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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : CHAPTER X Greek-Amerikan-Christian-Association

Conversion Of A High Priest Into A Christian Worker by Meletios Golden

CHAPTER X Greek-Amerikan-Christian-Association

It is said, by Him who never told a lie, that every tree is known by its own fruit, and the confirmation of the statement is conclusive to the student of natural and human history.

It was an idea of King Maximilian of Bavaria, to transmit to history a reminder of his reign. He instructed the architects of Germany to design a new style to be named after him. Such a style of Maximilianesque was created. An architect -- it was Semper, if I am not mistaken -- when asked to take a part in this creation of the so-called Maximilian style, answered that such a thing could not be made to order, that a style of building is the consequence of the history, the culture, life, and doings of a great period of people. If such be the case with a style of architecture, how much more must it be the case in regard to religion?

The history of this style of Maximilian's is, that it has no history, and consequently all efforts of pursuing eminent architects to adopt the Maximilian style failed. This short history is that of the attempts to create a very much needed world religion. It is not the dogma nor the doctrines or the profession that will make it possible for all right thinking minds to unite efforts in building a universal religion, sufficient to satisfy the intellectual want of every people and of every time. Attempts, all-powerful, such as Papism and Mohammedanism, failed in their egotistic purposes to enforce upon the world an exotic structure. Neither the fires of Torquemadas, nor the sword of Islam could deter the bravery of civilization. The blood that was spilled by the millions of martyrs of the lowly Nazarene served to make the history of the man who died upon the Cross, more effective and heartfelt world-need for the only aristurgimatical shrine in which all human families may live in peace and prosperity.

At a time when the world was imperilled by the treatment accorded to Galileo for believing in the motion of the earth; and though 69 years of age he was cast, by the tools of Vatican, into a dungeon, where he lost his sight and ultimately his life; and Copernicus was facing the same fate, for accomplishing a noble astronomical discovery; and Martin Luther was persecuted by the Roman Catholic church, for trying to bring the people nearer to God. The Greeks, a brave people, who, in the face of starvation, for lack of food, and horrified by the sword of the conqueror, dishonored in their holiest sacreds, pure maidens slain after being used in the most beastly way, mothers put to death after their children were torn off into shreds of flesh under the sword of the barbarous Turk, young people and old aged having no rescuing place to escape from horror and death; when all crowned heads of Europe should bow on their knees and kiss the slipper of the holy father before they could attain their rights to the throne of their own kingdoms; when all the known world was trembling equally in the name of Mohammed and Pope, these people (the Greeks) stood up, and with all the strength that was left in their lungs, they cried out, |we prefer political slavery rather than to be the slaves of the Pope,| and for more than three centuries the Greeks suffered such a martyrdom which if only printed it would be more than a human heart could bear.

The history of Greece shall remain until the end of time, and as the peoples of the world grow intelligently and intellectually more enlightened they will come to the appreciation of the fact that the Greek people has contributed more material in paving the way to the spiritual freedom and the individual liberty of the world than any other nation on the face of the earth, and that the Greek spirit is still living and ruling in principle in the very heart of the civilized world.

It is essential that every nation in making up the list of its benefactors should give the first place to the most distinguished one. In accordance to the general law the Greek nation of today not only owes its literary language, in part at least, to the exertions of the great patriot Korais, but to him is accredited the prophecy, that, |the Greek nation shall never be great again, unless regenerated in Christ.|

Adamantios Korais was born April 27, 1747, in Smyrna. From early youth he devoted himself to the study of old and new languages. In obedience to his father's wishes, he followed a mercantile career during the year 1772-78, without, however, neglecting the sciences. From 1782-88 he studied medicine in Montpellier and established himself as a practising physician in Paris. From there he worked incessantly for the education of his compatriots, and endeavored to awaken a favorable opinion of his nation in the Occidental countries. In 1800 he received the prize of the Academy for an edition of the writings of Hippocrates, but before this time he had attracted the attention of the world of learning by his ability, and Napoleon the Great conferred upon him many honors and titles and appointed him the medical adviser of the Court. Later on he gained fame by his Greek translation of Beccaria's work on crimes and their punishments. This was followed by a work entitled |De l'etat actuel de la civilization en Greece| (Paris, 1803). This was the first publication in Europe which gave true information on the intellectual and moral conditions of the new Greeks. During the period from 1805-27 he published a collection -- twenty volumes -- of old Greek classics, with critical explanations and prolegomena. In the latter he gave his patriotic teachings and advices. His greatest merit consisted in his promoting the Greek morals and the Greek language; he eliminated as much as possible all foreign elements, but retained all that was good and useful from all centuries, rejecting the one-sided retention of the old words and forms as not compatible with the understanding of the people. He above all, helped to establish a noble literary language. On account of his old age he could take no part in the rising of his fatherland in 1821, but aided it greatly by his patriotic pen. When Greece had gained her independence he took an active interest in the new formation of his country. In 1830-31 he attacked the government of Kapodistria in two publications. He died in 1833. His autobiography appeared in Paris in the same year. The name of Adamantios Korais will never die from the memory of every patriot Greek, and yet his sincere opinion that |the Greek nation shall never be great again, unless regenerated in Christ,| had little effect upon the hearts of the people, or rather upon the hearts of the leaders of the people.

Great nations have failed, and in every case it was the government's corruption and neglect of duty that caused the sufferings and failures, of which the political history is too abounding and too accessible to be quoted. We only mention the Greek nation, perhaps the greatest and most illustrious of all nations that ever failed in their political career, because we are well informed and personally acquainted with the details that brought this formerly world-wide respected and valued gem of civilization into insignificance in the eye of the scornful, and a plaything in the hands of the so-called great powers of Europe.

In the year of 1902, while I was a High Priest, Archimandrites, grand representative of the Saint Mary's Monastery, Salamis; Orator and Grand Chaplain of the Supreme Council of Greece; and confessor in the most exclusive societies of Athens, hearing confessions and granting absolutions; the following incident, which is published for the first time, and only in parts that are printable, brought me to a final decision, that I should leave my home, my loved ones, and all the flourishing prospects to be a Bishop, with all the comforts and luxuries attached to a Bishopric, just because I had witnessed a few scenes of the manifold political plots that caused the downfall of my own nation, and my own people scattered to the four corners of the world, wandering, struggling for their existence, while Greece, the land of the Gods, and the home of art and beauty, was left in the hands of a few parasites, strangers and unsympathetic feudals who have shown no mercy in straining every material and spiritual bit from the people that still honors them as their kings and sovereigns.

At the time spoken of, there was an open secret to every well informed Greek that the Queen of Greece, Olga, had been the tool of the Russian bureaucracy, trying by means of religious influences to keep the Greeks under the Russian political control; that the Queen Olga paid the expenses for the education of a monk, who, on his return from Russia, where he was graduated from the theological academies of Kiev and Moskow, became the Queen's personal confessor, and afterwards by the Queen's very earnest and almost scandalous activities that monk was raised to the Metropolitan Throne of Athens, which position placed him at the head of the Greek Church, and made him the President of the Holy Synod of Greece.

The Metropolitan Throne of Athens is the highest and most exalted position that a mortal Greek could approach, and it is, in fact, the next to the King's Throne, most influential occupation, and more powerful, even than the Royal Throne, because, the Metropolite of Athens is the spiritual leader of all Greeks.

There was plenty of rejoicing in the Queen's camarilla, at the installation of Procopios (that was the name of the monk) as the Metropolite of Athens, and every effort, Queen Olga leading the fight, had gone forth to assure a complete victory for the Russian bureaucracy, over the few remaining unspoiled patriotic Greeks.

All the characteristics of a civil war were enacted in the streets of Athens when Queen Olga attempted to enforce upon the Greek people a new inferior language in their Bibles, and in their holy mass -- a language, which the Greek people considered as a means to confound their historical and religious customs and habits and subdue them into a Russian spiritual dependency. Against the attempt there was the very best element of the Greek scholars. Adamantios Korais fought the fight, 100 years before this attempt was made, and he distinctly and clearly made it understood that the Attic Greek language has been, it is and must be the safeguard of all that is beautiful in the Greek history.

Faithful to their traditions the Greeks of the present generation fought and won a triumphant victory. The innocent blood of the people that was slain on the streets of Athens by orders from the Royal Palace, have wrote with indelible letters, the anathema, which, frenzied mothers in the sight of their assassinated sons, and overwhelmed in grief, cried against Queen Olga, and her crown all but torn to pieces by the wronged multitudes.

Within 24 hours from that terrible bloody day, that will remain an indelible stigma in the history of Queen Olga's life, the most exalted Metropolite Procopios was a fallen ragmuffin and the most hated person in all Greece. And when every one of his colleagues deserted him and the King and Queen shut their door in his face, leaving him a pitiful victim of the political plots to save the royal skin, and while there was no visible friend to give him a helping hand when fallen from the Metropolitan Throne, and while this monk-metropolite Procopios, in all his glorious days had been a profound enemy against every honest effort, especially against young priests who refused to serve his unlawful appetites, and my own experience with this monk-metropolite Procopios is not of the kind to be printed, yet, it was I who put my own life in a probable danger to save him from the mob, that was ready to attack him, and probably kill him, the day after I made his escape possible into the Saint Mary's Monastery, Salamis, where at the time I was Archimandrites.

Procopios, in the opinion of his own friends, was the last man in the Greek priesthood, qualified to occupy the Metropolitan Throne of Athens, and totally lost his will power when he became Metropolite by Royal favor. There was an organized clique around the Metropolitan mansion, but the controlling power should be located within the walls of the Royal Palace. Procopios was only an instrument transmitting orders. And if I was allowed to publish all that Procopios himself told me, in Salamis, it would make the Greek people sit up and take notice, but in my vows as confessor I have to carry the confession of the fallen Metropolite Procopios with me to my grave, unless the need arises to serve the best interests of my beloved country. It was his last confession upon the earth. He died and went there, where, at the great Judgment Day, he, surely will give account for all his deeds done in the body.

For the first time in the ecclesiastical history of the Greek Kingdom, a Metropolite abdicated from his throne, rejected by his closest friends, helpless under the anathema of the people, above whom he was called to be the spiritual leader, his life imperilled by the injured public sentiment, Procopios, left a real wreck cast by the shore, as a warning sign of those dangers to which every public man is exposed, when corrupted by higher favours and neglects his duties to the people who entrusted him with responsibilities of national importance.

This incident, which I hope will never occur again, and many other minor opportunities, in which I had a part to play, during that fateful Queen Olga's attempt to adulterate the beautiful and pure Attic Greek language, gave me the exceptional privilege to study all the works of the political machinery in Greece. I have seen the drama enacted behind the scenes. It is a dreadful drama that could break the neck of the strongest long-suffering. The awful drama that is enacted in Greece at the expenses of the people is a long, very long story; perhaps it has its beginning with the reign of King George and Queen Olga, I will not say, but the people of Greece, the poorest people of Europe, are contented and well pleased that they have a King who is a great diplomat, and he is one of the richest Kings in Europe, and their Queen, Olga, they believe (the ignorant do) that she is a saintly woman (as all the Russian saints are), and this ignorant Greek people, they simply feel glad to leave their homes and their children and go into war, like sheep into the butcher's shop, sacrifice their lives, thus destroying their homes and the hopes of their loved ones, every time King George calls them to arms to fight against the Turks. And King George has always a great patriotic cause to fight the Turks. And the Greeks could not appreciate more highly a privilege than to fight and die for the deliverance of their brethren in Crete and for the salvation of the unfortunate Christians in Macedonia.

Yet, for half a century, in fact, since King George came to Greece, there are hundreds of thousands of the best Greek patriots that have been killed, slain, or assassinated, and nearly a billion drachmas national debt, hanging upon the neck of every Greek, like the Damoclean sword, but there is no deliverance for the Cretans, and there is no salvation for the Macedonians, instead there are the traps strategically placed across the Greek borders, so, every time the Greek patriots, in answer to the call of their King, are sent to render a helping hand to the sufferers, they cross the border, only to find, but too late, that they have been trapped, under the sword of the enemy, the Turk; or they are left at the mercy of their assassins, the Bulgars. This drama is going on repeatedly with great success, and to the amusement of the observing great powers of Europe.

Occasionally there is some crippling of the territory already belonging to the possessions of Greece, because the places are of some strategical importance, and this reason is enough, that they should be taken away from the Greeks. And there is a financial commission appointed by the great powers, because King George is a great diplomat and he wants to be sure that his allowance is coming to him increasingly, every year, from the coffers of the Greek treasury, while the international commission should count every penny that the Greek expends in bread for his children.

In the evolution of events, I believe, that there is a time coming, when the Greek people shall rise, from the lethargy, in which they unnaturally are slumbering, for a long time, and they shall awake and break every fetter, and shake off their feet every chain, and their eyes shall be opened and they shall see things that will horrify them as a nation; then shall they know the persons responsible for their sufferings and for the sufferings of the Cretans and Macedonians and why Carditses was beheaded in a dungeon, without giving him the privilege of free citizenship, to prove his reason or his sanity, without any chance to protect his life; and where and by whom that plot was framed up, just to turn the tide of public anger against a royal gang, thus causing the destruction of two beautiful Greek girls, that left alone in the world to suffer from consumption, in agony, to die with the stigma as sisters of a would-be royal assassin. It was my privilege to take care of these two unfortunate sisters, both suffering, and the story of these two girls and the uprising of the Greek people against the adulteration of their language by Queen Olga, settled my determination to fight for the rights of my own people and my beloved country. But, the time for the Greek people to stand up and walk on their own feet, shall come when the prophecy of the great patriot Adamantios Korais, is no more prophecy, but in reality the Greek people will be regenerated in Christ, and there and then shall be a great Greek nation, not only within the boundaries of the feudatory of King George, but within the bounds of love that unites all the millions of people that speak the historical Attic Greek language, and a great Greek nation shall attract the attention of all the civilized world, once more as in the days of old.

I know the dangers in which I am exposed for the step I have taken, because, I know the character and the principles of the Greek people, perhaps, as well as any living Greek, the demagogues, the priests, the church, and the drones and parasites of the royal gang, they each and every one and all together are going to use all their power and money that is at their disposal, and with no regards as to the honesty of means they shall move earth and hell to quench this movement for the regeneration of the Greek people, but having all my trust upon the Almighty and Omnipotent God, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, Who died that all men may be happy, and in the right Spirit of love to God and to my fellow men, I dare launch the Greek-Amerikan-Christian-Association.

Every Greek of reputable character, and all the lovers of the Greek ancient and modern history, are eligible to membership. It is my purpose to endeavor by all the Christian means to bring the Greek and American people into a mutual, intellectual and intelligent understanding. It has been my experience in studying conditions for the last six years, that the Greeks in the United States know very little or nothing of the American history, government, political, social, customs and habits of the American people, which, also, unfortunate as it may appear, yet it is the truth, that only a very limited number of Americans whom I have found all over the United States, are well informed of the doings in Greece, and still fewer well acquainted and unprejudiced as to the historical and classical importance of the Greek nation.

It is estimated that there are about 300,000 Greek people in the United States, representing the 12,000,000 of Greek-speaking people that is the Greek nation extended all around the Mediterranean countries.

When it is considered that the vast majority of the Greeks in the United States, has never had any opportunity to attend a Christian meeting, or hear the Gospel preached in their own language, it is to their credit that, with all the temptations and the ambiguous associations which the laboring class is often in contact with they have not been worse than they are; it is an indication that the primitive and strong character of the Greek seldom yields to temptation; they hold fast to their historical energy and honesty.

There has never been an attempt of any importance, neither has there ever been any organized effort, for the regeneration of the Greek people, and while the Home and Foreign Missions of America for the last 25 years have given the best of their spiritual leaders for the conversion of the Zulu and the Mogul and millions of American dollars have been expended, with insignificant returns, in trying vainly to make real Christians out of a barbarous and semi-human race of people, and trying to civilize the jungles of Africa, the most urgent duty has been neglected, and some spasmodical efforts that have been put forth by the zeal of earnest individuals, were soon exhausted, and failed, not only for lack of financial support, but, the worst, by spiritual discouragements, and today a noble and the most historical race of peoples, the Greeks, are drifting in despair, away from God, politically perishing, blind, and ignorant priests, and political demagogues leading them fast into the ditch.

The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; who will help us to garner in? HELP! is the cry, the most earnest cry, that was ever uttered from the lips and from the heart of a sincere Christian worker.

In organizing the Greek-Amerikan-Christian-Association, all the latest and most effective, spiritual and industrial methods will be employed.

It is hoped that the organization will be incorporated under the laws of the United States, as soon as there are members sufficient in number to assemble in their first meeting and vote the Constitution and the By-Laws of the Association.

Much consideration will be given to the methods of the Y. M. C. A., and Y. W. C. A. This two-fold Institution, which in the opinion of Christian leaders, and the most distinguished sociologists, of the present time, is the very best agency to approach all nations, and spread civilization, well established upon the fundamental principles of Christianity.

For the last few months in my struggle trying to establish the Greek-Amerikan-Christian-Association and at the same time keep my soul and body together providing a lean livelihood by selling this book, I can truthfully say that I had more experiences than in all my life before. One clergyman of the high Episcopal church in the most fashionable Back Bay, Boston, offered to grant me the use of his church any time I wanted to offer the mass as high priest according to the ritual of the Greek Orthodox Church, if I would only |break off all relations with Protestant bodies here in America.| I have a letter from this clergyman which is the most astounding fact of his inconsistency, because he himself is an active member of the Bible Club, a purely Protestant organization: he invited me to one of their meetings, but he would not purchase my book to help me to my bread and butter. Another clergyman, a member of the executive committee of City Missions, Boston, would not purchase my book, unless I offered myself to be employed by them at a certain salary, and he gave me his card introducing me to the chairman of that organization.

Last winter I began to preach to the Greeks at Kneeland street, Boston, in the open air, and when I went to see the police captain of that district he promised to co-operate with me and gave me his consent to go on with my work, but the following Sunday his Lieutenant came up to me, while I was preaching on the street, he stopped me, on the pretense, that he was informed of a plot among the Greeks to take my life. And when I made my complaints to the General Secretary of New England Missions, he told me that I should have known that Boston is a Catholic town, and that the police being informed that I was an ex-priest, they simply would not tolerate me. Horror stricken by this statement I went to see the captain myself, and the very same man who promised co-operation, only a few days hence, he stood up in front of my face and in a savage manner told me that he would not tolerate me to preach on the streets of Boston.

The names of all concerned are in my possession and open to investigation by the general public. But I will omit them here for reasons well understood.

A number of other discouraging instances, only worked together to deeper impress upon my heart the importance and the excellency of my high calling. Sooner or later, in the inevitable law of evolution and universal progress, the Greek nation must be regenerated in spirit and in truth: and I believe that it is not only a case of courtesy, but, there is a sense of duty for every true American man and woman to co-operate in the uplifting of all mankind. As for me I fully appreciate the privilege to suffer for the benefit of my fellow men, and I can hopefully repeat Tennyson's immortal words:

Once in a golden hour
I cast to earth a seed,
Up then came a flower,
The people said, a weed.

To and fro they went
Thro' my garden bower,
And muttering discontent
Cursed me and my flower.

Then it grew so tall,
It wore a crown of light,
But thieves from o'er the wall
Stole the seed by night.

Sow'd it far and wide,
By every town and tower,
Till all the people cried,
|Splendid is the flower:|

Read my little fable,
He that runs may read:
Most can raise the flower now,
For all have got the seed.

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