Dear Mrs. A.,
Greetings in the Lord!
issue of the Calendar had become a serious problem in the Church during the
20th century and unfortunately, it still exists. Naturally
things are far clearer now than they were when the problem first appeared.
Entire books have also been written in support of one side or the other;
however, it is not our intention here to elaborate on the overall
situation. What concerns us is to spherically inform you of the Orthodox
rationale of our Church. A basic position such as this can be found in the
letter of our Venerable Father Filotheos Zervakos, Abbot of the Sacred
Monastery of Longovarda on Paros Island: “We
aren’t followers of calendars; we are followers of Jesus Christ.”
Essentially, this position solves all the problems surrounding the issue.
However, certain clarifications are definitely necessary.
won’t examine how the calendar was changed in certain countries (although we
can certainly find many ugly elements). What is important for the Church is
how to confront each problem that arises. Thus, when the calendar issue
appeared, certain Orthodox Churches (for example the Church of Greece, the
Church of Romania, the Church of Cyprus) officially accepted this change,
while others (for example the Church of Russia, the Church of Jerusalem, the
Church of Bulgaria) did not accept it, and they adhered to the pre-existent
Many had reacted, having regarded this change to be an innovation. Perhaps
to some degree they were right. However, those who had dissented ended up
breaking their communion with the remaining corpus of the Church, thereafter
creating new, independent, “pure Churches”, whose further splintering and
lack of restraint has no end, even to this day! Is it ever possible for
this kind of thing to be the body of Christ?
mentioned earlier, the local Churches had not confronted the change in the
same manner; some had accepted it and others hadn’t. But then how did
each view the other? The Patriarchates and Autocephalous Churches that
did not change the calendar (or react in any way or regard as heretic
or schismatic the Patriarchates and Autocephalous Churches that did change),
continued to have canonical relations and sacramental communion.
paranoid for an Orthodox to assert that all those Holy Synods acted
incorrectly. And we are not saying this because we regard the Synods to be
infallible, but because along with those decisions, we also have the
testimonies of saints of that period, who had accepted this new ecclesiastic
event, after having received divine revelations.
is our duty as faithful Orthodox to comprehend what the true Patristic
spirit is. It is indeed very dangerous and scandalous to make sudden changes
– even proper ones – to whatever pertains to ecclesiastic order; however,
it is far more important for ecclesiastic unity to be preserved,
in every possible way. The Holy Fathers always avoided schisms in every
way they could, often resorting to significant concessions
How much more should this be observed in the matter of the calendar,
which is NOT a dogmatic issue?
Church has a specific structure and boundaries, which have been founded by
the head of our Faith – our Lord Jesus Christ – and has been built up by the
God-enlightened decisions of the Apostles and the Holy Fathers. The Sacred
Canons do not expel from the Church the heretics only, but the schismatics
also; in other words, all those who do not have a
canonical association with the remainder of Her corpus. Thus,
we can be consistent with the position of the Venerable
Filotheos, provided we do not stumble over something like the Church of
Greece being with the “new” calendar as opposed to the Church of Jerusalem
which is with the “old” calendar, when there is canonical sacramental
communion between them.
Should we however follow a “church” which is self-styled as “pure” or
“genuine” on account of its calendar, but has no sacramental communion
with the local, canonical Orthodox Churches, then we are not
acting in accordance with the opinion of the Venerable Filotheos and the
Fathers of Longovarda, which you mentioned.
concluding this letter, we would like to inform you that fr. Filotheos
himself did not agree with the change in the calendar, however, he never
broke away from the body of the Church, to create any new Synod.
Furthermore, he also happened to be one of the most vehemently opposed to
the pan-heresy of Ecumenism, but he also fought bravely against all those
who had embraced it (he even checked Patriarchs), again staying inside the
bosom of the Church.
regards the Orthodox position and stance opposite Ecumenism, we have already
on the subject.
would urge you paternally to guard yourself from
every heretic teaching and innovation, but at the same time making sure that
you always remain united with the only Church of Christ.
the Lord bless you and illuminate you!