This twenty-ninth issue of Orthodox England is much concerned with dates and questions of England and Europe, Orthodox and Non-Orthodox - not unlike the concerns of the secular world at the time of writing.
On the one hand this issue contains the second and concluding part of our Life of St Boniface, the English Apostle of the Germanies, 'the Greatest Englishman', martyred twelve hundred and fifty years ago, on 5 June 754. This was 150 years after the repose of both the Apostles of the English, St Gregory the Great and St Augustine of Canterbury (+ 604). It was St Boniface who brought northern Europe under the sway of the Apostolic Roman Orthodox See, out of the hands of the barbarian Franks.
Unfortunately, he was not to know that three hundred years after his martyrdom, nine hundred and fifty years ago, on 15 July 1054, the selfsame Franks, under their leader Humbert, were to separate the Roman Papacy from the Orthodox Church. That symbolic date was tragically to lead to the separation of the whole of Western Europe, and then the whole Western world, from the Orthodox Church. For their seizure of Roman Apostolic power was to become definitive - unto this day.
One of the very first results of 1054 was the slaughter on another historic date - that of 14 October 1066. This date marks the anniversary of 'the Greatest Defeat' ever suffered by England and the English - that at the Battle of Senlac, known as Hastings, a day when English - and Welsh and Scottish and Irish - flags should be flown at half-mast. For that defeat affected not only England, but all the Isles, whose early purity and spiritual unity we hear of in our section 'From the Depths of the Isles'.
The defeat of 1066 was to affect not only England and all the Isles, but indeed much of the world. This is made clear in the extract we publish by an American historian who asks the question 'What if?' (the English had won at Hastings). As another recent historian has put it, 'Britain made the modern world'. All would agree that the making of the modern world would certainly have been different, had Hastings been an English victory and not a defeat. In certain respects, that Britain made the modern world may be something to be proud of, but in other respects it is also something to be ashamed of: whatever languages Antichrist will speak, modern English will be the main one. All the more reason to cultivate a beautiful and different liturgical English for our services.
And in thinking of the invasion and defeat of England in 1066, from which this country has never recovered, one cannot help but think of another historic date, nearly 400 years after the Papal Schism - 29 May 1453. This was the date of the invasion and defeat of Europe which took place in 1453. This was when Muslim forces, having crossed from Asia, occupied the Christian Capital of Europe at New Rome, Constantinople, which they barbarously renamed Istanbul. The defeat and occupation of Europe at Constantinople was itself just another later result of 1054. A Europe faithful to the Orthodox Church, would never have allowed Muslims to occupy the City.
Indeed, 1453 would never have happened if the Muslims had not been aided and abetted in their occupation of Orthodox Europe by Roman Catholic Europe. That Europe had undermined Constantinople after its barbarous sacking of the City on 13 April 1204. As they tore to pieces the altar and icon-screen in the Cathedral of the Holy Wisdom and sat harlots on the Patriarch's throne, little wonder that the Eastern Roman Christians came to prefer the mercy and kindness of Muslims to the barbarism of certain Roman Catholics (1). Although on Bright Tuesday, 13 April 2004, the eight hundredth anniversary of the sacking of 1204, the Greek Patriarch Bartholomew accepted the apology of Pope John-Paul II, it was 800 years too late to do anything other than say words.
For whatever the words (and not acts) for something 800 years old, modern 'politically correct' Western Europe will do nothing to remove the Muslim invaders from modern Constantinople and indeed did its level best to prevent it happening on two more recent occasions. Firstly, one hundred and fifty years ago, in 1854, through siding with Turkey in the Crimean War, when the Cardinal of Paris Mgr Sibour (later murdered by a priest in a sordid affair) wrote:
'The war which France is starting with Russia is not a political war, but a holy war; it is not a war of state against state, of a people against a people, but purely a religious war ... The true reason for this war is in the need to cast off the heresy of Photius, to crush it, to trample it underfoot; such is the open aim of this crusade, such was the aim of all the crusades, even though those who took part did not recognise it' (2).
The second occasion was more recent when, through exporting the mass murderer Lenin by sealed train and so fomenting the Russian Revolution of 1917, the West guaranteed that Russia would not free Constantinople, as the Russian monarchy had planned in 1914. Indeed, the West guaranteed a bleak future for itself throughout the rest of the twentieth century. Yes, the last liturgy in the Church of the Holy Wisdom has not yet been completed.
And whatever crocodile tears are shed over 1204, the modern West will certainly do nothing to prevent the illegal occupation of Palestine and see its Orthodox population expelled all over the world. It will do nothing to prevent the thirty years of the illegal invasion and occupation of northern Cyprus by Muslims and their desecration of its churches and monasteries. It will do nothing to stop its own theft of countless Orthodox churches in Croatia, Bosnia, Slovakia and the Ukraine and the continuing propagation of the fraud of Uniatism. And the modern West will certainly stand by while Muslim terrorists and drug-runners occupy and pillage southern Serbia - 150 churches destroyed so far:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! ... Ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres ... That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation ... Woe unto you, lawyers! For ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.
(Luke 11, 44-52).
604. 754. 1054. 1204. 1854. All anniversaries this year. Of course we cannot wind back the clock: we cannot physically reverse history. But on the other hand, we can reverse conquests spiritually, we can win the spiritual Hastings and the spiritual Constantinople, the spiritual England and the spiritual Europe, we can defilioquize, denormanize and dewesternize - but only by starting with ourselves and uncovering the True West that lies beneath.
As the Cardinal of Paris rightly said, none of the problems that we have listed above is racial or political. The Normans, for example, were racially akin to the English. And there are a fair number of Albanians and even some Turks, who are Orthodox. Just as you can find English and Germans, and people of Serbian and Greek blood, who are Muslims, like the Greek Cypriot singer, Cat Stevens, now Youssef Islam (3). No, all these problems are spiritual and religious problems, they are problems of spiritual impurity, of spiritual blindness. 1054 and 1066, 1204 and 1453 are all dates which mark invasions of Europe, not primarily military ones, but spiritual ones.
And the date 2004 is no different. The battle today, our battle, is the battle for spiritual vision, for spiritual purity, the cleansing of the hearts of Englishmen and Europeans, of Asians and Australasians, of Americans and Africans, that the doors of perception may be opened, that the eyes of souls may see, that we may be transfigured. As one nineteenth-century American wrote of a very different battle:
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born
Julia Ward Howe,
Battle Hymn of the Republic
2 Quoted on Page 79 of Un Precurseur: Wladimir Guettée by Jean-Paul Besse, Lavardac, 1992 (Translation by the Editor).
3 The Greek-Cypriot immigration to Great
Britain has produced three 'pop-stars': the notorious Cat Stevens, George
Michael and Peter Andre. Apart from that it has also produced no fewer
than six Anglican clergy for the London diocese of the Church of England
alone - but to my knowledge not a single Greek Orthodox priest.
(c) Orthodox England - Published within the English Deanery of the Church Outside Russia: with the blessing of the Very Reverend Mark, Archbishop of Great Britain and Ireland.