APOCALYPSE OR REPENTANCE:
The seeds of Orthodox Christianity in the West were sown by immigrants, at first Jews, then Greeks, Syrians and others. It was only at the end of the second century that Latin began to replace Greek as a liturgical language in Rome and the first native Popes of Rome appeared. This period began with martyrdoms in Rome in the first decades after the Resurrection of Christ, among them those of the Apostle Peter, founder of the Church of Antioch, and the Apostle Paul, founder of the Church of Rome, in c. 64 A D. Indeed during the first three centuries after Christ, Orthodoxy was fiercely persecuted in the West, making Rome into a widely revered seedbed of martyrs.
Thus the history of Christianity as an official religion in the West does not begin until the early fourth century, with the proclamation of Constantine as the Roman Emperor in York in 306. Constantine, with his Latin name suggesting stability and constancy, was the bilingual head of the Empire and was to accept Orthodoxy as the State religion of the Roman Empire. He was so zealous that he actually set up a new Capital of the Empire, a New Rome, untainted by pagan Rome, establishing it unitively on the frontiers of Europe and Asia at the fishing-town of Byzantium.
It was he who called the First Council of the whole Roman Empire (Oecumene) near New Rome in 325. Opened in Latin and Greek by the Emperor and chaired by the Spanish bishop, Osius of Cordoba, it was the first time that so many Orthodox bishops had met. This Council set the scene for a new age or 'day' of Western history.
THE FIRST DAY OF WESTERN HISTORY c. 300 - c. 550
The whole period from about 300 to 550 was not to be an easy period in the West. Although it would be an age when monasticism flourished and great Church Fathers like St Hilary, St Ambrose and St John Cassian appeared in the West, the barbarians were knocking at the gates of the city. Indeed in the fifth century the Western part of the Empire would fall to barbarians. By the year 550, when the great Western monk, St Benedict reposed, the Western part of the Empire had endured great turmoil - the barbarians had occupied the West.
Despite the baptism of the Frank Clovis in Rheims at the end of the fifth century, other barbarian tribes had fallen into a tribal nationalism. In order to avoid humble submission to the Roman Orthodox authorities, they had become anti-Orthodox Arians and persecutors of Orthodoxy. Thus the first age of Western history ended with a question-mark concerning the very survival of the West as a home of Orthodox Christianity.
THE SECOND DAY OF WESTERN HISTORY c. 550 - c. 800
The second age began then with the realisation that Western Christendom was going to have to conquer the barbarians, not militarily, but spiritually. Could the West do this, assimilating and absorbing the barbarians into Orthodoxy without allowing Orthodoxy to be diluted by barbarianism? The answer came through the efforts of perhaps the greatest of all Roman Popes, St Gregory the Great. In 596 he sent out a mission to convert the barbarian Germanic peoples who had invaded the former Roman province of Britain.
The success of this mission was to lead to the consequent success of the English mission to the other Germanic peoples in Continental Europe. An important role was placed by the English St Boniface with the blessing of Popes of Rome, among them the last Greek Orthodox Pope St Zacharias (+ 752). By the year 800, this mission was symbolically and literally crowned with success by the event of 25 December 800. In that year, against the will of Charlemagne, Pope Leo III crowned that Germanic warlord, Charles the Great, as Emperor of the West, showing that power belonged to the Orthodox Papacy, not to Germanic kinglets.
THE THIRD DAY OF WESTERN HISTORY c. 800 - c. 1050
At first sight it would seem that Western Christendom had been successful in converting the barbarians, but success had come with a risk. This risk was that the newly converted Germans under Charlemagne would take over the Church in order to justify their Imperialistic ambitions, as had the Germanic Arians before. Indeed, the iconoclastic Germanic Charlemagne was set on creating a schism with the centre of Christendom in Jerusalem and all the East by refuting the Seventh Oecumenical Council. To do this he had recruited philosophers, trained by Jewish scholars in Spain. Opposition to him was also strong in southern and western Europe, indeed among all the peoples on the fringes of his Continental Empire, Basques, Bretons, Slavs, Saxons and others, who fiercely opposed his tyranny. Fortunately, after Charlemagne's death, his ambitions, but not his misguided ideas of reviving pagan Rome, died with him.
The third age of Western history, from 800 to 1050, covers a period of decadence and difficulty, a period of new barbarian invasions, by Vikings and Huns, and a period of decadence in the Papacy in Rome. So low did the Roman Papacy sink that at the end of this period the Roman Papacy did indeed fall into the hands of its enemies, the spiritual children of Charlemagne who took it over. This Germanic Papacy realised the ambitions of Charlemagne and in c. 1054 completed the Germanic Schism, cutting off the West from the Church until the present day.
THE FOURTH DAY OF WESTERN HISTORY c. 1050 - c. 1300
The period around the year 1050 was a watershed in Western History, a revolution in World History, as the German Church historian Tellenbach has called it. It was the beginning of a new 'Judeo-Christian' West, called 'Catholic'. It was an arrogant, Scholastic, imperialistic West, which reached its apogee under Pope Innocent III (1198-1216). This new Aristotelian West set out to conquer the world through 'Crusades' and the persecutions and massacres of Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, Cathars and any other 'dissidents'.
The crimes of this period are well-known to history, culminating in their barbarian sack of the Christian Capital in Constantinople in 1204. The fatal weakening of Christian countries by this anti-Christian West was later to lead to the occupation of south-eastern Europe by Muslims for some 400 years. These are events for which the West has still not repented, lying and lieing like a curse across Western history. They lie behind the whole history of the twentieth century, as in its refusal to repent, the ethnocentric West continues to persecute Orthodox Christians, Jews and Muslims alike.
THE FIFTH DAY OF WESTERN HISTORY c. 1300 - c. 1550
Such evil wrought by the West could not last. As a result of its lack of repentance, the West was swept in the late fourteenth century by the Black Death which killed over a third of Western people. A time of great change began with a Western Schism, presaging others more serious. A movement of repaganisation began, known as the Renaissance, a new appreciation of pagan culture and values. Technological changes, including the invention of printing, disseminated new philosophies.
New movements dissenting from Rome, arose, especially in Bohemia with Hus, but also in Holland with the Lollards and in England with Wyclif. They were savagely repressed, but were to spread to all the Germanic North. This period ended in the first half of the sixteenth century with Luther and his followers and the division of the West into countless protesting sects. The so-called 'Reformation' which largely concerned the Germanic northern half of Western Europe was attractive to the rulers of the north. It meant that they could take over the power of the Catholic Popes, becoming absolute rulers by divine authority, as they imagined, as the Popes had imagined before them. This movement was to set the West on the path to the atheism of modern times.
THE SIXTH DAY OF WESTERN HISTORY c. 1550 - c. 1800
Now began a period of 'Wars of Religion', which quite naturally led to the atheist movement of discovery and 'science', leading to the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. It also saw the Age of 'Reason', the so-called 'Enlightenment' of 'Neo-Classicism', the renewal of Greek and Roman paganism, which had slaughtered the Orthodox martyrs of Rome and all the Orthodox West of the first centuries. This age saw the concentration of power in the hands of absolute monarchs, called therefore 'absolutists'.
By reaction this in turn culminated in the Freemasons' French Revolution with its two million deaths in wars, genocides and atheism. To this day France has still not recovered from those events which provided a model for all other atheist revolutions around the world. To this day France still venerates in its Capital the ghastly remains of the result of its Revolution, Napoleon. Unlike Chalemagne, he crowned himself, snatching his diadem from the hands of his imprisoned Pope. One of the most bloodthirsty demons in the history of the Western world, he became a model for all later tyrants.
THE SEVENTH DAY OF WESTERN HISTORY c. 1800 - c. 2050
The nineteenth century lay the foundations for subsequent industrial development throughout the Western and Westernised world. Its theories of progress, its naive and superstitious belief in the all-saving powers of science and technology, its disbelief in God and therefore God's creation, man and the environment, led to the westernisation of the world.
'Humanist' but in fact man-hating, this modern, but in fact archaic and neo-pagan, 'democratic' West spread through its blood-soaked Empires, World Wars and genocides. The Western philosophies of Capitalism, Fascism, Communism and Freudism, that is, institutional greed, hatred, envy and lust, the Concentration Camp, the Atom Bomb, mass abortion and the threat of holocaust, were thus globalised. They lead us to the present day; the barbarians have re-entered the city.
CONCLUSION: THE END OF HISTORY?
With globalisation in place, some have spoken of the end of history. But history can only truly come to an end if the world comes to an end. This of course is possible. Perhaps the seventh age of Western history, now become World history, is indeed soon to come to an end, as the West drives itself to the self-destruction of its Apocalypse. Thus the seventh day will be followed by the eighth day, that is eternity.
But perhaps this is not to be, perhaps the West will repent by returning to the way of thought and way of life of its saints of the first centuries, those who at present it so denies and despises. The eighth day will then be preceded first by a period of repentance and return to the Orthodox bases of Western civilisation. It is these bases which have for so long been forgotten and buried by the West and yet haunt it as a ghost haunts the guilty conscience of one who has killed his own father. In its parricide, the West is like unto the Prodigal Son who still wavers and falters in repentance and as yet prefers to dine with swine.
The choice then is clear: Apocalypse or Repentance.
Fr Andrew Phillips
Joannicus the Great