little progress in “talks” since Israel was created as a country in the late 1940s — once you reach this point, relationship and communication is not possible. 
            I think this point has now been reached in modern America.

          • My next-door neighbors are on that “compassionate team player” team.  We agree on almost nothing in terms of politics and such, but we get along just fine nevertheless.
            About two weeks ago they texted us to say that they had contracted COVID-19.  My wife immediately replied that she would run out for anything they needed from the store, pharmacy, etc.  The reply came back: “ No need, ____ (who lives with them and also tested positive) is running to the store right now.”
            Funny how that works.

    • Nicholas,
      “Can we really afford multiple bishops in one city?”
      If you happened to live in a  city on the Greek island of Crete,you would indeed have one bishop only, indeed one who does whatever Bartholomew instructed from Turkey. You have NO other Orthodox church there!
      The vital question to ask is (under the circumstances):
      “Can we really afford ONE bishop ONLY in one city?
      You are very lucky in the US!

    • Archpriest Paisius McGrath says

      Addressing the Canonical anomaly that exists in this country that has existed for more than a century is indeed front and center a top issue of Orthodoxy. It is not just a matter correcting the multiple Bishops in one city, correcting some “bigwigs” or replacing ethnicity as the glue of parish life or corruption. It must begin at the bottom with a conversion from the “my vs theirs” understanding of parish “ownership”. In my former parish assignment in Western PA, in a town of some 30,000 people; there were three Orthodox parishes(OCA, UOC-USA, Antiochian)  all within 2 miles of each other with declining memberships and with very low ethnicity stumbling blocks. For 10 years the clergy and most of the faithful in all three worked tirelessly to get to know each other, serve services together, have social events together and work toward creating a true atmosphere. When the senior priest prepared for retirement we had a plan in placed acceptable to most of the faithful the local clergy and agreeable to 2 of the three Hierarchs. But then it fell apart at the 11th hour due to some opposition of a minority of the faith who were unwilling to give up “their” parish for reasons that had nothing to do with ethnicity and the resistance from one hierarchs. In all this we learned that such an endeavor is not a simple thing as replacing “this or that”. While undoubtedly there is a strong and clear desire for a unified American Orthodox Church, yet reaching that point is not so simple. We must continue efforts like this where ever we are but understand that it’s a long game and will not come so easily. It’s more than just a resistant hierarchy or an entrenched ethnicity problem.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        At some point, they are all going to have to do the right thing. Until that happens, there will be no unity.

  8. I am really curious.  Is there ANY jurisdiction that is not giving in to the hysteria?

  9. On the Mystery of Holy Communion May 26 from St Nikolai’s Prologue:
    “Contemplate the grace of God the Holy Spirit in the Mystery of Holy Communion:
    1. How grace gives life to the bread and wine;
    2. How it changes them into the Body and Blood of Christ.”

  10. Met Athanasios of Limassol on the Holy Mysteries:
    Response to a question about whether clergy can really get sick, and whether there is a concern disease is spread through Holy Communion:
    Surely we also can contract this virus—not from Holy Communion, but from those around us, from our coming and going, from running our errands, from the people around us that have the virus. There is no reason that we, the people of the Church, and our priests and bishops, would not acquire this disease, this virus. Already, a metropolitan in Serbia has died from this virus. But, we certainly will not contract this virus from Holy Communion and from the Holy Mysteries.
    Posted by Fr Andreas Houpos of the GOA at

  11. Met Antonios of Glyfadas (sp?) on Holy Communion:

  12. Prof. Tselengides on our foundational belief in Divine Energies present in Holy Communion, Holy Icons:
    I am saddened to discover that a few priests do not understand what many of us have been taught as we were catechized and later taught via Patristic priests, books, lives of the Saints, writings of the Saints.  We are not criticizing you for obeying your bishops!  It is simply very sad to receive condemning and rejecting words for believing what we were taught and what some other very admired metropolitans or priests still honor.  If all priests could understand our difficulty as laity without feeling insulted and choosing to dismiss our concerns, how wonderful that would be.  For those of believing we are to honor God rather than man and that the Saints and Tradition advise us a certain way (even opposite ways to hierarchs or priests), can we not agree to disagree respectfully?  

  13. This is all a mockery and an insult to God. I don’t really know much about “GOA” myself however given how they are doing back flips to accommodate Caesar’s usurpation of that which is God’s I just simply consider them apostate and their communion can only be “unto condemnation” and not salvation by my estimation. I would social distance them from here to eternity.

    • Now after looking at the picture in above caption of the little girl receiving the holy communion by appointment from the masked priest , well, I don’t know don’t want to make harsh judgment there maybe best what they can do, at that level. My objections primarily are with the adults going along with some evidently quite willingly thereby lending a tacit kind of approval of Caesar’s mandates over the Church.
      Then how about Confession, did I miss that somewhere? How is that supposed to work? Has Caesar suspended or banned that requirement altogether (cannot be done safely enough)? I suppose masks can be worn however there are other parts to the Orthodox rite. If you “distance” I think people will be able to hear all your sins. Texting (?) don’t know. Things here are not right, just not right.

  14. As a counter to Rev. Calivas’ deformed thoughts…everyone should read this article!

  15. GOA Priest Fr Panayiotis Papageorgiou PhD in Marietta GA speaks up:
    The Chalice, the Spoon and our Fear of Death

    • Reader Daniel Kowalcheck says

      Thank you Mikhail and Nicole for the link to this excellent article. I am not in the GOA but I have met Fr. Panayiotis before. He struck me as a very pious and soberly devout priest. It’s refreshing to read Fr. Chrysostomos’ commentary of the sanctified mode of existence of the Holy Chalice and Spoon. I’ve not heard this put so plainly and eloquently anywhere else. I’m saddened that we are not hearing this from our church leaders.

    • Thank was excellent, Nicole.  Thank you for sharing it.

  16. In this discussion about multiple usages of spoons or individual one time uses of spoons and sterilizations and Artos being individually wrapped so forth so forth all matters of Faith aside I have recollection hearing that from just a strictly epidemiological standpoint the Corona virus cannot be transmitted by “eating” it. Quick search engine search I find this:

    “Can the coronavirus disease spread through food?

    Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person to person through respiratory droplets. Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Before preparing or eating food it is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds for general food safety.”  Also:
    “Coronaviruses are types of virus, not bacteria. There are multiple kinds of coronaviruses and some of them cause illnesses in humans. SARS-Cov 2 is the name of the new coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19.”
    So you cannot “eat it” and it would stand to reason you cannot “drink it” either and get it that way since it is a virus and not a bacteria. So therefore thus, just on physical basis alone all of this business of using “multiple spoons” or “one time spoons” all of that is invalid and spurious and has no epidemiological basis even if Faith is not factored into the equation at all.
    Perhaps a better understanding or insight  for all these abnormalities pertaining to the Eucharist can be found, in part at least, from the Prophet Daniel, Chapter 12 verse 11:
    “And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.”  


  17. Thanks for discussing this.  I have received communion twice in the last few weeks — once at a local monastery (Georgian) with a number of people present, once at my parish (Antiochian) when I met my priest for confession and communion from the reserved sacrament.  I can’t imagine either place ever deviating from Holy Orthodox practice.  Nor can I imagine any of the Elder Ephraim monasteries ever doing so.  Stay steadfast in the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints!

  18. Archpriest Paisius McGrath says

    Christ is Risen! A blessed Leave taking of Holy Pascha to all! 

    This is a damning read. I feel very disappointed, because I always thought that the missions in Africa were an exception to the general mess that the Greek Orthodox world is in.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Sad to hear.

      • Part of the reason why I’m not keen on helping out a certain Orthodox mission organization, even if they do good work. 
        This isn’t the first time I’ve heard the complaints that are in the article. I can almost guarantee that in the next year or so we can expect a rival Patriarchate, or something similar, in Africa for those parishes. I’m thinking of something similar to the Vicariate of Western Europe that just joined the Russian Church

  20. John Sakelaris says

    I hope that, in spite of my disagreements with you all on some matters, I may be allowed to tell of what happened in my Greek Orthodox Archdiocese parish this past Sunday.   Sure, there were some signs of pandemic-related cautions, such as having a sanitizer dispenser on a table in front of the entrance and some notices asking us to have social distancing.   

    But the big news is that Holy Communion was offered just as before the pandemic.  It was not after the service, no, it was offered in the final moments of the service as usual.   Importantly, it was offered with a common spoon and almost everyone partook of it.    No appointments were needed.    A few people had masks during the service, but most did not. 

    The letter that was attached at the bottom of the article with additional restrictions seems to actually be for just the parishes of the state of New York–and although those restrictions are onerous, they do still allow for Holy Communion.  

    God bless you all; remember this should be a happy season.  

  21. Christ is risen!
    Great news. Glory to God. 

  22. Michael Martin says

    I just read this analysis by a Russian Bishop:

    I think he has a lot of wise and sober things to say. After all, the Russians had their churches taken away from them in the 20th century, so they have experience with this.

    • For anyone who isn’t willing to take the time to read the link Michael posted above, I recommend you do.
      I found this passage  to be particularly insightful:
      “Active theological discussions have now ensued in the Church on this theme of whether or not we can live without churches. I will say right off that a time could come when whether we want it or not, we’ll have to live without churches, just as Christians lived without them in the first three centuries. May God preserve us from living to that time. But our task right now, for modern Orthodox Christians, is to think through and work out a form of life in the Church under any conditions, even when they take our churches away from us. After all, this could happen, sooner or later.
      “It is possible to live and be saved without magnificent churches. But it is not possible to live and be saved without the grace of the sacraments. The whole value of an Orthodox church is that here, the grace of the sacraments are poured into a person’s life. But the sacraments can also be served outside the church walls. A church can stand without the sacraments being served in them, bloodless, and deprived of their purpose and significance—like, for example, the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. That is, man’s salvation is not in a church building, but in the sacraments of the Church. The time could come (let’s honestly and intelligently read the words of Revelation), when we will not have our churches. What then? Should spiritual life just stop? Should the sacraments cease to be served? Of course not. And our task is to think now about how we are going to live under such conditions. This world pandemic has pushed us into this.”

    • I would like the Archbishop to elaborate about what happened during the cholera outbreak. Did they refuse to allow the faithful to kiss Icons? Did they use multiple spoons or disinfectant on the spoon? Did they vandalize the Church with social distancing markers? Did the Liturgy resemble a mob of hypochondriacs at a Halloween party? I think not.
      I think there were many parts of his interview which were disingenuous.

  23. Reader Services through the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost:   For any staying home and wishing not to stream the services, Father John has again provided a wonderful resource:
    Christ is Risen!  
    Thank you Father John!

  24. CS Louis says

    When are the Orthodox Christians going to stand up and say OXI !  I know of several Greek priests that are extremely sad and angry because they have had to obey their bishops and keep services closed. 
    At my ROCOR parish, we were to be allowed to let a certain percentage of the maximum occupancy in.  When that number was reached this past Sunday, the front door got locked.  Later, a message was brought to the altar that people were at the door asking to come in.  So the senior priest said: “The president has ordered churches to open”. Let them in. Some wore masks, others not. Liturgy and Holy Communion was served as usual.
    Just heard this news from Maryland, that churches are not allowed to serve any food or drink including Holy Communion:

  25. I don’t really understand the article. It says that the Archbishop is deciding to reopen the churches. But it also says: “The laity is to be excluded from attending Divine Liturgy, purportedly per the City of New York.” If the laity is excluded from even attending the Liturgy, then the church would not be reopened. The churches already have livestreaming services with clergy staff, and the Catholic churches stayed open during the virus scare. 
    I guess what the article meant was that laity can only attend by appointment beforehand.
    In defense of the GOARCH, it doesn’t look at this point that they have heresy (false teaching), but rather a mistaken implementation of teachings. The excuse they are using is that there is a highly contagious, dangerous virus, so they can’t hold normal services. If that was the case with the virus, then I think that under the Church’s rules and traditions, they could chose to avoid holding such services. 
    But it looks to me like the restrictions are overkill, for several reasons. One reason is that at this point the virus looks to be in decline. Another reason is that it is not severely fatal. It has what, a 0.5-1% fatality rate if you consider all the asymptomatic, undiagnosed people? And after people recover, they aren’t debilitated. It’s an intense form of the normal flu, which kills 5,000-50,000 Americans annually anyway, IIRC. It’s bad, but not bad enough to practically shut down services like this.

  26. Excellent anonymous response to Fr. Calivas’ article:

  27. Sage-Girl says

    PRAY for our National Guard!??
    Pray they don’t get virus or harmed from fighting lawless thugs in Minneapolis.
    Love our President’s motto:??
    ”You loot, we shoot”!

    • RIP (reluctant internet poster) says

      Our president who was about to screw them out of benefits by ending their deployments at 89 days but changed his mind because he got called on it?
      Which isn’t to single out Trump.  Our country always does this kind of thing. Has from the beginning. But I’m glad the opposition succeeded for once.

    • Sage Girl,
      “You loot we shoot” are not Pres. Trump’s exact words, but more importantly they are not the words of a “sage.” One reason is that law enforcement has lots of ways to disperse groups of looters instead of shooting. Another reason is that force needs to be commensurate with the thread. Stealing goods is a loss of property goods’ value that is returned by insurance. Killing someone is a loss of life that cannot be returned except by God in the Resurrection.
      So “You loot we shoot” is excessive security abuse, and in that sense it’s like the coronavirus clampdown on society and banning of church services. It should really be a call for introspection. A casino boss builds his workplace around looting people’s finances, conning the crowds walking into believing that they are going to come away big winners, when in reality on average that crowd is going to walk out the doors each month at a loss. Masses of customers have lost their life’s earnings over the years in casinos, which have looted them of their finances. Out on the street, living with drugs to cope with their newfound pennilessness, how would you like it if the people who lost their money said the same thing? Of course, it is not right. It goes back to Jesus’ declaration: “First take the log out of your own eye.” If Trump shoots crowds of protestors against police violence because some people do looting, it makes him both a looter and a shooter.

      • Sage-Girl says

        Hal S.,
        don’t shoot the messenger; I read that Trump had said that line “You loot, we shoot” referring a warning ⚠️ he’d send in National Guard.
        So what’s wrong with that? 
        And yes, a sage can also be a warrior. 

      • “If Trump shoots crowds of protestors against police violence because some people do looting, it makes him both a looter and a shooter.”
        What if he just shoots looters?
        Pour décourager les autres?

      • “Stealing goods is a loss of property goods’ value that is returned by insurance. Killing someone is a loss of life that cannot be returned except by God in the Resurrection.”
        Not everyone can afford insurance.

        If you steal a man’s goods, are you not perhaps stealing the bread off the table at which he feeds his family? Are you not perhaps stealing the means with which he pays his medical bills, thereby condemning him or another member of his family to a perhaps painful, untimely death? Is not such a death also “…a loss of life that cannot be returned except by God in the Resurrection.”

  28. George,
    A quick thought/question that I’m going to post here, since I’m not sure where else to post it.  Ravi Zacharias died recently.  If some are not aware of him, he was a very prominent protestant Christian evangelist whose goal was to “bring Christianity to the thinking man.”  He was a powerful public speaker.

    When I was in university, I attended one of his talks with some of my EvProt friends and was deeply touched by it.  (If most Protestants were like Ravi, I would have probably become a Protestant.)
    I never left Orthodox Christianity because the depth, the witness of the saints and of Christ’s Holy Mother, and the relationship with Christ offered through the sacraments were too powerful to leave.  I’ve always felt that Orthodoxy is right where every “thinking man” needs to be.
    Anyone have any ideas on why folks like Ravi Zacharias completely ignore Orthodox Christianity?  His talks are so powerful — I still love listening to them on YouTube — but he and so many like him pretend that Eastern Orthodox Christianity doesn’t exist. Same thing with the folks at the Chuck Colson center in Colorado Springs, who put out a lot of thoughtful pieces and podcasts on being Christian in the modern world (their “Breakpoint” podcast is usually fantastic). Is it that they don’t know enough about the Orthodox faith and history? That they don’t care?

    One of Ravi Zacharias’s skills was to bring people to Christ through the power of story, which was often seen as witnessing to Christ in an “eastern” rather than a “western” manner (Ravi was from India originally). But isn’t that what Orthodox Christianity does all the time? Would appreciate anyone’s thoughts. Thanks!

    • wwcaterson says

      (Long post. Sorry in advance).
      It’s not so much that folks are ignoring it or our stories. They just haven’t seen it. I can only speak from my experience. I converted over 20 years ago. I was a ‘high profile’ evangelical in my community. At the time I was the executive director of an art institute. Prior to that I was the director of Urban Young Life. I also managed a live performance venue/art gallery. I was a ruling elder at a thriving cross-cultural PCA church in the city. I was asked to sit in numerous committees as my city was embarking on a total transformation into ‘new urbanism’. (I mention all of this to shed some background). I didn’t know a single Orthodox person. I stumbled into it listening to Frederica Mathewes-Green’s commentaries and reflections on NPR (ie: stories!) From there I started to read books. Orthodoxy intrigued me. After a few months, I visited the one Orthodox church in town (GOA). It was very different from my PCA church. I couldn’t understand much of the language. But the theology and spirituality continued to draw me in. My family attended for 6 weeks before anyone really befriended us (not that we hadn’t tried). The priest however was very welcoming and took us under his wing. Long story short, we became members. I knew, from my work and relationships in the community, that Orthodoxy would appeal to a lot of people. I asked if we could start a weeknight inquirers’ class. My priest was thrilled. Pretty soon we had over 30 people attending each nite. Then the parish council shut it down. They didn’t want all these people using the AC/electricity/coffee. Sigh. After the church shipped my priest off (he was the 3rd in less than 10 years, I believe) with the help of the OCA/DOS, we started a mission church in my living room. 1 orthodox couple and 20 or so inquirers (!). Fr. Peter Smith would come up from Atlanta and hang out with me at the cool coffee shop downtown. Many folks came to know him and love him  (with his long red pony tail and green cassock). He’d walk in and folks would shout “Fada Pita!”. Fr. Stephen Freeman would drive down from Knoxville to lead bible studies and lead vespers. I moved shortly after, but the spark ignited. There is now a second Orthodox Church from those humble beginnings in my former town with a wonderful community and vision. And they are growing. True, we have the stories. But we have to earn the right to be heard; What we need is the incarnation. The good people of the DOS showed up. 

      • Antiochene Son says

        Inspiring story! Glory to God! 

      • wwcaterson,

        Thanks for your post. That is an awesome story.

        I still grapple with wrapping my head around how some of these intellectual and spiritual giants in the EvProt world like Ravi Zacharias just never mention and seem to ignore Orthodox Christianity. Surely they’ve heard of St John Maximovitch of San Francisco, of St John of Kronstadt. of the spiritual giants of Mount Athos and of Russian spirituality, and of the Holy Fire at Pascha-time.

        Maybe they feel these miracle-workers eastern spiritual giants just don’t apply to them, since they are not Russian, Greek, or Middle-Eastern? The cynical part of me believes that they find Orthodox Christianity simply just too *weird* and that a good, rational, Westerner politely ignores it.

        The whiny part of me believes that after hundreds of years in America and with the stories of the millions of Orthodox Christians in the West having served as farmers, laborers, educators, and professionals working to mold North America into what it is today, that we’ve earned a seat at the table.

        Maybe it’s a combination of factors: that they politely ignore us because our faith is a bit bizarre to them, but also that we do not present a united front to be heard. God only knows that we Orthodox Christians in America can’t get along with each other. Our multiple jurisdictions in North America are more fractured and separated now than they were 40-50 years ago.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          RE: ” Our multiple jurisdictions in North America are more fractured and separated now than they were 40-50 years ago.”

          And yet, I’ve never seen them more united. Every single one of their directives seemed to have come from the same playbook right down to the St. Mary of Egypt story.

        • wwcaterson says

          Don’t be too discouraged, FTS. When I worked for a SCOBA agency for a couple of years I traveled to many parishes around the country and was blessed to see how many serious historians and philosophers were in our family (by birth or by conversion). True, most don’t have the platform that Ravi had (they are in universities…fighting a different and equally important battle). Ravi (who I’ve always respected) had an audience because he was speaking to a laity who wanted to earn the right to be heard. Perhaps if enough of us yearn for and capture that vision, God will raise up someone who will marshal us. As many folk have said on this blog; we get the leadership we earn (not sure if I put that right, but I hope you know what I mean! lol)

          • wwcaterson says

            One other note. Ravi was not an ‘intellectual giant’ in the academia sense. He was an apologist/evangelist. And one of the best in modern Christendom, I might add. We Orthodox have ‘intellectual giants’ who can go ‘toe to toe’ with the best in academia (see my good friend Dr. Rico Vitz’ book: vitz&qid=1590891558&sr=8-1). But they are not all called to be apologists/evangelists. That is another gift. May God raise up those who will complement the work of our brilliant philosophers!

            • George Michalopulos says

              I’m glad that Ravi Zacharias wasn’t an academic. He was a great polemicist/apologist however. There are hundreds of YouTubes showing him eviscerate atheists.

              His worthy successor is William Lane Craig.

              • wwcaterson says


              • Sage-Girl says

                George –
                yes, a salient point, holy people do Not have to be academic… look at our great Orthodox Elders like newly canonized Saints: St. Paisios of Mount Athos and his fellow monk friend St. Porphyrios.

                And our Lord Jesus never had any academic degree ? but KNEW ALL!

                • Steven J. M. says

                  One of my favourite stories in this regard is about a simple monk on Mt Athos. He was so unschooled that he believed the Ascension was the name of a saint. One day, as he was caring for a brother who was unwell, he went to a window that overlooked the sea, and called out in great faith “Ascension my saint, give me a small fish to feed my brother with”, at which point a big fish leapt out of the water, right into his arms. Upon turning around, with a smile on his face, he met the bewildered look of those around him, unable to understand what it meant

    • Sage-Girl says

      probably because they’re not intellectually expansive enough to discover Orthodoxy & find it too far a distance to reach ethnically… 
      btw: was impressed to read Billy Graham a Baptist spoke glowingly of the Mother of God, Christ Jesus, after getting to know Orthodox priests. But you can’t expect these public evangelicals to renounce their mission just cause they discover higher truths like bible man Hank Hannegrath. 

      • wwcaterson says

        Oh, Sage-Girl, my learned friends in the EV world are not lacking in the intellectual department. Nor are they spiritually numb. I believe the reason (in my limited, but varied experience) many don’t give us serious thought is because they don’t ‘see it’. The faith is not lived out in our communities. I know folks might quibble with me here, but until we as a people and individuals become incarnational (ie becoming Christ as He became us) our stories will go on being unheard. 

  29. Re my daily encounter with the dissonance of the AOB (and the OCA) policy re Holy Icons: See today’s OCA Mother of God Icon entry at

    “In 1843 it was revealed to many of the people in dreams that the icon was endowed with miraculous power. They solemnly brought the icon into the church. Believers began to flock to it to pray for the healing of their sorrows and sicknesses. The first to receive healing was a crippled child, whose mother prayed fervently before the icon in 1844. The icon was glorified during a cholera epidemic, when many people fell deathly ill, and were restored to health after praying before the icon.

    A large stone church with three altars was built at the monastery in honor of the wonderworking icon.

    In 1848, through the zeal of Lt. Col. Demetrius Boncheskul, a copy of the wonderworking image was made and placed in his home. Soon it began to exude a healing myrrh, which was given to many so they might recover their health after grievous illnesses. Boncheskul donated this wonderworking copy to the church of Saint Nicholas at Khamovniki in Moscow, where a chapel was built in honor of the icon.”

    Can’t seem to bold the pertinent passages about entreaty and healing of the faithful in times of crisis. (And hope my comment does not lead the OCA site to discontinue such.) Just a daily example from reading the Prologue or the OCA site itself that does not compute with the policies of the Assembly of Bishops or with what I have been taught and believe about the Holy Icons, Holy Sacraments, Holy Relics, and Holy Orthodox Church Tradition including writing of the Holy Fathers.

  30. Archimandrite Fr Savas of Mt Athos and Greece: on the The Holy Temple and COVID-19 infection:  A more familiar perspective for me at any rate. Axios Fr Peter for this new series of extremely pertinent  interviews.  

    Video with transcript:

    Video with voiceover:

  31. I want to follow up here about the Archbishop’s responses at the L100 conference in February in Florida, because the Comments on the blog article in February are closed.Greek News Online has a March 22 report on Abp. Elpidophoros’ answers in the “Opening Forum” that was part of the February L100 Conference including his explicit answers:
    ========================{{Archbishop Elpidophoros’s reply to the first question, whether the Church will address the issue of parishioners in interfaith marriages leaving the Church because their non-Orthodox spouses are not allowed to receive Holy Communion, was perhaps the most prominent in this category, “Thank you for this question.  It gives me the opportunity to repeat to all of you what I say to my priests when they address this question to me,”  said the Archbishop, “It is primarily a pastoral question how we deal with mixed marriages when one member of the family, the husband or the wife, is not Orthodox but still attends church every Sunday, is faithful to the services, and bring their children to the church.  And my answer is that the communion in this family is already realized.” For accuracy, we continue His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros’s complete answer to that question: “We offer to this couple the sacrament of marriage.  Is marriage a sacrament or not?  Is there a categorizing?  Can we distinguish between Sacraments?  Is there a category of Sacraments we can attend, and a category we cannot?  If we are accepted in one sacrament, we cannot exclude another sacrament.  That’s my principle.  Marriage is a miracle that our faithful realize in daily life.  How can the church give resistance to a miracle that has already happened?  It’s a miracle of love; two people, who through love, are united in Christ.  They already have received the sacrament of matrimony, so my direction to the priest is that we cannot exclude one Orthodox member from the Holy Communion.  You know I follow always the directions and the principles that our Lord Jesus Christ Gave us:  ‘Ο άνθρωπος δεν έγινε για το Σάββατο. Το Σάββατο έγινε για τον άνθρωπο.’}}<a href=”” rel=”nofollow ugc”></a>===================================
    In case this report is accurate, then his retelling on camera of his February discusssion must be inaccurate. In the report of his words above from Greek News Online, he says that he tells his priests that due to the mixed marriage, the communion is already realized, and he nowhere says that what he tells his priests on this issue is just his own opinion.There were about 5 witnesses who reported him as saying in February that he directly said at the L100 conference in the Q&A session that Yes, the heterodox spouses may commune. My conclusion from having so many witnesses corroborating the statement was that he probably did say this, but I didn’t have an explicit set of statements by him, just reports summarizing the jist of what was said.However, in his April Q&A (<a href=”” rel=”nofollow ugc”></a&gt;), he said that what he said in February was just his personal opinion that heterodox spouses should be allowed to commune, not that this was the Orthodox Church’s opinion.Based on the explicit reporting in March that I quoted earlier, however, there was no indication in his actual L100 talk that he was just giving this as his own opinion.

    • It does not matter whether he is permitting it…or it is his opinion that it should be permitted. It is in his heart and it is blasphemy.  You will notice that his Patriarch has never disavowed his “opinion”.  Keep your eyes peeled…the fun has just begun.

      • The difference is both ecclesiological and practical. It’s one thing for a leading bishop to have a mistaken personal belief and significantly different for him to teach his mistaken belief as Orthodoxy and to instruct his priests accordingly. It’s one thing for a bishop to personally believe that the earth is flat and another thing for a bishop to teach that the flat earth is an incontrovertible dogma of the Orthodox Faith and to instruct his priests to commemorate “Flat Earth Creation Day.”
        The text shows that at L100, he repeatedly implied that heterodox spouses are Orthodox due to their marriage and that he gives them communion and that he instructs the priests under his authority accordingly. 
        In his April Q&A, he said that he was just giving his personal opinion and openly recognized that Orthodoxy teaches the opposite. His April Q&A seems to be a misrepresentation of his earlier answers about Orthodoxy and about his instructions to the priests under him.

        • Let’s say that a man is the president of the World Geographical Society. If he believes in his heart that the world is flat but tells no one, that’s a hidden problem. But if in a public forum he mentions that he personally feels the world is flat but later clarifies that he doesn’t require others to agree, is that still not incompatible with his duties as president? 

          • Cyprian,
            In that case, you could doubt that he is a good candidate for the society’s president, but it would not be necessarily incompatible with his status as president. 
            It’s one thing for an institution’s leader to express a mistaken belief as his one opinion, and something different to say that it is the position of World Geography and to instruct the members of his institution in accordance with his beliefs. 

        • “It’s one thing for a leading bishop to have a mistaken personal belief and significantly different for him to teach his mistaken belief as Orthodoxy and to instruct his priests accordingly. ”
          As I said earlier, Hal. Keep your eyes peeled. It’s coming. The silence of the Patriarch regarding his “personal opinions” is very telling. Furthermore, if I were a priest in his Archdioces, I would be trying to seek a vote of “no confidence”. ?

          • Mikhail, you write: {{Furthermore, if I were a priest in his Archdioces, I would be trying to seek a vote of “no confidence”.}}But unfortunately, the GOARCH members are unable to vote out their leaders like the OCA allows its members to do at the OCA’s All-American Councils, right? Their leaders are appointed and kept in place by the EP, right?

  32. Antiochene Son says

    Quite disappointed in John Roberts, who sided with liberal justices to refuse to hear a California lawsuit about unfair treatment of churches. 
    A real gem put in there by W. 

    • George Michalopulos says


      • What’s the difference if Metropolitan Gerasimos does not want to open the churches in California? Confusing times for Orthodox laity. At this point we can only trust the great majority of monastics, during these times of tribulation in society and within our Church, and yet still careful not fall under some monks/elders whom do not have our best interest for us. The Prince of lies, is working overtime to confuse us, and weaken our Faith. First away from our Churches, and then, God forbid, away from Christ. Signs all around us
        Don’t be surprised when we will not be allowed in Church this coming Christmas. The symbolism of shut down Churches during Pascha, and Christmas are/will not be by accident. S

  33. Philippa says

    Am I hearing this OCA-Midwest priest correctly; that I can get sick from receiving the Holy Mysteries because I received them unworthily?   I think I heard that wrong.  Thoughts?

    • George Michalopulos says

      Philippa, I didn’t have a chance to listen to this clip but according to St Paul, one can indeed get sick (and even die) because he received the gifts “unworthily”.

  34. Hey Hal S,
    It didn’t take long for AB Elpi to put one of his “personal opinions” into practice.  In the same townhall where he said that he favors giving Communion to non-Orthodox spouses…he also claimed that he is open to new ways of administering Holy Communion because of fears of the common spoon carrying diseases.  And now we see this:

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Thanks, Mikhail, I didn’t seen this before. (Not on Twitter)

      So what I find interesting is the way he poses the question as if it’s an either/or proposition involving the Body and Blood of Christ! He phrases in a way where we have to choose which is more important: The Body and Blood of Christ behind door #1 or the common spoon behind door #2.

      The thing is, the consumption of the Body and Blood is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE CHURCH so he knows no one is going to say: “Oh, I want the common spoon. You can feed me chili out of that chalice but I WANT THE COMMON SPOON!” What a ludicrous question.

      The question is which is more important: Our Tradition or multiple spoons? Do we follow the tradition of using a common spoon in the face of a virus where 95% to 98% survive, the vast majority without medical intervention, giving those at risk a blessing to stay home until most of the population has gotten it and are no longer carriers OR do we throw away tradition and twist ourselves into a pretzel so those at risk continue to think they can outrun the virus until a vaccine is available. Because that’s the real question.

      With regard to Elpi, one of two things is possible: #1 Elpi is an incredibly stupid man who doesn’t know how to articulate a simple question, as the real equation has nothing to do with the importance of the Body and Blood of Christ (it is almost blasphemous for him to suggest that it is something up for grabs IMO). OR #2 Elpi is a cunning academic, who is adept at phrasing a proposition where there is no way he is not going to get total compliance.

      Speaking of those most at risk, George and I are two of them. I WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO SLEEP AT NIGHT taking away the CHURCH from others just to keep my my little family “safe,” whatever that means. I’m talking about the most important gift I can give: Access to the “Church,” where we have communion after every Liturgy (that you didn’t have to sign up for), where we are free to venerate icons, hug each other upon arrival, and enjoy fellowship with one another both inside and outside the Church. Frankly, it would be better that I die now, rather than take the Church away from even one person, let alone our little families whose children cannot learn the beauty of the Church if they are forced to learn in a sterile environment where they’re scared to death of all the masks.

      No one is going to be able to outrun this virus unless they hide out in a closet for a year or two. The vaccine is too far off in the future and this one is going to take repeated injections over a prolonged period, if long term immunity is even possible, which we don’t know. And that’s the GOOD news.

      The BAD news is that every single vaccine has created medical issues out the gate and these are the vaccines that went through all the clinical trials, whatever they were at the time, to ensure they were safe. None of them were safe. None of them.

      I am praying I get the virus before I have to take this vaccine because it WILL be manditory or they will insist you wear a mask and gloves in public. They will be checking, too. To get into any public building you will have to show your driver’s license or something that can be scanned to demonstrate that you’ve been vaccinated. Look at what they do to kids who aren’t vaccinated: They can’t go to school and when there is an outbreak of something, they’re confined to their houses. I couldn’t even get a job until I agreed to be vaccinated for the flu which was only 10% effective at the time.


      Simian Virus 40 (SV40) – 1955–1963

      Swine Flu Vaccine and Guillain-Barré Syndrome – 1976

      Hepatitis B Vaccine and Multiple Sclerosis – 1998

      Rotavirus Vaccine and Intussusception – 1998 – 1999

      Guillain-Barré Syndrome and Meningococcal Vaccine – 2005 – 2008

      Hib Vaccine Recall – 2007

      H1N1 Influenza Vaccine and Narcolepsy – 2009 – 2010

      Porcine Circovirus in Rotavirus Vaccines – 2010

      HPV Vaccine Recall – 2013

      • George Michalopulos says

        Very beautifully put, Gail.  I for one, don’t like LP’s clever rhetorical tricks; I simply will not buy into any dialectical trick.
        If I may put on scientific cap however, I would like to direct our attention to this paper entitled “Analysis of health outcomes in vaccinated and unvaccinated children:  Developmental delays, asthma, ear infections and gastrointestinal disorders” by Brian S Hooker and Neil Z Miller.
        (Sage Open Medicine, Volume 8: 1-11)

      • 99 % survive, I think…

        However, the vaccines under development for coronavirus are RNA vaccines. They will reprogram the DNA of your cells to turn them into little factories for producing continuous production of viral fragments to which your bodies will continuously react. You will be continuously infected and will hence need continuous medication.

        And, of course, the vaccine manufacturers cannot be sued for damages that result from their products. It is a perfect business model.

    • Mikhail,I welcome you to check the published research on communion and viruses. Basically, you aren’t going to get a sickness from the communion chalice. There is a miniscule chance for transmission, and the chance is less than other mundane methods of transmitting illness:,41&q=virus communion&oq=comm
      It’s much more likely that you are going to get COVID from standing near someone else who is coughing and has this airborne illness than getting it from a communion chalice. Further, even if a few germs in the whole chalice get in your mouth, it doesn’t mean that you will contract the flu instead of the germs dying there.
      Really, a more serious concern would be getting a highly deadly and debilitating disease like AIDs from the chalice, but the factors limiting contraction are even more emphasized in such severe illnesses, one reason being that AIDs is blood borne. There are no known cases of getting AIDs from a chalice.
      We are dealing with a media-imposed mass wave of hypochondriaticism in view. COVID is a real illness and a tiny percent of people die from it, but the reaction in society is vastly overblown. There is a far, far, far greater chance that you will die in a car accident. Are we going to limit car travel to only essential business like some places did during the COVID outbreak?

      • Correction, Hal. There is 0% chance you will become infected with any disease from the chalice or the spoon….as long as you properly discern the Body of the Lord as St. Paul instructs us in 1 Cor.

    • I think he means the EP by virtue of his being EP,
      not Bart by virtue of his being Bart;
      which sacredness he doubtless expects to inherit in due course.

  35. I know what he means. Here is the translation:
    The EP is first without equals.

    • Antiochene Son says

      “the tradition of the common spoon was not something that had been decided by any Ecumenical Council”
      So that’s the standard now? Anything can be changed at will if it hasn’t been ratified by an ecumenical council? There’s a heck of a lot that hasn’t been. Will he be writing a new epiklesis for the divine liturgy next? 

      • This is a fruit of the theological minimalism that exists in the minds of many half-catechised Orthodox nowadays. “If it wasn’t decided by a council, then I don’t need to believe it.”