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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
CAN FASTING MAKE ONE “WORTHY” TO COMMUNE? In the first paragraph of his first letter to Fr. Pedro, Bp. Kirykos writes: “... according to the tradition of our Fathers (and that of Bishop Matthew of Bresthena), all Christians, who approach to receive Holy Communion, must be suitably prepared, in order to worthily receive the body and blood of the Lord. This preparation indispensably includes fasting according to one’s strength.” To further prove that he interprets this worthiness as being based on fasting, Metropolitan Kirykos continues further down in reference to his unhistorical understanding about the early Christians: “They fasted in the fine and broader sense, that is, they were worthy to commune.” Here Bp. Kirykos tries to fool the reader by stating the absolutely false notion that the Holy Fathers (among them St. Matthew of Bresthena) supposedly agree with his unorthodox views. The truth is that not one single Holy Father of the Orthodox Church agrees with Bp. Kirykosʹs views, but in fact, many of them condemn these views as heretical. And as for referring to St. Matthew of Bresthena, this is extremely misleading, which is why Bp. Kirykos was unable to provide a quote. In reality, St. Matthew’s five‐page‐ long treatise on Holy Communion, published in 1933, repeatedly stresses the importance of receiving Holy Communion frequently and does not mention any such pre‐communion fast at all. He only mentions that one must go to confession, and that confession is like a second baptism which washes the soul and prepares it for communion. If St. Matthew really thought a standard week‐long pre‐communion fast for all laymen was paramount, he certainly would have mentioned it somewhere in his writings. But in the hundreds of pages of writings by St. Matthew that have been collected, no mention is made of such a fast. The reason for this is because St. Matthew was a Kollyvas Father just as was his mentor, St. Nectarius of Aegina. Also, the fact St. Matthew left Athos and preached throughout Greece and Asia Minor during his earlier life, is another example of his imitation of the Kollyvades Fathers. As much as Bp. Kirykos would like us to think that the Holy Fathers preach that a Christian, simply by fasting, can somehow “worthily receive the body and blood of the Lord,” the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church actually teach quite clearly that NO ONE is worthy of Holy Communion, except by the grace of God Himself. Whether someone eats oil on a Saturday or doesnʹt eat oil, cannot be the deciding point of a person’s supposed “worthiness.” In fact, even fasting, confession, prayer, and all other things donʹt come to their fulfillment in the human soul until one actually receives Holy Communion. All of these things such as fasting, prayers, prostrations, repentance, etc, do indeed help one quench his passions, but they by no means make him “worthy.” Yes, we confess our sins to the priest. But the sins aren’t loosened from our soul until the priest reads the prayer of pardon, and the sins are still not utterly crushed until He who conquered death enters inside the human soul through the Mystery of Holy Communion. That is why Christ said that His Body and Blood are shed “for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:28). Fasting is there to quench our passions and prevent us from sinning, confession is there so that we can recall our sins and repent of them, but it is the Mysteries of the Church that operate on the soul and grant to it the “worthiness” that the human soul can by no means attain by itself. Thus, the Mystery of Pardon loosens the sins, and the Mystery of Holy Communion remits the sins. For of the many Mysteries of the Church, the seven highest mysteries have this very purpose, namely, to remit the sins of mankind by the Divine Economy. Thus, Baptism washes away the sins from the soul, while Chrism heals anything ailing and fills all voids. Thus, Absolution washes away the sins, while Communion heals the soul and body and fills it with the grace of God. Thus, Unction cures the maladies of soul and body, causing the body and soul to no longer be divided but united towards a life in Christ; while Marriage (or Monasticism) confirms the plurality of persons or sense of community that God desired when he said of old “Be fruitful and multiply” (or in the case of Monasticism, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”). Finally, the Mystery of Priesthood is the authority given by Christ for all of these Mysteries to be administered. Certainly, it is an Apostolic Tradition for mankind to be prepared by fasting before receiving any of the above Mysteries, be it Baptism, Chrism, Absolution, Communion, Unction, Marriage or Priesthood. But this act of fasting itself does not make anyone “worthy!” If someone thinks they are “worthy” before approaching Holy Communion, then the Holy Communion would be of no positive affect to them. In actuality, they will consume fire and punishment. For if anyone thinks that their own works make themselves “worthy” before the eyes of God, then surely Christ would have died in vain. Christ’s suffering, passion, death and Resurrection would have been completely unnecessary. As Christ said, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick (Matthew 9:12).” If a person truly thinks that by not partaking of oil/wine on Saturday, in order to commune on Sunday, that this has made them “worthy,” then by merely thinking such a thing they have already proved themselves unworthy of Holy Communion. In fact, they are deniers of Christ, deniers of the Cross of Christ, and deniers of their own salvation in Christ. They rather believe in themselves as their own saviors. They are thus no longer Christians but humanists. But is humanism a modern notion, or has it existed before in the history of the Church? In reality, the devil has hurled so many heresies against the Church that he has run out of creativity. Thus, the traps and snares he sets are but fancy recreations of ancient heresies already condemned by the Church. The humanist notions entertained by Bp. Kirykos are actually an offshoot of an ancient heresy known as Pelagianism.
FROM THE PRAYERS OF PREPARATION FOR COMMUNION REGARDING “WORTHINESS” OF THE HOLY MYSTERIES In the prayers for preparation for Holy Communion, written by several different Holy Fathers, we find the repetition of this belief in utter unworthiness for Holy Communion, whether one has fasted or not. Note also, that among the Fathers who wrote these prayers are St. Basil the Great and St. John Chrysostom, the greatest luminaries among the Anatolian‐Cappadocian Fathers. Yet these most awesome and splendid examples of sanctity, whether they fasted “in the finer and broader sense,” as Metropolitan Kirykos calls it, by no means considered themselves “worthy to commune.” For it is not abstaining from foods that make one worthy, but rather abstaining from sins, and all men have sinned save Christ who alone is perfect, and save Theotokos who is the purest temple of the Lord from her very childhood, but was hallowed, sanctified and consecrated by God at the hour of the Annunciation. The rest of us are sinners, even the saints, but their holiness is owing to God’s mercy upon them due to their purity of life, and their theosis is owing to the grace of God that overshadowed them, as they lived every day in Christ. The fact that the saints were not worthy in and of themselves, but by the grace of God, can be well understood by reading their prayers of preparation for Holy Communion. For these prayers were written by saints who, in their shortcomings, were also sinners; and they wrote these prayers for the sake of sinners who, just like them, strive by God’s grace to become saints. Thus, in the second troparion in the preparation for Holy Communion we read: “How can I, the unworthy one, shamelessly dare to partake of Thy Holy Gifts?” In the last few troparia in the service of preparation for Holy Communion, we read: “Into the splendor of Thy Saints how shall I, the unworthy one, enter?...” and again “O Man‐befriending Master, Lord Jesus my God, let not these holy Gifts be unto me for judgment through mine unworthiness…” St. Basil the Great (+ 1 January, 397), in his first prayer of preparation for Holy Communion, writes: “… For I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned against Heaven and before Thee, and I am not worthy to gaze upon the height of Thy glory… Wherefore, though I am unworthy of both heaven and earth, and even of this transient life…” In his second prayer we read: “I know, O Lord, that I partake of Thine immaculate Body and precious Blood unworthily, and that I am guilty, and eat and drink judgment to myself, not discerning the Body and Blood of Thee, my Christ and God…” St. John Chrysostom (+14 September, 407), in his first prayer of preparation for Holy Communion, writes: “O Lord my God, I know that I am not worthy, nor sufficient, that Thou shouldest come under the roof of the house of my soul, for all is desolate and fallen, and Thou hast not in me a place worthy to lay Thy head…” In his third prayer we read: “O Lord Jesus Christ my God, loose, remit, forgive, and pardon the failings, faults, and offences which I, Thy sinful, unprofitable, and unworthy servant have committed from my youth, up to the present day and hour…” If in any place in the prayers of preparation for Holy Communion there is a statement of worthiness within man, it is claimed that Christ and the Mysteries themselves are the source of that worthiness. By no means are mankind’s own works, such as fasting, considered to make one worthy. Thus, Blessed Chrysostom writes: “I believe, O Lord, and I confess that thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who didst come into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. And I believe that this is truly Thine own immaculate Body, and that this is truly Thine own precious Blood. Wherefore I pray thee, have mercy upon me and forgive my transgressions both voluntary and involuntary, of word and of deed, of knowledge and of ignorance; and make me worthy to partake without condemnation of Thine immaculate Mysteries, unto remission of my sins and unto life everlasting. Amen.” St. Symeon the Translator (+9 November, c. 950) writes: “…O Christ Jesus, Wisdom and Peace and Power of God, Who in Thy assumption of our nature didst suffer Thy life‐giving and saving Passion, the Cross, the Nails, the Spear, and Death, mortify all the deadly passions of my body. Thou Who in Thy burial didst spoil the dominions of hell, bury with good thoughts my evil schemes and scatter the spirits of wickedness. Thou Who by Thy life‐giving Resurrection on the third day didst raise up our fallen first Parent, raise me up who am sunk in sin and suggest to me ways of repentance. Thou Who by Thy glorious Ascension didst deify our nature which Thou hadst assumed and didst honor it by Thy session at the right hand of the Father, make me worthy by partaking of Thy holy Mysteries of a place at Thy right hand among those who are saved. Thou Who by the descent of the Spirit, the Paraclete, didst make Thy holy Disciples worthy vessels, make me also a recipient of His coming. Thou Who art to come again to judge the World with justice, grant me also to meet Thee on the clouds, my Maker and Creator, with all Thy Saints, that I may unendingly glorify and praise Thee with Thy Eternal Father and Thy all‐holy and good and life‐giving Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.” St. Symeon the New Theologian (+12 March, 1022) wrote a poem that clearly explains how a communicant must regard himself as utterly unworthy to receive the Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, and entirely hope in God’s mercy: From sullied lips, From an abominable heart, From an unclean tongue, Out of a polluted soul, Receive my prayer, O my Christ. Reject me not, Nor my words, nor my ways, Nor even my shamelessness, But give me courage to say What I desire, my Christ. And even more, teach me What to do and say. I have sinned more than the harlot… And all my sins Take from me, O God of all, That with a clean heart, Trembling mind And contrite spirit I may partake of Thy pure And all‐holy Mysteries By which all who eat and drink Thee With sincerity of heart Are quickened and deified… Therefore I fall at Thy feet And fervently cry to Thee: As Thou receivedst the Prodigal And the Harlot who drew near to Thee, So have compassion and receive me, The profligate and the prodigal, As with contrite spirit I now draw near to Thee. I know, O Saviour, that no other Has sinned against Thee as I, Nor has done the deeds That I have committed. But this again I know That not the greatness of my offences Nor the multitude of my sins Surpasses the great patience Of my God, And His extreme love for men. But with the oil of compassion Those who fervently repent Thou dost purify and enlighten And makest them children of the light, Sharers of Thy Divine Nature… St. John Damascene (+4 December, 749), in his first prayer of preparation for Holy Communion, thus writes: “O Lord and Master Jesus Christ, our God, who alone hath power to forgive the sins of men, do thou, O Good One who lovest mankind, forgive all the sins that I have committed in knowledge or in ignorance, and make me worthy to receive without condemnation thy divine, glorious, immaculate and life‐giving Mysteries; not unto punishment or unto increase of sin; but unto purification, and sanctification and a promise of thy Kingdom and the Life to come; as a protection and a help to overthrow the adversaries, and to blot out my many sins. For thou art a God of Mercy and compassion and love toward mankind, and unto Thee we ascribe glory together with the Father and the Holy Spirit; now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.” In his second prayer he writes: “I stand before the gates of thy Temple, and yet I refrain not from my evil thoughts. But do thou, O Christ my God, who didst justify the publican, and hadst mercy on the Canaanite woman, and opened the gates of Paradise to the thief; open unto me the compassion of thy love toward mankind, and receive me as I approach and touch thee, like the sinful woman and the woman with the issue of blood; for the one, by embracing thy feet received the forgiveness of her sins, and the other by but touching the hem of thy garment was healed. And I, most sinful, dare to partake of thy whole Body. Let me not be consumed but receive me as thou didst receive them, and enlighten the perceptions of my soul, consuming the accusations of my sins; through the intercessions of Her that without stain gave Thee birth, and of the heavenly Powers; for thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.” While waiting in line to receive Holy Communion, the following verses of the Blessed Translator are read: Behold I approach for Divine Communion. O Creator, let me not be burnt by communicating, For Thou art Fire which burns the unworthy. But purify me from every stain. Tremble, O man, when you see the deifying Blood, For it is coal that burns the unworthy. The Body of God both deifies and nourishes; It deifies the spirit and wondrously nourishes the mind. The following troparion clearly expresses with what mindset and manner one must approach the Mysteries. Let it not be thought that a Christian is meant to state the following simply as an act of false humility. On the contrary, the Christian must truly deny any sense of his self‐worth in the eyes of Christ, and must therefore submit himself entirely to Christ’s judgment, praying that the Lord will judge according to his great mercy and not according to our sins. The troparion reads: “Of thy Mystic Supper, O Son of God, accept me today as a communicant; for I will not speak of thy Mystery to Thine enemies, neither will I give thee a kiss as did Judas; but like the thief will I confess thee: Remember me, O Lord, in Thy Kingdom. Remember me, O Master, in Thy Kingdom. Remember me, O Holy One, when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom.” After a few other troparia, the following prayer is read: “Sovereign Lover of men, Lord Jesus my God, let not these Holy Things be to me for judgment through my being unworthy, but for the purification and sanctification of my soul and body, and as a pledge of the life and kingdom to come. For it is good for me to cling to God and to place in the Lord my hope of salvation.” As one approaches the Holy Chalice, one should crosswise fold his hands over his chest, and reflect in his mind the following petition: “Neither unto judgement, nor unto condemnation be my partaking of thy Holy Mysteries, O Lord, but unto the healing of soul and body.” When the priest administers the Holy Communion he announces: “The servant of God, [name], partakes of the precious, most holy and most pure Body and Blood of our Lord, God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins and life everlasting. Amen.” Then, the communicant kisses the bottom of the chalice, thinking of himself as the harlot who kissed the feet of the Lord while anointing them with precious myrrh and her penitent tears, while contemplating the Seraphim who touched a burning coal to the mouth of Isaiah, saying: “Behold, This hath touched thy lips, and will take away thine iniquities, and will purge thy sins (Isaiah 6:7).”
BELIEF THAT ONE IS MADE “WORTHY” BY THEIR OWN WORKS RATHER THAN THE MYSTERIES IS PELAGIANISM Pelagius (c. 354‐420) was a heretic from Britain, who believed that it was possible for man to be worthy or even perfect by way of his free will, without the necessity of grace. In most cases, Pelagius reverted from this strict form and did not profess it. For this reason, many of the councils called to condemn the false teaching, only condemn the heresy of Pelagianism, but do not condemn Pelagius himself. But various councils actually do condemn Pelagius along with Pelagianism. Various Protestants have tried to disparage the Orthodox Faith by calling its beliefs Pelagian or Semipelagian. But the Orthodox Faith is neither the one, nor the other, but is entirely free from Pelagianism. The Orthodox Faith is also free from the opposite extreme, namely, Manicheanism, which believes that the world is inherently evil from its very creation. The Orthodox Faith is the Royal Path. It neither falls to the right nor to the left, but remains on the straight path, that is, “the Way.” The Orthodox Faith does indeed believe that good works are essential, but these are for the purpose of gaining God’s mercy. By no means can mankind grant himself “worthiness” and “perfection” by way of his own works. It is only through God’s uncreated grace, light, powers and energies, that mankind can truly be granted worthiness and perfection in Christ. The most commonly‐available source of God’s grace within the Church is through the Holy Mysteries, particularly the Mysteries of Baptism, Chrism, Absolution and Communion, which are necessary for salvation. Baptism can only be received once, for it is a reconciliation of the fallen man to the Risen Man, where one no longer shares in the nakedness of Adam but becomes clothed with Christ. Chrism can be repeated whenever an Orthodox Christian lapses into schism or heresy and is being reconciled to the Church. Absolution can also serve as a method of reconciliation from the sin of heresy or schism as well as from any personal sin that an Orthodox Christian may commit, and in receiving the prayer of pardon one is reconciled to the Church. For as long as an Orthodox Christian sins, he must receive this Mystery repeatedly in order to prepare himself for the next Mystery. Communion is reconciliation to the Immaculate Body and Precious Blood of Christ, allowing one to live in Christ. This is the ultimate Mystery, and must be received frequently for one to experience a life in Christ. For Orthodox Christianity is not a philosophy or a way of thought, nor is it merely a moral code, but it is the Life of Christ in man, and the way one can truly live in Christ is through Holy Communion. Pelagianism in the strictest form is the belief that mankind can achieve “worthiness” and “perfection” by way of his own free will, without the need of God’s grace or the Mysteries to be the source of that worthiness and perfection. Rather than viewing good works as a method of achieving God’s mercy, they view the good works as a method of achieving self‐worth and self‐perfection. The most common understanding of Pelagianism refers to the supposed “worthiness” of man by way of having a good will or good works prior to receiving the Mystery of Baptism. But the form of Pelagianism into which Bp. Kirykos falls in his first letter to Fr. Pedro, is in regards to the supposed “worthiness” of Christians purely by their own work of fasting. Thus, in his first letter to Fr. Pedro, Bp. Kirykos does not mention the Mystery of Confession (or Absolution) anywhere in the text as a means of receiving worthiness, but attaches the worthiness entirely to the fasting alone. Again, nowhere in the letter does he mention the Holy Communion itself as a source of perfection, but rather entertains the notion that mankind is capable of achieving such perfection prior to even receiving communion. This is the only way one can interpret his letter, especially his totally unhistorical statement regarding the early Christians, in which he claims: “They fasted in the fine and broader sense, that is, they were worthy to commune.” St. Aurelius Augustinus, otherwise known as St. Augustine of Hippo (+28 August, 430), writes: “It is not by their works, but by grace, that the doers of the law are justified… Now [the Apostle Paul] could not mean to contradict himself in saying, ‘The doers of the law shall be justified (Romans 2:13),’ as if their justification came through their works, and not through grace; since he declares that a man is justified freely by His grace without the works of the law (Romans 3:24,28) intending by the term ‘freely’ nothing else than that works do not precede justification. For in another passage he expressly says, ‘If by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace (Romans 11:6).’ But the statement that ‘the doers of the law shall be justified (Romans 2:13)’ must be so understood, as that we may know that they are not otherwise doers of the law, unless they be justified, so that justification does not subsequently accrue to them as doers of the law, but justification precedes them as doers of the law. For what else does the phrase ‘being justified’ signify than being made righteous,—by Him, of course, who justifies the ungodly man, that he may become a godly one instead? For if we were to express a certain fact by saying, ‘The men will be liberated,’ the phrase would of course be understood as asserting that the liberation would accrue to those who were men already; but if we were to say, The men will be created, we should certainly not be understood as asserting that the creation would happen to those who were already in existence, but that they became men by the creation itself. If in like manner it were said, The doers of the law shall be honoured, we should only interpret the statement correctly if we supposed that the honour was to accrue to those who were already doers of the law: but when the allegation is, ‘The doers of the law shall be justified,’ what else does it mean than that the just shall be justified? for of course the doers of the law are just persons. And thus it amounts to the same thing as if it were said, The doers of the law shall be created,—not those who were so already, but that they may become such; in order that the Jews who were hearers of the law might hereby understand that they wanted the grace of the Justifier, in order to be able to become its doers also. Or else the term ‘They shall be justified’ is used in the sense of, They shall be deemed, or reckoned as just, as it is predicated of a certain man in the Gospel, ‘But he, willing to justify himself (Luke 10:29),’—meaning that he wished to be thought and accounted just. In like manner, we attach one meaning to the statement, ‘God sanctifies His saints,’ and another to the words, ‘Sanctified be Thy name (Matthew 6:9);’ for in the former case we suppose the words to mean that He makes those to be saints who were not saints before, and in the latter, that the prayer would have that which is always holy in itself be also regarded as holy by men,—in a word, be feared with a hallowed awe.” (Augustine of Hippo, Antipelagian Writings, Chapter 45) Thus the doers of the law are justified by God’s grace and not by their own good works. The purpose of their own good works is to obtain the mercy of God, but it is God’s grace through the Holy Mysteries that bestows the worthiness and perfection upon mankind. Blessed Augustine does not only speak of this in regards to the Mystery of Baptism, but applies it also to the Mystery of Communion. Thus he writes of both Mysteries as follows: “Now [the Pelagians] take alarm from the statement of the Lord, when He says, ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3);’ because in His own explanation of the passage He affirms, ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5).’ And so they try to ascribe to unbaptized infants, by the merit of their innocence, the gift of salvation and eternal life, but at the same time, owing to their being unbaptized, to exclude them from the kingdom of heaven. But how novel and astonishing is such an assumption, as if there could possibly be salvation and eternal life without heirship with Christ, without the kingdom of heaven! Of course they have their refuge, whither to escape and hide themselves, because the Lord does not say, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot have life, but—‘he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’ If indeed He had said the other, there could have risen not a moment’s doubt. Well, then, let us remove the doubt; let us now listen to the Lord, and not to men’s notions and conjectures; let us, I say, hear what the Lord says—not indeed concerning the sacrament of the laver, but concerning the sacrament of His own holy table, to which none but a baptized person has a right to approach: ‘Except ye eat my flesh and drink my blood, ye shall have no life in you (John 6:53).’ What do we want more? What answer to this can be adduced, unless it be by that obstinacy which ever resists the constancy of manifest truth?” (op. cit., Chapter 26) Blessed Augustine continues on the same subject of how the early Orthodox Christians of Carthage perceived the Mysteries of Baptism and Communion: “The Christians of Carthage have an excellent name for the sacraments, when they say that baptism is nothing else than ‘salvation,’ and the sacrament of the body of Christ nothing else than ‘life.’ Whence, however, was this derived, but from that primitive, as I suppose, and apostolic tradition, by which the Churches of Christ maintain it to be an inherent principle, that without baptism and partaking of the supper of the Lord it is impossible for any man to attain either to the kingdom of God or to salvation and everlasting life? So much also does Scripture testify, according to the words which we already quoted. For wherein does their opinion, who designate baptism by the term salvation, differ from what is written: ‘He saved us by the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5)?’ or from Peter’s statement: ‘The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (1 Peter 3:21)?’ And what else do they say who call the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper ‘life,’ than that which is written: ‘I am the living bread which came down from heaven (John 6:51);’ and ‘The bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world (John 6:51);’ and ‘Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye shall have no life in you (John 6:53)?’ If, therefore, as so many and such divine witnesses agree, neither salvation nor eternal life can be hoped for by any man without baptism and the Lord’s body and blood, it is vain to promise these blessings to infants without them. Moreover, if it be only sins that separate man from salvation and eternal life, there is nothing else in infants which these sacraments can be the means of removing, but the guilt of sin,—respecting which guilty nature it is written, that “no one is clean, not even if his life be only that of a day (Job 14:4).’ Whence also that exclamation of the Psalmist: ‘Behold, I was conceived in iniquity; and in sins did my mother bear me (Psalm 50:5)! This is either said in the person of our common humanity, or if of himself only David speaks, it does not imply that he was born of fornication, but in lawful wedlock. We therefore ought not to doubt that even for infants yet to be baptized was that precious blood shed, which previous to its actual effusion was so given, and applied in the sacrament, that it was said, ‘This is my blood, which shall be shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:28).’ Now they who will not allow that they are under sin, deny that there is any liberation. For what is there that men are liberated from, if they are held to be bound by no bondage of sin? (op. cit., Chapter 34) Now, what of Bp. Kirykos’ opinion that early Christians “fasted in the fine and broader sense, that is, they were worthy to commune?” Is this because they were saints? Were all of the early Christians who were frequent communicants ascetics who fasted “in the finer and broader sense” and were actual saints? Even if so, does the Orthodox Church consider the saints “worthy” by their act of fasting, or is their act of fasting only a plea for God’s mercy, while God’s grace is what delivers the worthiness? According to Bp. Kirykos, the early Christians, whether they were saints or not, “fasted in the fine and broader sense, that is, they were worthy to commune.” But is this a teaching of Orthodoxy or rather of Pelagianism? Is this what the saints believed of themselves, that they were “worthy?” And if they didn’t believe they were worthy, was that just out of humility, or did they truly consider themselves unworthy? Blessed Augustine of Hippo, one of the champions of his time against the heresy of Pelagianism, writes: “In that, indeed, in the praise of the saints, they will not drive us with the zeal of that publican (Luke 18:10‐14) to hunger and thirst after righteousness, but with the vanity of the Pharisees, as it were, to overflow with sufficiency and fulness; what does it profit them that—in opposition to the Manicheans, who do away with baptism—they say ‘that men are perfectly renewed by baptism,’ and apply the apostle’s testimony for this,—‘who testifies that, by the washing of water, the Church is made holy and spotless from the Gentiles (Ephesians 5:26),’—when, with a proud and perverse meaning, they put forth their arguments in opposition to the prayers of the Church itself. For they say this in order that the Church may be believed after holy baptism—in which is accomplished the forgiveness of all sins—to have no further sin; when, in opposition to them, from the rising of the sun even to its setting, in all its members it cries to God, ‘Forgive us our debts (Matthew 6:12).’ But if they are interrogated regarding themselves in this matter, they find not what to answer. For if they should say that they have no sin, John answers them, that ‘they deceive themselves, and the truth is not in them (1 John 1:8).’ But if they confess their sins, since they wish themselves to be members of Christ’s body, how will that body, that is, the Church, be even in this time perfectly, as they think, without spot or wrinkle, if its members without falsehood confess themselves to have sins? Wherefore in baptism all sins are forgiven, and, by that very washing of water in the word, the Church is set forth in Christ without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:27); and unless it were baptized, it would fruitlessly say, ‘Forgive us our debts,’ until it be brought to glory, when there is in it absolutely no spot or wrinkle.” (op. cit., Chapter 17). Again, in his chapter called ‘The Opinion of the Saints Themselves About Themselves,’ Blessed Augustine writes: “It is to be confessed that ‘the Holy Spirit, even in the old times,’ not only ‘aided good dispositions,’ which even they allow, but that it even made them good, which they will not have. ‘That all, also, of the prophets and apostles or saints, both evangelical and ancient, to whom God gives His witness, were righteous, not in comparison with the wicked, but by the rule of virtue,’ is not doubtful. And this is opposed to the Manicheans, who blaspheme the patriarchs and prophets; but what is opposed to the Pelagians is, that all of these, when interrogated concerning themselves while they lived in the body, with one most accordant voice would answer, ‘If we should say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8).’ ‘But in the future time,’ it is not to be denied ‘that there will be a reward as well of good works as of evil, and that no one will be commanded to do the commandments there which here he has contemned,’ but that a sufficiency of perfect righteousness where sin cannot be, a righteousness which is here hungered and thirsted after by the saints, is here hoped for
ANCIENT AND CONTEMPORARY FATHERS REGARDING SO‐CALLED “WORTHINESS” OF THE HOLY MYSTERIES St. John Cassian (+29 February, 435) totally disagrees with the notion of Bp. Kirykos that the early Christians communed frequently supposedly because “they fasted in the fine and broader sense, that is, they were worthy to commune.” Blessed Cassian does not approve of Christians shunning communion because they think of themselves as unworthy, and supposedly different to the early Christians. Thus whichever side one takes in this supposed dispute of Semipelagianism, be it the side of Blessed Augustine or that of Blessed Cassian, the truth is that both of these Holy Fathers condemn the notions held by Bp. Kirykos. Blessed Cassian writes: “We must not avoid communion because we deem ourselves to be sinful. We must approach it more often for the healing of the soul and the purification of the spirit, but with such humility and faith that considering ourselves unworthy, we would desire even more the medicine for our wounds. Otherwise it is impossible to receive communion once a year, as certain people do, considering the sanctification of heavenly Mysteries as available only to saints. It is better to think that by giving us grace, the sacrament makes us pure and holy. Such people [who commune rarely] manifest more pride than humility, for when they receive, they think of themselves as worthy. It is much better if, in humility of heart, knowing that we are never worthy of the Holy Mysteries we would receive them every Sunday for the healing of our diseases, rather than, blinded by pride, think that after one year we become worthy of receiving them.” (John Cassian, Conference 23, Chapter 21) Now, as for those who may think the above notion is only applicable for the Christians living at the time of St. John Cassian (5th century), and that the people at that time were justified in confessing their sins frequently and also communing frequently, throughout the year, while that supposedly this does not apply to contemporary Orthodox Christians, such a notion does not hold any validity, because contemporary Holy Fathers, among them the Hesychastic Fathers and Kollyvades Fathers, have taught exactly the same thing as we have read above in the writings of Blessed Cassian. Thus St. Gregory Palamas, St. Symeon the New Theologian, St. Macarius Notaras of Corinth, St. Nicodemus of Athos, St. Arsenius of Paros, St. Pachomius of Chios, St. Nectarius of Aegina, St. Matthew of Bresthena, St. Moses of Athikia, and so many other contemporary Orthodox Saints agree with the positions of the Blessed Cassian. The various quotes from these Holy Fathers are to be provided in another study regarding the letter of Bp. Kirykos to Fr. Pedro. In any case, not only contemporary Greek Fathers, but even contemporary Syrian, Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian and Romanian Fathers concur. St. Arsenius the Russian of Stavronikita (+24 March, 1846), for example, writes: “One can sometimes hear people say that they avoid approaching the Holy Mysteries because they consider themselves unworthy. But who is worthy of it? No one on earth is worthy of it, but whoever confesses his sins with heartfelt contrition and approaches the Chalice of Christ with consciousness of his unworthiness the Lord will not reject, in accordance with His words, Him that cometh to Me I shall in no wise cast out (John 6:37).” (Athonite Monastery of St. Panteleimon, Athonite Leaflets, No. 105, published in 1905) St. John Chrysostom (+14 September, 407), Archbishop of the Imperial City of Constantinople New Rome, speaks very much against the idea of making fasting and communing a mere custom. He instead insists on making true repentance of tears and communion with God a daily ritual. For no one passes a single day without sinning at least in thought if not also in word and deed. Likewise, no one can live a true life in Christ without daily repentance and frequent Communion. But in fact, the greatest method to abstain from sins is by the fear of communing unworthily. Thus, through frequent Communion one is guided towards abstinence from sins. Of course, the grace of the Mysteries themselves are essential in this process of cleansing the brain, heart and bowel of the body, as well as cleansing the mind, spirit and word of the soul. But the fear of hellfire as experienced in the partaking of communion unworthily is most definitely a means of preventing sins. But if one thinks that fasting for seven days without meat, five days without dairy, three days without oil, and one day without anything but xerophagy, is a means to make one “worthy” of Communion, whereas the communicant then returns to his life of sin until the next year when he decides to commune again, then not only was this one week of fasting worthless, not only would 40 days of lent be unprofitable, but even an entire lifetime of fasting will be useless. For such a person makes fasting and Communion a mere custom, rather than a way of Life in Christ. Blessed Chrysostom writes: “But since I have mentioned this sacrifice, I wish to say a little in reference to you who have been initiated; little in quantity, but possessing great force and profit, for it is not our own, but the words of Divine Spirit. What then is it? Many partake of this sacrifice once in the whole year; others twice; others many times. Our word then is to all; not to those only who are here, but to those also who are settled in the desert. For they partake once in the year, and often indeed at intervals of two years. What then? Which shall we approve? Those [who receive] once [in the year]? Those who [receive] many times? Those who [receive] few times? Neither those [who receive] once, nor those [who receive] often, nor those [who receive] seldom, but those [who come] with a pure conscience, from a pure heart, with an irreproachable life. Let such draw near continually; but those who are not such, not even once. Why, you will ask? Because they receive to themselves judgment, yea and condemnation, and punishment, and vengeance. And do not wonder. For as food, nourishing by nature, if received by a person without appetite, ruins and corrupts all [the system], and becomes an occasion of disease, so surely is it also with respect to the awful mysteries. Do you feast at a spiritual table, a royal table, and again pollute your mouth with mire? Do you anoint yourself with sweet ointment, and again fill yourself with ill savors? Tell me, I beseech you, when after a year you partake of the Communion, do you think that the Forty Days are sufficient for you for the purifying of the sins of all that time? And again, when a week has passed, do you give yourself up to the former things? Tell me now, if when you have been well for forty days after a long illness, you should again give yourself up to the food which caused the sickness, have you not lost your former labor too? For if natural things are changed, much more those which depend on choice. As for instance, by nature we see, and naturally we have healthy eyes; but oftentimes from a bad habit [of body] our power of vision is injured. If then natural things are changed, much more those of choice. Thou assignest forty days for the health of the soul, or perhaps not even forty, and do you expect to propitiate God? Tell me, are you in sport? These things I say, not as forbidding you the one and annual coming, but as wishing you to draw near continually.” (John Chrysostom, Homily 17, on Hebrews 10:2‐9) The Holy Fathers also stress the importance of confession of sins as the ultimate prerequisite for Holy Communion, while remaining completely silent about any specific fast that is somehow generally applicable to all laymen equally. It is true that the spiritual father (who hears the confession of the penitent Orthodox Christian layman) does have the authority to require his spiritual son to fulfill a fast of repentance before communion. But the local bishop (who is not the layman’s spiritual father but only a distant observer) most certainly does not have the authority to demand the priests to enforce a single method of preparation common to all laymen without distinction, such as what Bp. Kirykos does in his letter to Fr. Pedro. For man cannot be made “worthy” due to such a pharisaic fast that is conducted for mere custom’s sake rather than serving as a true form of repentance. Indeed it is possible for mankind to become worthy of Holy Communion. But this worthiness is derived from the grace of God which directs the soul away from sins, and it is derived from the Mysteries themselves, particularly the Mystery of Repentance (also called Confession or Absolution) and the Mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ (also called the Eucharist or Holy Communion). St. Nicholas Cabasilas (+20 June, 1391), Archbishop of Thessalonica, writes: “The Bread which truly strengthens the heart of man will obtain this for us; it will enkindle in us ardor for contemplation, destroying the torpor that weighs down our soul; it is the Bread which has come down from heaven to bring Life; it is the Bread that we must seek in every way. We must be continually occupied with this Eucharistic banquet lest we suffer famine. We must guard against allowing our soul to grow anemic and sickly, keeping away from this food under the pretext of reverence for the sacrament. On the contrary, after telling our sins to the priest, we must drink of the expiating Blood.” (St. Nicholas Cabasilas, The Life in Christ). St. Matthew Carpathaces (+14 May, 1950), Archbishop of Athens, while still an Archimandrite, published a book in 1933 in which he wrote five pages regarding the Mystery of Holy Communion. In these five pages he addresses the issue of Holy Communion, worthiness and preparation. Nowhere in it does he speak of any particular pre‐communion fast. On the contrary, in the rest of the book he speaks only about the fasts of Wednesday and Friday throughout the year, and the four Lenten seasons of Nativity, Pascha, Apostles and Dormition. He also mentions that married couples should avoid marital relations on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Aside from these fasts and abstaining, he mentions no such thing about a pre‐communion fast anywhere in the book, and the book is over 300 pages long. In the section where he speaks specifically regarding Holy Communion, Blessed Matthew speaks only of confession of sins as a prerequisite to Holy Communion, and he mentions the importance of abstaining from sins. Nowhere does he suggest that partaking of foods on the days the Orthodox Church permits is supposedly a sin. For to claim such a thing is a product of Manicheanism and is anathematized by several councils. But Blessed Matthew of Bresthena was no Manichean, he was a Genuine Orthodox Christian, a preserver of Orthodoxy in its fullness. The fact he had 600 nuns and 200 monks flock around him during his episcopate in Greece is proof of his spiritual heights and that he was an Orthodox Christian not only in thought and word, but also in deed. Yet Bp. Kirykos, who in his thirty years as a pastor has not managed to produce a single spiritual offspring, dares to claim that Blessed Matthew of Bresthena is the source of his corrupt and heretical views. But nothing could be further from the truth. In Blessed Matthew’s written works, which are manifold and well‐ preserved, nowhere does he suggest that clergy can simply follow the common fasting rules of the Orthodox Church and commune several times per week, while if laymen follow the same Orthodox rules of fasting just as do the priests, they are supposedly not free to commune but must undergo some kind of extra fast. Nowhere does he demand this fast that is not as a punishment for laymen’s sins, but is implemented merely because they are laymen, since this fast is being demanded irrespective of the outcome of their confession to the priest. Yet despite all of this, Bp. Kirykos arbitrarily uses the name of Bishop Matthew as supposedly agreeing with his positions. The following quote from the works of Blessed Matthew will shatter Kirykos’s notion that “fasting in the finer and broader sense” can make a Christian “worthy to commune,” without mentioning the Holy Mysteries of Confession and Communion themselves as the source of that worthiness. The following quote will shatter Bp. Kirykos’ attempt to misrepresent the positions of Blessed Matthew, which is something that Bp. Kirykos is guilty of doing for the past 30 years, tarnishing the name of Blessed Matthew, and causing division and self‐destruction within the Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece, while at the same time boasting of somehow being Bishop Matthew’s only real follower. It is time for Bp. Kirykos’ three‐decades‐long façade to be shattered. This shattering shall not only apply to the façade regarding the pharisaic‐style fast, but even the façade regarding the post‐1976 ecclesiology held by Bp. Kirykos and his associate, Mr. Gkoutzidis—an ecclesiology which is found nowhere in the encyclicals of the Genuine Orthodox Church from 1935 until the 1970s. That was the time that Mr. Gkoutzidis and the then layman Mr. Kontogiannis (now Bp. Kirykos) began controlling the Matthewite Synod. On the contrary, many historic encyclicals of the Genuine Orthodox Church contradict this post‐1976 Gkoutzidian‐ Kontogiannian ecclesiology, for which reason the duo has kept these documents hidden in the Synodal archives for three decades. But let us begin the shattering of the façade with the position of Blessed Matthew regarding frequent Communion. For God has willed that this be the first article by Bishop Matthew to be translated into English that is not of an ecclesiological nature, but a work in regards to Orthopraxia, something rarely spoken and seldom found in the endlessly repetitive periodicals of the Kirykite faction.
This is Amazing Grace Who breaks the power of sin and darkness Whose love is mighty and so much stronger The King of Glory, the King above all kings Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder And leaves us breathless in awe and wonder The King of Glory, the King above all kings This is amazing grace This is unfailing love That You would take my place That You would bear my cross You lay down Your life That I would be set free Oh, Jesus, I sing for All that You've done for me Who brings our chaos back into order Who makes the orphan a son and daughter The King of Glory, the King of Glory Who rules the nations with truth and justice Shines like the sun in all of its brilliance The King of Glory, the King above all kings Worthy is the Lamb who was slain Worthy is the King who conquered the grave Worthy is the Lamb who was slain Worthy is the King who conquered the grave All to Jesus Not a moment could escape Nor darkness could invade Where else could I run Lead me back to You Not a shadow of a doubt Go beyond my wandering thoughts Won’t you search my heart oh Lord Draw me close to You.
CONCISE SUMMARY of the Soteriological Heresies of Bp. Kirykos Kontogiannis Bp. Kirykos tells his followers that those who have reacted against his policy regarding the issue of Holy Communion, supposedly teach that believers should eat meat and dairy products in preparation for Communion. But this slander is most ludicrous. He spreads this slander solely in order to cover up his two heretical letters to Fr. Pedro. The aforesaid letters were sent during Great Lent, during which not only is there no consumption of meat, but even oil and wine are not partaken save for Saturdays and Sundays only. Therefore, since the scandal occurred on the Sunday of Orthodoxy and continued further on the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross (both of which fall in Great Lent), and since Fr. Pedro denounced Bp. Kirykos prior to the commencement of Holy Week, how can Bp. Kirykos’ slander be believed, regarding meat‐eating? In reality, it is Bp. Kirykos himself who blasphemes and preaches heresies without the slightest sign of repentance. Heretical is the theory of Bp. Kirykos that Christians should not commune on Sundays, but only on Saturdays. He destroys the Christian Soteriological meaning of Sunday as the day of Salvation and of Eternal Life, and he replaces it with the Saturday of the Jews! (Heresy = Sabbatianism) Heretical is the theory of Bp. Kirykos that fasting without oil makes a Christian “worthy” of Communion without any reference to the Mystery of Confession and the teaching of the Church that only God makes man worthy, because without God, no one is worthy. (Heresy = Pelagianism). Heretical is the theory of Bp. Kirykos that continuous Holy Communion was permitted to the early Christians supposedly because they were all ascetics and fasters, and that it was this fasting that made them “worthy to commune,” when in reality the early Christians lived among the world, and even the bishops were married, and they only knew of the fasts of Great Lent and of every Wednesday and Friday, whereas today’s Orthodox Christians have several more fasts (Dormition, Nativity, Apostles, etc). The Holy Apostles in their Canons forbid us to fast on Saturdays. The Synod of Gangra anathematizes those who call meat or marriage unclean or a reason of unworthiness to commune, as is written in the 1st and 2nd canons of that Synod. (Heresy of Bp. Kirykos = Manichaeanism). Heretical is the theory of Bp. Kirykos that if “by economy” he permits someone “lucky” to commune on a Sunday during Great Lent, that such a person must fast strictly on the Saturday prior, without oil, whereas the 64th Apostolic Canon forbids this, and the 55th Canon of the Quinisext Council admonishes the Church of Old Rome, in order for this cacodoxy and cacopraxy to cease. Additionally, St. Photius the Great in his “Encyclical to the Eastern Patriarchs” calls the act of fasting strictly on the Saturdays of Great Lent “the first heresy of the Westerners” (Heresy of Bp. Kirykos = Frankism). Heretical is the theory of Bp. Kirykos that laymen are unworthy due to the fact they are laymen, and that outside of the fasting periods they must prepare for Communion by fasting for 7 days without meat, 5 days without dairy, 3 days without oil or wine, 1 day without olives and sesame products. He demands this fast upon all laymen, whether married or virgins, whether old or young, and without allowing the spiritual father to judge those who confess to him with either a stricter or easier fast, according to one’s sins. In other words, their only sin causing the necessity for this long fast is the fact that they are laymen! Paradoxically, Bp. Kirykos himself eats eggs, cheese, milk, etc, as late as midnight on a Saturday night and then he serves the Liturgy and Communes on Sunday without feeling “unworthy.” He justifies his hypocrisy by saying “I am permitted to eat whatever I want because I am a Bishop!” Phew! In other words, he believes that his Episcopal dignity makes him “worthy” of communion without having the need to fast even for one day, whereas laymen need to fast for an entire week simply because they are laymen! This system was kept by the Pharisees, and they were condemned by the Lord because they placed heavy burdens on the shoulders of men, while they would not lift the weight of even a single finger. (Heresy = Pharisaism). Heretical is the theory of Bp. Kirykos that the Holy Canons do not apply in our times but that they are only for the Apostolic era. He preaches that back then the Church was “worthy” to commune but that now we are all fallen and because of this the Holy Canons must be interpreted differently, and not in the same context as they were interpreted by the Holy Fathers. In other words, Bp. Kirykos preaches that of one kind was the Apostolic Church, and of another kind are we today, and that “we must return.” In so saying, he forgets that the Lord’s promise that “the gates of hell shall not prevail” against the Church, and he blasphemes the verse in the Symbol of the Faith in which we confess that also we today, by God’s mercy, belong to the “One, Holy, Catholic and APOSTOLIC Church,” and that there is no such thing as another Church of the Apostolic times and a different Church today, but that there exists ONLY THE ONE CHURCH OF CHRIST, both then and now, with the same requirement to abide by the Holy Canons and to interpret them exactly how the Holy Fathers interpreted them. The only ones who believe in a first “Apostolic Church” and a later fall, and that “we must return,” are the Chiliasts and Ecumenists, these very heretics that Bp. Kirykos supposedly battles, yet he preaches their cacodoxies (Heresies = Chiliasm and Ecumenism).
THE TEACHING OF BLESSED MATTHEW OF BRESTHENA REGARDING FREQUENT RECEPTION OF COMMUNION Written in 1933 by Archimandrite Matthew [Carpathaces] of Great Laura, the future Bishop of Bresthena (1937‐1949), and Metropolitan of Athens (1949‐1950), of the Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece (+14 May, 1950). Is it possible, you ask me, to receive Communion? Why, don’t we have to become saints in order to be worthy, as Blessed Chrysostom calls out in his liturgy, “The Holies for the holy?” And who can become a saint? You’re not able? Then, are the Holy Scriptures false? “And ye shall be holy men unto me (Exodus 22:31);” “I said ye are gods (Psalms 81:6).” This is what God says about us. So, who is able? As many as desire this, cleanse yourselves from every bodily and spiritual sin, and you will immediately become saints. I do not tell you this myself, God says it through the Apostle. “So clean yourselves, brethren, from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1).” But is it difficult? I do not deny it. But it is probably not as difficult as you think. Consider this… An infant or even a very sinful old man, upon leaving the baptismal font, is he not worthy to commune of the Holy Mysteries? Yes, and who can doubt this? Baptism is a divine bath, it is a purification of sins, it is a spiritual rebirth. In the baptismal font we bury the old person of sin, and we put on the new man, Jesus Christ. “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Galatians 3:27),” says he who ascended to the third heaven. So, what if it was possible to multiply the Mystery of Holy Baptism? What I am trying to say is, if it was possible for us to be baptized every time we wished, then you would no longer have any doubt that we worthily commune of the Mystery of the Frightful Eucharist. So if I prove to you that every time you wish, it is possible to enter the baptismal font and to get baptized, then you would no longer be able to leave [i.e., shun the Mystery of Holy Communion]. You must conclude then, that it is possible to become worthy of the Mystery of Holy Communion. And is not Repentance, my brethren, a second baptismal font, into which it is possible to enter every time we wish and as many times as we wish, and nobody can prevent us? Is not Repentance a font equivalent to the font of Holy Baptism? “Tears dropped are equivalent to the font.” Yes, the tear, whenever it drops from our eyes for our sins, has the power of Holy Baptism. “And toilsome lamentation brings back the grace which departed for some time.” A lamentation from the heart ascends to heaven, and brings down that grace, which we have lost because of the multitude of our sins. It is not my opinion, but that of Gregory of Nyssa and the moral teachers of the Church. See now, upon what that which seemed impossible and most difficult to you depends? Upon one tear, one lamentation! “Tears dropped are equivalent to the font, and toilsome lamentation brings back the grace which departed for some time.” (Gregory of Nyssa, Words Concerning Repentance). What is this? I knew it! In the midst you bring to me the canons of St. Basil, the revealer of heavenly things, to St. Amphilochius, in order to oppose me. And you tell me, “Does not St. Basil, the revealer of heavenly things, define in his canons that for those who steal to not receive Communion for two years; for those who murder, twenty; for those who commit adultery, fifteen years; and so forth? For nearly all sins he appoints many years for us to abstain from Communion.” And what is concluded from this? Is it concluded that it is not possible for us to become worthy to receive Communion? Or rather that Repentance does not have the same power that Baptism has? Both conclusions are erroneous. They are erroneous because from these same canons of St. Basil, it is concluded that it is possible for us to become worthy to receive Communion, since he himself appoints that after so many years, depending upon the sin, we may receive Communion. So the revealer of heavenly things himself says that it is possible for us to become worthy. Basil also believed that Repentance is equivalent to Baptism and that there is no other difference between Baptism and Repentance, except that Repentance only blots out the voluntary sins, while Baptism also blots out the ancestral sin. But because he was most exact and perfect in everything, he desired a sure and true Repentance. And because he knew how easy it is for man to fall into evil, especially after he has fallen once, for this reason he appointed the years so that everybody be informed, and for us ourselves to be informed, that our Repentance is sure and true. So whenever Repentance is perfect and true, what then remains? Then everything remains to the judgment of the corrector of our souls and spiritual father, as St. Basil himself, the revealer of heavenly things, clearly appoints in his second canon, and informs us, how he agrees with all the other fathers: “To also define the therapy of Repentance not based on time but on manner.” And behold how Repentance is equivalent to Baptism even according to St. Basil, if you interpret his opinion correctly. And behold how you no longer have any reply to a truth so evident. Tell me, my Christians, after Pascha, which will be in a few days, what will you do? Do you celebrate Pascha? What a ridiculous question! Yet, this is what I ask you. Do you celebrate Pascha as all Christians have the obligation to do? Do we celebrate Pascha? Indeed, all of us with such eagerness await Pascha. The Lord grant! [i.e., God willing!] But I am afraid that few of us celebrate Pascha. Pascha, O Christians, is not that which is commonly called pascha, to wit, the partaking of meat and the rest of the foods. That is called eating; that is called nourishment. Pascha, however, is the Communion of the Mysteries! This is Pascha, as God told Moses, “and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’s Pascha (Exodus 12:11).” Know therefore, all of you who do not wish to commune of this mystical Pascha, that you will not have any reply; you will not be able to find any excuse when you appear before the judgment of the fearful God. —“And why did you not condescend,” the God‐man will tell you then, “when I was crying out to you to come eat my bread, and drink my wine, which I have treated to you? Why such contempt for me, when I have showed you so much love? You see this Cross? You see these wounds? Out of love for you I endured them.” —“Lord we were not worthy.” Is this what you have to respond to Him? —“And you do not know how to cleanse yourselves with Repentance, to wash yourselves with tears, to bathe yourselves with Confession?” —“But it was difficult for us to stop sinning.” —“So you preferred your passions and your sins above me? Therefore, since you desired to be separated from me while you were living on earth, separated from my word you must also be in heaven. Is this really so, O wretched and unfortunate ones, as many of you as are wounded by your passions, and full of your uncleanness and sins?” O my Lord, I am the first [among sinners], and what will become of me then during so many frightful censures? And what will become of all of you who are similar to me? It would have been better if we were never born. —“Such contempt for my blood? Such contempt for my body?” the Judge will cry, “Are your hands filthy and have you sacrificed me and cut me to pieces, and touched me, as did the Jews? Are your lips foul and have you kissed me, as did Judas? Is your heart dirty and have you partaken of me? Is your soul sinful, and have you been insolent?” And what will I say, what will I reply, when, after the censures, Hades immediately swallows me up? My Christian brethren, please listen to me carefully. We cannot remain without Holy Communion: “If we do not eat of the body of the Son of Man and drink His blood, we have no life in us.” And we cannot receive Communion unworthily: “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself.” If we do not receive Communion: despair. If we receive Communion unworthily: hell. Therefore, we must receive Communion worthily (which, as I have shown you, is possible) in order to inherit eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be glory and power unto the ages of ages. Amen. Thus in the above homily by Blessed Matthew Carpathaces, we see that the worthiness of a communicant is obtained by the Mystery of Repentance, which is equal to Baptism, and is sealed by receiving Holy Communion itself.
PELAGIANISM IS NOTHING OTHR THAN THE “CHRISTIAN” VERSION OF PHARISAISM Although we are speaking of the heresy of Pelagianism and not that of Pharisaism, it is difficult not to mention the Pharisees because their positions were also a kind of Pelagianism. In fact, the Pharisaic view of fasting is very much identical to the view held by Bp. Kirykos, since he thinks that “fasting in the finer and broader sense” makes someone “worthy to commune.” But our Lord Jesus Christ rebuked the Pharisees for this error of theirs. Fine examples of these rebukes are found in the Gospels. The best example is the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, because it shows the difference between a Pharisee who thinks of himself as “worthy” due to his fasts, compared to a Christian who is conscious of his unworthiness and cries to the Lord for mercy. It is a perfect example because it mentions fasting. This well‐ known parable spoken by the Lord Himself, reads as follows: “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted (Luke 18:9‐14).” Behold the word of the Lord! The Publican was more justified than the Pharisee! The Publican was more worthy than the Pharisee! But today’s Christians cannot be justified if they are “extortionists, unjust, adulterers or even… publicans.” For they have the Gospel, the Church, the guidance of the spiritual father, and the washing away of their sins through the once‐off Mysteries of Baptism and Chrism, and the repetitive Mysteries of Confession and Communion. They have no excuse to be sinners, and if they are they have the method available to correct themselves. But how much more so are Christians not justified in being Pharisees? For they have this parable spoken by the Lord Himself as clear proof of Christ’s disfavor towards “the leaven of the Pharisees.” They have hundreds of Holy Fathers’ epistles, homilies and dialogues, which they must have read in their pursuit of exulting themselves! They have before them the repeated exclamations of the Lord, “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men! For ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in (Matthew 23:13).” They have even the very fact that it was an apostle who betrayed the Lord, and not a mere disciple but one of the twelve! They have the fact that it was not an idolatrous nation that judged its savior and found him guilty, but it was God’s own chosen people that condemned the world’s Savior to death! They have even the fact that the Scribes, Pharisees and High Priests were the ones who crucified the King of Glory! Yet despite having all of these clear proofs, they continue their Pharisaism, but the “Christian” kind, namely, Pelagianism. But who are we to condemn them? After all, we are but sinners. Therefore let them take heed to the Lord’s rebuke: “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? (Matthew 23:33). A Genuine Orthodox Christian (i.e., non‐Pelagian, non‐Pharisee), approaches the Holy Chalice with nothing but disdain and humiliation for his wretched soul, and feels his utter unworthiness, and truly believes that what is found in that Chalice is God in the Flesh, and mankind’s only source of salvation and life. If a man is to ever be called “worthy,” the origin of that worth is not in himself, but is in that Holy Chalice from which he is about to commune. For a man who lives of himself will surely die. But a man who lives in Christ, and through Holy Communion allows Christ to live in him, such a man shall never die. As Christ said: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world (John 6:51).” Thus a Genuine Orthodox Christian does not boast that he “fasts twice a week” as did the Pharisee, but recognizing only his own imperfections before the face of the perfect Christ, he smites his breast as did the Publican, saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Like the malefactor that he is in thought, word and deed, he imitates the malefactor that was crucified with the Lord, saying, “I indeed justly [am condemned]; for I received the due reward for my deeds: but this man, [my Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ,] hath done nothing amiss (Luke 23:41).” And he says unto Jesus, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom (Luke 23:42).” To such a Genuine Orthodox Christian, free of Pharisaism and Pelagianism, the Lord responds, “Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43),” and “I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me, that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom (Luke 22:29).” How does all of the above compare to Bp. Kirykos’ statement that “fasting according to one’s strength” causes one to “worthily receive the body and blood of the Lord?” How can Bp. Kirykos justify his theory that the early Christians supposedly “fasted in the fine and broader sense, that is, they were worthy to commune?” Can anyone, no matter how strictly they fast, ever be considered worthy of Holy Communion? Does someone’s work of fasting make them worthy? Is Bp. Kirykos justified in believing that fasting for three days without oil or wine supposedly makes an individual worthy of Holy Communion? If Bp. Kirykos is justified, then why does he not do this himself? Why does he eat oil on every Saturday of Great Lent, and yet communes on Sundays “unworthily” (according to his own theory) without shame? Why does he demand the three day fast from oil upon laymen, but does not apply it to himself and his priests? We are not speaking of laymen with penances and excommunications. We are speaking of laymen who have confessed their sins and are permitted by their spiritual father to receive Holy Communion. When such laymen receive Holy Communion they are not meant to kiss the hand of the priest after this, because the Orthodox Church believes in their equality with the priest through the Mysteries. There is no difference between priests and laymen when it comes to the ability to commune, except only for the fact that the clergy receive the Immaculate Mysteries within the Holy Bema, whereas the laity receives them from the Royal Doors. Aside from this, there is no difference in the preparation for Holy Communion either. The laymen cannot be compelled to fast extra fasts simply for being laymen, whereas priests are not required to do these extra fasts at all on account of being priests. The equality of the clergy and laity with regards to Holy Communion is clearly expressed by Blessed Chrysostom: “There are cases when a priest does not differ from a layman, notably when one approaches the Holy Mysteries. We are all equally given them, not as in the Old Testament, when one food was for the priests and another for the people and when it was not permitted to the people to partake of that which was for the priest. Now it is not so: but to all is offered the same Body and the same Chalice…” (John Chrysostom, Homily 18, on 2 Corinthians 8:24) This is why the Orthodox Church preserves this tradition whereby the priest forbids the laymen who have communed from kissing his hand. These are the pious laymen we refer to: those who are deemed acceptable to approach the Chalice. Aren’t the bishops and priests obliged to fast more strictly than the laymen, especially since the bishops and priests are the ones invoking the Holy Spirit to descend on the gifts, while the laymen only stand in the crowd of the people? So then why does Bp. Kirykos demand the three‐ day strict fast (forbidding even oil and wine) upon laymen, while he himself and his priests not only partake of oil and wine, but outside of fasting periods they even partake of fish, eggs, dairy products (and for married clergy, even meat) as late as 11:30pm on the night before they are to serve Divine Liturgy and commune of the Holy Mysteries “worthily” yet without fasting? Are such hypocrisies Christian or are they Pharisaic? What does Christ have to say regarding the Pharisees who ordered laymen to fast more heavily while the Pharisee hierarchy did not do this themselves? Christ rebuked and condemned them harshly. Thus we read in the Gospel according to St. Luke: “Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying: “The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Mosesʹ seat. All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” (Luke 23:1‐4). So much for the Pharisees and their successors, the Pelagians! So much for Bp. Kirykos and those who agree with his blasphemous positions, for these men are the Pharisees and Pelagians of our time! May God have mercy on them and enlighten them to depart from the darkness of their hypocrisy. May God also enlighten us to shun all forms of Pharisaism and Pelagianism, including this most dangerous form adopted by Bp. Kirykos. May we shun this heresy by ceasing to rely on our own human perfections that are but abominations in the eyes of our perfect God. Let us take heed to the admonition of one who himself was a Pharisee named Saul, but later became a Christian named Paul. For, he was truly blinded by the darkness of his Pharisaic self‐righteousness, but Christ blinded him with the eternal light of sanctifying and soul‐saving Divine Grace. This Apostle to the Nations writes: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:17‐31).” Yea, Lord, help us to submit entirely to Thy will, and to learn to glorify only in Thee, and not in our own works. For in truth, even the greatest works of ours, even the work of fasting, whether for one day, three days, a week, forty days, or even a lifetime, is worthless before Thy sight. As the prophet declares, our works are an abomination, and our righteousness is but a menstruous rag. Therefore, O Lord, judge us according to Thy mercy and not according to our sins. For Thou alone can make us worthy of Communion. Note that in the above short prayer by the present author, the word “us” is used and not “them.” This is because, in order to preserve oneself from becoming a Pharisee, one must always include himself among those who are lacking in conduct, and must ask God for guidance as well as for others. In this manner, one does not fall into the danger of the Pharisee who said “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are…” but rather acknowledges his own misconduct, and thereby includes himself in the prayer, imitating the publican who said “God be merciful to me a sinner.” For there is no point preaching against Pharisaism unless one first admonishes and reproves his own soul, and asks God to cleans himself from this hypocrisy of the Pharisees. For we are not to hate the sinners, but rather the sin itself; and we are not to hate the heretics, but rather the heresy itself. In so doing, our Confession against the sins and heresies themselves constitute a “work of love.” But when it comes to people judging Christians for food, or Sabbaths, such as what Bp. Kirykos has done by his two blasphemous letters to Fr. Pedro, this is definitely not a “work of love” but is in fact the leaven of the Pharisees in its fullness. It is a work of demonic self‐righteousness and satanic hatred towards mankind. For rather than being a true spiritual father towards his spiritual children, he proves to be a negligent and self‐serving, and a user of his flock for his own personal gain. He allows himself to commune very frequently without the slightest fast, while demanding strict fasting on his flock while also forbidding them to ever commune on Sundays. Thus it is well that Mr. Christos Noukas, the advisor to Fr. Pedro, asked Bp. Kirykos: “Are you a father or a stepfather?” By this he meant, “Do you truly love your spiritual children as a true spiritual father should, or do you consider them to be another man’s children and nothing but a burden to you?” Our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, in the sermon in which he taught us to pray to “Our Father,” explained the love of a true father towards his children. The account, as contained in the Gospel of Luke, is as follows: “And [Jesus] said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with
The Prayer of Episcopal Consecration The consecration prayer itself proves the fact that other bishops must be present and lay their hands on the ordinand during the rite consecration: Hierarch: Master, Lord, our God, Thou who legislated unto us through Thine All‐ famed Apostle Paul, regarding the order of degrees and orders, for the purpose of serving and liturgizing Thy venerable and immaculate Mysteries in Thy Holy Sanctuary: first Apostles, second Prophets, third Teachers. Likewise, O Master of All, this here elected one who has been granted worthy to carry the Evangelical yoke, and the High Priestly rank, by the hand of sinful me, and by those of the witnessing Concelebrants and Co‐Bishops, by the inspiration and power and grace of Thy Holy Spirit, strengthen, as Though strengthened the Holy Apostles and Prophets, as Thou anointed the Kings, as Though sanctified the High Priests, and grant unto him the High Priesthood without reproach, and adorning him with all piety, elect him holy and make him worthy, that he may intercede for the salvation of the people, and that they may obey Thee through him. For sanctified is Thy Name and glorified is Thy Kingdom, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.” The original Greek is as follows: Ἀρχιερεὺς: Δέσποτα Κύριε, ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν, ὁ νομοθετήσας ἡμῖν διὰ τοῦ πανευφήμου σου Ἀποστόλου Παύλου, βαθμῶν καὶ ταγμάτων τάξιν, εἰς τὸ ἐξυπηρετεῖσθαι, καὶ λειτουργεῖν τοῖς σεπτοῖς, καὶ ἀχράντοις σου Μυστηρίοις ἐν τῶ ἁγίω σου Θυσιαστηρίω, πρῶτον Ἀποστόλους, δεύτερον Προφήτας, τρίτον Διδασκάλους. Αὐτός, Δέσποτα τῶν ἁπάντων, καὶ τοῦτον τὸν ψηφισθέντα, καὶ ἀξιωθέντα ὑπεισελθεῖν τὸν Εὐαγγελικὸν ζυγόν, καὶ τὴν Ἀρχιερατικὴν ἀξίαν, διὰ τῆς χειρὸς ἐμοῦ τοῦ ἁμαρτωλοῦ, καὶ τῶν συμπαρόντων Λειτουργῶν καὶ Συνεπισκόπων, τῆ ἐπιφοιτήσει καὶ δυνάμει, καὶ χάριτι τοῦ Ἁγίου σου Πνεύματος, ἐνίσχυσον, ὡς ἐνίσχυσας τοὺς ἁγῖους σου Ἀποστόλους, καὶ Προφήτας, ὡς ἔχρισας τοὺς Βασιλεῖς , ὡς ἡγίασας τοὺς Ἀρχιερεῖς, καὶ ἀνεπίληπτον αὐτοῦ τὴν Ἀρχιερωσύνην ἀπόδειξον, καὶ πάση σεμνότητι κατακοσμῶν, ἅγιον ἀνάδειξον, εἰς τὸ ἄξιον γενέσθαι, τοῦ αἰτεῖν αὐτὸν τὰ πρὸς σωτηρίαν τοῦ λαοῦ, καὶ ἐπακούειν σε αὐτοῦ. Ὄτι ἡγίασταί σου τὸ ὄνομα καὶ δεδόξασταί σου ἡ Βασιλεία, τοῦ Πατρός, καὶ τοῦ Υἱοῦ, καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου Πνεύματος, νῦν καὶ ἀεί, καὶ εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων.
Luxury Watches Are Like Fine Art An excellent collection of fine watches is one thing which is worthy of even one of the most prestigious museums in the globe.
Translation from the Greek: [Letterhead symbol of double‐headed eagle] GENUINE ORTHODOX CHURCH OF GREECE HOLY METROPOLIS OF MESOGAEA AND LAUREOTICA EPISCOPAL HOUSE OF ST. CATHERINE, KOROPI, ATTICA 19400 P.O. 54 KOROPI, ATTICA, TEL: 2106020176, TEL+FAX: 2106021467 Protocol No. 535. Sunday of Cross‐veneration [22 Feb/7 Mar], 2010. To the Most Reverend Priest Fr. Pedro Rector of the Holy Church of Saint Spyridon Karea [Athens, Greece] By my present Hierarchical letter, I notify you also in writing, that according to the tradition of our Fathers (and that of Bishop Matthew of Bresthena), all Christians, who approach to receive Holy Communion, must be suitably prepared, in order to worthily receive the body and blood of the Lord. This preparation indispensably includes fasting according to one’s strength. Also, all Christians, when they are going to commune, know that they must approach Holy Communion on Saturday (since it is preceded by the fast of Friday) and on Sunday only by economy, so that they are not compelled to break the fast of Saturday and violate the relevant Holy Canon [sic: here he accidentally speaks of breaking the fast of Saturday, but he most likely means fasting on Saturday, because that is what violates the canons]. After this, I request of you the avoidance of disorder and scandal regarding this issue, and to recommend to those who confess to you, that in order to approach Holy Communion, they must prepare by fasting, and to prefer approaching on Saturday and not Sunday. Regarding the Canon, which some people refer to in order to commune without fasting beforehand, it is correct, but it must be interpreted correctly and applied to everybody. Namely, we must return to those early apostolic times, during which all of the Christians were ascetics and temperate and fasters, and only they remained [Page 2] until the end of the Divine Liturgy and communed. They fasted in the fine and broader sense, that is, they were worthy to commune. The rest did not remain until the end and withdrew together with the catechumens. As for those who were in repentance, they remained outside the gates of the church. If we implemented this Canon today, everyone would have to go out of the church and only two or three worthy people would remain inside until the end to commune. And if the Christians of today only knew how unworthy they are, who would remain inside the church? In short I write these things to you to advise you beforehand and I will come back to it, after you translate the present letter and come to discuss with me any problems you may happen to have. With prayers The Metropolitan of Mesogaea and Laureotica + KIRYKOS [Signature]
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SPIRITUAL PATH REMEMBERING SACRED TRADITION AND REFERRING TO THE HOLY FATHERS OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH Canons of the Holy Apostles 8. If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon, or anyone else in the sacerdotal list, fail to partake of communion when the oblation has been offered, he must tell the reason, and if it is good excuse, he shall receive a pardon. But if he refuses to tell it, he shall be excommunicated, on the ground that he has become a cause of harm to the laity and has instilled a suspicion as against the offerer of it that the latter has failed to present it in a sound manner. Interpretation. It is the intention of the present Canon that all, and especially those in holy orders, should be prepared beforehand and worthy to partake of the divine mysteries when the oblation is offered, or what amounts to the sacred service of the body of Christ. In case any one of them fail to partake when present at the divine liturgy, or communion, he is required to tell the reason or cause why he did not partake: then if it is a just and righteous and reasonable one, he is to receive a pardon, or be excused; but if he refuses to tell it, he is to be excommunicated, since he also becomes a cause of harm to the laity by leading the multitude to suspect that that priest who officiated at liturgy was not worthy and that it was on this account that the person in question refused to communicate from him. 9. All those faithful who enter and listen to the Scriptures, but do not stay for prayer and Holy Communion must be excommunicated, on the ground that they are causing the Church a breach of order. (Canon LXVI of the 6th; c. II of Antioch; cc. Ill, XIII of Tim.). Interpretation. Both exegetes of the sacred Canons — Zonaras, I mean, and Balsamon — in interpreting the present Apostolical Canon agree in saying that all Christians who enter the church when the divine liturgy is being celebrated, and who listen to the divine Scriptures, but do not remain to the end nor partake, must be excommunicated, as causing a disorder to the church. Thus Zonaras says verbatim: “The present Canon demands that all those who are in the church when the holy sacrifice is being performed shall patiently remain to the end for prayer and holy communion.” For even the laity then were required to partake continually. Balsamon says: “The ordainment of the present Canon is very acrid; for it excommunicates those attending church but not staying to the end nor partaking.” Concord. Agreeably with the present Canon c. II of Antioch ordains that all those who enter the church during the time of divine liturgy and listen to the Scriptures, but turn away and avoid (which is the same as to say, on account of pretended reverence and humility they shun, according to interpretation of the best interpreter, Zonaras) divine communion in a disorderly manner are to be excommunicated. The continuity of communion is confirmed also by c. LXVI of the 6th, which commands Christians throughout Novational Week (i.e., Easter Week) to take time off for psalms and hymns, and to indulge in the divine mysteries to their hearts’ content. But indeed even from the third canon of St. Timothy the continuity of communion can be inferred. For if he permits one possessed by demons to partake, not however every day, but only on Sunday (though in other copies it is written, on occasions only), it is likely that those riot possessed by demons are permitted to communicate even more frequently. Some contend that for this reason it was that the same Timothy, in c. Ill, ordains that on Saturday and Sunday that a man and his wife should not have mutual intercourse, in order, that is, that they might partake, since in that period it was only on those days, as we have said, that the divine liturgy was celebrated. This opinion of theirs is confirmed by divine Justin, who says in his second apology that “on the day of the sun” — meaning, Sunday — all Christians used to assemble in the churches (which on this account were also called “Kyriaka,” i.e., places of the Lord) and partook of the divine mysteries. That, on the other hand, all Christians ought to frequent divine communion is confirmed from the West by divine Ambrose, who says thus: “We see many brethren coming to church negligently, and indeed on Sundays not even being present at the mysteries.” And again, in blaming those who fail to partake continually, the same saint says of the mystic bread: “God gave us this bread as a daily affair, and we make it a yearly affair.” From Asia, on the other hand, divine Chrysostom demands this of Christians, and, indeed, par excellence. And see in his preamble to his commentary of the Epistle to the Romans, discourse VIII, and to the Hebrews, discourse XVIII, on the Acts, and Sermon V on the First Epistle to Timothy, and Sermon XVII on the Epistle to the Hebrews, and his discourse on those at first fasting on Easter, Sermon III to the Ephesians, discourse addressed to those who leave the divine assemblies (synaxeis), Sermon XXVIII on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, a discourse addressed to blissful Philogonius, and a discourse about fasting. Therein you can see how that goodly tongue strives and how many exhortations it rhetorically urges in order to induce Christians to partake at the same time, and worthily, and continually. But see also Basil the Great, in his epistle to Caesaria Patricia and in his first discourse about baptism. But then how can it be thought that whoever pays any attention to the prayers of all the divine liturgy can fail to see plainly enough that all of these are aimed at having it arranged that Christians assembled at the divine liturgy should partake — as many, that is to say, as are worthy? 10. If anyone pray in company with one who has been excommunicated, he shall be excommunicated himself. Interpretation. The noun akoinonetos has three significations: for, either it denotes one standing in church and praying in company with the rest of the Christians, but not communing with the divine mysteries; or it denotes one who neither communes nor stands and prays with the faithful in the church, but who has been excommunicated from them and is excluded from church and prayer; or finally it may denote any clergyman who becomes excommunicated from the clergy, as, say, a bishop from his fellow bishops, or a presbyter from his fellow presbyters, or a deacon from his fellow deacons, and so on. Accordingly, every akoinonetos is the same as saying excommunicated from the faithful who are in the church; and he is at the same time also excommunicated from the Mysteries. But not everyone that is excommunicated from the Mysteries is also excommunicated from the congregation of the faithful, as are deposed clergymen; and from the peni‐ tents those who stand together and who neither commune nor stay out of the church like catechumens, as we have said. In the present Canon the word akoinonetos is taken in the second sense of the word. That is why it says that whoever prays in company with one who has been excommunicated because of sin from the congregation and prayer of the faithful, even though he should not pray along with them in church, but in a house, whether he be in holy orders or a layman, he is to be excommunicated in the same way as he was from church and prayer with Christians: because that common engagement in prayer which he performs in conjunction with a person that has been excommunicated, wittingly and knowingly him to be such, is aimed at dishonoring and condemning the excommunicator, and traduces him as having excommunicated him wrongly and unjustly.
SIGILLION The Ecumenical Patriarchate to the Sacred Community of the Holy Mountain Gregory by the mercy of God Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch Most Holy Overseers and supervisors of the community of the Holy‐ named Mountain; abbots, priors, sacristans of the Holy and Stavropegic Monasteries situated there and the remaining Fathers, who are in the Holy Sketes and Cells abiding in the solitary life. Beloved and dearest children in our Lord, may the grace and peace of God be upon you, and our blessing and prayers. Years before during my second time by divine mercy as Patriarch, the Church, beholding the ongoing quarrels and disputes between the most holy Fathers there, published its Patriarchal and synodical decree, abolishing and stopping the immoderate ambition of some, and rejecting the satanically inspired scandals and removing from the midst that which was causing spiritual ruin, thereby treating your God‐beloved conduct and realizing your irreproachable solitary state. [Here the kollyva issue is expounded at length.] Concerning Divine and Holy Communion, you must be sure and know that the pious have the obligation at every Holy Mystagogy to approach and partake of the life‐creating Body, for which reason they are thus summoned by the Priest “With fear of God, faith, and love, draw near.” Also, concerning the precariousness and incompetence of people receiving Communion every day, the Church is entrusted with this and each one is commanded to approach the Holy Communion, whenever one confesses to one’s spiritual father, finds oneself worthy of Holy Communion and receives the permission of one’s spiritual father. But if one proves to be a criminal, one must submit to a penance, carry out the assigned penance with repentance and tears first, then present oneself again to one’s spiritual father to receive permission, and thus become worthy of the Divine and Holy Communion, for which neither is there a predestination of days, but nor must forty days first pass after having received Communion. Since [Communion] is unobstructed and unhindered, and whoever wishes to receive permission from their spiritual father, as one irreproachable, it is permitted for this person to receive Communion every week; however, neither is this a limit, nor is it an Apostolic Canon [i.e., neither is weekly the limited frequency, nor is it demanded for all to commune weekly]. These things we order and advise to everyone, to which you should be firmly rooted, and do not deviate from them, but neither break out into untimely and arrogant quarrels and disputes and satanic convictions, which are the fruit of death and destruction of the soul. Whoever is caught, out of malevolence or an evil mindset, persisting in this spiritually detrimental mindset and is proven to be quarreling about these things and resisting or that he thinks lawfully that memorial services be performed and kollyva presented for the salvation of the souls of the dead only on Saturday and not on any other day, or out of obstinacy and passion he carries out these things and presents them on Sunday, rewarding those who on occasion fall into minor sins, or he is seen saying that we must receive Communion every forty days and neither less nor more frequently than forty days, such a person, whatever his class and rank and age may be, must know that if it becomes known to the Church, he will be required to submit to its legal exasperation and punishment and to experience things which one could not even imagine in one’s dreams. Therefore, pay close attention to everybody, do so willingly and obediently, as we are already writing to advise and request you, and do not choose otherwise. May you be healthy in the Lord. 1819, in the month of August, 7th indiction. + GREGORY V of Constantinople New Rome + POLYCARP of the Holy City of Jerusalem + JOANNICIUS of Caesarea + ATHANASIUS of Nicomedia + GREGORY of Dercae + DOROTHEUS of Adrianople + JEREMIAS of Bizye + CALLINICUS of Siphnus + MELETIUS of Heraclea + MACARIUS of Nicaea + JOSEPH of Thessalonica + ZACHARIAS of Berroea + CALLINICUS of Dydimotechus + PHILOTHEIUS of Varna + DIONYSIUS, Metropolitan of Reos
Yet for all that, the learned know that certain worthy men [Anacharsis with others] have been brought to untimely death for none other fault, but for seeking to reduce their countrymen to good order and discipline;
And know well My Name for by honouring It in all thy Actions thou will Be and remain worthy of My Dragon Magic.
ARE THE HOLY CANONS ONLY VALID FOR THE APOSTOLIC PERIOD AND NOT FOR OUR TIMES? In his first letter to Fr. Pedro, Bp. Kirykos writes: “After this, I request of you the avoidance of disorder and scandal regarding this issue, and to recommend to those who confess to you, that in order to approach Holy Communion, they must prepare by fasting, and to prefer approaching on Saturday and not Sunday. Regarding the Canon, which some people refer to in order to commune without fasting beforehand, it is correct, but it must be interpreted correctly and applied to everybody. Namely, we must return to those early apostolic times, during which all of the Christians were ascetics and temperate and fasters, and only they remained until the end of the Divine Liturgy and communed. They fasted in the fine and broader sense, that is, they were worthy to commune. The rest did not remain until the end and withdrew together with the catechumens. As for those who were in repentance, they remained outside the gates of the church. If we implemented this Canon today, everyone would have to go out of the church and only two or three worthy people would remain inside until the end to commune. And if the Christians of today only knew how unworthy they are, who would remain inside the church?” From the above explanation by Bp. Kirykos, one is given the impression that he believes and commands: a) that Fr. Pedro is to forbid laymen to commune on Sundays during Great Lent in order to ensure “the avoidance of disorder and scandal regarding this issue,” despite the fact that the canons declare that it is those who do not commune on Sundays that are causers of disorder, as the 9th Canon of the Holy Apostles declares: “All the faithful who come to Church and hear the Scriptures, but do not stay for the prayers and the Holy Communion, are to be excommunicated as causing disorder in the Church;” b) that Fr. Pedro is to advise his flock “to prefer approaching on Saturday and not Sunday,” thereby commanding his flock to become Sabbatians; c) that the Canon which advises people to receive Holy Communion every day even outside of fasting periods is “correct” but must be “interpreted correctly and applied to everybody,” which, in the solution that Bp. Kirykos offers, amounts to a complete annulment of the Canon in regards to laymen, while enforcing the Canon liberally upon the clergy; d) that “we must return to those early apostolic times,” as if the Orthodox Church today is not still the unchanged and unadulterated Apostolic Church as confessed in the Symbol of the Faith, “In One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church,” with the same Head, the same Body, and the e) f) g) h) same requirement to abide by the Canons, but that we are supposedly some kind of fallen Church in need of “return” to a former status; that supposedly in apostolic times “all of the Christians were ascetics and temperate and fasters, and only they remained until the end of the Divine Liturgy and communed,” meaning that Communion is annulled for later generations supposedly due to a lack of celibacy and vegetarianism; that supposedly only the celibate and vegetarians communed in the early Church, and that “the rest did not remain until the end and withdrew together with the catechumens,” as if marriage and eating meat amounted to a renunciation of one’s baptism and a reversion to the status of catechumen, which is actually the teaching and practice of the Manicheans, Paulicians and Bogomils and not of the Apostolic Church, and the 9th Apostolic Canon declares that if any layman departs with the catechumens and does not remain until the end of Liturgy and does not commune, such a layman is to be excommunicated, yet Bp. Kirykos promotes this practice as something pious, patristic and acceptable; that Christians who have confessed their sins and prepared themselves and their spiritual father has deemed them able to receive Holy Communion, are supposedly still in the rank of the penitents either due to being married or due to being meat‐eaters, as can be seen from Bp. Kirykos’ words: “If we implemented this Canon today, everyone would have to go out of the church and only two or three worthy people would remain inside until the end to commune. And if the Christians of today only knew how unworthy they are, who would remain inside the church?” that we are not to interpret and implement the Holy Canons the way they are written and the way the Holy Orthodox Church has always historically interpreted and implemented them, but that these Canons supposedly need to be reinterpreted in Bp. Kirykos’s own way, or as he says, “interpreted correctly and applied to everybody,” and that “if we implemented this Canon today, everyone would have to go out of the church.” All of the above notions held by Bp. Kirykos can be summed up by the statement that he believes the Canons only apply for the apostolic era or the time of the early Christians, but that these Canons are now to be reinterpreted or nullified because today’s Christians are not worthy to be treated according to the Holy Canons. He also believes that to follow the advice of the Holy Canons is a cause of “disorder and scandal,” despite the fact that the very purpose of the Holy Canons is to prevent disorder and scandal. These notions held by Bp. Kirykos are entirely erroneous, and they are another variant of the same blasphemies preached by the Modernists and Ecumenists who desire to set the Holy Canons aside by claiming that they are not suitable for our times. Bp. Kirykos’ incorrect notions regarding the supposed inapplicability of the Holy Canons in our times are notions that the Rudder itself condemns. For in the Holy Rudder (published in the 17th century), St. Nicodemus of Athos included an excellent introductory note regarding the importance of the Holy Canons, and that they are applicable for all times, and must be adhered to faithfully by all Orthodox Christians. This introductory note by St. Nicodemus, as contained in the Holy Rudder, is provided below. PROLEGOMENA IN GENERAL TO THE SACRED CANONS What Is a Canon? A canon, according to Zonaras (in his interpretation of the 39th letter of Athansius the Great), properly speaking and in the main sense of the word, is a piece of wood, commonly called a rule, which artisans use to get the wood and stone they are working on straight. For, when they place this rule (or straightedge) against their work, if this be crooked, inwards or outwards, they make it straight and right. From this, by metaphorical extension, votes and decisions are also called canons, whether they be of the Apostles or of the ecumenical and regional Councils or those of the individual Fathers, which are contained in the present Handbook: for they too, like so many straight and right rules, rid men in holy orders, clergymen and laymen, of every disorder and obliquity of manners, and cause them to have every normality and equality of ecclesiastical and Christian condition and virtue. That the divine Canons must be kept rigidly by all; for those who fail to keep them are made liable to horrible penances “These instructions regarding Canons have been enjoined upon you by us, O Bishops. If you adhere to them, you shall be saved, and shall have peace; but if you disobey them, you shall be sorely punished, and shall have perpetual war with one another, thus paying the penalty deserved for heedlessness.” (The Apostles in their epilogue to the Canons) “We have decided that it is right and just that the canons promulgated by the holy Fathers at each council hitherto should remain in force.” (1st Canon of the Fourth Ecumenical Council) “It has seemed best to this holy Council that the 85 Canons accepted and validated by the holy and blissful Fathers before us, and handed down to us, moreover, in the name of the holy and glorious Apostles, should remain henceforth certified and secured for the correction of souls and cure of diseases… [of the four ecumenical councils according to name, of the regional councils by name, and of the individual Fathers by name]… And that no one should be allowed to counterfeit or tamper with the aforementioned Canons or to set them aside.” (2nd Canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council) “If anyone be caught innovating or undertaking to subvert any of the said Canons, he shall be responsible with respect to such Canon and undergo the penance therein specified in order to be corrected thereby of that very thing in which he is at fault.” (2nd Canon of the Second Ecumenical Council) “Rejoicing in them like one who has found a lot of spoils, we gladly embosom the divine Canons, and we uphold their entire tenor and strengthen them all the more, so far as concerns those promulgated by the trumpets of the Spirit of the renowned Apostles, of the holy ecumenical councils, and of those convened regionally… And of our holy Fathers… And as for those whom they consign to anathema, we anathematize them, too; as for those whom they consign to deposition or degradation, we too depose or degrade them; as for those whom they consign to excommunication, we too excommunicate them; and as for those whom they condemn to a penance, we too subject them thereto likewise.” (1st Canon of the Seventh Ecumenical Council) “We therefore decree that the ecclesiastical Canons which have been promulgated or confirmed by the four holy councils, namely, that held in Nicaea, and that held in Constantinople, and the first one held in Ephesus, and that held in Chalcedon, shall take the rank of laws.” (Novel 131 of Emperor Justinian) “We therefore decree that the ecclesiastical Canons which have been promulgated or confirmed by the seven holy councils shall take the rank of laws.” (Ed. note—The word “confirmed” alludes to the canons of the regional councils and of the individual Fathers which had been confirmed by the ecumenical councils, according to Balsamon.) “For we accept the dogmas of the aforesaid holy councils precisely as we do the divine Scriptures, and we keep their Canons as laws.” (Basilica, Book 5, Title 3, Chapter 2) “The third provision of Title 2 of the Novels commands the Canons of the seven councils and their dogmas to remain in force, in the same way as the divine Scriptures.” (In Photius, Title 1, Chapter 2) “I accept the seven councils and their dogmas to remain in force, in the same way as the divine Scriptures.” (Emperor Leo the Wise in Basilica, Book 5, Title 3, Chapter 1) “It has been prescribed by the holy Fathers that even after death those men must be anathematized who have sinned against the faith or against the Canons.” (Fifth Ecumenical Council in the epistle of Justinian, page 392 of Volume 2 of the Conciliars) “Anathema on those who hold in scorn the sacred and divine Canons of our sacred Fathers, who prop up the holy Church and adorn all the Christian polity, and guide men to divine reverence.” (Council held in Constantinople after Constantine Porphyrogenitus, page 977 of Volume 2 of the Conciliars) That the divine Canons override the imperial laws “It pleased the most divine Despot of the inhabited earth (i.e. Emperor Marcian) not to proceed in accordance with the divine letters or pragmatic forms of the most devout bishops, but in accordance with the Canons laid down as laws by the holy Fathers. The council said: As against the Canons, no pragmatic sanction is effective. Let the Canons of the Fathers remain in force. And again: We pray that the pragmatic sanctions enacted for some in every province to the detriment of the Canons may be held in abeyance incontrovertibly; and that the Canons may come into force through all… all of us say the same things. All the pragmatic sanctions shall be held in abeyance. Let the Canons come into force… In accordance with the vote of the holy council, let the injunctions of Canons come into force also in all the other provinces.” (In Act 5 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council) “It has seemed best to all the holy ecumenical council that if anyone offers any form conflicting with those now prescribed, let that form be void.” (8th Canon of the Third Ecumenical Council) “Pragmatic forms opposed to the Canons are void.” (Book 1, Title 2, Ordinances 12, Photius, Title 1, Chapter 2) “For those Canons which have been promulgated, and supported, that is to say, by emperors and holy Fathers, are accepted like the divine Scriptures. But the laws have been accepted or composed only by the emperors; and for this reason they do not prevail over and against the divine Scriptures nor the Canons.” (Balsamon, comment on the above chapter 2 of Photius) “Do not talk to me of external laws. For even the publican fulfills the outer law, yet nevertheless he is sorely punished.” (Chrysostom, Sermon 57 on the Gospel of Matthew)
If B is never going to forgive me, that is unforgivable, because I am going to strive forever to become worthy of forgiveness.
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