Sunday, October 30, 2016

The rite of Election of Abbot John for the bishopric of Melbourne

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According to the Decree of the Council of Bishops, in the Odessa Archangel Michael Cathedral, at the completion of the All-Night Vigil and the hours, Metropolitan Agafangel and Archbishop George performed the rite of Election of a Bishop over Abbot John (Smelic), naming him Bishop-elect of the God-preserved city of Melbourne (Australia), to be vicar Bishop of the President of the Synod.

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Source

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Appeal from the Council of Bishops

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This appeal is made after discussion about the situation in our dioceses in America, Canada and the Russian Federation, having taken into account that retired Archbishops Andronik (formerly of Syracuse and St. Nicholas Monastery), and Sofrony (formerly of St. Petersburg and Northern Russian) have not recognized the Resolutions of the Ecclesiastical Court concerning them, and contrary to these Resolutions are continuing to conduct affairs as ruling Bishops . Archbishop Andronik, in his lawless ministry, together with Archbishop Sofrony, by false teaching and administrative actions continue to confuse the flock, which according to the canons, deserves the punishment of deprivation of the priesthood. We consider that they cunningly call for peace, yet are unwilling to negotiate with the hierarchy of ROCOR and refused to attend the Bishops Council. They are doing all they can to prevent reconciliation taking place in the bosom of the Holy Church, aiming to inflict division, based on their especially invented false heretical teaching.

Having exhausted all possibilities for peace and reconciliation, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad has decided to leave them to the will of God, so that they themselves may decide their own fate.

The Council of Bishops calls upon all people supporting archbishops Andronik and Sofrony to abandon their intention to organize an arbitrary gathering, calling it the “All-Diaspora Council”, and to dissolve the so-called “Pre-Council Committee”. Such a gathering convened without the blessing of the Synod of Bishops, in the case of it occurring, would be an act of schism and visible evidence of falling away from the Church. If this gathering is convened, all who wish to be present, testify that being warned, they have knowingly and willingly separated from the Church; which will be confirmed by the Council of Bishops by a decree prohibiting archbishops Andronik and Sofrony from serving, the prohibition from serving by their respective ruling bishop of all priests who take part in the unlawful gathering, and for all laity who participate - excommunication from Holy Communion; for which a special Conciliar Decree has been issued.

The Council of Bishops calls archbishops Andronik and Sofrony, and all their supporting clergy and laity, to renounce the heretical false doctrine that the One Church of Christ presently does not visibly exist, but rather exists in the form of separated fragments, which have no communion between each other, to abandon this rebellion against lawful Church authority, and to rather begin preparations for a genuine and lawful all-Diaspora Council, consisting of all the Bishops, diocesan representatives, clergy, monastics and laity, through which only, according to Church faith, the will of God can be realized.

14/27 October 2016

Council Chairman: Metropolitan Agafangel

Council members: Archbishop George (Secretary), Bishop Gregory (Vice Chairman), Athanasy, Nikon, Nicholas, Anastasy, Roman and Anfim; Archbishop John and Bishop Cyril (participated in the work of the Council via Skype)

Source

Friday, October 28, 2016

ROCA will not divide into two or more pieces. ROCA will remain ROCA; and a Parasinagogue will remain a Parasinagogue

o_savchenko.jpgA Letter to Victoria Sherba , parish choir director and lawyer in combination, from Sergei Savchenko parish warden and a lawyer , on her letter “Some thoughts of a parish choir director and a lawyer “, distributed on the internet.

“This know also, that perilous times shall come in the last days. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, more lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying its power. From such turn away ” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

“Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it…from that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with him” John 6:60 -66

Dear Victoria,

ROCA will not divide into two or more parts. ROCA is one, and will remain one. From Her may leave 2 bishops, 10 priests, and 200 lay people; but ROCA will remain one.

Whilst the departed leaders of this schism will answer before Christ: what weighty blessed reasons they had for this step. Similarly those involved in their sin will answer before God for their immortal soul.

Now let us consider the “severity of punishment.” (I am going on the content of your letter).

Obviously the condemned bishops expressed unchristian non-humility, from the loss of 4 dioceses (by one three at once, by the other only one). Even so no one banned bishops Andronik and Sofrony from serving, nor expel led them from their rank, and so on. They were left with the right to serve only in their own parish and monastery respectively. Neither of them came to the Synod nor to the ecclesiastical court, which is in itself a call to ones’ brother colleagues.

Furthermore, the opinion of Metropolitan Agafangel in this situation: punishment of leaving them in their ministry. The opinion of the members of the Synod is stricter: to ban, to expel.

Mercy was victorious, it triumphs over judgment, and the Synod decided to leave them in their ministry, with a view to allow the peaceful resolution of further misunderstandings. However it seems the leaders of the schism specifically exacerbate the conflict.

I shall explain to you why I and many others in ROCA, since the mid 90’s, supported, support, and will support Metropolitan Agafangel, the Synod, and the Bishop’s Council. The34rd apostolic canon defines:

“For bishops of every nation it is befitting to know the senior among them, and recognize him as the head, and do nothing exceeding their authority without his consideration: for each to do just what concerns his own diocese and to places belonging to it. However let the senior bishop not do anything without the consideration of all the bishops. In this way there will be unity of thought, and God will be glorified in the Lord in the Holy Spirit, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. “

In this case, Metropolitan Agafangel is accused of intervening in “another’s” diocese of Archbishops Andronik and Sofrony. What about the insolentintervention of archbishops Andronik and Sofrony in the Diocese of New York and the East-America? Has Archbishop Andronik so little to do in the dioceses of Syracuse and St. Nicholas, Ottawa and North America, Australia and New Zealand? Or bishop Sofrony, being in the USA, having flown across the ocean, is deciding questions of the St. Petersburg and North-Russian diocese?

Archbishops Sofrony and Andronik sin against the 34th apostolic canon, because they do not recognize the authority of the senior bishop, who they themselves have elected.

Will the apostles really show favoritism at the Last Judgment, and approve the actions of the leaders of the schism Andronik and Sofrony, contrary to their rules, those established by the Holy Spirit? Then the holy apostles lied to the entire Orthodox Church for two thousand years, if their rules mean nothing for everlasting life. I think that the conscious violators of the holy God-inspired Canons, hope in vain for this.

If the church rejects the apostolic canons, it is then not the Church of the Apostles.

Victoria, if you sing the symbol of faith at each liturgy, then you know, that by their actions, archbishops Andronik and Sofrony reject the church dogma: “I believe … in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.” Pay attention to the doctrine of the unity of the Church. With whom are Christ and the apostles? With those who deliberately, persistently, cynically violate the canons; or with those who observe the canons, meekly bear their obedience, suffer slander, contempt, ridicule? I think neither you, nor I, have in the past year undergone so much blasphemy as our Metropolitan.

Victoria, you write that at least two of our bishops may have possibly not been properly ordained and do not have apostolic succession. But did you know that since 2008 the apostolic succession of bishops Athanasius and John is from bishops Andronik and Sofrony, who read all the required prayers at the consecration of bishops at the cheirothesia of these individuals? Or do you question the sacraments performed by bishops Andronik and Sofrony in 2008!

Victoria, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven Andronik and Sofrony. Do not participate in their sin.

It may seem strange to you, but I am one of the few, who believe that there is grace in the Moscow Patriarchate as well! Since August 1995 however, I have never taken communion in the patriarchate, though I live in Ukraine next to their churches, I was forced to independently purchase premises, and arrange regular services. Happily the Lord has granted our true pastors to serve 58 Divine Liturgies, in the 16 years of existence of our house church.

Why did I come from the MP to the ROCA? Due to violations by Metropolitan Sergius Stragorodsky, and automatically without exception by all his successors, of the 30th apostolic canon (If any bishop, or secular head, having used and through them, will receive episcopal authority in the Church, let him be deposed and excommunicated, and all those in communication with him, including lay people). This prohibition applies to all members of the Moscow Patriarchate, from the Patriarch to the layman. That is what is said there: “all communicating”. All these people are under judgment. All of them will be judged by Christ and the apostles: why did they not follow the new martyrs to the catacomb churches and to the cross, that which they took at the beginning of their ministry as Christians, clergy and arch pastors.

At present, they are in canonical sin, and subject to judgment. Judgment is inevitable. Their judgment will occur after their death, or if it be pleasing to God - at the upcoming Council of the Russian Church, at which Sergianism must be condemned as a pre-antichristian phenomenon of apostasy, which is detestable to God. The grace of the Holy Spirit will be to their condemnation. As the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth.

So by your logic, your future schism is a direct road to the Moscow Patriarchate, where most likely they are already awaiting you.

The postulate of grace is in solidarity with the postulate of truth.

Victoria, consider the words of Christ, said by Him to the Samaritan woman:

“You do not know what we worship and we know what we worship, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is a Spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. ” (John 4:22-24)

When you will worship God in the churches of the schismatics Andronik and Sofrony, will it truly be in Truth, or only in Spirit?

Or are there two Truths in Christ? Perhaps nevertheless someone is wrong?

Do not be fooled. You know that Metropolitan Agafangel and the ROCOR Synod is in the right. I think the next Council of Bishops will confirm this as well: whilst a bunch of detached people from the Church, who have organized a parasinagogue, are in the wrong. You write that not one of them preaches heresy or non-traditional teaching. Is not sin against the dogma of the unity of the Church not heresy for you? Or is violation of Apostolic Canons a tradition that was established in the church immediately after the Apostolic Council in the year of 51?

By definition, this group will not be canonical.

Is this ministry according to God’s will, being contrary to the canons of the apostles?

Victoria, tell me the rules of canon law, which allows a few dioceses of the Church to dissociate themselves from Church fellowship with the other dioceses of the Church.

Victoria, tell me the norm of canon law, according to which the role of the first bishop is reduced to the role of chairman at the councils?

I think that it will be better for Catholics and Sergianists at the Day of Judgment, than for these people, who do not accept, rather banish their archbishop, do not listen to his words, but listen to false voices of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

The ROCA is higher than the parasinagogue of bishops Andronik and Sofrony, like heaven is above hell.

In a spiritual sense, the bishops, clergy and laity of the Moscow Patriarchate will be higher than all of you who will follow the leaders Andronik and Sofrony into schism. Because the blind patriarchal sergianists follow their leaders, who have not yet been condemned by the future Council of the Russian Church (the probability of which was believed by the pillars of ROCOR); whilst you are following those who have been condemned already! The Moscow Patriarchate leaders are under judgment by the Canons and dogma of the Church; but this judgment is not presently expressed individually to each sergianist, as almost none of them were judged as bishops Andronik and Sofrony. Your sin is even greater, by the fact that you have freedom of choice.

Victoria, who is ridiculing who? On yourself and your brothers and sisters - can you wear all the mud and humiliation, which is spewed out of your group of activists? Who is ridiculing who? The victim here is the Church! She is being mocked by bishops Andronik, Sofrony and associates. Do you know that it all started by Metropolitan Agafangel interceding for the widow Dutikova, to whom was pointed the door? I personally corresponded on this subject with V.Yarmolinets. He acknowledged that the Astoria church council decided that 1 year after the death of Archpriest Vsevolod, Dutikova his widow, was to vacate the apartment (which will subsequently be rented out) and go to live with her children. They do not see any other way to improve the financial problems of the parish. It seems they have decided to sell the apartment. Since they do not hide on’ facebook ‘ that the profitability of this action would be counted in the hundreds of thousands of dollars ( pieces of silver). The spiritual atmosphere that has arisen in the church parish in Astoria, after the death of Father Vsevolod, can be clearly illustrated to you by the facebook page of the church council member Vadim Yarmolynts. I will tell you the basic principle of this page – not a word about God (except perhaps in swearing). Therefore I consider his ecclesiastical prohibition a logical consequence of his lack of proper spiritual Christian life.

Is not the development of the image of the enemy (Satan) and the accompanying hate - a method of the Soviets ? Have you not read in the Gospel, that in the days of Christ many people left Him? Perhaps Christ should have adjusted His doctrine, so that no one would leave Him?

Victoria, with whom are you?

At the beginning of creation, God separated light from darkness (Gen. 1.4). In Hebrew it sounds literally as follows: “And God divided the sons of light and sons of darkness”. God acted like a tyrant? That there are children of darkness - who is guilty in your opinion? Perhaps it is not God, but rather the free will of those who choose against Him?

“But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with Him. Then Jesus said unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? “. John 6.64-66.

“So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, send us into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told everything, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts”. Matthew 8. 31-34

Also the rich young man who loved Christ, parted from Christ, etc. etc.

There are numerous examples of disciples departing from the apostles.

How can Christ and the apostles be blamed?

However you dare to blame the Metropolitan - that he acted strictly, in relation to other members of the Church.

Do all those who have departed from the Church to their own place, have the gift of the Holy Spirit in the fear of God?

Victoria, for the sake of the salvation of your own soul, do not participate in the sin of destruction of the Russian Orthodox Church.

You write that you have tried all options in avoiding a schism.

It is surprising - do you yourself believe in what you write? From the side it looks quite the opposite.

It is not BA/BS, as you call them, that travel to the Metropolitan for a resolution of the conflict, but on the contrary, the Metropolitan travels to the USA, personally recalls all his signatures from the prohibitions of Archbishop Andronik, but that one…changes his mind! Bishop Sofrony says to the Metropolitan that he needs to consult with someone to remain in the One Church. Consult with whom? We can only guess who those advisers (from the word soviet) are, and what cash money and certificates are in their pockets. Money, in denominations enough for the Archbishop of Northern Russia to leave the diocese in the Russian Federation, and live for months in the Americas. In addition, Archbishop Sofrony denounces himself, in confessing that he does not have his own opinion, and is subject to the opinions of other unknown persons. So this is your candidate for the future false-metropolitan!

BA/BS preach heresy, because they teach that the Church can divide. This is a heresy – one type of ecumenism. It is simple. Will the church services of those who have been banned and stripped of their rank retain the sacrament of grace of the Holy Spirit? The answer is obvious - no, of course.

The Lord said, “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt.18: 18).You have equated the services of the catacomb new-martyrs with the services of justly punished proud people. It is a comical situation, when residing in the USA amid western standard of living, you equate yourself with people of the catacomb Church, who

“suffered mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment: They were stoned, asunder, were tempted, died by the sword: they wandered about in the mantle and goat skins , destitute, afflicted, tormented; those whom the world was not worthy, wandering in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth “(Hebrews 11. 36 -38).

This is obviously similar to the spiritual state of delusion. The state of delusion, first of all, gives its victim insolence. And from insolence comes blasphemy and slander.

Examine the book of St. Ignatius Brianchaninov “Ascetic experiences” in two volumes and “Otechnik”. They disclosed the spiritual state of BA / BS and those with them.

Peace to you.

Sergey Savchenko

Englishtranslation from the source

Statement from the Council of Bishops

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The group of supporters of Archbishops Andronik and Sophrony (which calls itself “the Pre-Council Committee”) has placed the following assertion on the internet:

“In our day….what we consider the universal Church is made up of divided “fragments,” which do not associate with each other”,

meaning that the Catholic Church, allegedly, does not exist in visible form, and that She is divided into fragments.

In response to this claim, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad hereby announces that the Council of Bishops does not believe that in our days the Local Russian Church does not exist visibly, and is made up of fragments that do not have Eucharistic communion with each other. On the contrary, such a statement is condemned as heretical by us and by the entire Orthodox Church in the anathema to ecumenism:

“To those who attack the Church of Christ by teaching that Christ’s Church is divided into so-called “branches” (…), or that the Church does not exist visibly, but will be formed in the future when all “branches” (…) will be united into one body; (…) Anathema!”

We believe that our Council of Bishops, chaired by Metropolitan Agafangel, as well as the dioceses, missions, monasteries and parishes subordinate to them, constitute a visible and “an inseparable part of the Local Russian Orthodox Church, temporarily self-governing on conciliar principles”.

We conclude that to date there exist no objective physical obstacles to the canonical life of the unified Russian Church (the presence of a front line, closed state borders, open persecution of Orthodox Christians, etc.) and it is not “impossible to establish relations with the bishops of neighboring dioceses” (Decree №362, p.4).

We also note that in our days, despite repeated appeals, the bishops and priests who were formerly in the ROCA, but now calling themselves “fragments”, deliberately do not fulfill paragraph 2 of Decree №362:

“the diocesan bishop immediately enters into relations with the bishops neighbouring dioceses for the organization of higher instance of ecclesiastical authority for several dioceses in similar conditions”.

The current situation is provided by paragraph 9 of Decree №362:

“In the case of extreme disorganization of ecclesiastical life, when certain persons and parishes cease to recognize the authority of the diocesan bishop, the latter being in the position shown in Paragraph no.2 and no.6, do not resign from their hierarchical authority, but organizing of persons remaining faithful to him, congregations and parishes of - deanery and diocese, providing where necessary to conduct services even in private homes and other premises made suitable for this, and breaking communion with the disobedient.”

Since “ecclesiastical communion with the disobedient” (i.e, the “fragments”), is absent, we are with regret forced to state that the situation between us and the currently existing “fragments” is a state of schism. We, like the rest of the Church believe that the schismatics do not remain in the Church, but rather are parts now fallen away part of Her.

At the same time, our Council of Bishops has always called, and continues to call everyone who previously was in the ROCA to lay aside attempts to justify divisions, which as we see, extend even to destructive and heretical false teachings. Rather, trusting in God, we call to restoration of our common unity.

Let us arise in unity to do Thy work, O Lord, and faithfully serve Thee! May it be so!

Chairman of the Council: Metropolitan Agafangel
Council members: Archbishop George (Secretary), Bishops Gregory (Vice President), Athanassy, Nikon, Nicholas, Anastassy, Roman and Anthim. Archbishop John and Bishop Kyrill (participated in the work of the Council over Skype)
Members of the Temporary Higher Church Authority: Abbott John (Smelic) and Archpriest Leonid Plyats

Source

Friday, September 2, 2016

AN APPEAL TO THOSE WHO ARE DEPARTING

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A new wave of disorders has befallen our Church. Two of the Bishops have declared that they are departing from obedience to the First Hierarch, the Synod of Bishops and the Council of Bishops - that is, from the conciliar life of our Church.

They declare that they are speaking out for conciliarity (sobornost), and allege that there is no conciliarity (sobornost) in our Church. Meanwhile, they do not cite even one actual fact of violation or distortion of the conciliar order of our Church, inasmuch as the very existence of the God-established ecclesiastical order, the very fact that the Hierarchal Synods and Councils issue decrees and enactments, in their understanding constitutes a violation of conciliarity.

Thus, they themselves strive for an imaginary “conciliarity” by unconciliar methods: by ignoring the opinion of other hierarchs and the opinion of their own flock, by pushing aside those who displease them and by uncanonically convening diocesan meetings (without elections of representatives from parishes at parish meetings), at which declarations are adopted ostensibly in the name of the whole diocese. Along with all this they organise a boycot of the plea of the First Hierarch and the Secretary of the Synod to meet and discuss the prevailing situation.

By his declaration of non-subordination to the Hierarchal Council and the Synod, contrary to the agreement reached in the presence of representatives of the TOC [True Orthodox Church] of Greece, and likewise by his announcement concerning the convening of an unauthorized assembly (under the name of an “All-Diaspora Council”), Archbishop Andronik, together with those not desiring to be subordinate to the ecclesiastical canons and the traditions of the Russian Church Abroad, has in fact, according to the definition of st. Basil the Great, announced the creation of a parasynagogue under his leadership.* According to the instructions of the Holy Fathers, an unauthorized assembly, standing a step away from schism, is just the same as a schism, a falling away from the Church and her saving grace.

Moreover, a parasynagogue cannot convene an All-Diaspora Council since, in accordance with Paragraph 12 of the Regulations of the ROCA, “In case of special need, the First Hierarch, together with the Hierarchal Synod, may convene an All-Diaspora Church Council, consisting of bishops and representatives of the clergy and laity. The enactments of such All-Diaspora Councils take legal effect and are carried out only upon their ratification by the Council of Bishops under the presidency of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, which takes place at the same time or immediately after the conclusion of the All-Diaspora Church Council.” By no other way may an All-Diaspora Council be convened and its decisions take effect.

The question remains open as to what exactly is guiding the new schismatics: the realization of their lust for power by any means, or only the coercion of other hierarchs with the aim of obtaining their agreement for the formation of a new “schism” under their leadership? Most likely both – whichever succeeds.

There is no doubt that the work of destroying the Russian Church Abroad continues without interruption for even a minute. This work began at the moment of Her foundation in 1920, the main stages of which were the Platonite (1926), Eulogian (1927) and Sergian (2007) schisms, as well as a multitude of petty – if one may speak thus – individual schisms. That which is occurring today before our eyes is, without a doubt, the ongoing warfare of the devil with the Church of Christ.

Therefore, I would like for the clergy and parishioners whom they are now attempting by falsehood to lead into schism, to hear me.

Stop! Do not participate in a schism of the Russian Church! Our confession and the faithfulness of each one of us to Christ now consists exactly in this. If you do not see heresy – then do not follow the schismatics who are drawing your souls away into perdition!

My duty, as First Hierarch, is to warn the flock of danger. “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 13:43).

First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

+ Metropolitan Agafangel

17/30 August 2016, Martyr Myron the Presbyter

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* A parasynagogue (Greek, παρασυναγωγή – an unauthorized assembly) is a form of deviation from Orthodoxy, differing from schism and heresy in that it does not touch on matters of doctrine, but is the result of a violation of ecclesiastical and hierarchal discipline – disobedience to the God-established hierarchy. “The ancients…called unauthorized assemblies those meetings consisting of insubordinate presbyters or bishops and uneducated laity. For example, someone who, having been accused of a sin and having been removed from the sacred ministry, did not submit to the canons, but himself held on to his position and the sacred ministry, and certain others who deviated with him” (First Canonical Epistle of St. Basil the Great to Amphilochius of Iconium).

Source

Thursday, August 4, 2016

A letter to those who criticise

210417.p.jpgTaken from Letters of Bishop Ignaty Branchianinnov, Volume 7, Moscow, 1993. Letter 57, page 78.

To a hieromonk of the St Sergius Hermitage, who had denounced [the Holy Hierarch] Archimandrite Ignaty in writing, for his variable disposition to those around him, and to himself in particular.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Placing my hope on the help of God and His strength, which acts through feeble people, I have decide to answer your letter, similarly with a letter. And this is more so in order that my mind not become distracted in a personal conversation, and not exhaust itself in noisy words, but rather in the quiet solitude of my kelia maintain a peaceful state, which is the condition for seeing Truth. Now I stand before Her, and illuminated by Her light, I look at my soul and check with what I see in your accusation. What then do I see? I see wounds in my soul, I see the multitude of her illnesses, I see weaknesses, of which some are natural to it, and others a result of injuries and diseases, past and present. I turn my attention to my life so far: I see that it is a chain of sins, a chain of falls; almost at every step I was mocked and insulted by the devil due to my lack of spiritual wisdom, due to an excess of pride, my unwillingness to ask advice from my neighbour. Such is the state of my soul, now when my life’s journey has reached more than half my days. Meanwhile my body has become weak; It is pierced and cut to pieces by various ailments. They are messengers; they proclaim the approach of the separation of the soul from the body. Soon, soon I will lie down on the bed, not in order to give my overworked body temporary rest, but to shed it off myself in the ark of the coffin, in the bowels of the earth, from which I was taken, until the future general resurrection. Remember me o Lord in Thy Kingdom: for my soul is sick, and the body is imprinted with sin. In my state, it would be more seemly for me to leave everything, and without hindrance, surrender oneself to inconsolable weeping; when all is lost, at least not to lose repentance.

But to achieve this state, which I recognize as the most decent for myself, I do not use any means other than my feeble prayer, in which I ask for the fulfillment of God’s will in me. This petition for of the will of God is instilled by fear of asking for something that exceeds my strength. This fear is suggested by experience itself: because in all experiences where my strength was tested, my weakness was revealed; Wherever the demons depicted before my mind a picture of the brilliant successes, there, in fact, turned out to be damage, there arose a disaster, there a fatal abyss was covered with flowers. I realized the deceit after committing to the deception; I learned of the prelest, having already been seduced and corrupted by it. Now I am afraid to begin anything by self-will, even such things as I consider edifying. The Holy Fathers say - it is better to do combat with faeces, ie, with fornication and gluttony, than with self-opinionated logical thinking, high mindedness, pride and contempt. For these last passions are subtle, they imperceptibly creep into ones mind, take the form of sound and righteous thoughts, and cannot be detected other than by the light of grace. I stand before the Providence of God with my mind, putting aside at this moment worldly wisdom and its righteousness. God created me without me desiring or asking for it: because how could “nothing” wish for, or even more so - ask for anything? God redeemed me – who was fallen and lost; the cost of this redemption was Himself.

Meanwhile, as although He is the Redeemer, clothed in humility, He is not recognized by carnal minds, despite His obviousness. They are left to wonder at things spiritually akin to themselves, chasing after things foreign to themselves, liable to decay.

ib231.jpgTo me, the wretched one, He has granted to know Himself. When my eyes were closed, clay mixed with spittle coming out of His mouth were healing them. The Cross of Christ opens the eyes of the mind; the Cross of Christ maintains health, heals diseases of the eyes. Separate from the Cross of Christ there is no truth of Christ. Peace and truth will destroy those that are of the devil. I stand before my Lord and I see His Holy Providence, and I wonder at His long-suffering patience, how merciful He is to those sinful errors into which I fell due to my self-will and self-willed logical thinking. I commit my soul into the hands of God; that which He grants me, that I will accept. He knows my strength, because He gave it to me. If I am given one talent corresponding to my strength, I do not search for five, so as not to fail under the weight of them; so that the gift which is meant to serve for benefit, does not serve for condemnation.

I run from my sinful falls - not into reclusion, not into the desert - but to self-reproach, to confession of my sins, to repentance.

My bewilderment, my rational judgements and my will, I cast into the depths of the mercy and providence of God.

Such is the spectacle with which my soul confronts me when I look at her with my mind, in the light of the teaching of the Gospel. Now I will turn to the words of reproof found in your letter. The actual nature of the case shows, that you, looking at the externals of my behavior, have noticed far fewer flaws than actually are found in my soul. Conscious of my great debt, I must acknowledge the smaller one, which I concede to even in the case that I would not like to confess. For this it remains for me to tearfully ask your forgiveness and holy prayers for my correction. If, according to the words of Saint Isaac (the Syrian),

justification by word does not belong to Christian life and is not prescribed anywhere in the teaching of Christ.

If the Lord Himself, standing before worldly authority, while exalting the Truth of the Cross before the gaze of the universe, did not give any attention to external truth, not one word, like dust and ashes, if He met their accusations with silence, then who, looking at the depths of his heart, and seeing accurately, dare oppose his accuser? Such a person will tell the sword waving at him: strike, because you were not raised in vain. He will say to the disasters: Attack me and dispirit me, because I deserve it. He will say to the body, exhausted by disease and sent into exile: Go, for you have sinned. He will say to his brethren, pray for me the defiled one, you angels of God. He will fall to the feet of adulterers and murderers and say unto them: pray for me, for you are more righteous than me. Such is my state, when the [spiritual] eyes of my mind are open; but when they close, then my condition becomes far worse: for the wounds naturally remain the same; but to the diseases of my heart is added the blindness of my mind.

From blindness is born insensitivity, loss of love for our neighbor, and the loss of compunction and comforting mourning, the amassing wounds to wounds and diseases to diseases.

In short - whether I see or am blinded - my condition is extremely disastrous, worthy of the tears and sobs of all who know and love me. Such is my answer to everyone who criticizes, and to you. If I answer otherwise – I sin.

I would have had to be satisfied with this if I were not speaking to my spiritual son, who, while uttering accusations against me as his heart dictates, nevertheless does not claim that they are the absolute truth, but rather, he offers them to me for judgement. Therefore I feel obliged to continue my conversation, and despite the fact that I am feeble, borrowing light from the True Light - the Word of God, I feel obliged to satisfy the demands of your letter. Not so much by paying attention to the specific thoughts contained in this letter, as by uncovering, in the light of the Gospel teachings, those secret motives of the heart of which these ideas are the fruit. According to the Fathers,

those people who require a complete elimination of flaws from their close ones, hold a false notion of this matter.

We find this opinion of the Fathers also among the Apostles: one of them (John the Evangelist), says: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John. 1, 8. Another says (St. Paul): “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Gal. 6, 2. What can give rise to the reproaching of our neighbour’s weakness, is shown in Scriptures in men of the highest virtue. Who is holier than the Apostles? However in the Acts we read that between the Apostles Barnabas and Paul there arose a dissension, and after the dissension - a separation. Beyond doubt we are told of this circumstance by Scripture with the aim that we, infirm as we are,

be careful and not get carried away by imaginary zeal, but carry one another’s burdens. In this way fulfilling the law of Christ! Carry my weaknesses, then; and I will try to bear yours, as I have tried to do hitherto.

Obviously it is impossible for you to say that you have no weaknesses.

My weaknesses are heavier more so for you than for me: and yours are perceptible more for me than for you.

If the weight was not burdensome, then carrying it would have no value, and there would not be any reason to give this commandment.

But the value of reciprocally bearing weaknesses is so great that Scripture has concluded that in this lies the fulfillment of the law of Christ, Who bore upon Himself the sins of the whole world.

I will say a few words about inconstancy. Inconstancy, or changeableness, according to the holy Fathers, is the constant and inevitable weakness of humans, as long as a person is found in this country of his exile, that is, on this earth. Perfect constancy is a property of the future order of things. Variableness is not only characteristic to us who are infirm, as even the greatest Saints acknowledged this in themselves. Tolerate the inconstancy in me, and I will tolerate it in you. My inconstancy is more palpable for you, and yours – for me. Let us bear our mutual weaknesses that we may know that the yoke of Christ is good: if we throw off the yoke of Christ, then which yoke shall we subordinate ourselves to? Excellently the holy Elijah Ekdik said:

“The house of the soul - is patience, for it lives in it; and its food – is humility, for it is fed by this.” Exactly so - thoughts with humility of wisdom keep the soul in patience. If this is so, then this follows: there is nothing that banishes the soul from patience, as much as prideful thoughts.

Repeatedly I have told you and many others, to whom I thought to impart soul-profiting knowledge: When I check my disposition and behaviour against the writings of the holy Fathers, I find that I would have to be found among the beginners in ancient monasticism. However in contemporary monasticism, where the knowledge of the Fathers and the way of thinking only somewhat imprinted by such knowledge, is so rare, that one who teaches his listeners the teaching of the Fathers, is a greatest rarity. It is with this condition that I govern you all and have you as my spiritual children, so as to teach all of you the Gospel way of thinking, which is the way of thinking of the Fathers.

Truly, truly, I say to you: these days, when there are no works of the spirit, and spiritual wisdom is an extreme rarity, the devil so hates this wisdom that he would like to destroy it from the face of the earth.

In this way the Gospel would remain only for our condemnation, and not edification; for we shall be judged according to the Gospel, as foretold to us by the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. 42, 40).

The devil is ready to give us ten times the common sense, and multiply our practical skills a thousandfold, if he can only steal from us the knowledge of the Cross, by which we can come to stand at the right hand of God

. One who ascribes to himself intelligence and good sense, likens himself to the devil, who wanted to be acknowledged as the source of enlightenment. He actually is the source of imitated light – fleshly wisdom, which does not submit to God’s reason, bears upon itself the stamp of pride and contains in itself the precondition of all sinful falls.

“Have you seen someone who has fallen? Know, that he followed his own will”, says Abba Dorotheus.

This holy one said concerning himself; that it would be better for him to sin by external act, following the advice of his neighbor; than to act without a blessing. And I, in my small experience, whenever I fail, I have consolation from the fact that the deed has been done or started not without a blessing.

Therefore, unworthy as I am, it would be befitting to attend to one’s own shortcomings. However

in my responsibilities of Superior and spiritual father, I must tell you what I see with my sinful eyes: your warfare is caused by the passion of pride.

The feeling that one possesses practical intelligence and understanding is a justification of pride, in which the pride is hidden. When the feeling towards myself and to those surrounding me grows cold, this are the fruits of pride, because after disparaging ones neighbour there follows a drying up of love. And the disappearance of love is an indication of that demonic thoughts have been accepted, just as the growth of love for one’s neighbour is a sign of accepting the seeds of grace.

The passion of pride acts differently to the passion of fornication, or of anger. These two passions are obvious, and their justification and the cunning in their excuses is clearer to behold. Pride, on the other hand, creeps in imperceptibly. Pride is sown by abilities, splendor, and even more so by the praise of men. Although, it may seem that we do not accept praises and do not agree inwardly with those that praise us, the secret imprint of praise nevertheless remains in the mind and heart, and when we are disparaged - it is burdensome; and the more burdensome it is for us, the more saturated we are with praise. This is how it is proven that the imprint is present, and the secret implantation of pride. Woe to us! The most grace-filled gifts have been the occasion for pride in people, and the fruits of pride – is a fall! The main symptoms of pride are that one’s feeling towards people around one grows cold, and the abandonment of confession. Now we must show the cause of this vice, and give a proper account of the door by which it enters, or rather, goes out, says St John of the Ladder (Step 11:1)

Make it a rule for yourself to confess your thoughts at least twice weekly. Just as the soul conforms to the body, in the same way express your humility by the bowing of the body. Say and repeat to your thought about your brothers: “These are Christ’s sheep, these are angels of God”, and contempt for them will be destroyed, which is of pride.

Then, trusting in the mercy of God, peace and love will enter your heart, and by the action of grace it will be shown to you that you are in temptation. Your eyes will be opened and you will get to know your real delusion. This case shall enter into the treasury of your spiritual experiences, and will provide you with protection for the future, and nourishment for the brotherhood. For a man who is not tempted, is not skilled, but “in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18), says Scripture.May the Lord grant that you follow this counsel of Saint John of the Ladder:

“When once we have entered the arena of religion and obedience we must no longer judge our good manager in any way at all, even though we may perhaps see in him some slight failings, since he is only human. Otherwise, by sitting in judgment we shall get no profit from our subjection. It is absolutely indispensable for those of us who wish to retain undoubting faith in our superiors to write their good deeds indelibly in our hearts and constantly remember them, so that when the demons sow among us distrust towards them, we may be able to silence them by what is preserved in our memory. For the more faith flourishes in the heart, the more alacrity the body has in service. But he who has stumbled on distrust has already fallen…” (Step 4:6-7).

Likewise, pride often sprouts from exercising spiritual care over those close to us, as a sprout shoots up from a wheat grain. Therefore, Saint Mark the Ascetic, said: “When a man benefits another by word or deed, may the grace of God enlighten the both.” Apostle Paul says: “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake”. (2 Cor 4:5) For the person who cultivates these feelings, partiality for people will be destroyed, and the love of Christ will reign, seeing God’s image in everyone. Then, when the mind delights in this love, a person sees himself as a vessel filled with stench and filth, and marvels at how the rays of Divine teaching pass through him and heal human souls.

It is proper for me here to recall the words of Saint John of the Ladder, which are repeated also by Saint Nilus of Sora: some were mired in the mud, but cautioned others against similar acts, and for helping others, the Lord gave them salvation. (Step 26:14) Therefore, after such serious wounds,

I learned that the signs of pride in a person are humiliation or contempt of his neighbours, and negligence in confessing. In and of itself pride is not noticeable to a person, as it is a most subtle passion, which even deceived the light-bearing Angel and arranged a fall in Heaven. The other passions are dependent on pride, just as a building is connected to a foundation which is hidden under the earth.

Finally I bequeath to you to keep this letter secret until my death. In the meantime, I commend you and myself to the mercy and grace of God, which is able to, if we do not ourselves reject it, to give us salvation, although we are completely unworthy of it. Amen.

November 25, 1842
St. Sergius Hermitage

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Prayer for increase of love and end of conflicts in the Church

Metropolitan Agafangel urges us all to pray for an increase of love

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O Lord, our God, Thou Who art glorified and worshiped as One in Trinity! Thou Who hast bound us in the unity of love and commanded us to be one; put an end to the strife and discord that the enemy has sown among Thy faithful children! Transform hatred and anger into love, and multiply this love in our hearts, that we may arise together to do Thy work and faithfully serve Thee, through the prayers of Thy most pure Mother and of all Thy saints. Amen.

PRAYER FOR THE SALVATION OF RUSSIA

O Lord Jesus Christ our God:
Accept from us, Thine unworthy servants, this fervent supplication, and, having forgiven us all our sins, remember all our enemies that hate and wrong us, and render not unto them according to their deeds, but according to Thy great mercy convert them: the unbelieving to true faith and piety, and the believing that they may turn away from evil and do good.
By Thine all-powerful might, mercifully deliver all of us and Thy holy Church from every evil circumstance.
Free our Russian Land from the cruel godless ones and their power and raise the holy Orthodox Russia; hearken unto the painful cry of Thy faithful servants who cry unto Thee day and night in tribulation and sorrow, O our most merciful God, and lead their life out of corruption.
Grant peace and tranquillity, love and steadfastness, and swift reconciliation to Thy people, whom Thou hast redeemed by Thy precious Blood.
But unto them that have departed from Thee and seek Thee not, be Thou manifest, that not one of them perish, but that all of them be saved and come to the knowledge of Thy truth, that all in harmonious oneness of mind and unceasing love may glorify Thy most holy name, O patient-hearted Lord Who art quick to forgive, unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul

Today the Holy Church commemorates the Apostles Peter and Paul.

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For those who find it hard to drive to church…

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Thousands of faithful walk for days, for hundreds of kilometres, in all weather, praying and keeping a fast joyously and in happiness, praying for the assistance of the Mother of God of Pochaev.

We should not presume we are more righteous than others! We do not see such examples of piety in the west any more. We should humble ourselves and understand that God acts in mysterious ways in drawing people to piety and a Christian life.

Although massive demonstrations of faith are uplifting and touching, they are not the essence of life in the Church.

The main path for us, according to Saint Ignaty Brianchaninov, is to endure sorrows without grumbling, with the understanding that everything God allows is for our spiritual healing and growth. Presumption, self-righteousness and judgement are the great modern spiritual diseases, which totally prevent spiritual growth…If we have these illnesses, even if we have some outward virtues, we will not gain entry into the Heavenly Kingdom! We should read the writings of the Holy Fathers to find out whether these diseases are present in our hearts - and follow their advice on how to uproot them.

Source

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Feast of the Tabinsk Icon in Dandenong

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On Friday 18 June/1 July the community dedicated to the Tabinsk Icon of the Mother of God celebrated its feast day. Most of the parishioners received Holy Communion, and gathered to share memories of the Tabinsk Icon from their life in China. dscf6993a.jpgAfter the revolution, during the time of civil strife, the Icon miraculously saved people from destruction by stopping and refusing to move further, changing the direction the refugees were walking. People could do nothing but wait until the Mother of God allowed Herself to be carried forward again, in the direction She willed. In this way a large number of people were brought to safety.
The Icon remained with the Russian emigres until the mid 1960s, when most of the people had immigrated to Australia and other countries. It is now unknown where the Tabinsk Icon is.

May the Mother of God help us to live worthily in these turbulent times, and lead us to our salvation!

O Most Holy Mother of God, save us!

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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

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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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