Category Archives: Orthodoxy

Greek Liturgy Celebrated in a Church of the Anglo-American Communion (1865)

We are indebted to the Guardian for the following well condensed report, taken, in the main, from the New York papers:—

An event which has recently taken place in America, in connection with the movement for the renewal of friendly relations and intercommunion between the Eastern Orthodox and Anglican Churches, deserves something more than a passing notice. If, as appears probable, this step should lead to other and more important results, and if the courtesies interchanged between individual Churchmen should extend to the clergy generally, the service celebrated on the 2nd March, 1865, in Trinity Chapel, New York, will be referred to as an historical incident; for on that day, for the first time in a thousand years, the Sacred Liturgy (or Eucharistic Service) was celebrated in a Western Church by a priest of the Holy Orthodox Communion, and the Creed of Christendom was chanted in English without that Filioque clause which caused the great schism of East and West.

In October last year, Father Agapius Honcharenko, a Slavonian in Russo-Greek orders, monk of Mount Pentelicus, near Athens, was sent by his ecclesiastical superiors to minister to the spiritual wants of the members of the Greek communion in and about New York. The cordial letter of commendation which he took with him from Mr. Hill, the American missionary and English chaplain at Athens, at once obtained for him the sympathy and co-operation of the clergy in the United States; and a school-room was placed at his disposal by the Rector of Trinity, the oldest and most influential parish inAmerica. The Rev. J. Freeman Young, whose recent visit to Russia has done much towards the removal of prejudice and ignorance about the two Churches, made known to the Bishop of New York the wish of Father Agapius publicly to celebrate the Liturgy of the Orthodox Church on the 2nd March, the anniversary of the accession of the Emperor Alexander II.

The letter in which Bishop Potter expresses his ready acquiescence in the suggestion shows how fully he appreciated the opportunity thus afforded for promoting a good under standing between the two Churches. He says:

“Rev. and dear Brother,—In reply to your inquiry respecting a proposed public celebration of the Divine Liturgy of the Holy Orthodox Oriental Church on the2nd day of March (N.S.) next in one of the churches of my diocese, I beg to say that Í have great pleasure in giving m y hearty consent and approbation. In so doing it adds much to my satisfaction that the proposed service is intended to do honour to the anniversary of the accession of His Imperial Majesty Alexander II.,the present Emperor of Russia, who has done so much to promote the true glory and welfare of his own people, and who has so generously encouraged the friendly feeling of Russia towards our country. Such courtesies as the one now proffered, between Churches which have so much in common, it has seemed to me might be very well extended, without prejudging, on either side, any of the questions that may affect their relations with each other. On occasion of the visit of the Russian fleet to the port of New York last year, I took pleasure, as you know, in giving permission, through you, to the rev. the chaplains, to hold any service which they might find desirable, anywhere within the limits of my diocese. The rev. the chaplains of the Russian fleet did not find it necessary to avail themselves of the permission granted them, but it was very grateful to me to hear that the feelings which prompted that trifling act of Christian courtesy were duly appreciated in Russia, and that some of the most venerated of the prelates of the Holy Orthodox Church would have been well pleased had the offer made by me been accepted. On the present occasion I shall be happy if this proffer of one of the churches of my diocese for the proposed public service, shall be accepted here and in Russia as as light token of my fraternal regard for the Church of the nations which our beloved brother, the Priest Agapius, represents.

“I am, my dear Brother, most truly and affectionately yours,

“HORATIO POTTER,
Bishop of New York.
“New York, Feb.4, 1865.”

Episcopal sanction having thus been obtained, it remained with Mr. Young to ensure the complete success of the proposed service, and to render it as perfect and beautiful as possible. Fortunately, he had procured the score of the liturgical music in Russia, and by means of constant practice and careful arrangement of the parts under his own superintendence, he was able to overcome the difficulty which arose from the pronunciation of a strange language. The choir included members of various quartette societies, who volunteered their services from interest in the occasion, learning the responses by the representation of Slavonic sounds in English letters. Mr. Young, also, himself directed the preparation of the Oriental vestments the first ever made in America. The proposed celebration excited very general interest, although all public announcement of it was avoided, and on the morning of the 2nd March TrinityChapel, one of the few really beautiful churches in New York was completely filled. The building, it may be added, is of considerable length, with an hexagonal apsidal chancel, but without side aisles, and is capable of seating 900 or 1000 persons. The sixty or seventy Slavonians and Greeks residing in New York occupied seats at the end of the nave ;near them were more than fifty clergymen of the American Church, while Bishop Southgate, formerly missionary Bishop at Constantinople, the rector and clergy of Trinity parish, together with Dr. Thrall, a member of the Russo-Greek committee, and Dr. McVickar, the oldest presbyter of the diocese of New York, occupied the choir stalls. The chancel was brilliantly lighted by the corona above, two standing candelabra with clustered lights below, and a smaller one on the altar itself. Under the white linen altar-cloth, and upon the stone altar, was a board about two feet square, over which the consecration of the Eucharist was to take place— the rules of the Greek Church for bidding this to be done upon stone. This custom is due to the fact that the cross was of wood. So far do the Orientals carry their aversion to the idea of a carnal sacrifice, that they do not suffer even the books used at the altar to be bound in the skins of animals, or anything made therefrom. Gold, silver, cloth, silk, velvet, or jewelled work may be used, but no kind of leather. Those of the clergy who were present in the chancel were in black gowns, it being the Oriental custom that those only should be vested who take part in the service of the altar.

Father Agapius was clad in a white phænolion, adorned with bands and borders of gold, under which the epitrachelion of crimson, similarly adorned with gold, hung down in front. When he had entered, and made his lowly obeisance at the holy table, the deep silence was first broken by his chanting, in a high tenor voice of great sweetness and purity, the opening of the service in Slavonic, “Blessed be the kingdom of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, now and forever, even unto ages of ages.” At once the whole congregation rose, as if by instinct, and remained reverently standing throughout the entire service, according to Oriental custom. The well-trained choir of men’s voices responded, and as the solemn service proceeded, the oft-recurring response, Hospode pomelue (Lord have mercy), swelled forth again and again. The Liturgy was that of St. Chrysostom, translated into Slavonic, and the Russian music, which has been in use about two hundred years, is very simple, grave, and sweet. The organ was not used, only vocal music being employed in the Orthodox worship. The Beatitudes were chanted in English, the Trisagion in the original Greek, to a rich and varied harmony; but the “Eje Cheruveme,” or Greek Cherubic Hymn, was the vocal crown of beauty, and each repetition of its exquisite strains gave it a fresh hold upon feeling and upon memory. The following translation of it is from the pen of a well-known English scholar, G. M.:

Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand,
Ponder nothing earthly-minded—for, with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth, our full homage to demand.

King of Kings, yet born of Mary, as of old on earth He stood,
Lord of Lords, in Human Vesture—in the Body and the Blood
He will give to all the Faithful His own Self for Heavenly Food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of Light descendeth from the realms of endless day,
That the Powers of Hell may vanish as the darkness clears away.

At His Feet the six-winged Seraphs Cherubim with sleepless eye
Veil their faces to the Presence, as with ceaseless voice they cry
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Lord most High!

But the most thrilling part of the service was the chanting of the Nicene Creed in English, so distinctly that each word was heard throughout the church, and the singing of the phrase, “Who proceedeth from the Father,” showed how easily at least two great branches of the Catholic Church could be reconciled on the old foundations laid by the General Councils. The cloud of incense, which ascended from time to time, added much to the beauty of the ceremony. Before the communion of the priest, the Lord’s Prayer, chanted in English, united the congregation in the act of worship, and the Cherubic Hymn again filled the air with the depths and heights of its swelling harmony. The Liturgy proper was followed by the special service for the day (the accession of the Czar), during which the officiating priest, the clergy, and all the congregation knelt. After the Amen all rose, and the familiar tones of the Gloria in Excelsis, in English, brought this beautiful service to a close. May it prove to be only the beginning of a new era of “peace and good will” among the long-severed branches of the one true Vine! It is stated that the leading motive of Father Agapius in holding this public service was to show his fraternal sympathy and fellowship with the American Church and with the whole Anglican communion , and his desire to aid in bringing about full intercommunion. Nor can we take leave of this affecting service without calling attention to the fact, thus publicly demonstrated, that the common inheritance of all Christendom belongs neither to the one nor to the other communion, but that the Lord’s Prayer, the Glorias, the Beatitudes, the Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, and, with the exception of one clause, the whole Nicene Creed, can be thus used in the same tongue, in the same words, and with the same sentiments in the two Churches.

—Frederick George Lee (editor), The Union Review: A Magazine of Catholic Literature and Art (London: J. T. Hayes, 1865), pp. 336-339.

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America, Karlovci, and Moscow (1947)

By Ralph Montgomery Arkush, Legal Advisor to the Metropolitan Council of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of North America
The Living Church (Milwaukee), April 27, 1947, pp. 15-16.

A BREAK in the administrative relations between the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of North America, headed by Metropolitan Theophilus, and four of his bishops has been officially announced by the Bishops’ Council and the Metropolitan Council of the Church. The hierarchs named are Archbishop Tikhon of Seattle and Western America, Archbishop Vitaly of Jersey City and Eastern America, Archbishop Ioasaph of Canada, and Bishop Ieronim of Detroit and Cleveland. (It is reported that recently Bishop Ieoronim was promoted to the frank of Archbishop by action of the Munich Synod, taken without the approval of Metropolitan Theophilus.) For the time being the Metropolitan is taking on himself the duties of the four former diocesans. Plans for filling the vacancies permanently are under way, an additional bishop having been recently consecrated [The Living Church, April 20th], and the consecration of a second bishop having been announced for May 11th.

The immediate cause of the rupture was the refusal of the four bishops to accept the decision of the All-American Sobor held at Cleveland on November, 26-29, 1946. That body was convened for the express purpose of giving all of the 300 or more parishes in the Church, through their clerical and lay delegates, the opportunity of expressing their views on the relationship between the North American Church and the Moscow Patriarchate. It was the first All-American Sobor that had been held since 1937. Every parish delegation was given time to present its views to the assembly. The Metropolitan presided. All of the bishops, including the four above named, were present and most of the bishops participated in the discussion. The pre-Sobor Committee, which was in an advantageous position to control the proceedings to some extent, was headed by Archbishop Vitaly. Considerable criticism was heard among the delegates of the tactical advantages of the position: for example, the leading exponents of the view that no connection should be had with the Patriarchate because of political conditions in Russia were given a preferred position on the agenda. The speeches made at the Sobor and the written declarations which had been adopted at parish meetings and were read to the Sobor reflected a wide divergence of views, from the bitter anti-Patriarchites to those who were for reunion with the Patriarch on any terms.

A separate but related question, which was of primary interest to the delegates, was that of the relationship between the American Church and the Russian Church abroad. On paper the American Church was a constituent part of the Russian Church abroad, the temporary statutes for the government of that body having been approved at the All-American Sobor held in New York in 1937. The connection, however, aroused little enthusiasm among the rank and file of the American clergy and laity.

THE DIASPORA

The organization of the Russian Church abroad was an attempt to unite in one body all parts of the Russian Orthodox Church outside of the Soviet Union. When civil war separated the dioceses in the southern part of Russia from the central Church administration, headed by Patriarch Tikhon, a temporary administration was organized in Stavropol. After the defeat of the White armies, four bishops who had been members of the Stavropol and of the Crimean Church administrations fled to Constantinople where they created a Bishops’ Synod. Later they moved to Sremski Karlovci in Yugoslavia where they were taken under the protection of the Serbian Patriarch. At this time Europe was filled with Russian refugees and the effort of the Karlovci group to bring order into the ecclesiastical situation was justified. However, when the Karlovci Synod began sending bishops who attempted to set up a jurisdiction parallel to that of the Russian Orthodox Church then existing in America, the position of the Synod was indefensible. The Russian Orthodox Church of North America has had a continuous existence on this continent for over 150 years, first as a mission, then as a missionary diocese, then as a regular diocese, of the Russian Orthodox Church, and finally as an autonomous body. The administrative autonomy of the American Church was declared at an All-American Sobor held at Detroit in 1924, and was expressly based on the political conditions then existing in Russia. The language of the resolutions expressly preserved spiritual communion with the Patriarchate. This condition of autonomy was affirmed at the All-American Sobor held at Cleveland in 1934 when Metropolitan Theophilus was elected. The autonomous character of the American Church has been upheld by the civil courts and declared by statutes enacted by or now pending in the legislatures of a number of states.

The peace and unity of this self-governing body was broken by the arrival of four bishops sent by the Karlovci Synod, precisely the same four mentioned in the recent announcement. They succeeded in attracting to themselves or founding a very few parishes consisting mostly of the so-called “White” refugees. But, although attracting few followers, they constituted a source of confusion and unrest in the American jurisdiction. Accordingly Metropolitan Theophilus went to Karlovci in 1935 and agreed to the scheme of organization of the Russian Church abroad. This contemplated four metropolitan districts: North America, Western Europe, the Near East, and the Far East. The late Metropolitan Eulogius, who was to head the Western European district, also assented. His flock, however, refused to ratify, so that the district of Western Europe was placed under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarch. This defection and the comparative paucity of Russian Orthodox parishes in other parts of the world resulted in the North American district’s being by far the largest component of the Russian Church abroad. The temporary statutes provided for an annual council of all the bishops of the constituent districts and for a permanently sitting bishops’ synod consisting of one delegate from each district; the distant districts such as the North American and the Far Eastern might appoint as their delegates bishops residing in Europe. It was stipulated that the first president of the council and synod should be Metropolitan Anthony, formerly of Kiev and Galicia. At his death Metropolitan Anastasius became president.

Upon the signing of these temporary statutes the four Karlovcian bishops in North America submitted to the jurisdiction of Metropolitan Theophilus, so that he, at least apparently, reaped the reward of his trip to Karlovci. The connection with the Karlovci Synod, however, was irksome and eventually, during World War II, became absurd. By reason of military or political conditions the existence of the Near Eastern and Far Eastern districts, or at any rate the connection of the Synod with those districts, was practically eliminated. A very few parishes in Western Europe, South America, and other parts of the world recognized the Karlovci Synod. Consequently, in practical effect, this Synod had become a mere paper superstructure on top of the North American Church. All sensible reasons for the continuance of this administrative connection had terminated. Nevertheless Metropolitan Theophilus loyally went through the form of submitting to Metropolitan Anastasius and his Synod, which eventually moved to Munich, the minutes of meetings of the Council of Bishops, the promotion of bishops to the rank of archbishop, etc. One phase of the connection with the Karlovci-Munich Synod and the North American Church which caused almost universal resentment among the Church membership was the alleged political activity of members of the Synod or its staff. In the early days of the Synod prior to the organization of the Russian Church abroad various manifestos issued from Karlovci indicating the hope for the restoration of the czarist regime. At a later stage it is alleged that persons connected with the Synod uttered expressions of a pro-Hitler character although this charge has been denied. (At least it is certain that Archbishop Vitaly on his own responsibility joined in a telegram to President Roosevelt urging that the United States refrain from giving military assistance to the Soviet Union after the attack by Hitler.) The charges that the Karlovci-Munich Synod and its adherents have unjustifiably embroiled themselves in political activity have not endeared them more to the American Church membership.

ARCHBISHOP ALEXY

Finally, when Archbishop Alexy of Yaroslav and Rostov came to this country in 1945-1946 he made it clear that a sine qua non of restoration of spiritual communion between the American Church and the Moscow Patriarchate was the termination of the relationship with Metropolitan Anastasius. Whatever differences of opinion there were at the Cleveland Sobor last November on the exact nature of the relationship to the Patriarchate, there was only a minute fraction of the delegates who insisted on the continuance of a connection with Metropolitan Anastasius. The vote of 187 to 61 which finally recorded the action of the Sobor is not a mathematical indication of the division of views on the question, since the resolution on which the vote was taken combined the questions of both the Patriarchate and the Russian Church abroad. Several resolutions in different form had been submitted to the assembly and many of those who voted against the resolution actually adopted did so in the expectation that if the resolution was defeated the prevailing sentiment of the meeting could be expressed in a different manner. For several days prior to the taking of the vote an attempt was made by the committee on resolutions and many of the leading delegates to prepare a resolution which would bring to an end the absurd situation in which the Munich tail was wagging the North American dog, but at the same time would provide a framework of Church government in which all of the Russian Church bodies outside of the Soviet Union and its sphere of influence would normally fit. Such a scheme was particularly suitable at the moment when many of the DP’s and other Russian Orthodox people in Germany and Austria were being ministered to by bishops and priests of the Munich jurisdiction. A form of resolution to this end was reported by the committee on resolutions but never came to a vote.

The resolution adopted requested the Patriarch to continue as spiritual head of the American Church conditioned on the continuance of its administrative autonomy and terminated the administrative connection between the American Church and the Synod of the Russian Church abroad [The Living Church, December Sth]. Archbishop Vitaly and the three other Karlovcian bishops had and took the opportunity of influencing the delegates to vote against this resolution. They raised no question as to the legal or canonical power of the Sobor to pass on the two questions covered by the resolution until the results of the secret ballot had been announced. Only then did Archbishop Vitaly make a spirited protest.

The main body of Church membership, particularly the younger people whose influence is being more and more felt, and whose interest is indispensable to the life of the Church, are insistent that matters of vital Church policy are to be passed on in a constitutional and democratic fashion. The four bishops who have refused to concur in the decision of an assembly in the preparation for which and in the deliberations of which they actively participated have thereby repudiated the principle of constitutional and democratic church government. Their withdrawal from the Church will doubtless result in greater harmony in Church councils. It is believed that not more than 5 or 6 parishes at the most will follow them.

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