Friday, 22 November 2013

Toll Houses in Orthodoxy

Aerial Toll-Houses




The teaching of Aerial Toll-Houses regards the soul's journey after its departure from the body, and is related to the particular judgment. In its most general form, it refers to the idea that after death, the demons attempt to find a basis for taking the soul to Hades, while the angels and the prayers of the living defend the soul if it can be defended. Whether the soul is finally seized by the demons, or taken to heaven depends on the state of the soul at death. In either case, the soul then experiences a foretaste of what it can expect after the final judgment. According to Fr. Thomas Hopko, the teaching of the Toll Houses is found in virtually every Father of the Church

Patristic evidence

In the life of St. Anthony the Great, he saw a vision of souls rising towards heaven and some being stopped by a large demon and cast down. Likewise St. Bede recorded certain visions of a Celtic Saint who saw a soul arising and fighting off demons with the help of angels and his reposed wife's soul.

In the Philokalia, St. Diadochos of Photiki (ca 400 – 486 a.d.) states:"If we do not confess our involuntary sins as we should, we shall discover and ill-defined fear in ourselves at the hour of our death. We who love the Lord should pray that we may be without fear at that time; for if we are afraid then, we will not be able freely to pass by the rulers of the nether world. They will have as their advocate to plead against us the fear which our soul experiences because of its own wickedness. But the soul which rejoices in the love of God, at the hour of its departure, is lifted with the angels of peace above all the hosts of darkness. For it is given wings by spiritual love, since it ceaselessly carries within itself the love which 'is the fulfilling of the law' (Rom. 13:10)."

In the Alphabetical Sayings of the Desert Fathers, Theophilus of Antioch (who reposed in 412 a.d.) we find:"The same Abba Theophilus said, "What fear, what trembling, what uneasiness will there be for us when our soul is separated from the body. Then indeed the force and strength of the adverse powers come against us, the rulers of darkness, those who command the world of evil, the principalities, the powers, the spirits of evil. They accuse our souls as in a lawsuit, bringing before it all the sins it has committed, whether deliberately or through ignorance, from its youth until the time when it has been taken away. So they stand accusing it of all it has done. Furthermore, what anxiety do you suppose the soul will have at that hour, until sentence is pronounced and it gains its liberty. That is its hour of affliction, until it sees what will happen to it. On the other hand, the divine powers stand on the opposite side, and they present the good deeds of the soul. Consider the fear and trembling of the soul standing between them until in judgment it receives the sentence of the righteous judge. If it is judged worthy, the demons will receive their punishment, and it will be carried away by the angels. Then thereafter you will be without disquiet, or rather you will live according to that which is written: “Even as the habitation of those who rejoice is in you.” (Ps. 87.7) Then will the Scripture be fulfilled: “Sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (Isaiah 35.10)."Then your liberated soul will go on to that joy and ineffable glory in which it will be established. But if it is found to have lived carelessly, it will hear that terrible voice: "Take away the ungodly, that he may not see the glory of the Lord." (cf. Isaiah 26.10) Then the day of anger, the day of affliction, the day of darkness and shadow seizes upon it. Abandoned to outer darkness and condemned to everlasting fire it will be punished through the ages without end. Where then is the vanity of the world? Where is the vain-glory? Where is carnal life? Where is enjoyment? Where is imagination? Where is ease? Where is boasting? Riches? Nobility? Father, mother, brother? Who could take the soul out of its pains when it is burning in the fire, and remove it from bitter torments?" 

St. Mark of Ephesus wrote:"But if souls have departed this life in faith and love, while nevertheless carrying away with themselves certain faults, whether small ones over which they have not repented at all, or great ones for which – even thought they have repented over them – they did not undertake to show fruits of repentance: such souls, we believe, must be cleansed from this kind of sin, but not by means of some purgatorial fire or a definite punishment in some place (for this, as we have said, has not been handed down to us). But some must be cleansed in they very departure from the body, thanks only to fear, as St. Gregory the Dialogist literally shows; while others must be cleansed after the departure from the body, either while remaining in the same earthly place, before they come to worship God and are honored with the lot of the blessed, or – if their sins were more serious and bind them, for a longer duration – they are kept in hell [i.e., Hades], but not in order to remain forever in fire and torment, but as it were in prison and confinement under guard."
Liturgical Evidence

In both the Greek and Slavonic Euchologion, in the canon for the departure of the soul by St. Andrew , we find in Ode 7: "All holy angels of the Almighty God, have mercy upon me and save me from all the evil toll-houses."

Likewise, in the Canon of Supplication at the Parting of the Soul in The Great Book of Needs are the following references to the struggle of a soul passing through the toll-houses:"Count me worthy to pass, unhindered, by the persecutor, the prince of the air, the tyrant, him that stands guard in the dread pathways, and the false accusation of these, as I depart from earth." (Ode 4, p. 77)."Do thou count me worthy to escape the hordes of bodiless barbarians, and rise through the aerial depths and enter into Heaven…" (Ode 8, p. 81)."[W]hen I come to die, do thou banish far from me the commander of the bitter toll-gatherers and ruler of the earth…" (Ode 8, p. 81).

In the Octoechos, there are many references to the Toll Houses:"When my soul is about to be forcibly parted from my body's limbs, then stand by my side and scatter the counsels of my bodiless foes and smash the teeth of those who implacably seek to swallow me down, so that I may pass unhindered through the rulers of darkness who wait in the air, O Bride of God." Octoechos, Tone Two, Friday Vespers"Pilot my wretched soul, pure Virgin, and have compassion on it, as it slides under a multitude of offences into the deep of destruction; and at the fearful hour of death snatch me from the accusing demons and from every punishment." Ode 6, Tone 1 Midnight Office for Sunday

In the Saturday Midnight Office, the prayer of St. Eustratius, contains the following:"And now, O Master, let Thy hand shelter me and let Thy mercy descend upon me, for my soul is distracted and pained at its departure from this my wretched and filthy body, lest the evil design of the adversary overtake it and make it stumble into the darkness for the unknown and known sins amassed by me in this life. Be merciful unto me, O Master, and let not my soul see the dark countenances of the evil spirits, but let it be received by Thine Angels bright and shining. Glorify Thy holy name and by Thy might set me before Thy divine judgment seat. When I am being judged, suffer not that the hand of the prince of this world should take hold of me to throw me, a sinner, into the depths of hades, but stand by me and be unto me a savior and mediator..." 
The Number of the Toll Houses

The most detailed version of the toll-houses occurs in a vision of Gregory of Thrace, apparently from the 10th century. The demons accuse the soul at each toll-house of sins. In some cases the demon might accuse the soul of sins that they tempted her with, but it didn't comply with, or of sins that she repented for, and in that cases one of the angels, the one which was the persons guardian angel, speaks for the person, saying that those are lies, and that payment is not necessary, taking the soul to the next toll-house. If a person has unrepented sins, and does not have enough good deeds and prayers of the living to pay for them, the demons of the corresponding toll-house grab him, and take him to hades to await the final judgment. This vision recounts the toll-houses in the following order:
At the first aerial toll-house, the soul is questioned about sins of the tongue, such as empty words, dirty talk, insults, ridicule, singing worldly songs, too much or loud laughter, and similar sins.
The second is the toll-house of lies, which includes not only ordinary lies, but also the breaking of oaths, the violation of vows given to God, taking God's name in vain, hiding sins during confession, and similar acts.
The third is the toll-house of slander. It includes judging, humiliating, embarrassing, mocking, and laughing at people, and similar transgressions.
The fourth is the toll-house of gluttony, which includes overeating, drunkenness, eating between meals, eating without prayer, not holding fasts, choosing tasty over plain food, eating when not hungry, and the like.
The fifth is the toll-house of laziness, where the soul is held accountable for every day and hour spent in laziness, for neglecting to serve God and pray, for missing Church services, and also for not earning money through hard, honest labor, for not working as much as you are paid, and all similar sins.
The sixth toll-house is the toll-house of theft, which includes stealing and robbery, whether small, big, light, violent, public, or hidden.
The seventh is the toll-house of covetousness, including love of riches and goods, failure to give to charity, and similar acts.
The eight is the toll-house of usury, loan-sharking, overpricing, and similar sins.
The ninth is the toll-house of injustice- being unjust, especially in judicial affairs, accepting or giving bribes, dishonest trading and business, using false measures, and similar sins.
The tenth is the toll-house of envy.
The eleventh is the toll-house of pride- vanity, self-will, boasting, not honoring parents and civil authorities, insubordination, disobedience, and similar sins.
The twelve is the toll-house of anger and rage.
The thirteenth is the toll-house of remembering evil- hatred, holding a grudge, and revenge.
The fourteenth is the toll-house of murder- not just plain murder, but also wounding, maiming, hitting, pushing, and generally injuring people.
The fifteenth is the toll-house of magic- divination, conjuring demons, making poison, all superstitions, and associated acts.
The sixteenth is the toll-house of lust- fornication, unclean thoughts, lustful looks, unchaste touches.
The seventeenth is the toll-house of adultery.
The eighteenth is the toll-house of sodomy: bestiality, homosexuality, incest, masturbation, and all other unnatural sins.
The nineteenth is the toll-house of heresy: rejecting any part of Orthodox faith, wrongly interpreting it, apostasy, blasphemy, and all similar sins.
The last, twentieth toll-house is the toll-house of unmercifulness: failing to show mercy and charity to people, and being cruel in any way.



Are They Literal?

Many of the Orthodox who accept the doctrine of the toll-houses do not take the form or all the teachings from the vision of Gregory literally. Thus for example Fr. Thomas Hopko maintains that one should not try to associate a particular time after death to the process, nor should one take the toll-houses as being literally "in the air," or necessarily twenty in number. Likewise, he makes no mention in his argument for them of the doctrine of bargaining for sins (which is similar in some ways to the Latin doctrine of merits). Instead, his description, drawing on St. John Chrysostom and the Fifty Homilies of St. Macarius of Egypt, among others, takes the toll-house encounters to describe the attempt of the demons to assault the soul with its own vulnerability to sin, or to entice it away from God, and describes passing through the toll-houses as the purification of the soul. St. Theophan the Recluse likewise said that what the demons are seeking is "passions," and suggested that, although the toll-houses are often depicted as frightening, the demons might equally well try to entice the soul by appealing to one of its weaknesses. Some others go so far as to say that the demons and angels are metaphors for sins and virtues of the soul.

Controversy


There is disagreement in certain circles regarding the status of this teaching within the Orthodox Church. Some, including 
Archbishop Lazar (Puhalo) of Ottawa, consider this teaching controversial, even false (describing it as gnostic or of pagan origin). These accusations were later declared to be wrong by the Holy Synod of the Russian Church Abroad. The traditional proponents of the teaching argue that it appears in the hymnology of the Church, in stories of the lives of saints (for example, the Life of St. Anthony the Great, written by St. Athanasius the Great, the life of St. Basil the New, and St. Theodora), in the homilies of St. Cyril of Alexandria in the Discourses of Abba Isaiah, the Philokalia, the Ladder of Divine Ascent, and the Dogmatics of the Orthodox Church by Blessed Justin Popovich. Several contemporary Church figures speak about toll-houses.Secondly, not a single Church Father ever wrote even one sentence expressing doubt about this teaching (which is present in its most general form in the Church since at least fourth century), although their discussions of the topic are always about general struggles with "tax-collector" demons, lacking the details present in Gregory's vision (apart from one pseudo-Makarian story which also mentions numerous toll-houses and a bargaining over sins at each one). Thirdly, some of the greatest modern authorities of the Orthodox Church, such as St. Ignatius Brianchaninov and St. Theophan the Recluse, insisted not only on the truthfulness, but on the necessity of this teaching in the spiritual life of a Christian..

Friday, 15 November 2013

Beards ~ St. Clement of Alexandria (c.150 – c. 215)

~ St. Clement of Alexandria (c.150 – c. 215)


“This, then, is the mark of the man, the beard. By this, he is seen to be a man. . . . It is therefore unholy to desecrate the symbol of manhood, hairiness.”
“How womanly it is for one who is a man to comb himself and shave himself with a razor, for the sake of fine effect, and to arrange his hair at the mirror, shave his cheeks, pluck hairs out of them, and smooth them! . . . For God wished women to be smooth and to rejoice in their locks alone growing spontaneously, as a horse in his mane. But He adorned man like the lions, with a beard, and endowed him as an attribute of manhood, with a hairy chest—a sign of strength and rule.”


“It is not lawful to pluck out the beard, man’s natural and noble adornment.”

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The Orthodox Duties of Parents and Children

The Orthodox Duties of Parents and Children by St. Tikhon of Zadonsk Compiled By Fr. Demetrios Serfes





ON THE DUTY OF PARENTS

The Holy Apostle Paul says this to parents, Bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4), and he exhorts them to nurture their children in a manner befitting of Christians. All Christians are renewed in holy Baptism to the new, holy and Christian life, and they have vowed to serve God in faith and in truth, and so to please Him. But lest those who have been baptized become corrupt and come into a poor inheritance and have that saying come true in them, A dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that hath been washed to her wallowing in the mire (II Pet. 2:22), good nurturers of children must without fail warn them against this calamitous condition while they are yet small and young. For we sigh with pain to see that many children are corrupted in their youth; this happens to them because of the carelessness of their parents.


Many parents teach their children the arts that serve the temporal life, and spend no small sum on it, but they neglect the Christian teaching and are remiss in teaching their children to live as Christians. Such parents beget their children unto the temporal life, but close the door to the eternal.


St. John Chrysostom, in considering the misfortune of both parents that neglect the good upbringing of their children and of the children not well brought up, says this, "Parents that neglect to bring up their children as Christians, are most heinous murderers of children" (Homil 3 "Against Those that Slander the Monastic Life"). For child-killers separate the body from the soul, but these parents cast them both soul and body into the fire Gehenna. It is impossible to escape from the former death according to natural law, but would be possible to escape from the latter death were the negligence of the parents not to blame for it. Bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (cf. Eph. 6:4).


Moreover, once it comes, the Resurrection is able to abolish bodily death, but nothing can overturn spiritual destruction. Therefore, parents, listen to the word of the Lord.


A Gardener binds a newly planted sapling to a stake driven and fixed into the ground lest it be uprooted from the ground by wind and storm, and he prunes unneeded branches from the tree lest they harm the tree and dry it up. You should also act likewise with your small and young children. Bind their hearts to the fear of God let they be shaken by the machinations of Satan and depart from piety, and prune away the passions that grow in them lest they mature and overpower them and so put the new, inward man to death that was born in holy Baptism. For we see that as children grow up, then sinful passions also appear and grow with them as unneeded branches of a tree. Therefore, lest these iniquitous branches matrue and harm and kill the man washed, sanctified, and justified in holy Baptism, it is absolutely necessary to prune them away with the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Then, beloved prune away these shoots from your children and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). As soon as they begin to understand reason, even a little, and to know good and evil, you should begin your work and teach them. Do thus with them:
1. Remind them often of holy Baptism and that at that time they promised God to live decently and steadfastly, to serve Him with faith and righteousness, and to keep away from every evil and sin.
2. Repeat to them as often as possible that we are all born and begotten in Baptism not for this temporal life, not for the sake of obtaining honor, glory, and riches in this world - that our very death indicates that we should abide otherwise than forever in this world - but that we are born and begotten for eternal life. All our life in this world, from birth to death, is a journey on which we travel to our promised homeland and eternal life.
Remind them often of this, lest they give themselves over to the vanity of this world, and so that they may learn to philosophize on higher and not on earthly things.
3. Let them understand Who is the God of Christians, and what He requires of us, that He hates evil and loves good, that He punished man for evil and rewards him for good, and although we do not see Him, He does see us and is invisibly present with us everywhere and sees our every deed and hears our every word. It is necessary, then, to fear Him and to do what is pleasing to Him.
4. Enlighten their inward eyes as to Who Christ is in Whom we believe, and for what cause He came into the world and lived and suffered and died. Our sins were the cause of this, and our eternal salvation, so that being delivered from sin we might obtain eternal salvation.
5. Teach them the Law of God, and tell them what the Law demands of us: That is, that we should love God and every man; that everything that is contrary to that Law is vice and sin, while everything that is in agreement and accordance with it is virtue.
In holy Baptism we promised God to keep the Law of God and so depart from every sin and live virtuously. Whoever lives otherwise does not keep these vows and is found to be false before God, and if he does not truly repent and correct himself, he will appear false at the Judgement of Christ.
6. Set before them the last things: death, Christ's judgement, eternal life, and eternal torment, that the fear of God may so abide in them and preserve them from every evil. Pour these and other things like milk into their young hearts, that they may mature in piety.
They call you parents, then be true parents. You gave them birth according to the flesh, then also give birth to them according to the spirit. You gave them birth unto the temporary life, beget them also to eternal life.

Beloved Christians, you and your children shall appear at the Judgement of Christ, and you shall give account for them to the just Judge. He will not ask you whether you have taught them to speak French, or German, or Italian, but whether you have taught them to live as Christians.
Young children pay greater attention to the actions of their parents than to their teaching. Therefore, if you wish your children to be pious and good, you yourselves should be pious and good, and show yourselves as example to them, and so Bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (cf. Eph. 6:4). And so you and your children together shall receive eternal salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord.



On The Duties Of Children

First, conscience itself convinces a man to honor his parents with love. The pagans taught and made it a law to give parents first honor after God. The word of God also commands us to honor our parents, Honor thy father and mother (Eph. 6:2, also Ex. 20:12, Deut. 5:16, and elsewhere). Then give all respect, Christian, to those that gave you birth, that it may go well with you. Whom should you honor, if not your parents?
2. Second, because your parents are your great benefactors, you should render them due gratitude. Remember the pains and labors they undertook for your upbringing, and be thankful to them for it. Know well that you can give nothing in return for the benefits you have received from them. They gave to you much, and you are greatly obligated to them. Then give them heartfelt gratitude for it throughout your entire life.
3. Third, show them every obedience. Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right (Eph. 6:1), and again,Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord (Col. 3:20).
4. Fourth, do not undertake anything new without their advice and consent, but you ought to take counsel with them in everything and seek their consent, lest you offend them with your disrespect and lest matter that you have undertaken go without success.
5. Fifth, be ashamed to show disorderly conduct before them and avoid it. Say no indecent word and do no indecent deed, though Christian duty demands this of you everywhere.
6. Sixth, resolutely avoid offending them with any crude word, but speak to them and reply with every courtesy, that they may know that you love and respect them.
7. Seventh, if they punish you for something, and you know that you are genuinely at fault for it, acknowledge your fault with humility and endure the punishment with meekness. For they punish you so that they may correct you and that you should be good. But if you know that you are innocent, and your conscience justifies you, then declare your innocence with every courtesy and humility. Show judicious meekness everywhere that they may know that you are their child.
8. Eighth, do no abandon them in any need and want, but help them and serve them, and especially in their old age. Remember how much they labored for you, you should also render them service.
9. Ninth, cover with silence any infirmity you may see in them, which occur even in good people. But even if you should see something scandalous, resolutely avoid judging them and revealing it to anyone else. Do not imitate Ham, the son of Noah, who saw his father's nakedness and went out and told it to his brothers. But follow his brothers, Shem and Japhet, who took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father (Gen. 9:23), and son on. Then you should see as though not seeing when you see anything in your parents.
10. Tenth, if you should somehow offend them in your actions and you know it in your conscience, do not delay, but fall down before them that very hour and beg their forgiveness with humility, lest you fall under God's judgement. For if you are obliged to ask forgiveness of every man whom you have offended and to make peace with him according to Christ's words (cf. Mt. 5:23-24), how much more are we obliged to do so with our parents, to whom we owe love and honor more than to any other person.
11. Eleventh, even the pagans have established great punishments in their books for those children who do not honor their parents. Terrible punishments are also prescribed against such miserable children in the holy Law of God. He that curse father or mother, let him die the death (Mt. 15:4, cf. Ex. 21:17, Lev. 20:9), and so on. Such children, or rather degenerates of the human race, are loathsome to God and men. It is a great ingratitude and a serious iniquity to be an evildoer to your benefactors and to return evil for good. Therefore, Christian, beware, lest you experience God's avenging hand on you at that very moment. After God we have no greater benefactors than our parents. Then it is a fearful thing to be ungrateful to them.
12. Twelfth, know of a certainty that as you are to your parents, so will your children be to you, according to the words of Christ,And with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again (Mt. 7:2).




Thursday, 26 September 2013

Icon Corner






The icon corner (Greek: εικονοστάσι and Russian: Кра́сный у́гол - meaning red, bright-shining, or beautiful corner) is a small worship space prepared in the homes of the orthodox people.

An Orthodox Christian is expected to pray constantly. According to Bishop Kallistos Ware, "In Orthodox spirituality, [there is] no separation between liturgy and private devotion."Thus the house, just like the Temple (church building), is considered to be a consecrated place, and the center of worship in the house is the icon corner.Ideally, the icon corner is located so that it is visible when one first enters the house from the main entrance. Traditionally, when first entering the house, an Orthodox Christian would venerate the icons before greeting the members of the house.

In the past, whether in a village or in the city, every Orthodox family’s home would always have a shelf with icons, or an entire home iconostasis, located in the most visible place. The place where the icons were installed was known as the front corner, the beautiful corner, the holy corner or God’s place.
For Orthodox Christians, an icon is not just a depiction of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Mother of God, the Saints, or events from Sacred and Church History. An icon is a sacred image, i.e., it is outside the realm of ordinary reality; it is not to be confused with ordinary daily life; and it is intended only for communion with God. Thus, the primary purpose of icons is prayer. An icon is a window from our world, the earthly world, into the world above. It is God’s revelation in form and color.
In this way, an icon is not simply a family relic to be passed on from generation to generation, but a holy thing that unites all family members during communal prayer – for prayer in common can take place only if those standing before the icons have mutually forgiven one another’s offenses and achieved unity.
Today, of course, when the television set ­– which is itself a kind of a window into the motley world of human passions – has taken the place of icons in the home, the purpose of the family icon, the tradition of common prayer at home, and the consciousness of the family as the “little Church” have been lost.
Therefore, an Orthodox Christian today might ask: What icons should I have in my home? How should they be arranged? Can I use reproductions of icons? What do I do with old, dilapidated icons?
Some of these questions merit an unequivocal answer, while others do not demand any kind of strict recommendations.
Where should one place icons at home?
In a free and accessible place.
The terse nature of such an answer is prompted by the realities of life, rather than by the absence of canonical requirements.
Of course, it is preferable to place icons on the eastern wall of the room, because the “East” as a theological concept has special significance in Orthodoxy.
And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed (Genesis 2:8).
O Jerusalem, look about thee toward the east, and behold the joy that cometh unto thee from God (Baruch 4:36).
Moreover the spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the east gate of the Lord’s house, which looketh eastward (Ezekiel 11:1).
For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be (Matthew 24:27).
But what should one do if there are windows or doors on the eastern side of one’s home? In that case, use the southern, northern, or western walls.
One should not combine icons with decorative objects of a secular nature, such as statuettes, various types of pictures, etc.
It is inappropriate to put icons on a bookshelf next to books having nothing in common with the Orthodox faith or that conflict with Christian teaching on love and charity.
It is absolutely impermissible to have icons next to posters or calendars depicting rock musicians, athletes, or politicians – the idols of the current age. This not only diminishes reverence for the holy images to an unacceptable degree, but also puts holy icons on par with the idols of the contemporary world.

The home icon corner can be decorated with live flowers. Traditionally, larger icons are often framed with towels. This tradition dates back to antiquity and has a theological basis. According to tradition, an image of the Savior miraculously appeared on a towel during His earthly life to help a suffering man. After washing His Face, Christ wiped His Face with a clean towel, on which an image of His Face appeared. The towel was sent to King Abgar, who was afflicted with leprosy, in the city of Edessa in Asia Minor. Upon healing, the ruler and his subjects adopted Christianity and the Image-Not-Made-By-Hands of Jesus Christ was affixed to a “permanent panel” and raised above the city gates.
In times past, August 29 (new style), the day the Church commemorates the translation of the Image Not-Made-By-Hands of our Lord Jesus Christ from Edessa to Constantinople in 944, was known among the people as the feast of the “canvas” or “linen Savior,” and in some places fabric and towels made of homespun yarn were blessed.
These richly embroidered towels were reserved for use in the icon corner. Likewise, icons were framed by towels for use during weddings and the Blessing of Waters. Thus, for example, after the service for the Blessing of Waters, when the priest sprinkled the icons with abundant Holy Water, people would wipe the icons with special towels that they would incorporate into the icon corner.

Which icons should you have at home?
It is essential to have icons of the Savior and the Mother of God. The Image of the Lord Jesus Christ, which bears witness to the Incarnation and to the salvation of mankind, and of the Theotokos – the most perfect of those who have lived on earth, who was made worthy of deification, and who is venerated as more honorable than the Cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim – are an essential part of the Orthodox Christian home. The icon of Christ ordinarily selected for prayer at home is a waist-length depiction of Christ Pantocrator.
Those with room for a greater number of icons in the home may supplement their icon corner with depictions of various revered saints.



Russian Orthodoxy has a strong tradition of special veneration for St. Nicholas the Wonderworker; almost every Orthodox family has an icon of him. One should note that, together with the icons of the Savior and the Mother of God, the image of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker has always occupied a central place in Orthodox Christian homes. People revere St. Nicholas as a saint endowed with special grace. This stems in large part from the fact that, according to the Church’s Typikon, every Thursday, when the Church offers up prayers to the Holy Apostles, is also dedicated to St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia.
Among the icons of the Holy Prophets of God, that of the Prophet Elias holds a prominent place; prominent among the icons of the Holy Apostles is that of the Sts. Peter and Paul, the chiefs among the Apostles.
Among the images of martyrs for Christian Faith, those encountered most often are icons of the Holy Great Martyr and Trophy-bearer George and the Holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon.
It is recommended to have depictions of the Holy Evangelists, of St. John the Baptist, of the Holy Archangels Gabriel and Michael, as well as icons of the Feasts, to make a home icon corner complete.
The selection of icons for one’s home is always an individual matter. The best person to help one make these choices is one’s priest – the family’s spiritual father – and it is to him, or to another clergyman, that one should turn for advice.
As for icon reproductions and color photographs, sometimes it makes more sense to have a good reproduction than a painted icon of poor quality.
An iconographer should maintain a very demanding attitude toward his work. Just as a priest does not serve the Liturgy without due preparation, the iconographer must approach his service with full awareness of his responsibility. Unfortunately, both in the past and today, one often encounters vulgar examples of images that bear no resemblance to icons. Thus, if a given depiction does not evoke a sense of piety and a sense of contact with the holy, or if it is theologically suspect and its technical execution is unprofessional, it would be best not to purchase such an item.
However, reproductions of canonical icons, mounted on a firm backing and blessed in church, can occupy a place of honor in the home iconostasis.
How and in what order should icons be arranged?
Are there strict rules in that regard?
In church, yes. As to the home prayer corner, we may limit discussion to a few principal rules.
For example, a collection of icons hung without a sense of symmetry, without a well thought-out arrangement, evokes a constant sense of dissatisfaction with the arrangement and a desire to change everything – something that often distracts from prayer.
It is likewise essential to remember the principle of hierarchy: for example, do not place an icon of a locally-venerated saint above an icon of the Holy Trinity, the Savior, the Mother of God, or the Apostles.
Just as on a classic iconostasis, the Icon of the Savior should be to the right, and the Mother of God to the left.


 What should be our attitude toward holy things?
As one of the attributes of God (Isaiah 6:3), holiness is also reflected in God’s saints and in physical objects. Therefore, reverence for holy people and sacred objects and images, as well as personal striving for authentic communion with God, are manifestations of a single order.
And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the Lord am holy (Leviticus 20: 26).
Family icons have always been held in particular reverence. Following baptism, an infant was brought before and icon and the priest or master of the house would read prayers. Parents blessed their children with an icon to pursue studies, to go on extended journeys, or to engage in public service. As a sign of their approval of a wedding, parents likewise blessed newlyweds with icons. Moreover, a person’s departure from this life took place in the presence of icons.
It is improper to have arguments or to engage in rowdy or otherwise improper behavior before the images of the saints.
One should instill proper reverence for holy images in children from a very early age.

 What should you do if an icon’s condition has rendered it unfit for use and it cannot be restored?
Under no circumstance should such an icon, even one that has not been blessed, simply be thrown away. A holy item, even if it has lost its original appearance, should always be treated with reverence.
If the condition of the icon has deteriorated with age, it should be taken to church to be burned in the church furnace. If that proves impossible, you should burn the icon yourself and bury the ashes in a place that will not be sullied or disturbed, e.g., in a cemetery or under a tree in the garden.
The faces that look at us from icons belong to eternity. Gazing upon them, raise up your prayers to them, asking for their intercessions. We, the inhabitants of the earthly world, should never forget our Savior’s eternal call towards repentance, perfection, and the deification of every human soul.


Some families burn wax votive candles before the icons; however, the tradition is to burn olive oil. Electric lights are not appropriate for use as the light to burn before icons. The traditional oil lamps require an amount of attention which electricity does not, thereby directing our physical services and thoughts to God several times a day when we are required to trim the wick and refill the lamp with oil.
There are a number of different kinds of utensils designed for burning oil before icons. A very common one is the wick-float which utilizes cork to keep the wick and flame floating on the oil. The burning of oil before icons, its care and practice is described below:

1. The Glass. Any low, wide-mouth glass may be used for the lamp. Once used for this, however, the glass should not be reused for any other purpose. In Greece, most of the lamps are of clear glass, but colors such as red, blue or milk-colored are also used. [It is advisable to use a large enough glass so that the oil will last at least 10 to 12 hours.]

2. The Oil. The use of olive oil for the lamps is a tradition which we have received even from the time of our father Moses. The olive oil will burn best if left open and allowed to age (or even become rancid).

3. The Wick. To make a wick, use cotton string about one foot in length. Do not use coated or waxed string. Cotton string of about 6 ply will be thick enough. If the wick is soaked in vinegar it will burn brighter and cleaner. If this is done, the wick should be allowed to dry thoroughly before being used.

4. The Flame. The fathers of the Holy Mountain [Athos] have taught us to use a very low flame which they call apathes, passionless. The flame should burn steadily, not flickering. The lamp will burn six to twelve hours, depending mainly on the oil, but also on the size of the flame, the weather, etc. Before relighting the lamp, remove the excess carbon from the wick and twist the string slightly to shape the wick into a point. [Candle wax may be used to make a firm point for ease in "threading" the wick. It should be trimmed off before lighting.]

5. Cleaning. The napkin or tissue used to wipe the carbon and oil from the fingers should be burned in a separate place (the home censer is the best place) and not just thrown into the garbage. Be careful not to drip or spill the oil when lighting the lamp (St. Theodore of Studion imposed a canon of thirty prostrations on the church ecclesiarch who spills oil from the icon lamps). The glass should be washed periodically, and the oil replaced anew. The water in which the lamp is washed, as well as the old oil from the icon lamp, should not be poured down the drain. It is best, rather, to pour it under plants or trees, or an area that is not walked upon.

Pious Orthodox faithful take oil frequently from the lamp and bless themselves, making the sign of the Cross on their foreheads.

Understanding the Holy Spirit


The gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost "called all men into unity," according to the Byzantine liturgical hymn of the day; into this new unity, which St. Paul called the "body of Christ," each individual Christian enters through Baptism and "chrismation" (the Eastern form of the Western "confirmation") when the priest anoints him saying "the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit."

This gift, however, requires man's free response. Orthodox saints such as Seraphim of Sarov (died 1833) described the entire content of Christian life as a "collection of the Holy Spirit." The Holy Spirit is thus conceived as the main agent of man's restoration to his original natural state through Communion in Christ's body. This role of the Spirit is reflected, very richly, in a variety of liturgical and sacramental acts. Every act of worship usually starts with a prayer addressed to the Spirit, and all major sacraments begin with an invocation to the Spirit. The eucharistic liturgies of the East attribute the ultimate mystery of Christ's Presence to a descent of the Spirit upon the worshipping congregation and upon the eucharistic bread and wine. The significance of this invocation (in Greek epiklesis) was violently debated between Greek and Latin Christians in the Middle Ages because the Roman canon of the mass lacked any reference to the Spirit and was thus considered as deficient by the Orthodox Greeks.

Since the Council of Constantinople (381), which condemned the Pneumatomachians ("fighters against the Spirit"), no one in the Orthodox East has ever denied that the Spirit is not only a "gift" but also the giver—i.e., that he is the third Person of the holy Trinity. The Greek Fathers saw in Gen. 1:2 a reference to the Spirit's cooperation in the divine act of creation; the Spirit was also viewed as active in the "new creation" that occurred in the womb of the Virgin Mary when she became the mother of Christ (Luke 1:35); and finally, Pentecost was understood to be an anticipation of the "last days" (Acts 2:17) when, at the end of history, a universal communion with God will be achieved. Thus, all the decisive acts of God are accomplished "by the Father in the Son, through the Holy Spirit."

Orthodox Christology




The Orthodox Church is formally committed to the Christology (doctrine of Christ) that was defined by the councils of the first eight centuries. Together with the Latin Church of the West, it has rejected Arianism (a belief in the subordination of the Son to the Father) at Nicaea (325), Nestorianism (a belief that stresses the independence of the divine and human natures of Christ) at Ephesus (431), and Monophysitism (a belief that Christ had only one divine nature) at Chalcedon (451). The Eastern and Western churches still formally share the tradition of subsequent Christological developments, even though the famous formula of Chalcedon, "one person in two natures," is given different emphases in the East and West. The stress on Christ's identity with the preexistent Son of God, the Logos (Word) of the Gospel According to John, characterizes Orthodox Christology. On Byzantine icons, around the face of Jesus, the Greek letters '' —the equivalent of the Jewish Tetragrammaton YHWH, the name of God in the Old Testament—are often depicted. Jesus is thus always seen in his divine identity. Similarly, the liturgy consistently addresses the Virgin Mary as Theotokos (the "one who gave birth to God"), and this term, formally admitted as a criterion of orthodoxy at Ephesus, is actually the only "Mariological" (doctrine of Mary) dogma accepted in the Orthodox Church. It reflects the doctrine of Christ's unique divine Person, and Mary is thus venerated only because she is his mother "according to the flesh."

This emphasis on the personal divine identity of Christ, based on the doctrine of St. Cyril of Alexandria (5th century), does not imply the denial of his humanity. The anthropology (doctrine of man) of the Eastern Fathers does not view man as an autonomous being but rather implies that communion with God makes man fully human. Thus the human nature of Jesus Christ, fully assumed by the divine Word, is indeed the "new Adam" in whom the whole of humanity receives again its original glory. Christ's humanity is fully "ours"; it possessed all the characteristics of the human being—"each nature (of Christ) acts according to its properties," Chalcedon proclaimed, following Pope Leo—without separating itself from the divine Word. Thus, in death itself—for Jesus' death was indeed a fully human death—the Son of God was the "subject" of the Passion. The theopaschite formula ("God suffered in the flesh") became, together with the Theotokos formula, a standard of orthodoxy in the Eastern Church, especially after the second Council of Constantinople (553). It implied that Christ's humanity was indeed real not only in itself but also for God, since it brought him to death on the cross, and that the salvation and redemption of humanity can be accomplished by God alone—hence the necessity for him to condescend to death, which held humanity captive.

This theology of redemption and salvation is best expressed in the Byzantine liturgical hymns of Holy Week and Easter: Christ is the one who "tramples down death by death," and, on the evening of Good Friday, the hymns already exalt his victory. Salvation is conceived not in terms of satisfaction of divine justice, through paying the debt for the sin of Adam—as the medieval West understood it—but in terms of uniting the human and the divine with the divine overcoming human mortality and weakness and, finally, exalting man to divine life.

What Christ accomplished once and for all must be appropriated freely by those who are "in Christ"; their goal is "deification," which does not mean dehumanization but the exaltation of man to the dignity prepared for him at creation. Such feasts as the Transfiguration or the Ascension are extremely popular in the East precisely because they celebrate humanity glorified in Christ—a glorification that anticipates the coming of the Kingdom of God, when God will be "all in all."

Participation in the already deified humanity of Christ is the true goal of Christian life, and it is accomplished through the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Fixed Great Feasts




January 7 – The Nativity of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ
January 19 – The Baptism of Our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ
February 15 – Meeting of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ in the Temple
April 7 – The Annunciation of Our Most Holy Lady, the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary
August 19 – The Holy Transfiguration of Our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ
August 28 – The Dormition of our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary
September 21 – Nativity of Our Most Holy Lady the Mother of God and Ever Virgin Mary
September 27 – The Universal Elevation of the Precious and Life-Creating Cross of the Lord
December 4 – Entry into the Temple of our Most Holy Lady Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

St. Nilus the Myrrhstreamer of Mt Athos on the Last Times


A Prophecy by St. Nilus the Myrrhstreamer of Mt Athos, Greece in the year 1651


After the year 1900, toward the middle of the 20th century, the people of that time will become unrecognizable. When the time of the advent of the antichrist approaches, people's minds will grow cloudy from carnal passions, and dishonour and lawlessness will grow stronger. Then the world will grow unrecognizable.

People's appearances will change, and it will be impossible to distinguish men from women due to their shamelessness in dress and style of hair. These people will be cruel and will be like wild animals because of the temptations of the antichrist.

There will be no respect for parents and elders, love will disappear, and CHRISTIAN PASTORS, BISHOPS, AND PRIESTS WILL BECOME VILE MEN, COMPLETELY FAILING TO DISTINGUISH THE RIGHT-HAND WAY FROM THE LEFT.

At that time the morals and traditions of Christians and of the Church will change. People will abandon modesty, and dissipation will reign. Falsehood and greed will attain great proportions, and woe to those who pile up treasures. Lust, adultery, homosexuality, secret deeds, and murder will rule in society.

At that future time, due to the power of such great crimes and licentiousness, people will be deprived of the grace of the Holy Spirit, which they received in Holy Baptism, and equally of remorse. THE CHURCHES OF GOD WILL BE DEPRIVED OF GOD-FEARING AND PIOUS PASTORS, and woe to the Christians remaining in the world at that time; they will completely lose their faith because they will lack the opportunity of seeing the light of knowledge from anyone at all. They will separate themselves out of the world in holy refuges in search of a lightening of their spiritual sufferings, but everywhere they will meet obstacles and constraints.

And this will result from the fact that the antichrist wants to be lord over everything and become the ruler of the whole universe, and he will produce miracles and fantastic signs. He will also give depraved wisdom to an unhappy man so that he will discover a way by which one man can carry on a conversation from one end of the earth to the other. At that time, men will also fly through the air like birds and descend to the bottom of the sea like fishes. And when they have achieved all this, these unhappy people will spend their lives in comfort without knowing, poor souls, that it is the deceit of antichrist. And the impious one! -- he will so complete science with vanity, that it will go off the right path and lead people to lose faith in the existence of God.

Then God will see the downfall of the human race and will shorten the days for the sake of those few who are being saved, because the enemy wants to lead even the chosen into temptation, if that is possible ... then the sword of chastisement will suddenly appear to kill the perverter.

Friday, 30 August 2013

The Balamand Agreement 1993

THE BALAMAND AGREEMENT. A DUBIOUS "KINSHIP"


"Latins are not only schismatics, they are heretics as well.
Therefore we simply cannot unite with them."
St. Mark of Ephesus
"It's a small flock that has not a black sheep" -- says a proverb. In an ecumenical "family" -- all are black sheep with the stamp of Judas Iscariot on them.What can one say about Australian Archbishop Stylianos (Patriarchate of Constantinople), who blasphemes the Holy Spirit in his sermon maintaining that "the individual and even the whole Church has never received the gifts of the Spirit sufficiently" and that "this is precisely why the well known characteristics of the Church, being "one, holy, catholic and apostolic" remain until the day of the Parousia both gifts and postulates at the same time" ?!.

Archbishop Stylianos, along with the other ecumenists of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, participated in the scandalously lawless and anticanonical "Council" which has condemned Patriarch Diodorus of Jerusalem for being "too Orthodox" for them. The "Robber Synod" of the Phanar made bold to prohibit two Archbishops of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem -- Timothy of Lidda and Hesychios of Capitola -- and to "cut off from the Body of the Church" layman Nicholas Sotiropulos.

This famous theologian has thus commented on his "excommunication": "the Bishops of the so called Highest and Full Synod of Phanar have rendered me, Orthodox theologian and opponent of heretics, honor and glory." The main reason for his "excommunication" Sotiropulos sees in his "denunciation of frightful
heresies of Archbishop Stylianos of Australia, who preaches Christ's participation in sin (who apart from an antichristians could be capable of this? - L.P.), who maintains that the notorious film by Kazantzakis and Scorcese "The Last Temptation", portraying our Lord as a debauchee, contains no blasphemy, who declares that Orthodoxy and Papism are in no way different and constitute one Church; that man has descended from an ape; and that Holy Scripture is a great fabrication!.. "

Orthodox ecumenists are accustomed to betrayal, it has become their second nature, and is no longer experienced as a tragedy. And it is natural: frequent meetings and friendship with heretics of various persuasions could not but result in the clouding of mind and mutation of conscience. It is not for nothing that Holy Scripture, all Teachers of the Church and all Ecumenical Councils instructed Orthodox Christians to shun those of a different disposition of mind and not to associate with them. Saint Anthony the Great was frank about it when saying that a "friendship and discourse with heretics harm the soul" and advised to avoid any communication with them. The great Abba taught: "When you meet a man, who for the love of argument enters into contention with you against what is true and obvious, stop arguing and keep away from him for his mind has become petrified. Because just as putrid water affects one's stomach, so the wicked discourses corrupt the mind and the heart". The Holy Apostle Paul forewarns that "evil communications corrupt good manners" (1 Cor. 15,33), and the 2nd Rule of the Council of Antioch instructs: "If anyone... should appear to be communing with those who have been excluded from communion, he too is to be excluded from communion." The tragedy which took place in June of 1993 in Balamand (Northern Lebanon, near Tripoli) officially known as the Seventh Plenary Session of the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue Between the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Church was being prepared in all secrecy for a long time. In Balamand the "Orthodox" have for the first time officially accepted the "branch theory" and by refusing to confess the Orthodox Church as being Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, they actually repudiated the Creed.

In the course of its 1000-year history the Latin Church has persistently tried to impose itself on the Orthodox world. And wherever perfidy and stratagem failed, the Vatican resorted to fire and sword. "Lacking the power of life to attract the mind, the heart, and the will of man to follow it voluntarily, the Catholic faith" according to Saint John of Kronstadt, "can entice the right-thinking people only by force and deceit".

The Vatican diplomacy is very pliant, it knows how to bide its time and how to pretend to be losing and making concessions. This was also the case in Balamand: having declared Uniatism to be the method no longer effective, the Vatican has neither lost, nor sacrificed anything. On the contrary, Balamand made its dreams come true; there the Vatican managed to achieve that which the Crusaders of old and later the Papist diplomats in the Unitarian Councils in Lion (1274), Ferrara and Florence (1438-1439) failed to do.

The Orthodox Theological School of St. John Damascene at the ancient (12th century) monastery of the Mother of God of Balamand accommodated 24 representatives of the Vatican and 14 Orthodox representatives from the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Moscow, and Rumania, and also from the Churches of Cyprus, Poland, Albany, and Finland, altogether -- 9 out of 15 Local Orthodox Churches. Co-chairmen of this conference were Cardinal Edward Cassidy and the afore-mentioned Archbishop Stylianos of Australia. This meeting resulted in the endorsement of the document "Uniatism, Method for Union in the Past, and the Present Search for Full Communion", which has made history under the name of the "Balamand Union".

The communique published in Episkepsis 325 (of 23 July, 1993) reads: "In the spirit of the ecclesiology of communion and because of the fact that the Catholic and Orthodox Churches recognize each other as Sister Churches, it was observed that, in the effort to reestablish unity, it is a question of achieving together the will of Christ for those who are His disciples and the design of God for His Church, by means of a common search for full agreement in faith, and not a question of seeking the conversion of persons from one Church to the other. This latter type of missionary activity, which has been called "Uniatism", cannot be accepted either as a method to follow, or as a model for the unity which is being sought by our Churches".

But what is the meaning of this communique translated from the "Babylonian language"? As things stand, one of the reasons for the conference in Balamand was the ever-growing and very understandable concern of Orthodox population in connection with the spread of Uniatism which followed the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the Vatican's attempts to convert to Catholicism the people who have just shaken off the yoke of communism. This is why both this text and the text of the Agreement itself, making use of its language of "minitruth", aims at appeasing, or to be more precise, lulling the vigilance of Orthodox people by "censuring" Uniatism and declaring it to be an outdated method.

It is worthy of attention that the Balamand Agreement condemned any missionary activity, in other words, "it denies Orthodoxy and preaches agreement with the heterodox, which in actual fact is super-Uniatism (our emphasis - L.P.) The purpose of this stratagem is to confuse the concepts of Apostolic mission and Uniatism. As it is well known, Uniatism is nothing but the Papists' method characterized by two principles: 1) all means are justified for converting people to Catholicism (economic aid, etc.); 2) converts may keep their rites and customs, provided they fully accept the Papist doctrine. In other words, Uniatism is a "fraudulent method, like sailing under an alien flag".

Moreover, one should take into account the completely different understanding of unity by Catholics and the Orthodox. "For Catholics the return to unity means the return to submission to the Pope, and at this point ecumenism, proselytism, or Uniatism are only various means of achieving the same object (see the decree on ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio of the Second Vatican Council, Ch. 1,4). Thus, a verbal condemnation of one or another method is not binding, and what is more, it does not prevent one from accomplishing one's task locally."

The situation is altogether different with Orthodoxy. "The true Orthodox may decline missionary activity only when he ceases to be Orthodox. He perceives return to unity as a return of any person, as a conversion of any heterodox person to the true faith. By substituting an abstract search for unity for conversion, ecumenism has fulfilled (in Balamand - L.P.) its task: it made the Orthodox renounce Orthodoxy. There remains one question: what sort of union is espoused by the members of these Sister-Churches?!".

Right at the very beginning (Paragraph 6) the Balamand document contains a historical-ecclesiological lie, which has been spread by the Latins from the Middle Ages on -- the notorious "schism of the Churches". This radically incorrect expression, imposed by the Vatican, has, unfortunately, become a rather commonly used (especially amongst lay people) definition of Rome's falling away in 1054 from the Ecumenical Church, which had excommunicated, i.e. anathematized Rome, because of the Latin distortion of the Creed. According to St. Mark of Ephesus this was something which no heretic has ever dared to do.

In the devious times that we live in every Orthodox person should have sound knowledge of the fact that the Church, being the Body of Christ, cannot be divided, just as Jesus Christ our Lord cannot be divided; according to the Creed it is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. Those who are incompatible with its immutable holiness can fall away from it, as was the case with the Arians, Monophysites, Monothelites, Iconoclasts, Latins and other heretics who fell away from the Holy Church on account of their heresies. The "trained" Orthodox theologians (as Bishop Maximus of Pittsburg has encouragingly called them) surely knew these rudiments. Having endorsed the formulation concerning "the division between the Churches" which is alien to Orthodoxy, do they indeed, assume that they have remained "faithful to the Lord's commandments", as this Paragraph 6 suggests?!

One of the main reasons, or even the basis of the Balamand Agreement became the erroneous opinion, accepted by many Orthodox schools, about the preservation of Apostolic succession by the Papists who had fallen away from the Church. Hence also the recognition of Latin sacraments. In his historical -- theological and convincingly well-founded article "Agreement between Orthodox and Catholics" containing a brief and remarkably clear analysis of the notorious "schism", Archpriest Prof. John Romanides proves the groundlessness of the Balamand Agreement.

This Agreement is primarily based on the change of ecclesiology which took place after the Second Vatican Council and the "Pan-Orthodox" ecumenical conferences, where a transition was made from the self-affirmation of each Church that it is the only preserve of salvation to the conviction that both Churches are Sister Churches. Affirmation by the "Orthodox" of such close "kinship" with the Papists who never repented of their age-old heresies and errors, only testifies to their disgraceful capitulation. However, ecumenists do their best in trying to convince themselves and others that "such a change of position has opened the way to the dialogue of love, truth and sincerity" (our emphasis - L.P.). For the Papists, on the other hand, the set expression "Sister Churches", along with the theology of "two lungs" and "dual tradition" -- is not only an expression of ecumenic kindness, but also an essentially new instrument of the ecumenical-ecclesiological policy by means of which Rome could de facto oppose the abolition of Uniatism. During the ecumenical service in Dec. 7, 1991, Pope John Paul II said: "Catholicism and Orthodoxy actually constitute two lungs of the Christian heritage of the United Europe" [334]. Cardinal Silvestrini reiterated the above: "The Church of Christ breathes with its two lungs, the Eastern and the Western", and in his speech "The Heritage of the Eastern Churches -- an essential element in the fullness of Christian Heritage" before the Synod in Rome (Dec. 1991), he advanced the arguments according to which "the existence of the Eastern rite Churches (i.e. Uniate - L.P.) within the Catholic Church is indispensable".

When speaking of this "theology of the two lungs" we feel like quoting a graphic description of apostatic deviations of ecumenical Orthodox Churches, especially of the Moscow Patriarchate, which "during the recent decades has been undergoing a heart transplant operation, successful at last, it seems... Life has apparently returned... even consciousness and memory have remained. Missing is only the awareness that it is now an alien heart that beats in the chest. As to everything else, almost no external damages are visible; an effort is made to remove them as soon as possible... Grant us, o Lord, to die with our own heart within us!.."

Formulas produced by the reduced Joint Commission for the Dialogue between the Orthodox and Roman Catholics in Vienna (Jan. 1990) and Freising (June 1990), and then in Ariccia, Rome (June 1991) are almost literally repeated in the Balamand Agreement. Such, for instance, is its Paragraph 7, which insists: "In the course of centuries various attempts were made to reestablish unity. These attempts sought to achieve this end through different courses, including conciliar ones... Unfortunately none of these efforts succeeded in reestablishing full communion between the Church of the West and the Church of the East, and at times even made resistance more acute." (our emphasis - L.P.)

How tangible in this verbal subterfuge is the school of Machiavelli, the inspirer of political insidiousness, but even more so -- of the father of every insidiousness and lies -- the devil!

Under the "conciliar means" the authors of the above text probably understand, first of all, the Council of Florence of 1439, when the Unia was signed with the aim of first absorbing and subsequently annihilating Orthodoxy. Eleven years later this Unia was anathematized by the Orthodox Council in Constantinople thanks to the efforts of Saint Mark of Ephesus, a true confessor of faith.

It is quite possible that the Vatican considers the fraudulent Unia of Brest in 1596 also as a "conciliar course". This Unia began an open persecution of Orthodoxy and was accompanied by mass killing and violence against the Orthodox population in the Polish-Lithuanian state and in South West Russia. In any event, Uniatism of the so called "Eastern Church", this brain child of Jesuits, which for 400 years has been tirelessly accomplishing its pernicious task of tearing the traditionally Orthodox populations from the faith of their fathers, although declared to be an "outdated method of unification" in the language of Babylon, in actual fact received equal rights and is even "fully included in the dialogue of love" (Balamand Agreement, Paragraphs 16, 34).

As to the Paragraphs 23, 33 feigning an expression of condolence to everyone -- Orthodox, Uniates, Catholics "who endured suffering", one should remember martyrdom and confession of faith of thousands of Orthodox people who have been shedding blood when defending the purity of Orthodox faith. Endorsing the Balamand pact, Orthodox ecumenists, obedient to the Roman curia, consign to oblivion the entire criminal history of Papism and Unia.

Having mutually recognized themselves as Sister Churches in Balamand (Paragraphs 12 and 14) the representatives of both sides declared: "that which Christ has entrusted to His Church -- profession of apostolic faith, participation in the same sacraments, above all the one priesthood celebrating the one sacrifice of Christ, the apostolic succession of bishops -- cannot be considered the exclusive property of one of our Churches. In this context elimination of any re-baptism is obvious" (Paragraph 13).

This means that "Orthodox" ecumenists have lost faith in the soteriological and ecclesiological uniqueness of the Orthodox Church as the only Church of Christ. Having agreed with the Papists not to baptize Catholics who wish to convert to Orthodoxy, in practice, after Balamand they went still further by altogether refusing to accept Catholics into Orthodoxy on the grounds that they are allegedly members of the true Church anyway. Widening the concept of the Church with each passing day, ecumenists have finally embarked on the path of "those who received baptism or the sacrifice of heretics", and therefore are subject to excommunication according to the 46th Apostolic Rule.

A true baptism as an indispensable condition for joining the Church and its distinction from the false, heretical baptism at all times was understood by Orthodoxy in the same way. Historical and local distinctions in the practice of heterodox joining the Orthodox Church are not deviations of the Church from the truth, taking into account that "one general dogmatic view permits different practice", according to Holy Fathers, e.g. Cyprian of Carthage and Basil the Great. The Church's wise recourse to acrivia (strictness) and economia (condescension) depended on whether particular heterodox communities have distorted only individual points of doctrine and individual rites, or the basic maxims of faith. Besides, the measures of strictness could be determined by particularly unfavorable circumstances affecting the Church at one time or another. Thus, the Council of Moscow in 1620 and the Council of Constantinople in 1756 categorically instructed to baptize any Catholic who wished to join the Orthodox Church. Subsequently this practice was abandoned following Peter Mogila's ideas, "who had, against his own will, become the "Trojan horse" of latinization of Orthodox theology", and later on -- under the influence of Peter I "the friend of all German Lutherans", who destroyed the conciliar order of the Russian Church". The subsequent practice of accepting the heterodox into the Orthodox Church through repentance, and Latins -- even without chrismation, "has no dogmatic basis". The application of this practice for two centuries in Russia «has imparted it a semblance of antiquity, but it would be wrong to call it Tradition. It is not for nothing that St. Cyprian of Carthage says: "Habit without truth is only an old error» ("Consuetudo sine veritate, vetustas erroris est").

In our times, taking into account a catastrophic degradation of all the principles of Western Christianity (particularly after the Second Vatican Council) and the steady growth of ecumenical heresy, manifested, for example, in Roman Catholics being allowed to partake of Communion in the Moscow Patriarchate, the Bishops' Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad found it necessary to confirm the obligatory practice of baptizing all heretics joining the Church, by its decree of 15/28 September, 1971.

Let us keep in mind paragraphs 26, 28, and 29 of the Balamand Agreement which call on Orthodox, Catholic (or Uniate) priest "in order to avoid conflict and rivalry, to jointly organize their pastoral work, to consult one another, to unite and cooperate expressing mutual respect for the authority which the Holy Spirit has given them and also to take turns in celebrating services at the common place of worship". This thesis of the Balamand Agreement, now four years later, has surpassed all expectations: it literally "peacefully" destroys all Orthodox principles in Russia and other Slavic countries!

Paragraph 30 calls for the irreversible distortion of Church history, for the preparation in theological schools of priests unorthodox in spirit, for the rejection of "outdated ecclesiology": "Both sides must pay particular attention to the education of future priests in the spirit of new ecclesiology in order that they should be informed of the apostolic succession of the other Church and the authenticity of its sacramental life... In this way, the dissipation of the prejudices will be helped, and the use of history in a polemical manner will be avoided".

Undoubtedly, "prejudices" here refer to the definitions of Orthodox Councils regarding the hereticism, and impiety of the Papists and their denunciation by such holy hierarchs as Photius the Great, Mark of Ephesus, Gregory Palamas, as well as the spiritual struggles of many martyrs and confessors who suffered from the Latins.

All the paragraphs of the Balamand Agreement which speak of dogmatic minimalism, syncretism, rejection of holy canons and Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church, have become a reality which stifles the Orthodox spirit, misleads those at the cross-roads and seduces the "little ones".

Saint John of Shanghai and San-Francisco has thus characterized the signs of the end of the world: "There will be a mass falling away from faith, moreover many bishops will betray faith justifying themselves by pointing at the splendid state of the Church. People will be disposed to search for compromise. A forthright confession of faith will disappear. People will excel in justifying their fall, and tender evil will contribute to such general disposition, and people will become accustomed to apostasy and to sweetness of compromise and sin."

The protests of those clerics and lay people and also of very few bishops who belong to the official Churches which have taken the path of ecumenism, but who are trying to defend Orthodox positions, do not, as a rule, receive any reply, and the general apostatic orientation of bishops remains practically unchanged. Almost all bishops betrayed the faith (we speak of Orthodox bishops, since others simply have nothing to betray), except the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, the old-calendarist Greek and Bulgarian bishops old-calendarists and very few Orthodox Church communities. There are only very few true Orthodox Christians left in the world. Maybe foreseeing our violent times and our human weakness, Saint Mark of Ephesus, a luminary of Orthodoxy, said that Orthodox Christians should zealously adhere to the Orthodox Faith "which lacks in nothing" and to cherish it as the apple of our eye, so that "even if we die poor in all other virtues we could at least take Orthodoxy with us, if nothing else"

Sophian Heresy

THE SOPHIAN HERESY AND ATTEMPTS TO FEMINIZE GOD


"Sophia" translated from the Greek means "Divine Wisdom". As used in the Bible this term designates a general attribute of Divinity, His all-wise authority, as well as His superior reason.

The terms personifying Wisdom, commonly used in the Old Testament, particularly in the passages which are akin to the New Testament, and the revelation of Christ, were unanimously perceived by the Fathers as the Hypostasis of the Son of God. For instance, such is the general Church understanding of words about the Wisdom contained in the Book of Proverbs (9,1-9).

The Acts of the First, the Third, the Sixth and the Seventh Ecumenical Councils testify to the fact that the entire Orthodox Church applied the term Divine Wisdom to the Second Divine Hypostasis. Thus, the First Ecumenical Council spoke of the inscrutable Wisdom, "Which created everything that was created", -- of the uncreated, unoriginate Wisdom, Wisdom without beginning i.e. of Christ, because Christ is God's Power and God's Wisdom (1 Cor. 1,24) [140].

In the Acts of the Seventh Ecumenical Council we read: "Our Lord Jesus Christ, our true God, the self-existent Wisdom of God the Father, Who manifested Himself in the flesh, and by His great and divine dispensation (lit., economy) freed us from the snares of idolatry, clothing Himself in our nature, restored it through the cooperation of the Spirit, Who shares His mind..."

"From the most ancient times and onwards many Orthodox countries have been consecrating churches to the Lord Jesus Christ as the Wisdom of God". This fact also confirms that the words "Wisdom of God" refers to the Second Divine Hypostasis.

Archpriest Michael Pomazansky notes the fact that generally ancient Christian temples were not infrequently given the names of Christian concepts. Thus, in Chalcedon there was a church of St. Irene -- "not of the martyr Irene, but of Irene, the peace of Christ", as is explained in Chet'yi Mineyi (The Lives of Saints in the order of their commemoration days) for January 27. "In Constantinople St. Gregory the Theologian has uttered the famous words concerning the Holy Trinity in the temple of Anastasia -- not the martyr Anastasia, but Anastasia, the Resurrection of Christ. Such also is the temple of Paraskeva -- not the martyr Paraskeva, but Paraskeva-Friday, the day of our Savior's suffering and of His descent into hell (very frequently depicted in ancient icons)".

"Therefore", says Archpriest M. Pomazansky, "the sophiologists reference to the Church tradition in the East in the preservation of the idea of Sophia which expressed itself in the building of temples of St. Sophia and in the icon-painting suffers from being extremely strained" (Archpriest Michael Pomazansky "O zhizni, o vere, o Tserkvi" /On Life, Faith and Church/, a collection of articles, Second issue, Jordanville, 1976, p. 136).

The teaching of the Fathers of the Church about Jesus Christ as the Wisdom of God and this name of the Second Divine Hypostasis was perceived "as a clear and indisputable truth by the entire universal Church".

However, the pseudo-wisdom of this world chose to see a special, spiritual personal being in the Old Testament term of "Sophia".

Vladimir Soloviev's (1853 - 1900) writings have in many ways contributed to dissemination of the Sophian mythology in Russia. This brilliant thinker exercised an enormous influence upon Russian religious philosophy and theological thinking. His impact is great even today.

The concept of Sophia occupies an exceptional place in Soloviev's writings where it underwent all kinds of metamorphoses. He would associate it with Christ, with the "soul of the world" (World Soul), with "ideal and eternal universal humanity", with the Mother of God, with the "guardian Angel of the world". (Soloviev's) Sophia acquired also a completely different spiritually questionable aspect -- that of Eternal Femininity (Die ewige Weiblichkeit) which arose on the basis of Romanticism, rabbinic cabbala and stormy gnostic fantasy.

This feminine aspect of Sophia had a special personal meaning for Soloviev. It was a kind of mystical experience of love which accompanied him all his life. "Sophia" inspired not only his poetry but his entire philosophic creativity. For Soloviev the philosopher she was not so much a speculative, as a mystically-real phenomenon (no matter how paradoxical it may sound). Soloviev (as also later Fr. S. Bulgakov) had a visual perception of Sophia and he described his mystical encounters with her image in his innermost lyrical poems which subsequently inspired the whole generation of Russian symbolists (A. Blok and A. Bely, in particular).

We would not speak of this obvious spiritual delusion and somewhat sinister metaphysical "romance" of Soloviev with "Sophia" had they not persisted in the teaching of two famous theological thinkers of the 20th c. -- priests Pavel Florensky and Sergei Bulgakov who today have many followers in Russia and in many other countries.

These direct disciples and followers of Vladimir Soloviev have absorbed not only the gnostic-pantheistic ambiguity of their teacher, but all his "turbidity of erotic delusion" (archpriest Georgii Florovsky) as well. In their intellectual reflection on the Eternal Feminine, on Sophia, Florensky and Bulgakov have left Soloviev far behind by creating even more blasphemous images of her. If, according to G. Florovsky, their teacher attempted to create an "ecclesiastic synthesis out of an unecclesiastic experience" (35), these two preachers of Sophianism were invested with clerical rank.

Archbishop Seraphim Sobolev speaks of the Sophian doctrine of Florensky and Bulgakov as a "truly heretical teaching with a gnostic and pagan world view", leading to "dogmatic chaos".

With regard to Fr. S. Bulgakov's theology, this Archbishop writes that "it is not only an abnormal development of theological thought, but also the most serious sin. According to the Fathers, the gravest sin is the sin against the Orthodox faith because it is not rooted in excusable weaknesses of human nature, but is a sin of our spiritual nature depriving us of the grace of the Holy Spirit". Being a heresy, the Sophian teaching, says Archbishop Seraphim, "may endanger the very existence of the Orthodox Church on earth, if it is not decisively refuted and condemned by the Highest Church Authorities.

Lately in Russia the Sophianist ideas of priest Pavel Florensky and of Archpriest Sergei Bulgakov have been increasingly disseminated. For many the question of Sophia remains still not quite clear.

For this reason it is extremely important to know that Sophianism was twice condemned by conciliar decision, as evidenced by two documents:

1) A decree of Moscow Patriarchate dated 24 August, 1935, No.93.

In this document the following is said: "By our decision of 24 August, 1935, No.93 it was determined:

i) The teaching of Professor and Archpriest S.N. Bulgakov -- which, by its peculiar and arbitrary (Sophian) interpretation, often distorts the dogmas of the Orthodox faith, which in some of its points directly repeats false teachings already condemned by conciliar decisions of the Church, and the possible deductions resulting from which could even prove dangerous to spiritual life -- this teaching is to be recognized as alien to the Holy Orthodox Church of Christ, and all its faithful servants and children are to be cautioned against an acceptance of this teaching.

ii) Those Orthodox Reverend Archpastors, clergy and laity who have indiscreetly embraced Bulgakov's teaching and who have promoted it in their preaching and works, either written or printed, are to be called upon to correct the errors committed and to be steadfastly faithful to "sound teaching".

2) A Decision of the Bishops' Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad of the 17/30 October 1935 concerning the new teaching of Archpriest Sergei Bulgakov on Sophia, the Wisdom of God.

The first three points of this Decision state:

"i) To recognize the teaching of Archpriest Sergei Bulgakov on Sophia the Wisdom of God as heretical.

ii) To inform Metropolitan Yevlogy of this Decision of the Council and to request that he admonish Archpriest Bulgakov with the intention of prompting him to publicly renounce his heretical teaching concerning Sophia and to make a report about the consequences of such admonition to the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.

iii) In the event that Archpriest Bulgakov does not repent, the present Decision of the Council which condemns the heresy of Sophianism is to be made known to all Autocephalous Churches."

Among the works refuting the heresy of Sophianism one must first of all mention the works of St. John (Maximovitch) [149] and Archbishop Seraphim (Sobolev's) book "A New Teaching concerning Sophia the Wisdom of God", Sofia, 1935. This is "the most significant critical work of Archbishop Seraphim on Sophiology in the 20-th century, -- with regard to both its volume (525 pages) and its content (Theological Works, 27, M., p. 61).

Apart from this book the ever-memorable Archbishop Seraphim devoted yet another work dedicated to this problem -- "The Defense by Archpriest S. Bulgakov of the Heresy of Sophianism in the Face of Its Condemnation by the Bishops' Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad", Sofia, 1937.

The above mentioned works, written in a patristic spirit completely demolish the Sophianist heresy of Bulgakov and Florensky.

The decision of the Bishops' Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad which condemned the false teaching of Archpriest S. Bulgakov was founded on a most serious theological analysis made by Archbishops John (Maximovitch) and Seraphim (Sobolev). For this reason the claim made by Sophianists that those Bishops who have declared Bulgakov to be a heretic allegedly did not read his works, is a flimsy lie.

Another deliberate lie is the assertion made by a cleric of Moscow Patriarchate, Hegumen Andronik (Trubachev), a relative of Florensky and a popularizer of his ideas, that "in the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad the honoring of Florensky as a martyr began in 1981. His name and his image are to be found on the icon of the New Martyrs. Fr. Pavel is especially revered as a martyr by the Brotherhood of St. Herman of Alaska (California)..." (JMP, No.12, p.31) [150].

The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad through its First Hierarch Metropolitan Vitaly made the following statement concerning the supposed glorification of priest Pavel Florensky: "In the name of the Bishops' Council and Synod the editorial office of this Messenger makes a categorical announcement that the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad did not even consider and could not bring itself to make such a glorification. An annoying error of purely iconographic character has taken place. On the icon of the New Martyrs of Russia the name of Pavel Florensky was inscribed but not his image.

If one makes an analysis of Fr. Pavel Florensky's book with a pretentious title "The Pillar and an Affirmation of Truth" and of his other works then an Orthodox reader is confronted with an image of this outstanding priest with a turbulent soul who threw himself into the sea of theology without a compass and who is sailing towards a goal which is not known to anyone including himself". (Metropolitan Vitaly, The Orthodox Messenger, a monthly publication of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, USA and Canada, No. 30/31, pp.5-6.)

The Moscow Patriarchate has been popularizing the false teaching of priest Pavel Florensky and Archpriest Sergei Bulgakov for a long time. Many hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate have been speaking and writing about them; among them are: the now Patriarch Alexy II (Address delivered at the 8th General Assembly of the KEC, JMP No. 1, 1980), The Metropolitan of Rostov and Novocherkassk Vladimir, a former rector of Moscow Theological Academy /MTA/ (Master's dissertation, see Theological Works, collection 21; the speech made at the MTA on the 22 February, 1982, JMP No.4, 1982); Metropolitan Philaret of Minsk and Grodno, Patriarch's Exarch of all Belorussia, former rector of the MTA; Metropolitan Pitirim of Volokalamsk, the chairman of the Publications Committee of the MP (Theological Works, collection 5; JMP, No.4, 1969; JMP, No.l, 1975, address delivered in Uppsala; JMP, No.4, 1982); Metropolitan of Smolensk Kirill, a former rector of Leningrad (now St.Petersburg) Theological Academy -LTA, JMP, No.7, 1982).

The list of those who belong to the Moscow Patriarchate and write apologetically about Florensky and Bulgakov can be extended by many names of clerics, professors and teachers of MTA and LTA. Let us name only some of them: Archimandrite Platon (Igumenov), professor of MTA (Candidate's dissertation, St. Sergius and the Holy Trinity Lavra, 1979, JMP No. 10, 1989); M.A. Starokadomsky (JMP, Nos. 4, 8, 1969); Archpriest Ioann Kozlov, A.I. Georgievsky (The Voice of Orthodoxy, No.2, 1971); Archimandrite Innokenty (Prosvirnin), Hegumen Andronik (Trubachev); Archimandrite Iannuary (Ivliev), Archpriest Vladimir (Fedorov), both of them are teachers at St.Petersburg Theological Academy, and many other clerics of the Moscow Patriarchate.

The above list is significant evidence of the role of the MP in the cause of dissemination of Sophianist ideas in Russia.

Moreover, the Journal of Moscow Patriarchate (JMP) was until recently essentially the only spiritual reading permitted by the Soviet authorities to the millions of Orthodox people in Russia; these people were, as a rule, not only theologically uneducated but were even deprived of basic catechization. And to make matters even worse, the pages of this journal have for several decades presented a picture of "abomination of desolation". JMP preaches, apart from ecumenism, all kinds of false teachings and simply heresies to the clerics of MP and to many innocent souls.

And, probably, the heresy of Sophianism is accorded the greatest honor. This heresy, under the guise of subtle "theological creativity" is being forced on the students of Theological Academies and of Seminaries, i.e. on the future priests and theologians; it is a subject of many Master's and Candidate's dissertations; at present, thanks to the example by MP, the lay journals and newspapers mention Florensky and Bulgakov frequently, they are discussed on radio and television for hours.

The heresy of Sophianism has so deeply penetrated the minds of the many clerics of MP and of their flock, has poisoned their consciousness to such an extent that not everyone is capable of freeing oneself from it!

Serious works which subject this spiritually dangerous false teaching to rigorous criticism have been written about Sophianism. It must be emphasized that Sophianists usually either distort or persistently hush up criticisms of priest Pavel Florensky and Archpriest Sergei Bulgakov.

Explanation of the essence of the Sophianist heresy lies beyond the scope of this essay. We refer the reader to the capital work of Archbishop Seraphim (Sobolev) "A New Teaching on Sophia, the Wisdom of God" (Sofia, 1935) which exposes the heresy of Sophianism and on the basis of which this false teaching was condemned by the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.

In this essay we are interested in this heresy because its creators priests Pavel Florensky and Archpriest Sergei Bulgakov, have introduced a fourth, feminine hypostasis into the Divine Trinity by means of a cunningly conceived teaching on Sophia (rooted in Plato's pagan philosophy, in cabbalistic teaching, as well as in gnosticism condemned by the Church, particularly in Valentinian gnosticism and a series of other later gnostics-theosophers). A few more steps and we are close to a "theology of women" and an ecumenical feminist dream of "feminizing" God. We already hear voices speaking of the "goddess-mother" beside "God the Father" within Christianity. Thus, at the 6th Assembly of the WCC in Vancouver (1983) where the "priesthood" of women was legalized, many participants "urged women to replace the idea of God the Father by that of goddess-mother. And in 1993 women-ecumenists pronounced Sophia as their goddess and worshipped her.

New "translations" of the Holy Scriptures containing feminized grammatical forms have already been published. In recent decades the Holy Bible has often been subjected to distortion by "new translations" into English and other languages.

But not one of these "translations" has introduced as many blasphemies as the one published by the WCC in 1983 and entitled "Inclusive Language Lectionary".

To please feminists the WCC decided to "rid" the Word of God of "sexism" by removing from the Holy Bible all the passages where "preference" is given to men and the male sex.

In the new "translation", blasphemous changes have entered even into such inviolable phrases as "God the Father", which now reads "God Father/Mother"; the "Son of Man" is replaced by the "Human Child"; the "Kingdom of God" is replaced by the words "the Sphere of God"; "Lord" being of masculine gender is taken out of the Holy Scriptures and replaced by the word "Sovereign One" which is of neuter gender. Instead of "the Lord God" the new "translation" offers "God the Sovereign".

In the Book of Genesis where we are told about the creation of man, the word "man" is replaced by the word "humanity". To the mention of patriarchs are added women's names: "Abraham our father/and Sarah and Agar our mothers."

In the New Testament, where the Evangelists speak of our Savior's miracles, ecumenical translators say that Christ healed a "person". The highpriestly prayer of the Savior at the Last Supper according to St. John, sounds particularly blasphemous in this translation.

For the compilation of their own Bible, the WCC established a Committee headed by Lutheran, Victor Roland Gold. It consisted of three men and six women, one of whom was a Catholic nun. In the process of work, one of the Committee members left because he thought that "this task went beyond the limits permitted by his conscience".

Of greatest difficulty for the Committee were the words "God the Father". Feminists demanded the use of "God/dess", but this turned out to be unacceptable; a suggested replacement by the word "parents" also seemed too impersonal for these innovators; therefore they came up with a disgraceful term "God our Father/Mother".

The critics of this outrageous work, published under the title "Excerpts from the Bible", are absolutely right when commenting that it undermines the very foundations of Christianity by completely destroying the dogma of the Holy Trinity.

This deliberate falsification of the Holy Scriptures caused stormy protests even from journals and newspapers which are far removed from religion, such as New York Times, Newsweek, Time, Human Events, etc.

Despite all the protests and mass criticism, the WCC announced that it fully supported the new text of the "translation" of some parts of the Holy Bible.

Therefore, it was hardly surprising that the representatives of the "theology of women" at the last Seventh Assembly in Canberra permitted themselves to speak of the Mother of God in familiar terms, or to pose a question similar to that of Dr. Margo Kessman from Germany, "is Eve, who strove to knowledge, so sinful after all?".

It is noteworthy that the "theologians" of the above-mentioned Theological Institute in Paris reason in the same manner. Thus, one of its teachers, Nikolai Osorgin, when reflecting on the Mother of God, maintains: "If we arrive at the concept of unity of all women in the image of the Mother of God, in the order of the eternal present which embraces everything that was and was not, then all women (!) have a chance (!) of becoming the Mother of God".