Presbyter Neketas S. Palassis, Editor

  April 12/25, 1999
Vol. XXXII, No. 16 (1465)
Epistle: Acts 6: 1-7. Gospel: Mark 15: 43-16: 8. Tone: II

Mary Magdalene, Mary the wife of Cleopas, Joanna, Salome the mother of the sons of Zebedee, Sussanna, and Mary and Martha the sisters of Lazarus; Righteous Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus; St. Basil the Confessor, bishop of Parium (450); Virgin Anthusa of Constantinople; St. Athanasia, abbess of Aegina; Martyrs Menas, David and John of Palestine; St. Isaac the Syrian, abbot of Spoleto; Hieromartyr Zeno, bishop of Verona; Neo-martyr Acacius of Kapsokalyvia Skete on Mt. Athos; St. Basil, bishop of Ryazan; Deposition of the Belt of the Most Holy Mother of God in Constantinople; Martyrs Demas, Protion and those with them.


By Dr. Alexander Kalomiros

    Anathema means anything that has been separated from God and the Church of the Christians and has been dedicated to the devil. It is of great importance that one understand that it is not the Church that separates someone from God by some official act, it is not the hierarchs who make him anathema, nor yet is it God Who banishes a man from Him; it is man himself who makes himself anathema, who dismisses the Grace of God and the Gift of the Holy Spirit from within himself and flees far from God. It is only after this that the Church steps in to certify and to proclaim this fact, with the purpose of protecting first the Divine Gifts from any contact with the blasphemous, and, second, the faithful from pollution. The anathema is the formal proclamation of the Church that such-and-such a man or group of men have ceased to be Christians, have lost the Grace of God and the Gift of the Holy Spirit, and in conscience are outside the Church, enslaved of their own will to the Prince of this world. The bishops have no right to excommunicate a person on their own. St. Maximus tells us, “If a bishop excommunicates someone against the Will of God, the Divine Wrath does not fall upon this person.” An unjust anathema of a bishop cannot force God to withdraw His Grace from a man or Church, nor is it possible for the opposite to occur; that is, for an unjust lifting of an anathema to force God to enter the hearts of men who reject Him, or to turn a group of heterodox into a Church of God. “Thus the hierarchs have the power of excommunication as expressors of the divine statutes. This is not to say that the All-Wise Godhead slavishly follows their irrational whims, but that they are guided by the Spirit regarding those worthy of excommunication” (St. Dionysius the Areopagite: On Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, Chapter 7).

    What happened then with Athenagoras? Why did he raise the anathema against papacy which was in force for centuries without its being challenged by any Orthodox, and which had not only been accepted unanimously as true by the Church through official documents and proclamations by all the Patriarchates and local Churches, but also had become a deeply embedded matter of ecclesiastical conscience, having been upheld by all the Saints after the Schism and renewed by the decisions of so many Great Orthodox Synods (1485, 1583, 1593, 1727, 1838, 1895)? Two things may have happened: either Athenagoras does not know what an anathema is and considers it a barbaric and insulting action unworthy of a Christian, as many laymen and newspaper reporters seem to feel, and thus naturally wants to seek forgiveness and erase the memory of such an act; or he does know what it means, and his actions may be explained in two ways: he either believes that as Patriarch he has jurisdiction over the Grace of God and may force God to return His Grace from whence He has withdrawn it, or he believes that the Orthodox Church has been in error for these nine centuries and that, at last, only he and his followers have seen the light of truth after all this time of darkness.2

    But whichever of these may have occurred, one thing is certain: Athenagoras and his followers are at this moment at odds with the Orthodox Church and in opposition to the judgement and will of God, which for nine centuries has been expressed and is being expressed “by the guidance of the Spirit” in His Church.

    By the Anathema against Papism the Church proclaimed that the Pope and his followers abandoned the Church, lost the truth (which is Christ), and were submerged in the depths of error from which Christ came to free them. Their teachings were declared a delusion of the evil one, and a poison to the souls of men, and any communication with them makes us like them by cutting us off from the Grace of God, from His Church, and estranges us from the path of salvation, placing us rather on the road to perdition.

    But Athenagoras, by raising this Anathema, announced that all this is false, that the Pope and his followers were unjustly excommunicated, that the Church wrongly held the doctrines of Papism to be false, and that, in truth, Papism is as much a Church of God as is Orthodoxy. What separates us? We are already united; we are already one Church; the Schism has already ceased to exist. Since the Grace of God works through their sacraments as well as ours, and since the Faith is the same for them as well as for us, what separates us? Ecclesiastical jurisdiction? But this separates the Greeks from the Bulgarians, and the Russians from the Ukrainians without their being separated from the One Church.

    From this, we may conclude that, in fact, the antagonism between Athenagoras and the Church is dogmatic in nature. The Church proclaims that the teachings of Papism are falsehoods; Athenagoras comes today to proclaim that they are truths. This is the meaning of the raising of the Anathema. Athenagoras sides with Papism, and—together with all his followers, together with all who even commemorate him, together with all who have whatever ecclesiastical communion with him—rejects the Faith of the Church.

    It is impossible for the Church to raise an anathema which she herself leveled on a heretical system or a heresiarch. To do this would be a denial of herself. The anti-christian and blasphemous papal system has been condemned once and for all by the Church and not even an Ecumenical Synod can raise it, because should it do so, it would be at odds with the Church and Holy Tradition, and therefore would not be a genuine Synod. Even if Papism were to cease to exist, the anathema against the pope and his followers would remain within the memory of the Church, as has the anathema against Arius and the Arians. Nor yet is it possible for us to speak of the repentance and return of Papism, for Papism is in itself a gross sin against the Spirit—and sin cannot repent—it either exists or it does not. Man must abandon sin if he is to be free of it. In order for the westerners to return to the Church, they must purge themselves from Papism, Protestantism, and all the other errors of the west. Let not those who continue to bear these errors delude themselves into thinking that they may become Orthodox Christians.

    The Pope and Athenagoras contend that the Anathema of 1054 “related only to the persons involved, and not to the Churches.” Is it possible that these two who seek to fool the faithful do not know that within the Church there is no such thing as a personal quarrel, that no anathema is ever leveled for personal reasons, and that when a hierarch is condemned, all who agree with him or succeed him are anathematized also? Even if it were true that the Anathema of 1054 was of limited significance then—when we note the many added heresies of the Latins, when we take into account that the whole Church has supported the Anathema formally many times in Pan-Orthodox Synods, when we consider that the signatures of all the hierarchs of the Church after 1054 have been added to it, that it has been broadened and strengthened, sealed with the life and blood of the martyrs, with the teachings and precepts of all the Saints, even with miracles, that it has become part of the conscience of all genuine children of the Faith throughout the world where the Orthodox Church exists—then we may understand that this which Athenagoras sought to eradicate was not just a simple document, but the very Faith and Life of the Church.

    Athenagoras and those who continue to have ecclesiastical communion with him may believe that they have voided the Anathema of the Church against Papism, but in actuality, they themselves have fallen under the Church’s awful anathema.

 By Tim Reynolds
(From The Watchman, October 1997)

    THE family is enjoying dinner when a young voice says, “I’m thinking of getting my ears pierced.” Today that notice might come from your son? There are three good answers that every parent should memorize for such an occasion:

1. NO!!!
2. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of!
3. Just what you need, another hole in your head!
Athletes, movie stars, rock and roll idols, and various miscellaneous perverts have popularized the style of males wearing female jewelry. The effeminate fashion of multiple rings on fingers, ears, and other parts of the body seems attractive to your son because his friends are doing it, his heroes are doing it, and it drives you crazy!
Before you react violently to your son’s unsettling statement, realize three things:
1. It is against the law to kill him.
2. One day he could father grandchildren—and you wouldn’t want to miss that.
3. God has given us principles in the Bible to deal with this issue.

    In Isaiah 3:17.20, the daughters of Zion are said to wear earrings. Ezekiel 16:12 pictures Israel as a beautiful wife who is the object of God’s love. He is heard saying, “I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears.” Again portraying Israel as a beautiful woman betrothed to God, Hosea 2:13 says, “She decked herself with her earrings and her jewels.”


    In Exodus 32, the people of Israel sank into idolatry while they waited for Moses to bring down the law of God from Mt. Sinai. Aaron supervised building the golden calf for Israel to worship, a form of idolatry learned in Egypt. They had picked up other bad habits from the Egyptians. While the men of Israel had not stooped so low as to wear earrings, their sons had! The young men of Israel had been influenced by a heathen society to wear what pertained to women. When Aaron wanted gold, he told them to “Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me” (verse 2). So that no remembrance of the perversions learned in Egypt might remain, Moses burned the golden calf, ground the remains into powder, put it in water, and made Israel drink it (verse 20).


    In Genesis 33, Jacob’s family had been drawn to the ways of the Canaanite city Shalem. While Jacob built an altar to the Lord, his children were attracted to heathen ways. The result was that Jacob’s daughter Dinah was defiled, her brothers killed the Canaanites, and they took the spoil of the city. In Genesis 35:2-4, Israel was to give up the spoil of the city Shalem. They were commanded to put away strange gods, be clean, and change garments. This tells us that they possessed Canaanite idols, Canaanite perversions, and ungodly Canaanite garments. Their response was to give Jacob the idols and their earrings, and he buried them under the oak. Where did they get their earrings? From the Canaanite men they killed in Shalem.


    In Judges 8, after Gideon’s three hundred men had defeated the Midianite army, he sent them out to the carnage of the battlefield to remove gold from the enemy dead and give it to him. The dead could be identified by earrings. The Israelites, the children of the promise, had no earrings; their enemies, referred to as Ishmaelites, who were not the children of the promise, had earrings; Verse 24 tells us, “For they had golden earrings, because they were lshmaelites.” All these earrings were to be brought to Gideon, so that there would be no temptation for the men of Israel to wear them.The lesson to be learned is that male heirs to the promises of God do not wear earrings, while males of those who are not heirs to the promises of God do wear earrings.

    What should our sons learn from these Old Testament lessons, which are given for our instruction? Just this: Non-Christian young men wear earrings; Christian young men do not. Besides, why would you want another hole in your head?

St. Nectarios Press