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Excerpt from “The Elder Ieronymos of Aegina” on How the Elder Returned to the Old Calendar in August, 1942

by Anastasios Hudson on April 30th, 2014

Please Note: This is an excerpt from the work The Elder Ieronymos of Aegina, published by Holy Transfiguration Monastery, and under copyright. Please support the monastery’s translation work by purchasing this book. I’ve read it and highly recommend it.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

Lover of Tradition

The region of Anatolia, Cappadocia in Asia Minor, where he lived his childhood years, where he came to know the first spiritual stirrings, where he tasted the springing waters of Orthodoxy from the holy elders who lived there, and where he matured spiritually remained unforgettable for him. He frequently referred to his homeland and waved nostalgic for all the things he had experienced there. He never forgot the solitary chapels in the rocks, where one could go and pray in utter stillness, nor those simple people, those first-rate artisans, who, whatever they put their hand to, did it perfectly, with ardor, and with good taste.

Being a great lover of the life of stillness and prayer, he often recollected the beautiful days full of spiritual ascents and exaltations that he had passed in the chapels and abandoned monasteries of his homeland.

“Here in Greece you cannot find a quiet place to pray,” he was wont to say. “In Anatolia there were many places where you could pass the whole day in prayer, without anybody seeing you.”

This insatiable and never-silent desire for quietude and prayer, for undisturbed communion with God, never abandoned him. He never lost an opportunity to draw apart and give himself to prayer. Usually, even when he was speaking to his visitors, he would stop for a little and say, “Now let’s chant something.”

And he would begin with his imposing, deeply resounding, and melodious voice to chant “Let us worship the Word,” or “It is truly meet…” or some other hymn, these intermissions of prayer were indispensable for him, they were his life-breath, his spiritual supply-Iine. And at the same time, it was an excellent example for those who conversed with him, that they might form the habit of conjoining their every occupation with prayer.

He lived the essence of Orthodoxy, tradition, in all its breadth. Without rejecting any of the attainments of technological society, he had a special weakness, a passion we might say, for whatever was olden, ancient-from material things to the spiritual. He liked the ancient order of the services, the old books, antiques, because he believed that they carried the seal of their maker, they had been constructed with fondness and were not machine-made and in bad taste.

With such convictions and perceptions, having always lived his life within but also “outside this world,” within the strict province of tradition, he felt a certain uneasiness from the time that the ecclesiastical Calendar was changed and the new was enforced. These anxieties of his increased as the years went by and he beheld many Orthodox customs changed. He did not like the abridgement of the church services, the secularization of the clergy, the abandonment of the Orthodox way of life. And although he always attended to the essence and not the dim outward form, he believed that these alterations in traditional usages and forms in and of themselves betrayed a certain indifference and slackness towards the Faith: that this was the beginning of a downhill slide whose end was unknown. For this reason, he often thought of following the Old Calendar, especially since he saw that the Old Calendarists faithfully followed tradition and would not tolerate innovations and transgressions in matters pertaining to the Faith. For some time he hesitated, and prayed continually and fervently to God, that He might reveal to him His will. He awaited some sign, some indication from God, that would make it clear to him what he should do.

In August of 1942, specifically on the 23rd of the month, [1] the eve of the feast of Saint Dionysius of Aegina, when the hospital church celebrated, Procopios, the then Metropolitan of Hydra, Spetsai, and Aegina, called him and told him to get ready so that on the morrow, on the occasion of the church’s festival, they might concelebrate. Many priests of Aegina, who knew that Father Ieronymos was sympathetic to the Old Calendar, but were ignorant of the vision he had seen, were under the impression that he had stopped liturgizing at the hospital church on account of his Old Calendarist sympathies. They reported this to the Metropolitan, and he, in order to ascertain the accusation, requested that they concelebrate. [2]

Men of God perceive the finger of Divine Providence behind every action and occurrence. Father Ieronymos, who had stopped liturgizing some eighteen years before, considered this invitation from the Metropolitan to be God’s answer to his prayers. He prayed again all night long and finally decided not to go and concelebrate with the Metropolitan, but to follow the Old Calendar openly thereafter. He departed on the morrow from the hospital very early in the morning for the hermitage of the Annunciation of the Theotokos, where the Eldress Eupraxia was already staying.

From there he sent the Metropolitan the following notification of resignation from the hospital church.

To the Most Reverend Metropolitan of Hydra

Kyr Kyr Procopios

Aegina

Your Eminence,

I beseech you to accept my resignation from the hospital, because since 1924 and henceforward, my yearning and also my zeal have been for the Orthodox Church and the Faith.

Since my childhood I have reverenced her, having dedicated my whole life to her, being obedient to the traditions of the God-bearing Fathers.

I acknowledge and proclaim the Patristic Calendar to be the correct one, as you also attest. [3]

For this reason I request of you, that you yourself also pray that I abide till the end a genuine child of the Orthodox Church.

Kissing your Eminence’s right hand,

I most humbly remain

The servant of our Crucified Lord Jesus Christ,

Ieronymos Apostolides

Thus simply and quietly, without the beating of drums, excommunications, and fanatical manifestations, he followed the Old Calendar the rest of his life.

This event did not in any way influence his behavior towards his spiritual children. He received them all without distinction, whether they followed “the Old” or “the New.” He never preached on the calendar issue. His foremost and principal aim was to instill into his visitors faith and love towards Christ; his chief care was how they progressed in the spiritual life, how they were united to God. He never took part in fruitless and harmful conversations concerning the calendar issue, even when he was challenged to do so. He contented himself with simply confessing that he followed the Old Calendar since “that’s the right one,” and that from the time the Church put the New Calendar into practice “things just have not been going well at all.” He never permitted immoderate and harmful fanaticism to prevail in his soul. On the contrary, he always strove to calm spirits. Once a visitor asked him, “Elder, do you follow the Old?”

“Yes.”

“Who are you with?” She meant, with which faction.

“With all.”

“But they have quarrels with one another.”

“I am not with quarrels.”

He was very discerning and refined in his ways. Even when he went so far as to censure, he did it with the utmost love, and not only did he not cause adverse reactions, but on the contrary he elicited confession and repentance, which was his intended purpose.

Botsis, Peter. The Elder Ieronymos of Aegina. Brookline, MA: The Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 2007, pp. 159-163.

————-

[1] That is, according to the New or civil Calendar; it was the tenth of August according to the Church (Old) Calendar. Since the feast of Saint Dionysius is August 24, the Elder Ieronymos was being asked to celebrate Saint Dionysius’ feast according to the New Calendar. —TRANS.

[2] The truth of the matter is that Father Ieronymos, like his contemporary the holy Papa Nicholas Planas of Athens (+1932), quietly celebrated many of the feasts without liturgizing according to the Old Calendar. That he never liturgized or concelebrated according to the Papal Calendar since he had desisted from serving before the change of the calendar in 1924 was very convenient for him and somewhat eased his conscience. —TRANS.

[3] Many, if not the majority, of the bishops and other clergy of the State Church of Greece at the time privately acknowledged that the Julian Calendar used by the Church since the days of our Saviour was the correct calendar for reckoning the feasts as opposed to the innovating Papal New Calendar; but for fear of reprisals, they would not proclaim this publicly. —TRANS.

From → Excerpts

8 Comments
  1. Maximus permalink

    Anastasios,

    Christos Anesti!

    Do you feel that is still acceptable for an Old Calendarist to behave in the manner of the Elder? Greek Old Calendarists have anathematized the New Calendar numerous times, plus they try convince New Calendarists to join them by saying that World Orthodoxy is graceless. I’m with Patriarchates but I’m not blind, there are SERIOUS longstanding problems, however, there are real strugglers and holy persons with us as well. I also respect the stand of the True Orthodox. I can say with the Holy Elder: “I’m with all”. Can a True Orthodox relate to the World Orthodox the way the Elder did and not be accused of “Cyprianism” or something similar? I just don’t see any Trues behaving as he does in the excerpt. Btw… Hieromonk Seraphim related to New Calendarists in a way very similar:

    We, of course, are already guilty of many “sins” with which Fr. R castigates our Church — worst of all (I suppose), the giving of Communion to New Calendarists. I can see how each priest should be free to do as he thinks best on this question, but for us, I see that we must open ourselves to all the Orthodox who aren’t being helped by their own bishops and priests. Recently, we were visited by another Antiochian priest (from Los Angeles), and just the fact of our friendship is a source of strength which helps them to struggle more themselves. What the end will be, jurisdictionally speaking, I don’t know. But we must have the image of the Russian Church Abroad adjusted away from the “fanatic party line,” which up to now has tried to take over — and whose failure now is becoming evident. (Nov. 22/Dec. 5, 1981, Letters From Father Seraphim pg. 227)

    • Anastasios Hudson permalink

      Dear Maximus,

      Sorry for the delayed response! It’s after Pascha now, but I will still respond Alithos Anesti retroactively :)

      I believe that much has changed since the time the Elder wrote those words, but keep in mind that even then, in 1942, he still left the New Calendar Church after praying about it. Now, 72 years later, the situation is worse, more blatant, more clearly heretical (witness the recent “Apostolic Pilgrimage”). I do not believe that Orthodox can remain in communion with heresy, so I encourage you and anyone else reading this to break communion with your present Church and join the True Orthodox Church. I can’t in good conscience counsel you any other way.

      The question of grace is secondary to the question of “Where is the Church?” People get all worked up about whether there is grace in this or that Church, but in reality, they should be asking themselves where the Church is in the first place, and then go there. I don’t believe the Church can co-exist in various places where people believe different things.

      Please see my post Just One More Step and pray about that.

      As far as nasty Old Calendarists/True Orthodox, I would recommend you read Angry Orthodox for my thoughts on that.

      Yours in Christ,
      Anastasios

      • Daniel permalink

        That is why I like our ecclesiastical Union document, not because it is “vague” as some accuse, but because it asks the correct questions. Can true life in Christ exist in communion with heresy and schism? This is a more profound question, properly ordered which in turn answers the “grace” question.

  2. Maximus permalink

    Anastasios,

    Thank you for caring for my soul and being so kind yet forthcoming. I can’t stand the false love political correctness.

    However, was the Elder even a true priest in 1942? Also, since the New Calendar was deemed graceless in 1935 how was his attitude acceptable even in 1942? One really can’t “be with all” (ie New Calendar schismatics), right? Even then he should have lovingly told his children not to take part in a schism. This Elder’s stance is similar to ROCOR’s but not Greek Old Calendarists so I’m little suprised that someone with his views would be put forward for True Orthodox to venerate and emulate.

    As far as things being bad, yes indeed! Have you ever read Eustratios Argenti written by Met. Ware in the 60s when he was trustworthy? He gives detailed info on all Greek Orthodox-Roman Catholic concelebrations that Patriarch Dositheos of Jerusalem and Argenti struggled to eridicate; also on the various crypto-Catholic Patriarchs and bishops of the Greek Church that signed confessions of submission to the Pope. Even Jesuits teaching and confessing Athonite monks! Things have been horrible before 1924. No, this is not offered as a challenge to debate. My questions are sincere. Thank you!

  3. Padre Félix permalink

    Hoy he podido entrar a este sitio y me he encontrado sorprendido muy agradablemente. Es una lastima que algunos temas, lo mas centrados, no se publiquen tambien en español, seria de mucha ayuda para estos paises “tercermundistas”. Querido hermano, sigue adelante, lo estas haciendo muy bien, este es tu sacerdocio. Un abrazo

  4. Daniel permalink

    When the elder said “I am with all.” He did not mean with the New Calendarists and Old Calendarists, but with the different Ild Calendar factions at the time. He recognized (rightly) that one side was blowing an issue out of proportion, and that the other was perhaps a little to hazy in their understanding. He was truly “with all” the Old Calendarists.

    • Anastasios Hudson permalink

      Yes, that is the correct understanding of what he said.

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