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New Calendarist Elders

by Anastasios Hudson on July 8th, 2014

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).

Dear Chris,

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[1], 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.[2]

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.[3]

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.[4]

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?

“Orthodox Unilateral Ecumenism”     Part 1   Part 2

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.

In Christ,
Fr. Anastasios


[1] 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.

[2] We subsequently did translate the incident with the colonel into English here.

[3] 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.

[4] 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.

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