Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Appeal The Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad 2018 on the danger of self-isolation

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The Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad 2018 on the danger of self-isolation

Unfortunately, in our times of apostasy, the dangerous tendency of self-isolation of those considering themselves to be abiding in “true Orthodoxy”- has widely spread. Previously, starting with the Byzantine era, in the event of serious disagreements among Christians, the civil Orthodox authority could convoke Church Councils. Thanks to these Church Councils, at these councils - after carefully considering all the arguments and disagreements - they could come to a general concilliar decision which was mandatory for all. However, presently no such authority exists, and so it is impossible to counter the dispersion of Christians with the help of the state.

On the contrary, the God-fighting authorities undertook the the exact opposite measures - making great efforts to divide the Church, with its goal being the complete annihilation of it. It was precisely in the creation of divisions that these authorities saw one of the main ways of destroying the Church. Currently, however - these divisions often occur not with the help of any authorities, but rather unfortunately proceed from within the Church itself.

In the past, many efforts were made by the catacomb Christians to find a legitimate bishop since they were deeply Orthodox people. They understood that without a bishop there is no church. But now the world is filled with impostors, surrounded both by those who are deceived by them, and by those who became accustomed to ignorance and indifference. Depicting itself as a “little flock”, and using the following words of Christ: “I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18 KJV), and applying that exclusively to themselves and to their present state, they do not think at all about what might happen to them tomorrow.

Tragically, the way of such groups is one - first spiritual marginalization, which eventually turns them into a sect, and then the diminishing of the group, and then ultimately its extinction. Already, we can name a few almost extinct groups from among those who considered themselves to be the “continuation” of the ROCOR. A similar situation occured with the catacomb Christians. However, they were hindered by external circumstances, and so they were not guilty of that which had happened. It is impossible to justify the contemporary “zealots” who are forever orchestrating new schisms in the Church. Modern Russian “true jurisdictions,” or those who are “standing for the truth,” are in the stage of physical extinction, and most of them do not even have the chance of producing the next generation of their followers. We appeal not to those who adhere to the most extreme views, because unfortunately, it is impossible to get through to them. We appeal to those of whom the Savior spoke: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matt. 11:15). We hope that there are still many such persons among the scattered Christians around the world.

Like the Synod of the Greek GOC, our Synod of Bishops constantly made and makes efforts to overcome schisms. And today we call upon all those who tread their paths on the off-roads, or else those who are barely hanging on to a broken part of - as they say- “the damaged ship (the church)”, so as to enter into negotiations, with the goal of looking into the possibility of overcoming the church division. This is the only way that will allow us to jointly strengthen our Church and thus transmit the good news of salvation to many more people. Being in spiritual union with the Greek, Romanian and Bulgarian Old Calendarist Churches, this possibility is feasible. The Church does not need us, but it is we who need to stay within the bosom of the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Nowadays, the only unifying force appears to be the fear of God, and the Christian conscience. Therefore, our Synod of Bishops once again calls upon all Orthodox Christians to unite around the true confession of the Orthodox faith, its lawfully ordained bishops, its living Orthodox tradition which the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia has kept, and the sacred sacraments they contain, the most important of which - is the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ. We call upon all to unite around Christ - the only Savior of the Universal Church.

April 12/25, 2018 St. Basil the Confessor, Bishop of Para

Chairman of the Synod of Bishops

+ Metropolitan Agafangel

Members of the Synod:

+ Archbishop George (Secretary of the Synod)

+ Bishop Athanasius

+ Bishop Kirill

+ Bishop Gregory

+ Bishop Nikon

+ Bishop Anfim

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Paschal Epistle

Let us awake in the deep dawn and instead of myrrh, offer a hymn to the Master; and we shall see Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, Who causeth life to dawn for all. (Ode 5, Irmos)

The myrrh-bearing maidens anticipated the dawn, seeking as it were day, the Sun Who was before the sun and Who had set in the tomb, and they cried out to one another: O friends come let us anoint with sweet-smelling spices the life-bringing and buried Body, even that Flesh which raiseth fallen Adam who lieth in the grave. Let us go hence, let us make haste like the Wise Men, and let us adore and offer before Him myrrh as it were a gift to Him, Who is no longer wrapped in swaddling bands, but in a winding sheet. And let us make lamentation and cry aloud in exclamation: Arise O Master, Thou who dost grant resurrection to the fallen. (Ikos)

Dear brothers and sisters,

Christ is Risen!

Our Lord Jesus Christ has opened the door to Eternal Life for us mortal men. The True Sun of Righteousness has enlightened the world with True Light, in the midst of this sinful and fallen existence. This Light is the knowledge of the True God, and the Path of Righteousness - by which we can enter the Eternal Life.

Let us, my dear friends, be vigilant! Let us set out hastily like the myrrh-bearing women, and offer myrrh to God! Let us not allow ourselves to be weak-hearted and afraid, making all sorts of excuses in avoiding Church attendance and prayer. Let us use our God-given time, freedom and energy for attaining eternal life for our eternal souls!

Let us remember the five foolish virgins who were unable to enter the Wedding Feast because they had not sufficient oil in their vessels. They were called, but they did not respond to the call, thinking their calling was sufficient for salvation. They had not used well the time allotted to them.

Do we have sufficient Grace to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and live eternally with God? Are we not excessively distracted by mundane things of this earthly existence, by which one day we are completely engrossed with, and which by the next day we have forgotten about? If we spend most of our time, thoughts and effort for physical things of this world, then we become like spiritual corpses lying in our graves! If we do not adore (pray to) God, and offer myrrh (good deeds, as defined in Gods Law; and living a church-centred life) as it were a gift to God, we will remain as fallen Adams imprisoned in our self-imposed graves. We decompose further in our sins, and become more and more unbearable by the smell of sins, both for ourselves and to all that come near us.

To rise up, pray at home and in the Church, and to do good deeds beyond what is ‘natural’ and a ‘duty’, are actions which are possible and open to us all. There is nothing great or difficult in this – but our fallen nature and the evil one make virtue appear “too hard”, grim and unbearable, so as to dissuade us from seeking God, Who is our actual source of joy, life, strength, and peace…! The earthly pleasures with which we attempt to replace His gifts leave us feeling empty, sad and exhausted.

Dear brothers and sisters, before the door is shut unexpectedly and our physical death confronts us, let us make that effort against our lazy and self-loving will to arise from our sleep of self-righteousness and inaction, and seek God! We must get out of our “comfort zone” and make an effort…. and God WILL reward.

When God sees us rising up to seek Him with effort, He will reward us with His Grace - joy, life, strength, and peace of heart.

Christ is Risen !

Bishop John of Melbourne

Friday, April 13, 2018

Paschal Greeting from Australia

Paschal Greeting from Metropolitan Agafangel

Monday, April 9, 2018

Pascha in Australia 2018

Holy Saturday and Pascha at the St John of Kronstadt parish in Sydney

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Paschal services at the Tabinsk Icon of the Mother of God in Dandenong.

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Sunday, April 8, 2018

Great Saturday and Annunciation feast at the Annunciation Hermitage

This year the feast of the Annunciation fell on Great Saturday, according to the typikon of St Savvas, which is used in the Russian Church.

The festal hymns for the “beginning of our salvation” were combined with the hymns to the very culmination of our Saviour’s great self-emptying Passion for the salvation of us all.

All present stood around the tomb and chanted the moving lamentations together in English.

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The next morning we read the hours, then the Old Testament prophesies of the Resurrection of Christ at the Liturgy of St Basil the Great.

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The Gospel at the Liturgy of St Basil the Great.

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Vladyka blessed wine and bread for our refreshment, but we did not serve a festal meal in the trapeza, keeping the fast until the Resurrection of Christ.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Concelebration with Bishop Photios

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On the day of the Three Holy Hierarchs, St Basil the Great, St John Chrysostom and St Gregory the Theologian, Metropolitan Photios of Marathon (Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece) and Bishop John of Melbourne (ROCA) concelebrated at the Greek Orthodox church of the Dormition of the Mother of God in Beaumaris, VIC. The bishops were assisted by Protopriest Stylianos and Deacon Anastasios.

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Nativity Epistle of Bishop John of Melbourne


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Nativity Epistle
Bishop John of Melbourne

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

“Today the Virgin giveth birth to him Who is transcendent in essence; and the earth offereth a cave to Him Who is unapproachable. Angels with shepherds give glory; with a star, the Magi do journey; for our sakes a young Child is born, Who is pre-eternal God.” (Kontakion of the Feast of the Nativity)

They, observing the obedience of the star, understood the dignity of the King.
(St John Chrysostom, Homily 2 I:208-209).

The Magi did not see before them either sceptre or throne, only utter poverty. What was it then that moved them to undertake the toil of a journey without reward? ….it was the star and the light that God had placed in their hearts that led them step by step to more perfect knowledge.
(St John Chrysostom, Sermon, The Epiphany and the Flight into Egypt, P.G.57:81)

The star mysteriously calls the Magi from afar. This is an image of our conscience, which mystically calls us to the true Church, where we will find Christ, the Truth, the Saviour of mankind. The Kings followed the star faithfully for more than two years. Leaving their palaces behind, they dedicated themselves to this mysterious call. They took with them the best of their riches as gifts for the newborn King. This is equivalent to us leaving our homes, our jobs and families, sacrificing time and exertion, visiting holy places and monasteries, making donations, and dedicating our life to prayer and the Church. Each one of us has been called by that mysterious light of faith, which at some point in our life has begun to shine in our soul. The kings are an image of us Gentiles, the Church of the nations, the New Testament Church.

Now we must respond, and if not leave our homes, at least offer our gifts – faith, love and good works. “Faith instead of gold, love instead of myrrh, and good works instead of frankincense let us bring to the Creator Who cometh unto His own”. (Aposticha stihera, Matins, 23 December, Forefeast of the Nativity). We offer our faith in abiding by Orthodox doctrine, practicing the commandments, and keeping the Canons of the Church. We offer our love by prayer and diligent attendance at the Church services every Sunday and feast day, participating in the Mysteries. We offer good works when beautifying the temples of God and the services, by our hands, by our voices, and also by our monetary donations. According to the Holy Fathers, alms-giving is the most powerful means for receiving mercy from God and a direct path to God. This is especially true for us people in the West, who live in a material abundance unheard of even by the three ancient Kings. We are called to glorify Him, in obedience, prayer and works of mercy.

Exhausted by years of wandering, the three Kings finally arrived at Jerusalem, guided by the mysterious call. Then the unthinkable happened. For a moment they lost the star - the light of clear faith. This may happen to us also. But let us not be disheartened! At that point, even without seeing the star, the Magi headed towards Bethlehem, now guided by Scripture, the Old Testament prophesies. In the same way, in moments of hesitation, we must refer to Scripture, especially the Revelation of St John concerning the last days of the world. None of the confusion of present modern life should be a surprise to us. Let us hold fast to the teachings of Holy Scripture and the Holy Fathers of the Church! The Church always taught that in the end times these two stars would be our only true spiritual guides.

The Church teaches us not to be guided by emotions, feelings and earthly thoughts, which so easily express disillusionment, distortions, and untruth. A gross mistake is to accept these as the voice of our conscience. Our conscience is the voice of God in our heart, and calling human feelings the conscience is in essence a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Our feelings easily deceive us, make us susceptible to the power of evil, and gullible followers of false teachers, based on irrational, emotional trust. We should never forget that the spiritual deception of our modern apocalyptic world is the work of false churches and false pastors, wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Having put their trust in Scripture itself, rather than in the authority of the Jewish priests and scribes who told them what the prophets said, the three Kings made their way to Bethlehem. They never returned to the false teachers. On the way, the star re-appeared, and their faith was re-ignited. They reached their goal of seeing God by trusting the Scriptures and Old Testament prophets. The Lord Himself says: “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: (…) And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself”. (Lk 24:25, 27).

We could reasonably expect the rich Kings to be dismayed when they reached their destination – a poor and dirty cave, full of animals, hay, manure, stench, and a few poor shepherds attending to some homeless people. But they were not disheartened! Similarly, let us also not be discouraged by the poverty of Church life in our last times. Indeed, it is difficult, because our feelings cry out for more familiar, physical comforts - rather than the elevated, spiritual gifts of God. Brothers and sisters, let us resist our this-worldly emotional thirst for luxury, comfort, ease, grandiose churches, radiant vestments and magnificent choirs in large cathedrals. Even more important for many are the sumptuous banquets, gorgeous clothes, beautiful houses, and gifts to be given to us rather than from us - all accompanied by fuzzy feelings of ‘love’, directed toward ourselves rather than toward God and our neighbour. Many, even among those who call themselves Orthodox, and especially in the West, have decided that food, gifts, family and fuzzy feelings constitute the very meaning of the feast. Such people have lost the true understanding and significance of Church feasts and church life. In the correct context and proportion, these comforts are not evil in themselves. Nevertheless, as Orthodox Christians, we must know all this is of the fallen world. If we become excessively attached to the world, we will not reach our destination of spiritual salvation.

Anything to which we attach more importance than Christ – be it even our family, children, or career – becomes an idol. In our times, especially among us in the West, families are seldom united in Christ. The Lord sternly warns us: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Mt. 10:37). Today, some find it necessary to take their children to heretical and schismatic churches to celebrate the birth of Christ, ostensibly for the sake of their children’s happiness. They do not see that it is not the children who have led the parents out of the True Church, but rather, it is the parents who have led the children astray. But Christ says: “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Mk. 10:14). We hear continually in the Divine Services: “let us commit ourselves, one another and all our life unto Christ our God.” If we heed this call, “all these things shall be added” to us (small litany; Mt 6:33)!

Everything depends on our discernment – a choice between the physical and the spiritual; between the earthly and the Heavenly. Our reward is not limited to the next life only – for when we set God first in our lives, we receive peace of heart even here and now, during our short sojourn on earth. He will give us true life and happiness, which will most certainly last forever. Let us love Him, our God, rather than ourselves and our fallen world! We are all invited to receive this joy and peace of the true God in His true Church! We will not find this joy and peace anywhere else.

Brothers and sisters, do not hesitate! The doors are open to us all – now, come, and join the spiritual feast!
Christ is born! Glorify Him!

+ Bishop John

Nativity of Christ, 2017/18

Feast of St John of Kronstadt in Sydney

The parish of St John of Kronstadt celebrated its feast day in Sydney in the summer month of January in a mild 35 degrees celcius. The following week it was 45 degrees!

The Divine Liturgy was followed by the rite of the Serbian Slava. Bishop John concelebrated with priest Nebojsa Mirkovic. Everyone present received Holy Communion. After the Liturgy, there was a lunch and parish meeting.

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Sunday, January 7, 2018

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

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Metropolitan Agafangel
First Hierarch of the Russian
Orthodox Church Abroad

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Bishop John of Melbourne
Vicar bishop of Australia

Church calendar for today

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Divine services channel is updated every Church feast day

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Parishes

Melbourne, VIC
Contact: Bishop John
Telephone: 0422556968

Sydney, NSW
Parish of St John of Kronstadt.

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  • Serving priest: Father Nebojsa Mirkovic
  • Address:
  • Service times:
    Sundays and feast days: Matins 730 am
    Divine Liturgy: 9 am.
    Please contact us to confirm what time Liturgy is served.
  • Saturdays and eves of feasts: Vespers 530 pm
    or All-night Vigil 6 pm

Dandenong, VIC
Community of the Tabinsk Mother of God Icon

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  • Services once a month
  • Visits by Bishop John

Western Victoria
Annunciation of the Mother of God Women’s Monastic Community

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  • Spiritual Father: Bishop John.
  • Address: 266 Nowhere Creek Rd, Nowhere Creek, 3469
  • Service times:
  • Sundays and feast days: Divine Liturgy: 9 am
  • All-night Vigils (including Divine Liturgy) on select occasions.
    Please contact us to confirm what time Liturgy is served.

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Canberra, ACT

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