Voices from Russia

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Then and Now: The Orthodox Warrior and His Faith

There has been much bootless propaganda for the idea that a Christian must be a total and unmitigated pacifist… I find the bloviating of the so-called Orthodox Peace Fellowship on this topic particularly noisome. The self-satisfied smugness and Pharisaical condescension of these sorts permeates everything that they write. Not only has the Church blessed warriors fighting for honourable causes in the past, it does so in the present. Here is a montage of images to prove the point. May God have mercy on those led astray by the OPF… they are in opposition to the fathers of the Optina Pustyn Monastery, who teach that service to the motherland is a Christian’s duty and obligation. I prefer the Optina fathers over the peaceniks, what about you?

BMD

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The Soldier of today…

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the Soldier of the past…

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the tradition continues today…

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in an unbroken line from the past.

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The argument is best made in images, is it not? The peaceniks are not within the tradition… sadly, they are aping some of the worst shenanigans of the heterodox. As I say, I stand with the Optina fathers… no one can argue about THEIR Orthodoxy…

BMD


Katyń: Russian-Polish Repentance. Putin and Tusk Knelt and Made the Sign of the Cross

Filed under: history,patriotic,Russian,Soviet period,World War II — 01varvara @ 00.00

Russian and Polish Prime Ministers Vladimir Putin (1952- ) (right) and Donald Tusk (1957- ) (left) at the Katyń memorial complex

Yesterday, Russian and Polish Prime Ministers Vladimir Putin and Donald Tusk met in the Smolensk region. They visited the Katyń memorial complex, which is the burial site of victims of political repressions of the Stalin period and captured Polish officers shot by the NKVD in April 1940. Mr Putin said, “The repressions crushed people regardless of their nationalities, beliefs, and religions. Our country has given a clear political, legal, and moral evaluation of the atrocities of the totalitarian régime, and this assessment is not subject to review”. In his view, the memorial events at Katyń brought Russians and Poles together in shared memory and grief, shared historical duty, and faith in the future. He said that we must keep the memory of the past alive, “no matter how bitter the truth may be”. The priests of different confessions performed services in memory of the victims of Stalinism and fascism buried in common graves in Katyń. In the final part of the ceremony, both leaders laid wreaths at the monument to the Polish officers shot by Stalin. Then, Putin and Tusk knelt down, and each crossed himself, to the complete surprise to the audience.

8 April 2010

Независимая Газета (Nezavisimaya Gazeta: The Independent Newspaper)

As quoted in Interfax-Religion

http://www.interfax-religion.ru/?act=print&div=11238

Editor’s Note:

This is the real deal… Poles and Russians kneeling down at the same time! It is also a sign that the American neocon project has failed, and failed miserably. If I were the Galician Uniates, I would not be pleased at this development. It is a sign that Poland and Russia are ready to engage one another seriously. After all, Katyń is one of the most emotional parts of the Polish historical memory. By acknowledging it, by saying that we must keep the memories alive “no matter how bitter the truth may be”, Vladimir Putin showed himself not only a capable statesman, but also a great human being. By the way, the fact that Orthodox Russian and Catholic Polish clergy each made separate prayers isn’t “ecumenism”… it’s simply good-sense neighbourliness… and we need more of that. Neither side engaged in any syncretistic act. Overall, a very good sign, no?

BMD

“Parisian” Theology and Neo-Renovationism… A Reply to Renovationism by Fr Daniil Sysoev

Fr Daniil Sysoev (1974-2009)… Fr Daniil speaks to us from beyond the veil on the heresy of the SVS crowd… shall we listen?

Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? It hath been already of old time, which was before us. (Ecclesiastes 1. 10). These sad words of the wisdom of Solomon involuntarily come to mind when we happen to observe debates on the activities of the neo-Renovationists. I had to repeatedly deal with people affected by the Renovationist heresy, and one should note that most of the criticisms offered of Fr Georgi Kochetkov and his faction,  criticising Kochetkov’s “renewed Orthodoxy with a human face”, do not reach their goal, since they do not mark the heart of this heresy. One sees disputes in the life of the Orthodox community, the use of the modern Russian language in worship, the barring of people from the Eucharist on flimsy grounds, and exaggerated elitism and ecumenism in the life of these communities. However, most people do not notice the influence of the so-called “Parisian” school at the foundation of this phenomenon, in other words, the influence of “Paris School of Theology”. For example, at the infamous conference, “The Unity of the Church”, held in 1994, representatives of St Tikhon’s Theological Institute tried hard to dissociate themselves from the teachings of the precursors of Kochetkov, Schmemann and Afanasiev, the pillars of “Orthodox” modernism. Fr Georgi Kochetkov was attributed with the “honour” of the creation of a self-teaching, thus fuelling his claim to the role of a self-styled prophet. All this recalls recent history, when at the dawn of perestroika, Stalin was condemned as an apostate from the teachings of Lenin and the ideals of communism.

Indeed, in some small things, Russian neo-Renovationist ideas and practises differ from the nostrums prescribed by the “Paris School of Theology”. However, this is only a consequence of human imperfection, not (to our good fortune!) incarnating these ideas in real life in all their glory. However, the core of modernism, both in Russia and in the West, is one and the same, the rejection of patristic tradition in its entirety. Consequently, the modernist devises a rejection of the Church, it is obsolete, or it has departed from the apostolic origins. By their fruits, ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? So every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit (St Matthew 7. 16-18). If we use this criterion of the Saviour, we must reject all attempts to justify the “Parisians”, because the fruits of ecclesiastical modernism are there for all to see.

My experience of interaction with Kochetkov’s followers (both former and current) certifies that there is little room for patristic Christianity in their minds. Schmemann, Afanasiev, Aleksandr Men, and, of course, the “great catechist, prophet, and teacher” Kochetkov have taken the place of the divine wisdom of the Fathers of the Church. This movement has its own dogma, from which they derive their own distinctive liturgical practises and moral concepts, notions that are very far from Orthodoxy.

Here are some examples. Their custom of banishment from the temple dates back to the idea of the Eucharist articulated by Schmemann (see his book, The Eucharist: Sacrament of the Kingdom), which has its dogmatic basis the Protestant doctrine of the universal priesthood of the laity. Consequently, he teaches that the laity concelebrates with the priest, who is only a chairman, not the performer of a sacrament. Of course, with this understanding of the Eucharist at the Liturgy, there is no place for the laity not receiving the Eucharist, just as the priest must always receive at the Liturgy in the Orthodox Church. However, if you follow this view, it is unclear why the Apostle Paul calls only the apostles stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Corinthians 4. 1), not the whole Church. When Christ established the Sacrament of His Body and Blood with the words, Do this in remembrance of me (St Luke 22. 19) He said this only to the twelve, not to everybody. The people by themselves do not have sacerdotal authority, for it is the Lord Jesus Christ Who is the accomplisher of all ordinances through His apostles and their successors, the bishops and their presbyters, who are not creators, but the channels of grace. Therefore, every priest reads the following at the Liturgy, “Enable me by the power of Thy Holy Spirit so that, vested with the grace of priesthood, I may stand before Thy holy Table and celebrate the mystery of Thy holy and pure Body and Thine most precious Blood… For Thou, Christ our God, art the Offerer and the Offered, the One who receives and is distributed, and to Thee we give glory, together with Thy eternal Father and Thy holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, both now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen” (Prayer for the Cherubic Hymn). Lay people do not have the grace of the priesthood and therefore cannot render sacerdotal actions. Rather, St Paul says of the Royal priesthood (1 Peter 2. 9) of the laity, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (Romans 12. 1), not to take the place of the bishop or the priest. Therefore, a rank of penitents could exist in the Church, those who stood together with the faithful and not dismissed along with the catechumens, but not allowed to receive from the Chalice. St Gregory the Miracle Worker (3rd century) speaks of this practise in his 12th rule.

Another example of modernist theology is the doctrine of Afanasiev of the identity of power, grace, and dignity of the presbyterate and episcopate (see his book, The Church of the Holy Spirit). Most Orthodox wondered, “Why did Fr Georgi Kochetkov ignore the patriarch? Why did he and members of his community subtly judge His Holiness, deciding what was right and what was not? How can Kochetkov’s followers set up parallel parishes across the country?” The answer is simple. Renovationists cloak themselves with the mantle of the episcopate. For them, the Patriarch is only a colleague, and, yes, even not entitled to teach them. They follow Afanasiev’s rejection (borrowed from heterodox Protestantism) of the dictum of the famous 19th century church historian, Professor V. Bolotov. Bolotov stated, “The episcopal state dogmatically preceded the rank of presbyter, and, therefore, cannot be historically derived from it. Any historical understanding of the ancient presbyterate stating that bishops were only presbyters in the strictest sense of the word must fail, for it dissents from a major dogma held by the universal Church” (Лекции по истории Древней Церкви (Lectures on the History of the Early Church) (Moscow, 1994) v. 2. p. 486). The most fundamental concept for Renovationists is the “community”, by the way, their notions are very reminiscent of a totalitarian sect. This grew from the opinion of Afanasiev that such concepts and phenomena such as the Universal Church did not exist in the first millennium of the Church, he taught that the church was just a self-contained and self-sufficient Eucharistic assembly, which thus needed no connection with other churches.

It’s amazing… can we regard a priest as Orthodox if he teaches such heresy, yet, he says, “I believe … in one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church” at each Liturgy? We must discern false doctrine and historical distortion. The Apostle Paul called the Church the Body of Christ, the fullness of all in all (Ephesians 1. 23). To the Christians at Corinth, he wrote about communion, there is One Bread, and we many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread (1 Corinthians 10. 17). At that time, St Paul at was in Ephesus. Without a contemporary recognition of the existence of the universal Church, both in theory and in practise, this text is inexplicable.

Many Renovationist customs become explicable only when we see their roots in the “Parisian School”. They deny that there were any legitimate developments in the Church after St Constantine; this leads them to attempt to expel them from the services as “non-Apostolic” accretions. The result is the use of modern Russian (or, rather, secular) language in worship, the abolition of reading the hours (Schmemann believed that the theology of time is lost and therefore it makes no sense to observe the canonical hours) and they wish to abolish the use of the iconostas. We could cite many more examples…

For all these reasons, we believe that Orthodox theology must not only judge contemporary Renovationism, but also, more importantly, expose its origins. Otherwise, if we condemn only Kochetkov and obvious Renovationists, we run the risk of succumbing to the same thing, but only in a different and more attractive package. One example is now on our horizon, a new “theological luminary” from the DECR, Igumen Hilarion Alfeyev. His sermons (referring to Western authorities) often repeat heresies condemned by Ecumenical Synods, such as the doctrine of universal salvation (apokatastasis), rejected by the Fifth Ecumenical Council. In addition, he refers to the equivocal Archpriest Sergei Bulgakov and other “Parisians”, and dared to attribute holiness to Nestorian texts.

In conclusion, we note that any attempt to justify the activities of the “Parisian School” should first explain why their ideas generate such monstrous chimera (incidentally, these notions do not arise in the doctrine of V N Lossky (also lived in Paris)). In addition, they must also disprove the already-cited words of Christ, A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit (St Matthew 7. 18).

However, it would be better if the followers of the “Parisians” ceased their strange teachings… they lead astray unstable souls.

Fr Daniil Sysoev

http://sysoev2.narod.ru/parizh.htm

Editor’s Note:

A friend of mine who is a priest in the MP asked me to translate this. I must state that I mainly translate news because I am uncomfortable with translating complex theological formulae. I have done my best, and I can see why he wanted this “Englished”.

Note the author… a martyr wrote this piece… Fr Daniil Sysoev. The internal evidence points to this being at least several years old… it speaks of Hilarion Alfeyev as an Igumen, and Kochetkov isn’t much heard of lately. When one adds to this the brouhaha created by Alfeyev’s interview in Der Spiegel, one sees that reality is quite different from the scene painted by the SVS gang in Yonkers. There are many innocents being led astray by Renovationists. They read poorly translated editions of the Fathers and canons, and since they lack facility in any of the traditional Orthodox languages, they are cut off from a full appreciation of the depth of the Church and what it truly teaches. They only know the pabulum that is spoon-fed them by the poseurs at SVS. I can assure you that no legitimate Orthodox theologian uses the term, “liturgical fundamentalism” (that should make you throw the works of both Bradley Nassif and Paul Meyendorff out the nearest window). Trust me, no legitimate Orthodox theologian calls our liturgy “a collection of Byzantine (sic) accretions”, as Thomas Hopko did.

Read this several times… I did. It’s a rewarding read. Do not respond until you have read it twice. Then, I believe that it shall all sink in to you… you are being lied to and the SVS crowd is not going to change its tune. If you follow Paffhausen, Hatfield, Meyendorff, Nassif, Stokoe, Peterson, Fester, Kishkovsky, or any other of their ilk… you are a Protestant at heart. THAT is what Fr Daniil is saying, stated concisely.

These people are NOT going to change, and they hold you in contempt, for they are more secretive than Herman Swaiko ever was. They are a lot of self-centred navel-gazing pseudo-intellectuals with no connection to the real ferment of Orthodox thought. You have a choice… you can accept incarnational Orthodoxy, with all its joys and faults, or you can follow the pied piper of Renovationism, chasing a purity that never can be. It has already led to grievous losses in both the OCA and ROCOR (yes, the ROCOR was affected, as well… but that’s another post)… we have to go home… we are nothing but prodigals writ large.

Shall we do it though? I certainly do hope that we do…

BMD

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