EDITOR’S NOTE (Nick Stamatakis): Fr. Nektarios Trevino, a former Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center (Juris Doctorate). He abandoned the Carpatho-Russian Diocese (under the Constantinople Patriarchate) for ROCOR after Pat. Bartholomew’s granting of Autocephaly/Cacocephaly to the 20% of Ukrainian Orthodox. Please take a look at his biography (link here). When priests with the impressive qualities of Fr. Trevino abandon the Patriarchate, then all of us should re-think our church affiliation.
THE UNFOLDING OF ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY
By Archpriest Nektarios Trevino
If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.
I fear the further secularization of our Orthodox Christian faith, once premised on Holy Tradition, today following the wiles of power, authority, and non-apostolic Protestantism.
I authored the following words on November 28, 2018.
Given the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarch to revoke “the legal binding of the Synodal Letter of the year 1686” a precedent for ecclesial chaos and disunity has been established. Moreover, the Ecumenical Patriarch’s overt alliance with U.S. Government policies have served to make the Ecumenical Patriarch a pawn in the new Cold War between America and Russia. Whereas the strength of the Ecumenical Patriarch was once portrayed in his poverty and humility, today such strengths are called into question.
“With reference to the environmental initiatives and actions, what is perhaps most characteristic of the Patriarch’s initiatives is the mark of humility. The Ecumenical Patriarch is able to see the larger picture. He recognizes that he is standing before something greater than himself, a world before which he must kneel, a chain that long predates and will long outlast him. Therefore, he speaks of self-emptying (kenosis) (Phil. 2.4-11), ministry (diakonia) (Luke 10.40; Acts 1.17, 25; 6.4), witness (martyria, a term which also has the sense of martyrdom and suffering) (John 1.7, 19), and thanksgiving (or eucharistia, a term which also implies liturgy) (Acts 24.3; 2 Cor. 4.15).
“The emphasis is always on humble simplicity—the technical term in Orthodox spirituality is asceticism (askeo—to work up raw material with skill, to exercise by training or discipline; Acts 24.16) and on liturgy (ministration, ministry, service) as the essential source of Orthodox theology. The notion of liturgy leads us into what is perhaps the most distinctive feature of the Patriarch’s vision, namely the concept of communion (koinonia—which also means communication and fellowship; 1 Cor. 10.16; Phil. 6).1 [Emphasis added.]
Indeed, the text “On Earth as in Heaven”2 takes on a different and contradictory meaning when “President Poroshenko and Patriarch Bartholomew signed an agreement on cooperation between Ukraine and the Ecumenical Patriarchate”3 there were “50,000 allied troops, from all 29 [NATO] member states . . . taking part in [Operation] Trident Juncture. They arrived with 65 ships, 250 warplanes and more than 10,000 vehicles” operating in proximity to Ukraine. Included in the “Trident Juncture exercise in Norway and among the roughly 15,000 American troops — most of them Marines — who are participating, is a consuming narrative about the alliance’s next possible war.”4 [Emphasis added.]
The Ecumenical Patriarch’s unprecedented action has made nations and their militaries pawns. The Ecumenical Patriarch may be seen as a pawn himself. I have been to war. War is about people. In this day and age talk of war ought not be premised on Christian leadership decisions against other Christian leaders—especially in Orthodox Christianity, which has for centuries suffered at the hands of non-Christians.
That the preceding is a very real concern, one only need read the Washington Post: Black Sea standoff intensifies tensions between Russia, Ukraine.5 There are many levels of warfare and people are and will be injured and dying—in no small part, now, because of the Ecumenical Patriarch’s actions.
In James McElroy’s essay “How Marxism created the West: Its rotting carcass sprouted every political movement,” he writes of Italian philosopher Augusto Del Noce (1910–1989). “Del Noce’s take on Marxism was strange. It was, he believed, a stillborn ideology, dead upon arrival, yet its rotting carcass sprouted every twentieth century political movement.” And I believe its “rotting carcass” has infected the realm of Holy Orthodoxy, negating Holy Tradition.
Marxism [bifurcated] along two different paths. The first path embraced the revolutionary philosopher, while the other one embraced history. The first path led to Lenin, the revolution, and the Soviet Union. The second path led to us. Del Noce wrote, “Marxism has ended up being a stage in the development of the technological and affluent society, which accepts all [of Marxism’s] negations of traditional thought but at the same time eliminates its messianic and (in its own way) religious aspect.” Marx’s vision was achieved by his ostensible enemy.
Decomposed Marxism limits our ability to see a new horizon, and the future seems impossibly hopeless because so few are willing to reassess past mistakes.
Indeed, it is pride that brings the world to the brink of hopelessness and an unwillingness to “reassess past mistakes.”
How actual is the planning for war? All one needs to do is read the Rand Corporation’s 2021 report entitled Civilian-Based Resistance in the Baltic States: Historical Precedents and Current Capabilities.
We conclude that, during a scenario in which allied forces assisted the Baltic states in regaining territorial sovereignty, civilian-based resistance could prepare the ground both through direct support to military forces and through contributions to the information and security environment. The findings suggest that civilians in particular can represent a powerful asset in the competition for information and messaging, as well as in spearheading national political continuity and powering civic mobilization. Civilians also would likely be at the helm of economic emergency plans that, if successful, could buffer the impact of occupation on civilian communities and increase the costs of occupation on the aggressor by denying food, energy, and other necessary resources to adversary forces. Throughout the struggle, clear delineation of military and civilian roles would be critical in protecting vulnerable populations, while mechanisms to provide opportunities for civilians to contribute throughout a spectrum of risk would enable civilian participation based on individual risk tolerance.[Emphasis added.]
The recommendations in this report identify tangible areas of support that allies could provide in the current environment to further improve Baltic civilian preparedness for resistance to future notional external aggression. Several areas stand out as potential priorities because of their centrality across resistance objectives.
In other words, the Rand report is identifying means for civilian resistance to external aggression based on individual risk tolerance. “Risk tolerance” is a euphemism for people dying and suffering.
Given the above Department of Defense sanctioned study, the questions begged are, “who is preparing for war?” and “Does preparedness lead to inevitability?” I pray the latter is not inevitable. Regarding the former, someone is. And an Orthodox Patriarch’s willingness to upset established order and create chaos is a contributory factor.
I am reminded of a priest colleague who departed before me to our present diocese. When his name was mentioned to a senior priest in our former diocese the response was, “Yes! He’s a good man. We just have different politics.” Is that what our Orthodox faith has come down to?
I pray there is no war. No one wins in a war. War is about people. In any war, many are buried. And all too often, for politicians and patriarchs, the names of the deceased and injured are forgotten. One way to think of the realities of war is the following: If your bishop is unwilling to bury his priests, why would you expect him to bury your children, much less pray for them?