Thursday, September 5, 2019

Chiunque abbandona la sua croce non può essere degno del Signore e diventare Suo discepolo – p. Sofronio di Essex, Inghilterra (+1993)


p. Sofronio di Essex, Inghilterra (+1993):

“Chiunque abbandona la sua croce non può essere degno del Signore e diventare Suo discepolo. Le profondità dell’Essere Divino sono rivelate al cristiano quando è crocifisso per il nostro Salvatore. La croce è il fondamento dell’autentica teologia”.


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Heavenly Birth of Archimandrite Symeon of Tolleshunt Knights, Essex, England


Heavenly Birth of Archimandrite Symeon 

of Tolleshunt Knights, Essex, England

Archimandrite Symeon died in the very early hours of Friday 21 August 2009 at the monastery of St John the Baptist where he lived at Tolleshunt Knights, near Maldon in Essex, as a result of lymphoma. He was fully conscious to the last and died in great peace.

His funeral was celebrated at 3pm on the Friday in the monastery church, where the brothers and sisters of the community were joined by a congregatino of nearly 500 who had come from all over Britain, various countries in Europe and Russia. The body of Father Symeon will rest from now on in the crypt of the monastery, beside that of Father Sophrony (Sakharov), of whom he has been one of the oldest disciples.

Born in 1928 in the canton of Vaux in Switzerland, René Jean Bruschweiler studied law at university and began to practise as an advocate, until he encountered the Orthodox Church, and then the monastic life, through close contact with Archimandrite Sophrony. Father Sophrony had come back from Mount Athos because of health problems and settled at the castle at Sainte Geneviève des Bois. Symeon then followed his spiritual father when he left in 1959, with five other monks who had come and enlarged the community, to found a monastery in south-east England.

Father Symeon translated the works of Archimandrite Sophrony from Russian into French, the most famous being Saint Silouan, Monk of Mount Athos, as well as several important works by Saint Ignatius Briantchaninov.

Quiet, humble, gentle, pure-hearted and good, Archimandrite Symeon attracted a great number of spiritual children, monastic and lay, after Archimandrite Sophrony died. He regularly visited France for the annual congress of the Association of Saint Silouan, of which he was president and other conferences, and was assiduous in his visits to monasteries with which he had a particular association and concern, especially as a much loved and deeply revered confessor.

May he rest in peace and may his memory be eternal.

Met Bloom’s conversion from atheism to the Orthodox faith


Met Bloom’s conversion from atheism to the Orthodox faith

This week’s spiritual lesson: We concluded last week our long series of excerpts from the Diocesan conference by Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) at Effingham, England, in May, 1983. It occurs to me it might be useful to continue the Metropolitan’s account of his conversion from atheism to the Orthodox faith:

…Then my leader explained to me that everyone who belonged to my group had reacted in exactly the same way, and if no one came we would all be put to shame because the priest had come and we would be disgraced if no one attended his talk. My leader was a wise man. He did not try to convince me that I should listen attentively to his words so that I might perhaps find truth in them: ‘Don’t listen,’ he said. ‘I don’t care, but sit and be a physical presence’. That much loyalty I was prepared to give to my youth organization and that much indifference I was prepared to offer to God and to his minister. So I sat through the lecture, but it was with increasing indignation and distaste. The man who spoke to us, as I discovered later, was a great man, but I was then not capable of perceiving his greatness. I saw only a vision of Christ and of Christianity that was profoundly repulsive to me. When the lecture was over I hurried home in order to check the truth of what he had been saying. I asked my mother whether she had a book of the Gospel, because I wanted to know whether the Gospel would support the monstrous impression I had derived from this talk. I expected nothing good from my reading, so I counted the chapters of the four Gospels to be sure that I read the shortest, not to waste time unnecessarily. And thus it was the Gospel according to St Mark which I began to read.

I do not know how to tell you of what happened. I will put it quite simply and those of you who have gone through a similar experience will know what came to pass. While I was reading the beginning of St Mark’s gospel, before I reached the third chapter, I became aware of a presence. I saw nothing. I heard nothing. It was no hallucination. It was a simple certainty that the Lord was standing there and that I was in the presence of him whose life I had begun to read with such revulsion and such ill-will.

This was my basic and essential meeting with the Lord. From then I knew that Christ did exist. I knew that he was thou, in other words that he was the Risen Christ. I met with the core of the Christian message, that message which St Paul formulated so sharply and clearly when he said, ‘If Christ is not risen we are the most miserable of all men’. Christ was the Risen Christ for me, because if the One Who had died nearly 2000 years before was there alive, he was the Risen Christ. I discovered then something absolutely essential to the Christian message — that the Resurrection is the only event of the Gospel which belongs to history not only past but also present. Christ rose again, twenty centuries ago, but he is the Risen Christ as long as history continues. Only in the light of the Resurrection did everything else make sense to me. Because Christ was alive and I had been in his presence I could say with certainty that what the Gospel said about the Crucifixion of the prophet of Galilee was true, and the centurion was right when he said, ‘Truly he is the Son of God’. It was in the light of the Resurrection that I could read with certainty the story of the Gospel, knowing that everything was true in it because the impossible event of the Resurrection was to me more certain than any event of history. History I had to believe, the Resurrection I knew for a fact. I did not discover, as you see, the Gospel beginning with its first message of the Annunciation, and it did not unfold for me as a story which one can believe or disbelieve. It began as an event that left all problems of disbelief because it was direct and personal experience.

Then I went on reading the Gospel and I discovered a certain number of things which I believe to be essential to the Christian faith, to the attitude of the Christian to the world and to God. The first thing that struck me is that God, as revealed to us in Christ, is everyone’s God. He is not the God of a nation, or a confession, or of a denomination, or a more or less peculiar group, he is everyone’s creator? Lord and Savior. In him I discovered that the whole world had cohesion; that mankind was one; that differences and divergences were not final and decisive, because we were loved of God; all of us equally, although we were called to serve him in a variety of ways, with a variety of gifts, and with a very different depth and width of knowledge. But the greater the knowledge, the greater the closeness, the greater the responsibility in a world that God loved so much that he gave his only begotten Son, for him to die that the world may live.…


Met Bloom’s conversion from atheism to the Orthodox faith


Link: Celtic Orthodoxy - Orthodox Christian Faith and Life - Orthodox City Hermit

Celtic Orthodoxy

Orthodox Christian Faith and Life

Orthodox City Hermit

Ο πρώην Προτεστάντης Ελβετός π. Symeon Bruschweiler της Μονής του Τιμίου Προδρόμου του Essex Αγγλίας (+2009)


Ο πρώην Προτεστάντης Ελβετός π. Symeon Bruschweiler

της Μονής του Τιμίου Προδρόμου του Essex Αγγλίας (+2009)

Τη νύχτα της 21ης προς 22α Αυγούστου 2009 εκοιμήθη ο Γέροντας Συμεών Bruschweiler μετά από σύντομη ασθένεια. Ηταν ένας από τους κοντινούς συνεργάτες του Γέροντος Σοφρωνίου Σαχάρωφ κι ένας από τους γνωστούς Πνευματικούς της Μονής αυτής της Αγγλίας.

Ο π. Συμεών Bruschweiler ηταν Ελβετικής καταγωγής και Προτεστάντης. Βαπτίστηκε Ορθόδοξος στα 30 του χρόνια και ήταν ο πιο ηλικιωμένος μοναχός της Μονης του Τιμίου Προδρόμου-Essex και πνευματικό τέκνο του Γέροντος Σοφρωνίου, κτίτορος της Ιεράς Μονής. Ηταν ένας άνθρωπος και πνευματικός πατέρας ζεστός, ανοιχτός, γεμάτος αγάπη ο οποίος προσπάθησε να φέρει τον άνθρωπο της ειδωλολατρικής Νέας Εποχής στην Ορθοδοξία κοινωνοντας το πνεύμα και τις διδαχές του Αγίου Σιλουανου του Αθωνίτου.  Ας δούμε ένα απόσπασμα των λόγων του:

“Σήμερα η απειλή έρχεται με διαφορετικό τρόπο, δια της διεισδυσεως του κοσμικού πνεύματος στην Εκκλησία. Αυτό που λέμε εκκοσμικεύση. Δεν επιτιθενται με την βία ή το Μαρτύριο αλλα προσπαθουν να διαφθείρουν τη σκέψη. Είναι μια ιδεολογία που εξαπλώνεται χωρίς να την βλέπουμε χωρίς να την αισθανόμαστε, αλλά που διεισδύει σε όλους. Αν εμείς δεχτούμε αυτην την ιδεολογία της εκκοσμικευσης, ίσως να μείνουμε Xριστιανοί μόνο εξωτερικά, αλλά εσωτερικά δεν θα ειμαστε Xριστιανοί ουτε στη ζωή μας όυτε στην πίστη μας. Γι᾽ αυτό πρέπει να διατηρησουμε με προσοχή το θησαυρό της Ορθόδοξης Εκκλησίας μας”.



Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Fr. Meletios Weber, England: Through Oxford to Orthodoxy ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* England, USA & the Netherlands


Fr. Meletios Webber


From Protestantism to Orthodoxy


Through Oxford To Orthodoxy



Archimandrite Meletios Webber, of Scottish background, was born in London, and received his Masters degree in Theology from Oxford University, England and the Thessalonica School of Theology, Greece. He also holds an E.D.D. (doctorate) in Psychotherapy from the University of Montana, Missoula. He is the author of two published books: Steps of Transformation; an Orthodox Priest Explores the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (Conciliar Press, 2003); and Bread and Water, Wine and Oil; an Orthodox Christian Experience of God (Conciliar Press, 2007).

This interview was originally published in


Fr. Meletios, could you tell us a little about your journey to Orthodoxy in Oxford, and how you became a priest?

I went to Oxford as a theology student in 1968, and very quickly found an Orthodox Church there. The parish priest at the time was Fr. Kallistos Ware, who is now Metropolitan of Diokleia, and the deacon at the time was Fr. Basil Osborne, who is now Bishop of Amphipolis. The parish in Oxford was both a Russian and a Greek one, coexisting in a small room in what had once been the house of the famous Dr. Spooner. I was immediately attracted to the quality of the stillness that I found in that small room. That has been something that I have consistently valued in the Orthodox Church ever since. It is a quality which is difficult to talk about, but it happens when one goes into a space which is so obviously God-filled. That is something that I found very important and very attractive at that time. Under the tutelage of Fr. Kallistos I became Orthodox three years later, and I was ordained a priest some three years after that in January of 1976, by the Greek Archbishop of Thyateira in Great Britain, and served with that bishop as his chaplain for a number of years. My first parish in Britain after I returned from my studies in Greece was in an area of London called Harrow. From Harrow I went to the United States and spent 22 years there, before returning to Europe to live in the Netherlands in 2005.

In which parishes did you serve in the U.S.?

In the beginning, in 1984, I served as the parish priest in the churches of the state of Montana. There were three active parishes, two missions, and several other groups. This was with the Greek Archdiocese. I used to travel a very great deal throughout the year, which was at times a little more exciting than I wanted it to be. The people were very scattered, but very few in number. A trickle of converts started toward the end of my time there, but for the most part I was serving Greek Americans.

Were there any converts at all while you were there?

In Great Falls, Montana there was an air force base, and we had a number of very fine converts coming to us from that direction. We baptized a few families who were attracted to the Church from that place. It would be difficult to say that the Greek community found it easy to accept non-Greeks, because they saw themselves as a sort of bastion of Greekness. They were very friendly on the whole, but they simply did not know how to react to people who wanted to join the Church who were not Greek, who didn’t speak Greek, and so on. They also found it difficult at that time (and I think this is still the case), to keep their children in Montana. Almost everyone would leave the state as soon as they were able, in search of employment or education.

Because Montana simply does not have very much to offer in the way of employment or education?

Certainly in Great Falls there wasn’t. In Missoula and Billings there are universities; in Missoula there was quite a thriving Orthodox community. But even then, with the exception of two or three of my former altar boys, who went to get their law degrees and then returned to practice in Montana, most people found it difficult to find professional development in Montana. It is a problem in a state which has a huge surface area and a relatively small population.

Where did you serve after Montana?

I went to what is known in America as “The Bay Area,” meaning the area around San Francisco, and became the chancellor of what was then the Greek diocese of San Francisco, with Bishop Anthony. I served with him as chancellor for two years, during which time I served as parish priest in Santa Cruz. After I ceased being chancellor, I was then full-time parish priest in Santa Cruz, for another nine years.

Is that the same parish in which the murdered Fr. John Karastamatis served?

Yes. He was not my immediate predecessor; there had been three other priests in between. I knew his presbytera quite well, and his children. He was murdered on the premises of the church, in very unpleasant circumstances, some years before I arrived, but it was still a very dominant factor in the life of parish while I was there—something they couldn’t forget.

In your experience as a pastor in America, with the Greek population and later with a slightly more diverse group, what would you say is the most challenging aspect of being a pastor there?

I think that there are many problems, but none of them is insurmountable, so long as the focus of parish life always centers upon the words of Jesus and the Gospel. It is easy to become distracted into the realms of, for example, Greek culture and cooking, or folk dance, all of which are wonderful activities in themselves, but can never be the backbone of parish life. The backbone of parish life has to be spiritual in nature, and based very firmly upon the Gospel. So, the interests of parishioners can be in one direction, and those of the pastor in another, and it is up to the pastor to help the people whom he is serving stay focused on what is important; encouraging them, of course, in all these other areas as well, but making sure that the spiritual core is always present in everything that they do.

Did you ever find that it was a challenge for your Greek parishioners to have a pastor, even a chancellor, who was not at all Greek?

Yes, well, you would have thought so. But when I was in London I was serving a community that was

Friday, June 28, 2019

Restoring English Orthodoxy: An Interview with Fr. Gregory Hallam

Restoring English Orthodoxy: An Interview with Fr. Gregory Hallam

by Tudor Petcu



A Romanian writer, Tudor is a graduate of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Bucharest, Romania. He has published a number of articles related to philosophy and theology in different cultural and academic journals. His work focuses on the evolution of Orthodox spirituality in Western societies as well and he is going to publish a book of interviews with Westerners converted to Orthodoxy. In this article, he interviews Fr. Gregory Hallam, of the Antiochian Orthodox Deanery of the United Kingdom and Ireland .

* * *

1.) First of all I would like to find out more information about the orthodox heritage of England, and of the British Isles, generally speaking. Why can we say that the true origins of England are orthodox, and not catholic, as we know from history?

This question assumes a false choice that is between “Orthodox” and “Catholic”. In the first millennium both the Christian East and the Christian West used both terms interchangeably. The West preferred the term “Catholic”, the East “Orthodox”. During the first millennium the local churches of the East and the West formed one single communion and Church. Canonically, therefore, Britain as part of the Western Patriarchate (Rome) was just as Orthodox as any territory further east. Likewise, the East was just at Catholic as anything further west. One important consequence of all this is that the Saints commemorated locally in Britain during the first millennium are all Orthodox. Some of them have even found their way into the calendars of the eastern churches.

However, unlike Rome subsequently the Christian East has retained the primitive practice of calendars being essentially local productions and not global. However, in the modern era there has been renewed interest in the Orthodox Churches of the East in the Saints of the first millennium Orthodox West. In 2014 for example, 10 of these Saints were formally included in the calendar of the Moscow Patriarchate.

The unity of the Catholic Orthodox Church in the first millennium is a very precious gift to the contemporary churches ecumenically speaking. An examination of the Saints and teachings of the Western Orthodox patrimony reveals a faith and a life, and even an iconography indistinguishable in essentials from that of the Orthodox Christian East. The Great Schism of 1054 AD did not affect us here in Britain at all. Arguably this did not affect the Christian East much either at least until the disaster of the Fourth Crusade. Far more significant for us here in Britain was the Norman Invasion in 1066 AD.

The legacy of this occupation of England by Norman forces enforced new and heterodox traditions into the English Christian mind. Nonetheless Britain’s Orthodox past was never entirely forgotten and from time to time over the following centuries there have always been British people, such as myself, who have rediscovered the authentic English and British Orthodox Tradition.

2.) I think it’s very important to discuss about what an English theologian has called the fall of Orthodox England. Why has England lost during the history its orthodox origins?

See above concerning the Norman Conquest. The Normans followed their cousins, the Franks, in pursuing and enforcing the Hildebrandine reforms of Pope Gregory VII. British Christianity gradually lost touch with its Orthodox roots and by the 13th Century became fully absorbed into the matrix of Medieval European Catholicism.

3.) As far as I know, one of the most important personalities for the English Orthodoxy was King Edward the Confessor. I would appreciate a lot if you would like to explain why is he so meaningful for the Orthodox civilisation in England and how should we understand his personality. I also know that we had some prophecies. Which of them are the most important?

To be honest he is not that important. There are some people (Orthodox and others) who obsess about him because together with St Edmund, both these saintly men were effectively the Patron Saints of

Saint Alban the first Martyr of England, in Verulamium (now St. Albans) of England (+250)


Saint Alban the first Martyr of England, 

in Verulamium (now St. Albans) in England (+250)


Feast day: June 17

Also, June 20 & July 17

SAINT ALBAN was the first martyr in the British Isles; he was put to death at Verulamium (now called Saint Albans after him), perhaps during the persecution under the emperor Diocletian in the year 303 or 304, although some say that he gave his life in the reign of the emperor Septimus Severus, around 209.

According to the story told by St Bede the Venerable, St Alban sheltered in his house a priest who was fleeing from his persecutors. He was so impressed by the goodness of his guest that he eagerly received his teaching and received Baptism. In a few days it was known that the priest lay concealed in St Alban’s house, and soldiers were sent to seize him. Thereupon the St Alban put on the priest’s clothes and gave himself up in his stead to be tried.

The judge asked St Alban, ‘Of what family are you?’

The saint answered, ‘That is a matter of no concern to you. I would have you know that I am a Christian.’

The judge persisted, and the saint said, ‘I was called Alban by my parents, and I worship the living and true God, the creator of all things.’

Then the judge said, ‘If you wish to enjoy eternal life, sacrifice to the great gods at once!’

The saint replied, ‘You sacrifice to demons, who can bring no help or answer to the desires of the heart. The reward of such sacrifices is the endless punishment of Hell.’

The judge was angered at the priest’s escape and threatened the saint with death if he persisted in forsaking the gods of Rome. He replied firmly that he was a Christian, and would not burn incense to the pagan gods. He was condemned to be beaten and then beheaded.

As he was led to the place of execution (the hill on which Saint Albans abbey church now stands) it is said that, by the martyr’s prayers, the crowd who accompanied him to his place of execution were enabled to cross the river Coln dry-shod. This miracle so touched the heart of the executioner that he flung down his sword, threw himself at St Alban’s feet, avowing himself a Christian, and begged to suffer either for him or with him. Another soldier picked up the sword, and in the words of Bede, ‘the valiant martyr’s head was stricken off, and he received the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him.’

A spring of water gushed forth from the place of the martyr’s execution, and it is said that, at the moment at which the saint’s head fell to the ground, the eyes of his executioner fell out of their sockets. Before this spectacle, the governor ordered that the persecution of Christians cease, and that due honour be paid to the glorious martyrs of Christ. From that time, many sick people found healing through the numerous miracles wrought at St Alban’s tomb, and his veneration spread throughout England and also in Europe.

The shrine of St Alban had lain empty since the destruction of the English monasteries by King Henry VIII, but in 2002 a portion of the martyr’s relics was taken there from the church of St Panteleimon in Cologne, Germany, where they had been preserved for many centuries. These relics now lie once more at the place of the saint’s martyrdom.



Ένας άθεος συναντάει τον ίδιο το Θεό μέσα στην Ορθόδοξη Θεία Λειτουργία ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* π. Anthony Bloom του Sourozh, Επίσκοπος Μ. Βρεταννίας & Ιρλανδίας (+2003)


Ένας άθεος συναντάει τον ίδιο το Θεό

μέσα στην Ορθόδοξη Θεία Λειτουργία


π. Anthony Bloom του Sourozh,

Επίσκοπος Μ. Βρεταννίας & Ιρλανδίας (+2003)

Ο π. Anthony Bloom του Sourozh, Επίσκοπος Μ. Βρεταννίας & Ιρλανδίας μας αναφέρει:

«Θυμᾶμαι ὅτι μᾶς εἶχε ἐπισκεφθῆ κάποτε ἐδῶ ἕνας σαραντάρης, στρατευμένος ἄθεος. Ἦλθε σ᾽ αὐτή τήν ἐκκλησία ἐπειδή, ὅπως εἶπε, εἶχε φέρει ἕνα δέμα γιά κάποιον ἐνορίτη μας. Πῆγε καί κάθισε πίσω-πίσω, ἀλλά ἔνιωθε ὅτι μία παρουσία γέμιζε τό χῶρο. Ξαναήλθε σέ ὥρα πού δέν εἴχαμε Λειτουργία, και ἀνακάλυψε ὅτι ἡ παρουσία ἦταν ἀκόμη ἐκεῖ —ἀληθινή, ἀντικειμενική, δέν τή δημιουργοῦσε ἡ ψαλμωδία, τά κεριά, οἱ εἰκόνες, ἡ προσευχή τῶν ἀνθρώπων: ἦταν ἡ παρουσία τοῦ ἴδιου τοῦ Θεοῦ. Αὐτόν ἔτσι τόν ἄγγιξε…».



Saint Carannog / Carantock, Irish Missionary of Wales & Cornwall, England and his tamed dragon (dinosaur), +6th century – May 16


Saint Carannog / Carantock

Irish Missionary of Wales & Cornwall, England (+6th century)

May 16

Saint Carantoc was the son of Ceredig, King of Cardigan, but he chose the life of a hermit and lived in a cave above the harbour of the place now called after him, Llangranog, where there is also a holy well, which he probably used. When the people tried to force him to succeed his father, he fled, and founded a religious settlement in Somerset at Carhampton. According to legend, his portable altar was lost as he crossed the Severn Sea and was washed up at the mouth of the little brook Willet near Carhampton. Carantoc went to King Arthur, the leader of the British resistance to the Saxon invaders, to ask his help to recover his altar, and the King asked him in return to tame a dragon that was troubling the neighbourhood.

After Carantoc had prayed to the Lord, the dragon came running to the man of God and humbly bent his head to allow him to put his stole around his neck and to lead him like a lamb, lifting neither wing nor claw against him. After a time the dragon was released and departed having been instructed not to molest the human inhabitants of the land again. This is said to have taken place at Dunster.

Besides Carhampton, Carantoc founded a religious settlement at Crantock across the river Gannel from Newquay, and then, according to Capgrave, was led by his guardian angel to journey to Ireland to assist St.Patrick in the conversion of that island. In Ireland he cured one of his disciples, Tenenan, of his leprosy by giving him a hot bath. His ministry did not end in Ireland for he is honoured in Brittany as the founder saint of Carantec and the neighbouring parish of Tegarantec, which was probably originally Tref Carantoc.

St.Carantoc died in the middle of the sixth century, and Bath Abbey, which held the living of Carhampton, kept his festival on May 16th. The Welsh, Cornish, Irish and Breton calendars commemorate him at this time.