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Orthodox Tradition and Modernism (pdf)

Schemamonk ConstantineAll the forms of modernism about which I have spoken are incompatible with Sacred Tradition, and their foundations are unsound. They must, therefore, be rejected. However, there are forms of modernization that are completely in agreement with Tradition and indeed are commended by it. I shall give some examples.

(1) Let the entire written Tradition, namely the Septuagint and the Greek New Testament, be translated into the English language, which is today par excellence the international language. This would be a most valuable offering that duly qualified and sincere Orthodox theologians and scholars could make to the Orthodox and also to the heterodox of America and other places, who know the English language but not the Greek. Now they use translations which are full of inaccuracies and errors.

(2) Let the Apostolic and Synodal Canons and also the definitions of the Seven Œcumenical Synods be translated from the original Greek into English, so that they may become more widely known in an Orthodox version.

(3) Let the works of the Fathers be translated into the contemporary purist Greek and let Patristic texts be introduced into all Greek schools, so that they may become the property of the entire Greek people.

(4) Let there be more use of radio stations for the transmission of Byzantine music, which is the sweetest voice of Orthodoxy. Especially here in Greece, where Orthodoxy is the official religion of the nation, why is Byzantine chant not heard every day, since religion ought to be a daily affair and not only one of the weekend?

(5) Let other contemporary means be used for bringing Sacred Tradition, written and unwritten, to people’s awareness, as much as is possible, so that it might become a living experience that is manifested in all the actions of the clergy and the laity.

When modernizations of such a kind come about and the bad innovations, which I subjected to criticism, are rejected, then the choicest fruits of Tradition will begin to be manifested—new choirs of God-bearing Fathers, lights of the world, of inspired Missionaries who will radiate holiness, and of Confessors who will support the Faith steadfastly, without compromises and condescensions before rulers and nations, and who will be ready to testify about it. The existence of such personalities will, in and of itself, constitute the best modernization of the Orthodox Church. Orthodoxy needs such personalities more than anything else. They, with the co-operation of God, will preserve, spread and glorify her throughout the world.

In closing, I say to the innovators: do not change things that are in good order, creating disturbances and schisms within the Orthodox Church. And heed the words of the Seventh Œcumenical Synod: “If anyone breaks any ecclesiastical tradition, written or unwritten, let him be anathema” (eighth Proceeding; Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova et Amplissima Collectio [1960], vol. 3, p. 416). To the pious clergy and people I say: Impress in your memory and bring to mind daily the words of the Apostle Paul: “Brethren, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions which ye were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” [2 Thessalonians 2:15]; “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that ye received from us” [2 Thessalonians 3:6]; and also these words of St. John of Damascus: “Brethren, let us stand on the rock of faith and the Tradition of the Church, not removing the landmarks which our holy Fathers set, nor giving any place to those who want to innovate and destroy the structure of the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of God” (Concerning Images, 3.41; PG 94:1356C).

Dr. Constantine Cavarnos 

(Schemamonk Constantine in repose +2011 ± Encomium to Schemamonk Constantine)