8 τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσωσμένοι διὰ τῆς πίστεως· καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν, Θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον, 9 οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων, ἵνα μή τις καυχήσηται. 10 αὐτοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν ποίημα, κτισθέντες ἐν Χριστῷ ᾿Ιησοῦ ἐπὶ ἔργοις ἀγαθοῖς, οἷς προητοίμασεν ὁ Θεὸς ἵνα ἐν αὐτοῖς περιπατήσωμεν. Εφεσίους β’ 8-10

Πολλοί εσμέν οι λέγοντες , ολίγοι δε οι ποιούντες . αλλ’ούν τον λόγον του Θεού ουδείς ώφειλε νοθεύειν διά την ιδίαν αμέλειαν , αλλ’ ομολογείν μεν την εαυτού ασθένειαν , μη αποκρύπτειν δε την του Θεού αλήθειαν , ίνα μή υπόδικοι γενώμεθα , μετά της των εντολών παραβάσεως , και της του λόγου του Θεού παρεξηγήσεως …

Άγιος Μάξιμος ο Ομολογητής p.g.90,1069.360


Some information about the orthodox faithful BAPTISM - The Baptism of Heretics and the Orthodox Church Why I Am an Old Calendarist CONCERNING PRAYER

Some information about the orthodox faithful

BAPTISM - The Baptism of Heretics and the Orthodox Church

Why I Am an Old Calendarist

CONCERNING  PRAYER 





BAPTISM - The Baptism of Heretics and the Orthodox Church

 

One of the most serious accusations leveled against Traditional Orthodox Christians is that we ‘re-baptize’ non-Orthodox believers who have already been baptized using the Trinitarian formula in their former churches. The allegation is serious because if it is true then every Traditional Orthodox Bishop and priest who has administered the sacrament of baptism to non-Orthodox believers is liable to be deposed. The canons of the Church are absolutely clear on this point. Canon 47 of the Canons of the Holy Apostles of the Pedalion says:
If a Bishop or Presbyter baptize anew anyone that has had true baptism, or fail to baptize anyone that has been polluted by the impious, let him be deposed, on the ground that he is mocking the Cross and death of the Lord and failing to distinguish priests from pseudo-priests.
Critics often use this Canon to claim (wrongly) that Traditional Orthodox priests and Bishops have all been ‘deposed’ for daring to ‘re-baptize’ those with ‘valid Trinitarian baptisms’. Well, there are two things we need to consider before we can even talk about depositions, excommunications and reductions to the lay-state – all catchphrases tossed about carelessly in today’s extremely chaotic ecclesiastical atmosphere.
Firstly, despite their fondest wishes, our critics may need to note one troublesome point: they claim that Traditional Bishops and priests are ‘automatically’ deposed by the very act of ‘re-baptism’. This is a very convenient thing, this ‘automatic’ defrocking – but unfortunately, it is not an Orthodox thing. It is a Roman thing. Only the canon law of the Roman Church knows excommunications and depositions incurred latae sententiae – in other words, automatically. Orthodox ecclesiology knows no such thing as automatic sentences. The juridical body in the Orthodox Church is the Holy Synod of Bishops canonically in charge of a particular geographical area – the province. Only the Synod may apply the rules (canons) of the Church in a particular case. In the Orthodox understanding, rules – no matter how perfectly framed – do not have immediate juridical power. They have to be applied by the living successors of the Apostles, the Bishops. Of course, these successors have to be successors in fact, not successors merely in name. For example, if you have a so-called ‘Orthodox’ bishop who has communion in prayer with heretics, schismatics and pagans, overturns the Church calendar so as to celebrate feasts in common with other so-called ‘sister-Churches of world(ly) Christianity’, allows the cremation of the dead – you get the idea…
So, you have a rule, given in wisdom by the Fathers. It has to be applied to a particular case by the living successors of the Apostles who carry on the mantle of apostolic authority given by our Lord. These successors have to be true successors in faith and not merely in name. Then, you have a valid deposition. (This is why, although we all know that Nestorius was an out and out heretic and heresiarch even before the Third Ecumenical Council was convened, he validly occupied the post of Patriarch of Constantinople until the Council met and deposed him. Church history is full of such examples.)
My question is this, then: when was this process completed against any Traditional Bishop or presbyter?
Now we come to the more interesting (and important) issue: critics attack the Church for ‘re-baptising’ heterodox who in their opinion already have a ‘valid Trinitarian baptism’ (that is baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’). Let us read Canon 47 again. The Canon does not make any reference to ‘a valid Trinitarian baptism’ – it only alludes to a ‘true baptism’. So, in the mind of the Orthodox Church, there isn’t any issue of a ‘valid Trinitarian baptism’. Either a baptism is a true baptism, or it isn’t. If it is a true baptism, then, well – you are baptized and fully in communion. If it is not a true baptism, oops - you have a false baptism and you are not in communion.
 Therefore, when a Traditional Orthodox Bishop or presbyter baptizes an heterodox believer, he is not ‘re-baptizing’ the person, but baptizing him or her for the very first time with the true Orthodox baptism which alone guarantees salvation.
 Thus, in the first instance, there is no such thing as ‘re-baptism’ when the issue concerns people joining the Church from a schism or heresy. There is only baptism. In the second instance, Orthodox priests and Bishops are specifically commanded by this Canon to administer this baptism - for if they do not administer true baptism to those who do not have it, then they would be guilty of mocking ‘the Cross and death of Our Lord and failing to distinguish between true priests and pseudo-priests.’
So, in effect, we have only one question we need to ask ourselves: what is true baptism? If we could define what true baptism administered by true priests is, then it would follow quite simply that everything else would be false baptism, thus requiring a true baptism to be administered at the point of admission to the Orthodox Church.
The problem is that today many Orthodox are caught up in the ecumenist propaganda and believe that what constitutes ‘true’ baptism is the mechanical repetition of the Trinitarian formula. In other words, as long as a person has had water poured, sprinkled, splashed on him or her with the words ‘I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit’ – then, the person is magically and automatically baptized, no matter who the person saying the words (and doing) the action is.
Is this what we are to understand of the dogma of salvation – that it is merely mechanical thing, requiring nothing more than a magic act?
This bizarre theology is the product of the Western mindset, that as long as a man has had hands laid on him by a valid Bishop, then he too becomes a valid bishop. So, whatever this ‘valid’ Bishop does, whether baptizing, chrismating or ordaining also became automatically valid ad infinitum. This error was further perfected by Thomas Aquinas, the Latin doctor, who declared that as long as the baptism had the right ‘matter’ (water – poured, sprinkled or thrown, whatever) and the right ‘form’ (the ‘right’ words – the Trinitarian formula), then the baptism was valid.
 [Thomas incidentally got his theology not from the Bible, but from Aristotle, and that, by the way of commentaries of Islamic scholars such as Avicenna. The idea of form and matter is an entirely Aristotelian concept. Thomas applied it to all sacraments (mysteries) until each one of them, in the Roman conception, has an appropriate ‘matter’ and ‘form’, that makes them automatically and magically valid. Well, if you said Hey Presto and you waved the wand…]
What is the Orthodox teaching, then? The mysteries (or sacraments), including baptism, are the continuation of Christ’s presence and work in the world, and the visible means of Christ’s invisible grace. They are, in short, the means to participation in the life of the Risen Lord. It is this life that transforms man by grace into god (theosis). This is the aim of the Christian life – to be transformed so that our very being closely resembles by grace what God is by nature.
This life is ever present in the Church, which is the True Vine into whom the life of Christ is forever flowing. It is for this reason that the Apostle St Paul makes the connection between faith and baptism in his famous line to the Ephesians ‘One Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (Ephesians 4:5). Only by knowing the One Lord may one come to the one, true Faith. If one’s knowledge of the one Lord, the Holy and Indivisible Trinity, existing in three hypostases (persons) of Father, Son and Holy Spirit – but sharing the one indivisible ousia (essence) is deficient, then one’s understanding of the Faith will also be deficient. If one’s Faith is deficient, then one’s baptism by which one enters in communion with the Risen Christ will also be deficient and non-existent. [St Maximos the Confessor teaches that the aim of Faith is the salvation of man. To him, perfect faith, or union with God is achieved by means of growing from simple faith based on hearing and keeping the dogmas of Revelation to a perfect faith, based on directly attaining union with God. St Maximos points out that the heretic who fails to keep the Revelation as received by the Apostles intact, loses any possibility of growing to perfect faith, and consequently, attaining union with God, and thus, salvation).
The Orthodox Church, by ever proclaiming the True Faith (orthos ‘right’; doxia ‘praise, belief) in the Holy Trinity, never deviating even for a moment into the errors of the Arians, Monophysites and Nestorians preserves the true knowledge of God. This allows it to worship rightly the ineffable Godhead in Three Persons. This preserves its baptism from error and invalidity.
Also, because the Faith is one, as the understanding of the one true God can only be one, then the Church is also one – because only a community that preserves and proclaims this true and one Faith can be the visible sign of the life in Christ. Anyone, who believes as this Church believes, is in communion with it. Anyone, who does not, is not. The true Church by its adherence to the truth of the Faith administers true baptism. Anyone, who believes differently from how this Church believes, administers false baptism.
This is why the Roman Church and the Anglican Church and the myriad Western Churches do not possess true baptism: because they do not possess the true faith and the true understanding of the Trinity. All of them, without exception, subscribe to a erroneous view of the Trinity, ascribing the procession of the All-Holy Spirit to the Father and the Son. This degrades and destroys the monarchical principle of the Father who sends; the Son who is sent by the Father and the Spirit who proceeds from the Father.
Of course, one is forced to admit that they baptize in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit – but we ask with fear and trembling– which Father, which Son and which Holy Spirit are they referring to? Their error is as serious as the error of the Arians who by the word ‘Son’ believed in something altogether different from the Orthodox who believed that the Son of God was God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity who is sent. To the Arians, the Son was merely a pre-eminent creature.  This is why St Athanasius, whose words were confirmed by the Sixth Ecumenical Council says in his third discourse against the Arians [quoted in the commentary on the Pedalion by:D.Cummings, P 68, W.H. Houldershaw Ltd, 1908]:
 “The Arians are in danger even in the very plenitude of the mystery – baptism, I mean. For while perfection through baptism is given in the name of the Father and of the Son, the Arians do not refer to the true Father owing to their denial of the likeness of the essence emanating from Him, thus they deny even the true Son, and conjuring up another in their imagination built out of nothing real, they call this one the Son…” (emphasis mine)
  St Basil in his First Canon makes this point even clearer.
 “But who, though he has attained the acme of wisdom, can maintain or believe that merely the invocation of the names of the Holy Trinity is sufficient for the remission of offenses and for the sanctification of the baptism, even when, the one baptizing is not Orthodox?” (Ibid., emphasis again mine)
These two examples, among others, show very clearly, how the baptism of heterodox Romans and Protestants, who like the Arians do not preservethe true knowledge of the work of, and relations between, the Persons of the Holy Trinity, is always invalid, and therefore, a false baptism. They have not known the One Lord, because they have not received the One Faith – therefore, their baptism is not the one baptism administered by the one Church, and is thus, void.
Lastly, our critics like to point to occasions in Church history when Romans and others were, indeed, received by chrism (even before the heresy of ecumenism). This was hardly an innovation! At various times in Church history, the baptism of heretics and schismatics has been accepted as valid as a measure of economy (see 7th rule of the Second Ecumenical Council and the 95th rule of the 6th Ecumenical Council). St Basil, who was nobody’s idea of an ecclesiastical compromiser, states in his First Canon that while schismatical baptisms are in fact, invalid, the decision of the Fathers of Asia to declare them as valid ‘for the sake of economy of the multitude’ may be accepted. As Cummings notes in page 70 of his commentary, economy was used to facilitate the returning of the heretics and schismatics to the salvific Faith of the Church so that they may not become even more confirmed and depraved in their error. It never meant that heretical and schismatical baptisms were valid. They just meant that the Church was exercising compassion to draw as many men to the true knowledge of Christ as possible by making up for the deficiencies in their baptisms by the authority it had received from the Lord to ‘loose and bind’. Receiving converts by chrismation was an exception to the normative rule of the Church that considered all baptisms outside the Church to be false and devoid of grace. It was always an extraordinary act of charity exercised by the deliberations of Synods of God-bearing Fathers. It was never a normative dogmatic decision.
It was in this spirit that the Church of Constantinople and Russia had accepted some heterodox throughout history by chrismation. The ecumenists attempt to subvert this exceptional act into a permanent ruling just shows a remarkable failure in their reasoning.
The Orthodox Church has never, God forbid, rejected the constant teaching of the Fathers that baptisms outside the Church are truly invalid, and all seeking admission to the One Fold of Christ must be baptized with the true baptism of the Church.
This is what the traditional Christians have done and continue to do. Those who reject and criticize us, only confirm more strongly their departure from the Patristic mindset and praxis. 
 And this need not surprise us: their teachers, sadly, are no longer the Fathers of the Undivided Church, but the scholars and theologians of ecumenism and the lowest common denominator Christianity of present day Constantinople, Rome, Canterbury and Geneva.


Why I Am an Old Calendarist


‘They who audaciously changed the church calendar in our days, assuredly did not take into account the gravity (of the anathemas), and for the sake of astronomy they paid no heed at all to the venerable tradition and spirit of the Church; and though occupying themselves with ecclesiastical matters, they used science only as a pretense to conceal the innovating inclinations that possessed them’.  - Patriarch Christopher of Leontopolis 1939 –1966*


            The question why anybody should write an article defending his following of the Old (Julian) Calendar appears especially moot. Articles, books and volumes, if not tomes, have been written defending and explaining the Old Calendaristposition in the Orthodox Church today. However, insofar as it is the responsibility of every Christian to appropriate his faith and his belief, this article serves as my personal theological appropriation and internalisation of a question that has painfully split, and continues to split, the worldwide Orthodox community.

In order to better understand the issues involved in this discussion, it does us well to re-consider carefully the origins of the Old Calendarist problem (as it were) with particular reference to the motives of the principal actors who initiated decisions regarding the ecclesiastical calendar. Despite popular belief, our discussion does not begin in the year 1924 (although this date will have important bearing in subsequent discussion), but rather 1590 years earlier, in the year 325 A.D. when the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea was held under the auspices of the Emperor Constantine. In a Synodal Letterissued to all Churches at the end of its sessions, the Council ‘forever’ fixed the date of the Christian Easter (Pascha) as being ‘the first Sunday after the full moon after spring equinox’.        This, undoubtedly, seems to be a rather quaint and obscure method of fixing a liturgical feast and may be relegated to a queer penchant on the part of the Fathers for number-counting. However, the decision was motivated by concerns more theological, than the merely banal. Firstly, as is explained in the Synodal Letter itself, the decision to celebrate Pascha on this date was made so as to coordinate the celebration of the Feast (the Brightest of all, commemorating as it does Christ’s resurrection from the grave) among all the various churches of Christendom (some of whom, understandably, were celebrating Easter on the same day as the Jewish Passover). The Council intended the fixing of this Feast to be a manifestation of the unity of Faith in Christ Jesus possessed by the Church. It was therefore meant to be a demonstration of love and unity that would, in turn, serve as an evangelical tool, manifesting the oneness of faith, oneness of baptism and eucharistic assembly that bound Christians, wheresoever they might be, from East to West, together.
            Also, theologically, the date of reckoning Easter was deliberately chosen as a theological exposition of the Church’s faith that the in Jesus Christ, the hope of the Old Israel had been realized. Jesus the Christ was the True Passover promised by God to Israel, the True Lamb of the feast by whose blood all humanity, both Jews and Gentiles, like the Israelites in Egypt, may be saved from spiritual death. The Council believed that the conflation of the Christian feast of Pascha, expressing as it does the fulfillment of salvation for God’s people, through the death and saving resurrection of Christ, with the Jewish feast of Passover, which is only its type and prefiguring (and which, until today is impregnated with prayers for the coming of the Messiah) would serve as a contra-witness to the Gospel. The Council, therefore, decreed absolutely that the Church was not to celebrate Easter together with or before, the Jewish people, but rather, at least a week after, in order to prevent any confusion on so central a doctrine of the Faith. The other parts of the liturgical year, together with the reckoning of moveable feasts, were to be ordered from this calculation of the date of Pascha.
            This decree has been, by and large, ignored and overturned by the Churches of the West (most particularly, by the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches, which still profess to follow a liturgical calendar). In all fairness, all Orthodox Churches, even the New Calendarist (with the glaring exception of the Finnish Church), have kept intact this ordering of Pascha (otherwise known as the Paschalion).
            Sadly, before we can take much comfort from this fact, one needs to understand that the liturgical year works as a cohesive whole. For 1,600 or so years from the Council of Nicea, the Church had ordered its feasts in accordance to the decree of the First Council, arranging both moveable and non-moveable feasts (Saint’s Days etc), into a undivided whole that made logical and temporal sense insofar as the liturgical calendar was to re-present year after year the chief events pertaining to our salvation. In other words, the re-ordering of the non-moveable feasts was bound to have an impact on the rest of the liturgical year, even if it is kept unchanged. Fasts are often turned to feasts and vice-versa, in an almost perverse manner. (The prime example is the Apostle’s Fast – the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul is fixed on June 29th but the fast depends on the date of the ‘moveable’ Pentecost. This has lead to an extremely silly situation where in some years, the fast is non-existent. Or for that matter, Orthodox of the New Calendar are often celebrating the feast of the Nativity when the majority of Orthodox are fasting for the same event!). However, let us first consider how this re-ordering of the non-moveable feasts, or in other words, the introduction of the New Calendar, was effected historically. Before we do this, it is important to remind ourselves throughout this discussion that the liturgical calendar as a whole is a possession of the whole Church. As pointed out earlier, its change may not be affected in an arbitrary fashion, to satisfy theological and/or political fads and fashions.
            The New (Gregorian) Calendar was first introduced by Pope Gregory XIII of Rome in the year 1582 on the advice of his astronomers who (quite rightly) pointed out that the Old (Julian) Calendar was out of sync with the natural year by about 11 days (now it is 13 days). The Pope of Rome, secular ruler of the Papal States as well as Bishop of Rome, used his supreme power (plenitudo potestatis) as Pontiff to simply declare that a new ‘updated’ calendar would come into effect on a certain day. This, of course, threw the entire liturgical order of the Western ecclesiastical calendar out of order with the rest of the Christian world, contravening at the same time the decree of the First Ecumenical Council. This explains why the Papal Easter celebration (as well as that of the rest of the Western heterodox Churches, which have all adopted the papal calendar) often falls on or even, before the Jewish Passover. But by this time, the Roman Church had fallen into schism and heresy and no longer considered herself bound by the decisions of the God-bearing Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils. Her sole rule of faith was the word of the Sovereign Pope who could order and re-order matters of doctrine and discipline by his simple fiat.  Pope Gregory thus accomplished his proposed calendar change with no too much trouble within the PapalChurch. {However, not all countries in the West accepted this innovation eagerly. England did not change to the new calendar until late in the 18th Century.) Before we proceed further, it is also important to ask ourselves just why the Pope was so keen to change the calendar. Was it purely a love for science that inspired this change? Hardly. In the Papal Rome of the time, astronomer was just another name for astrologer. The ‘astronomers’ who proposed the change in calendar were studying the stars in order to predict the future. (There was a great fashion for astrologers in Renaissance Italy, including Papal Rome. Anyone who tells you that the Popes were keen astronomy enthusiasts are obviously lying. Ask Galileo Galilei.)  There you have it, the calendar that the Pope proposed and imposed on his church by a simple decree, overturning the decision of the councils and Sacred Tradition, was the work of astrologers. It had never been discussed by Bishops, norpriests, nor men learned in Sacred Theology.
            Pope Gregory XIII, in keeping with his universal ambitions, next tried to interest and persuade the Patriarch of Constantinople, Jeremias II (called the ‘Illustrious’) to accept and promulgate the Papal Calendar in the Orthodox Churches. In 1583, the Patriarch convened a local Council in Constantinople which was attended by Sylvester, Patriarch of Alexandria and Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem. This Council issued a Sigillion, in which Papal pretensions as well as the newly-invented Papal paschalion and calendar [emphasis mine] were anathemised.
  This anathema was repeated by a Pan-Orthodox Council in Constantinople is 1593, by Patriarch Dositheos of Jerusalem and his Synod in 1670, Ecumenical Patriarch (of Constantinople) Agathangelos and his Synod in 1827, Ecumenical Patriarch Anthimos VII and his Synod in 1895, and Ecumenical Patriarch Joachim III and His Synod in 1902, Patriarch Damianos of Jerusalem in 1903 and the Holy Synods of the Churches of Russia, Romania and Greece in 1903.
  This was the calendar that was imposed (with the exception of the papal paschalion) on the Orthodox Church by an encyclical bearing the sole signature of Archbishop Chrysostom Papadopoulos of Athens on March 10/23 1924. The question begs to be asked: why? Why was the Church of Greece so eager to overturn centuries of anathemas to introduce a liturgical calendar constructed by the Pope’s astrologers and imposed by him on the Roman Church into the Orthodox religion?
            The answer is simple: an overwhelming zeal for ecumenism. This is borne out by an encyclical issued by the Churchof Constantinople in January 1920, addressed ‘To the Churches of Christ Wheresoever They Might Be’*. In this encyclical, issued by the Synod under the presidency of Patriarchal locum tenens Metropolitan Dorotheos of Prusa, the Church of Constantinople expressed hopes that “love should be re-kindled and strengthened among the Churches, so that they may no longer consider one another as strangers and foreigners, but as kinsmen, and as being part of the household of Christ and ‘fellow heirs, and formed of the same body and partakers of the same promise of God in Jesus Christ (Eph 3:6)’”. Among the practical actions that was to achieve this, the encyclical proposed a 11-point action, the first of which was a common calendar ‘so that great Christian feasts may be everywhere celebrated simultaneously’.  This, in brief, was the programmethat led to the introduction of the new calendar into Orthodoxy in 1924. But by the time of introduction, the hierarchs of the Church of Constantinople had already undertaken even more radical actions to realise their vision of ecumenism. In February 1921, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Meletios Metaxakis visited Washington, where he ‘vested, took part in an Anglican service, knelt in prayer with the Anglicans, venerated their Holy Table, gave a sermon and later blessed those present.’ Moreover, under pressure from the same Patriarch, the Patriarchate of Constantinople accepted the validity of Anglican orders in 1922. No one can accuse the Church of Constantinople of not being true to its word as far as ecumenism was concerned!
            Thus, it was ecumenism in its most indifferent variety that motivated the change in calendar. The encyclical and the subsequent actions of Constantinople and Athens bear out that that they were willing to go far, very far indeed, to foster ecumenism. As pointed out in the encyclical, the re-ordering of the calendar (in other words, the acceptance of the papal calendar) was done with the specific aim of fostering a dubious kind of unity among the various churches, most of whom were positively heretical. [As St Mark of Ephesus said, ‘We have cut the Latins off from us for no other reason that they are not only schismatics, but also heretics. For this reason it is wholly [emphasis mine] improper to unite with them. This is the sort of Church the 1920 encyclical called ‘kinsmen’ [to] and ‘of the same body’ as, the Orthodox]. Let there be no mistake, this encyclical was not motivated by a wish for the heterodox to come to the true Orthodox faith through which there is salvation. It was merely an attempt to reach a ‘lowest-common denominator’ Christianity, where ‘you compromise a little, I’ll compromise a little – and we’ll sweep the rest under the carpet, and lo and behold! we have union in sacraments – no matter how much we disagree on the essentials of faith.
            It is the precisely the same sort of Christianity that the Church of Rome has traditionally offered to the UniateChurches in Orthodox lands – the choice to keep their Orthodox traditions, even permission not to include the Filioque in their Creed – all as long as they commemorate the Pope and submit to Rome! Lowest-common denominator satisfies all. (And one would have thought that if they broke from the Orthodox Church over the filioque, they would at least insist the Uniates say it!). This is exactly the sort of Christianity the 1920 encyclical envisions. The calendar was the first compromise offered by the Orthodox, and they expect us to accept it!
  
  Let us now consider the major objections to the New Calendar:
1.      Theological – The calendar in the minds of the Fathers was the expression of unity in faith and sacraments. This was the basic reason for the Synodal Letter of the Council of Nicea quoted above. By introducing the new calendar, the New Calendarists have ruptured unity, forcing vast sections of the Orthodox people to pray separately in a purely temporal sense. As stated earlier, some sections of Orthodoxy keep a feast when the rest, fast. This is lamentable, especially when one considers that the new calendar was introduced so that the Orthodox may instead keep feast with heretics and schismatics.
 2.       Also, by tampering with the calendar, the New Calendarists have destroyed the internal rationale of the Church year, built up over 16 centuries, making an absurdity of the order of liturgical celebrations (consider the example of the Apostles’ Fast as quoted above). The Orthodox Church has, in its wisdom, decreed a period of time to prepare for the celebration of certain feasts. Similarly, there is also a period of time where we ‘take leave’ of the Feast. Both these periods are there to enable us to reflect more deeply on the mystery of the salvificevents wrought by our God and Saviour, and thus, not merely to ‘plunge in and out’ of a Feast for a day, and then to promptly forget about it. This, the new calendar destroys, destroying at the same time, the usefulness of the liturgical year as a tool for instruction in, and preparation for, the spiritual life.
 3.      Ecclesiological – The very form of the introduction of the New Calendar has been anti-Orthodox in spirit.  The hierarchy of Greece employed largely papistical tactics and arguments [and brutal state power] to ‘impose from on high’ the new calendar reform. This method may have worked well for Gregory XIII with his false and heretical notions of Papal supremacy, but for a Church that has ever defended the concept of ‘conciliarity’ (or as the Russians call it ‘sobornost’ – ‘togetherness’), this action cannot be called anything but unconscionable. In the introduction of the new calendar, the bishops were not consulted. The priests and theologians were hardly asked for their opinion. No other local Churches were asked for their assent. As noted earlier, almost all Patriarchates and local Churches had anathemised the new calendar. But to overturn all this, only the signature of the Greek Archbishop was necessary. How is this compatible with what Orthodoxy teaches about authority in the Church?  
4.      Moreover, even if all Bishops were to agree, doesn’t Orthodoxy teach that is has to be received by the lay faithful before it can be ratified as a true teaching of the Church? One needs only to call to mind the many Arian and Iconoclastic Councils of the past, and Patriarch John Beccus’ ill-fated union with the Latins to realise that no matter how many Bishops may agree to heresy, the Orthodox Church as a whole, in its priests, monastics and laity has always been vigilant to guard the truth of the Faith. However, none of these, the true Orthodox ‘kinsmen’ and ‘fellow-heirs in the promise of God in Jesus Christ were consulted.’ What force in Canon Law can the arbitrary act of one small segment of Pan-Orthodoxy have on the Orthodox faithful as a whole? Can one local synod overturn the decisions of Fathers, Councils and the teachings of theologians and the faith of the laity in one stroke of the pen? All in the name of ecumenism? 
5.      Lastly, one cannot accept the new calendar because it was motivated by the banal desire for compromise with the heterodox. In other words, there was, and is, no reason for introducing the new calendar. if the new calendar advanced the worldwide cause of Orthodoxy, if by its adoption, the Pope of Rome were to recant his errors, then one can claim (within limits) that it is an expression of charity that reconciles sinners to the Church (economia) – as enunciated by St Basil the Great. However, the introduction of the new calendar has done nothing like that. It has merely alienated Orthodox people among themselves. Other than that, it has been largely ignored by the other churches, which have no desire to learn about, or embrace Orthodoxy. In short, it was a bad decision, made criminal by intransigence after the fact. It approaches liturgical fratricide because it has set brother against brother, and all for nothing.  
            There are some who will claim that in the final analysis, one must not spend too much time on ‘thirteen days’True, and we agree with that. However, as stated above, it is the motivations and circumstances that surround these thirteen days that worry us.  One realises that the circumstances and motivations behind the introduction of the new calendar are inimical to the very fabric of Orthodoxy that has preserved through the efforts of countless hierarchs, martyrs, ascetics and faithful. If one has to lose the very conciliarity of the Church, its sobornost, a reflection (as the Fathers say), of the internal relations between the Persons of the Holy Trinity, in order to preserve external unity, then what use is this unity? 
            There are also some who would counsel obedience, stating that we must not oppose hierarchs who have made the decision to adopt the new calendar. To these one must point out that the ideal of ‘Obedience above truth’ is the motto of Papism. As pointed out earlier with regards to the Uniate Churches, Papal Rome has always elevated external unity to a supreme virtue, subjecting even truth to it. Anyone who counsels obedience to those who in conscience oppose the new calendar are in fact, suggesting a ‘Roman obedience’ that is blind and opposed to the freedom guaranteed by Holy Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy, by its very definition, is concerned with truth, rather than preserving an external, totalitarian unity. We are not Romans, nor Jesuits! If Maximos the Confessor, John of Damascus and Mark Eugenicus had thought like the supporters of the ‘Roman obedience’, Orthodoxy would have long ago been subsumed and deformed beyond recognition, by heresy.  
            Lastly, it is worth highlighting that the new calendar was imposed brutally on Orthodox faithful through the use of state power. Countless Old Calendarist priests and monks were forcibly shaved, nuns insulted and faithful attending services battered by police working for the state. Holy Gifts were trampled upon and altars overturned, all in the name of installing the new calendar. The persecution reached its high points in 1927 and 1951. One remembers especially New Martyr Catherine Roustis, who was killed by a blow from a rifle butt while defending a old calendar priest in 1927. She reposed on 15/28 November 1927.
            This persecution of Orthodox Christians was unleashed by the very same people who had introduced the new calendar innovation to Orthodoxy, in order to ‘re-kindle and strengthen love among the Churches’. 
            So, the reason I am an Old Calendarist is very simple: I choose to be so because it is logical to be so. It enables me to be faithful to the traditions of the Church as taught by the Fathers and the subsequent local Councils. Old Calendarism (for all its misadventures) possesses the grace of forming saints and martyrs. Most importantly, the new calendarists have failed to give one good reason why I shouldn’t be so.

  * Quotations from p46 and pp 23-24, The Struggle Against EcumenismThe History of the True Orthodox Church of Greece from 1924 to 1994, Boston, Massachusetts, 1998

CONCERNING  PRAYER 
 by
 G.O.C. Metropolitan of Thessaloniki, Chrysostom Metropoulos [1]  
“Seven times a day I praise Thee (Lord).”
(Psalms 119: 164)
“Pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus to you.”  
(1 Thessalonians 5: 17-18)
“‘We should remember the name of God in prayer more often than we breathe’, as Gregory the Theologian said.”  
(Saint John Chrysostom, PG vol. 55, p. 703)
Prayer fulfills the need of the soul to communicate with God, a need which God has implanted in every human being. This is universally testified: all people pray. They do not all, however, pray to the only true God, nor do they all truthfully pray to God. For this reason, then, since the beginning of the world, God’s Church is at work so that people may come to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent (John 17: 3), and so that they learn the true way of prayer in order not to pray idolatrously, nor impiously, nor without benefit, like Cain or Judas.
Man was created by God, a composite creature with a material body and an immaterial soul. For the material survival and health of man’s body God has established natural laws:  without breath and nutrition, for example, it is physically impossible for the body to stay alive.  Likewise, for the survival and health of the soul there exist immaterial, spiritual laws established by God:  without the knowledge of Truth, without love for the Goodness of God, and without the desire for Eternal Life, the soul is “dead” and cannot be considered living.  All of this is also confirmed by the fact that questions motivated by metaphysical concerns arise in every person.
The soul, being incomparably superior and more precious than the material body, certainly requires higher attention.  Concerning the soul the Lord tells us: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul?  Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”  (Matthew 16: 6).
   Just as the material body physically needs breath and nutrition in order to survive, even more so does the immaterial soul have a spiritual need for prayer in order to survive because prayer is by nature the soul’s very own food and breath: “...indeed the word is the bread of Angels, by which souls are nurtured and watered when hungering for God, and seeking nutrition not only for a day, but everlasting”  (St. Gregory the Theologian, “Epitaph for St. Basil the Great” PG 36, 545B). Just as when a person does not breathe and is not fed, his body dies materially, in the same manner, when he does not pray, his soul is deprived of spiritual food and breath and is deadened, and he dies spiritually.
Death, according to the Orthodox Teaching, is of two types:
a) of the body, that is, biological death, in other words, the separation of the body from the soul, and
b) of the soul, that is, spiritual death, in other words, the separation of the soul from God, which occurs before a person dies bodily and which is the worse of the two deaths.
A person is separated from God when he is an atheist, i.e., when he does not believe in the existence of God, when he is outside His Church as a member of another religion or as a heretic, when he severs communication with God, when he breaks His commandments and commits sins and crimes and, generally, when his life does not express the Will of God.
The beginning of the reconnection with God is achieved through repentance, faith, and a return to Him, all of which aid in maintaining the perpetu­ation of communion with God. The most basic, unceasing, permanent, insatiable and main way of communication with God is Prayer: “Prayer is an ascent of the mind towards God or a supplication for the adequate means to be provided by God” (St. John Damascus, PG 94, 1089C). That we make requests of God is welcome to Him: “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Matthew 21: 22). We pray in order to receive from God the created and perishable things necessary for our futile life, but first and foremost, for the imperishable ones, our acquaintance, familiarity and intimacy with God, our closeness to God, our dwelling with God:“So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2: 19); and again: “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb” (Revelation 21: 22).
Prayer is powerful when it happens with faith, love, hope, and, principally, with fear of God, because “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalms 111: 10 & Proverbs 1: 7). Therefore, “Pray for one another, that you may be healed; The prayer of a righteous person has great power in its effects”  (James 5: 16).  For “if you have faith as much as is the grain of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain move over there, and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17: 20).  The faithful person prays, and he rejoices in receiving what he has hoped for.
Through prayer man speaks directly with God:  “Seven times a day I praise Thee for Thy righteous ordinances” (Psalms 119: 164);  “Therefore, when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.  And in praying, do not heap up empty phrases as do the Gentiles; for they think that they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6: 6-7).
  Through prayer man speaks with God as a son to a father: “Pray, then, like this: Our Father who art in heaven…” (Matthew 6: 9).
Through prayer we receive the fulfillment of our requests: “Ask, and it will be given to you, seek, and you will find, knock, and it will be opened to you.  For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7: 7-8).
        Through prayer the arrows of the visible and invisible enemies are shattered: “Some boast of chariots and some of horses; but we call upon the name of our Lord God.  They will collapse and fall; but we shall rise and stand upright” (Psalms 20: 7- 8).
        Through prayer the virtues and the heavenly graces are obtained: “Every gift is perfect which descends from above, from You, the Father of Light” (part of the Dismissal Prayer said by the priest in the closing rite of the Divine Liturgy).
       Through prayer miraculous cures are enacted:  “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will heal you” (2 Kings 20: 5).
  Through prayer the bonds of infertility are undone:  “For your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son” (Luke 1: 13).
  Through prayer freedom from bondage and from prison is obtained: “So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer was made to God for him by the Church” (Acts 12: 5).
Through prayer our Lord Jesus Christ is magnified and every created thing submits to Him:  “that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth…” (Philippians 2: 10).
  Through prayer miraculous marvels are performed and signs and wonders are realized, as with Prophet Elijah, when fire descended from heaven, and rain in the absence of clouds: “Hear me, oh Lord, hear me in fire…and the fire of the Lord fell from heaven…and he bowed to the ground and put his face between his knees…and there was a great rain” (1 Kings 18: 37-38, 42-45).
Through prayer even dead people are resurrected, as by Prophets Elijah and Elisha, and by Apostle Peter:  “But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; then turning to the body, he said, ‘Tabitha, rise.’  She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up” (Acts 9: 40).
  Through prayer the Holy Martyrs did great deeds of faith: “...that in a mortal body, they invisibly conquered the bodiless enemy with the power of the Cross…” (Troparion to the Holy Martyrs).
  Through prayer the mind and heart are cleansed of the evils of the world: “Prayer… has keenly rehabilitated a corrupted life” (St. John Chrysostom, PG 50, 785-786).
Through prayer man obtains his salvation:  “And it shall come to pass that all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be delivered” (Joel 2: 32).
Through prayer man becomes a guardian of the Commandments of God and a temple of God, so that this very Holy Trinity, who is beyond all beings and above every essence, God--the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit--comes and abides and makes a dwelling in those who love Him:  “…and we will come to him and make our home with him”(John 14: 23).
Through prayer all good things are provided, such as attention of mind, repentance, justice, holiness, community with angels, Theosis by Grace (deification), eternal cohabitation with God: “...the work of prayer is common to both Angels and men…This work separates you from irrational beings and joins you to Angels; quickly, therefore, [through prayer] is someone transported to their conduct and life and manner and honour and nobleness and wisdom and prudence” (St. John Chrysostom, PG 50, 779-780).
Through prayer the Heavens are opened and Graces are dispensed throughout creation.
    Through prayer the gates of Hell are closed and the demons are bound in tethers.
     Through prayer all the Holy Sacraments of God’s Church are performed upon earth.
      Prayer is the remembrance of God, through which the earthly are brought to life, are rendered wise, are made Saints, and become gods by Grace.  For this reason, “‘We should remember the name of God in prayer more often than we breathe’, as Gregory the Theologian said” (St. John Chrysostom, “Commentary on Psalm 109”,  PG 55, 703)
       Prayer is the breath of the Holy Spirit which opens the Gates of Paradise: “And seeking mercy, ask this with a humble and pitiful heart, and cry out from morning to nightfall, if possible, even all night, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us’, and force your mind to this work until death” (St. John Chrysostom, PG 60, 752).
           Prayer is a ready weapon against passion and against the Devil, a heavenly victory, an eternal gain: “With the name of Jesus lash every opponent, for there is no weapon more powerful than this in the heavens and upon earth” (St. John Climacus of Sinai, Sermon 20, par. 7, PG 88, 945C).
           Prayer is a bulwark and defense against temptation, and this is so according to the Lord’s incontrovertible exhortation: “Be vigilant and pray, that you may not enter into temptation” (Matthew 26: 41).
     Prayer contributes to pureness of mind, to goodness of volition, to uprightness of desire, to all that which Divine Grace is attracted to and in which alone the soul is alive.
All good, rational beings, since the creation of the world, pray to God.  The heavenly Angels ceaselessly and eternally praise, sing hymns and give glory to God.  Holy men of God, the Righteous, the Patriarchs and the Pro­phets prayed to God and God spoke with them. Adam, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Job, Tobias, the High Priest Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph the Virtuous, the God-seeing Prophet Moses, the Archpriest Aaron, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonas, Nahum, Habakkuk, Sophonias, Haggai, Zachariah, Malachi, the Three Youths in the Furnace, Samuel, the Judges, Ruth, Judith, Esther, the Maccabees, the forebears of God Joachim and Anna, the parents of St. John the Baptist Zachariah and Elizabeth, the Birth-giver of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, St. John the Baptist, the Apostles, the Apostolic Fathers, the God-bearing Fathers, the Hierarchs, the Pious and the Righteous, the Martyrs, and all the members of the Body of GOD’S  CHURCH over the centuries, named and anonymous, before and after Christ, prayed, are praying and will always pray. 
Prayer was even taught by our very Lord Jesus Christ, who prayed as a man.  Everyone who is from God will pray until the end of this world, and after this world, in the Triumphant Church, they will praise and give glory to God eternally.  The prayer of these persons is incense before God: “O Lord…let my prayer be counted as incense before Thee…” (Psalms 141: 1-2).
 Having received our existence from God, we also receive from God the necessary things for life through prayer.  Prayer takes the form of giving thanks, giving glory and supplicating.  It constitutes a personal communication of man with God, and is the first and main concern of every rational being.  Our orientation should always be towards our God.  Harkening to the voice of St. Gregory the Theologian, in every word and deed, “begin from God, and in God repose yourselves” (St. Gregory Nazianzene, PG 35, 408A, and the 1st Canon of the Quinisext Ecumenical Council, often called the Council in Trullo or the Penthekte Synod). Without prayer, man distances himself from God, the image of God becomes independent from God, man no longer reflects his archetype, and the mind flees from the Truth with devastating consequences: “The mind which distances itself from mentally gazing on God, becomes either a demon or a beast” (Palladius, The Lausiac History, chapter 98, PG 34, 1203D).
The Holy Fathers lived that which King David said in his prayer:  “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me bless His holy name” (Psalms 103: 1).  Being taught by the experience of their own vigilance and by the illumination of the Uncreated Divine Light, or, more correctly, being deified by the Divine Fire, they taught us how incessant mental prayer bears fruit:  as the breath is to the body, so prayer is to the soul.  Thus, those dwell­ing in sacred retreat, the hermits, breathe from their very heart, with every inhalation and exhalation, the Jesus prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner,” which is a summary of the Gospel, or alternately the prayer to the Mother of God, “Most Holy Mother of God, save us.”
  The King-Prophet David says: “I will sing to the Lord as long as I live, I will sing praise to my God while I have being” (Psalms 104: 33) and “in all places of His dominion, bless the Lord, O my soul” (Psalms 103: 22).
  However, in order for prayer to nurture, warm, and enlighten the soul, it is not enough that it be performed only by the body, without the intellect and the disposition of the soul of him who prays being fully immersed in his prayer: “The one praying only by mouth is praying to the air and not to God. For God is attentive to the mind and not to the speech, as are humans” (Pious Peter Damascus, Philokalia vol. 3, Book 1, Foreword, lines 17-19, in the Greek edition, Ε.Π.Ε. vol. 17, page 32).
  The entire work of Prayer is directed towards Salvation.  Salvation is impossible without deification or theosis, which is granted by Grace, of course, and is not according to nature or essence.  And let it be said again that life has no other purpose than this:  for man to become God by Grace, “For we are indeed His offspring” (Acts 17: 28).
                “There is no other virtue, either higher or more necessary, than Holy Prayer.  There is no other virtue higher than this one because all the other virtues, fasting, I say, wakefulness, sleeping on the ground, asceticism, virginity, charity, and all the remaining golden ones, including the harmonious ensemble of the heaven-woven series of godly virtues, although they are imitations of God, although they are inalienable properties and immortal adornment of souls, despite all this, these do not unite man with God, no, but only make man more apt to be united with God.  Holy Prayer, however, alone unites; only prayer joins man with God, and vice versa, God with man, and makes the two into one spirit:  by having a direct union and a tight connection of the Creator with His rational creations; thus states eloquently… the Bishop of Thessaloniki….Gregory [Palamas].  Communion through virtue prepares one by way of similarity to receive the Divine, but does not unite with God; the power of prayer, however, effectuates and consecrates this union and ascent of man towards the divine, being the bond of the rational creatures with the Creator” (St. Nikodeme the Hagiorite, Foreword, Concerning Prayer).
  Through Faith and the Holy Sacraments of Baptism and Divine Communion of the Precious Body and Immaculate Blood of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, Union with God by Grace is perfected, so that Apostle Paul may proclaim, “for we are members of His Body by way of His Flesh and of His Bones” (Ephesians 5: 30).
  Therefore, let us now eagerly lift our voices in prayer, so that when we are taken from God’s Church Militant on earth to the Triumphant Church in heaven, being risen with our Lord Christ Jesus in the common resurrection, we may be found again in incessant prayer and hymns and praises and thanksgiving, “from Glory to Glory” (2 Corinthians 3: 18), eternally dwelling in the Blessed KINGDOM OF GOD, the Church of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.
[1]  Originally appeared in Greek in 2013, as the introduction to the prayerbook published by G.O.C. Metropolitan of Thessaloniki Chrysostom Metropoulos.
    All biblical quotations are taken from The Revised Standard Version of the Old and New Testaments, Westminster Book Stores, 1952.
    Thanks go to the translators, Helen Bomis and Rosemary Yeagle, for their selfless dedication, hard work and kind cooperation. However, for any inaccuracies that may appear, particularly in the doctrinal and liturgical language, or any deviations from the original text, all responsibility rests finally with the project coordinator, Dimitrios Garagounis.
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