OF BISHOP MATTHEW OF BRESTHENA
(1/14 October, 1947)
BISHOP MATTHEW OF BRESTHENA
To the Most Pious and Christ-named Members of the Church of
Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece and Elsewhere Children in the Lord, beloved and most desired.
May Grace, peace, and mercy of the Holy, Consubstantial, Life-giving and Undivided Trinity, be unto you, brethren. Amen.
Because lately much commotion has spread among the G.O.C. of Greece, regarding the question of the union of us five hierarchs, and for which we are slandered, because supposedly, we separated from the other hierarchs not for reasons of faith, but this was done on account of and for the Truth, we present through this [encyclical], as briefly as possible, the reasons that compelled us to break spiritual communion with the other hierarchs, so that we are not found guilty with them at the hour of judgment.
Beloved in Christ, children and brethren, clear reasons of faith and nothing else, either personal or self-interest, have made us to separate from them, as we are criticized for. In greater detail: Concerning on the one hand the death of [the bishop of] Demetrias, it is not necessary to publish, because the deceased is justified from sins. But we stress that all of our reasons and fears about him have been solidified as at least his end has also shown, that he is found a cacodox, his funeral performed by the cacodox Metropolis of Athens and by cacodox priests.
As for the former [Bishop] of Florina Chrysostom, it is completely different. Towards the harvest-time of 1937, in his response to the most holy monk Mark Chaniotis, he wrote that the Church of Greece is not schismatic, that he does not have the right to preach this, and that the chrism from the Ecumenical Patriarchate which was consecrated after the innovation, in other words after the implementation of the New Calendar, has sanctifying grace, and the children of the New Calendarists should not be chrismated, and even that he is not able to come into opposition with the other New Calendarist churches, which recognize the Church of Greece as canonical, and in addition that after the schism, the sanctifying grace of the chrism which was consecrated by the Ecumenical Patriarchate was not diminished whatsoever. He himself wrote roughly these things around the 17th of October, 1937, to the Administrative Council of the Community of Genuine Orthodox Christians of Thessalonica, that in other words he considers disdaining the Holy Canons if they proclaim the Church of Greece as schismatic and condemn in this way the spiritual death of 5 million of his Greek brothers, who, in good faith, follow the New Calendar, and thus come into opposition with the other Churches.
On 15th January 1938 he wrote to the then Minister of Religion Mr. Georgakopoulos, submitting this document to him: To recognize the ordinations of Bishops [Christopher] CChatzis and [Polycarp] Liosis as valid and be appointed to the disposal of the Church, and to place Germanus Barykopoulos and Matthew the Athonite under trial before the Juridical Synod of the official (cacodox) Church for all they have written and published in criticism, as much against Her, as for them as well.
He continues, writing: “We are even obliged to submit to the whole hierarchy which decides about the calendar pre-Synodally, whoever they are, and to implement it immediately,” in other words, if the pre-Synod decides to follow the New Calendar, let us follow it (See the book “Nomocanonical Occupations” by Demetrios Petrakakos Vasilikos, warden of the cacodox Synod, p. 285).
In the year 1940, before forty people from both parties, at the home of Mr. Basil Kirykos in Psychiko, he confessed that the Church of Greece, since an Ecumenical or Pan-Orthodox Synod to proclaim them schismatic has not occurred, it is not possible to call them schismatic. Her mysteries are valid. Her chrism has the sanctifying grace and the children of the New Calendar should not be chrismated.
In that year he invented the “potential and actual” theory, in other words, that “the Church of the New Calendarists is only potentially schismatic, but not in actuality.” This sophistry, he invented because of the call from the then Police Director Mr. I. Vavouris, and heard from him that the cacodox Church decided and insisted to implement its decision to send into exile all of the hierarchs. Frightened, he then retreated, with the only aim of satisfying the cacodox Church and to negatively affect this one, in order to postpone the decision of the exile of the hierarchs. But he played ignorant and denied this behavior which he just recently confessed.
On the 1st of June 1944 in his Pastoral encyclical to the entire Christ-named flock, he writes that, “The cacodox Church of Greece is the treasury of divine grace,” as endowed by the whole Church, and not just a fixed number of clergy and laity detached for reasons of disagreement, for the healing of the ecclesiological question (like the calendar), and that those who do these things are Protestants or parasynagogues, and that we are being disrespectful and sacrilegious not only towards this divine hypostasis of the Church, but also towards the holiness of the Mysteries, because we call the cacodox Church schismatic and without any grace.
Further, he thinks that we, the Genuine Orthodox, don’t constitute a special and independent Orthodox Church in Greece, because none of the Churches have recognized it as such, but we are within the recognized Autocephalous Greek Church as a guardian, guarding the institution of the Orthodox calendar. And that the idea is erroneous and anti-canonical, that we are the Church. Continuing, he puts forward that, regarding these things, we the Genuine Orthodox, as much as we present the appearance of a Church etc., constitute, according to the canons, not a special Church of that from which we broke off, temporarily, Ecclesiastical communion for canonical reasons, but the unsleeping guardian of the Church of Greece in the name of which we continue its history and whoever thinks otherwise is a parasynagogue and Protestant. Similarly, that we don’t have the right to transmit the Orthodox grace which we are lacking, because we don’t belong to the Canonical Church of Greece, the only treasury of divine grace, according to the Orthodox understanding.
Also on the 1st of January 1945 in the “Clarification” of his above encyclical, he writes that, in this situation, in which a part of the clergy and laity, for ecclesiastical and canonical reasons, breaks off ecclesiastical communion from the superior authority, separated for reasons of religious conscience from the Administrative Hierarchy, uses the same sacrificial altar however much its separate worship and its own house of prayer and its own liturgy makes it appear to be a special Church of hers, which has separated, but canonically this (church) does not cease to belong to that one, the one indivisible Church, etc. (see p. 8).
But on page 11, he also writes that the error of this assertion, in other words, that we call the mysteries of the New Calendarists invalid, rests on the erroneous understanding that the Old Calendarists have remained faithful to the Patristic tradition, because the church of the New Calendarists from then have lacked divine grace as the parasynagogue bishops claim. This might occur for the followers of the parasynagogue. However, in realization, the Old Calendarists of our Orthodox group, know well that the following of the old calendar is not a consequence of the validity or invalidity of the mysteries of the New Calendarists… etc. On pages 14 and 15 of this declaration of his, he writes that we the bishops must express our sorrow for all we have written against them, everything against the cacodox Church, and to repent for having proclaimed the cacodox Church schismatic and its mysteries invalid. Similarly, the newspaper “Eleftheria” (“Freedom”) of 14 November 1945 publishes that he will never commit any rebellious acts, like the other bishops, in other words, he will never ordain bishops, because it is not a Church, but a guardian, and it assures this, to the cacodox Church and the Government, that there is no purpose and under no circumstances would he commit this act. This is because Mr. George Bogri, then police captain and aide of the Minister of Security around the year 1939, complained to them on the part of the cacodox church to not ordain hierarchs because they will be sent into exile, just as they have shown, they assured the cacodox Church through the above Mr. Bogri, now Police commander, and assistant administrator of the higher governing body of central Greece, that they will never ordain hierarchs under any circumstances. Likewise, in his memorandum of 1947 for a future Pan-Orthodox Synod to assemble, he quotes that “This triumph of the Church was achieved via the all-sustaining power of Christ, using the Excellent Commander Stalin as his means and organ, and his glorious collaborators and military men, who, together with the First-Hierarch [i.e., Sergius Stragorodsky] and the hierarchs of the Russian Church published the pact of the State with the Church [i.e. the Sergianistic Declaration], and “this is the alteration of the right hand of the Most High!” On pages 21, 22, and 35 of this memorandum he calls the schismatic hierarch Papadopoulos ever-memorable and blessed, this [man] who tore of the Church of Christ and is anathematized by the Holy Fathers, adding on pages 22 and 26, that he is an Orthodox child of the cacodox Church and that his Mother and hard-hearted stepmother Church acted badly towards him and the other hierarchs whom they deposed, and further, that even after his schism from the Permanent Synod, he left the door of agreement with the cacodox Church open and he continues to claim that the three hierarchs then of Demetrias, Zacynth, and Florina, formed a Governing Council and not a Church, despite what they wrote in their encyclicals, their writings, and in their newspaper that they are a Synod of the Church, as they do to this day. So they say one thing and do another.
On page 31 he calls the Holy Synod, hierarchical council, and its deceased cacodox President, [Germanus] of Demetrias, of blessed memory as well, as if all of the cacodox are of blessed memory. And lower on this page, he complains to his Mother cacodox Church, that it should not have punished him so harshly, but it at least should have deprived him of its blessing and the communion of its Mysteries, and further extravagantly praises the current cacodox Patriarch of Alexandria Christopher, whom he names well-chosen First Hierarch, official and the head of the ecclesiastical headquarter, other times calling it a cacodox Church, and other times on p. 46 he calls it a canonical ecclesiastical headquarter, contrary to which he never rebelled. And finally, on pp. 50 and 51, he writes that the movement in which he took part in 1935 does not turn against his Mother Church from which he suckles, but against some clergymen, and that it is not possible to assert that his step turns against the meaning and authority of his Mother Church, but against persons, and neither is it possible to stand ambivalent towards the authority of the cacodox Church.
In the newspaper “Voice of Orthodoxy” around the 29th of July, 1946, under the title “A Reply, Contrary to our Will, to Mr. Eugene Tombros,” our senior diocesan official, he wrote: “If the mysteries of the New Calendarists are invalid, then both his ordination and his marriage are non-existent.” In other words, one more time, he maintains that the mysteries of the cacodox New Calendarists are valid. Although we showed at that time in our newspaper “Genuine Orthodox Herald” that “the mysteries of the schismatic New Calendarists, as long as they remain in schism, are invalid and they will become valid by the mystery of repentance and their acceptance on behalf of the faithful, certain conditions which are required by our Orthodox Church, which clearly say how we must accept and correct schismatics coming into our Orthodox Church.” The former [Bishop] of Florina wrote and said these things, and he still believes these things.
In other words, he believes that the cacodox Church is not schismatic, its mysteries are not invalid, its chrism has grace, the children of the cacodox should not be chrismated, that it is a bearer of divine grace, that “we the Genuine Orthodox are not a Church but only a guardian,” that we are “children of the cacodox Church,” that “the cacodox Church is our Mother and Stepmother, that it is our superior from the beginning,” and finally, that we are a parasynagogue, sacrilegious and Protestants, only because we don’t recognize that the cacodox Church has grace, or is lawful and canonical.
In such a way, the former [Bishop] of Florina presents us as totally cacodox, the New Calendarists receiving the grace from the cacodox Church, thus transgressing the Pan-Orthodox Synods of the Ecumenical Patriarch Jeremias II the Illustrious of 1583, 1587, 1593, and of Anthimus of 1848, which condemn the New Calendar, as he himself declared many times especially in his confession of 1935. Therefore, these are the reasons for which we separated from the former [Bishop] of Florina, reasons of clear faith and not personal as he accused us of.
As for the fallen bishops Christopher Chatzis and Polycarp Liosis, we don’t find it expedient to write at length. It suffices only for everyone to understand that for an entire decade to this day these [bishops] fell from their first confession, they have remained in cacodoxy, recognizing the cacodox Church and accepting its decision, by which they were deposed, they have denied Orthodoxy in writing and deed. Because, besides the other denials made before the cacodox ecclesiastical court verbally and in writing, they made a denial which was published in the periodical “Ecclesia,” an organ of the schismatic cacodox Church in the edition of 9 November, 1935, number 45. This contains the following:
“Declaration I, the undersigned Christopher Chatzis, declare by this signed declaration of mine, that I was led on and beguiled into acts of censure against the unity of the Church and I sincerely repent, I renounce everything printed that bears my signature, or my verbal sermons and anything communicated by the court bailiff to the Holy Synod regarding both the canonical and lawful form of the Holy Synod of Greece and the competency of the Synodal court. Likewise I renounce the belief of the so-called Old Calendarists regarding the corrected calendar, and I believe that after the correction of the calendar by the Church, the unity of the one, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Churchwas not broken.
I declare without reserve, as before, the following, that I will completely fulfill my duty to the Mother Church and always agree with the decisions and commands of the official Church of Greece. In addition I declare that, by the acceptance of the corrected calendar, the dogmas and the Holy Tradition of our Holy Church were by no means touched. Regarding the acceptance of the corrected calendar which is characterized as a schism, I declare once again without reserve that a schism does not exist in our Church.
18 July 1935, Athens Declarer Christopher Chatzis
Polycarp Liosis also signed an exact copy of this declaration.
For the exactness of the above signatures
The Head Chancellor of the Holy Synod Archimandrite SPYRIDON ALIVIZATOS."
For the exactness of the above signatures
The Head Chancellor of the Holy Synod Archimandrite SPYRIDON ALIVIZATOS."
In the published study of Titus A. Petropoulos, a lawyer of Athens, entitled “The validity of the ordination of the Most God-beloved Bishops Christopher CChatzis and Polycarp Liosis. Contribution of Canonical Justice of the Eastern Orthodox Church,” on page 24, in his memorandum to the Archbishop of Athens, Christopher CChatzis writes:
“Memorandum of the Most God-beloved Christopher Chatzis. Piraeus, 11 January 1936
To the Most Blessed Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, kyr Chrysostom, President of the Holy Synod, Athens
Expert attention and serious study of the ecclesiastical canons have led me to the following conclusions. I fully acknowledge that my ordination was out-of-bounds and illicit, well was it judged by the Higher Ecclesiastical court as invalid, for I was never worthy to be Bishop of Megara…”
The above shows that invalid does not mean non-existent, despite the publication in the “Voice of Orthodoxy” of29 July, 1946, addressed to our senior diocesan official, which tries to prove that invalid means non-existent. In conclusion, they deny, and deny again, they say one thing and then the opposite, while they claim to be Orthodox hierarchs without renouncing the cacodox Church, without any real confession, without any canons, without any punishment in agreement with the divine and holy canons.
Also, if we take into consideration the divine and holy canons, and especially the 62nd Apostolic Canon, the above fallen hierarchs cannot be hierarchs any longer, according to this canon, whose words say: “If any clergyman, for fear of any human being, whether the latter be a Jew or a Greek or a heretic, should deny the name of Christ, let him be cast out and rejected, or if he deny the name of clergyman, let him be deposed. If he should repent, let him be accepted as a layman.” This canon, when interpreted, orders that “whichever clergyman, for fear of human damnation, that is, of Jews or Greeks or heretics, should deny the name of Christ, until he repents, let him not only be deposed from the clergy, but even cast out from the Church, and let him stand in the rank of the repentant. Or if, for fear of any human, he should deny the name of clergyman, having said these things, how is such a person a clergyman or a reader or chanter or anything else, let him only be deposed from his clerical rank. For it is just for him to be deprived of that which he denies, and does not want to say he has. Until this one repents, let him be received in communion with the faithful as a layman, namely, let him pray together with the faithful.”
These aforementioned people claim to be Orthodox hierarchs and beguile the Orthodox Christians with their so-called confession, such as in the published leaflet, under number 20, of the newspaper “Voice of Orthodoxy.” In the first part they shamelessly lie, saying that they adhere to their first confession of 1935 even until today. Because although the former [Bishop] of Florina released, until today, five encyclicals denying and opposing the first confession, and an abundance of letters and writings, the other two, Liosis and Chatzis, remained for an entire decade in cacodoxy. In the second part they write that whatever they by chance wrote or published, they renounce it, etc, but only if it is hypothetical and not confirmatory. Consequently, it is insufficient for them to only write, “We renounce everything we have written and published,” thinking that it may be considered somewhat of a confession. Because, in order to actually confess, they must refute everything, and for all they have denied, they must first inform the cacodox Church, then the Orthodox laity through an encyclical, next they must be submit to the necessary penalty in agreement with the Laws and Holy Canons.
As for Bishop Germanus of the Cyclades, what can we say? Unfortunately he is the same as the above [bishops]. He believes these things and commits these adopted deeds and the Christians may even be more scandalized daily because of him, thus damaging our divine and sacred struggle. Many have asked him to stop his illegal activity and to stop his views against Orthodoxy, but instead of correcting himself, on the contrary, he resorted to insults and slanders against all of those who gave him their advice.
Since for a whole decade we have been enduring and advising him to correct his illegal activity, and he was totally unwilling to listen to us, we were assured that he too has a perverted morale within his soul, as the above [bishops], and we decided to make our position against him clear, because we are not person-worshipers. We would rather remain alone, rather than send our immortal souls to Hell with these beguiled hierarchs.
Because of this, since first and foremost, through many persons and letters we asked with him to dismiss certain rotten convictions of his, which are insulting towards Orthodoxy, and he did not dismiss them, but on the contrary, he resorted to personal insults both written and even from the pulpit, against practically all of the Orthodox Fathers, in order for this pitiable situation to cease once and for all, we were compelled to send him around 15 September, 1943 (Orthodox calendar), the following letter.
“MATTHEW OF BRESTHENA and the Holy Clergy with me To the Most God-Beloved Bishop of Cyclades, His Grace Germanus Varykopoulos Asklipiou 22 Athens
After your document from 24.6.1943 (Orthodox Calendar) notifying the Athonite Fathers, and your other one from 26.6.1943 (Orthodox Calendar) to Archimandrite Acacius Pappas, we recognize the following: Having precisely examined your above letters and having taken into consideration many testimonies from reliable clerical and lay witnesses of our group, in order for the generally hopeless situation of our holy struggle, created because of our bad administration, to come to an end, we request that within 9 days you determine your position on precisely the below matters.
1) Refute to us in writing your blasphemous, disgraceful, and disgusting writings in the letter to the extra-inspectorial commission, concerning the symbols accepted from time immemorial on the part of the Orthodox Church, the symbolization of our Lady Theotokos (Critical statement etc. pages 11-12, see St. Nicodemus’ interpretation of the Theotokarion of the 9th Ode, etc.), where in that publication of yours you flagrantly blaspheme, using disgraceful words, our Lady Theotokos.
2) Concerning the works of Saint Dionysius the Areopagite, they are called false (Critical statement page 12), and which the Ecumenical and Local Synods and all of the Holy Fathers and Theologians (7th Ecumenical Synod Canon 2), recognize as the Saint’s genuine works.
3) Concerning the icon of our Lord Jesus Christ not-made-by-hands, you don’t acknowledge it as the Orthodox Church teaches (see Nicodemus the Athonite Synaxaristes 15 August).
4) Also refute the saying against us, that we did not separate from the former Metropolitans of Demetrias and Florina for reasons of faith (Letter to Archimandrite Acacius page 4).
5) The fact that you call us “idolaters, heretics, blasphemers, atheists”, etc. (above letter)!
6) Don’t call the Holy Orthodox Churches “dirty houses” (page 2).
7) Concerning the unworthy ordination, claiming that it be performed, for example, that when one falls into a deadly sin (immoral, etc.), after a passing of time he becomes competent for ordination, as you declared very vocally to the senior diocesan official Archpriest Eugene (regarding the ordination of Christos Papageorgiou) and to Archimandrite Acacius (regarding the ordination of Archimandrite Neophytus).
8) Concerning the hindrance you have interposed upon our holy struggle, denying many times your signature on most of your writings, which you had freely signed ([as you declared to] Priest Christos Gkiokas, Luke Kalantzis, church warden in Thessalonica, etc.).
9) Concerning your insults uttered from the pulpit against Orthodox clergy and laity, causing the greatest scandal among the Christ-named flock. You perform the mysteries [baptisms, weddings, etc] of the New Calendarists, you accept Christians who come to our group without confession and ordination (when they are clergy), not caring about the general status of the holy clergy, against the 9th Canon of the Holy Apostles.
Yours truly with Christian love.
+ MATTHEW OF BRESTHENA."
+ MATTHEW OF BRESTHENA."
Then when we sent to him the above letter and waited for about 15 days and received absolutely no response from him, and when we were informed that the Sunday after the reception of our letter, he preached slanders and lies against all of us from the Church, then we were forced to send him the second letter below, being definitely convinced that there does not exist any hope for him to repent.
"Athens, 29 September 1943 (Orthodox Calendar)
BISHOP OF BRESTHENA and the Holy Clergy with me To the Most God-Beloved Bishop of Cyclades, His Grace Germanus Varykopoulos Asklipiou 22, Athens
BISHOP OF BRESTHENA and the Holy Clergy with me To the Most God-Beloved Bishop of Cyclades, His Grace Germanus Varykopoulos Asklipiou 22, Athens
We recognize for the present that after the notification of our letter from 15.9.1943 (Orthodox Calendar) by which you were invited to refine your position on the matters dealt with within the set time, not deeming us worthy of receiving any answer from you, that you cut yourself off from the body of the Orthodox Church, after the many writings and sayings you have expressed, and consequently as genuine shepherds of our Orthodox Church, we are ceasing all future spiritual communion with you, hoping for our All-Good God and Savior Jesus Christ to enlighten you and for you to return to the path of Orthodoxy.
+ MATTHEW OF BRESTHENA."
But unfortunately even after sending this letter, we received from him again, instead of an answer, an abundance of insults and slanders, showing that this man does not hope for any agreement, nor does he stand on the ground of Orthodoxy anymore.
Many and varied unfortunately are his rotten works, beloved brothers in Christ and much desired children in the Lord, and for six entire years, we have been asking him to stop, and unfortunately, not only does he not correct himself, but he daily placed severe hindrances upon our holy struggle, so that our entire holy struggle is led to anarchy from corner to corner of Greece and elsewhere. Because, for example, when we wanted to penalize an unworthy clergyman, he would secretly and particularly defend him, and he would write to him the opposite of whatever we decided in common. So in the majority of places in Greece, our clergymen were completely refractory and were not absolutely obedient to anybody. Also, although we decided together that, whoever appeared and wanted to be ordained as a priest, would only be ordained after it has been decided by the entire Holy Synod, and has been judged worthy by his spiritual father, but he would ordain him alone and wholly unexamined and without preparation.
Therefore our holy struggle has paid for it, because of unworthy clergymen (immoral, blind, ignorant, lukewarm, and totally disrespectful, as we have said), because since they, being totally unworthy, accepted to be ordained, certainly they are not pious. So he ordained the monk Acacius who was blind in both eyes, the unworthy Christos Papageorgiou, the twice-married Papapantelis, the immoral Longinus (our spiritual child), the unworthy Ambrose, and he even [ordained] a totally cacodox deacon from Stylidos, while totally alone without a priest or deacon [to assist in the service] and in an unconsecrated church, in Kechreas of Corinth. He also ordained him as a priest without a cheirothesia, and an abundance of other unworthy and immoral [priests], such as Euthymius Spetsiotes and Gorgonius.
Similarly, he daily celebrates the mysteries [baptisms, weddings, etc] for the cacodox New Calendarists, indiscriminately, without any examination and if he ever examined others in our presence, he only did it hypocritically and to not be criticized. He does not impose the confession of faith upon the cacodox laity and clergy who present themselves to him, and also neither does this one believe that he is shamelessly lying, and even takes oaths concerning all questions, when he is criticized for this. He compelled Orthodox Christians many times to take oaths, when they asked him. He receives foreign spiritual children and especially mine with pleasure and he elevates them to the priesthood. He receives daily even unworthy clergymen from all groups without any examination whom he appoints wherever he wants to. He sent Orthodox Christians to the cacodox [New Calendarist clergymen] to have prayers read for them, without thinking that serious matters of faith separate us, for example he sent Constantine Kirkilis from Meligala of Messenia to [New Calendarists at] Tenus Island to [have prayers] read [over] his possessed daughter.
In church during the liturgy he never made peace but insulted all the clergy and laity, and he even beat his own children [i.e., acolytes] and the rest who serve him. He was never sympathetic to the monastic institution, and deep down he hated it, regarding it as something ancient and an anachronistic system. This in other words, the glory of the Church, the boast of Orthodoxy, the Angelic and Christ-like life, which all the Fathers of the Church lived, the Basils, the Gregories, the Chrysostoms, the Damascenes, the Studites, the Germanuses, the Methodiuses, the Tarasiuses, who taught in word and deed the principles of the Holy Gospel. How does Orthodoxy remain unadulterated and carry the torch among the Orthodox generations during the time of persecutions, heresies, slavery? Only through the monastic life and institution. Is it not, among other things, one of the seven Mysteries of our Church, does not the ordained monastic receive the Mystery of Repentance and Confession and Baptism, as contained in the prayers of the Great Schema? But so that we do not trouble your hearing and extend further, we only tell you this, that this man is everything else except a worthy hierarch, and especially an Orthodox one.
And now, our beloved and much desired children in the Lord, we tell you that for long years, unfortunately, we haven’t done anything else except only plead with and enlighten the above hierarchs, who, as we said above, are beguiled by cacodoxy in their souls, and have never been able to direct the word of Truth. Because all of them have come to Orthodoxy for no other purpose but only out of animosity and envy towards the Archbishop of Athens, and love of praise.
Because, where were they [i.e., Bishops Chrysostom, Germanus, Christopher and Polycarp] when we were being exiled and were worn out in the courts, prisons, and other tortures? During that time they were cacodox and did not reveal their love of praise, they remained hidden in cacodoxy. But when the time came for ordinations of hierarchs, then they were present. And only we, beloved, remained faithful and devoted to the duty of the Holy Orthodox Church of Christ, we the humble and least, with the holy clergy around us. Also you understand the amount and kind of hardships and the constant persecution which we have endured from the beginning for our Holy Faith, which we undergo every day. Therefore, during the present time of suffering, we must curl around into one body, to save ourselves and to maintain at its peak our holy struggle in the Lord. Also let us pick all of the ruins which the above fallen hierarchs have left, and set them as one more foundation, fighting our holy struggle, with faith, self-denial, and blind obedience to the Church, which correctly thinks and directs the word of Truth in order so that we may quickly behold the victory of our most holy Orthodoxy. Let us therefore leave aside personal [quarrels], love of praise, egoism, prudishness, and let all of us discipline ourselves.
Let us commemorate those blessed first days of our holy struggle, during which Orthodoxy shone, because there existed love, unity, zeal, virtue, discipline, and industriousness. Let all of us press for the progress and the victory of our Orthodoxy and let all of us stand with faith and fear of God in the work of our Lord and let us voice again Archangel Michael’s “Let us stand well, let us stand in the fear of God and with faith,” in order to be saved.
And you, most pious clergy and laity of our Most Holy Church, “hasten and pray,” in order not to fall into temptation. “Stand firm and uphold” the traditions of our Fathers. “Remain faithful” and unshakable in our Holy Genuine Orthodox Faith and “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things, and those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen,” in our Holy Orthodox Eastern and Apostolic Church. These things do, abide by these things, and, brethren, may the God of peace and love and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all, Amen.
With Fervent Prayers to the Lord,
+ THE BISHOP MATTHEW OF BRESTHENA