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Monday, 24 November 2014

Legal Costs Report

AS you will be aware, the County Court at Lincoln  required us to pay a sum of £28,412.47 by 12th November, as we had lost the case against us, which concerned a grave reservation. On the day that the payment was due we had raised a total of £27,771.  To have raised this amount from a comparatively small circle of supporters and friends and within less than six weeks is indeed miraculous.  It left us only just over £640 short of the required amount.

We had, however, been rather optimistic in assessing the total cost of the case for us, which we had put at approximately £45,000.  In fact, now we have received the solicitor’s final bill, we find that figure is in fact £51,908.09!  (£23,495.62 over and above that paid on 12th November).

Even here we have been helped. One rather large donation reached us from Ireland (!), and others are still giving, and to date (22/11/14) we have raised a total of £38,878. This leaves us £13,030.09 short, which has been paid from our reserves.  Though, naturally, any further contributions would be greatly appreciated. God bless those who have helped and will help us. 

Friday, 3 October 2014

Brookwood Court Case

Dear-in-Christ Everyone, bless!

    I thought, having asked your prayers about the court case against us, I should also send round a short report.  But, first of all thank you for those prayers.  God bless you for it.

    In fact the judge at the case, which was held at Lincoln County Court, ruled for the claimant against us.  In some way this was a relief as it does bring the matter to an end, though it means that we shall have to pay a tremendous sum in costs.  It appears that this will be in the region of between £40,000 and £45,000.  The only charges that we had ever made on the family that brought the case amount to £400!   I suppose that is where the law separates from fairness!  So we have a task ahead of us now to raise and pay that sum.

    There were, it must be said, some consolations in all this.  On my return, I found a letter with a donation from a considerate young lady, who had sent it towards travel costs,etc, for the court case, which shows that she had seriously thought about what was involved.

    Secondly, Fr Sabbas had to drive me because of my defective eye, and Fr Niphon had to come and give evidence, and as they had not been in those parts before, we took the opportunity to visit five or six holy places in the Lincoln area, where pre-schism saints had borne witness or lived in asceticism. 

    This evening, after Vespers, we hope to chant a Thanksgiving Moleben for the outcome of the case, because although it was not what we would have hoped for, it must in some way be expedient and beneficial for us, in that God permitted it.

    With love in Christ Jesus,

            Fr Alexis, sinner

If you would like to help us by making a donation to our bank account at the Charities Aid Foundation Bank Ltd, please click on this link and follow directions:-

Monday, 1 September 2014

Ordination to the Priesthood

It is hoped that when His Grace, Bishop Ambrose of Methoni, visits England in the Autumn for the feast of Saint Edward the Martyr (Tuesday, 16th September, n.s.), he will ordain Father Deacon Borislav Popov to the priesthood. With his customary light touch, His Grace has suggested the feast of the Beheading of St John the Baptist (Thursday, 11th September, n.s.) as an appropriate day for the ordination. It seems fitting, therefore, to give some teaching regarding the priesthood and the Mysterion of Ordination.
In reiterating the teaching of Saint Dionysius, Simeon of Thessalonica tells us that the priest is the celebrant of the Holy Mysteries of Communion and Baptism but does not have the grace to ordain another, which thing is reserved for the episcopate. Also an ordinand to the priesthood must be thirty years of age, having come to maturity, and as a figure of Christ who began His teaching ministry at that age, for the priest is also a teacher. 

On the day of the ordination, the ordinand serves as a deacon until the Cherubic Hymn, thus completing his diaconal ministry. As a sign of this, during the Great Entrance he is left in the centre of the church and holds the Aer (the largest chalice veil) over his head. When he gives it up, so that it may cover the gifts offered on the Holy Table in the usual way, it signifies that he gives up his diaconal service. After the Cherubic Hymn, he is led by the other deacons to the Royal Gates. There they leave him, signifying that he is going on from them to a higher ministry, and the priests receive him into the sanctuary. The candidate bows down before the Bishop, who signs his head with the sign of the Cross. The priests then take him around the Holy Table, and as he processes he kisses the four corners of the Table, and coming to the Bishop again kisses his hand and knee. This is repeated twice more. By his kissing the Holy Table the candidate dedicates himself always to serve there, and by kissing the Bishop’s hand and knee he signifies both his gratitude to him and his godly obedience to him. As these three processions are made the choir chants first a hymn to the Martyrs, then one to Christ, The Apostles’ boast and Martyrs’ joy, and lastly one based on the prophecy of Esaias concerning the Virgin being with child and bearing a Son. The first of these reminds the candidate that his commitment must be like that of the Martyrs: unto death; the second that his ministry, like that of the Apostles and Martyrs, must be to our Saviour; and the third that the foundation of the priestly ministry itself is the incarnation of the Word of God. The Bishop then stands, and the candidate kneels on both knees. A man being ordained deacon kneels on one knee, but a deacon being ordained priest kneels on both, signifying the fuller ministry. He places his palms crossways on the edge of the Holy Table and lays his forehead upon his hands. The Bishop then blesses him three times, signifying the strength he will need to fulfil his ministry, for he is strengthened by the power of the Cross. The Bishop then lays his hand on the candidate’s head and prays that that which is infirm or wanting Grace Divine might heal, and he calls upon us to pray for him.
The clergy and then the people chant a threefold Lord have mercy slowly while the Bishop reads the prayer of ordination quietly over him. The Protodeacon then intones a litany praying for the Bishop and the new priest, and during this the Bishop, keeping his hand on the candidate’s head again prays for him. After the ending of this prayer and the litany, the newly-ordained priest is raised to his feet and the Bishop takes from him his orarion (stole), and replaces it with the double priestly stole (epitrachelion), crying out three times: Axios! (Worthy!). The clergy repeat this acclamation, and then so do the choir. Then the Bishop gives him the cincture, and again the thrice threefold Axios is chanted. In the same way he is vested in the priestly phelonion, and he is given the priestly service book (hieraticon). The newly ordained priest in turn kisses the Bishop’s omophorion and his hand, and then greets the concelebrating clergy with the kiss of peace and takes his place by the side of the Holy Table so as to participate in the most important part of the Divine Liturgy, the consecration of the Divine Gifts. 

When, later the Lamb is consecrated the Bishop breaks the portion marked XC and gives it to the new priest, saying: Receive thou this pledge, and preserve it whole and unharmed until thy last breath, for thou shalt be held to an accounting therefor in the Second and Dread Coming of our great Lord, God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. The new priest does not then partake of that Bread, but stands with head bowed at the east end of the Holy Table holding It in his cupped hands which he rests on the Table, and reciting to himself silently the fiftieth psalm. He also silently prays for all the faithful, living and departed, whom he can remember, calling to mind that in his hands he holds the very Body of our Lord. At the elevation of the Gifts, he returns the portion entrusted to him to the diskos, and he receives the Holy Mysteries in due order with the other priests. 

At the end of the Divine Liturgy, being the junior priest, the newly ordained priest reads the Prayer Beyond the Ambon, O Lord, Who blessest those that bless Thee…. This is to indicate that he is now a father among his children, interceding for them. After ordination, the priest is referred to and called Father (with or without his Christian name), and is not referred to by the Orthodox faithful by his Christian name alone. His wife, if he is married, is also addressed with similar respect, either as Presbytera (Greek and English), Matushka (Russian), Preoteasa (Romanian), Khouria (Arabic) or Popadija (Serbian), again with or without her Christian name. And again, recognising her share in the ministry and honouring the ministry of her husband, she is not disrespected and referred to by the Orthodox faithful by her Christian name alone. From his ordination, a priest always wears his cassock (except perhaps when his secular employment precludes this), and when out and about he wears the cassock and rason and a clerical hat. In this way, he confesses that he is a minister of the Church at all times, as was promised by his kissing the four corners of the Holy Table three times during his ordination, and he does not simply wear his clerical habit when he goes to church or is about specifically church business. From this time also he wears his hair and beard uncut, or, if his secular employment precludes this, only trims them slightly to be tidy. In the Russian practice, he is also given a pectoral cross to wear, but in other national Churches this is usually only granted to the most senior priests.
Please pray for Fr Borislav, his diaconissa Marina, and their children, Marina, Sophia, Paul and Anna that they all be strengthened and protected as Fr Borislav’s ordination approaches.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Icon Gifts and Restoration

PARASKEVAS (Barry) ANASTASIADES of the Greek Orthodox Parish of Saint Antony and St John the Baptist in Islington, arranged for two large icons, one of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple, and one of the Holy Apostle Mark the Evangelist, to be given to our community from their church. Many thanks to Sofia Popova for restoring the icons and repainting areas that had been damaged when the icons were removed from their original mountings.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Young Children and the Church

The Brotherhood have just published a new book for parents with young children, or just anyone who wants to learn more about the Orthodox Faith. This book is A5 in size, 80 pages long and has 2 full colour plates.

 From the back cover:

Most Orthodox parents will, at some stage, encounter problems with disobedient young children. Every child is different, and a parent’s approach needs to be tailored to the strengths and weaknesses of each child. However, the main duty of an Orthodox parent is not to control children, but to raise children as conscientious Orthodox Christians. In order to do this, knowledge of the teachings of the Church and how these teachings relate to the raising of children is vital.

In this book we have tried to help parents improve their knowledge of both the Orthodox Faith and the psychology of young children. Throughout the text we have quoted extensively from the Fathers, and issues are discussed from a spiritual point of view. The techniques used to deal with, and prevent, bad behaviour are based on increasing both the child and the parent’s knowledge of the Orthodox Faith. To this end, a large part of this book is devoted to helping parents develop an Orthodox theological vocabulary so they can explain more about the services of the Church and the Orthodox Faith to their children.

Priced at £7.50 from the bookstall. £10.00 including postage to the U.K.
Also available on Amazon. 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

New on the bookstall

We have a limited number of the lavishly illustrated, hardback edition of 'Sinai, Byzantium and Russia: Christian Orthodox Art from the Sixth to the Twentieth Century' available for sale. The books are brand new, and are available from the bookstall for £30.00 or by post at £35.00.
This large format, 488 page, edition has 650 high quality colour illustrations and measures 11.6 x 10.2 inches.

Also available on Amazon.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The Ark of Salvation in Serbian

The Ark of Salvation is now available in Serbian thanks to the efforts of V. Rev. Fr. Milun Kostic who has faithfully translated and published this handsome volume. This hardback edition was translated with the blessing of  His Grace Dositej of Great Britain and Scandinavia and printed in Belgrade. To buy copies please contact the Brotherhood.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Stalin Calendar 2014

The Moscow Patriarchate Press recently released its "Stalin Calendar." "Uncle Joe Stalin," in case anyone has forgotten, was an atheist, born in Georgia, who was thrown out of seminary, who became the leader of the Soviet Union, and who distinguished himself as a sociopathic murderer known for horrendous genocide and personal perversion and debauchery.

After his minions  killed countless Orthodox Bishops, Priests, monastics, and faithful, he revived the Moscow Patriarchate, setting the stage for its preeminence in the ecumenical world and the World Council of Churches. Through its assurances, by way of clergy who were collaborators with (and even officers in) the secret police (KGB), propaganda about the freedom of religion in the anti-religious Soviet Union was spread worldwide.

Archpriest Vsevelod Chaplin, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Synodal Department for the Cooperation of Church and Society, has noted that the Church is ambivalent about Stalin, though it honors him for reviving the Patriarchate. This is understandable, even if Christianity and most civilized religions are not ambivalent with regard to the eternal rewards earned by those of his ilk; i.e., the rewards  awaiting unrepentant mass murderers.

This chilling statement from the Calendar is one that no one should miss:

"Stalin is gone; he has passed into the future."

God forbid that this is a prophecy (let alone one already fulfilled), unless the reference is eschatological and centers on the spirit of Antichrist, the father of lies. The world could probably not suffer another Stalin. In any event, an odd publication for the Moscow Patriarchal Press.

The above analysis was written by the Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies.

For further information click here: Патриаршая типография напечатала календарь посвященный Сталину - TUT.BY

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Homily on the Great Feast of Theophany

An Exegesis on the day of the Lord's Baptism

By Saint Gregory the Wonderworker, Bishop of Neocaesarea

THEN COMETH JESUS from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptised of him (Matt. 3:13). What meekness and humility the Lord has! What condescension! The Heavenly King approaches John, His own forerunner, not surrounded by the armies of the angels, and without sending His heralds, that is the bodiless powers, before Him, but just as a simple and normal soldier. Thus it is that he comes up to His own soldier; He approaches just as everyone else in the midst of the common people. He circulates among the company of the prisoners, though He is their Redeemer and their Judge. He joins Himself to the sheep who are astray, even though He is the Good Shepherd, Who for the sake of the lost sheep came down from Heaven and yet did not leave Heaven. The Heavenly Wheat is mixed with the the tares, He who was conceived without seed.

Seeing Him, John the Baptist recognised that this was indeed the Very One, Whom he had confessed and honoured while he was yet in his mother’s womb, for Whose sake he had, surpassing the bounds of nature, leaped so early in his mother’s womb. Withdrawing his hand and bowing his head like a servant beloved of his Lord, John besought Him: I have need to be baptised of Thee, and comest Thou to me? (Matt. 3:14). What art Thou doing, Lord? Why dost Thou reverse the order of things? Why, on a par with a slave, dost Thou request that which befitteth slaves? Why dost Thou desire to receive that, of which Thou hast no need? Why dost Thou burden me through Thy so great condescension and humility? I have need to be baptised of Thee; but Thou hast no need to be baptised of me. The lesser is blessed by the greater and the mightier; rather than the greater being blessed and sanctified by the lesser. The light is kindled from the sun, rather than the sun being set aflame by a lamp. The potter’s clay receives form from the potter, and not the potter from the clay. Creation is renewed by the Creator, rather than the Creator being directed aright by creation. The patient is treated by the physician, rather than the physician being given prescriptions by the sick. The poor man takes alms from the rich, not the rich from the poor. I have need to be baptised of Thee, and comest Thou to me? Can I be ignorant of Who Thou art, from whence Thou hast shone forth, and from whence Thou hast come? Can I deny the majesty of Thy Divinity, simply because Thou hast been made like unto me? Can I reject the Divinity which my mind perceiveth, on account of what my fleshly eyes see, simply because Thou hast appeared to me with such condescension? - that is, having taken flesh upon Thyself Thou bearest all that is mine within Thyself, so that Thou mightest save the whole man. Can I be ignorant that Thou clothest Thyself in light as with a garment, simply because, for my salvation, Thou hast garbed Thyself in my nature? Or can the brilliant light of Thy Divinity be concealed from me, simply because Thou now bearest my flesh and art visible to all? Or, mentally straying, can I dare to deny Thy Divine, invisible and inapproachable Essence, simply because I now see in Thee my own form? No, I know Thee, O Lord; I know Thee, being instructed of Thee Thyself, for none may know Thee unless they are illumined with the light of Thy grace. I know Thee clearly, O Lord, for I saw Thee in the spirit, even before I beheld this light. When Thou wast altogether in the incorporeal bosom of the Heavenly Father, Thou wast also altogether in the womb of Thy handmaiden and Mother. And I, yet being contained by nature within the womb of Elizabeth as it were in a prison, and being bound by the indissoluble bonds of infancy, I leapt up, and lauded and praised Thee, even before Thou wast born. Thus can it be that I, who thus preached Thy coming even before Thy nativity, should not recognise Thine advent? Shall I who learned of Thy coming while yet in the womb, having now come to full understanding, appear as a babe [in understanding]? No, I cannot but honour and glorify Thee, Whom all creation holds in reverence. I cannot but proclaim Thee, Whom heaven announced through the wandering star, to Whom the earth offered worship through the magi, Whom the choirs of the Angels hymned, rejoicing in Thy condescension towards us, Whom the shepherds who were keeping watch by night in the fields confessed to be the Chief Shepherd of the rational sheep. I cannot keep silent while Thou art present, for I am a voice. Indeed, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: prepare ye the way of the Lord. I have need to be baptised of Thee and comest Thou to me? 

By my birth I destroyed the barrenness of the mother who had borne me, and being yet a babe I cured the dumbness of my father, having received from Thee the gift of working wonders. But Thou wast born of the Virgin Mary, as Thou hadst blessed and as Thou alone knowest, and Thou didst not destroy her virginity but didst safeguard it and grant her the name of Mother, in such a way that neither did her virginity preclude Thy being born, nor did Thy being born destroy her virginity. Thus things that were completely contrary, giving birth and virginity, were conjoined and united, for this was easy and possible for Thee, as Thou art the Creator of nature. I am but a man and simply a communicant of God’s grace; Thou art God and simultaneously a man, and consequently Thou art full of love and goodness towards the race of man. I have need to be baptised of Thee, and comest Thou to me? Thou Who wast in the beginning, Who wast with God, and was Thyself God (John 1:1)? Thou Who art the effulgence of the Father’s Glory? Thou, Who art the perfect image of the perfect Father? Thou,Who art the Light that lighteneth every man that cometh into the world? Thou,Who being in the world, goest whither Thou wast aforetime? Thou,Who was made flesh, but wast not changed into flesh? Thou,Who hast tabernacled among us, and has been seen by Thy servants in the form of a servant? Thou, Who hast in Thy holy name joined heaven to earth, as though by a bridge? Thou comest to me: One so Great to one so small? The King cometh to the herald? The Master to the slave? Though Thou wast not ashamed to be born in the most humble human way; yet I cannot transgress the bounds of nature. I know how great is the difference between the earth and the Creator; I know what a distinction there is between the finger of clay and its Creator. I know the measure of that which separateth the light of Thy righteousness from me, who am no more than the lamp of Thy grace. Even though Thou art clothed with the body as with a pure cloud, yet I perceive Thy lordship. I confess my own servile status and proclaim Thy greatness. I recognise the mightiness of Thy power, and I do not conceal my own lowliness and unworthiness. I am not worthy to unloose the latchets of Thy shoes (John 1:27); then how shall I dare to touch the immaculate crown of Thy head? How shall I stretch out my right hand upon Thee,Who hast stretched out the heavens as if they were a curtain, and hast set the earth upon the waters? How shall I place my servant’s fingers upon Thy Divine head? How shall I wash One Who is immaculate and no participant in any sin? How shall I illumine the Light? What prayer shall I offer over Thee,Who dost receive the petitions even of those who do not know Thee? When I baptise others, I do so in Thy name, that they might believe on Thee,Who art to come in glory. But in baptising Thee, whom shall I call upon? In whose name shall I baptise Thee? In the name of the Father? But Thou hast the Father altogether in Thyself, and art Thyself altogether in the Father. In the name of the Son? But other than Thee, there is no other Son of God by nature. In the name of the Holy Spirit? But He is always with Thee, being of one essence with Thee, of one mind, of one power, of one honour, and one worship, which He receiveth from all. Wherefore, if it so please Thee, baptise me, O Lord; baptise me, the baptiser. Regenerate one, whom Thou didst call into this world. Stretch forth Thy right hand, which Thou hast prepared for Thyself, and by Thy touch crown my head, so that, in heralding Thy kingdom, I may, like a crowned forerunner, in great voice make announcement to sinners, crying out to them: Behold the Lamb of God, Which taketh away the sins of the world! (John 1:29). And thou, O river Jordan, be glad with me and rejoice, stir thy waters rhythmically, for the Creator standeth before thee in the flesh. Thou didst once of old see Israel cross through thee and, dividing thy waters, thou didst await the passing over of the people of God; now though be thou divided yet more mightily, let thy streams be more majestic so as the enfold the immaculate limbs of the One,Who in times past brought the Jews through thee. O ye mountains and hills, ye springs and torrents, ye seas and rivers, bless ye the Lord, Who hath come to the River Jordan, for through her waters He imparteth sanctification to all waters!

But in reply, Jesus said to John: Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Suffer it to be so now: be silent, O Baptist! - and do it unto Me. Learn to desire that which I desire. Learn to minister unto Me in those things which I require of thee. And do not pry beyond measure into that which I wish to achieve. Suffer it to be so now: do not yet proclaim My Divinity; do not yet proclaim with thy lips My Kingdom, lest the tyrant, learning of it, should abandon the course which he hath taken against Me. Allow the devil to come upon Me and to engage with Me as if I were a simple man; allow him to enter into conflict with Me, that he might then receive a mortal wound. Permit Me to accomplish My course and My desire, for which cause I came upon earth. A mystery and a hidden thing let that be which is being accomplished today in the Jordan. It is a hidden thing that I accomplish here, not for some need of My Own, but for the cure of those who have been wounded. A mystery and a hidden thing let that be by which mankind is regenerated in these waters, even before the heavenly floods are manifest. Suffer it to be so now: When thou seest that I, as God, do that amidst My creations which is according to My dispensation, then do thou praise that which is accomplished. When thou seest that I cleanse the lepers, then do thou preach concerning Me, that I am the Creator of nature. When thou seest me made the lame quick to run, then with metal agility do thou employ thy tongue in glorifying Me. When thou seest that I cast out demons, then is My Kingdom nigh. When thou seest that with one word I recall the dead from the grave, then do thou, along with those who are resurrected, praise me as the Perpetrator and Giver of life. When thou seest Me sitting on the right hand of the Father, then do thou acknowledge and confess Me as God, co-enthroned, co-eternal and of one honour with the Father and the HolySpirit. Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. I am the Lawgiver and the Son of the Lawgiver; and thus before all else it befitteth Me to fulfil that which is commanded, and only then to manifest everywhere the trophies of My power. I must needs first fulfil the Law and then impart Grace. I must needs first pass through the shadow, and then the truth itself. I must needs set an end to the old covenant, and only then to proclaim the new, imprinting it on the hearts of men, inscribing it with My blood and sealing it with My Spirit. I must needs ascend the Cross and be nailed thereto, and in this [human] nature endure all that it is capable of enduring, by My sufferings healing the passions of others, and by the wood curing that wound, which was inflicted upon people by means of the wood. I must needs descend into the very depths of the nether regions for the sake of those, the dead, who are held there. I must needs, by My three-day death in the flesh, destroy and annihilate the long-standing dominion of death. I must needs light the lamp of My body for those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. I must needs ascend thither in the flesh where I abide in Divinity. I must needs bring to the Father the Adam who reigneth within Me. I must needs now accept this baptism, and hereafter impart the baptism of the Trinity, One in Essence, to all peoples. Now lay thy right hand upon Me, O Baptist, just as Mary lent Me her womb that I might be born. Immerse Me now in the streams of the Jordan, just as she who gave Me birth wrapped Me in swaddling bands as a Child. Impart baptism unto Me, just as the Virgin imparted milk unto Me. Touch thou My head, before which the Seraphim do reverence and which they worship. Touch thou with thy right hand that head, which is related to thee by blood. Touch that which by nature may be touched. Touch that, which for this very purpose was prepared by Myself and the Father. Touch thou My head, for if one toucheth it with reverence, he shall not suffer shipwreck. Baptise Me, Who with water, the Spirit and with fire shall baptise believers: with water which washeth away the impurity of sin; with the Spirit, Which maketh the earthly spiritual; with fire which is able to burn up the thorns of transgressions.

On hearing these things, the Baptist gave heed to the purpose of salvation and comprehended the mystery; he discharged the Divine command and, with joy and with trembling, stretching forth his right hand, he baptised the Saviour. Then He Who is by nature the Father of the Only-Begotten, He Who alone genuinely and perfectly knew Him Whom He had begotten, opened the gates of heaven, and sent down upon Jesus’ head the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, as if by a finger pointing out the new Noah Who is also the Creator of Noah and the wise Pilot for that nature, which was in danger of suffering shipwreck. And He Himself announced from heaven, speaking clearly: This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well-pleased - the Son of the Same Essence, and not of some other nature. My Son is not other than the Son of Mary; rather the Very Same is My Beloved Son, Who is now both seen with the eyes and apprehended by the mind.
Translated from Russian