Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Enemies of the Church Abroad Synod continue to hinder the acquisition of assets - bank account hacked


Statement from the Metropolitan Agafangel

Recently, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad Synod bank account was hacked. Thank God, there were no substantial sums on the account, however, many donations from our parishioners were blocked and returned to the donors.

This is the second time the Synod of Bishops bank account has been hacked. It is obvious that both this attack, as well as the active propaganda against the acquisition of the Synod building property, is carried out in a focused and planned manner. We have filed an appeal with the police in the state of Connecticut.

The First Hierarch of ROCA, Metropolitan Agafangel urges all the faithful of the ROCA to not hesitate due to the actions of our enemies, but rather to continue to support the Synod of Bishops, prayerfully and practically. Please watch for new information about our bank details.

At present, the previous account continues to work, but only to accumulate funds. When we open a new account, the money will be released and transferred to the newly opened account. Therefore, any donations received to the old account will not be wasted and will not be sent back.

vl-agafangel-2.jpgPersonal comment by Metropolitan Agafangel

What efforts are not being made in order to prevent our Synod of Bishops from existing! It appears we are very disturbing to some.

Russian language source

Sunday, July 19, 2015


averky2.jpg by Archbishop Averky (Taushev)
of Syracuse and Holy Trinity

“I am come to send fire on the earth. And what will I, but that it be already kindled?” Luke 12:49

The chief thing in Christianity, according to the clear teaching of the Word of God, is the fire of Divine zeal, zeal for God and His glory — the holy zeal which alone is able to inspire man in labors and struggles pleasing to God, and without which there is no authentic spiritual life and there is not and cannot be any true Christianity.
Without this Holy Zeal Christians are “Christians” in name only: they only “have a name that they live,” but in reality “they are dead,” as was said to the holy Seer of Mysteries John (Apoc. 3:1).
True spiritual zeal is expressed, first of all, in zeal for God’s glory, which is taught us in the words of the Lord’s Prayer which stand at its very beginning:

Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Those who are zealous for God’s glory themselves glorify God with their whole heart — both in thought and feeling, both by words and deeds and with their whole life — and naturally desire that all other people should glorify God also in the same way, and therefore they cannot, of course, endure with indifference when in their presence, in some way or other, the name of God is blasphemed or holy things are mocked.
Being zealous for God, they sincerely strive to please God themselves and serve Him alone with all the power of their being, and they are ready to forget themselves all the way to sacrificing their very life in order to bring all men to the pleasing and the service of God. They cannot calmly listen to blasphemy, and therefore they cannot support communion with and have friendship with blasphemers and mockers of the Name of God and despisers of holy things.

A striking and extremely clear example of such fiery zeal for God’s glory comes to us from the depths of antiquity of the Old Testament in a great Prophet of God, the flaming Elias, who grieved in soul when he saw the apostasy from God of his people, led by the impious King Ahab, who introduced into Israel the pagan worship of Baal in place of the true God.“I have been very jealous for the Lord God Almighty — thus did he exclaim many times, expressing his grief — because the children of Israel have forsaken Thee: they have dug down Thine altars, and have slain Thy prophets with the sword, and I only am left, and they seek my life to take it” (3 Kings 19:10).
And behold, this Holy Zeal aroused him, by the power of the grace of God which reposed on him, as a chastisement of Israel which had apostatized from God, to “close heaven” (3 Kings 17:1; 18:42-45. James 5:17-18), so that there was neither rain nor dew for three years and six months.
This same zeal later aroused Elias to slay the false prophets and priests of Baal, after the miraculous descent of the fire from heaven on Mt. Carmel, so that these deceivers might no longer turn the sons of Israel away from the true worship of God (3 Kings 18:40).
By the power of the same Divine zeal, St. Elias brought down fire from heaven, which burned the captains and their fifties which had been sent by the king to size him (4 Kings 1:9-14).
That all this was in reality Holy Zeal which was pleasing to God is testified to by the fact that the Holy Prophet Elias did not die the usual death of all men, but was miraculously raised up to heaven in a chariot of fire, as if signifying his authentically fiery zeal for God (4 Kings 2:10-12).
But even then, in the severe Old Testament, the Lord Himself showed to His true servant that one can have recourse to such severe measures only in extreme cases, for the Lord was not

“in the great and strong wind rending the mountains and crushing the rocks, and not in the earthquake, and in the fire, but in the voice of a gentle breeze” (3 Kings 19:11-12).

This is why, when James and John, who were especially fervent in their zeal for the glory of their Divine Teacher, wished to bring down fire from heaven, imitating the Holy Prophet Elias, so as to punish the Samaritans who did not desire to receive Him when He was walking through the Samaritan village to Jerusalem, the Lord forbade them to do this, saying:

“Ye know not of what spirit ye are, for the Son of Man came not to destroy the souls of men, but to save” (Luke 9:51-56).

vladika-averky.jpgAnd nevertheless (let immoderate lovers of peace pay heed!), the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, Who said,

“Learn of Me, for I am meek and bumble of heart” (Matt. 11:29)

found it sometimes necessary to manifest great strictness and have recourse to severe measures, teaching us also by this very fact, that meekness and humility do not mean spinelessness and should not yield before manifest evil, and that a true Christian should be far from sugar-sweet sentimentality and should not step away in the face of evil which presumptuously raises its head, but should always be uncompromising towards evil, fighting with it by all measures and means available to him, in order decisively to cut off the spread and strengthening of evil among men.
Let us recall with what harsh accusatory words the Lord addressed the spiritual leaders of the Hebrew people, the scribes and Pharisees, condemning them for hypocrisy and lawlessness:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!”

and threatening them with God’s judgment (Matt. 23:29).
And when words turned out to be insufficient, He applied action against the lawless ones in very deed. Thus, finding that in the Temple they were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and money-changers were sitting,

“When He had made as it were a scourge of little cords, He drove them all out of the Temple, the sheep also and the oxen, and the money of the changers He poured out, and the tables He overthrew” (John 2:14-15; Matt. 21:12-13).

And we know many other examples from sacred and Church history when mere words of persuasion turned out to be insufficient and in order to cut off evil it was necessary to have recourse to more severe measures and decisive acts.
But it is essential that in such cases there should rally be in a person only pure and Holy Zeal for God’s glory, without any admixture of self-love or any other strivings of human passions which only hide themselves behind a supposedly Holy Zeal for God!
In the history of the Church, the great Hierarch of Christ Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia, whose memory we celebrate on December 6th according to our Orthodox calendar, has become glorious by just such an authentically Holy Zeal, with a decisive irreconcilability towards evil. Who does not know this wondrous Hierarch of Christ?
The most characteristic feature of St. Nicholas, which has given him such glory, is his extraordinary Christian mercy: the simple Russian people usually calls him “Nicholas the Merciful,” a title based on the facts of his life and the numberless cased of his help to men.
But once this great Hierarch, so glorious for his mercy toward his neighbor, performed an act which disturbed many and continues to disturb them even now, even though its authenticity is witnessed by the Church tradition contained in our iconography and Divine services.
According to tradition, St. Nicholas took part in the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea, which brought forth a condemnation of the heretic Arius, who denied the Divinity of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God.
During the disputes which occurred in connection with this, St. Nicholas could not listen with indifference to the blasphemous speeches of the arrogant heretic Arius, possessed by pride, who demeaned the Divine dignity of the Son of God, and before the whole Council he struck him in the face with his hand.
This evoked such a general consternation that the Fathers of the Council decreed that the bold Hierarch be deprived of Hierarchal rank.
But in that very night they were made to understand by a wondrous vision: they saw how the Lord Jesus Christ gave St. Nicholas His Holy Gospel, and the Most Pure Mother of God placed upon his shoulders the episcopal omophorion. And then they understood that St. Nicholas was guided in his act not by any evil, passionately sinful motives, but solely by pure, Holy Zeal for God’s glory. And they forgave the Hierarch, abrogating their sentence against him.
By citing such a picturesque example, we do not in the least wish to say that every one of us can or should follow this example literally: for this one must be himself just as great a holy Hierarch as St. Nicholas.
But this should absolutely convince us that we do not dare to remain indifferent or be unconcerned about the manifestations of evil in the world, especially when the matter is one of God’s glory of our Holy Faith and Church. Here we must show ourselves to be completely uncompromising, and we do not dare enter into any sort of cunning compromises or any reconciliation, even purely outward, or into any kind whatever of agreement with evil. To our personal enemies, according to Christ’s commandment, we must forgive everything, but with the enemies of God we cannot have peace! Friendship with the enemies of God makes us ourselves the enemies of God: this is a betrayal and treason towards God, under whatever well-seeming pretexts it might be done, and here no kind of cunning or skillful self-justification can help us!

It is interesting to note how displeasing this act of St. Nicholas is to all the contemporary consenters to evil, these propagandists of a false “Christian love” which is prepared to be reconciled not only with heretics, persecutors of the Faith and the Church, but even with the devil himself, in the name of “universal love” and “the union of all” — slogans which have become so fashionable in our days.
For the sake of this, these consenters strive even to refute the very fact of the participation of St. Nicholas in the First Ecumenical Council, even though this fact is accepted by our Holy Church and therefore must be respected by all of us as reliable.
All of this happens, of course, because among contemporary people, even those who call themselves “Christians,” there is no longer an authentic Holy Zeal for God and His glory, there is no zeal for Christ our Saviour, zeal for the Holy Church and for every holy thing of God. In place of this there prevails a luke-warm indifference, an indifferent attitude to everything except one’s own earthly well-being, with a forgetfulness of the just judgment of God which unfailingly awaits all of us, and of the eternity which will be revealed after death.
And without this Holy Zeal, as we emphasized at the beginning, there is no true Christianity, no authentic spiritual life — life in Christ. That is why this has been replaced now by all kinds of cheap surrogates, at times quite low ones, which however often answer to the tastes and attitudes of contemporary man. And therefore such pseudo-Christians, skillfully covering up their spiritual emptiness by hypocrisy, often have great success in contemporary society, from which authentic spirituality has been rinsed out; while authentic zealots of God’s glory are despised and persecuted as “difficult people,” “intolerant fanatics,” “people who are behind the times.”
And thus even now before our eyes is occurring the “winnowing”: some will remain with Christ to the end, and some will easily and naturally join the camp of His opponent, Antichrist, especially when the hour of threatening trials will come for our faith, when precisely it will be necessary to show in all its fullness the whole power of our Holy Zeal, which is abhorred by many as “fanaticism.”
But at the same time one should no forget that, besides true Holy Zeal, there is also a zeal without understanding — zeal which loses its value because of the absence in it of a most important Christian virtue: discernment, and therefore, in place of profit can bring harm.
And there is likewise a false, lying zeal, behind the mask of which is concealed the foaming of ordinary human passions — most frequently pride, love of power and honor, and the interests of a party politics like that which plays the leading role in political struggles, and for which there can be no place in spiritual life, in public church life, but which unfortunately is often to be encountered in our time and is a chief instigator of every imaginable quarrel and disturbance in the Church, the managers and instigators of which
often hide themselves behind some kind of supposed idealism but in reality pursue only their own personal aims, striving to please not God but their own self-concern, and being zealous not for God’s glory but for their own glory and the glory of the colleagues and partisans of their party.
All of this, it goes without saying, is profoundly foreign to true Holy Zeal, hostile to it, is sinful and criminal, for it only compromises our Holy Faith and Church!


And so, the choice is before us: are we with Christ or Antichrist?

The time is near” (Apoc. 22:10)

— thus did even the holy Apostles warn us Christians. And if it was “near” then, in Apostolic times, how much “nearer” has it become now, in our ominous days of manifest apostasy from Christ and persecution against our Holy Faith and Church?!
And if we firmly resolve in these fateful days to remain with Christ, not in words only but in deeds as well, it is absolutely indispensable right now, without putting it off, to break off every bond of friendship, every form of communion with the servants of the approaching Antichrist, who has enlisted so many of them in the contemporary world, under lying pretexts of “universal peace” and “prosperity”; and especially must one free oneself unconditionally from every subservience to them and dependence on them, even if this might be bound up with detriment to our earthly well-being or even with danger for our earthly life itself.
Eternity is more important than our brief existence on earth, and it is precisely for it that we must prepare ourselves!
And therefore, ONLY Holy Zeal FOR GOD, FOR CHRIST, without any admixture of any kind of slyness or ambiguous cunning POLITICS, must guide us in all deeds and actions.
Otherwise, a stern sentence threatens us:

“Because thou art neither hot nor cold, I will vomit thee out of My mouth” (Apoc. 3:16).
“Be zealous, therefore, and repent!”
(Apoc. 3:19)


From Archbishop Averky: Collected Works, volume IV
English version from «Orthodox Word», Vol. XI, No. 3 (62), May-June 1975. English translation from Saint
Elias Publications “Faith and Life,” No. 10, 1975. Available (along with many other useful materials) from the website of the Holy Monastery of Sts Cyprian and Justina of the the Church of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Sayings of the Desert Fathers on Humility

ascetics-praying-in-cave-sketch.jpgThe holy fathers always condemned themselves, having a realistic view of themselves before Almighty God. We should take note of their practice, and in this way avoid the traps of the devil. The evil one always strives to distort reality, so that we would commit sin.

A brother asked Abba Poemen: “How is it possible for a man to avoid speaking evilly to his neighbour?” The old man answered unto him and said: “We and our brethren possess two images. Whensoever a man condemneth himself, his brother appeareth to him beautiful and excellent; but whensoever a man appeareth beautiful to himself, his brother will be found to be, in his sight, hateful and abominable”.

This warfare is of the utmost importance:

One of the old men said, “When a man saith unto his companion, “Forgive me”, and at the same time humbleth himself, the devils are consumed.

As true Orthodox Christians, we must know what is Orthodox and what is un-orthodox dogma and practice.
repentance.jpgHowever, our spiritual life must show that we also know what is virtue and what is vice - indeed, what is of God, and what is of the enemy of our salvation. In our passionate state, blinded by our love of sin and deceptive reasoning of the enemy, we can easily make a grave mistake….The following account from the Paradise of the Fathers shows how a simple mind can be deceived (and alas, we are today all very simple and unlearned, as compared with the Holy Fathers of old!) At that time, the Bishops of all the great cities were fully Orthodox, and great spiritual men. Sadly, this is not the case today. Nevertheless, we are all obligated to mistrust our own fallen reasoning to a certain extent, taking advice from our spiritual fathers. If we refuse to do this, we have accepted the mindset of protestantism, where the fallen, sinful mind of each individual is a “perfect” and “infallible” authority to itself:

There were two men who were living in the world, and were fearers of God, and they were both of the same mind, and they went forth and became monks; and when they heard in a plain manner the word of the Gospel which saith, “There are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 19:12), they arrived at the hottest point of their love, and they made themselves eunuchs [castrated themselves, ed. note] for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Now when the Bishop heard [of this] he set them aside and excommunicated them. Then those men, wishing to show that they had done what was good, said unto one another, “We have made ourselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, and this Bishop driveth us out! Let us go and make a complaint against him to the head of our monasteries, that is, to the Bishop of Jerusalem”; and when they had gone to him they related unto him the whole matter. Then the Bishop said unto them, “And I also set you aside and excommunicate you”; and being greatly grieved by this remark also they went to the Bishop of Antioch, and related the matter unto him, and he also drove them away with the same words. Then the two brethren said unto one another, “Let us go to the Patriarch of Rome, and he will avenge us and will take vengeance on all these [Bishops].” And having gone to the great Patriarch and Bishop of Rome, and made him to know their matter, and what the Bishop and Patriarch [of Antioch] had said unto them, they said at length, “We have come unto thee because thou art the head of them all.” Then the Bishop of Rome also said unto them, “I also excommunicate you and excommunicate ye shall be.” Then, not knowing what to do, they said to each other, “All these men accept the persons each of the other, and each honoureth the other, because they are accustomed to assemble together at the Synods, but let us go to the holy man of God, Epiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus, because he is indeed a Bishop, and he doth not accept the person of any man.” Now when they drew nigh into the city, it was revealed unto Epiphanius concerning them, and he sent [a man] to meet them, and to say unto them, “Ye shall not come into the city.” And when they came to themselves they repented, and said, “In very truth we have sinned; with what can we justify ourselves? For, even supposing that the Bishop and the Patriarchs have excommunicated us in an unseemly manner, peradventure this man is a prophet besides, for behold, God hath revealed unto him concerning us beforehand; let us then condemn ourselves in respect of everything which we have done.” Then when God, Who knoweth that which is in the hearts [of men] saw that they had in very truth condemned themselves, He worked upon the mind of Epiphanius so that, of his own accord, he sent and brought them, and associated them in communion with him. And he also wrote concerning them to the Bishop of Jerusalem, saying, “Receive thy sons, for they have repented in truth.”
The Paradise of the Fathers: On Humility

Wednesday, June 17, 2015



And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases; And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all. And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
Luke 6:17-23

The Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai commanded what thou shalt do and what thou shalt not do, written on stone tablets, so as to be learnt by heart.

The Beatitudes of the New Testament speak about blessedness and love, for inscription on the tablets of the heart of each person, by the Holy Spirit. The Greek word used is an adjective that means “happy”. The saints perceived that HAPPINESS could be attained both here and in the future life, by renunciation of sin and acquisition of the holy Spirit.

All the Orthodox peoples and nations were foreordained and called upon to keep faithful under the harshest conditions of life that they might become “A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR A POSSESSION.” (1 Peter 2,9).

The synodal act of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia for the glorification of the New -martyrs of Russia in 1981 begins:

“From the days of Great Prince Vladimir, the Russian people with all its heart has accepted the holy Orthodox Faith. This faith inspired numerous holy princes, bishops, and ascetics, sanctifying the Christian order of Russian culture. These were founded on the Christian principles set forth in the sacred Scripture and tradition of the Orthodox Church. Being realised in Russian national life in various degrees in various periods of history, these principles have continued to exist in all layers of the Russian people, from the Tsar to the last pauper, for the course of more than nine hundred years. They became our triumph and our glory as they passed from the Church Militant (here on earth ) and entered into the Church Triumphant (in heaven). They await us! They exhort us to follow them!
However, during the past two centuries, instigated by the enemy of our salvation, the antichristian principle of revolutionary atheism has directed all its strength and means toward the annihilation of these principles of the Russian people.”

In our times of the 21st century in the so-called free western world, the Christian principles have been replaced by antichristian principles….by satanic principles. Before our eyes duplicity and deceit have pulled down the last remnants of Christian culture… that same evil satanic force that was experienced in Bolshevik Russia with God-fighting atheism, and which ultimately seeks the destruction of mankind.
The Devil, through his loyal servants, tries to uproot true faith and the Church. This is being carried out by the ruthless dismemberment of the Christian order of human life as formed by the Church, which has its beginning from the times of the apostles. Sometimes crudely, and sometimes in a devious and crafty way, all original faith and pious tradition, willed to us from ancient Christianity, is being destroyed. Satan, brazenly lifting his head, now triumphantly marches throughout the world, reaping for himself a bountiful harvest (of human souls, whom he aims to damn for eternity).

The whole world now resembles the land of the Gadarenes, not wanting to be healed by the Lord/Healer and expelling Him away from itself.

Even though we sometimes hear hypocritically pronounced words of righteousness, the actual deeds of the speakers clearly show, that these are – only words: their words say one thing, but their deeds are completely different! The Lord clearly and convincingly explained: By their deeds you will know them

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Mathew 7:16-20

vladika-averky.jpgArchbishop Averky (1964)of Jordanville summarised our contemporary world by his following words:

It is dreadful to think how few people there remain at the present time, who soberly look at the events happening in the world, honest and sincere people, not having sold their soul to satan for one or the other earthly benefit, not working wholly for their sinful passions and not demonically-possessed, like the vast majority.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us look to Jesus Christ, the originator and accomplisher of our faith, Who, endured a CROSS, having despised the shame, and hath sat down on the right of the throne of God (Heb.12,1-2).
Archbishop Averky (Taushev), 20th century

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Reflections on the Synod meeting

Metropolitan Agafangel, Bishop Ambrose of Methone (Church of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece), and Archbishop George of Moldova reflect on the Synod meeting as well as on the challenges facing Christians in our modern world.

The hierarchs emphasise that the Church always has taken a conciliar approach to problems facing the Church. As Orthodox Christians, we believe that the Holy Spirit guided the decisions of the great Ecumenical Councils to define the Orthodox faith. Likewise, the Holy Spirit guides hierarchs today, when they meet personally, with a prayerful and humble attitude.
The past Synod meeting concluded that the Church of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece and the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad have oneness of mind and faith.
Archbishop George reflects on post-Soviet society, which despite 25 years of availability of more accurate information, has not made full use of these resources. The post-Soviet man is still suffering from spiritual illnesses typical to the Soviet society. In the west, different issues are present. Wherever we live, we must seek healing of the soul from Christ - otherwise we are bound to fall in to many deceptions crafted by the enemy of our salvation. In modern times, many deceptions are promoted in the popular media. A Christian should take measures to guard himself from their influence. It is necessary to limit watching TV and the internet, avoiding all their deceptive and worldly messages. Instead we should go to Church, where in repentance and through personal guidance from our spiritual fathers, we may hope to find the Truth, Who is Christ our God Himself.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Repose of Fr Vasily Demchenko

Metropolitan Agafangel speaks about Protopriest Vasily Demchenko, rector and builder of the church of the Protection in Malin, Ukraine, who reposed on the feast of Theophany, 6/19.1.2015

If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
John 15:19
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution
2 Tim 3:12

Fr Vasily was exceptionally honest in his desire to serve God. He dedicated his entire life to God. He did not have a family. He devoted all his time to the church. He slept next to the church in order to guard the building materials, which could be stolen. He had no house - the building he slept in was more like a makeshift wooden shed than a house, not heated at all. When it rained, he would put out nine basins in his room. Because of such living conditions, he was often ill. The last time he stayed with parishioners due to illness (just before Christmas), someone came and set fire to his makeshift home….

o_demchenko_.jpgFr Vasily came to our Church by reading about the ROCA and the Catacomb Church. He distributed materials among the people, copying them manually. Of course, he was not the most educated of people, but one might say that perhaps the Church of Christ is kept alive by just this kind of person. For example, the person who was trying to takeover the church building in Malin, proudly announced “I am 33 years old and I have 3 houses already – yet you, Fr Vasily, who are old, do not even own one!” These kind of people, who call themselves priests, do not understand that their semblance of material solidity is nothing. They actually believed that it was necessary to take the church from “such an idiot”, who was building the church with his own hands. [Editors’s note: The attempt of the Moscow Patriarchate to take over the Malin Holy Protection Church has lasted 12 years.]

Fr Vasily did not leave any possessions when he left this world. It is difficult to think of a priest more unacquisitive than him! Perhaps he did have a jacket or something similar - but even that burnt in the fire! There were no savings, no money. He immediately spent whatever came to him on the Church. He made icons to sell, and all the funds went to the church. He did not spend anything on his own health – his kidneys were completely ruined. In essence, the stress of persecution over the last few years ruined his health. And who persecuted him – priests! They killed him – and then went to serve the Holy Liturgy…

malin-2.jpgWe know that our Lord, the Son of man hath not where to lay his head(Matthew 8:20). Truly, self-sacrifice is what can conquer the world -not some kind of material power. There is a long history to these kinds of problems – it is deeper than simple attachment to material goods. Indeed, in Soviet times, the policy was to appoint the most debauched people to positions of importance. This is well known, and is the second part of sergianism. The first part is servitude before worldly powers. While faithful of little faith cower before power, the government does not help at all….Instead, they intentionally plant sinfulness in the Church, in order to destroy it from within, destroying the priesthood and episcopacy by appointing the most sinful people - drunkards, unchaste ones, debaucherers, avaricious and cruel people. The idea was to have the simple people look at such clergy, and then reject Christ because of their behaviour. All these are elements of how the atheists fight the Church.

Today, it is no longer the state which promotes this order of affairs in the Church. Rather, it is the people within this strange “church corporation”. It is impossible for them to accept an honest person – either he has to become “like everyone”, or leave. All who have had to deal with church questions understand what I am describing. This is terrible. There is no more hope of fixing the system.

Therefore, a person has to run from it, in the same way as Lot ran from Sodom, in order to seek his “Sigor”, that is, a place where he can save himself. In this same way, honest priests run from the MP. They find no other solution. If they stay, it is like being crammed in a small room with many smokers, while hoping to escape the noxious fumes. Wherever the person goes, he will smell like smoke….

However, leaving means obligatory persecutions and sufferings.

We can only hope in a miracle of God. Earlier, I sometimes tried to encourage people to come to our church. Now I do not do this anymore. This is because we cannot offer these people anything. Coming to our Church means accepting persecution, slander from every direction. There is nothing we can offer anyone - except for the CROSS! A person has to be free, and decide himself.

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)

malin-3.jpgAll say about our Church that we are poor and small. Indeed, it is our lot in this world to be in the minority. It is futile to think about our Church as growing large. This is because people think that they do not need salvation, God, or the Church. They have become like salt without flavour:

Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? (Luke 14:34)

For such people, it is enough to watch football, eat, drink, sleep….spiritual questions do not concern them. In fact, in the mainstream media, spiritual concerns are misrepresented as madness.

I do not say that we are good, and others are bad. However, we must understand the time we live in. In the last 15-20 years, we see the words of our Saviour coming true:

He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth
(Luke 11:23)

Every place and country has been changed….there are no more righteous people…Now, one more righteous man has died. There is one less man praying to God. Nevertheless, Fr Vasily’s memory is joyous.

We do not know what will happen in the future for the church building in Malin, Ukraine. The parishioners, mostly old women, all trusted Fr Vasily. They saw his dedication to the Church, and followed him.

for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered
( Mark 14:27)

Anything can happen. Of course we will do what we can to keep this parish of our Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. However, we can only have hope in God. We are powerless before the powerful of this world – there are no more laws or honourable words. Now, there is only chaos….so we can only hope in God. This is our most reliable weapon against the world – let us have hope in Him, keep to Him, pray to Him. May it come true with us also, that we remain faithful to Him to our last breath!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Metropolitan Agafangel’s Nativity Epistle

Nativity Message
of His Eminence Metropolitan Agafangel,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

Dear hierarchs and pastors, monastics and laity, brothers and sisters!

bishop-agafangel1.jpgIt has been a long time since we last had such a difficult year for our Church. This is because of the events which have shaken the world, which in turn resound very noticeably in our lives. Now, almost universally, the world has turned to war. “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matthew 24.7-8). Indeed, we see firsthand the beginning of these tribulations - not so much physical as spiritual ones. We have reached the time when even those who are called to keep and observe Truth have stopped accepting “sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears,” (2 Timothy 4:3). Everything is coming true - “Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another” (Matthew 24.10). The ever-present apostasy is coming upon us like the approaching night, gradually and inevitably absorbing the souls of men. Less and less souls warm themselves around the spiritual beacons of intact faith. Even the visible, earthly Church is harder to find in the ruling chaos surrounding Her. As we enter the period of Passion Week of human history, we can only observe what is happening. In our weakness we are not able to prevent the end of time.

But we remember that the historical birth of Christ occurred in almost the same kind of impenetrable night, during a time of captivity, apostasy and national poverty, when prophecies were silent, and the priesthood and leaders of the people had degenerated into Pharisees and scribes. The Incarnation of God pierced the surrounding spiritual darkness as the saving beam of a lighthouse during a storm of complete destruction. Suddenly a guiding star was revealed to travelers astray. A highly anticipated door of freedom, was suddenly flung open, leading out from the crude and hateful prison!

If we are with God, then we have nothing to fear! I urge you, my dear ones, to spiritual renewal by the current Nativity of Christ! May it shine in every heart with the unwaning light of Divine wisdom! So that we, despite of the fallen and sinful world, together with the entire Holy Church, would exclaim in a single triumphant voice: O Life-Giver, Christ our God, glory to Thee!

+ Metropolitan Agafangel
Odessa, Nativity of Christ, 2014-2015.

Russian original

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Archbishop George on revolutions and protests

Archbishop George of Kishinev and Moldavia speaks about Ukraine, Moldavia, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and Her new Bishop in Moldavia, Bishop Anfim. He also speaks regarding civil conflicts and the revolutions:

The misfortune is that unfortunately, there are always various kinds of dishonest people sailing on the waves of protests and revolutions, who take advantage of the situation…subsequently, it is no longer the people who make decisions, but rather, someone else, the powerful of this world, or those who have wealth, or some kind of oligarchy….meanwhile, the wishes of the people remain somewhere in the periphery, and do not interest anyone.

Over the course of history, the Church has lived in various countries, under all sorts of circumstances. She should meet life around Her calmly, in a pure, Christian way, concentrating on what is most important: The salvation of the soul!

People think they are fighting for freedom - but freedom from sin is the most important freedom! For many people, Christ is uninteresting. That is why they cannot define - What is freedom, really? And they do not understand at all… The Lord says in the Gospel: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) As Saint Nikolai Velimirovich also said: “If you want a revolution, then make it in your own soul!” There is enough work to keep you occupied!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Desecration of Russian and Serbian gravestones in Sydney


More than 70 Orthodox gravestones and Crosses were recently overturned or otherwise vandalised at Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney. Officials state that neither racial or cultural aggression was implied in this sad event. However, Orthodox Christians should understand that such vandalism is clearly inspired by the evil one, who especially hates the Orthodox.

A natural reaction might be sadness and anger. Nevertheless, let us not give in to such feelings, and not let them detract our attention from firm faith and hope in God!

The dead are no longer harmed by events in this world. Their souls have departed for the eternal mansions, and only their bodies rest in the graves. No amount of violence to their remains or resting places, although sad and disrespectful, can harm their souls. Instead, the violators are harming their own souls by their evil deeds…

One famous example is St Sava of Serbia. His relics were burned (!) by the Turks, but in front of God, he was and remains a glorious saint! The Orthodox people’s faith was not touched by the event, indeed, their veneration of the saint became even more fervent.

The persecutors of Christians often did not release the bodies of the martyrs to the faithful, knowing how much relics strengthened the people’s faith. But God allowed the faithful to recover the bodies, and the Church to grow, watered by the blood of the martyrs.

Many saints actually had very little regard for their bodies. They commanded their disciples to leave their physical remains unburied, or even to allow wild animals to eat them up. These saints considered that their earthly vessel, the body, had some human weaknesses, or maybe committed some small sins, and therefore was not worthy of burial.
Instead, God Himself glorified His own people. God did not allow these saints’ will to be fulfilled! Animals would not touch the dead bodies, and the disciples would have a very uneasy conscience in obeying… We read in the Lives of Saints that the disciples subsequently buried their fathers with great honour and reverence.

Only in very special circumstances can God work healing for the souls of those who disrespect his servants’ earthly remains. Such a miraculous event is recounted in the life of St Philaret the Merciful:

One of the mourners, who was troubled by a demon from birth, was often going to visit the saint, while the latter was among the living, and receiving alms from the holy Philaret. The demonised man was following the relics of his kind benefactor and kept shouting. Then, in a disorderly fashion, he began clutching at the bier to overturn it. When the mourners reached the grave, the demon cast the man to the ground and agitated him; after shaking the sufferer, the demon departed. The man had been made well through the intercessions of Saint Philaret.
Synaxarion, 1 December

What can make a difference to our departed ones’ souls, is prayer in Church and at home, almsgiving and good deeds. An Orthodox Christian should concentrate his love for his departed relatives and friends on good deeds for the benefit of the soul.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

GM Wheat and Scientific Technology: Is It Safe?

gm-wheat.jpgEver since the Renaissance, man has begun to reshape society, discovering or inventing new ways to propel civilisation forward. A lot of this progression is due to science and the development of technology, allowing mankind to revolutionise the meaning of life. One such revolutionary example is the production of genetically modified (GM) foods, such as wheat. Though there might be advantages to GM foods (helping out farmers and producers), there are also disadvantages and risks that must be considered.

Recently, there has been much contention over the CSIRO’s (Commonwealth and Industrial Research Organisation) decision to trial GM wheat in Australia. Using scientific technology, the CSIRO has managed to suppress an enzyme in wheat, effectively changing the genetic makeup. However, this shutdown of the enzyme can lead to health problems in humans if wheat is ingested. Professor Jack Heinemann of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand stated in his report that the enzyme being suppressed in wheat is similar to the human enzyme that produces glycogen (a carbohydrate that stores energy in plants and animals). He goes further to say that if GM wheat was ingested, humans would experience a decline in glycogen production, leading to liver failure, or even early death in children.

Genetically modified food is not the only form of scientific technology that has been under the spotlight in today’s society. Stem cell research, cloning and designer babies have all been under the pump of society and many people voice their opinions about the new methods – both for and against. Personally, I’m against the new forms of scientific technology, not only because I’m a Christian, but it’s also my personal opinion. Though I can see the appeal of GM foods – it might help farmers and the agriculture industry – I don’t see the grand appeal of stem cell research and designer babies. I think it’s barbaric to even consider thinking of killing discarded embryos that haven’t had the chance to grow and develop, all in favour of creating perfect people. The only being capable of creating perfect people is God, and we shouldn’t attempt to rise to His station and omnipotence. We are not God, but merely his servants.

Last year during Yr 12, my Biology class had a discussion about the benefits/risks of scientific technology. I remember one girl saying that she would rather terminate an embryo if it had disabilities than let it suffer and be alive. Now, that might be seen as being merciful, but I felt disgruntled and shocked when she said this. I thought to myself: why kill an innocent being because of its disabilities? Shouldn’t it have the chance to live? There are many people around the world who suffer from diseases such as Down syndrome or autism, and yet they manage to not let that disability disadvantage them in any way. Moreover, some of the most famous people who have shaped the world have done so with a disability or disease. Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein, two of the most prolific mathematicians, both have/had disabilities, but they didn’t let that prevent them from contributing to the world of mathematics and physics. Beethoven and Mozart were able to compose the most beautiful and melodic pieces despite their misgivings, and Vincent van Gogh was able to paint awe-inspiring paintings despite his bipolar disease.

lab-work.jpgEveryone is imperfect in some shape or form, and it’s wrong to try to rectify the imperfections in the world. What’s worse, is that I think we are slowly starting to accept the scientific technology which is slowly changing the way society thinks and processes information. It scares me to think that soon, no one will be individual and we will all look the same, think the same. Essentially, we will become puppets on a string, bending to the will of the puppet-master, accepting everything we’re told without so much as a second thought about why we must accept it.

We must try to dissuade ourselves from the pull of science and remain steadfast in our beliefs and in our faith in God. Though it may seem we are the minority in a world of science and corporate power, we are the majority that will inherit Paradise.

Sophia Desiatov


Metropolitan Agafangel
First Hierarch of the Russian
Orthodox Church Abroad

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