On Matthewite Ecclesiology

Bp. Matthew of Bresthena, founder of the Matthewites

Elder Ephraim of Philotheou

At St. Basil’s Skete in the seclusion of his cell, Geronda [Joseph the Hesychast] often knew what was happening in the outside world better than those who take pains to find out about such things. One day, Fr. Matthew, who was the  leader of the group of zealots to whom Geronda belonged, began professing some extremist positions. He was an accomplished speaker that enticed many with his opinions. But when Geronda heard those views of his, he became concerned and began to pray to God about him. After awhile, God revealed the truth to Geronda in a vision:

I saw that there were two roads that the Fathers had mapped out: the cenobitic and the ascetical. And I saw that brother was following neither the one nor the other road, but said, “I will go here!” Then he went downhill through a thicket that descended to the sea. And there was someone beside him who said to me: “Do you see him? The road he took will take him to the depths!”

At the same time, I also saw that I was at St. Basil’s, up in the skete. I saw a dreadful fire burning the entire skete. So I said with grief: “Who lit this fire which will burn down the entire skete?” Then someone told me: “Fr. Matthew lit it, trying to support his way of thinking!”

The vision made Geronda realize that things were not well with Fr. Matthew’s way of life, and it made Geronda question also his ecclesiastical stance. (My Elder Joseph the Hesychast, pp. 164-165)

Comments

  1. And again, what elder of Orthodox provenance turns to dreams and visions for the truth instead of the teaching of the fathers? This is why Meteopolitan Petros of Astoria believed Fr Joseph had fallen to delusion, for he began to insist on the correctness of his visions, and even bound Fr Arsenios to hold to them as well, though he doubted. All the fathers teach us to flee from visions, and they also teach us that if, out of humility we refuse to accept a vision from God, he does not hold it against us, but is pleased by our humility. How then could Fr Joseph force his visions under pain of obedience upon his disciples when Christ Himself does not require this obedience? We do not follow dreams or visions. We follow Christ. And if that requires us to be more faithful to him than to the sensibilities of so-called elders, so be it. Think about it.

  2. Daniel,

    Thanks for commenting. However, Elder Joseph did not only follow dreams, he followed the path of the Fathers, so it’s not an either/or in his case. You asked ‘what Elder follows dreams?’

    In the Life of Saint Hypatius of Rufinianus, we find the following account which is very similar to Elder Joseph’s foreboding vision:

    When Nestorius came from Antioch in order to become Patriarch of the illustrious Imperial City of Constantinople (he was brought there by Dionysius, who had become magister militum per orientem), Saint Hypatius saw in a vision, at the moment the holy Church of the Capital some laymen installed him (Nestorius) upon the throne. And immediately a voice announced, “In three and a half years this tare will be uprooted.” Thus Saint Hypatius began to say to certain persons and particularly to the brethren of his monastery, “I have great anxiety over this man who has come, my children, for I have seen that he will turn aside from the faith; but he will reign only three and a half years.” Thus when he passed by the Saint’s monastery, Nestorius did not wish to go to meet him—he had accidentally learned what the Saint had said—although he had hitherto visited everywhere, including all the monasteries and Church dignitaries and abbots, as he made his way to the Capital. When he had entered the Capital and had become Patriarch, he immediately sent clergymen to Saint Hypatius with the message, “Go say to that dreamer: ‘I shall reign for twenty years in the City and where are your dreams?”’ Saint Hypatius replied to them, “Say to the Patriarch that if it comes to pass as I discerned it, it was a revelation; if not, it was a dream and I, as a man, imagined it.”

    Well, we all know how that went. And we also all know how it went with the Matthewites; his teaching is still burning down the Greek Old Calendarist movement.

    You should read Elder Joseph’s life for yourself so you don’t believe the incorrect notions that he only followed dreams and that he bound his spiritual children to his private visions. Father Arsenios was free to go and Elder Joseph offered him the opportunity to do so. Your facts are incorrect.

    Lastly, we have a spiritual tradition to never seek after and not trust wholeheartedly in visions, amen; however you seek to put them away altogether and that’s also incorrect. We have myriads of Saints who were truly gifted in that regard, as a matter of fact, the revelation to teach Christ to Gentiles came from a vision (Acts 10:9-16).

    I would suggest that you guys really be more careful about charging holy men with delusion.

    in ICXC,
    Maximus

  3. Dear friend,

    I appreciate you taking the time to respond. However, there are some misconceptions that need clearing up. Unfortunately, the Followers of the Holy Archbishop Matthew (Whose Relics are Myrrh Streaming to this day) are often slandered amongst even other Old Calendarists. So let me give you some facts from the book “Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece: a Brief History and Commentary” by Fr Stephen Fraser.

    http://www.svetosavskasrbija.com/sites/default/files/book_file/genuine_orthodox_church_of_greece_goc.pdf

    Firstly: There is no such thing as “Matthewite” ecclesiology. If you want to categorize this strict stance taken against innovation and willful schism of the New Calendar Church of Greece (Which was self-admitted by Archimandrite Chrysostom Papadopolous one year before he was elected Archbishop of Athens in 1924, the details of which I can provide) then the best categorization for it is “Athonite” ecclesiology. Let it not be forgotten that Fr Matthew Karpathakis was an Athonite monk who was the Spiritual Father of 3 monasteries of the Holy Mountain, was made an Archimandrite by St. Nectarios of Aegina and maintained a close correspondence with him. When he was asked by some of his disciples in 1920 whether St Nectarios was a saint, he told them to pray, and he went off alone. He returned, and answered in the affirmative and named one of his monks after him.

    Now, let’s look at facts: The ecclesiology of Archbishop Matthew was Characterized by the fact that he taught the State Church of Greece was in actual schism, not merely POTENTIALLY schismatic for adopting the New Calendar, and therefore the grace of the sacraments did not abide in it. But was this teaching particular to him? No, it was not. In fact, it was the teaching of over 400 Athonite fathers.

    From the above mentioned book:

    “* 1925; On September l (O.C.) during the Feast of the Exultation of the Precious Cross,
    the Cross appears in the heavens over the Church of Saint John the Theologian on Mount
    Hymettos, outside of Athens, where two thousand faithful had gathered to celebrate the
    Vigil. The police, who were sent by Archbishop Chrysostom of Athens to break up the
    service and arrest the priest, were converted.
    For the frst time, the invented theory that the New Calendarists were only “potentially”
    but not “actually” schismatic makes its appearance in the writings of Athanasios
    Danielidou, an Athonite monk. The community of True Orthodox Christians publishes
    many booklets and articles condemning this theory. Among the books published are:
    “Distomos Romphaia” (i.e., “Two-Edged Sword”) and “Apostasias Elegchos” (i’e.,
    “Apostasy’s Censwe”).
    * 1925-1935: Some 800 communities of those who follow the traditional Orthodox
    calendar are established throughout Greece.
    * W.On Holy and Great Thursday, 450 Hieromonks and monks on Mount Athos led
    by Fr. Arsenios Kotteas, sign “The Sacred League of Athonite Zealot Monks,” a
    declaration for the defense ofOrthodoxy against the new calendar.
    In the same year, the Sacred League publishes its Constitutional Charter under the
    heading, “The Anchor of Orthodoxy.” This group which openly declares that the New
    Calendarists are fully schismatic in both “potentiality” and “actuality” also condemns the
    new theory of Athanasios Danielidou.
    The Holy Greek Orthodox Community of True Orthodox Christians assembles at a
    clergy-laity council in Athens at which they support the teachings defined by the
    Athonite Fathers, that the New Calendarists of Greece are fully schismatic.”

    So we see this perspective was the one that prevailed on Mt Athos which is why all the Athonites supported and followed Archbishop Matthew for some time. In addition, it was not Fr. Matthew alone who was preaching amongst the people:

    ” 1927-1932: Many Zealot Athonite Hieromonks travel to Greece and abroad to help the
    Traditionalists with their sacred struggle. Of these Zealot Athonites, the most prominent
    figures are: Archimandrite Matthew (Karpathakis), Hieromonk Arsenios (Kotteas),
    Hieromonk Eugene (Lemonis), Hieromonk Gerasimos (Agiodionysiotis), Hieromonk
    Parthenios (Skourlis), Hieromonk Artemios (Ouzounopoulos), Hieromonk Anthony
    (Koutsonikolas), Hieromonk Gideon (Papanikolaou), Hieromonk Nectarios (Katsaros),
    Hieromonk Artemios (Xenophontinos), and Hieromonk Akakios (Papas).”

    Now this is to demonstrate the Phronema of the People and the Monks of Athos, the guards on the watchtower.This was their response, these holy elders many of which lived in hesychia. ALL 450 of the holy fathers and elders asserted this ecclesiology of the Church of Greece becoming definitively schismatic through her own fault. It wasn’t the invention of one man. And it is for this reason you need to understand his context. He was renowned through Greece and all the way to the Holy land for being a holy and zealous preacher of piety. Patriarch Damianos of Jerusalem himself had heard of him and was glad to have him in the holy land, where he stayed for a while before the calendar controversy. He was just as much a holy elder of his time as Monk Joseph the cave-dweller was, if not more so. Plus, in stark contrast to the vision of Monk Joseph, is the ACTUAL end of Archbishop Matthew: When he died, it was in the middle of summer, and it was humid. His body did not undergo rapid decomposition, but remained limp and pliable. Holy Myrrh gushed from his feet, and a sweet fragrance attended his funeral. Some years later, the Matthewite Synod exhumed his body and it was found to be incorrupt. Quite contrary to the visions of Monk Joseph, God glorified himself in Archbishop Matthew and worked many miracles of prophecy and healing during his lifetime and after his death, even condescending to give his body and funeral the marks of sanctity. All this and more can be read here:

    http://genuineorthodoxchurch.com/The_Life_of_Saint_Matthew_the_New_Confessor.pdf

    “Here is a list of some of the councils that anathematized
    the new calendar, as well as the councils that simply condemned the new calendar as a
    cause of schism and discord, or simply mentioned the new calendar and declared it
    incompatible with Orthodoxy. All of the councils prior to 1924 issued anathemas. After
    1924 ihe councils condemned and applied the historical anathemas to the contemporary
    new calendarists.

    BEFORE THE CALENDAR CHANGE
    I . Pan-Orthodox Council of Constantinople presided over by Pat. Jeremias (1583)
    2. Pan-Orthodox council of constantinople presided over by Pat. Jeremias (1587)
    3. Pan-Orthodox council of constantinople presided over by Pat. Jeremias (1593)
    4. Regional council of Jerusalem presided over by Pat. Dositheus (1670)
    5. Regional Council of Constantinople presided over by Pat. Agathangelus (1827)
    6. Regional Council of Constantinople presided over by Pat. Anthimus (1895)
    7. Regional council of constantinople presided over by Pat. Joachim (1902)
    g. Regional council of Jerusalem presided over by Pat. Damianus (1903)
    g. Regional council of Petrograd presided over by Met. Makarius? (1903)
    10. Rigional Council of Bucharest presided over by Metropolitan’:’? (1903)
    11. Regional Council of Athens presided over by Met. Procopius (1903)
    12. Regional council ofconstantinople presided over by Pat. Joachim (1904)
    13. Regional Council of Athens presided over by Germanus of Demetrias (1921)

    AFTER THE CALENDAR CHANGE
    14. Regional Council of Alexandria presided over by Pat. Photius (1924)
    15. Regional Council of Antioch presided over by Pat. Gregory 0924)
    16. Regional Council of Jerusalem presided over by Pat. Damianus (1924)
    17. Regional Council of Cyprus presided over by over Abp. Cytil(1924)
    18. Regional Council of Kailovitsy presided over by Met’ Anthony Khrapovitsky (1926?)
    19. Regional Council of Serbia, presided over by the Pafriarch
    20. Regional council of Athens presided over by Germanus of Demefias (1935)
    21. Regional council of Athens presided over by Germanus of the cyclades (1938)
    22. Regional council of Athens presided over by Abp. Matthew of Athens (1949)
    23. Regional Council of Athens presided over by Met. Chrysostom of Florina (1950)
    24. Regional Council of Athens presided over by Abp. Agathangelus (1957)
    25. Regional Council of New York presided over by Met. Philaret (1974)
    26. Regional Council of Athens presided over by Auxentios Pastras (1974)
    27. Regional council ofAthens presided over by Abp. Andreas ofAthens (1985)
    28. Regional Council of Athens presided over by Auxentios Pastras (1985)”

    So, I just thought I would inform you of the facts and dispel the image of the mean old man you seem desirous to paint, especially by choosing that rather unflattering picture of him on your link. Why not use one more representative of the man during his life and not when he was in the midst of great sickness, such as this:

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_NiJ0eLrBs0E/S5yyeDqE5sI/AAAAAAAAAcM/3LdBbmmNomc/s640/1940.jpg

    Anyhow, have a nice day,

    Sincerely,

    Daniel.

  4. Daniel,

    Thank you for the Matthewite apologetic. Don’t agree with any of it, BUT I welcome it here nonetheless. Matthewite ecclesiology paints itself into a corner it just can’t get out of. For instance, V. Moss states:

    “The two bishops justified their separation from, and condemnation of, the two metropolitans on the grounds of the 15th Canon of the First-and-Second Council of Constantinople (861), which allows one to separate from a bishop even before a conciliar decision has been made about him if he pronounces heresy publicly. But what heresy did Metropolitan Chrysostom confess? Hesitating about whether the new calendarists are inside or outside the Church is not a heresy. In any case, for complete consistency, the cut-off point should not be considered to be the introduction of the new calendar in 1924, but the first official proclamation of the heresy of ecumenism in 1920. But in that case the Ecumenical Patriarchate must have lost grace as early as 1920… And in that case the whole Orthodox Church lost grace, because no Local Church broke communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate…

    Such are the absurdities and contradictions to which the ultra-strict Matthewite position leads…”

    Who received the schismatic bishops of the State Church of Greece back into Orthodoxy???

    I follow the thought of ROCOR and its saintly hierarchs on the New Calendar: “it’s a mistake but not an error that puts one outside the Church”. See the various posts on this site for their view. One thing we can both agree on is that a tree is known by it’s fruits. Thanks for the info, I will research into it.

    in ICXC,
    Maximus

  5. Daniel,

    I also attempted to change the pic. There is a glitch that allows the old pic to display along with the new one.

  6. Dear friend,

    I appreciate the allowance of a variance of opinion. I myself am not a Matthewite, But I am an Old Calendarist. I also need to underscore that the picture painted by Vladimir Moss is a bit of a Caricaturization. The Matthewite view is best expressed in their own publications which contain their official position:

    “In the Holy Synod’s official publication, The Herald of the Genuine Orthodox, vol. 127, July, 1988, pp. 214, we read the following:

    “The leaders of that headless and dead body, cruelly abandoned by Chrysostom, former Met. of Florina, adduce many unfounded and ridiculous arguments to support the headlessness of their jurisdiction. They are supposedly trying to prove that there are occasions when a body may be headless, that is to say, without a head, brain, and mind…

    “As one such occasion, they presented injudiciously that confused and turbulent period immediately after the imposition of the New Calendar when the Genuine Orthodox Christian Old Calendarists apparently had no bishops.

    ” But that occasion cannot be compared with the real reasons why the wretched jurisdiction of Chrysostom remained headless so many years. The reason is that the [New Calendar] schism did not happen automatically; it took years for it to become official.
    ” After the explosion of the imposition of the NC, a great confusion and disorder came upon the faithful. In this confused and hazy condition, Orthodox Hierarchs are considered not only those who did not accept the innovation, but also as many of the bishops who protested against the innovation and who strove to form a Synod to return to the Old Calendar, even if opportunely they had not separated themselves…Moreover, when grievous wolves rush upon a flock of many sheep in the night at deepest dark, some of the sheep and shepherds are torn apart by the beast, others are scattered hither and yon! No one can condemn any remaining sheep who are left without a shepherd for a season. On account of the confusion and the darkness of the night it was not possible for sheep and shepherds even to gather together, let alone for shepherds to recognize the sheep, and for them to know their shepherd!”

    The point here is that even the Matthewites admit that in a time of confusion, you just can’t write everybody off. The question is, does that time of confusion extend to the present day, and what are we to think of those groups and bodies outside of Greece, which was the immediate CONTEXT for their encyclicals (And the Encyclical of Met Chrysostom in 1950) Which called the New Calendarists schismatics and graceless.

    “Matthewite” ecclesiology was the position of the League of Zealot Monks of Athos, which condemned the notion of “Potential” schism and condemned the New Calendarists of Greece as ACTUALLY Schismatic.

    This is an historic fact, and Fr. Joseph the Cave-Dweller was among them at this time, so it is not like he was ignorant.

  7. Anon,

    Thanks for your comments.

    You said: “After the explosion of the imposition of the NC, a great confusion and disorder came upon the faithful. In this confused and hazy condition, Orthodox Hierarchs are considered not only those who did not accept the innovation, but also as many of the bishops who protested against the innovation and who strove to form a Synod to return to the Old Calendar, even if opportunely they had not separated themselves…”

    This reminds me of the nuanced theory of “potential schism”. So are you saying, that according to the Matthewite view, the bishops that were on the supposedly schismatic New Calendar for 11 years were still Orthodox? I also know that Matthewites even disagree amongst themselves on some of this so I wonder about an article from ’88. Why was Bp. Matthew so adamant that this “zone of confusion” did not still exist after 1935?

    http://www.trueorthodoxy.org/schismatics_matthewites_eight_errors.shtml

    ‘We may obtain a broad view of his sentiments from his 1934 “Preface” in which V. Bp. Matthew insisted that the New Calendarists were “antichrists” and “seven times anathema”. Furthermore:

    “Those who govern the Church of Greece today have, together with the clergy who follow them, persisted in error, cacodoxy, schism, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the heresy of the Papist Calendar! And they have led the people into error and become ‘heresiarch’ hierarchs according to the divine Fathers.”

    The 1944 “Pastoral Encyclical” provides us with a more precise exposition of his ecclesiology:

    “We are convinced that, from the moment the schism befell the Church of Christ through the introduction of the Papal Calendar ,

    1) the Churches which accepted this innovation became schismatic ,

    2) and likewise, that local Churches which concelebrate and in general pray with the innovating Churches themselves bear the same liability’

    _____

    Anon,

    I’d also like to add that Elder Joseph admits that he was in the minority on the Holy Mountain when he held what you and Daniel call the “Athonite view”. I can even legitimately claim that I hold the authentic Athonite view since I’m still in communion with them; I just think that calling this view “Athonite” when only a minority of zealots held to it for a time is a bit ridiculous. Whatever the case, the ROCOR hierarchs took the wisest course in my opinion:

    1961: “Our Church keeps the Old Calendar and considers the introduction of the New Calendar to be a mistake. Nevertheless, according to the policies of Patriarch Tikhon of blessed memory, we never broke spiritual communion with the canonical Churches in which the new calendar had been introduced.” (Vladimir Moss, The Orthodox Church at the Crossroads , Ch. IV “The Lifting of the Anathemas [1955-1970]”, The Orthodox Foundation of St. Michael, Guildford [U.K.], 1992; p.119)

    I won’t even get into why the Greek Old Calendarists (Matthewites + Florinites) would seek communion with a ROCOR that was in communion with the EP and the State church of Greece.

    thanks for sharing your views and info.

    in ICXC,
    Maximus

  8. Daniel,

    I’ve been doing some research and I came across this:

    V. Moss, New Zion in Babylon III, p. 104 – “An especially active role in the struggle was played by Hieromonk Matthew (Karpathakis), who in 1927, in response to a Divine vision, founded the women’s Monastery of the Mother of God at Keratea, Attica, which soon became the largest monastery in Greece.” (Bishop Andrew of Patras, Matthaios [Matthew], Athens, 1963, pp. 50-66)

    The Matthewite stronghold was actually founded on the basis of a vision.

  9. I thought it worthwhile to show the character of the man in his teaching:

    Finally something edifying and non-polemical which really Demonstrates bishop Matthews love for God and not controversial:

    The teachings of His Beatitude Archbishop MATTHEW

    * Blessed is the man who has volunteered to hold and keep until the end of his life our holy Orthodox faith, the faith of the one Church of Christ and our mother, the Catholic and Apostolic Church.

    * Blessed is he who suffers with patience the various councils, prison, exile, and other forms of persecution. He will receive the crown and will be numbered among the martyrs and confessors.

    * Brothers, love God, that ye may have eternal life; prefer nothing to the love of God, so that when he comes in his glory, you will have earned rest with all the saints.

    * Martyrdom, my brothers, is not judged only by actions , but also by intention; is not only a condemnation to death, according to which the martyr receives a crown; but, from the moment when he has the intention, or gives testimony when he faces up to any danger, damage, contempt, humiliation, then he is a martyr and is ranked among the martyrs; From the moment when the faithful Orthodox Christian is tested and persecuted because of his Christian name, he shares in the sufferings of Christ.

    * Dear brothers, think about how fleeting our life is and its end. How much longer will we have a carefree heart, finding love and vanity and a lie? The days of man – they are like the straw in the wind. Think about your last days, and never sin. There are four last things men will face: death, judgment, hell, heaven.

    * Preserve my children, patience, compassion, wisdom, gentleness, humility, silence, fasting, prayer. Prayer gives humility, modesty and obedience. He who keeps these reasons that lead to the imitation of Christ, provides for the salvation of his immortal soul; he who despises them, despises his own salvation.

  10. Daniel,

    Thanks again for visiting and commenting with some edifying words from Bp. Matthew.

    The only thing I would have you come away with from our interaction is for you to realize that in the history of the Church, it is always those reputed to be great, holy, and charismatic priests, ascetics and theologians that ending up rending the Church. Rarely do the ungifted, well-known charlatans and cowardly cause schisms or heresies.

    Let us pray for one another, brother.

    Maximus

  11. I agree with what you said!

    So let us apply a very “simple” test. Both St. Augustine and St. Jerome and many others teach that there is NO Schism which does not create for itself a heresy to justify the schism.

    Between you and I, there is a gulf from schism.

    Let us offer our justifications for being on our respective sides. Whoever defends their side of the schism with heresy is the schismatic.

    Does that sound feasible?

    For example, a clear schism was the Donatists, they justified their schism through an erroneous and heretical notion that the MORAL WORTHINESS of the Minister effects his ability to offer true Mysteries. It was on this basis that they formed a schism. Such an understanding is heretical, because it leads to schism. Therefore, the DOnatists were the true schismatics, because they used heresy to defend their schism.

    On my side, this is why I am with the Traditionalists:

    The new Calendar was Anathematized, both the Calendar itself and the paschalion. St. Theophan the recluse teaches that a person who does things that are anathematized separates himself from the Church (In his teaching on anathema). In addition, the 1920 Encyclical put out by the Ecumenical Patriarchate is tainted with heresy, when it says that both the heterodox and the Orthodox are fellow members of the one household of Christ. Now, this same encyclical said the first means of putting into EFFECT this new ecclesiology would be for all the Churches to share a common calendar!

    In this sense, the Calendar has dogmatic significance, because it is the rhythm by which we celebrate the liturgical year, and thus, those whom we celebrate feasts with we regard as having the same faith. The Papist Calendar (Both Festal and Paschalion) shows the people that the Church wants to do something NEW, to promote a NEW ecclesiology of Ecumenism, to Promote a love for all things Papal (Which is clearly seen in the way the Hierarchs of the State Church of Greece hobnob with the Pope!). In addition, it can be demonstrated that the Archbishop of Athens at the time of the Calendar Innovation willfully and knowingly entered into schism by the very act of adopting the new Calendar. HOW?

    Archbishop Chrysostomos of Athens was part of a committee put together in 1923 (When he was still a hieromonk) to investigate the calendar question. The State wanted to know what the Church had to say about the matter. This was the Committees Finding which was quoted to the Holy Synod of Greece in 1935 by the Three Hierarchs who broke with her for becoming schismatic:

    “Let us see what was the opinion given by this Commission on the new calendar:
    ‘Although all the Orthodox Churches are autocephalous in their internal
    administration, nevertheless, in that they are united to each other through the
    Dogmas and the Synodical decrees and Canons, none of them can separate itself off
    as an individual Orthodox Church and accept the new Church calendar without
    being considered Schismatic in relation to the others.’

    “Since his Beatitude the Archbishop of Athens has by his own signature declared
    himself to be a Schismatic, what need do we have of witnesses to demonstrate that
    he and the hierarchs who think like him have become Schismatics, in that they have
    split the unity of Orthodoxy through the calendar innovation and divided the
    Ecclesiastical and ethnic soul of the Greek Orthodox People?”

    So, what heresy have I introduced in defense of my position? None. Which traditions have I violated? None. Which canons were broken by maintaining the traditions? None. What Anathemas have I incurred? None.

    What about you?

  12. Daniel,

    You said: “So, what heresy have I introduced in defense of my position?”

    I’ll respond with the words of the great Elder Philotheos Zervakos:

    “Certain Old Calendarist zealots believe and think that the Mysteries are invalid without the [Old] Calendar and that with- out the [Old] Calendar there is no salvation. There is no greater heresy than this!”

    Again, if you believe that the Patriarchal Synod confessed heresy in 1920, and then fell under it’s own anathemas in 1924 and yet none of the Churches broke communion with her, including ROCOR, then, following the dictum “he who communicates with the excommunicate is excommunicated” to the letter as people who hold to your position is prone to do, the Church completely fell away. You just admitted that the Patriarchal Synod endorsed a heresy in the 1920s so the Calendar is nothing but an act of a Church already fallen, right? That is seriously problematic to your apostolic succession no matter what Old Calendarist synod you belong to.

    You seem to have made the Calendar a dogma, none of the Russian Synods, which included the likes of bishops like Sts. Tikhon of Moscow, John Maximovitch, Mets. Anthony Khrapovitsky, Anastassy and Philaret thought as you do, brother.

    You said that you’re with the traditionalists, well so am I. Except I’m with the sober ones who didn’t seek to condemn millions of Orthodox souls for the sins of a few pseudo-bishops.

    You said: “Which traditions have I violated? None. Which canons were broken by maintaining the traditions? None. What Anathemas have I incurred? None.”

    I’m always amazed at how the True Orthodox can feel so assured despite splintering into various sects that have deposed and anathematized one another since the very beginnings of the movement. Don’t you mourn over the lack of love, patience and condescension that is the source all that strife? And over the various mistakes of many of your bishops? If not, perhaps you should. Read Orthodox history of the twentieth century and weep brother, errors were made to the right and to the left with few staying on the Royal Path.

  13. Oh yeah! Would you guys stop wrenching that Archbishop Chrysostom of Athens quote out of context? Let’s look at what he said again:

    “none of them can separate itself off as an individual Orthodox Church and accept the new Church calendar without
    being considered Schismatic in relation to the others.”

    This gist of the statement is that he is speaking about one Local Church relative to the other Local Churches, right? The Archbishop is stressing the catholicity and unity of the Local Churches; one cannot, or at least should not, make major decisions unilaterally. Now let’s look at history: Which of the other Local Churches ever considered the State Church of Greece to schismatic because of the adoption of the New Calendar? None.

  14. Admin:

    Unfortunately, the Reverend Philotheos posits a mere red-herring. No one raises the Calendar to the level of Dogma. But insomuch as IT HAS BEEN USED IN SUPPORT OF HERESY, it is contaminated by heresy. And again, you miss a major point: It has been anathematized, both the festal portion and the Paschalion in the 16th century by Three Pan-Orthodox councils.

    Let us look at what St. Theophan the Recluse says about the nature of Anathema:

    “Thus, the Church excommunicates, expels from her midst (when it is said, “Anathema to so-and-so”, that means the same thing as, “So-and-so: out of here”), or anathematizes for the same reason that any society does so. And she is obliged to do this in self-preservation and to preserve her children from destruction. Therefore there is nothing blameworthy or incomprehensible about this present Rite. If anyone fears the act of anathema, let him avoid the teachings which cause one to fall under it. If anyone fears it for others, let him restore him to sound teaching. If you are Orthodox and yet you are not well disposed toward this act, then you are found to be contradicting yourself. But if you have already abandoned sound doctrine, then what business is it of yours what is done in the Church by those who maintain it? By the very fact that you have conceived a different view of things than that which is maintained in the Church, you have already separated yourself from the Church. It is not inscription in the baptismal records which makes one a member of the Church, but the spirit and content of one’s opinions. Whether your teaching and your name are pronounced as being under anathema or not, you already fall under it when your opinions are opposed to those of the Church, and when you persist in them. Fearful is the anathema. Leave off your evil opinions. Amen.”

  15. Daniel,

    Yes it has been used in support of heresy, however, no one said that in the anathemas. It was considered anathematized because it was a change. Which Local Church anathematized the New Calendar? Are you aware that some have suggested that the Sigillion is a forgery?

    Lastly, can we agree to just disagree?

  16. To the second Admin:

    Archbishop Chrysostomos considers HIMSELF schismatic by his own criterion, and those with him who either defended, remained silent, covered up or simply acquiesced to his act of schism became schismatic also. Why? Because of the various ways of participating in another’s sin:

    1. By Silence
    2. By concealment
    3. By Consent
    4. By Counsel
    5. By defense of the sin.

    When a bishop does any of these things in relation to another bishops heresy or schism he becomes a communicant in that heresy or schism. The New Calendar was first and foremost an act of schism the Archbishop of Athens and the Patriarch of Constantinople knowingly entered into. There is no avoiding this. That makes those who follow them in their deeds (compounded infinitely more now by the presence of us Old Calendarists pricking their ecclesiastical consciences AND their new heresy of ecumenism which was the OUTGROWTH and purpose of the calendar innovation) partakers in their condemnation.

  17. Daniel,

    It’s just one admin. It’s Maximus, the same one who has been in your exchanges here. Again, and again, what local churches deemed the Greek church schismatic prior to their “fall” as you understand it? None.

    Also, if the Ecumenical Patriarchal Synod promulgated a heresy in 1920, what difference does the New Calendar even make? None.

    Are you trying to convince me or yourself good brother?? Again, my view is that of the Russian Church (along with ALL the other local churches) on the issue and NOT the Greek Old Calendarist Encyclical of 1935. Read these carefully:

    St. Tikhon of Moscow (Russian Orthodox Church) – …[T]he Julian Calendar itself is not a dogma of faith of the Church and could, in theory and principle, be altered. The common consent of all the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches would be required in order to lawfully introduce the New Calendar.(New Zion in Babylon II by V. Moss p. 252-254)

    Met. Anthony Khrapovitsky (Russian Orthodox Church Abroad) – “they insist on keeping the former Paschalion, for only it, and not the Julian Calendar itself was covered by the curse of the councils. True, P[atriarch] Jeremiah in the 16th century and his successor in the 18th anathematized the calendar itself, but this curse:
    1) touches only his contemporaries and
    2)does not extend to those frightened to break communion with him, to which are subjected only those who transgress the canonical Paschalion.

    Moreover (this needs to be noted in any case), the main idea behind the day of Pascha is that it should be celebrated by all Christians (that is, the Orthodox) on one and the same day throughout the inhabited world. True, I myself and my brothers do not all sympathize with the new calendar and modernism, but we beseech the Athonite fathers not to be hasty in composing letters (Romans 14)… as long as the last word has not been spoken, as long as the whole Church has not repeated the curses of Patriarch Jeremiah at an Ecumenical Council, we must retain communion, so that we ourselves should not be deprived of salvation, and, in aiming at a gnat, swallow a camel… (The Russian Church and the New Calendar by Vladimir Moss)

    Can you see how both of them followed the spirit and not the letter? Their views of the Canons were NOT “dialectical and bookish” to use of the words of St. Cyril f Kazan. They were hesitant to condemn and they didn’t hold the local Greek Church to be schismatic on the basis of the Calendar and neither did ROCOR under Met. Anastassy or Met. Philaret.

    Ok, brother. I’m finished with this particular debate. You hold your view and I’ll hold mine.

  18. I understand, but one thing you should be aware of: The point of view of Archbishop Theophan of Poltava, the number 2 ROCOR hierarch:

    Archbishop Theophan adopted the “zealot” line of the Greek and Romanian

    Old Calendarists. And he wrote two extended works on the subject. In one of

    them, written in 1926, he wrote:

    “Question. Have the pastors of the Orthodox Church not made special

    judgements concerning the calendar?

    “Answer. They have, many times – with regard to the introduction of the

    new Roman calendar – both in private assemblies and in councils.

    “A proof of this is the following. First of all, the Ecumenical Patriarch

    Jeremiah II, who lived at the same time as the Roman calendar reform,

    immediately, in 1582, together with his Synod condemned the new Roman

    system of chronology as being not in agreement with the Tradition of the

    Church. In the next year (1583), with the participation of Patriarchs Sylvester

    of Alexandria and Sophronius VI of Jerusalem, he convened a Church Council.

    This Council recognised the Gregorian calendar to be not in agreement with

    the canons of the Universal Church and with the decree of the First

    Ecumenical Council on the method of calculating the day of Holy Pascha.

    “Through the labours of this Council there appeared: a Conciliar tome,

    which denounced the wrongness and unacceptability for the Orthodox

    Church of the Roman calendar, and a canonical conciliar Decree – the Sigillion

    of November 20, 1583. In this Sigillion all three of the above-mentioned

    Patriarchs with their Synods called on the Orthodox firmly and unbendingly,

    even to the shedding of their blood, to hold the Orthodox Menaion and Julian

    Paschalion, threatening the transgressors of this with anathema, cutting them

    off from the Church of Christ and the gathering of the faithful…

    “In the course of the following three centuries: the 17th, 18th and 19th, a

    whole series of Ecumenical Patriarchs decisively expressed themselves

    against the Gregorian calendar and, evaluating it in the spirit of the conciliar

    decree of Patriarch Jeremiah II, counselled the Orthodox to avoid it…

    “Question. Is the introduction of the new calendar important or of little

    importance?

    “Answer. Very important, especially in connection with the Paschalion,

    and it is an extreme disorder and ecclesiastical schism, which draws people

    away from communion and unity with the whole Church of Christ, deprives

    them of the grace of the Holy Spirit, shakes the dogma of the unity of the

    Church, and, like Arius, tears the seamless robe of Christ, that is, everywhere

    divides the Orthodox, depriving them of oneness of mind; breaks the bond

    with Ecclesiastical Holy Tradition and makes them fall under conciliar

    condemnation for despising Tradition…

    “Question. How must the Orthodox relate to the new calendarist

    schismatics, according to the canons?

    “Answer. They must have no communion in prayer with them, even before

    their conciliar condemnation…

    “Question. What punishment is fitting, according to the Church canons, for

    those who pray with the new calendarist schismatics?

    “Answer. The same condemnation with them…”

  19. Daniel,

    Thank you. I was aware of his view actually. One last time, I take the view of the Russian Church expressed in synodal pronouncements not a bishop here and there, even excellent ones like + Theophan. I also do not hold to the GOC 1935 Encyclical. You haven’t even explored the full ramifications of your view in my estimation.

    Thanks for commenting and for the info.

    in ICXC,

    Maximus

  20. I would like to know, for our mutual edification and correction, what is the Matthewite view? I have heard all sorts of things which unfortunately are not representative of what the GOC teaches. What do you believe we believe?

  21. Daniel,

    I’m shocked as to why you care what a heretical World Orthodox thinks but since you asked I’ll demonstrate what I believe to be “Matthewite ecclesiology” from True Orthodox sources. This is not for the purpose of debating you further although I don’t doubt you’ll respond.

    From an “Orthodox Tradition” article titled “The Distortion of the Ecclesiological Views of Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Phlorina and Its Consequences”:

    ‘ “Matthewite ecclesiology”, as we shall henceforth denominate it, may be summarized by the following three points –

    (1) The Church of Greece has become schismatic and heretical on account of the calendar change and ecumenism
    (2) It’s Mysteries are invalid
    (3) The Church if the True Orthodox Christians of Greece is the real Orthodox Church of Greece.’

    Daniel, the article goes on to detail how the Florinite hierarchy actually consists of ex-Matthewites (e.g. Akakios Pappas, Auxentios Pastras, Chrysostomos Kiouses, Kallinikos Sarantopoulos); therefore, although they are Florinite by allegiance, they are ecclesiologically Matthewite. My second True Orthodox source is from this link:

    http://www.trueorthodoxy.org/schismatics_matthewites_eight_errors.shtml

    “What chiefly distinguished V-Bp. Matthew in terms of doctrine is the erroneous, and incredibly foolish, belief that merely by adopting the New Menaion in 1924, the Church of Greece both deprived herself of grace and all those who did not break communion with her. The unstated, but necessary conclusion that an adherent to this error must then draw is that the Orthodox Church, Which Christ said would not cease to exist at any time, actually ceased to exist in 1923-24 and has not existed since then…It is a historical fact that all Orthodox hierarchies throughout the world derive their Apostolic Succession from either Bishops who had adopted the New Menaion or from Bishops who maintained communion with those who followed the New Menaion. (We have already shown this in reference to the Greek Church above and will demonstrate it in regard to the Russian Church later on.) …Since every Bishop in the world since 1923 has either been in communion with or a user of the New Menaion and the New Menaion deprives one of grace, every Bishop in the world since 1923 has been graceless.”

    Daniel, this is why I said you have not truly thought out the ramifications of your position. Additionally, to be consistent, 1920 should be the real date because that’s when the dogma of Orthodox ecclesiology was reputed by the 1920 Encyclical. My third source is from V. Moss’ epic New Zion in Babylon series, Part 3. He details how Bp. Matthew’s hasty actions broke up the True Orthodox Synod (btw, I even believe that the State Church was prepared to return to the Old Calendar UNTIL Bp. Matthew’s untimely schism). Obviously, his unfortunate actions flowed from his understanding of ecclesiology:

    “It was strange that Bishop Matthew should withdraw his signature from all previous decisions of the Synod… Another disturbing feature of this encyclical was the way in which it was addressed to “the former Metropolitan of Demetrias Germanus, until now president of the Sacred Synod”(later he would address him as a mere monk), as if the latter were already defrocked. Presumably he felt that the reference to “false bishops” in the 15th canon he quoted (both here and in his second “excommunication” of September 19 / October 2) was sufficient justification. And yet he nowhere demonstrates that the two metropolitans had uttered heresy. Did he mean the heresy of newcalendarism? But the metropolitans rejected it. In any case, if they were being accused of heresy, they should have been summoned to a trial. Canonical due process requires that a bishop must be tried by at least twelve bishops, that he must be summoned to present his case, and that he can be defrocked in absentia only if he has refused to appear after three summonses by two bishops. If canonical procedure could not be exactly fulfilled in such a small Synod, at any rate some reference to it was surely obligatory. And yet Matthew did not speak of a trial…The most that the two metropolitans could be accused of was inconsistency with regard to the exact status of the new calendarists. To say that they were in the same category as the new calendarists themselves, or that they had accepted communion with them, was demagogical nonsense – neither metropolitan communed with the new calendarists from 1935 until their deaths. And here Bishop Germanos adopts the same uncanonical tactic as Bishop Matthew in calling Metropolitan Germanos “the former metropolitan”, as if he had already been defrocked. Fortunately, Bishop Germanos, unlike Bishop Matthew, was to repent of his hastiness and return into communion with Metropolitan Chrysostom…”

    Daniel, besides ecclesiology, other idiosyncratic teachings I that I believe the Matthewites hold to pertains to iconography. Quoting from Met. Ephraim of Boston’s Oikonomia in Church History http://www.homb.org/p/encyclicals.html:

    “…See the the two Matthewite encyclicals dated January 23, 1992 (protocol number 2566) and February 26, 1993 (protocol number 2660), which officially espouse teachings that openly and stubbornly defy Church Tradition, the Seventh Ecumenical Council, and the writings of the Church Fathers regarding the depiction of God the Father, and which even anathematizes anyone who dares follow the Church’s teaching faithfully in this matter! These lamentable and un-Orthodox encyclicals were issued only some ten years ago by a “True Orthodox” synod, which officially tries to justify its violation of the Apostolic Canons concerning the consecration of bishops by one bishop alone. [Another Matthewite bishop in Southern Greece, Gregory of Messinia, just recently consecrated another bishop all by himself– thereby perpetuating their new ” tradition” and creating a fourth Matthewite jurisdiction.]

    So much for “Following in the steps our Holy Fathers”! So much for the “True Orthodoxy” of some Greek Old Calendarists!”

    Daniel, so there you have it. The Matthewites have anathematized people for:

    1)Menaions
    2)asserting the presence of grace in the Greek Church
    3)icons of the Father.
    4)and even for the 1971 ROCOR cheirothesia! V. Moss: ‘Not content with this, in 2005 “Metropolitan” Kyrikos of Mesogaia went into schism from the main Matthewite Synod under Archbishop Nicholas, denouncing them as heretics who had betrayed the True Church of Greece by their acceptance of the cheirothesia in 1971…’

    Bp. Matthew broke the unity of the GOC and performed single-handed consecrations due to his faulty ecclesiology and some of his successors have even mimicked these questionable practices. So now you can see why I’m not a Matthewite and why I find your jurisdictional self-assurance to be very, very misplaced. We all have serious problems in these apocalyptic times brother. Some more than others.

    in ICXC,
    Maximus

  22. Daniel,

    I just noticed that in your list of councils that anathematized the New Calendar you placed councils under the oversight of Met. Anthony Khrapovitsky and Met. Philaret of New York. That is completely false, which leads me to question some of the other regional councils you have on there. I would suggest that you look into some of those councils. A good grasp of contemporary Orthodox history is essential for this particular subject we’ve been discussing.

  23. No, I said that after 1924 regional councils condemned the New CalendarISTS not the new calendar

  24. Daniel,

    If you do any research at all you will see that ROCOR NEVER condemned New Calendarists. That’s why the Matthewites broke communion with them.

  25. Dear Admin,

    I have done very extensive research on this. I wasnt the one who compiled the above list, and I agree, the ROCOR SOBOR of 1974 specifically REFRAINED from calling New Calendarists graceless. Granted. Still, do you have the minutes of the Thrid all-Diaspora Sobor in English and in Russian? It would be interesting to see what someone THINKS is being said there. It is possible that the Calendar innovation is mentioned as anti-canonical and in violation of Three Pan-Orthodox Councils (The Sigillions of which were not forged, because Archimandrite Chrysostomos Papadopoulos mentioned them in 1919 and 1923 when he was a professor BEFORE the calendar implementation. Not only that, they exist in multiple monasteries. How then can they be a zealot forgery?)

  26. You can read all the answers to these questions in the work “The Calendar Question” By Fr. Basil Sakkas. This work was endorsed by Metropolitan Philaret who laid the fault for the schism on the shoulders of the innovators.

    Fr. Basil writes:

    “Chrysostom Papadopoulos, the Archbishop of Athens, became a laughingstock literally. He wished to prove that the Sigillium of 1593 was apocryphal, a fabrication of the “monks of Mt. Athos.” Yet, we have already presented that which he himself affirmed at an earlier time, when he was an archimandrite and professor at the University of Athens and had written a Church History textbook. As quoted in the book Anguish, by the theologian M. Karamitsos, in the chapter entitled “The Profession of Faith of Archbishop Papadopoulos” (p. 39), Papadopoulos wrote:

    ‘Still more officially, the new calendar was rejected by the Council of Constantinople convoked in 1593. The Council rejected the Gregorian calendar as an innovation which contradicted the canons and the order of the Church.’

    Further, he has written: ‘Because of this battle, Sophronius IV, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, left on a journey to collect funds in 1584. Arriving in Constantinople, he participated in that same year in the synodical commission convoked by Patriarch Jeremy II the Illustrious for the condemnation of the Gregorian calendar, whereby the Latin Church sought to lead the Orthodox astray’ (from the Church History, p. 482, of Chrysostom Papadopoulos, as quoted in The Executioners of Orthodoxy by Abbess Magdalene, p. 293).

    The renowned historian, Paul Carolides, in his World History (Vol. I, p. 253) says the following:

    ‘However, in that it was not enacted with the agreement of the ancient Patriarchal Churches of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem—all of which still abided by the Julian reckoning a schism ensued.’

    Behold, therefore, why we say that the Church did not change the calendar in 1924. If there is a schism, who are the schismatics? Moreover, we (the old calendarists that is) asked the following question to Archbishop Papadopoulos:

    ‘You say that the sigilliums of the 16th century which anathematized the Gregorian calendar are the fabrications of the monks of Mt. Athos. Nonetheless, the codices which are found in the monastery of Mount Sinai, the holy Russian Monastery of St. Panteleimon and elsewhere are extremely ancient. At the time when they must have been written (or forged, according to your view), Orthodoxy was undergoing no controversy concerning the “new” and the “old” calendar and thus, who would have been interested in forging such codices and why? Further, eminent historians of the 18th and 19th centuries, such as Metropolitan Philaretos Vaphides and Metropolitan Meletius confirm these documents.’

    Yet, the Archbishop, who had nothing to say in response, responded with police action and persecutions. Is it really possible to consider as Orthodox a calendar which brings about schism in the Church and persecution of the faithful? But if the “Gregorian” or “corrected Julian” calendar is not Orthodox, then what is it?”

  27. Daniel,

    It’s an established fact that ROCOR had New Calendarist dioceses, one of them under Bp. Theophil Ionescu. Because of this well-known fact, Matthewite historian Stavros Markou came to conclusion that ROCOR was “ecumenist”:

    “The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, although striving— or so it seemed—to protect itself from modernism and the panheresy of Ecumenism, nevertheless failed to do so in a consistent manner. This is evident from the fact that for several years the ROCOR housed new-calendarist parishes and ordained persistent new-calendarist priests and consecrated new-calendarist bishops, such as the Romanian Teofil Ionescu and the Bulgarians Andrei Petkov and Kyrill Yonchev…This is not a true Confession of Faith, but is rather a semi-ecumenistic mentality, bordering on uniatism.”

    Bp. Theophil mentioned in the quote above was the one that co-consecrated Akakios the Elder for the Florinite hierarchy (a New Calendarist bishop consecrating a bishop for a group that declared that the New Calendar is graceless!!). Both ROCOR Mets. Anthony and Anastassy refused to get involved with Greek Old Calendarists; that’s a fact that remains uncontested. Although Mets. Philaret and Vitaly did get involved with them, they NEVER shared the same confession as Greek Old Calendarists:

    Metropolitan Philaret Voznesensky 1903-1985

    “Concerning the question of the presence or absence of grace among the new calendarists the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad does not consider herself or any other Local Church to have the right to make a conclusive decision, since a categorical evaluation in this question can be undertaken only by a properly convened, competent Ecumenical Council, with the obligatory participation of the free Church of Russia.” (This was quoted by Metropolitan Philaret in his letter to Matthewite Archbishop Andreas dated October 5, 1974 ref. no. 3/50/760.)

    Metropolitan Vitaly Ustinov 1910-2006

    At the present time, most other Orthodox Churches have been shaken to the core of their being by two successive blows: the new ecclesiastical calendar and ecumenism. Despite their impoverished state, however, we do not declare and may the Lord save us from ever having to declare them as having lost God’s grace. (1986 Nativity Epistle Pravoslavnaia Rus’ 1 [1987]: 1)

    You can corroborate the fact that ROCOR never shared your confession from official decisions of the Synod, history and the personal statements of ROCOR bishops to Old Calendarists. Quoting S. Markou again:

    “Perhaps it can be said, and only by extreme economy, that Metropolitan Philaret and Archbishops Averky of Syracuse, Filothei of Hamburg, Nectary of Seattle, Andrew of Rockland, Gregory Grabbe, and perhaps even others, held a true Confession of Faith on an individual basis, but it can by no means be said that the Synod or the ROCOR as a whole adhered to this Confession, either in theory or in practice. Had the ROCOR boldly confessed this true Confession, it would have sent it in writing as requested, and the Genuine Orthodox Churches of Greece and Cyprus would not have severed communion in 1976, neither would have the Catacomb Church of Russia done so in 1978.”

    Although I don’t agree with Stavros at all about the personal views of the bishops (I could supply some reasons why but this is getting tedious), I do agree with his overall conclusion that ROCOR never confessed like the GOC.

    Check out this article on the Sigillion:

    http://www.hsir.org/pdfs/2011/07/04/20110704aSigillion/20110704aSigillion.pdf

  28. Maximus,

    Just for your information, Stavros Markou left the Matthewites a few years ago when he became privy to a number of documents and material in the Matthewite archive. He since joined the RTOC. He has repudiated much of the distinctly ‘Matthewite’ views.

    In Christ,

    Fr. Enoch

  29. Fr. Enoch,

    Thank you. I was aware that he left (due to his letter to Dcn. Joseph) but I didn’t know where he went.

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