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Cross in the sky near Athens in 1925 - what does the Church say about that?


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#1 Nemanja

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 09:21 AM

I am trying to find the answer of the official Orthodox Church to this famous miracle, but can't find it. If you are unfamiliar with the event, you can read about it here.

The way I see it, the Church either ignores this miracle, or offers other miracles of her own to "counter" it. None of these two approaches to the problem represent the real answer to the issue of this miracle.

If the 1925 miraculous appearance of the Cross is authentic, and so far I see no reason to doubt it, then it can only mean that God invited people to join the old calendarists. But how can that be? Many of the holy contemporary Greek elders, like elder Porphyrios and Philoteus Zervakos, said that old calendarists are wrong in their ideas and view of the Church. So, why would God perform even one single miracle (and this was a BIG miracle) to support their side?

#2 Timothy Mulligan

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 06:47 PM

So, why would God perform even one single miracle (and this was a BIG miracle) to support their side?


You're seeing this miracle as God's support for one side in a dispute within the Orthodox Church. Why aren't you seeing it as His support for the Orthodox Church as a whole? Is it because the calendar issue is one of your foremost concerns?

To use a silly example to illustrate my point . . . Maybe a husband and wife had a quarrel earlier that evening about what to have for dinner. He wanted lamb, but she wanted to use the leftover chicken to make a nice soup. He gave in and she made the chicken soup. Later that night, the cross appeared in the sky. She calls her husband outside, beaming with pride, "You see?! I was right!"

Now, I understand that the miracle corresponded to the Old Calendar. But this was Greece, it was undergoing a trial and most (all?) of the country was recently Old Calendar. Don't forget that the way of the cross is kenosis: self-emptying, self-denial. Kenosis is often forgotten in church disputes. I doubt that Our Lord would throw gasoline on an ecclesial dispute. It is not His way.

#3 Nemanja

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 06:57 PM

I am sorry, brother, but you are mistaken. I am not tempted to join the old calendarists, and I don't care much about the calendar issue. I did not write this question for people to guess why I am asking, but to find the answer to the issue which is considered to be highly controversial by many. And the controversional issue is not the calender itself, but rather the entire view of the Church which is very different between new calendarists and old calendarists. I hope to hear an answer from some Greeks on this forum, as I believe that this issue is very familiar in their Church.

#4 Ephrem C.

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 07:23 PM

If we look at the miracles of the Lord during his earthly ministry, or at the miracles he has given since to the faithful, we see that it is to three ends: the first, being the edification of the faithful, the second, being the conversion of sinners to the True Church, and the third being the shaming of those who oppose the Church of Christ.
Let your own conscience dictate, friend. Based on the account, in what way were these ends satisfied?

#5 Timothy Mulligan

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 07:30 PM

I am sorry, brother, but you are mistaken. I am not tempted to join the old calendarists, and I don't care much about the calendar issue.


What I am saying is that one need not necessarily assume that the miracle indicates God's support for the Old Calendarists.

#6 Antonios

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 08:13 PM

Should we start tallying up and compare what miracles occurred during certain feasts of both calendars to determine which calendar is 'correct'? I think we will find instances in both.

Perhaps God wanted to show those who persisted in disobedience to the hierarchy of their church (some out of piety, some out of pride) and those who accepted the decision of the Holy Synod (some out of humility, some out of pride) that God is above any calendar. Perhaps if this miracle didn't occur, a greater scandal might have occurred, with much more bloodshed and persecution.

I take it to mean that God's grace is not limited to which calendar one uses. The calendar was made for the Church, not the Church was made for the calendar. And when 2 or 3 are gathered in holy worship, Christ is in their midst, whether on a Tuesday or a Sunday.

#7 Kusanagi

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 08:59 PM

I think you will find people will distort things so it supports their principals and opinions that they are right whether its miracles or the sayings and teachings of the fathers especially the recent ones that had to deal with the calendar issue. Like for example you find them saying well we have St. John Jacob of Hozeva who followed the old calendar, or St Nicholas Planas who followed both. St John of Shanghai and St Seraphim of Sofia wrote about the old calendar and why they follow it. Then people say well there is this miracle and such and such a father said this so they take it as dogma.
I think the cross appearing is more as a warning or even for strengthening for the faithful not to say whose calendar is right or wrong. Like what Ephrem said earlier. Then it goes further like the miracles on Mt Tabor and River Jordan both on the old calendar that the extremists take as a "back up" for what they belief and say.

#8 Ephrem C.

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 09:46 PM

I doubt that Our Lord would throw gasoline on an ecclesial dispute. It is not His way.


God has frequently given miracles to encourage the faithful who are being persecuted for the sake of truth. He has also frequently given miracles to the shame of those who persecute it.

#9 Father David Moser

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 09:51 PM

I did not write this question for people to guess why I am asking, but to find the answer to the issue which is considered to be highly controversial by many. And the controversional issue is not the calender itself, but rather the entire view of the Church which is very different between new calendarists and old calendarists.


In that case, I wish that the question had been framed a little more clearly as the way it stands certainly seems like a provocation - but that is water under the bridge. On to the issue that you state is the real question - the difference of the "entire view of the Church" between old and new calendrists.

I think that there is no difference - at least none that I have noted which can be defined by calendar alone.

Can you be clearer about this what the difference is concerning "the entire view of the Church"? Can you describe it in a little more detail and perhaps draw some lines which will help define what it is you want to talk about? Right now it is all clear as mud to me.

Fr David Moser

Edited by Father David Moser, 18 September 2010 - 09:53 PM.
clarification


#10 Ephrem C.

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 10:49 PM

Before this discussion continues, I think it is significant to clarify that "old-calendarist" is a very generalized term and represents a number of opinions. For instance, there are those who follow the Old Calendar that are a part of Metropolitan Cyprian or Fili's Synod in Resistance. On the opposite end, there are the Old Calendar Greeks under, for instance, Archbishop Chrysostomos II. These two groups represent very different ecclesiological viewpoints.
There is also the case of the Russian True Orthodox groups, which are also Old Calendar.
So, perhaps we should speak more particularly?

#11 Kosta

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 11:28 PM

In 1925 there was no such thing as old calendarists and new calendarists, just alot of confusion. Many of the greek people continued to observe the feasts according to the traditional calendar. A miracle of a cross in the sky appeared on the eve of the feast of the Exhaltation of the Holy Cross. Both the faithful and the police averted any violence and praised God.
Attributing this miracle in defense of the calendar issue came after. At the time it happened most didnt see it as an affirmation of the julian calendar over the new calendar, and later on many present during the miracle eventually accepted the change. They never considered the miracle as tied to the calendar issue. It wasnt till 1935 that the old calendarists recieved bishops, in 1925 everyone was still considered apart of the one and same Church of Greece. If the miracle occured after 1935 a better case could be made by old calendarists.

#12 Nemanja

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 10:09 AM

I knew that Kosta would give me the answer which would satisfy my curiosity, thank you. :)
However, I need to try, at least, to explain to the other readers why I started this topic, and what I meant with different views of the Church. This will be a VERY long post, so read on only if you are really interested.

It has been said that the calendar change in Greece was made in a spirit of opening towards the West and towards ecumenism. I found an older forum topic which deals with this issue here. So, it is not an issue of faith, I know that. I, personally, support the new calendar simply because the old one is wrong. Regarding the motives, however, take a look at this quote from Alexander Kalomiros:

In the last century, when the newly-established Church of Japan asked permission from its Mother Russian Church to change the festal calendar, permission was granted without any autocephalous Church making protest because there was a missionary need for this change. Certain great Christian Feasts had to be made to coincide with the important idolatrous holidays of the Japanese, just as in the first centuries of Christianity the Church fixed great Christian Feasts to coincide with great feasts of the idolators. This action was of great missionary significance and was like a counter-attack of the Church which persecuted the demons, at the very moment they were wreaking the most havoc. In this way, for example the feast of the Nativity was arranged to be celebrated on the days of the idolatrous feast of the birth of the sun. So then, we have two Churches that changed the festal calendar: the Church of Japan and the Church of Greece. How great, however, is the difference between these two changes! The first took place in order to facilitate the spread of Orthodoxy in an idolatrous land, and the other in order to facilitate the introduction of the West's heresies into an Orthodox land for the glory of Ecumenism. The same act was on one occassion constructive, and on another occassion destructive.


I am not 100% against ecumenical dialogue, but I believe that the Church should be very careful with it. Now, take a look at this quote from the text about the 1925 miracle:

The fact that such an apparition of the Cross had also occurred during the height of the first great heresy must strike the Orthodox with an especial sense of the magnitude of the importance of the calendar question and of all that is connected with it. No sensible person can discuss this issue lightly, with secular reasoning or with worldly arguments. Renovationists, like the Arians in 351, are left without extenuation or mitigation.


My understanding was that God had deep understanding for those who held on to the old calendar, not because calendar was important to God, but because those old calendarist were conservatives who were determined to hold on to the Holy Tradition, while new calendarists were viewed as renovationists who were ready to embrace ecumenism uncritically and uncarefuly, which would eventually lead to the so called pan-heresy of ecumenism as our recently celebrated Serbian saint, St. Justin Popovic used to say.

I am also aware that there are two different types of spiritual deception, and sometimes I hear that they are called left and right deception. Explained in simple terms, left deception would imply taking spiritual life too lightly, while right deception would mean taking spiritual life too rigidly and too harshly.

I don't know if you are aware of it, but Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) is facing a schism in its rows. We can hope and pray, but facts and determination of those who are about to go into schism are clear - in less then two months from now, it will happen.
Bishop Artemije, who led the diocese in Kosovo for 20 years, has been removed from position and retired by the Council of bishops in May this year. I fully support the decision of the Church and I think it was long over due. Artemije, his monks and their followers have been, for a long time, creating an atmosphere that the Serbian Orthodox Church is standing on the edge of heresy, and that Artemije is the "most orthodox" of all our bishops, that he is the one who can only be trusted and followed. Artemije never said something like this openly, but his followers did. For example, there is a Facebook group with several thousand members called "The Truth is only one - bishop Artemije".
There are many Serbs who have paranoid fear that the Church will enter union with Rome, which is completely unfounded, but, for example, many of those fanatics (civilians) write posts on the internet stating how they don't accept and recognize our new Patriarch Irinej, how Serbian bishops have been bought by Vatican and similar nonsense.

A few days ago, Artemije wrote a letter to the Holy Synod, demanding to be reinstated as bishop in his former diocese, threatening to stop obeying the decisions of the Holy Council of bishops, and stating that he is "until his death the legitimate bishop of Rasko-prizrenska diocese". The Synod responded quickly, forbidding Artemije to serve Liturgy and asking him, again, to stop and not to go to schism. The Council will have a session in November, it is completely clear that Artemije will not repent, and everyone now knows that the Council will take away his title of bishop (I don't know the English word for it, but he will no longer be a bishop; today he still is a bishop - but retired, without a diocese). Artemije will refuse to accept that and he and his followers will create a church of their own. I expect many thousands of people who suffer from the "right deception" to follow them.

Now, I am not invited to judge, but I believe that Artemije and his followers suffer from right deception. I also have to be honest to say that some signs of left deception can be noticed among some of our prominent bishops. Therefore, even though I don't agree with Artemije, I can't say that the fears of their followers are 100% baseless. I do believe that they are 95% baseless, however.

So you see, the calendar is not the issue in Serbian Church, because we still follow the old calendar, like the Russians. But the spirit behind these two "sides" in dispute is the same as the one between new and old calendarists in Greece. While I would be happy to simply dismiss everything what those who are marching towards schism say, miracles such as this one in Greece in 1925 bring suspicion to me - doesn't it seem that God has understanding for these schismatics? Maybe they have a valid point?

#13 Jason Hunt

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 11:30 AM

If the 1925 miraculous appearance of the Cross is authentic, and so far I see no reason to doubt it, then it can only mean that God invited people to join the old calendarists. But how can that be? Many of the holy contemporary Greek elders, like elder Porphyrios and Philoteus Zervakos, said that old calendarists are wrong in their ideas and view of the Church. So, why would God perform even one single miracle (and this was a BIG miracle) to support their side?


Between 1925 and 1935, those Greeks who remained on the Old Calendar were many, and yet they were also united and still in communion with the State Church of Greece that had adopted the New Calendar in 1924. Those who refused to accept the calendar change were supported by many in other local churches that remained on the Old Calendar, such as Serbian bishop St. Nikolai of Zica. The miracle of the cross seemed to affirm in 1925 those who refused to accept the unwise innovation of the New Calendar. However, everything changed in 1935 when three bishops left the State Church of Greece to lead those in Greece who remained on the Old Calendar. These three bishops were Met Chrysostom of Florina, Met Germanos of Demetrias, and Met Germanos of the Cyclades Islands. When these bishops united to lead the Old Calendar Greeks, the State Church of Greece deposed them and said that they no longer have the authority to serve the Mysteries. In turn, these three bishops pronounced the State Church of Greece to be schismatic and without the grace of the Holy Spirit in its Mysteries. Following this decision, Met Chrysostom of Florina went to Jerusalem in order to gather support from the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and then other local churches who used the Old Calendar, for their 1935 declaration that the Church in Greece was in schism. The Patriarch of Jerusalem, however, received Met Chrysostom as a mere monk and not as a bishop, acknowledging that the State Church had deposed him and agreeing with this decision. Furthermore, the Patriarch said that an entire local church cannot be condemned as schismatic by three bishops that are part of that local church, but rather this falls in the authority only of a Pan-Orthodox Council. When Met Chrysostom returned to Greece, he then began to say that the New Calendar State Church of Greece was not "actually" in schism but only "potentially" in schism, and could only become "actually" in schism if it was declared so by a Pan-Orthodox Council. This created a great deal of discord and led to the division of the Old Calendarists in 1937. Today, not only has this division never healed, but it has perpetuated itself such that there are well over 10 separate groups of "Old Calendarists," none of which are in communion with the Church, and none of which are in communion with each other. As one elder put it, they continue to fracture into numerous splinters "just as the Old Believers, the Protestants, and others who have been abandoned by God." Furthermore, we have the testimonies of Elders Joseph the Hesychast and Ephraim of Katounakia who were once Old Calendarists and yet who left them after God revealed to them that they were outside of the Church by not being under the Patriarch of Constantinople. There are instances in the life of Elder Cleopa of Romania and many other recent saints wherein God has revealed the truth of this matter, not through clever argumentation, not through propaganda, but through miracles and revelations. Meanwhile, in Serbia for instance, the handful of "Old Calendarists" there not only are without any saints of there own, they do not even believe that real saints like St. Justin (Popovic) are saints because, while he spoke out against Ecumenism which he referred to as a "Pan-heresy", he never broke communion with the Serbian Church as the Old Calendarists say one must.

So, in other words, I believe the 1925 miracle to have been from God and that the decision to change the calendar was a grave mistake. However, this mistake was nothing compared to the delusion of the three bishops who thought they had the authority to speak for the entire Church in condemning the whole Church of Greece as schismatic and without grace, particularly when the entire rest of the Church, including Jerusalem and Serbia who have never changed the calendar, remained in communion with the Church in Greece even after the introduction of the New Calendar. The decision made by the Old Calendarist bishops in 1935 was a horrible and irreversible error. Meanwhile, the Church in Greece that is on the New Calendar, while there are certainly many problems there, continues to produce saints.

In Christ,

Jason

#14 Alice

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 01:50 PM

Christ is in our midst!

Maybe the cross meant something so clear that it was overlooked: focus on the CROSS, not on anything else.

I am also aware that there are two different types of spiritual deception, and sometimes I hear that they are called left and right deception. Explained in simple terms, left deception would imply taking spiritual life too lightly, while right deception would mean taking spiritual life too rigidly and too harshly.


This is interesting, and so true. I never heard the phrase 'left and right deception', but I will remember it. Thank you, Nemanja.

--In Christ,
Alice

Edited by Alice, 19 September 2010 - 02:33 PM.


#15 Seraphim Hamilton

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 04:26 AM

I'm in communion with the New Calendar jurisdictions, and I myself am in a jurisdiction which observes the New Calendar. Nevertheless, the New Calendar is sloppily done and was uncanonically forced on the Churches of Christ. We must distinguish between the traditional Orthodox Christian position, the modernist position, and the schismatic position. The traditional, canonical, position is that the Old Calendar is the traditional Calendar of the Orthodox Church and ideally, should be used by all the Orthodox Churches. Even so, observing a different calendar is not a cause for schism and does not mean that this particular jurisdiction is without grace. For example, St. Victor of Rome sought liturgical unity among all the Churches of Christ in the late second century, and so threatened to cut off communion with Churches observing Pascha on a different date than most of the Orthodox Churches. Even though the matter was decided at his favor at the First Ecumenical Synod, St. Irenaeus (among other Holy Fathers) rebuked St. Victor and admonished him not to cease Eucharistic communion with other Orthodox Churches because of a dispute over the Calendar. St. Victor agreed with St. Irenaeus and continued communion with the Churches of Asia. I suggest that we follow this precedent, which is today being followed by the Russian Orthodox Church (MP and ROCOR), the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and the canonical Greek Orthodox monasteries on Mt. Athos. Those Greek Orthodox Christians right around the time of the innovations of Patriarch Meletius IV who resisted the New Calendar were correct, and it is not surprising that God showed His approval. Those Greeks who separated from the Church of Christ over the Calendar issue are wrong and schismatic. The schismatic position is that if you observe a different calendar than the traditional Calendar, you lose the grace of God and are ipso facto cut off from Christ. This is unprecedented in the history of the Church. The modernist position is that the Calendar should be changed for the sake of "ecumenical reconciliation" (a fantasy in itself!).

In Christ,
Seraphim

#16 Kosta

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 07:46 PM

The greek schismatics are actually in a different position than russian splinter groups from the russians. The 1935 written confession of the old calendarist can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. Today its interpreted that new calendar churches are without grace in the past it was not interpreted this way.

What people dont know is that a person wanting to observe the church calendar and not the hybrid revised julian calendar was not able to after 1924. Unless you went to a monastery observing the old calendar, it became a criminal offense. Civil authorities were enforcing the ban. The reason why old calendar synods exist is because no compromise on the calendar was tolerated, the state church did not allow any parish to retain the old calendar regardless of the laity's and priests wishes..

#17 Mike L

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 04:14 AM

What people dont know is that a person wanting to observe the church calendar and not the hybrid revised julian calendar was not able to after 1924. Unless you went to a monastery observing the old calendar, it became a criminal offense. Civil authorities were enforcing the ban. The reason why old calendar synods exist is because no compromise on the calendar was tolerated, the state church did not allow any parish to retain the old calendar regardless of the laity's and priests wishes..


Wow. That says a lot right there! Even though Im in a New Calendarist jurisdiction, Ive always sided with the Old Calendarists.

#18 Father David Moser

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 05:06 AM

Please remember that this thread is specifically about the miraculous appearance of the cross in the sky in 1925 near Athens - it is not about the old/new calendar issue. There are other threads in the forum for that discussion, and so please keep this thread focused on the meaning of this appearance.

Fr David Moser




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