Written by Vladimir Moss



     “Preach the word!” says the holy Apostle Paul. “Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (II Timothy 4.2).

     St. Paul’s words are addressed to all teachers of the faith. There is no time that is inappropriate for teaching the truths of the faith and morality. And the reason is clear: he who thinks wrongly about any aspect of the faith is in danger of losing his soul, and therefore it is the duty of the leaders of the Church to attempt to save his soul by teaching him the truth – however inconvenient or supposedly untimely such a teaching may be. 

     And yet how often do we hear – usually from those who are on the wrong side of the argument: “How dare you speak about such things at this time, when it is a great feast, or when we are about to start the Great Fast! This is a time for quiet prayer and meditation. You are destroying the peace of the Church!”

     Such an accusation has appeared again just recently. On March 7, a week before the beginning of Great Lent, the Holy Synod of the Russian True Orthodox Church (RTOC) issued a “Reply of the Holy Synod” to various questions troubling some clergy of the Omsk-Siberian diocese, but all revolving around the question whether the Moscow Patriarchate is a true church with valid sacraments or not. Now this is an old question that has been troubling the Russian Church (as analogous questions have been troubling the Greek Church) for nearly 90 years – ever since the Moscow Patriarchate fell into the heresy of sergianism in 1927. As far as the Russian Church Abroad is concerned it was settled once and for all in 1983, when all the Churches of World Orthodoxy, including the Moscow Patriarchate, were anathematized. As far as RTOC is concerned, it was settled once again, - and with an impressive appearance of unity, - at the Odessa Sobor of 2008. However, doubts began to arise in the minds of some of the Omsk-Siberian clergy, and since at least 2011 they have been troubling the hierarchs of the Church with their doubts, forcing them to devote more than one Synodal session to these questions that were settled years ago. At the beginning of this year the Omsk clergy, still dissatisfied with the answers they had received, were complaining that they had not received written replies to their questions, as they had been promised. When they finally received these replies, on March 7, they rejected them in indignation and left the Church two weeks later…

     Now it may, perhaps, be regrettable that all this took place at the beginning of Great Lent, when Orthodox Christians like to retreat into themselves and meditate and repent of their personal sins. But it is wrong to think that there is any time of the year when the struggle for the faith can be abandoned for the sake of personal meditation. In fact, to draw such a clear line between the realm of the faith and the realm of the personal spiritual life is to make a serious error concerning the nature of that spiritual life – for several reasons.

     First it must be remembered that attacks on the Faith are stirred up by Satan, who is not noted for his kindness and consideration for the spiritual needs of the Orthodox flock. These attacks must be countered immediately, and if they continue, the resistance must continue – doggedly and persistently – until the victory has been won. Since Satan does not sleep, and never tires in his attacks, so the defenders of the faith – in the first place, the hierarchs – have no choice but to continue fending off his attacks without pausing for rest-breaks that the enemy will only use to his advantage.

     Secondly, the Church herself in her calendar of feasts and fasts does not cease to remind us of struggles for the faith both past and present. In fact, this is particularly the case at the beginning of the Great Fast, when the first two Sundays – those of the Triumph of Orthodoxy and of St. Gregory Palamas – are devoted to the commemoration of great struggles for the faith in the past, and in which all heresies are publicly anathematized. Evidently the Church does not consider that struggling for the faith, celebrating the major feasts and praying for the forgiveness of our sins are activities that should be carried out at strictly segregated times of the year.

     Thirdly, and most fundamentally, the Prophets of the Old Testament say repeatedly that the Lord is not pleased with the fasts and the sacrifices of believers when basic injustices and untruths remain uncorrected. In fact, the continuation of these uncorrected scandals defiles their church life and makes it abominable in the sight of the Lord (Isaiah 1.11-15; Zechariah 8.16-18). Just as we will not be forgiven our sins if we do not forgive the sins of others against us, so God will not hear our public prayers if we continue to harbor heresies within the sacred enclosure of the Church, “the pillar and foundation of the truth” (I Timothy 3.15). If those who disturb the peace of the Church refuse to be convinced by the teaching of the hierarchs, then they must leave voluntarily or be expelled involuntarily. For the cancer of heresy spreads and can poison the thoughts of a whole Local Church quickly and disastrously.

     The catastrophic fall of most of ROCOR in 2007 should serve as a sufficient confirmation of this truth. It was not for lack of prayers and fasting that ROCOR fell. It was because her archpastors did not deal, either in season or out of season, with the spiritual cancer of heresy in their midst - until the Lord, disgusted by their unrepentant faithlessness to the struggle of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, allowed them to fall into the abyss of the heretical and graceless Soviet church, upon whom the anathema of the Holy Church remains forever…


April 11/24, 2016.

The Entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem.

‹‹ Back to All Articles
Site Created by The Marvellous Media Company