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[orthodox-synod] Thoughts on the 2nd Sun after Pentecost - "And they straightway left their nets"

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  • Priest Seraphim Holland
    In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Today, on the Second Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate the memory of all the saints
    Message 1 of 11 , Jun 19, 1999
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      In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
      Amen.

      Today, on the Second Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate the
      memory of all the saints of Russia who have enlightened that land
      and shown their light on top of the hill instead of under a bushel.
      What is it that makes a saint? We've talked about this last week.
      We read part of the same reading today as we read last week
      also.

      When Jesus called His disciples, they left immediately, left their
      nets, and they didn't look back. They left with many weaknesses.
      We can see them. Their warts are shown in the scriptures: they
      argued with one another, they jousted with one another to see who
      would be the greatest, they had lack of faith, they even denied our
      Lord, and not just Peter, by the way; all of them were afraid, even
      St. John, who followed from a distance. They all had human
      frailties. But they did as the good farmer that our Lord speaks
      about in a parable: you put your hand to the plow.[1] And no man
      who wants to plow a field looks back, because then the furrows will
      be not straight, and you will not get as much fruit from the ground.

      This is the key, brothers and sisters. Have you left your nets? Our
      Lord called James and John, the sons of Zebedee, and
      straightway they left their nets. The "nets" are the "world", in this
      context. The spiritual, the inner meaning, of the nets is this: all the
      things which entangle us. Have you left your nets? Or do you still
      keep nets around? I'm not talking about whether or not you fall into
      sin. We are sinners. We should not be surprised when we sin. I'm
      not talking about if you have weaknesses, passions. I'm talking
      about your priorities. Have you left your nets? Do you understand?
      Do you live your life in accordance with the fact that Christianity
      must be a continual ascent, away from the earth, into heaven? A
      continual change, a continual changing of one's mind. Warfare till
      the last breath. This is what Christianity is. You must leave your
      nets.

      If you set your face towards Jerusalem, as the Lord did[2],
      meaning, if you don't let the world get in the way of what your life is
      for, then God will strengthen you and will help you. You'll have
      many problems. You might have many sins. In fact, you might sin
      wretchedly and continually, but God will help you if you have the
      right priorities, and if you beg Him to help you.

      Christianity is not what we believe; it's how we act, it's what we
      become. It's not possible without belief, but belief is only the
      beginning, just like when the grain of mustard seed is put into the
      ground. That is only the beginning. That is only the start. Then the
      seedling starts to grow. Many things endanger the seedling, but
      eventually, with care, it becomes a great tree.[3] This is what we
      must do. We must have the priority to grow, to change. This is
      Christianity. This is the essence.

      Our Lord called His disciples; they straightway left their nets.
      They'd been waiting for the Messiah. At this point they didn't really
      understand. He was a charismatic man. There was something
      about Him. Well, of course! The God-man among us. Those with
      sensitive souls would see such a thing. They might not understand
      it, but they saw it and they desired to follow it. They gave up
      everything in order to follow it. Everything. And didn't look
      backwards. Now they still brought along their baggage, and their
      sins, and their passions, and their pride, and ... everything else.
      But their desire was to change.

      And look what God has done, with twelve men! He didn't come to
      twelve kings, twelve princes, twelve great ones, twelve scholars,
      but twelve simple men, uneducated for the most part. Simple. Men
      of the sea, men of the earth. And look what happened. Because
      they desired to follow Christ, they left their nets. And anything that
      was imperfect in them would be, eventually, healed because of
      their desire.

      It is so important to understand the purpose of the Christian life.
      We can talk about it, but to really understand it is to live it.
      Perfection. Self-amendment. Change according to the One
      Whom we say we love. Leaving behind those things that shackle
      us. As St. Paul says, "We are surrounded by so great a cloud of
      witnesses."[4] Let's leave behind sin which so easily entangles us.
      But the first step to leaving behind sin which entangles is to leave
      your nets.

      The sin may still come with. We see that from the apostles. The sin
      may still come with. The weakness still comes with. But if God
      sees a man who wants to change, He will help him. Grace will
      descend upon him and will warm him. This is the key. You must
      desire to change. You must desire to become like Christ. You must
      desire to be all fire. And all these imperfections, they'll just be a
      memory some day. All the things that are wrong with us, they'll burn
      away, and all that will be left, if we live according to desire for
      Christ, will be the pearl[5], all burnished and shining because of our
      efforts, because of God's grace which has descended upon us.

      Don't lament so much out of proportion about your sins that you
      commit and your difficulties with passions; don't lament about those
      more than you lament about your attitude and your desire. A lack of
      desire, a lack of proper priorities, a lack of faith and belief in the
      resurrection is what really makes those sins which entangle you
      still hang around. They will be burned away by the grace of God,
      but you must leave them. You must struggle with all of your might to
      leave them.

      Now after having been a priest for I think over five years now, I am
      well aware of the great grace of God and the great weakness of
      men. Unfortunately, I've learned it autobiographically, but also by
      observing my flock whom I love. But mostly by observing my own
      weakness and seeing how God takes an imperfect vessel and
      bestows grace upon it. Most of the grace is wasted, and is not
      made fruitful, like the water that flows into the ditch and into the
      sewer and is not retained in the orchard. But some of it is retained.
      And I've learned, and I wish you to know: God desires your heart,
      and not so much today that you don't sin but that you desire to not
      sin, and that you order your priorities according to what God has
      done, and the grace the God-man gives us. If you leave your nets,
      everything else will follow.

      Certainly, God who has created us for a good work will complete it
      in the day of Christ Jesus.[6] Of course He will. But He will
      complete it for those who endure to the end. Not for those who
      make a beginning, but for those who endure to the end.[7] He will
      not leave those who struggle with their sins. And I tell you boldly;
      He will not leave those who fail when they struggle against their
      sins, who continue to sin. He will not leave them, if they struggle, if
      they desire.

      This is the key. This is the pearl. This is the inner knowledge a
      Christian must possess. God will not abandon you, but you must
      not abandon Him. You must struggle to abandon all that is not of
      Him. Whether you are successful or not, in this life, in this world, in
      being free of every sin is not as important as if you are successful
      in ordering your priorities and your desires. Leave your nets.

      There are many of them in the world today. Sometimes we think
      that some of these things, the vices and passions and difficulties,
      have been invented by our generation. They've been around a long
      time. But now we have a terrible affliction in our society:
      lukewarmness of belief. It affects us, makes us make excuses, and
      makes us to have false priorities, to arrange for our retirement, but
      not for the keeping of the church. To take care of this, or that, but
      to not say our prayers.

      Don't be entangled by the world. The world offers you nothing. The
      world pushes you to the abyss, and then you fall off. Leave your
      nets. And then you'll be like the saints. We can share in something
      that they have obtained. We all, I tell you boldly -- every one of us,
      no matter how sinful, are capable of becoming as the saints. And
      that is an arrogant statement; that is the truth. We are made of the
      same stuff, and the same grace is shed upon us. But the reason
      why we are moribund in our sins, and why there is little fruit in our
      lives, is because we have not left behind our nets. We still have
      the wrong priorities. Then let us obey the apostle Paul, "seeing that
      we are compassed about by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us
      lay aside sin, which so easily encumbers us."[8] Let's strive for the
      goal. Let's struggle. Let's desire. Let us leave our nets. God will
      not abandon us. God will help us.

      This is glorious news. The saints, you know, are the resurrection
      and action. The saints are living examples of the resurrection, and
      even in our life we should experience living examples of the
      resurrection, if we are able to turn aside from the sins that once
      beset us, if we are able to make the right choice, instead of the
      wrong one that we've been making for so long. This is the
      resurrection at work in a man. And it is a glorious thing. It is a
      privilege, and an honor to be a creature of God, for He dwells
      within us. An amazing thing. Let us leave our nets, and let's truly
      experience what God desires for us. Amen.

      [1] Cf. (Luke 9:59-62) "And he said unto another, Follow me. But he
      said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. {60} Jesus said
      unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the
      kingdom of God. {61} And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee;
      but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my
      house. {62} And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand
      to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

      [2] (Luke 9:51) "And it came to pass, when the time was come that
      he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to
      Jerusalem,"

      [3] (Mat 13:31-32) "Another parable put he forth unto them, saying,
      The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a
      man took, and sowed in his field: {32} Which indeed is the least of
      all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and
      becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the
      branches thereof.". Also in Mark 4:31-32, Luke 13:18-19

      [4] (Heb 12:1) "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about
      with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight,
      and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with
      patience the race that is set before us..."

      [5] (Mat 13:45-46) "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a
      merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: {46} Who, when he had
      found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and
      bought it."

      [6] (Phil 1:6) "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath
      begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus
      Christ:"

      [7] (Mat 24:13) "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same
      shall be saved."

      [8] Heb 12:1

      See this, and other homilies at
      http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

      To receive entire homilies on an almost weekly basis
      Send an email to gospelthoughts-subscribe@egroups.com
      **
      Please use this material privately any way you wish, but do not
      distribute without (easily obtained) permission
      from the author, Priest Seraphim Holland (seraphim@...)



      Priest Seraphim Holland St Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas, Texas, USA
      seraphim@... Ph:972/529-2754 MOBILE & VOICE MAIL 214 336-3464
      FAX: 603/908-2408 Home Address: 2102 Summit, McKinney, TX 75070, USA
      WEBMASTER FOR: St Nicholas Home Page - http://www.orthodox.net
      Official ROCOR Page - http://www.rocor.org
      10 questions (many subjects) http://www.orthodox.net/questions
      Thoughts on the Sunday gospels http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

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    • Katerina Kettenhofen
      I seem to be having trouble accessing the directory listing on the ROCOR page...it keeps throwing me back to www.orthodox.net/directory/index.htm -- which is
      Message 2 of 11 , Jun 19, 1999
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        I seem to be having trouble accessing the directory listing
        on the ROCOR page...it keeps throwing me back to
        www.orthodox.net/directory/index.htm -- which is not what
        I want at all. I want the nice state-by-state listing.

        Is anyone else having this problem ?

        Thanks,

        In Christ,

        Katerina


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      • Robert S Miller
        Ask Fr Pimen in Erie. He would probably know something. Joseph M ... of
        Message 3 of 11 , Aug 1 3:41 AM
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          Ask Fr Pimen in Erie. He would probably know something.

          Joseph M

          ----------
          > From: Agape Community <agape@...>
          > To: rocaclergy@egroups.com
          > Cc: General Synod List <orthodox-synod@egroups.com>
          > Subject: [orthodox-synod] No Subject
          > Date: Sunday, August 01, 1999 7:33 PM
          >
          > A glorious Feast of the Prophet Elijah!
          >
          > A traveller arrived here with an astonishing story, of the "submission"
          of
          > the three major Old Believer groups in this country to the.... Romanian
          > Patriarchate! This seems about as likely as the Amish submitting to The
          > Episcopal Church, but most rumors have some grain of truth behind them.
          > Anybody know anything?
          > --- St. John of Kronstadt Press
          > 1180 Orthodox Way
          > Liberty TN 37095 USA
          > 615/536-5239 (voice)
          > 615/536-5945 (fax)
          > agape@...
          >
          > Check our web site at http://www.roca.org/kronstadt/
          >
          > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
          > GET $10 OFF ANY ORDER @ healthshop.com! No min. purchase req.
          > Save on vitamins & supplements. Use coupon code: EGROUPS at checkout
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        • Agape Community
          A glorious Feast of the Prophet Elijah! A traveller arrived here with an astonishing story, of the submission of the three major Old Believer groups in this
          Message 4 of 11 , Aug 1 7:33 PM
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            A glorious Feast of the Prophet Elijah!

            A traveller arrived here with an astonishing story, of the "submission" of
            the three major Old Believer groups in this country to the.... Romanian
            Patriarchate! This seems about as likely as the Amish submitting to The
            Episcopal Church, but most rumors have some grain of truth behind them.
            Anybody know anything?
            --- St. John of Kronstadt Press
            1180 Orthodox Way
            Liberty TN 37095 USA
            615/536-5239 (voice)
            615/536-5945 (fax)
            agape@...

            Check our web site at http://www.roca.org/kronstadt/
          • Rev. John R. Shaw
            There are numerous Old Believers in Romania, with their own hierarchy. In the time of Patriarch Justinian there was a plan for them to join the Patriarchate of
            Message 5 of 11 , Aug 2 4:43 AM
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              There are numerous Old Believers in Romania, with their own hierarchy.
              In the time of Patriarch Justinian there was a plan for them to join the
              Patriarchate of Romania.

              On Sun, 1 Aug 1999, Agape Community wrote:

              > A glorious Feast of the Prophet Elijah!
              >
              > A traveller arrived here with an astonishing story, of the "submission" of
              > the three major Old Believer groups in this country to the.... Romanian
              > Patriarchate! This seems about as likely as the Amish submitting to The
              > Episcopal Church, but most rumors have some grain of truth behind them.
              > Anybody know anything?
              > --- St. John of Kronstadt Press
              > 1180 Orthodox Way
              > Liberty TN 37095 USA
              > 615/536-5239 (voice)
              > 615/536-5945 (fax)
              > agape@...
              >
              > Check our web site at http://www.roca.org/kronstadt/
              >
              > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
              > GET WHAT YOU DESERVE! A NextCard Platinum VISA: DOUBLE Rewards points,
              > NO annual fee & rates as low as 9.9% FIXED APR. Apply online today!
              > http://clickhere.egroups.com/click/606
              >
              >
              > eGroups.com home: http://www.egroups.com/group/rocaclergy
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              >
              >
              >
              >
            • Michael Worley
              Happy New Year, everyone. What a neat feast. __________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? Bid and sell for free at
              Message 6 of 11 , Sep 14, 1999
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                Happy New Year, everyone. What a neat feast.





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              • Deacon John Whiteford
                I learned just a bit ago that the defense rested today. I have not said what I am about to say until know because there was the possibility that I would be
                Message 7 of 11 , Oct 26, 1999
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                  I learned just a bit ago that the defense rested
                  today. I have not said what I am about to say until
                  know because there was the possibility that I would be
                  called to testify.

                  First of here's what I don't know with absolute
                  certainty:

                  I don't know that with absolute certainty what
                  actually did or did not transpire between the boy in
                  question and Fr. Jeremiah. Only God, and those two
                  can speak with that level of certainty.

                  Thus, I cannot say with absolute certainty that the
                  charges are false, or that the boy is a liar, or
                  anything like that. That I cannot know at this point,
                  and probably never will.

                  I *believe* Fr. Jeremiah's denials. I have not spoken
                  with the boy in question about his accusations, nor
                  his mother... and so I cannot say that I have had an
                  upfront opportunity to evaluate their testimony. I do
                  know them both. My recollections of both of them are
                  fond. The boy's mother was present at the birth of my
                  daughter Elizabeth, and I remember her as a nice
                  person... and so none of what I am about to say is
                  intended as a slam against either of them. I don't
                  want to wrongly judge them any more than I would want
                  to wrongly judge Fr. Jeremiah... and so in the absence
                  of absolute proof, I make no absolute judgment on the
                  matter one way or the other.

                  So... you might ask, why do I believe Fr. Jeremiah's
                  denials? For one, the accused is granted by our legal
                  system and by both canon law and Scripture a certain
                  benefit of the doubt. In the canons and in Scripture,
                  we are told to not receive an accusation against a
                  Presbyter, unless it comes from two or three
                  witnesses. I don't believe that this threshold has
                  been met in this case.

                  Furthermore, I am inclined to believe Fr. Jeremiah's
                  denials because of a few things that I know for sure.

                  I received a call from a man (who I knew previously,
                  and who is a lawyer) in 1998, some time around the end
                  of the summer or in the early fall (I recall for
                  certain that it was a Saturday afternoon, because I
                  was getting ready for Vigil). He called me up and
                  asked how to get in touch with the mother of the boy
                  in question. During the course of that conversation,
                  he stated that he was working for unnamed clients, who
                  had unspecified grievances with the monastery. He
                  also said that the reason he wanted to get in touch
                  with this woman was that he wanted �to find out why
                  she took her son out of that monastery.�

                  This doesn�t prove that the charges are false, but it
                  does raise the question of whether the charges were
                  the result of a victim in search of justice, or simply
                  a lawyer in search of a victim (because he was sure
                  that the monastery was guilty of something, but just
                  needed to find out what it was). I believe he is well
                  intentioned, but this gives me reasons to doubt the
                  charges� more so than if the alleged victim spoke up
                  on his own accord. I would also be somewhat less
                  inclined to doubt the charges were it not for the fact
                  that they are associated with 60 million dollar
                  lawsuit (which has named individuals with nothing to
                  do with the alleged crimes, but who happen to have
                  lots of money). Again, this does not prove the
                  charges are false, but it certainly does raise the
                  question of motivation.

                  And getting back to a point that was brought up
                  earlier on the Orthodox-Synod list � it sounds from
                  what many have been saying as if this specific charge
                  had been floating around for years, and that our
                  bishops ignored it. This is not the case. Prior to
                  the call I received in late 1998, no such charge had
                  been made. This charge is quite serious, but take
                  away this charge, and prior to that what we had
                  amounted to little more than gossip, certainly nothing
                  substantial enough to warrant a canonical trial. Our
                  Bishops cannot be faulted for following the Scriptural
                  and canonical guidelines regarding the handling of
                  such things.

                  [And if anyone wishes to argue that there was more
                  substantial evidence prior to this, I will only say
                  that whenever people mentioned such rumors to me, I
                  always asked for evidence, but was never provided with
                  anything to substantiate them.]

                  Also, there have been charges of rampant drug use in
                  the monastery. Specifically pot smoking. Again, one
                  never knows for sure. No doubt with enough effort,
                  all of these monks could have pulled the wool over my
                  eyes on this� but in my younger days, I lived in some
                  pretty bad neighborhoods, and had a brother who was a
                  drug addict, and I know how pot smokers smell, I know
                  how their fingers get stained, I know how the smell
                  gets in their hair and stays on their hands despite
                  washing, and I know how they act. I find it
                  impossible to believe that these monks were smoking
                  weed all of this time, and I never saw any of the
                  clues.

                  I would not defend everything the monastery has done.
                  I wish they had done some things differently... I
                  suspect that they do to, but as convenient as it would
                  be to keep my mouth shut and wish they would
                  disappear, my conscience does not allow me to remain
                  silent about these things. If doing things that were
                  tacky were a crime, I would advise them to throw
                  themselves on the mercy of the court... but I don't
                  believe that they are guilty of these things.

                  Tomorrow we will no doubt have a verdict. Given the
                  fact that the judge did not allow a change of venue,
                  and given that (so I have been told) the jury has on
                  it the wife of the foreman of the grand jury that
                  issued the original indictments (because in Blanco
                  county, this was the closest they could come to an
                  impartial jury), the verdict may well be �guilty.� I
                  would advise you all to refrain from judging Fr.
                  Jeremiah even then for the following reasons:

                  1. None of us can be sure of what happened, and so do
                  we really want to risk judging someone falsely?

                  2. If the verdict is guilty, it will likely be
                  successfully appealed for several reasons, but
                  certainly the failure to allow a change of venue being
                  the foremost among them.

                  3. There are numerous examples of people being
                  convicted of such things, and going to prison for
                  years, only to be vindicated years later. There was a
                  special on Dateline, or some other news show like it,
                  in which a husband and wife were convicted of engaging
                  in satanic ritual abuse of their own children � and
                  their children testified against them, only for it to
                  come out 15 years later that those children had been
                  manipulated into testifying as they did. I would not
                  want to have on my conscience that I added to the
                  grief of such a person, by not being merciful to them,
                  and praying for them rather than mocking them or
                  enjoying their misery.

                  No one calling themselves a Christian should be
                  enjoying any of this. This is a tragedy for all
                  concerned.

                  -Deacon John Whiteford


                  =====
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                  * Deacon John Whiteford IC -|- XC *
                  * ----|---- *
                  * St. Jonah of Manchuria Orthodox Mission | *
                  * Serving the Spring, Woodlands, \| *
                  * and Conroe, Texas area. |\ *
                  * http://www.orthodox.org/stjonah NI | KA *
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                • William Redondo
                  COuld you please remove me from the egroup listing. There are just too many messages to process! Thanks Bill
                  Message 8 of 11 , Nov 5, 1999
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                    COuld you please remove me from the egroup listing.
                    There are just too many messages to process!
                    Thanks Bill
                  • Nikolaj
                    Dear Friends in Christ I got this below request from a very pious serbian woman who does a tremendous piece of work translating articles for the KDN and other
                    Message 9 of 11 , Jan 2, 2000
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                      Dear Friends in Christ
                      I got this below request from a very pious serbian woman who does a tremendous piece of work
                      translating articles for the KDN and other online news services.
                      She is not only working very hard and unselfish for the publishing of information about Kosovo, but also a good friend in Christ.
                      Please let me know if you can help us with this one? I am not very clever translating serbian to english.
                      I thank you humbly
                      In Christ
                      Nikolaj


                      > i have been struggling with english equivalents for positions within the
                      > hierarchy of the serbian orthodox church, i.e., terms such as
                      > 'protojerej stavrofor' and 'protonamjesnik' (which i translated as
                      > 'archpriest stavrophor' and 'head priest' respectively but i am not sure
                      > at all that this is correct!)
                      >
                      > do you know where i might find (on the web) or do you have any sort of
                      > guide or dictionary which may be useful? i would greatly appreciate it.
                      > i believe that the russian and serbian churches follow the same or very
                      > similar hierarchies and the greek roots are certainly the same.
                    • Nikolaj
                      Letter to the World from Sisters Martha and Xenia Jan 19/Feb 1 2000 St. Macarius the Great Sr. Xenia and I are in our third week, our eighteenth day of
                      Message 10 of 11 , Feb 1, 2000
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                        Letter to the World from Sisters Martha and Xenia
                        Jan 19/Feb 1 2000
                        St. Macarius the Great

                        Sr. Xenia and I are in our third week, our eighteenth day of self-imposed captivity at our Jericho monastery. Here we remain in our abandoned cement-floor room, paint chips falling from the ceiling, water seeping in the sides. No sink or shower to use, a trip to the outdoor toilet means passing by the Palestinian soldiers assembled outside our doors day and night. They predict snow again this weekend in Jerusalem -- more cold rain and dampness for us here in Jericho.

                        In a bitter irony our would-be evictors have become our protectors, our guardians from the Soviet men, bare-chested, chain smoking, housed in the apartment above the chapel only twenty feet from our quarters. The raucous laughter and menacing gestures of these Russian men (why are they here in a place of prayer?) make it uncomfortable for us to venture more than twenty yards from our room. With a soldier at our side from time to time we can make the 100 yard trip to the locked gate where our fellow monks and nuns stand vigil day and night, praying for us, passing food parcels and notes of encouragement from people all over the world - Germany, Argentina, Australia, England, Russia, the US on our behalf. Our deepest thanks to all of you. Your words and prayers mean more than you can imagine.

                        Why are we here?

                        The Palestinians have not yet perfected the art of "freedom" that characterizes a Communist system. Our prison door remains halfway open and with that ray of light I am under moral obligation to tell the world about the lack of religious freedom of the Moscow Patriarchate and it's ally in arms, the Russian government.

                        I have to speak for Father Alexander Zharkov, a simple priest of the Moscow Patriarchate, a loving spiritual father to his flock. Tired of the arbitrariness, the lack of spirituality of his MP bishops in June, 1997 he petitioned the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad to be under them. From that moment on he was incessantly harassed by Russian security officials. On Sunday September 14th 1997, worried that he had not returned home by that evening his wife began to make calls. She found the body of Fr. Alexander in the local morgue, a bullet in the head and the chest. He had been run over by a car for good measure.

                        I have to speak for the brave single souls, the pious women (babushkas) in Obayan and Tomsk and St. Petersburg and their bishops, Eutychius and Benjamin, followers of the ROCA who struggle to keep open their house churches though they know at any moment they could be arrested and their places of worship destroyed.

                        I have to speak about the deceit of Yeltsin and of the Moscow Patriarch Alexis II who proudly tout their Freedom of Conscience law - freedom given only to those Orthodox believers who submit to the Moscow Patriarchate.

                        I have to speak for the countless believers and priests in the MP who know full well the corruption of their bishops, the lack of separation of Church and State in Russia, but who are powerless, who do not have a voice to speak out.

                        They are powerless before their bishops, their Patriarch Alexis II, better known in KGB files as Agent Drozdov, a revelation so bravely revealed by Fr. Gleb Yakunin in 1991.

                        I have to speak out about the lies Patriarch Alexis II pronounces to this day - those both great and small.

                        A small one: Last week Tass News Agency reported that Patriarch Alexis II charged that the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad does not open it's Holy Land sites to he peoples of Russia, Byelorussian and the Ukraine. Patriarch Alexis, must we send you the photographs from January 7th 2000 - Christmas Day, when 100 members of the Moscow seminary choir and their priests visited our Convent of St. Mary Magdalene in Gethsemane, toured the Church and were treated to an on-the-spot meal by our sisters? Would you like to meet one of our Palestinian nuns who runs the gift shop who has so diligently learned Russian in order to accommodate the numerous Russian pilgrims who pass through our gates?

                        A big one: Patriarch Alexis, you say Church and State are separate and free in Russia today. Why then are there more Russian diplomats, consular officials and functionaries than MP monks in Jericho monastery, a house of prayer, today? Could the reports from high ranking Israeli officials that the Russian government plans to convert this Jericho monastery into a consulate be true? The MP protests that ROCA churches do not care for the Holy Land sites, do not care for the pilgrims. Will a consulate on the ruins of the sixth century church better serve the religious needs of Russian Orthodox believers than a monastery?

                        And as I have a small crack to speak out I must ask the countries who say they stand for freedom, for the rule of law, where are your voices now?

                        Ministers of Israel, Natan Sharenshy and Yuli Edelstein, you were prisoners of conscience, "refuseniks" - we too are refuseniks. We too know the stench of repression - the tapped phones, the knock on the door, the "friends" sent only to inform on and watch our every gesture, our every word.

                        Freedom for only a few is freedom for none. Show your integrity now, your belief that all people have a right to religious freedom - Jews, Muslims or Christians.

                        To the United States and members of the World Bank, do you understand how your experiment has failed. Strobe Talbott, you want Russia to follow democratic principles. World Bank President Wolfsohn, you may want Russia to adapt a free-market economy. Has it not become glaringly obvious that a country that has had its moral fiber snapped cannot bear the weight of following principles of freedom and democracy?

                        The regeneration of a free Russia cannot possibly take place without a moral rebirth. A moral rebirth cannot take place without a cleansing and renewal of its largest religious body - the Orthodox Church. US, if you allow the continued silencing of the voice of the free part of the Russian Orthodox Church, the taking away of our churches in the Holy Land, you will most assuredly consign Russia to a continued state of decadence and corruption which no billions of dollars will be able to remedy.

                        And finally I speak to you my beloved friends, the common people I live and work with in Palestine. I know your beautiful hospitality, your humble grace amid the oppression you have suffered for so many years. I know this crack in the door is open to me because in your basic goodness you simply do not know how, do not comprehend in your beautiful hearts how to close that door. It is my deepest prayer that your leaders - your Yassir Arafat, Abu Mazen, General Rajoub, Sarb Erekat - do not succumb to the principles of totalitarianism and corruption. Your people have suffered too long, are too good to be betrayed by their leaders in such a manner now.
                      • Nikolaj
                        Dukhovnye Kazaki Ego Imperatoskogo Velichestva Konvoja (D.K.E.I.V.K.)
                        Message 11 of 11 , Apr 2, 2000
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                          "Dukhovnye Kazaki
                          Ego Imperatoskogo
                          Velichestva Konvoja"
                          (D.K.E.I.V.K.)
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