I often thank God for the blessed people of the past- priests, monks, and nuns of the True Orthodox- that I was privileged to get to know. My brain has made a collage of these people and their virtues (and yes, sometimes together with some of their shortcomings as people wearing the flesh and living on earth). Their shortcomings seem trivial today, but the lessons I learned from them and the sanctity that I observed in them continue to be up until this day a wake-up call for the lethargy of my soul.
One of these blessed people was Mother Antonia of the Island of Paros. It was in the early evening and just after vespers when Mother Antonia had made her way to our old monastery. It was the start of a spiritual friendship that would last for more than a decade.
Mother Antonia had started her monastic journey as a novice in the then large Convent of the Dormition of the Theotokos, just 800 meters from our old monastery. Still a novice, she returned to Paros, the island of her parents, where she began to build her little monastery of St. Anthony. Mother Euthymia, the Abbess of the convent in which Mother Antonia had been a novice (who always avoided tonsuring any nun outside of her own convent) gladly tonsured her in Paros. Mother Antonia would be joined there by her sister according to the flesh Mother Theoktisti. They had a brother named Alypios who was a monk in a monastery of Attiki.
Besides the Church of St. Anthony, Mother Antonia had built a Church dedicated to St. Onoufrios. Every year, the feast of St. Onoufrios would find me on that dry, rocky, but astonishing island of Paros serving the Divine Liturgy for the celebration.
Was it a chance meeting?
The encounter with the Almighty
Mother Antonia was a rare worker of the Jesus Prayer. Her dry islander lips were always repeating the prayer of her heart.
She lived during the times when the abbot of the Monastery of Loggovarda, Paros was “Archimandrite” Philotheos Zervakos. The Monastery of Loggovarda is on the road between Paroikia and Naousa and the tiny hesychastirion of Mother Antonia was on a hill above Naousa. Of course, Mother Antonia knew of him but she lived in a different world. Strictly True Orthodox and always ready to confess the True Faith, Mother Antonia was often hauled to the courts of the nearby island of Syros for “impersonating a nun” as True Orthodox clergy and monastics were not only not recognized by the State of Greece but also were outlaws. She had nothing to do with the clergy of the state church. However, she had met with Fr. Philotheos after the “revelations” he had received and some of his proclamations concerning the falling away from the Faith of the state church of Greece.
“Last Sunday, I was compelled to go up to the peak of All Saints and the Prophet Elijah in whose names and honor I built churches to the glory of God and of All the Saints that were glorified by Him and on my knees before their all-venerable icon with tears I asked them to reveal to me which calendar I, the least one, and my brethren, my spiritual children and all Orthodox Christians should follow. Even before I finished my pitiful supplication, I heard a voice inside me saying: “follow the Old Calendar which was handed down to us by the seven Holy Ecumenical Councils that were gathered to confirm the Orthodox Faith… and not the the New Calendar of the popes of the West that broke away from the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church and disregarded the Apostolic tradition and those of the Fathers.”
(Archimandrite Philotheos Zervakos, Paros 6/19 June, 1968)
After this “miraculous voice” Archimandrite Philotheos was told by his local Metropolitan (of the “Church” that he himself admits follows masonic orders) that it wasn’t time to return to the Church (Old) Calendar and so Archimandrite Philotheos remained in his position as abbot of the Loggovarda Monastery.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! (Galatians 1:8)
In a letter dated May 16, 1973 and written from the Island of Paros, Fr. Philotheos Zervakos responds to a Fr. Dimitrios saying among other things, “The New Calendar wasn’t brought into the Orthodox Church by any Synod either Ecumenical or local. It was introduced uncanonically and illegally by Ecumenical Patriarch Meletios (Metaxakis 1871-1935) who was a freemason of the 33rd degree and six unorthodox-believing bishops in order to show scorn for the Orthodox Church and for Her traditions of the Holy Apostles and Holy Fathers and to agree with the innovating modernists, schismo-heretical Papists, and Luthercalvinist Protestants.” … “The Orthodox Church not only did not accept (in the 16th century) the New Calendar, but She also anathematized it at two local synods in Constantinople… The official Church is required to free itself from these 2 anathemata under which it is…
One anathema is from the 7th Ecumenical Council that says, “Whoever puts aside any Ecclesiastical Tradition – written or unwritten- anathema.” “The First Holy Ecumenical Council gave us the Old Calendar. The New Calendar was handed down to us by Pope Gregory and the freemason (Patriarch) Meletios Metaxakis. The Official Church accepted this without difficulty, it disdained the First Holy and Ecumenical Synod and put aside teachings thus it received the highest anathema of the Seventh Holy Ecumenical Council, including the anathema which says, ‘All innovation that is done or later is to be done to the Ecclesiastical Tradition and teaching and forming of the Holy and Ever-memorable Fathers, anathema thrice!’ (Synodicon of the Sunday of Orthodoxy). The unlawful and uncanonical introduction of the New Papal Calendar by Patriarch Meletios Metaxakis is an innovation contrary to the Tradition of the Holy and God-bearing Fathers.
The second anathema is from the God-preaching Apostle Paul who says, ‘If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed’ (Galatians 1:9).
The Holy Apostles handed down to us that after the week of All Saints we have a fast which the unlawful introduction of the New Calendar sometimes totally overrides.
So the Fast of the Holy Apostles (with the New Calendar) is sometimes zero-days, sometimes one day, sometimes two days. This year it is four days.”
(Editor’s note: And here Philotheos begins a baffling puree of words. He also seems to say that the New Calendarists are the people with love – Please, we lived and live in Greece and have seen too much to believe that one!- but the True Orthodox don’t have love! When he writes -read below- “that Mysteries without the calendar are invalid and without a calendar, there is no salvation,” I think he is being intentionally vague, confusing, aloof, and crafty in making a nonsensical statement. This is particularly so after he himself wrote that the change of the calendar put his “Church” under anathemata.)
Fr. Philotheos continues writing, “But perhaps the so-called Genuine Orthodox Old-calendarists (* “Old-calendarists”- a term that the True Orthodox of the first years proclaimed a mocking of their beliefs) are free from anathemata? They are violators and disdainers of the first Tradition: the great commandment of Love. They disdained, put aside, and removed the commandment of Love. They hate one another, bite one another, and beat one another. They rebaptize and rechrismate many New Calendarists who were baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
The Orthodox Church accepts even the heretics who have been baptized with an Orthodox Baptism. It rechrismates those who have denied Christ or baptism; it doesn’t rebaptize them. (Editor’s note- Of course the Church doesn’t rebaptize those who have been baptized within THE Church when they leave and return to Her).
Some zealot Old Calendarists believe and think that the Mysteries without the Calendar are invalid and without a calendar there is no salvation.
Dear Fr. Dimitrios, for 40 years they prayed and I pray to God that this horrible storm stop, the tempest of the Church and that She is made peaceful and I heard in the night a voice invisible saying, ‘God sent contorted ways to contorted people’ (see Proverbs 21:8).
I am grievous, disappointed, I lament and bemoan and I say nothing more as person of little faith than that which Peter said, ‘Master, we perish’ (Luke 8:24), save us, Lord, from this contorted, perverse, deviant, heinous, impure and evil generation.
Let us not, however, be totally despondent but let us continue like Peter to cry out, ‘Master, save us, we are perishing!’, and let us hope that He as Amiable, Compassionate and Merciful will stretch out His hand as He did to Peter and say unto us ‘O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?’ (Matthew 14:31).
Beseech and pray and entreat the Heavenly Father that He may enlighten the Rulers of the Church to stop biting each other (editor’s note- Who now is Philotheos saying bite one another -thus not having love?) but rather to attain peace for themselves and the Church to bring back the Orthodox Calendar of our Fathers and become again one Church.
With brotherly love in Christ,
+ Archimandrite Philotheos Zervakos”
After all these proclamations of Fr. Philotheos Zervakos, he remained with the New Calendar and the Church headed by freemasons as he himself said. He listened to the local bishop who said it wasn’t time yet to return to the calendar of the Orthodox so he forgot about all of those issues. Fr. Philotheos also had a sister according to the flesh who was a nun in the strictest True Orthodox convent, that of St. Constantine on the Island of Chios.
I will now relate what Mother Antonia herself told me about a chance meeting that wasn’t so chance.
Mother Antonia had some particular work in Paroikia (the main port of the Island of Paros). As she turned a corner, she saw Abbot Philotheos. Mother Antonia decided to turn back before Fr. Philotheos saw her, as she didn’t want to receive any blessing from him nor make for an awkward meeting. It is as the Service of the Great Schema “It would be better for you to not have promised than to have promised and not fulfilled”. And yes, Fr. Philotheos saw the evil of the innovative state “Church”, but he quickly forgot all of that and his “conscience” and remained with the innovators. As Mother Antonia tried to reach where she was going by another route, she again saw from afar the “Elder” Philotheos and once again Mother Antonia turned aside to head somewhere else for another task. And then it happened a third time! Mother Antonia was sure that this wasn’t a coincidence and decided to meet Fr. Philotheos on the road. A third time was from God. She didn’t know what she would say to him, but she relied on God!!
They met on the road. Fr. Philotheos obviously noticed that Mother Antonia did not make a prostration and immediately his face seemed to change. And then the Archimandrite who had made (and already forgot) all those statements in favor of the Church (Old) calendar scoffingly said to Mother Antonia, “Antonia, you’re still holding strong to the Old Calendar?” Mother Antonia without thinking at all asked the Elder, “Geronda, did you recently change the typicon of the Monastery of Loggovarda (the monastery of which he was abbot)?” His response was, “Antonia, are you ok? How could I dare change the typicon of our monastery? Loggovarda was founded in 1638!” And Mother replied, “And how can I change the Church’s calendar that was set by the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea?” At this, the Elder abruptly said goodbye to Mother Antonia and they both continued on their way.
Mother Antonia left this life in that Patristic Faith
of the True Orthodox after many trials and tribulations.
May we also be made worthy of following the narrow path
that leads to eternal life!