Saturday, April 29, 2006

ECUSA Blasphemy #1,547,953,049

A terrifying qutoation from Archdruid Frank Griswold (ECUSA):

“The Episcopal Church over the years has come to, let us say, an understanding of the human person that is more sophisticated, possibly, than the understanding on the part of the Biblical authors.”

(Hat tip: MCJ)

Friday, April 28, 2006

Another Easter Altar

Easter in a small anonymous chapel in Belgium : Altar & Easter candle, after the Exsultet.

Thanks to a dear reader for sending this picture. Apparently, the individual who set up this altar noted with the photo not everything was perfect; certain things were out of place. It's praiseworthy to strive for perfection, but in a home chapel, it's better to act, even imperfectly, than not to do anything. This person obviously has real faith and piety.

...And the child praying in the lower left-hand corner of the picture heightens our paschal joy!

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A Pro-Western Rite Ecumenical Patriarch?

One of the joys I'm finding in this blog is the comment section, where helpful discussions often begin. Occasionally, it also shows what my next post should be. In the comments on our recent post about a Roman Catholic professor's misleading commentary on the Liturgy of St. Tikhon, one of our valued readers wrote, "[At least William J. Tighe] didn't cite criticisms of dubious validity from hierarchs of your own communion."

In fact, that was the first thing he did. He wrote:

I have been told by more than one Orthodox informant that while there are some Orthodox (especially among the Greeks) who repudiate any “western rite” Orthodoxy whatsoever, there are others who, while accepting the legitimacy of WRO, insist that the only legitimate “western rites” are those which originated before the East/West schism, and have had a continuous existence ever since — which would rule out any “Anglican Rite.”

Fortunately, both statements are utterly irrelevant to the Antiochian Archdiocese, home of the Western Rite Vicariate, which is neither run by Greeks nor liturgical resurrectionists. (Mr. Tighe's criteria of rites that "originated before the East/West schism, and have had a continuous existence ever since" would to my knowledge rule out every liturgy currently being celebrated on earth, as none are without modifications since 1054, including the Byzantine rites, plural.)

Critics of the WRV often trumpet opposition to the Western Rite by "the Greeks." In addition to the fact that the Patriarch of Constantinople originally approved J.J. Overbeck's text of the Gregorian Liturgy in the late 19th century (before backing out), in modern times we have Met. ISAIAH's kind publications. To this, we may add this edifying post from a long-lost bulletin of a WRV priest, Fr. Jack. Apparently, a recent Ecumenical Patriarch saluted Western Rite activities. (I would differ only at his unblinkingly favorable view of the French Revolution):


The following address was given by His All-Holiness, Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople, to a deputation from this Church to the University of Halki:

"Well! Behold a great event! It is a marvellous thing for us to learn of the revival of Orthodoxy in the West. But I am not surprised that this movement comes from France, this France which has already given us so many beautiful and sweet things. It is an historic moment for all Christendom, and it would be a great fault on our part if we didn' t understand that we must work at its realisation. We know that there is in the West great thirst again for the true Christian tradition. We know also that the climate of the Church of Rome, by its authoritarianism so heavy to bear, cannot make possible a true birth in the heart of tradition. May you be the bridge which shall be projected between the Orthodox Church, repository of the true light, and the Roman Church which we love."

And to Fr. [Eugraph] Kovalevsky [later Bp. Jean de Saint-Denys]: "It is an honour for us to come to your aid, you who have devoted all your life to this historic work of French Orthodoxy. France has brought us by its revolution liberty, justice, and fraternity. Perhaps France will bring a new revolution for christianity, thanks to your work." (October 26, 1954).

(Hat tip: Fr. Jack.)

An Invitation to Strife

I'm a bit behind on my e-mail. Checking today, I see I received a message from the Western Rite's most persistent detractor, Derek "Fr. Aidan" Keller. Keller invited me to rejoin his Occidentalis group in order to reply to his seven-part message about me. Reportedly, he told his group "it seemed like the right thing to do."

When did he decide to do the right thing? The day after I started posting my response on this blog. A week after he unsubscribed me so I could not reply to his posts, nor even read them. What a stand-up guy....

I've already responded fully on this blog. I have no desire to wrangle endlessly with a self-professed "expert" who demonstrably has no competence in either history or liturgy, and who is dedicated to spreading and perpetuating known lies about (legit) Orthodox clergy, laity, jurisdictions, liturgies, and practices. I intend to do all I can to avoid discussing him and his various calumnies on this blog from here on out, answering those myths that percolate up from his source as they arise. The wise have been warned.

Keller's unpleasant interlude was a lenten penance; only a fool would unnecessarily prolong answering ludicrous objections at the price of his paschal joy.

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Fr. Matthew Survives

With the departure of Subdn. Benjamin from the blogosphere, I'm happy to report Fr. Matthew Thurman will keep blogging. Like John Adams on his deathbed, I can report "Fr. Matthew survives" (with greater accuracy than our second president).

I should note, I don't have any interest in "having to apologize for the AWRV to those who are committed to being critical to it" -- but I felt a responsibility to clear up the misinformation emanating from certain quarters...because the confusion spreads to our own faithful. And those who would be.


For those of us interested in liturgics in general, here's a video of the Ethiopian Orthodox liturgy.

An Easter Altar

St. Petroc Monastery, Tasmania.

The Festival Altar - with all the silver Communion plate displayed - taken at the end of the Midnight Liturgy and the best frontal - in this case a donated 100 year old hand embroidered frontal of exquisite workmanship.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Tears Run Dry

Our friend Subdn. Benjamin Andersen has thrown in the towel on his blog, Occidentalis. We consider this a grievous loss; his blog was by far the most intelligent offering in the blogosphere, WRO or otherwise.* We will miss his insights and encouragement, though we look forward to reading his contributions in other areas.

I hope also for some measure of his ability to maintain this blog. While he was around, he could be the smart guy, and I could be the cut-up/myth refuter. (Fighting back myths about the WR from vagantes did not suit his temperament -- nor mine, but I mind it less.) Now we must also provide intellectual nourishment. Subdn. Benjamin's departure will leave Western Rite Orthodox and the blogosphere in general with quite a hunger, indeed.

* - Pontifications is excellent, as well...but he went Romeward, and I ain't forgiving or forgetting. :)

"The Lord Be With You" "And With U2."

A certain denomination is bringing you the "body of Christ," the theology of Frank Griswold, the politics of Howard Dean, and the fist-pumping lyrics of U2. Yes, ECUSA is now holding "U2 Eucharists" complete with "glow sticks" and streamers. It makes one recall why the ancient Church rejected certain kinds of music as unsuitable for worship.

Hope they skip the Zooropa album, too.

A What-If

If the Serbian Patriarchate accepts the remnant of L'ECOF parishes under its protection in France, what will happen to the former L'ECOF parishes in the United States? I understand there are at least two, though one is presumably vacant. Will they become Serbian Orthodox? Will the Serbs accept other Western Rite parishes in America?

I was inspired to ask by a discussion on this blog; a Serbian WR might give Old Calendar WRO a canonical home, if certain areas of ROCOR are not amenable.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Just Curious: A Calendar Query

I went to the Byzantine Good Friday services this year and heard the priest repeat several times that Christ was crucified on March 25. I'm simply curious why the Byzantine Orthodox calendar is arranged in such a way that Good Friday apparently never falls on that date? (I played around with this thing for 10 minutes and couldn't find a single instance.)

Is It OK to Say "Easter"?

One cannot have been Western Rite long without some Byzantine friend looking askance when you say, "Happy Easter." Some upbraid us that the term "Easter" is a pagan term honoring the goddess Astarte, whereas "Pascha" (Gk. "Passover") is the Orthodox term for the Feast of the Resurrection.

Like our writer below, I'd first encountered this concept from anti-holiday fundamentalists who believe Christmas and Easter are "pagan." But the facts are different. The term "Easter" derives from the Germanic term "Ostern" and probably never referred to any pagan deity.

The article below is a fascinating study into the legitimate history of the word "Easter." I do not know Caedmon Parsons, but his article is worth the read.

The History of the Term Easter
by Caedmon Parsons

Most of us may well prefer to use the word Pascha for Feast of the Lord's Resurrection but, please, let us not be so uncouth as to attack the venerable word "Easter," which is a part of our Orthodox heritage and a genuine survival from the days when Britain was Orthodox in her faith.

There is absolutely no evidence for a Germanic goddess with a name in any way resembling the word "Easter." Rather than the term being derived from a goddess, the supposed goddess is derived from the term. She was postulated by certain 19th century Germanic scholars in an attempt to explain the etymology of the word. These same scholars (foremost among them the Grimm brothers, famous for their folktale collections and less well-known as the discoverers of the "Indo-European" linguistic family) had a very definite nationalist/ethnic agenda in which they were trying to rediscover the "real" roots of German culture. Thus the folktale collection's avowed purpose was to search for "survivals" of pre-Christian Germanic religion and culture.

The later connection of this invented figure to Astarte was sheer fundamentalist propaganda based on a coincidental similarity in sound. Having dismissed Nativity/Christmas because it's timing coincides with a number of pagan solar festivals, those fundamentalist groups which criticise all celebration of "holy days" thereby sought to discredit "Easter," whose general timing is well laid out in the Bible. If there was a connection, it would be the only case of a Sumerian/Canaanite word coming into the Germanic languages without first passing through Hebrew and/or Greek into Latin and then into Germanic via the medium of Christianity.

There is some by no means conclusive evidence of a festival or holy day connected to the spring solstice. However, every recorded instance of the word's usage has clear Christian connotations (i.e., if it ever was a pagan festival, it had effectively disappeared by the time people wrote using the term "Easter"). As to why this word is used in English and German: It is used in German for the simple reason that the pagans of modern-day Germany were missionised by Anglo-Saxon Christians such as St. Willibrord or the two St. Hewalds. The Germans thus got "Easter" the same way the Russians got "Pascha" -- from those who evangelized them.

Although the Grimm Brothers probably did conflate the issue, the goddess Eostre may be a valid concept. However, the only mention of a goddess Eostre is recorded in Bede's 8th century De tempore Ratione (On the Reckoning of Time) - the book which helped popularize B.C./A.D. dating. Since there is no other corroborating evidence, Bede may be mistaken. However the term for Pascha was not named from this doubtful goddess. Instead it is most likely that Easter (Pascha) comes from the Saxon month of Eostre (April) which was used for the spring period.

In other words, the term "Easter" no more honours Eostre than a "Wednesday Night Service" at your local Protestant church honours Odin (Wednesday=Woden's Day).

In England itself, this is the type of theoretical issue Anglo-Saxonists enjoy arguing. There appears to have been a very strong cultural bias among the Anglo-Saxons against other languages. While their Latin missionaries and then their own churchmen obviously knew and used Latin, there was remarkably little borrowing from Latin into English at this time. In almost every instance, the English Church took existing English words to express ecclesiastical terms (thus "sanctus" was translated by "haelig" [holy, healthy, whole] and Old English uses haelige John not St. John, "haeliged" [hallowed] rather than sanctified, etc.) rather than simply borrowing the Latin (the modern preponderance of Latin loan words for ecclesiastical terms is a product of the post 1066 Norman invasion) In addition to Latin books, Old English had the most active vernacular literature (primarily Christian) of any Western area prior to the millennium. There is an extant translation of the gospel of John which is the oldest translation of the Bible into a western vernacular with the exception of Bishop Wulfilas Arian translations into Gothic (itself another Germanic language).

In other words, the presence of the word "Easter" is actually a product of the vibrant "Orthodoxy" of the Anglo-Saxon Church which, unlike later periods, did not suppress the resident culture in favour of an all-embracing Latinism but rather transformed (in accord with the guidelines given to St. Augustine of Canterbury by St. Gregory the Great) the entire language and culture. Although I myself generally use "Pascha" because it is the common usage among Orthodox now, I find attempts to dismiss as "pagan" a true survival of English Orthodoxy very problematic.

Furthermore, there does not seem to be any English form of the word "Pascha"; Orthodox England never called the feast anything but Easter. Word-list (from J.R. Clarke-Hall's A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary):

  • east I. adj. east, easterly. II. adv. eastwards, in an easterly direction, in or from the east
  • eastan from the east, easterly
  • eastanwind east wind
  • eastcyning eastern king
  • eastern quarter, the East
  • easte the East
  • eastende east-end, east quarter
  • Eastengle the East Anglians: East Anglia
  • Easteraefen Easter-eve
  • Easterdaeg Easter-day, Easter Sunday
  • Easterfaestan Easter-fast, Lent
  • Easterfeorm feast of Easter
  • Easterfreolsdaeg the feast day of Passover
  • Eastergewuna Easter custom (appears only in the 9th century sermons ofAelfric where he is referring to Christian Easter practices)
  • Easterlic belonging to Easter, Paschal
  • Eastermonath Easter-month, April
  • Easterne east, eastern, oriental
  • Easterniht Easter-night
  • Eastersunnandaeg Easter Sunday
  • Eastersymble Passover (lit. Easter gathering)
  • Eastertid Eastertide, Paschal season
  • Easterthenung Passover
  • Easterwucu Easter Week

...and then we return to compounds of "east-" [eastern x] except for the nominative Eastre Easter, Passover, (possibly) Spring.

And while I find the etymological connection of Easter and astiehen (to rise up) doubtful, the pun of Eastre, astah (risen) is very obvious in Anglo-Saxon.

Ben's comments: In addition to the arguments related above, one might question whether "Pascha" really takes into consideration U.S. culture. The alleged goal of Orthodoxy is to "baptize" cultures and eventually see Orthodoxy become a part of the dominant national culture. "Pascha" is culturally unintelligible (within mainstream America), and a translation hardly improves comprehension. If Americans were go to out wishing people on the street a "Happy Passover," they would get the wrong idea, indeed.

In other words...Happy Easter!


Happy Easter!

May the joy of the Risen Lord be with all our readers evermore. Happy Easter 2006.

Christus resurrexit!
Vere resurrexit!