Old Calendarist schismatics

My man John Sinadopolous at Mystagogy recently posted a couple of great writings by Orthodox elders on the subject of the Old Calendarist schismatics (that is, those groups which have broken with the Orthodox Church over the adoption of the New Julian Calendar, and which generally refer to themselves erroneously as “Genuine Orthodox” or “True Orthodox”). I wanted to share them here as this is a topic that often comes up in comments on my videos and, occasionally, posts here. No, the Old Calendarist schismatics are not Orthodox; they can use the word all they want, but they have broken away from the true, genuine Orthodox Church. There’s an “Orthodox Presbyterian” “church” as well — it’s not the word that makes some person or group Orthodox; it’s the Faith. Some selections (with links to read the rest of the articles):

We know from the Pedalion of our Church that the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Synod had canonized that Easter should be calculated on the basis of the spring equinox, given that the spring equinox at the time was on the 21st of March. This is stated in the Pedalion (check page 9). However, approximately 1600 years later, from then to this day, we have digressed from that date because the spring equinox now takes place on the 8th of March. This too is mentioned in the Pedalion. So, with a 13-day leap, we so-called “New Calendarists” again have the same spring equinox that the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Synod had. We now have the old date of the spring equinox, the 21st of March, while you have the contemporary date of this equinox, the 8th of March. Consequently, we are fully aligned with the old date, and you with the new. We are aligned with the Old Julian Calendar of the First Ecumenical Synod, and you are aligned with the New Julian Calendar. Consequently, we are the ones who are actually the “Old Calendarists” while you are the “New Calendarists”, because – I will repeat it once more – we acknowledge the 21st of March as the spring equinox, just as the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Synod had, while you have lapsed, and have retained the 8th of March.

. . .

During the time of Chrysostom there lived certain Christians who, in observing the older tradition of Saint Polycarp of Smyrna and basing themselves on the words of the Apostle Paul “…for during our Passover, Christ was sacrificed for our sake” (1 Cor. 5:7), they used to celebrate Easter on the 14th day of the month of Nisan – March, when Christ was crucified. The First Ecumenical Synod ordained that Easter should be celebrated on the first Sunday after the Jewish Passover, because Christ was resurrected after the Jewish Passover. In this way, those Christians who celebrated Easter on the 14th of March, the so-called “fourteenists” (Stefanides, History 1, 101), celebrated it together with the Jews, and thus had themselves a “crucified Easter”. The First Ecumenical Synod ordained that Easter be “resurrectional”, on the first Sunday after the Jewish Passover. This blessed Father wanted to distance the Christians from the crucifixional Easter and lead them to the resurrectional Easter, but they persisted in celebrating the Christian Easter simultaneously with the Jews, and it was for this reason that the blessed Father checked them. Here is what he said: “…Behold how, during the current year, the first day of the unleavened bread falls on a Sunday and there is every need to fast on that week…” (Against the Jews, Homily 2).

But they didn’t want to fast, and so they replied to him: “I have fasted for such a long period of time, and now I must be transferred?” They had fasted all of the forty days of Lent, and now they had to change the feast-day of Easter? The First Ecumenical Synod ruled that Easter should fall on a Sunday, after the Jewish Passover. Then the Father checked them: “If the Church had made a mistake, it was not of such importance, as compared to the crime of division and schism.” It is obvious that the Holy Father was reprimanding the “Old Calendarists” of his time, because they did not want to observe the Canon of the First Ecumenical Synod regarding the celebration of Easter on the first Sunday after the Jewish Passover.

(These quotes are from Old Calendar – New Calendar: The Facts by Fr. Joel Yannakopoulos)

The genuine Orthodox Christian is the Christian who has steadfast Faith and fervor towards God; love from all his heart and soul towards God and neighbor; humility and meekness, truth and sincerity. When our Lord Jesus Christ sent the disciples into the world He told them to preach the Gospel. He didn’t tell them to preach the Old Calendar.

He told them, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved,” that is, the one believing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and not the one baptized in the Old Calendar. The beloved virgin and eagle of theology, St. John the Evangelist said:

“God is love and he who abides in love abides in God and God in him” (Jn. 4:8).

He did not say the Old Calendar is God and the one abiding in the Old Calendar abides in God.

Our Lord Jesus Christ–perfect God and perfect man–said, “Learn from Me for I am meek and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls”(Mt. 11:29). He didn’t say learn from Me for I am an Old Calendarist–as some Old Calendarists say that Christ was an Old Calendarist out of their excessive zeal.

O Lord, deliver us from such a foolish mindset.

(This from a letter by Elder Philotheos)

14 thoughts on “Old Calendarist schismatics”

  1. Wow! You have proven yourself to be arrogant writing about something you obviously know little about. I am disappointed by your false piety as well. Take a hard look at North American SCOBA groups and tell me they are Orthodox, with no less than 5 bishops serving the same area – stumbling over eachother in a race to Rome! Matthew 7:5 comes to mind, go read it and follow it. So far as Old calendar making one Orthodox or not, please. They are the ones who never changed – the groups you follow caused Schism. You follow an EP that favors baby whales over baby humans. You share communion with the Moscow ROC which are downright evil people. Say what you will about the OC groups but, they are more traditional than you are.

  2. The problem here, is that you attack the persons or human leadership of the Church, rather than really addressing the points of the article. Ironically, this is kind of what the author (of the original article cited on the original post) claimed was done to him – i.e. attacking a fallen human being and ignoring the points of the argument. I'd like to hear what you have to say regarding the points in the article moreso than arguing the foibles and temporary (God willing) situation in North America with overlapping jurisdictions. As far as Sergianism goes, it amazes me the lack of pity or mercy in people – no one in any Orthodox jurisdiction accepts the declaration as anything legitimate, but look at the circumstances which occurred prior to it being issued. That Sergius was tortured so badly that even his family and close friends could not recognize him should give one pause to hold back in judgment, if he finally fell – out of human weakness. I doubt if any of us modern Christians would do much better. It is nice to think we could all withstand torture for Christ and make it to the end, yet most of us cannot even make it through rush hour traffic without losing our calm reserve.

    – Jason

  3. Dave,

    Don't let the pseudo-zealot schismatics' pseudo-arguments turn you from the truth. I'm a Serbian Christian, we use the old calendar (and have no intention to change it anytime soon). Nonetheless we are in FULL COMMUNION with our brothers in Christ who use the Revised Julian Calendar and we don't view the calendar as a “Christian dogma” – on the contrary. It is an eufemerial subject that those who want to feel as “martyrs” even though they are not even close to martyrdom, want to impose. May Lord will it they come back to communion with our Holy Orthodox Church.

    In Christ


  4. “the Old Calendarist schismatics are not Orthodox” (sic) I have no need to argue – I am saying that this is an arrogant, uneducated statement from David and it disappoints me to read it. That’s all.
    Jason: compare Sergius, who sided with the godless soviet government that murdered 60+ million Christians with the martyrdom of St Tikhon, who faced death instead.
    I do not belong to any group at this moment. I pray that Christ will lead me to his Church and I trust that when it is possible, he will.
    As much as I support, agree with and enjoy continued reading on this blog – I felt motivated to comment on this entry. Perhaps I should have remained silent?
    Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

  5. Justin, I do not think you should be silent (if anyone should be quiet it is probably me – but I love talking and…well…it shows! Ha ha!)

    I think there is more to the Old Calendar vs. New Calendar issue than simple Calendar issues, and that is part of what the point of the article and David's post is. Case in point, the Russian Orthodox Church is Old Calendar as are the Serbians, and yet the so called “True Orthodox” Church of Greece are not in communion with them – so clearly there is more involved then this issue. Along with that though is why abandon the Church because we claim it has slid into heresy and the Holy Spirit is no longer in it, and instead attempt to create a brand new Church from the ashes? Isn't this just Protestantism?

    I struggled with the Calendar issue myself a bit in the past, because when I first came into Orthodoxy I was hearing about ROCOR and how they were “more Orthodox than the Orthodox” and yet when I looked at all the contemporary American saints at that time…well…they all seemed to be part of ROCOR (think St. John Maximovitch). It is a simplification, but if Saints are the evidence of the efficacy of the modern Church (i.e. showing that Christ still dwells in it and is still deifying human persons) than it showed clearly that ROCOR couldn't be just some kind of misguided ultra-zealots. But the same holds true for other churches as well, and even for the Russian Church under the Communist yoke, inspite of the fall of Sergius. Again, I don't think anyone agrees with what he tried to do (especialy in hindsight), but even if so and so Bishop falls into heresy it doesn't necessarily mean that the Church has become heterodox, but simply that this particular Bishop has ceased to be Orthodox.

    Everything that I read however of the Fathers indicates that just writing off the Orthodox Church and deciding to create a new external Church and declare it as the only legitimate Body of Christ seems to be wrong. Likewise, when we look at historical examples of this from the past…well…talk to any Old Believers lately?

    I am strongly opposed to Ecumenism, and definitely don't consider myself to be an Ecumenist. All the Orthodox I know personally likewise are opposed to this terrible modern day heresy. And we don't always agree with what some of the hierarchs do. I for one don't see why we have to be cordial and express tolerance (politically) towards Moslems or heretical Christians such as Papists or Protestants. That they might be offended because of our stand seems to be a necessary thing sometimes, and we know that our Lord Jesus Christ did not seem to have trouble offending some people with what He said (“You Brood of Vipers” isn't exactly reaching out and embracing as equals someone). But I don't have to agree with everything a particular hierarch says or does – I must commit myself and attempt to live out the historic faith of the Orthodox Church and know that God will judge me for what I do, and those hierarchs for what they do.

    – Jason

  6. Justin:

    I'm very sorry that I offended you. I should have thought more about my words before I posted this. I see that now, and I apologize for not having more forethought here and for my disrespectful choice of words.

    Truth be told, I tend to agree with the Old Calendarists more than I disagree with them. I think the calendar “update,” especially at that point in history, was a horrible idea (of course, hindsight is 20/20). I also think that ecumenism as it is currently being espoused by many is dangerous at a minimum, probably heretical.

    But, that said, I have to be honest and say that I don't consider the Old Calendarists to be Orthodox — “orthodox” (small “o” in a sense, perhaps), but certainly schismatic and therefore not “Orthodox.” The reason why is largely that they tend not to consider me Orthodox. There is serious issues with the claim widespread among Old Calendarists that the sacraments of the “mainstream” Church are “graceless” — historical as well as theological issues.

    I also think that the movement has devolved from what was probably a decent protest to being Protestantism — with now a variety of different groups each claiming to be the “True/Genuine Orthodox Church,” lacking communion with each other, and making bigger and bigger issues out of insignificant points.

    Honestly, I think the best form of “protest” is one from within. I think it would have been better for both the Orthodox and the Old Calendarists had the latter stayed in the Church and tried to sway things from within — as it is, they've only served to polarize opinions and to cast doubt on the Orthodoxy of anybody who says they prefer the Old Julian or stand against ecumenism.

    That's my take on it all anyway. Again, I apologize for any offense I caused.

  7. I am sinful and unworthy to speak of this, but since it has occupied my thoughts for a while, as I contemplate Orthodoxy as an outsider…

    I don't see how the OC can label everyone else as “graceless.” Throughout history, sadly more often than not, the Patriarch of Constantinople has been in some kind of heresy (think of St Maximus the Confessor). Yet did anyone think that therefore everyone in his communion, and every other church in fellowship with him, is ipso facto graceless?

    That being said, I sympathize with the struggle of the OC and the TOC. Fr Raphael Johnson has some good thoughts on it (and even if you don't accept OC, the link on Orthodox Miracles is cool, especially his comparison to Oprah-watching America).

  8. Hi David

    In Greece, there's whole war that Church and the state are taking against many monasteries on Athos.

    Some of monasteries are already closed. Some even armed themselves (if we believe in what media has to say).

    In fact media is creating image that those zealots whose slogan is “Orthodoxy or death” (which doesn't mean orthodoxy or death to others) are some kind of fundamentalists like some Muslim terrorist groups. They portray that only thing that zealots protest is calendar and some peripheral stuff. That legal Church tried to reason them, but they can't be reasoned.

    Truth is different of course. Calendar is really last thing, but not least. Main thing they protest is joining heresy of ecumenism. Monks from Athos would not step from this, that's why war against them would be even harder in next years.

    In Serbia this war has started already. Bishop Artemy has been expelled from Church because he was opposed to Ecumenism and NATO burning of Churches in Kosovo. You would be shocked to know what kind of media framework they built to condemn him. One young theologian who spoke about ecumenism ten years ago was killed on Christmas. Many monasteries here are on attack right now.

    Official Church spokesmen are people who attend “open school” of George Soros. Man who directed whole war in Yugoslavia, and who was behind bombing of us in 1999. These “theologians” can't miss a chance to speak about delights of ecumenism. And to condemn everyone who oppose it. To call us zealots, fundamentalists, terrorists…
    They also pray together with Catholics, Jews, Muslims.

    I'm afraid at one point it wouldn't be possible to keep unity. If we remain in “unity” and spit on everything our fathers died for, we better stop calling ourselves Orthodox.

  9. Wow Jovan,
    I didn't realize church spokesman attended Soros events. He is likely the most evil man in the world (though Zbignew Brzenski has probably cause more death to humanity).

  10. In that “open school” attend Bishop Irinej Bulovic, well known for being main voice against bishop Artemy.

    Also, some of his priests, who among many things attacked young Serbs who bravely fought against sodom and gomorah parade on streets of Belgrade 10. 10. 2010. They said, those people have nothing to do with Orthodox Church. They are creating new Church that is built not on the Christ but on the laws of man, in this case Jewish law of “human rights” and “liberty”.

  11. Dear Jovan,
    There is no “war against many monasteries on Mt Athos” going on in Greece. The only “war” is the still pending eviction of the old brotherhood of Esfigmenou.
    The reason for that is that the Greek constitution (remember Mt Athos is still an autonomous part of the Hellenic Republic) clearly states it is not allowed for heretics and schismatics to reside on Mt Athos. Whether or not the cutting of Communion with the EP by the old Brotherhood was correct is an intrely different discussion. Personally I tend to agree with them. Yet cutting Communion with their local bishop (the EP) makes them schismatics.
    So the Greek state has no other choice then to obey their own Constitution…..

  12. dear jmdlases

    If Mt Athos followed laws of every power that invaded Greece, it would not be anything left over.

    Today's Greece is nothing other than Western puppet. Very soon question of allowing women to enter Athos will come, of course masked with human rights and liberty.

    Patriarch of Constantinople is not leader of Orthodox Church as a whole. There's no such man in Orthodoxy. Christ is our leader. All important decisions are to be decided on council. There was no council about ecumenism. Decision of removing anathema and joining ecumenical councils are illegal, since it was not the will of the council, thus will of all Orthodox Christians.

    Esfigmenou is only one of many monasteries on Athos who doesn't want to compromise faith.

    It is only first in line near the border. It wouldn't be any strange that next one would be Hilandar and Zograf.

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