The above warning was given to me when I first met Orthodoxy in 1986. Today [2009] it is even more perilous, even more difficult to find the Royal Path. For one thing there is a far greater abundance of misinformation. And many materials are missing, and other materials are being rapidly rewritten. For another thing there are fewer than ever guides remaining on the Royal Path, especially who speak English. Hopefully this website will be a place where Newcomers to the Faith can keep at least one foot on solid ground, while they are "exploring."

blog owner: Joanna Higginbotham


jurisdiction: ROCA under Vladyka Agafangel

who did not submit to the RocorMP union in 2007


About Ukase #362

Q: Just so I put everything in context, where can I read Ukaz #362?
I've seen that mentioned from time to time and I don't know what that is either.
Seems like Ukaz #362 is central to the fragments' argument, so I better understand it.

A: It is true you will often see mention of the famous Ukas #362.  Last night, reading a short memorial of Patriarch Tikhon, I again came across mention of the Ukase #362, where the important part is quoted, translated into English.   I googled some of the key words and found this translation on a RocorMP site:

By the way, this website was created for, and is devoted to, rewriting history.

In December 1918, Bishop Mikhail assumed the administration of the Diocese of Primorsk & Vladivostok. He was appointed as Bishop of that Diocese in 1919, by the Provisional Supreme Church Authority of Siberia, organized along the same lines, and for the same reasons-inability to communicate with Patriarch Tikhon-as the Temporary Higher Church Administration of South Russia that was the forerunner of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Patriarch Tikhon himself had foreseen the need for such measures, and provided for such a situation: “Seeing that the persecutions were intensifying, and that the time could come when the central church authority would find itself separated from the local church administrations, the Patriarch, together with the Holy Synod and the Higher Church Council, issued the ukase (#362) of November 20, 1920. The ukase reads: ‘In the event that a diocese finds communications with the Higher Church Authority broken, or the Higher Church Authority headed by the Patriarch, for some reason ceases its activity, the diocesan bishop shall immediately contact the bishops of the neighboring dioceses with the object of organizing a higher unit of church authority … in the event of this being impossible, the diocesan bishop must take upon himself the fullness of power.’ Point 3 of this ukase states that this higher unit of church authority must be headed by the senior of the Hierarchs.” 28

Footnote 28 refers to:
M. Rodzianko “The Truth About the Russian Church Abroad (The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia)” Translated from the Russian by Michael P. Hilko, Jordanville, New York 1975 pp. 37-38

I have that book online, but without the page numbers:

Skimming through the booklet I do not find a translation of the ukase itself, but quotes from it, and I'm reminded how complicated it is… actually there were 2 ukases involved, – and to understand this we also need to understand the terminology – defining things like "provisional supreme authority", etc.

Basically the ukas gave the Russian Church the ability to re-establish their diocese abroad in the case of what did end up happening: the Church was captured by the evil government in 1927.

Only the MP denies the authority of the ukas.  We don't need to try to determine the legality for ourselves whether the ukas is valid or not – that has already been proven by God who gave the ROCA numberless martyrs and undeniable saints such as St. John of San Francisco.  The only argument there is about the ukas is: to WHAT FRAGMENT does the ukas pertain?  Who has the right to apply the ukas? 

RocorMP basically gave up its right in 2007 by joining the MP.  They decided that whether or not they at one time had the right, that the ukas does not apply anymore anyway, (so why argue about it?) – now their philosophy is to "let bygones be bygones" and to "forgive". 

The jurisdictional ecumenists (Joseph Suaiden of NFTU) say that all the fragments have a right to exercise the authority given in the ukas.  But the Sister Churches witness against this idea.  Despite serious attempts made by the fragments to try to establish communion with one or more of the Sister Churches, none of the Sister Churches are in communion with any of the fragments.  They only recognize ROCA (under Agafangel) as being the true sole continuation of the ROCOR – and let me add, – this recognition was swift in coming after the shipwreck of the RocorMP union; and it remains unwavering thanks to God's protection.

Some of the fragments also say their right to existence is their (false) claim to be the Catacomb Church.  But, the true Catacomb Church always recognized only the ROCA as having the right to apply the ukas and only to that particular situation in history.   In early 2009 two true catacomb bishops left one of the false catacomb churches for the ROCA.
To this day both of the fragments are furious about this and continually criticize our reception of these bishops saying it was illegally done.
"Why the hundredth time to repeat what has already been discussed?"
Why?  I know why...  It is for the "benefit" of their flock who might be reading our explanation – they need to keep pounding it into their flock that ROCA is "uncanonical" and commits "uncanonical acts". 

The Significance of the Church Typicon

"Metropolia" is short for "American Metropolia" which today (2014) is known as the OCA (Orthodox Church in America under Metropolitan Tikhon Mollard) which is in world-orthodoxy.

The TYPICON of the Orthodox Church’s Divine Services
by Fr. Seraphim Rose, 1973

Standing in the Temple of Thy glory, we think we are standing in heaven.
Verse of Matins

At what shall we marvel the most, O Orthodox Christians, when we stand in our Orthodox temples and worship God in the way He Himself has instructed us to worship Him? – At the astounding beauty and glory of the Divine services which overwhelmed the emissaries of the holy Russian Prince Vladimir a thousand years ago, so that they did not know whether they were on earth or in heaven?  At the astonishing variety and complexity of the services, which can be compared only to the abundance and diversity of nature itself, being like it a reflection of the abundance of the Divine Creator?  Or at the wondrous order that prevails in the midst of all this variety, and which makes of Orthodox worship a harmonious whole capable of raising the soul into single-minded devotion to God? 

How unfortunate it is, then, that so few Orthodox Christians enter fully into the meaning and spirit of the Divine services which, according to the idea of the Holy Fathers who created them under Divine inspiration, are supposed to be a daily source of inspiration for believers, preserving and fanning into a great flame of love that spark which brought them to the saving Orthodox Faith.  How few know and love the Typicon which sets forth the principles of the order of the Divine services and which, if it is understood properly, is capable of helping to put our own hearts in order, of orienting them toward the Sunrise from on High Who is the object of the Church's worship! 

And how doubly unfortunate it is that there are those who presume to call themselves Orthodox and yet, looking upon the sad state of Orthodox worship in many places today, find the fault for this to lie, not in the lukewarm believers who do not wish to live by the ideal of the Typicon, but rather in the Typicon itself, which must, according to them, be "revised" and brought "up-to-date."  One of the most clever of these "revisionists," Father Alexander Schmemann, has recently written "A Letter to my Bishop,"1 Metropolitan Ireney of the American Metropolia, complaining that the latter wishes to return the Metropolia to the standard of the "pre-revolutionary Russian Church," to "the standard service books... of the Russian Orthodox Church."  In one respect one can sympathize with Fr. Schmemann's objection: for it is evident that his bishop does not have in mind any true return to fervent and meaningful participation in Divine services, but only a very minimal preservation of the general order of services in the Slavonic service books, as an answer to the disorderly innovationism which is now apparently widely practiced in the Metropolia.  Fr. Schmemann believes that the situation in the Metropotia is too desperate to be saved by a return to outward order.  He finds that the Metropolia's "financial bankruptcy only reveals and reflects its spiritual state – a state of apathy and demoralization,... of abysmal ignorance of the very foundations of our faith," and that "our Church is sick – liturgically and spiritually" – a shocking statement which certainly cannot be made concerning the Church of Christ, but which may indeed be applicable to an ecclesiastical body such as the Metropolia which for long has been travelling a path far from true Orthodoxy. 

The plea of Metropolitan lreney is to salvage at least some parts of the liturgical practice of the Russian Church: a few verses when the Typicon calls for a whole psalm, one canon at Sunday Matins instead of the three or four appointed, etc.  To this Fr. Schmemann correctly replies that this is not the standard of the Typicon and that, in any case, the Metropolia's people do not find even this minimum meaningful.  Therefore, he believes, the Typicon must be revised in the light of our knowledge of its historical development, of other traditions, and the like.  In a word, the services must be made somehow palatable to spiritually bankrupt people!  Fr. Schmemann takes a bad situation and makes it worse, advocating the establishment of a new typicon, a lower standard – which the next generation of the Metropolia will undoubtedly likewise find "unmeaningful" and too demanding!  

Enough has been said for us to learn a lesson from the self-admitted spiritual bankruptcy of the Metropolia.  It was worldliness, indifference, and abysmal ignorance that produced the Metropolia's bankruptcy; and we who would be Orthodox zealots. whether in the Russian Church Outside of Russia or in her sister zealot Churches, must realize that these same attitudes can cause us also to become lukewarm in our faith, or to lose the grace of God entirely.  

Let us understand clearly, then, to begin with, that neither the people of the Metropolia nor its would-be reformer  Fr. Schmemann, understand at all what the Typicon of the Church's Divine services is and what is its function.  A thorough historical investigation of the Church's Typicon will not at all lead us to become "revisionists" of it, but on the contrary, will only fill us with wonder at its coherence, profundity, and meaningfulness. Indeed, one of the chief works of scholarship on the Typicon, that of Professor Skaballanovich2 which Fr. Schmemann himself cites as extremely valuable, comes to exactly these conclusions, and his work only convinces one ot the great wisdom of the Holy Fathers who compiled the Typicon.  The mistake of the people of the Metropolia lies in tis ignorance of and indifference to the Church's inspiring Typicon; the mistake of Fr. Alexander Schmemann lies in his looking at the Typicon in a purely legalistic and academic manner, as though it were merely a system of arbitrary rules and prescriptions which must be blindly obeyed or cleverly avoided, rather in the spirit of a contemporary Code of Motor Vehicles.

Such is not the case at all!  But in order to see the significance of the Typicon one must know what it is.  The Typicon is, literally, a book of rubrics for the conduct of the Divine services and the harmonious joining of the different cycles which make up the church's life: the daily cycle, the eight-week cycle of the Eight Tones, the fixed cycle of Feasts and Saints' days, the movable cycles of Great Lent and Pascha, but in its significance the Typicon is much more than this.  The Typicon is, as its title might be translated, a "book of examples," and its intent is actually, as Professor Skaballanovich has well noted, "to sketch the high ideal of the Divine services, an ideal which by its beauty might evoke a constant involuntary striving to bring it into realization, something that is perhaps not always possible in full measure, as is the case also in the realization of every ideal, the following of every exalted example.  In essence such is the nature of the whole law of Christ, which is unrealizable perfectly in all its heavenly exaltation, but which by its Divine grandeur inspires an irresistible attraction on the part of mankind to bring it into realization, and which thereby gives life to the world" (Commentary on the Typicon, vol. 2 p. 2).

The full title of this important book is:  "The Typicon, or the Depiction of the Ecclesiastical Rite of the Holy Lavra of our Holy and God-bearing Father Sabbas in Jerusalem.  The same rite is followed also in the other venerable monasteries in Jerusalem, and similarly in the other holy churches of God."  The Typicon, that is to say, is the standard of the services of the Monastery of St. Sabbas in Jerusalem, which was subsequently taken as the standard of the services in other monasteries, and then in the whole Orthodox Church.  It is precisely the monastic services which are taken as the standard of the Church's life of worship, because monasticism itself most clearly expresses the ideal toward which the whole believing Church strives.  The condition of monasticism at any given time is ordinarily one of the best indicators of the spiritual condition of the whole Church, or of any Local Church; and similarly, the degree to which the local parishes in the world strive toward the ideal of the monastic services is the best indicator of the condition of the Divine worship which is conducted in them.

The Typicon of the Divine services is an ideal; and therefore let no pastor or believer make the mistake of thinking that he has already done "enough" if in his parish "all the people sing" (which is indeed prescribed by the Typicon, as we shall see), or there are services on the eves of Sundays and feast days.  The battle being waged today by the world against the faithful is constant and relentless, and it is of an intensity unparalled in the whole history of the Church.  In America it is evident that daily newspapers, radio and television, public schools, supermarkets, fashions – virtually everything that exerts any kind of influence upon the mind or taste is directly or indirectly involved in destroying the Orthodox World view, in making true Orthodoxy seem "fanatical," "out of step with the times," and in persuading Orthodox Christians to give up their high ideal of making Orthodoxy permeate the whole of their life in order to "get along" better in the world and "fit in" with other confessions and world views. 

Against this unrelenting attack the Orthodox Christian must wage a constant, conscious battle, or else he simply will not remain Orthodox, and most certainly his children will be lost.  The "Orthodox" jurisdictions of America (the Metropolia being actually in better condition than most of the others!) should be a sufficient lesson of what will happen to people who do not wage a constant battle to preserve their Orthodoxy, but rather accept it as a matter of course, assuming that one is somehow automatically Orthodox just because he is called by this name. How different is the judgment of Christ our Saviour!  Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted?  It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men (Matt. 5:13). 

The Holy Fathers who compiled the Typicon had precisely in mind this battle to preserve oneself in the grace of a Christian life, and we shall see what an effective weapon for this battle is contained in the Divine services, which, contrary to popular belief, are most practical and applicable in our own situation today.  

Starting in 1974 in The Orthodox Word, practical information will be given on the Church's Divine services – on the reading and singing of the Psalms of David and the singing of the traditional Russian chant in English – based on the best tradition of Russian Orthodox practice. Leading Orthodox hierarchs of our century have called the faithful to return to the true tradition of the Orthodox services according to the Typicon, and we shall quote the inspiring words and examples of such zealots of the Divine services as the New-martyr Archbishop Arsenius of Novgorod, the Blessed Archbishop John Maximovitch, and the present Abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery at Jordanville, New York, Archbishop Averky of Syracuse.

The words of these zealot-hierarchs, and a knowledge of the true tradition of the Divine services. will surely persuade us that we, the last Christians, are far from the normal life of Orthodox piety; how much, therefore, we must struggle in order to get back to that normal life!  But how inspiring is the path to it!  We shall see that the Divine services are not only a treasure-house of the Church's dogma and spiritual instruction, but even more a school of piety which teaches us not only how to think, but even how to feel about our life and the path of salvation. The full use of this basic source of piety is an essential part of the zealot movement of true Orthodoxy in our own day. 

May the knowledge of the ancient tradition of the Divine services awaken Orthodox zealots today ever to strive toward the ideal which the Church's Typicon holds out to them: to stand in God's Temple, in fear and trembling and great joy, and worship Him in the way the Divinely-inspired Fathers have instructed us to do!  

1. Printed in St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, 1973. no. 3, pp. 221-238.
2. Michael Skaballanovich, Commentary on the Typicon (in Russian), Kiev, 1913, 2 vol.
3. Much work has been done on Greek Orthodox chant in English at Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston 226
from The Orthodox Word, issue #53, Nov-Dec 1973

Life of St. Andrew Fool for Christ

Life of St. Andrew Fool for Christ

The Feast of the Protection
Commemorated October 28th.

During the 10th century at the Blachernae church in Constantinople (Istanbul) where several pieces of her her robe, veil, and part of her belt were kept, the Theotokos miraculously appeared.  On October 1 at four in the morning, St. Andrew the Blessed Fool-for-Christ  saw the dome of the church open and the Virgin Mary enter, moving in the air above him, glowing and surrounded by angels and saints.  She knelt and prayed with tears for all faithful Christians in the world. 

St Andrew turned to his disciple, St. Epiphanius, who was standing near him, and asked, "Do you see, brother, the Holy Theotokos, praying for all the world?"  Epiphanius answered, "Yes, Holy Father, I see it and am amazed!"

St. Anthony of Siya

Fr. Seraphim provided this translation for us first in an Orthodox Word (#52) and later he included it in his collection of the lives of these Russian desert monastics, The Northern Thebaid.  The first edition was 1975 with a 2nd printing in 1976.  The second edition was 1995.  A third edition, 2004, is available today through St. Herman Press.  I do not have any of the older editions to make a comparison, but older is always better.  And try to obtain a copy of Ivan Kontzevitch's, Acquisition of the Holy Spirit

Orthodox Word #52 pp. 167–184
Saint Anthony of Siya
photos from magazine

download here:
St. Anthony Siya

The Acquisition of the Holy Spirit in Ancient Russia

SAINT ANTHONY OF SIYA is one of the many Saints who looked upon St. Cyril of White Lake and his testament as an example for emulation.  Following in everything St. Cyril and the ascetics of the Northern Thebaid, he was, just like them, a follower of the hesychast school of "sobriety," and this is underlined in his Life, where the "inward activity" (of Jesus Prayer) is mentioned, to which the Saint "paid diligent heed."  For the sake of silence and vision he went to a desert island.  All of his instructions, words, and the facts written in his Life bear witness that the Saint was penetrated through and through with the Gospel teaching.  In him there stands out a trait characteristic of all the Saints of St. Cyril's school: unacquisitiveness.

Like the other ascetics of the Northern Thebaid, he sought out a location which might inspire in the soul an elevated feeling, a feeling of God's presence.  Yet the same wilderness that moved and exalted the soul was at the same time a threatening power, full of every possible danger.  However, he lived even in the midst of wild beasts unharmed, having attained the state of dispassion.  He lived in the midst of deep snow "as in a cave:'

Where did St. Anthony and others acquire such strength that they could thus conquer the very laws of nature?  Even as earlier St. Paul of Obnora, he was "a chosen vessel of the Holy Spirit."  And here is the key to the Saint's supernatural life: he lived, as St. Seraphim of Sarov was to explain it centuries later to Motovilov, having acquired the grace of the Holy Spirit.

THE LIFE OF Saint Anthony of Siya
Commemorated December 7
* The Life has been compiled and translated from the condensations of the ancient Life which are to be found in the Russian Lives of Saints (Supplementary Volume, Dec. 7) and in the periodical Russky Palomnik, 1895.

SAINT ANTHONY of Siya was born in the year 1477 in the village of Kecht, which is thirty miles from the city of Archangelsk on the banks of the Dvina River, and in holy Baptism he was called Andrew in honor of the holy Apostle Andrew the First-called (November 30). The parents of the Saint of Christ, whose ancestors were from Novgorod, were peasants who were quite well-to-do by the standards of that time. His father's name was Nicephorus and his mother's Agatha. While laboring in their occupation, they nonetheless did not give themselves over entirely to worldly cares, but they found time for prayers and good deeds. Keeping strict watch over the purity of their hearts, and preserving a God-pleasing order in their family life. the pious couple often visited the temple of God, made large contributions for its benefit, and fervently entreated the Lord that He might give them children. The Lord heard their prayer and gave them a first-born son, Andrew. Later they had other children also, sons and daughters, but they all yielded the first place to Andrew, both in mental and moral qualities and in outward appearance. Andrew was handsome of face, tall, and had good health. The moral qualities of his meek soul disposed the hearts of his near ones in his favor.


FROM THY YOUTH, O Saint, thou didst refine thy flesh in fastings and prayers,/
and taking up thy cross, thou didst follow after Christ./ 
Wherefore thou didst joyfully finish thy course even to the heights,/
where with all' the Saints thou dost stand before the Holy Trinity:/
and now, visiting thy flock, remember those who honor thy holy memory;/
that we all in thanksgiving may cry out to thee:/ 
rejoice, O divinely-wise Anthony, instructor of the desert.

From his earliest years Andrew was quiet, mild, and meek, and it is not astonishing that he was very much loved by his parents. When he was seven years old his parents sent him to learn reading and writing.  To the astonishment of his teacher. the child quickly learned reading and writing and came to love the reading of Divine books. And besides this, his loving parents gave him the opportunity to study the painting of icons. Farm labors no longer attracted Andrew; but with greater love and zeal he gave himself over to his beloved occupations - he painted icons and read whatever books of a spiritual and instructive nature he could receive in his village. With certainty one may assume that in these years he became acquainted, in addition to the service books, with other writings of the Holy Fathers as well; he could encounter these in the collections of Holy Fathers which were widely circulated at this time.  It is known that later, in his monastery, there was a large library, and the writings of the Holy Fathers occupied the first place in it. These occupations strengthened in the soul of Andrew even more those pious habits and dispositions which were instilled in his childhood by his parents.

The time came when his parents grew old and, sensing the approach of death, they gathered all their children together and exhorted them to live piously. "Children," they said, "behold, we have come to deep old age, and severe afflictions have come upon us, as you see yourselves, and death already stands before our eyes.  We entrust you to God and His Most Pure Mother.  They will take care for you throughout your life and will be your Helpers in all your deeds.  And you, children, live in all respects in the way in which you have seen us living.  May the mercy of the Lord be with you unto the ages-"  With special love and in detail they instructed also their first-born son Andrew, and then in peace they departed to the Lord, having travelled the earthly path irreproachably.  At this time Andrew was 25 years old.

After the death of his parents the blessed Andrew settled in Novgorod and spent five years there, serving a certain nobleman. This nobleman was likewise pious and a good man.  He came to love the labor-loving Andrew very much, and he gave him his own daughter for a wife.  But it was not for long that the Lord ordained this pious union to continue: within a year the wife of Andrew died.  Soon his father-in-law died also.  The loss of these dear ones served as a sign for the orphaned-one of the Divine Will: that he, having left the world, should entirely follow Christ.  Having become a stranger to everything worldly, to worldly joys and entertainments, and having become accustomed to spending his life in attending church, the thought of God, and labor, Andrew again went home.  But he did not remain long in Kecht,  Having sold his part of his parents' possessions, and having given the proceeds to the poor, he left his native place for good.

THE BLESSED ONE came to the bank of the river Kena, where, near Lake Keno, St. Pachomius  *† about 1515; commemorated the first Saturday after Theophany  had founded a monastery dedicated to the Transfiguration of the Lord.  When the future ascetic,on the way to this monastery; was overtaken by the darkness of night not far (three miles) from it and lay down to rest, and after he had prayed fervently to God to be shown the path of salvation- he was made worthy of this vision: in a light sleep there appeared before him a dweller of heaven, a shining elder with grey hairs; he was clothed in white garments and in his hands he had a cross.  He said to the blessed one: "Take up your cross and follow after me; labor and do not fear the devil's nets, for you will be a man of spiritual desires, an upbringing of the wilderness, and you will be an instructor for many monks."  The elder signed him with the cross and, after saying: "By this conquer the evil spirits," he became invisible.

The heart of the blessed one was filled with spiritual joy.  Awakening after this, he spent the entire night in prayer of thanksgiving to God, and in the morning. entering the monastery with tears of joy, he prayed again before the icon of the Saviour which was on the gates, and falling down at the feet of the superior, he humbly entreated him to receive him into his flock.  St. Pachomius, the founder and superior of the Monastery of Keno, did not conceal from Andrew the difficulties of the monastic life and pointed out to him what severe labors he would have to undergo in this monastery which was being established; but nothing frightened the chosen one of God.  He only increased his entreaties and indicated his past life, in which one could not but see indications from Above to leave the world.  For an experienced ascetic and clairvoyant elder such as St. Pachomius already was, the Divine fore-choosing of Andrew could not be doubted, and he clothed the blessed one in the monastic garb; changing his name to Anthony in honor of St. Anthony the Great (january 17).  This was in the thirtieth year of St. Anthony's life, 1508.

The Elder Pachomius entrusted the beginning monk for his 'ascetic upbringing to no one else, but took this labor upon himself.  The zeal of Anthony was very great.  Guided by St. Pachomius, while zealously attending the Divine services he manfully fought against the passions, slept extremely little, and fasted strictly, taking food every other day and even that in a very moderate quantity.  For a year he labored in the bakery, fervently working for the brethren.  He was distinguished by every virtue and firmly resisted every temptation from the evil spirits.  All the brethren loved the Saint, but he was humble and meek, and praises were for him a burden.

It came then to pass that there no longer remained a hieromonk in the monastery. The choice of St. Pachomius and the brethren rested upon St. Anthony. And so the Saint had to go to Novgorod and accept the rank of priest.  This fact, after he had returned to the monastery, yet more inspired the Saint to increase his labors of continence.  In the monastery of St. Pachomius there was an infirmary, and St. Anthony labored not a little time in it: he prepared water, washed the sick, and cleaned their clothing, mixing his deeds with words of love and comfort.  And the prayers and thanksgiving of the infirm monks served for him as the best reward.

In general St. Anthony, since he was sound in body, accompanied the spiritual activity with increased physical labors, and often he labored in the fields.  By this path he purified his soul and mind from the passions, and mortified the flesh and every attraction toward the world.

And then there came the time for the Saint to leave the monastery which had raised him up, and himself to serve for the salvation of others, preparing himself for this by the labor of solitude.  With deep humility he began to entreat the blessing of St. Pachomius for this.  The latter, seeing his perfection, gave him all needful counsels and blessed him, saying: "May the Lord bless you, my child; may whatever the Lord wills be done!"

HAVING RECEIVED the blessing of the superior, St. Anthony. together with two other pious monks, Alexander and Joachim, departed from the monastery of St. Pachomius and, after travelling along the river Onega to the stream Shelksna, they went along this stream, through forests and impassable thickets, until they came to the river Emsa, into which the Shelksna flows, to the cataracts which are called the Dark Rapids.  This place greatly pleased the anchorites.  They built a cabin here, and after some time they built also a small wooden church dedicated to the Wonderworker St. Nicholas, and some cells.

For seven years St. Anthony lived in this place far from the noise of the world, serving God, when the silence of the wilderness was broken only by the sounds of the inspired monastic prayers and the singing of the feathered inhabitants of the forest.  But then the local inhabitants rose up against the Saint and his disciples, the number of which had increased by four; for by this time Isaiah, Elisha, Alexander (another), and Jonah had also come to St. Anthony.  The local inhabitants feared that with the foundation of a monastery their land would be taken awayfrom them, and they began to drive away the monks.  St. Anthony accepted this trial with submissionto the Will of God, and he meekly went away from his persecutors together with his disciples.  *Up to the time of the Russian Revolution there was a chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas the Wonderworker at this place.  The local inhabitants until very recent times lived in extreme poverty, and according to the common opinion this was because of their unjust treatment of St. Anthony, however, in the19th century, when they began to venerate the Saint with faith, their condition became much better.

And so the monks went about the northern lands which lie in the region of the Dvina, passing through the impenetrable forests, gorges, and swamps which lie near the White Sea, and the mossy places and inconstant marshes and the many lakes, seeking a suitable place, wherever God might instruct them to stay.  Once, at this time,  St. Anthony stood at prayer; the monks were praying humbly and the Saint, as their intercessor, stood before them with his hands raised on high.  At this very time a hunter whose name was Samuel came out to the place where the monks were standing.  For a long time he did not dare to go up to them.  The wondrous picture of the praying monks in the midst of the forest astounded the hunter.  Finally, being convinced that what he saw was real, the hunter went up to the Saint and received his blessing, and when the Saint asked him to show them a place convenient for monastic labors, he brought him with his disciples to a distant lake. which was called Michailov, into which the river Siya flows.  This place was even more remote than the place where the monks had settled before, having impenetrable gorges and dense forests, and great thickets and swamps, and mossy places and inconstant marshes, where there dwelled wild beasts, bears and wolves. deer and hares and foxes, a great multitude of them, which were like herds. There were many lakes round about, and they were very deep.  And the place was surrounded by waters as by walls.  There were not many paths which had been trod by human feet, and one could enter or leave only by one way.  About the holy monastery there were many lakes, and the river Siya flowed from one lake to the next, and they were as if bound by the river Siya in a kind of union, so that visitors, when they saw this, marvelled at the unutterable wisdom of God.

No one had ever lived in this region; but hunters, when they visited this place, often heard the sound of bells and the singing of monks, and they even saw monks cutting the trees.  Therefore the people living closest to this place were convinced that it had been appointed by God Himself as a place for a monastery.

THE PLACE on Lake Michailov was very pleasing to the soul of St. Anthony.  Here he built a chapel and cells.  This happened in the year 1520, in the 42nd year of St. Anthony's life; and thus the foundation of the Monastery of Siya was laid.  Until 1524 the monks had nothing.  The Saint himself, together with the other monks. cut trees and worked the earth, and by this means they obtained for themselves a scant living.  They also ate wild plants: berries, roots, herbs, and mushrooms.  Often they endured severe hunger.  Once their hunger was so great that the brethren of St. Anthony murmured against him and were prepared to separate.  At this time there came to them an unknown man who brought oil, flour, and bread and gave money for the building of the monastery.  Having received the blessing of St. Anthony for his further journey to Novgorod, the benefactor departed and never returned again.  Having received this unexpected help, St. Anthony began fervently to put the monastery in order; and at this time the following trial occurred.

The collector of taxes for the ruler of Novgorod, Basil Beber, thinking that the builders had much money, hired thieves and wished to plunder the monastery.  But the Lord preserved His chosen one.  When the evil-doers wished to attack the monastery, it seemed to them as if it were surrounded by a multitude of armed men.  They told the collector of taxes about this, and he, knowing that the monks had no defenders, understood that the elders were being preserved by heavenly beings, and he repented of his evil thought and, falling at the feet of St. Anthony, begged forgiveness.  The Elder meekly forgave the guilty one, and this served as a cause of great glory for the God-pleaser.  From this time on many people began to come to the Saint and, receiving the tonsure, comprised a considerable community.

Seeing the increase of the brethren, St. Anthony sent two of his disciples, Alexander and Isaiah, to Moscow to the Grand Prince Basil Ioannovich, with the request to allow the establishment of a monastery and to give land for this.  St. Anthony had been known to the Grand Prince even earlier as a man of holy life.  Therefore he was kindly disposed to this request, and not only did he allow the establishment of the monastery, but he also awarded lands to it, and gave everything necessary for its beginning.  With joy Alexander and Isaiah returned to their teacher, and the whole brotherhood fervently prayed for the health of the good Tsar.  This was in the year 1544.

The EIder, rejoiced by' this, energetically undertook the building of the monastery.  Thus he built a church in honor of the Life-giving Trinity.  St. Anthony himself painted the main icon of the Holy Trinity and entreated that this icon, being preserved in the monastery, would remind the brethren of his soul.

But the church that had been built with such effort soon burned in a fire caused by a candle which the candle-lighter had forgotten to extinguish before one icon.  The fire could not be put out, for when the church burned the brethren, apart from the sick and the servants, were all laboring in the fields.  The monks only saw with sorrow in place of the church a pile of ruins, and they wished to separate.  But the Saint, eyen though he was saddened, nonetheless trusted in the Will of God and persuaded the monks to remain; and increasing his prayers and fasting, he began to build new churches.  The monastery buildings apart from the church remained unharmed.  At the same time the Lord visibly consoled his chosen servant.  The church burned, but the icon of the Holy Trinity which had been painted by the Saint was found in the midst of the monastery completely unharmed.  And it was triumphantly brought into the church of the Life-giving Trinity when its building was completed.  Soon from this icon, by the prayers of the Saint, the infirm began to receive healing.  Besides the church of the Holy Trinity, St. Anthony built two other churches: one dedicated to the Annunciation of the Most Holy Mother of God, with a wing dedicated to St. Sergius of Radonezh, to whom the Saint often appealed in his prayers; and another in honor of St. Andrew the First-called.  The Annunciation church was heated, and it had a refectory.

When the monastery was completed the brethren entreated the Saint to take-upon himself the rank of abbot.  For the salvation of those who entreated him the humble Elder accepted this rank, and for several years he governed the monastery.

In governing the monastery the Saint gave to everyone a good example.  Daily he was in the church of God, and standing at the Divine service from beginning to end, he did not lean on his staff or against the wall.  And he watched over the brethren so that they would observe good order in church: that they should not go from place to place and would not go out except out of extreme necessity.  He ordered that the brethren should without fail perform their cell rule of prayer also.  At the end of prayer the Saint was the first to begin work, and here he gave the brethren an example of love of labor.  He loved also divine books, and he collected many volumes of the Fathers and Teachers of the Church.  Spending his nights in prayer, the Saint rested only for a short time, forgetting himself in sleep after the meal.  His food was just as meager as that of the brethren.  His clothing was old, covered with patches like the clothing of paupers, so that no one from outside could recognize the Saint as the Superior of the monastery.  With concern he supervised the monastery labors, the kitchen and bakery; he encouraged the brethren who were bearing these difficult obediences and counselled them to avoid idle conversations.  With special love he visited the monastery infirmary, instructed the sick monks to bear their infirmities with gratitude and to pray unceasingly, remembering the approaching hour of death.  The Saint appointed a special supervisor to take care of the sick.

The strict cœnobitic life was established in the monastery; food and clothing were common and equal for everyone.  Intoxicating beverages were totally prohibited; totally prohibited; it was ordered that they should not be received from visitors either, and that those who brought them should not even be allowed in the monastery.  And by this rule the blessed one was able to chop off the head of the serpent of drunkenness and uproot it entirely.  The Saint was also much concerned for the poor brethren; he advised the monks to give unstinting alms and he himself not infrequently did this in such a way that the brethren might not know, fearing to evoke their complaints.

Hearing of the Saint's strict life, many began to come to him asking his prayers, and some entered the brotherhood.  Some seventy monks were gathered together in the monastery.  Many among them were distinguished by the sanctity of their lives and their spiritual labors; one of them, Jonah, later wrote the Life of his spiritual father and instructor.

In the monastery of St. Pachomius St. Anthony died to the world; his life in the wilderness by the Emsa River was a preparatory school for him; and his life in the Monastery of Siya was the time when the God-pleaser, the man of spiritual desires, served his Lord, laboring for the salvation of his lesser brothers.  He was in truth "an instructor for many monks," as the shining elder had prophesied.  Not being satisfied with his own instructions, the Saint gave the monks the opportunity to learn for themselves the essence and ways of the spiritual activity, by gathering in the monastery library the works of many of the Eastern ascetics and Fathers.

SAINT ANTHONY was weighed down by the glory of men.  After several years of governing the monastery, having chosen in his place Theognostes, a man experienced in spiritual life, he left the abbotcy and, together with one simple monk, he departed from the monastery into a solitary place.  At first St. Anthony settled on an island in Lake Dudnitsa, two miles from the monastery, upstream on the river Siya. This island was very beautiful and convenient for desert-dwelling.  The Saint went about the island, examined it entirely and came to love it: the island was surrounded by the lake, on whose shores impenetrable forests grew, and on the island there was an extensive swamp, overgrown with moss.  St. Anthony settled here, built a small hut and a chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, and he began to labor in silence, unceasing prayer, and labors even more zealously than before: he felled trees, cleared a place for sowing, dug the earth with his own hands, sowed wheat, and lived by his own labors; and the wheat that was left over went to the monastery.  At night, after the evening rule of prayer, the ascetic milled grain until time for Matins; during the summer nights he stripped to the waist and gave himself over to be eaten by mosquitoes.

The Lord granted to the ascetic the gift of clairvoyance.  A young monk of the Monastery of Siya, Philotheus, being engaged in warfare by the tempter, thought of going into the world, renouncing his monasticism, and getting married.  But the good thought came to him to go beforehand to the Saint in the wilderness and receive a blessing from him.  Seeing Philotheus, the ascetic turned to him with these words: "How is it, my child, that you have come here being disturbed by an evil thought?  You wish to go into the world, to renounce monasticism, and you think you can conceal it from me."

Hearing this secret from the mouth of the Saint, Philotheus became terrified, fell at his feet, and acknowledged everything.  The ascetic raised him up, encouraged him, and after instructing him let him go back to the monastery.

After some time St. Anthony went away to another solitary place three miles from the previous place.  This place was in the mountains and was surrounded by mountains as by walls; and in the valley between these mountains was a lake, which was called Padoun.  At the base of these mountains stood the cell of the Saint, and around it were twelve birch trees, as white as snow.  On the mountains there grew such a tall forest that from below it seemed to reach to the heavens.  Most melancholy was this place, so that one coming to see this wilderness would have great contrition, for the very sight of the place could bring the beholder of it into tender feeling.  Here the Saint made a raft out of logs, and from it he fished on the lake for his food.  While he was fishing he would bare his head and shoulders to be eaten by mosquitoes and gnats: whole hives of the insects would fly to him and cover his body, and the blood would flow along his neck and shoulders; but the ascetic would stand unmoving, not touching them with a single finger.

In the winter the Saint's cell was covered with snow, and he lived under the snow as in a cave, and sent up to God his fervent prayers with warm tears.  Paying diligent heed to the inward activity, he joyfully strove toward the heights, remaining much in silence, removing his mind from all cares,and conversing purely with God, sending up his prayer like incense to heaven.

Thus did the Saint spend two years outside his monastery in both of these wildernesses.

In the meantime Theognostes renounced the abbotcy.  The brethren entreated the Saint to be their abbot again, saying: "Father, do not abandon us, your children," the brethren said with tears.  "Come to your monastery and remain with us.  And if you do not come, we will all scatter like sheep that have no shepherd."

St. Anthony yielded to their entreaties.  Again he began to govern the monastery, giving to all an example of pious and ascetic life.  From old age he no longer had the strength to perform physical work, but he did not grow drowsy in prayer nor weak in fasting.  And then there appeared in St. Anthony the gift of working miracles – the reward of his holy life.

Before the very feast of the Transfiguration, the monks labored the entire night at fishing, but they caught nothing.  Saddened, they came to the monastery, but the Saint encouraged them and again sent them to the lake, to the Red Cape, saying: "Children, show obedience and you will see the glory of God, for the Lord is merciful: the Life-giving Trinity will not forget your labors and will not abandon the brethren who faithfully serve the Lord in this holy place and who are hungry on the great feast."

The monks set out for the place that was indicated to them, let out their net, and caught such a multitude of fish that they were eating it for a long time after the feast.  From that time on they began to call this fishing place "Anthony's."

From his severe ascetic labors and from old age the body of St. Anthony withered and grew weak.  His sight grew dim, his legs grew swollen, and the monks had to lead him to church.  Like an olive tree under the burden of its fruit, he bent down towards the earth, bent over by his years and labors.  His bodily powers declined; he had accomplished his earthly path, and his purified spirit was already prepared to arise into the heavens towards our Saviour, Whom he had served for his entire life.  The repose of the Saint approached.

SEEING THE INFIRMITY of their instructor and expecting that he would soon die, the brethren entreated the Saint to give them a written rule and indicate to them a successor in the governing of the monastery.  The Saint fulfilled the entreaty of his sorrowing disciples. he appointed as the builder of the monastery Cyril, and as abbot in his own place Gelasius.  Gelasius at that time was beyond the White Sea, on the river Zolatitsa, having been sent there on business.  Cyril was in the monastery, and the Saint addressed himself to him with his final instruction: he exhorted him to preserve the monastic rule inviolate, concerning the church services, concerning food and drink; to love the brethren equally and to be the servant of all; to judge concerning monastery matters with all the brethren at trapeza, and to do nothing without taking counsel of them, so that there might be no dissatisfaction in the monastery; he prescribed that the sick brethren should be visited and that special care should be taken for them.

Then the Saint turned to the assembled brethren and exhorted them not to grow faint in prayer, to have mutual love and oneness of mind, to remove themselves from anger and evil words, to submit to the elder, to preserve purity in body and soul, to have food according to the rule of the monastery and to flee drunkenness entirely, and to preserve without any infringement the cenobitic rule of the monastery.

So that his instructions might have greater force, the Saint gave the brethren a testament written with his own hand, which contained also the rules of monastic life. Here we quote these rules of the great Saint of Siya:

"And whichever of the brethren are complainers and schismatics (that is, violators of brotherly unity) and do not wish to live according to the monastic order nor submit to the abbot and brethren, should be banished from the monastery so that the others will have fear."  However, after sincere repentance they should be accepted again and kept as brethren, as also were to be those who had left the monastery during the lifetime of the Saint and took from the monastery's funds, if they have repented.  "Before everything else may you have the fear of God in your hearts, that the Holy Spirit may dwell in them, and that He might instruct you and set you on the true path.  Among yourselves have love and submission in Christ to one another, by which you will cover up your many sins.  In the common life live in equality both in body and spirit, in food and clothing, according to the commandment of the Holy Fathers.  Do not give the abbot in the refectory anything in food or drink above what the other brethren receive.  Let there be the same equality also in clothing and shoes.  Do not keep intoxicating beverages in the monastery and do not receive them from visitors.  Women should not spend the night in the monastery at all, and likewise men from the world should not spend the night with the brethren and should not live in the cells.  Give the poor sufficient to eat and drink and give them alms, lest this holy place should come to know want.  And the brethren who are well should not be left without monastic obedience for the sake of their salvation, with the exception of the sick.  Do not allow the peasants to make fields and yards near the monastery, except for a place for cows, and let that be beyond the lake.  Preserve this, I entreat you, and may the mercy of God be with you."  Then, having entrusted his monastery to the Mother of God and St. Sergius, St. Anthony prepared for his end.

When the brethren asked where his body should be given over to burial, the Saint replied: "Bind my legs and drag my sinful body into the wilds and trample upon it in the moss in the swamp, that it may be eaten by beasts and reptiles, or else hang it on a tree to be eaten by birds, or else throw it with a stone into the lake."

But the monks said outright that they would not do this, but would honorably bury his body.  On the eve of his repose the Saint received communion of the Holy Mysteries of Christ.  On the next day, 7 December, 1556, before Matins, having bade farewell to the brethren, when the monks Andronicus and Pachomius had offered incense in his cell and at their teacher's word had left the cell, the Saint of Christ, having folded his arms in the form of a cross, peacefully gave his soul unto the Lord.  In all he had lived 79 years, of which 37 he had spent in the region of Siya, both in the monastery and the wilderness.  The orphaned brethren honorably buried his holy relics in the church of the Life-giving Trinity, on the right side near the Altar.  The brethren adorned his grave with icons and candles, and every day they came to pray for the repose of his soul, and believing in his boldness before God, they asked his intercession.

The priest of the nearby village, Chariton, had envy towards the memory of St. Anthony, and once he expressed himself sacrilegiously regarding him.  After this Chariton suddenly became blind, and soon he understood that the Lord was chastising him for his blasphemy against the Saint.  Then he began to repent for his transgression, and he fervently prayed and his sight was restored.  Giving thanks to the Lord and His Saint, Chariton went after this to the Monastery of Siya and labored in monasticism.

During his lifetime St. Anthony loved to paint icons.  Even up to this century there were preserved holy icons painted by his own hand.  And even after his repose he was a patron of those who undertook this God-pleasing work.  Thus the abbot of the Monastery of Siya, Pitirim (1577 1586), being concerned over the proper adornment of the monastery, painted many new icons and restored old ones.  Once Pitirim became ill.  His infirmity increased all the time, and death began to threaten him.  The sick man prayed to the Life-giving Trinity and St. Anthony.  And behold, once at night, falling into a light sleep, he saw how a magnificent elder, adorned with gray hairs, was walking from the tomb of the Saint with a sack.

"Do you wish to be well and finish what you have begun?" he asked Pitirim.  "I wish to, but I cannot," replied the sick man.  To this the elder said: "The Holy Trinity heals you, do not grow faint in your work; I, the Abbot Anthony, have come to visit you in your affliction."  The Wonderworker touched the sick abbot.  Pitirim felt himself to be well and with new zeal he began to occupy himself with icon-painting and the adornment of the churches of the monastery.

A merchant from Holmagor whose name was Carpus was sailing on the sea off the shore of Tersk, beginning from the river Varzuga.  In his boat, among other goods, there was a supply of fish for the Monastery of Siya. A great storm arose; the waves rose like mountains and lashed the boat; and the oarsmen already despaired entirely of salvation. Suddenly Carpus saw not far from him an elder who spread out his mantle over the boat and protected it from the waves.

"You called on many for help," said the wondrous elder to the astonished merchant, "but you did not call on me.  Yet in your boat there is a part also for our monastery.  But God will grant stillness."

"Who are you, O man of God?" asked the merchant.  "I am Anthony, the Abbot of the monastery at Lake Michailov, on the river Siya," said the elder, and became invisible.  From this time the storm began to grow still and a favorable wind arose.  Coming safely to the Monastery of Siya, Carpus gave thanks for his salvation to St. Anthony, and soon received the monastic tonsure in his monastery.

A certain Timothy, whose surname was Ryabok, who lived seven miles from the monastery, became blind and could see nothing for two years.  The feast of the Life-giving Trinity approached, and pilgrims were going to the Monastery of Siya.  When the blind man heard the movement of people he wept bitterly that he was unable to go with the God-fearing people.  Praying warmly to the Most Holy Trinity and the Saint, Timothy asked that he be conducted to the monastery, and the whole way he continued to pray mentally.  Suddenly he felt that he began to see a certain faint dawn, and then he began to see green: this was the forest through which he was walking.  Rejoicing, Timothy feared to believe his healing and did not say anything to his companions.  Desiring to test his eyes, he began to examine the road on which he was walking, and he could make out the path.  His heart was filled with joy and rapture, but he restrained himself and did not yet speak about his healing.  Coming to the church of the monastery, Timothy saw the wonderworking icon of the Life-giving Trinity and other icons, and he saw the burning candles: and then in the hearing of all he gave thanks to the Lord and His Saint for hill miraculous healing.

Many other miracles also occurred by the prayers of this great Saint of God to the glory of the Holy Trinity.

The numerous miracles performed at the grave of St. Anthony inspired the brethren of the monastery of Siya under the above-mentioned Abbot Pitirim to petition Tsar John the Terrible that the Saint be joined to the choir of Saints.  This was done just 23 years after the death of the Saint, in the year 1579.  Thus was St. Anthony joined to the choir of Saints venerated by the whole Russian Church.

How does somebody find the Church today?

How does somebody find the Church today?  On what do you base your decision?

based on history?  But today most of the histories are self-recorded, and too many are purposely misleading. 

based on piety?  But an outward show of piety can easily be borrowed from the real Church – adopting fasting rules and taking out pews does not make a church "Orthodox".

based on canonicity?  But even vigante groups claim to be canonical.  Why, there's one out there that even publishes pedigree papers!

based on the personality of the priest?  or on his "wisdom" or leadership abilities or "people skills"?  

Any of these ways might work with LUCK.  But anyone who slips into the Church by luck can just as easily slip out of the Church by luck.  There is only one sure way:


The true Church has a heavenly counterpart: the Church Triumphant.  Most of what calls itself "Orthodox" out there today has no real connection with the Church Triumphant, only a feigned connection.  These are either real Churches that have "lost their savor" or Churches that were phony from the beginning – manufactured for the purpose of causing confusion/schism/chaos.

To find the true Church I see only one sure way:  to befriend the members of the Church Triumphant with all your strength.  Learn about the Holy Fathers and the Saints, read their lives, read their writings, pray to them and ask their assistance, ask them to help you enter into their company especially now before you die, and also in eternity.

If you seek first the Kingdom, then you will recognize Fr. Seraphim as a sure guide.  Let Fr. Seraphim Rose introduce you to the Church Triumphant.  He made it.  You can follow the path he forged.  It is a sure path.

If people trust Fr. Seraphim as the sure way for American converts, – and decide to take that road, since we know it works, whether other roads work or not, at least we know that works...  we see that Fr. Seraphim and St. John both were intensely loyal to ROCOR and true sons of ROCOR and both fruits of ROCOR – then that should be enough reason to trust ROCOR.

That decision narrows the list of possible jurisdictions down quite a bit.  Next the only problem left is finding the true ROCOR.  

These jurisdictions all claim to be the real ROCOR:

ROCA (Metropolitan Agafangel)

Examine these jurisdictions in light of "Birds of a feather flock together", i.e., check out their friends.  

RTOC, ROAC, ROCiE are all so similar it is very difficult to tell them apart.  They are in communion with no one.  Why are they not at least in communion with each other?

RocorMP is in communion with everybody, indiscriminately, EXCEPT for the jurisdictions who won't join them in being indiscriminate.  They are in communion with the Moscow Patriarch and the EP.  Read St. John's 1933 report on the Decline of the EP, see if you want to be a part of something he does not approve.

That leaves ROCA.  ROCA is still today in peace, harmony, and oneness of mind in the Sisterhood with 3 other (Old Calendar Greeks, Old Calendar Romanians, Old Calendar Bulgarians).  This is the same Sisterhood that was existing intact before the RocorMP union in 2007.  The Sister Churches are the true friends of ROCOR.