Category Archives: For the Peace From Above — The Syndesmos Resource Book

For the Peace From Above: a Resource Book on War, Peace and Nationalism is dedicated to all Orthodox youth living in places of war and conflict, as a tribute to their courage and faith.

For the Peace From Above: An Orthodox Resource Book on War, Peace and Nationalism

51gV5M+Pk4L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_For the Peace From Above:
An Orthodox Resource Book on War, Peace and Nationalism

edited by Fr. Hildo Bos and Jim Forest

The online version of the book is made from the first edition, published in Poland by Syndesmos in 1999. A much-expanded second edition (see below) has now been published by the Orthodox Research Institute.

Click here to view the table of Contents

The contents of the online first edition of the Resource Book may be reproduced freely, with reference to the source: For the Peace From Above: An Orthodox Resource Book on War, Peace and Nationalism (1999 edition: Orthodox Peace Fellowship/Syndesmos Books).

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Regarding the new edition:

publisher:
The Orthodox Research Institute
ISBN: 978-1-933275-56-7
$24.95 plus hipping and handling (USD)

For the Peace from Above is a unique resource tool offering a wealth of information:

  • reference texts from Scripture, Church canons, the Fathers, liturgical texts and contemporary authors
  • official Orthodox Church statements on racism, nationalism and on specific wars
  • essays by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholemeos, Metropolitan George of Mount Lebanon, Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Bishop Irenaeus of Backa, Olivier Clément, Fr. Sergi Tchetverikoff, and many other authors
  • clear and challenging definitions from dictionaries, Fathers of the Church and contemporary authors
  • study tools for workshops and group activities

Table of contents:

Introduction — iii
Chapter One: Defining Terms — 1
Chapter Two: Reference Texts from Holy Scripture — 15
Chapter Three: Canonical and Synodical Reference Texts — 43
Case Study 1: The Definition of Religious Nationalism (Ethno-Phyletism) — 69
Case Study 2: The 1986 Chambésy statement — 73
Case Study 3: Church, Nation and State — 88
Chapter Four: Reference Texts from Authors from the Patristic Period 99
Case Study 4: Acts of the Martyrdom of Early Christian Soldiers — 147
Case Study 5: Christian Soldiers in the Roman Army before Constantine — 152
Chapter Five: War, Peace and Nationalism — 155
Case Study 6: Prayer for Peace in the Liturgy — 177
Case Study 7: Commemoration of Warrior Saints — 179
Chapter Six: Reference Texts from Modern Authors — 199
Study 8: Orthodoxy, Culture and Nationalism — 233
Case Study 9: The Serbian Church and Milosevic — 238
Chapter Seven: Various Recent Official Statements — 243
Case Study 10: Orthodox Americans, the Orthodox Peace Fellowship, and Iraq — 287
Chapter Eight: Essays and Texts — 303
Chapter Nine: Study and Action Guide — 451

The book’s authors or persons quoted at length include:

Archbishop Anastasios of Albania
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
Nicholas Berdyaev
Fr. Hildo Bos
Fr. Sergi Bulgakov
Bishop Irenaeus Bulovic of Backa, Serbia
Olivier Clément
John H. Erickson
Jim Forest
Metropolitan George of Mount Lebanon
Fr. Lev Gillet
Fr. Stanley S. Harakas
Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk
Fr. Thomas Hopko
Anton Kartashov
Vladimir Lossky
Metropolitan Maximus of Sardes
Fr. John McGuckin
Fr. John Meyendor
A. Schmemann
St. Maria Skobtsova
Louis J. Swift
Gregory Trubetzkoy
V. Rev. Dr. Georges Tsetsis
Charles C. West

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To order from the publisher, Orthodox Research Institute:
http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/store/books/bos_forest_peace.html

Table of Contents: For the Peace From Above: An Orthodox Resource Book on War, Peace and Nationalism

Note: The web version of the book has been copy-edited by John Brady, who corrected many spelling and punctuation errors and made many other improvements in the text. Our thanks to him for all his help. We ask readers to notify us of further corrections that may be needed.

For the Peace From Above: a Resource Book on War, Peace and Nationalism is dedicated to all Orthodox youth living in places of war and conflict, as a tribute to their courage and faith.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

Chapter 1: How to use this Resource Book

Chapter 2: Defining terms: definitions from dictionaries and Church authors

Chapter 3: Reference texts from Holy Scripture

Chapter 4: Canonical reference texts

  • 4.1. Canonical texts from the Apostolic period
  • 4.2. Canons from the Ecumenical Councils
  • 4.3. Canons from the Local Councils
  • 4.4. Canons from the Fathers of the Church

Chapter 5: Reference texts from the Holy Fathers

Chapter 6: Reference texts from contemporary authors

Chapter 7: Nationalism, War and Peace in Orthodox liturgical texts

  • 7.1. Prayer for Peace in the Liturgy Archimandrite Lev Gillet
  • 7.2. From the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great
  • 7.3. Commentary on the Mysteries: St. Cyril of Alexandria
  • 7.4. Prayers by the Lake: Bishop Nikolai of Ochrid
  • 7.5. A Soldier’s Prayer
  • 7.6. Prayer for the Salvation of the Russian State: St. Tikhon of Moscow
  • 7.7. Prayers for peace in former Yugoslavia
  • 7.8. On the Issue of the blessing of weapons
  • 7.9. Prayer for the pacification of animosity

Chapter 8: Fact sheets

  • 8.1. Martyrs from among Roman officers of the first four centuries
  • 8.2. Monastic Peacekeeping in Kosovo

Chapter 9: Official statements

  • 9.1. The Local Synod of Constantinople 1872
  • 9.2. The Bosporus Declaration
  • 9.3. Statement on the situation in Armenia-Azerbaijan, 1993
  • 9.4. Statements on the events in Russia, October 1993
  • Appeal by the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, Alexy II, 29/9/1993
  • Statement by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, 1/10/1993
  • 9.5. Statements on the War in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1994
  • Statement of Patriarch Pavle of Serbia to the participants at the WCC Central Committee meeting in South Africa, 20-26/1 1994
  • Message of the Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church from its extraordinary meeting in Banja Luka, 1-4/11 1994
  • Appeal for peace and understanding among all people, 4/9 1994
  • 9.6. Statements on the situation in Kosovo, March 1999
  • Kosovo Peace and Tolerance — Vienna Declaration, 18/3 1999
  • Peace Appeal of the Serbian Orthodox Church, 23/3 1999
  • Statement of the Orthodox Church of Albania, 29/3 1999
  • 9.7. Syndesmos Statements
  • Declaration of the Syndesmos War and Peace in Europe Seminar, 1-9/10 1994
  • A cry of World Orthodox Youth regarding the Kosovo and Methohija Crisis, VIth Syndesmos General Assembly, 24/7 1999

Chapter 10: Essays and Texts

Chapter 11: Study and action guide

Introduction

In 1968, a Syndesmos General Assembly took place at the very moment that the established order in Western Europe seemed about to be shaken. In his address to the Assembly, Syndesmos President Mr. Albert Laham from Lebanon stated

The world is not in peace. Neither is it in unity. The spirit of this world, which burns from the black ghettos of Chicago to the streets of Paris, from the Holy Land in the Middle East to the jungles of Africa, this spirit is not the Spirit of unity and peace. It is not a bond which can pacify and unite. It is a barrier which can only divide and destroy. But the firm belief of Syndesmos, and its only reason for existence, is that there is a Spirit, not as this world gives, which is a power, a unity and a peace. There is a Spirit which can burn in men and movements and can empower them to go beyond every spirit of this world. This is the Spirit which Christ gives, the fire which He has cast upon the earth. And Syndesmos desires, as its only consuming desire, to be alive and burning with this spiritual fire.

In 1973, the Syndesmos General Secretariat had to be evacuated from Beirut following the Lebanese civil war. Ten years later, political turmoil still prevented Syrian and Lebanese delegates from taking part in the XIth Syndesmos General Assembly in Crete. The XVIth General Assembly of 1999 took place under the sign of tensions in former Yugoslavia, the Russian Federation, the Holy Land, Georgia and other places where Orthodox live.

Many Orthodox young people today live near conflict areas or are directly touched by war. Every day, thousands of believers face some of the most difficult of questions: Am I allowed to kill in combat? May I fight injustice by violent methods? When the demands of my country seem at odds with the demands of the Kingdom of God, how do I respond to this conflict?

Rarely do we find simple answers to such questions. Thus we search for help in Holy Scripture, the Canons, the writing of the Fathers of the Church, and reflect on the lives of the Saints.

We hope this resource book can help, drawing as it does on the experience of our fathers and forefathers. They teach us examples to follow and attitudes to reject. The Tradition of the Orthodox Church has much to give to its faithful who are caught up in the vicissitudes of Twentieth-Century warfare.

Nonetheless, we cannot simply copy what other have done in the past. Different eras have found different attitudes, and many of today’s problems never existed before. Yet knowledge of Sacred Tradition may help us find ways out of the dead ends that many communities experience today.

His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, a former Syndesmos Vice-President, says: “All religious communities must turn to the very depth of their doctrine and to the best pages of their respective traditions in order to find the principles of a sacred anthropology which puts the emphasis on sincere respect of the whole human person.”

This is the aim of this book.

The present Resource Book attempts to provide original resource texts concerning Orthodoxy, War, Peace and Nationalism. In compiling the book, we have attempted to gather documents that express well the variety of points of view on the theme. These texts do not necessarily express the point of view of the editors or of Syndesmos.

The Syndesmos Resource Book on War, Peace and Nationalism was supported by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe.

Syndesmos expresses its deep gratitude to all those who have made this book possible. In the first place, we thank His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos for providing his speech at the 1994 Conference on Peace and Tolerance. We also thank His Beatitude Metropolitan George of Mount Lebanon, His Eminence Bishop Irineaus of Backa, Fr. Stanley Harakas, Archimandrite Grigorios (Papathomas), Mr. Olivier Clément, Mr. Tarek Mitri, Mr. Yevgeniy Petrovskiy and the Service Orthodoxe de Presse for their kind permission to use their texts. Finally, this book would not have been possible without the support of many others: Deacon John Sewter, Mrs. Hélene Klépinine-Arjakovsky, Mrs. Cathérine Aslanoff, Mr. Michael Bakker, Mr. Alexander Belopopsky, Mrs. Tatiana Bos-Arjakovsky, The Fellowship of Orthodox Youth in Poland, Syndesmos Secretary-General elect Ms. Rebecca Hookway, Mr. André Lossky, Syndesmos Secretary-General Mr. Vladimir Misijuk, Mr. Spiridon Tsimouris and Mrs. Svetlana Yerchova.

November 1999

Hildo Bos, Vice-President, Syndesmos

Jim Forest, Secretary, Orthodox Peace Fellowship

Next

For the Peace From Above — Table of Contents

Chapter 1

HOW TO USE THIS RESOURCE BOOK

To whom the Book is addressed

The Syndesmos Orthodox Resource Book on War, Peace and Nationalism was conceived for youth groups, lay associations and individuals wishing to study the issue. It does not claim to be a scientific work of reference, and is certainly not exhaustive.

Aims

The Resource Book aims to be a tool for study, discussion and action on the issues of war, peace and nationalism. It does not attempt to convey any particular opinion, but rather to indicate relevant sources to those who wish to clarify their understanding of the Church’s teaching on these and related subjects. In order to achieve this, we have followed a number of working principles:

to provide a maximum of original sources;

to prefer official Church documents to documents expressing private opinions;

in choosing documents expressing private opinions, to represent various points of view;

to provide a maximum of bibliographical references;

to keep editors’ comments to an absolute minimum;

to strive towards a balance between sources from the different Local Orthodox Churches.

Sources

Most sources used to compile the Resource Book are named in the Bibliography. The documents originate from a wide array of sources and vary strongly in their use of English. They range from XIXth-century editions of the Holy Fathers to modern translations from French, Greek, Russian and Serbian by a variety of translators. The editors have attempted to unify the text and to provide bibliographical references to each quoted text, allowing the reader to locate the source in the original language.

How to Use this Resource Book

There are many ways to use this book. Whether you wish to study the topic alone, discuss it in a youth group or undertake concrete action, you will find something useful here!

Bible Study

Formulate a question related to war, peace or nationalism, which will be your starting point

Write down in a few sentences what you expect the answer to be

Check the relevant sections of the Resource Book for Bible quotes

Compare the quotes with parallel verses in your Bible

Try to find other relevant quotes with the help of a concordance

Try to find commentaries on the quotes that you have found, in the Patristic and Modern Authors’ sections of the Resource Book and in a study Bible (example: “Come, Receive the Light;” “The Orthodox Study Bible”)

Take a look at the materials that you have found. Ask yourself the following questions:

– Have I found most of the relevant Bible verses?

– How can I summarize the spirit of these biblical texts on my question?

– Do the commentators read the text differently than I do?

Compare the outcome of your research with your initial expectations. Any discoveries?

Write down your most important discoveries, new insights or useful reference texts. In this way you will start making your own resource book!

Ideas for Bible Studies:

The Old Testament teaching on the Promised Land and the Kingdom of God

The love of enemies

Can a Christian state really exist?

What does Christ mean when He says “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Mt. 10:34-36)?

The New Testament’s attitude towards participation in armed combat

Military images for spiritual life in the letters of St. Paul

Martyrdom and self-defense

Earthly and heavenly fatherlands

Group Activities

Reading a text with (or worse: in front of) a group can make the most interesting story become dull. But you can make texts come alive, too! Through many of the texts in the Reference Book, the Fathers of the Church or even our Lord Himself speak to us. So make them heard!

Here are some ideas on how to use the Resource Book with groups:

Presentations

An easy way to make a text or topic come alive. A group leader or participant, or several, studies one of the texts of the Resource Book and presents an oral résumé to the group. Here, the Resource Book may be only the starting point of research and discussion. Offers an occasion of close reading to the presenter and acquaints participants with the content of texts they might not otherwise read.

Pick the presenters and topics.

Give the presenters sufficient time to prepare (one to several days) and indicate how long they can speak (not more than 15-20 min.).

The presentations are given in front of the group and are followed by discussion.

Carrousel Presentations

This method is very stimulating and inspires people to familiarize themselves with the material in the Book. In a short time, they will be exposed to several reading reports. Each time, discussion will be broken off by the time signal, leaving participants in the end with a great impetus for study and exchange. Allow for free time afterwards to give an opportunity for discussion.

Preparation: you need a venue with several spaces for small groups that are not too far away from each other. The group leaders ask some participants to read one specific text from the Resource Book (a chapter, essay, statement or even a Bible quote) and to prepare a short 5 to 10 minute presentation. The texts may be chosen according to a theme, their length, or picked by the “readers” themselves.

Divide the group in as many small groups as there are readers; number the groups.

Every group follows a reader to a separate place.

Each reader gives a 5-10 minute presentation of what he/she has read to his/her group.

Each group discusses the presentation for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, each group moves on to another reader. The readers remain in place (so they find a new group in front of them).

The readers repeat their presentations to the new group; 10 minutes of discussion follow;

Continue like this until all groups have listened to all presentations.

Round up with a 15-minute group discussion.

Round Table

A less interactive method which will stimulate study and raise questions. Pick a concrete topic which is well represented in the Resource Book. Invite three or four participants to prepare themselves for the round table well in advance. Allot to each of them a specific (and different) point of view to defend. During preparation, they should find a maximum of arguments for their position in the Resource Book. Another participant, or a group leader, should act as moderator of the round table, enforcing the following rules: 1) the round table participants should defend their point of view and attempt to convince others; 2) only documented positions are allowed (i.e. not “I think that…,” but “isn’t it written that…” 3) all round table participants should attempt to present an authoritative opinion of the Church.

Introduce the aim of the Round Table: the guests have been invited to give their opinion on the topic. They should convince their opponents and the audience.

Introduce the role of the moderator: assuring that only documented opinions are expressed.

The moderator introduces the topic and invites the first guest to speak.

After 3-5 minutes, he passes the word, and so on.

When all have spoken, the moderator co-ordinates discussion.

The moderator may decide to accept questions from the floor.

After 45 minutes, stop the discussion; the floor is open and the entire group decides which point of view it considers closest to the position of the Church.

Close the session with an evaluation.

Bible Quotes Quiz

Pick a number of topics well represented in the Resource Book. Allow participants sufficient time to acquaint themselves with the relevant sections. Either make teams or pick individual contestants. Make up a list of questions to which clear answers are possible (you may organize a workshop for the formulation of questions!). Appoint a jury which will decide whether answers qualify. Although it contains a competitive element, this game offers a direct impetus to familiarize oneself with texts. The quiz element may be underscored by the use of costumes, lights, prizes, a gong, and supporter groups. The rules are as follows: 1) the contestants or teams may use one or more non-annotated Bibles, but not the Resource Book; 2) answers to questions on Bible quotes qualify only if they contain both the correct text and reference; 3) if more than one quote is appropriate, each correct answer counts as one point; 4) wrong answers cost one point; 5) only one person per team will answer (advised by the team members). Modify the roles according to the needs and spirit of your group!

Explain the rules of the quiz.

Create teams or name contestants.

Pose the questions and keep the score…

Liturgical Workshop

The Resource Book offers many ways to study liturgical texts. Make sure you have the necessary liturgical books in a language that the participants understand. Make small groups and assign a concrete task to each of them. This workshop may be followed by a session of carrousel presentations where the groups expose the results of their research. Some ideas for liturgical workshops:

The theme of peace in the text of the Divine Liturgy

Commemoration of wars, peace treaties and natural calamities in the Menaion

Detailed studies of the synaxaria and services of the martyr soldiers mentioned in Chapter 8

The stichera on “both now:” on “Lord, I cry unto Thee” in the Vespers of 25 December by Cassia

The history and text of the Akathist

The notion of spiritual warfare in the Lenten Triodion

Peace and the Eucharist

Prayers for the Emperor and the army in the history of the services of the Church

The blessing of soldiers, arms and armies

The feast of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God

Enjoy using the Resource Book!

Next

For the Peace From Above — Table of Contents

Chapter 2

DEFINING TERMS: DEFINITIONS FROM DICTIONARIES AND CHURCH AUTHORS

Nation

28. a. An extensive aggregate of persons, so closely associated with each other by common descent, language, or history, as to form a distinct race or people, usually organized as a separate political state and occupying a definite territory. In early examples the racial idea is usually stronger than the political; in recent use the notion of political unity and independence is more prominent.

A number of persons belonging to a particular nation; representatives of any nation.

2. The nations.

a. In and after Biblical use: The heathen nations, the Gentiles.

b. The peoples of the earth; the population of the earth collectively.

4. a. The nation, the whole people of a country, frequently in contrast to some smaller or narrower body within it.

Two nations: phr. used of two groups within a given nation divided from each other by marked social inequality; hence one nation, a nation which is not divided by social inequalities.

Attrib. and Comb. (see also sense 1 a ad fin.), as nation-building, the creation of a new nation, spec. a newly independent nation; hence nation-builder; nation-state, a sovereign state the members of which are also united by those ties such as language, common descent, etc., which constitute a nation; nation-wide a., as wide as a nation; extending over, reaching, or affecting the whole nation; also as adv.

Oxford English dictionary, 2nd ed.

Nationalism

Theology. The doctrine that certain nations (as contrasted with individuals) are the object of divine election.

Devotion to one’s nation; national aspiration; a policy of national independence.

A form of socialism, based on the nationalizing of all industry.

Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed.

Ethno-Phyletism (racism)

Phyletism (from phyli — race, tribe) is the principle of nationalities applied in the ecclesiastical domain: in other words, the confusion between Church and nation. The term ethnophyletismos designates the idea that a local autocephalous Church should be based not on a local [ecclesial] criterion, but on an ethnophyletist, national or linguistic one. It was used at the Holy and Great [“Meizon” –“enlarged”] pan-Orthodox Synod in Constantinople on the 10th of September 1872 to qualify “phyletist (religious) nationalism,” which was condemned as a modern ecclesial heresy: the Church should not be confused with the destiny of a single nation or a single race; Orthodoxy is therefore hostile to any forms of racial messianism. Also, one should clearly distinguish between ethnicism (which has a positive content) and nationalism (which has a negative content and which in Greek is called ethnikismos [ethnicism]): the first should be considered the servant, the latter the enemy of the nation.

Course of Canon Law — Appendix VI — canonical glossary, By Grigorios Papathomas, Paris 1995

State

a. A particular form of polity or government. the state, the form of government and constitution established in a country; e.g. the popular state, democracy (cf. F. état populaire). state royal: a monarchy. Obs.

b. A republic, non-monarchical commonwealth. Obsolete.

29. a. the state: the body politic as organized for supreme civil rule and government; the political organization which is the basis of civil government (either generally and abstractly, or in a particular country); hence, the supreme civil power and government vested in a country or nation.

Distinguished from “the church” or ecclesiastical organization and authority. In the phr. church and state the article is dropped.

30. a. A body of people occupying a defined territory and organized under a sovereign government. Hence occas. the territory occupied by such a body.

(Without article.) All that concerns the government or ruling power of a country; the sphere of supreme political power and administration. The adjectival phr. of state (‘ F. d’état, It. di stato) is otherwise expressed by the attributive use (see 38) in state, in the sphere of government or politics.

Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed.

Peace

I. 1. a. Freedom from, or cessation of, war or hostilities; that condition of a nation or community in which it is not at war with another.

(With article.) A ratification or treaty of peace between two powers previously at war. Also, formerly, a temporary cessation of hostilities, a truce.) In Hist. often defined by or with the name of the place at which it was ratified.

With possessive or of (the peace of any one, his peace, etc.): A state or relation of peace, concord, and amity, with him; esp. peaceful recognition of the authority or claims, and acceptance of the protection, of a king or lord. Obs. (Has affinities with senses 2, 4, 10 a.)

2. Freedom from civil commotion and disorder; public order and security. (See also 10.)

3. a. Freedom from disturbance or perturbation (esp. as a condition in which an individual person is); quiet, tranquillity, undisturbed state. Also emphasized as peace and quiet(ness).

In and after Biblical use, in various expressions of well-wishing or salutation. Following L. pax and Gr. eirini ‘peace’ often represents Heb. Shalom, properly ‘ safety, welfare, prosperity.

4. a. Freedom from quarrels or dissension between individuals; a state of friendliness; concord, amity. (See also 11 a, 15.)

Kiss of peace: a kiss given in sign of friendliness; spec. a kiss of greeting given in token of Christian love (see pax) at religious services in early times; now, in the Western Ch., usually only during High Mass.

5. Freedom from mental or spiritual disturbance or conflict arising from passion, sense of guilt, etc.; calmness; peace of mind, soul, or conscience.

6. a. Absence of noise, movement, or activity; stillness, quiet; inertness. (See also 13.)

15. a. To make peace: to bring about a state of peace, in various senses:

to effect a reconciliation between persons or parties at variance; to conclude peace with a nation at the close of a war;

to enter into friendly relations with a person, as by a league of amity, or by submission;

to enforce public order;

to enforce silence.

To make one’s, or a person’s, peace: to effect reconciliation for oneself or for some one else; to come, or bring some one, into friendly relations (with another). (In quot. c 1400, to admit a person to friendly relations with oneself.)

Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed.

War

I. 1. a. Hostile contention by means of armed forces, carried on between nations, states, or rulers, or between parties in the same nation or state; the employment of armed forces against a foreign power, or against an opposing party in the state. For civil, intestine, etc. war, see the adjs. war to the knife [after Sp. guerra al cuchillo], see knife n. 1 b; war to the death, see death n. 12 c.

transf. and fig. Applied poet. or rhetorically to any kind of active hostility or contention between living beings, or of conflict between opposing forces or principles.

3. a. In particularized sense: A contest between armed forces carried on in a campaign or series of campaigns.

Freq. used with def. art. to designate a particular war, esp. one in progress or recently ended. Hence between the wars, between the war of 1914-18 and that of 1939-45 (cf. inter-war a.). Often with identifying word or phrase, as in the Trojan war, the Punic Wars, the Wars of the Roses, the Thirty Years’ War. holy war: a war waged in a religious cause: applied, e.g. to the Crusades, and to the jihad among Muslims. Sacred War in Gr. Hist., the designation of two wars (b.c. 595 and 357-346) waged by the Amphictyonic Council against Phocis in punishment of alleged sacrilege. War Between the States (esp. in the use of Southerners), the American Civil War. For servile, social war, see the adjs.

Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed.

There are three very grievous kinds of war. The one is public, when our soldiers are attacked by foreign armies: The second is, when even in time of peace, we are at war with one another: The third is, when the individual is at war with himself, which is the worst of all.

Homily 7 on 1 Tim 2:2-4, by St. John Chrysostom

War is a great evil, even the greatest of evils. But because enemies shed our blood in fulfilment of an incitement of law and valour, and because it is wholly necessary for each man to defend his own fatherland and his fellow countrymen with words, writings, and acts, we have decided to write about strategy, through which we shall be able not only to fight but to overcome the enemy.

Byzantine Manual of Strategy (VIth c.), Anonymous

War is the wing of death which overshadows the earth; war opens the gates of eternity for thousands and thousands of people; war crushes established the bourgeois order, coziness and stability. War is a calling, war opens our eyes.

How war opens our eyes, by Mother Maria (Skobtsova)

Without doubt, from the Christian point of view, war is an evil and a sin, against which the Church is obliged to struggle.

The Church and national identity, by A. Kartachov, Paris, 1934

Identity

The world “identity” can be used in several ways. In its proper sense, as its etymology from the Latin word idem suggests, it means selfsameness, that which makes a given object to be one and the same yesterday, today and forever. But in everyday English (and possibly in other languages as well), it is also used in a looser sense, to mean individuality or personality, that which distinguishes a given subject from others, “the set of behavioural and individual characteristics by which a thing is definitively recognisable or known.”1 Thus, in the United States for example, we can speak of an underworld informant being given a new identity as part of a government witness protection program.

When referring to the Church, Orthodox theologians most often have used “identity” in the former sense, to mean selfsameness. Consider this passage from an essay by Fr. George Florovsky:

The Orthodox Church claims to be the Church… The Orthodox Church is conscious and aware of her identity through the ages, in spite of all perplexities and changes. She has kept intact and immaculate the sacred heritage of the early Church, of the Apostles and of the fathers, ‘the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.’ She is aware of the identity of her teaching with the apostolic message and the tradition of the Ancient Church, even though she might have failed occasionally to convey this message to particular generations in its full splendour and in a way that carries conviction.2

What gives the Orthodox Church her identity, Florovsky continues, is “living tradition.” This is not “just a human tradition, maintained by human memory and imitation.” Rather:

It is a sacred or holy tradition, maintained by the abiding presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The ultimate identity of the Church is grounded in her sacramental structure, in the organic continuity of the Body, which is always ‘visible’ and historically identifiable and recognisable, although at the same time it transcends and surpasses the closed historical dimension, being the token and the embodiment of the divine communion once granted and also the token and the anticipation of the life to come.3

Most Orthodox theologians would accept this understanding of the identity of the Orthodox Church, though like Florovsky they would usually add some words of caution against triumphalism. For, as Florovsky observes:

There is no pride and arrogance in this claim. Indeed, it implies a heavy responsibility. Nor does it mean ‘perfection.’ The Church is still in pilgrimage, in travail, in via. She has her historic failures and losses, she has her own unfinished tasks and problems.”4

And like Florovsky, most Orthodox theologians would locate the ultimate identity of the Church “in her sacramental structure, in the organic continuity of the Body” — in her sacramental and spiritual life, which “has ever been the same in the course of ages”5 despite the “historic failures and losses.” They also would be able to point to times when this underlying sacramental structure has been determinative for the course of church history — to the Byzantine Empire, for example, where the institutional claims of patriarchs and emperors and the charismatic claims of monastics were equally subject to the test of the Church’s sacramental ethos.6

A full account of how these distinctive characteristics have emerged and have gained prominence in Orthodox self-understanding would require many volumes. At the risk of oversimplification, we may identify two main ways in which this has occurred:

by emulation, i.e., by imitation or appropriation for oneself of the claims, institutions or practices of another; and

by contradiction, i.e., by rejection of the claims, institutions or practices of another and concurrent development of claims, institutions and practices more or less directly opposed to them.

— The Formation of Orthodox Ecclesial Identity, by John H. Erickson Balamand, 1997

Notes for chapter 2:

1 American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 3rd ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, [1992]), s.v.

2 The Quest for Christian Unity and the Orthodox Church, Collected Works vol. 13 (Vaduz: Buechervertriebsanstalt, 1989) 136-44 at pp. 139-140, originally published in Theology and Life 4 (August 1961) 197-208.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 On the role of liturgy in maintaining Orthodox ecclesial identity see, among others, J. Meyendorff, The Byzantine Legacy in the Orthodox Church (Crestwood NY: SVS Press, 1982) 122-23, and also J. Erickson, “The Hermeneutics of Reconciliation. Perspectives from the Orthodox Liturgical Experience,” Reformed Liturgy & Music 30.4 (1996), 196-98.

Marginal quotations from chapter 2:

They [the Christians] dwell in their own countries, but only as sojourners; they bear their share in all things as citizens, and they endure all hardships as strangers. Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and every fatherland is foreign.

The Epistle to Diognetus, Chapter 5

We live in a time of savage, animal nationalism, of a cult of brute violence, we witness a genuine return to paganism. A process countering the christening and humanisation of human societies is taking place. Nationalism should be condemned by the Christian Church as a heresy.

N. Berdyayev, 1935

Pogroms are the victory of your enemies. Pogroms are a dishonour for yourself, a dishonour to the Church!

Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow, 1919

For us Christians the Jewish issue is by no means a question of whether the Jews are good or bad, but a question of whether we Christians are good or bad. From a Christian point of view, racist anti-Semitism is absolutely intolerable, it clashes in an unequivocal manner with the universality of Christianity. Modern racism means de-christening and de-humanisation, a return to barbarism and paganism.

N. Berdyayev, 1935

One who is in haste to desert a secular condition and enter on an ecclesiastical office is not wishing to relinquish secular affairs, but to change them.

Epistles, by St. Gregory the Great, Book 3, Epistle 65

Absolute states on earth are the image of man deified, of anti-Christianity, they are the incarnation of the spirit of the prince of this world, from whom it is said: “and to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority” (Rev. 13:2).

The task of the State of Christians is: serving Christian morality. However, such a service presupposes a certain spiritual equilibrium, where the state does not go beyond its own, legal tasks. Still even this situation always remains unstable; when the state crosses these boundaries, it turns into the beast.

Fr. Sergi Boulgakov, 1944

War is one of the tools in the hands of God, as well as peace.

War is a poison, which kills, but which at the same time cures and heals.

It is better to have one great and mighty river than many small streams which easily freeze in frost and which are easily covered with dust and filth. A war which gathers an entire people for a great cause is better than a peace which knows as many tiny causes at it knows people, which divides brothers, neighbours, all human beings, and which hides in itself an evil and hidden war against all.

Bishop Nikolai of Ochrid, 1929

Next

For the Peace From Above — Table of Contents

Chapter 3

REFERENCE TEXTS FROM HOLY SCRIPTURE

Nation, Nationalism

The True Homeland of the Christians

Jesus answered, “My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.”

— John 18:36

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

— John 14:27

I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

— John 16:33

Let those who deal with the world be as though they had no dealings with it. For the form of this world is passing away.

— 1 Cor. 7:31

Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

— James 4:4

We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one.

— 1 John 5:19

For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.

— 1 Tim. 6:7-10

And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return; the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

— Job 1:21

These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had an opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared them a city.

— Hebr. 11:13-16

So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

–Eph. 2:18-22

National Identity of the Christians

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

–Gal. 3:26-29

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

–1 Pet. 2:9

The LORD is the strength of his people, he is the saving refuge of his anointed.

O save thy people, and bless thy heritage; be thou their shepherd, and carry them for ever.

–Ps. 28:8-9

Peace

Peace in Ourselves

Let not yours be the outward adorning with braiding of hair, decoration of gold, and wearing of fine clothing, but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

–1 Pet. 3:3-4

Peace with Each Other

Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its saltness, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

–Mark 9:50

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

–Rom. 5:10

Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

–Heb. 12:14

Making Peace

They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.

–Jer. 6:14

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

–Matt. 5:9

Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

–Rom. 14:19

What man is there who desires life, and covets many days, that he may enjoy good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

–Psalm 34:12-14

Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace. I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war!

–Psalm 120:6-7

May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!

–Psalm 29:11

Behold now, the Assyrians are increased in their might; they are exalted, with their horses and riders; they glory in the strength of their foot soldiers; they trust in shield and spear, in bow and sling, and know not that thou art the Lord who crushest wars; the Lord is thy name.

–Judith 9:7

For God is the Lord who crushes wars; for he has delivered me out of the hands of my pursuers, and brought me to his camp, in the midst of the people.

–Judith 16:3

God’s Peace

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!”

–Luke 2:13-14

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

–John 14:27

I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

–John 16:33

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.”

–John 20:19-21

For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit; he who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.

–Rom. 14:17-19

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

–1 Cor. 14:33

Finally, brethren, farewell. Mend your ways, heed my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.

–2 Cor. 13:11

For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

–Eph. 2:14-17

And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him.

–Col. 1:20-22

And to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace.

–Heb. 7:2

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

–Is. 9:6

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

–Heb. 13:20-21

Non-violence and Martyrdom

Christians Should Not Revenge; Forgiveness

You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

–Matt. 5:38-41

Love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited.

Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

–Rom. 12:10-21

Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love of the brethren, a tender heart and a humble mind. Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling; but on the contrary bless, for to this you have been called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “He that would love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile; let him turn away from evil and do right; let him seek peace and pursue it.”

–1 Pet. 3:8-11

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.

–Eph. 4:31-5:1

For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God’s will, than for doing wrong.

–1 Pet. 3:17

You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason with your neighbour, lest you bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the LORD.

–Lev. 19:17-18

They beset me with words of hate, and attack me without cause. In return for my love they accuse me, even as I make prayer for them. So they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love.

–Psalm 109:3-5

Non-violence

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

–Matt. 5:38-41

And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”

–Matt. 26:51

Test everything; hold fast what is good, abstain from every form of evil. May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

–1 Th. 5:21-23

Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of he-goats. When you come to appear before me, who requires of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and sabbath and the calling of assemblies — I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me, I am weary of bearing them. When you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land. But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

–Is. 1:10-20

Martyrdom

Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life.

–Heb. 11:35

Love of Enemies

Love of Neighbour

You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.

–Matt. 5:21

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

–Mark 12:28-30

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbour has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbour.”

–Rom. 13:8-9

He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still.

–1 Jn 2:9

Love of Enemies

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

–Matt. 5:43-48

But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

–Luke 6:27-28

And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

–Luke 6:34-36

War

Inevitability of War

Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be those of his own household.

–Mt. 10:34-36

You will hear of wars and rumours of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the sufferings.

–Mt. 24:6-8

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

–Eccl. 3:1-8

Causes of War

The harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. What causes wars, and what causes fightings among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in your members? You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. Unfaithful creatures! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

–James 3:18-4:4

O LORD my God, if I have done this, if there is wrong in my hands, if I have requited my friend with evil or plundered my enemy without cause, let the enemy pursue me and overtake me, and let him trample my life to the ground, and lay my soul in the dust.

–Psalm 7:3-5

The Lord Grants Victory

A king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a vain hope for victory, and by its great might it cannot save. Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death, and keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and shield.

–Psalm 33:16-20

Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace. I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war!

–Psalm 120:6-7

Behold now, the Assyrians are increased in their might; they are exalted, with their horses and riders; they glory in the strength of their foot soldiers; they trust in shield and spear, in bow and sling, and know not that thou art the Lord who crushest wars; the Lord is thy name.

–Judith 9:7

For God is the Lord who crushes wars; for he has delivered me out of the hands of my pursuers, and brought me to his camp, in the midst of the people.

–Judith 16:3

And Joshua said, “Hereby you shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites.

–Josh. 3:10

Then you shall rise up from the ambush, and seize the city; for the LORD your God will give it into your hand. And when you have taken the city, you shall set the city on fire, doing as the LORD has bidden; see, I have commanded you.”

–Josh. 8:7-8

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin; but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down, and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s and he will give you into our hand.” When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone, and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine, and killed him; there was no sword in the hand of David. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine, and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath, and killed him, and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

–1 Sam. 17:45-51

The Lord of Hosts

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “The people of Israel shall encamp each by his own standard, with the ensigns of their fathers’ houses; they shall encamp facing the tent of meeting on every side.”

–Num. 2:1-2

The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

–Psalm 46:11

How Should Soldiers Behave

Soldiers also asked him (St. John the Baptist, ed.), “and we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Rob no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

–Lk. 3:13

Killing and Bloodshed

Who Has the Right to Kill

You shall not kill.

–Ex. 20:13

If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son, or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the peoples that are round about you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him; but you shall kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

–Deut. 13:6-10

As they continued to ask him (whether or not to stone the woman caught in adultery, ed.), he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus looked up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and do not sin again.”

–Jn. 8:7-11

Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all the evildoers from the city of the LORD.

–Psalm 101:8

In this manner you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgements: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you, upon the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

–Ex. 12:11-13

Bloodshed Calls for More Bloodshed

And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”

–Matt. 26:51

The Sin of Bloodshed

You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all this will come upon this generation.

–Matt. 23:33-36

Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it shall be required of this generation.

–Luke 11:49-51

Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. If any one has an ear, let him hear: If any one is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if any one slays with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.

–Rev. 13:710

Church-State Relations

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honour to whom honour is due.

–Rom. 13:1-7

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.

–1 Tim. 2:1 -2

Spiritual Warfare

The Real Enemy

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

–Matt. 10:28

You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the demon of noonday.

–Psalm 91:5-6 LXX

And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems upon its horns and a blasphemous name upon its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth followed the beast with wonder. Men worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months; it opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. If any one has an ear, let him hear: If any one is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if any one slays with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.

–Rev. 13:1-10

The Judgement

He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge; the word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day.

–John 12:48

And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; you hold fast my name and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. … Repent then. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.’

–Rev. 2:12-16

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but himself. He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, followed him on white horses. From his mouth issues a sharp sword with which to smite the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.

–Rev. 19:11-15

The Good Fight

But as for you, man of God, shun all this; aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

–1 Tim. 6:11-12

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to satisfy the one who enlisted him.

–2 Tim. 2:3-4

Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy.

–Rom. 13:10-13

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

–Eph. 6:10-20.

Non-biblical quotations to consider:

The hate of an entire people is a sin, it is murder of human beings and those that hate must bear responsibility for it.

— N. Berdyayev, 1935

This phrase confronts us with all that is absolute and — though one hesitates to say so — inaccessible in the Christian duty to love. To be merciful as the Father is merciful does not mean that our mercy could ever reach to the infinity of divine mercy; but, that in our own small measure, we should be inspired by the same feelings as the Father; it is from the ocean of the Father’s mercy that the minute drops of water which are our acts of mercy must come, and it is into this ocean that they must finally flow. We are not able to perform the merciful acts of the Father, but we can share in his spirit of mercy.

— Archimandrite Lev Gillet; Saint Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY

“And the whole earth followed the beast with wonder. Men worshipped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshipped the beast saying, ‘Who is like beast, And who can fight against it?'” (13:4). It is difficult to add anything to the simplicity of these words, which may be applied to the totality of world history. Today’s tsarism both the Russian and the Germanic type, in their own way are new and almost unexpected parallels of Roman absolutism, as is its victorious self-affirmation, which leads entire peoples which are under its power to a state of madness.

— Fr. Sergi Boulgakov, 1948

Next

For the Peace From Above — Table of Contents

Chapter 4: CANONICAL REFERENCE TEXTS

CANONICAL REFERENCE TEXTS

4.1. Canonical texts from the Apostolic period

Canons and rulings not having Conciliar origin but approved by name in canon II of the Synod in Trullo.

The 85 Canons of the Holy and Altogether August Apostles[1]

CANON VI: Let not a bishop, presbyter, or deacon, undertake worldly business; otherwise let him be deposed.

CANON LXVI: If any clergyman shall strike anyone in a contest, and kill him with one blow, let him be deposed for his violence. If a layman do so, let him be excommunicated.

CANON LXXXI: We have said that a bishop or presbyter must not give himself to the management of public affairs, but devote himself to ecclesiastical business. Let him then be persuaded to do so, or let him be deposed, for no man can serve two masters, according to the Lord’s declaration.

CANON LXXXIII: If a bishop, presbyter, or deacon, shall serve in the army, and wish to retain both the Roman magistracy and the priestly office, let him be deposed; for the things of Caesar belong to Caesar, and those of God to God.

4.2. Canons from the Ecumenical Councils

First Ecumenical Council of Nicea

The 20 Canons of the 318 Holy and God-inspired Fathers who gathered in the city of Nicea under Constantine the Great … in the year 325 A.D., before the 13th day of July.

CANON XII: As many as were called by grace, and displayed the first zeal, having cast aside their military girdles, but afterwards returned, like dogs, to their own vomit, (so that some spent money and by means of gifts regained their military stations); let these, after they have passed the space of three years as hearers, be for ten years prostrators[2]. But in all these cases it is necessary to examine well into their purpose and what their repentance appears to be like. For as many as give evidence of their conversions by deeds, and not pretence, with fear, and tears, and perseverance, and good works, when they have fulfilled their appointed time as hearers, may properly communicate in prayers; and after that the bishop may determine yet more favourably concerning them. But those who take [the matter] with indifference, and who think the form of [not] entering the Church is sufficient for their conversion, must fulfil the whole time[3].

Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon

The 28 Canons and two more in the form of questions and answers, of the 630 Holy Fathers gathered in Chalcedon during the reign of Marcianus … , before the 8th day of November, 451 A.D.

CANON III: It has come to [the knowledge of] the holy Synod that certain of those who are enrolled among the clergy have, through lust of gain, become hirers of other men’s possessions, and make contracts pertaining to secular affairs, lightly esteeming the service of God, and slip into the houses of secular persons, whose property they undertake through covetousness to manage. Wherefore the great and holy Synod decrees that henceforth no bishop, clergyman, nor monk shall hire possessions, or engage in business, or occupy himself in worldly engagements, unless he shall be called by the law to the guardianship of minors, from which there is no escape; or unless the bishop of the city shall commit to him the care of ecclesiastical business, or of unprovided orphans or widows and of persons who stand especially in need of the Church’s help, through the fear of God. And if any one shall hereafter transgress these decrees, he shall be subjected to ecclesiastical penalties[4].

CANON VII: Those who have entered the clergy or have been tonsured into the monastic state may no longer serve in the army or accept any civil charge; otherwise those who have dared do so, and who have not repented and returned to their prior occupation for the love of God, shall be anathemised.

4.3. Canons from the Local Councils

The Local Council of Ancyra

The 25 canons of the August Fathers gathered in Ancyra in 314 A.D., canons which precede the Council of Nicea but which come in second position given the authority of the Ecumenical Council.

CANON XXII: Concerning wilful murderers let them remain prostrators; but at the end of life let them be indulged with full communion[5].

CANON XXIII: Concerning involuntary homicides, a former decree directs that they be received to full communion after seven years [of penance], according to the prescribed degrees; but this second one, that they fulfil a term of five years[6].

The Local Council of Sardica

The 20 canons of the Holy Fathers gathered in Sardica in 343 A.D., fathers who gathered after the fathers of Nicea.

CANON VII: Bishop Hosius said: Our importunity and great pertinacity and unjust petitions have brought it about that we do not have as much favour and confidence as we ought to enjoy. For many of the bishops do not intermit resorting to the imperial Court, especially the Africans, who, as we have learned from our beloved brother and fellow-bishop, Gratus, do not accept salutary counsels, but so despise them that one man carries to the Court petitions many and diverse and of no possible benefit to the Church, and does not (as ought to be done and as is fitting) assist and help the poor and the laity or the widows, but is intriguing to obtain worldly dignities and offices for certain persons. This evil then causes murmuring, not without some scandal and blame to us. But I account it quite proper for a bishop to give assistance to one oppressed by some one, or to a widow suffering injustice, or, again, an orphan robbed of his estate, always provided that these persons have a just cause of petition.

If, then, beloved brethren, this seems good to all, do ye decree that no bishop shall go to the imperial Court except those whom our most pious emperor may summon by his own letters. Yet since it often happens that persons condemned for their offences to deportation or banishment to an island, or who have received some sentence or other, beg for mercy and seek refuge with the Church [i.e., take sanctuary], such persons are not to be refused assistance, but pardon should be asked for them without delay and without hesitation. If this, then, is also your pleasure, do ye all vote assent.

All gave answer: Be this also decreed[7].

CANON VIII: Bishop Hosius said: This also let your sagacity determine, that — inasmuch as this was decreed in order that a bishop might not fall under censure by going to the Court — that if any have such petitions as we mentioned above, they should send these by one of their deacons. For the person of a subordinate does not excite jealousy, and what shall be granted [by the Emperor] can thus be reported more quickly.

All answered: Be this also decreed[8].

CANON IX: Bishop Hosius said: This also, I think, follows, that, if in any province whatever, bishops send petitions to one of their brothers and fellow-bishops, he that is in the largest city, that is, the metropolis, should himself send his deacon and the petitions, providing him also with letters commendatory, writing also of course in succession to our brethren and fellow-bishops, if any of them should be staying at that time in the places or cities in which the most pious Emperor is administering public affairs.

But if any of the bishops should have friends at the Court and should wish to make requests of them as to some proper object, let him not be forbidden to make such requests through his deacon and move these [friends] to give their kind assistance as his desire.

But those who come to Rome ought, as I said before, to deliver to our beloved brother and fellow-bishop, Julius, the petitions which they have to give, in order that he may first examine them, lest some of them should be improper, and so, giving them his own advocacy and care, shall send them to the Court.

All the Bishops made answer that such was their pleasure and that the regulation was most proper.

The Local Council of Carthage

The canons of the 217 blessed Fathers who assembled at Carthage, 419 A.D.

CANON XVI: Likewise it seemed good that bishops, presbyters, and deacons should not be “conductors” or “procurators;” nor seek their food by any base and vile business, for they should remember how it is written, “No man fighting for God cumbereth himself with worldly affairs.”

CANON LXXV: On account of the afflictions of the poor by whose troubles the Church is worn out without any intermission, it seemed good to all that the Emperors be asked to allow defenders for them against the power of the rich to be chosen under the supervision of the bishops.

CANON XCVII: That there be sought from the Emperor the protection of Advocates in causes ecclesiastical.

It seemed good that the legates who were about leaving, viz., Vincent and Fortunatian, should in the name of all the provinces ask from the most glorious Emperors to give a faculty for the establishment of scholastic defensors, whose shall be the care of this very kind of business: so that as the priests of the province, they who have received the faculty as defensors of the Churches in ecclesiastical affairs, as often as necessity arises, may be able to enter the private apartments of the judges, so as to resist what is urged on the other side, or to make necessary explanations.

Local Council of Constantinople “Prime-Second”

The seventeen canons of the Fathers gathered in the church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople, in the year 861 A.D.

CANON XI: The divine and sacred rules submit priests or deacons to deposition, who take upon themselves worldly governing tasks or responsibilities, or who have the rank of director in the houses of worldly rulers. We then, confirming the latter for all members of the clergy, declare that if any member of the clergy enters into worldly civil office, or takes upon himself the rule of director in the houses of worldly rulers or in the cities: such will be deposed from their priestly rank. Since, according to the word spoken by Christ himself, our true God, no-one can serve two masters.

4.4. Canons from the Fathers of the Church

Canons of St. Gregory of Neocaesarea

The Canonical Epistle of St. Gregory, Archbishop of Neocaesarea ( 270 A.D.), who is called Thaumaturgus, concerning them that, during the incursion of the Barbarians, ate of things offered to idols and committed certain other sins.

CANON VII: That they who joined the barbarians in their murder and ravages, or were guides or informers to them, be not permitted to be hearers, till holy men assembled together do agree in common upon what shall seem good, first to the Holy Ghost, then to themselves.

Canons of St. Basil the Great

The first Canonical Epistle of our Holy Father Basil ( 378 A.D.), Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia to Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium.

CANON VIII: He that kills another with a sword, or hurls an axe at his own wife and kills her, is guilty of wilful murder; not he who throws a stone at a dog, and undesignedly kills a man, or who corrects one with a rod, or scourge, in order to reform him, or who kills a man in his own defence, when he only designed to hurt him. But the man, or woman, is a murderer that gives a philtrum, if the man that takes it die upon it; so are they who take medicines to procure abortion; and so are they who kill on the highway….

CANON XI: He that is guilty of involuntary murder, shall do eleven years’ penance — that is, if the murdered person, after he had here received the wound, do again go abroad, and yet afterward die of the wound.

CANON XIII: Our fathers did not think that killing in war was murder; yet I think it advisable for such as have been guilty of it to forbear communion three years.

CANON XLIII: That he who gives a mortal wound to another is a murderer, whether he were the first, aggressor, or did it in his own defence.

CANON LIV: That it is in the bishop’s power to increase or lessen penance for involuntary murder.

CANON LV: They that are not ecclesiastics setting upon highwaymen, are repelled from the communion of the Good Thing; clergymen are deposed.

CANON LVI: He that wilfully commits murder, and afterwards repents, shall for twenty years remain without communicating of the Holy Sacrament. Four years he must mourn without the door of the oratory, and beg of the communicants that go in, that prayer be offered for him; then for five years he shall be admitted among the hearers, for seven years among the prostrators; for four years he shall be a co-stander with the communicants, but shall not partake of the oblation; when these years are completed, he shall partake of the Holy Sacrament.

CANON LVII: The involuntary murderer for two years shall be a mourner, for three years a hearer, four years a prostrator, one year a co-stander, and then communicate.

Canons of St. Athanasius the Great

The Epistle of St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria ( 373 A.D.) to the Monk Ammun (extract).

… One might reasonably say no natural secretion will bring us before him for punishment. But possibly medical men (to put these people to shame even at the hands of outsiders) will support us on this point, telling us that there are certain necessary passages accorded to the animal body, to provide for the dismissal of the superfluity of what is secreted in our several parts; for example, for the superfluity of the head, the hair and the watery discharges from the head, and the purgings of the belly, and that superfluity again of the seminative channels. What sin then is there in God’s name, elder most beloved of God, if the Master who made the body willed and made these parts to have such passages? But since we must grapple with the objections of evil persons, as they may say, ‘If the organs have been severally fashioned by the Creator, then there is no sin in their genuine use,’ let us stop them by asking this question: What do you mean by use? That lawful use which God permitted when He said, ‘Increase and multiply, and replenish the earth,’ and which the Apostle approves in the words, ‘Marriage is honourable and the bed undefiled,’ or that use which is public, yet carried on stealthily and in adulterous fashion?

For in other matters also which go to make up life, we shall find differences according to circumstances. For example, it is not right to kill, yet in war it is lawful and praiseworthy to destroy the enemy; accordingly not only are they who have distinguished themselves in the field held worthy of great honours, but monuments are put up proclaiming their achievements. So that the same act is at one time and under some circumstances unlawful, while under others, and at the right time, it is lawful and permissible. The same reasoning applies to the relation of the sexes. He is blessed who, being freely yoked in his youth, naturally begets children. But if he uses nature licentiously, the punishment of which the Apostle writes shall await whoremongers and adulterers.

Canons of St. Gregory of Nyssa

The Canonical Epistle of St. Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa ( 395 A.D.), to St. Letoius, Bishop of Melitene.

CANON V: Voluntary murderers shall be nine years ejected out of the church, nine years hearers, nine years prostrators; but every one of these nine years may be reduced to seven or six, or even five, if the penitents be very diligent. Involuntary murderers to be treated as fornicators, but still with discretion, and allowing the communion on a death-bed, but on condition, that they return to penance if they survive.

Footnotes

1 The 85 Canons of the Holy Apostles most probably originate from Syria in the IIIrd century. They were confirmed by the Quinisexte Ecumenical Council “in Trullo” (the Church where the Council took place) in 691, which issued the canons of the fifth and sixth Ecumenical Councils. The Canons of the Holy Apostles should not be mistaken for the Apostolic Tradition of St. Hyppolyte of Rome, which has not been confirmed by the Councils.

2 Prostrators are one of the categories of penants.

3 In his last contests with Constantine, Licinius had made himself the representative of heathenism; so that the final issue of the war would not be the mere triumph of one of the two competitors, but the triumph or fall of Christianity or heathenism. Accordingly, a Christian who had in this war supported the cause of Licinius and of heathenism might be considered as a lapsus [those who fell away from the Faith, ed.], even if he did not formally fall away. With much more reason might those Christians be treated as lapsi who, having conscientiously given up military service (this is meant by the soldier’s belt), afterwards retracted their resolution, and went so far as to give money and presents for the sake of readmission, on account of the numerous advantages which military service then afforded. It must not be forgotten that Licinius, as Zonaras and Eusebius relate, required from his soldiers a formal apostasy; compelled them, for example, to take part in the heathen sacrifices which were held in the camps, and dismissed from his service those who would not apostatize. Comment by the canonist Lambert.

4 Two cases excepted, the undertaking of secular business was made ecclesiastically penal. This is not to be construed as forbidding clerics to work at trades either (1) when the church-funds were insufficient to maintain them, or (2) in order to have more to bestow in alms, or (3) as an example of industry or humility. It was not the mere fact of secular employment, but secularity of motive and of tone that was condemned. Comment from the canonist Bright.

5 An ancient epitome of this canon reads: A voluntary homicide may at the last attain perfection.

Constantine Harmenopulus the Scholiast in the Epitom. Canonum., Sect. v., tit. 3, tells the following story: “In the time of the Patriarch Luke, a certain bishop gave absolution in writing to a soldier who had committed voluntary homicide, after a very short time of penace; and afterwards when he was accused before the synod of having done so, he defended himself by citing the canon which gives bishops the power of remitting or increasing the length of their penance to penitents. But he was told in answer that this was granted indeed to pontiffs but not that they should use it without examination, and with too great lenity. Wherefore the synod subjected the soldier to the canonical penance and the bishop it mulcted for a certain time, bidding him cease from the exercise of his ministry.”. Comment by the canonist van Espen.

6 Of voluntary and involuntary homicides St. Basil treats at length in his Canonical Epistle ad Amphilochium, can. viii., lvi. and lvii., and fixes the time of penance at twenty years for voluntary and ten years for involuntary homicides. It is evident that the penance given for this crime varied in different churches, although it is clear from the great length of the penance, how enormous the crime was considered, no light or short penance being sufficient. Comment of the canonist van Espen.

7 Nothing is more noteworthy than how the first princes summoned bishops in counsel with regard to affairs touching either the estate of the Church or of the Realm; and called them to their presence in urgent and momentous cases, and kept them with them. Justinian, the emperor, in his Novels (Chapter II.) defines that no one of the God-beloved bishops shall dare to be absent any more from his diocese for a whole year, and adds this exception, “unless he does so on account of an imperial jussio; in this case alone he shall be held to be without blame.” On this whole matter of bishops interceding for culprits, and especially for those condemned to death, see St. Augustine (Epist. 153 ad Macedonium ). Comment of the canonist van Espen.

8 This decree is threefold. First, that the bishop in going to Court should not fall under suspicion either at Court or of his own people that he was approaching the Prince to obtain some cause of his own. Second, according to the interpretation of Zonaras, “that no one should be angry with the Minister or Deacon who tarried in camp, as the bishop had departed thence.” And third, that the Minister could carry away what he had asked for, that is (according to Zonaras), the letters of the Emperor pardoning the fault, or such like other matters. Comment of the canonist van Espen.

Next

For the Peace From Above — Table of Contents

Chapter 5: REFERENCE TEXTS FROM THE HOLY FATHERS

REFERENCE TEXTS FROM THE HOLY FATHERS

Nation and Nationalism

Disregard for the World

As long as this body remains common with the rest, its corporal condition must also be common, and it is not granted the members of the human race to be separated from one another, unless there is withdrawal from this life. Meanwhile, we, good and evil, are contained within our house. Whatever comes within the house we endure with equal fate, until, when our temporal earthly period has been fulfilled, we are distributed among the homes of eternal death or immortality. So then we are not comparable and equal with you, because, while we are still in this world and in this flesh, we incur equally with you the annoyances of the world and of the flesh. For since all that punishes is in the sense of pain, it is manifest that he is not a participant in your punishment whom you see does not suffer pain with you.

— To Demetrian[1], by St. Cyprian of Carthage, Chapter 19

If, as the Apostle Paul says (1 Cor 7.31), heaven, earth and anything else in the universe passes away, how can we praise the fertility of the earth and water? Although you may consider the place where you live or one similar to be surpassing, the [divine] word regards them as nothing.

— The First Homily Concerning the Forty Martyrs[2] (part one), by St. Gregory of Nyssa

It is a very serious consideration, that now at this time any are forbidden to leave the world; a time when the end of the world is drawing nigh.

— Epistles3, St. Gregory the Great, Book 3, Epistle 65

The Value of Earthly Homelands

It is not virtue, therefore, either to be the enemy of the bad or the defender of the good, because virtue cannot be subject to uncertain chances.

Moreover, to reckon the interests of our country as in the first place.

What are the interests of our country, but the inconveniences of another state or nation? — that is, to extend the boundaries which are violently taken from others, to increase the power of the state, to improve the revenues, — all which things are not virtues, but the overthrowing of virtues: for, in the first place, the union of human society is taken away, innocence is taken away, the abstaining from the property of another is taken away; lastly, justice itself is taken away, which is unable to bear the tearing asunder of the human race, and wherever arms have glittered, must be banished and exterminated from thence.

How can a man be just who injures, who hates, who despoils, who puts to death? And they who strive to be serviceable to their country do all these things: for they are ignorant of what this being serviceable is, who think nothing useful, nothing advantageous, but that which can be held by the hand; and this alone cannot be held, because it may be snatched away.

The Divine Institutes, by Lactantius4, Book 6, Chapter 6

You have exchanged the notion of the motherland for a vacuous internationalism although you know very well that when it comes to defending the motherland, the proletarians of all nations will be its faithful sons, not its traitors.

— Letter to the Council of People’s Commissars, 13/26 October 1918, by St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow

The Identity of the Christian Empire

And they (the Jewish teachers) said once more: “if we accept that He (the anointed One) has already come, as you claim on the basis of the prophets and other arguments, then how is it that the Roman Empire is still in power?” The Philosopher answered: “It is no longer in power, for it has passed, like all empires at its likeness, for our Empire is not of Rome, but of Christ.”

— The Life of Sts. Cyrillus and Methodius5, Chapter 10

The New People

I exhort you to have but one faith, and one preaching, and one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ; and His blood which was shed for us is one; one loaf also is broken to all [the communicants], and one cup is distributed among them all: there is but one altar for the whole Church, and one bishop, with the presbytery and deacons, my fellow-servants. Since, also, there is but one unbegotten Being, God, even the Father; and one only-begotten Son, God, the Word and man; and one Comforter, the Spirit of truth; and also one preaching, and one faith, and one baptism; and one Church which the holy apostles established from one end of the earth to the other by the blood of Christ, and by their own sweat and toil; it behooves you also, therefore, as “a peculiar people, and a holy nation,” to perform all things with harmony in Christ.

— The Epistle of St. Ignatius of Antioch to the Philadelphians6, Chapter 4

The Roman emperors worshipped idols, but all the present — coming from this or that people or tribe — rule in the name of Christ.

— The Life of Sts. Cyrillus and Methodius, Chapter 10

Racism and Xenophobia

This saying of Cicero is true: “But they who say that regard is to be had to citizens, but that it is not to be had to foreigners, these destroy the common society of the human race.”

— The Divine Institutes, by Lactantius, Book 6, Chapter 6

The whole of Russia has become a battlefield! And that is not all. Things are even more terrible. We receive rumours about pogroms against Jews, the beating of a race without concern for age, guilt, sex or convictions. Angered by the circumstances of life, man searches scapegoats for his mishap, and in order to throw upon them his offences, pain and suffering hits out so hard, that under the strikes of his hand, blinded by the thirst of vengeance, many innocent victims fall.

— Pastoral Letter to the Faithful of the Orthodox Church of Russia, 8/21 July 19197, by St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow

The True Homeland of the Christians

I see, most excellent Diognetus, that thou art anxious to understand the religion of the Christians, and that thy enquiries respecting them are distinctly and carefully made, as to what God they trust and how they worship Him, that they all disregard the world and despise death, and as to the nature of the affection which they entertain one to another.

For Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind either in locality or in speech or in customs. For they dwell not somewhere in cities of their own, neither do they use some different language, nor practice an extraordinary kind of life. Nor again do they possess any invention discovered by any intelligence or study of ingenious men, nor are they masters of any human dogma as some are. But while they dwell in cities of Greeks and barbarians as the lot of each is cast, and follow the native customs in dress and food and the other arrangements of life, yet the constitution of their own citizenship, which they set forth, is marvellous, and confessedly contradicts expectation. They dwell in their own countries, but only as sojourners; they bear their share in all things as citizens, and they endure all hardships as strangers. Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and every fatherland is foreign. Their existence is on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven.

In a word, what the soul is in a body, this the Christians are in the world. The soul is spread through all the members of the body, and Christians through the divers cities of the world. The soul hath its abode in the body, and yet it is not of the body. So Christians have their abode in the world, and yet they are not of the world. The soul which is invisible is guarded in the body which is visible: so Christians are recognised as being in the world, and yet their religion remaineth invisible. The flesh hateth the soul and wageth war with it, though it receiveth no wrong, because it is forbidden to indulge in pleasures; so the world hateth Christians, though it receiveth no wrong from them, because they set themselves against its pleasures. The soul loveth the flesh which hateth it, and the members: so Christians love those that hate them. The soul is enclosed in the body, and yet itself holdeth the body together; so Christians are kept in the world as in a prison-house, and yet they themselves hold the world together. The soul though itself immortal dwelleth in a mortal tabernacle; so Christians sojourn amidst perishable things, while they look for the imperishability which is in the heavens. The soul when hardly treated in the matter of meats and drinks is improved; and so Christians when punished increase more and more daily. So great is the office for which God hath appointed them, and which it is not lawful for them to decline.

— The Epistle to Diognetus 8, Chapters 1, 5 and 6 [information regarding authorship is in the endnote]

The citizens of the heavenly city honour their (the martyrs’) success which brings joy to the entire assembly of heaven.

— Second Homily concerning the Forty Martyrs, by St. Gregory of Nyssa

Peace

Interior Peace

For what advantage is it, that the world enjoys profound peace, if thou art at war with thyself? This then is the peace we should keep. If we have it, nothing from without will be able to harm us. And to this end the public peace contributes no little: whence it is said, “That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life.” But if any one is disturbed when there is quiet, he is a miserable creature. Seest thou that He speaks of this peace which I call the third (inner, ed.) kind? Therefore when he has said, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life,” he does not stop there, but adds “in all godliness and honesty.” But we cannot live in godliness and honesty, unless that peace be established. For when curious reasonings disturb our faith, what peace is there? or when spirits of uncleanness, what peace is there?

— Homily 7 on 1 Tim 2:2-4, by St. John Chrysostom

Christ Brings Peace

Abel, peaceable and just, while he was sacrificing to God innocently, taught others also, when they offer a gift at the altar, to come with fear of God, with simple heart, with the law of justice, with the peace of concord. Worthily did he, since he was such in God’s sacrifice, himself later become a sacrifice to God, so that being the first to manifest martyrdom he initiated the Lord’s passion by his blood, who had both the justice and peace of the Lord. Finally, such are crowned by the Lord; such on the day of judgement will be vindicated with the Lord. But the discordant and the dissident and he who has not peace with his brethren, according as the blessed Apostle and the Holy Scripture testify, not even if he be slain for His name, shall be able to escape the crime of fraternal dissension, because, as it is written: Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and a murderer does not arrive at the kingdom of heaven nor does he live with God. He cannot be with Christ, who preferred to be an imitator of Judas rather than of Christ. What a sin that is which cannot be washed away by the baptism of blood; what a crime that is which cannot be expiated by martyrdom!

— On the Lord’s Prayer, by St. Cyprian of Carthage, Chapter 24

And when the Spirit of prophecy speaks as predicting things that are to come to pass, He speaks in this way: “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” And that it did so come to pass, we can convince you. For from Jerusalem there went out into the world, men, twelve in number, and these illiterate, of no ability in speaking: but by the power of God they proclaimed to every race of men that they were sent by Christ to teach to all the word of God; and we who formerly used to murder one another do not only now refrain from making war upon our enemies, but also, that we may not lie nor deceive our examiners, willingly die confessing Christ. For that saying, “The tongue has sworn but the mind is unsworn,” might be imitated by us in this matter. But if the soldiers enrolled by you, and who have taken the military oath, prefer their allegiance to their own life, and parents, and country, and all kindred, though you can offer them nothing incorruptible, it were verily ridiculous if we, who earnestly long for incorruption, should not endure all things, in order to obtain what we desire from Him who is able to grant it.

— First Apology, by St. Justin Martyr, Chapter 39

We who were filled with war, and mutual slaughter, and every wickedness, have each through the whole earth changed our warlike weapons,-our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into implements of tillage, — and we cultivate piety, righteousness, philanthropy, faith, and hope, which we have from the Father Himself through Him who was crucified; and sitting each under his vine, i.e., each man possessing his own married wife. For you are aware that the prophetic word says, ‘And his wife shall be like a fruitful vine.’ Now it is evident that no one can terrify or subdue us who have believed in Jesus over all the world.

— Dialogue, by St. Justin Martyr, Chapter 110

After the name of Christ was heard in the world, not only were wars not increased, but they were even in great measure diminished by the restraining of furious passions.

If all without exception, who feel that they are men not in form of body but in power of reason, would lend an ear for a little to His salutary and peaceful rules, and would not, in the pride and arrogance of enlightenment, trust to their own senses rather than to His admonitions, the whole world, having turned the use of steel into more peaceful occupations, would now be living in the most placid tranquillity, and would unite in blessed harmony, maintaining inviolate the sanctity of treaties.

— Against the Gentiles, by Arnobius9, Book 1, Chapter 6

He (Christ) not only preached through His own disciples, but also wrought so persuasively on men’s understanding that, laying aside their savage habits and forsaking the worship of their ancestral gods, they learnt to know Him and through Him to worship the Father. While they were yet idolaters, the Greeks and Barbarians were always at war with each other, and were even cruel to their own kith and kin. Nobody could travel by land or sea at all unless he was armed with swords, because of their irreconcilable quarrels with each other. Indeed, the whole course of their life was carried on with the weapons. But since they came over to the school of Christ, as men moved with real compunction they have laid aside their murderous cruelty and are war-minded no more. On the contrary, all is peace among them and nothing remains save desire for friendship.

Who, then, is He Who has done these things and has united in peace those who hated each other, save the beloved Son of the Father, the common Saviour of all, Jesus Christ, Who by His own love underwent all things for our salvation? Even from the beginning, moreover, this peace that He was to administer was foretold, for Scripture says, “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into sickles, and nation shall not take sword against nation, neither shall they learn any more to wage war.” Nor is this by any means incredible.

The barbarians of the present day are naturally savage in their habits, and as long as they sacrifice to their idols they rage furiously against each other and cannot bear to be a single hour without weapons. But when they hear the teaching of Christ, forthwith they turn from fighting to farming, and instead of arming themselves with swords extend their hands in prayer. In a word, instead of fighting each other, they take up arms against the devil and the demons, and overcome them by their self-command and integrity of soul.

— On the Incarnation, by St. Athanasius the Great, Chapters 8, 51 and 52

Peacemaking

Moreover, you have many things to ponder. Ponder paradise, where Cain, who destroyed his brother through jealousy, does not return. Ponder the kingdom of heaven to which the Lord admits only those of one heart and mind. Ponder the fact that only those can be called the sons of God who are peace-makers, who, united by divine birth and law, correspond to the likeness of God the Father and Christ. Ponder that we are under God’s eyes, that we are running the course of our conversation, and life with God Himself looking on and judging, that then finally we can arrive at the point of succeeding in seeing Him, if we delight Him as He now observes us by our actions, if we show ourselves worthy of His grace and indulgence, if we, who are to please Him forever in heaven, please Him first in this world.

— Jealousy and Envy, by St. Cyprian of Carthago, Chapter 18

Non-Violence and Martyrdom

Non-violence and non-revenge is the Christian Norm

We, a numerous band of men as we are, have learned from His teaching and His laws that evil ought not to be requited with evil, that it is better to suffer wrong than to inflict it, that we should rather shed our own blood than stain our hands and our conscience with that of another. An ungrateful world is now for a long period enjoying a benefit from Christ, inasmuch as by His means the rage of savage ferocity has been softened, and has begun to withhold hostile hands from the blood of a fellow-creature.

— Against the Gentiles, by Arnobius, Book 1, Chapter 6

Why, then, are you disturbed? I will never willingly desert you, though if force is used, I cannot meet it. I shall be able to grieve, to weep, to groan; against weapons, soldiers, Goths, my tears are my weapons, for these are a priest’s defence.

I ought not, I cannot resist in any other way; but to fly and forsake the Church is not my way; lest any one should suppose I did so from fear of some heavier punishment. You yourselves know that I am wont to show respect to our emperors, but not to yield to them, to offer myself freely to punishment, and not to fear what is prepared for me.

— St. Ambrosius of Milan, Sermon Against Auxentius, on the Giving Up of the Basilicas10

Where the Saviour is named, there every demon is driven out. Again, who has ever so rid men of their natural passions that fornicators become chaste and murderers no longer wield the sword and those who formerly were craven cowards boldly play the man? In a word, what persuaded the barbarians and heathen folk in every place to drop their madness and give heed to peace, save the faith of Christ and the sign of the cross? What other things have given men such certain faith in immortality as have the cross of Christ and the resurrection of His body?

— On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius the Great, Chapter 8, 50

What a difficult, but yet elevated task it is for a Christian, to retain within himself the great joy of non-anger and love even when his enemy has been overthrown, when the persecuted martyr prepares himself to judge his recent persecutor and oppressor. The providence of God has already placed certain children of the Russian Orthodox Church in front of this temptation. Passions arise…

Orthodox Russia, let this shame pass by you! Let this curse not touch upon you. May your hand not be reddened by blood, which cries out to heaven. Do not let the enemy of Christ, the devil, carry you away by the passion of vengeance and to besmirch the endeavour of your martyrdom from the hands of the violators and persecutors of Christ. Remember: pogroms are the victory of your enemies. Remember: pogroms are a dishonour for yourself, a dishonour to the Church! For the Christian, the ideal is Christ, who used no sword to defend Himself, who brought the sons of thunder to peace, having prayed for His enemies on the Cross. For the Christian, the guiding light is the command of the holy Apostle, who suffered much for his Saviour and who sealed his dedication to Him by his death: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God: for it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ No, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; is he his thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.'” (Rom. 12:19-20).

Should we, Christians, embark upon this way (of vengeance, ed.)? O, let this not be! Not even if our hearts would break from the grief and oppressions inflicted upon our religious feelings, our love of our native land or our temporary well-being, even if our feelings would infallibly tell us who and where our assailant is. No, let better bleeding wounds be inflicted upon us, than that we move to revenge, or worse even, to pogroms, against our enemies, or those, whom we take to be the source of our suffering. Follow Christ! Don’t betray Him! Don’t fall into temptation. Do not allow your own soul to perish in the blood of vengeance. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21).

— Pastoral letter to the faithful of the Orthodox Church of Russia, 8/21 July 1919, by St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow

You detach yourself from the cross to which you have crucified yourself alongside the Saviour if you go and hit your brother.

— Small Catechism, by St. Theodore the Studite

Martyrdom Without Self-defence

Hence (from the days of Cain and Abel) finally begin the first hatreds of the new brotherhood; hence the abominable parricides, when the unjust Cain is jealous of the just Abel, when the evil persecutes the good out of jealousy and envy… He was unjustly oppressed who had been the first to show justice; he endured hatred who did not know how to hate; he was slain impiously who while dying did not fight back. What other than the stimulus of jealousy provoked Saul the king also to hate David, to desire to kill that innocent, merciful man, patient with a gentle mildness, by often repeated persecutions? Because, when Goliath had been killed and so great an enemy had been slain by divine assistance and condescension, the admiring people burst forth into approbation unto praise of David, Saul through envy conceived the furies of hatred and persecution.

— Jealousy and Envy, by St. Cyprian of Carthago, Chapter 5

For this reason it is that no one of us fights back when he is apprehended, nor do our people avenge themselves against your unjust violence though numerous and plentiful. Our certainty of the vengeance which is to come makes us patient. The harmless give way to the harmful; the innocent acquiesce in the punishments and tortures certain and confident that whatever we suffer will not remain unavenged, and that the greater is the injury of the persecution, the more just and serious will be the vengeance for the persecution. Long ago divine Scripture laid down and said: ‘Vengeance is mine, I shall repay, says the Lord,’ and let the Holy Spirit again warn us saying: ‘Say not: I will avenge myself on my enemy, but wait in the Lord so that He may aid thee.’ Thus it is clear and manifest that not through us but for us do all these things happen which come down from the anger of God.

— To Demetrian, by St. Cyprian of Carthago, Chapter 17

They (the Christians) love all men, and they are persecuted by all. They are ignored, and yet they are condemned. They are put to death, and yet they are endued with life. They are in beggary, and yet they make many rich. They are in want of all things, and yet they abound in all things. They are dishonoured, and yet they are glorified in their dishonour. They are evil spoken of, and yet they are vindicated. They are reviled, and they bless; they are insulted, and they respect. Doing good they are punished as evil-doers; being punished they rejoice, as if they were thereby quickened by life. War is waged against them as aliens by the Jews, and persecution is carried on against them by the Greeks, and yet those that hate them cannot tell the reason of their hostility.

The flesh hateth the soul and wageth war with it, though it receiveth no wrong, because it is forbidden to indulge in pleasures; so the world hateth Christians, though it receiveth no wrong from them, because they set themselves against its pleasures. The soul loveth the flesh which hateth it, and the members: so Christians love those that hate them. The soul when hardly treated in the matter of meats and drinks is improved; and so Christians when punished increase more and more daily. So great is the office for which God hath appointed them, and which it is not lawful for them to decline.

— The Epistle to Diognetus, Chapters 5 and 6

Spiritual Benefit of Martyrdom

Our enemies do good when they are hostile and thereby cause no dishonour. The devil assists Job instead of harming him (Job 1+); the king of the Assyrians helps Daniel (Dan 3.1+); the three youths in the furnace profess God’s grace (Dan 3.24); Isaiah praises the Hebrews when he was sawed in half (cf. Heb 11.37); Zachariah blessed his murderers while standing between the temple and altar of incense (Mat 23.35-7); John proclaimed God’s help when Herod beheaded him (Mat 14.1+); the Apostles [blessed] those who bound and persecuted them; all the martyrs loved their persecutors and could not hold fast unless these athletes maintained their courage.

— Second Letter Concerning the Forty Martyrs, by St. Gregory of Nyssa

Love of Enemies

From the sacrament of the cross you receive both food and drink; let the wood, which availed at Mara in a figure for sweetening the taste, avail you in truth for soothing the softened breast, and you will not labour for the remedy for increasing the health. Cure yourself at the source from which you had been wounded. Love those whom you hated before; esteem those whom you envied with unjust disparagements. Imitate the good, if you can follow them; if you cannot follow them, surely rejoice with them and congratulate your betters. Make yourself a sharer with them in a united love; make yourself an associate in a fellowship of charity and in a bond (Syndesmos) of brotherhood. Your debts will be forgiven you, when you yourself shall forgive; your sacrifices will be accepted, when you shall come to God as a peace-maker. Your thoughts and actions will be directed by God, when you ponder the things that are divine and just, as it is written: ‘Let the heart of man ponder just things, so that his steps may be directed by God.’

— Jealousy and Envy, by St. Cyprian of Carthago, Chapter 17

They (the Christians) love all men, and they are persecuted by all. They are ignored, and yet they are condemned. They are put to death, and yet they are endued with life. They are in beggary, and yet they make many rich. They are in want of all things, and yet they abound in all things. They are dishonoured, and yet they are glorified in their dishonour. They are evil spoken of, and yet they are vindicated. They are reviled, and they bless; they are insulted, and they respect. Doing good they are punished as evil-doers; being punished they rejoice, as if they were thereby quickened by life. War is waged against them as aliens by the Jews, and persecution is carried on against them by the Greeks, and yet those that hate them cannot tell the reason of their hostility. In a word, what the soul is in a body, this the Christians are in the world.

The soul loveth the flesh which hateth it, and the members: so Christians love those that hate them.

— The Epistle to Diognetus, Chapters 5 and 6

War

Positive Service of War and Army

Law of Constantine concerning the confessors of the Christian religion.

Victor Constantinus, Maximus Augustus, to the inhabitants of the province of Palestine:

Once more, with respect to those who had previously been preferred to any military distinction, of which they were afterwards deprived, for the cruel and unjust reason that they chose rather to acknowledge their allegiance to God than to retain the rank they held; we leave them perfect liberty of choice, either to occupy their former stations, should they be content again to engage in military service, or after an honourable discharge, to live in undisturbed tranquillity.”

…Accordingly he called on God with earnest prayer and supplications that he would reveal to him who he was, and stretch forth his right hand to help him in his present difficulties. And while he was thus praying with fervent entreaty, a most marvellous sign appeared to him from heaven. About noon, when the day was already beginning to decline, he saw with his own eyes the trophy of a cross of light in the heavens, above the sun, and bearing the inscription, Conquer by this. At this sight he himself was struck with amazement, and his whole army also, which followed him on this expedition, and witnessed the miracle. And while he continued to ponder and reason on its meaning, night suddenly came on; then in his sleep the Christ of God appeared to him with the same sign which he had seen in the heavens, and commanded him to make a likeness of that sign which he had seen in the heavens, and to use it as a safeguard in all engagements with his enemies.

…Thus the emperor in all his actions honoured God, and exercised an unwearied oversight over His churches. And God requited him, by subduing all barbarous nations under his feet, so that he was able everywhere to raise trophies over his enemies: and He proclaimed him as conqueror to all mankind, and made him a terror to his adversaries: not indeed that this was his natural character, since he was rather the meekest, and gentlest, and most benevolent of men.

…Indeed, wherever this appeared, the enemy soon fled before his victorious troops. And the emperor perceiving this, whenever he saw any part of his forces hard pressed, gave orders that the salutary trophy should be moved in that direction, like some triumphant charm against disasters: at which the combatants were divinely inspired, as it were, with fresh strength and courage, and immediate victory was the result.

…The emperor, when he saw that he must meet his enemies in a second battle, devoted the intervening time to his Saviour. He pitched the tabernacle of the cross outside and at a distance from his camp, and there passed his time in a pure and holy manner, offering up prayers to God; following thus the example of his ancient prophet, of whom the sacred oracles testify, that he pitched the tabernacle without the camp. He was attended only by a few, whose faith and pious devotion he highly esteemed. And this custom he continued to observe whenever he meditated an engagement with the enemy. And then, as if moved by a divine impulse, he would rush from the tabernacle, and suddenly give orders to his army to move at once without delay, and on the instant to draw their swords. On this they would immediately commence the attack, fight vigorously, so as with incredible celerity to secure the victory, and raise trophies of victory over their enemies.

…With full confidence in his Saviour’s aid, he raised his conquering standard against these enemies also [the Scythian and Sarmatian tribes], and soon reduced them all to obedience; coercing by military force those who fiercely resisted his authority, while, on the other hand, he conciliated the rest by wisely conducted embassies, and reclaimed them to a state of order and civilisation from their lawless and savage life. Thus the Scythians at length learned to acknowledge subjection to the power of Rome.

…And not only so, but he also caused the sign of the salutary trophy to be impressed on the very shields of his soldiers; and commanded that his embattled forces should be preceded in their march, not by golden images, as heretofore, but only by the standard of the cross.

…With regard to those (soldiers) who were as yet ignorant of divine truth, he provided by a second statute that they should appear on each Lord’s day on an open plain near the city, and there, at a given signal, offer to God with one accord a prayer which they had previously learnt. He admonished them that their confidence should not rest in their spears, or armour, or bodily strength, but that they should acknowledge the supreme God as the giver of every good, and of victory itself; to whom they were bound to offer their prayers with due regularity, uplifting their hands toward heaven, and raising their mental vision higher still to the king of heaven, on whom they should call as the Author of victory, their Preserver, Guardian, and Helper. The emperor himself prescribed the prayer to be used by all his troops, commanding them, to pronounce the following words in the Latin tongue:

We acknowledge thee the only God: we own thee, as our King and implore thy succour. By thy favour have we got the victory. Through thee are we mightier than our enemies. We render thanks for thy past benefits, and trust thee for future blessings. Together we pray to thee, and beseech thee long to preserve to us, safe and triumphant, our emperor Constantine and his pious sons.” Such was the duty to be performed on Sunday by his troops, and such the prayer they were instructed to offer up to God.

— The Life of St. Constantine the Great, by Eusebius of Caesarea11, Book 1, Chapters 24-33; Book 2, Chapters 7-12; Book 4, Chapters 5-20

…You have taken from our soldiers everything for which they fought splendidly in the past. You have taught those, who not long ago were still brave and invincible, to abandon the defence of the motherland, to run from the battlefields12. You have extinguished in their hearts the conscience that “greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13).

— Letter to the Council of People’s Commissars, 13/26 October 1918, by St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow

War is one of the tools in the hands of God, as well as peace. War is a poison, which kills, but which at the same time cures and heals.

It is better to have one great and mighty river than many small streams which easily freeze in frost and which are easily covered with dust and filth. A war which gathers an entire people for a great cause is better than a peace which knows as many tiny causes at it knows people, which divides brothers, neighbours, all human beings, and which hides in itself an evil and hidden war against all.

We have to wish those, whom we love, both a good life and a good death. To die in the struggle for a great common cause is a good death.

— Thoughts about War and the Military Endeavour, by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic13

Leaflets of St. Sergius”, nr. 10, 1929

The Militant Church

The people of Israel shall encamp each by his own standard, with the ensigns of their fathers’ houses; they shall encamp facing the tent of meeting on every side.” (Nr. 2:2)

The Apostle Paul reveals to us that when the people of Israel, on its way towards the promised land, near Mount Sinai, under the burning fire, the cloud and the darkness, the storm and the mighty sound, received the Law from God and entered into covenant with Him, that then, for the establishment of this covenant, which we now name the Old, Christ Himself dominantly acted, and “His voice shook then the earth” (Hebr. 12:18-26). From this we have to conclude that Our Lord Jesus Christ, by his own orders through Moses at that moment established the so-called “tent of the meeting,” meaning the Temple of God.

From this follows as well that Our Lord Jesus Christ also gave this commandment: “The people of Israel shall encamp each by his own standard, with the ensigns of their fathers’ houses; they shall encamp facing the tent of meeting on every side.” (Nr. 2:2). Further, in this order the exact position of the armies around the tent is determined.

In this way, the army was spread out like the shape of a cross, and the centre of the cross was occupied by the “Tent of the meeting.”

Behold the first church established on earth, behold it amidst hosts and armies, established in this position by the Lord of the Church Himself.

— Sermon at the Consecration of a Military Church, by St. Philaret of Moscow, Leaflets of St. Sergius, nr. 10, 1929

Christianity Brought the End of Wars

Who, then, is He Who has done these things and has united in peace those who hated each other, save the beloved Son of the Father, the common Saviour of all, Jesus Christ, Who by His own love underwent all things for our salvation? Even from the beginning, moreover, this peace that He was to administer was foretold, for Scripture says, “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into sickles, and nation shall not take sword against nation, neither shall they learn any more to wage war.” Nor is this by any means incredible.

The barbarians of the present day are naturally savage in their habits, and as long as they sacrifice to their idols they rage furiously against each other and cannot bear to be a single hour without weapons. But when they hear the teaching of Christ, forthwith they turn from fighting to farming, and instead of arming themselves with swords extend their hands in prayer. In a word, instead of fighting each other, they take up arms against the devil and the demons, and overcome them by their self-command and integrity of soul.

— On the Incarnation, by St. Athanasius the Great, Chapter 8, 52

The Evils of War

There are three very grievous kinds of war. The one is public, when our soldiers are attacked by foreign armies: The second is, when even in time of peace, we are at war with one another: The third is, when the individual is at war with himself, which is the worst of all. For foreign war will not be able to hurt us greatly. What, I pray, though it slaughters and cuts us off? It injures not the soul. Neither will the second have power to harm us against our will; for though others be at war with us, we may be peaceable ourselves. For so says the Prophet, “For my love they are my adversaries, but I give myself unto prayer” (Ps. 109:4); and again, “I was at peace with them that hate peace”; and, “I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.” (Ps. 120:6, 7, LXX) But from the third, we cannot escape without danger. For when the body is at variance with the soul, and raises up evil desires, and arms against it sensual pleasures, or the bad passions of anger, and envy; we cannot attain the promised blessings, till this war is brought to an end; whoever does not still this tumult, must fall pierced by wounds that will bring that death that is in hell. We have daily need therefore of care and great anxiety, that this war may not be stirred up within us, or that, if stirred up, it may not last, but be quelled and laid asleep.

— Homily 7 on 1 Tim 2:2-4 , by St. John Chrysostom

For a little consider that you are being transported to the loftiest peak of a high mountain, that from this you are viewing the appearance of things that lie below you and with your eyes directed in different directions you yourself free from earthly contacts gaze upon the turmoils of the world. Presently you also will have pity on the world, and taking account of yourself and with more gratitude to God you will rejoice with greater joy that you have escaped from it. Observe the roads blocked by robbers, the seas beset by pirates, wars spread everywhere with the bloody horrors of camps. The world is soaked with mutual blood, and when individuals commit homicide, it is a crime; it is called a virtue when it is done in the name of the state. Impunity is acquired for crimes not by reason of innocence but by the magnitude of the cruelty.

— To Donatus, by St. Cyprian of Carthago, Chapter 6

How do we count the fruits of earthly blessings? If we … add to our account those who have fared well in combat through inflicting defeats in battle and other recorded deeds, these examples do not suit our objective. A Christian is ashamed at anything contrary to the faith and rejoices at praise coming from persons who love Christ much like those in the shadow of a notable person exult in his victories. Let us be silent about this world’s glories despite their numerous accounts.

— The first Homily concerning the forty Martyrs (Part One), by St. Gregory of Nyssa

The Inevitability of War

That wars continue with greater frequency, that barrenness and famine accumulate anxiety, that health is broken by raging diseases, that the human race is laid waste by ravages of pestilence, this too you should know was predicted, that in the last days evils are multiplied and adversities are diversified and presently with the approach of the day of judgement more and more is the censure of an indignant God roused to the scourging of the human race. For these things do not occur because your gods are not worshipped by us, but because God is not worshipped by you. For since He himself is the Lord and the Director of the universe, and since all things are done at His decision and nod and nothing can be done except what He Himself has done or has permitted to be done, surely when those things are done which show the anger of an offended God, these are done not on account of us by whom God is worshipped, but are inflicted because of your sins and merits, by whom God is neither sought nor feared, nor are empty superstitions abandoned and true religion recognised, so that He who is the one God for all is alone worshipped and sought by all.

— To Demetrian, by St. Cyprian of Carthago, Chapter 5

Killing and Bloodshed

The Sin of Killing and Bloodshed

So long as the nature we at present possess is preserved, the moral nature is not able to bear a punishment commensurate with the more numerous or more serious faults. For the robber, or ruler, or tyrant, who has unjustly put to death myriads on myriads, could not by one death make restitution for these deeds; and the man who holds no true opinion concerning God, but lives in all outrage and blasphemy, despises divine things, breaks the laws, commits outrage against boys and women alike, razes cities unjustly, burns houses with their inhabitants, and devastates a country, and at the same time destroys inhabitants of cities and peoples, and even an entire nation — how in a mortal body could he endure a penalty adequate to these crimes, since death prevents the deserved punishment, and the mortal nature does not suffice for any single one of his deeds?

It is proved, therefore, that neither in the present life is there a judgement according to men’s deserts, nor after death [but after the Resurrection, ed.].

— On the Resurrection of the Dead, Treatise of Athenagoras the Athenian14, Chapter 19

Hence (from the days of Cain and Abel) finally begin the first hatreds of the new brotherhood; hence the abominable parricides, when the unjust Cain is jealous of the just Abel, when the evil persecutes the good out of jealousy and envy.

— Jealousy and Envy, by St. Cyprian of Carthago, Chapter 5

The world is soaked with mutual blood. When individuals commit homicide, it is a crime; it is called a virtue when it is done in the name of the state. Impunity is acquired for crimes not by reason of innocence but by the magnitude of the cruelty.

On gladiator games: Man is killed for the pleasure of man, and to be able to kill is a skill, is an employment, is an art. Crime is not only committed but is taught. What can be called more inhuman, what more repulsive? It is a training that one may be able to kill, and that he kills is a glory. What is this, I ask you, of what nature is it, where those offer themselves to wild beasts, whom no one has condemned, in the prime of life, of a rather beautiful appearance, in costly garments? While still alive they adorn themselves for a voluntary death, wretched they even glory in their wicked deeds. They fight with beasts not because they are convicts but because they are mad. Fathers look upon their own sons; a brother is in the arena and his sister near by, and, although the more elaborate preparation of the exhibition increases the price of the spectacle, oh shame! the mother also pays this price that she may be present at her own sorrows. And at such impious and terrible spectacles they do not realise that with their eyes they are parricides.

— To Donatus, by St. Cyprian of Carthago, chapters 6 and 7

Public spectacles are the greatest incitement to vices; for they not only contribute in no respect to a happy life, but even inflict the greatest injury. For he who reckons it a pleasure, that a man, though justly condemned, should be slain in his sight, pollutes his conscience as much as if he should become a spectator and a sharer of a homicide which is secretly committed. And yet they call these sports in which human blood is shed. So far has the feeling of humanity departed from the men, that when they destroy the lives of men, they think that they are amusing themselves with sport, being more guilty than all those whose blood-shedding they esteem a pleasure. They are even angry with the combatants, unless one of the two is quickly slain; and as though they thirsted for human blood, they hate delays. They demand that other and fresh combatants should be given to them, that they may satisfy their eyes as soon as possible. Being imbued with this practice, they have lost their humanity. Therefore they do not spare even the innocent, but practise upon all that which they have learned in the slaughter of the wicked. It is not therefore befitting that those who strive to keep to the path of justice should be companions and sharers in this public homicide. For when God forbids us to kill, He not only prohibits us from open violence, which is not even allowed by the public laws, but He warns us against the commission of those things which are esteemed lawful among men. Thus it will be neither lawful for a just man to engage in warfare, since his warfare is justice itself, nor to accuse any one of a capital charge, because it makes no difference whether you put a man to death by word, or rather by the sword, since it is the act of putting to death itself which is prohibited. Therefore, with regard to this precept of God, there ought to be no exception at all but that it is always unlawful to put to death a man, whom God willed to be a sacred animal.

If, then, it is in no way permitted to commit homicide, it is not allowed us to be present at all, lest any bloodshed should over spread the conscience, since that blood is offered for the gratification of the people.

— The Divine Institutes, by Lactantius, Book 6, Chapter 20

All who take the sword will perish by the sword.

–Matthew 26:52

The rivers of blood of our brothers, shed mercilessly at your orders, cry out to heaven and presses us to speak to you a bitter word of truth.

…Celebrate your anniversary in power by liberating the prisoners, by stopping bloodshed, violence, destruction, the restriction of faith; turn not to destruction, but to the establishment of order and lawfulness, grant the people the desired and well-deserved rest from civil war. Or else all just blood that you have shed shall be required from you (Lk. 11:51), and from the sword you shall perish, who have taken up the sword. (Mt. 26:52)

— Letter to the Council of People’s Commissars, 13/26 October 1918, by St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow

We don’t even mention that bloodshed always calls for new blood. And vengeance — for new revenge. Constructing on enmity means constructing on a volcano. There will be an explosion, and once more there will be an empire of destruction and death…

— Pastoral letter to the faithful of the Orthodox Church of Russia, 8/21 July 1919, by St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow

Chapter 5 page 2

Chapter 6: REFERENCE TEXTS FROM CONTEMPORARY AUTHORS

REFERENCE TEXTS FROM CONTEMPORARY AUTHORS

Nation, Nationalism

Ethno-phyletism (Racism)

There have always been two races in the world; they exist today, and this division is more important than all other divisions. There are those who crucify and those who are crucified, those that oppress and those who are oppressed, those who hate and those who are hated, those who inflict suffering and those who suffer, those who persecute and those who are persecuted. It needs no explanation on whose side Christians should be.

— Christianity and Anti-Semitism (the religious destiny of Judaism), by N. Berdyayev, Paris, 1935, p. 30

Who Is Jesus Christ for Us?

When the question of the national (ethnic) origins of our Saviour comes in first position and overshadows the essence of the Christian teaching, a question naturally appears: who is Jesus Christ for us? A tribal leader, whose authority should facilitate national unification, or God, who saves us from malediction and death? For the believing mind the answer is self-evident, and those for whom Christianity is merely an ideology prefer, as Dostoevsky said, to stay with their own “truth” rather than with Christ.

For the leader of RNU, Jesus Christ is the tribal god of the Indo-Aryans, which will help us to establish a mighty national state, having placed us above all peoples. Remember: it was exactly this kind of Messiah that the majority of the Jewish people were expecting, because they had wrongly understood the prophecies of the Old Testament by giving them an exclusively earthly sense. Such an understanding fundamentally contradicts the preaching of Christ on the Kingdom of God, which is spiritual and above nature, a Kingdom which begins on earth and has no end.

By attempting to give a national character to Christianity, the leader of the RNU willingly or unwillingly attacks the very essence of Christ’s preaching. Christianity is not the national religion of the Indo-Europeans, nor is it an ideology. Christ is neither a national leader, nor a tribal chief. We believe in Christ, the God who saves us, the true, living God, the God of love. He says to us: “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mt. 11:28-30). And, in the reply of the human soul top this appeal, in our striving towards Him, in the words of St. Paul, already “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:28-29).

Who needs such patriotism?

Patriotism is love for our motherland, our people with its customs and traditions, its sanctuaries and its faith. The patriotism of Mr. Barkashov has nothing in common with genuine patriotism, since it tramples on the foundations of the Orthodox faith of our people.

— In Whom Do We Believe?1, by Evgeniy Petrovskiy

(Syndesmos Eastern Europe Regional Representative)

From: Vstrecha Orthodox Student Journal, Nr. 3 (9), 1998

Ethno-phyletism and Orthodox Unity

As well as being a perversion of normal patriotic sentiment, racism is a real obstacle to cooperation between the Orthodox churches in the world and the worst enemy of the unity of the churches of the Orthodox East.

The predominance in the locally formed churches of the national character must be seen as responsible for … the dividing of peoples and churches. In principle such a division does not contradict the spirit of Christianity. But the principle of division by race, which came to prevail widely, assumed its worst possible form among some of these groups: that of pure racism or chauvinism, the worst enemy of peace, which destroys unity between the local Orthodox churches.2

… In reality, the Church organisation is based not on autocephaly, but chiefly on the principle, that one bishop stands for one church in one place. This, the local principle, makes quite plain by the unity and concord of the local church the unity of the new People of God, in which there is neither Jew or Greek, but a new creation in Christ.

— The Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Orthodox Church, by Metropolitan Maximus of Sardes, Thessaloniki, 1976

Orthodoxy and Identity

From a dogmatic and mystical point of view, the issue of Church and national identity is only a part of the great question of the relation of the Church with human history and cultural creation. However strange this may seem, after two thousand years of Christian history this question, notwithstanding its greatness and its actuality, has not yet found a conciliar answer within the Church. It has not found it, because it has not been raised in the Church. It has not been raised, because it has not been envisaged.

… The Eastern Orthodox non-humanistic world view experiences the tragedy of the “refusal of the world” with incomparably greater strength (than Western Christianity). Orthodox consciousness and the mysticism of Orthodox piety are deeply and essentially ascetic. The spirit of Palestinian, apostolic, eschatological Christianity, torn away from the concerns of history and resurrected in the spirit of monastic asceticism, still dominates in the heart of Orthodoxy. The century-long national-political inter-connectedness of Orthodox churches with Byzantine-style states didn’t shatter this intimate non-historicity of Orthodoxy.

… This radical asceticism of Orthodoxy seems to have little in common with its factual external history as a confession which is linked primarily, with almost pagan naivety to the life of specific nations, states and cultures. This cannot be explained by some positive inspiration of Orthodox mysticism and Orthodox ascetic piety on the tasks of human earthly history, but rather by a certain weakness and defenselessness of asceticism as such in all its forms. Christian asceticism knows an element of refusal of violent defence against evil.

… The Church should consider the values of national life according to the elementary analogy of the primacy of the spirit over the flesh. For Christianity, all is in second place to the mysteries of divine Revelation and the aims of the Kingdom of God. All other values are secondary and subject to spiritual and godly life, which is guarded by the Church. Lesser, relative values stand in opposition of the one greater and absolute value. The value of national origin is indisputable as well as the value of the self-affirmation of every individual personality, but they are relative values, easily changing into sinful egoism. They find their justification in their submission to the rule of absolute measures, the measures of the Church. From this point of view, relative values are unstable. In the judgement of the Church they may change into negative entities. Personal, natural egoism as well as national self-affirmation may from a relative good change, as a result of an orientation away from Christianity, into evil paganism.

What do we see in the reality of today? The patriarchal times when the national life of peoples would flourish and prosper under the good influence of the Church, have gone forever. The XIXth and particularly the XXth centuries have proved to be centuries of a new and stormy flourishing of national enthusiasms, but in a secular, lay and often simply an anti-Christian spirit. The recent self-affirming pathos of all small nations, not only in Europe but on all continents, is nothing but pagan nationalism. XIXth-century nationalism, although pagan in essence, in the great European nations still was only neutral in regard to the Church; it was anti-clerical and anti-church only as a result of practical and tactical clashes with the organised forces of the Church. (…) In the XXth century we witness a rather unexpected solidification of this anti-Christian lay spirit in some sort of religious paganism, with its own sort of mysticism, diametrically opposed to Christianity. Such is German racism with its resurrection of the religion of Thor, Odin and Wodan and Italian Fascism with its hysteric and artificial idolatry of the state and the physical Rome.

… In the face of this primitive and spiritually war-waging nationalism in the spirit of racism and fascism, the Church already has no grounds whatsoever for noble concessions. She is obliged to wage a tense war, if even defensive, against this demonic and perverse nationalism.

… The organisational task of the Orthodox churches is the gathering of the individual autocephalous churches, spread over tiny national areas, de facto submitted and sometimes enslaved by the state, into organised conciliar unions, capable of lifting up individual churches somewhat above the level of their nations. Fragmented as it is, Orthodoxy, particularly in our “communist” and “fascist” time, which loses no time being kind to any, let alone religious freedom, must hastily acquire some extra-territorial strength in its great ecclesial “monarchies” and ecumenical councils, as prescribed by the canons. The present moment demands for the Orthodox East to re-enter into the conciliar practice, mutual contact and extra-territorial unification, as a start by means of permanent inter-conciliar synods. This need is prescribed by the tasks of the Church as regards national life and the new dangers in this field which appear out of the forces of pagan nationalism.

— The Church and National Identity, by A. Kartachov, Paris, 1934

… While economic logic pushes in the direction of globalisation, interdependence and regional integration, political logic moves, in numerous regions, towards national fragmentation. This process is not accompanied by the decline of nationalisms. We are obliged to note that the global market and the universal Homo economicus don’t dissolve distinctive ethnic identities, either intra-national or supra-natural.

The paradox of globalisation, accompanying the development of a society of consumption and planet-wide entertainment, is that in producing homogenisation and uniformisation it exacerbates the need for distinction and recognition. The more individuals — and peoples — look alike, the more they will seek to underline their differences. The smaller the real differences are, the more their significance is underlined. To deny a similarity with the other may serve as a means for resurrecting a lost distinctive feature.

Citizenship is less and less a space for free encounters between persons. Men and women are often reduced to the roles assigned to them by the forces of the market or by those of neo-tribalism: from the one side, individuals defined by their needs and consumer capacities, from the other, the subjection of the individual to the interests — often pretended — of a community which is structured, in its head, by opposition to others.

Between relativist consumerism, including the religious level, and the re-appearance of ethnic or communitarian fanaticism, Orthodoxy is called to make its way to the future.

— Reflections on the Orthodox Identity in Today’s World, by Tarek Mitri3, Speech at the 10th congress of the Orthodox Fellowship in Western Europe, Paray-le-Monial 1999

Movements for the reaffirmation of religious identity have undergone a considerable change between 1975 and 1990. In fifteen years they have succeeded in transforming the confused reaction of their adherents to the ‘crisis of modernity’ into plans for rebuilding the world, and in those plans their holy scriptures provide the basis for tomorrow’s society. These movements have arisen in a world which has lost the assurance born in scientific and technological progress since the 1950’s. Just as the barriers of poverty, disease and inhuman working conditions seemed to be yielding, the population explosion, the spread of AIDS, pollution and the energy crises burst upon the scene — and all of these scourges lent themselves to presentation in apocalyptic terms. During the same period the great atheist messianic ideology of the twentieth century, communism, which had left its mark on most of the social utopias, went into its death throes, and finally succumbed in the autumn of 1989 when its most potent symbol, the Berlin Wall, was destroyed.

The Christian, Jewish and Muslim movements we have been observing are to be viewed in this dual perspective. Their first task was to fix labels on to the confusion and disorder in the world as perceived by their adherents, breathing fresh life into the vocabulary and the categories of religious thought as applied to the contemporary world. Next they conceived plans for changing the social order so as to bring it into line with the commands and values of the Old Testament, the Koran or the Gospels; for as they saw it, nothing else could ensure the advent of a world of justice and truth.

These movements have a great deal in common beyond mere historical simultaneity. They are at one in rejecting a secularism that they trace back to the philosophy of the Enlightenment. They regard the vainglorious emancipation of reason from faith as the prime cause of all the ills of the twentieth century, the beginning of a process leading straight to Nazi and Stalinist totalitarianism.

This radical challenge to the foundations of secular modernism is uttered by its own children, who have had access to today’s education. They see no contradiction between their mastery of science and technology and their acceptance of faith not bounded by the tenets of reason. In fact, people like Herman Branover consciously symbolise the fact that a ‘God fearing Jew’ can also be a ‘great scientist’. And the self-image favoured by Islamist militants is that of a girl student, muffled in a veil with only a slit for the eyes, bent over a microscope and doing research in biology.

All these movements agree that the modern secular city is now completely lacking in legitimacy. But while Christians, Muslims and Jews all consider that only a fundamental transformation in the organisation of society can restore the holy scriptures as the prime source of inspiration for the city of the future, they have differing ideas of what that city will be like. Each of these religious cultures has developed specific truths which, insofar as they provide the basis for a strong reapportion of identity, are mutually exclusive.

— The Revenge of God: the Resurgence of Islam, Christianity and Judaism in the Modern World, by Gilles Kepel

Peace

I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and I wish that it were already burning.” (Luke 12:49)

Jesus Christ claims that his mission is to cast fire upon the earth. This fire has come and it is burning. It is the fire of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of grace and truth, of peace and joy, of justice and all embracing love. This Spirit has come. And where He breathes, there is freedom. “For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor. 3:17).

The organisation Syndesmos exists to be a “bond” which binds together many men and movements in the single unity of the one divine Spirit, in the single burning flame of the one divine Fire. As a World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth, Syndesmos takes its name from the apostolic words: “be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond — Syndesmos — of peace” (Eph. 4:3).

The world is not in peace. Neither is it in unity. The spirit of this world, which burns from the black ghettos of Chicago to the streets of Paris, from the Holy Land in the Middle East to the jungles of Africa, this spirit is not the Spirit of unity and peace. It is not a bond which can pacify and unite. It is a barrier which can only divide and destroy.

But the firm belief of Syndesmos, and its only reason for existence, is that there is a Spirit, not as this world gives, which is a power, a unity and a peace. There is a Spirit which can burn in men and movements and can empower them to go beyond every spirit of this world. This is the Spirit which Christ gives, the fire which He has cast upon the earth. And Syndesmos desires, as its only consuming desire, to be alive and burning with this spiritual fire.

— Jesus Christ in a Changing World, report of the VIIth, Syndesmos General Assembly, Introductory message, by Albert Laham, Syndesmos president, Rattvik 1968

War

The Role of the Church in Wartime

… Without doubt, from the Christian point of view, war is an evil and a sin, against which the Church is obliged to struggle. Here the Church, listening as a doctor with a stethoscope to the sick heart of the nation, should gather all the strength of its super-human impassivity and evangelic purity of consciousness, in order to show, when in moments of passionate nationalistic taking up of arms, by its non-earthly, prophetic judgement and its authoritative voice, both to its own people, to the enemy and to all mankind the way towards higher justice and towards better, nobler means to achieve it than the iron ultima ratio. This is the super-humanly difficult service the Church must render.

— The Church and National Identity, by A. Kartachov, Paris, 1934

“Just,” or “Holy” Wars

Our Church insists that religion is like a “secret balm” which should not be used by just anyone or in order to spark armed conflict. This balm is a gift of God, given to soften hearts, to heal wounds and to help persons and peoples establish bonds of brotherhood among them.

— “We pray God that peace and justice may once more reign in the Balkans”, Archibishop Anastasios of Albania, Tirana, 1999

There was another heresy as well — spiritualist this time — which tried to juxtapose itself to the materialism of the “equipment war,” to infuse it with an artificial soul. This was the ideology of a “holy war,” or a “crusade.” It had several nuances; the struggle for democracies, for freedom, for human dignity, for Western culture, for Christian civilisation, eventually for divine justice. I say “heresy,” because these ideas, although often justified by themselves, were not founded upon a living experience, They did not spring forth of a deep and healthy spring which only could have transformed them into “ideas-forces.” These words also sounded false, as all that is abstract. They sounded false especially because they wanted to present as absolute secondary and relative concepts and values. For even Christian civilisation, as a civilisation, is nothing but a product, a realisation, the exterior manifestation of an absolute reality, which is the faith of the Christian people. Holy wars are not waged over cathedrals, theological summae or missals. These are but the clothing of the Church — the clothing of Christ that was divided by the soldiers at the feet of the Cross. As for the Church, which is the source of these secondary goods, she has no need of our material defence, of our childish sword. It is useless to renew the naive gesture of Peter who cut the ear of the slave in the garden of Getsemani… War is not waged over absolute values: this was the great error of all wars we call “religious,” the main cause of their inhuman atrocities. It is not waged either over relative values which are tried to make absolute, over abstract concepts which are granted a religious character. Whether we oppose the idol of the “pure race” by the other, more humane idols of rights, liberty, humanity, — all the same these would be idols as well, hypostated and absolutised concepts; it would always remain a war of idols, not a human war… Human war, the only just (for as far as a war may be called just), is a war over relative values which are known to be relative. It is a war in which man — a being called to an absolute destiny — sacrifices himself spontaneously, without hesitation, for a relative value, which he knows to be relative: the soil, the earth, the motherland. And this sacrifice acquires an absolute imperishable value for the human person.

— Seven Days on the Roads of France (June 1940), by Vladimir Lossky4, Paris, 1998, p. 21

Conlict Between Ethnic and Religious Communities

Civilisation identity will be increasingly important in the future, and the world will be shaped in large measures by the interaction among seven or eight major civilisations. These include Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African civilisation. The most important conflicts of the future will occur along the cultural fault lines separating these civilisations from one another.

… The processes of economic modernisation and social change throughout the world are separating people from long-standing local identities. They also weaken the nation state as a source of identity. In much of the world, religion has moved in to fill this gap, often in the form of movements that are labelled “fundamentalist”. Such movements are found in Western Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as in Islam. In most countries and most religions the people active in fundamentalist movements are young, college-educated, middle-class technicians, professionals and business persons. The “unsecularization of the world,” Georges Weigel has remarked, “is one of the dominant social facts of life in the late twentieth century.” The revival of religion, “La revanche de Dieu,” as Gilles Kepel labelled it, provides a basis for identity and commitment that transcends national boundaries and unites civilisations.

… Cultural characteristics and differences are less mutable and hence less easily compromised and resolved than political and economic ones. In the former Soviet Union, communists can become democrats, the rich can become poor and the poor rich, but Russians cannot become Estonians and Azeris cannot become Armenians. In class and ideological conflicts, the key question was “Which side are you on?” and people could and did choose sides and change sides. In conflicts between civilisations, the question is “What are you?” That is a given that cannot be changed. And as we know, from Bosnia to the Caucasus to the Sudan, the wrong answer to that question can mean a bullet in the head. Even more than ethnicity, religion discriminates sharply and exclusively among people. A person can be half-French and half-Arab and simultaneously even a citizen of two countries. It is more difficult to be half-Catholic and half-Muslim.

… As people define their identity in ethnic and religious terms, they are likely to see an “us”versus “them” relation existing between themselves and people of different ethnicity and religion. The end of ideologically defined states in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union permits traditional ethnic identities and animosities to come to the fore.

… The fault lines between civilisations are replacing the political and ideological boundaries of the Cold War as the flash points for crisis and bloodshed. The Cold War began when the Iron Curtain divided Europe politically and ideologically.

The Cold War ended with the end of the Iron Curtain. As the ideological division of Europe has disappeared, the cultural division of Europe between Western Christianity, on the one hand, and Orthodox Christianity and Islam, on the other, has re-emerged. The most significant dividing line in Europe, as William Wallace has suggested, may well be the eastern boundary of Western Christianity in the year 1500. This line runs along what are now the boundaries between Finland and Russia and between the Baltic states and Russia, cuts through Belarus and Ukraine separating the more Catholic western Ukraine from Orthodox eastern Ukraine, swings westward separating Transylvania from the rest of Romania, and then goes through Yugoslavia almost exactly along the line now separating Croatia and Slovenia from the rest of Yugoslavia. In the Balkans this line, of course, coincides with the historic boundaries of the Habsburg and Ottoman empires. The peoples to the west and north of this line are Protestant or Catholic; they shared the common experiences of European history — feudalism, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution; they are generally economically better off than the peoples to the east; and they may now look forward to increasing involvement in a common European economy and to the consolidation of democratic political systems. The peoples to the east and south of this line are Orthodox or Muslim; they historically belonged to the Ottoman or Tsarist empires and were only lightly touched by the shaping events in the rest of Europe; they are generally less advanced economically; they seem much less likely to develop stable democratic political systems. The Velvet Curtain of culture has replaced the Iron Curtain of ideology as the most significant dividing line in Europe. As the events in Yugoslavia show, it is not only a line of difference; it is also a line of bloody conflict.

… On the Eurasian continent, the proliferation of ethnic conflict, epitomised at the extreme in “ethnic cleansing,” has not been totally random. It has been most frequent and most violent between groups belonging to different civilisations. In Eurasia the great historic fault lines between civilisations are once more aflame. This is particularly true along the boundaries of the crescent-shaped Islamic bloc of nations from the bulge of Africa to central Asia. Violence also occurs between Muslims, on the one hand, and Orthodox Serbs in the Balkans, Jews in Israel, Hindus in India, Buddhists in Birma and Catholics in the Philippines. Islam has bloody borders.

— The Clash of Cultures, by Samuel Huntington, from: Foreign Affairs, Volume 72 No.3, Summer 1993

Killing and Bloodshed

Not only the Jews crucified Christ. By their acts, Christians, or those who call themselves Christians, have in the long course of history crucified Christ, they have crucified Him by their anti-semitism as well, they have crucified Him by their hate and their acts of violence, by their service to the powerful of this world, by their changes and deformations of the truth of Christ in the name of their own interests. … [I]t is better, when Christ is directly and openly denied, then when His name is used as a cover to act in the interests of one own’s kingdom. When people curse and persecute Jews for having crucified Christ, they clearly stand on the point of view of blood feuds, which was characteristic of ancient peoples, including the Jewish people. But blood feuds are absolutely unacceptable for the Christian consciousness; [replacing comma with semicolon] it fully contradicts the Christian understanding of human personality, of personal dignity and personal responsibility. Moreover, the Christian consciousness accepts no form of vengeance, neither personal or hereditary. Feelings of vengeance are sinful and we should repent of [for “in”] them. Heredity, blood, vengeance; all this is completely alien to pure Christianity and is introduced into it from outside, from ancient paganism.

— Christianity and Anti-semitism (The Religious Destiny of Judaism), by N. Berdyayev, Paris, 1935, p. 20

State-Church relations

Incompatibility of the Church with Absolute Statehood

Ap. 13:1: The beast in the given case clearly indicates the state, not just in the sense of the state’s organisation of legal order, which assists mankind on its ways (about which the Apostle speaks, when he says “there is no authority, except from God”, Rom. 13:1), but totalitarian statehood, attempting to become the sole determining and all-fulfilling principle of human life. Such a state that falsely exaggerates its own importance, constitutes by the very same not just a pagan principle, but a demonic one, the earthly face of Satan or the multitude of his faces. Such a state as an earthly kingdom affronts the Kingdom of Christ, wages war against it, and by the force of things constitutes — consciously or unconsciously — an anti-Christian force, a tool of the “prince of this world,” his kingdom, and the heads of such states become his masks.

Only in the Revelation of the New Testament the antagonism and struggle between the Kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of the prince of this world reach their final incompatibility, and this is specifically expressed in the Revelation of St. John. Other texts of the New Testament, such as the letters of the Apostles Paul and Peter (Rom. 13:1-7, Tit. 3:1, 1 Tim. 2:12, Petr. 2:13-17) search and find a certain measure of reconciliation with the state, its recognition as the rightful order of things, which guarantees external peace. The state, here, serves humanity as a means and is not an end in itself; it is submitted to the norms of morality. In this sense, indeed, it was possible to say: “There is no authority, except from God.” (…) When considering the Christian state — for as far as it has ever existed and can possibly exist — or more precisely, the state of the Christians, new boundaries and tasks appear, namely: serving Christian morality. However, such a service presupposes a certain spiritual equilibrium, where the state does not go beyond its own, legal tasks. Still even this situation always remains unstable; when the state crosses these boundaries, it turns into the beast.

In general, absolute states on earth are the image of man deified, of anti-Christianity, they are the incarnation of the spirit of the prince of this world, from whom it is said: “and to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority” (13:2). Even though in the days when the Revelation was written, this apparently referred to the Roman Empire as the image of state absolutism, today this may be applied to all varieties of this principle, to Bolshevism and racism (without even mentioning Japanese pagan deification of the Emperor and others). (…)

“And the whole earth followed the beast with wonder. Men worshipped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshipped the beast saying, ‘Who is like beast, And who can fight against it?'” (13:4). It is difficult to add anything to the simplicity of these words, which may be applied to the totality of world history. Today’s tsarism, both the Russian and the Germanic type, in their own way are new and almost unexpected parallels of Roman absolutism, as is its victorious self-affirmation, which leads entire peoples which are under its power to a state of madness.

— Commentary on the Apocalypse of St. John, by Fr. Sergi Boulgakov5, Paris, 194, p. 100-104

Compliance with Existing National and State Structures

Christianity and the Christian churches in many ways are obliged to repent, not only on (their handling of) the Jewish issue, but also on social matters, on war, on the constant compliance to the most negative state systems.

— Christianity and Anti-semitism (the religious destiny of Judaism), by N. Berdyayev, Paris, 1935, p.6

Using all forces of the spiritual battle with the sinful world for the defence of the soul from the attacks of sin, for the endeavour of passive suffering, asceticism renounces active participation in the things of this world; it accepts them as inevitable fact in the way that the laws of nature, harmed by sin, an the worldly sinful will of men arrange them. Accepting this, asceticism finds some consolation in nations and states that accept baptism and the seal of Christianity. Under this condition, their sinful earthly national existence finds an ideal and hope, just as every individual sinner: to throw from oneself, by means of repentance and asceticism, the weight of sin, to free oneself from corruption and to approach the boundaries of a kingdom which is neither earthly nor fleshly, but already heavenly and spiritual.

This is the logic of asceticism, in its every-day, prosaic historical existence, which creates the acceptance, typical for the Orthodox churches, of all existing local national regimes and even the submission to them. In fact, a compromise is achieved which is perceived by the majority as sufficiently founded in Orthodox dogma and mysticism. meanwhile, no clear motivation for such a compromise is provided for the theological consciousness.

Thus an internal paradox in the attitude of the Orthodox Church towards the interest of national life is created; having a tragic (negative towards things of the world, ed.) ascetic principle, we see a non-tragic, passive cohabitation with national interests. In addition, simple psychology, dominated as it is, speaking in biblical terms, by “flesh and blood”, easily brings forth the leading type of ecclesial nationalism and justification of narrow, local politics by the blessing of the Church. Instead of a tragic demand posed by an ascetic Church to the pagan and natural sphere of national motives and passions, we witness not only the forbearance and tolerance of morally imperfect ways of national politics by the Church, but even a direct service to these politics, going to the extremes of the temptations of opportunism and enslavement.

— The Church and National Identity, by A. Kartachov, Paris, 1934

Spiritual Warfare

For the first time, doubt took hold of my heart. The territory of France, its expanse in space and time is restricted, limited. Is there another stronghold, another soil, unchanging and fixed for ever, a space impenetrable by enemy invasions? Hasn’t is been said: “Do not fear enemies who can kill only the body, but rather fear those who, with the body, kill your soul?” Therefore, our only expanse free of enemy invasions, our only vital space, infinite in its richness and forces, we find in God. And thus our combat will be transposed to another terrain, it will become unlimited in new resources, forgotten for centuries but always present in our spiritual sub-soil. And then it will no longer be a material war which we will have lost, it will not even be the human war we have not yet lost, but which we may lose (for man may well be a hero, he always remains limited in his forces); it will be an interior combat where God will fight on our sides, against ourselves in a purifying and salutatory combat.

— Seven Days on the Roads of France (June 1940), by Vladimir Lossky, Paris, 1998, p. 34

endnotes for chapter 6:

1 The article reacts to the claims by the leader of the organisation “Russian National Unity,” Alexander Barkashov, that real Orthodoxy proclaims Christ to be the national, Aryan leader of the Russian people.

2 Schmemann writes that “Admitting the positive value of nationalism in Christianity, we must not fall into the trap of idealising history, fixing our eyes on the light, and shutting out what is dark. The progress and earthly life of the Church is not an idyll. On the contrary, it requires struggles and a vigilant ecclesial conscience… The danger of nationalism lies in its subconsciously altering the hierarchy of values, so that the nation no longer serves Christian justice, truth or itself, and no longer evaluates its life in accordance with these qualities. Instead, Christianity itself and the Church begin to be assessed and evaluated by the extent to which they serve the state, the nation, etc.” (A. Schmemann, Tserkov’ i tserkovnoye ustroistro, in Messager de l’Exarchat du Patriarche Russe en Europe Occidentale, March 1949, XIV). H. Alivizatos was no less perceptive when he wrote : “National and nationalistic theories and an exaggerated emphasis upon nationalism in the Church have caused the individual autocephalous churches to commit unacceptable acts which destroy the ecclesiastical organism by simply making it share the nationalistic inclinations of their own people… There is no doubt that exaggerated stress upon national churches has been detrimental to the integrity of Orthodoxy, and the various churches’ unrestricted involvement in national antagonisms has damaged the great basic principles of the Orthodox consciousness in the whole of ecclesiastical life and has deeply and seriously wounded the internal unity of Orthodoxy” (H. Alivizatos, Peri tis enotitos en tis orthodoxo Ekklisia), pp. 169-170

3 Tarek Mitri is Professor of Sociology at Balamand Orthodox University in Lebanon and Head of the Office on Inter-Religious Relations of the World Council of Churches in Geneva. He is a former member of the Executive Committee of Syndesmos.

4 This book, published in 1988, contains the notes taken by one of the leading Orthodox theologians of the XXth century, Vladimir Lossky, during his attempts to join the retreating French army in June 1940. The present passage starts denouncing the “heresy” of those who tried, during those first days of the war, to reduce the “war to an industrial enterprise, a matter of capital.”

5 Fr. Sergi Boulgakov, Dean of St. Sergius’ theological Academy in Paris, wrote this commentary of the Apocalypse during the first half of the Second World War. Started as notes for his lectures, he finished a draft of the book version shortly before his death in 1944.

marginal quotation from chapter 6:

The point of view idea that there is a latent conflict between Islam and Christianity in Kosovo, and that this conflict has become one of the cause of the war, is completely wrong. Those responsible for this crisis have not acted in the name of a given religion. On the contrary, they have been raised and educated under a regime which had a deep contempt for religion. On the other hand, everyone knows that the vast majority of the NATO member countries belong the Christian tradition. It is very dangerous to exploit religious ideas and words in armed conflict. Any crime committed in the name of a religion is a crime against religion itself. Our Church insists that religion is like a “secret balm” which should not be used by just anyone or in order to spark armed conflict. This balm is a gift of God, given to soften hearts, to heal wounds and to help persons and peoples establish bonds of brotherhood among them.

— “We pray God that peace and justice may once more reign in the Balkans”, Archbishop Anastasios of Albania

Next

For the Peace From Above — Table of Contents

Chapter 7: WAR, PEACE AND NATIONALISM IN ORTHODOX LITURGICAL TEXTS

WAR, PEACE AND NATIONALISM IN ORTHODOX LITURGICAL TEXTS

7.1 Prayer for Peace in the Liturgy

Extracts from the writings of Archimandrite Lev Gillet, most of whose books were published anonymously as “A Monk of the Eastern Church”

The Great Litany by which the Divine Liturgy begins opens with a fervent request that peace be granted to us. This request is so important and so basic that it recurs three times in slightly different forms. These are not superfluous repetitions, for each of these petitions is filled with a deep and special meaning.

“In peace let us pray to the Lord!” This means first of all that we are called to assume a state of inner peace. Those who will take part in the Divine Liturgy should rid their minds of all confusion, all susceptibility to fleshly and earthly temptations, all obsession with “worldly cares,” all hostile feelings towards any other person, and all personal anxiety. They should come before God in a state of inner calmness, trusting attentiveness, and single-minded concentration on “the one thing needful.” (Luke 10:42)

Then at once there is a second request: “For the peace from above and the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord!” The peace which we have already requested is something other than a state of mind or a psychological condition produced by our own effort. It is the peace which comes ‘from above.” We should humbly recognise that such peace is a gift from God, and we should open ourselves to this gift, stretching out our hands to receive it. On the other hand, we recognise that the divine peace and the “salvation” of our souls are intimately related. Peace is a sign of the presence and the work of the Saviour within us.

Then comes a third request for peace: “For the peace of the whole world, for the welfare of the holy Churches of God and for the union of all, let us pray to the Lord!” The peace which we request goes beyond our isolated persons and acquires a practical aspect. We pray for the peace of the universe, not only for mankind, but for every creature, for animals and plants, for the stars and all of nature. Thereby we enter into a cosmic piety, we find ourselves in harmony with everything God has called into being. We pray for every disciple of Christ, in order that through each one God might be worshipped “in Spirit and in Truth.” We pray for an end to warfare and to struggles between races, nations and social classes.

We pray that all of humanity might be united in a common love.

Every temple of the Lord is a house of divine Presence and a house of prayer. Every temple is also a house of peace. May the soul of all those who enter into this holy temple to take part in the assembly of God, become itself a house of peace.

— From Serve the Lord with Gladness by Fr. Lev Gillett, Saint Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1990

7.2. From the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great

From the Eucharistic Canon (Anaphora) of the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great

The priest prays:

Again we pray thee, remember, O Lord, the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, which is from one end of the world to the other, and give peace to Her whom thou hast purchased with the precious Blood of thy Christ, and establish thou this holy house, even unto the consummation of the age.

Remember, O Lord, those who have offered unto thee these Gifts, and those for whom, and through whom, and the ends whereunto they are offered. Remember, O Lord, those who bear fruit and do good works in thy holy churches, and who remember the needy; requite them with thy rich and heavenly gifts; give them things heavenly for things earthly, things eternal for things temporal, things incorruptible for things corruptible. Remember, O Lord, those in the deserts, the mountains, and in the caverns and pits of the earth. Remember, O Lord, all those who continue in virginity and devotion, and in asceticism and a sober way of life.

Remember, O Lord, the Emperor, all civil authorities, and the armed forces; grant them peaceful times, that we also in their tranquility may lead a calm and quiet life in all piety and sobriety. In thy goodness guard those that are good, and make good those that are evil, by thy loving kindness.

Remember, O Lord, the people present, those that for good cause are absent, and have mercy on them and on us, according to the multitude of thy mercies. Fill their garners with every good thing; guard their marriage bond in peace and in oneness of mind; rear the infants; train the young; support the aged; encourage the fainthearted; gather together the scattered, and lead back those who wander astray, and join them to thy Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Free those who are vexed by unclean spirits; travel with those that journey by land, by sea, and by air; protect the widows; defend the orphans; deliver the captives; heal the sick. And those that are under trial, in the mines, in exile, in bitter bondage, in every tribulation, necessity, and danger, do thou remember, O God.

And all those that are in need of thy great goodness of heart, and those also who love us, and those who hate us, and those who have commanded us the unworthy to pray for them, do thou remember, O Lord our God, and all thy people, and upon all pour out thy rich mercy, granting to all their petitions which are unto salvation. And those whom we through ignorance or forgetfulness or the multitude of names have not remembered, do thou thyself remember, O God, who knowest the age and name of each, and knowest every man even from his mother’s womb. For thou art the Helper of the helpless, the Hope of the hopeless, the Savior of the storm-tossed, the Haven of the voyager, the Physician of the sick. Be thou thyself all things to all men, O thou who knowest every man, his petitions, each house and its need.

Deliver, O Lord, this city and every city (or this village, or this abode), and country from famine, pestilence, earthquake, flood, fire, the sword, foreign invasion, and civil war.

And the priest exclaims:

Among the first, remember, O Lord, our lord, the Most Holy Patriarch (Name), our Bishop (Name), whom do thou grant unto thy holy churches in peace, safety, honor, health, and length of days, rightly dividing the word of thy truth.

The singers sing:

And all mankind.

7.3. Commentary of the Mysteries, by St. Cyril of Alexandria

In his commentary on the Divine Liturgy, St. Cyril gives a brief summary of the “Great Intercession,” in which, according to the common text of the Liturgy of St. James, there is a suffrage “for the peace and welfare of the whole world, and of the holy Churches of God.” From Chrysostom’s language, we must infer that the prayer formed part of the “Great Intercession” in his Liturgy.

Ye have seen then the Deacon who gives to the Priest water to wash, and to the Presbyters who stand round God’s altar. He gave it not at all because of bodily defilement; it is not that; for we did not enter the Church at first with defiled bodies. But the washing of hands is a symbol that ye ought to be pure from all sinful and unlawful deeds; for since the hands are a symbol of action, by washing them, it is evident, we represent the purity and blamelessness of our conduct. Didst thou not hear the blessed David opening this very mystery, and saying, I wall wash my hands in innocence, and so will compass Thine Altar, O Lord? The washing therefore of hands is a symbol of immunity from sin.

Then the Deacon cries aloud, “Receive ye one another; and let us kiss one another.” Think not that this kiss is of the same character with those given in public by common friends. It is not such: but this kiss blends souls one with another, and courts entire forgiveness for them. The kiss therefore is the sign that our souls are mingled together, and banish all remembrance of wrongs. For this cause Christ said, If thou art offering thy gift at the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against time, leave there thy gift upon the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. The kiss therefore is reconciliation, and for this reason holy: as the blessed Paul somewhere cried, saying, Greet ye one another with a holy kiss; and Peter, with a kiss of charity.

Then, after the spiritual sacrifice, the bloodless service, is completed, over that sacrifice of propitiation we entreat God for the common peace of the Churches, for the welfare of the world; for kings; for soldiers and allies; for the sick; for the afflicted; and, in a word, for all who stand in need of succour we all pray and offer this sacrifice.

— Lecture 23 on the Mysteries, by St. Cyril of Alexandria, Chapter 5, “On the Sacred Liturgy and Communion.”

7.4. Prayers by the Lake, by Bishop Nikolai of Ochrid

Bishop Nikolai (Velimirovic) of Ochrid ( 1956) is regarded by many as a saint of the Serbian Orthodox Church yet to be canonised. He is best known for The Prologue from Ochrid, a four-volume work on the lives of the saints. Little by little his writings are being translated into English.

I.

Thou hast filled thyself with peace, O Glory of the realms on high, and the anger of all lands cannot shake Thy peace.

Among mortals there is little peace; therefore anger has gained in strength.

Anger makes its nest in the breast of arrogance and murder lies in the breast of anger.

All sins tend to murder, and none stands so close to murder as anger.

One-eyed earthly laws do not punish anger, because they do not see that anger kills. But Thy discerning law, O Glory of the realms on high, calls anger murder.

I have striven, in sunlight and moonlight, to penetrate the mystery of Thy law and, once my striving began to wear away all my worldly hopes, I began to perceive how my anger towards neighbours was killing me.

The children of anger are slaves, while the children of peace are sons. Therefore Thy wisdom speaks to men and reiterates to them: Be sons! A son looks into the face of his father, and turns his own face towards that of his father. When he sees peace in his father’s face, how can he distort his own face with anger, and yet not turn his gaze away from his father?

Anger brings infirmity into both the one who is angry and the one against whom the anger is vented. And infirmity is the precursor of death.

A wonder worker does not work miracles among children of anger, for the children of anger bring infirmity unto him.

O my neighbours, why do you feel stronger among those who love you, and weaker among those whom your presence angers? Is it not because the former add to your life by love, and the latter take from it through anger?

It is therefore my delight to be constantly with thee, O Glory of the realms on high. For only in Thy presence I neither kill them nor they me.

Just as drop after drop of water wears away even the hardest stone, so anger wears away the life of two people.

Like a murderer waiting in ambush with a knife, so anger burns in a proud heart.

Truly, arrogance knows that it is guilty; therefore it places anger at the gate, to act as its sentry.

Arrogance knows that it is sinful; therefore it has found itself an advocate in another sin.

Fill my heart with humility, O Glory of the realms on high, with the humility of the angels before Thy throne, for humility gives no abode or resting place to anger.

Grant me the humility of a son, and I shall be ashamed to become angry at slaves or kill slaves. Arm me with Thy peace, that the anger of the children of anger will not be able to confound.

II.

The Father looks down from heaven and sees me all covered with wounds from the injustice of men, and says: “Take no revenge.”

On whom should I take revenge, O Lord? On part of a flock on its way to slaughter?

Does a doctor take revenge on his patients for cursing him on their death beds?

Or whom should I take revenge? On the snow for melting, or on the grass for withering? Does a grave digger take revenge on those going down into the grave?

On whom shall I take revenge? On simpletons, for thinking that they can do evil to someone else in the world besides themselves? Does a teacher take revenge on illiterate children for not knowing how to read?

Eternity is my witness that all who are quick to take revenge are slow to read and comprehend its mysteries.

Time is my witness that all who have taken revenge have accumulated poison in themselves and have, with this poison, blotted themselves out of the Book of Life.

In what can you avengers boast before your adversaries, except my being able to repeat their evil? Are you not thereby saying: “We are no better than you?”

God is my witness that both you and your adversaries are equally reckless and equally incapable of good.

I have seen a cherry tree stripped of its bark and set fire to by children, yet it gave ripe fruit to those same children.

And I have seen cows, which men tormented with heavy burdens, patiently give milk to those same men.

Tears welled up in my eyes, and I asked: Why is nature more compassionate to men than man is to his fellow man?

Nature is my witness, O ye avengers, that only he is more powerful than those who do him evil who is powerless to copy their evil deeds.

There is no end to vengeance, and the descendants continue the work of their fathers and then go hence, leaving it unfinished.

Evil hastens along a wide road, and from each new duel it gains strength and territory, and increases its retinue.

A wise man gets off the road and leaves evil to hurry on.

A barking dog is more quickly silenced by a piece of bread than by many hurled stones.

He who taught men: “An eye for an eye,” also taught them how they would all be left blind.

On whom shall I take revenge, O my heavenly Father? On part of a flock on its way to slaughter?

Ah, how wretched are all evildoers and all who take revenge! Truly, they are like a flock of sheep on the way to slaughter that, unaware of where they are heading, butt horns with each other and wreak a slaughter before the slaughter.

I do not seek vengeance, my Father; I do not seek vengeance, but rather that Thou grant me a sea of tears, so that I can bewail the wretchedness of those who are on their way to slaughter, not knowing where they are going.

III.

Men can do me no evil as long as I bear no wound.

I saw two caves, one of which gave off an echo, while the other was dumb. Many curious children visited the former, incessantly engaged in shouting matches with the cave. But visitors quickly left the other cave, because it gave them no echo in return.

If my soul is wounded, every worldly evil will resound within it. And people will laugh at me, and will bear more and more strongly on me with their shouting.

But evil-speaking people will not really harm me, if my tongue has forgotten how to form evil words.

Nor will external malice sadden me, if there is no malice in my heart to resound like a goatskin drum.

Nor shall I be able to respond to wrath with wrath if the lair of wrath within me has been vacated and there is nothing to be aroused.

Nor will human passions titillate me if the passions within me have been turned to ashes.

Nor will the untruthfulness of friends sadden me if I have chosen Thee for my friend.

Nor can the injustice of the world overwhelm me if injustice has been banished from my thoughts.

Nor will the deceitful spirits of worldly pleasure, honour and power delude me, if my soul is like a spotless bride, who receives only the Holy Spirit and yearns for Him alone.

Men cannot send anyone off to hell unless that person sends himself, nor can men hoist anyone up on their shoulders to the throne of God, unless that person elevates himself.

If my soul has no open windows, no mud can be thrown into it.

Let all nature rise up against me; it can do nothing to me except a single thing — to become as soon as possible the grave of my body.

Every worldly crop is covered with manure, so that it will sprout as soon as possible and grow better. If my soul were, alas, to abandon its virginity and receive the seed of this world into itself, then it would also have to accept the manure that the world casts on its fields.

But I call upon Thee day and night: “Come, dwell in my soul and close all the places where my enemies can enter. Make the cavern of my soul empty and dumb, so that no one from the world will desire to enter it.”

O my soul, my only care, be on guard and learn to distinguish between the voices that smite your ears. Once you hear the voice of your Lord, abandon your dumbness and echo it with all your strength.

O my soul, thou cavern of eternity, never allow temporal thieves to enter into thee and kindle their fire within thee. Be dumb when they shout at you. Stay still when they bang on you, and patiently await your Master — for He will truly come.

7.5. A Soldier’s Prayer

The following prayer was found in the pocket of a Russian soldier killed during World War II.

Do you hear me, God?

Never before in my life have I spoken to you, but today I want to greet you.

You know that since I was a child, they said that you didn’t exist… And I was foolish enough to believe them.

Never before have I realized the beauty of your creation.

Today only I discovered this beauty, when suddenly an abyss opened.

Above me, a sky filled with stars. Amazed, I saw how they twinkled.

How could I have been so cruelly deceived!

I don’t know, Lord, whether you will stretch out your hand to reach me, but for me, I will recognize you, and you will understand.

It’s a miracle that in the depth of this terrifying hell, light illuminates me… and that I have been able to see you.

I won’t tell you anything else, except what a joy it is to know you.

At midnight, we have received the order to attack; but I am not afraid. You are watching us.

Listen, there is the signal. I have to go. Yet, it was so good to be with you.

What I still wanted to say, You know, this combat will be mean. Maybe, tonight I will knock on your door. Even though I never was your friend, will you let me enter, when I come?

But — am I crying? Look what’s happening to me! My eyes have opened. Forgive me God.

I am going, and surely I will not come back.

But, o wonder, I am no longer afraid of death.

7.6. Prayer for the Salvation of the Russian State

This prayer of intercession for the salvation of the Russian state and the elimination of strife and disorder in, the first version of which was written by St. Tikhon of Moscow, was frequently used by Hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church during the coup d’Etat of October 1993.

Lord God, our Redeemer! We bow down before you with contrite hearts and confess our sins and wilful unruliness by which we have angered you in your mercy and obstructed your blessings. For we have turned away from you, O Lord, we have not obeyed your commandments nor done as you have bidden us. Wherefore you have punished us with disorder and cast us under the feet of our enemies, we have become lower than the heathens and a scandal and disgrace to our neighbours. Great and wonderful God, you sorrow at our wickedness, you who raise up those who fall and make firm the feet of those who stumble. Send down to us here your heavenly power, heal the festering wounds of our soul and raise us up from our bed of sickness, for our loins are filled with weakness, we are ill with falsehood and we bring forth lawlessness. Take away the strife and turmoil in our land, remove from us envy and quarrelsomeness, murder and drunkenness, divorce and temptation, root out of our hearts all impurity, enmity and wickedness, that we may love one another once more and be one in you, our Lord and Ruler, as you have commanded and bidden us. Have mercy upon us O Lord, have mercy upon us, for we are filled with dishonour and we are not worthy to raise our eyes to heaven. Remember your mercy to our fathers, transform your wrath into pity and help us in our time of trouble. This prayer comes to you from your Church, which offers to you the supplication of your friends: our venerated and God-bearing fathers Sergi of Radonezh and Seraphim of Sarov, the holy Hierarchs of Moscow Peter, Alexis, Iona, Philip and consecrated martyr Hermogen, especially the holy Hierarch Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and all the saints who have shone forth in our land, but especially the All-holy Mother of God and All-pure Virgin Mary, who from times immemorial has covered our land with her protection and intercedes for it. Bring to reason all who govern and rouse in them good for your Church and for all your people. Strengthen our army through the power of your Cross and save it from all attacks by the enemy. Grant to us men of strength and understanding, and give us the spirit of wisdom and fear of God, the spirit of strength and devotion.

Lord, we seek refuge in you, teach us your will for you are God, in you is the source of life, in your light we see the light. Extend your goodness to those who know you for ever and ever. Amen.

7.7. Prayers for Peace in Former Yugoslavia

During the war in Bosnia, and later Yugoslavia, the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church has directed that the following petitions be inserted into appropriate litanies at Vespers, Matins and the Divine Liturgy:

Into the Great Litany:

For God’s mercy upon us, His unworthy servants, that we may all be protected from hatred and evil actions, that we may have instilled in us unselfish love by which all shall know that we are disciples of Christ and God’s people, as were our holy ancestors, so that we may always know to decide for the truth and righteousness of the Heavenly Kingdom, let us pray to the Lord.

For all those who commit injustice against their neighbours, whether by causing sorrow to orphans or spilling innocent blood or by returning hatred for hatred, that God will grant them repentance, enlighten their minds and hearts and illumine their souls with the light of love even towards their enemies, let us pray to the Lord.

At the Augmented Litany:

O Lord, how many are our foes who battle against us and say: there is no help for them from God or man. O Lord, stretch forth Thy hands that we may remain Thy people in both faith and works. If we must suffer, let it by in the ways of Thy justice and Thy truth — let it not be because of our injustice or hatred against anyone. Let us all fervently say: Lord have mercy (three times).

Again let us pray to God, the Saviour of all men, also for our enemies — that our Lord who loves mankind will turn them away from attacks on our Orthodox people, that they not destroy our churches and cemeteries, that they not kill our children or persecute our people, but that they too may turn to the way of repentance, justice and salvation. Let us all fervently say: Lord have mercy (three times).

7.8. On the issue of the blessing of weapons

In July 1995, the Orthodox Peace Fellowship addressed a letter to his Holiness Pavle, Patriarch of Serbia requesting that “the Synod require that no use be made of a service for blessing weapons included in an edition of the Book of Needs published in Kosovo in 1993. In the context of the events in former Yugoslavia, the blessing of weapons can only be regarded as sanctioning the use of weapons in a fratricidal war.” The letter refers to a private 1993 edition of the Book of Needs (Euchologion, Trebnik) which contains a service for the blessing of arms. The service does not figure in the Books of Needs published by the Holy Synods of the local Orthodox Churches. Nevertheless its usage of the words “swords” and “sabers” seems to indicate its ancientness, reflecting the fact that in many countries, the blessing of armies and arms is an established ecclesiastical custom. The text of the service is given below.

The Bishop or priest comes out of the altar to the table with the weapons in front of the ambon, incenses the weapons crosswise beginning as it is common.

Reader: Heavenly King, Trisagion, Our Father, Lord have mercy (12 times). Glory; both now and; come let us worship. . . and psalm 35. Glory; both now: hallelujah (three times)

Deacon: Let us pray to the Lord

The Bishop or priest reads this prayer over the weapons:

Lord our God, God of powers, powerful in strength, strong in battle, you once gave miraculous strength to your child David granting him victory over his opponent the blasphemer Goliath. Mercifully accept our humble prayer. Send your heavenly blessing over these weapons (naming each weapon). Give force and strength that they may protect your holy Church, the poor and the widows, and your holy inheritance on earth, and make it horrible and terrible to any enemy army, and grant victory to your people for your glory, for you are our strength and protection and we sing praise to your glory, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Then the priest sprinkles blessed water on the weapons saying:

Let the blessing of Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, come down on and remain upon these weapons and those who carry them, for the protection of the truth of Christ. Amen.

After this the soldiers carrying the weapons are blessed, with the prayer:

Be brave and let your heart be stronger and win victory over your enemies, trusting in God, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

After this each soldier kisses the cross.

This is the way to bless sword and saber. If there is only one sword to be blessed, or only one saber, he says only once: this sword, or: this weapon. If there are many, he says: bless these swords, or: bless these weapons.

7.9. Prayer for the Pacification of Animosity

This prayer has been taken from the English translation of the Slavonic Book of Needs (Synodal edition of the Russian Orthodox Church) but may be found in the Books of Needs of most Local Orthodox Churches.

Deacon: Let us pray to the Lord.

Singers: Lord have mercy.

Priest: “We thank you, O Master, Lover of Mankind, King of the ages and Bestower of good things, Who destroyed the dividing wall of enmity, and granted peace to the human race, and Who now has granted peace to Your servants. Instill in them the fear of you and confirm in them love one for the other. Extinguish every dispute and banish all temptation to disagreement. For You are our peace and to You we ascribe glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.”

— From the Book of Needs, South Canaan PA, 1987

marginal quotations from chapter 7:

There is something to war that might be like the only chance for the present condition of humanity. This does not mean that we might want war. But now that it has burst loose, it has to be used. … More than ever before, the war demands the mobilisation of absolutely all our spiritual forces and capacities. … Christ and the life-giving Holy Spirit demand the entire human being — now. The only difference with state mobilisation is that the State mobilises compulsorily, while our faith awaits volunteers. Will there be such volunteers, and, if so, which will their effort and their readiness for sacrifice — from this, in my view, the destiny of the human race depends. Indeed, war is the wing of death which overshadows the earth; war opens the gates of eternity for thousands and thousands of people; war crushes the established bourgeois order, cosiness and stability. War is a calling, war opens our eyes. … I know that right now, at this very instant, hundreds of people have encountered what is the most serious, Seriousness itself: death, and that thousands are standing in line. … And finally I know, I know with all my being, with all my faith, with all the spiritual strength that has been granted to the human soul, that God visits His world in this instant. And the world can receive His visitation — my heart is ready, it is ready,” — and instantly, our temporary and fallen life will encounter the depths of eternity, our human cross will become the likeness of the Cross of the God-Man, and then, through our very grief of death we will see the white robes of the angel who announces us: “He, who was dead, is no longer in the grave.”

— Mother Maria (Skobtsova), 1939

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For the Peace From Above — Table of Contents