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Fr. Neketas S. Palassis, Editor Email:
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OCTOBER, 2007,  Vol. XLI, No. 10 (1577)


  1. ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM: On the Beatitudes (excerpt)

Just as disciples should love their masters, so masters should love their disciples, and on behalf of each other they should mutually acknowledge the grace of God Who has given to all men spiritual knowledge and every other good thing. For these good things we ought All of us always to give thanks to Him, especally those who have received from Him the power to renew their holy baptism through repentance, because without repentance no one can be saved.

St. Peter of Damascus, Philokalia, V. 3

On the Beatitudes.
    "And Jesus seeing the multitudes went up into the mountain, and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him. And He opened His mouth, and taught them saying, Blessed," etc. [Matt. 5:1, 2]
    1. SEE how unambitious He was, and void of boasting: in that He did not lead people about with Him, but whereas, when healing. was required, He had Himself gone about everywhere, visiting both towns and country places; now when the multitude is become very great, He sits in one spot: and that not in the midst of any city or forum, but on a mountain and in a wilderness; instructing us to do nothing for display, and to separate ourselves from the tumults of ordinary life, and this most especially, when we are to study wisdom, and to discourse of things needful to be done.
    But when He had gone up into the mount, and "was set down, His disciples came unto Him." Seest thou their growth in virtue? and how in a moment [or, "all at once"] they became better men? Since the multitude were but gazers on the miracles, but these from that hour desired also to hear some great and high thing. And indeed this it was set Him on His teaching, and made Him begin this discourse.
    For it was not men's bodies only that He was healing, but He was also amending their souls; and again from the care of these He would pass to attendance on the other. Thus He at once varied the succor that He gave, and likewise mingled with the instruction afforded by His words, the manifestation of His glory from His works; and besides, He stopped the shameless mouths of the heretics, signifying by this His care of both parts of our being, that He Himself is the Maker of the whole creation. Therefore also on each nature He bestowed abundant providence, now amending the one, now the other.
    And in this way He was then employed. For it is said, that "He opened His mouth, and taught them." And wherefore is the clause added, "He opened His mouth"? To inform thee that in His very silence He gave instruction, and not when He spoke only: but at one time by "opening His mouth," at another uttering His voice by the works which He did.
    But when thou hearest that He taught them, do not think of Him as discoursing with His disciples only, but rather with all through them.
    For since the multitude was such as a multitude ever is, and consisted moreover of such as creep on the ground, He withdraws the choir of His disciples, and makes His discourse unto them: in His conversation with them providing that the rest also, who were yet very far from the level of His sayings, might find His lesson of self-denial no longer grievous unto them. Of which indeed both Luke gave intimation, when he said that. He directed His words unto them: and Matthew too, clearly declaring the same, wrote, "His disciples came unto Him, and He taught them." For thus the others also were sure to be more eagerly attentive to Him, than they would have been, had He addressed Himself unto all.
    2. Whence then doth He begin? and what kind of foundations of His new polity doth He lay for us?
    Let us hearken with strict attention unto what is said. For though it was spoken unto them, it was written for the sake also of all men afterwards. And accordingly on this account, though He had His disciples in His mind in His public preaching, yet unto them He limits not His sayings, but applies all His words of blessing without restriction. Thus He said not, "Blessed are ye, if ye become poor," but "Blessed are the poor." [Matt. 5:3] And I may add that even if He had spoken of them, the advice would still be common to all. For so, when He saith, "Lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world," [Matt. 28:20] He is discoursing not with them only, but also, through them, with all the world. And in pronouncing them blessed, who are persecuted, and chased, and suffer all intolerable things; not for them only, but also for all who arrive at the same excellency, He weaves His crown.
    However, that this may be yet plainer, and to inform thee that thou hast great interest in His sayings, and so indeed hath all mankind, if any choose to give heed; hear how He begins these wondrous words.
    "Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven." [Matt. 5:2]
    What is meant by "the poor in spirit?" The humble and contrite in mind. For by "spirit" He hath here designated the soul, and the faculty of choice. That is, since many are humble not willingly, but compelled by stress of circumstances; letting these pass (for this were no matter of praise), He blesses them first, who by choice humble and contract themselves.
    But why said he not, "the humble," but rather "the poor?" Because this is more than that. For He means here them who are awestruck, and tremble at the commandments of God. Whom also by His prophet Isaiah God earnestly accepting said, "To whom will I look, but to him who is meek and quiet, and trembleth at My words?" For indeed there are many kinds of humility: one is humble in his own measure, another with all excess of lowliness. It is this last lowliness of mind which that blessed prophet commends, picturing to us the temper that is not merely subdued, but utterly broken, when he saith, "The sacrifice for God is a contrite spirit, a contrite and an humble heart God will not despise." [Psalm 50 (51):7] And the Three Children also offer this unto God as a great sacrifice, saying, "Nevertheless, in a contrite soul, and in a spirit of lowliness, may we be accepted." This Christ also now blesses.
    3. For whereas the greatest of evils, and those which make havoc of the whole world, had their entering in from pride:--for both the devil, not being such before, did thus become a devil; as indeed Paul plainly declared, saying, "Lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil:" [1 Tim. 3:6] --and the first man, too, puffed up by the devil with these hopes, was made an example of, and became mortal (for expecting to become a god, he lost even what he had; and God also upbraiding him with this, and mocking his folly, said, "Behold, Adam is become as one of us" [Gen. 3:22]; and each one of those that came after did hereby wreck himself in impiety, fancying some equality with God:--since, I say, this was the stronghold of our evils, and the root and fountain of all wickedness, He, preparing a remedy suitable to the disease, laid this law first as a strong and safe foundation. For this being fixed as a base, the builder in security lays on it all the rest. But if this be taken away, though a man reach to the Heavens in his course of life, it is all easily undermined, and issues in a grievous end. Though fasting, prayer, almsgiving, temperance, any other good thing whatever, be gathered together in thee; without humility all fall away and perish.
    It was this very thing that took place in the instance of the Pharisee. For even after he had arrived at the very summit, he "went down" with the loss of all, because he had not the mother of virtues: for as pride is the fountain of all wickedness, so is humility the principle of all self-command. Wherefore also He begins with this, pulling up boasting by the very root out of the soul of His hearers.
    "And what," one may ask, "is this to His disciples, who were on every account humble? For in truth they had nothing to be proud of, being fishermen, poor, ignoble, and illiterate." Even though these things concerned not His disciples, yet surely they concerned such as were then present, and such as were hereafter to receive the disciples, lest they should on this account despise them. But it were truer to say that they did also concern His disciples. For even if not then, yet by and by they were sure to require this help, after their signs and wonders, and their honor from the world, and their confidence towards God. For neither wealth, nor power, nor royalty itself, had so much power to exalt men, as the things which they possessed in all fullness. And besides, it was natural that even before the signs they might be lifted up, at that very time when they saw the multitude, and all that audience surrounding their Master; they might feel some human weakness. Wherefore He at once represses their pride.
    And He doth not introduce what He saith by way of advice or of commandments, but by way of blessing, so making His word less burthensome, and opening to all the course of His discipline. For He said not, "This or that person," but "they who do so, are all of them blessed." So that though thou be a slave, a beggar, in poverty, a stranger, unlearned, there is nothing to hinder thee from being blessed, if thou emulate this virtue.
    4. Now having begun, as you see, where most need was, He proceeds to another commandment, one which seems to be opposed to the judgment of the whole world. For whereas all think that they who rejoice are enviable, those in dejection, poverty, and mourning, wretched, He calls these blessed rather than those; saying thus,
    "Blessed are they that mourn." [Matt. 5:4]
    Yet surely all men call them miserable. For therefore He wrought the miracles beforehand, that in such enactments as these He might be entitled to credit.
    And here too again he designated not simply all that mourn, but all that do so for sins: since surely that other kind of mourning is forbidden, and that earnestly, which relates to anything of this life. This Paul also clearly declared, when he said, "The sorrow of the world worketh death, but godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation, not to be repented of." [2 Cor. 7:10]
    These then He too Himself calls blessed, whose sorrow is of that kind; yet not simply them that sorrow did He designate, but them that sorrow intensely. Therefore He did not say, "they that sorrow," but "they that mourn." For this commandment again is fitted to teach us entire self-control. For if those who grieve for children, or wife, or any other relation gone from them, have no fondness for gain or pleasure during that period of their sorrow; if they aim not at glory, are not provoked by insults, nor led captive by envy, nor beset by any other passion, their grief alone wholly possessing them; much more will they who mourn for their own sins, as they ought to mourn, show forth a self-denial greater than this.
    Next, what is the reward for these? "For they shall be comforted," saith He.
    Where shall they be comforted! tell me. Both here and there. For since the thing enjoined was exceeding burthensome and galling, He promised to give that, which most of all made it light. Wherefore, if thou wilt be comforted, mourn: and think not this a dark saying. For when God doth comfort, though sorrows come upon thee by thousands like snow-flakes, thou wilt be above them all. Since in truth, as the returns which God gives are always far greater than our labors; so He hath wrought in this case, declaring them that mourn to be blessed, not after the value of what they do, but after His own love towards man For they that mourn, mourn for misdoings, and to such it is enough to enjoy forgiveness, and obtain wherewith to answer for themselves. But forasmuch as He is full of love towards man, He doth not limit His recompense either to the removal of our punishments, or to the deliverance from our sins, but He makes them even blessed, and imparts to them abundant consolation.
    But He bids us mourn, not only for our own, but also for other men's misdoings. And of this temper were the souls of the saints: such was that of Moses, of Paul, of David; yea, all these many times mourned for evils not their own.
    5. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." [Matt. 5:5] Tell me, what kind of earth? Some say a figurative earth, but it is not this, for nowhere in Scripture do we find any mention of an earth that is merely figurative. But what can the saying mean? He holds out a sensible prize; even as Paul also doth, in that when he had said, "Honor thy father and thy mother," he added, "For so shalt thou live long upon the earth." [Eph. 6:2, 3; Deut. 5:16] And He Himself unto the thief again, "Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise." [Luke 23:43]
    Thus He doth not incite us by means of the future blessings only, but of the present also, for the sake of the grosset sort of His hearers, and such as before the future seek those others.
    Thus, for example, further on also He said, "Agree with thine adversary." Then He appoints the reward of such self-command, and saith, "Lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge to the officer." [Matt. 5:25] Seest thou whereby He alarmed us? By the things of sense, by what happens before our eyes. And again, "Whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council." [Matt. 5:22]
    And Paul too sets forth sensible rewards at great length, and uses things present in his exhortations; as when he is discoursing about virginity. For having said nothing about the heavens there, for the time he urges it by things present, saying, "Because of the present distress," [1 Cor. 7:26]and, "But I spare you," [1 Cor. 7:28] and, "I would have you without carefulness," [1 Cor. 7:32]
    Thus accordingly Christ also with the things spiritual hath mingled the sensible. For whereas the meek man is thought to lose all his own, He promises the contrary, saying, "Nay, but this is he who possesses his goods in safety, namely, he who is not rash, nor boastful: while that sort of man shall often lose his patrimony, and his very life."
    And besides, since in the Old Testament the prophet used to say continually, "The meek shall inherit the earth;" [Psalm 36 (37):11] He thus weaves into His discourse the words to which they were accustomed, so as not everywhere to speak a strange language.
    And this He saith, not as limiting the rewards to things present, but as joining with these the other sort of gifts also. For neither in speaking of any spiritual thing doth He exclude such as are in the present life; nor again in promising such as are in our life, doth He limit his promise to that kind. For He saith, "Seek ye the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you." [Matt. 6:33] And again: "Whosoever hath left houses or brethren, shall receive an hundred fold in this world, and in the future shall inherit everlasting life." [Matt. 19:29; Mark 10:29, 30; Luke 18:29, 30]
To be continued...
To Our Blessed Brothers and Sisters of the Holy Orthodox Church of North America
And to
The Acquaintances and Friends of Archbishop John, Wonderworker
      For some 10 year we have waited to open a permanent temple of God in the middle of America. We have existed as a mission and now its time for us to be a Church community. We are grateful for the Chapel funded and housed by Aristeides and Joanne Ketsios and for the comfort of having occasional Divine Services with various clergy of our Diocese.
      Father Michael Waples and his family have moved from Minneaopolis to our area during the last week of August. However, residential codes would not allow us to continue operating as a church in the current residential location so we had to move to a neutral location zoned for churches and/or commerce. We have managed to gather a modest amount of savings, have rented office space in a mini-mall and two of our parishioners have done all the necessary remodeling. Our place of worship is located in Frankfort, Illinois, a southern suburb of Chicago. Our first liturgy was on Sunday, September 23rd.
           By September 1st, we grew to 40 souls. With adequate financial support, the establishment of our parish will be very viable. Currently our parishioners travel from two to two and a half hours from three different states i.e., Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. The surrounding population of over 10 million souls could result in one of the largest parishes of our Diocese. It is important for this parish to get established with a firm financial foundation.
           Plainly, the reason for this article is to ask you for your financial assistance. If youre so inclined, we could use your help now. Remember that during every Divine Liturgy you will be commemorated among the blessed and ever memorable founders of our church. Remember also that our God never allows Himself to be in debt and that he handsomely over pays the wages of those who open new churches. 
           Some of our parishioners have made significant financial sacrifices but the few cannot do it alone. If you can help us, please contact us at:
                 Saint John of San Francisco Orthodox Church, Inc.
                 20662 Francisca Way
                 Frankfort, Illinois 60423

    If you have any questions please call me in Brookfield, Wisconsin at 262-784-3373 or call our Treasurer, Joanne Ketsios in Frankfort, Illinois at 815-806-8024.

We thank you in advance for your anticipated kindness.
Very Truly,

Theodore Pappas
Parish Vice President

Late Saturday night, October 20th, the Church of St. Seraphim of Sarov in Glen Allen Virginia (near Richmond) was completely gutted by a fire, apparently started by charcoal which had not been completely extinguished. Fr. Nicodemos Gayle had been ill at home.  The church was insured and they will be rebuilding as soon as they can. Additional questions and any offers of assistance may be directed to:
Fr. Nicodemos Gayle
9000 Culley Drive
Mechanicsville, VA  23116


The following was sent to The Orthodox Christian Witness for publication as a voice of protest against the recent union of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia with the
Moscow Patriarchate.

Mother Maria (Nau)                            9/10 – 20/3  2007
Russian Orthodox Monastery
Mahopac, NY  1541  USA


Rev. Bishop Gavriil
75 East 93rd St.
New York, NY  10128-1390


    Patriarch Alexey II of Moscow spends this week in France. His very first visit has been for the U.N. in Strasbourg, by so renewing with the tradition already set by Pope John Paul II who did appear before the U.N. General Assembly as soon as 1965 where, according to his own words, he stated that his moat ardent desire was 'to serve, you, the United Nations'.
    Today, Sep. 20 according to the Julian calendar and Oct 3 according to the secular one, Alexey visits Paris with the intention, first of all, of paying his respects to the Roman See in the person of the Archbishop of Paris and of participating in the Roman Catholic Mass which will be celebrated in the evening, in the, cathedral of "Notre Dame de Paris. The degree of the participation was not specified by Radio France International, which simply put the stress on the secondary purpose of this visit to Western Europe, to wit, to meet with the faithful of our Holy Synod in order to confirm in their midst the union with the Patriarchate. Alexey wishes also to meet with the representatives of the other Sister Churches and very specially to go to rue George Bizet (Constantinople) in order to discuss over the heated controversy between the two Patriarchates concerning the attempt of the Phanar at positioning itself as an overlord over the other Sisters Churches, very specially over Moscow.
    Of course Moscow deems the other very controversial aspects of the Phanar policy, most specifically in matter of ecumenism, 0Kay. The French Radio insisted also quite at length on the warming of the relations between Moscow and the Vatican, on the fact that Moscow approves of the reintroduction of the Latin language in the liturgical life and generally speaking, of the firm stand of Benedict the XVIth in matters of moral and ethics.
    In actual fact Patriarch Alexey II is quite in step with the doings of his own Patriarchate in the past. Archbishop Nikodim of Leningrad, who had been identified by ranking Soviet defectors as a MAJOR GENERAL IN THE FORMER INFAMOUS K.G.B., had already been a frequent guest of Paul VI with whom he had entertained an exceptionally cordial relationship. Shortly after John Paul I's election Nikodim was again guest to the Vatican. During his audience with the new Pope the Justice of God overtook him and he suffered a massive heart attack was then given the last Rites by the Pope and died cradled in his arms. Since then intercommunion between Moscow and the Vatican has been a matter of occult, but none the less, very factual practice, simply officially denounced from time to time by Moscow. Both the Patriarchate of Moscow and the Phanar sent leading clergy representatives at the first Mass celebrated by Benedict the XVIth after his coronation. At that stage the participation of Moscow was only of prayer, which in itself is  already quite sufficient to make one cross the border of excommunication. The Phanar went a step further with one of its deacons reading the Gospel in Greek after it had been read in Latin.
    To state in details all of the malefactions in matters of Orthodox Faith committed by the Patriarchate of Moscow since the Soviet authorities did orientate the Patriarchate towards ecumenism would necessitate several in folios!
    The controversy with the See of Rome is a very old controversy that covers more than 1000 years and one can already speak of first attempt at ecumenism with the False Union of Florence. But the WCC is really a Super Roman See, a far away dependency of the Reformation, those bastards of the popish policy of the days. Unfortunately today the Patriarchate of Moscow participates in the work of the WCC as a full member of the COUNCIL.  The membership of the Council includes also representatives of the Phanar, of the Rumanian Patriarchate and of the Orthodox Church of America which is in part the dependency of the group of Russian exiles and intellectuals who during the first decades of the 20th century have been active participants in the founding of the ecumenical movement. It is probably useful to remind ourselves of the fact that the Constitution of the WCC considers membership not of individual representatives, but specifically of the entire Local Church in its fullness. Every local Church in the WCC is viewed as the totality of all her members, to wit in the matter at hand, as part of an heterodox association.
    Was that a very unorthodox step and an act of downright apostasia? Most certainly per se it was so. And no doubt about the fact that each of our hierarchs in appositioning, his signature to this act of apostasia is sure to having contracted a rather heavy debt to be repaid in [the] way of taxes, in the best of cases and expectations, post mortem at the toll houses. Apostasia is apostasia and our hierarchs cannot, and could not, and will not be able to argue of the fact that they were not informed of what was, had been and continue to be enacted by the Patriarchate of Moscow in matter of ecumenism.
    But were those sinful signatures a disaster without remedy when it comes to the future of Orthodoxy in the Holy Synod? It seems to me that one can assert the contrary. How [is] that? Well, those fateful signatures obtained [for] our hierarchs the fullness of recognition as legitimate ORTHODOX hierarchs by the very Patriarchate of Moscow who till then insisted that the Holy Synod was nothing more than a sect. With those signatures the whole of the controversy over the legitimacy of the Holy Synod as a Local Church in her own right for the time being was wiped out and our hierarchs were fully reestablished in the world as legitimate, canonical ORTHODOX bishops, not sectarians of sort but 'pares inter pares.' Now they have again the recognized right in the eye of the Orthodox community to speak de jure in the name of Orthodoxy, Canon Laws, Scriptural and oral Traditions. This is phenomenal. The point is also that in matters of Orthodox Faith and dogmas ALL BISHOPS, ARCHBISHOPS, METROPOLITANS AND PATRIARCHS ARE ON A LEVEL. The hierarchy at [the] episcopal level fulfills a function of a purely administrative nature for the commodity of the relations between local Churches. Ephesus was not ranked as the greatest of the sees in the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the 13th century, and yet the sole opposition of Mark to [the] Pope, his own Patriarch and the Emperor was enough to block and in the end emasculate the False Union of Florence. It is clear that nowadays a simple bishop, even a Vicar bishop, has at his disposal his full share of the Holy Spirit to oppose Benedict the XVIth, Patriarch Alexey II and any heterodox bishop and hierarch roaming loose among the Orthodox faithful. And the strong point in the matter at hand is that now the deadly weight of the past controversy in [the] matter of Orthodox legitimacy has been removed and that any truly Orthodox bishop can raise his voice among his peers and say with assurance "Your doings are unorthodox. You have stepped outside the boundaries of the Orthodox Faith. The Church in Heaven and on earth is ONE and Heaven and earth in the matter at hand cannot be divided, so and in order to remain one with Heaven, we now on earth, have now to separate ourselves from you and your wrong doings. The Art. XV of the Council First/Second provides for this eventuality and I (let us hope 'we'), Orthodox bishop in my own right, vested in the Grace of the Holy Spirit, take now refuge in that most sacred legal disposition."
    To speak thus before the reconciliation at official level with Moscow in May would have proven an impossibility de facto. In actual fact it is still the big problem encountered by all the groups and groupusculs of Greek Old Calendarists. No matter how Orthodox are many of their stands, the very legitimacy of their existence as Local Churches is contested.
    So providing that NOW we take immediately occasion of the recent wrong doings of the Patriarchate of Moscow in matter of e(@umenism, we play [it] safe.
    I dare trust that by addressing this peaceful and Orthodox letter to your Highness I shall not meet at the hand of the hierarchy of the Holy Synod with the fate that did confront so many opponents among the Russian clergy of the M.P. in the past, whenever they dared to suggest that the policy of the Patriarchate has been extremely distorted ever since 1927. No need to say that since last winter I have stopped all communion of prayer and chalice here, waiting for an occasion to meet with an Orthodox hierarch over those vital issues.

Sinful most certainly, but resolutely Orthodox nun of the great habit living in seclusion,

+Mother Maria


(TAR) TARSO: The Fool in Christ (1910-1989),
by Ioannis K. Kornarakis. The life of foolishness in Christ is the most difficult of ascetic feats, and the least understood by those in the world, requiring extreme humility. The story of Tarso is an example to us to leave the sophistication of the world and with simplicity and faith to follow Christ.  Color and black & white illus.  242pp.  Paper  e$29.00

(OM) OLD MARIA: A Grandfather’s Tale of Spiritual Warfare Once Upon a Time in Old Russia, BY Alvin Alexsi Currier.  A beautifully illustrated picture book about the building of a women’s monastery in Russia, and an old woman whose love and prayers overcame the Evil One.  28pp.  Hard Cover  d$15.00

(EGJ) EXPLANATION OF THE HOLY GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SAINT JOHH by Blessed Theophylact.   The long-awaited final volume of the Gospel commentary by St. Theophylact of Bulgaria.  318pp.  Cloth  d$24.00;  Paper d$18.00

(TM89) NOW ARE THE PROPHECIES FULFILLED. Hymns of the services of the Prefestival, The Royal Hours, Vigl and Liturgy of The Nativity of Our Saviour, chanted in English to Byzantine Chant by the Choir of the Odigitria, directed by Peter Elgohary. A 2-CD set most beautifully performed.  D$25.00

(ACAL4) ADVENT CALENDAR #4. A new advent calendar featuring a traditional Russian style icon of the Nativity with icons below of Prophet David, Joseph the Betrothed and James the Brother of the Lord. Comes with booklet of brief life of each saint . e$15.00

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