Faith or Fear: What Do We Believe About the Eucharist?

This happened on the Sunday of St. Thomas, just after Father Josiah Trenham of the Antiochian parish, St. Andrew Orthodox Church in Riverside, CA, gave a stirring homily entitled, Faith or Fear, and how we are presently shutting our doors in fear, not unlike the Apostles who shut their doors in fear of being discovered by the unbelieving Jews. That is until Christ appeared, alive from the dead, and breathed on them!  (“No mask!”)  By breathing on them, He delivered them from fear, giving them peace.

Father Josiah also talked about the icons and asked whether or not we believe they have something to say to us.  Well, I do now, especially after seeing a stream of light coming from each of them, emanating from a bubble that seemed to hover over and around the iconostasis!

It was during the anaphora.  “. . . the anaphora, means the lifting-up or the elevation. At this time the gifts of bread and wine which have been offered on the altar are lifted up from the altar to God the Father, and receive divine sanctification by the Holy Spirit who comes to change them into the very Body and Blood of Christ. . .  As men in Christ lift up the eucharistic gifts, they lift up their hearts as well. In the Bible the heart of man stands for his whole being and life. Thus in the anaphora, as the Apostle Paul has stated, the whole man is taken up into that realm where Christ is now seated at the right hand of God.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God (Col 3.1–3).”    

Frankly, there are lights dancing all over the place throughout this service.  (Link Below)  Look at the window on the left at the beginning.  The light starts pouring in and sort of undulates against the wall as if it has a life of its own, before streaming shafts of light below. 

There is another place where a wisp of light briefly touches the marble to the right of the center icons (44:23).   And on the iconostasis, a flash of bright light appears on the icon of Christ (41:35), and moves to the left toward the doors.  There is a place where light enters the door of Gabriel (1:53:00).  [Editor Note: Later included the places on the clip where these things can been seen.]

Finally, there is the huge rounded form of light (1:53: 43) that I spoke of earlier, that drapes over the top of the iconostasis, where light streams forth.

Could this be the product of faulty equipment?  If so, it’s interesting timing.

Could it be the Holy Spirit trying to drive out our fear and show us He is indeed present, changing the bread and wine into His body and blood for the cleansing (healing) of our souls and body, as Father Josiah assured us?  If so, it was compelling.

Or was it the angels, who join us in Liturgy, and were there on the Sunday of St. Thomas in our stead, making their presence known to help redirect our minds on the things above.  Church is the one place angels never fear to tread.

Whatever the reason, it was unusual, it was timely, and seemed to emphasize everything Father Josiah was trying to communicate to us in his homily.  This other world, this world that gives us peace, is here, with us, during one of the greatest challenges we face as a Church in our generation.   

Let’s do our part and meet this challenge without fear.  Let’s believe the Holy Spirit is present.  Let’s live in courage and peace as we face this challenge, knowing our strength comes from the presence of the Lord.  Let’s be a beacon of light to others who are afraid and an encouragement to our bishops who no doubt struggle with the fear of prematurely exposing us to the virus.

Certainly Metropolitan Joseph, my former bishop, and my present bishop, Bishop Alexander (Golitzin), and likely your bishops, as well, want us back in Church.  May the Lord grant them the wisdom to find a way to make this possible and soon.  And help us (I’m talking about me, here) let go of the anger we may feel toward them for closing the doors in the first place.  Anger is the great robber of joy and we (certainly me) could all use a little joy about now. 

How wonderful that Christ understands our doubting nature, knowing the indoctrination we receive in the world, and in His mercy compensates for our weaknesses, strengthening us on the Sunday of St. Thomas, who also doubted.              


* * *

First published on Facebook. . .

Lucy Hanna

What a glorious Liturgy for the Sunday of St. Thomas today at St. Andrew Church. A couple of things struck me today. I hope you get a chance to view the video on Patristic Nectar.

First, during the Anaphora, at the point when Fr. Josiah came out and said: “Let us lift up our hearts”, a bubble of light started forming gradually over the iconostasis. Then rays started coming out of the bubble and intensify slowly until it became what you see in the attached picture which I took right off my TV. This lasted until the Royal Doors were closed for communion of the clergy and while the chanters were singing the communion hymn “Praise the Lord….” the bubble and rays started to clear gradually. Notice the difference in clarity of the icons inside and outside the bubble. Watching this, I could not hold back the tears. I took the pictures through my tears. Glory to God for His sign that He is with us!!

Second, I find it interesting that in today’s Gospel from John chapter 20, and at verse 20 (i.e. 2020), we read, “….and the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord”. We have indeed seen the Lord with all His Glory, consoling us in this time of isolation and letting us know that in all of this, He is with us. Glory to His Three-Day Resurrection!


P.S.  I know you like hearing from George, but this was brought to you courtesy of Mrs. Yours Truly.


  1. RIP (reluctant internet poster) says

    I love it!  I had a similar experience during the unction service on Holy Wednesday.  No lights or anything, but a…deep comfort.  
    Is livestreaming the same as actually being in Church?  Not at all.  But it’s not Netflix or televangelism either and I’m beyond grateful to have it during this time.
    Glory to God for all things!

  2. Jacob Lee says

    We open our Churches and go back to work. We need to quit living in fear.

  3. This is wonderful. I’m sure naysayers will be out in full force at some point letting us know that it is just sunlight coming through the windows. 
    It’s time to open up our Churches. That’s all I have to say. 

  4. Good that it was Fr. Josiah – he is currently under near-constant attack from the degenerates over at Orthodoxy in “Dialogue” who are making all manner of accusations and innuendos about this God-fearing priest.

    • Basil, I never heard of ‘Orthodoxy in “Dialogue”’ until you mentioned it. I went to their site and started reading. What a strange mish-mash of garbage! They clearly have some kind of a strange agenda. And, the owner of the site at one point mentioned that he was a former priest. Where, I don’t know? But the whole thing is quite disturbing. (Thy also clearly are ‘rah-rah’ groupies for the non-canonical and schismatic church in Ukraine set up by the EPC.) Poor Fr. Josiah doesn’t deserve all of this terrible ridicule either. The things stated against him seem to have no verifiable sources, either. (Lord have mercy!)

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Those who stand up like Fr. Josiah are always targets.

      • OI”D” is literally a cesspool. The editor is indeed a former priest – deposed for sodomy.

        Good men like Fr. Josiah, Fr. John Whiteford, and other excellent conservative priests are always in their sights. It’s almost like some kind of vindictive obsession.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Some people cannot stand the “light”. They don’t always know what they’re reacting to; they just know they can’t stand it. Father Josiah and Father John have that “light”.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Agreed.   They also have a big, fat target on their back.  It’s always the mediocrities who gun for them.

        • Besides (the) other known issues, ‘OiD’ also seems to not be very pro-life, either. At least that’s what I got after reading through their website. (Maybe I’m missing something?) Very, very sad. I fear for people not knowledgable or very firm in their Orthodox faith that look to this site for guidance or information, not realizing that they’re mired in evil quicksand.

  5. George Michalopulos says

    We need to pray for priests such as Fr Josiah. 

  6. George Michalopulos says

    We all need to listen more to Mrs Yours Truly!

  7. George Michalopulos says

    How about all of just stop believing in the farce that “all men are created equal” and revert to absolutist monarchy?  At least then we’d know where we, the peasants, stand.

    • RIP (reluctant internet poster) says

      I don’t know, the 30 second version does make it sound like no one should leave the house ever, and given that Lysol had to put out a statement telling people not to ingest any of their products (I learned in the Army that the reason there are signs telling people not to do a stupid thing is because…someone actually did that stupid thing), the 60 second version which elaborates should probably have been exclusively used.

      And the former president wasn’t doing anything wrong, as VA’s order allows for golf with social distancing measures. And DC (where he lives) allows for travel for recreation. (IL, one of the target markets, does not, but will as of tomorrow. Also, I clearly have too much time on my hands this morning…)

      None of which gainsays what I think your general point is. As Catwoman says to Batman when she finds out the bank is going to let him keep his mansion, “the rich don’t even go broke like the rest of us!”

      • George Michalopulos says

        The point is that his husband (Michelle) told us the day before that we should be quarantined.

        • RIP (reluctant internet poster) says

          I guess we’re just seeing a different number of lights here.

          As I said, in the 60 second version, she’s clearly advocating following the stay at home order (go out only for essentials and follow social distancing when you need to get out of the house). And her husband was following the DC and VA orders as far as I can tell (unless he wasn’t social distancing, which I can’t tell from the pic).

          So I’m still unclear on what the uproar is about. But that could definitely just be me.

        • Sage-Girl says

          Oh George – you too know about Obama being gay?  Seems it went under the radar back then.  Yes — Liberal media hid this story well as they hid plenty else! Obama was never his own person; he was a synthetic invention of the Godless Left: Soros + Oprah et al, chose him many years before + groomed him to be first half Black President.  But he failed miserably, proving to be most divisive + allowing his loud mouth husband to embarrass America.
          How anybody voted him in after hearing his vicious deranged mentor the Rev. Wright is beyond me. 

  8. In years past we have had threads how modern bishops and priests would react to government oppression, as opposed to clergy in the past, whether it was oppression by Communist, Royalist, Islamic, or any secular government. Many Saints and Martyrs came forth in the past, choosing faith over fear. Albeit many followed the easy road. Thank God we were never in their shoes!

    Keep in mind no priest, nor bishop today will/would be executed, nor tortured as many were in the past when they did not follow the rules, or simply just held Liturgy. Yet! Nearly no one in our clergy protested their government, bishops, and/or patriarch, in any large manner, nor disobeyed rules. In the past, yes, we were “let down” by most of our spiritual leaders, but with excusable reasons, as they had the guns, and swords pointed at them, and feared for their families. Now without any fear of death, nor torture, our clergy accept their roles, and their Church as not essential, in fear of/who…

    So now that we have our answers to questions asked in the past, as we have seen their reaction to a small crisis. So now must we who are part of The Church, rely/trust those leaders who represent The Church? At the very least do we not question The Church leaders when when they are “cornered” by world leaders? The final question I ask; when the “end” really comes, as in the second coming, whether next week, next century, etc, as no one knows the time, nor place ,which Church and/or leader, if any, do we trust when the true apocalypse really goes down? I know who we have faith in, but will not the great deceiver not try to deceive us? Are we on our own in the end?

    • So you see our Church leaders acting responsibly in temporarily closing their Churches to large gatherings in an attempt to prevent our hospitals being overwhelmed by covid patients, as some sort of “cowardice” or dereliction of their spiritual duties? Got it.

      To me, on the other hand, making the sacrifice of a few weeks of attending in-person services out of love for our neighbor clearly seems the correct and indeed the most Christian response.

      • >acquiescing to secular authorities in making public prayer illegal
        >”the most Christian response”

    • Dino:  For weeks, I have been thinking exactly what you expressed about which Church and/or leader (if any) we can trust if we live during the Apocalypse.  I, too, question if we will be on our own in the end as far as our Church leaders are concerned??

      • Ketrin,
        I hope I am wrong, but this little window  we  witnessed to  their reaction of  little crisis, answered the question to the coming big crisis, in  that doubt will exist whether or not to follow their lead. This might have been where ignorance is a blessing, because now we can’t blame our  spiritual  Church leaders. Nicole had some good links, take a look, hope they help.

    • Dino, I’ve been wondering the same things. Not only have I been disturbed by the (lack of) reaction from our church leaders, I’m confused by their nearly unanimous response to the faithful who want to worship: stop grumbling and obey. But who do we obey? Are our leaders actually representing God when they lock the church doors on Pascha and tell us to stay home? I certainly hope not, but if not then what hierarchy (holy order) remains in times like this?
      But my voice doesn’t matter. I’m a non-essential wage-slave peasant, who doesn’t care about the GDP as much as I care for the Church to reopen, and who is wondering who it is who actually locked Her down.

      • Dino Tsortanidis says

        I hear you. Please see my response to Nicole, and check out her links. For black and white answers, without politics, and political pressures the monastics seem to be our last hope.

  9. Dear Dino,

    Christ is Risen!

    FYI Father Peter Heers has another podcast/youtube episode which may answer some questions you raise about the Church and about how to proceed personally about taking care of/assessing risks for oneself and others according to spiritual state as well as the Tradition of the Church: With marvelous quote from Fr Seraphim Rose as guide.  

    Re your last question, I personally look forward to the final volume of the 5- volume Revelation series  by ☦️ Elder Athanasios Mitilinaios  (translated by Constantine Zalalas)  soon to be offered  on Zoe Press https:///  

    Best in Christ,

    • Dear Nicole,
      Truly He is Risen!
      Thank you so much for turning me on to Father Peter’s podcast. There is a lot to digest.  Father Seraphim Rose quotes are quite helpful. For one it is good to hear that this world will consider a true Christian insane.
      Understanding some of my thoughts as insane to “this world”, thus the struggle, between living in this world, and focusing more to arrive into His World, are natural, and normal. Keep in mind, what was labeled “new Christians” are not, what I assume, only non-Orthodox, but all of us. So what does that say about us today in mini crisis, and our leaders who currently represent our Church, right here, right now?
      I hope they struggle with their directives, as much as I disagree and struggle to follow them. I agree with Father Peter, patience is needed  so that our leaders are allowed to see the error in their judgment, and if timed just right, to harness an opportunity to witness to the world, in that, we are not “new Christians”, but imperfect True Christians, working on our salvation. Spiritual leaders included!

      One  question Father Peter received and answered I also found enlightening. When asked if  he believed Saint Paisios would  wear a mask, and/or  hide and shelter from others, his answer was no he would not, but then does that mean we should all follow Saint Paisios lead, or  not? My understanding is yes and no. For some yes if they are at, or near the spiritual “level” as a monk such as Saint Paisios, but most of us are not there, there is where the struggle lies, and it may become destructive to our spiritual path and salvation.

      As for our spiritual leaders? Right or wrong we expect more. Should we? Don’t know, still chewing on this one, but we have every right to question, and disagree with them, until proven wrong, and expect honest answers.

      Our government has no right to shut our Churches down! Then again, it was not our government who shut us down, but our Church leaders who shut us out! The “easy road” has never been, nor should be; The Way of  Orthodox Christians.

      • Yes Dino I concur and appreciated Fr Peter’s counsel as well.  You might be encouraged as I was by the beautiful news that one Serbian Orthodox light burned brightly in the United States, an example of Orthodox fronema to our other hierarchs for whom I pray with a heavy heart to allow all to participate fully as each discerns he or she needs and longs to do, as the Church has previously not just allowed but encouraged in times of epidemic. What is novel about this epidemic is the Church’s unOrthodox response.

        AXIOS to Archimandrite Pachomy of St Sava’s Monastery (ROCOR) in Harper Woods MI who heeded God and not man while serving Orthodox Christians. See “How a Monastery Remained Open for Pascha with No Restrictions.”

  10. Monk James Silver says

    Christ is risen, truly risen!

    While I wasn’t there for this event, and so can’t speak to its reality or to the veracity of the reporter, I (like St Thomas, I suppose) have my doubts.

    The greatest of these doubts arises from the divine action which we plead for at each Divine Liturgy, that God send His Holy Spirit down upon us and upon the Holy Gifts we offer and change them (an us!) into the Body and Blood of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ. I and all Orthodox Christians believe that this actually happens during each Divine Liturgy.

    We also open most of our services with a prayer to the Holy Spirit of God, addressing Him as ‘our Advocate, the Spirit of Truth, Who is everywhere, filling everything’.

    Since we believe that this is true, and that the bread and wine which we offer do indeed, by the Holy Spirit’s grace and activity, become Christ’s own eucharistic Body and Blood, it would seem that such visions of light would occur at every Divine Liturgy, whether or not we are experiencing something like the current contagion or the ‘social distancing’ which we’re asked to observe, even in church — if we’re allowed to be there.

    But if no such visions of light occur everywhere, we might wonder about the event as reported, and question its significance.

    Our Lord Jesus Christ warns us that we should never commit the unforgivable sin, which is one of attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan, so I’m, not doing that. At the same time, St Paul warns us that ‘the devil himself can appear as an angel of light’, and that’s exactly what we’re dealing with here.

    God grant us the wisdom to know the difference, and not be misled.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Indeed He is risen!

      We should never lose the property of discernment. Having said that, I have read extensively of spiritual phenomena appearing spontaneously in Russia in the immediate prelude and during the Bolshevik Revolution. Timothy Ware, in his book The Orthodox Church describes such phenomena with the proviso that this was the Holy Spirit’s way of sustaining the suffering Christian populace for the dark days ahead.

      I believe that what Gail posted is an example of just such a beneficient action. That is to say a reminder to us that God is not abandoning us.

      • As long as they are innocuous, I tend to view these sorts of things as possibly being little gifts from heaven.  Whether they are ‘real’ in an objective sense matters little (to me anyway), for they are certainly not the foundations upon which our faith rests.
        We are wise to be cautious and discerning, as the good Monk recommends.  But visions and miracles do occur.  As long as they do not contradict the clear teaching of the Church, become ends in themselves,  become occasions for delusional pride in those who experience them – and if they lead us to true repentance toward our good God, they can, IMHO, be accepted with gratitude as the gifts they are.
        The example of weeping icons of the Mother of God comes to mind. Are there real weeping icons?  Yes, of course.  Are there some fakes?  Maybe so.  But our faith does not rest upon even the real ones.  And when we encounter what we believe to be a genuine weeping icon, I sometimes wonder about our response.  Some go crazy, proclaiming, “See!  We have the true faith!  Come and see our weeping icon!”  I would not go so far as to criticize them for doing so, but in my own case I am more inclined to wonder, “What have I/we done that causes my/our Mother to weep?”

    • Thank you for your wise words of caution, Father James.
      I’m surprised George/Gail published them. Lord knows comments that disagree with the approved narrative here routinely get sent down the memory hole. (Right George/Gail?)

      • Mikhail says

        George and Gail post just about anything as long as it is within the parameters of legality and common decency. So I must ask you “W”…what on Earth are you talking about?

      • I can say that all my comments have been published, even my most controversial ones, of which there have been a few.
        Maybe there were some exceptions when I insulted someone, but that’s the policy here, so the editorial team has my support.

  11. There is certainly something miraculous happening here. 
    I pray that I will be able to let go of the anger that I harbor toward the Bishops…it will be difficult. I do not know if I can ever trust them again after they revealed such cowardice and betrayal.

    • Mikhail:  I have also been angry with our Bishops and don’t know if I can ever trust them again.  I know that I will have to resolve this anger issue before I can Commune again.  As you said, it’s going to be difficult!

    • Weareallsinners says

      Christ is Risen!
      It’s quite easy to let go of the anger. Remember that you yourself are also a wretched, unjust, and merciless sinner, just like the rest of us, bishops included.
      In an instant, you have begun to heal the wound.
      If you have not already, I would suggest reading the little books by Hieromonk Gregorios, Do not Judge as well as Love Your Enemy, published by Newrome Press. While you are at it, take a look also at Repentance and Confession by the same author. These can greatly assist your effort in forgiving.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        You can forgive while you’re walking away. Forgiveness doesn’t mean things have to go back to the way they were.

    • Monk James Silver says

      Christ is risen, truly risen!
      In our very human experience, it often happens that the outward signals we give are not themselves really the problems afflicting us, but merely indications of something going on deeper inside us.
      So, for instance, the anger toward the bishops which you feel, ‘Mikhail’,  is probably not as great a problem for you to overcome as is its real cause, which is your accusation that the bishops have been cowardly and traitorous. 
      But that isn’t a fact —  merely your opinion — and you are burdening your conscience with notions still firmly on the list of this contagion’s QEDs.
      So, if you truly want to be cleansed of your anger, you must relinquish the assumptions which fuel and feed it.  No matter how much you disagree with the bishops (or anyone, for that matter), if you hope that the Lord will forgive you your sins, you must forgive other people their sins.  Christ tells us this explicitly in the prayer which He taught us:  ‘Our Father,…forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.’

      • Mikhail says

        Monk James,
        Thank you for the psycho-analysis…but I’m quite aware of the task ahead of me. I believe the anger will subside over time, but I will always know, (as my conscience informs me), that the bishops acted with cowardice and betrayal. I will never be convinced that the people needed to be locked out of their Churches as if they were “non-essential”. Nothing is more essential than the Christ’s holy Church and the holy Mysteries…especially during times of crisis.

        • Monk James Silver says

          Christ is risen, truly risen!
          ‘Mikhail’, perhaps what I wrote in response to your accusations against the bishops was indeed a bit of psychoanalysis, at least in the closest etymological sense of the word, a ‘rebinding of the soul’, a soul which had begun to come apart.
          It’s good to know that you now think that your anger will pass, but your original note suggested that you would find this very difficult.  My recommendation to you —  that you relinquish your insupportable and unkind accusations against the bishops will go a long way toward relieving you of your anger — remains in place.
          You feel very strongly that the bishops have been cowards and that they have betrayed you.  But this is not objectively true, since not everyone shares your opinion.  In fact, many, perhaps even most people trust that the bishops have made the very best pastoral decisions they could under the pressure of some very difficult circumstances.
          It’s also helpful for us to remember that the grace of God and the very presence of Christ Himself are not limited to our experience of the Christian Mysteries.  It’s a good and wonderful thing for us, and very important to our sense of ourselves as The Church, to be able to offer the Divine Liturgy together, but it is sometimes not possible, and that’s not the whole story, either. 
          .  .Consider how strong the faith remained when persecuted Orthodox Christians in many times and places had to go years without services or seeing a priest at all.  The forces of pagan Romans who tried to kill The Church at its birth have been gone for a long time, and when their persecutions finally ended in the early fourth century, The Church came out of the shadows and flourished.  The same will be true when the muslim and communist persecutions finally end, and it will be true when this contagion ends.  It is up to us to remain faithful in the meantime.
          Our Lord Jesus Christ told us that He was building His Church on the firm Rock which is Himself, and that the gates of Haides would never overcome it.  He promised that He would be with us always, even until the end of the world.  That remains true even when we can’t come to Him and He to us in Holy Communion as often as we’d prefer.  He has ways of working around our limitations, so let us remain faithful.

          • Mikhail says

            Thank you Monk James. I am sure you are trying to help with your words. But I have a very good spiritual father and he is helping me a great deal.
            Yes…it will take a while to work through my anger. No…I will never forget that they locked the faithful out of the Churches during a great time of need. It was a monumental act of cowardice and betrayal. I know many clergy and laity who agree with that assessment. I also know that you do not agree with that assessment. I am aware of all the analogies that you make in an attempt to justify the actions of these bishops. But in all my studies, I have never come across a time when the bishops voluntarily lock the faithful out of the Church and withhold the holy Mysteries from them (during the Great Fast and Pascha no less). And many of them made this decision after the secular authorities gave an exemption to religious institutions. For shame!!!

    • Mikhail, have you read this yet?

      • Mikhail says

        Lord have mercy! This bishop needs to listen to Fr. Peter Heers’ podcasts. He is telling people that they need to obey the Hierarchs who are locking people out of Churches and the godless civil authorities who label us as non-essential!

        • Yes Mikhail,  I am valuing his podcasts/youtube videos very much!  And  In his latest he makes a beautiful case for imitating the courageous Myrrhbearing Women who  are truly  the role models we should all imitate for peace and love in Christ.  By doing so, Panagia can console and Christ can heal the wounds from the past experiences of sad and angry feminists inflicted too often by the abuse and disrespect from men which so many have suffered.  Talk about dark becoming Light!  Hope you have seen this one:  Thinking with the heart ~ Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women:

        • Did Fr Peter Heers move back to Greece?  I thought that he had left Greece for Jordanville a few years ago and then moved to Arizona to Geronda Ephraim’s monastery, where I understood that he remains today.

          However, the intro to his “Orthodox Ethos” podcast invites the listener to “join [him] from his Greek mountain village.”  What I make up about that statement is that he’s since moved back to Greece. 

          Is anyone able to clarify?  Thank you 

  12. Archpriest Paisius McGrath says

    What puzzles me about this blog is the complaints about negative attacks on those who attack the view points perpetuated by most on this blog
     But then allowing attacks on Bishops and others who do what many on this blog don’t approve of
    There was a time that I came here to reading the intellectual argument s here that while I didn’t agree  yet we’re intellectual arguments worthy to reflect upon if for no other reason to examine for their own sake. But to recently I have to wonder if not the purpose of this is only to allow  an outlet simply for conspiracy theories and to attack Orthodox hierarchy, including the Archbishop with whose blessing I serve whole on sabbatical in the Deep South of USA.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Bishops are public figures. Legally, the rules for public figures are different than for other people.

      The bog hasn’t changed. The purpose of this blog is to allow people to express their opinions without alienating other readers. You can debate ideas but not tear down another human being to do it. We don’t like name calling, doxing, or generally putting someone on the defense. It’s unChristian, Father.

      I believe you’re tied to Archbishop Daniel. I don’t recall him being the subject of any conversation. Maybe you have the blog confused with something else.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Fr Paissius, thank you for your critique.  Gail is correct however:  bishops are very much “public figures” and as they are in positions of authority, we have the right to question them when we think it appropriate.
        Hopefully we do so respectfully, i.e. no name-calling or imputation of bad motives.  Having said that, they can’t have it both ways:  if they wear crowns then the people who they rule over have the right to question them, especially if something doesn’t “feel right”.
        This brings us to another tangent, and that is that this blog traffics in “conspiracy theories”.  I take umbrage with that, not the least reason is that I don’t have a tinfoil hat.  Seriously though, the term “conspiracy theory” was weaponized –and purposefully so–by the CIA back in 1964, primarily to disparage those who questioned the Warren Commission Report on the Assassination of President John F Kennedy.  
        If I may, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the term “conspiracy theory”.  All it is two words —conspiracy and theory–end of story.  District attorneys all over the United States engage in ferreting out conspiracies and finding out the motive for them, the motive being the theory.
        Case in point:  Nichole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were killed by a man, whom the LAPD was O J Simpson.  They had very good reason to believe that he was the murderer.  The question before them at that point was:  was he part of a conspiracy or did he act alone?
        Likewise the St Valentin’s Day Massacre.  Many gangsters were killed that day by rival gang members.  Question:  were the murderers part of a conspiracy?  Yes, because the word conspiracy comes from the Latin con + spiritare, to “breathe together”.
        PS, that’s why I never use the word “co-conspirator” as it’s a redundancy.

        • Brendan says

          How about ‘X’ and his fellow conspirators?

        • Archpriest Paisius McGrath says

          Christ is Risen! Thank you for your response George. I accept that our Hierarchs are public figures and that everyone one has a right to analyse and offer critique. My point was simply to posit that what I believe is a difference between critique of specific action which is legitimate and going from there to positing cowardice, selling out to secular humanism, betrayal as the motives of said. I just hope that my occasional posts from my small corner of DOS  will be accepted as what they are meant to be not as a scorched Earth attack on anyone here or denying anyone their right to say or write how feel, but rather as a different view based on years of study of history, theology, teaching and pastoral ministry. 

          • Gail Sheppard says

            At least twice now, Father, you have mentioned your credentials, i.e. your “years of study of history, theology, teaching and pastoral ministry”, by way of explanation as to why you see things differently.

            Though there are many with your resume on our bog, who are also priests, monastics, and even bishops, as well as doctors, attorneys, nurses, business owners, teachers, mothers, etc. we don’t see ourselves as a culmination of our years of study in a particular area of expertise.

            We see ourselves as Orthodox Christians.

            To an Orthodox Christian, it’s “cowardice” when the Church kowtows to the advice of secular authorities that flies in the face of our 2000+ year history, and it’s “betrayal” when she closes her doors to her people. As for “selling out to secular humanism,” how could any Orthodox Christian reach a different conclusion, after what we’ve seen come out Fordham University and their Orthodox Christian Studies Center?

            So, yes, we see things differently. Very differently.

            However, you’re not the only one from a small corner of the DOS. George and I are, as well, and we welcome you to our blog.

            • Archpriest Paisius McGrath says

              Christ is Risen! Of course we are first and foremost Orthodox Christians and more than just our knowledge or experience on a resume. As a convert to Holy Orthodoxy from being raised in the Anabaptist tradition, I would never suggest otherwise. I express my resume simply to introduce myself and from where I come and would never suggest that the most important part of who are is other than Orthodoxy. I’ve  known of George since reading his history of American Orthodoxy book which I still read from. As for Fordham, we will disagree, while  I too would be critical of some of what they, I cannot in good conscience say that all they say is at odds with what Orthodoxy teaches

              • Gail Sheppard says

                Well, I hope you become a more frequent visitor. Even I haven’t read George’s book!

                People are angry, Father. Really angry. This not something we’re just going to get over. I hope the bishops realize this. If they say nothing and it’s “business as usual,” they’re going to lose the Church. I’m quite serious. We thought the schism was going to be over Ukraine. It’s looking more and more like the schism is here. . . right now. There is something about being locked out of our own parishes that I don’t think anyone on your side of the fence can fully appreciate. At least in places like Greece, Georgia, Serbia and Ukraine, there were bishops who fought to keep the doors open for their flock. No one fought for us here.

                Not everyone is afraid of dying, Father, and those who worried about getting sick had a blessing to stay home, as they should. But padlocking the doors???

                Maybe I assumed too much and should have first asked the question(s): Where do you stand on the issue of keeping the Body of Christ out of the Church? And while I’m asking, were you able to go to Church, Father? Did you take the Eucharist?

                Because this is a blog, we’re probably a lot more causal here than you’re used to.

                . . . Truly He Is Risen!

                • Archpriest Paisius McGrath says

                  Christ is Risen! As an Orthodox pastor, it is of deep sadness to me that the faithful have been deprived of the Eucharist and kept from the physical gathering together. Anyone who is truly a pastor cannot but feel that feel way deep in their spirit. Here we continued with limited services with skeleton numbers of the faithful. But at all times reaching out and being there for the faithful as best as possible. It is indeed a sorrowful state of affairs. 

            • RIP (reluctant internet poster) says

              “As for “selling out to secular humanism,” how could any Orthodox Christian reach a different conclusion, after what we’ve seen come out Fordham University and their Orthodox Christian Studies Center?”
              Is this more of a rhetorical question or are you literally saying that the only way I could support church closures during this time is because I’ve sold out to secular humanism?

              • Gail Sheppard says

                Of course, I am NOT saying the only way I could support church closures during this this time is because . . .”!!!! This statement had nothing to do with closures, unless we’re talking about the closure of one’s heart to secular humanism. .

                • RIP (reluctant internet poster) says

                  Forgive me, I guess I must have misunderstood something.

      • Dear Father Paisius:
        Christ is Risen! Father, bless.
        Fr Peter Heers on Orthodox Ethos (podcast and youtube) has a good podcast in which he alludes to the difference between judging someone’s actions (which we are all called to do internally, especially our own) and judging the heart/soul of a person which we may never rightly do.  Since the laity has always been encouraged by numerous saints to stand up for what is right according to Christ, the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Orthodox Tradition as interpreted by the Holy Fathers (and not academics/scholars),  this blog and others can be used to help priests and hierarchs understand the concerns of their people virtually and without appointments, so to speak. Since a simple reading of our Orthodox history in the Prologue or many other sources about the Ecumenical Councils tells us of the many failings and weaknesses of numerous hierarchs whose harmful paths have been stopped by the prayers and statements of a minority at times, after much suffering by the righteous, why would we suddenly believe that all is “perfect” in some Protestant wishful thinking way when a person of any rank seems spiritually ill by virtue of their actions? Would we not hope their brothers or immediate spiritual children or subordinates would help them and us? In the psych ER we had to gently but firmly place folks in temporary seclusion to protect them and others from harm until their actions and psyches were healed enough to make them safe and consider any vulnerable living with them as well. Many of us in the flocks “at home” await such healing actions by clerics to help both their errant brothers in the priesthood or hierarchy and we in the parish. None of us relish humiliation of such persons or revenge — a simple spiritual “protective order” would be optimal to avoid humiliation, but in any event effective remedies are vitally needed.

        I agree we should not cast aspersions or name-call but to object to an action and its effects?  Hopefully the humble hierarchs who serve as Christ did washing the feet would be glad to know what ails our hearts and spirits. Certainly servant leaders such as Met. Onouphry and Met. Athanasios of Limassol cannot be accused of being ignorant or imprudent when they reach very different conclusions with an understanding more compatible with some of our saints?  And hopefully any priests commenting would feel free to minister to our ailments positively rather than criticize us for expressing them openly? How does a physician know the wound so he may tend to it without hearing the honest complaint and cry for help and healing from the patient who is suffering?

        I apologize for the long reply. I am one of those suffering spiritually and scandalized and unsure which jurisdiction in the US most resembles the Ukraine, Limassol and Mt. Athos.

        Your prayers please,

      • Archpriest Paisius McGrath says

        Thanks for your reply, Gail.  I appreciate that Hierarchs are public figures and as such are accountable for their words and actions. But then are we not all subject to the same accountability when we make public statements such as writing on a blog? And for the record, I’m on a sabbatical for purpose of writing and research and am serving in DOS.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I would argue that because this is our blog, we are probably not at all subject to the same accountability, but that’s an esoteric question.

          Legally, however, if one is a public figure, you can say pretty much whatever you want about the person and we will allow it, as long as we don’t know it’s not true. If it’s untrue we can’t post it because we open ourselves up to liability. But there is a bigger reason we don’t do it: We don’t do it because it is wrong.

          We also don’t allow stuff that is just plain mean spirited.

          I could be way off base about this, but you seem to have something specific in mind with respect to our transgressions. What exactly did we say or do that offended you? If it’s just your general dislike of blogs, I can’t do much about that but if it’s something specific we said, where you feel you were wronged, please tell me. If I owe you an apology, you’ll get it.

          • Archpriest Paisius McGrath says

            Christ is Risen! I was not accusing you or this blog of a sin or transgression. I was simply thinking out loud from where I stand. I’m not opposed to this or any other blog at all, you are perfectly free to say or allow what ever you wish. I was simply musing about how there are others like myself who while we may regret the conditions in our churches during this time, do not believe that the motives of our Hierarchs justify the language of abandonment, betrayal, giving in to secular humanism just do not share. The Archbishop through whose blessing I serve a mission in DOS is not one given to panic or given to acts to overthrow everything as a result of secular humanism. In recap, that was my original point that I believe a more nuanced and careful analysis of the motives and actions of our hierarchs is needed before attacking them

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Well, as I said, Father, you are welcome to join our group. I understand it is not for everyone.

              • I think that the Hierarchs are certainly surrendering to secular humanism. There is no other explanation. The Church is not the world…and yet they mimicked the secular mindset of the civil authorities in a New York minute. The faithful were locked out of their Churches for the better part of the Great Fast and Pascha. In my state, religious institutions were exempt…but the Hierarchs still locked out the people. That makes the civil authorities in my state less secular than the Hierarchs, eh? Sadly, none of this surprises me. It follows on the heels of Constantinople, (and those under Her), recognizing a group of laymen in Ukraine as a new autocephalous “Church” and most of the jurisdictions opposing it but remaining silent as the canonical Church is Ukraine is persecuted. God will not be mocked.

    • Father, forgive me, but does the mere expression of confusion and pain at being locked out of Church on Pascha constitute an attack on the hierarchy? I certainly don’t think so, and I believe that those who shame people for articulating genuine feelings of woundedness regarding this whole situation are doing profound damage to many souls.

      • “those who shame people for articulating genuine feelings of woundedness regarding this whole situation are doing profound damage to many souls.”
        Boom!  Exactly!
        One should NEVER be shamed for asking a question or for articulating feelings or thoughts.  If anyone is ever shamed into silence, others who witness this type of abusive behavior need to speak up. 
        Not feeling like doing the work to generate a healthy, well-articulated response to a question or to a thought is NEVER an excuse to shame someone.  Shaming someone is ALWAYS an effort to “keep them down where they belong.”
        If anyone (including in any Orthodox Church leadership) feels that they need to shame the faithful to prevent questions from being asked or to prevent feelings from being articulated, then he should find a different vocation.  Shaming is equivalent to stating that “you and your thoughts/feelings/questions are defective.”

        • The shame culture that has been cultivated in America in recent years has evidently infiltrated the mindset of many in the Church.

          I have seen a lot of generally normal Orthodox shaming those of us who are ‘kicking against the pricks’ and I find it shameful, along with emotive arguments.

          We should have enough respect for one another to be able to express our opinions – especially controversial ones – without someone trying to pull the “how dare you” or “you’re insensitive” card out.

      • Archpriest Paisius McGrath says

        No it does not. I understand fully the pain of being unable to attend the services during this time. Just as I feel the pain in my own parish community when we are unable to be fully together at our services.

      • Archpriest Paisius McGrath says

        Christ is Risen! I never would shame or belittle any one for expressing what they feel or believe. I simply have a different way of understand the actions of the church leadership during this time, a view that is based on years of the study of history, theology, Church Father’s, and though teaching and pastoral ministry.

        • And yet many clergy (and laity) have a view very different than yours. And it is based on years of the study of history, theology, statistics, teaching, and pastoral ministry.

          • Archpriest Paisius McGrath says

            Christ is Risen! I understand, Mikhail, that there are clergy and faithful, who take viewpoints based on study and years of experience different than where I stand. I respect that and at the end of the day my responses here are simply to state where I stand. I disagree with you on the secular humanism claim, but that is where we stand. I just seek to offer a different analysis

            • Mikhail says

              Yes, Father. I know that many are in agreement with your analysis, but I will never be one of them. What they have done goes against everything I have studied patristically. In my perspective, and I am not alone, it is not the phronema of the Holy Orthodox Church for Her shepherds to abandon the faithful and lock them out during a time when the Church and the Mysteries are needed most…unto the healing of both soul and body. I think that a line has been crossed. I think that many people will be looking for a bishop to step forward in whom they can trust and follow in the most difficult trials in this fallen world. If that bishop comes forth, I am confident that many clergy will follow him also.
              Truly He is Risen!

              • Michael, please read Romans 13:1-7. ST Paul gives a direct and incontrovertible answer to the question being addressed. Monk James’s response is consistent with the Pauline perspective

                • Mikhail says

                  Dear Jk,
                  Perhaps you do not understand this passage? I am not attempting to overthrow the ruling authorities. I do not agree with their anti-Christian edicts. Do we go ahead and advocate for abortion when a pro-death politician supports it? Do we agree with the ruling authorities when they tells us marriage is valid between homosexuals…or that people can choose their own sex and bathroom. No. I do not threaten the ruling authorities, regardless of their many laws against God…but I’ll be darned if they’re going to prevent me from going to Church and participating in the Mysteries.

        • Matthew Panchisin says

          Dear Father,

          Could you share your view with us?

          • Archpriest Paisius McGrath says

            Simply put in a nutshell that I trust the hierarchs to do what they believe is called for in this current time. That they do this not on a whim or out of cowardice, but through prayer and serious reflection. Their actions while we may not agree with every detail and move are done after soul searching and out of what they believe to be necessary.  That clergy in following these directives do not do so cowardice and do face the unenviable task and of following the directives while still hearing, feeling, and showing pastoral concern for their parish family who must stay home during the journey of Great Lent, Holy Week, Holy Pascha and beyond. Clergy who follow the directives do so not out of cowardice, selling out secular humanism or a betrayal of Orthodox teaching and practice. We ought to think long and hard before we say that the unusual directives during this time signal that they will lead after this designated time to a full scale reform of Orthodox faith, practice, liturgical services etc. We all are in this together and while we may disagree on the best approach we are all of the household of faith and need to stay the course. We need more trust in each other. 

            • Gail Sheppard says

              It’s a mistake to assume that those who disagree with you haven’t put sufficient thought into it and the Oprah slogans, “we are in this together”, and we “need to stay the course” just don’t have the same impact anymore. – We’re not in this together! You are there and we are here. You’re like sheep herders who have lost sight of your flocks. We’re scattering.

              With regard to trust, it has to be earned. If we’re being completely honest, it wasn’t there 100% before this happened.

              If we come through this, it will be because our bishops are capable of showing great humility. I hope they surprise me. I truly hope they do.


            • Father, I understand your perspective and thank you for articulating it. I wonder (and I don’t mean to ask this as a gotcha question but in all sincerity) how you would respond to those who point out that in the essential vs nonessential divide churches fall on the nonessential side while liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries, abortion clinics, etc. are considered essential.
              That people are allowed to crowd into all of these “essential” places but not celebrate Christ’s resurrection together shows that distinct lines are being drawn, and my only hope (at this point, a small one) is that the hierarchy  would make it clear to us that the Church they lead is indeed essential, whether or not this is recognized by the government.
              All of this, along with the current push towards “virtual worship”, concerns me in a number of ways. One being that in the nonessential/essential divide I see the age-old tendency toward gnosticism and its division of materiality and spirituality. Though spirituality isn’t as yet deemed “bad”, the classically Christian wedding of spirituality with materiality is clearly under attack. Churches who practice “virtual communion” (thank God, not the Orthodox) are acquiescing to this division.
              And I fear that, though the Orthodox are not (yet) offering virtual communion, our opening up to “virtual worship” will have unintended consequences. I guess it’s better than nothing at the moment, but we should keep in mind that Christ did not merely “virtually” die and rise again. He did not only “virtually” defeat death. We are not docetists, and the Church is not meant for virtual entertainment.
              My point with all this being that the clergy and hierarchy will have your work cut out for you in terms of undoing all the many unintended messages being sent as a result of fuzzy, high-minded language in a time when the Church is under attack and Her members feel shepherd-less and lost. 
              Lord have mercy and forgive me. 

              • George Michalopulos says

                Along the lines of this “nonessential/essential” divide, is the idea that there are “nonessential” worshipers and “essential” worshipers. Besides the road to Gnosticism that we are treading on, is there the possibility that there are now elites in our Church as opposed to the non-elite? That when all is said and done, as long as some churches remain open and liturgies are being celebrated by the “essentialists” then a rigid divide would arise?

                I don’t think that this was the intention –at all–however that may be the result.

                • I think you’re right, George: that’s one of the many unintended consequences of this whole crisis. Also, I wanted to thank you for providing a forum where people like me can voice our opinions. I don’t know of any others.
                  In fact, one popular Orthodox blog’s author in particular (who has often helped me) has deleted a comment which simply quoted him from a few years ago: “Wherever the Church ignores its true calling in Christ, its existence is of no consequence, allowing it to abide in an irrelevant peace.”
                  This statement is profoundly true especially now, but disavowed, apparently, by the man who wrote it.

                • George Michalopulos: “Along the lines of this “nonessential/essential” divide, is the idea that there are “nonessential” worshipers and “essential” worshipers.”

                  Yes, “Man shall not live by bread alone””
                  Material wellbeing is not enough. But man is not a bodyless being and needs to eat and accept  laws of nature, as God made them, in order to live.
                  If the choice were  between salvation of one’s soul and protecting life, courageous Christians will chose the first. But we are dealing only with postponing services.
                  “it is illuminating to consider the advice that St. Seraphim of Sarov gave on frequency of Communion. Concerning the nuns of Diveyevo, his spiritual children, he said: “I command them, Father, to partake of Christ’s holy and life-giving Sacrament in all the four fasts and on the twelve festivals.” But to a layman he said: “Communicate four times. Once is also good. As God deems you worthy…”

                • George: “is there the possibility that there are now
                  elites in our Church as opposed to the non-elite?”
                  Is this not the inevitable conclusion of the ecclesiology of Patriarch Bartholomew that the Greeks are first in Orthodoxy, first in the Church – and the Russians are second? And what about the Ethiopian Eunuch? Is he third-class? And where does that leave the strange notions of the Jew Paul that: ‘ There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus’ [Gal 3:28  KJV]?

              • Archpriest Paisius McGrath says

                 Christ is Risen! WR, I don’t mind your questions at all and your thoughts. As for the non-essential/ essential divide, I find this repulsing  and awful. I also believe that it is a travesty that that certain places are allowed to be open and others are not. I simply do not accept that rational of this. Here where I live in southern Mississippi the definition of what is essential business has always been very porous. Churches were exempted from this until the standard of no more than 10 people in a gathering was set and when the stay at home order was in place churches and religious leaders were asked to voluntarily limit services and move to online.

            • Brendan says

              “…we are all of the household of faith and need to stay the course.”
              Some have faith in Gates (and Fauci) and some have faith in God.

              In any case, when the course is set to steer us over a cliff,
              why should we just shut up and do as we are told?
              Concerning which, here is the latest on Sweden from WHO:
              “WHO names Sweden’s strategy on
              fighting coronavirus a future life model”

            • Mikhail says

              I cannot blame a good portion of the priests. Many were of the same mindset as those of us who feel betrayed and abandoned. They had no choice but to obey their Hierarchs. They would have been censured or defrocked. It is the Bishops who abandoned the flock. It is the bishops who showed cowardice. Whether they prayed about it or not, their solution was not patristic. Many years ago, a lone Bishop stood up against heresy and apostasy. Today he is a saint of the Church. We need another like him to emerge right now! Saint Mark of Ephesus pray for us!

            • Matthew Panchisin says

              Dear Father,

              There’s a big difference between attacking and defending. We have seen the schism perpetrated by Bartholomew and other ecumenist bishops that only differ in degrees of acceptance and perpetration of that pathetic heresy. Even when they try to meet and heal the schism as they did in Jordan it becomes even
              easy to see that the schism is a fruit of their ecumenism.

              “The participants also thanked the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos for all the relentless efforts aimed at paving the way for dialogue and bringing brothers together in the precious spirit of unity, noting that the light that emanates from Jerusalem stands as a witness to that Holy City which continuously proclaims its multi-faith and multicultural tapestry rejoicing in its existence as the warm home for the three Abrahamic faiths, Christianity, Judaism and Islam.”

              Predictably, the ecumenist bishops are fighting among one another once again, their numbers have grown over the years since they don’t know how to behave rightly. Some say that those that oppose them are far too few, who are we to listen to Father?
              “Abrahamic faiths?” “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day and he saw it and was glad.”

              Who is attacking who and what is attacking what?

              Their ecumenical and pagan environmental movements are embraced ‘through prayer and serious reflection’. In fact some years ago when an OCA bishop told me that he thought it was ‘an interesting notion to consider that God might be a women’  I was struck again by many of his serious reflections, anyway he said he would pray for me etc.

              Suffice it to say that the God of Abraham is God the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ whom Judaism and Islam all out reject so the ‘multi-faith and multicultural tapestry rejoicing’ proclamation has a much different understanding of unity.

    • Mikhail says

      Dear Fr. Paissius,
      It is not an attack on bishops to point out the fact that they have acted in the spirit of cowardice and betrayal. Many clergy and laity from around the world are expressing the same sentiments. Bishop Nathanael of the Greek Archdiocese of Chicago just shut down all weddings and baptisms until the end of the year!!! He does this as the civil authorities in Chicago are permitting Churches to open on May 8th. Sickening!!! It goes beyond cowardice and betrayal. I have no words left for such an outrageous act of faithlessness perpetuated by this man.

      • Matthew Panchisin says

        Dear Mikhail,
        These days I’m trying to go with beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing and not fight against the wolves in sheep’s clothing. “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

      • Matthew Panchisin says

        Dear Mikhail,

        I’m sure the extreme Christological distancing put in place by Bishop Nathanael and others is the result of their ‘great intellectual reflections and pastoral consideration etc.’, from their perspective and others, out of so-called ‘obedience. We would have to be consumed by the spirit of fear and Christological distancing with them to follow the directives of such ‘spiritual leadership’. The word became flesh and dwelt among us, that reality is most close and intimate and most certainly not socially or spiritually distant, Theanthropos, God-man. Much more could be said by others, as such many of us understand your zeal and sincere considerations. It is meet and right that you advocate for the Orthodox Church to always remain welcoming to all under any circumstances, how quickly Father Seraphim’s graceful ethos comes to mind. In the kingdom of heaven there are many mansions and therein is Saint Simon the Zealot and many more Saints that are in the light of Christ and praying for all of us, Slava Bogu! Do keep in mind that it’s a cross for the Lord God Almighty and Christ’s precious Church suffers much again and again, so be at peace.

        We are of the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come, so are the Bishops who can fall just like the rest of us. We fall, we get up, if they want to fall and bring us down with them we can try to help but they won’t listen, they don’t even listen to the Saints of Christ’s Church, so it’s an impasse for the ecumenist. To date, there have been no statements of repentance for the schism perpetuated by Bartholomew or Elpidophoros or efforts by them to address that which they have created, the virus situation is more important for them to fear. The Lord God Almighty is the one who still holds all creation in the palm of His hand.

        “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”


        • Mikhail says

          You make another great point, Matthew. These men have created a thundering schism in Christ’s Holy Church, and yet they have no fear for their eternal souls. But along comes a microscopic virus which can cause illness of the flesh, and they lock down the Churches and cower in fear. Lord have mercy!

    • Dear Archpriest Paisius,
      Father Bless. Please, in no way take this as an attack on you individually. I have never met you and can only thank you for you service to Christ’s Church. I would like to say a little bit about “conspiracy theories”. I am a 48 year old Orthodox father of 9 children. My sole purpose in life is cooperating with the will of God to get all of us through the gateway of death into Christ’s kingdom (and union) with Him. The term “conspiracy theory”  was created by the CIA to marginalize dissent, especially among those blessed by God with high IQ’s and strong common sense that were able to see through the lies of those in power. Most those of us labeled “conspiracy theorists” are in actuality truth seekers that by the grace of God have the courage to speak out and go against the narratives that have been demonstrably false as borne out by our own research, experience and the test of time. In any event the question is asked – who benefits? Well let me just say – it’s not me and my social status in this world. Who benefits ? I pray it is the souls of myself and those under my charge. Being a conspiracy theorist has led me out of Catholicism to Orthodoxy. Being a conspiracy theorist had led me to homeschool all my children. Being a conspiracy theorist has led to me being pro life, anti contraception, against the rape and pillaging of Palestine, against the endless wars perpetuated by the West, against the moral degradation of our schools, society, toys, movies, against the poisoning of our food supply. I don’t need to tell you that that Satan is indeed the prince by of this world and he influences our will via his endless conspiracies. It’s high time those assigned by God the care of souls be they mothers, fathers, priests, bishops, teachers or the like wake up and stop doing the devils bidding through their ignorance. How many Palestinians could we have saved, how many Russian priests, how many aborted babies, how many innocent children in Afghanistan, how many heroin addicts, how many marriages – would be saved if only more of us started to wake up from this horrific satanic social engineering narcotic spell that we have been under and yes – started believing in a few “conspiracy theories”.
      Yes, conspiracies exist. They lead to payouts of 30 pieces of silver, to Crucifictions, to genocides and holodomors. Yes, Christ conquered death by death and in the end we win. While we are still sharing our crosses in this present life, however, it just might behoove us to pay closer attention to a few more conspiracies and who is unraveling them for us. It might just save a soul or two.
      I realize that you were only addressing this forum talking about conspiracy theories in your post and not indicating your personal views on any or all conspiracy theories. So again, this is not directed at you. I’m sure you are a great priest.
      Ladies and gentlemen the emperor has no clothes. If you wake up now you might just avoid a chip in your right hand or forehead but youre probably going to be really hungry for a little while. Dear God strengthen us!
      Forgive me a sinner.
      Christ is Risen!

      • Archpriest Paisius McGrath says

        Indeed He is Risen! God bless you. I take no offense at what write, even though I would disagree that becoming all those Noble things you present requires being a conspiracy theorist. I raise my points to simply put forward the idea that suspecting  a grand conspiracy behind everything we disagree needs further analysis. For example, if one assumes and/or hierarchs makes the claim that our Hierarchs current directives under current circumstances will be simply the start of a path toward destroying Orthodox teaching or tradition or liturgical services, where is the proof for believing that this is true. I support many of the Noble and worthy ideas you have expressed but I respectfully have a different point of view. 

        • Ioannis says

          Mike and Archpriest Paisius:

          Christ is Risen, He is Truly Risen!

          Above all laymen and clergy is our Risen Lord who said:

          “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matthew,10:16)

          I guess “wise” includes avoiding the extremes ie,
          (1) “suspecting  a grand conspiracy behind everything
          (2) forbid/intimidate all theories

          • To all, regarding “conspiracy theories”:
            As we speak, the entire narrative of coronavirus having come to us in mid-January, its alleged lethality, etc., is evaporating in the light of mounting evidence to the contrary.
            The same can be said regarding the Russia Hoax/Spygate/Flynn Affair.  What was and still is considered a “conspiracy theory” by the MSM is becoming the subject of grand jury indictments against FBI and probably CIA officials even as we speak.
            Notice the pattern.  What is initially characterized as a “conspiracy theory” by the MSM in order to downplay its significance, bury the story and perhaps hide whatever actually happened, eventually comes out into the light of day.  As Siddhartha said, “Three things cannot long be hid – the sun, the moon and the truth.”
            I practiced law for a dozen years in the Midwest/Upper South.  I look for evidence, not artful conspiracy theories.  I do presuppose a Christian worldview, but other than that, I take very little for granted.  And even the Christian worldview is supported by evidence from design and psychology.
            Now, as to the bishops’ conduct during this affair:
            There is considerable push back, even among the clergy, in Russia.
            It bears incessant reiteration that Covid is no more deadly than the common flu.  Does it spread more rapidly?  Perhaps.  But 60 million Americans were exposed to H1N1 during the pandemic in 2009.  That’s over 1/5 of the population.
            So when you hear people talk about “conspiracy theories” to counter the push back against foolish decisions of authorities, either secular or ecclesiastical, you may take it with a grain of salt. 
            We do not fully understand what is going on here.  What we do know for certain is that there is absolutely no reason for the current siege mentality.
            We should be asking ourselves why the authorities from top to bottom are ceaselessly lying to us about the current reality.  That may generate a few conspiracy theories but the best antidote to fictitious speculation is to base any conjectures on hard, cold facts.

  13. Caroline S Humphrey says

    You all could do a word study of FEAR NOT  in the Bible.  Bible Gateway has 82 verses  regarding this theme.

  14. George Michalopulos says

    See?  It’s real easy for churches to stand up to bullies.  Gov J B “Karen” Pritzker of Illinois, backed down when confronted with a challenge from some churches.
    It would have been nice if there had been some Orthodox churches to join the Protestant ones.  Oh well.

    • George, here is a personal COVID experience from a Moscow Orthodox priest worthy of a read and your consideration:

      • Molon Labe says

        Everyone who reads this blog should read this article. The priest became sick in Church.

        These lines are particularly important to all here who view priests as deserters [Editor Note: Name removed as this individual did not say this] or incredibly – as ultimately expendable [Editor Note: Name removed; comment taken out of context.] (as . . . commented some days ago – “what better time for a monk to die than Pascha”):

        “At greatest risk are those who don’t avoid the people, those who humbly offer themselves as a sacrifice to the sickness in feeble hopes that the sick parishioners will stay home. But their hopes were not justified.”

        George keeps talking about a reckoning. There sure will be one, but not the one you think.

  15. Brendan says

    Here is an extract from an article on First Things about
    Pascha, the Moscow Patriarchate and the State:

    “Political observers often accuse the Russian Orthodox Church of unfailingly supporting Putin’s repressive regime. But developments around Pascha this year reveal a much more complex picture of church-state relations. The Church’s stance toward the state is not monolithic, and the Church does more than merely exercise a religious version of the president’s political authoritarianism. Regional differences are significant. Most important, the faithful play a key role in determining how bishops respond to government mandates. This year, many insisted on receiving the Eucharist. If that is foolishness, there is nevertheless something holy and right about it.”

  16. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from Monday on the Orthodox Christianity website.
    Fr. Lawrence Farley
    No Other Foundation

  17. It has been sad to see the reaction of the churches to lockdown orders and guidelines.  Now, there are places where Christians have no choice but to obey this type of thing – Russia being one.  Perhaps it is being rationalized as a temporary health measure.
    It is a bad precedent, however, given the spurious circumstances surrounding the reporting regarding exposure and mortality.  Once that became apparent (and it was apparent to me very early on) the brave thing to do would be civil disobedience and resistance.  After all, if the asserted basis for the crisis is groundless then all we are witnessing is a troubling trampling of civil liberties.
    The trouble in the nursery is that when one baby starts to cry they all tend to get going – thus the worldwide panic attack.
    Alas, this too shall pass.  And bishops can be forgiven.  But they should know that there was an offense to forgive.

    • The bishops can be forgiven. But what they did will never be forgotten. Can anyone trust them to be pious shepherds for the next “crisis”?

      • “Parishioners shall be instructed to remain at home. The doors of the church are to be locked.” 
        Try as I might, I think this directive from my bishop will be seared in my mind for the rest of my life.

        • Mikhail says

          There is no doubt about that. It is like getting a sucker punch to the gut. It knocks the wind out of you. Lord have mercy!

  18. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from Thursday on the Orthodox Times website.
    Home > Politics
    Greek Edu Minister on Holy Communion: Saliva is one route of transmission of coronavirus
    Apr 30, 2020 | 15:00

  19. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from today on the Orthodox Times website.
    Home > Society
    Greek govt Counsellor on coronavirus: Avoid receiving Holy Communion until we have vaccine
    May 03, 2020 | 15:41

  20. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find another article from today on the Orthodox Times website.
    Home > Opinions
    Metropolitan of Mesogaia: Holy Communion is the most sacred thing we have as people and Church
    May 03, 2020 | 19:19

  21. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from yesterday on the Orthodox Times website.
    Home > Opinions
    Holy Communion and diseases
    May 04, 2020 | 21:04

  22. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from today on the Orthodox Times website.
    Home > Orthodoxy > Churches > Church of Greece
    Metropolitan of Nea Ionia: Church does not force anyone to receive the Holy Communion
    May 06, 2020 | 10:45

  23. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find another article from today on the Orthodox Times website.
    Home > Opinions
    Why do they vilify the mystery of the Eucharist?
    May 06, 2020 | 20:59

  24. A word worthy of pondering…

  25. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from yesterday on the Orthodox Times website.
    Home > Orthodoxy > Ecumenical Patriarchate > Dioceses of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
    Why did Germany decide to ban Holy Communion
    May 15, 2020 | 14:14

  26. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from Thursday on the Orthodox Times website.
    Home > Society
    Greek infectious disease specialist: The Holy Communion protects health, does not transmit the coronavirus
    May 14, 2020 | 16:49

  27. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from yesterday on the Orthodox Times website.
    Home > Spirituality
    Without the Eucharist, Church becomes a human construction
    May 15, 2020 | 10:57

  28. A. Saad Tire says

    “Come and see”

    Today is the feast day of the Samaritan woman, who upon learning the identity of the Messiah, told her village to “Come and see”. Fast forward 2000 years and you’ll find Orthodox priests on this day preaching (live-streamed) sermons about how Christians should imitate Saint Photini.

    “How?” you ask. 

    Not by evangelizing like her, not by telling others to “Come and see”. This is no longer allowed. Coming to church and seeing Christ is forbidden, unless (of course) you’re a priest, essential to the liturgy or whatever.

    Actually, your priest tells you, you should feel bad for wanting to come and see. That you’re so impatient reveals something “ugly” about your own heart, and you should feel bad about that. He doesn’t come out and say it, but your priest heavily implies that this pandemic (and the ecclesiastical response to it) happened because you’re bad and have an ugly heart, not because of any fault of said response. Any reaction from you but blind, unthinking obedience to them is a mortal sin because God is trying to show you that you’re bad, like Jesus showed the Samaritan woman that she was bad. 

    It’s interesting that her response to Christ’s revelation is to tell her friends and family to “Come and see!” You always thought this was an appropriate response, one pleasing to God. But now you know–because of Orthodox sermons 2000 years later in the secular West–that St. Photini’s come-and-see response shows that she was a “naysayer” with an ugly heart. She hadn’t been quite fully healed. She should have promptly returned home, sheltered in place, and felt very, very bad about how much she wanted to worship Christ together with her village.

    And so should you. 

    “Christ is risen,” your laptop speakers crackle at you.

    “Indeed he is risen,” you mumble back, dressed only in underpants, your voice echoing off polarized glass. You feel guilty–as is meet and right–for wanting to be in church. This is what theosis looks like, you remind yourself.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Wow.  Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    • I too have been told that directly by priests in two different jurisdictions, although other priests in the very same jurisdictions have told me they are in anguish and understand my pain and my sorrow that I could not receive what to me is the most life-giving medicine of all. Now in all except a very few places Holy Communion is presented by decree as if it causes disease and is not really the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ who is All-Healing in His Divine Energies as well as His Essence. Some even dip the spoon between people into an antiseptic which they then are adding back to the Chalice for the next person.

      I simply cannot tell anyone to “come and see” for the first time right now, because what they would see is not Orthodoxy as all Orthodox priests spoke of it to me until their hierarchs went western secular, thus a type of partial abortion with PC rationale resembling that for medical abortion itself. So glad we pray each morning in real love and concern for apostates and heretics to return, for I do pity these folks for what they have either lost or never had and pray they will be restored by Christ. I too become frightened and sin often and have to repent. Just praying all the hierarchs may be awakened to Orthodoxy whatever their reason for abandoning the Church at present.

      Meantime thank God for the Faithful hierarchs and priests in the world who still honor the Tradition and live out the Fathers. An X-ray experience to see inside ourselves and inside others about beliefs. Lord have mercy on us!

  29. Funny (if you find humor in it, as I do).  Zoom was down today nationally.  There wasn’t even the crackling “Christ is risen” for those parishes who use it to live-stream. 

  30. Michigan Orthodox says

    Well said. I had the same thoughts while my priest was talking about coming and seeing. Evangelize how? We can’t even receive the catechumens we have.

  31. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from yesterday on the Orthodox Times website.
    Home > Opinions
    The Divine Eucharist is the “essence” of the Church
    May 18, 2020 | 19:47
    By Stratos L. Adamis,
    Doctoral Candidate UoA

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Ahhh, perhaps it is the “essence” they find non-essential. Frankly, one would expect that from the world.

      • George Michalopulos says

        It’s unbelievable. Satan could never destroy God’s Church. Our bishops have made it irrelevant instead.

  32. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from today in The National Herald. More than ten years ago, when the world was plagued with another virus, the infamous H1N1, Dr. John S. Collis wrote an exclusive op-ed for The National Herald.
    Traditions of Orthodoxy and Science Need Not Clash
    By Dr. John Collis, M.D.

  33. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from today on the Orthodox Times website.
    Home > Opinions
    A note on the common Communion Spoon
    May 26, 2020 | 10:50
    by Fr. Alkiviadis C. Calivas,
    Professor Emeritus of Liturgics at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA

  34. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from today in The National Herald.
    The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Accepts Option of Single-Use Metal Spoons for Holy Communion
    Theodore Kalmoukos

  35. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from today on The Associated Press website.
    Communion ritual unchanged in Orthodox Church despite virus

  36. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from yesterday on the Orthodox Times website.
    Home > Orthodoxy > Ecumenical Patriarchate
    Ecumenical Patriarch asks for communication with Orthodox Primates on Holy Communion
    Jun 01, 2020 | 19:05

  37. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from today on the Orthodox Times website.
    Home > Orthodoxy > Ecumenical Patriarchate
    Read Ecumenical Patriarch’s letter to Orthodox Primates regarding Holy Communion
    Jun 02, 2020 | 17:08

    • Gail Sheppard says

      So what is he saying after all they put us through?


      Home Orthodoxy Ecumenical Patriarchate
      Read Ecumenical Patriarch’s letter to Orthodox Primates regarding Holy Communion
      Jun 02, 2020 | 17:08 in Ecumenical Patriarchate
      Divine Liturgy for Saints Constantine and Helen at Ecumenical Patriarchate (video) (upd)
      Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

      Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, following the wish of the Mother Church of Constantinople to have coordination and, as far as possible, uniformity between the local Orthodox Churches on the extremely important question of the Divine Eucharist and of the way of distributing it to the faithful, sent the following letter on 17 May 2020 to all his brothers, the Primates of the local Orthodox Churches:

      “Your Beatitude, Christ is risen!

      We have painfully experienced the circumstances that have arisen in the life of the Church due to the serious pandemic of the new coronavirus, and from everywhere we have received new local data and various developments, in letters or in the form of questions and concerns. We, animated by a spirit of solidarity and cooperation, in order to protect the health of the faithful and the common good, have accepted the celebration of the liturgical services for a certain time without the presence of the faithful in the churches, but with the primary concern, however, of preserving the faith of our Fathers, which always illuminates the universe.

      Since, nevertheless, after the praiseworthy interest of the authorities and the priceless prevention of the leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic, certain unseemly points of view have been heard on how to approach the immaculate mysteries, it is impossible for us to remain silent and foreign to such an ambiguous situation, and inactive in the face of development and related government regulations and prohibitions.

      We have obeyed the exhortations of the health and political authorities, and as is natural, we obey, to the point, however, where the essence and the center of our faith is not touched. The condescension of the Church goes to the cross, but nevertheless it refuses to descend from it by obeying the magistrates and authorities of this world when the mystery of the mysteries of her life, the divine Eucharist, is being questioned.

      In the life of the Church, it is known to all that the interpreter of the evangelical and apostolic exhortations and concepts, but nevertheless also of the spirit and the letter of the divine and holy canons, is the holy tradition, woven indissolubly with daily ecclesial practice and kenotic experience. Using this consecrated practice of the Church, we see and we discern in truth that it lives in the world by Divine Eucharist and in Divine Eucharist, or, in another way, that Divine Eucharist is the revelation and the experience of the divine-human mystery of the Church. The Lord himself, who “dwells invisibly with us”, who “offers, is offered and is distributed”, gives us in the Eucharist His immaculate body and His precious blood, making us the “fullness of the kingdom of heaven”.

      In this spirit and in this feeling, we communicate with Your Beatitude, much loved by us, declaring in all conscience that we have no intention of renouncing what was bequeathed to all of us by our blessed Fathers. In the light of the circumstances that have arisen, we wish to listen to Your fraternal opinion and Your thoughts so that we may commonly walk in the pastoral approach to controversies over the established mode of the distribution of divine communion. That have been said, we embrace with love in Christ and with a holy kiss Your beloved Beatitude, remaining his dear brother, his concelebrant and partaking in the one and common chalice, to which, by drinking it, we will never thirst in the ages. Amen.”

  38. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find another article from today on the Orthodox Times website.
    Home > Archdiocese of America
    Archbishop of America: It is not the way, it is the Communion itself that saves us (video)
    Jun 02, 2020 | 17:47

  39. “Opinions,” Meletios said with a twinkle in his eye, “are, after all, just opinions, and the Greeks, as a people, have a considerable reputation for being able to change them very quickly. Remember, my son, there is a world of difference between opinions and conclusions.”

  40. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from today on the Orthodox Times website.
    Home > Orthodoxy > Churches > Church of Cyprus
    Archbishop of Cyprus to Ecumenical Patriarch: We agree on the issue of Holy Communion
    Jun 03, 2020 | 11:38

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I have a problem with the Orthodox Times because what they write is incomplete and even incoherent. I suspect no one on their staff is Orthodox so they are unable to get to the heart of a lot of things. So what does the following mean. They change from “plastic” spoons to “silver spoons” so what was agreed to?

      “The Archbishop informed the Ecumenical Patriarch that, during the consultation with the health authorities of Cyprus, the recommendation to use an individual plastic spoon during the distribution of the Holy Eucharist was taken into account.

      He also informed the Ecumenical Patriarch that his position had finally been respected that the Orthodox Church would not for any reason whatsoever discuss or negotiate the change of the traditional way of distributing Holy Communion to the faithful with a silver spoon “because he believes that he is offering the Body and Blood of Christ for the eternal life to her Christian flock.”

      So what did they agree to? Who knows. I guess, who cares at this point.

  41. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from yesterday on the Orthodox Times website.
    Home > Orthodoxy > Patriarchates > Patriarchate of Moscow
    Patriarchate of Moscow to Ecumenical Patriarch: We received a letter regarding Holy Communion, there is no reference to meeting
    Jun 05, 2020 | 18:08

  42. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from today on the Orthodox Times website.
    Home > Opinions
    Coronavirus crisis offers an opportunity to our Church
    Jun 08, 2020 | 18:23
    by Grigorios Larentzakis *
    * Professor at the University of Graz, Archon Megas Prothonotary of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
    Source: Orthodox Observer

  43. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from Wednesday in The National Herald, which has been unlocked.
    Analysis: Forensic Audits Should Be Undertaken for All Monasteries
     By Theodore Kalmoukos

  44. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from yesterday on the Orthodox Times website.
    Home >  Society > Culture
    Global Conference to Explore Future of Orthodox Church Music
    Jun 12, 2020 | 10:34