Parsing the Archbishop’s Words

Abp. Elpidophoros, the controversial primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, spoke and prayed at the March for Life in D.C. on January 21, 2022. His short comments reiterated the Church’s unequivocal dogma regarding the sacredness of human life. Given the setting, and given the moral Tradition of the Church, he could not have done otherwise. But one sentence from his comments stood out amongst the others. You might call it the proverbial “snake in the grass”. That is the innocent-sounding statement that appears to support the so-called right of expectant mothers to choose to snuff out the human life growing in their wombs. People today are pretty sensitive to remarks like it.

Let’s make an attempt to parse the venerable archbishop’s comments. (You can find them in their entirety under my own here.)

“We affirm the gift of sanctity of life – all life, born and unborn.” In the Bible we see the inverse etched in stone; i.e., the general commandment in Exodus 20 where God prohibits murder. Thou shalt not kill. If murder is forbidden by God, then surely life bears sanctity. It may sound like an extrapolation here, but Christ himself said, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me.” (Mt. 19:14) To paraphrase, our Lord is saying that we should allow children to have life and fellowship with God. Christ did not go on record regarding the specific issue of abortion.

The Church which is Christ’s body has always condemned the infanticide of abortion. Fr. John Peck has made a list of the concise statements the early Church Fathers in this regard. Each of these sources, saints, and canons listed has clearly condemned abortion: Letter to Diognetus, Didache, Letter of Barnabas, St. Clement, St. Hippolytus, Tertullian, St. Cyprian, St. Basil, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, St. John Chrysostom, Canon XCI, Canon II, Canon XXI. So far in his comments, it would seem that Abp. Elpidophoros is performing the obvious duty of a bishop to guard the Faith handed down by his predecessors.

He goes on “…We confess that every human being is made in the image and likeness of God.” Some Orthodox Fathers go a step further and opine that we are surely made in God’s image, but that we must strive in our individual podvig to attain likeness unto him. Okay, let’s not wander too far into the weeds. Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” I’ll take that at face value.

Christ is the Son of God and the Son of Man. God incarnate. Some Western theologians have gone so far as to describe the crucifixion of Christ as deicide. At the moment of decision, the Jewish crowd eagerly exonerated Pontius Pilate by shouting, “Let his blood be upon us and upon our children.” (Mt. 27:25) You can’t help but shudder when you recall that their action seemed to invite the future antisemitic persecutions that pepper the history books.

If we apply this notion of deicide further, it’s worth considering that to take the life of a baby or an adult made so like unto God is to commit an act tantamount to deicide. If one kills a man, one is murdering a being created so much like God that he is perilously close to killing God himself. That is just my theological musing, but it makes me wonder. The Orthodox stance is that Christ’s human nature was indeed killed on Golgotha, but that his divinity remained intact. It was that divinity that raised his body to glorious resurrected life on the third day. Thanks be to God.

Let’s get back to the archbishop’s comments. “We are all responsible for the well-being of children. We are their “keepers,” and “cannot shirk from (sic) our accountability for their welfare.” That word “keepers” reminds one of the words of Cain when he inadvertently suggested that he was his brother’s keeper. Cain, let us remember, is Eve’s son.

And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand;  When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. (Gen. 4:9-12)

We can debate whether Cain was supposed to be Abel’s keeper, but he was certainly not supposed to murder him. Regardless, both of the brothers were adults, so their responsibility toward each other certainly didn’t rise to the level of a mother’s responsibility for her baby.

“Autonomy” comes from the root that means literally “self law”, or “having its own laws”. Oftentimes we hear that the Holy Theotokos and Virgin Mary answered in the affirmative when the Archangel Gabriel told her that she would conceive the Christ-child. “Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus.” (Luke 1:31) Frankly, when Gabriel says, “…thou shalt…and shalt…and thou shalt…” it sounds awfully much like fiat and very little like an offer. Basically Gabriel is telling Mary how things are going to go down. But Mary, being a devout young virgin given to prayer and full of grace, and in seamless alignment with the will of God, naturally responds with undoubting eagerness. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38) Mary indicates her humble obedience to the God whom she adores with all her heart. There is no indication of a need for Mary to consider the offer and weigh her options. She does not hesitate. The conversation flows effortlessly from Gabriel’s pronouncement to Mary’s acceptance. It doesn’t seem to me to be a statement where Mary exerts her autonomy by answering in the affirmative, but rather more like a spontaneous release of her utter devotion.

The one archetypal woman that had had the sort of autonomy or “self law” that the archbishop may have been hinting at was Eve, Cain and Abel’s mother. The original woman. She was the one who listened to the siren call of the serpent in the garden, reasoned to herself, and partook of the fruit that was promised to make her like a god. Theosis in one bite! No need for the striving for holiness through penitence and askesis. With that one bite came the ancestral sin that became the proclivity of all flesh. However, Mary, the second Eve, overcame the curse brought on by the first Eve’s disobedience in her innocent response, “Be it done unto me according to thy word.” Cain could have benefitted from such humility and avoided the curse of wandering around like a homeless man.

The radical feminism that pursues unfettered autonomy for women has made a fatal mistake. In the 1970s they burned their bras and complained about the inconvenience of their own sexuality. They complained that they were trapped in a body that was too awkward to accept. They considered it a form of servitude to remain virgins until they married, and then to bear and raise children and keep a household. The sexual revolution unlocked the ancient chastity belt that used to prevent women from having unwarranted coitus and unwanted babies. “Recreational sex” became all the rage. The birth-control pill that came on the market in 1960 allowed “uninhibited” women to have sexual intercourse without the natural consequence of their actions. Droves of them pursued their dreams and became career women, often while married yet childless. Some of the barren ones came to themselves after menopause, but it was too late for them to have children, so they wept at the opportunity now and forever lost.

Contraceptives of The Pill’s caliber of effectiveness, and some other less-effective methods, didn’t prevent all pregnancies, of course. Untold millions of children have been conceived despite their parents’ prophylactics and too many of them have been subject to “dilation and extraction”. Women who claim an autonomy so thorough-going that they consider themselves to be the arbiters of their baby’s fate while in the womb can turn themselves into quiet killers. And, their doctors and nurses into guilty accomplices. The “sperm donor” men who nervously coax their now-pregnant women to have an abortion exhibit a callous irresponsibility. They shirk or shrink from their duty as fathers and share in the execution of the heinous plot. It is not just the expectant mother who is drawn into sin.

Orthodox teachers often state that God has created us with free will. We have choices. For example, Joshua challenged the Israelites at Shechem, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” (Joshua 24:15) There are few things that should be of greater cause for fear and trepidation as that doctrine of free will since it carries with it such grave consequences if the moral choices we make are the wrong ones. People who have no knowledge of the Scriptures or Tradition easily succumb to gross immorality. Even those who have that knowledge are prone to succumb.

Skip ahead to the New Testament. The primitive Galatian parish seemed to be anxious to return to the bondage of the circumcision even though Christ had set them free from the observation of the Jewish ordinances. Our liberty as Christians is a fragile thing, indeed, and the Galatians seemed to prove it. The never-ending pandemic restrictions have reminded us of that, too. St. Paul exhorts us, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Galatians 5:13,14)

Certainly, a young pregnant woman can grasp at her autonomy to determine the fate of her child, but God help her if she makes the wrong choice! Is her baby not her closest neighbor? Flesh of her flesh and bone of her bone? Countless women have rent their hearts in grief over the loss of their children at their own hands. That is a remorse that is never fully overcome, even once the sin is forgiven. The early Church’s penalty for committing the grave sin of abortion or infanticide was not the death penalty. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Canon XXI actually reduces the prior and stricter penance for the act of abortion to ten years of excommunication. A decade of separation from the life-giving body and blood of our Lord is a long time. The archbishop was not wise to even utter the few words that, given the moral authority of his high office, merely suggested the freedom of a woman to choose such a fateful option – one that used to come with such an onerous penance.

“She freely chose to bring Him into the world, and God respected her freedom. ” What is the archbishop trying to say here? That Mary could have made the opposite choice to not allow the Holy Spirit to hover over her, and God would have respected that freedom, too, for the sake of her purported autonomy? Is he suggesting that either choice was available to Mary and either choice would have been as valid as the other? Might she have answered Gabriel and said, “Let me sleep on it. I’ll get back to you when I’ve made my decision.” Is that it? Is the archbishop implying that women’s autonomy derives from Mary’s free response and therefore they are free to choose to have an abortion? Will God respect that? The bishop is fudging. I wish he would clarify what he said and dispel all doubt.

The moral relativism that the archbishop’s words imply is certainly not in sync with the teachings of the Church. The choice that Mary made, if we insist that it was indeed a choice, she made while Gabriel was speaking in the future tense. The Holy Spirit would come upon her and she would conceive. Pregnant women, by contrast, are already with child, so the choice that the archbishop implies that they make after the fact of conception to exert their autonomy is not one that can be compared to the timing of Mary’s choice. The logic doesn’t pass muster. To sacrifice an unborn child on the altar of radical feminism is an abomination, and subtle arguments to make an impossible comparison between the Virgin Mary’s so-called choice with the choice of a woman who aborts the child in her womb is an insult to our intelligence. Worse, it smacks of blasphemy.

That begs the question: Is the archbishop truly Orthodox? Or is Abp. Elpidophoros so enthralled by the secular humanist agenda that he felt it necessary to use such a momentous occasion to betray the Faith and give a sup to the zeitgeist? This will sound sarcastic, but after witnessing the controversial actions that he made last year, we must admit that at least the archbishop has been consistent.

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Today, we come together in solidarity with our Brother Bishops of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America.

We affirm the gift and sanctity of life – all life, born and unborn. As Christians we confess that every human being is made in the image and likeness of God.  Every life is worthy of our prayer and our protection, whether in the womb, or in the world. We are all responsible for the well-being of children. We are their “keepers,” and cannot shirk from our accountability for their welfare.

At the same time, we also affirm our respect for the autonomy of women.  It is they who bring forth life into the world.  By His incarnation, our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ assumed human nature, through His conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary. She freely chose to bring Him into the world, and God respected her freedom. We can and must make the case for life, both born and unborn, by our own example of unconditional love.

We march not for coercion.

We march with compassion,

With empathy,

With love.

And with our arms extended to embrace all.

Let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

Lord, You have granted us the opportunity to offer these common prayers in unison and have promised that when two or three gather in Your name, You are there also. Fulfill now, O Lord, who was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the power of Your All-Holy Spirit, the petitions of Your servants. Remember, Lord, the people here present and those who are absent with good cause. Have mercy on them and on us according to the multitude of Your mercy. Remember, O God, all those whom we are not able to commemorate by forgetfulness or because of their multitude since You know the name and age of each, even from their mother’s womb. For You, Lord, are the helper of the helpless, the hope of the hopeless, the savior of the afflicted, the haven of the voyager, and the physician of the sick, the protector of the voiceless. Be all things to all, You who know all people, their requests, their households, and their needs. For You are the Giver of Life, bringing each person from non-being into being, sealing each person with love and sanctity. May we come to the light of Your Truth and glorify You, the Giver of Life, together with Your Father, and Your All-Holy and Life-giving Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
1/21/22

What in Hell Happened?

I’m in the middle of Robert F. Kennedy, jr.’s book entitled The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health. That’s quite a mouthful, as is the content of the book itself. It was released a couple of months ago and it’s already high on the New York Times bestseller’s list. If you haven’t read it you need to get a copy while the information is still fresh. The Real Anthony Fauci is more than just a work of non-fiction. It is a superbly-documented tome that in years to come will likely be considered the bible of the pandemic.

Get it. Read it. You’ll be glad you did.

Robert Kennedy, jr. is no shrinking violet. I remember when his father, Robert Kennedy, sr. was the attorney general of the United States under his brother President John F. Kennedy. As A.G., Bobby went after the mafia when they were a more powerful force in our society. Bobby Kennedy, jr. is a no-nonsense lawyer himself, who has pursued justice against large corporations. He is up to the task. People may know him as an anti-vaccination warrior and that is, I suppose, what brought him to the forefront during this godawful two years. Kennedy has got the goods on Dr. Tony Fauci, Bill Gates, and the corrupt moguls of the large pharmaceutical firms and their compromised lackeys who are supposed to regulate them.

Robert F. Kennedy, jr. & Anthony Fauci

At 450 pages, the book is so thick and so well researched…and I am so uninitiated when it comes to medicine…that it ain’t exactly light reading. But it’s eminently informative. From what I have read so far, and from what I have gleaned elsewhere, it’s becoming clear that this pandemic of the coronavirus, Covid-19 has been orchestrated by ne’er-do-wells who took advantage of the opportunity to suppress the free practice of medicine by our doctors. And who thought nothing of scaring the hell out of women with children, and many men, too.

Tony Fauci…a name that is becoming increasingly difficult for me to say…used his position as chief medical advisor to the president for devilish purposes. He deliberately suppressed the use of cheap and effective generic medicines like hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin. When taken in the correct dosages soon after infection, those drugs are clearly effective toward early recovery from Covid-19. Fauci, and not only he, but other people in high places, directed the mind of the government to wait for the results of the hasty production of questionable mRNA vaccines, the expected silver bullet against the sickness. And the insufferable fourth estate dutifully acted as a fifth column to disseminated lies and suppress the truth. The vaccines were so hastily marketed without the proper testing protocols that the pharmaceutical company’s made damned sure that they wouldn’t be sued. Smart guys, eh? Now we know from the data that the vaccines are not effective and, in fact, have produced adverse events in thousands of those who have received the inoculations. But, oh the money they’ve made for a few lucky people!

Hydroxychloroquine

Meanwhile, millions of people around the world have been subject to a universal infliction of lockdowns and cumbersome mandates by power-hungry governments, who themselves didn’t know a damned thing about medicine. Normal people freaked out in the face of a disease that was treatable. It was treatable! The masses quickly discarded their God-given right to think and decide for themselves what to do with themselves and their families. Thinking adults started acting like children, demanding that everybody around them act like children, too. Don’t think for a minute that the powers that be didn’t notice how quickly we panicked and how easily we were manipulated. They’ll do it again next time, so stay on your guard.

Now, this embarrassing period of betrayal and cowardice, sickness and death is almost over. It’s winter for us in the Northern Hemisphere and the Omicron variant is basically a bad cold, if you catch it. Nothing unusual there. In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has declared that there will be no more pandemic restrictions. Our own prevaricating administration has directed that hospitals no longer be required to report their numbers of daily dead from Covid. Or…was it with Covid? If I were a hospital administrator who knew that there was a financial bonanza to the tune of $37,000 to be gained for each victim of Covid, I would be sorely tempted to call any death with Covid a death from Covid. And, if I held the patent to remdesivir, a drug with a big windfall – as useless as it is – I might want hospitals to be required to administrate it to Covid patients. But that’s just me, I suppose. I could go on with the sarcasm.

There is a LOT to talk about here. If you love your country as much as I still do, then you’re going to want the answers to the same questions that I have. Never in my lengthening life have I experienced such a prolonged mass hysteria over a disease from which almost everyone recovers unless he has the usual comorbidities. So, my first question is in the title of this short essay: What in hell happened? And my second question is: Who was responsible? And a third: How can we make sure that it never happens again?

As TEC Goes, So Goes GOA

In response to a recent article at Monomachos, a woman named Lina writes, “So, what I don’t get, as an ex-Episcopalian who has watched her cradle church go down the drain over the last several years after espousing the homosexual agenda, is that the GOA (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese) is dead set to follow the same path.” I don’t get it either. That perplexed sentiment resonates with this sad ex-Episcopalian. My own frame of reference with the Episcopal Church started with baptism as an infant in 1954. I was confirmed in 1967, when national membership peaked at 3.6 million members, and then observed the decline over the years that ensued.

Here are some of the more noteworthy of the last half century’s hits (i.e., assaults) on TEC, perhaps best spelled out as Today’s Episcopal Clique. The moral relativism that made it possible was expressed in the widely-read book Situation Ethics (1966) written by ex-priest Joseph Fletcher. There was the suicidal apostasy in 1969 of the prolific author Bp. James Pike. The infiltration of the homosexual indoctrination at General Theological Seminary was made possible by Prof. Norman Pittenger in the same godforsaken decade. These were just some of the men who planted the seeds of Satan into Episcopal Church soil at the apogee of its growth and influence.

Three of the “Philadelphia Eleven”

The contra-canonical ordination of the Philadelphia Eleven women in 1974 portended more radical actions to come. The newfangled Book of Common Prayer in 1979, the newer Hymnal of 1980 became the basis for a smorgasbord view of sacramental rites. Then came the shocking consecration of suffragan bishop Barbara Harris (an unqualified divorcèe) in 1989 and the earth-shaking consecration of diocesan bishop Vicky Imogen Robinson (a gay man) in 2003.

Bp. Vicky Imogene Robinson

Membership in the Episcopal Church has fallen by more than half since its peak in 1967 to a meager 1.6 million today. Of the two million lost over that era, 314,000 were lost in the “twenty teens” (2010 – 2019). Chalk up half of that loss to the general vacating of church pews nationwide. Chalk up the other half to TEC’s revisionist abandonment of Scripture and Tradition while maintaining the outward trappings of religiosity. “Having the appearance of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (II Tim. 3:5). This may be termed the “revolution within the form”. Distrust by the laity of the ever-innovating leadership doomed them. It is my sad observation that the “new and improved” Episcopal Church has squandered its rich Anglican patrimony over the period of my lifetime.

Now, to Lina’s assertion about the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. Having watched the TEC “go down the drain”, the GOA is “dead set to follow the same path.” She is puzzled by that. Why are the GOA leadership headed in the same direction? That is the $64,000 question. I doubt whether the GOA has done any serious research into the demographic decline of TEC. Even if they have, they will probably scoff at the precipitous drop in TEC’s numbers. If they look for reasons they may cite the general decline in church attendance across the nation. They may blame the phenomenon on the ignorance of the unsophisticated masses. But, I wouldn’t be surprised if the decline of the TEC hasn’t even registered on the GOA radar. If they had recognized that association with the TEC is a losing bet, why would Elpidophoros have made nice with that heretic Dean Wolfe at St. Bart’s in Manhattan? The celebration of the Divine Liturgy at that parish and the return visit to “talk story” with Bp. Wolfe are indications that Elpi. feels a need to get cozy with the heterodox. Or maybe he was just impressed with the Byzantine architecture and the smell of success at a parish with a reputation for the “queering of Manhattan”.

Pride Month at St. Bart’s Episcopal Church, Manhattan

Here are some rounded figures from the OrthodoxReality.org study entitled “The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA) from 2010 to 2020: Changes in Parishes, Membership, and Worship Attendance”. Across the archdiocese, membership has declined from 482,000 to 376, 000 – a loss of 22%. More telling is the reduced number of regular participants over that decade, from 107,000 to 86,000. Again, a decline of about 22% from 2010 to 2020. One can surmise that the decline in GOA has only accelerated during the pandemic by the leadership’s demand for strict adherence to government health mandates. These have gotten parishioners used to the idea of staying home and watching church in their pajamas from the comfort of their living room couches.

Run from decline

Maybe Abp. Elpidophoros doesn’t worry about the drop in the number of derrières in pews as long as the archdiocese can keep the cash rolling in. And as long as Pat. Bartholomew’s quota is redirected to Istanbul. My experience on a GOA parish council the last two years of the pandemic confirmed the suspicion that our metropolis was mostly concerned that parish assessments would still get paid despite the crisis. Our assessments for this year roughly equal the total amount of our stewardship contributions from last year. Without another source of income from real estate, our parish budget would not end up in the black.

Cash for Constantinople

Speaking of money, what happened to the $100,000,000 that got poured into St. Nicholas’ black hole at the World Trade Center? It’s been more than twenty years since 9/11, but construction on the little church isn’t even finished yet. Oy vey.

Abp. Elpidophoros is a gracious and approachable hierarch, so during a small gathering here two years ago, I felt free to challenge him on some of the salient issues. Whether it was the contention of Constantinople’s supremacy among Orthodox hierarchs or the intervention in Ukraine’s ecclesial organization, his retorts indicated to me that he will not change his mind. Outright endorsement of the queer sexual revolution may still be out of reach for them, but certainly Bartholomew and Elpidophoros seem to be dead set to continue their promotion of other so-called progressive concerns such as ecumenism, environmentalism, and Covidism. Just like the proud Episcopalians, they will not …and that auxiliary verb must be read with emphasis… i.e. they willfully will not revise their trendy agenda despite how disastrous it will likely turn out for them. They will not cease and desist their grasping at global ecclesiastical power to promote it, so help them God.

Patriarch Bartholomew & Archbishop Elpidophoros

Maybe Elpidophoros and Bartholomew just cannot change their minds. And, maybe the rest of us are simply fools to pray that they will be able to change. If that is true, it doesn’t make me happy to say that the continued decline in GOA’s membership is likely to be unavoidable.

Japan on New Year’s Eve

It’s New Years Eve. I’m sitting here alone at my computer doing a little research into the canons of the ecumenical councils. Yes, of course, canon research is what everybody does on New Year’s Eve (!) Anyhow, I am starting to sense the sobriety of the ancient bishops who met in council and the rigor which they applied to church discipline. That has set me in a somber mood.

It’s a sobering mood that takes me back to my young adulthood when I used to live in Japan. Japan certainly is not an Orthodox country, as we know. It’s nominally Buddhist, but very few observe Buddhist praxis. The Japanese tend to be suspicious of all religions. Many are not aware that their family belongs to a certain temple until a relative dies and the monk from the local temple is called to perform the requisite prayers. But, Buddhism has a long history in Japan and there are countless Buddhist temples. Even for those who do not adhere to Buddhist teachings, the temples are perfectly-constructed, commanding edifices and the temple grounds are spacious and well kept. They offer a welcome respite from the endless industry which is the bustling Japanese city.

Buddhist monk strikes temple bell.

My mind drifts back to New Year’s Eves past. Many years ago, my family and I lived in a small city in the Japan Alps, where we would sit on the matted floor in a small room warming ourselves near the kerosene stove, mindful of the chilly outer darkness. We could hear the deep resonance of the tolling of the temple bell off in the distance. Temple bells are massive things made of bronze and when they are struck head on with a wooden beam they make a thundering sound that can be heard from afar. You seldom hear the sound of the bell except on New Year’s Eve, when the monks strike it slowly and resolutely. 108 times.

One hundred and eight strikes enumerate the number of passions, in Orthodox parlance, by which flesh is encumbered. Each dong of the bell is meant to drive out one passion from the soul, purifying the listener. The last strike is struck just past midnight.

A.D. 2021 has been an awful year when compared to some former years. Not 2020, of course. We need to pause and consider why our sovereign Lord has allowed evil to happen in our nation. Since the Orthodox Fathers teach us that we are all one and interrelated, we should ponder how much we ourselves have been partly to blame for what has befallen us. “Send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.” That line in John Donne’s poem, “No Man is an Island” takes on a deeper meaning when we consider the ramifications of our connection to each other. I look forward to a 2022, not with a blithe hope, but with a sense of penitence and anticipation of spiritual blessings to come. If we draw nigh to God, he will draw nigh to us. (James 4:8)

It’s Not Funny Anymore

I’m going to pass along to you this blog posting written by Abbot Tryphon, and then I am going to comment on it. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t find the good abbot’s words so disturbing. But, what is more disturbing than his words is the fact that Facebook removed them after the abbot posted them on his page. Here it is:

“I have chosen not to bless my monks, nor my spiritual children, to take the vaccine. I do not think any vaccine will prevent anyone from getting Covid, and I have read with increased horror as the evidence has become increasingly clear within the scientific community that this vaccine is in reality causing the spread of this virus within the human community, while preventing natural immunity.

The evidence is clear that those doctors and scientists who see the vaccines as unproven, and even dangerous long term, are being silenced by their colleagues within the scientific community. For those who understand science, we know that science is not like history, for it is ever changing as more is discovered. Yet we have certain individuals within the scientific community suppressing dissidence, crushing anyone who would disagree with their take on the pandemic.

We Orthodox know that God sometimes visits upon us wars and plagues as a way of calling us out of our darkness and sin. We know that God arranges such things as a way of waking us up to that which is of eternal value.

It seems clear to me that this world-wide pandemic comes from the Evil One. Nothing in my lifetime has caused such fear among the masses of people, world wide. This season that normally leads to gatherings of family and friends around the table in celebration of the Nativity of Our Salvation, has instead seen the closure of churches, and families banning their unvaccinated members from joining them in celebration. It has seen clergy closing their churches out of fear, not remembering that it is the gathering within our churches that has alway brought about the healing that is so needed during times of trial.

Saint Luke the Surgeon, Archbishop of Simferopol, a bishop that the Soviets chose not to execute because he was considered one of the finest surgeons in Russia, and was therefore needed by the Soviet State, recommended Holy Water as the cure for what ails us.

“Drink Holy Water, the more often, the better. It is the best and most effective medicine. I’m not saying this as a priest, I’m saying it as a doctor, from my medical experience.”

At seventy-six years of age, I am no spring chicken, as they say. Yet I have chosen to trust God to keep me safe during this pandemic. I therefore add holy water to every glass of water I drink during the day, and I anoint myself with the miraculous myrrh of the holy icon of the Theotokos of Hawaii, every day.

Additionally, I consume the Holy Body and Blood of my Saviour during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, with the full knowledge that in doing so I am receiving healing of body and soul. If I should die from a virus that was intentionally introduced by the godless leaders of China, with the intention of conquering the West, and creating a one world government, so be it.

In my weakness, I pray on a daily basis that the Lord will never let me deny Him, even unto my last breath. I put my trust in God, and not in the “scientific and medical” authorities who are hell bent on controlling everyone, including church leaders. I trust only in the mercy of my Lord.

We monks are grateful that we have an opportunity to serve the Divine Liturgy and partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, yet we also realize that many others are not so fortunate. Many churches have closed their doors to the faithful, fearful that the Corona virus will infect their people if they should gather before the Throne of God, in worship. In truth, we should only fear God.

I would conclude by pointing out that the mandatory and dictatorial push for the vaccine by governments and companies around the world is clear evidence that this vaccine is of the devil. Let us stand strong in our resistance to the goddess authorities, and let us renew our commitment to Jesus Christ, and to the eternal truth that resides within the Life of the Church.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon”

Abbot Tryphon

I dare say that few people can read what the abbot has written and blithely go about their business. Those who have a robust faith in the miraculous potions of Orthodoxy will agree with the abbot. I worship in the very temple where the myrrh-streaming icon of the Holy Theotokos of Iveron is kept, and I have heard the testimonies of many people who have been healed by its effectuality.

Others who have faith in Christ, but pride themselves on their rationality may admit that God can heal the sick, or prevent sickness, but they wouldn’t consider the refusal of vaccines to be a normal course of action. They wouldn’t recommend the daily regimen that Abbot Tryphon speaks of when he talks about mixing holy water and anointing himself with myrrh.

Of course, the great masses who make up the rest of mankind will consider the abbot to be some sort of nut to refuse to take the vaccine and to substitute holy potions in its place. They will think him thoroughly irresponsible to refuse permission for his close followers to do the same. I have to scoff at that. I spent several days late this summer with Abbot Tryphon and his four monks. Trust me when I say that he and they are all very down-to-earth men. The abbot is elderly and a bit frail, but his mental faculties are still very sharp. He wouldn’t be withholding his blessing if he didn’t have a good reason to do so.

I’m a bit younger than the abbot, but it resonates with me when he says, “It seems clear to me that this world-wide pandemic comes from the Evil One. Nothing in my lifetime has caused such fear among the masses of people, world wide.” He can say that again. I’m sure that he and I are not alone when we say that nothing has caused so many people to cower in such fear as this pandemic has. What is the cause of that fear? I dare say that a disease from which almost everyone recovers, unless he is old or chronically ill, could not possibly cause the panic that we have seen in the last two years if it weren’t for the propaganda to which we have been subjected.

Those who have positions of public trust, like our sorry excuse for a president, like his medical bureaucrats, like the pharmaceutical executives who have profited so handsomely, and others who have made a fortune and use that influence to manipulate the flow of information – they are the ones who have caused the panic, the like of which neither Abbot Tryphon nor I have ever witnessed before in our long lives.

Yes, a lot of people have died from contracting the virus, but a lot of other people have died for need of medical treatment refused them for unrelated conditions because of the hospitals’ reaction to the pandemic. What about those who have cancer or diabetes but were not able to get an appointment? Have we considered the curse of mental disease caused by the irrational fear of this sickness and the inability to fraternize? How many children have suffered from depression and even committed suicide partly because the teachers’ unions refused to allow them into class? How many thousands of mom-and-pop business owners have suffered the devastating loss of their livelihoods because the government would not allow customers to enter their shops? How many Orthodox Christians have learned to stay home from church on Sundays and disregard the need of their souls for the healing powers of the holy mysteries?

Forgive me when I say that I have had a knot in my stomach over this irrational groupthink. And, I’ve had it for nigh on two years. Grown men have been emasculated; women are nervous wrecks. Over what? The pandemic is mostly over. Omicron isn’t much worse than a cold. But don’t tell that to the replacement governor of New York. And, don’t tell Facebook; otherwise they may shut you down the way that they have done to Abbot Tryphon. The manipulation and censorship aren’t funny anymore.

This is what we have lost during this pandemic: our trust in a government that constricts our freedom to do and say whatever we used to be able to say or do; our trust in large institutions outside of government, like the media, that act as though they were the fourth branch of government; our trust even in some of our hierarchs who so gullibly complied with the agenda and restricted our access to the institution which was more essential than anything else during this godawful time.

“I would conclude by pointing out that the mandatory and dictatorial push for the vaccine by governments and companies around the world is clear evidence that this vaccine is of the devil.” So says the abbot.

The pandemic may, for all intents and purposes be over, even if these institutions disagree. But now that they know that it doesn’t take much to strike fear into the hearts of Americans, even Orthodox Christians, then they will continue to cajole us, and if possible, force us to take the inoculation. And the booster. The more they do that, the less inclined we should be to comply, regardless of the purported benefit of the vaccine. We should avoid them as much as we can simply because they have done everything that they can do to force it on us. From such an ugly despotism, all Christians of good conscience should flee. Once this is over, don’t think for a moment that they won’t grasp the next opportunity to steal our sanity and our faith again, if they are able.

But, let’s not give up hope. God is with us now more than ever and we can expect him to bestow extraordinary blessings on those who are faithful throughout this time. In the end, every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. And the despots shall have their comeuppance.