Saturday, January 23, 2010
Take the test here.
Compare your results to mine here.
Economic Left/Right: -4.62
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -1.90
I have just posted a poll on the sidebar, something which I will do more and more in the future (suggestions welcome for topical subjects), which addresses the question as follows:
"What movie in theatres now with a religious theme is the most blasphemous?"
The choices are:
The Lovely Bones
The Book of Eli
The White Ribbon
I have seen all of these movies except two - The White Ribbon and Creation. I hope to see both tomorrow or sometime this week. You can change your vote as you see them all, but voting ends on my birthday which is February 15th.
I was inspired to publish this poll because I have seen a theme of religious content in movies in theatres today, and some are good though others are horrible. This opens up the possibility of producing blasphemous content, as so far all of these movies posted have some sort of blasphemous content in my opinion, though some are not completely bad. Therefore, with the Oscars approaching (March 7th), I thought this was the most appropriate subject to produce a poll on.
My personal choice for most blasphemous movie is one I just saw a few hours ago in the theatre. It blows the other one's away by far in blasphemy that I have so far seen. My opinion may change when I see the two movies I have not seen, but for now the most blasphemous movie in theatres today is by far "Legion". It is so irredeemably blasphemous I just don't recommend watching it. But for those who have and those who are curious, this can be one of your choices.
After submitting your answer and would like to give your reason, I recommend you do so in the COMMENTS section on this post. I encourage it.
The entire interview with various parish priests throughout Asia can be read here. Below is an excerpt:
– What is the future of Orthodoxy in Asia?
Archimandrite Oleg (Cherepanin) (Thailand): We have to work regardless of the prospects. The future is in God's hands. We can only pray God to grow the fruits, which we now are planting. We have no other means to win the hearts of people adhering to different faiths, but the love, the love that manifested itself in the fullness of God, devoting himself to the Passion for the salvation of mankind. And for God nothing is impossible.
Archpriest Dionisy Pozdnyaev (Hong Kong): I think there is every chance that the Orthodox Church will develop, but it is necessary to exert sufficient effort on the part of the Orthodox Church.
Priest Alexis Trubach (Mongolia): I think, of course, there are prospects, and large prospects. As in Mongolia, and Thailand there are many opportunities not used, but with time they should be used. The main issues that stand on that road are the same as were in the XIX century - the problem of funding the mission and the problem of getting staff missionaries from Russia. These problems are open and required solutions. As for the conversion of Asians to Orthodoxy ... we have before our eyes a magnificent example of Indonesia. Here, in Bangkok, I met with Father Ioasaph, who created a magnificent parish in a rather complicated non-Christian environment, he has already more than fifty members, and he is going to continue to develop it. And I think our meeting in Bangkok was important precisely for this opportunity to learn the missionary experience of each other. Indonesian congregations are encouraging optimism in the future development of Orthodoxy in Asia. Their experience is valuable to all of us. I think maybe we're not going to convert people as fast, as Protestants, but this process, which is already in progress will continue.
Hieromonk Ioasaph (Tandibilang) (Indonesia): I find it difficult to talk about the whole of Asia, but I think that Orthodoxy — is a mercy for Indonesia. I see that in other Christian denominations there is not very much change in a person's life for God's sake. But when people become Orthodox, they are changing for the better, and it's obvious to all. Therefore, it is difficult not to say that the Orthodox — are different people, because we all look not so much on who is saying what, but rather on who leads a different life. And people say: why adopt a religion, if it does not change a person's life? And thank God that the Orthodox Church gives person the power to change, and this is God's blessing for Indonesia.
Priest Alexander Dondenko (Singapore): I believe that there are enormous opportunities for development, but much depends on people - both on the pastor, and on the parishioners. As soon as we pray, as soon as we prepare our hearts to accept God's grace, then God will grant it. Of course, despite our unworthiness, the Lord gives us much. We have to approach this task which was entrusted to us very responsibly, and Orthodox Christians must realize that they are missionaries. Not only is the priest a missionary, but every Orthodox Christian, and if he is aware of this and will live according to the commandments and become a vessel of God's grace, this will become the best sermon for our foreign-language neighbors, who do not understand the language and do not know the services are judging our faith, by observing our lives. If they see from our actions that God exists, then it will help them to convert to Orthodoxy. Now the natives are converting one by one, but as soon as we can find the way to their hearts, then they can convert en masse, as we know from Japan's example, where St. Nicholas worked. But, of course, for this a heroic deed is needed.
"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?” (1 Corinthians 6:14–18 NIV)
Since Swami Vivekananda first introduced yoga to the West more than a hundred years ago, yoga has steadily gained in popularity, becoming as American as apple pie. In fact, you can find classes at the local gym as well as the local church! And according to the Columbia Journalism Review,
"Everybody loves yoga; sixteen and a half million Americans practice it regularly, and twenty-five million more say they will try it this year. If you’ve been awake and breathing air in the twenty-first century, you already know that this Hindu practice of health and spirituality has long ago moved on from the toe-ring set. Yoga is American; it has graced the cover of Time twice, acquired the approval of A-list celebrities like Madonna, Sting, and Jennifer Aniston, and is still the go-to trend story for editors and reporters, who produce an average of eight yoga stories a day in the English-speaking world.….Consumers drop $3 billion every year on yoga classes, books, videos, CDs, DVDs, mats, clothing, and other necessities."
With the growing attraction of yoga and its “rock-star status,” I have put much thought into the appropriate Christian response. In short, believers need to “think Christianly” about yoga; to facilitate this understanding, I have created the acronym Y-O-G-A.
“Y” reminds believers that the word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit word “yogah,” which means “to yoke or to unite.” Indeed, the goal of yoga is to uncouple oneself from the material world and to unite oneself with the God of Hinduism, commonly understood to be Brahman, the impersonal cosmic consciousness of the universe. Put another way, yoga is the means by which the user’s mind is merged into the universal mind.
“O” represents the Hindu mantra “Om” — a sacred Sanskrit syllable cherished by Hindu yogis as the spoken quintessence of the universe. Repeating such mantras as "Om" over and over is a principal means by which participants work their way into altered states of consciousness with the objective of dulling the critical thinking process. As noted by the late Indian guru Bhawan Shree Rajneesh, the mind is an obstacle to enlightenment.
Shockingly, what was once relegated to the kingdom of the cults is now being replicated in churches. In the ashrams of the cults there is no pretense. Despite such dangers as possession or insanity, Hindu gurus openly encourage trance states through which devotees tap into realms of the demonic and discover their “higher selves.” Whether experiencing involuntary movements or encountering illusory monsters, all is written off as progress on the road to enlightenment.
“G” recalls the gurus who developed and disseminated yoga for the express purpose of achieving oneness with the impersonal God of Hinduism. Most noteworthy among the Guru’s is Patanjali — the Hindu sage who founded Yoga around the second century B.C. Of particular significance in the West is the aforementioned guru, Swami Vivekananda, a disciple of the self-proclaimed “god-man” Sri Ramakrishna. In 1893 Vivekananda used the Parliament of World Religions to skillfully sow the seeds for a new global spirituality. Second only to Vivekananda in the Westernization of yoga was Yogananda — proudly hailed as “Father of Yoga in the West.” In 1920 he founded the L.A. based Self-Realization Fellowship, a principal means of disseminating Yoga to multiplied millions of Americans. Finally, of special note is Swami Muktananda, popularizer of kundalini yoga, a method by which divine energy thought to reside as a coiled serpent at the base of the spine is aroused; ascends through six chakras; and aims for union with the Hindu deity Shiva in a seventh center allegedly located in the crown of the head.
Finally, the “A” in Y-O-G-A brings to mind the Hindu word asana. As repetition of the word “Om” is used to work devotees into altered states of consciousness, so too a regiment of asanas — or body postures — are used to achieve a feeling of oneness with the cosmic energy flow of the universe. Coupled with breathing exercises and meditation practices, asana positions are considered to be the pathway to serenity and spirituality. According to the Yoga Journal, “asanas are their own type of meditation; to perform difficult postures you have to focus on your body and breath and relax into the pose.” While multitudes are being seduced into believing that asanas are spiritually neutral, nothing could be farther from the truth.
In sum, while an alarming number of American Christians suppose they can harmlessly achieve physical and spiritual well-being through a form of yoga divorced from its Eastern worldview, in reality attempts to Christianize Hinduism only Hinduize Christianity.
If someone says to you "There is no God", firmly respond saying "There is a God indeed, yet for you He does not exist."
It would be more accurate for an unbeliever to humbly say, "I have no God", since the majority of people do acknowledge belief in God and consider it a statement of utter arrogance to assert that one could come to an absolute belief that God does not exist.
When an unbeliever dogmatically states "There is no God",...:
... it is like a sick person saying that health does not exist.
... it is like a blind person saying there is no vision to see light.
... it is like a beggar saying there are no riches in the world.
... it is like an evil man saying there is no goodness among men.
... the sick person should say "I have no health".
... the blind person should say "I have no vision".
... the beggar should say "I have no riches".
... the evil man should say "I have no goodness".
Just because someone doesn't have something or doesn't understand something or doesn't believe something, it doesn't mean everyone lacks what they lack. So instead of an atheist dogmatically stating his lack of God should be lacked by everyone, he should acknowledge his lack is merely only a personal loss compared to those who do believe in God and live a fuller and richer life because of it.
While the Saint was alive in his latter years in Aegina he would encourage a faithless military officer to have faith, that is, that there is a God, to repent, to Confess, to go to church, and to receive Communion. However the military officer did not believe.
For the next twelve years the military officer had moved from Aegina and lived in Macedonia. He returned to Aegina after those twelve years and at the port saw St. Nektarios again, who told him the same thing he had told him about faith twelve years prior.
Still obstinate, he went to the coffee shop where he came into contact with many of his old friends. He said to them: "I'm impressed that the abbot of Holy Trinity [St. Nektarios established Holy Trinity Monastery] is still alive."
"Which abbot?" they asked curiously. "The abbot of Holy Trinity died three years ago."
This perplexed the military officer, who retorted: "What do you mean that he died three years ago? I just met him on the road and we had a chat!"
Upon hearing this everyone was drawn to divine compunction, and the military officer came to believe that St. Nektarios appeared to him in his mercy to draw him once more to repentance from beyond the grave. Remorseful for his sins, he went to the Monastery of the Holy Trinity to worship God and venerate His saint, Nektarios.
Friday, January 22, 2010
From the Letter to Diognetus:
(speaking of what distinguishes Christians from pagans) "They marry, as do all others; they beget children but they do not destroy their offspring" (literally, "cast away fetuses").
From the Didache:
"You shall not slay the child by abortions."
From the Letter of Barnabus:
"You shall not destroy your conceptions before they are brought forth; nor kill them after they are born."
From Clement of Alexandria:
"Those who use abortifacients commit homicide."
"The mold in the womb may not be destroyed."
From St. Basil the Great:
"The woman who purposely destroys her unborn child is guilty of murder. The hair-splitting difference between formed and unformed makes no difference to us."
"Sometimes their sadistic licentiousness goes so far that they procure poison to produce infertility, and when this is of no avail, they find one means or another to destroy the unborn and flush it from the mother's womb. For they desire to see their offspring perish before it is alive or, if it has already been granted life, they seek to kill it within the mother's body before it is born."
From St. John Chrysostom:
"Why do you sow where the field is eager to destroy the fruit? Where there are medicines of sterility? Where there is murder before birth? You do not even let a harlot remain only a harlot, but you make her a murderess as well. Indeed, it is something worse than murder and I do not know what to call it; for she does not kill what is formed but prevents its formation. What then? Do you condemn the gifts of God, and fight with His laws? What is a curse you seek as though it were a blessing. Do you make the anteroom of slaughter? Do you teach the women who are given to you for a procreation of offspring to perpetuate killing?"
As for women who furnish drugs for the purpose of procuring abortions, and those who take fetus-killing poisons, they are made subject to penalty for murderers.
"A woman who aborts deliberately is liable to trial as a murderess. This is not a precise assertion of some figurative and inexpressible conception that passes current among us. For here there is involved the queston of providing for the infants to be born, but also for the woman who has plotted against her own self. For in most cases the women die in the course of such operations, But besides this there is to be noted the fact that the destruction of the embryo constitutes another murder.... It behooves us, however, not to extend their confessions to the extreme limit of death, but to admit them at the end of the moderate period of ten years, without specifying a definite time, but adjusting the cure to the manner of penitence."
"Regarding women who become prostitutes and kill their babies, and who make it their business to concoct abortives, the former rule barred them for life from communion, and they are left without resource. But having found a more philanthropic alternative, we have fixed the penalty at ten years, in accordance with the fixed degrees. ..."
"As for women who destroy embryos professionally, and those (non-prostitutes) who give or take poisons with the object of aborting babies and dropping them prematurely, we prescribe the rule that they, by economy, be treated up to five years at most."
All quotes are from "The Church Fathers on Social Issues," Department of Youth Ministry of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America.
In new book, he says that near-death accounts transcend cultures and ages.
By Michael Inbar
Jan. 20, 2010
See video here.
The near-death experience story is so common that it has become a bit of a cliché: A medical patient, hanging in a murky limbo between life and death, is drawn through a tunnel of bright light, meets their maker, and is told they must return to the land of living.
But that scenario played out letter-perfectly for Mary Jo Rapini. And her story is getting firm backing by a doctor who has studied some 1,300 near-death experiences. Medical doctor Jeffrey Long chronicles Rapini’s story, along with his own research, in a new book: “Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences.”
In the book, Long contends his study shows that accounts of near-death experiences play out remarkably similarly among the people who have had them, crossing age and cultural boundaries to such a degree that they can’t be chalked up simply to everyone having seen the same Hollywood movie.
Through a tunnel
Appearing with Dr. Long on TODAY Wednesday, Rapini related her near-death experience to Meredith Vieira. A clinical psychologist, Rapini had long worked with terminal cancer patients, and when they told her of their near-death experiences, she would often chalk their stories up as a reaction to their pain medication.
But in April 2003, she faced her own mortality. Rapini told Vieira she suffered an aneurysm while working out a gym and was rushed to the hospital. She was in an intensive care unit for three days when she took a turn for the worse.
“All of a sudden [doctors] were rushing around me and inserting things into me, and they called my husband,” she told Vieira.
“I looked up and I saw this light; it wasn’t a normal light, it was different. It was luminescent. And it grew. I kept looking at it like, ‘What is that?’ Then it grew large and I went into it.
“I went into this tunnel, and I came into this room that was just beautiful. God held me, he called me by name, and he told me, ‘Mary Jo, you can’t stay.’ And I wanted to stay. I protested. I said, ‘I can’t stay? Why not?’ And I started talking about all the reasons; I was a good wife, I was a good mother, I did 24-hour care with cancer patients.
“And he said, ‘Let me ask you one thing — have you ever loved another the way you’ve been loved here?’ And I said, ‘No, it’s impossible. I’m a human.’ And then he just held me and said, ‘You can do better.’ ”
While Rapini’s account may seem far-fetched to naysayers, Long says her recollections mirror nearly all stories of near-death experiences. When Vieira asked Long whether Rapini might be prone to cultural conditioning — surely she heard similar stories before — he said her story is untouched by preconceived notions.
Crossing cultures and ages
“I think if near-death experiences were culturally determined, then people that had never heard of near-death experiences would have a different experience,” Long argued. “But we’re not finding that. Whether you know or don’t know about near-death experiences at the time it happens, it has no effect on whether the experience happens or not, or what the content is.”
In his book, Long details nine lines of evidence that he says send a “consistent message of an afterlife.” Among them are crystal-clear recollections, heightened senses, reunions with deceased family members and long-lasting effects after the person is brought back to life.
Long noted that he was especially fascinated that very small children who have near-death experiences almost always recount the same stories as adults, even if the concept of death isn’t fully formed in their minds.
“My research involved experiences of young children age 5 and under, and I found the content of their near-death experiences is absolutely identical to older children and adults,” he told Vieira. “It suggests that whether you know about near-death experiences, what your cultural upbringing is, what your awareness of death is, it doesn’t seem to have any effect on the content of the near-death experience.”
Long, a radiation oncologist, said that writing his book has actually made him a better doctor, as well as a believer in the afterlife.
“[It] profoundly changed me as a physician,” he said. “I could fight cancer more courageously. I found patients who died, it wasn’t the end. It made me more compassionate and more confident.”
By Jennifer Viegas
Jan. 20, 2010
The so-called "relics of Joan of Arc," overseen by the Archbishop of Tours in Chinon, France, do not contain the charred remains of the Catholic saint.
Rather, the artifacts consist of a mummified cat leg bone and human rib, both dating to the 6th-3rd century B.C., according to a new study.
The "relics," which have fooled onlookers for decades, did resemble burnt bones, in keeping with historical accounts of the death of Joan of Arc (ca. 1412-1431), who was convicted of heresy and executed by burning.
Medical examiners, pathologists, geneticists, biochemists, a radiologist, zoologist and archaeologist all participated in the extensive study, which was accepted for publication in the journal Forensic Science International.
The bottle containing the bones first surfaced at a pharmacy in 1867. Its label read: "Remains found under the pyre of Joan of Arc, maiden of Orleans."
Different techniques, including DNA analysis, several forms of microscopy, chemical analysis and carbon dating, were used to examine the bottle's contents.
A few years ago, Philippe Charlier, a forensic scientist at Raymond Poincare Hospital in Garches, France, and his team first determined that the bottle contained an approximately 4-inch-long human rib covered with a black coating. It also housed part of a cat femur covered with the same coating, three fragments of "charcoal" and "a brownish textile scrap" about the same length as the rib.
Charlier said some historians then speculated that a cat, perhaps symbolizing the devil, was thrown onto Joan of Arc's funeral pyre.
Carbon dating, however, found that the objects predate the French heroine's lifetime by many centuries.
The "textile scrap" is likely a mummy wrapping, since "the chemical composition of the coatings was comparable with that of embalming products, such as those used by the old Egyptians," the researchers concluded.
The dark coating contained a mix of bitumen, wood resins, gypsum and other chemicals. Pine pollen was also identified, probably from pine resin, commonly used during Egyptian embalming.
The researchers believe the remains were first stored as "mummia," which were parts of Egyptian mummies used in medieval pharmaceuticals. Medieval medicine, for example, may call for a compress made of a mummy bit and the juice of an herb (Bursa pastoris) to stop nosebleeds.
"The question remains of why there was an interest in manufacturing a historical forgery during the 19th century, especially one concerning Joan of Arc," the researchers wrote, wondering if the forgery surfaced for political reasons in order to tap into her legacy.
"Or is it only an act of hoax," the researchers asked, "a joke of a medical student who would have been taken much too seriously?"
Archaeologist Anastasia Tsaliki of the University of Durham called it a "fascinating project," demonstrating how "palaeopathology" can be used to inform history.
The objects are now at Chinon's Museum of Art and History, located in central France.
The Very Reverend Patrick Henry Reardon
Archpriest and Pastor
January 17, 2010
The Most Blessed JONAH
The Orthodox Church in America
PO Box 675 Syosset, NY 11791-0675
I beg your pastoral blessing, please. You receive this letter as President and Chairman of the Board of St. Vladimir's Seminary, and I send it as a friend of the seminary.
I write to complain of the seminary's decision to confer an honorary degree on Rowan Williams later this month.
Although the scholarly publications of Dr. Williams may be cited as adequate reason for his lecture at the seminary, news of the plan to honor him is already prompting a popular consternation and even scandal.
Outside of academic circles, this individual is chiefly known for his public support for sexual perversion within the Anglican Communion.
I write on behalf of two groups of people: First, I speak for the simple faithful who worship in our Orthodox parishes, those friends of the St. Vladimir's who feel betrayed by the seminary's decision with respect to Dr. Williams.
Second, I speak for thousands of loyal and believing Anglicans, in this country and around the world, for whom the public policies of Dr. Williams have been a source of pain and distress during the past seven years of his unfortunate tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury.
Some of these Anglicans, in fact, have been pursuing a path toward membership the Orthodox Church. The seminary's resolve to honor Rowan Williams is causing them to reconsider their hope to join the Orthodox Church.
I learned of an instance of this as recently as this afternoon. Indeed---if I am permitted a personal note---let me mention that in those dark days, a quarter of a century ago, when I was a struggling Anglican trying to find his way to the Orthodox Church, my weak faith could not have sustained such an offense.
If a major Orthodox seminary had conferred such an honor on such a man as Rowan Williams back then, I likely would never have joined the Orthodox Church.
Your Beatitude, I suffer no illusion about the seminary's strength of resolve to honor Dr. Williams. I am confident, rather, that no contrary plea from me will be taken seriously.
I write only to satisfy my conscience that a grave moral duty has been met---to wit, the obligation to warn fellow Christians that they have embarked on a path that will lead only to scandal and disgrace to Holy Church. Indeed, this scandal is already in play.
I beg the forgiveness of your Beatitude if I have expressed myself intemperately. This is likely the case, I suppose, for this situation is truly heartbreaking.
Kissing the Sacred Omophorion, And seeking your Beatitude's paternal benediction,
Your faithful son in Christ our Lord,
(Very Reverend) Patrick Henry Reardon
cc: Metropolitan PHILIP Bishop Mark
Bishop Basil Father John Behr
Father Chad Hatfield
Father Thomas Hopko
Father Robert Munday
Father Wilbur Ellsworth
Mr John Maddex
----Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon is an Orthodox pastor, homilist, writer, and teacher. He is pastor of All Saints' Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and a senior editor of Touchstone Magazine. In the past forty years, Fr. Patrick has published more than 500 articles, editorials, and reviews in popular and scholarly journals, including Books and Culture, Touchstone, The Scottish Journal of Theology, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Pro Ecclesia, and St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly.
January 22, 2010
(RFE/RL) – The bells at Belgrade's Cathedral Church rang out today to announce that Bishop Irinej of Nis had been elected patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
The 79-year-old Irinej will be the Serbian Orthodox Church’s 45th patriarch.
The veteran bishop, known to be relatively moderate, was picked at a gathering of dozens of bishops and other clergy at the Patriarchate in Belgrade.
He is expected to be enthroned on January 23 in a ceremony broadcast on television.
He will replace Patriarch Pavle, who died in November following a long illness at the age of 95. Pavle had headed the church for almost 20 years, a period that included the ethnic wars of the 1990s, which accompanied the breakup of Yugoslavia.
In a statement issued by the Belgrade patriarchate, Irinej said he would carry the "burden and all the problems of my awesome and difficult duty together with my fellow bishops."
The new patriarch will have to face long-lasting issues such as relations with the Vatican and churches in Macedonia and Montenegro that are seeking independence.
Observers see Irinej as seeking compromise between conservatives -- who are opposed to openness to other churches and Western influences in Serbian society -- and reformists, who want the church to be more open and modern.
In a recent interview, Irinej said he would not oppose a visit to Serbia by the Roman Catholic pope. The hard-liners of the church have long opposed such a visit.
Bishop Amfilohije Radovic, who is seen as an anti-Western hard-liner, has served as caretaker for much of the past two years, during Pavle's long hospitalization.
Today's election was held behind closed doors amid reports of feuding and jostling among the voters.
Under the complex system, each member of the Holy Assembly of Bishops chooses three preferred names from the list of potential candidates. Any names selected by more than half the assembly members then move to a short list limited to three candidates.
The process can be slow. For the election of Patriarch Pavle in 1990, the vote was taken nine times before a short list was achieved.
Once the list is in hand, the names of the final three candidates are put in three unmarked, sealed envelopes and placed inside a Bible.
A monk selected by the assembly then takes the three envelopes from the Bible, selects one at random, and gives it to the presiding bishop, who announces the name of the new patriarch.
The so-called apostolic vote was introduced in 1967 to prevent Yugoslavia's secular authorities from meddling in church affairs. Church leaders said it was the Holy Spirit that guided the monk in selecting an envelope, thereby eliminating human interference from the final stage of the process.
The Serbian Orthodox Church is the second-oldest Slavic Orthodox Church in the world and the westernmost Eastern church in Europe. It is believed to have between 7 million and 14 million followers, located primarily in the republics of former Yugoslavia.
See also here, here and here.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
By Fr. Joel Yiannakopoulos
The “Calendar Issue” has been the cause of much turbulence in the Church. It has been turned into a focal point for controversy.
Those who acknowledge the Old Calendar stubbornly insist that they are adhering to the “correct”, the “genuine” calendar (hence their preference for being called the “Genuine Orthodox Christians” or “G.O.C.”), who, however, have reached the point of believing and proclaiming that Paradise is reserved only for them. As for the rest of us, who are the “New Calendarists”, the “Franks”, the “Schismatics”, the “heretics”- as they see fit to call us - we are all apparently destined for Hell.
They furthermore proclaim unreservedly that our Sacraments are void, as they are considered “graceless”, that they lack the Grace of God.
On the part of the “New Calendarists”, there is mainly an indifference towards the aforementioned views; some of them react, others resort to counter-attack, while a few others are merely puzzled by the “Old Calendarists’” accusations, not knowing what to do.
Thus, we see that issues do exist on both sides, from which, sometimes more – sometimes less, the only one who finally profits is the Devil.
This essay, which is an unpublished work – a response to a certain Theologian/Monk - by the memorable Father Joel Yiannakopoulos, well known apologist of the Orthodox positions, succeeds in shedding abundant light on this controversial issue of the Calendar and renders inexcusable all those who condemn the act of the Church (a living Organism) in correcting the Calendar, and also enlightens those who so desire to make peace with their conscience, so that the Devil may no longer profit.
The above text has been published from a manuscript, which was in the possession of the ever-memorable cleric’s spiritual child and on which the author himself had made certain corrections, a little before he passed away (December 1966).
“OLD” AND “NEW” CALENDARS
To me, the “Old Calendarists” are sympathetic individuals, because, despite their ignorance regarding the “Old Calendar” issue, they possess zeal as well as a fear of God. It is for this reason that I did not wish to preoccupy myself, not even verbally in any of my lectures, with the “Old Calendarist” issue, nor to write and publish anything about it. Instead, I thought it would be more expedient to preoccupy myself as an author with Old Testament memoranda and focus on Evangelicals, Chiliasts and other topics for the awareness of our pious nation, and not preoccupy myself at all with the Old-Calendarists.
However, one Old Calendarist Theologian/Monk, instead of likewise preoccupying himself with the multitude of heresies that have flooded our Homeland, such as Chiliasts, Evangelicals, etc. and writing something to expose them, he turned against us, in written and verbal form, by accusing us of cacodoxy, of heresy, of being unbaptized… As if this all out, anonymous attack against us weren’t enough, he also repeatedly wrote against me personally, and more recently, in his last book What is the Difference Between the Old and the New Calendars, he refers to me on page 19, as a “modernist” – later explaining on page 43 that he considers every “modernist” an unbaptized person.
Following all the above, it was my conviction that I should not remain silent, because my silence might be misconstrued as a weakness, or as a silent acceptance on my part regarding the Old Calendarist issue. Furthermore, in view of the fact that this monk bears the title of Theologian, my silence would have influenced his readers even more.
So, I decided to respond. And this is how: By using his last book, What is the Difference Between the Old and the New Calendars, and, with the assistance of the Pedalion [the book of canons] of our Church, along with the opinions of our Holy Fathers and the facts contained in our Ecclesiastic History, I intend to bring to light all of the absurdities and the fallacies of the aforesaid Monk.
And more specifically, because this person (a) confuses the New Calendar with the Gregorian (the Papist) one, (b) is oblivious to the canonizing of the date of celebration of Easter by the First Ecumenical Synod, (c) is oblivious to the way that the immobile feast of Christmas and its related feasts are celebrated and (d) has no idea about the meaning of Tradition, Church and the Schism. I will divide my response into four parts respectively, as follows:
(a) The Julian and the Gregorian Calendars
(b) Easter, and the dates of celebration of the entire annual cycle of mobile feast-days
(c) Christmas, and its related, immovable feastdays
(d) The Traditions of the Church, our Church and the Schism.
Α. THE JULIAN AND THE GREGORIAN CALENDARS
The Monk in question has paralleled the New Calendar (which we “New Calendarists” acknowledge) with the Gregorian (or Papist or Frankish) Calendar that appears in page II of his book, while he asserts that the “Old (Julian) Calendar” that they acknowledge – as mentioned on the same page – is apparently the genuine Ecclesiastic Calendar that was handed down to them.
No, my dear Monk! You either have an abundant ignorance of the Calendar, or, you are purposely obscuring and distorting the issue. The “new” Calendar that we acknowledge is NOT Gregorian, Papist, or Frankish, or whatever you call it; it is the Julian one. Do you want proof of this? Then listen:
First of all, open up any Cosmography book that is used in the lessons of the Junior School classes. You will find in the chapter regarding the Calendar what the difference is between the Gregorian and the Julian Calendars, from a purely chronological aspect. Here is what Cosmography in the 6th Grade specifies, on page 5:
“We know that a year is comprised of exactly 365.242217 solar days. The duration of the Julian Calendar’s political year is 365 days and ¼ of a day, because every 4 years, an extra day is added – the 29th of February. In this way, the Julian Calendar exceeds – is larger than – the actual year, by (365.25 - 365.242217) 0.007783 solar days. This deviation, over a span of 400 years, adds up to 3.1132 days per 400 years. In order to correct this error, Pope Gregory XIII, with the assistance of the astronomer Lilio, ruled that the day after the 4th of October 1582 be called the 15th of October, and not the 5th of October. In order to avoid the repetition of this error, he ruled that over the 400 years, 100 leap years should not be taken into account – as is the case with the Julian Calendar - but only 97; thus, according to the Gregorian Calendar, chronology would be lacking only by 1.132 days over the 400 years."
400 years must pass, so that chronology would be lacking by 1.132 days.
In order to correct the Julian Calendar, Pope Gregory ruled that the years of the centuries (for example 1600, 1700, 1800) should not be leap years, unless the values of the hundreds are divisible by 4. Thus, the year 1600 was a leap year according to the Gregorian Calendar, because the hundreds (16) were divisible by 4; however, for the Julian Calendar it is likewise considered a leap year, because the number 1600 is divisible by 4. But, the years 1700, 1800, 1900 are leap years according to the Julian Calendar, because the numbers 1700, 1800, 1900 are divisible by 4, whereas for the Gregorian they are not leap years, because their hundreds (17, 18, 19) are not divisible by 4.
Thus, after the passing of 1600 years from today (about as many as those that passed after the First Ecumenical Synod to this day) and precisely because we are aligned with the Julian Calendar and will have leap years that are divisible by 4, we shall have a new deviation of 13 days, whereas the Gregorian Calendar will not have any deviation because every 400 years it will have only 97 leap years and not 100.
And that was the difference between the New Calendar (which we are aligned with) and the Gregorian one (which the Westerners are aligned with), from a purely scientific aspect! They will have 97 leap years every 400 years, whereas we shall have 100. However, this reformed calendar was not enough for Pope Gregory. He also adjusted the date of the celebration of Easter according to his new Calendar, ignoring the Jewish Passover and the decision of the First Ecumenical Synod regarding the Christian Easter and the Jewish Passover.
[Translators Note: Fr. Joel made a slight error here confusing the New Calendar with the Julian Calendar dates, when in reality the New Calendar follows the Revised Julian Calendar which, besides the moveable feasts, will celebrate with the Gregorian Calendar until 2800 AD. Yet this still supports the essential argument Fr Joel makes correcting those who equivocate the New Calendar with the Gregorian Calendar; this is not true.]
B. EASTER AND ITS DATES OF CELEBRATION
If we open the Pedalion, we will see that there are four prerequisites which must be taken into account regarding the time that Easter should be celebrated.
(a) Spring Equinox
(b) The first full moon after this equinox
(c) After the Jewish Passover and
(d) The first Sunday after all the above
The Gregorian Calendar takes only the three of the above prerequisites into account: the Spring Equinox, the full moon and the Sunday after. It totally disregards the Jewish Passover. Because of this omission, the Papist Easter either coincides with the Jewish Passover, or it precedes it, in total disregard of the 7th Apostolic Canon, and despite the historically precise time that the Lord’s Resurrection took place - after the Jewish Passover.
We, the “New Calendarists” however, take all four prerequisites of Easter into account, which clearly separates us from the Gregorian or Papist Calendar, ecclesiastically as well. In other words, we celebrate Easter after the Jewish Passover, in accordance with the ruling of the First Ecumenical Synod.
Subsequently, both of us differ, Ecclesiastically and Calendrically, from the Gregorian Calendar.
We are both aligned with the Julian Calendar!
So, why are you so persistently identifying the New Calendar, the Calendar that we acknowledge, with the Papist-Gregorian Calendar, when there is such a vast difference between the two, both from the Calendrical and the Ecclesiastical point of view? Woe to you, when you have to eventually report to your Maker!
Nevertheless, I can easily guess the reason for your objection. You will probably ask: “Why promote those 13 days?” My answer to you is: “This promotion alone did not affect the Julian Calendar, only the almanac of this Calendar. Our Calendar was, and continues to be, the Julian one. You are with the Julian Calendar. We are with the Julian Calendar. You should get this through your head, once and for all. The only variance is that our Julian Calendar is slightly amended” [it is officially known as the Revised Julian Calendar].
Again, you might say: “Be that as it may, why change the almanac of the Julian Calendar?” My answer to this would be: We know from the Pedalion of our Church that the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Synod had canonized that Easter should be calculated on the basis of the spring equinox, given that the spring equinox at the time was on the 21st of March. This is stated in the Pedalion (check page 9). However, approximately 1600 years later, from then to this day, we have digressed from that date because the spring equinox now takes place on the 8th of March. This too is mentioned in the Pedalion. So, with a 13-day leap, we so-called “New Calendarists” again have the same spring equinox that the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Synod had. We now have the old date of the spring equinox, the 21st of March, while you have the contemporary date of this equinox, the 8th of March. Consequently, we are fully aligned with the old date, and you with the new. We are aligned with the Old Julian Calendar of the First Ecumenical Synod, and you are aligned with the New Julian Calendar. Consequently, we are the ones who are actually the “Old Calendarists” while you are the “New Calendarists”, because – I will repeat it once more – we acknowledge the 21st of March as the spring equinox, just as the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Synod had, while you have lapsed, and have retained the 8th of March.
Then you might ask: “Why did Saint Nicodemus together with John Chrysostom – in their footnotes on page 9 of the Pedalion – express their opposition to the promotion of the 10 days by the Gregorian Calendar?”
My reply is: The divine Chrysostom paid absolutely no attention to the dates of the feasts, as you so heatedly worry about them. He stated this quite clearly: "If one celebrates Easter in this month or the other month, nobody has ever been chastised or accused”. Did you hear that? Nobody has ever been chastised or accused if they celebrate Easter on one day of the month or on another day. What concerned this Holy Father was that Easter must be determined in accordance with the conditions of the First Ecumenical Synod. What were those conditions? Well, they are analyzed wonderfully by Saint Nicodemus, in his footnotes in the Pedalion of our Church. Saint Nicodemus expressed his opposition to the Gregorian Calendar in his footnotes, because that Calendar did not take the Jewish Passover into account, and thus the Westerners either celebrate Easter prior to the Jewish Passover or together with it, despite the 7th Apostolic Canon and the historical truth that the Lord arose from the dead after the Jewish Passover. Notice what Saint Nicodemus says, in his first footnote of this Canon: “To celebrate Easter after the 21st of March as we Greeks do, or after the 11th of March as the Latins do, is not a crime. But to split the Church asunder, is an unforgivable sin."
So, how are the Westerners splitting the Church asunder? The same Saint Nicodemus in his footnotes clarifies this, straight away: “Its precision (the Gregorian Calendar’s) gives rise to two huge improprieties with the Latins; i.e, they celebrate Easter either together with the Jews or before the Jews.”
So, my dear fellow, do you see what the Pedalion says? It says it is not a crime, or a schism, our celebrating Easter at different times, but it is a bad thing when our Easter takes place before the Jewish Passover or together with it. Notice where Saint Nicodemus points out that the main difference lies between the Gregorian and Julian Calendars: it lies in not celebrating our Easter either before or after the Jewish Passover. Given that this prerequisite is observed by us, why are you then relating and confusing the New Calendar with the Gregorian one?
You will probably say: We shouldn’t name the 8th of March the 21st in order to promote our almanac by 13 days. Well, the Pedalion tells us – as we just saw above - that it is not a crime when we celebrate Easter on two different dates, after the 8th of March or after the 21st of March, as long as it takes place after the Jewish Passover. It matters even less, since both you and we celebrate Easter on the same day, and that day is for us the 22nd of March, which we call the 1st of April. So, since according to the blessed Chrysostom and the Pedalion of the Church the differing date of celebration of Easter is not a crime or any kind of condemnation, it is likewise insignificant to us, if we celebrate it on the same date as you or a different one, as long as it is celebrated after the Jewish Passover. Can you now see the dual difference from the Ecclesiastical and Calendrical aspects, between the Julian and the Gregorian Calendars? But now, let’s examine more broadly the issue of celebrating Easter.
Secondly, on page 14 of your book, you mention the following about Easter: “The God-bearing Fathers of the First Ecumenical Synod decreed, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that the celebration of Easter should take place between the 22nd of March and the 25th of April”. Now, you are either truly oblivious to how things really are, or you are purposely distorting them!
In the Minutes of the First Ecumenical Synod, there is absolutely no mention of the date that you mentioned, but only the four points that were mentioned previously, which are found in the Pedalion: Firstly, the equinox. Secondly, the full moon. Thirdly, the Jewish Passover. And fourthly, on a Sunday. And verbatim:
"Four necessary requirements are sought, for the location of our Easter. Firstly, that Easter must always take place after the spring equinox. Secondly, that it must not take place on the same day as the Jewish Passover (both these prerequisites are ruled by the 7th Apostolic Canon). Thirdly, it must not take place simply and vaguely after the spring equinox, but after the first full moon that follows the spring equinox. And fourthly, it must take place on the first Sunday after the full moon. (These two prerequisites we have by tradition and not from a Canon)."
Do you see what the “imperative” chronological signs (as you call them) are? The signs “necessary” for the celebration of Easter? Why therefore are you stipulating only one necessary prerequisite for determining Easter, i.e., the date between 22nd March and 25th April? You are clearly warping the text of the Pedalion, since it mentions nowhere that the imperative element for locating Easter is the date 22 March – 25 April, but only specifies the four “chronometers” mentioned above: Spring Equinox, First Full Moon, Jewish Passover and Sunday.
I am guessing your next question: "Shouldn’t the date 22 March – 25 April in which Easter takes place according to the Old Calendar be taken into account at all? How is it stipulated at the end of the Gospel book of the Church that all the Gospel and Apostolic readings of the whole year are adjusted accordingly?"
My dear fellow, this date has its place, but not the one that you have allocated. The date 22 March – 25 April is not the unique chronological calculation of Easter time, the way that you have presented it, but is in actual fact fifth in line and coincidental, because it is mainly designated by the four “necessary” factors: the Spring Equinox, Full Moon, Passover and Sunday. It so happened that, during the First Ecumenical Synod, the spring equinox was on the 21st of March and the Jewish Passover ranged up to the 20th April, so our Easter was placed between the 22nd March – 25th April. But, if the Jews were to change their own calendar by 13 days and thus bring their Passover to an earlier date than it is today, then, in order to maintain one of the two necessary prerequisites of the 7th Apostolic Canon (that our Easter must be after the Jewish Passover), then we shall have to disregard the old date of 22 March – 25 April and move our Easter to an earlier date. If we wish to persist in the date of the Old Calendar 22 March - 25 April, we shall be violating the 7th Apostolic Canon, because our Church has always celebrated our Easter on the first Sunday after the Jewish Passover. We will be violating the historical truth, inasmuch as our Lord was resurrected directly after the Passover. This is educed from the Pedalion also, where, as we already mentioned previously, it says the following: “To celebrate Easter after the 21st of March as we Greeks do, or after the 11th of March as the Latins do, is not a crime. But to split the Church asunder is an unforgivable sin. The schism, by which the Latins celebrate with the Jews or before them, is unforgivable.”
As you can see, the date of 21st of March for the celebrating of Easter is of no significance – only the celebrating of Easter with the Jews or before them. Can you now see what the Holy Fathers designated as the chronological points for the celebration of Easter? They stipulated the spring equinox, the first full moon, the Jewish Passover and Sunday, not the date 22 March – 25 April, as you believe. Behold, your first deception. You have ignored the four imperative points for Easter - the spring equinox, the full moon, the Jewish Passover and the Sunday – and you have mentioned the fifth and merely coincidental point as the only condition – the 22nd of March to the 25th of April!
This mistaken belief of yours originates from another ignorance of yours. You are under the impression that the equinox is not a fixed point of reference for the calculation of Easter, and you have presented as a fixed basis for this calculation the date 22nd March – 25th April. That is why you have written on page 14: “The Fathers were fully aware that the equinox is not constant…. The divine Fathers of the First Ecumenical Synod declared the equinox to be on the 21st of March….” I never expected a Theologian to say such unscholarly thing! An equinox, my friend, is constant. That is why the Pedalion calls it “the dividing measure of the perfect annual cycle” (see page 10). The date that relates to the spring equinox may be variable, because during the time of the Apostles it was the 22nd of Drystus (of March) while during the time of the First Ecumenical Synod it was on the 21st of March, and today it is on the 8th March according to the old Calendar. This is stated in page 10 of the Pedalion. Thus, the spring equinox, per se, is one thing, and the date on which the spring equinox takes place is another thing. First of all, the spring equinox is fixed and as such, it comprises “the dividing measure of the perfect annual cycle”; secondly, the date of the spring equinox is not a fixed thing, it is variable, and has transitioned from between the 23rd of March to the 8th of May.
Then you say that: “The divine Fathers of the First Ecumenical Synod declared the equinox to be on the 21st of March.”
My dear man, how did the Fathers transition the actual equinox itself to the 21st of March? The equinox is a constant. Only the date on which it occurs is variable. You need to discern these things in your mind, and not put the title of Theologian to shame. The equinox itself is one thing, which, being a constant – I will repeat it one more time – according to the Pedalion, page 10, comprises “the dividing measure of the perfect annual cycle”, and the date on which the equinox occurs, being a variable, is another thing.
Following these two fallacies of yours regarding Easter, a third one now joins in. On page 15 you write that: “The Latins were chastized by the divine Chrysostom as schismatics and he himself admitted that the God-bearing Fathers of the First Ecumenical Synod had fixed the 21st of March as the date of the equinox.” How can you be so ignorant of historical facts? Chrysostom lived in the fourth century. How is it possible for this divine Father to have chastised the Gregorian Calendar, which was designated 1100 years later? There is of course a certain mention in the Pedalion on this matter, but it needs to be clarified. Weren’t you, as a Theologian, supposed to resort to the source, the text itself of the blessed Chrysostom, and see for yourself exactly what the Holy Father wrote in there, so that you would have some understanding of the condensed meanings found in the Pedalion?
Listen therefore, and learn what the blessed Chrysostom had to say on the matter:
During the time of Chrysostom there lived certain Christians who, in observing the older tradition of Saint Polycarp of Smyrna and basing themselves on the words of the Apostle Paul “…for during our Passover, Christ was sacrificed for our sake” (1 Cor. 5:7), they used to celebrate Easter on the 14th day of the month of Nisan – March, when Christ was crucified. The First Ecumenical Synod ordained that Easter should be celebrated on the first Sunday after the Jewish Passover, because Christ was resurrected after the Jewish Passover. In this way, those Christians who celebrated Easter on the 14th of March, the so-called “fourteenists” (Stefanides, History 1, 101), celebrated it together with the Jews, and thus had themselves a "crucified Easter". The First Ecumenical Synod ordained that Easter be "resurrectional", on the first Sunday after the Jewish Passover. This blessed Father wanted to distance the Christians from the crucifixional Easter and lead them to the resurrectional Easter, but they persisted in celebrating the Christian Easter simultaneously with the Jews, and it was for this reason that the blessed Father checked them. Here is what he said: “…Behold how, during the current year, the first day of the unleavened bread falls on a Sunday and there is every need to fast on that week…” (Against the Jews, Homily 2).
But they didn’t want to fast, and so they replied to him: “I have fasted for such a long period of time, and now I must be transferred?” They had fasted all of the forty days of Lent, and now they had to change the feast-day of Easter? The First Ecumenical Synod ruled that Easter should fall on a Sunday, after the Jewish Passover. Then the Father checked them: “If the Church had made a mistake, it was not of such importance, as compared to the crime of division and schism.” It is obvious that the Holy Father was reprimanding the “Old Calendarists” of his time, because they did not want to observe the Canon of the First Ecumenical Synod regarding the celebration of Easter on the first Sunday after the Jewish Passover. This is the reason that the Pedalion has also included the words of this Holy Father, and confronts the Westerners, because they celebrate Easter before the Jews or together with them, in disregard of the Canon and the First Ecumenical Synod.
Nowhere does the blessed Father say that the Fathers assigned the 21st of March as the day of the equinox. The holy Father makes no mention whatsoever of dates, but speaks only of the celebration of our Easter, after the Jewish Passover, on a Sunday.
How greatly your opinion has mislead you!
Your fourth deception regarding Easter. You write on page 39, in the 51st chapter: “The 13-day shift in the calendar moves the feast of Saint George, whose choral service is intertwined with joyous hymns of the Resrrection of our Lord, into the Easter period, hence the ensuing disorder in the ecclesiastical arrangement causes an irreverent mockery of one’s religious faith, which the schismatic Church of Greece, in avoidance thereof, transfers this feastday to another day, after Easter, albeit arbitrarily and against regulations. It should be noted that this feast of Saint George according to the Old Calendar always coincided with Easter, and on rare occasions, coincided on that very day of Easter.”
On this point, you are redhandedly caught lying. You write that the feastday of Saint George according to the Old Calendar “always coincided with Easter, and on rare occasions, coincided on that very day of Easter”.
My good man! If the feast of Easter can fall the latest on the 25th of April, as you yourself wrote on page 25, and the feast of Saint George is the 23rd of April, won’t it be, that according to the Old Calendar, the feast of Saint George will coincide with Good Friday (if Easter reaches the furthest date of 25th of April), or on Easter Saturday, if Easter falls on the 24th of April?
Thus, if according to the Old Calendar Easter falls that late (on the 24th or the 25th of April), and the feast of Saint George falls on Good Friday or on Easter Saturday, what will you do? Will you celebrate the feast of Saint George on the sombre Good Friday or Great Saturday? Won’t you also transfer the feast of Saint George on the Monday after Easter Sunday? You say that “the Church of Greece transfers the feast, entirely arbitrarily and against regulations”. Isn’t your transference arbitrary and against regulations?
Continuing on with your nonsense, you say that when the feast of Saint George falls on a date prior to Easter (1926 – 1936 etc.) we have to perform a Liturgy with pre-sanctified Gifts and not transfer the feast to the Monday after Easter Sunday, because nobody has the right to make such a transfer.
However, when the feast of Saint George falls on the 23rd of April – on a Great Saturday - why do you transfer it? Are you saying that you have the right to transfer feastdays, whereas we do not? Our transfer is supposedly against regulations and an unholy mockery! Doesn’t that apply to you also? The very rubric of the Church commands this transfer! Why don’t you read it, carefully!
Yes, you say that “Easter is observed by the New Calendarists, in accordance with the ordained four prerequisites that the First Ecumenical Synod ruled, but the shifting of the 13 days of the almanac upsets the entire cycle of the immoveable feastdays (Christmas and its chronically dependent feasts), which days are celebrated on dates different to those that God had ordained!”
It is imperative therefore, to see on the basis of the Holy Bible and the Fathers of the Church, whether these feastdays of Christmas and the dependent feastdays have been ordained by God chronologically, or if their assignment has another source.
C. CHRISTMAS, AND ITS DEPENDENT, IMMOBILE FEAST DAYS
You concern yourself with proving the exact dates for celebrating Christmas, the Annunciation of the Theotokos, the Birth of John the Baptist, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple and the Circumcision on the basis of the appearance of the Archangel before Zechariah, the Baptist’s father, on the 23rd of September. You write the following:
"In the Gospel of Luke (1:8-24) it says: 'So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord….' The period of time during which Zechariah served the Temple as high priest was the traditional Jewish holiday for the celebration of the tabernacles. (Check the Menologion of the Major Horologion for the 23rd of September as well as the words of Chrysostom in his “Homily on the Birth of Christ”). Thus, when the feast of the tabernacles was over (on the 23rd of September), that was when the conception of the blessed Baptist took place, as arranged by God through an angelic vision. Therefore, the 23rd of September was fixed as the feast of the conception of the Holy Baptist, as ordained by God (Chapter 8, p.19-20). In other words, since the appearance of the angel took place on the 23rd of September, it was therefore “on the sixth month after that date, (according to Luke 10:26), that the Archangel appeared before the Theotokos, which means that we note the date of the Annunciation of the Theotokos as being the 25th of March. Logically, after 9 months, we shall have the birth of our Saviour, i.e., on the 25th of December; follwing which, we have the Presentation of the Saviour into the Temple on the 2nd of February and the Birth of the Baptist falls on the 23rd of June."
Yet, you question whether the date 23rd of September - when the Angel appeared before the Baptist’s father - was chronologically accurate. You say that you are using the Scripture, Tradition, and especially the divine Chrysostom.
First of all, the blessed Chrysostom does not state the day of the month – the date - as you do, but only the month of September in his respective "Homily on the Annunciation of Zechariah". Apart from this, the blessed Chrysostom says of Zechariah, the father of John, that he was the Head Priest, and as such, had enterd the “Holy of Holies” on the feast of the tabernacles. We honor and respect the Holy Father completely; however, this viewpoint does not appear to have very a very strong basis.
Let us examine what the Holy Bible and the Fathers say about this topic.
And first of all, the Holy Bible:
The Head Priest would enter the Holy of Holies once a year, during the seventh month. But Zechariah was not a Head Priest, only an ordinary priest. This is clearly specified by Luke: “…in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest by the name of Zechariah, of the division of Abijah…” (Luke 1:5). So you see that Zechariah is referred to as a Priest. Apart from this definitive statement that Zechariah was a Priest, who belonged to the division of Abijah (Luke 1:5,8), we learn that the division of Abijah is a hieratic order of Abijah, which, according to 1 Chron. 24:10 (“the seventh to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah….”) was the eighth order of priesthood. Thus, we cannot understand how Zechariah became a High Priest in order to enter the Holy of Holies.
[Translator's Note: Zechariah was NOT a high priest, and he did NOT enter the Holy of Holies where only the High Priest could enter. Luke’s text is very specific (Luke 1:11), that Zechariah was at the altar of incense: “Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense”. This altar was situated in the Holies, where all priests had access. The altar was NOT situated in the Holy of Holies, but only the Ark of the Covenant.]
But even so. Let us accept that the announcement of the Baptist’s birth to his father Zechariah took place on the seventh month, and that Zechariah was indeed a High Priest. How can the 23rd of September be fixed as the day of the Angel’s appearance, on the basis of this calculation? In other words, how could the Julian Calendar (that we observe today, which began in 45 B.C.) be aligned with the Jewish calendar which observed lunar months and solar years? It is a well-known fact that each solar year has twelve lunar months and 11 days. So, in order to embody these 11 days every 2 or 3 years, the Jews added one lunar month, giving them a year with 13 months. The 13th month was named Be-Adar (the second Adar). In this way, the Jewish years differed, the first year by 11 days to the second and the third year by 20 days to the first. Every 2 or 3 years, they would add an entire month. This is something like what we do with the Julian Calendar, when adding 13 days after about 1600 years; the Jews add one month every two or three years. Therefore, in this confusion of lunar months and solar years, how is it possible to find, on the basis of calculations, and to coincide the day of expiation accrding to the Jews and the 23rd of September according to the Julian Calendar? It is simply impossible! This is made obvious by the Fathers of the Church also, and the Chrysostom himself, who were unaware of the exact date of Christ’s birth! Thus we see:
Secondly, Patristic testimonies:
1. In Jerusalem: The ascetic Cosmas, known as Drifter of the Indian Sea, who lived around 500-550 A.D., wrote in his 5th Christian Topography (P.G. 88, 9-477): "The Jerusalemites celebrate the Birth on the Epiphany". So, the Christians of Jerusalem celebrated Christmas on the day of the Epiphany, the 6th of January. "And they celebrate the Epiphany based on a possible reflection, and not with accuracy." They celebrated the Epiphany, he says, based on an assumption and not on the basis of historical data. (Contogonos, Ecclesiastical History, page 621). The same applied for the feast of Christmas, which they celebrated together with the Epiphany. In other words, they had no historical testimonies whatsoever, not even for the date of Christ’s Birth. The joint celebration of the Epiphany and Christmas is also apparent from evidence that the Church of Jerusalem performed the Divine Service (of the Epiphany) inside the cave of Bethlehem (PG 64, 44). Behold, the testimony of this saintly ascetic, who personally witnessed that the Christians of Jerusalem did not perceive Christmas as a particular feastday.
2. In Egypt: The Monk John Cassian, 365 A.D., founder of many monasteries in Sicily, in the COLLATIONES PATRUM (Patristic Lectures Χ 2), writes: "In the land of Egypt, this ancient custom prevailed, where the priests of this province defined the celebration of Epiphany as the day of the Lord’s Baptism and secondly as the day of His Incarnate Birth, thus celebrating both feasts together as one, with solemnity, and not separately as they do in the West. Hence we see that Christmas in Egypt, in the year 365 A.D., was also celebrated on the same day as the Epiphany!
3. In Alexandria: Clement of Alexandria (Strom. A’ chapt. 21) wrote that some placed the Birth of Christ on the 25th of the month of Pachon (20th May) while others on the 24th or 25th of the month Farmuthi (19th or 20th April). (Ecclesiastical History, Kontogonos, page 32-33)
4. In Cyprus: Saint Epiphanius at the beginning of the 3rd century wrote in his work Against Heresies, 29: “The day of the Epiphany, when Christ was born in the flesh" (PG vol 41-43; Kontogonos Ecclesiastic History, page 621). Thus, in Cyprus also, the Birth of Christ was celebrated on the day of the Epiphany – the 6th of January.
5. In Constantinople: “For lack of a designated feastday for Christmas, the 6th of January, day of the Epiphany, was the day that the Birth of the Savious was celebrated”, wrote Balanos in his Patrologia, page 312 in his life of Saint Gregory the Nazianzene, who, in 379 A.D., was the first to introduce the 25th of December as the special day for celebrating the feast of Christmas (PG 36, 312-356).
6. In Antioch: The feast of Christmas was introduced on the 25th of December of the year 386 A.D. by Chrysostom. The same Father mentions: “The Birth day of our Saviour Jesus Christ, until recently unknown, and made known but a few years ago to us, by those who came from the West and announced it, is not even ten years ago that this date became familiar to us” (BAREILLE Vol. 3, p. 592).
Thus we see that Egypt, Alexandria, Palestine, Byzantium and Antioch, for more than 300 years, were all ignorant of the date of December as the date of celebration of Christmas. Likewise unaware of this date were Saint Cosmas, Saint Epiphanios, and Saint John Chrysostom. It was only in Rome that the date of 25 December was known as the feast day of Christmas.
Hieronymos (345 A.D.) wrote:
"The day of the Epiphany is not, as some believe, the incarnate Birth (of the Lord), because at the time (of birth) He was hidden away and not disclosed" (Kontogonos, Ecclesiastical History 621). Here, we see that Hieronymos separates Christmas from the Epiphany. But even there, in Rome, the birth of Christ was not celebrated prior to 334-357 A.D. Before this date, we find no reference to the celebration of Christmas. Even the feast of the Epiphany itself was introduced in 300 A.D., for polemic/dogmatic reasons. (See Historia by Stefanides, Vol. A’ 104).
Conclusion: For three hundred years, between the birth of Christ and the Holy Fathers Chrysostom, Gregory, Epiphanios, etc, nowhere can the isolated feast of Christmas be found! You claim that the feasts of Christmas and the other feastdays were revealed by God. If the Birth of Christ had been revealed by God, it would surely have been known by the ancient Church. Why is it therefore, that before 300 A.D., we cannot find the date of December 25th mentioned anywhere? Why, therefore, before 300 A.D., did the Christians of Palestine, Egypt and Cyprus celebrate the Birth of Christ on the day of the Epiphany?
If the 25th of December was known fom the past as the day on which Christ was born and was a date revealed by God, why did the blessed Chrysostom speak of a new feast, which “is not even ten years ago that this date became familiar to us”?
And now I ask you: Who is better informed on the date of Christmas? You, who insist it is precisely on the 25th December, or the ancient Church, who was unaware of the exact date of Birth for 300 years? Are you perhaps greater than Saint Epiphanios, the Bishop of Cyprus, or Cosmas the Drifter of the Indian Sea, or the renowned Monk Cassian, who all testify that the Churches of Cyprus, Egypt, Palestine celebrated Christmas on the 6th of January?
Are you greater than Chrysostom, who expressly said during his homily on Christmas that this feastday was introduced just a decade ago? Why, therefore, do you strike back at me, calling me a modernist in your book, because I mentioned in my book The Life of Christ that the feast of the Birth of Christ as the 25th of December was not ordained historically, but dogmatically? In other words, that the Fathers had replaced the nation’s pagan festival of the winter solstice with the Birth of the new Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ.
This viewpoint is also stressed by the Fathers of the Church. Saint Ambrose, when comparing the feast of Christmas to the idolatrous festival of the winter solstice, wrote: "It is good, that the people called this holy day of the Lord’s birth the 'New Sun' (Sermoni En App. Benned. P. 393 Real Encyclopedia, volume 16, 690). Also, Maximus (the Bishop) of Torino and an orator of the 5th century (P.L. 57, 221-832) says that Christ was born on pagan festival days, in order to substitute them.
The blessed Augustine said that: "Christians celebrate the Birth of Christ, not like the infidel for the sake of the sun, but for the sake of the Creator of the Sun" (Real Encyclopedia, Volume 16, page 690; also in Ecclesiastical History by Stefanides 1, 10). Saint Prudentius, 348-405 A.D., in a hymn of praise on the Birth of the Lord says: "What is that which the sun, albeit traversing the circle (constellation) of the bear, deserts it?." The blessed Paulinus, bishop of Nolis who lived in the 4th century A.D., expresses himself in a similar fashion: "After the change (solstice) of the sun, when Christ was born incarnate, He changed the cold days of the winter solstice along with the new sun and He commanded that, from the following day, the nights be decreased along with Him"(Poem XIV, 15.P. 382 Ed. Muratori).
Do you see here the history of the Church?
Yes, you will probably reply. However, this date prevailed, and, being a tradition of the Church, it had to be observed.
You seem to be greatly confused in the matter of Tradition and Church. Let us therefore now approach this topic.
D. TRADITIONS – CHURCH - SCHISM
You seem to be especially confused by Tradition, the Church and the Schism. You present the Church as wallowing in traditions, and you seem to believe that the Church is governed solely by its traditions, and that any deviation whatsoever from them constitutes a schism. This being the case, you would be considered the first schismatic, inasmuch as you have been violating quite a significant number of Apostolic, Patristic and Synodic traditions and Canons.
Firstly: Traditions and the Church. The Apostle Paul had said: "If a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him" (1 Cor. 11:14). The Apostolic Constitutions (PG 3 1564-5) demand the cutting of a mane of hair: "…to cut off the hairs of one’s head and discard them…. It is not befitting for you to sustain the hair on your head." Clement of Alexandria attacks the maintining of long hair, calling this a licentious habit: "A licentious and ungodly habit" (PG 3 Pedag. 8, 577).
Saint Epitaphios (PG 42, 765-8)also writes: "An extensive crop of hair is foreign to the catholic Church…a man is not compelled to tend to his hair."
Hieronymos recommends that hair should be left to grow, only to a length that covers the skin of one’s head, and the rest should be cut off (P.L. 25, 437).
During the eleventhth century, the renowned Archbishop of Thessaloniki Eustathios canonized monks who left their to grow long: "Whomsoever of you grows their hair, is seriously transgressing."
Our long hair has been condemned, not only by the voices of holy men, but also by Canons – specifically the 22nd, the 42nd and the 96th Canons of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod. The various ordination rules also proclaim it: "When brought before the high priest, (the Reader) is tonsured in a cruciform fashion, then he is tonsured completely by a clergyman."
If you want to faithfully observe all of the ancient traditions, why do you maintain your long hair and not cut it off? Where is your observance of the traditions and the Canons of the Church? Why are you violating them? You must be a schismatic! You have to cut your hair, if you want to faithfully abide by the Canons and the old traditions, and especially the Apostolic command of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:14.
Secondly: Relative to the tonsuring of the hair is the most ancient, particular kind of haircut, the papalethra (Greek = παπαλήθρα), which was observed by the ancient Church but is no longer observed today. Specifically, in the Pedalion of our Church, Saint Nicodemus interprets the 21st Canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod with regard to this haircut: "This kind of tonsure was a circular shearing of the hair at the top of the head, to resemble a crown of thorns. This was a custom, a tradition of the entire Church, as verified by the 21st Canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod and the Holy Fathers. In his letters to Augustine, Saint Hieronymos used to say 'I beseech your crown'. Similarly, Augustine used to say to the Bishop Proculianus: 'By my crown'. This ‘crown’ was the distinctive mark of the Clerics." Finally, Saint Nicodemus notes: "Our own Clerics must also have such a crown on their heads. It is not just to transfer those eternal limitations that our Fathers had defined."
Do your clerics, who are Old Calendarites, have this kind of tonsure, this “crown” on their heads? No, they don’t! So, why then are you violating the 21st Canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod, which expressly demands this kind of tonsure? Why are you transgressing this most ancient tradition of the Church? Why don’t you copy the olden, Holy Clerics, who had this kind of crown?
Why are you “transferring those eternal limitations that our Fathers had defined”, as Saint Nicodemus had claimed? Since you are therefore in breach of the 21st Canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod, and the entire tradition of the ancient Church for that matter, you are transgressors, therefore you must be schismatics!
Thirdly: The 5th Canon of the Holy Apostles says that: "A Bishop or a Presbyter or a Deacon should not send away his wife on the pretext of piety. If he does send her away, he should be excommunicated; if he persists, he should be defrocked."
This Canon mentions a Bishop, and says that he should not part fom his wife, claiming piety as an excuse. Do you see? The Bishops of old were permitted to be married. The same issue is touched on, by the 18th Apostolic Canon. However, the 12th Canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod ensued, by which this Apostolic Canon was amended, and Bishops thenceforth were not permitted to have a wife!
This amendment was decided on, from the fact that a High Priest (Bishop) should be more ‘perfect’, and for this reason should remain single, given that celibacy is superior to matrimony, according to 1 Corinthians 7:38. Nevertheless, this amendment is a retraction of the 5th Apostolic Canon and a change in the tradition of the Church of the first centuries, which permitted Bishops to be married.
Should we accuse the Sixth Ecumenical Synod of transgression, because it abolished the marital status of Bishops – in other words, an ancient and in fact an Apostolic Tradition?
Fourthly: The 91st Canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod prohibits the distributing of Holy Communion to the laity indirectly, by means of any utensil -which is the case today, with the use of the ‘lavida’ (a special, spoon-shaped utensil)- but should be distributed directly; the Holy Host (Bread) should be placed into the hands of the laity, and the Blood of the Lord (Wine) should be distributed directly from the holy Chalice by the Deacons, to the mouths of the faithful; in other words, the way that Clerics receive Holy Communion today.
This Canon commands the excommunication of the Priest who does not distribute the Holy Bread directly into the hands of the faithful.
Also to be excommunicated are the lay persons who receive communion in any other way, and not receive in hand the Body of Christ: "And if someone should receive immaculate communion distributed in such vessels of offering, let him be excommunicated, both he and the one who imposes it."
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechesis Mystagogy E’) defines the old tradition more clearly, by saying: "When approaching the Mysteries, spread out your palms…your left hand placed underneath and your right hand on top, and, cupping your palm, thus accept the Body of Christ" (Pedalion, page 310). Did you hear what this 101st Canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod commanded? Did you hear what the old tradition required? To receive Holy Communion with your bare hands and not by means of other objects, as is the “lavida” for example. And what is more, even the layman is excommunicated if he receives communion in any other way, as is the Clergyman who offers the Body of Christ thus.
You, who receive Communion, not with your bare hands but with a ‘lavida’, and insist that only Canons and traditions exist and nothing else, how do you justify this transgression?
Where will you find support? There is a footnote in the Pedalion, which offers as an explanation for the abolishment of this Canon the shortage of Deacons in the ancient Church, and also that the Priest was unable to distribute both the Body and the Blood of Christ separately, on his own. He united the two inside the Holy Chalice and distributed them together, by means of the spoon-like ‘lavida’. Quite possibly, it was thus distributed, in order to facilitate the Communion of infants.
This feasible interpretation, according to the Pedalion, is not satisfactory however, because nowadays, there are Deacons in many churches. Wherever there is a Priest and a Deacon officiating together, this Canon ought to be observed and not transgressed. If again it was done to facilitate infants, then it should have been restricted to them only, and not become generalized for everyone. Prior to the Sixth Ecumenical Synod, when this Law was enforced, how did infants receive Holy Comunion? Then they should be receiving Communion in exactly the same way, to this day.
However, one other reason for the introduction of the “lavida” that Saint Nicodemus mentions in the Pedalion is not at all satisfactory: “The reason the lavida was thought up was because certain people who claimed to be Christians, or certain heretics or superstitious people, when receiving the Holy Bread in their hands, would either throw it away or hide it or use it for sorceries or other wicked things. Thus, by introducing the use of the lavida, and distributing the Holy Communion straight into the mouth, every excuse and pretext for such kinds of disregard for the Sacrament is averted.”
But it is obvious that even with the use of the lavida, the risk for such disregard for the Sacrament is by no means diminished. Those who receive Holy Communion in their mouth can quite easily not swallow it, but keep it in their mouth, and later on deposit it in a small container hidden in their pocket, then proceed to use it for whichever wickedness or sorcery they want, or, simply disregard it and desecrate it in the way that the Devil dictates to the. So, the lavida does not protect the Sacrament from disregard or desecration.
Can you see how not only we, but you also have maintained this violation of the specific Canon? If, as you say, all the Canons and all the Traditions of the Church are inviolable and their violation signifies a schism, then why did you abolish the 101st Canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod?
I could present many more examples of abolishment of older Canons by new ones, and indeed not only by us New Calendarists, but by you Old Calendarists also. However, the four above examples are enough, so that I do not become long-winded.
Now I ask you: On what basis did you Old Calendarists support the abolishment of the above Canons, Apostolic Commands, old traits, ancient customs and traditions of the Church, without any recent Ecumenical Synod? Naturally, you cannot give any reply or excuse to justify your violations, because you have confused Traditions with the Church. You seem to think that “the Church” strictly implies the ancient traditions and old Canons. You have totally disregarded the existence of today’s Church as a whole, as a Body, with its Patriarchates and its Autocephalous Churches. You have labelled them as schismatic, merely because some of them observe the New Calendar and the other ones, which observe the Old Calendar, you consider schismatic because they are in spiritual communion with the New Calendarites. Being a Theologian, you should not be ignorant of the difference between traditions and the Church.
Here therefore is the difference between them:
The Church, as you know, is divided in two parts, i.e., the Triumphant Church and the Militant Church.
The Triumphant Church is the celestial Church: the Holy Apostles, the Martyrs, the Fathers, the Righteous and the Just, who are reposed.
The Militant Church is the Church of those still living on earth.
The now celestial Church has left behind it certain Laws, Canons and Customs. They are called “Tradition”.
The Militant Church may also draft laws, it may legislate, for the following reason:
When the Lord said that “I am with you always, to the end of time” (Matthew 28:20), He was not addressing the celestial triumphant Church, but the terrestrial militant one; because it is the militant Church that He will be with UNTIL the end of Time, whereas with the triumphant Church, He will be with it BEYOND the end of Time and this world also, for ever and ever. This is verified by our Church’s history. I will give you a few examples:
When the Sixth Ecumenical Synod was convened in the year 690 A.D., the Fathers at the time had the traditions and the Canons of the preceding Apostles and Holy Fathers before them, who had by then become a part of the Triumphant Church in heaven. As a living Church at the time, the Militant Church, in the year 690, had the right to amend the two Apostolic Canons which spoke in favour of matrimony for Bishops. It abolished the old custom and tradition of matrimony for Bishops, even though it was of Apostolic origin, and it inaugurated a new status: the compulsory celibacy of Bishops.
The Fathers of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod had also ruled (in the 91st Canon) that we should not receive Holy Communion by means of any instrument (as is the lavida), but only with our hands – not only the Clergy but the laity as well. The Fathers of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod passed away, and were transferred into the Triumphant Church in heaven. Their Canon remained, as a tradition.
Then came the Church of the 10th or 11th century to this day, and, being a living Church, abolished this Canon in practice. The tonsuring of Monks and Clergymen with the “papalethra” haircut constituted a tradition of the Church, up until the 15th century. All of those Fathers passed away, they ascended into heaven and left the tonsuring custom behind them. The post-16th century Church abolished this tradition, thus, nowadays, all our clergymen and yours have long hair, and no “papalethra” tonsure.
What do we learn from the examples that I just gave you? That Traditions are one thing, and the Church is another.
Traditions are the earthly “residues” of the celestial, triumphant Church. These are the ancient customs, the various Canons of the Ecumenical and Local Synods and the opinions of Holy Fathers who are now in heaven.
By “Church”, we mean the terrestrial, living Church of each time; the Militant Church, which has been given the authority by God to either legislate specifically, as in the case of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod, when it abolished Apostolic Canons and ancient traditions pertaining to the matrimonial status of Bishops, or, to silently bear with situations that deviate from the celestial, Triumphant Church’s “residues”, as was the case with the post-16th century Church to this day, on the matter of the kind of tonsuring for the Clergy.
Thus, the Church and Traditions constitute a living organism. And just as in every organism there are two aspects, the unchanging element and the changing element, in the same way are Traditions and the Church, i.e., the old and the new Church, are comprised of the Divine and human element which has something unchangeable about it (to an absolute degree with regard to the dogma and morality, and to a relative degree with regard to those things that the Church silently or explicitly ordains). In other words, nobody, not even if he is a Priest or a High Priest, has the right to unilaterally transgress any Patristic Tradition. Nor does one single Church have the right to ignore the consensus of other local Churches in matters of a general nature. Subsequently, a schism is not merely the transgression of an ancient tradition (as made evident above, many such ‘transgressions’ took place in the past, without inducing a schism); it is only when the transgression of an ancient tradition causes a rift between that one Church and the others, and when the communion between those Churches is interrupted. Therefore, only the “Tradition of the Faith”, i.e. the moral one, is something that is eternally unchanging and unalterable and not susceptible to any amendment whatsoever. Other traditions however, which pertain to matters of worship, ecclesiastical administration and order etc., may be amended and changed, under the provision naturally, that this is not done by individuals – not even if they are Priests or High Priests (in which case, it will be a case of violation and mutiny) – but it must be done by THE CHURCH!
Does the New Calendar actually constitute a schism?
Now that we have covered the ground regarding the traditions of the Church and schisms, let’s take a look whether the New Calendar constitutes a schism. In your attempt to prove that the New Calendar is schismatic, you invoked various arguments, which we shall now examine, one by one:
Firstly: You invoke the Pan-Orthodox Synods of 1582, 1587, 1593, 1848 in pages 26-29 and elsewhere, which Synods had condemned the Gregorian Calendar. And I will reply to this, as follows: Given that you have related the Gregorian and the New Calendar as being the same thing, you insist that the Calendar we observe is doomed. At the very beginning of this essay, I proved that the so-called New Calendar is NOT Gregorian, but the Revised Julian Calendar, and not only from a purely calendrical aspect, but an ecclesiastical one also, because the Gregorian calendar does not take the Jewish Passover into account, hence the Westerners celebrating Easter before or together with it.
The Pan-Orthodox Synods condemned the Gregorian Calendar, its Easter period, its Almanac – that is, the dates of celebration of the mobile feasts of Mid-Pentecost, the Ascension, Pentecost, the Holy Trinity, etc. - because it deviated from the true designations of these dates by the First Ecumenical Synod, according to which our Easter should take place after the Jewish Passover. The New Calendar observes this ruling, therefore it is not subject to this condemnation. The shifting of 13 days, which does not affect the Easter feastdays or the Easter Almanac, is not subject to that condemnation of the Pan-Orthodox Synods of 1582, 1587, 1593, 1848.
Secondly: You wrote, “With the shifting of 13 days and the preservation of the Easter cycle, the fasting period of the Holy Apostles is either confined, or abolished”, as mentioned in page 13.
Even though the fasting period of the Holy Apostles has not been legislated by any Ecumenical or Local Synod, it has, as an ancient custom, the validity of a law and cannot be abolished or amended. Yes, this fast cannot be amended by any Christian, not even a High Priest. Furthermore, not even another church is permitted to abolish it, in disregard of the other churches. However, since the Churches that observe both the Old and the New Calendar either accept or tolerate this confinement, there is no issue of a Schism arising. It would have been a Schism if the Autocephalous Churches and the Patriarchates had argued over the issue and had interrupted their associations with the New Calendarist Churches. But this did not happen. Therefore there is NO schism!
Thirdly: In your opinion, a Schism within the Church is when the New Calendarists’ and the Old-Calendarists’ Churches celebrate Christmas and the other moveable feastdays at different times, thus, when the one Church is fasting, the other isn’t fasting. When the one Church is fasting, the other is celebrating the Epiphany, etc....
Of course it would be wonderful if all Orthodox Christians could celebrate and fast together, simultaneously. There is no doubt about that. However, the difference in time of the celebration and fasting of Christmas and the Holy Apostles does not constitute a Schism, because the ancient Church, up until the First Ecumenical Synod, did not simultaneously celebrate either Christmas or Easter, nor were its fasting periods identical in every place. And yet, there was no Schism in the individual Churches. The fact that the pre-300 A.D. Christians did not celebrate the moveable feasts at all or simultaneously, I have proved with my preceding analysis.
Not only was Christmas and the other Christmas related feastdays not celebrated simultaneously by the ancient Christians, neither was Easter. This is what history confirms. Saint Polycarp (150 A.D.), Bishop of Smyrna, had gone to Rome and met with the Bishop Akinetos. It happened to be Easter. The former of the two wanted to perform the rites on the 14th of the month Nisan. The Pope Akinetos wanted to perform the Easter Liturgy on Sunday. They discussed the matter. Neither Polycarp could convince Akinetos, nor Akinetos Polycarp. They performed the Liturgy conjointly, and departed in peace (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History E’ 24, 14).
The differing time of their celebration of Easter did not constitute a Schism (see Ecclesiastical History by Stefanides, page 99). Likewise, the differing time of fasting does not constitute a Schism.
Take a look at what Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History has to say about this issue (E’ 24, 12-13): "Not only was there doubts regarding the day, but also about the very nature of this fast. One side believed that they should fast for one day, the other side for two days, and yet others even more days. One side insisted on forty days and nights.... And all of them made peace and we were at peace with each other, and the disagreement over fasting comprised a concord in the faith."
You see what was done in the ancient Church? They had their differences in the matter of fasting, yet they made peace with each other and this difference not only didn’t upset them, but “the disagreement over fasting comprised a concord in the faith”! So, why are you placing so much weight on the difference in the fast of the Holy Apostles, when in the ancient Church “the disagreement over fasting comprised a concord in the faith”?
You will probably say that prior to the assignment of the dates of celebrations and fasting, each Church had the right to observe its own traditions. However, since it has finally ordained these dates, we are not permitted to deviate from their boundaries. Yes, I repeat, no person, not even if he is a High Priest, can single-handedly and despite the contrary opinion of the Church change the times of feastdays or the duration of fasting periods, and the same applies to any isolated Church if deciding such things unbeknownst to the other Churches. Thus, when the Church as a whole, as a complete Body, including the autocephalous Churches and Patriarchates, accepts or tolerates the Old and the New Calendar and the varying dates of feastdays and fastings, nobody has the right to speak of a Schism. Besides, didn’t the Pan-Orthodox Synods (which had condemned the Gregorian Calendar) transgress the explicit ruling of the 101st Canon of the Sixth Ecumencial Synod regarding the method of receiving Holy Communion, by distributing Holy Communion to the laity by means of the lavida, or, didn’t they transgress other relative Canons when they allowed their hair to grow? And yet, they were by no means Schismatics!
Fourthly: You will probably say, "Why then is there so much fuss over the observation of Tradition?" Well, the Apostle Paul, the Fathers of the Church, the Synods all cry out, “Stand fast, and maintain the traditions”.
At this point, you mention a multitude of references to several Canons that are clearly opposed to modernizing. You will ask me, how can so many things voiced on tradition have been said in vain?
No, my dear fellow. Those voices are valid, and they should remain valid. But you must pay attention to whom those voices and bans are addressed. Those voices are addressed by the Church through its representatives, the Fathers and the Ecumenical and Local Synods, to the faithful, and NOT by the faithful to their Churches! In other words, the members of the Church are obliged to observe those written and unwritten Traditions. No one is entitled to transgress them, not even a Priest or a High Priest.
All these Canons contain the phrase: "A Bishop or Presbyter or Deacon....", which is addressed to individual persons. The Church, however, as a whole, as a BODY, has a different status than its individual members. The Church is the Sovereign Judge of Tradition. What did we see in the matter of matrimony for High Priests? Albeit matrimony was permitted according to the Apostolic Canons and the ancient Tradition, the Church abolished it explicitly, through its Sixth Ecumenical Synod. What did we see in the matter of the use of the lavida? That the Church tacitly put the 101st Canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod to disuse by introducing the use of the lavida during Holy Communion of the laity. That same Church put to disuse other laws and traditions regarding tonsure, by tacitly ordaining the growing of hair by its Clergy.
Learn, therefore, that we as individuals cannot abolish or amend traditions. The Church however has a different kind of authority, and we as individuals are not equal to the Church. This is what the History of the Church and its Traditions proclaim!
Fifth: In chapters 1 and 2 you say that "the New Calendar was introduced unilaterally and against regulations, without the consent of the Orthodox Churches, thus splintering the unity of the overall Orthodox Church".
To which I reply: Neither the Calendar was changed, as I told you in the beginning (we too observe the Julian Calendar, amended and revised), nor was there any irregular promotion of the calendar by 13 days, because this was agreed upon between the Churches, therefore there is not an issue of a splintering of the Orthodox Church. Besides, this was verified by the Pan-Orthodox Convention that was convened in Rhodes in 1961 and 1964, where the Churches of both the Old Calendar and the New Calendar officiated together, and exchanged the greeting of love. It was only you schismatics who were barred from this Inter-Orthodox Convention, because not one of you self-titled “Genuine Orthodox Christians” was welcomed by that Pan-Orthodox Convention of 1961 and 1964.
Sisxth: In chapter 5 you say that the unaltered observation of the Easter Canon by us New Calendarists affected the annual Almanac of Feastdays, which is integrally linked to the established Easter Canon of the First Ecumenical Synod, thus causing a disturbance. My reply is:
The disturbance appearing nowadays in the dates of moveable and immoveable feastdays is a return to the dates of the First Ecumenical Synod, because they have returned to the 21st of March as the spring equinox that the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Synod had. One person alone, even if he is a High Priest, or one Church alone, cannot, unbeknownst to the others, make any such adjustments, not even if they bring us back to the ancient dates.
However, the united Church of the New and the Old Calendarists, as a whole, as a Body (the former of the two by accepting and the latter by tolerating the New Calendar), does have the right to make such changes, and even more so, when, by shifting the 13 days we can attain, as we said, the true dates of the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Synod, who had spring equinox, I repeat, on the 21st of March just like we do with the 13-day shift, and not on the 8th of March as you have.
Seventh: In chapter 16 you write that the Churches that observe the Old Calendar have 200 million faithful, while the New Calendar Churches have only 25 million. This is proof enough of the existence of a Schism.
A Schism my dear fellow is when there is an interruption of spiritual communion between the Churches, and not when they celebrate feastdays on different dates. This is what the History of the Church has shown, as outlined above, regarding the differing dates of celebrating Easter prior to the First Ecumenical Synod.
Thus, since the Churches that observe the Old Calendar have NOT interrupted relations between them and the Old-Calendarists, there is no schism. You really should read the History of our Church more carefully.
You mention that the number of faithful who observe the Old Calendar is 200 million as opposed to the 25 million that observe the New Calendar, only to show that the majority observes the Old Calendar. My reply is: Since the 200 million Old Calendarists are united with the Churches of the “schismatic New Calendarists”, then, according to your view, they must be schismatic! So, why do you invoke them? In page 47 you yourself condemn all the autocephalous Churches, not only the New Calendarists’ but the Old Calendarists’ Churches also, by saying: "Those Churches are not in order, because when the Church of Greece modernized, they should have severed every communication with it". But you see, they didn’t sever any communication; therefore, they too must be Schismatics! So, if they are Schismatics according to your logic, then why do you invoke their numbers as evidence in favour of the Old Calendar?
Can you see how you are contradicting yourself here?
Eighth: In chapter 83, you strive to prove that the shift in the Winter and Summer seasons is a fable, from an astronomical aspect as well, if the difference in the Calendar had been continued. And you say: "If the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt took place in March of 1500 BC and it is March of 2000 AD today, how is it that there is no change?
Well, quite simply, the Calendar observed by the Jews prior to the Julian one in 45 BC had lunar months and solar years. Given that the solar year has 12 lunar months and 11 days, the Jews added (as already mentioned above) a 13th month every 2 or 3 years, which they called Be-Adar, thus covering the difference.
In other words, just as we have done, by adding 13 days in 1600 years in order to cover the variance of the Julian calendar since the First Ecumenical Synod to this day, so did the Jews likewise do, prior to 45 BC, by adding a whole lunar month every two or three years, thus preserving their Passover in the month of March.
This difference of 13 days since the First Ecumenical Synod is accepted by the Pedalion also (see page 9), in the interpretation of the 7th Apostolic Canon. How then can you deny it? Apart from that, we all know from our Cosmography lessons in 6th grade, that the calendar observed before Christ by the Romans, from 700 to 45 BC, was the calendar by Numas which had 354 days. In other words, it was similar to the Jewish calendar, in that it had lunar months and solar years. Each year was short by 11 days. The Romans added to every second year an additional month of 22 days duration. They believed that in this way they could cover the difference between the political year and the solar year. But in fact, with this supplementary month, the year was short of the actual year by 0.242217 of an average solar day. Up until the time of Julius Caesar, they had surpassed it so much, that the harvesting festivals were being celebrated at the end of winter!
In 45 BC, Julius Caesar attempted to erase this inconsistency by calling on the astronomer Sosigenes from Alexandria. And first of all, he extended the duration of the year of that adjustment (45 BC) to 445 days. This meant that they added another 91 days to Numas’ calendar, so that the various festivals would be celebrated on the proper days of the year. This year was named the year of confusion.
Following this, Julius Caesar established the Julian Calendar of 365 days, with one leap year every 4 years. Can you see how Julius Caesar had added 91 days to the year 45 BC, to cover the variances of previous years?
Consequently, the Jews and Romans before Christ made adjustments for the purpose of covering the calendrical variances. How can you ignore things like these?
Ninth: "We must show obedience", you write in chapter 86 page 74, "to those God-bearing and Saintly Fathers, and not to the latter-day ones". But, wait, it was those Fathers who had condoned marriage for Bishops; they were tonsured (they all had the papalethra tonsure), they distributed Holy Communion without the lavida, and it was those same Fathers who had also condemned those with long hair and not tonsured with a papalethra, and those who did not distribute Holy Communion to the laity placing it in their hands. Why then don’t you show obedience to those Fathers by observing what they had ruled?
Tenth: You say on page 85, "The Church of Greece is proceeding to make adjustments, so that provisions will exist for matrimony of Monks, abolition of icons, changes to Baptism, and other such things." Here, you are nothing but a sycophant!
You have taken the sporadic comments of various irresponsible people, and presented them as official views of the Church!
Tenth: You say, very naively, "With whom do the heavens celebrate, when the terrestrial ones have differing days of celebration? When the New Calendarists chant 'Today Christ is born…' 13 days before the Old-Calendarist Churches, with whom do the heavens celebrate the Birth of Christ, with this difference in time?
Then again, after the Birth of our Saviour, when we say the relative prayer “Today, the heavens above rejoice…”, with whom are the heavens above rejoicing, with the Old or with the New?"
I will in turn ask you: When, for 300 years, the Churches of the West celebrated Easter on the Sunday after the Jewish Passover and the Churches of Asia Minor on the 14th of Nisan, with which of the two did the heavens celebrate Easter? On the 14th of Nisan with Saint Polycarp, or on Sunday with Saint Aniketos, Pope of Rome? With both, naturally. When Egypt, Palestine, and Cyprus all celebrated the Birth of Christ on the 6th of January together with the Epiphany (as we saw above), and Rome celebrated it on the 25th of December, with which of them did the heavens celebrate? With both of them of course! The same thing applies today, since the terrestrial Church is united. The heavens celebrate with both. In heaven, every day is a celebration, because there is no labour up there as there is on earth, and special days of rest and celebration. The heavens rejoice incessantly, because every day is a celebration there.
First: You have confused the New Calendar with the Gregorian Calendar. This is your erroneous basis. I proved to you that the New Calendar is NOT the Gregorian one, neither from a calendrical nor from an ecclesiastical aspect; it is the Revised Julian Calendar, with the dates designated by the First Ecumenical Synod. Therefore the Calendar that we observe is in fact the Old, Julian Calendar.
Second: With regard to the Canon on Easter, you have not taken into account its basic premises as ruled by the First Ecumenical Synod (spring equinox, full moon, Jewish Passover, and Sunday), instead, you have observed the dates 22nd March – 25th April, which is not in the least foreseen in the Minutes of the First Ecumenical Synod. The supplementary period of 22nd March – 25th April was the single, main characteristic that was observed by you, despite the explicit Canons.
Third: You assert that the immobile feastdays of Christmas and the feastdays related to Christmas were defined by God; hence no one is permitted to change them! I proved to you, through the Holy Fathers of the Church, that those dates were totally unknown for 300 years. Then, later on, Christmas was co-celebrated with the Epiphany, and was afterwards separated from the Epiphany. This is what the Fathers have told us. If these dates were, as you claim, defined by God, are you saying that the Holy Fathers were unaware of them, whereas you knew about them?
Fourth: You have confused the term “Traditions” with the concept of “Church” and you think that the Church as a whole cannot bring about any changes to Traditions. And yet, I proved to you that the Church, as a living entity, did in fact transform, either expressly or silently, quite a few traditions and customs. So, how come you Old Calendarites are transgressing the ancient traditions of the Church? Given therefore that you are incapable of discerning between Traditions and the Church, and cannot comprehend the meaning of the term “Schism”, you have concocted the notion that the New Calendarist Church is Schismatic, simply because it observes the New Calendar! Even though I proved to you that, according to the History of the Church, the different dates of celebration do not constitute a schism, only the lack of spiritual communion of autocephalous Churches and Patriarchates.
It is you Old Calendarites, therefore, who have been severed from this Body of Orthodoxy, that are schismatic, and it is to you as schismatics that all the bans of the Fathers are directed, and all the “woe to you's”.
It was my duty to reply to you, because you provoked me to do so, both in writing and verbally through acquaintances of yours. I have done my duty, to you and to everyone else, who might want to learn the truth regarding the Old and the New Calendar.
The rest is up to you, my readers, and to God! Fare well!