Are you a convert to the GOC under Archbishop Kallinikos, our sister Russian Church (the ROCOR under Met. Agafangel), or our sister Romanian Church? Would you be willing to share you conversion story? If so, please contact me at anastasios At anastasios.hudson DOT com.
I will be editing a collection of conversion stories and would love to have your contribution. You can help others sort through the issues and make the decision to join our Church!
Dear in Christ A.,
Since the last time we talked I have looked into some other “true” churches and have been absolutely appalled at much of their beliefs. However, this is still not the case for your church. Who from what I see is teaching the same Orthodoxy of the Holy Fathers.
I’d be curious to know which other “true” Churches you have investigated and which teachings of theirs you find appalling. It seems to me that many in this day and age imitate the Greek Old Calendar Church. In other cases, there were former members of our Church that left us and went down an unsober path.
I still have a few more questions to ask, if you don’t mind, brother?
I was baptized and chrismated in the Greek Orthodox Church under the EP. I have been and continue to attend an OCA church where I will be tonsured a reader soon. If I were to visit one of your churches would I be considered a heretic? Or would be I be considered Orthodox but lost in a sea of modernist heretics? What is the view from your church’s perspective?
We do not make it our general business to prejudge people. If you were to visit our Church, you would be treated as an Orthodox Christian. If, after the fact, you espoused modernistic or ecumenistic viewpoints, we would have to reassess our opinion, but from our previous discussions, I highly doubt that is the case Now, we have a different view when it comes to certain hierarchs and priests in your Church that officially teach Ecumenism and branch theorism; this scandalizes us and we must state that those bishops who are praying vested with Roman Catholics such as Patriarch Teoctist in 1999 are acting in a heretical way.
That raises the problem of how we could presume someone like you to be personally Orthodox when you may in fact be under an Ecumenist bishop. Based on our conversations, I believe that you personally have an Orthodox confession of faith. If you realize that your bishop is heretical, and yet you continue to commune with him, you will, however, take his heresy onto yourself. For this reason we do not espouse resistance from within the New Calendarist Ecumenist Church, as we previously discussed when talking about Fr. Justin Popovich. Canon 15 of the 1st-2nd Council states that we are to separate from heretical bishops. Of course, some are of the opinion that Ecumenism is a mistake, but not a heresy, and therefore believe it is wrong to separate. We wish such individuals well and pray that their approach will bear fruit, for ultimately the goal of both approaches is to confront false teaching and restore communion between us. We don’t believe that that approach will ultimately bear fruit, nor is it the method found in the Fathers. We believe that our approach is the correct one, so we would ask you to prayerfully consider breaking communion with your present bishop and come under a right-believing bishop.
I have heard words like Matthewites? These words have nothing to do with your church, the Genuine Church of Greece, right?
Have you studied revolutionary theory? I hesitate to compare the Holy Church of Christ to a movement, but as you may be aware, in a revolution inevitably the idealogues become dissatisfied with the new order once they have “won” and are often marginalized by the centrists. In a similar fashion, after the three Metropolitans of the State Church of Greece returned to the Old Calendar in 1935, and consecrated four bishops to assist them, one of these bishops, Matthew, became angry that the Synod began to take a softer approach to governing after many years of polemical rhetoric (I am not suggesting the rhetoric was wrong, but merely that it was considered overly polemical to some). One of the Metropolitans, Chrysostomos of Florina, concluded that the best solution would be to encourage the State Church to return to the Old Calendar and renounce Ecumenism, instead of battling it in the open so to speak. Bishop Matthew believed this conciliatory approach of our Synod was a caving in to the New Calendarists and split, forming his own Church and consecrating his own bishops. We cannot accept such a questionable practice. Since then, the Matthewites have become increasingly isolated to the point that they believe they are the last remaining Orthodox on Earth. We heartily disagree.
On a personal note. I find it interesting how a convert like yourself ended up in this jurisdiction. If you don’t mind telling me how it unfolded for you, I would love to hear it?
I had always been aware of Old Calendarists since I discovered Orthodoxy, via reading the website OrthodoxInfo.com, which used to have many Old Calendarist articles on it. I went to St Vladimir’s Seminary as a Catholic to learn about Orthodoxy more, and in the course of studying there and taking some classes that were supportive of Ecumenism, I came to the conclusion that Ecumenism hinders evangelism of non-Orthodox. I also believe that the practice of receiving converts by chrismation alone cheats them out of a great grace. There are of course other issues, but these were two big issues. I began to research Old Calendarists more and decided to do my thesis on the first Old Calendarist bishop in America, Metropolitan Petros of Astoria. I began to go to St Markella’s Cathedral in New York, which was 20 minutes from where I lived at St Vladimir’s. After graduating and moving back to North Carolina, my wife decided to finally join me in Orthodoxy, and so we were baptized in St Markella’s.
I hope this answers your questions and I hope I have not offended you. Please let me know if you have any more questions. I am always glad to answer them. Also, please tell me a bit about your journey to Orthodoxy.
 Please see the article Why The True Orthodox Are Truly Orthodox for a thorough analysis of this point.
Thanks be to God, I have finally published my book, Metropolitan Petros of Astoria: A Microcosm of the Old Calendar Movement in America. This book, which was originally my Master’s thesis at St. Vladimir’s Seminary (2005), has been edited and corrected, and formatted for publication.
At present, the book is available in print-on-demand and ebook formats from the following locations:
From the back cover of the print edition:
“Metropolitan Petros of Astoria was born Stephanos Astyfides on September 1, 1915, on the island of Chios, Greece, to Maria and Dimitris Astyfides. From an early age, it is reported that both he and his brother Nikolaos (later Fr. Niphon) were inclined towards monasticism. At the age of 18, Stephanos set off with Nikolaos to Mount Athos, where they resided at the Skete of Saint Anna in the Cell of the Holy Ascension. They were ordained as deacons and priests by Bishop Germanos of the Cyclades in order to serve parishes in Thessalonica, Chios, and Athens that adhered to the Julian Calendar. The precise date of Father Petros’s ordination to the priesthood was August 9, 1944. At this time, there were no bishops and very few priests affiliated with the Greek Old Calendarist Church, and as a result hieromonks from Mount Athos performed the task of serving for those faithful who refused to accept the New Calendar” (Chapter 2).
Tucked away on a quiet street in Astoria, New York is the Cathedral of Saint Markella, founded in 1954 by Metropolitan Petros of Astoria (1915-1997), the first resident Old Calendarist Greek Orthodox bishop in America. This work examines his ecclesiastical life, from his origins in Greece through his arrival in America and establishment of the Cathedral, his ordination to the episcopacy by bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, his relationship to the Holy Synod of the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece, and his later years. The controversial issue of his views on the issue of Grace in the Mysteries (Sacraments) of the New Calendarists is discussed frankly and analyzed. His life and work is framed in the context of the Old Calendar movement as a whole, and his life is revealed to be a microcosm of it.
What emerges is a portrait of a zealous pastor dedicated to the salvation of the souls under his care, who reached out to the Greek Diaspora of New York and beyond with a concern for preserving and restoring ecclesiastical Tradition, who cultivated deep relations with Russian Orthodox Christians at a time when Orthodox in America appeared to be hopelessly fractured along ethnic lines, and who maintained a principled approach to theological matters, despite suffering great personal costs.
Also, see the excerpt from the Preface.
Please purchase your copy today, and help support me in my writing career! Your support will enable me to continue writing additional works such as this in the future!
My book, Metropolitan Petros: A Microcosm of the Old Calendar Church in America will be released as an ebook and in print-on-demand format this week, God-willing. I am putting together the final edits and formatting to meet the various publishers’ requirements. In the meantime, here is an excerpt of the work, the Preface to the Published Edition. Please stay tuned, and plan to purchase your copy, which will help raise awareness of this monumental figure, and help support my writing career and family!
Preface to the Published Edition
The first time that I visited the Cathedral of Saint Markella was during Lent of 2004, after I dropped someone off at nearby La Guardia airport. On my way back, on a whim, I decided to stop in, after having read about this Church and its people—the Greek Old Calendarist Orthodox Christians—for several years. Tucked away on a sleepy Astoria street sits this modest-sized cathedral, which was founded in 1954 by Metropolitan Petros of blessed memory, who came to America after suffering through the persecutions directed against the Old Calendarists in Greece from 1924 on, after they had refused to go along with the change in the Orthodox festal calendar introduced that year.
I was a seminarian at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in nearby Yonkers, New York, having arrived there in the summer of 2002. I was not Orthodox at the time, but rather an Eastern-Rite Catholic, and part of the reason I had enrolled in the seminary was to learn as much as I could about the Orthodox Church, in order to discern whether to remain Catholic or become Orthodox. It was not long before I decided to become Orthodox, but I noticed differences between the modern presentation of Orthodoxy and what was being described in the ancient texts we were studying. I also grew concerned with how Orthodox participation in the Ecumenical Movement might be negatively impacting the missionary activity of the Orthodox Church.
I was always aware of and appreciated the small but vocal traditionalist element in the Orthodox Church, which I had become familiar with as early on as I had discovered Orthodox Christianity itself, but I doubted whether the issues I was having were serious enough to lead me to join an Old Calendarist Church, or whether I should just join one of the “mainstream” jurisdictions in America and be an advocate for traditionalism “from within,” as many were encouraging me to do. This is what I was wrestling with that April evening ten years ago when I decided to pay a visit to St. Markella’s.
Stepping into the cathedral, I was struck with a peaceful feeling. The hymn “God is with us” from Great Compline was being chanted by a monk and a nun alternatively while a priest served, and there were a few people in attendance, but not a crowd. Still, the fact that there was a church that was open all day every day where people could just stop in and pray, with services that had been going on daily since 1954, made a strong impact on me. I left at the conclusion of the service, without having spoken to anyone, but feeling convicted of a need to take these people and their claims seriously.
A few months later, I returned to the cathedral to speak first with Bishop Christodoulos and later with Metropolitan Pavlos, the grandnephew of Metropolitan Petros; and after an afternoon spent with them, I felt called to join the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians, but I took the process slowly. I was still enrolled in the Seminary, and didn’t want to cause any unnecessary conflict. There were also personal and family concerns. In August 2006, a year after I graduated, I was baptized at the cathedral by Bishop Christodoulos with the assistance of Fr. Theodore Giannakopoulos.
While in seminary, we were required to write a thesis for our Master’s program, and with all the research I had invested in the Old Calendarist Orthodox Christians, I decided to write my thesis on Metropolitan Petros and his work to establish and support the Old Calendar church in America. I enjoyed researching and writing the thesis greatly, and was given access to important documents that many had never had the chance to see. The present work was originally submitted as a thesis to the faculty of St. Vladimir’s Seminary on April 20, 2005, and has now been revised for publication.
I would like to thank all those who have supported me over the years and I pray that my publication of this work on the life of Metropolitan Petros will help to further raise awareness of the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of America.
July 3, 2014 (o.s.)
Martyr Hyacinth of Caesarea in Cappadocia
Part of my ongoing Correspondence series, featuring replies to people who contacted me and asked questions, mostly when I served as a priest (2008-2013).
I’m not surprised that you are struggling with the issue of how to view the New Calendarist elders. Almost everyone who comes down this path has to confront this issue. I also had to consider it, of course. As you know from my article I sent you, I do not believe that struggling from within makes any sense or is good for the soul, and I think that “elderphilia” is a cancer in modern Orthodoxy. To me, the idea that one would not follow ecclesiological principles to their logical conclusion because there is someone who is holy on the “other side” seems to be a subversion of the proper order of theology.
For instance, we of course have our elders (such as Elder Ieronymos of Aegina)…does that mean that Elder Ieronymos, who left the New Calendarist Church in 1942, is a fraud? Or does it mean that there are true elders on both sides, and it really doesn’t matter which side one is on? Or perhaps it does matter, but God blessed people who made the wrong choice anyway, but who were sincere? These are all possibilities. However, seeing that one would have to consider all these possibilities, I do not see how any of them would supersede wanting to be under bishops who are Orthodox, because the Church is where the bishop is, not where the elder is. Look at Church history, and try to find how many times a charismatic figure ultimately won out against the episcopacy? Whenever there is a dispute between bishops and monastics, the bishops almost always win.
So how do I and other Old Calendarists deal with the people you listed? We could discuss each one individually, but I will instead just give you the highlights, and we can follow up if you wish. Fr. Paisios was in delusion, I believe, owing to the many false prophecies that he gave. Of course none of these are mentioned by his supporters, especially not in English translation. However, in Greek we have published some of the most notorious ones, such as his prophecy that he would die on Athos (which didn’t happen) or my favorite, his telling a Greek colonel that he would be the one to liberate Constantinople from the Turks (the colonel retired without having ever received even a promotion). We have thought about translating these things into English, but that is a double-edged sword. If we do, then we might be accused of being evil, mean-spirited, spiteful, partisan, etc. If we don’t, then we let misconceptions remain and are accused of not having an answer.
In regards to Fr. Joseph the Hesychast, Bishop Petros knew him on Mount Athos, and in fact, thought he was in plani (delusion) for returning to commemoration. Fr. Joseph’s sister remained a non-commemorator/Old Calendarist.
Fr Justin Popovich was a great author, and in fact, he broke communion with the ecumenist Serbian patriarchate, although not all of the Serbian bishops.
While it would have been best for him to completely leave, the fact that he recognized that communion with a blatant communist and ecumenist was impossible and that he therefore broke communion with him speaks volumes of his character.
I know little about Elder Cleopa.
In regards to Met. Chrysostomos of Florina, two points should be considered. The first is, that while he was reticent to deny that New Calendarists had grace (although he eventually did, publicly) he still did not think it was possible to have communion with them. Secondly, he viewed the situation which was still at play in the Church of Greece; there were hierarchs telling him that they wanted to return to the Old Calendar. He softened his position from 1937 to 1950 because he second-guessed whether a hardliner position was right, seeing that there was still “some hope” in the state Church, a struggle for Orthodoxy…that failed, ultimately. That was in the 1940′s, also—things have gotten qualitatively worse since then, I think we can all admit.
As for the idea that we haven’t entered into “blatant” concelebrations or heresy, can you honestly watch this video and say that?
My “favorite” part is where Met. Christodoulos admits they rejected a large number of Uniates in Italy who had applied en masse to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the 1960′s, because they didn’t want to set back ecumenical dialogue with the Vatican. That isn’t heretical?
As for the question of feeling peace or not, I am not sure what to tell you. I felt peaceful when I joined the Catholic Church, I felt peaceful the first time I went into a New Calendar Church, and I felt peaceful when I went to the Old Calendar Church the first time…I don’t make much out of feelings. For the record, when I was baptized at St. Markella’s, I experienced something different than “peace,” namely illumination of the nous, which lasted about 10 minutes. During that time, reality changed. It was like I could see beyond what was in the room, and I experienced other realities. When my thoughts went back to worldly things, I lost the feeling. When I was ordained, I felt fire reign down on my head. When I have prayed for people, I have felt “electricity” go from my hand to them, and they likewise have felt it. What to make of all these experiences? I suggest you see experiences as secondary to proper ecclesiological concerns.
I hope it gives you something to think about. You are in my prayers.
 An as-of-yet unpublished manuscript titled Resisting from Within: A Personal Testimony, in which I draw on my experience as a Eastern-Rite Catholic trying to be more Orthodox in practice and use this to argue against the idea of resisting the heresy of Ecumenism, Modernism, and the New Calendar from within the New Calendarist Church.
 We subsequently did translate the incident with the colonel into English here.
 After I wrote this letter, we received a large group of clergy and faithful from HOCNA, and some of them brought with them a personal devotion to Fr. Joseph. The argument that HOCNA put forth was that Fr. Joseph reacted to extremism, but if he had been alive in 1965 when the anathemas were lifted, he would have stopped commemorating again. I do not believe that this is a proper line of argumentation, since the Church of the GOC of Greece had already ruled the commemorators as schismatic, but I do not wish to quarrel needlessly with other bretheren.
 Vladimir Moss, “The Fall of The Serbian Church.” I do not generally recommend the writings of Vladimir Moss, due to their polemical and political nature, but occasionally he does write some great material. Please use caution with other links on that site.
I just wanted to touch base and let you know that I am working on an important certification for my technical career, and as such, I have not been posting lately. I envision returning to active posting in the beginning of July. I have a lot of ideas churning in my head and have taken a lot of notes on things that might be interesting to cover, so stay tuned!
In the meanwhile, please pray for me as I am a bit stressed out about this exam!
I’d like to direct my readers to a YouTube channel my friend Sharon just started concerning her journey through life struggling with a corn allergy. While that might not immediately seem like the kind of thing for me to post on my website, I have noticed that a lot of traditionalist Orthodox Christians are interested in the subject of alternative medicine, food allergies, non-GMO, etc., and I know some who themselves suffer from similar ailments, so I figured it might be of “crossover interest” and possibly helpful to someone if I posted the link. I also think Sharon is a cool person and deserves to have her work more widely known.
He was a small dog, and only 10 years old, which means for a small dog, he was probably too young to die. My first dog, by comparison, lived to be 17 years old, which is ancient by dog standards. He probably suffered a heart attack or a stroke, but his departure from this world was quite sudden regardless of the causes.
The death of a pet is always a sad event. God did not invent death—that was the consequence of Adam’s sin, which could have been avoided—but God allows all things for our benefit and salvation. In the case of the death of a pet, or of a loved one close to us, or of a famous celebrity, the “takeaway” is the same; we are quite possibly next, so let’s get to the business of preparing for it.
How do we prepare for death?
1) Acknowledge that we cannot save ourselves, and that we need Jesus Christ to be reconciled to God the Father.
2) Seek out the Church where Christ is made present and His teachings are preserved wholly unchanged (i.e. the Orthodox Church).
3) Begin to read Holy Scripture (the Bible) regularly and seek to apply its principles to our daily life.
4) Begin to pray and fast in preparation for Holy Baptism.
5) Receive Baptism at the hands of a canonical priest.
6) Confess our sins before God directly and our fellow man (the priest serves as a representative of the community in modern practice) when we fall after our baptism.
7) Receive Holy Communion frequently to renew the life of Christ within us.
8) Engage in activities that mortify the flesh and remind us of our final end (fasting, almsgiving, pilgrimages, and spiritual reading).
9) Pray without ceasing until our final breath.
Regardless of where you are in the above list, let the death of your pet, loved one, or favorite celebrity shake you, wake you up, arouse you from your slumber, slap you across the face—whatever it takes, however you express it—change, and begin your new life, NOW!
I want to alert my readers to a periodical that began in August 2013, The Good Word, which is published by the Holy Orthodox Diocese of Portland, a diocese of the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of America, under the omophorion of His Grace Bishop Sergios.
Part of my ongoing Correspondence series, featuring replies to people who contacted me and asked questions, mostly when I served as a priest (2008-2013).
What is your take on this? Very strongly worded. The list of signers is impressive.
I rejoice when people in the New Calendar Church make the correct confession, but here are a few points to consider:
1) This is the latest in a series of such statements. If you see the one (and only!) Romiosini we put out in 2007, we republished similar statements that were made then. It raises the question: how many statements do they need to make before they do something about it?
2) They do not include New Calendarism in the category of Ecumenism for obvious reasons; if they did, they would have to conclude that they fall under their own anathema.
3) The signatories to this statement are the usual crowd. Fr George Metallinos, Fr Thomas Zisis. Other members of the New Calendar Church ridicule them behind their backs–I have seen this first hand when I was in the seminary, where the dean of St Vladimir’s referred to Fr George as basically a crackpot.
4) Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus just wrote a blazingly arrogant piece against us, totally unprovoked. You can see our response (in Greek) on ecclesiagoc.gr
That being said, I am hopeful, but in a way most people do not anticipate. After the Council of Nicea in 325, the group that remained faithful from Day 1, the Orthodox, are referred to as “Old Nicenes” by scholars. They confessed “homoousios” ie. that Christ is the of the same substance as the Father. The compromisers, who arose under the heretical Emperors that succeeded St Constantine, confessed “homoiousios” ie. that Christ is of similar substance to the Father. They remained in communion with the Arians and are termed semi-Arians by many scholars.
At some point, the Arians became more extreme and confessed Eunomianism–Christ is not of the same substance as the Father. This finally scared the Semi-Arians, who broke communion with them and joined communion with the Old Nicenes. They became known as New Nicenes as they were the “johnny come latelies.” Together, these two groups vanquished the Arians.
In our modern situation, I believe that we are the Orthodox and that the conservative New Calendarists are like the Semi-Arians/New Nicenes. If they follow their consciences they will eventually break communion with the blatant heretics and join with us, and together we’ll win. That’s my opinion for what it’s worth. I therefore support reaching out to these people, and having good relations with them, not being too antagonistic towards them, while at the same time reminding them that as long as they are with the Ecumenists, they are not doing anyone any good. Also, we will have to be patient with them, as they will continue to lash out at us like Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus did, because we prick their conscience.
Postscript: The above-mentioned statement against Ecumenism was published in 2009. Nothing has come of it whatsoever in the intervening five years. In fact, as I edit this post for publication on my website, Patriarch Bartholemew of Constantinople is preparing to meet Pope Francis in Jerusalem to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the so-called “Lifting of the Anathemas,” which inaugurated a syncretistic ferver with Roman Catholicism.