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Photographs from the elevation of Fr. Pedro to spiritual father – confessor On 15/28 July, 2009, Bp. Kirykos Kontogiannis tonsures Fr. Pedro to the rank of spiritual father – confessor. This means that from this moment Fr. Pedro has the sacred right and spiritual duty to confess and advise the faithful, and to guide them in Confession and Holy Communion. On the same day, Fr. Panteleimon was also elevated to the rank of confessor. Fr. Pedro (in the red phelonion) is tonsured as spiritual father ‐ confessor The newly‐tonsured confessors are given their epigonatia
Archimandrite Euthymius K. Epiphaniou Faidrou 1‐3‐8 Pakgrati, Athens 1135 GREECE In Athens on October 11, 1991 ENCYCLICAL – EPISTLE of he who relies on the Lordʹs mercy, Euthymius K. Epiphaniou the Cypriot, To the Reverend Clergy of all the parishes, the Monks and Nuns of the Holy Monasteries and Hermitages of the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece and elsewhere. Brethren, Fathers and Sisters, bless! ʺWhen sin becomes chief, it draws everyone to perditionʺ and ʺWe are guilty for these things, but suffer for other things.ʺ By diverting from these reasonings, God granted and arranged a great winter [suffering] in the realms of our Church for 20 years and more, accelerating recently, with innumerable consequences. This is because, beloved brethren, we displaced the order of the Church, we departed from the line of navigation and tradition of the Holy Father kyr Matthew Karpathakis and we accepted a cheirothesia from the Russians of the Diaspora, the apostasy of eight clergy from the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians occurred, and the falling away of the reposed Monk Callistus (former [Bishop] of Corinth Callistus), who were all deposed and moreover Callistus with the accusation of rejection and destruction of the icon of the Holy Trinity and for fighting against saints (See K.G.O. October, 1977, page 9). [Here Fr. Euthymius refers to the very tampering and additions he made to the original acts prior to their publication in the official periodical.] This is because, in 1979, the ʺgroup of new theologiansʺ surrounding our Archbishop Andrew, put together a speech and by the mouth of the Archbishop the following blasphemy was voiced: ʺThe presence of the struggle of the Church of Genuine Orthodox Christians, as we are well aware is of the highest importance, equates with the incarnation of the Lord, his Good News, his Crucifixion and His Holy Resurrection, to wit, it is the Church of Christ,ʺ and through the periodical ʺChurch of the Genuine Orthodoxʺ (See the issue for June, 1979) it was circulated ʺurbi et orbiʺ and although many of us protested that this blasphemy be removed, it never happened. [Here Fr. Euthymius refers to his own tampering of the original text and quotes it as ʺThe presence of the struggle of the Church, despite the official clarification that the real text is ʺThe presence of the Struggling Church.ʺ Thus he ignores the three subsequent corrections and explanations given in the official periodical in the following issues: October, 1979, p. 21; April, 1980, p. 31; and February, 1983, p. 57. After a decade since this issue was settled, Fr. Euthymius brought it up again in his present ʺencyclicalʺ simply in order to satisfy his demands that the Genuine Orthodox Church not be identified with the Church of Christ.] This is because the new theologians (according to the opinion and support of our Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians), since they were lacking a means of financial support, they decided to enterprise [the Church] as a bankrupt company, and they renamed [the Church] ʺUninnovatedʺ [Akainotometos], and unfortunately the Hierarchs placed their seal [on this] because the new theologians, instead of correcting themselves and repenting for the damage that they provoked in the Church, they placed a schedule of income for their group and they invented unorthodox ways for various clergy to receive ʺDegreesʺ in theology, they also puffed out the minds of various assisting garb‐bearers [rasophoroi] who have declared a war once more against Orthodoxy. They abysmally war against and reject the tradition of the Church, refusing to venerate the icon of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), the icon of the Resurrection of the Lord, replacing it with the Descent into Hades, the icon of the Pentecost if our Lady the Theotokos is present in it, and they accept the icon of the Nativity of Christ (with the bathtub and the midwives). And by these means having become iconomachs‐iconoclasts, and deniers of their faith, regardless of whether they are girdled in priesthood. Wearing the skin of sheep, they work towards the destruction of the flock, by writing and circulating pamphlets against the abovementioned holy icons. They impose their heretical opinions upon those that are submitted to them. They create civil splintering and division in the Monasteries. They question various Fathers of the Church, particularly St. Nicodemus of Mt. Athos, and the new pillar of Orthodoxy kyr Archbishop Matthew Karpathakis. They provoke quarrels and disputes like what happened last Pascha at Lebadia [Diaulia] and Bolus [Demetrias] on the day of the Resurrection, and the worst is that they work together for the purpose of placing canons [of penance] on Nuns of the Convent [of the Entry of the Mother of God at Keratea] and Monks, by various Spiritual Fathers, under the accusation that the Nuns and Monks praiseworthily insist upon keeping what the Catholic Church upholds and preserves. They who behave as neo‐iconoclasts are: the Hieromonks Cassian Braun, Amphilochius Tambouras, Neophytus Tsakiroglou, Tarasius Karagounis, and the foreign [incomer] Archpastor of the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration [at Kouvara] Hegumen Stephan Tsakiroglou, who declares that he is a rationalist. My beloved, by giving in to one evil, ten thousand others follow, and the words are fulfilled to the maximum: we are at fault and for this we suffer, not as persons, but as a Church, and, explicitly, because: 1. we are stained by the iniquity of the cheirothesia of 1971 2. the voiced blasphemy of 1979 remains Let us not be entertained by the evil that has befallen the realms of our Church. It is necessary for us to pray, to censure the paranoia of the newfound iconoclasts, to request from our honorable Hierarchy, as soon as possible, the cleansing [catharsis] from the realms of our Church, these nonsensical iconoclasts and those who are likeminded unto them, [to request] their condemnation, regardless of how high their position is, because these [people] are led astray from the truth, and we must declare in a stentorian manner, that whether alone or with many others, we will champion the saving truth, faithful to what we have been taught, what we have learned and what we have received, adding nothing and subtracting nothing, whatever the Catholic Church contains and upholds undiminished and uninnovated. Do not fall, brethren. A winter [suffering] has befallen our Church. The Lord our God lives, so that he is among us and he is for us. May the prayers of the Confessors of our Faith, the older and the newer, as well as of the newfound pillar of Orthodoxy, ever‐memorable Archbishop Matthew the Cretan, enlighten us, bring us to our senses, and guide all of us towards the path of salvation, which requires truth, faith and invincible struggle. To those who do not correctly receive the divine voices of the Holy Teachers of the Church of God, and what has been fittingly and manifestly explained in [the Church] by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and attempts to misinterpret them and rotate them, they are the curse, and the wrath is upon their shoulders. Farewell in the Lord, my beloved brethren, The least among all ‐ brother and concelebrant, Archimandrite Euthymius K. Epiphaniou
1 1 Note that, according to the Ecclesiastical History of Theodoret (Book V, ch. 17), notwithstanding the fact that the believer Emperor Theodosius was absolved by St. Ambrose of guilt due to the foul murder he had caused, yet, in spite of this, when he offered the gifts to God inside the Holy Bema and expected to commune there, St. Ambrose would not let him in, telling him that “the inner sanctuary, O Emperor, is accessible to priests alone”; and he was ordered to stay out of the Bema. Thereafter even when the Emperor went to Constantinople, he offered the gifts to God inside the Holy Bema, but immediately stepped outside, and did not go back in to commune, according to custom. For, says Theodoret, after offering the gifts at the sacred table, he at once went out, the most faithful emperor thus showing by his example that emperors who have committed foul murders ought not to commune inside the Bema. See also Nicephorus Callistus, Book XII, ch. 41. Hence let priests and confessors be induced to see to it that the unlawful custom prevailing in many places be cut out — the custom, I mean, of letting laymen come into the Holy Bema, which, failing to distinguish between priests and laymen, causes the latter to incur the penalty which befell King Ahaz, who, though a layman, undertook to perform the functions of those in holy orders. For they too, in such a case, are in a way usurping the functions of priests by entering the place allotted to priests. But if it is unlawful for laymen even to enter the Bema, how much more unlawful must be that which some ignorant priests do in having laymen or anagnosts prepare the holy elements in the holy prothesis on Maundy Thursday inside the Bema! So, for the love of God, let them cease doing this, lest they incur deposition from their holy order. Symeon of Thessalonica, on the other hand, says (ch. 143) that an emperor may commune within the Bema only at the time when he is being anointed as emperor, after from the deacons, and not at the Holy Table, but at a credence table placed beside it and having an antimension laid upon it.
FROM THE ANAPHORAE OF THE ANCIENT CHURCH REGARDING “WORTHINESS” OF HOLY COMMUNION This can also be demonstrated by the secret prayers within Divine Liturgy. From the early Apostolic Liturgies, right down to the various Liturgies of the Local Churches of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, Rome, Gallia, Hispania, Britannia, Cappadocia, Armenia, Persia, India and Ethiopia, in Liturgies that were once vibrant in the Orthodox Church, prior to the Nestorian, Monophysite and Papist schisms, as well as those Liturgies still in common use today among the Orthodox Christians (namely, the Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil the Great and the Presanctified Liturgy of St. Gregory the Dialogist), the message is quite clear in all the mystic prayers that the clergy and the laity are referred to as entirely unworthy, and truly they are to believe they are unworthy, and that no action of their own can make them worthy (i.e. not even fasting), but that only the Lord’s mercy and grace through the Gifts themselves will allow them to receive communion without condemnation. To demonstrate this, let us begin with the early Apostolic Liturgies, and from there work our way through as many of the oblations used throughout history, as have been found in ancient manuscripts, among them those still offered within Orthodoxy today. St. James the Brother‐of‐God (+23 October, 62), First Bishop of Jerusalem, begins his anaphora as follows: “O Sovereign Lord our God, condemn me not, defiled with a multitude of sins: for, behold, I have come to this Thy divine and heavenly mystery, not as being worthy; but looking only to Thy goodness, I direct my voice to Thee: God be merciful to me, a sinner; I have sinned against Heaven, and before Thee, and am unworthy to come into the presence of this Thy holy and spiritual table, upon which Thy only‐begotten Son, and our Lord Jesus Christ, is mystically set forth as a sacrifice for me, a sinner, and stained with every spot.” Following the creed, the following prayer is read: “God and Sovereign of all, make us, who are unworthy, worthy of this hour, lover of mankind; that being pure from all deceit and all hypocrisy, we may be united with one another by the bond of peace and love, being confirmed by the sanctification of Thy divine knowledge through Thine only‐begotten Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, with whom Thou art blessed, together with Thy all‐holy, and good, and quickening Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” Then right before the clergy are to partake of Communion, the following is recited: “O Lord our God, the heavenly bread, the life of the universe, I have sinned against Heaven, and before Thee, and am not worthy to partake of Thy pure Mysteries; but as a merciful God, make me worthy by Thy grace, without condemnation to partake of Thy holy body and precious blood, for the remission of sins, and life everlasting.” After all the clergy and laity have received Communion, this prayer is read: “O God, who through Thy great and unspeakable love didst condescend to the weakness of Thy servants, and hast counted us worthy to partake of this heavenly table, condemn not us sinners for the participation of Thy pure Mysteries; but keep us, O good One, in the sanctification of Thy Holy Spirit, that being made holy, we may find part and inheritance with all Thy saints that have been well‐pleasing to Thee since the world began, in the light of Thy countenance, through the mercy of Thy only‐begotten Son, our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, with whom Thou art blessed, together with Thy all‐holy, and good, and quickening Spirit: for blessed and glorified is Thy all‐precious and glorious name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.” From these prayers is it not clear that no one is worthy of Holy Communion, whether they have fasted or not, but that it is God’s mercy that bestows worthiness upon mankind through participation in the Mystery of Confession and receiving Holy Communion? This was most certainly the belief of the early Christians of Jerusalem, quite contrary to Bp. Kirykos’ ideology of early Christians supposedly being “worthy of communion” because they supposedly “fasted in the finer and broader sense.” St. Mark the Evangelist (+25 April, 63), First Bishop of Alexandria, in his Divine Liturgy, writes: “O Sovereign and Almighty Lord, look down from heaven on Thy Church, on all Thy people, and on all Thy flock. Save us all, Thine unworthy servants, the sheep of Thy fold. Give us Thy peace, Thy help, and Thy love, and send to us the gift of Thy Holy Spirit, that with a pure heart and a good conscience we may salute one another with an holy kiss, without hypocrisy, and with no hostile purpose, but guileless and pure in one spirit, in the bond of peace and love, one body and one spirit, in one faith, even as we have been called in one hope of our calling, that we may all meet in the divine and boundless love, in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom Thou art blessed, with Thine all‐holy, good, and life‐creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” Later in the Liturgy the following is read: “Be mindful also of us, O Lord, Thy sinful and unworthy servants, and blot out our sins in Thy goodness and mercy.” Again we read: “O holy, highest, awe‐inspiring God, who dwellest among the saints, sanctify us by the word of Thy grace and by the inspiration of Thy all‐ holy Spirit; for Thou hast said, O Lord our God, Be ye holy; for I am holy. O Word of God, past finding out, consubstantial and co‐eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and sharer of their sovereignty, accept the pure song which cherubim and seraphim, and the unworthy lips of Thy sinful and unworthy servant, sing aloud.” Thus it is clear that whether he had fasted or not, St. Mark and his clergy and flock still considered themselves unworthy. By no means did they ever entertain the theory that “they fasted in the finer and broader sense, that is, they were worthy of communion,” as Bp. Kirykos dares to say. On the contrary, St. Mark and the early Christians of Alexandria believed any worthiness they could achieve would be through partaking of the Holy Mysteries themselves. Thus, St. Mark wrote the following prayer to be read immediately after Communion: “O Sovereign Lord our God, we thank Thee that we have partaken of Thy holy, pure, immortal, and heavenly Mysteries, which Thou hast given for our good, and for the sanctification and salvation of our souls and bodies. We pray and beseech Thee, O Lord, to grant in Thy good mercy, that by partaking of the holy body and precious blood of Thine only‐begotten Son, we may have faith that is not ashamed, love that is unfeigned, fullness of holiness, power to eschew evil and keep Thy commandments, provision for eternal life, and an acceptable defense before the awful tribunal of Thy Christ: Through whom and with whom be glory and power to Thee, with Thine all‐holy, good, and life‐creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” St. Peter the Apostle (+29 June, 67), First Bishop of Antioch, and later Bishop of Old Rome, in his Divine Liturgy, writes: “For unto Thee do I draw nigh, and, bowing my neck, I pray Thee: Turn not Thy countenance away from me, neither cast me out from among Thy children, but graciously vouchsafe that I, Thy sinful and unworthy servant, may offer unto Thee these Holy Gifts.” Again we read: “With soul defiled and lips unclean, with base hands and earthen tongue, wholly in sins, mean and unrepentant, I beseech Thee, O Lover of mankind, Saviour of the hopeless and Haven of those in danger, Who callest sinners to repentance, O Lord God, loose, remit, forgive me a sinner my transgressions, whether deliberate or unintentional, whether of word or deed, whether committed in knowledge or in ignorance.” St. Thomas the Apostle (+6 October, 72), Enlightener of Edessa, Mesopotamia, Persia, Bactria, Parthia and India, and First Bishop of Maliapor in India, in his Divine Liturgy, conveyed through his disciples, St. Thaddeus (+21 August, 66), St. Haggai (+23 December, 87), and St. Maris (+5 August, 120), delivered the following prayer in the anaphora which is to be read while kneeling: “O our Lord and God, look not on the multitude of our sins, and let not Thy dignity be turned away on account of the heinousness of our iniquities; but through Thine unspeakable grace sanctify this sacrifice of Thine, and grant through it power and capability, so that Thou mayest forget our many sins, and be merciful when Thou shalt appear at the end of time, in the man whom Thou hast assumed from among us, and we may find before Thee grace and mercy, and be rendered worthy to praise Thee with spiritual assemblies.” Upon standing, the following is read: “We thank Thee, O our Lord and God, for the abundant riches of Thy grace to us: we who were sinful and degraded, on account of the multitude of Thy clemency, Thou hast made worthy to celebrate the holy Mysteries of the body and blood of Thy Christ. We beg aid from Thee for the strengthening of our souls, that in perfect love and true faith we may administer Thy gift to us.” And again: “O our Lord and God, restrain our thoughts, that they wander not amid the vanities of this world. O Lord our God, grant that I may be united to the affection of Thy love, unworthy though I be. Glory to Thee, O Christ.” The priest then reads this prayer on behalf of the faithful: “O Lord God Almighty, accept this oblation for the whole Holy Catholic Church, and for all the pious and righteous fathers who have been pleasing to Thee, and for all the prophets and apostles, and for all the martyrs and confessors, and for all that mourn, that are in straits, and are sick, and for all that are under difficulties and trials, and for all the weak and the oppressed, and for all the dead that have gone from amongst us; then for all that ask a prayer from our weakness, and for me, a degraded and feeble sinner. O Lord our God, according to Thy mercies and the multitude of Thy favours, look upon Thy people, and on me, a feeble man, not according to my sins and my follies, but that they may become worthy of the forgiveness of their sins through this holy body, which they receive with faith, through the grace of Thy mercy, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” The following prayer also indicates that the officiators consider themselves unworthy but look for the reception of the Holy Mysteries to give them remission of sins: “We, Thy degraded, weak, and feeble servants who are congregated in Thy name, and now stand before Thee, and have received with joy the form which is from Thee, praising, glorifying, and exalting, commemorate and celebrate this great, awful, holy, and divine mystery of the passion, death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And may Thy Holy Spirit come, O Lord, and rest upon this oblation of Thy servants which they offer, and bless and sanctify it; and may it be unto us, O Lord, for the propitiation of our offences and the forgiveness of our sins, and for a grand hope of resurrection from the dead, and for a new life in the Kingdom of the heavens, with all who have been pleasing before Him. And on account of the whole of Thy wonderful dispensation towards us, we shall render thanks unto Thee, and glorify Thee without ceasing in Thy Church, redeemed by the precious blood of Thy Christ, with open mouths and joyful countenances: Ascribing praise, honour, thanksgiving, and adoration to Thy holy, loving, and life‐creating name, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” Finally, the following petition indicates quite clearly the belief that the officiators and entire congregation are unworthy of receiving the Mysteries: “The clemency of Thy grace, O our Lord and God, gives us access to these renowned, holy, life‐creating, and Divine Mysteries, unworthy though we be.” St. Luke the Evangelist (+18 October, 86), Bishop of Thebes in Greece, in his Divine Liturgy, writes: “Bless, O Lord, Thy faithful people who are bowed down before Thee; deliver us from injuries and temptations; make us worthy to receive these Holy Mysteries in purity and virtue, and may we be absolved and sanctified by them. We offer Thee praise and thanksgiving and to Thine Only‐ begotten Son and to Thy Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” St. Dionysius the Areopagite (+3 October, 96), Bishop of Athens, in his Divine Liturgy, writes: “Giver of Holiness, and distributor of every good, O Lord, Who sanctifiest every rational creature with sanctification, which is from Thee; sanctify, through Thy Holy Spirit, us Thy servants, who bow before Thee; free us from all servile passions of sin, from envy, treachery, deceit, hatred, enmities, and from him, who works the same, that we may be worthy, holily to complete the ministry of these life‐giving Mysteries, through the heavenly Master, Jesus Christ, Thine Only‐begotten Son, through Whom, and with Whom, is due to Thee, glory and honour, together with Thine All‐holy, Good and Life‐creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” Thus, it is God that offers sanctification to mankind, purifies mankind from sins, and makes mankind worthy of the Mysteries. This worthiness is not achieved by fasting. In the same Anaphora we read: “Essentially existing, and from all ages; Whose nature is incomprehensible, Who art near and present to all, without any change of Thy sublimity; Whose goodness every existing thing longs for and desires; the intelligible indeed, and creature endowed with intelligence, through intelligence; those endowed with sense, through their senses; Who, although Thou art One essentially, nevertheless art present with us, and amongst us, in this hour, in which Thou hast called and led us to these Thy holy Mysteries; and hast made us worthy to stand before the sublime throne of Thy majesty, and to handle the sacred vessels of Thy ministry with our impure hands: take away from us, O Lord, the cloak of iniquity in which we are enfolded, as from Jesus, the son of Josedec the High Priest, thou didst take away the filthy garments, and adorn us with piety and justice, as Thou didst adorn him with a vestment of glory; that clothed with Thee alone, as it were with a garment, and being like temples crowned with glory, we may see Thee unveiled with a mind divinely illuminated, and may feast, whilst we, by communicating therein, enjoy this sacrifice set before us; and that we may render to Thee glory and praise, together with Thine Only‐begotten Son, and Thine All‐holy, Good and Life‐creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” Once again, worthiness derives from God and not from fasting. In the same Liturgy we read: “I invoke Thee, O God the Father, have mercy upon us, and wash away, through Thy grace, the uncleanness of my evil deeds; destroy, through Thy mercy, what I have done, worthy of wrath; for I do not
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but that great silent testimony which issues from Apostles and prophets, from martyrs and confessors, from poor and rich, from the palace and the peasant’s cot.