*What did you go out into the Wilderness to see? (Saint Matthew 11: 7)*
Well today, in this worlds context, the Blessed Lord is asking us, how do we perceive the world around us ? It is certainly a rhetorical question. For it is not what we see but what we look at?
According to Orthodox teaching, the cutting of the beard is a serious sin and a transgression. It is strictly prohibited by the Old Testament (Leviticus, 19:27; 2nd Kings, 10:1; 1st Chronicles, 19:4). It is also prohibited by the 96th canon of the 6th Ecumenical Council, by St. Epiphanios, bishop of Cyprus, St. Cyril, archbishop of Alexandria, blessed Theodoret of Antioch and St. Isidore the Pelusiot. See also the Pandects, word 37, and the Penitentiary, canon 174. The holy fathers hold it that those who cut their beards express discontentment with their appearance...
Hooks or znamena are the symbols used by Russia’s Church in place of notes for inscribing hymns. Znamena (or, standards) derive from the notations used in the early Byzantine (Roman) Empire. Each hook (or, kryuk) denotes a sequence of relative tonalities. In the 17th century, cinnabaric (red) ticks above the hooks came into use to denote the exact pitch level. Hooks are still used by old-believers, whereas the mainstream Russian Orthodox Church abandoned them in the 17th - 18th centuries.
The question of proper Christian dress has deep literary roots. Many of the apostolic and holy fathers, commenting on the garb befitting a Christian, have assigned this seemingly private issue public significance. According to the 81st Canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council, if one dons unseemly robes or dresses contrary to custom, one is to be anathematized.
Worship bows are a manifestation of our adoration for God, our Lord, of His Holy Mother and of His saints. Old-believer devotion knows three kinds of bows, as they existed in Russia’s Church before the 17th century schism. You will find a reference to bows in, Son of the Church, a 17th century instruction to neophytes. The first, ordinary bow is a slight inclination of the head to the breast; the second, intermediate bow is made to the waist; the last, or deepest bow is a prostration.
The sign of the cross
When we make the sign of the cross, we touch with the two fingers of the right hand — the index and the middle finger — upon the forehead, the navel, the right shoulder and the left shoulder.
The sign of the Cross should always be accomplished with particular piety, in a proper and zealous way. Our body should feel the touch of our fingers. It is important not to hurry when making the sign of the cross; you must not begin to bow before finishing crossing yourself.
Interview of Metropolite Korniliy, by the newspaper, Kommersant, about the state of our Church today; August 7th, 2017
Exactly 350 years ago the Great Moscow Council finished work; it imposed anathema on the old church rites and condemned the opponents of the ecclesiastical reform conducted by Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich and Patriarch Nikon. From that moment, the adherents of the old, or rather, pre-reform Orthodox faith were for centuries deemed outside the law. The primate of the Russian Orthodox Old-Believer Church, Metropolite of Moscow and all Russia, Korniliy spoke to Pavel Korobov, a correspondent of Kommersant, about how old-believers live in Russia today.
The Russian Orthodox Old-Believer Church, which preserves apostolic continuity and purity of the Orthodox faith
- A brief history of the Church
- On the chronology
- Division among old-believers
- Protestantism and sectarianism
- False ecumenism
Nikon’s reforms — the beginning of schism
Patriarch Nikon, desiring to change the ancient traditions, began to impose new ritual and liturgical practices onto Russia’s Church, unilaterally. He ascended the patriarchal seat in 1652, but, even before his consecration, he was close to Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich. Together, they decided to remake Russia’s Church along the lines of her contemporary Greek counterpart.
Old-believers in the 18th and 19th centuries
The status of old-believers in 17th century Russia was in many ways similar to that of Christians in the Roman Empire, who were forced to hide in catacombs. Russian Orthodox old-believers, likewise, hid from both state and church authorities. All Russians were required to believe the way the sovereign commanded.
Myriads of Christians were burned, tongues were excoriated, heads were severed, ribs were crushed and people were quartered. Prisons and monastery dungeons were full of sufferers for the Faith of Christ.
The council of 1666-1667
The Councils of 1666-67 approved the recently published books and the new rites and imposed terrible anathemas on the old ones, including the two-finger Sign of the Cross. They cursed those who, in the Creed, confess the Holy Spirit as “True” and life-giving God. They cursed those who serve using the old books. In conclusion, the councils pronounced, that, “if one does not submit… he is to be excommunicated, cursed and anathematized as a heretic and a defiant, to be cut off like a rotten member...
The spiritual centers of old-believers
Soon after the schism, spiritual centers sprung up, wherein it was possible to lead a pious life. These were mostly monasteries or hermitages on the outskirts of Russia. They were often founded by Christians from Moscow and other large cities who sought refuge in deserted places. Priests were harbored and sent out thereof, polemical treatises were written therein for distribution and apologists received their education thereat. In some regions, dozens of monasteries, housing hundreds of monks, appeared. A few of these compounds are famous.
Divisions among old-believers
Patriarch Nikon's reform and the subsequent persecutions caused anxiety and unrest among the people. Some Christians began to think that the final times had arrived and that the Day of Doom is nigh. Such notions were reinforced by other circumstances.
Russia’s Church, from her christening in 988, to the mid-17th century
The baptism of Rus in 988, in the reign of Grand Duke Vladimir, was a most important event in Russia’s history. Since Vladimir’s reign, for over 600 years the Church in Russia grew and thrived, persisting in unity and peace.
But at the very time when Russia’s Church most flourished and prospered, there appeared a schism that divided the Russian people. This rueful event happened during the reign of Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich and in the patriarchate of Nikon, in the second half of the 17th century.
“Son of the Church”
An early 17th century brief instruction to Orthodox neophytes, printed frequently from the middle 18th century (translated with omissions).
An account of the most necessary customs; for the teaching of the Orthodox Christian faith; useful to neophytes.