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


21 August 2014

Sts. Adrian & Natalia

The Suffering and Martyrdom of
Saints Adrian and Natalie
and 33 companions of Nicomedia
Commemorated on August 26/September 8

In the year 301 A.D. the impious Roman Emperor Maximian, a great persecutor of the Church of Christ, arrived in the city of Nicomedia, having tortured and slain a multitude of Christians wherever he had gone. Entering into a pagan temple, the emperor bowed down in worship before his abominable gods, falling down to the ground before the idols. While all the inhabitants of that city took part, he offered up his vile sacrifices. After this, he commanded that the Christians be sought out and handed over to be tortured. The emperor threatened with particular torments those who might have considered concealing the Christians; but he promised rewards and honors to those who, knowing where Christians were hiding, would inform on them or, finding them, would themselves bring them to judgement. Thus, neighbor began to betray neighbor, friend betrayed friend — some out of fear of the provisions of the emperor's dread edict, others for reward.

Certain of the impious informed their military commander that there were Christians hiding in a cave, chanting there all night long, and praying to their God. Straightway, soldiers were dispatched to that place, and they arrived at the cave and laid hold of all the Christians who were therein, to the number of thirty three. Securing them with iron chains, they led them back to the city to be brought before the emperor. At that time the emperor was riding in his chariot to a pagan temple, there to offer sacrifice. Encountering him on the way, the soldiers who were leading the fettered Christians cried out to him: "O Emperor, behold them that mock the law, the blasphemers of our great gods!" Ordering his chariot to halt, and ordering those prisoners to approach nearer to him, the emperor asked them where they we from. "We are natives of this land, but are Christians by Faith." "Can it be that you have not heard what manner of torments await them that call themselves Christians?" continued the emperor. "We have heard," answered the saints," and have laughed at your foolishness and at Satan himself who works through his children who do not believe in God, whose leader you are!" Enraged, the emperor cried out: "You wretches! How dare you call me a fool and laugh at me? l vow by the great gods that I will break in pieces your bodies with the cruelest of tortures!" And he commanded his soldiers, saying: "Stretch them out and beat them without mercy with rods and clubs, and then we shall see whether their God will come to help them, and free them from my hands!" And the martyrs were savagely beaten by the soldiers, but while they were under going this torment, they said to the emperor: "You enemy of God, even if you set over us yet another three torturers; however many you will summon, whatever torments you devise, know well that by doing this you are but increasing the number of our crowns!" "O you most wretched of men," cried the emperor, "I shall have your heads removed, and on what then will you place your crowns? Renounce your vain faith and don't bring destruction upon yourselves for your foolishness!" But the martyrs replied: "God will destroy you because without cause you do torment His servants, who have done no evil!"

Then the emperor ordered his soldier's, saying: "Strike them with stones about the mouth!" And immediately taking up stones in their hands, his servants began to strike the martyrs about the mouth, but they did not so much harm to them as to themselves, for they went insane, and with those same stones broke each others jaws. And the saints said to the tyrant Maximian: "O iniquitous hater of God, without mercy you are beating us who are in no way guilty before you, but an angel of God shall kill you and shall destroy all of your impious household. You can not satiate yourself on the torments with which you are torturing us in the course of so many hours and with such brutality; yet incomparably greater torments await you yourself. Apparently you have not given thought to the fact that we have the same body as you do, with the sole difference that yours is befouled and impure, whereas ours is cleansed and sanctified by Holy Baptism." Angered all the more by such words, the tyrant Maximian cried out: "I swear by the great gods that I shall give the command for your tongues to be cut out, that others, seeing you, might learn not to contradict their masters!" But the martyrs of Christ replied: "Take heed, O impious tyrant! If you despise and torment those servants who oppose their earthly masters, then why would you compel us to oppose the Lord our God? Or would you want that those torments which are prepared for you should befall us as well?" "Tell me," said Maximian, "what torments are prepared for me?" "That which God has prepared for the devil and his angels," the saints replied, "He has also prepared for you, the vessels of the devil — namely: the fire which cannot be quenched, the worm which cannot be satisfied, unceasing torment, everlasting punishment, the damnation of hell, the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, and many other tortures innumerable." "I swear, I will have your tongues cut out!" cried the tyrant. "You fool," replied the saints, "if you cut out those organs with which we glorify God, our breath shall all the more easily reach Him and our hearts shall cry out to Him with yet greater force, and our blood shed by you shall like a clarion raise its voice to the Master, proclaiming that we are suffering in innocence." Hearing the saints reply like this, the impious emperor commanded that they be put in iron chains and cast into prison, and that their names and statements be recorded in the minutes of the court. When they led the saints to the palace of the tribunal to record their names, one of the officers who worked there, a man of exalted station by the name of Adrian, an adherent of the Hellenic impiety, having witnessed the steadfast and courageous suffering of those martyrs, approached them and asked: "I adjure you by your God, for Whose sake you have suffered so much: tell me in good conscience, what awaits you from your God for such torment? I think that you hope to receive from Him something great and wondrous." The holy martyrs answered him, saying: "We cannot with our own lips describe to you, nor can you grasp with your hearing, nor attain with your mind unto those joys and most glorious honors which we expect to receive from our Master, the righteous Bestower of rewards." "Is this not known to you from the books of the Law, the Prophets and the Writings?" "Even the prophets themselves," replied the saints, "could not perfectly attain in mind to those everlasting blessings, in that they were men as we are; although they pleased God with good faith and good works and spake that which the Holy Spirit instilled in them; yet, concerning that glory and recompense which we hope to receive, it says in the Holy Scriptures: ‘From of old we have not heard, neither have our eyes seen a God beside thee, and thy works which thou wilt perform to them that wait for mercy' (Esaias LXIV.4.[LXX])". And hearing these words, Adrian walked out into the middle of the holy martyrs and said to the scribes who were recording the names of the martyrs: "Write down my name also together with those of these holy men, for I too am a Christian and shall die for Christ God in their company!" And immediately the scribes sent a message to the emperor informing him that Adrian had declared himself to be a Christian and was asking them to inscribe his name among those of the condemned.

On hearing this, the emperor marveled and was filled with rage; and, summoning Adrian into his presence, he asked him: "Have you taken leave of thy senses, O Adrian? Or do you also desire a wicked end?" "No, I have not taken leave of my senses," he replied. "But, on the contrary, l have left great insanity behind me and I have finally attained to true and full mental health." "Do not argue," cried the emperor . "It would be better to ask forgiveness, to acknowledge before all that you have sinned, and to cross your name from the list of the condemned." "From now on," replied Adrian, "I shall entreat the true God, that He forgive me the sins I committed as a pagan." Enraged all the more by Adrian's words, the emperor Maximian then commanded that he be weighed down with iron chains and cast into prison with the other martyrs, appointing the day on which he would give them all over to torture.

One of Adrian's slaves, hastening to his home with all possible speed, informed his mistress Natalie, Adrian's wife, that they had put his master in fetters and taken him to prison. Hearing this, Natalie was struck with a great fear. Weeping bitterly and rending her garments, she asked the slave: "For what crime have they imprisoned my husband?" The servant answered: "When he witnessed how certain people were tortured for the name of someone called Christ, and that they refused to obey the emperor's edict, or to renounce their faith and offer sacrifice to the gods, our master asked the scribes to enter his name among those of the condemned, for he desires to die with them." "Are you certain that you know why they were torturing those men?" Natalie again asked the servant. "I have told you," he answered, "that they were being tortured because of someone named Christ, and because they would not obey the emperor's command to worship the gods."

Then Natalie rejoiced greatly in spirit and ceased to weep; she cast off her torn garments and, arraying herself in her very best, made her way to the prison. The daughter of saintly parents who believed in God, Natalie had always been afraid to reveal her faith in Christ to anyone; she had kept it secret, for she saw the cruel persecutions and torture to which the Christians were subjected by the impious. But now, hearing that her husband believed in Christ and having had his name entered with those who were condemned to torment, she too resolved firmly to declare herself to be a Christian.

Entering the prison, the Blessed Natalie fell at her husband's feet and, kissing his fetters, said. " Blessed are you, O Adrian my lord, for you have found a treasure which you did not inherit from your parents, for thus is a man blessed who fears God. Truly, my lord, at such a young age you have by your faith in Christ acquired such riches as you would not have attained even in old age, had you remained in the Hellenic error . Now you shall depart to everlasting life and shall find a treasure such as they will not receive who attain great wealth for themselves and acquire estates. There, they will have no time to acquire anything, to lend or to borrow anything from anyone, when none can be delivered from eternal death in hell and from the torments of Gehenna; there, none shall help another — neither a father his son, nor a mother her daughter, nor shall great earthly wealth aid him that has gathered it, nor shall a slave help his master, but each will have to endure his own punishment. But all of your virtues, my lord, shall accompany you to Christ to obtain for you from Him that blessedness prepared for them that love Him. Go forth to Him with boldness, without fear of the punishment which is to come; for, lo! You have already vanquished the unquenchable flame and the rest of the torments! I beseech you, my lord, to remain steadfast in the calling to which you have been summoned by God's loving kindness. Let yourself not be turned from your good path neither by pity for the beauty of your youth, nor by love for your kinfolk, or friends, or servants, or handmaidens, or anything that is of earth, for all things continue to age and decay; but keep before your eyes one thing alone — that which is eternal; and cast not your gaze towards the corruptible and transient goods of this world. Do not be swayed by the deceptive discourse of your family and friends, lest they dissuade you from the Faith by their wicked counsel. Despising their flattering speech, reject their counsels and pay no heed to their delusive words; direct your eyes only at those holy martyrs who are with you; heed their words and emulate their patience without wavering. Fear not the anger of the tyrant and his diverse torments, for they shall all quickly come to an end, but there shall be an ever lasting reward from Christ in Heaven for His servants who suffer for Him."

And having said this, Natalie fell silent. Then Adrian said to her: "Get yourself home now, my sister, and sleep in peace; and when I learn the hour at which they shall lead us out to torture, I shall inform you, that thou may come and behold our end." And, arising from Adrian's feet, Natalie went to each of the thirty three prisoners. Falling down before them, she kissed their fetters, saying: "Servants of Christ, I entreat you: watch over this lamb of Christ; advise him to endure unto the end, pointing out to him the future recompense made ready for them that offer their blood to Christ God, like unto you who have offered your own blood, for which suffering you shall receive eternal salvation as a reward. Join his soul — to your souls, and be yourselves his fathers in place of his parents according to the flesh, who were impious; strengthen him with your holy counsel, that, possessed of unwavering belief, he might complete the course of his suffering."

Thus saying, Natalie turned again to Adrian, who was imprisoned in the deepest dungeon: "Mind yourself, my lord," she said, "take no pity on your youth and handsome good looks of face and of body: Your body of clay will be food for the worms. Take no heed of your possessions, of gold or silver or other forms of money, for none of this shall avail you at the dread Judgement. There, none shall be able to redeem his soul from ever lasting damnation by any gifts, for no one will accept the gifts; God will accept the good works of holy souls alone, instead of gifts."

When several days had passed, Adrian, hearing that the emperor wished to bring him and the other prisoners to trial and torment, addressed the holy martyrs with the following request: "Sirs," he said, "with your blessing I must depart to my home and summon your handmaid, my sister Natalie, that she might behold our suffering, for I have promised to call her when the hour appointed for our martyrdom arrives." The saints gave him their blessing and vouched for him, and Adrian, bribing the prison guards, went his way.

One of the citizens of the city, seeing him on his way home, hastened to Natalie with all speed and informed her that her husband was freed of his chains and even then was approaching his home. Hearing of this, Natalie did not believe it and said: "Who could have freed him? It is not possible that my husband has separated himself from the holy martyrs!" During this conversation, however, one of her servants came and said: "Do you know, my lady, that our master is freed, and draws nigh unto our house?" Thinking that he had renounced Christ to gain his freedom, Natalie was greatly troubled and lamented bitterly. Seeing through the window that he was approaching their home, she cast aside the handiwork on which she had been working and, rising up immediately, shut the door quickly and said: "Depart from me, you apostate who has deceived thy Lord! I cannot hold converse with one who has rejected God, and I shall not listen to your false words! O godless and most wretched of men! Who impelled you to undertake a task which you could not carry through to the end? Who has separated you from the saints? Who has enticed you to withdraw from their fellowship? What has put you to flight even before coming out to battle? You have not even seen the enemy, yet have already cast down your sword; his warfare has not even been started to work on you, and you are already wounded! I was amazed, thinking that perhaps something good might come from a godless generation and an impious city! Could it be that a pure offering might be made to God by an offspring of the tyrant? Can incense be sweet smelling to the Most High if offered by those who are guilty of innocent blood? What shall I do, wretch that I am, who have bound myself in wedlock to this impious man? I have not been accounted worthy to be called the wife of a martyr; no, on the contrary, I have become the wife of an apostate. Short lived has been my joy; it has become everlasting mockery. For a short time I was praised among women, but now I shall have to endure unceasing scorn from them!"

The Blessed Adrian, standing at the door and hearing Natalie speak thus, rejoiced at heart and was strengthened further for his contest, aflame all the more with a desire to fulfill what he had promised to Christ God. He marveled that his young wife, who had but lately married him, would speak in this manner, for they had been wed but thirteen months. Seeing his wife's great grief, Adrian knocked at the door, pleading with her: "Open the door unto me, O my lady Natalie! I have not fled from torment, as you think; no, l could not act that way. I have come to take you with me, as I promised, that you might behold our end." But Natalie refused to believe his words, and continued to reproach him: "Behold, how this transgressor would deceive me! Behold how this second Judas lies unto me! Depart from me, lest I kill you!" And she would not unlock the door. "Unlock the door and quickly let me in," pleaded Adrian, "for if I depart without seeing you, you will grieve over it, for I must very soon return. The holy martyrs have vouched for me, and if I do not return at the appointed hour, the guards will inquire after me, and if l am not there the holy martyrs will have to bear my torments as well as their own. Will they be able to endure tortures for me when they themselves are barely alive?" Hearing this, Natalie immediately and joyfully threw wide the door, and they flew into each other's embrace. "Blessed are you, O my spouse," said Adrian. "You alone have come to know God, that your husband might be saved. Truly, O my wife, you love your husband! Blessedness will be your crown because of this, for although you yourself will not endure torment, yet you will participate in the sufferings of the martyrs in your sympathy for them."

And taking his wife by the hand, Adrian departed to the prison with her. On the way he asked her: "How will we dispose of our property?" Natalie answered: "Set aside all care for the things of this earth, O my lord, lest it lead your mind astray. Concern yourself and be thoughtful only of winning the contest to which you have been called. You should forget all that is of this earth. Such things are corruptible and harmful to the soul. This will enable you to think solely about beholding and receiving the everlasting blessings prepared for you and those saints with whom you shalt walk the path of the Lord."

And, entering the prison, the handmaid of God Natalie fell down before the holy martyrs and, kissing their shackles, perceived that their wounds had festered and that maggots were falling from their wounds, and that due to the iron chains with which they were bound, their bodily members were parting one from another. Then immediately she sent out her attending and serving maids to her home to find fine linen and bandages. When all had been brought, Natalie bound up the wounds of the martyrs with her own hands and, as far as was possible, alleviated their unbearable sufferings, ministering in the prison seven days, until they left for trial.

When the day appointed for the trial dawned, the Emperor Maximian took his place at the tribunal and commanded that the prisoners be brought to him. His servants went immediately to the prison to inform them of the emperor's command. Seeing that they were so afflicted of body, due to their grievous wounds, that they could not walk, the servants bound all the martyrs together in a line with a single chain, like a herd of cattle. But they led Adrian behind them all, binding his hands behind his back.

When they reached the judgement hall, the emperor was informed that the prisoners had been brought in. "Bring them all in together," the emperor commanded, "that they might behold each other's torment; bring them forth stripped naked, ready for torture." But the warden of the prison told the emperor: "O emperor, those who were tortured before cannot be brought before you for testing. Give the command that Adrian alone be brought forth, for he is yet strong and healthy of body, and can endure the various torments. But the bodies of the others have festered; one can see their bones through their wounds, and if we bring them to torture them again, they will die very quickly, without enduring the many tortures prepared for them. We do not wish them to die after a brief session of torment, like those whose guilt is negligible; therefore, give them a space of time to recover their health and grow strong, that they might later endure greater torments for their iniquity."

Then the emperor commanded that Adrian be brought directly in front of him alone. Stripping Adrian of his clothes, the servants handed him the instruments of torture, that he might hold them in his own hands. And the holy martyrs said to him: "Blessed are you, O Adrian, that you have been freed to bear your cross and follow Christ! Beware, and fear not! Do not turn back and do not lose your reward. Take care, lest the Devil steal your treasure. Be not afraid of visible torments, but direct your gaze towards the reward which is to come. Go forth boldly and put the tyrant to shame! Know that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us which we hope to receive in accordance with God's mercy". And the Blessed Natalie also said to him: "Direct your mind, my lord, to the one God alone, and may your heart fear nothing! The labor is short, but the rest is unending; the suffering is brief, but the glory of martyrdom is everlasting. Endure the pain but for a little time, and you shall shortly rejoice with the angels. If, serving an earthly ruler, you did take care to gather in the least tribute, and you did not spare your health and were ready to die in battle, then should you not now endure many different kinds of torments with yet greater valor, and die for the King of Heaven, with whom you shall yourself reign?"

When they brought Adrian before the impious Emperor Maximian, casting his gaze upon him he asked: "Do you still remain in your foolishness and desire to end your life?" "I have told you before," replied the holy martyr Adrian, "that I have not lost my reason, but have regained it and am prepared to die in this life." The emperor asked: "Will you not offer sacrifice and worship the gods, as I and all with me worship them and offer up sacrifice to them"? "You fool," answered Adrian, "if you are in error, for what reason would you also lead others into the same error? You would not only bring destruction upon yourself, but upon the whole nation which obeys you; you shall ruin it completely, advising and forcing men to worship inanimate graven images, forsaking the true God, the Creator of heaven and earth!" "Do you then consider our great gods feeble?" asked the emperor . "I call them neither feeble nor strong," replied Adrian, "for they are nothing."

Enraged, the tyrant then commanded that he be beaten with rods. The Blessed Natalie, hearing that her husband's beating was beginning, informed the holy martyrs of it, saying: "My lord has begun to suffer!" And the saints immediately began to entreat God on his behalf, that He might strengthen him during his torments. The emperor commanded the torturers to declare: " Do not blaspheme the gods!" And while they were beating the martyr, he said to the emperor: "If I am suffering because I blaspheme gods who are not gods, what torment awaits you for blaspheming the true and living God?" "Apparently, you have learned to speak so boldly from those liars." said the emperor. The martyr said: "Why do you call liars them that are guides to salvation, who lead us to everlasting life? You are yourselves great charlatans, for you lead the people to damnation!" Filled with wrath, Maximian commanded four mighty torturers to beat the martyr savagely with heavy clubs. And while they were beating Adrian, he said: "The greater the torments you devise for me, O tyrant, the greater the crowns I shall win for them!" And the Blessed Natalie conveyed to the holy martyrs all that passed between the emperor and Adrian.

"Take pity on your youth," the tyrant continued to exhort the tortured man, "and call upon the gods! Will you perish in vain, and of your own will? My gods are great, and I sympathize greatly with you, seeing how grievously you are suffering, and how your handsome face and body are being destroyed." "I am sparing myself," replied the martyr, "so that I will not perish completely." "Call upon the gods," the tyrant pleaded; "they will have mercy on you, and I will restore you to your former rank. You should not be compared with those who were with you in bondage, for you are a noble personage, the son of renowned parents; and, though young, you are yet worthy of great honors. But those other prisoners are paupers, of poor and inferior families , and are stupid ignoramuses." "I know that my lineage and generation are well known to you," answered the martyr, "but if you were aware of the generation of those holy men, and the rich rewards which await them, you would be one of the first to fall at their feet and ask them to pray for you, and you would with your own hands destroy your own inanimate gods!"

Angered all the more, the tyrant commanded four strong servants to beat the martyr's belly. And they beat the saint until his stomach burst and his entrails began to fall out. Seeing this, the tyrant commanded them to stop beating him. The blessed Adrian was a young man and lean of body, being only twenty eight years of age. "Do you see how I am sparing you?" the emperor said to him. "You have but to utter a single word invoking the gods, and immediately they will be merciful to you; and I will summon physicians to treat your wounds; and this day you shall be with me in my imperial palace!" But the martyr responded: "If you actually do promise me the care of physicians, and that I will dwell in your palace, and if you say that your gods will be merciful to me, then let them tell me with their own mouths what they wish to give me; let them say what benefactions they are promising me! And when I hear their words, I will offer them sacrifice and worship them as thou dost desire." "But they cannot speak," replied the emperor. "If they cannot speak," said the martyr, "then why do you worship them, dumb and inanimate as they are?"

In rage and wrathful anger, the tyrant commanded that Adrian be again chained to the other prisoners and locked in the dungeon, appointing the day when they would all be brought to trial. Then the soldiers, laying hold of the holy martyrs, dragged some to the dungeon; others, who were debilitated by their bodily sufferings, and unable to walk, they carried. The holy Adrian they led; and all were again incarcerated in the prison.

The Blessed Natalie encouraged and comforted Adrian. Embracing him, she said: "Blessed are you, my lord, that you have been vouchsafed the lot of the holy martyrs! Blessed are you, light of my eyes, For you are suffering for Him that suffered for you! Behold, now you are going to see His glory and become a partaker of the same, for he that shares in His sufferings will be a partaker of His glory!"

During this conversation, Natalie soaked Adrian's blood up in a cloth and anointed her body with it. And the holy martyrs rejoiced greatly at the valorous endurance of Adrian and, drawing close to him, they kissed him saying: "Peace be to you, brother!" And those who could not walk because of the severity of their wounds lay on the floor and crawled to him, so as to kiss him; and all told him: "Rejoice in the Lord, beloved brother, for your name has been entered among those of the glorious servants of God!"

"Rejoice also, you servants of Christ," responded Adrian, "for you shall receive crowns for your care of me! Because of this, pray unto the Lord for me, that He strengthen me, who am so painfully distressed of body; that the devil, who rises up as my enemy, may accomplish nothing against me."

"Trust in the Lord," said the saints; "Satan will not overcome you. You have driven him far away by your sufferings. At first we feared for you, thinking that you, as a man, would weaken; but now, seeing your steadfast endurance, we no longer have doubts concerning you, and we believe that with the help of God the enemy will be able to do nothing with you. Wherefore, fear not: Christ, the Vanquisher of the devil, is with you!"

With the Holy Natalie, there were also other pious women who ministered to the saints, applying healing salves to their wounds and fashioning bandages for them, having apportioned the martyrs among themselves, that each might minister to her own, tending him with all possible care.

Learning that many women were coming to the prison and ministering to the prisoners, applying salves to their wounds, the impious emperor forbade them further entry into the prison. Seeing that the women could no longer go to the martyrs, the holy Natalie sheared the hair from her head, dressed in men's garments and, entering the prison in the guise of a man, herself ministered not only to her own husband, but to all the other holy martyrs. Binding up the wounds of the martyrs, she sat at Adrian's feet and said: "I pray you, my lord, please remember our union, and my presence by your side during your suffering, and my desire that you should win crowns. Pray to the Lord Christ our God, that He take me with you, that as we lived together in this sorry life which is full of sins, so may we also live together inseparably in that blessed life. l pray you, my lord: when you stand before Christ the Lord, make supplication to Him first concerning me; for I believe that whatsoever you ask, the Lord shall give you, for your prayer pleases Him, as does your entreaty. But you know the impiety of this people and the godlessness of the emperor, and I fear that they will force me to marry another, an impious man and a pagan. Then would my bed be defiled and our union broken. I beseech you, preserve your spouse, as the Apostle teaches; grant as a reward for chastity that I might die with you!"

Having said this, she rose and again ministered unto the saints, giving them food and drink, and washing and binding up their wounds. The pious women, learning that Natalie was ministering unto the saints in male apparel, likewise sheared the hair from their heads, following her example, and, dressed in men's garb, entered the prison as before and ministered to the saints.

But when it became known to the emperor what the women had done, and also that the prisoners had weakened greatly as a result of their infected wounds and were barely alive, he commanded that there be brought to him at the prison an anvil and an iron hammer, that he might break the shins and arms of the martyrs, saying at that time: "Let them not die the violent death usual for such men!" And when the torturers and executioners came to the prison with the iron hammer and anvil, Natalie, seeing this and discovering the reason for their arrival, greeted the servants with the entreaty that they begin with Adrian, since she feared that her husband, seeing the cruel torture and death of the other martyrs, would become afraid.

The torturers assented to Natalie's request and went first to Adrian. Then Natalie, lifting up her husband's legs, placed them on the anvil; with a mighty stroke, the torturers shattered the martyr's shins and smote off his legs. "I beseech you, my lord, you servant of Christ," said Natalie, "while you are still alive, stretch forth your arm that they might break it, and you shall then be equal with the other martyrs who have suffered more than you have!" The holy Adrian stretched forth his arm to her, and she, taking it, set it upon the anvil. The torturer, striking the arm mightily, broke it off, and immediately the holy Adrian surrendered his soul into the hands of God, unable to endure further torment.

Having slain the Holy Adrian, the torturers went with the anvil and hammer to the other martyrs, but they themselves placed their arms and legs on the anvil and said: "O Lord, receive You our souls"

After this, the impious emperor commanded that the bodies of the martyrs be burned, that the Christians might not take them up and remove them for an honorable and Christian burial. But hearing of the emperor's command, the Blessed Natalie secretly took her husband's arm and hid it on her person, so that it would not be burned. When the servants of the tyrant kindled a fire and carried the bodies of the holy martyrs out from the prison to be burned, the Holy Natalie and the other pious women followed behind them and gathered up the martyrs' blood in their costly garments and in bands of cloth. In this way preserving it, they anointed their own bodies with the blood. In addition to this, the women purchased from the servants of the emperor the martyrs' garments, which had been dyed with their blood. When the bodies of the saints were cast into the giant all consuming fire , the women cried out with tears: "Remember us, O our masters, in your everlasting repose!" But the Holy Natalie drew nigh even unto the fire, to cast herself upon it, desiring to offer herself up with her husband as a sacrifice unto God, but she was restrained.

Suddenly a tremendous clap of thunder was heard, lightning flashed, and a heavy rain began to descend, which flooded the whole site with water and extinguished the fire itself. Seized with fear, the impious torturers ran fast away and many of them fell dead on the road, struck down by the lightning.

When the servants of the tyrant had been scattered, those faithful men who were with the holy Natalie and the other women extracted the bodies of the holy martyrs whole from the ashes; they had not been harmed in the least by the flames, and even their hair was unburned.

A certain pious man and his wife, falling down before Natalie, began to entreat her and the rest of the brethren, saying: "We live on the outskirts of the city in a solitary place; we hate godlessness, and can no longer bear to look upon the cruel bloodbath brought about by the impious emperor; Because of this, we no longer desire to remain in this place and are moving to Byzantium. Give us the bodies of the holy martyrs, and we will take them aboard a ship, carrying them with us far from here; and there we will preserve them until the death of the impious Emperor Maximian. After his death, if we are still alive, we will return and bring the bodies of the saints back here, that they may be honored by all. All of us understand that if they remain here now, the emperor will order them burned, and you will be forced to betray the bodies which God has preserved from the giant and all consuming fire by this rain." All agreed, and the bodies of the martyrs were taken aboard a ship, to be conveyed to Byzantium; and the winds favored the departure of the vessel.

Meanwhile, the Holy Natalie dwelt in her home, treasuring the arm of her husband, the holy Adrian, which she, having anointed it with costly myrrh and wrapped it in a purple cloth, had placed in the head of her bed, a fact which none of her household knew.

When some time had passed, a certain prominent man, the commander of a thousand soldiers, desired to wed Natalie, for she was young, beautiful, and rich. He petitioned the emperor to permit him to take as his bride the spouse of Adrian and the emperor consented to this marriage. The bridegroom immediately sent eminent ladies to Natalie with the offer of his hand, but Natalie told them: "I am happy that such a man would have me to wed; but I ask you to wait for three days, that I might prepare myself, since I have not expected that anyone would wish to enter into marriage with me so soon." Thus saying, the Blessed Natalie made her plans to flee to that place where the bodies of the martyrs had been taken.

Having sent the women back to the commander and reassured them, she herself, entering into her sleeping chamber where the arm of St. Adrian was kept, fell to the ground and cried out to the Lord with weeping: "O Lord our God, God of the sorrowful and contrite of heart: look down upon me Thine handmaiden, and do not permit the bed of Thy martyr Adrian to be defiled. Forget not, O Master, the sufferings of Thy servant, which he endured for the sake of Thy name! O merciful Lord, remember the breaking of the shins and the striking off of the arms of him and Thine other servants, which they endured for Thy sake, and let not their sufferings be in vain. For their sake, take pity on me, and permit me not to remain living with Thine enemies. O Thou Who didst deliver those saints from the fire, deliver me also from the intentions of this vile man!" And while she was praying in this manner, from exhaustion and from grief Natalie began to nod and fell into a light sleep; and lo and behold!, one of the holy martyrs appeared to her in a dream and said: "Peace be unto you, O Natalie, handmaiden of Christ! You should know that God has not disdained you, and we also have not forgotten the labors which you did show forth in nursing us during our imprisonment; standing in the presence of Christ, we are beseeching Him that He command you very quickly to come to us." The Blessed Natalie asked him: "Tell me, holy martyr, whether my lord Adrian stands with you before the Lord Christ." And the martyr replied: "He took his place before the Master even before we did! But now you must hurry to take ship without delaying, and sail to where our bodies are. There the Lord will appear to you, and He will lead you to us!"

Awakening from sleep, the holy Natalie immediately left all behind and, taking only the arm of the holy Adrian, departed from her home. Arriving at the shore of the sea, she saw a ship which almost seemed to be waiting for her, which was due to set sail for Byzantium. And, boarding it, she saw onboard people of both sexes, and all the Christians fleeing from the persecutions of the impious Emperor Maximian; and she gave thanks to God.

But the commander who had wanted to wed Natalie, learning of Natalie's flight, asked the emperor for the aid of some soldiers. Boarding another ship, he set out in pursuit. But when his ship had sailed but only a thousand stadia from the shore, the sea was blown with a contrary wind which drove the ship back to the shore, to the place, from where it had sailed; and it sustained much damage, so that many of those on board drowned. But the ship of the Christians, which had St. Natalie on board , sailed on without any problem what so ever. At midnight the devil appeared to the Christians of Natalie's ship. He took the form of one sailing on a ship out of the east, having with himself some others in the guise of sailors. And the devil asked the Christian sailors, calling to them as would a helmsman: "Where are you from and where are you going?" And the Christians answered: "We are from Nicomedia, and we are bound for Byzantium!" And the enemy said to them: "You have wandered off course; alter your course to port!" Thus saying, the devil wished to deceive them and bring about their destruction. And the Christians, believing this lying counsel and believing that those whom they had encountered were really sailing out of the east, began to turn sail and ship to port; but suddenly the Holy Martyr Adrian appeared to them, radiant with light, and he cried out with a loud voice: "Sail by the course you were following before, and do not listen to the words of the enemy who without any doubt is preparing destruction for you!" Thus saying, the martyr appeared to go before them across the water, and the devil vanished with his ship.

The Blessed Natalie, having risen up, beheld the Holy Adrian going before her ship, and she cried out loud: "Look! It is my lord Adrian!" And immediately the saint became invisible.

A favorable wind blew, and the voyagers arrived in Byzantium by sunset and anchored offshore, close to the site of the church in which the bodies of the holy martyrs had been interred; and the passengers disembarked with joy. Approaching the bodies of the martyrs in the church, St. Natalie fell down before them with ineffable gladness, kissing them and shedding tears of joy; and laying the arm of St. Adrian next to his body, she knelt down and prayed for a very long time. Then, when she had finished, she rose up and greeted the brethren and sisters who were there, for many faithful Christians were assembled in that place.

They received her with joy and took her into their homes, and tried to get her to to rest herself somewhat, for they saw that she was very, very tired from the long sea voyage. And while she slept soundly, the Holy Adrian appeared to her in a dream and told her: "It is very good that you have come here, O handmaid of Christ and daughter of the martyrs. You should come now to the rest prepared for you by the Lord. Come and receive your due reward!"

Awakening, the Holy Natalie related her dream to the Christians that were there and asked them to pray for her. After this, she fell asleep again. In an hour's time, the faithful came to wake her, but they found that she had reposed, for her holy soul had departed to ever lasting rest with the Lord. Thus, soon after the sufferings of the holy martyrs, the Holy Natalie also completed the course of her sufferings, even though without shedding her blood.

Much had she suffered with the martyrs, ministering to them in prison and watching their torture, and for chastity 's sake, she also forsook home and native land; and she stands even now amid the choir of the martyrs before Christ our Saviour, to Whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit , be honor and glory, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The memory of Saints Adrian and Natalie and the 33 companions martyred with St. Adrian is celebrated on August 26(Church calendar)/September 8(Secular calendar) each year.

Sts. Adrian and Natalie
Thou didst esteem the saving Faith as wealth that cannot be taken away, O thrice blessed one / 
And didst abandon the ungodliness of thy fathers / 
Thou didst accept the words of thy spouse and wast made radiant by thy contest, O glorious Adrian, / 
do thou entreat Christ God for us, / 
together with the Godly minded Natalie. 

Having laid to heart the divine words of thy Godly minded spouse, / 
O Adrian, martyr of Christ, / thou didst run ardently to the tortures, / 
and, with thy wife, didst receive a crown.

Translated from the slavonic consolidated in the 17th century by Saint Demetrius of Rostov in Holy Russia.

Saint Bogolep

from The Orthodox Word
Vol. 10, No. 1 (54) January-February, 1974

Saint Bogolep


    The editors of RUSSIAN PILGRIM* have obtained a copy from an ancient manuscript of the Life of the divinely-wise child, Schema-monk Bogolep, Wonderworker of Cherny Yar (Astrakhan). In the printed catalogues of Saints there is only very brief information about him. Thus, in the work of N. Barsukov, SOURCES OF RUSSIAN HAGIOGRAPHY, it is said only that the holy child Bogolep died in the year 1632. In the Manual of Icon painting, under July 29, it is said that the child Bogolep "in appearance is young, on his head a cowl, garments of a monk" (Filimonov). In the book of Archimandrite Sergius there is a brief account of the Blessed Child in Volume 3, Appendix 3, page 60; and in Archimandrite Leonid's book, HOLY RUSSIA, it is said that Bogolep, Wonderworker of Cherny Yar, was buried in the city of Cherny Yar in the province of Astrakhan.

    In the manuscript which we have obtained, the Life begins with a text from the book of Tobit: "It is good to keep the secret of a king, but it is glorious to preach the works of God" (Tobit 12:11); and further it says, "Therefore, remembering the miracles of this righteous and divinely-wise child, one must not think that God, Who is wondrous in His Saints, will fail to glorify this righteous one also, for the sake of the miraculous glorification of His Most Holy Name."

IN THE REIGN of Tsar Alexei Michaelovich there lived in Moscow a certain pious nobleman by the name of Jacob Lukin Ushakov, who had a wife, just as pious, whose name was Catherine. The Lord God blessed their virtuous married life with the birth of a son, who was called in Baptism Boris, in honor of the Passion-bearer, the Russian Prince Boris, who is commemorated on May 2/15.

    Soon after the birth of Boris, Ushakov was sent from Moscow to the outpost of Astrakhan for government service by order of the Tsar. The place of Ushakov's residence was to be the city of Cherny Yar, which was on the river Volga, 256 kilometers from Astrakhan.

    Having entered upon the governance of the post assigned to him, Ushakov, faithful to his character, exercised the authority given him by God and the Sovereign wisely and virtuously. His wife was completely occupied with rearing the child. Boris, while still in his swaddling clothes, revealed in himself an extraordinary inclination for ascetic labors, which were completely un-childlike, and evidently he was foreordained by God's Providence to be a chosen vessel of the Holy Spirit, for the glorification of the Almighty Lord.

    The first extraordinary manifestation of the glorification of the Name of God in the child was the fact that on the days established by the Holy Church for fasting, Wednesday and Friday, in remembrance of the sufferings and death of the Saviour, Boris would not drink milk from his mother's breast and spent these days without food. The second extraordinary manifestation of piety in the child was expressed in his striving to hear the Divine service, so that no sooner would the bell begin to ring in the local belfry for the Divine service than Boris would begin to cry very loudly, and his childish cry would cease only when he was brought to church; and so his mother and their servants soon became accustomed to brining him to church immediately after the bell would ring. In the church a joyful feeling would be expressed in the child's face, and only at the end of the Liturgy would he accept food. Then, with every day, Boris was strengthened more and more by the grace of the Holy Spirit, to the joy of his parents and the astonishment of all who knew him and heard about him.

    In one of the sorrowful years when the plague had seized with its death-dealing poison the whole extent of the Russian land, from the royal city of Moscow to the boundaries of Astrakhan, the son of the Commander Ushakov, the pious child Boris, also became ill. His right leg was covered with deep sores, and the intolerable pain gave him no rest either day or night, but, faithful to his calling, the child Boris, limping, did not cease to go to the temple of God to offer his holy child's prayers, acting according to the Psalmist: I have chosen to be an abject in the house of my God, rather than to dwell in the tabernacles of sinners (Psalm 83:11). By the zealous concern and car of his parents and physicians, the disease of the legs finally passed. But following upon this disease it was pleasing to God to send the young righteous one a different temptation: on his face there appeared a form of leprosy. But behold, during the time of this illness a certain monk came to the house of Jacob. Being hospitably received by the Commander, the Elder blessed all who dwelt in the house and visited the Commander's sick son. Seeing the monk, Boris became yet more inflamed with love for God. Seeing in him one sent from God, he began to entreat his parents that he be allowed immediately to be clothed in the Angelic habit. The desire of their beloved son was strange, but feeling beforehand that their dear child was not fitted for life in this present world, and knowing from the Lives of the Saints examples of children receiving the Angelic habit, they decided to give their seven-year-old son this great joy. In the cathedral church of the Resurrection of Christ, Boris was tonsured in the monastic habit and called Bogolep. Then, soon after receiving the monastic habit, the righteous child was clothed also in the Schema (great habit).

    The newly-made Schema-monk was not long to rejoice his parents and astonish everyone by his labors and his example of divinely wise life. Two days after receiving the Schema, the righteous boy grew ill, and on the third day he was already called into the heavenly kingdom for the eternal glorification of the Lord, together with the Angels and all the Saints who have pleased God. The parents of the newly-reposed one experienced a double feeling: great sorrow, expressed in lamentation and weeping over their beloved son, and also an inexpressible joy at the thought that the Almighty Lord had chosen the boy from their family for the inheritance of the heavenly kingdom.

    With great honor the blessed child was buried in the same city of Cherny Yar near the very church of the Resurrection of Christ where he had received the Schema, at the left side of the Altar, so that form their mansion his parents might daily see the place of their son's repose and might pray to the Lord Who glorifies His Saints, that He, being All-merciful, might not fail to glorify also this God-pleasing child, the Schema-monk. For did not the Lord Himself say, Suffer little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven? (Matthew 19:14).

    The Lord Who is wondrous in His Saints soon glorified His new chosen one. In the reign of the same Sovereign, the Tsar and Great Prince Alexei Michaelovich, the rebellion of Stenka Razin infected the whole of Russia with a great turmoil. Having laid waste a multitude of cities and villages, Razin came also as far as Cherny Yar, where he destroyed many houses and took many inhabitants captive for his own evil purposes. On leaving Cherny Yar, however, he remembered that he had not yet destroyed the city completely and that the soldiers from Moscow might find a point of support for their pursuit of him. Therefore, he sent a regiment of Tatars who had surrendered to him, so that they might destroy utterly the unfortunate city. But what were the astonishment and confusion of the Tatar regiments when, approaching the city, they saw, walking on the walls, a boy Schema-monk! Those who succeeded in going closer to the wall heard the voice of the holy Monks saying, "Depart from here, wretched ones! You cannot do anything to this city, because God has placed me to guard this city." Nevertheless, there were stubborn ones found among them who, despite everything, wished to enter the city, but an invisible power held them; finally, being struck by blindness, against their will they were forced to depart, and only a mile away from the city walls did they receive their sight back, by God's power, after having done nothing to the city because of the prayers of the righteous child Bogolep, being pursued by holy guards of Angels. They returned in disgrace to their Ataman, Razin, in the city of Astrakhan. But the outlaw did not believe the tale of the disgraced regiment and became extremely angry at them, sending another regiment to lay waste the city. This regiment met the same fat, and so the Moscow troops under the leadership of Ivan Bogdanovich Milaslavsky could enter the city and firmly establish themselves in it.

    During the reign of the next Tsars, John and Peter Alexeivich, by the help and intercession of the child Bogolep, Cherny Yar was saved from the Kuban Tatars. When they came up to the city to lay it waste, there suddenly appeared before them a Child-monk on a white horse who strictly commanded them to go away. The Tatars were seized with an indescribably fear and returned without doing any harm to the city.

    In 1695 a priest at the church of the Nativity of the Mother of God in the city of Astrakhan, whose name was John, was struck by an affliction of the eye. Praying to the Lord to grant him healing, he had the joy after prayer one night to see the child, Schema-monk Bogolep, who commanded him to pain his image and sent it to his tomb in the city of Cherny Yar, adding, "When you will have fulfilled this command, you will be healed of your affliction." Rising from sleep, the priest, who was also an icon painter, was perplexed as to how, being almost blind, he was to paint an icon of the child Schema-monk whom he had seen. However, using all his strength so as to depict the righteous one, he took a board and made a sketch on it. What was his astonishment when, after undertaking the work, he began to feel that with every minute he was getting better, and at the end of the work he was almost completely healed! Having received help for his affliction, the priest began, day by day, to put off the finishing of the work, and he did not send the icon to the designated place; and finally he forgot about it altogether. Thus a year passed. The priest again became afflicted, even more severely than before, with a disease of the eyes. A second time the child Bogolep appeared to him, reproaching him for his negligence, and a second time commanding him to finish painting the icon which he had begun and not completed, and to send it to his tomb in Cherny Yar. Then the priest promised with an oath to fulfill the commandment of the blessed child if only he would receive healing. Immediately after this he undertook the completion of the work and, having finished it, with the blessing of Archbishop Sabbatius he set out with the icon for Cherny Yar, where, with a procession and the ringing of bells, the icon was triumphantly greeted and placed on the tomb of the child Bogolep.

    In the manuscript which we have there are set forth several miracles received from the holy child. Without giving them all, we cannot fail to make a remark about eh following extraordinary manifestation of the miraculous power of God through His chosen one.

    In Cherny Yar there was a city guard whose name was Gerasimus, who was deaf and dumb from birth. Once at night, when as usual he was on guard at the tower which is called Zaklikusha, he saw before him the child Bogolep surrounded by an extraordinary light. Gerasimus was frightened and signed himself with the sign of the Cross and, not moving, with piety and reverence he looked at the light-bearing righteous one who said to him, "Do not fear, Gerasimus, but bow your head"; and when he had bowed his head, the holy child touched him with his hands and became invisible. From this hour Gerasimus was completely healed and was not deaf and dumb any more, and he began loudly to glorify the Lord and His servant, the child Schema-monk Bogolep.

    The illustration of the righteous child which is here presented is taken from a rare copy of the above-mentioned icon which was painted by the Priest John.

Troparion, Tone 3
REJOICE, O BOGOLEP, divinely wise child,* thou didst appear
on a white horse, showing youth an example of purity,* and all
who revere thee, God's Schema-monk,* thou dost protect from
foreign invaders and unbelievers.* Pray for us now that we may
prosper in true faith and piety* and obtain from the Lord great mercy.

* This whole article is translated from RUSSIAN PILGRIM (Russky Palomnik), 1893, no. 10. Bogolep is the Russian translation of the name Theoleptos.

original link no longer works:
put through web archive:
find page here:

Door to Paradise

online book
classic introduction to Orthodoxy

original Door to Paradise (by former monk John Marler)
(Platina changed the conclusion later on)

Despite what he was up against, monk John produced good works while he was striving for the Church.

also archived here:

25 July 2014

Using the new calendar as a sign

for judging a jurisdiction

Enlightened Churches do not use the new calendar.

But using the old calendar will not cause an unenlightened Church to be enlightened.

We tend to place too much importance on which calendar a jurisdiction uses as a way to judge that jurisdiction.   We tend to see the new calendar/old calendar as more of a vice/virtue than it is.   The use of the new calendar/old calendar needs to be considered first as a symptom, an indication, a sign.

It is characteristic of world-orthodox jurisdictions to use the new calendar, but not all of them do.  When we see the use of the new calendar we can be certain this jurisdiction is in world-orthodoxy.   But the use of the old calendar is no guarantee that jurisdiction is in any better spiritual condition than a world-orthodox, in fact, it could be worse.   The OCA for example, a world-orthodox jurisdiction, has a number of old calendar parishes in Alaska.   There is a world-orthodox Bulgarian church in Santa Rosa using the old calendar.  The MP and the RocorMP use the old calendar.  Even the vigante Milan synods use the old calendar.   (A Soviet "church" might use the old calendar as part of its disguise, or to help it gain acceptance into groups of old calendarists.)

If you see the old calendar for what it is, which is just a calendar, however superior, then you are less likely to be hoodwinked.  Our own Patriarch Tikhon, in 1924 stated that the Julian calendar itself is not a dogma of faith of the Church and could, in theory and principle, be altered.   The reason we resist the new calendar today is not so much because it is the new calendar, but because of where it came from (antichrist) and it's purpose (ecumenism) and what it caused (schism).

We can judge a Church solely by its use of the new calendar.

But we can't judge a Church solely by its use of the old calendar.

23 July 2014

About Author Romanides

Q: Why is Fr. John Romanides listed as an "unsafe author" on your blog?
A: He is a new calendarist.  Nothing more needs be said. 

  Here more is said, both from the super-correct side and the world-orthodox side:

• Super-correct:

• World-orthodox: (copy-pasted below)

Remedy: read the Royal Path side:  Fr. Seraphim's Blessed Augustine and Genesis, Creation and Early Man.

Theology in Greece in the 1960's

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos
Source (in Greek http://parembasis.gr/2010/10_01_12.htm.)
Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
These days there are references to theology in Greece during the decade of the 60's and this theology is presented as a new theology, either as a resetting of the teachings of the Church Fathers, or as a neo-patristic theology, that is, as a theology of the Church which is expressed in a new language.
There are many who argue that the theology that appeared in Greece during the 60's was an important event for our Church, but, as they say, several factors contributed to the disappearance of this significant prospect which this theology created.
It is the emergence of some young theologians, who wrote various scientific treatises or produced theological texts, who tried to see Orthodox teaching through another perspective, different from those prevailing at the time.
I would like to emphasize some points which, in my opinion, should be considered together, along with other studies made in this regard.
1. Theology in the 1960's
It is known that in Greece, both before and after the liberation from the Turkish yoke, a Western-style theology was introduced, which was associated either with the scholasticism of the papacy or with Protestant moralism. This is why the late Fr. George Florovsky spoke about the Babylonian captivity of Orthodox theology.
In turn, at some point certain Greek theologians came in contact with the texts of Russian émigré (refugees) in Paris,* or other sensitive voices, and found a different way of expressing the problems and themes which occupied Western man. They were enthused by such texts and tried to transfer these views to the Greek Orthodox public.
*to read about the trouble caused by this Paris School (started in Moscow) see The Truth About the Russian Church Abroad, by M. Rodzianko
At the same time, however, there was another movement by theologians, especially in Thessaloniki, to bring to light the works of Saint Gregory Palamas, who expressed an Orthodox hesychastic way of life. Within this perspective there were written studies, theses, and socio-theological texts.
All these trends are called "theology of the 1960's", and were seen as something new, because it treated philosophical, theological, anthropological, ecclesiological, and social issues through a new perspective and provided a new language, which touched more the new man. This surprised many, which both the left and critics have described this movement as "neo-orthodoxy".
2. The Causes For Which Appeared the Theology of the 1960's
Certainly this phenomenon must be studied to examine all of its parameters. For example, the causes for the emergence of this theology should be investigated, whether this theology has a foundation in timeless tradition or is it a seasonal phenomenon, and what ultimately caused its fertilization in our country and the Church.
Of course, all of these trends should be studied adequately and objectively, because the starting point and perspective of all theologians who fall into this theology are not the same, as already mentioned. Some of them began with the study of patristic texts within the hesychastic tradition of Mount Athos, others from contemporary philosophies such as Meyendorff, others by the study of the Russian theologians of the diaspora, and others were affected by the "political theology" of Latin America. Of course, all of these categories result in different conclusions.
Certainly theology in the 1960's should be studied without exaggeration and without devaluations and be payed its just praise or be judged. At the same time, we should not think that the same trends were abandoned in the decades of the twentieth century in the western world. Therefore, the influence of West German theology should be examined in shaping at least part of the so-called theology of the 60's in Greece.
I mean that in the western world, primarily in the German theology of the 1920's, after the horrific results of the First World War and the cooperation of the Christians with the imperialist powers of the time, there developed crisis and dialectical theology or neo-orthodoxy, which tried to see the relationship of God with the world through a new perspective. There appeared new Protestant theologians, such as Barth, Brunner, Bultmann, and Tillich, who met with philosophers of the time, such as Kierkegaard, Berdyaev, Heidegger, etc. respectively, and spoke of the Church in relation to the world in a different manner from older German theologians, such as Harnack.
In this German theology of the 1920's there were heard and discussed terms like neo-orthodoxy, secularism, ecclesiology, pneumatology, eschatology, universality, etc., which were terms used extensively by Greek theologians of the 1960's. Moreover, there was a great debate in Germany and in the West generally regarding the relationship of the Church with the world, faith and reason, philosophy and theology, history and eschatology, word and revelation, and of God.
Also, in the western world in the 1960's there developed various theological trends which spoke of eschatological theology, post-christian theology, the theology of the death of God, political theology, etc. And such terminology was brought to Greece in the 1960's and beyond. Professor Marios Begzos presented in a beautiful way the entire evolution of this theology to the Protestants.
Thus, the theology of the 1960's in Greece should certainly be studied from this perspective, that is in relation to parallel theological movements which were in the Protestant world, primarily in Germany, and the relationship between the Orthodox theologians of the 1960's and the Protestant theologians of the 1920's and 1960's should be investigated.
For example, during the student years of my generation, we would very often hear from our professors the views of the great German Protestant theologians, such as Barth, Brunner, Bultmann, etc. As an example I will mention that in my class on the history of dogmatics, among others, I had examined the issue of dialectical theology and the views of the above German theologians regarding the justification of man in relation to Orthodox theology as expressed by the Holy Fathers. Also, in the degree examinations for the class on Christian ethics I examined the book of Nikolai Berdyaev The Destiny of Man. This was occurring because some of the professors had studied in Germany and knew the whole movement of dialectical theology.
Our previous generation had been influenced too much by the German theologian Harnack, who preceded dialectical theology, because the professors of that time studied German theology through his views.
In any event, the so-called theology of the 1960's in Greece should be studied on the basis of the corresponding theology in Germany and the basis of the Russian theology of the diaspora.
3. The Theology of the Church
Beyond what has been reported I must add a view which should be explored, in order to move to safer conclusions on this issue.
In the 1960's I was a student of the Theological School of Thessaloniki, when I was taught by professors but also read texts of theologians who expressed this new perspective. At the same time however I was studying texts of the hesychastic tradition, the Fathers of the Church, especially St. Gregory Palamas, St. Symeon the New Theologian, and the philokalic Fathers.
On one of my visits then to Mount Athos I asked the late monk Theoklitos Dionysiatis, who then excelled even in a monastic state on Mount Athos and Greece as an exponent of Orthodox theology, about how he saw all of these theological problems in Greece. He replied correctly that he didn't see a problem in theology, but a problem with theologians!
With my subsequent studies I concluded that Orthodox theology is the voice of the Church. And just like the Church is timeless as the Body of Christ, so also does Orthodox theology have a timeless expression and experience that is not divided by decades. Of course, we can evaluate within history various theological trends which were expressed by theologians in their time or developed in various cities (Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, etc.), but we cannot talk about an Orthodox theology of the 1960's, the 1970's, the 1980's, the 1990's, etc.
In other words, the Orthodox theology of the Church is the theology of the Prophets, the Apostles and the Fathers through all the ages. Every new current which appears must be studied in relation to the theology of the Church which is expressed by the Prophets, the Apostles and the Fathers. These saints reached theosis, saw God within Light, and then expressed their experiences within the terms of their times.
When one studies the so-called theology of the 1960's through the perspective of the Prophets, the Apostles, and the Fathers, one will see a theology that was both influenced by the theology of the Russian diaspora and by Protestant dialectical theology, and is associated with elements of thinking, emotion and heredity. Thus, in some places it offers a new language, but essentially differs much methodologically from the patristic tradition, which in its depth is neptic/hesychastic and not philosophical/thoughtful. It is a theology that deals with aesthetics and not with asceticism, with the logical faculty and not the noetic faculty.
Also, the theologians who have been influenced by the "beauty" of the theology of the 1960's, remain clung to it, and do not see that there are subsequent theological studies both in the West and in the Orthodox East which have gone much further on these issues and have largely exceeded the so-called theology of the 1960's. But for a runner/athlete to judge negatively those who have overcome and run stronger than him, is not a correct understanding and criticism.
In May-June of 1997 Fr. John Romanides, Fr. George Metallinos and the author were asked to speak at a Seminar which was organized by the Orthodox Church of America (O.C.A.) near Atlanta. We were the only speakers and each of us in turn gave lectures, over two days, around the issue of Orthodoxy and therapeutic science. Fr. Romanides due to illness was unable to attend, but his introductory text was read. Fr. George Metallinos spoke on the topic of the historical and theological context of the Orthodox Church. And the author explained issues that related the Church with a hospital and the method by which man is healed.
The O.C.A. is a Church in which Fr. Alexander Schmemann, known to all, taught and played a significant role. The organizers of the Seminar wanted to know our views on these issues. We learned that the members of this Church, until then, considered the theologians of Greece influenced by the scholastic and Protestant theology of the West and that the Russian theologians of the diaspora expressed the true Orthodox theology of the so-called neo-patristics and neo-palamites, which of course is superior and outweighs the theology of the Fathers. Well-known are the views of Alexis Khomiakov that the scholastic theology of the West is higher than the theology of the Fathers, and that Russian theology surpassed both scholastic and even Greek patristic theology. But when they heard us repeatedly over two days at this Seminar analyze issues of Orthodox tradition, then one of those in attendance said: "This theology is higher than ours and the Russian diaspora. We were mistaken to have underestimated it."
4. The Case of Fr. John Romanides
Among the theologians of the 1960's many count the Protopresbyter Fr. John Romanides, who really created a great surprise at that time and contributed to the restoration of theology in Greece towards the patristic tradition.
I think it is inappropriate to associate Fr. John Romanides with this trend of so-called neo-orthodoxy. And for many reasons.
The first is that Fr. John appeared in theological writings and studied theology in the 1950's, first with studies and later with his thesis, titled "The Ancestral Sin", which was indeed a milestone in the Theological School of Athens, where he created a great discussion, but also more generally in the theological world of Greece.
The second reason is because Fr. John was not affected by the Russian theologians of the diaspora nor by dialectical Protestant theology, but he did personal research on the Apostolic Fathers of the Church. Raised in the Protestant environment of America, he studied at a Papal Institute, where he learned and studied the theology of Thomas Aquinas, and in Protestant theological schools, such as Yale and Harvard, and came to know their mentality very well. Primarily because the Protestants teach that the Fathers of the Church changed apostolic tradition, he studied thoroughly the Apostolic Fathers (Irenaeus, Ignatius, Methodius, Justin, Polycarp, etc), who are the ring by which the Apostles and later Fathers are linked. Arising from this study was his thesis on ancestral sin, which, among other things, determined the difference between Orthodox and scholastic theology. Characteristic is the subtitle of his study on the ancestral sin, which identifies the book's contents: "Contributions to the examination and conditions of the Ancestral Sin, from the Ancient Church of St. Irenaeus in comparison to the entire inheritance of the Orthodox and the West until the theology of Thomas Aquinas."
The third reason, therefore, was that when he came to Greece in the 1950's he felt great surprise by the climate he met. After developing his thesis he studied deeper the issue and reached other conclusions, such as the theology of hesychasm and the life of Romiosini. This Romiosini however he saw more in light of the neptic and hesychastic tradition of the Church. I note here that whoever interprets the theory of Fr. John Romanides regarding Romiosini within nationalism and not within the neptic tradition of the Church, which is beyond all nationalism, misinterprets his views.
Therefore, the subsequent studies of Fr. John Romanides are not deprived of his initial studies, as some claim, but they are its positive evolution, that is, towards the pure patristic tradition. Furthermore, those who interpret his teachings within the trends of Monophysitism, Neo-Nestorianism and Origenism also do him injustice. For example, because some see Origenism in some of the views of Fr. John Romanides, I studied the doctrines of Origen which were condemned by the Fifth Ecumenical Council, as they appear in its surviving Acts, and I did not discern any similarity. If some views of Origen are Orthodox and passed through the Fathers of the Church (Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, etc.) in its tradition, we cannot criticize Fr. John. Besides, Fr. John repeatedly in his writings refers to the erroneous views of Origen. I have in mind the transcript of a speech I have, in which he is sharply critical of the views of Origen.
The fourth reason is that Fr. John knew very well the theology of the Russian diaspora, as well as the causes and views of those who were propagating them. He also knew very well German idealism, dialecticalism, and the existentialism of the West, and judged it according to those who developed it or brought it to Greece.
In fact, he supported the view that when one suffers in the physical body by a bacterium or virus, you should find the cause of the infection, where the virus comes from. Similarly, when someone carried a "theological virus or microbe" to Greece, one should examine to find the person who was "infected". He supported the fact that such research in theological literature can demonstrate that a Greek theologian who studied in the West brought to Greece a similar "theological microbe" or "theological virus"!
The conclusion to my thoughts above is that the study of theology in the 1960's should be handled with care and through the perspective of the conditions found above, but it must be underlined with emphasis that Orthodox theology cannot be interpreted within decades, but through the timeless tradition of the Prophets, the Apostles and the Fathers. That is, in Orthodox theology there is no theology of the 1960's, but a theology of the God-seeing Saints, who are counter to the thinking of the philosophers.