- Many debates are going on this list about the "Mother Church".
Below is a text adapted and translated into English by G. Spruksts
from the Russian text of the essay by Monk Zakharii, entitled
_"Ischuschim Mat'" [To Those Seeking Their Mother], initially
published in _"Pravoslavnaya Rus'"_ [Orthodox Rus], No. 10, 1947.
This publication was know to be the official "flagship" of The
Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
TO THOSE SEEKING THEIR MOTHER
When I was a child, I heard the following tale:
In very ancient times, in some country or other, there was a gang of
bandits whose fierce and furious raids terrorised the entire
surrounding population. The fierce leader of this gang had lost all
sense of human feeling and wrought unspeakable evil, such as hitherto
had been unknown.
On one occasion, these bandits attacked the home of a good and
peaceful man. First, they slaughtered the master of the house; then,
mocking and outraging her, they bestially murdered his wife, as well,
after which they stole all the family's belongings. They would have
killed the master's son, too a small child, who was weeping
helplessly in a corner but, the leader of the gang, having taken
particular note of the little boy's unusual comeliness, concluded
that he could probably demand a huge ransom for the child.
Consequently, he ordered that the boy be taken back to their
encampment with them. They brought the little tyke to that cave
where the gang hid out. The bandit leader entrusted the boy to the
care of his "lady-friend" - a woman truly "worthy" of him - and
thereupon forgot all about the child
Some time later, upon returning from a raid, the bandit chieftain
happened to meet this child and barely recognised him: so much had he
changed. He had grown thin and now was possessed of a sickly
appearance. Asked about the reason for such a change, the bandit
leader's paramour explained that the child was grieving sorely for
his Mother; that he refused to come near anyone; avoided all and
sundry; ate little; and, probably, would soon die.
That evening, pouring over his old stash of loot, the bandit leader
found a dress and some adornments and foot-gear that had belonged to
the child's Mother, whom he had slain some time previously.
"Listen," he said to his doxy, "you say that the lad is grieving for
his Mother. So, put on all this stuff, go to him, cuddle him, -
perchance he'll take you for his Mother and recover. Otherwise,
alas! he'll perish, when we could get a tidy sum for him "
The bandit leader's concubine put on the dead woman's dress, adorned
herself with the latter's brooches and jewellery, - assumed a tender
and loving appearance insofar as she was capable of doing so, - and
went to the child.
Terrified, - he recoiled from her and screamed . "Come to me, my
darling little one," the female bandit said, "for, behold: it is I,
your Mama. Look: here is the dress, here is the jewellery Don't you
"No, no!" the child began to weep, trembling in terror: "the dress is
Mama's, the jewellery is Mama's, but you - you're not my Mama "
The present-day situation in Orthodoxy reminds me of this poignant
tale, which I had heard in childhood. With its innate ability to
manipulate ideas, the leadership of the Moscow patriarchate seeks to
convince everyone that there, in Moscow, attired in Her garments and
adorned with Her jewels, we can find our very own natural Mother.
Of course, all this is calculated without taking into account the
members of the Catacomb Church, who know well the false gaze of
the "mistress of murderers." They cannot be deceived!
This is a tale that is told ! to those children who lost their Mother
in early childhood; who, hence, are unable to recall Her true face.
These, who do not remember their Mother, behold Her dress, Her
jewellery, and they begin to doubt, although it pains their hearts to
do so: but what if this actually is She! After all, everyone has
grown so sick with longing for Her.
For such as these, the flattery of the MP's hierarchs can be
pernicious. It is to them that my voice of warning is directed the
voice of a Christian who spent nearly 30 years in the Catacomb Church.
"What are you looking at! Why do you doubt? This is not She; this is
not our Mother! I implore Him Who gives conviction to my words; may
He empower my lips to open the eyes, to awaken the awareness of those
who doubt. Yea, Lord, bring it about; make it so! Hearken unto me,
you who have grown sick with longing for the Mother-Church! This
adulterous lady-friend of the fearsome bandit chieftain in Moscow is
not only not the local Russian Church, she is also not Orthodox, -
and not even a Christian church, all in all.
What are the distinguishing features of any autocephalous Orthodox
Church? They are four: 1. Territory. 2. Nation. 3. A lawful
hierarchy. 4. The Spirit of Christ - that is, the unsullied keeping
of Christ's Teaching and the dogmas of the Church, which started with
the Apostles. Besides that, each and every local Church has Her own,
unique, tenor of life, not encountered in any other local Church Her
own spiritual-mystical world-view, which is innately Hers, alone.
Only the sum-total of all these features indicates that any given
Church is, at present, the very same that She had been since the
beginning of Her existence. Taken separately, neither territory, nor
nation, nor hierarchy, nor preservation of dogmas, nor tenor of life
and world-view, are any evidence of the continuing life of a church
and of her self-sameness with the one that had ex! isted in the
beginning. After all, the names of the seven Churches that are
spoken of in the Apocalypse continue to survive to this day.
Yet, who will say that these are still those selfsame Churches! And
the Alexandrine or Roman churches are they the very same ones that
had existed during the lifetimes of Athanasius the Great and Leo, the
Pope of Rome? Even preserving apostolic succession, how little these
daughter-churches resemble their Mother.
And the one in Moscow that has occupied the home of our Mother-
Church, imprisoned and tortured beyond endurance, as She was? The
one that put on the latter's garments, that adorned herself with the
latter's ornaments, which were presented to her by bandits, the one
that even sings what are seemingly the latter's songs, what else is
there about her wherewith she reminds us of the latter of the one
that truly was our very own? Nothing!
Of all the features, she has, in fact, but one: the house the
territory. The Nation she betrayed, having blessed her master the
ataman of the gang of cut-throats to annihilate all those who refused
to recognise him as their "father and benefactor."
Hierarchy? We know where that is. We know well, where and how the
faithful bishops and priests of our true Mother-Church perished or
were subjected to torments. We heard with our own ears what the
adulterous inamorata of the bandit leader said of them.
The Spirit of Christ? Read without any of the magazines of the
Moscow Patriarchate, without picking and choosing, and you will find
there that the priests and even the bishops of this organisation call
their children to take vengeance upon, to shed the blood of, to carry
out pogroms against, and to hate all those who are unconstrained and
un-regimented in their thinking. Then will you yourselves see instead
of the meek visage and loving eyes of our Mother-Church that bestial,
tooth-baring grin of the bandit wo! man who had sold herself out.
But, perhaps, she is nevertheless Orthodox, even if she is a fallen
sinner?...No! For Orthodoxy is defined unconditionally by its
recognition of the dogma of ancestral sin and of said sin's
consequences. We believe that human nature, impaired by ancestral
sin, is itself inclined towards evil. No economic or political form,
in and of themselves, can, without the grace of God that is imparted
through the Mystery of holy Baptism, deliver man from the inclination
to do evil and set him upon the path of doing good. Left to his own
devices, man, who has rejected God and everything that is holy,
inevitably rolls down into the abyss of evil.
There can be no "paradise" built upon earth; on the contrary, evil
will progress ever the more - growing, toward the end of time, to
horrifying dimensions, so that barely will one be able to find
believing people upon the earth (Lk 18.8). Every doctrine that man is
good in and of himself; that we need only bring about the necessary
economic and political conditions of life, and that man, thereupon,
will become an angel of light is unorthodox. Every organisation which
imparts its blessing to the building of an earthly paradise and by a
theomachic state, at that! ; which rejoices at the joys and grieves
at the sorrows of manifestly atheistic satanists, thereby rejects
the dogma of ancestral sin, the dogma of the Church as the keeper of
Divine Righteousness upon the earth, - and equally, also, many other
dogmas. Wherefore, let it be anathema! Yet, in the end, some of the
lukewarm will say: "but it is, nonetheless, a church."
How few words there are in the human vocabulary! Many simply
contradictory concepts sometimes find _expression in it through one
and the same label. The prophet David, in his own day, could not find
a word to convey the concept of that which is opposed to the
Church. "I hate the church of the wicked," he said, as! though the
wicked have a church.
"I will build My Church," our Saviour told us. And from that time on,
we have associated the concept of salvation with the name of Church.
Everything that does not save is not the Church; everything that
deceives is not the Church; everything that assists the godless in
destroying the soul of our nation, exhausted with torments, is not
the Church; or, it is the church of the wicked. If it is forbidden to
use God's name in vain, then is not the name of the Church of Christ
inapplicable to the handmaiden of satan's servant to the Moscow
The true children of the Church of Christ will not be deceived by the
attire and adornments which have been removed from Her from our
violated and insulted Mother. We firmly believe that soon, very soon,
we will meet Her the true one; Her, who gave birth to us through
water and through the spirit; the genuine, natural article, which has
come forth from out of dungeons, concentration camps, hidden
oubliettes, and pits in the earth. Divine Righteousness will yet
triumph. And then will She our greatly suffering Mother Russian
Church set before the Face of the Lord all Her children, who have
remained faithful to the end, and She will say: "Here am I and those
children whom Thou hast given me." And they who have endured unto
the end will exclaim, with great joy: "Glory to Thee, our Saviour,
Who art coming again! Soon! " Yea, verily, come Lord Jesus, Amen