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The Royal Path

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  • byakimov@csc.com.au
    He who does not have Christ, even if he seems to have righteousness, does not have it. But he who has Christ even though he may not properly fulfilled the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 27, 2005
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      He who does not have Christ, even if he seems to have righteousness, does
      not have it. But he who has Christ even though he may not properly
      fulfilled the law, has received the whole.   Saint John Chrysostom

       The cause of every innovation in the Tradition of the Church ; is lack of
      fear towards God, impiety and unbelief.  Photios Kontoglou

      The Royal Path:
      True Orthodoxy in an Age of Apostasy

      Fr. Seraphim Rose

      The hour of death will come upon us, it will come, and we shall not escape
      it. May the prince of this world and of the air find our misdeeds few and
      petty when he comes, so that he will not have good grounds for convicting
      us. Otherwise we shall weep in vain. "For that servant who knows his
      Lord's will, and did not do it as a servant, shall be beaten with many
      stripes" (cf. Lk. 12:47).   St. Hesychios the Priest

      As the Fathers say, the extremes from both sides are equally harmful . . .
      (We must) go on the royal path, avoiding the extremes on both sides. St.
      John Cassian, Conference II

      "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is
      not mad, they will attack him saying: 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"
      Abba Anthony of Egypt

      ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS live today in one of the great critical times in the
      history of Christ's Church. The enemy of man's salvation, the devil,
      attacks on all fronts and strives by all means not merely to divert
      believers from the path of salvation shown by the Church, but even to
      conquer the Church of Christ itself, despite the Saviour's promise (Matt.
      16:18), and to convert the very Body of Christ into an "ecumenical"
      organization preparing for the coming of his own chosen one, Antichrist,
      the great world-ruler of the last days.

      Many shall belive in antichrist ,said a certain blessed monk, and shall
      beging to glorify him as mighty god. But they that have God always within
      themselves, shall see the truth through pure faith, and shall recognize
      him. For at that time the comming of the tormentor shall be known to all
      that have knowledge of God an reason. But to them that have their minds
      ever on the things of this life and love earthly things , this will not be
      understood , for they are caught in things of this life . And if they hear
      the word of caution concerning antichrist, they will have no faith, but
      will despise them that say such things all the more. Holy Recluse George
      of Zadonsk(letters)/St. Ephraim the Syrian(Discourse)

      Of course, we know that this attempt of Satan will fail; the Church will
      be the Bride of Christ even to the end of the world and will meet Christ
      the Bridegroom at His Second Coming pure and undefiled by adulterous union
      with the apostasy of this age. But the great question of our times for all
      Orthodox Christians to face is a momentous one: the Church will remain,
      but how many of us will still be in it, having withstood the devil's
      mighty attempts to draw us away from it?

      "Everyone who speaks contrary to what has been prescribed, even if he
      fasts, even if he is a virgin, even if he prophesies, even if he works
      miracles, you should see him as a wolf in sheep's clothing, who is
      contriving the destruction of the sheep." St Ignatius of Antioch

      Our times are much like those of St. Mark of Ephesus in the 15th century,
      when it seemed that the Church was about to be dissolved into the impious
      Union with the Latins. Nay, our times are even worse and more dangerous
      than those times; for then the Union was an act imposed by force from
      without, while now the Orthodox people have been long prepared for the
      approaching "ecumenical" merger of all churches and religions by decades of
      laxness, indifference, worldliness, and indulgence in the ruinous falsehood
      that "nothing really separates us" from all others who call themselves
      Christians. The Orthodox Church survived the false Union of Florence, and
      even knew a time of outward prosperity and inward spiritual flourishing
      after that; but after the new false Union, now being pursued with
      ever-increasing momentum, will Orthodoxy exist at all save in the
      catacombs and the desert?

      There is nothing more burdensome and grievous then when conscience accuses
      us in anything, and there is nothing dearer then calmness and approval of
      the conscience,  St Maxim Confessor

      During the past ten years and more, under the disastrous "ecumenical"
      course pursued by Patriarch Athenagoras and his successor, the Orthodox
      Churches have already come perilously close to total shipwreck. The newest
      "ecumenical" statement of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, "The
      Thyateira Confession" (see The Orthodox Word, Jan.-Feb., 1976), is already
      sufficient evidence of how far the Orthodox conscience has been lost by
      the Local Church that once was first among the Orthodox Churches in the
      confession of Christ's truth; this dismal document only shows how close
      the hierarchs of Constantinople have now come to being absorbed into the
      heterodox "Christianity" of the West, even before the formal Union which
      is still being prepared.

      The sure path to perdition is indifference and the lack of principles. /
      Archbishop Averky

      THE ROOTS of today?s ecumenism in the Orthodox Churches go back to the
      renovationism and modernism of certain hierarchs in the 1920's. In the
      Russian Church, these currents produced, first, the "Living Church"
      movement which, with the help of the Communist regime, tried to overthrow
      Patriarch Tikhon and "reform" the Church in a radically Protestant manner,
      and then?as a more "conservative" successor to the "Living Church"?the
      Sergianist church organization (the Moscow Patriarchate), which emphasized
      at first the political side of reconciliation with Communist ideology and
      aims (in accordance with the infamous "Declaration" of Metropolitan
      Sergius in 1927), and only in recent decades has ventured once again into
      the realm of ecclesiastical renovationism with its active participation in
      the ecumenical movement. In the Greek Church the situation has been
      similar: the renovationist "Pan-Orthodox Council" of 1923, with its
      Protestant reforms inspired by Patriarch Meletios Metaxakis of sorry
      memory, proved to be too radical for the Orthodox world to accept, and the
      renovationists had to be satisfied with imposing a calendar reform on
      several of the non-Slavic Churches.

      The outward betterment of the conditions of life alone,without first a
      moral improvement of the people themselves, would be total victory of
      evil, for such a self satisfied happiness would strenghten the hopless
      corporeal condittion of those who partake thereof, paralyzing all
      possibility for moral improvement and spiritual perfection.  Fr. Boris

      Large movements of protest opposed the reformers in both the Russian and
      Greek Churches, producing the deep divisions which exist until now in the
      Orthodox world. In the Russian Church, Sergianism was decisively rejected
      by very many of the bishops and faithful, led by Metropolitan Joseph of
      Petrograd; this "Josephite" movement later became organized to some extent
      and became known as the "True Orthodox Church." The history of this
      illegal "Catacomb" Church of Russia is, to this day, veiled in secrecy, but
      in the past few years a number of startling evidences of its present-day
      activities have come to light, leading to stern repressive measures on the
      part of the Soviet government. The name of its present chief hierarch
      (Metropolitan Theodosius) has become known, as has that of one of its ten
      or more bishops (Bishop Seraphim). In the Diaspora, the Russian Church
      Outside of Russia committed itself from the very beginning of Sergianism
      in 1927 to a firm anti-Sergianist position, and on numerous occasions it
      has expressed its solidarity with the True Orthodox Church in Russia, while
      refusing all communion with the Moscow Patriarchate. Its
      uncompromisingness and staunch traditionalism in this and other matters
      were not to the taste of several of the Russian hierarchs of Western
      Europe and America, who were more receptive to the "reform" currents in
      20th-century Orthodoxy, and they separated themselves at various times
      from the Russian Church Outside of Russia, thus creating the present
      "jurisdictional" differences of the Russian Diaspora.

      In Greece the movement of protest, by a similar Orthodox instinct,
      likewise took the name of "True Orthodox Christians." From the beginning
      in 1924 (when the calendar reform was introduced), this movement has been
      especially strong among the simple monks, priests and laymen of Greece;
      the first bishop to leave the State Church of Greece and join the movement
      was Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Florina, and today it continues its fully
      independent life and organization, comprising about one-fourth of all the
      Orthodox Christians of Greece, and perhaps one-half or more of all the
      monks and nuns. Although popularly known as the"old calendarists," the
      True Orthodox Christians of Greece stand for a staunch traditionalism in
      Orthodox life and thought in general, viewing the calendar question merely
      as a first stage and a touchstone of modernism and reformism.

      Christians know that when they believe in the Kingdom of Heaven and search
      for it, then the Kingdom of Heaven is already entering "inside them" and
      into the world through the Church. But if they intend to build a happy
      life of the Kingdom of God now on earth for themselves or even for future
      generations, not only will they fail to build it on earth, but they may
      lose it in Heaven as well. Fr. Michael Pomazansky

      As the "ecumenical" cancer eats more and more away at the remaining sound
      organs of the Orthodox Churches today, an increasing sympathy is being
      shown by the most sensitive members of the "official" Orthodox
      jurisdictions for the cause and the representatives of the anti-ecumenist,
      anti-reformist Churches of Russia, Greece, and the Diaspora. Some, seeing
      the "official" jurisdictions as now irrevocably set on a course of
      anti-orthodoxy, are abandoning them as sinking ships and joining the ranks
      of the True Orthodox Christians; others, still hoping for the restoration
      of an Orthodox course in world Orthodoxy, think it enough for now to
      express sympathy for the True Orthodox Christians or to protest boldly
      against the "reformist" mentality in the official jurisdictions. The ten
      years of anti-ecumenist epistles of Metropolitan Philaret, Chief Hierarch
      of the Russian Church Outside of Russia, have struck a responsive chord
      within a number of the Orthodox Churches, even if the "official" response
      to them has been largely silence or hostility.

      For our faith, brethren, is not of men nor by man, but by revelation of
      Jesus Christ, which the divine Apostles preached, the holy Ecumenical
      Councils confirmed, the greatest and wisest teachers of the world handed
      down in succession, and the shed blood of the holy martyrs ratified. Let
      us hold fast to the confession which we have received unadulterated from
      such men, turning away from every novelty as a suggestion of the devil.
      Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs, 1848

      Today, more than at any other time in the 50-year struggle to preserve the
      Orthodox tradition in an age of apostasy, the voice of true and
      uncompromising Orthodoxy could be heard throughout the world and have a
      profound effect on the future course of the Orthodox Churches. Probably,
      indeed, it is already too late to prevent the renovationist "Eighth
      Ecumenical Council" and the "ecumenical" Union which lies beyond it; but
      perhaps one or more of the Local Churches may yet be persuaded to step
      back from this ruinous path which will lead to the final liquidation (as
      Orthodox) of those jurisdictions that follow it to the end; and in any
      case, individuals and whole communities can certainly be saved from this
      path, not to mention those of the heterodox who may still find their way
      into the saving enclosure of the true Church of Christ.

      Those seven thousand(I Kings 19;18), he said were saved by Grace...By
      saying 'election', he showed them to be aproved, but by saying 'Grace', he
      indicated the gift of God....And if by Grace, it will be said, how did we
      not all come to be saved?  Because you refused. For Grace, even tough it
      be Grace, saves the willing, not those who will not have it, and turn away
      from it, those who persist in fighting against it, and oposing themselves
      to it......         Saint John Chrysostom

      IT IS OF CRITICAL importance, therefore, that this voice be actually one
      of true, that is, patristic Orthodoxy. Unfortunately, it sometimes
      happens, especially in the heat of controversy, that basically sound
      Orthodox positions are exaggerated on one side, and misunderstood on the
      other, and thus an entirely misleading impression is created in some minds
      that the cause of true Orthodoxy today is a kind of "extremism," a sort of
      "right-wing reaction" to the prevailing "left-wing" course now being
      followed by the leaders of the "official" Orthodox Churches. Such a
      political view of the struggle for true Orthodoxy today is entirely false.
      This struggle, on the contrary, has taken the form, among its best
      representatives today?whether in Russia, Greece, or the Diaspora?of a
      return to the patristic path of moderation, a mean between extremes; this
      is what the Holy Fathers call the ROYAL PATH.

      A HAND-WROUGHT image ye would not worship,/O trice-blessed ones ,/but
      armed with the Indescribable Essence,
      /ye were glorified in your ordeal by fire,/standing in the midst of the
      irresistible flame, /ye called upon God,/
      ;Speed Thou, O Compassionate One/ and hasten as Thou art Merciful,/ to
      come unto our aid ,for Thou art able if Thou willed.
      Troparion to the 3 youths: Misail, Ananias and Azarias in the Babylonian
      fiery furnace

      The teaching of this "royal path" is set forth, for example, in the tenth
      of St. Abba Dorotheus' Spiritual lnstructions, where he quotes especially
      the Book of Deuteronomy: Ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to
      the left, but go by the royal path (Deut. 5:32, 17:11), and St. Basil the
      Great: "Upright of heart is he whose thought does not turn away either to
      excess or to lack, but is directed only to the mean of virtue." But
      perhaps this teaching is most clearly expressed by the great Orthodox
      Father of the 5th century, St. John Cassian, who was faced with a task not
      unlike our own Orthodox task today: to present the pure teaching of the
      Eastern Fathers to Western peoples who were spiritually immature and did
      not yet understand the depth and subtlety of the Eastern spiritual
      doctrine and were therefore inclined to go to extremes, either of laxness
      or over-strictness, in applying it to life. St. Cassian sets forth the
      Orthodox doctrine of the royal path in his Conference on
      "sober-mindedness" (or "discretion")?the Conference praised by St. John of
      the Ladder (Step 4:105) for its "beautiful and sublime philosophy":

      "With all our strength and with all our effort we must strive by humility
      to acquire for ourselves the good gift of sober-mindedness, which can
      preserve us unharmed by excess from both sides. For, as the Fathers say,
      the extremes from both sides are equally harmful?both excess of fasting
      and filling the belly, excess of vigil and excessive sleep, and other
      excesses." Sobermindedness "teaches a man to go on the royal path, avoiding
      the extremes on both sides: on the right side it does not allow him to be
      deceived by excessive abstinence, on the left side to be drawn into
      carelessness and relaxation." And the temptation on the "right side" is
      even more dangerous than that on the "left": "Excessive abstinence is more
      harmful than satiating oneself; because, with the cooperation of
      repentance, one may go over from the latter to a correct understanding,
      but from the former one cannot" (i.e., because pride over one's "virtue"
      stands in the way of the repentant humility that could save one).
      (Conferences, II, chs. 16, 2, 17.)

      Applying this teaching to our own situation, we may say that the "royal
      path" of true Orthodoxy today is a mean that lies between the extremes of
      ecumenism and reformism on the one side, and a "zeal not according to
      knowledge" (Rom. 10:2) on the other. True Orthodoxy does not go "in step
      with the times" on the one hand, nor does it make "strictness" or
      "correctness" or "canonicity" (good in themselves) an excuse for pharisaic
      self-satisfaction, exclusivism, and distrust, on the other. This true
      Orthodox moderation is not to be confused with mere luke-warmness or
      indifference, or with any kind of compromise between political extremes.
      The spirit of "reform" is so much in the air today that anyone whose views
      are molded by the "spirit of the times" will regard true Orthodox
      moderation as dose to "fanaticism," but anyone who looks at the question
      more deeply and applies the patristic standard will find the royal path to
      be far from any kind of extremism. Perhaps no Orthodox teacher in our own
      days provides such an example of sound and fervent Orthodox moderation as
      the late Archbishop Averky of Jordanville; his numerous articles and
      sermons breathe the refreshing spirit of true Orthodox zealotry, without
      any deviation either to the "right" or to the "left," and with emphasis
      constantly on the spiritual side of true Orthodoxy. (See especially his
      article, "Holy Zeal," in The Orthodox Word, May-June, 1975.)

      'If someone were especially dear to me, but I realized that he was causing
      me to do something less good, I should put him far from me.' Abba Agathon

      THE RUSSIAN CHURCH Outside of Russia (this was written in 1976 and thus
      reflect the spirit of the longstanding traditionalist position of ROCA
      shared with other traditionalist sister 'churches in resistance'of
      Rumania,Greece and Bulgaria, however due to the recent trials in ROCA it
      remains to be seen if ROCA will continue her tradition of the Royal Path.)
      has been placed, by God's Providence, in a very favorable position for
      preserving the "royal path" amidst the confusion of so much of
      20th-century Orthodoxy. Living in exile and poverty in a world that has
      not understood the suffering of her people, she has focused her attention
      on preserving unchanged the faith which unites her people, and so quite
      naturally she finds herself a stranger to the whole ecumenical mentality,
      which is based on religious indifference and self-satisfaction, material
      affluence, and soulless internationalism. On the other hand, she has been
      preserved from falling into extremism on the "right side" (such as might be
      a declaration that the Mysteries of the Moscow Patriarchate are without
      grace) by her vivid awareness that the Sergianist church in Russia is not
      free; one can of course have no communion with such a body, dominated by
      atheists, but precise definitions of its status are best left to a free
      Russian church council in the future. If there seems to be a "logical
      contradiction" here ("if you don't deny her Mysteries, why don't you have
      communion with her?"), it is a problem only for rationalists; those who
      approach church questions with the heart as well as the head have no
      trouble accepting this position, which is the testament bequeathed to he
      Russian Church of the Diaspora by her wise Chief Hierarch, Metropolitan
      Anastassy (+1965).

      False prophets flatter the sins of their people, and thus, assist them
      even more to turn back good from their people. The true prophets go
      against the sins of the people, for they go along with good and cry out
      against sin, in order to be able to introduce good, which is from God, in
      the souls of their people. St. Nikolai Velimirovic

      Living in freedom, the Russian Church Outside of Russia has considered as
      one of her important obligations to express her solidarity and full
      communion with the underground True Orthodox Church of Russia, whose
      existence is totally ignored and even denied by "official" Orthodoxy. In
      God's time, when the terrible trial of the Russian Church and people will
      have passed, the other Orthodox Churches may understand the Russian Church
      situation better; until then, it is perhaps all one can hope for that the
      free Orthodox Churches have never questioned the right of the Russian
      Church Outside of Russia to exist or denied the grace of her Mysteries,
      almost all of them have long remained in communion with her (until her
      non-participation in the ecumenical movement isolated her and made her a
      reproach to the other Churches, especially in the last decade), and up to
      this day they have (at least passively) resisted the politically-inspired
      attempts of the Moscow Patriarchate to have her declared "schismatic" and

      All those thoughts that are contrary to the law of God; the word of God.
      Evil thoughts are the self-willed law of man which man prescribes for
      himself against God and contrary to the law of God.
      St. Nikolai Velimirovic

      In recent years, the Russian Church Outside of Russia has also given
      support and recognition to the True Orthodox Christians of Greece, whose
      situation also has long been exceedingly difficult and misunderstood. In
      Greece the first blow against the Church (the calendar reform) was not as
      deadly as the "Declaration" of Metropolitan Sergius in Russia, and for
      this reason it has taken longer for the theological consciousness of the
      Orthodox Greek people to see its full anti-orthodox significance. Further,
      few bishops in Greece have been bold enough to join the movement (whereas,
      by contrast, the number of non-Sergianist bishops in the beginning was
      larger than the whole episcopate of the Greek Church). And only in recent
      years has the cause of the old calendarists become even a little
      "intellectually respectable," as more and more university graduates have
      joined it. Over the years it has suffered persecutions, sometimes quite
      fierce, from the State and the official Church, and to this day it remains
      disdained by the "sophisticated" and totally without recognition from the
      "official" Orthodox world. Unfortunately, internal disagreements and
      divisions have continued to weaken the cause of the old calendarists, and
      the lack a single unanimous voice to express their stand for patristic
      Orthodoxy. Still, the basic Orthodoxy of their position cannot be denied,
      and one can only welcome such sound presentations of it as may be seen in
      the article that follows.

      It is incumbent on all Orthodox Christians who are anxious to approve
      themselves genuine sons of Mother Church, to adhere henceforward to the
      holy faith of the holy Fathers, to be wedded to it, to die in it; but as to
      the profane novelties of profane men ,to detest them, abhor them, oppose
      them, give them no quarter.  St Vincent of Lerins

      The increasing realization in recent years of the basic oneness of the
      cause of True Orthodoxy throughout the world, whether in the Catacomb
      Church of Russia, the old calendarists of Greece, or the Russian Church
      Outside of Russia, has led some to think in terms of a "united front" of
      confessing Churches to oppose the ecumenical movement which has taken
      possession of "official" Orthodoxy. However, under present conditions this
      will hardly come to pass; and in any case, this is a "political" view of
      the situation which sees the significance of the mission of true Orthodoxy
      in too external a manner. The full dimensions of the True-Orthodox protest
      against "ecumenical Orthodoxy", against the neutralized, lukewarm
      Orthodoxy of the apostasy, have yet to be revealed, above all in Russia.
      But it cannot be that the witness of so many martyrs and confessors and
      champions of True Orthodoxy in the 20th century will have been in vain.
      May God preserve His zealots in the royal path of true Orthodoxy, faithful
      to Him and to His Holy Church until the end of the age!

      " There must needs be heresies, that they who are approved may be made
      manifest among you:" as though he should say, This is the reason why the
      authors of Heresies are not forthwith rooted up by God, namely, that they
      who are approved may be made manifest that is, that it may be apparent of
      each individual, how tenacious and faithful and steadfast he is in his love
      of the Orthodox Christian Faith. St Vincent of Lerins

      This article originally appeared in The Orthodox Word, Sept.-Oct., 1976
      (70), 143-149

      Brethren, see to it that no one captivate you with an empty, seductive
      philosophy according to human tradition, according to the elemental powers
      of the world and not according to Christ" (Colossians 2:8).

      "I prefer to be hated for a rightful cause than to be loved for a wrong
      one."   + Tsar Martyr Paul Petrovich Romanov

      "Those taught by God will be regarded as fools by the disciples of such as
      are wise in the wisdom of the world. But in fact it is the worldly-wise
      that are fools, spouting an inane secular wisdom, the stupidity of which
      God has demonstrated (cf. I Cor. 1:20) and which Scripture condemns as
      material, unspiritual, devilish, filled with strife and malice (cf. James
      3:15). Since these people are blind to the divine light, they cannot see
      the marvels it contains; they regard as deluded those who dwell in that
      light and see and teach others about what is within it. On the contrary,
      it is they themselves that are deluded, not having tasted the ineffable
      blessings of God." St. Symeon the New Theologian
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