Sunday, April 30, 2006
Orthodoxy Ain't Hip
"After 44 years as a priest, I realize why we haven't changed," he said.
"(The church) reflects what Paul the Apostle says of Jesus Christ, that he is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. That means that truth is absolute, it is not relative," he said. "We can say that we belong to a church that has not changed in almost 2,000 years."
Taken from the Houston Chronicle.
More H E R E.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
April: Over & Out, Etc ...
I. -Have thou no other gods but me,
II. -And to no image bow thy knee.
III. -Take not the name of God in vain:
IV. -The sabbath day do not profane.
V. -Honour thy father and mother too;
VI. -And see that thou no murder do.
VII. -Abstain from words and deeds unclean;
VIII. -Nor steal, though thou art poor and mean.
IX. -Bear not false witness, shun that blot;
X. -What is thy neighbor's covet not.
-These laws, O Lord, write in my heart, that I,
-May in thy faithful service live and die.
Taken from the April 29th Writer's Almanac.
New Book / Review:
CHRISTIAN FAITH AND SAME-SEX ATTRACTION
Esolen on Knowing One's Place:
"Now here is a question: how many ills of our day stem simply from an abandonment of one's place, or from a refusal to acknowledge that one must occupy any place at all -- unless it is a place entirely of one's own choosing, with everyone casting himself as Supreme Architect? How many English teachers will not condescend simply to teach English? How many scientists will not stick to science? How many husbands abandon their posts as husbands? How many wives in America these days will even concede that there is such a thing as a place for a wife, let alone that they should not abandon it? How many of the laity hold their ministers in bondage? How many priests find preaching the word too onerous? How many of us scorn the ordinary, and with it -- though we don't want to admit it -- the Ordainer who made us for its duties and its rewards?"
The whole thing.
TM on the TK ...
“I hear rumors about people called Web Elves. Or perhaps it is only one person or being who does not sleep. This is a mystery. But one thing is for sure. All over the world there are reporters who look to CaNN as the quickest and most up-to-date guide to the wacky world of online Anglican URLs. It is hard to remember what the Anglican Communion was like before Binky. The odds are good that he will outlive it.”
- Professor Terry Mattingly, journalist, Get Religion Editor
Oh, and tmatt can even ADD!
"The basic idea is becoming familiar. Rising numbers of Europeans are making lifestyle choices that are resulting in the decline of the old cultures on the Continent. In other words, they are not conceiving many children or allowing many of the ones that are conceived to be born. Meanwhile, Muslim families are moving into Europe and growing. Do the math."
Elaine Pagels's Expertise?
The Gnostic Gospels, like those portions of Pagels's later work with which I am familiar, is chock-full of tendentious readings and instances where counter-evidence is suppressed. The example of "creativity" here discussed may fairly be called a representative specimen of her methodology, and was singled out not because it's the worst example of its kind but because it's among the most unambiguous. No one who consults the source texts could give Pagels a pass, and that means she forfeits the claim to reliability as a scholar. Attractive as her ideological sympathies may be to many persons -- including many academics -- she does not deserve to be ranked with serious textual scholars like Claremont's James Robinson, and her testimony on the accuracy of inventions such as Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code cannot be solicited without irony.
Thanks to FWD from Fr Victor Potapov.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Red Eggs at Pascha (Easter)
During Easter Day the egg stands as symbol of the resurrection of Christ, and is universally used as means of Christian greeting and present. The symbolical and church significance of the egg has its roots in the greatest antiquity. Long before Christianity, all the cultured nations of antiquity held the egg to be the symbol of life in all their beliefs and customs. According to heathen cosmogonies, the original world’s chaos was contained in an egg, which broke into two halves, the one forming the sky and the other the earth.
Out of the lower part of the egg
Came mother earth.
Out of the upper part of the egg
Arose the high vault of the sky.
From the fact that this idea is to be found amongst all nations, one has to conclude that it is a reflection of the primitive belief which constituted the religion of mankind in the remotest antiquity and then universally spread at the time of the dispersion of nations.
With Christianity, the old belief receives new contents, and the egg receives a religious significance amongst the Christians. There exisits a tradition which makes Mary Magdalene to be the originator of the custom of using red eggs on Easter day. After the Ascension of our Saviour, Mary Magdalene went to Rome to preach the Gospel and, appearing before the Emporer Tiberius, she offered him a red egg, saying: CHRIST IS RISEN.” Thus was begun her preaching. Learning about this offering of Mary Magdalene, the early Christians imitated her, presenting each other with eggs. Hence, eggs began to be used by Christians in the earliest centuries as a symbol of the Resurrection of Christ and of the regeneration of Christians for a new and a better life along [with] it. The custom of presenting each other with red eggs was familiar to the Christians of the earliest Universal Church.
The red color, which generally is used for Easter eggs, serves to remind us of the precious blood of God the Redeemer, which was shed on the cross for the salvation of all men.
Christ is Risen!
Bleeding Icon in Penza?
Prince of Peace in a Can
As well as traditional songs of praise, the British-made machine can play a disco version of Amazing Grace and a jazzy adaptation of The Lord's My Shepherd. Church-goers who struggle to remember the words can look up at a big screen for help, just like real karaoke.
by Steven Morris, The Guardian
Oh, then ...
And clergy beware, the Hymnal Plus can also lead parishioners in prayers and recite pre-recorded sermons.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
It's about Roman Catholics, but translates -- in surprisingly different ways -- to Orthodoxy:
H E R E (caveat lector).
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
In the remote past of the 1960's and 1970's, we knew little of the Russian Church Abroad, but what we did know was all good. Jordanville's publications reached us—prayer books, the works of the Holy Fathers… The very appearance of these books bore witness that over there, pre-Revolutionary Russian traditions were preserved.
Soon, the voice of the contemporary bishops and priests abroad also began to reach us. I can state unequivocally that this voice was heard as the voice of our conscience, the voice of the whole "silent Church." Who else spoke out so clearly on the New Martyrs, on the Royal Family, on fatal modern trends, on ecumenism, etc? The glorification of the New Martyrs in 1981 was a great event for us, and before that, the canonization of Fr John of Kronstadt and of Ksenia the Blessed. We were well aware of the existing divisions from official publications, but we did not lend it too much significance. We knew that above and beyond all boundaries, the unity of our grace-filled live in Christ was preserved.
This was openly witnessed by the hierarchies of both parts of the Russian Church, who accepted clergymen in their existing rank who came from the other side. One First Hierarch of the Church Abroad, Metropolitan Philaret, in fact, had been a clergyman of the Moscow Patriarchate. The canonical existence of the Church Abroad had as its foundation the ukase of Patriarch Tikhon and his Synod of November 7/20, 1920, issued after General Vrangel's defeat, and having as one of its goals the ecclesiastical accommodation of millions of Russians who found themselves outside the borders of Soviet Russia.
Point number 2 states: "In the event a diocese, in consequence of the movement of the war front, changes of state borders, etc., finds itself completely out of contact with the Supreme Church Administration, or if the Supreme Church Administration itself, headed by His Holiness the Patriarch, for any reason whatsoever ceases its activity, the Diocesan Bishop immediately enters into relations with the bishops of neighboring dioceses for the purpose of organizing a higher instance of ecclesiastical authority for several dioceses in similar conditions (in the form either of a temporary Supreme Church administration or a Metropolitan district, or other)."
Of course, the ukase was issued under extreme circumstances, but these extreme circumstances, specifically the unprecedented persecution of the Church, describes the entire Soviet period of our history. We believed that as soon as this period ended, the unity of the Russian Church, split by the Revolution, would immediately be restored. The basis for these hopes was offered by the Church Abroad herself, which called herself, under the first two First Hierarchs at least, the part of the Russian Church that was abroad.
But as soon as the "iron curtain" was lifted, our hopes were replaced with disappointment. For Orthodox Russians who thought in traditional terms—and this is the overwhelming majority of our believers—the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia had the highest authority, but this began to change when in 1990, she began to open parishes, then dioceses, in Russia. This was an erroneous decision in principle, but this activity on the territory of Russia was also littered with many mistakes. People who had just converted to the faith were drawn to the Church Abroad, having no roots in ecclesiastical or national traditions. They denounced the "Moscow Patriarchate" with such nauseating haughtiness, bundling under this name the hierarchy—which they did not, and could not, know—the many millions of people of the Church, and all our priests and monastics.
In addition to inexperienced neophytes, gathering under the Church Abroad were the corrupt and the careerists, who were reared under the Soviet system, such as Valentin of Suzdal. Unfortunately, the schism inflicted by the latter within the Church Abroad was inspired by the Church Abroad herself, in the person of her most renowned figure, the famous expert in canon law, Bishop Gregory (Grabbe), who proved himself to be a genuine ideologue of schism.
The canonical defects in the views of Bishop Gregory were, alas, not his alone. Many clergymen and laypersons abroad have a sense that the Russian Church Abroad is completely self-contained, even that she is unique in her dogmatic and canonical faithfulness to Orthodoxy. With such a world view, the catholic breadth of Orthodoxy is completely discarded.
How stark is the contrast between this and true Orthodoxy, from the pillars of the Church Abroad herself under Metropolitans Anthony and Anastassy! It is one thing when external, mostly political reasons led the Church Abroad to greater isolation in the Orthodox world. It is an entirely different matter when the Church Abroad herself provokes canonical battles with the Local Churches. Look at the wonderful words of Metropolitan Anthony on the matter of the church calendar in his correspondence with the monks of Mt Athos. Blessing them to struggle for the old calendar, he also very sternly warned them against ecclesiastical divisions and schisms on the calendar issue, considering that only dogmatic apostasy is grounds enough to cease church communion.
Canonical firmness of this sort was shared by Metropolitan Anastassy. Only in the last years of his life, without the knowledge of Metropolitan Anastassy, or the blessing of the Synod, individual bishops of the Church Abroad participated in the consecration of bishops for the schismatic Greek groups. When one asks clergymen of the Church Abroad about the canonical foundations for these consecrations, nothing revealing is heard, except phrases about the candidates having been good, pious men who suffered from the Greek authorities for the old calendar.
This is symptomatic of the serious atrophy of canonical awareness. The results of these consecrations lead one to tears. The Greek Churches, earlier maintaining a calm and even loyal attitude towards the Church Abroad, began to see her as a canonical opponent, and besides, the Church Abroad found herself drawn into the chaos of the Greek Old Calendar movement with its baker's dozen of "synods" and "jurisdictions," which declare as uncanonical not only the "new calendarists" but each other as well.
In recent years even the Serbian Church, which always preserved the closest bonds with the Church Abroad, became subject to rebuke for its alleged "ecumenism." When Western bombs containing depleted uranium fell on Serbia, our Patriarch hurried to Belgrade to pray together with Patriarch Pavle of Serbia for the salvation of the Serbian people. At the same time, voices emanated from the Church Abroad calling for the need to suspend relations with the Serbian Church.
Today, a crucial question is posed not to the Russian Church alone, but to the Universal Orthodox Church, a question of life or death. Where are we heading? Will we continue on the path of division, of fragmentation into newer and newer ecclesiastical institutions, which is inevitable down this road?
Not only recent events in the Church Abroad but matters in other Orthodox Churches speak of this real danger. But in order to abandon this road, we must recognize its faults, we must stop justifying divisions, as some ideologues of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia do. If we widen the ecclesiastical horizon, the system of foundations and precedents for today's zealots of divisions comes crashing down.
We remember Saint Cyprian of Carthage, but we forget that in the quarrel over the baptism of schismatics he was opposed by Stephan of Rome, also a martyr and also a saint. We also forget that the Church resolved this quarrel—but not in favor of Saint Cyprian (see rule 95 of the VI Ecumenical Council). We are taken with the logical acrivia of Saint Theodore the Studite, but we forget that he dared to condemn the great defenders of Orthodoxy Saints Tarasius and Nicipherous of Constantinople, and that the Church in the end anathematized "all written or spoken" against these bishops (the Synodic on the Triumph of Orthodoxy). Even the uncompromising acrivia of Saint Maxim the Confessor, who refused to receive communion with all five patriarchs and with "the whole Universal Church," was not without an alternative. Saint Maxim accused of the monothelitistic heresy even those who had rejected the monothelitic Ecthesis and did not follow it. The IV Ecumenical Council, condemning the heresy of monothelitism, remained silent about Saint Maxim. Even when the heretic Macarius, Patriarch of Antioch, spewed slander and lies against Saint Maxim, the Council did not utter one word in his defense.
If we allow ourselves to take church history out of context, picking and choosing what we like and ignoring all the rest, we fall into genuine Protestantism, the only difference being that we subject not only Holy Scripture to the whims of our personal judgment, but everything that we call Tradition. We must first answer of ourselves what we seek: to curl up into a small, isolated "jurisdiction," or to participate in the life of Universal Orthodoxy, supporting all that is good and healthy and struggling against all untruth.
Time is heading catastrophically fast. Tomorrow may be too late. "Tomorrow," in fact, may not even arrive.
We wait with baited breath that the forthcoming All-Diaspora Council will make a decision in principle on the reestablishment of communion with the Martyr-Church in the Homeland. All other questions will decide themselves. The current structure of the Russian Church allows all levels of autonomy, beginning with the Autonomous Japanese Church, which in fact is entirely independent, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, also completely independent and yet having influence over the life of the entire Russian Church through its First Hierarch, Metropolitan Vladimir, who is a permanent member of our Holy Synod.
It would be easier to achieve unity if we think carefully and with all seriousness ask of our conscience what the following individuals would do in our present circumstances: Metropolitan Anthony of blessed memory, Metropolitan Anastassy of blessed memory, St John of Shanghai ...
We should at least not forget that it was through the efforts of His Holiness Patriarch Varnava of Serbia, whose heart bled for the divisions in the Russian Church, that Metropolitan Anthony renewed communion with Metropolitan Eulogius, without even demanding that he withdraw from the jurisdiction of Constantinople, even while considering it uncanonical. Later, the American Metropoliate was accepted into communion by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, while still retaining its autonomy. This triumph of the love of Christ must inspire the zealots of the memory of Vladyka Anthony.
Thanks to FWD from Fr Victor Potapov / Nicholas A. Ohotin.
Hot Moms, Holy Wars ... and, now This.
But, hey ... wouldn't you really rather be Catholic? Hic, snort!
Then there's THIS.
Monday, April 24, 2006
Pascha in Uganda
His Eminence Jonah Lwanga, Metropolitan of Kampala and All Uganda ...
“The source of human calamities is separation from God. The independence of our life from God, or the dependence on creatures produces calamity,” he said, adding, “What will man gain if he wins the whole world, but loses his life? There is nothing he can give to regain his life except through Jesus Christ.”
Lwanga said through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the world needed to understand that peace and life-giving love should be opposed to fear, jealousy and selfishness in order to honour God.
He said the time had come for people to stop engaging in violence, terrorism and self-serving ambition, among other things that take away joy from people.
“The hurt and pain should come to an end. We as Christians have to set an example of love, unity and peace,” he said.
Read MORE about the Church in Uganda.
The Remains of Andrei Rublev?
More than 500 years after he is thought to have died, Russian experts believe they have found the remains of the inspirational medieval icon painter Andrei Rublev ...
His distinctive and hauntingly beautiful work decorates the walls of the Cathedral of the Annunciation in the Kremlin and several other churches across Russia. His most famous work, the Old Testament Trinity, hangs in Moscow's Tretyakov Art Gallery.
The fact that the "Rublev remains" are of a man who was around 50 years old when he died came as a surprise, since he was thought to have lived well into old age.
But historians say that his old age was a myth dreamt up by Soviet academics who were desperate to save religious relics and churches from demolition by an atheist Communist Party in the 1950s. The experts declared that he was born in 1360 so as to mark the 600th anniversary of his birth in 1960, an attempt to make it harder for Soviet politicians to sanction the destruction of world-recognised religious works of art.
Read the article.
When Jews Run the Church (Kinda Sorta)
The Government of Israel has reiterated its determination to insist that the deposed former Patriarch Ireneos is still the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem.
by Arieh Cohen
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Notes for Pascha & Bright Week
Christ is Risen!
A few notes for Bright Week and the Paschal season.
• We greet one another during the entire Paschal season (which lasts 40 days) with the words: "Christ is risen!" and the response to the greeting is: "Indeed, He is risen!"
• During Bright Week, the Holy Doors and the Deacons' doors of the iconostasis remain open symbolizing the empty tomb of our Master and Savior: Christ is risen!
• During Bright Week, our prayers in church and at home are sung and not read as we sing all week the feast of the risen Christ: Christ is risen!
• During Bright Week, our morning and evening prayers are replaced by the singing of the short service of the Hours of Pascha (see your prayer books or see below): Christ is risen!
• During Bright Week, we do not read from the psalter at home or in church for the prophecies have been fulfilled: Christ is risen!
• During Bright Week, there is no fasting as we are at feast with the Bridegroom who processes forth from the tomb: Christ is risen!
• During the entire Paschal season there is no prostrating or kneeling permitted in church or at home for we stand with the resurrected Christ: Christ is risen!
• During the Paschal season we begin all of our prayers at home and in church by singing the troparion of Pascha: "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!"
• During the Paschal season and extending to Pentecost, we do not pray "O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth..." for the Comforter comes on Pentecost. Christ is risen!
• And most important of all: "A Pascha worthy of all honor has dawned for us. Pascha! Let us embrace each other joyously!...This is the day of resurrection. Let us be illumined by the feast. Let us embrace each other. Let us call 'Brother' even those who hate us, and forgive all by the resurrection, and so let us cry: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!" "And unto us He has given eternal life. Let us
worship His resurrection on the third day!"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
PRIEST: Blessed is our God, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages
But a layman sayeth: Through the prayers of our holy fathers, O Lord Jesus Christ, our God, have mercy on us.
Amen. Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the tombs bestowing life. Thrice.
Then we chant:
Having beheld the resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus, the only Sinless One. We worship Thy cross, O Christ, and Thy holy Resurrection we hymn and glorify; for Thou art our God, and we know none other beside Thee, and we call upon Thy name. O come, all ye faithful, let us worship Christ's holy Resurrection, for behold, through the Cross joy hath come to all the world. Ever blessing the Lord, we hymn His Resurrection; for, having endured crucifixion, He hath destroyed death by death. Thrice.
The Hypakoe, eighth tone, once: Forestalling the dawn, the women came with Mary, and found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre, and heard from the angel: why seek ye among the dead, as though He were a mortal, Him Who liveth in everlasting light? Behold the grave-clothes. Go quickly and proclaim to the world that the Lord is risen and hath slain death. For He is the Son of God Who saveth mankind.
The Kontakion, eighth tone, once:
Though Thou didst descend into the grave, O Immortal One, yet didst Thou destroy the power of hades. And didst arise as victor, O Christ God, calling to the myrrh-bearing women: Rejoice! And giving peace unto Thine apostles: Thou Who dost grant resurrection to the fallen.
And these Troparia, eighth tone, once: In the grave bodily, but in hades with Thy soul as God: in Paradise with the thief, and on the throne with the Father and the Spirit wast Thou Who fillest all things, O Christ the Inexpressible.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
How life-giving, how much more beautiful than Paradise, and truly more resplendent than any royal palace was Thy tomb shown to be, O Christ, the source of our resurrection.
Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
O sanctified and divine tabernacle of the Most High, rejoice! For through thee, O Theotokos, joy is given to them that cry: Blessed art thou among women, O all-spotless Lady.
Lord, have mercy. Forty times.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
More honourable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, who without corruption gavest birth to God the Word, the very Theotokos, thee do we magnify.
If a Priest Serve: In the name of the Lord, Father bless.
PRIEST: O Lord Jesus Christ our God, for the sake of the prayers of Thy most pure Mother, of our holy and God-bearing fathers, and of all the saints, have mercy on us.
If a Reader's service: O Lord bless.
Amen. Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the tombs bestowing life. (thrice) Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
If a Priest Serve: Father bless.
PRIEST: May Christ our true God, Who rose from the dead, and trampled down death by death and on those in the tombs bestowed life, through the intercessions of His most Pure Mother, and of all the saints have mercy on us and save us, for He is good and the Lover of
If a Reader's service: O Lord bless!
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Indeed, He is Risen!
Friday, April 21, 2006
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Hooked on Icons?
Over the past decade, I have become hooked on icons.
The first time I fell in love with an Eastern Christian icon was when a seminary professor explained the symbolic meaning of Andrei Rublev’s “Icon of the Trinity.”
Everywhere I go these days, I see Eastern Christian icons making their way into Roman Catholic quarters. There are icons for sale in Catholic bookstores. Parishes are purchasing icons for their worship space. I have even heard of Catholics learning iconography, the sacred task of creating icons. If Roman Catholics are going to embrace this ancient spiritual art, I think it is important for us to ...
Read the article.
Thanks to FWD from blog reg, Keith.
PRAYER: Great & Holy Thursday
For Thine is the Kingdom ....
Thanks to Fr John Shaw.
Palm Sunday in the Holy Land
Waking up to the dark rainy skies on this beautiful Orthodox Palm Sunday morning was a reflection of the psychological darkness experienced in the Holy Land since September 2000 where between the Israeli occupation, Islamic rule and mother nature, the small Christian community suffers to continue the local traditions and customs reflecting deep Christian roots in Palestine. The Light of Christ usually shines everywhere there is witness for Christ’s love and peace and will continue to be the beckon of hope in the troubled land of Christ’s holy resurrection.
The glorious ecumenical Palm Sunday procession in our village of Taybeh has been disturbed many times especially during the first few years of bloodshed and violence where it was impossible to celebrate in public chanting “Hosanna! Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (John 12:13) but this year the rain scared away most people from carrying out the march holding the symbolic palm branches reaffirming our acceptance of Christ. The parishioners of St. George Greek Orthodox Church marched in a procession around their church property three times in remembrance of Christ’s glorious entrance into Jerusalem particularly two thousand years ago when Christ completed his retreat into the village of Taybeh, Biblical Ephraim. Taybeh is well known for receiving Jesus right before His crucifixion (John 11:54). This is why the Ecumenical Palm Sunday procession with the faithful from three churches, Orthodox, Latin (Roman Catholic) and Greek Catholic (Melkite) is one of the most beautiful events in the village of Taybeh because people are literally walking the footsteps of Christ as they march on the same holy ground that Christ walked two thousand years ago.
Since the Oslo Agreement the local Christians outside Jerusalem and Bethlehem have made a cultural and social compromise to celebrate Christ’s birth together according to the new calendar on December 25th and Easter according to the old Julian calendar on the Orthodox Pascha so there can be a unity of celebration among the different Christian denominations since we are so few in numbers. However, since Jerusalem and Bethlehem are popular spots for pilgrims Christmas is celebrated three times, Catholic, Orthodox and Armenian and Easter twice according to the dates of both the new and old calendars.
God’s promise to humanity for salvation is the only hope the small Christian community can cling too since wars, the Apartheid Wall, 50% unemployment and the totally collapsed economy has forced so many Palestinians to leave their beloved homeland seeking job opportunities in America, Australia and Europe. Since 2000, more than 3,000 Christians have left the Bethlehem area where if you visit today you will find Bethlehem a true prison with the Israeli army holding the key to the only gate that allows Palestinians with permits to enter. The misery we experience on the ground every day just to move around for school, work and basic daily needs is unexplainable and unimaginable for people that do not go to school with guns pointing at their heads as soldiers check the identification on passports. There is only one deliberate reason to have this inhumane treatment on a day to day basis and it truly feels that all efforts are being made to rid Palestine of all Palestinians.
We make an appeal to Christians in all corners of the world not to forget the Holy Land of Christ’s birth, crucifixion and resurrection and show the ultimate solidarity for our small Christian community by coming and walking the footsteps of the Lord. We invite people from all over the world to come and receive the true light of Christ from the Life-Giving Tomb of Christ and worship our true God who died on the cross to save our sins and give us eternal life.
“Come ye and receive light from the unwaning Light, and glorify Christ, Who a rose from the dead.” (Easter Sunday Midnight Resurrection Service)
More from Dr. Khoury may be found H E R E.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Judas & Orthodoxy, Again
* * *
Ah, for the wretchedness of Judas! For, seeing the adulteress kiss the traces of his feet, he was thinking with deceit of the kiss of betrayal. She loosed her braids, and he was bound with wrath, offering instead of spice, rotted evil; for envy knoweth not how to honour the seemly, Woe to the wretchedness of Judas, and save from it our souls, O God.
* * *
O Saviour, the adulteress stretched forth her hair to thee, and Judas stretched forth his hands to the transgressors of the law; she to gain forgiveness and he to take silver. Wherefore, we cry to thee, O thou who wast sold and didst free us -- O Lord, glory to thee.
* * *
The ... harlot anointed the head and feet of Jesus with spikenard, and wiped them with the hair of her head. The precious ointment was worth ... about fifteen pieces of Venetian gold. When the Disciples saw this they stumbled, especially Judas, the money-lover, and were angry because Jesus rebuked them, lest the woman be embarrassed. Judas was wroth, and went to the high priests, where they were gathered in the house of Caiphas, taking counsel against Jesus, and agreed with them to deliver the Master for thirty pieces of silver. From that time Judas sought an opportunity to deliver him (Matthew 26:2-16) . Because of this the fast of Wednesday was instituted from the days of the apostles age itself.
Wherefore, O Christ God, anointed with the supersensuous ointment, deliver us from suffering, and have mercy on us.
-- Taken from the Holy Wednesday Bridegroom Service.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Judas & Orthodoxy
-- Taken from Holy Tuesday Bridegroom Matins.
Monday, April 17, 2006
St Judas the Wonderwinker
The icon of the Mystical Supper above the holy doors looks just like others you may have seen. However, where Judas is usually portrayed reaching across the table to dip some food, here we see Jesus reaching out and shaking Judas’s hand. If you look closely you will notice that the two buddies are winking at each other.
The same is true of the large iconic depiction of the Crucifixion; there stands a male and a female figure beneath the Cross but, rather than St John the Divine and Jesus's mother, it's Judas and Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene looks enraptured and, of course, Jesus and Judas are winking.
The pews of St Judas the Wonderwinker are full to capacity on this bright spring day. The priest, Miriam Knott, whose patron is Mary Magdalene, first bishop of the Resurrection, has pastored the church since its founding in 2004. "Many claim that our fame and phenominal growth is due to Dan Brown's book, The Da Vinci Code, and other recent discoveries," she said. "However, I like to think that it's all about the truth. Finally, after all these centuries, the ancient light of the truth has dawned upon us. People are hungry for the truth and here at St Judas, that's what we're all about."
It is the belief of the church that, since Mary Magdalene was the first bishop of the Resurrection, only women should be ordained. However, Pastor Miriam's ordination to the priesthood was not without controversy. See, she used to be a man. "That's right," she says, "I used to live my life trapped in the guise of a man." She's quick to add, "But God had other plans."
"Besides, body = bad, spirit = good.
[I had to note that while I was interviewing the Priestess, she kept batting one eye. When I asked her … er, him … uh, whatever, if there was something in his/her eye, she (you know whom I’m talking about) said: “Why do you seek the speck in my eye when you’ve got a big log in your own?” Then, or so it seemed, she winked at me.]
The Liturgy at St Judas the Wonderwinker is a mish-mash of the Byzantine and Western Rites, along with a dash or two of Anglicanism and some cherished contemporary pagan rituals. During the exchange of the Peace the members greet each other with the words, “The Peace of Judas” and a wink. When I asked about the more common “Kiss of Peace,” they reacted with horror. [I later learned that since the former Scriptures portrayed Judas and kissing in a bad way, this was frowned upon.]
Most Gospel readings are taken from non-Orthodox (or, Orthodox, depending on your position) sources such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, and other so-called “Lost Books” of the Bible.
On this day, Mother Miriam blessed the Reader to read the Lesson from the book of Genesis. When I asked "you know who" why there was only an Old Testament reading appointed for that day, YKW explained, “There’s been so many lies about God and truth -- from the very beginning of Creation -- that we must begin at the beginning in educating God’s people.
"The Reading is from Genesis:"
Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God say, `You shall not eat of any tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, `You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
"The Word of the Lord."
And the people responded, “Thanks be to God.”
[I must say, dear reader, that I was baffled by this shortened version of the Old Testament passage. Yet, when I asked about it, I was told that so many things had been added to the Scriptures over the years -- by scribes with agendas -- that the struggle toward truth requires constant vigilance and careful editing.]
Since the parish is obviously concerned about the authentic and ancient truth, I asked what role modern scholarship and current science played in the life of St Judas. "Oh, you ask an important question," YKW replied. "We are constantly finding out, through science and scholarship, the truth. New revelations are manifest daily!"
When I asked by what authority the parish made such claims, I was told that they are completely led by the spirit. "Yet," Knott added, "not all scholarship is reliable. Some goes up in smoke."
All in all, I must confess, all that winking made me uncomfortable. But, the faithful of St Judas the Wonderwinker assure me that it is an ancient gesture which signifies the Enlightened ones.
I forgot to ask if their Bible included this scripture: Proverbs 6:12 - 19.
Makes you wonder. Wink, wink.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
In the April issue of TOUCHSTONE, Franklin Freeman writes about this wonderful book. As I agree with him -- and, myself, mentioned the book here last year -- I'm again recommending it. Perfect for beach, bedtime, or campfire reading.
Franklin writes: "Anyone who likes the writings of the Inklings will love this book."
Here's a reposting from 2005 ...
Anyone who has ever borrowed one of my books knows that they are usually heavily marked. Pencil scribblings in side margins indicate favorite passages, notes, etc. I rarely do that with fiction. I did with Jane Eyre; I will next time I read Gone With the Wind ... I wish I had with Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.
This book, hefty for sure (846 pages), is about the restoration of magic in 19th century England -- magic which coexists, in harmony, with the church. It really is a fascinating read and shall now sit on the shelf I have reserved for bright lights such as O'Conner, O. Henry, Goethe, Thoreau, Kafka, Dostoevsky, and the like.
Some samples ...
Aunt Greysteel, Bonifazia and Minichello were all at the window and saw how the first stroke of lightning turned the whole familiar scene into something quite Gothic and disturbing, full of pallid, unearthly glare and unexpected shadows. This was followed by a crack of thunder that shook the whole room. Bonifazia murmured appeals to the Virgin and several saints. Aunt Greysteel, who was equally alarmed, might well have been glad of the same refuge, but as a member of the Church of England, she could only exclaim, "Dear me!" and, "Upon my word!" and "Lord bless me!" -- none of which gave her much comfort (p.732).
"All I can tell you is this. Before this peculiar obsession with his dead wife, he was full of quite another matter: John Uskglass. You must have observed that? Now I know very little of English magicians. They have always seemed to me a parcel of dull, dusty old men -- except for John Uskglass. He is quite another matter! The magician who tamed the Outlanders! The only magician to defeat Death! The magician whom Lucifer himself was forced to treat as an equal! Now, whenever Strange compares himself to this sublime being -- as he must from time to time -- he see himself for what he truly is: a plodding, earth-bound mediocrity! All his achievements -- so praised up in the desolate little isle -- crumble to dust before him! That will bring on as fine a bout of despair as you could wish to see. This is to be mortal, And seek the things beyond mortality." Lord Byron paused for a moment, as if committing the last remark to memory in case he should want to put it in a poem. "I myself was touched with something of the same melancholia when I was in the Swiss mountains in September. I wandered about, hearing avalanches every five minutes -- as if God was bent on my destruction! I was full of regrets and immortal longings. Several times I was sorely tempted to blow my brains out -- and I would have done it too, but for the recollections of the pleasure it would give my mother-in-law" (p.693).
This passage on CATS:
Dr Greysteel said, "The Jewish gentleman -- who seems a very charitable old person -- provides her with a place to live, and his servants put dishes of food for her at the foot of the stairs."
"But as to how the food is conveyed to her," exclaimed Miss Greysteel, "no one knows for certain. Signor Tosetti believes that her cats carry it up to her."
"Such nonsense!" declared Dr Greysteel. "Whoever heard of cats doing anything useful!"
"Except for staring at one in a supercilious manner," said Strange. "That has a sort of moral usefulness, I suppose, in making one feel uncomfortable and encouraging sober reflection upon one's imperfections" (pp.635-636).
One of the curious glories of the book is the use of footnotes -- some quite long, stories in themselves. One footnote, which recounts a fabulous tale, is five pages long. Susanna Clarke inserts numerous -- fictional -- notes to bolster her story. Here's two concerning magical spells:
Daedalus's Rose: a fairly complicated procedure devised by Martin Pale for preserving emotions, vices and virtues in amber and honey or beeswax. When the preserving medium is warmed, the imprisoned qualities are released. The Rose has -- or rather had -- a huge number of applications. It could be used to disperse nobility of purpose, anger, jealousy, ambition, self-sacrifice, etc., etc.
[Unrobed Ladies:] Like many spells with unusual names, the Unrobed Ladies was a great deal less exciting than it sounded. The ladies of the title were only a kind of woodland flower which was used in a spell to bind a fairy's powers. The flower was required to be stripped of leaves and petals -- hence the "unrobing" (p.753).
If you read it, I'd love to hear from you.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
A Good Excuse to Skip Church
Episcopal Churches Turn to U2 to Pack Pews
Sorry all y'all U2 fans. I've just never been. But ...
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - As the electric guitar in the U2 anthem "Pride (In the Name of Love)" faded from four speakers, the Rev. Robert Brooks welcomed worshippers to Grace Episcopal Church with an unusual suggestion: He warned them to protect their hearing.
"If the sound's an issue, we do have earplugs available," he said.
Ushers handed out earplugs and fluorescent glow sticks for the "U2 Eucharist," a communion service punctuated by the Irish rock band's music. Episcopal parishes from California to Maine have hosted similar events, weaving U2's tunes — laced with biblical references — into the liturgy.
Streamers flew over worshippers' heads ...
Read about the "U-2-charist"
Thanks to FWD from blog reader, Elissa.
Friday, April 14, 2006
Judgment Day, the Movie?
With internet services such as Haloscan, AOL, and MSN, one can't help but notice the continual barrage of unwanted images disguised as advertising. Recently I've even witnessed some dancing bikini clad gal supposedly pushing mortgages. Haloscan and other services will often advertise diets and dating services using pics of females that have, it would seem, never needed either. Their come-hither looks would almost be comical were it not for their intrusion. It do get old.
Now, after we've all suffered the endless hype about the Gospel of Judas, Da Vinci Code, Jesus walking on ice cubes, and such, comes ...
The God Movie.
This is being plugged by Haloscan (the blog comment service). One of the more sinister aspects is the use of the "Christ of Sinai" icon in the ad campaign. Lord have mercy. The campaign makes use of hooligan style PR known as the "War on Easter." There's more, if you must & reader beware, H E R E. I realize that by even mentioning it I am helping to promote the movie and, seemingly, falling into a juvenile trap of an ad campaign.
Given such sad and desperate enterprises, I'm tempted to wax negative, reactionary, or apocalyptic. Instead, I find T H I S all the more refreshing. These are interesting days for Christians. More lie ahead. Actually, as ever, the time is now.
God is with us!
For those of you in the "West" (who read this anyway): May your Three Days bring you grace, joy, and salvation.
For all of us, there's work to be done ... beginning with repentance.
UPDATE: Oh, and how 'bout this from Chuck Colson?
HT: News Forum
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Ah, yes ... Chosen by Judas.
"I went through hell and back, and I saved something for humanity," Ms. Tchacos Nussberger said in a telephone interview. "I would have given it for nothing to someone who would have saved it."
"I think I was chosen by Judas to rehabilitate him," Ms. Tchacos Nussberger, 65, is quoted as saying ...
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Me & Alaska (Final)
The approach by plane to Alaska: I'd been dozing when the Captain announced we were beginning our descent. This was the sight that greeted me as I awoke to look out the window. On enlargement, you can see the frozen ice floe.
Here I am all bundled up like a Nordic version of the Infant of Prague -- on the skiff headed toward Spruce Island.
The sand on Spruce Island is black. The white you see here is either shells or snow.
Fr Innocent of Holy Resurrection Cathedral took this pic of me from the porch of St. Nilus Serbian Orthodox Skete.
In the foreground is the monastic garden. What a view, huh?
Some of the Staff from St Herman Seminary near the top of Pillar Mountain. ( L to R) Philip Majkrzak, Instructor of Liturgical Music, Fr Chad, Dean, and Reader Paul Sidebottom, Associate Dean of Academics.
This is a large pond or small lake ... either way, one big sheet of ice ...
... strong enough to hold Fr Chad's best friends. (Me? Nope. Wasn't even tempted.)
That would be me on a hike behind Fr Chad's home. The following two pics were snapped in his "backyard."
Finally, a view of Kodiak from up on Pillar Mountain.
St Herman of Alaska, pray to God for us!
How Will Rome Face Mecca?
One of the Catholic Church's most controversial figures inflamed public debate in Italy with a typically off-handed comment -- and inadvertently exposed the Vatican's problems in crafting a coherent, comprehensive response to Islamic imperialism.
Cardinal Renato Martino -- the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Vatican's former ambassador to the United Nations -- said that the Italian government should allow the Koran to be taught during the hour mandated for Catholic religious instruction.
"If there are 100 Muslim children in a school, I don't see why they shouldn't be taught their religion," Martino said in a press conference March 9. "If we said 'no' until we saw equivalent treatment for the Christian minorities in Muslim countries, I would say that we were placing ourselves on their level."
Thanks to FWD from Fr Miguel Grave De Peralta.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Gospel of Skip & Muffy, Etc
Newark, Apr. 8 (CWNews.com) - Archeological researchers in Ridgewood, New Jersey, have discovered an ancient Christian document that offers a radically new account of the founding of the Catholic Church.
The newly discovered document, which scholars have named "The Gospel of Skip and Muffy," was found in an abandoned row house in New Brunswick, New Jersey, which had formerly housed a Rutgers sorority.
B.F.D. Zeitgeist, a Professor of Serious Christianity at Dupont University, said that the Gospel of Skip and Muffy will force Christians to re-examine the nature of Church authority. He pointed to one key passage in the manuscript:
"The Church is-- I mean-- it's just a bunch of, like, rules and stuff," said Muffy.
"Yeah," Skip replied. "I mean, really. Hey, don't let that thing go out."
Read more H E R E.
HT: Conservative Blog for Peace
Then there's this guy. Lord! (Reader beware.)
In all charity, where to start? Bless his heart.
Gospel of Judas & Britney Spears?
As mentioned earlier, during a Q & A with the 7th and 8th grade Sunday School class, I was asked: "So, Father ... what do you think of the Gospel of Judas?"
Shooting from the hip, hoping for context, I stated: "Well, as it was written 2-300 years after the fact, it would be like someone 300 years from now stating that Britney Spears blew up the Twin Towers."
Immediately, without batting an eye, one of the students said: "Oops, she did it again!"
In this case ... Oops HE did it again!
Monday, April 10, 2006
ST HERMAN SEMINARY: Alaska (Pt 7)
May we be mindful of the needs of others. And, truly, I can think a few institutions more worthy of our support than St Herman Seminary, Kodiak, Alaska.
Case in point, see these domes over the seminary chapel? They are no longer. Look closely and you'll notice the rear one leaning. During my recent visit, the domes -- which had recently sustained 140 MPH winds -- were removed. The wood foundation was weak and worn. New domes will eventually need to be installed to restore the chapel to its former beauty in the small town of Kodiak.
The interior of the chapel is glorious! It is a log structure, inside and out, and would look perfect in the mountains of Western North Carolina! :)
More than that, it is the anchor of the small community of seminarians who struggle together at St Herman's.
The Dean of St Herman's, Archpriest Chad Hatfield, and I have known each other a long time. We're both Nashotah alums and earned our DMins together through the Antiochian House of Studies & Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He's shown here introducing me for their first annual Lenten Retreat.
That would be me.
Here's some of the seminarians gathered for our Lenten Workshop, the first evening of the Retreat. The majority of seminarians are native Alaskans who will end up serving in villages where the unemployment rate is often as high as 85%.
One special offering at St Herman's is the opportunity to learn iconography under the able tutelage of Matushka Thekla.
The daily life of the community is centered around prayer: Matins in the morning, the Hours at Noon, and Vespers in the evening. During Lent, the Presanctified Liturgy is served on Wednesday evenings at Holy Resurrection Cathedral and on Friday mornings in the seminary chapel.
One of the natural joys while I was there was seeing the sunlight filter in each day as we approached the end of Matins. Sunlight, in general, is a welcomed sight in this part of the world!
As mentioned above, the chapel now stands dome-less.
Food prep; preparing to break the Eucharistic fast.
Following Wednesday's Presanctified, the seminarians, along with the residents of St Innocent's Academy and Cathedral faithful, gather at St Herman's Refectory for food and fellowship.
Here's a portion of the seminary community, gathered in the Cathedral following a Presanctified service. The struggles are great. (Really.) A great deal of Fr Chad's time and efforts are spent hopping all over the Lower 48 garnering support for the seminary. The men who are trained here rely on our support. They will venture into villages where the Orthodox Faith has long been planted, but unemployment and other social maladies reign. Non-Orthodox groups, hoping to introduce the native peoples to "the Gospel," have also made serious gains -- increasing the struggles of the Orthodox. The Orthodox Christian Faith was brought to Alaska over 200 years ago. We cherish the memory of St Herman, St Innocent, St Juvenally, and St Peter the Aleut. Yet their witness relies on our continued support.
Your help, large or small, will be a wonderful blessing!
414 Mission Road
Kodiak, Alaska 99615