Rising Higher than the Heart

David, king of ancient Israel, found himself in the midst of a confused national situation. His kingdom was torn by internal strife. Slave hated master; master hated slave. People blamed the government, and government blamed the people. David looked about him and saw that every man thought himself perfect. Each individual placed blame upon other individuals. David knew that if sinful pride continued to increase, his nation would collapse spiritually. He knew that economic depression, moral disintegration, or military defeat inevitably follow spiritual decline. So David turned to God, and it was revealed to him by the Spirit of God that the spiritual tide of his nation could rise no higher than the spiritual level of his own heart. So he fell on his knees in utter humility and prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”. Psalm 139:23-24

Believe it or not, I had some hope for Archbishop Elpidophoros. Deep down, I really wanted to believe that he was not a true Phanariote. Yes, I realize that he came up with this fantastical “first without equals” doctrine several years ago and his fawning encomium to Patriarch Bartholomew upon his “election” to the primacy of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in America was a stomach-turner, more befitting of a eunuch in the court of some Oriental despot than a Christian preacher who hopes some day to sit in the Chair of St John Chrysostom.


I also realize that this is the way the game is played, at least in the Phanar. I actually hoped (naïve fool that I am) that once he got to the good ole U.S. of A., he’d change; that maybe he’d see that the idea of Americans submitting themselves to the Ecumenical Throne was not going to fly. Hence his rapprochement with the OCA. Still, it was mighty gracious of him to go to Syosset and venerate the relics of the American saints. So maybe, just maybe, he was not what most of thought he was.

And then he up and did something catastrophically stupid when he created a new “Slavic Vicariate” which reports directly to him. In one fell swoop, he proved that supremacism is in the Phanariote DNA. They just can’t help it.

The Book of Proverbs tells us that “pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (16:18). I would humbly add that before the fall, comes that which is stupid and the creation of this new vicariate is nothing if not really stupid. Regrettable things are baked in the cake of pride, so yeah, they’re inevitable. The clergymen in question are (how shall I say it?) very questionable. And for their part, they’re rather prideful, as well; so I can foresee a time in the not-too-distant-future in which some of these errant clergymen are going to do something even more stupid. In time, some of them may bail on the GOA. Especially when the Archons put the squeeze on them for some boondoggle. What I don’t think we can expect from them is anything honorable.

Moreover, unlike the earlier inclusion of the Palestinian/Jordanian vicariate, they are miniscule in number. We are talking three churches here. Having said that, a more clever move would have been to transfer them over to the GOA’s Carpatho-Russian exarchate, where they could have been lost in the shuffle. But no, in typical Byzantine grandiosity –a grandiosity which exists only in the minds of mitred courtiers–Elpidophoros decided to create a new vicariate. For Bartholomew, what’s important is a map of the globe with pushpins on every continent he thinks he’s conquered, even if there are only a miniscule number of people represented by any particular pushpin.

Already, Archbishop Michael of New York/New Jersey of the OCA banned his priests from having anything to do with these jokers. I imagine the rest of the Holy Synod of the OCA is going to have to come to grips with this new phenomenon, as well. We’ll see.

Our contacts within the Antiochian Archdiocese have informed us that Metropolitan Joseph is also none too pleased with Istanbul and has instructed his clergy they are to have nothing to do with any of these of these priests.  Moreover, he has pinpointed the cause of this turmoil: to wit, the egregious actions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate itself in regards to Ukraine. He has stated in no uncertain terms that the tumult which Patriarch Bartholomew has unleashed in Ukraine (not unlike the Coronavirus) has spread to every continent and has now washed up on our own shores here in America.

There is an old Greek saying I vaguely remember from my young adulthood.  It’s something to the effect that the devil works overtime during the Great Fast. I don’t pretend to be perfect –far from it. And Lord knows I’m not holy and I am wrong about many things. But what I am sure about is this: the Holy Spirit is not the author of division. The conciliar mask has dropped off the face of Bartholomew; his papalism can no longer be ignored. No amount of fig-leafs or Byzantine smooth-talking can defend what is now apparent for all to see. It is impossible for us to avert our eyes any longer.  

So is Archbishop Elpidophoros going to fall on his knees in utter humility and pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”?  Or is heart too far gone and with it, the GOA?

Lord have mercy.


  1. Alitheia 1875 says

    There’s stupid and then there’s stupid you can’t fix.

    • george I read in a right wing Catholic  blog attacking Francis that one of his sins was not calling the Orthodox schismatic.  And in listing our failings  hallo,  they list,  ‘ The demand of Constantinople to be an eastern PAPACY.  I kid u not!!  Do they know something we do not??  Or hey, are as all seeing it. After all Catholics know a would be Pope when they see one.  
      Re elpidophoros and latest going on. HIS VERY OWN UKRAINE.  yes just when u hope there might be something there.  But u know it’s an empty shell he sitting on as the people voting with their feet. 

  2. Before AB Elpi’s election, I knew that the only choice that would be worse than him…was Emmanuel of France. The Patriarch of Istanbul is off the rails.

    • Yes bulgarian stallions and all that.   WHEN ARE WE GOING TO SEND THESE PEOPLE DOWN? 

  3. No, he won’t walk humbly and he won’t mend the nets (Matthew 4:21) or cast the nets (Matthew 4:18). He and Bart and their hierarch buddies run an imperial church of a past era. They sit on top of an irrelevant obsure institution that is nearing extinction.

  4. The men in the new Slavic Vicariate would not be a good fit for the Carpatho-Russian Diocese (EP). I say this because the Carpatho-Russians have a different chant, typicon, and don’t allow priests or archimandrites to be mitered (I don’t even think they have one archimandrite). A far better fit would have been the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA (EP). In general, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA (EP) uses the same music, typicon, and allows for the same vestment styles of the Russians. St. Sophia Seminary does not even use Gallician plainchant anymore. It is all obikhod music. While some of the Carpatho-Russian parishes will use obikhod music, most still use prostopinije. Prostopinije is still the standard used in the Christ Saviour Seminary chapel of the Carpatho-Russian diocese. It is possible the men in the new Slavic Vicariate were offered to be incardinated into the CR’s or the Ukes but they refused or the others refused. Both the CR’s and the Ukes are stavropegial and do not answer to His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros. Their bishops are part of the Patriarchal Synod of the Great Mother Church of Constantinople.       

  5. I’m expecting chaos here in the U.S. soon. We’ll be having lists of whom is in communion with whom…not a pretty sight. Lord have mercy!

  6. Metropolis of Piraeus about Elpidophoros: He should repent.


  7. Christine Fevronia says

    If I may recommend to the Monomakhos family another great series on Amazon Prime… It’s called “The Birth of A Nation” released in 2018. I learned so much about the history of Constantinople, Greece, and Russia. During this season of Lent, it’s nice to watch shows about our faith, and due to social distancing and mass closures, we have time to pray more and study more about our faith. Study doesn’t always mean read, especially for families with teens! My family found the series to be engaging, relevant, and educational. (The highlight for me was the story of Princess Olga’s conversion to Orthodoxy.) Quick tip: there are multiple Prime shows with this title, so when you search for it, include 2018 and select the option with the cross on the cover.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      This looks great, Christine. We’ll definitely watch it! Thank you.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Correct to warn us.  The first Birth of a Nation was D W Griffith’s silent-film classic, which glorified (some would say rebirthed) the Ku Klux Klan.  Incidentally, it was the first movie ever shown in the White House.
      Politically problematic of course but filmographers have considered this the first historical epic and credited Griffith with pioneering certain cinematographic tropes which later directors copied to great effect.  As such, Griffith was viewed by the Hollywood community as the first, great director and for decades the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (i.e. the Oscars) had a special award named for him.