When Courage & Faith Intersect

Courtesy of our friend, Deacon John Ma’ae, on FB. . . 

The Holy Hierarch-Martyr Metropolitan Benjamin of Petrograd, who in 1922 became a martyr of Christ to Communist terror, said at his trial…

“I do not know what sentence you will pass upon me—life or death—yet whatever your pronouncement, I will raise my eyes upward with the same reverence, make the sign of the Cross (here he crossed himself broadly) and say, “Glory to Thee, O Lord God, for all things!”

Then he was shot.


  1. “Death, where is thy sting . . .?”

  2. Staring into the Abyss:  on the Non negotiables at stake in this election for Roman Catholics (and all Christians). Fr Ed Meeks: https://youtu.be/Pi1pHExl6Ug
    He speaks for me. Just substitute “Orthodox” for RC snd it is what every Orthodox bishop and priest should be saying to us. 

  3. George Michalopulos says

    We should never hide behind pieties when the state (or hierarchs) use secular excuses to not do that which the Church has always done. Never forget, the priest and the Levite hid behind pieties to avoid helping the man beaten and left for dead upon the side of the road. It was instead the hated Samaritan who did that which was right.

    I say this as a fallen man myself. I would pray that all Orthodox Christians would have the courage of a Metropolitan Benjamin.

  4. Michael Bauman says
  5. I came across one of the sayings of Elder Sophrony of Essex today:
    “At the time of the ancient persecutions, a group of Christians were being led to martyrdom.  On the way, one of them tore up the Emperor’s decree for their arrest.  The Church did not canonise him as a saint, although he was martyred, because his action was political.  So our actions must not serve any political purpose.  There is no room for politics in the Gospel, as politics seeks authority, whereas the Gospel preaches love, sacrifice, self-emptying and the Cross.”
    – I Know Man in Christ:  Elder Sophrony the Hesychast and Theologian

    • George Michalopulos says

      Steve, the trouble with that example is that all of the OT Prophets who were martyred and/or abused/imprisoned, were persecuted because of their political beliefs.  Even St John the Baptist was thrown into prison because he dared criticize Herod the Tetrarch.  Yes, it was on moral grounds, I grant you that but there was no separation of religious belief from the national cult.  

      • The Church has authority over its own.  So for example, St. John the Baptist criticized Herod the Tetrarch because Herod was ostensibly a Jew (and Herod was also trying to court St. John the Baptist’s favor for his own personal gain, but it completely backfired.)  It was the same for the Old Testament prophets who were martyred/abused/imprisoned for speaking the Word of God to the Jewish Kings.  We later see Church Fathers, like St. John Chrysostom, confronting the Byzantine Christian rulers for their impropriety and getting similar treatment as the O.T. prophets.  This just shows that the Church has authority over it’s own.  It’s not political in the sense of “seeking authority” over those outside of the Church. 
        Those who are counted as martyr-saints also do not resist or fight against their martyrdom (although sometimes they initially and rightly flee!) , and in this way too they are not political.  The Holy Hierarch-Martyr Metropolitan Benjamin of Petrograd is a good example of this intersection of faith and courage. At his episcopal election during the revolution, he announced:

        “I stand for the Church’s freedom. She should be alien to politics, for in the past she suffered much from them.”

        Indeed, the testimony of his words, life, and martyrdom is as what Elder Sophrony tells us, “There is no room for politics in the Gospel.”


        • From Elder Sophrony:  “Freedom is not political independence, but that the evil one has no authority over us.”
          Although the Russian Church lost its political independence after the Bolshevik Revolution, it was through incarcerated and martyred saints like the Hierarch-martyr Benjamin of Petrograd that her true freedom in Christ was expressed:
          One might wonder though, if the Hierarch-martyr Benjamin had been political and fought against his persecutors, could it have been a better outcome?  I suppose Christ’s disciples initially wondered the same thing about the Cross.

          • Steve,
            I agree with your posts in large measure, but where, I ask, is the balance? 
            Do you imagine that because people like Benjamin of Petrograd chose (rightly) to remain above politics they did not also warn their flocks against participation in the evils of Bolshevism when they still had opportunity to do so?  That they did not also not preach against the lie of the very same sort of false freedom and independence that the Communists appeared to be offering their people -not as a political activity but as spiritual one out concern for their salvation and their welfare as a people?

  6. Our bishops adhere to the modern religion of Scientism. Much like in our secular culture, questioning the “orthodoxy” of this religion is heresy. 
    To be sure, not all bishop/clergy are adherents to this religion, but, many are 

    • cynthia curran says

      True. Lots of things including faith can be explain by science.

      • cynthia curran says

        I mean can’t be explain by science.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Cynthia, and yet I know a woman who is a high level chemist who came to Christ and the Church because she “saw the Death and Resurrection of Christ” in her experiment.  Then she went looking for the theology that explained what she saw and found the Orthodox Church.

        Faith explains science and contextualizes it properly. NOT the other way around.

        It is important to note the woman in question is quite adamant that she saw the Death and Resurrection not an analog of it. 

  7. Axios!

  8. Another great quote from Elder Sophrony reflecting the non-political stance of the martyred saints:
    “The battle against us is fierce.  Everyone is against us, as are science and politics.  I am not a pessimist, but I think we are living in the last times.  Our own attitude should be that of the martyrs:  ‘He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb is silent before his shearers, so He opens not His mouth’ (Is. 53:7).  When we respond to force with force, we achieve nothing.  The (silent) attitude of the martyrs will ensure a longer-lasting victory.  If we too exercise force on other people, we shall oblige them to prepare for a second, greater attack.”
    I Know a Man in Christ:  Elder Sophrony the Hesychast and Theologian

    • Gail Sheppard says

      So, I know everyone is probably going to disagree with me, as Daniel 12 has always been looked at the same way, i.e. the abomination that will be introduced into the Jewish temple, but if you take these words in the context of today, the following sounds eerily relevant to today. Is the Church not the temple?

      1. And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

      2. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

      3. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

      4. But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

      5. Then I Daniel looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river.

      6. And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?

      7. And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.

      8. And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?

      9. And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.

      10. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.

      11. And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.

      [The Eucharist is now the “daily sacrifice.” An “abomination”, i.e. the unleashing of the virus, caused the “desolation” which resulted in the Eucharist being “taken away” on Pascha all over the world. – 1290 days is roughly the same amount of time of Christ’s ministry here on earth. Are we at the beginning of the end?]

      12. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.

      13. But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.

  9. Someone may correct me, but I think there is supposed to be a peace treaty between the antichrist and Jerusalem that is to last seven years.  In the middle of that period, the antichrist violates it, ends the daily sacrifice in the rebuilt Temple of Jerusalem, and sets up the abomination and from thence runneth the clock to the end of the seven year period, the 1290 days.  I believe that that is the scheme laid out in Daniel, the Gospels and St. John’s Apocalypse.

    I’m not sure the virus would qualify as an abomination.  It’s minding its own business replicating.  A plague perhaps.  But a respectable biblical plague I would think would have longer fangs than this pussycat. 

    As to the daily sacrifice, there may be places in Orthodoxy where the liturgy is served daily, but that is not common practice.  I think Roman Catholic priests have to celebrate at least a private mass each day when they’re not serving the corporate one, but they may have changed that.  

    We did have a recent peace treaty between the UAE and Israel.  But our abomination seems to have preceded it.  Can’t have that, treaty first, abomination afterwards, not a jot or tittle . . .

    In any case, Gail, you may be reading too much into it.  However, fear not.  I am convinced that it is entirely possible that the eschaton will play out over the next decade or two.  Or it could be much longer.  No one knows.  

    The thing is, though, that when God unloads, I don’t think it will be difficult for us to detect; i.e., that there is a chance of something going unnoticed.  I fully expect it to be a gaudy, over the top, full tilt boogie, Cecil B. Demille spectacle that you couldn’t miss if you tried.  And there won’t be thing one any of us can do about it but hang on for dear life and trust in the Lord.

  10. “Metropolitan Nektarios of Corfu acquitted
    on all charges of violating COVID restrictions”

  11. Michael Bauman says

    Psalm 58 

    1 Do you indeed speak righteousness, you silent ones?
    2 No, in heart you work wickedness;You weigh out the violence of your hands in the earth.

    3 The wicked are estranged from the womb;They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.4 Their poison is like the poison of a serpent;They are like the deaf cobra that stops its ear,5 Which will not heed the voice of charmers,Charming ever so skillfully.

    6 Break[b] their teeth in their mouth, O God!Break out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord!7 Let them flow away as waters which run continually;When he bends his bow,Let his arrows be as if cut in pieces.8 Let them be like a snail which melts away as it goes,Like a stillborn child of a woman, that they may not see the sun.

    9 Before your pots can feel the burning thorns,He shall take them away as with a whirlwind,As in His living and burning wrath.10 The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance;He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked,11 So that men will say,“Surely there is a reward for the righteous;Surely He is God who judges in the earth.”

    The Assured Judgment of the Wicked

    59 Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;[d]Defend me from those who rise up against me.2 Deliver me from the workers of iniquity,And save me from bloodthirsty men.

    3 For look, they lie in wait for my life;The mighty gather against me,Not for my transgression nor for my sin, O Lord.4 They run and prepare themselves through no fault of mine.

    Awake to help me, and behold!5 You therefore, O Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel,Awake to punish all the [e]nations;Do not be merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah

    6 At evening they return,They growl like a dog,And go all around the city.7 Indeed, they belch with their mouth;Swords are in their lips;For they say, “Who hears?”

    8 But You, O Lord, shall laugh at them;You shall have all the [f]nations in derision.9 I will wait for You, O You [g]his Strength;For God is my [h]defense.10 [i]My God of mercy shall come to meet me;God shall let me see my desire on my enemies.

    11 Do not slay them, lest my people forget;Scatter them by Your power,And bring them down,O Lord our shield.12 For the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips,Let them even be taken in their pride,And for the cursing and lying which they speak.13 Consume them in wrath, consume them,That they may not be;And let them know that God rules in JacobTo the ends of the earth. Selah

    14 And at evening they return,They growl like a dog,And go all around the city.15 They wander up and down for food,And [j]howl if they are not satisfied.

    16 But I will sing of Your power;Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning;For You have been my defenseAnd refuge in the day of my trouble.17 To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises;For God is my defense,My God of mercy.