Dear Βrothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today our Church celebrates the victory of the Orthodox faith against its enemies, the iconoclasts, because they wanted to remove the holy icons from our churches and destroy them. Who were these enemies? They were (seemingly) Orthodox kings, bishops and patriarchs, who in the Synod of Hiereia in 754 (which they proclaimed to be Ecumenical!) condemned the veneration of icons!
Thirty-three years later, in 787, a new Synod convened in Nicaea, which condemned the un-Orthodox Synod, and reinstated in the churches and the homes of Christians the holy images (those that were left, which were not destroyed), so that we may worship God the Word Who for our sake became man like us. Therefore we may, actually we must, depict Him, because He was not a ghost, but a real person with skin and bone.
(Parenthetically let me say that the Protestants do not have icons in their places of worship, which are naked and graceless. Roman Catholics have statues, which our Church does not allow, because they remind us of idols. Although they also have icons, they keep them high, and they don’t venerate them. Indeed, emperor Charlemagne in 794 (only 7 years after the Council of Nicaea) called a Synod in Frankfurt condemning the decisions of the Seventh Ecumenical Council and the veneration of the holy icons! Eighty-five years later, in 879, a Synod that many Orthodox accept as the Eighth Ecumenical Council condemned this pseudo-synod.)
The struggle of the Church against heresies is not finished. Almost 100 years ago a new heresy has appeared within the Church: the heresy of Ecumenism, which like Iconoclasm insidiously threatens to completely destroy her.
What is Ecumenism? I will not tell you. Better yet, I will let a great Saint of our day, the Serbian Archimandrite, St. Justin Popović tell you about it:
The great contemporary apologist of Orthodoxy, known to all, Metropolitan of Piraeus Seraphim explains further what Ecumenism means, and what is its corrosive role:
And Metropolitan Seraphim continues in the same text, explaining what the aim of Ecumenism is:
And he presents the final evaluation of Ecumenism:
But how it is possible to circumvent the profound differences that exist between the “churches” and the religions? In what way does Ecumenism seek to accomplish a feat that seems impossible? Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew promotes this monstrosity this way. The first step is to unite the “churches.” The unifying link is the “common baptism” of all Christians. As long as we accept that we are all baptized, we all belong to the same “Mega-Church.” Baptismal theology is the basis of Ecumenism, but the engine that powers it is (purportedly) peace and love.
Patriarch Bartholomew’s plan is to unite first with the Pope, whom he accepts as a canonical Hierarch of the Church. His desire is to unite our Church with his “church,” with no change in their faith or worship. The union will take place by a simple recognition that they constitute two “sister Churches,” united in love.
For the last fifty years the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Pope not only have been dialoguing between them, but they have also moved into action. They have met for common prayer, which according to the canons of the Church is forbidden. But this did not stop our Patriarch who has been praying not only with heretical Christians but also with people from many other faiths. His bishops are doing the same in order not to be left behind.
We don’t agree with them, and we distance ourselves from them. We no longer follow them or obey them, because they are betrayers of the faith and they ought to be condemned as heretics by an Orthodox Synod. We cannot wait for such Synod to convene. We wall ourselves from now, that is we cease to have communion with them.
“We shall not deny you, beloved Orthodoxy,
nor shall we lie to you, time-honored reverence,
We were born in you, we live in you, and we shall die in you.
And if time shall call us,
we shall sacrifice a thousand times our lives for you.”
(Monk Joseph Vriennios, Spiritual Father of St. Mark of Ephesus, + ca. 1435)
Fr. Emmanuel Hatzidakis
Sunday of Orthodoxy, 2017