Serge Bolshakov - a great ecumenist of the ROCOR

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Archimandrit Nilos
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Serge Bolshakov - a great ecumenist of the ROCOR

Postby Archimandrit Nilos » Fri 4 April 2014 6:32 am ... orm=APMCS1
Bolshakov, this great ecumenist and member of the ROCOR, of the 20th century with his seat in the Abbey Roman-Catholic a Hauterive/Ct. Fribourg/Switzerland. We are surprised that a such man was member of the ROCOR antecumenist.

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Re: Serge Bolshakov - a great ecumenist of the ROCOR

Postby Barbara » Tue 3 April 2018 3:12 am

I must have missed this thread.

I was researching Sergius Bolshakov awhile back after reading / rereading a couple of his books. He certainly knew a lot.
To this day< I think he had a clearer idea of one point commonly made but perhaps quite wrong.

This relates to the identity of the REAL Model for Elder Zosima in The Brothers Karamazov. Widely assumed to have been Elder Amvrosy of Optina, I never quite felt that to be true. Why would Dostoevsky have used such a different name, and why would have picked that one particularly for his Elder figure in the famous novel ?

Sergius Bolshakov opines that in fact it was Elder Zosima Verkhovsky, originally from a high family in the Smolensk area and later the bold adventurer monk to Turinsk in Siberia. There he started a women's convent, but was forced to abandon it after the devil manipulated a donor-nun and her daughter to rise up in rebellion against the humble starets Zosima.

From Turinsk, the nuns, including Elder Zosima's two intelligent nieces, trekked back to the Moscow region. They struggled while waiting for a new home. A woman was directed by God to give Fr Zosima what became known as Zosima Hermitage. This later produced several Elders after Fr Zosima. Just a brief summary of the life of the more probable model for the book.

So Sergius Bolshakov was an original thinker in some ways.

However ! He was not a member of Rocor, nor seemed to have had anything in common with Rocor's Western European Diocese.
In fact, Archimandrite, I recall that Sergius Bolshakov stayed in an ANGLICAN monastery while in England, I think for many years while studying at Oxford for his doctorate. [ I am writing this all from memory. ] So we can SURE that this researcher of traditional Russian monasticism did not have much in common with Rocor, as he cultivated warm friendships with both Anglican and Catholic figures of the era, especially enjoying the contacts with highly placed churchmen.

One wonders why he never did become a monastic after so many pilgrimages to holy Orthodox places ? We know only that he spoke at length with Michael, the last major Elder of Valaam [ Soviet times ] about his personal life. What was said, probably no one today knows. Maybe the Elder advised him against entering a monastery.

Either way, Sergius Bolshakov was more of a leader in introducing Russian Orthodoxy [ and Greek - for he voyaged to Mt Athos ] to Europeans through his writings. Perhaps a bridge between the disparate worlds. I have more to write about him, but for now, just wanted to mention a few points.

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Re: Serge Bolshakov - a great ecumenist of the ROCOR

Postby Barbara » Sun 23 September 2018 4:39 am

By the way, this figure wrote his name in the older Russian Empire style "Bolshakoff">

However, as an aside here, the writer seems to have had little interest in Russian politics. Never did he express support for the return of the monarchy to Russia, which was a staple belief of the Rocor Bishops in Yugoslavia. [ In fact, the only difference in opinion on this topic among members of the Karlovci Synod was whether their 1921 resolution calling for the restoration of the monarchy should limit the prospective Tsar to a Romanov or whether a member of the previous Rurik dynasty [or anyone else] would be acceptable. On this topic, the Rocor hierarchs were split right down the middle. Only, it seems likely, by the influence of Metropolitan Anthony [Khrapovitsky] was the Romanov dynasty specified in the resolution. ]

Sergius Bolshakoff seems instead to have talked endlessly about Anglican-Orthodox interactions through the various pompous-sounding societies he promoted. These sounded more impressive than they really were, having few members besides himself and one or two token others.

Rocor came into the picture only because Bolshakoff enlisted Bishop Tikhon [Lyashchenko] of Berlin to chair his original organization for nearly a decade. Eventually, Archbishop Tikhon came under fire, it seems, and ended up resigning his office. Thus ended the principal link between Bolshakoff and Rocor, tenous though it was. He and the highly traditional Synod of Bishops in Yugoslavia had little in common.

Of note here, though : Bolshakoff seems to have been talented at persuading reluctant people to do things to further his own interests. He was a successful promoter of his projects. These little societies seem to have been characterized by either inflated claims made by him, or have been vehicles for the promotion of -- himself.

Sometimes he went so far as to twist the truth -- or, make up things altogether. However, the Anglicans he courted so strongly did not know Bolshakoff well enough or have enough experience with Russian Orthodox to be able to see through him !

In retrospect, we can wonder what his object really was in forging strong links with higher ranks of Anglicans. Curiously, Bolshakoff maintained he was against proselytizing, which conforms to the description of believers in ecumenism. Those who supported proselytization tended to be against ecumenism, it appears from reading some sources covering this time in Europe, while ecumenists abhorred proselytization, as Bolshakoff claimed that he rejected.

One of Bolshakoff's false gimmicks, though, is telling about his character. When he was living as a guest at the Anglican 'monastery' called Nashdom in England, he induced the pliable Bishop Tikhon of Berlin in 1932 to come over to perform some ceremony to make Bolshakoff an oblate -- supposedly an Orthodox one -- of this false Benedictine monastery. That sounds questionable but we don't have Bishop Tikhon's memoirs to consult to find out whether this really occurred the way Bolshakoff described.

After the purported service in the Anglican 'chapel', Bolshakoff insisted on appending the OSB, Order of St Benedict, initials after his name ! This would be laughable if it weren't so outrageous. When would a loyal son of the Russian Church write his name as "Sergius Bolshakoff O.S.B" !

Besides the fact of Anglicans not having valid monasticism in my opinion, and having revolted against Catholics -- but then seizing upon the world-respected name of Benedictine to copycat for reasons of prestige-- the fact that this unusual character seized upon those initials for the same reason makes Bolshakoff look spiritually hollow. How could such a person appear to take a profound enough interest in mystics of the Orthodox East to write competently about them, but in essence, boast of being made an oblate attached to an Anglican outfit ? Oblates are not very important, after all. They are not even lay brothers, which appear in some Catholic Orders ; oblates in this sense of the word [ as opposed to an actual Order such as the Oblates of Mary Immaculate ] have even less involvement in their Order. It is a comparatively casual association.

Thus, Bolshakoff [ at least, in his own mind ] was able to shine up his religious credentials -- while committing almost nothing in return. He was almost certainly given free room and board -- for 10 years -- at this Anglican house. Hospitality exhausted there, we can surmise, "the oblate" moved on to leech off of another Anglican "monastery" for yet another 10 years ! Probably Bolshakoff's ability to self-promote - with more than a shade of the con-artist - oiled the way for the doors of these overly trusting institutions to creak open.

Furthermore [ I haven't verified this but it seems common sense ], an oblate does not write "O.S.B" after his name. That is the privilege of professed Benedictine monks or priests, such as Dom Cabrol O.S.B., a French Catholic Benedictine scholar, writer and Abbot in England. There is notably no record of Sergius Bolshakoff's having met this respected figure, who died in 1937.

Instead, Bolshakoff seems to have been accepted primarily by the lesser ranking Anglican notables in the UK's religious scene, an important point which I think has not been highlighted.

Orthodox in Michigan
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Re: Serge Bolshakov - a great ecumenist of the ROCOR

Postby Orthodox in Michigan » Mon 24 September 2018 12:54 am

He did have a few meetings with elder Michael do you happen to know much about this elder i thought i read he may have had contact with some anthonite fathers i was wondering if any one knew. Who they were ?

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