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The New Calendarists and the Florinites
by Jelena and Evsevije Petrovic
We consider this issue (the attitude towards schismatics and relation with
ecumenists and anticanonical hierarchy) the single most important controversy in
our efforts for the unity of TOC.|
Could anybody prove: for what reason would "Matthewite" attitude towards the (lost) grace of the schismatics (i.e. Matthewite ecclesiology) be unpatristic?
1. ARE THE NEW CALENDARISTS SCHISMATICS?
The new calendar, together with the new Paschalion, was specifically condemned by Great Pan-Orthodox Councils in 1583, 1587, 1593 and 1756 and, according to the decisions of this Councils, all those who accept these novelties are anathematized and separated from the Church.
In 1924, by introducing the new calendar, the Greek Church came under this anathema. It separated itself (through its hierarchy, of course) from other Orthodox churches that continued to follow the patristic calendar. For the reason of unity with heretics, it separated itself from the unity of the Church of Christ.
Separation from the unity of Church Holy Fathers called schism. Those who separate themselves are called schismatics. Schismatics do not have the Grace of Holy Spirit upon them and cannot impart the grace of the Spirit to others (The First Canon of St. Basil the Great). Their mysteries do not have any salvation power and become "the sacrifices of the dead" (Ps. 105/106/, 28). This is patristic. God only knows about his Grace, how and when He takes It away. We don't. That's why we have to observe the canons of the Fathers, and according to these, given as a rule of thumb, we have to judge - we have to consider schismatics as separated from the Church and thus deprived of the sanctifying grace.
This is exactly what "Matthewites" confess.
2. WHO WAS WRONG ABOUT THE GRACE?
Common Florinite accusation that "Matthewites" are those who 'unpatristically' judge and 'speak' about who has and who doesn't have grace is a vulgar lie. Hieromonk Matthew, from the very moment of introduction of the new calendar in 1924 stood up for the Tradition of the Fathers, stopped commemorating the Ecumenical Patriarch and preached to the flock to step away from the innovators. He didn't speak about grace, he just let the people know about the anathemas and instructed them how to act.
The first who officially 'spoke about grace' was Metropolitan Chrysostomos in 1935, when a Synod of Orthodox Bishops was formed and formally condemned the new calendar church. (The Synodical condemnation itself did not make the new calendar hierarchy schismatics, since they alone already made themselves schismatics in 1924 - the condemnation represented just an official announcement to the flock (urbi et orbi), occurring after 12 years of unrepentance, that they are apostates, cut off from the Church.). In the encyclycal same year M. Chrysostomos writes: "The Church of Greece has now been torn from the Church of the Holy Fathers and the Seven Ecumenical Councils and has become schismatic. According to the First Canon of Saint Basil the Great, it has lost grace, and has died since it no longer partakes of grace, and it has been severed from the body of Church..." This was patristic, as well.
By the end of the same year, immediately after his return from the exile, M. Chrysostomos preached (from the ambo at several churches - in Theba, Chalkis, Pireus and Athens) that children baptized in the new calendar church should not be chrismated when they approach the Orthodox Church, because the new calendarists were "only potentially, but not actually (effectively) schismatics, since the novelty of calendar hasn't been officially condemned". Was this patristic? By this, M. Chrysostomos was in contradiction with himself (with what he had preached several months ago). He was in contradiction with the Holy Fathers (they have never proclaimed anything like that regarding schismatics). Most of all, he was in contradiction with the truth of the Church (the condemnation by Pan-Orthodox Councils he preached as 'unofficial', or as if it has never happened).
Upon this, at least controversial, preaching he added a controversy in practice - he insisted that baptized in a new calendar church must not be received by chrismation.
When he was properly asked to clarify his novel preaching (by a letter from the monk Mark Channiotis), M.Chrysostomos stated: "The Holy Chrism, which is sanctified by the Church of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, retains all its grace and sanctifying energy, even if it was done by the Patriarchate after the calendar innovation." He repeatedly confirmed his brutal ignoring of condemnation of the new calendar by Pan-Orthodox Councils.
So this is the fact of the matter - Metropolitan Chrysostomos was the first who started to "speak about grace" and he did it in a most controversial and "unpatristic" manner.
And he was also the one who introduced into the Church a devastating lie - that the "new calendarist have not been officially condemned".
In the Synodicon on the Sunday of Orthodoxy we exclaim: "To those who reject the Councils of the Holy Fathers and their Tradition, which is in accord with the Divine Revelation and is being piously preserved by the Orthodox Catholic Church - anathema!"
By rejecting the Pan-Orthodox Councils and the Tradition of the Holy Fathers M.Chrysostomos fell under their anathema.
3. WHO CREATED THE SCHISM IN 1937?
False teaching is called heresy. False teaching about the Church is called ecclesiological heresy. The assertion that those who are under the anathema of the Councils and the Holy Fathers, who trespass the Law, the Church and Her Tradition, do have grace - is not a simple heresy. It is a blasphemy against the Grace. A blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
This is the very essence of the antichrist doctrine presented today through ecumenism - there is no anathema (important point of the old-new chiliastic heresy, based on distortion of the Old Testament and Revelation prophecies about New Jerusalem and Kingdom of Heaven - "and there shall be no anathema any more" Rev.22.3), everybody is in the Church, there are no schismatics, everybody is a partaker of salvation, everybody is in Grace.
This false teaching (preached "with bared head", and later on explained) was a single, and a legitimate reason for Bishop Matthew in 1937 to depart from the bishops who kept it.
Bishop Matthew is persistently being accused by Florinites to have caused schism by this. The truth is that he only observed the canons: "Those who on account of some heresy condemned by Holy Councils or Fathers sever themselves from communion with their president, that is, because he publicly preaches heresy and with bared head teaches it in the church, such persons as these not only are not subject to canonical penalty for walling themselves off from communion with the so-called Bishop before synodical clarification, but they shall be deemed worthy of due honor among the Orthodox. For not bishops, but false bishops and false teachers have they condemned, and they have not fragmented the Church's unity with schism, but from schisms and divisions have they earnestly sought to deliver the Church." (15th Canon of the First-and-Second Council).
The unity of the Church, visible as the unity of bishops, is the unity in the True Confession. The one who secedes from the True Confession is the one who secedes from the Unity. He is schismatic.
Bishop Matthew never seceded from the original Confession. But Metropolitan Chrysostomos did.
If anybody tries to claim that this was not the case of preaching heresy condemned by Councils, we answer - if this was not a legitimate cause, none of the True Orthodox in XX century have had the legitimate cause to depart from their heretic/schismatic hierarchy. Neither in Russia (Sergius never preached a condemned heresy), nor in Greece (new calendar is not a heresy, and if they are not really schismatic, why leave?), nor anywhere else (ecumenism is not a heresy condemned by Fathers or Pan-Orthodox Councils).
Afterwards Bishop Matthew and his successors only kept repeating the Patristic and Orthodox Confession about the renovationist schismatics - that they are under anathemas of Fathers and Councils, cut off from the Body of Christ. His truly apostolic word had never been "yea and nay" (2.Cor.1.18).
Bishop Matthew also never stated that M.Chrystomos is a heretic, or that he "doesn't have grace", as the latter had done in turn: "the parasynagogue bishops (Matthew and Germanos of Cyclades) who have different opinion from us (on the new calendarists) fall in the heresy of protestantism and perform mysteries from the non-existent church, and are deprived from the grace" (Encyclycal 1944).
This was another eloquent statement of the brave Metropolitan, about the grace issue - the new calendar Mother Church is a treasury and a spring of grace, while the bishops who faithfully adhere to the Tradition of the Fathers are graceless heretics. Again, it sounds quite familiar - today churches of World "Orthodoxy" jubilantly declare the papists as Sister Church of immaculate Apostolic Succession and Grace, while zealots like Greek old calendarists they claim sectarians, the worst of all.
4. WAS METROPOLITAN CHRYSOSTOMOS' REPENTANCE (WITH SUBSEQUENT CONFESSION) A PERFECT ONE?
In 1950 M.Chrysostomos publicly renounced his unorthodox confession (from 1936 to 1950) stating that he returns to the original Orthodox 1935 Confession, and recalling "everything written and said since 1937 which was contrary and opposed to the Principles of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ and the sacred struggle", including all his false contemplations about the grace.
He confessed that he had been teaching falsely (contrary to the Orthodoxy) and that he had done damage, but he didn't repent, nor asked for forgiveness. According to Fathers - a public sin, especially one done by a bishop, requires a public repentance. Besides, until his very death he persisted in teaching that "only a future Ecumenical or Panorthodox Council is competent to legitimately and definitely resolve the disputable question of the church calendar". As if it has not already been legitimately resolved by Church (or Pan-Orthodox Councils in 1583 and later are not legitimate?).
He also consistently fulfilled his promise given to the authorities of the state and of the ("Mother") church - that he would never and in no case whatsoever consecrate bishops. Consciously and with premeditation he left his parataxis (as he called it!) without the Apostolic Succession.
As if he had forgotten, or had never truly known, what the sole duty of a bishop is - to keep the Apostolic Faith (Confession) and Succession and to convey them unaltered and perfect to the successors.
This was unpatristic.
To our opinion - unpatristic to such a degree that M.Chrysostomos cannot be considered an orthodox bishop. As simple as that - he hasn't accomplished the duties of an orthodox bishop. Willingly or not, consciously or not, he acted for the advantage of the new calendar church. For the advantage of the devil.
5. WHO IS THE AUTHENTIC SUCCESSOR OF M.CHRYSOSTOMOS' CONFESSION?
Today, the official confession of the Chrysostomites (Florinites) and Matthewites is the same - the one from 1935.
What Chrysostomites and many others do not see is that their "Holy Confessor" was the one who "released from the bottle" an evil spirit of the false teaching, today known as Cyprianism.
Cyprian Kutsumbas, who (rightfully) claims to be the only authentic successor of Chrysostomos of Florina, only adopted and worked out the doctrine which M.Chrysostomos first formulated and preached (and to which he adhered until his death): that "the new calendar church is Mother Church, to which we all belong" and that "since the followers of the calendar innovation haven't been panorthodoxly condemned - a unifying Great Ecumenical Council is necessary to condemn them as schismatics". This doctrine is by all orthodox-thinking faithful throughout the world considered an ecclesiological heresy, (mis)named cyprianism. Officially accepted and confessed, it has infected the whole ecumene - ROCA in Russia and diaspora and millions of zealots in Greece, Romania and Bulgaria. So, stated in the strict sense, it is impossible to contradict: Chrysostomos of Florina, as the first to have formulated and preached this false doctrine - is a heresiarch.
So, those were the bitter fruits of Metropolitan Chrysostomos' struggle - his legacy: the acephalous "parataxis", the spiritual testament of his prelest about "the future Ecumenical Council which will pacify the Church", and the heresy of cyprianism whose originator and protopreacher he was.
6. WHERE TO UNITE?
Today Florinite (Chrysostomite) bishops categorically refuse to discuss the history (1935-1955). They are well aware that they are entirely impotent to justify the tragic errors of the late M.Chrysostomos. This is the only reason why the dialogue between them and Matthewites has come to a dead-end - Chrysostomites absolutely insist that the dialogue start from the 1971 point ("the point when both groups completed the Succession from the same source").
Matthewites refuse to accept this, since it would be a betrayal of their faith and a denial of their unique Succession from the Holy Fathers of Byzantium. Because of this, Matthewites are being accused as intolerant. If ignoring the critical and controversial points of the history is a blessed way to be tolerant, we shall all very soon have the opportunity to unite with our papist brothers, when they formally accept the Nicene Creed.
Many thanks to Jelena and Evsevije Petrovic for permission to present this article.