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After my death our beloved Church abroad will break three ways ... first the Greeks will leave us as they were never a part of us ... then those who live for this world and its glory will go to Moscow ... what will remain will be those souls faithful to Christ and His Church. ~St. Philaret of NY






In Memory Of The 50 Million Victims Of The Orthodox Christian Holocaust

In Memory Of The 50 Million Victims Of The Orthodox Christian Holocaust

Compiled by Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
Boise, Idaho
U.S.A.
October 1999
Written by Reverend Father Raphael Moore
(Reprinted from Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church Sioux Falls, SD., Protopresbtyer Benjamin Henderson, Priest) 


History Of Asia Minor: 1894-1923
During 1894-1923 the Ottoman Empire conducted a policy of Genocide of the Christian population living within its extensive territory.  The Sultan, Abdul Hamid, first put forth an official governmental policy of genocide against the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire in 1894.

Systematic massacres took place in 1894-1896 when Abdul savagely killed 300,000 Armenians throughout the provinces.  Massacres recurred, and in 1909 government troops killed, in the towns of Adana alone, over 20,000 Christian Armenians.

When WW1 broke out the The Ottoman Empire was ruled by the "Young Turk" dictatorship which allied itself with Germany.  Turkish government decided to eliminate the whole of the Christian population of Greeks, Armenians, Syrians and Nestorians.  The government slogan, "Turkey for the Turks", served to encourage Turkish civilians on a policy of ethnic cleansing.

The next step of the Armenian Genocide began on 24 April 1915 with the mass arrest, and ultimate murder, of religious, political and intellectual leaders in Constantinople and elsewhere in the empire.  Then, in every Armenian community, a carefully planned Genocide unfolded:  Arrest of clergy and other prominent persons, disarmament of the population and Armenian soldiers serving in the Ottoman army, segregation and public execution of leaders and able-bodied men, and the deportation to the deserts of the remaining Armenian women, children and elderly.  Renowned historian Arnold Toynbee wrote that "the crime was concerted very systematically for there is evidence of identical procedure from over fifty places."

The Genocide started from the border districts and seacoasts, and worked inland to the most remote hamlets.  Over 1.5 million Armenian Christians, including over 4,000 bishops and priests, were killed in this step of the Genocide.

The Greek Christians, particularly in the Black Sea area known as Pontus, who had been suffering from Turkish persecutions and murders all the while, saw the Turks turn more fiercely on them as WW1 came to a close.  The Allied Powers, at a peace conference in Paris in 1919, rewarded Greece for her support by inviting Prime Minister Venizelos to occupy the city of Smyrna with its rich hinterlands, and they placed the province under Greek control.  This action greatly angered the Turks.  The Greek occupation was a peaceful one but drew immediate fire from Turkish forces in the outlying areas.  When the Greek army farmed out to protect its people, a full-fledged war broke out between Greece and Turkey (the Greco-Turkish war).

The Treaty of Sevres, signed in 1920 to end WW1 and which provided for an independent Armenia, was never ratified.  The treaty's terms changed not long after the ink dried as England, France and Italy each began secretly bargaining with Mustafa Kemel (Ataturk) in order to gain the right to exploit oil fields in the Mozul (now Iraq).  Betrayed by the Allied Powers, the Greek military front, after 40 long months of war, collapsed and retreated as the Turks began again to occupy Asia Minor.

September 1922 signaled the end of the Greek and Armenian presence in the city of Smyrna.  On 9 September 1922, the Turks entered Smyrna; and after systematically murdering the Armenians in their own homes, the forces of Ataturk turned on the Greeks whose numbers had swelled, with the addition of refugees who had fled their villages in Turkey's interior, to upwards of 400,000 men, women and children.

The conquering Turks went from house to house, looting, pillaging, raping and murdering the population.  Finally, when the wind had turned so that it was blowing toward the sea so that the small Turkish quarter at the rear of the city was not in danger, Turkish forces, led by their officers, poured kerosene on the buildings and homes of the Greek and Armenian sectors and set them afire.  Thus, any remaining live inhabitants of the city were flushed out to be caught between a wall of fire and the sea.  The pier of Smyrna became a scene of final desperation as the approaching flames forced many thousands to jump to their death or to be consumed by fire.

The Allied warships and shore patrol of the French, British and American military were eyewitnesses to the events.  George Horton, the American Consul in Smyrna, likened the finale at Smyrna to the Roman destruction of Carthage.  He is quoted in Smyrna (1922, written by Marjorie Dobkin) as saying:  Yet there was not fleet of Christian battleships at Carthage looking on a situation for which their governments were responsible."  This horrible act unleashed the last phase of the genocide against the Christians of Turkish Asia Minor.

On 9 September 1997, a series of speakers and memorial services, honoring the memory of the 3.5 million Christians who were murdered by Turkish persecutions from 1894-1923, were held in the greater Baltimore Washington area.  The memorial service was conducted by the choirs of St. Mary's Armenian Church, St. Katherine's Greek Orthodox Church, Fr. George Alexson of St. Katherine's, Fr. Vertanes Katayjian of St. Mary's and other Orthodox clergy. 

The 75th anniversary of the Christian Holocaust was memorialized on 9 September 1997, the date in 1922 of the destruction of the city of Smyrna.  This memorial honors the memory of over 3.5 million Christians who were murdered by Turkish persecutions from 1894-1923.  Not only was this the memorial of the Holocaust of Smyrna (now Izmir) and the martyrdom of Smyrna's Metropolitan Chrysostomos, but also of the 3.5 million Christians who perished during the first Holocaust of this century.  But the events of 1922 are not an isolated incident.  The atrocities committed by Turkish forces against a civilian population began before WW1 and have never ended.  This event seeks to expose the continuum of a Turkish campaign of persecution, deportation, and murder designed to rid Asia of its Christian populace.

GREEKS
1914
400,000
conscripts perished in forced labor brigades
1922
100,000
massacred or burned alive in Smyrna
1916-1922
350,000
Pontions massacred or killed during forced deportations
1914-1922
900,000
perish from maltreatment, starvation and massacres; total of all other areas of Asia Minor
TOTAL:
1,750,000
Greek Christians martyred 1914-1922

ARMENIANS
1894-1896
300,000
massacred
1915-1916
1,500,000
perish in massacres and forced deportations (with subsidiaries to 1923)
1922
30,000
massacred or burned alive in Smyrna
TOTAL:
1,800,000
Armenian Christians martyred 1894-1923

SYRIANS AND NESTORIANS
1915-1917
100,000
Christians massacred




The native population of Asia Minor traces its Christian roots to the early days of Christianity.  the Armenians, an ancient people, trace their origins back 2500 years.  In 301 AD. the Armenian King Dftad declared Christianity as the kingdom's official religion, making Armenia the first Christian political state in the world.  The migration of Greek tribes to Asia Minor began just before 2,000 BC and the Greeks built dozens of cities such as Smyrna, Phocaea, Pergamon, Ephesus and Byzantium (Constantinople).  The native inhabitants of Asia Minor, among the first to accept the message of Christianity, were later to be persecuted and uprooted from their lands because of that same faith.  Turkish tribes plagued the region.  Later another tribe, the Oyuz Turks who embraced Islam and ultimately produced the Ottoman Turks, conquered Persia, the Caliphate of Baghdad, and then the whole area presently occupied by Syria, Iraq and Palestine
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Under the Ottoman Empire the Christians suffered a steady decline.  Forced conversions to Islam, the abduction of children to serve in the fanatical Janissary corps, persecutions and oppression reduced the Christian population.  Oppression intensified, leading to Genocide.  Christian clergy were a constant target of Turkish persecution, particularly once the 1894 policy of Armenian genocide had been declared by sultan Abdul Hamid.

Victims of horrible torture, many Orthodox clergy were martyred for their faith.  Among the first was Metropolitan Chrysostomos who was martyred, not just to kill a man but, to insult a sacred religion and an ancient and honorable people.  Chrysostomos was enthroned as Metropolitan of Smyrna on 10 May 1910.  Metropolitan Chrysostomos courageously opposed the anti Christian rage of the turks and sought to raise international pressure against the persecution of Turkish Christians.  He wrote many letters to European leaders and to the western press in an effort to expose the genocide policies of the Turks.  In 1922, in unprotected Smyrna, Chrysostomos said to those begging him to flee:  "It is the tradition of the Greek Church and the duty of the priest to stay with his congregation."

On 9 September crowds were rushing into the cathedral for shelter when Chrysostomos, pale from fasting and lack of sleep, led his last prayer.  The Divine Liturgy ended as Turkish police came to the church and led Chrysostomos away.  The Turkish General Nouredin Pasha, known as the "butcher of Ionia", first spat on the Metropolitan and informed him that a tribunal in Angora (now Ankara) had already condemned him to death.  A mob fell upon Chrysostomos and tore out his eyes.  Bleeding profusely, he was dragged through the streets by his beard.  He was beaten and kicked and parts of his body were cut off.  All the while Chrysostomos, his face covered with blood, prayed: "Holy Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."  Every now and then, when he had the strength, he would raise his hand and bless his persecutors; a Turk, realizing what the Metropolitan was doing, cut off his hand with a sword.  Metropolitan Chrysostomos was then hacked to pieced by the angry mob.

Among the hundreds of Armenian clergy who were persecuted and murdered were Bishop Khosrov Behrigian and Very Reverend Father Mgrdich' Chghladian.

Bishop Behrigian (1869-1915) was born in Zara and became the primate for the Diocese of Caesarea/Kayseri in 1915.  He was arrested by Turkish police upon his return from Etchmiadzin where he had just been consecrated bishop.  Informed of his fate, the bishop asked for a bullet to the head.  Deliberately ignoring his request, the police tied him to a "yataghan" where sheep were butchered an then proceeded to hack his body apart while he was still alive.

Father Chghladian was born in Tatvan.  In May 1915, as part of the campaign of mass arrests, deportations and murders, the priest was tortured and displayed in a procession, led by sheiks and dervishes while accompanied by drums, through the streets of Dikranagerd.  Once the procession returned to the mosque, in the presence of government officials, the sheiks poured oil over the priest and burned him alive.

Four of the martyred bishops who were murdered between 1921-1922 are today elevated to sainthood in the Greek Orthodox Church:  They are, in addition to Metropolitan Chrysostomos, Bishops Efthimios, Gregorios and Ambrosios.

Bishop Efthimios of Amasia was captured by the Turkish police and tortured daily for 41 days.  In the last days of his life he chanted his own funeral memorial until finally dying in his cell on 29 May 1921.  Three days later a written order for his execution arrived from Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk).
 
Metropolitan Gregorios of Kydonion remained with his church until the end, helping 20,000 of his 35,000 parishioners escape to Mytilene and other free parts of Greece.  On 3 October 1922, the remaining 15,000 Orthodox Christians were executed; the Metropolitan was saved in order to be buried alive.

Metropolitan Ambrosios of Moshonesion, along with 12 priests and 6,000 Christians, were sent by the Turks on a forced deportation march to Central Asia Minor.  All of them perished on the road, some slain by Turkish irregulars and civilians, the remainder left to die of starvation.  Bishop Ambrosios died on 15 September 1922 when Turkish police nailed horseshoes to his feet and then cut his body into pieces.

"I was five or six years old in 1922, and I still remember the songs of Akrita and the mourning of the Greek women who carried baskets full of severed heads down from the mountains.  I will never forget the women who suddenly realized that one of the heads in the basket she carried was that of her son." - Constantine Koukides, refugee from Pontius
"I have given orders to my Death Units to exterminate without mercy or pity, men, women, and children belonging to the Polish speaking race.  It is only in this manner we can acquire the vital territory which we need.  After all, who remembers the extermination of the Armenians?" - Adolf Hitler, 22 August 1939

THE UKRAINIAN HOLOCAUST OF 1932-33
Sixty-five years ago, between seven and twelve million Ukrainians were systematically and deliberately starved to death in Ukraine, the "Bread Basket of Europe".

Long before there was a Russia, Kyivan Rus' (Ukraine) was a free and fiercely independent nation.  Indeed, it was to Ukraine that Christianity was first delivered by St. Andrew - the First called Apostle - and only much later, from Ukraine, on to Russia.  In the 13th century Kvivan Rus' was decimated by invasions from Asia; and by the time the invaders were driven back, the base of power had shifted North to Muscovy.  For centuries thereafter, Ukraine was subjugated to Tsarist Russia.  Then in 1918, following the murder of the Tsar and his family by the Communists, the Ukrainians declared Ukraine a free and independent country, just as it was centuries before there even was a Russia.

Communist forces eventually recaptured the land and once again, as in the time of the Tsars, Ukraine would become little more than a part of a larger whole.  But as never before in their long history, Ukrainians would be forced to pay a dreadfully high price in their survival as a people.  Probably more than other Bolsheviks, Stalin had an exceedingly low opinion of peasants; for he considered them to be incurably conservative and a major barrier to revolutionary change.  And because Ukrainians were an overwhelmingly peasant people, among whom native nationalism was on the rise, they were doubly vulnerable to his designs.  Ukraine continued to be a land of innumerable villages of peasants working the land, with the Orthodox Church and traditional values dominating their lives.  Perhaps most galling for the Bolshevik revolutionaries was the fact that the peasant showed little inclination for sharing their dreams of a Communist utopia.

Stalin's plans for industrial expansion were based on the state purchasing cheap grain, from the peasants, which would be sold abroad at a profit; the proceeds would then be used to finance the industrialization of the nation.  But the prices that the state offered, often at one eighth of the market price, were so low that the peasants refused to sell their grain.  Infuriated by what he called "sabotage". Stalin ordered an all-out drive for total collectivization.  All land and all property, including livestock, were to be taken away from private ownership and given over to the state.  Small farms were to be incorporated into huge Collectives.  The plan was accompanied by such brutality and horror that it can only be described as war waged by the regime against the peasantry.  It was to be one of the most traumatic events in Ukraine history.

Those who resisted most stubbornly were shot.  Others were deported to forced labor camps in the Arctic and Siberia.  The rest were deprived of all their property - including their homes and personal belongings - barred from the collective farms, and told to fend for themselves.  In the winter of 1929-30 hundreds of thousands of peasants and their families were dragged from their homes, packed into freight trains, and shipped thousands of miles to the north where they were dumped amidst Arctic wastes, often without food or shelter.  In this way a large part of Ukraine's most industrious and efficient farmers ceased to exist.

When even these severe measures failed to have the desired effect, the government dispatched thousands of urban workers to implement its policies in the villages.  Their efforts produced pandemonium and outrage; often officials were beaten or shot.  The most common form of protest, however, was the slaughter of farm animals.  Determined not to let the government have their livestock, peasants preferred to kill their animals instead.  Between 1928 and 1932 Ukraine lost about 50% of its livestock.  Because of poor transportation facilities, much of the grain which was produced either spoiled or was eaten by rats.  Even more serious was the lack of draught animals, many of which had been slaughtered earlier.  Government officials were confident, however, that they could provide enough new tractors to replace the missing horses and oxen.  But the production of tractors fell badly behind schedule, and a very high percentage of those which were delivered broke down almost immediately.  As a result, in 1931 almost one third of the grain yield was lost during the harvest.  To make matters worse, a drought hit southern Ukraine in 1931. 
  
The Ukraine continued to resist and to dream of a free and independent nation; and since Joseph Stalin could not kill that dream, he first decided to deport all Ukrainians to other parts of the Soviet Union.  Discovering that there were too many of them to move, Stalin decided to kill the dreamers instead; and his weapon of choice was a man-made, artificial famine which was designed to eliminate the troublemakers and force the survivors into total, complete submission.  The famine which occurred in 1932-33 was to be for Ukrainians what the Holocaust was to the Jews, and what the Massacres of 1915 were for the Armenians.  A tragedy of unfathomable proportions, it traumatized the nation, leaving it with deep social, psychological, political,  and demographic scars that it still carries to this very day.  The central fact about the famine is that is did not have to happen.  Food was available; but the state confiscated most of it for its own use.  All crops were requisitioned by the Soviet government and shipped elsewhere.  This confiscation of food included seed which was intended for spring planting.  Any man, woman or child caught taking even a handful of grain from a government silo could be, and often was, executed.  In Moscow a law was enacted stipulating that no grain could be given to the peasants until the government's full quota had been met.  Gangs of party activists conducted brutal house-to-house searches, tearing up floors and delving into wells in search of any grain which remained.  In fact, if a person did not appear to be starving, he was suspected of hoarding food. 
  
Famine, which had been spreading throughout 1932, hit full force early in 1933.  Lacking bread, peasants ate pets, rats, bark, leaves, and the garbage from the well provisioned kitchens of Communist Party members.  Whole villages were erased and people were dying by the tens of thousands.  Cannibalism existed.  At first cannibals were shot on the spot, but later were thrown into concentration camps.  The most terrifying sights were the little children with skeleton limbs dangling from balloon like abdomens.  Cordons of troops prevented peasants from entering cities; those who managed to break through wandered about until they fell in the streets.  Such people were loaded onto trucks, together with the corpses, and dumped into pits outside of the city.

With the climbing death rate during the famine, the publication of death statistics was forbidden by the Soviet government. When deaths due to famine took on major proportions in Ukraine in 1932-33, physicians certifying the cause of death were forbidden to name the killer - starvation.  The word "holod" (hunger) was decreed as counter-revolutionary, and no one valuing his own life and those of his relatives dared use it publicly.  When the results of the census of 1937, for example, revealed shockingly high mortality rates, Stalin had the leading census takers shot.

Elsewhere there was no famine - much of Russia proper barely experienced it - but the borders of Ukraine had been sealed by the secret police; there was no escape.  The Ukrainians had been sentenced to death.  And thus, the greatest genocide in history was systematically accomplished.  A noteworthy aspect of the famine was the attempt to erase it from public consciousness; the Soviet position was to deny that it had occurred at all.  To curry Stalin's favor, for example, Walter Duranty - the Moscow based reporter of the New York Times, repeatedly denied the existence of a famine in his articles (while privately estimating that about ten million people may have starved to death).  For the "profundity, impartiality, sound judgment and exceptional clarity" of his dispatches from the USSR, Duranty received the Pulitzer Prize in 1932.

Yet, even to this very day, there are those who deny or minimize the Ukrainian Holocaust to such a degree that it is being referred to as "the hidden holocaust of the twentieth century".  In 1984, for example, a documentary film entitled HARVEST OF DESPAIR was shown on Canadian television.  This film won numerous prizes at World Film Festivals and a 1986 Academy award nomination; yet all three top commercial networks in America refused to show it.  As recently as 1994, the New Jersey state legislators were being pressured to exclude the Ukrainian Holocaust from Resolution A-589 (The Holocaust Education Bill).  Media coverage has been just as one-sided about the Greek, Armenian, Syrian and Nestorians Holocausts of 1984-1923 and, more recently, the Serbian Holocaust.  The atrocities against Christians - especially Orthodox Christians - continue to this day! 

ORTHODOX PERSECUTIONS TODAY
Of all the Christian confessions, it has been the Eastern Orthodox Church which has suffered the brunt of persecutions in the 20th century.
In the first two decades, there were massacres of Orthodox Greeks, Slavs, and Armenians in the Ottoman empire, culminating in the 1915 genocide of the Armenians in Anatolia and the near destruction of the ancient Assyrian community in Iraq.  In 1923, the entire Orthodox population of Asia Minor was forced to leave their homes, bringing to a close a 2000 year Christian presence.

During the Second World War, two groups of Orthodox Christians were especially targeted for genocide by the Nazis and their allies - the Gypsies and the Orthodox Serbs of Bosnia and Croatia, while the population of Greece, Serbia, European Russia, and Ukraine were designated by the Nazis to serve as slave labor for the Third Reich.  By special order of Heinrich Himmler (21 April 1942), clergyman from the East (as opposed to their counterparts from Western Europe) were to be used for hard labor.

At the same time the Orthodox suffered in greater proportion to any other Christian group at the hands of the Communists, who sought to completely eliminate religion.

First in Russia and Ukraine, then in Eastern Europe, in Greece during its civil war (1945-49), and in Ethiopia, the Orthodox Church was the principle target for attach, subversion, or destruction.

Finally, the Orthodox of the Middle East have found themselves caught in the crossfire of the conflicts between Muslim and Jew in Israel and the West Bank, and the civil war between Maronites, Muslims, and Palestinians in Lebanon.

Between the tolls exacted from prisons, concentration camps, forced marches and exiles, warfare, famine, and brutal military occupation, it is reasonable to conclude that up to 50 million Orthodox Christians have perished in the first eight decades of the twentieth century.

Even in the United States, where so many Orthodox have found refuge, the Orthodox Native Americans of the Aleutian Islands were forcibly interned during World War II and many of their churches deliberately destroyed by the U.S. Army.

Unfortunately, the depth and range of the Orthodox suffering throughout the world in this century, remains largely unknown and unappreciated in the West. 

1987 - 1997
Harassment of the Orthodox Church in the former Soviet Union continued through the Gorbachev era.  Many of the churches supposedly returned to the Orthodox between 1988 and 1990 were in Western Ukraine.  This was part of an attempt by the KGB to sow open discord between Orthodox and Catholics - only 100 churches were returned in Russia itself.  The KGB continued to target Orthodox clergymen involved in the struggle for religious freedom and democratization; in 1990 several prominent priests, among them Fr. Alexander Men, were murdered.  It was only under President Boris Yeltsin that full freedom was restored to the Orthodox and other Russian based confessions.  In other parts of the former Soviet Union, notably in Uzbekistan and Tadjikistan, the governments have continued to limit the rights of the religious and ethnic minorities. 
  
The triumph of democracy in Poland has not led to full religious freedom for members of its 1 million strong Orthodox minority.  Although the height of anti Orthodox activity seems to have peaked in 1991 after several Orthodox churches and an historic monastery were vandalized, Orthodox continue to be viewed as second-class citizens in Poland; where they are described in a secret Foreign Ministry report as an "alien body in Poland's state organism."  Laws on religious education in the schools have virtually established the Roman Catholic Church to the detriment of both the Orthodox and the Lutherans; and Orthodox believers continue to complain of petty harassment endured at the local level.
In Slovakia, the government in 1991 announced its intention to review ownership of the country's 125 Orthodox parishes.  Since that time, over 90 church buildings have been taken away from the Orthodox and given to the Catholics; and the Orthodox have been blocked by local officials from constructing new edifices, opening schools, or holding services.  Even the official policy of the vatican announced 16 July 1990, which counseled Slovak Catholics to share disputed properties with the Orthodox, has been ignored.

The wars in the former Yugoslavia have been disastrous for the Orthodox.  The Croatian government has all but liquidated the Orthodox Church in its territory, beginning with the dynamiting of the residence and library of the Orthodox Metropolitan of Zagreb on 11 April 1992.  Following the Croatian offensive of fall 1995 and the departure of over 200,000  Orthodox Serbs in Diocese in Krajina. (which brought a total of over 800,000 displaced Orthodox Christians), four dioceses of the Serbian Orthodox Church ceased to exist.  In Croat controlled territory in Bosnia, the Orthodox Bishop of Mostar was driven from his see, and most of the Orthodox population was expelled.  Estimates are that over 154 Orthodox churches in the territory of Bosnia and Croatia were deliberately destroyed.  On March 25, 1999 NATO began bombing of Kosovo in Serbia.  It is one of the tragic ironies of History that Western "Christian" nations have joined forces to eradicate Serbs in Kosovo who are accused of "Ethnic cleansing".  History repeats itself ----Kosovo was the site 500 years ago of the Christian Resistance to the Turks.

In Turkey and Turkish occupied Cyprus the position of the Orthodox continues to deteriorate.  Despite international guarantees contained within the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, the Turkish government continues to enforce the closure of the famous Halki Orthodox Theological Academy in Istanbul.  Families of those Orthodox illegally expelled in the 1950's and 1960's have never been allowed to return to their homes, again in contravention of the 1923 treaty guaranteeing their right to do so.  On Cyprus, 450 Orthodox Churches on the northern part of the island have been desecrated; some have become night clubs while others have been turned into public toilets.  Other churches and historical monuments, some dating back to the 5th century, have been looted and left to rot away.  There is a sustained campaign to remove entirely the last traces of the 2000 year old Orthodox presence from occupied Cyprus.

In Egypt, the Orthodox continue to suffer from the many restrictions placed on their ability to function in the economic and political life of the country.  There are many rules hindering their ability to build and repair churches, and they are increasingly becoming targets for armed attacks by Muslim extremists.  In the past two years, dozens of Orthodox villagers in Upper Egypt have been murdered by Islamic gunmen.
In India Orthodox Christians report increased harassment on the part of both Hindu and Muslim extremists, with isolated attacks and vehement rhetoric demanding their removal from the Indian landscape. 

THE CURRENT ATTITUDE OF THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT
The government of the United States prides itself on its commitment to defending religious liberty.  In the Middle East and Eastern Europe, however, the United States is seen as supporting only those churches who possess sufficient "influence" in Washington, while ignoring the plight of the Orthodox.  Events over the last ten years have tended to confirm that assessment.

During the 1980's, the Immigration and Naturalization Service gave refugee status to any Soviet citizen who applied on religious grounds - except for members of the Orthodox Church.  The very church which had suffered the most under Soviet rule, whose churches continued to be closed and her clergy arrested until 1988, was not considered to be a "persecuted" church by the American government.

After 1989, Orthodox Christians in both Poland and Slovakia warned the United States government that they were "at risk" as religious minorities.  In 1991 the Congress of Russian Americans prepared two reports for the Commission of security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE: July & september 1991) warning of the dangers and asking that guarantees be obtained for the rights of the Orthodox in those nations.  No action was taken, and at this time there is no indication that the US has pressed to secure the rights of these minorities in either Poland or Slovakia.  There is also no indication that the US has ever linked economic assistance to either country or entry into the NATO alliance with improvements in the situation of their religious minorities.

Despite the large amount of economic and military assistance received by Turkey, there is no indication that the US has ever been prepared to use this leverage to secure the rights of the Orthodox minority, even though Turkey is bound by its own constitution and its international obligations to allow the Orthodox to maintain schools and other institutions.  In contrast, US senators have often publicly and vocally called for American assistance to Russia to be made conditional on Russia's acceptance of American Protestant missionaries.

Persecution and harassment of the Orthodox continues because of a belief that the United States is not interested in their fate, and that America will not undertake any effort (other than occasional lip service) to secure religious freedom for the Orthodox.  I turn, Orthodox leaders around the world are watching closely to see whether or not future initiatives on religious freedom which emanate from the US are truly based on principle, or whether American policy will be selective in terms of who is faulted and who is exonerated.

The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church has suffered greatly in this century, and continues to be a martyr church in many parts of the world.  If the US chooses to ignore this fact for political gain, then the cause of religious freedom - for all - will be gravely compromised.
This information was borrowed from:
The Library of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church USA - Ukraine, A History
Ukrainian Orthodox League of the USA - Ukrainian Affairs Committee
3. The Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies - University of Toronto
4. Ukrainian Orthodox League Bulletin - October 1998
5. Greek Orthodox Diocese of Denver Diocesan News: Dr. Nicholas Gvosdev - August 1998
6. Federation of Hellenic Societies of the Greater Baltimore Washington Region: Heritage Publications - 1997


(Editors Notes: We cannot even well imagine but "50 Million Victims Of The Orthodox Christian Holocaust" is not the correct number, as we have learned from Alexander Solzhenitsyn that more then 66.5 million Orthodox Christians also perished from 1917 and onward during the times of the Soviet Union. Secondly the New Martyrs of Serbia are increasing, the killing of innocent people, the destruction of Churches, Monasteries, Cemeteries, and homes, as well as a massive killings of Serbian Orthodox Christians, and countless missing people.)

Holy New Priest
Martyr Stefan of Kosovo,
Pray Unto GOD For Us!
Holy New Martyrs, and
Confessors Of Holy Orthodox Faith,
Pray Unto GOD For Us!
GLORY BE TO GOD FOR ALL THINGS!

http://www.serfes.org/orthodox/memoryof.htm

Moslems are the age-old enemy of the Church

New Year Indiction
a sticheron on "Lord I have cried..." 

          As once in the wilderness the bodies of the Jews who did not truly subject themselves to Thee, the Master of all, fell into the abyss as was fitting, so now with psalmody do Thou scatter the bones of the impious and unbelieving Moslems in hell, O Christ.

Memory Eternal Fr. Mark

https://holyapostlejamesowasso.com/2017/09/08/announcement-for-september-5-2017/
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We have the sorrowful duty to announce the repose our dedicated and beloved Presbyter, Mark Gilstrap, rector of the Church of St. James the Apostle Church. Father Mark reposed suddenly but peacefully in his home yesterday morning, 22 August/4 September.

A pannykida, vespers, and matins will be served for Father Mark by Father Steven Allen, in our chapel, on Wednesday evening, September 6th. The funeral and burial will be served on the following Thursday morning, September 7th at 10 AM following liturgy at 8 AM. Father Mark’s body will also be in the chapel overnight Wednesday for those who cannot make it to the services. Feel free to come at anytime to light a candle and say a prayer.

The timing of Wednesday services is not yet set, as details are still being sorted out. If you would like to be here for services please call the church line, 918-274-9612, for further details.

His Eminence Metropolitan Demetrius has requested the immediate commencement of heartfelt prayers and liturgical commemoration on the part of our clergy, monastics, and faithful, the entire fullness of the Body of the Church, for the repose of the Servant of God Presbyter Mark, and for the consolation of Matushka Tatiana and Fr. Mark’s pious children and grandchildren.

May his Memory be Eternal

O feast full of blood!


...Better would it have been not to have sworn thine oath, O iniquitous Herod, grandson of lies!  For even though thou didst make thy vow, it was not well sworn.  Better it would have been to be proved false, than to cut off the head of the forerunner, who spake the truth...

from Great Vespers and Matins tone VI
August Menaion p. 324 and 329

Battle of Athens, Tennessee 1946

This movie reminds me of my father, a WWII veteran, whose idealism and love for truth was imparted to me.   He loved his country, refused to compromise the American ideals, and volunteered to fight and risk his life for it .  See the parallel with love for God's Church. 
~ Joanna

The Battle of Athens, Tennessee
1946
"An American Story"
full movie

Part 1
   6 minutes

Part 2
   1½  hours

This is a very important TRUE STORY which took place in 1946 at Athens, Tennessee where the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was enforced against corrupt county government employees. The citizens and veterans took the town back. It was the last armed engagement between citizens and their government on American soil.

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Moscow and Ecumenism

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Michael 

Wed, Aug 30, 2017 at 7:49 PM
To: Joanna Higginbotham

Joanna - use this as you wish. Very sad, but not surprising!
     Michael

Draft Orthodox catechism defends ecumenism
Catholic Herald, 1 August 2017

A new draft catechism of the Russian Orthodox church has declared ecumenical discussions to date ‘completely faithful and obedient’ to Christian teaching, in opposition to critics of ecumenism within the church.

The Catechesis of the Russian Orthodox Church, issued with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, follows a submission to the Council of Bishops in February, and is published for Church-wide discussion.

The sixth and final part of the document, which covers attitudes towards the non-Orthodox, is non-negotiable, but its assertion that ecumenical representatives have acted “in complete agreement with the canonical rules” runs contrary to prominent voices within the church, who have pointed to the dangers of the ecumenical movement.

Many figures within the Orthodox Church, including St Justin Popovich, Elder Ephraim of Katounakia, St Paisios the Athonite, St Seraphim of Sobolev, Fr Seraphim Rose, and Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos), have been vocal about the dangers the movement poses.
Following last year’s Council on Crete, the Churches of Georgia and Bulgaria were also guarded in their responses.

The February 2016 joint declaration between Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis contained expressions “which are by no means indisputable, and sometimes erroneous,” according to Fr George Maximov.

Part VI of the draft catechism quotes a Pan-Orthodox meeting in Thessaloniki in 1998:

During Orthodox participation of many decades in the ecumenical movement, Orthodoxy has never been betrayed by any representative of a Local Orthodox Church. On the contrary, these representatives have always been completely faithful and obedient to their respective Church authorities, and acted in complete agreement with the canonical rules, the Teaching of the Ecumenical Councils, the Church Fathers and the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church (7.3)

The draft catechism follows an initial submission to the Council of Bishops in January. The council then forwarded the draft to the permanent members of the Holy Synod, the primates of the patriarchate’s autonomous Churches, the first hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the heads of Synodal institutions and theological schools, and diocesan bishops who expressed a desire to participate in reviewing the text.

The idea of creating a modern catechism was first raised at the Bishops’ Council in 2008.

Prominent theologians of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as professors of various theological academies, have been involved in the project.

Guest reviews are being accepted for Parts I-III, while Parts IV-VI are non-negotiable.

The full text of the draft catechesis can be found at theolcom.ru.

Tennessee Hippie

4 August 2017 
Prichard's Grocery Store parking lot
Alexandria, Tennessee
     The young man is an employee who helps shoppers carry out their groceries.
     20 years ago there was no such thing as a Tennessee Hippie.  If rednecks spotted one they would jump him, hold him down, and cut off his hair.  This one is wearing boots that jingle-jangle when he walks.






Rat Snake

10 July 2017 
Caves Springs, Tennessee
Not a very big one.  Harmless snake.  Eats rodents.





Sticky

• Kenyan Christians killed by Moslems for refusing to recite Moslem prayers

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PSALTIC ARTS GROUP Kliton Anaphora

Re: DEP PSALTIC ARTS GROUP Kliton Anaphora

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John-Peter Presson

Thu, Aug 24, 2017 at 3:15 PM

Masters, Fathers bless.

I found this recording in my archive recently and posted it to my SoundCloud file

https://soundcloud.com/john-p-presson/leitoyrgika-kliton-bzacharis

--it is a recording of the Anaphora responses in Greek as chanted in the old Patriarchal style -plainchanted as opposed to chanted to the long melodic forms used from the 19th Century on in various composed "leitourgica". At first their austerity may be disconcerting to listeners accustomed to tuneful or virtuosic Leitourgika, but when they are placed in sequence with the celebrant’s recitations, one is led to a deeper appreciation of the thematic unity and spiritual power of the great Eucharistic Prayer attributed to St. John Chrysostom. This simplicity serves to clarify the textual structure of the responses.  They are simple, elegant responses to the Eucharistic dialogue, similar in concept to the "Dominus vobiscum" dialogue of the pre-Vatican II high mass ritual, in contrast to the more contemporary practice of using the responses as a sort of  "musical wallpaper" for the priest's eucharistic prayers (for the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, for the chant geeks out there, the lag time for the priest's prayers is not that great, and as is demonstrated the English sample from our Schola Cantorum, most of the lag is easily filled).

It is interesting to note that this WAS the standard of the Patriarchal chapel for many centuries, and the practice of using more extended was imported into the Patriarchate after attempts, particularly by Athenagoras 2 to replace the chant tradition with more contemporary Sakalleridis melodies and westernized compositions into the Patriarchal Church.
Aficianados of the Greek Byzantine Choir of the late Archon Protopsaltis Lycourgos Angelopoulos will recognize these responses from their Divine Liturgy CD, now out of print.

The Cathedral Schola in Portland chants it in English at 14:21 in this clip https://soundcloud.com/john-p-presson/part-two-of-yesterdays-liturgy-with-the-st-marks-cathedral-choir-members and has done so in this form for several years.


John-Peter Presson
Protopsaltis of the Diocese of Etna & Portland (ΓΟΧ)
Director of Liturgical Music -Holy Nativity of the Theotokos Cathedral -Portland, OR
Musicorum et cantorum magna est distantia, isti dicunt, illi sciunt quae componit musica. - Guido of Arrezzo
protopsalti@me.com

Repose of Father Christian Doucet

FW: Repose of Father Christian Doucet

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Dutikow

Fri, Aug 25, 2017 at 10:16 AM
Reply-To: dutikow@juno.com
To: Dutikow


From: Saint Edward Brotherhood [mailto:info@saintedwardbrotherhood.org]
Sent: Friday, August 25, 2017 10:36 AM
To: Undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: Repose of Father Christian Doucet


Bless! From the Fili and Oropos website today;

The repose of Father Christian Doucet - 


            May our Saviour grant him rest withr saints.  Memory Eternal!

Combining Christ with Belial, by New Hieromartyr Hilarion (Troitsky)

On the Execution of a Monstrous Plan – Combining Christ with Belial, by New Hieromartyr Hilarion (Troitsky)


New Hieromartyr Hilarion (Troitsky)


Presented below is a letter written on July 16/29, 1927 by Holy Martyr Hilarion (Troitskiy) to N.N. about Metropolitan Sergey's (Stragorodskiy) Declaration. Although written 90 years ago, this letter remains highly relevant to our time. Holy Martyr Hilarion was an active supporter of the revival of the patriarchate. In many ways thanks to his remarkable speech at the Local Council of 1917-1918, for the first time in more than 200 years, a Patriarch of Moscow was elected. After the election of Patriarch Tikhon, Bishop Hilarion became his secretary and advisor, negotiating on behalf of the Church with state representatives to soften government policy on religion. The Bishop's active efforts provoked the discontent of the authorities and in the 1920s he was convicted and sentenced to three years in the prison camps followed by another three years of internal exile. The Holy Martyr concluded his earthly path in Leningrad: at a transfer station from one prison camp to another he contracted typhus, soon after died, and was buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery in St. Petersburg in 1929.


My dear friend! 

While I was still under the impression that your anxious letter of October 2 (15) had on me, I looked in my notebook to remind myself of some of my relatively dated notes associated with the subject of your anxiety. This is what I drafted on February 18 (March 3), 1924.

"Perhaps we will soon find ourselves a small island in an ocean of wickedness. As the fall of the autocracy initially crept up gradually and then quickly concluded, leaving the image of Russian statehood changed, so too is the revolutionary reform process in our Church unfolding in a similar fashion and can also quickly come to a conclusion. The state of church relations can evolve as if in a kaleidoscope. The Renovationists could suddenly emerge as the ruling "church party" in Russia, and such a party would have very few opponents if the overt Renovationists and the covert traitors come to terms with each other and together cloak themselves in the guise of canonicity. Of course, one can also assume that developments could go in another direction, but in any case, the true children of the Ecumenical Church of Christ must remain vigilant and stand guard with burning lights.”

"For an Orthodox person the difficulty of our current time consists, among other things, if not primarily, (as I wrote in my notebook on January 1 (14), 1925) in that the present life of the Church requires a highly spiritual attitude towards oneself. One cannot rely on official pastors (bishops and priests), nor can one formally apply the canons to solve the issues presented in church life, nor in general can one limit themselves to a legalistic approach to the matter, but instead it is necessary to have a spiritual feeling that will show Christ's path among the many available paths that have been trampled by wild animals in sheep's clothing. Life has posited questions that can only be resolved correctly, ecclesiastically correctly, by stepping beyond custom, form, rule, and being guided by senses trained in discerning good and evil (Hebrews 5:14). Otherwise, it is easy to defile the sanctity of one's soul and begin burning one's conscience (1 Timothy 4:2) through accommodation, according to the rules, with the falsehoods and filth that the bishops themselves have brought into the Church's enclosure. On a "legal" basis, one can even accept the Antichrist…"

Have not church events of recent weeks confirmed these forebodings? Has not the frightening outcome, which was foreseen in our soul two-three years ago, come closer to reality with the second accession of Metropolitan Sergey to the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church? Did not the epistle of Metropolitan Sergey and his Synod, which provoked diverse and well-deserved negative criticisms, cast the church organization headed by him into the abominable, adulterous embrace of an atheistic, blasphemous and Christ-battling (antichrist) government (the variety of epithets directed by me at the Soviet authorities, are not meant as invective but in an essential, strictly defined sense - comment added by Archbishop Hilarion) and did not this terrible wickedness enter the bowels of our Church? Note that this epistle did not come from the schismatic Renovationists, nor the Borisovites and their like renegades, nor from the Living Church heretics, but from the legitimate, canonical, and presumably Orthodox hierarchy. The main provisions of the epistle are based on texts (although sometimes with distortions, for example see the false interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:1-2) of the Holy Scriptures and with the experience of the ancient Church that is presented as homogenous with current experience. On the other hand, the epistle seeks and hopes to meet the urgent needs of tormented believers, exhausted by persecution, with promises of peace and quiet. And many, many, especially among the clergy, respond sympathetically to this appeal by Metropolitan Sergey and his Synod.

This symphony of godless power and the legal hierarchy of the Orthodox Church has resulted in some "positive" fruits: bishops (although not those of the highest quality and not the very "guilty") have been returned from internal exile (although not very distant exile) and have been appointed to dioceses (although not those from which they were driven), and the acting Patriarchal Locum Tenens, Metropolitan Sergey, has a Synod (although it more resembles a Chief Procurator's Office of lawful hierarchs [although most of them are "damaged," i.e. in the church context they are compromised by their long-standing and firm orientation toward the godless GPU, among other issues]); Metropolitan Sergey's name is presented by all as the real helmsman of the Russian Church, but, alas!; this name is a counterfeit coin, because in reality the decision maker of the fate of the Russian Church and Her bishops, both those persecuted and those protected, i.e. those to whom mercy has been shown and who have been placed in diocesan sees (the latter is especially sad!), is the current Chief Procurator of the "Russian Orthodox Church" Yevgeniy Aleksandrovich Tuchkov (Metropolitan Sergey would not dare to deny all this as he was the unfortunate initiator, or rather, the instrument of the monstrous plan to combine Christ with Belial – comment added by Archbishop Hilarion). To anyone who has eyes to see and ears to hear, it is clear that, contrary to the decree on the separation of the Church from the state, the Orthodox Church has entered into a close, active alliance with the state. And with what a state?! With a state not lead by an Orthodox Tsar (in their day many members of the Church vigorously objected to the connection of the Church with such a state -- comment added by Archbishop Hilarion), but with a state whose main task is to destroy all religion on earth and, above all, Orthodox Christianity, as it sees in Orthodoxy, and rightly so, the primary world base of religious faith and a first-class fortress in Her battle with materialism, atheism, theomachism and Satanism (which is practiced, according to popular rumor, by some of the authorities of this world).

"…And he carried me (one of the seven angels) away in the Spirit into a wilderness," said John the Apostle, "and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names…And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: 'Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth's abominations.' And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her, I marveled greatly" (Revelation 17:3,5,6).

And how could the Seer (John the Apostle) not marvel when he saw before him the transfiguration of the "woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars" (Revelation 12:1), into "the great harlot" (Revelation 18:2), into "the mother of prostitutes and of earth's abominations…drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus." (Revelation 17:5-6)! My friend! Do we not see something quite similar with our own eyes? Do not events occur before us that involuntarily bring to mind the spiritual contemplation of the Seer of the New Testament? Compare the above words from the Book of Revelation with the deeds and actions of our Living Church members and Renovationists! Are they not applicable to them, almost to the smallest detail!?

Much more significant, in the above noted apocalyptic sense, are the events of the last days associated with the name of Metropolitan Sergey. More significant, if only for the fact, that the scarlet beast with the name of blasphemy on its heads is not being ridden by a self-declared schismatic, but by a faithful wife, possessing an image of genuine piety apparently not desecrated by prior apostasy. This is the main, terrible aspect of what is happening right now before our very eyes, which effects the deepest spiritual interests of the children of the Church of God. It is immeasurable in its consequences, which cannot be even approximated, but which is essentially of global importance, the same importance that has belonged from its inception to the Church of Christ, the one true (orthodox) Church, which the forces of hell are attacking with unprecedented force, and with which we are organically connected not only in this age, but also in future ages, if indeed we love future ages. What are we to do in these terrible moments of a new danger instigated by the enemy against our Mother, the Holy Orthodox Church? What are we to do so as not to fall out of Her blessed, saving bosom and to not join the wickedness of the blasphemous beast and the harlot sitting on it? Lord, show us the path we should follow!

"After this I saw," continued John the Apostle, "another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. He cried out mightily with a loud voice, saying: ‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a dwelling place of demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, and a haunt for every unclean and hateful bird." (Revelation 18:1-2) "And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, that you have no participation in her sins, and that you don’t receive of her plagues" (Revelation 18:4).

Do not think, my dear, that I propose these apocalyptic eschatological insights as an immutable, dogmatic interpretation of these citations from the Book of Revelation. This would be an inexcusable pretension, absurd impudence, on my part. I am just drawing a dotted line between the images of the Apocalypse and contemporary church events, which compel one's thoughts to these prophetic images and which for their part, throw a bright ray of light on these events. "One repeatedly sees in the Old Testament that the same prophecies first come to pass in small form but then have another, higher and final fulfillment" (for the sake of this letter's length, I won't cite examples). This fact is sufficient to justify the juxtapositions that I have made and which I offer for your Christian consideration and submit to your friendly court. I fervently ask for your prayers for me to be enlightened by the grace of the Spirit of Truth, without which our human consideration of spiritual things often proves to be only "the irritation of a mind imprisoned." Neither the broadest scholarship, nor the most profound innate intelligence, nor the most refined natural mysticism, can give a satisfactory understanding of the mysteries of God. And in this instance we are abutting a mystery, the great and, in a certain sense, final mystery of the earthly existence of the Church and humanity.

The question that naturally arises in reading the last verse that I quoted from the Book of Revelation, in which the faithful are urged to leave Babylon, is also a mystery, i.e. when must the people of God make their way out. One extremely scholarly, thoughtful, pious and humble interpreter of the Book of Revelation answers this question thus: "when Babylon is at the threshold of judgment"..."This was the experience of the ancient church, which departed from the ruins of Israel and Jerusalem, and for whom the signal of its liberation was the judgment over the Old Testament peoples.”

The Church then had sufficiently clear and even externally defined directions for its Exodus (Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14, and especially Luke 21:20). Is it possible to say this about the signs of the Lord's prescribed exodus in that final epoch, to which in the final analysis, the words of the Seer apply and which is presumably a prediction for the present time? The "threshold of judgment" is neither a chronological nor an outwardly visible sign. To recognize this threshold, people must have open spiritual eyes. To the Pharisees who asked the Lord: "When will the Kingdom of God arrive?" the answer given was, "…the kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed," i.e. the Kingdom of God does not come in an observable way for sensuous eyes, "nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:20-21) "This means," according to Bishop Ignatiy Brianchaninov, "one must abandon a carnal and sinful life, and then through repenting and living according to the commandments of the Gospel, cleanse and adorn one's spiritual temple, after which the Holy Spirit will bless it and perform its final purification and decoration." To such a temple God descends and establishes His spiritual, invisible, but altogether quite palpable and perceptible Kingdom. Whoever accepts within himself the Kingdom of God, can recognize and avoid the Antichrist or withstand him. Whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God within himself, will not recognize the Antichrist and, in an incomprehensible manner to oneself, will surely become his follower; they will not recognize the approaching end of the world and the terrible second coming of Christ; it will find them unprepared. No human teaching in word and words is sufficient instruction for what requires instruction in the soul's inner chamber, that is instruction from God Himself. Having attained within oneself the Kingdom of God, one has the Holy Spirit as a guide, Who teaches all truth to the guided person and does not allow him to be deceived by lies, clothed to deceive most conveniently in the illusions of truth.

A blessed monk very correctly said, in talking about the Antichrist, "many will believe in the Antichrist and will praise him as a mighty God. Those who always have God in themselves, whose hearts are enlightened through pure faith, will see the truth (about the Antichrist) and will recognize him. For all those who have a vision of God and wisdom, the advent of the tyrant will be understandable. But for those whose minds are perpetually focused on the things of this life and who love things of the earth, it will be incomprehensible, because they are too attached to the things of this life.  Even if they hear the word, they will not believe and will be indignant at the one who speaks to them." They will consider him a madman, worthy of only contempt and regret. Mankind, tarnished by its carnal wisdom, will not believe in the Second Coming of the Lord at all. "…in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." (2 Peter 3:3-4) (Bishop Ignatiy Brianchaninov, Homily on the Kingdom of God, Monday of the 26th week, Collected Works, 3rd edition, volume 4, pp. 266-268).

That the now ruling "dark power" thinks, reasons, and acts in the style of these scoffers, is beyond doubt and should come as no surprise. And will contemporary church leaders, who "possess an image of piety and rejection of its strength," and who have combined with the "scoffers" of this age, will they not consider "the madness that deserves only contempt," the thoughts that my soul presents to meet yours? Recently, one bishop, defending the orientation of Metropolitan Sergey, intimidated his interlocutor, who was indignantly rejecting this orientation, by arguing that those who disagree with Metropolitan Sergey will remain in such a minority that they will be one of the many small sects that exist in our country.

The poor Bishop forced to resort to such an impotent argument to defend the nascent "Soviet Orthodox Church!" He would do well to remember the words of the Savior about whether the Son of Man shall find faith on earth (Luke 18:8)! He would do well to remember the many apostolic predictions about the impoverishment of faith and the multiplication of all wickedness in the end times! He would do well to remember what the Seer said about the Church in Sardis, in which only "a few people" "did not defile their garments," and the glorious Church in Philadelphia, "not having much power," but retaining the word of the Lord and not denying Christ's name (Revelation 3:4,8)! A "plurality" and a "majority" are necessary in parliaments and political parties, but not in the Church of God, which is the pillar and affirmation of Truth, independent of such categories and even in opposition to them as the Church is a witness unto itself.

"The Gospel will be known to everyone," says Bishop Theophan (Govorov) about the times preceding the appearance of the Antichrist (interpreting 2 Thessalonians - comment added by Archbishop Hilarion), "but one part will not believe the Gospel, another greater part will be heretical, will not follow God's teachings, but will build a faith of its own invention although based on the words of Scripture. Of these invented faiths there will be many...There are already many of them but there will be even more. Every kingdom will have its own faith confession, then every district with its own confession, then every city, and in the end, perhaps, every head will keep its own confession. Wherever people create their own faith, and do not accept God's teachings, there can be no other way. And all of these confessions will appropriate to themselves the name of Christians." This is on the one hand.

On the other hand, according to Bishop Theophan, "there will be a part that maintain the true faith as it was imparted by the Holy Apostles. Of these, a not insignificant part will only be faithful in name, but in their hearts will not have the attitude that is required by faith, as they too love the present. Although the Christian name will be heard everywhere, and everywhere churches and church rites will be seen, all of this is a facade as inside it is outright apostasy. The Antichrist will spring from this ground and will grow in the same spirit of outward appearance. Later, having given himself to Satan, he will explicitly leave the faith and...those not maintaining the truth of Christianity, he will carry away to a clear retreat from Christ the Lord.”

It is worth pondering this, my dear! I consider it appropriate to inform you of the following. Some two-three weeks ago, I read a letter that contained the original (in quotation marks) words of a certain well-known "blessed" one that were said by her in response to a question about Metropolitan Sergey in which the questioner, apparently, indicated that Metropolitan Sergey did not transgress against Orthodox dogma, and was thus not a heretic. "Well, what do you mean not a heretic!" the blessed one said, "he is worse than a heretic, he has bowed to the Antichrist, and if he does not repent, he will have a place in hell." All of this taken together and much more, both visible and audible, forces all living believing souls to be very alert and to carefully look at the picture unfolding before them of the wife seated on the beast.

These souls feel a new, unprecedented danger to the Church of Christ and, of course, are sounding the alarm. They, for the most part, are not hurrying toward a final break with the church "adulterers," in the hope that their consciences are not burnt to ashes, and that therefore repentance and correction, i.e. repudiation of the dark deeds that they have started, is possible. Will this hope come to pass?! From my soul I say, please Lord! But in the very depths of my soul, I find doubts and I am not yet ready to dot the i. Maybe time will dot it, or more precisely the Lord of time! He will save us both from frivolous haste and from the indecent, indifferent slowness in this terribly critical situation in which the Providence of God has placed us! So here, my friend, is my lengthy response to your short, but written from your heart, letter.

May the Lord keep and make us wise in these grim and terrible moments of our spiritual life!

Loving you, your brother in the Lord ...