St. Tikhon of Moscow on the New Calendar

St. Tikhon of Moscow 1865-1925

…[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. Besides, the Julian Calendar has been hallowed by centuries of liturgical use by the whole Church, and no one Local Church can replace it unilaterally.

And it must be introduced not only lawfully, but also painlessly, and that could only be achieved with the consent of the believing people. According to the teaching of the Orthodox Church, the guardians of the purity of the faith and of the patristic traditions are not only the head of the Church, nor all the hierarchs combined, but the entire body of the Church, including the faithful laity, to whom belong established rights and a voice in ecclesiastic affairs. The head of one of the Local Churches, and the Patriarch of Russia, in particular, is not the Pope of Rome, enjoying absolute and boundless power. He cannot govern the people of God tyrannically, not asking their consent, and not taking into consideration their religious conscious, their beliefs, practices and skills. History demonstrates that compelling the people of God, rather than convincing them, always fails.

…The so-called ‘Pan-Orthodox Congress’ was not an Ecumenical Council; not all the Local Churches were represented. Thus, its resolutions could only be implemented if they were approved by an Ecumenical Council, or by the Synod of each of the Local Churches separately. Despite the fact that the majority of representatives did not approve of the Calendar change, Patriarch Meletius, violating Catholic unity, introduced the new style into his Patriarchate. The Renovationists in Russia embraced this change.

…Rumors have reached us that in 1925 an Ecumenical Council will be held to mark the 1,600th anniversary of the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea. If such a council is convoked canonically, then it would be best to raise this question then. Once the new style has been accepted by the entire Catholic Church, then perhaps we can prevail upon the faithful in Russia to accept it too, if the Orthodox bishops, appointed by me, and whom the faithful trust and follow, will have the freedom of abiding in their dioceses, of communicating with their flock, and of religious direction of the clergy and parishes found in canonical communion with me. (New Zion in Babylon II by V. Moss p. 252-254)

Comments

  1. I love when we see great men of the church, especially modern saints giving their insight on this issue. I only wish he could have made the point to reference the Old Calendarists and their schism. I suppose one only needs to look at the history of the Russian Church at the time of St. Tikhon to know it remained in communion with the “graceless” Church of Greece and Ecumenical Patriarchate.

  2. Aaron,

    Greetings.

    Here is a portion of yet another Synodal letter of ROCOR from 03/10/1961 to the Greek Old Calendarist Florinites that references St. Tikhon’s view:

    ‘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]

    Compare that sober view with the Greek Old Calendarist Encyclical of 1935:

    In assuming the pastorship of the Orthodox Greek populace that follows the Orthodox festal Calendar of our Fathers, and being conscious of the oath of faith that we took that we would keep all that we have received from the Seven Ecumenical Councils, we abjure every innovation and can not but proclaim as schismatic the State Church, which has accepted the papal festal calendar which has been described by Pan-Orthodox Councils as an innovation of the heretics and as an arbitrary trampling underfoot of the divine and sacred canons of the ecclesiastical traditions.

    On account of this, we counsel all who follow the Orthodox festal Calendar to have no spiritual communion with the schismatic Church and its schismatic ministers, from whom the grace of the All-holy Spirit has departed, since they have set at nought the resolutions of the Fathers of the Seven Ecumenical Councils and the Pan-Orthodox Councils that condemned the Gregorian festal calendar. The fact that the Schismatic Church does not have grace and the Holy Spirit is confirmed by Saint Basil the Great, who says: “Even though the schismatics have not erred in doctrines, yet because Christ is the Head of the Body of the Church, according to the divine Apostle, and from Him are all the members quickened and receive spiritual increase, the [schismatics] have been torn from the consonance of the members of the Body and no longer have the grace of the Holy Spirit abiding with them. And how, indeed, can they impart to others that which they have not?” While the Schismatic Church imposes oppressive and intolerable measures in order to violate our Orthodox conscience, we exhort you to endure all things and to preserve the Orthodox heritage intact and unstained, even as we received it from our pious Fathers, having us as luminous and fortifying examples, seeing we are not afraid — even in the waning years of our lives — to withstand with boldness and dignity the bigoted and medieval measures of our exile and imprisonment in monasteries, as it were in prisons. (Pastoral Encyclical to the Orthodox Greek People)

    Lord have mercy on us all for all that has taken place since then.

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