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The Bitter Truth

By Blessed Metropolitan Augustinos of Florina

My dear friends, we need to acknowledge the bitter truth: the Orthodox Christians who are struggling to uphold the faith are very few. The vast majority of the faithful are progressively distancing themselves from the Orthodox Faith. I will say something that I have never said before. You may think it egotistical, but I will give you the criterion-the scale, if you will-to weigh today’s bishops, priests, the clergy in general, and the theologians. What is the scale? What is the criterion of the [good] priest? Is it to have enjoyable services, with beautiful chanting and sermons with erudite content and syllogisms that make some young women teary-eyed? What is the criterion of the good bishop and the good priest during these difficult years?

The criterion of the good bishop and priest is the fighting spirit, the boldness [to confess the truth]. It is that very thing that the Apostle Paul said: “yea, and all that will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution”. If you see an Archbishop or a Metropolitan or a Bishop or a priest or a theologian who does not suffer persecution but rather enjoys the honor and the adoration of all, then to him the word of Christ finds its full application: “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you”; you should know very well then that such a person is not on the right path. He boasts of being Orthodox, but he is not willing to counter the demonic currents and the spiritual avalanche that threatens to destroy the world.

The true Orthodox priest goes against these [ungodly] currents. Athanasius the Great all by himself, like another Atlas, held on his shoulders the entire Orthodox Faith. Mark of Ephesus was only one person, and yet he held in his hands the entire truth of Orthodoxy. The same holds true for sacred Photios of Constantinople. Orthodoxy’s victories did not come about with numbers, but with faith [the few, or the one, together with the Truth, thereby constitutes the majority]. A faithful Archbishop, a faithful bishop, a faithful priest, and a mere lay person are worth more than the entire world. So let us not lose heart as we witness the vast betrayal of the Faith all around us. I suggest to you one thing [in the midst of all this seeming abyss of confusion]: don’t tell me that this or that [cleric] is good, or that theologian is excellent, or that this one is a great commentator and that other one opened an academy of Plato and is a fantastic orator; instead evaluate him and see if he has a single spark from Mark of Ephesus the Eugenikos, a single spark from Photios, a single spark from Cerularios or if he has a single spark from Papoulakos, (the illiterate monk who took on the entire world [by single-handedly renouncing the godless education and false lights of Europe and organizing thousands of faithful behind him]).

I say these things as one who has a very deep awareness of the seriousness of my position as a Bishop and as a Hellene, a position of immense responsibility indeed. We are ready to sacrifice everything [for our Faith]. I dare, perhaps for the last time from this pulpit, to declare the following.

All of you who love Christ, all of you who love the church: we have the Panaghia [the Most Holy Theotokos] with us; we have on our side all those who have struggled in the past and who continue to struggle for our Holy Orthodox Faith. All those who are with the devil, let them shut their mouths and leave us alone. Their cowardice is their very devil: their flatteries are full of the devil, along with all their lame intellectual arguments, aiming to dishearten a handful of people who are struggling and who are being tortured and persecuted for the Faith of our Christ.

Posted on December 1st, 2021

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