Metropolitan Ephraim’s emailed file, “Excursus”
From: Holy Nativity Convent
Date: September 3, 2012 11:41:00 AM EDT
To: us HNC
Subject: From Metropolitan Ephraim
Evlogeite! Metropolitan Ephraim has asked that we send these letters to you all...
THE PAPER TITLED “EXCURSUS”:
A Historical Note
It has been stated many times that the Name-glorifiers have been condemned twice, in 1913 and in 1919. What is not being mentioned, however, is that these decisions have been contested and overruled five times.
1. In April 1914, eight months after the condemnation of the Name-glorifiers by the Holy Synod , this decision was overturned by Holy Tsar Nicholas II:
From the letter of Holy Tsar-Martyr Nicholas to the Overseer of the Holy Synod,
Pascha, 15 of April 1914
“On this Feast of Feasts, when the hearts of the faithful strive with love to God and to neighbour, my soul is grieved about the Athonite monastics, who have been deprived of the joy of communing the Holy Mysteries and of the consolation of attending the Church [services]. Let us forget the quarrel: it is not for us to judge about the Greatest of Holies – the Name of God, and by doing so to incur the wrath of the Lord on the Motherland; the trial must be cancelled, all monastics must be settled in different monasteries, they must receive back [following the example of metropolitan Flavian] their monastic habit and they should be allowed to celebrate.”
3. The Synod also commissioned the Moscow Synodal Office to make a detailed investigation of the whole matter. The latter, after a thorough investigation of the beliefs of the accused, made the following finding:
“They (the Athonite monastics) explain, that “by calling the Name of God and the Name of Jesus - God and God Himself, they do not venerate the Name of God as His Essence, nor do they venerate the Name of God separately from God Himself, as some kind of different deity, nor do they deify the very letters and sounds or accidental thoughts about God’. This state-ment concerning the veneration of the Name of God was included in his “Confession of Faith in God and in the Name of God” on behalf of himself and of hieromonk Barachias and monk Mannasses, by hieromonk Anthony (Bulatovich)”
“In this (statement) there is enough information to conclude that, there is no reason for them (monastics) to be severed from the Orthodox Church because of the teaching concerning the Names of God.”And concluded:
“The Moscow Synodal Office resolved … to stop the ecclesiastical trial against them.”
This document was signed by Metropolitan Macarius Nevsky, a person revered for his sanctity even in his lifetime, as well as by Bishop Anastasy of Serpukhov, the future Metropolitan of ROCOR.
4. Acting upon these findings, the Holy Synod stopped the ecclesiastical trial against these fathers. They were allowed to participate in the Mysteries and those of priestly rank were allowed to serve. Many of them served as chaplains in WWI. The Synod, however, handed to these fathers a tampered version of the document, which did not include the last paragraph, wherein they were still called heretics and where the chief signatory of the document, Archbishop Sergius of Finland (the future false-patriarch Sergius), had added a comment “with no permission to receive Holy Mysteries” (!). This fact was kept from the fathers for over four years. The Synod had simply lied.
After the convocation of the All-Russian Church Council in 1917, there were high hopes, that the controversy would be would be conclusively resolved there. A special Commission was appointed to make a thorough theological inquiry into the Orthodox veneration of the Name of God. However, the Council had to stop its proceedings due to the turmoil of the Russian Civil War, and the issue was, yet again, left unresolved.
5. In 1919, the Synod, disregarding the findings of the Moscow Synodal Office of May 1914 and its own endorsement of the latter’s conclusions, went back to its original position of August 1913, and again condemned the Name-glorifiers. This condemnation, however, was reversed in February 1921 by the Encyclical of Patriarch Tikhon. The very same year, as a sign of reconciliation, St. Tikhon liturgized on several occasions with Archimandrite David (Mukhranov), the leading Name-glorifier and the former abbot of St. Andrew’s Skete on Mount Athos.
After the infamous Declaration of Metropolitan Sergius, the Name-glorifiers became one of the founders and active members of the Catacomb Church of Russia, especially in Petrograd, where, under New Hiero-Martyr Mark of Sergeev-Posad (Novoselov), they made up the backbone of the Josephite Catacomb Church.
1 One must understand that the “Holy Synod” in the Russian Empire was instituted by Peter the Great, and was a body of 11 bishops hand-picked by the Tsar and overseen by a procurator, who was a lay person, and in some cases, not even an Orthodox Christian, but a Lutheran. Thus, the Synod in the Russian Empire was not a Council of Bishops, but rather something akin to the Department of Religious Affairs of the State. A proper Council of Bishops had not been convened in the Russian Empire for over 200 years.