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The Forest and the Trees

Introduction: Decadence

It has fallen to our lot to be born into an incredibly decadent period of history, when nations slaughter one another. Believers do not do this, for hearts of faith do not kill others. However, this decadence, and this word means ‘fall’, is precisely a loss of faith, caused solely by the illusions brought on by material benefits, and it has spread everywhere. The Orthodox world, as the only one which has faithfully adhered to the Christian Creed and so kept the integrity of the Faith, was naturally the first to undergo this attack of decadence from the evil one. Much later have come attacks on the less threatening Protestant/Roman Catholic world, which lost its wholeness nearly a millennium ago.

In the Smaller Part of the Orthodox World

As regards decadence in the smaller and so more vulnerable part of the Orthodox world, it had begun to fall captive to interference and ‘Balkanisation’ through Gallic intrigues and Anglican freemasonry, after the New Roman Centre had fallen to the Ottomans in 1453. This was itself caused by the sack of the Centre by Western apostates in 1204. As a result, this part of the Church has often been attacked by decadence in recent history, the victim of Western-inspired nationalism. And what is nationalism? It is merely an attachment to the world, worldliness.

After 1948 this part of the Orthodox world continued to suffer, now from the tyranny of ‘liberalism’ and its machinations. In that year a US-organised coup removed Patriarch Maximos who was a traditional Orthodox. Supposedly, he ‘resigned’ due to ‘ill health’, yet he lived for another 24 years, dying in exile in Switzerland in 1972. His replacement was Patriarch Athenagoras, who had been the Greek Archbishop in the USA and appeared to accept everything, except authentic Orthodoxy.

Patriarch Athenagoras was a US citizen and President Truman let him fly for his enthronement to his NATO ally Turkey in the Presidential aeroplane. Such facts explain much about the increasingly aberrant behaviour and pretensions of some since then. Parts of the present Patriarchate of Constantinople appears to be a colony of the US/EU, which, directly or indirectly, further the aims and designs of those hostile to the integrity of the Orthodox Church and Faith.

In the Greater Part of the Orthodox World

As regards decadence in the greater part of the Orthodox world, in 1917 it fell to the captivity of Western liberalism which brought with it militant atheism, literally imported from the West with Lenin. So Moscow the Third Rome, the then 464 year-old Centre of the Orthodox world, became the Third International. With the Centre lost, the smaller part of the Orthodox world fell entirely captive to Western interests. And as for the Russian emigration, it was paralysed, losing its balance and falling captive to personality and political cults and so to division.

In the last part of my life it has been my consolation to see the Centre slowly begin to reconstitute itself. I hope that in some very little way we have helped this process of unity. One of our greatest difficulties in the struggle for unity has been the struggle against those tendencies which see only the details, but no overall picture, those who see only trees, but, distracted, cannot see the great Orthodox forest. Only when they are able to see the forest, will they be able to accept that the source of unity of the great forest is in today’s Centre, the Russian Orthodox Church.

Three Distractions from the Forest

For example, recently there have been those who forgot the forest and were distracted into thinking that the enemy of Orthodoxy was Communism. However, Communism was not the overall enemy; this enemy was materialism, of which atheistic Communism is only the most primitive and least subtle form. In reality, Consumerism is far worse as a form of materialism, because it paralyses by creating spiritual enslavement, unlike Communism, which creates resistance to spiritual enslavement. And Consumerism is precisely the ideology of the post-1945 Western world. The result of this distraction of seeing Communism as the enemy has been that after the recent fall of Communism, some tiny groups have left the forest for sects.

Less recently, some forty years ago one group in North America was established by the then still captive Centre as ‘autocephalous’ or ‘independent’. This was only a temporary autocephaly, allowed only by economy of the canons, because it was the Cold War and American national pride and politics would accept nothing less than autocephaly. Knowing that such autocephaly would only be temporary, the Centre kept its Cathedral and jurisdiction in North America, biding its time until the end of the Cold War. It waited for nationalistic autocephalists and others to be replaced by the canonically-minded, so returning to the forest. Then lost unity would return once more, as it had existed before in 1917. Despite strong vested interests in this distraction of autocephaly, the day of the recovery of lost unity in North America is now close.

Before even this, some eighty years ago, one group in Western Europe broke away from the Centre, also seeking an ‘apolitical’ status. In reality, it too was infected by Russophobia which is only the self-justification for lack of canonicity. After the 1920s, in the 1960s for example, we saw a further case of this in England, and then elsewhere among individuals who ‘went to the Greeks’. There has recently been another outbreak of the same divisive and politically-motivated distraction in England. This Western European group challenges materialism by its ‘superior’ ‘spiritualism’, in other words, by its disincarnate Gnosticism. However, this is not the Church, this is merely another distraction, the snobbish, anti-spiritual illusion of European cultural pride, ‘we are too holy to be part of the Centre’. Despite strong vested interests in this distraction of ‘spiritualism’, the day of the recovery of lost unity in Western Europe is also now close.

Conclusion: The Same Aim

Overall, it can be said that although different parts of the Reunited Russian Church which form the Centre sometimes have different approaches towards the struggle for Orthodox unity, our aim is the same. However, as we work for united Russian Orthodox Metropolias in one united Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in one united Russian Orthodox Church, it means that we must accept those who might disagree with us on some details. For example, even if the price of unity is allowing the weak to use a defective reckoning for the fixed feasts, as did St John of Shanghai, so be it. We must patiently love them into following the Tradition, coercion will avail us nothing.

6/19 December 2011
St Nicholas of Myra

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