Friday, May 8. 2009
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Christ is risen!
I am somewhat puzzled as to why His Beatitude is considering having a representative of the Russian church take part in the meetings of the our Synod, especially since he takes the trouble to state prior to that that we are not a Russian church. I'd really like to know what the intentions are. If the thinking is that this person has valuable advice to give, then there could certainly bve merit to the idea of having him attend some meetings where his advice is relevant to specific agenda items, but without a fuller explanation, I am leery of the idea. During a time when His Beatitude is arguing for the autonomy of the church in North America, it seems a strange move to make.
I also have to say that I do not agree that we must look to Russian spritual traditions, if it is meant that we should do so to the exclusion of others. The Russian tradition is not the only root of Orthodoxy in North America, and we must look further afield to get a complete picture of Orthodox tradition and spirituality. We must look at Greece, Antioch, Jerusalem, and even Rome, France, Ireland, England, etc. Let us remember that the Holy Orthodox Church existed in Western Europe before the schism - and I, as someone of English, Scottish and French descent proudly claim the legacy of St. Patrick, St. Irenee of Lyons, St. Alban, St. Columba, St. Benedict, St. Ambrose and countless other Western saints as my rightful inheritance. No one nation or people have all the answers, the Church is bigger than any single country.
#1 A perplexed Canadian on 2009-05-08 15:24
I though it was strange, too. It would be one thing if he wanted to revive the ancient Constantinopolitan practice of having whatever bishops happen to be in town sit with the synod, but to limit it to one Russian bishops seems very strange. Is the Russian Church going to have the American Church send a bishop to sit with their synod?
#1.1 Anonymous on 2009-05-08 15:50
I would venture that he is proposing to the Russian Patriarch that a representative bishop would be the shepherd of culturally Russian churches within the OCA. This was mentioned in one of his former interviews. The representative bishops I guess would answer to both Met, and Pat?
Having a Russian bishop sit in would be a large step toward that direction. Also, it might create some unity if other jurisdictions feel that they have some ownership (even honorary) in decisions of other jurisdictions.
#1.2 Reader Michael on 2009-05-08 17:50
That would seem to be the logical explanation, but it is still not one without difficulties. On the one hand, it raises the question of whether such dual allegiancy is the way to go. Under St. Raphael, an attitude of dual allegiancy amongst Syro-Arabs broke down at his funeral. Would dual allegiancies amongst Russians and those of Russian descent similarly break down later? On another note, there is the canonicity of the whole thing. If the bishop is sitting in as an advisor, that is one thing. If he starts voting as a member of the synod, that is another. There is also the question of whether +Jonah is being a little hypocritical here--no foreign bishops unless they're Russian? This raises the related concern: just how involved do we want Moscow to be in OCA affairs? I think the OCA should discuss these and probably other angles to all of this before the synod proceeds on this.
It will be very interesting to see how this moves forward.
#1.2.1 Phileas on 2009-05-09 09:23
I would venture that the move to include a member of the MP on the Synod is simply smart ecclesiastical politics. The OCA is increasingly isolated in world Orthodoxy and indeed not only its autocephaly but its very pan-Orthodox vision (historically rooted in modern Russian theology amongst other influences: here one thinks of Florovsky and his students Schmemann and Meyendorff) is rejected by much of the Orthodox world which following 1989 has retreated into its ethnic fiefdoms. In such a climate, and with a "pan-Orthodox" meeting in June to deal with its future to which it is not invited (where it is rumoured that some wish a swap to be done where the EP gets America in exchange for it renouncing its involvement in Ukraine--a very bad deal for the MP as this would tacitly acknowledge the EP authority over the "diaspora"), its "protector" is the MP and the MP wishes to be more involved in North America to counter Greek hegemony but has its hands tied by its own tomos. Thus including a MP bishop on the synod helps the OCA to maintain its continued ministry in world Orthodoxy and something like independence. Also I would not surprised if this reflects a desire of the MP, as in Europe, for some sort of unification of all the "Russian" churches in America as the beginning of a local church and permanently establishing MP's influence over the Church in North America. Politics in the world and the churches is the art of the possible...
#1.3 Brandon Gallaher on 2009-05-11 02:27
I find this monastery/monastic fetish very disturbing. At a time when the OCA needs to be put back together, when the laity need more trust in its leadership, when we have a shortage of QUALIFIED properly elected bishops, when contributions are down, what is His Beatitude talking about?
Most of the mature adults in the Church will not follow bishops that have checked out of the hotel reality. Most of us do not want a Church top heavy with "men in black" or women for that matter. Monastics have their place, but not in a family-oriented parish.....
Building monasteries? No thank you! Not on my dime, not on my watch. If we have 25 monasteries like +jonah say's, that should be enough for now. Lets try to buck up the membership in each one of those 25 from 2 monks to 50, then go and build.
This CSB/HOOM things sounds very very disturbing too. Can anyone write more on this? I think we need to hear a lot more about these people.
#2 no name on 2009-05-08 16:07
Please clarify for this reader. What is "CSB/HOOM"?
(editor's note: From Wikipediia:
"The Holy Order of MANS (usually abbreviated as HOOM or HOM) was a religious cult founded by ex-engineer Earl Blighton that started in the 1960s. It was based on another religious idea of Blighton and others called the Science of Man. MANS is an acronym for the Greek words:
In 1988, after denouncing the heresy involved with the religious movement, many of its members and hierarchy joined a non-canonical group of the Orthodox Church under the name Christ the Saviour Brotherhood (or Christ the Savior Brotherhood; abbreviated as CSB). During the 1990s to about 2000, many members of CSB joined canonical jurisdictions of the Orthodox Church."
An explanation of the journey of the Holy Order of MANS to becoming the Christ the Saviour Brotherhood to entering canonical Orthodoxy can be read in Again Magazine, Vol. 23, No. 1, January-March 2001, pp. 23-26.
#2.1 Anonymous on 2009-05-08 19:20
In a note from the Editor, Mark wrote: "MANS is an acronym for the Greek words: Mysterion, Agape, Nous, Sophia..."
The above referenced **exoteric** explanation seems to have eclipsed the fact the MANS was originally an **esoteric** acronym.
HOOM was a mystery cult, with the initiate given different explanations for the acronym depending on the level of initiation. At one level I've been told that the explanation was “Masters Alumined (K)Nights of the Spirit.”
”Alumined” was probably a reference to the Order's ”rite of illumination,” where some initiates reportedly saw ”a luminous column” inside themselves. (The Odyssey of a New Religion, Phillip Charles Lucas, p. 260)
After Blighton's death in 1974, Vincent Rossi eventually took over the leadership of the group. Following the Jonestown massacre in 1978, the Order found itself on various cult watch lists. This spurred the new HOOM leader to develop a more traditional Christian appearance for the group, including an explanation for the acronym that could be presented to outsiders. As a result, the media began reporting that the initials stood for the Greek words “Mysterion, Agape, Nous, and Sophia.”
I recommend reading the Lucas book referenced above for anyone who in interested in HOOM/CSB.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
This is the saddest comment I have heard on this forum - EVER.
(editor's note: You should see what I don't allow to be posted.)
#2.2 Anonymous on 2009-05-09 04:59
Y'know, maybe you should talk to someone who actually knows Abbot Gerasim. I've never heard a bad word about him.
As for your `monastic fetish,' consider that monasticism in the OCA has been on life support for the last 40 years or so. I have no desire to be a monk, I don't go visiting monasteries in my spare time, and I don't think monasticism is a higher calling than marriage. But I still recognize that the rhythm of monastic life provides the heartbeat of the Church, and when monasteries struggle, the Church struggles.
I agree that building more monasteries isn't necessarily the answer. But you need to consider what you write before you write it....
#2.3 Aleksei on 2009-05-09 07:32
What people seem to be missing in this post is its most important statement, the next to last paragraph. While I generally disagreed with the author of this comment, I found great agreement in this next to last paragraph.
I agree that we Orthodox should be looking to build up the monasteries that already exist. So many of our monastics are left on their own, with very few brothers/sisters in the monastery to work out their salvation together. This is not good for them. Man was not meant to be alone.
While I disagree with the author until this point, I also disagree with +MJ. Building more monasteries has become an Orthodox mantra. It is just another attempt for us to cover up our real problems. We look for all sorts of external signs to convince ourselves that everything is OK. Building more monasteries is not what we need. What we need is an authentic monastic revival, similar to what has happened in Greece and on the Holy Mountain.
I hope that we do have a monastic revival, but building more monasteries is not the answer. The answer is having healthy monasteries with a real community living there.
#2.4 An Antiochian Priest on 2009-05-09 07:35
Monasticism is critically important for the Church as a whole. Few are called to that vocation, but the labor of prayer that they undertake for the whole world is one of the things keeping chaos at bay, for yet a little while. Nobody wants "your dime," No Name. Monastics support themselves.
#2.5 Scott Walker on 2009-05-09 13:35
Christ is risen! Christ est ressuscité! Khristos voskrese!
I think monaticism, healthy monastic communities, are vital to the health of the OCA. I don't think there's a fetish, but rather, the monastic life is still not an option that's accessible enough for people. The idea is not to dominate, but to complement parish life. Stong parishes and monasteries are both needed, along with the proper understanding of the role each play in the life of the church. They have different callings. I do agree that monastics do not always have a place in the life of a parish, but that's equally for the sake of the monastic as for the parish. I belong to a parish that shared a home with a monastic cell. They gave us much, and I'll forever be grateful for all I learned from them, but there came a time where we needed to part and each establish our own lives. It wasn't easy, but it was necessary for the parish to stand on its own, and for the monks to be able to embrace a fuller monastic life.
All this to say that I'm not alarmed at His Beatitude's wish to further strengthen monastic life in N.A. (I actually wish he'd look more at helping develop further the monastic life in Canada - it needs more help than the US) BUT I think it's a fair question to ask what's the better way to go about it - helping the monasteries we already have vs. building new ones. In the case of St. Tikhon's and the machinations of +Herman, one could make the argument that it's better to start anew...
All that being said, and despite the fact that I and others will have further things to discuss, or see and hear further things that puzzle or dismay us, PLEASE remember, dear brothers and sisters, that regardless of what happens, none of this changes the essence of our faith, and none of this should rob us of our joy in comtemplating the one thing that matters - CHRIST IS RISEN!!! INDEED HE IS RISEN!!!
#2.6 A perplexed Canadian on 2009-05-09 16:06
Having been a member of Christ the Savior Brotherhood (the former Holy Order of MANS) for many years, including serving on the Board of Directors for several years, I am quite puzzled as to why Fr. Gerasim is being identified as coming from CSB. While he certainly played a part in helping the group come into Orthodoxy, he was never himself a member (unless that happened after the group became Orthodox?).
As to knowing more about this group, there are many priests now serving in the OCA who came from this background so there is no lack of people around to speak with. Met. Jonah himself was instrumental in bringing the west coast parishes into canonical Orthodoxy.
#2.7 Magdalena on 2009-05-10 16:29
Check out the pokrov website for a good introduction. At the same time don't make the mistake of thinking everyone associated with these groups is crazy, they're not...HOWEVER cult like groups can taint even the best souls .........Fr Gerasim is one of the best souls no doubt about that BUT should he be a bishop???? Let the people decide...enough of the clerics....
#3 Mike on 2009-05-08 19:34
We all convert from something. Jesus said true Christians would be known by their fruit, not by what religion they were converted out of. I know many people who converted to Orthodoxy from CSB and i wish I was half as holy as they. Really. I'm not saying this proposed bishop is any good, or the way he is being selected is any good. I'm just saying converts by necessity convert from something.
#3.1 Anonymous on 2009-05-09 21:57
Preface: I was baptized OCA, I am a member of a ROCOR Church, but attend an OCA church in my local area regularly.
Well its a fact that many people that comment on this site just don't get it. They don't get Orthodoxy, they don't get spirituality, they don't get how to build the faith, they don't get how to take the seed of Orthodoxy and make it grow into a fruit bearing tree. I am not formally trained in seminary, I am a young person, maybe I'm the one who just doesn't get it. I say all of this recognizing my own faults, failings, lack of faith, and lack of discernment. Lord have mercy!
Humility and obedience are sorely lacking in America. Are we just so jaded by the scandal, that we can no longer trust any clerics anymore? Saying no to monasteries? Awful, just an awful statement. Its the lack of Monasteries and the distain for monastic life that leads the church to disorder. Monastic orders are not encouraged for young people in America. Its all about going to college, getting a good job, getting a big house, etc. If monasticism is truely supported and implemented with fervor in america, not just making it seem like a bunch of wierdos in the woods, then Orthodoxy can truely grow in America and bear fruits.
Its all connected. Monasteries to Seminaries to Bishops to Priest down to diocese, parishes, and the individual family. Saying no to one of these integral parts makes no sense. Athonite monasteries, Desert Monasteries in Egypt, Valaam Monasteries in Russia, these are all pillars of the Orthodox faith, examples for us all. Why not implement these in America, starting with the TRADITION WE ARE MOST FAMILIAR WITH. THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH. The facts are that the OCA chants Russian Style, They sing Russian Style, the follow the Russian Typicon, and some parishes still follow the Old Calendar. Russia is the first place the OCA should look for guidance and help in struggles. This does not mean just absorbing back into the Russian Church, or submitting to a "foreign despot" as someone once said. And it doesn't mean that Russia is always right and we in America don't know what we are doing....
Recognizing that we a American Orthodox cannot do this alone is a giant, positive step that many OCA members are not willing to do. Open your hearts! Get help from Orthodox Churches who have endured century upon century of trials, hardships, failures, and triumphs. Then and only then can we be mature enough as an Orthodox America to fruitfully grow and spread the truth of Christ, unchanged, and unadulterated.
Also, this utter resistance to the Russian Orthodox church, our mother church will lead us no where. The OCA was just in a painful, widespread scandal of corruption from the top down. What is wrong with a little bit of a reset? Take a few steps back so you can take many steps forward. Bringing in a Russian Bishop to help guide the church in America, (WHICH IS STILL AN INFANT BY THE WAY) would only strengthen ties with the world of Orthodoxy and help towards the goal of Orthodox Unity in America.
I mean say all of this with no arrogance, forgive me a sinner for offense to anyone.
#4 Alex Uram on 2009-05-08 20:45
I don't believe anyone on this site has ever said a blanket "no" to monasticism. Many have promoted it as a cure all for our problems, others, including myself, have stressed its limitations. Interestingly enough, as Mark has said below, many of the monastics who post here have cautioned about seeing monasticism as a panacea for all that ails us.
Monasticism has its place in the life of the Church, but it is open to question as to whether all our bishops should come, either technically or in actuality from its ranks, whether we need new monasteries rather than more monastics, etc., etc. etc. In other words we will continue to have differences of opinion on the role and extent of monastic influence in the Church. That is as it should be.
#4.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-05-09 06:15
Bravo, Alex! You sound like a sincere, God-loving member of the Orthodox Faith who is sincerely worried about the future of the Church. I agree....most people just don't get it. They are more concerned about being the "American Church" than they are about being Orthodox faithful. +MJ is trying to direct the faithful in a positive direction...trying to regroup and get the members of the OCA back on the right track. I have visited many OCA churches over the past 20 years since I left the jurisdiction, and in many it is difficult to believe that they practice the same Faith that I do...it is amazing how many changes have taken place in the liturgics of the Church. It is just as amazing to see how many "new Orthodox" have brought in practices from their former religions. Why can't we just be Orthodox Christians who follow the Faith that supposedly never changes?
(Editor's note: The key word there is "supposedly". As the late great Jaroslav Pelikan pointed out "Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living." We are to neither add nor detract from Faith, but as Fr. Meyendoff pointed out, sometimes you have to change to stay the same. The Orthodox Faith has survived heretics, schismatics, pagans, emperors, lost empires, dictactorships, reformers, reactionaries, you name it. It will survive America as well, rest assured. But it will change in the process - just as it changed when it grew from Judea to Hellas, from Hellas to the Slavic world, from the Slavic world to America - wherever it has gone.)
#4.2 Another "former" member of the OCA on 2009-05-11 01:42
Alex, you better stick with your ROCOR parish....it seems the OCA is hopeless with attitudes of those written on this website. I believe the OCA has now become more Protestant than Orthodox. It seems as if many parishioners are ashamed of their Orthodox roots...they want to be more American than Orthodox. If you have a decent ROCOR parish that you belong to, why would you attend an OCA church? Maybe you're still OCA at heart?!?
#4.3 Questioning in Ohio on 2009-05-13 04:41
Amen to Post 1 and 2!
#5 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-05-09 04:49
Was so very encouraqged to hear of +MJ's desire for more monasteries. That is the key for Orthodoxy in America...to foster our spiritual tradition. If we lose that we have nothing to offer and become just one more "denomination."
(editor's note: Excuse me, what we have "to offer" is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not Orthodox monasticism. Let's not forget the forest for the trees. Monasticism, as wonderful a spiritual tradition as it is, is just another means of working out ones salvation in a specific context and usually, place. It is not salvation itself - nor can "it" save us, or our Church, apart from Him. "Monasticism" per se, is not the cure for all our ills - as any monk will tell you. It just highlights the practices - prayer, asceticism, etc. - that all can be more fully participating in.)
#6 Antionymous on 2009-05-09 05:02
Don't misrepresent me Mark. We lose our effectiveness in living and preaching the Gospell, if we reject our spiritual tradition as represented in the monastic movement.
Feeling a little punchy?
(Editor's note: Not at all, thanks! I did not intend to misrepresent you, only to point out that the Gospel preceeded monasticism by some 300 years. One can live and preach the Gospel without monasticism - although, one would be poorer for the attempt nowadays. )
#6.1 Antionymous on 2009-05-09 09:26
I agree! Maybe I'M the punchy one......
#6.1.1 Antionymous on 2009-05-10 14:55
Many people speak of the value of monasticism and the Holy Mountain which has preserved so many treasures and works of art and architecture for so many centuries. Indeed, we can also acknowledge the offer of monasticism at this level.
But we consider as its greatest offer the preservation of the Church’s therapeutic treatment. For, it is this which gives us hope and the possibility to find this therapeutic method when we need it. And when we reach total despair, hope is activated. We are grateful to the monastics and to the Holy Mountain, mainly for this reason. We are deeply indebted to these sanctified people, who protect the Orthodox tradition.
It is observed nowadays as well that many people approach sanctified monks, who practise the therapeutic treatment of the Church, to ask them on matters of spiritual life. The people of our days feel that they must be healed of their passions. They live in the suffocating atmosphere of passions and want to be delivered from them. They are aware that a formal Church attendance is not enough.
The appropriate method is also necessary. That is why monks are always the shepherds of the people in a indirect way, although they are not directly such. They do not substitute for the work of the shepherds, but they preserve and use the therapeutic treatment [In Orthodox monasticism a perfect therapeutic treatment exists -consisting of purification, illumination and theosis] that has been lost in contemporary ecclesiastical life. Or, even if it is not lost, at least, it is replaced by a moral mode of life.
However man’s soul, which yearns for real communion with God, does not find rest in anthropocentric systems and humanistic methods of therapy. It seeks something genuine and authentic.
Monks therefore are the theologians of the Church in the sense which we developed in this conversation. They know God and can guide man unerringly to reach God.
- Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos
#6.2 Anonymous on 2009-05-11 16:44
With all due respect, this commentary on monasticism is a perfect example of why many of us are disturbed by its proponents' claims.
The notion that monasticism is some kind of higher calling where Orthodoxy is preserved undefiled is at best misguided and quasi-Gnostic and at worst an arrogant assertion that is pernicious nonsense. Of course, there are many monastics who lead a holy life and bring many to God, just as there are many who don't. And it's the same way in the world--many good priests and laity leading Christian lives and witnessing to the Lord without being "shepherded" by a monastic overseer.
That is not to say that monasticism hasn't played an important, and frequently constructive role, in the life and history of the Church. But a little more modesty and less idealizing is in order (a la Igumen Philip) rather than the grandiose claim that monastics "know God and can guide man to unerringly reach God."
#6.2.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-05-12 05:04
The need to assess monasticism in reference to WHAT AMERICA NEEDS NOW (a la Frs. Schmemann and Meyendorff), not how it has been called to serve other cultures and other times, is preeminent in my estimation. Orthodoxy bends itself so that the bruised reed will not be crushed. This is the love of God in action.
Time, money and effort should be addressed to evangelization, not to setting up monasteries a la the Old World. The world is going to hell. Do we care? Will the parishes who live *in the world*, reach out to those around them? Evangelization will bring the people to the Church for healing, not to monasteries. Monasteries will be a form of support via prayer, but it is the parish that will be able to reach and bring healing and Good News to the poor.
The emphasis should be on the parish ministry in evangelization.
#18.104.22.168 Ever and anon. on 2009-05-12 07:57
One need only read the European press to learn that the "perfect" monks of the Holy Mountain have engaged in influence peddling in civil affairs having nothing to do with spirituality, physical fights over property, and a very legally questionable multi-million Euro land deal in the past few years.
They are human, too, and at times fall prey to the passions of life in a fallen world.
#22.214.171.124 Overseas Observer on 2009-05-12 09:40
An oft quoted figure that I've heard in Orthodox circles (both in the ROCOR and the OCA) is that 75% of the Saints in the Orthodox Church are monastics. So what we really need is more hagiography and less iconoclasm.
(Editor's note: While I don't disagree with more hagiography or less iconoclasm, the citation is of dubious meaning. Is it any wonder that monastic bishops recognize monastics more often than lay persons, male or female, or clergy? Sanctity is recognized in the same way in the Church as celebrity is in secular world: by becoming known. Monastics hear and learn about and read about other monastics - they do not have much exposure to those familial saints like St. Julianna (Ossourgine), or parish clergy. So the 75% figure may be true - it just says little about the real number of saints, only those who receive official approbation.)
#126.96.36.199 Anonymous on 2009-05-15 19:17
"About sixty percent of our flock are Americans who have accepted Orthodoxy. 30% are former Uniates, and about 10% - Russian emigres."
Who came up with these numbers? The last mass reception of "Uniates" into the OCA--the Holy Cross/Holy Protection Monastery--yielded about 5 or 6... individuals. I don't think one could say that someone whose grandparents or great-grandparents were Greek Catholics who joined the Metropolia 75-100 years ago is a "former Uniate." Or maybe you can take the man out of the Unia, but you can't take the Unia out of the man?
#7 A. Rusznak on 2009-05-09 06:41
I would imagine that the Uniate label is permanent, just as is the label "convert".
I hope the many Romanian immigrants, who make up at least 10% of the OCA membership, are not made to feel ignored by this unfortunately all to typical misstatement by +Jonah.
#7.1 Overseas Observer on 2009-05-09 12:53
I would be much more interested in seeing an AOCA & GOA bishop each being invited to sit in on every Synod meeting (even as observers) than with importing a bishop from overseas.
Is it too much to ask that our Metropolitan/Synod spend more time with a bishop just down the street (or across the river) than with bishops over the Atlantic?
Priest Christopher Wojcik
#8 Priest Christopher Wojcik on 2009-05-09 08:00
"I would be much more interested in seeing an AOCA & GOA bishop each being invited to sit in on every Synod meeting (even as observers) than with importing a bishop from overseas."
I am in complete agreement with you, Father.
#8.1 Anonymous on 2009-05-10 21:35
I'm curious too about the 30% uniates. Does MJ mean 30% the grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great great children of the uniates who came from Austro-Hungray in the late 1800's and early 1900's. My children consider themselves "American Orthodox" not Russian Orthodox or Greek Orthodox. I consider myself Russian Orthodox or Eastern Orthodox but a member of the OCA. The OCA uses a Russian Typicon, chant and music. It does not use a Greek Typicon. It would be nice to see parishes that have many different Orthodox ethncities to use a mixture of different Orthodox little traditions and music in its liturgical life. I have been to Rocor parishes and Moscow P. parishes and their church life and liturgics are identical to the OCA, which is no surprise since we are only separated by administrations and hierarchs.
Monasticism has a lot to offer to America-- good, healthy communities that can be places for spiritual renewal for all people. There is too much vulgarity in much of our secular American life--movies, tv etc.
If the MJ is talking about a Russian Orthodox hierach to be a visitor to the OCA Synod, he is refering to a ROCOR and a Mocow Pat. Bishop (one who is already here in the States). I thought SCOBA was a place where all hierarchs in the Americas get together. Just not sure what MJ has in mind.
#9 anonymous on 2009-05-09 18:38
I wonder where I fit within those statistics?
I was baptized and Chrismated in the Russian Orthodox Church (not ROCOR) in Ouzinkie Alaska before there was an OCA.
Fr Gerasim (Schmaltz) a Archimandrite from Russia was our priest for the final fifty years of his life. He never joined or moved to the OCA, but he asked our community to decide for ourselves if we would.
#9.1 Ted Panamarioff on 2009-05-12 11:41
I would have to suspend my judgment about the Metropolitan’s intentions for Alaska and a Russian bishop as an observer. The Metropolitan named Arch. Gerasim only as a candidate. Is there any reason to believe that +Jonah will disregard the wishes of Alaskans? I do believe that a diocese should elect its hierarch, but has Alaska come up with an alternative nominee? What if Alaskans happen to like this candidate? As far as the man’s past associations, well, I would not want to be judged by my 20-year-old past. I was perplexed by the idea of inviting a representative Russian bishop and would like to hear the Metropolitan’s rationale for this.
That said, it is a little disconcerting to me that we, the American faithful, learn about our Primate’s plans for our Church from overseas interviews. And they have not even been posted on the official website, so without ocanews we’d be in the dark. Perhaps, to facilitate communication between the hierarchs and the faithful our bishops could regularly give interviews. As an MC member and the editor of this website, Mr. Stokoe could easily generate questions from the faithful to which our Primate could “directly, concretely and honestly” respond on a regular basis. Or is this too much democracy to ask for?
#10 Karina Ross on 2009-05-09 18:59
Metropolitan Jonah seems to be placing
great emphasis on Mexico in his vision
for American Orthodoxy. Curiously, the
astonishing history of the Mexican Orthodox
before their reception into the OCA appears
to be completely unknown in El Norte.
If the story of the Russian Empire in
Alaska, and of ethnic immigration elsewhere,
is relevant to the present Orthodox
situation, surely that of Plutarco Calles
and his Cristero enemies is not completely
I am no expert on this subject, and am
therefore somewhat perturbed to find that
my webpage on the Mexican National Church
is the first page to appear when one types
"orthodox mexico" into Google. At least it
has a bibliography, to which I refer the
readers of this letter.
Norman Hugh Redington
(Editor's note: Clever, but shameless, self-promotion Mr. Redington. For those wishing to read about the history of the OCA diocese of Mexico I refer them to the library of SVS which holds a copy of an excellent recent thesis on the late Bishop Jose done by a Mexican Dominican studying at SVS.)
Thanks for this reference Mark. I've ordered a copy and will be reading it soon.
#11.1 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2009-05-11 20:05
Good monastics like good bishops come from a strong Body. They in turn strenghen the Body even more. The contemplative life is a strong part of the Orthodox Church in and out of monasterys. However, we are not a monastic church any more than we are a clerical church
Without a strong contemplative life and attendance on the sacraments seeking union with Christ, we have no Church. These are elemental in living the Gospel.
#12 Michael Bauman on 2009-05-10 18:57
The selection of Jonah as Metropolitan brought much joy and hope to the remaining OCA flock. Now it is becoming increasingly apparent there's a force behind him with a plan. His latest politically incorrect move speaks loudly. Why have his flock learn of his plans through interviews given to Russia? It seems it's in his best interest to focus on healing and gathering support from his flock in the USA rather than raising eyebrows. Who is dictating these moves? Are we in trouble again before getting out from under shadows cast by the previous leadership?
#13 ANON on 2009-05-13 04:36
My advice to +Jonah would be:
You are the new kid on the block. Get your house in order first. The Church entrusted to your care has been in disarray (the reason this web site exists) for quite some time. You have vacant sees that need to be filled, and the OCA has a history of failing to do so for years. There are still members of your Synod that failed the Church in their handling of the "crisis" that recently seems to have come to a close. They need to re-establish their credibility. You have inherited an OCA that has not, in any manner, demonstrated a sustained ability to manage its own affairs, not less become the leader of all the Orthodox in America.
Rather than throw the gauntlet at overseas primates with parishes in America, spend a few years establishing an exemplary Church, both spiritually and organizationally. Establish a multi-cultural "American" Church, not a faux Russian one. If you build bridges, people might just cross over them to the OCA. But if you tear them down they cannot and will not, and the vast majority of the Orthodox in America are not OCA communicants. Consider that some of the obstacles to Orthodox unity might just be of the OCA's creation and see if they can be overcome.
If the only reasons you can offer the faithful in the US for uniting under the OCA are 1) We were here first, and 2)We are autocephalous, you will never succeed. Unity under the OCA will only come when you offer something of substance pertaining to people's Christian lives, their personal inner being and their eternal salvation that only unity can provide. Unity under the OCA will only come when you show that you are seriously evangelizing the North American continent, not just picking up a couple of converts here and there while your total numbers continue to diminish. Remember that your goal is to UNITE the Orthodox in North America, not overthrow the other primates and steal their sheep.
You need to choose your words carefully when you speak, and be 100% backed by verifiable facts. Better to say "I really don't know" than to prove it by tossing out the wildly speculative numbers you have recently used. You need to announce, to your flock, your thoughts about changes you are considering before you tell them to others. People grow weary of following leaders who are regularly imprecise, inaccurate or inconsiderate when they speak.
Slow down, Your Beatitude. Take the time to learn about what has been going on and what is going on. Then plot a course for the future, and enlist your flock's support. Establish, for yourself and the OCA, a productive track record over the next few years. Then you can begin to see what is necessary to gain the support of those in other jurisdictions for a united Orthodox Church in North America.
My prayers are with you.
#14 Overseas Observer on 2009-05-15 14:22
Well said, Overseas Observer!
#14.1 Ever and anon. on 2009-05-16 10:20
Why no mention of New Skete? Its a wonderful, vibrant, vivifying place that is very Local in its expression of Orthodoxy....Why do we need to look to Russia for monastic traditions?
(editor's note: Or, for that matter, episcopal candidates? I can think of at least one monk at New Skete who I would be proud to have as my Bishop. Of course, he'd probably come with a dog....)
#15 Anonymous on 2009-05-21 20:32
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