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


22 September 2015

Fr. Seraphim about the Calendar

Fr. Seraphim's first calendar


The date according to the Church (Julian) Calendar always precedes that of the civil calendar; whenever only one date appears, it is that of the Julian Calendar.  Scriptural references are according to the King James Version.

The Calendar follows the usage of the Russian Church Outside of Russia.  Some saints are commemorated on a different day in the Greek calendar.

To the list of saints in the Russian calendar, which incorporates the calendars of other Orthodox lands, have been added some recently-canonized saints of Greece and Rumania as well as those pre-Schism Western saints whose names have been approved by bishops of the Russian Church Outside of Russia.  The order of names in the daily list of saints follows in general the Russian calendars, except that those saints in some way directly connected with the American land have been placed first: St. Herman of Alaska (with New-martyrs Juvenal and Peter); Sts. Sergius and Herman, patrons of St. Herman's Valaam Monastery which sent the first missionaries to America; St. Innocent of Irkutsk, patron saint of the American Mission; and St. John of Kronstadt, first saint to be canonized in America.  The feast of the Repose of St. Herman (Nov. 15) is a local tradition of Spruce Island Hermitage, Alaska (Archimandrite Gerasim) and the St. Herman of Alaska Hermitage, Platina, California.

At the end of the daily list of saints there occasionally appear commemorations in italics: these are more recent ascetics, bishops, and martyrs not yet canonized, for whom it is appropriate to celebrate requiem services.

Saint Herman Orthodox Calendar

"The true Christian is a warrior fighting his way through the regiments of the unseen enemy to his heavenly homeland," taught St. Herman of Alaska.  The Orthodox Calendar is the record of the sources from which the Christian warrior must draw to fight this spiritual warfare; and what a source of inspiration it is!  On every day there are commemorated the God-pleasing combatants who have preceded us: prophets, apostles, martyrs, hierarchs, ascetics and monks, fools for Christ, so that their name and example will give us courage in battle and fervency in our Orthodox confession and life; for on the day of their commemoration in the Calendar, as the Blessed Metropolitan Philaret of Moascow has said, they draw especially near to the earth and are especially attentive to our prayers.  On every day readings from Holy Scripture are appointed as weapons for battle, so that the Orthodox Christian may learn daily to prepare himself with instruction from God's word in accordance with the lessons by which the Church wishes to enlighten and inspire us.  Likewise, the regular cycles of feast and fast are presented to that the individual Christian can integrate his life with the whole plan and history of battle which the Church sets before us.

The sacred Calendar of the Orthodox Church is quite distinct from the civil (originally papist) calendar of Western lands, the civil date being thirteen days in advance, and teh feasts dependent on the date of Pascha being almost always a week or more apart.  In this one may see a special providence of God to us Christians of these last times.  In a pagan world which just happens to preserve some of the outward signs of Chrstianity, it is often difficult for an Orthodox Christian to persueade others – and soemtimes even himself – that he is really not the same as those others who use the name of Christ out of habit, whilst neither correctly believing in Him nor accepting His Church.  But God has granted us weak ones the special grace of setting us apart from the world and its now-paganized "Christian" feasts.  What Orthodox American, for example, will not rejoice that he can celebrate the feast of Christ's Nativity in befitting quietness and solemnity, long after the vain and raucous spirit of "Santa Claus" has departed?  Or that, nonetheless, on the civil holiday of December 25 he is free to attend the services in honor of the first Saint of the American land, St. Herman of Alaska?  Or that for him Pascha remains a day apart, not confused with pagan "Easter rabbits"?  Or that even the diabolical mockery of "Halloween" is overcome for him by the new feast of the glorious wonderworker of our own country, St. John of Kronstadt?

The late Archibishop John Maximovitch of blessed memory, a shining light of inspiration to the Orthodox Christians of these times, always insisted that children in the church schools under his charge learn to observe the commemorations of the Church Calendar, unfailingly being absent from school on all the great feasts and on the feast of their own par\tro saint, and spending the day in attendance at the Divine Liturgy and in a manner befitting the feast.  While not making the observance of the traditional Calendar an issue of dogma, Archbishop John nonetheless emphasized its importance – apart from the obvious matters of the liturgical inadequacy of the "new" calendar and the uncanonical and anarchical manner in which it has been imposted – both as a matter of faithfulness to the Church's tradition, and as an expression of solidarity with those in Greece, in St. Herman's own monastery of Valaam, and elsewhere in our own century who have suffered and even died for this faithfulness.

The True Orthodox Christians of Greece who in the 1920's fought for the Orthodox Calendar affirmed that the violent imposition of the "new" calendar upon the faithful of Greece was only the first step in a whole program of ecclesiastical renovationism and capitulation to the spirit of this world that lies in evil.  History has already proved them correct.  It is therefore all the more important that we who are free to do so, without judging those who involuntarily find themselves under the yoke of the "new" calendar, should remain in the tradition handed down to us by the Holy Fathers.  In America, in particular, where there is no political pressure to change the Calendar, adherence to the traditional Church Calendar is rapidly becoming one of the distinguishing marks that separate the true from the false Orthodox.

And so, in the name of St. Herman of Alaska, patron of the true Orthodox Christians of this land, we present to the English-speaking Orthodox world for the first time the Church's complete Calendar, for the year 1972.  Each month is illustrated by a monastery or other historic place of America; for it is they which, even today, keep alive the ideal of the spiritual warfare that St. Herman brought to America and that underlies and gives meaning to the whole Orthodox Calendar.  May this Calendar serve for the instruction, enlightenment, and inspiration of the "little flock" of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to Whom may there be glory always, now and ever and unto the ages of ages.  Amen

Please note that Fr. Seraphim says that the traditional Church calendar is "one of the distinguishing marks that separate the true from the false Orthodox."  I want to emphasize "one", because there are a good number of false Churches using the traditional Church calendar (such as the MP, super-correct schismatics, and the vigante Milan synod).

Something else to note is that Fr. Seraphim says, "Church calendar" and not "old calendar". 


Later of Fr. Seraphim's calendars were published separately from the magazine and included this explanation:

In answer to numerous requests from readers, the rule of fasting is given for each day of the year. Where no indication of fast is given, and during "fast-free weeks," all foods may be eaten (except during Cheese-fare Week, when meat alone is forbidden every day). Where "fast day" is indicated alone, the fast is a strict one, with no meat, eggs, dairy products, fish, wine or oil to be eaten. Where, underneath "fast day," is indicated "wine and oil allowed," the fast is relaxed for the sake of a feast day or vigil, to allow eating of these foods. Where "fish, wine and oil allowed" is indicated, then all three of these foods may be eaten.
The rule of fasting, which is dependent on the Church's cycle of feasts and fasts, is contained in the Church's Typicon, chiefly in chapters 32 and 33, and is repeated in the appropriate places of the Divine service books, the Menaia and Triodion. In general, fast days for Orthodox Christians are all Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year (except for fast-free periods), the four canonical fast periods of Great Lent, Nativity Fast, Apostles' Fast, and Dormition Fast, and a few special days: the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14th) and the Beheading of the Forerunner (August 29th)—which, even though they are feast days, are also fast days (with wine and oil allowed) for the sake of the events commemorated thereon.
There are some local variations in the allowances of wine and oil, and sometimes of fish, and so the indications in the present Calendar cannot be uniformly applied everywhere. In particular, on the celebrations of the patronal feast of a parish or monastery, fish is generally allowed, and when a saint is honored with a service of Sung Doxology or Polyeleos rank, wine and oil are allowed. In the Russian Church, on the feast days of the more renowned Russian saints, such as St. Sergius of Radonezh and St. Seraphim of Sarov, and of wonderworking Icons of the Mother of God such as the Kazan and Vladimir Icons, of course, wine and oil are allowed (except during Great Lent), although this is not mentioned in the present Calendar because the Typicon leaves this to local practice, indicating only the fasts and allowances that are of general application. The meaning of the Typicon in its allowances is simple: the more one labors for the glorification of a saint or feast day, the more consolation one is allowed in food. For one who has become accustomed to the Orthodox fast, the allowance of oil on food, or fried foods, together with a little wine, is indeed a consolation, as well as a source of physical strength. Where the Typicon itself indicates two variant practices (as for a few of the weekdays of Great Lent), the present Calendar follows the Typicon's preferred practice.
While most Orthodox Christians are perhaps aware of the general rule of fasting for Great Lent and the Dormition Fast (wine and oil allowed only on Saturdays and Sundays, except for a few feast days and vigils), many are probably not familiar with the precise rule governing the less severe fast of the Nativity and Apostles' Fast. Therefore, we shall quote this rule, from Chapter 33 of the Typicon:
"It should be noted that in the Fast of the Holy Apostles and of the Nativity of Christ, on Tuesday and Thursday we do not eat fish, but only oil and wine. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we eat neither oil nor wine... On Saturday and Sunday we eat fish. If there occurs on Tuesday or Thursday a saint who has a Doxology, we eat fish; if on Monday, the same; but if on Wednesday or Friday, we allow only oil and wine. If it be a saint who has a Vigil on Wednesday or Friday, or the saint whose temple it is, we allow oil and wine and fish... But from the 20th of December until the 25th, even if it be Saturday or Sunday, we do not allow fish."
In these two fasts, the fast for laymen is the same as that of many Orthodox monasteries, where Monday throughout the year is kept as a fast day in honor of the fleshless ones, the Angels.
This rule of fasting, to be sure, is not intended to be a "straight-jacket" for Orthodox believers, nor a source of pharisaical pride for anyone who keeps the letter of the Church's law. It is rather the rule, the standard, against which each is to measure his own practice, and towards which one must always strive, according to one's strength and circumstances. Whenever, for sickness or any other reason, one falls short of the rule, he applies to himself the spiritual medicine of self-reproach and strives to enter more fully into the spirit and discipline of fasting, which is indeed of great spiritual benefit to those who sincerely strive to follow it.
Hieromonk Seraphim Rose

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