Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Evolution of a Worshipper

I can barely count the number of people I know or have met who are evolving in just such a way.

(Hat tip: Tex Anglican)

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Friday, August 25, 2006

St. Benedict Influenced Syrian Monasticism?

West Syrian monasticism, to be specific. At least, according to Fr. Dale A. Johnson (no relation, to the best of my knowledge), who writes the Rule of St. Benedict influenced the work of John of Mardin, the man who re-established the Monastery of Hananyo, today known as the monastery of Deir Zafaran (Saffron Monastery):

About the time John of Mardin was writing his rule in the East, sometime between 1124 and 1144 A.D., St. Bernard was carrying forth the reforms of the Cistercians in Europe. What is remarkable about the rule of John of Mardin is that it seems heavily influenced by the Benedictine characteristics, perhaps influenced by the Rule of Basil and perhaps even the rule of Benedict itself...I believe that the rule of John of Mardin is the first rule developed in the Mesopotamian world that is robust and rounded in the way the rule of Benedict can be characterized.

...John of Mardin’s rule has parallels to Benedict’s rule in 26 of the 31 chapters in a general thematic sense. This alone does not prove that John of Mardin knew directly of the Rule of Benedict. But it is highly suggestive.

...The genius of John of Mardin was his ability to synergize the Syriac monastic world with Benedictine influences. It is the same genius we see in Benedict, and each was able to affect their respective cultures in ways that spanned the centuries.

A truly engrossing account of how the father of Western monasticism had an enduring influence in the East, as well. You can read the whole article in "Shroro," the online journal of the Syrian Orthodox Church ("Monophysite/Jacobites").

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Love = Theosis

Another softie post that warmed my heart, this one from the Pontifications blog:
You only know God to the extent you love your enemies...This is the real test of “Theosis,” not visions of the Divine Light or any other imaginings of the “spiritual.” This is the teaching of the gospel. We will love as God loves, if we truly dwell in Him. If we love as God loves, then we will know Him.
Read the whole (too brief) message here. It's not filled with the wisdom of the world and will scratch few itching ears. It is, however, the best test of one's heart.

The Very First Anglican Mass: In Latin

I recently came across the interim 1548 Holy Communion Office put in place for approximately 15 months before the 1549 BCP was completed. The Order instructed the priest to celebrate his traditional Latin Mass with these few additions added in English. The only changes I've made are to capitalize the personal pronouns referring to God; all other capitalization is in the original.

The time of the Communion shall be immediately after that the Priest himself hath received the Sacrament, without the varying of any other rite or ceremony in the Mass, (until other order shall be provided) but as heretofore usually the Priest hath done with the Sacrament of the Body, to prepare, bless, and consecrate so much as will serve the people; so it shall yet continue still after the same manner and form, save that he shall bless and consecrate the biggest Chalice or some fair and convenient Cup or Cups full of Wine, with some Water put unto it. And that day not drink it up all himself, but taking one only sup or draught, leave the rest upon the Altar covered, and turn to them that are disposed to be partakers of the Communion, and shall thus exhort them as followeth.

DEARLY beloved in the Lord, ye, coming to this holy Communion, must consider what S. Paul writeth to the Corinthians, how be exhorteth all persons diligently to try and examine themselves, or ever they presume to eat of this Bread and drink of this Cup. For as the benefit is great, if with a truly penitent heart and lively faith we receive this holy Sacrament; (for then we spiritually eat the Flesh of Christ, and drink His Blood; then we dwell in Christ, and Christ in us; we be made one with Christ, and Christ with us): So is the danger great, if we receive the same unworthily; for then we become guilty of the Body and Blood of Christ our Saviour; we eat and drink our own damnation, because we make no difference of the Lord’s Body; we kindle God’s wrath over us; we provoke Him to plague us with divers diseases, and sundry kinds of death. Judge therefore yourselves (brethren), that ye be not judged of the Lord; let your mind be without desire to sin; repent you truly for your sins past; have an earnest and lively faith in Christ our Saviour; be in perfect charity with all men; so shall ye be meet partakers of these holy Mysteries. But above all things you must give most humble and hearty thanks to God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, for the redemption of the world by the Death and Passion of our Saviour Christ, both God and Man; who did humble himself, even to the death upon the Cross, for us miserable sinners, lying in darkness and the shadow of death; that He might make us the children of God, and exalt us to everlasting Life. And to the end that we alway should remember the exceeding love of our Master and only Saviour Jesus Christ, thus doing for us, and the innumerable benefits which by His precious blood-shedding He hath obtained to us; He hath left in these holy Mysteries, as a pledge of His love, and a continual remembrance of the same, His own blessed Body and precious Blood, for us spiritually to feed upon, to our endless comfort and consolation. To Him therefore, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, let us give, as we are most bound, continual thanks; submitting ourselves wholly to His holy will and pleasure, and studying to serve Him in true holiness and righteousness all the days of our life. Amen.

Then the Priest shall say to them that be ready to take the Sacrament,

IF any man here be an open blasphemer, advouterer [adulterer], in malice, or envy, or any other notable crime, and be not truly sorry therefore, and earnestly minded to leave the same vices, or that doth not trust himself to be reconciled to Almighty God, and in charity with all the world, let him yet a while bewail his sins, and not come to this holy Table, lest, after the taking of this most blessed Bread, the devil enter into him, as he did into Judas, to fulfil in him all iniquity, and to bring him to destruction, both of body and soul.

Here the Priest shall pause a while, to see if any man will withdraw himself : and if he perceive any so to do, then let him common with him privily at convenient leisure, and see whether he can with good exhortation bring him to grace. And after a little pause, the Priest shall say.

You that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins and offences committed to Almighty God, and be in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, and heartily to follow the commandments of God, and to walk from henceforth in his holy ways; draw near, and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort, make your humble Confession to Almighty God, and to his holy Church, here gathered together in his Name, meekly kneeling upon your knees.

Then shall a general Confession be made, in the name of all those that are minded to receive the holy Communion, either by one of them, or else by one of the Ministers, or by the Priest himself; all kneeling humbly upon their knees.

ALMIGHTY God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men; We knowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed by thought, word, and deed, against Thy divine Majesty, provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, and be heartily sorry for these our misdoings; the remembrance of them is grievous unto us; the burthen of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; for Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever hereafter serve and please Thee in newness of life, to the honour and glory of Thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Then shall the Priest stand up, and turning him to the people, say thus:

OUR blessed Lord, Who hath left power to His Church to absolve penitent sinners from their sins, and to restore to the grace of the heavenly Father such as truly believe in Christ; Have mercy upon you; pardon and deliver you from all sins; confirm and, strength you in all goodness; and bring you to everlasting life.

Then shall the priest stand up, and turning him to the people, say thus:

Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith to all that truly turn to Him. COME unto Me all that travail and be heavy leaden, and I shall refresh you. So God loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in Him should not perish, but have life everlasting. Hear also what S. Paul saith. This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be embraced and received, That Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners. Hear also what S. John saith. If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: He it is that obtained grace for our sins.

Then shall the Priest kneel down and say, in the name of all them that shall receive the Communion, this prayer following:

WE do not presume to come to this Thy Table (O merciful Lord) trusting in our own righteousness, but in Thy manifold and great mercies. We be not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under Thy Table. But Thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the Flesh of Thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink His Blood, in these holy Mysteries, that we may continually dwell in Him, and He in us, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by His Body, and our souls washed through His most precious Blood. Amen.

Then shall the Priest rise, the people still reverently kneeling, and the Priest shall deliver the Communion first to the Ministers, if any be there present, that they may be ready to help the Priest, and after to the other. And when he doth deliver the Sacrament of the Body of Christ, he shall say to every one these words following.

THE Body of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for thee, preserve thy body unto everlasting life.

And the Priest, delivering the Sacrament of the Blood, and giving every one to drink once and no more, shall say.

THE Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which was shed for thee, preserve thy soul unto everlasting life.

If there be a Deacon, or other Priest, then shall he follow with the Chalice; and as the Priest ministereth the Bread, so shall he, for more expedition, minister the Wine, in form before written. Then shall the Priest, turning him to the people, let the people depart with this blessing:

THE peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

To the which the people shall answer,

A few reflections:

1. What an odd hybrid the Anglicans could have been saddled with: the medieval Latin uses combined with the priest exhorting people who communed a handful of times a year at best that God will "plague us with divers diseases, and sundry kinds of death" and allow "the devil enter into him, as he did into Judas."

2. Never let anyone tell you a Latin Mass isn't Anglican!

The Effect of Vagantes

The Athonite monks of Holy Archangels Greek Orthodox Monastery.

One of the laws of vagantes calling themselves "Orthodox" is that their misdeeds sully the reputation of genuine Orthodox. Take this item from the San Antonio Star-Express about Holy Archangels Greek Orthodox Monastery of Kendalia, Texas, all of whose current monks are former Athonites:

Founded in 1996, Holy Archangels is less known these days than the 25-year-old Christ of the Hills monastery 5 miles southwest of Blanco...

"People have always confused us with them, but we have no connection," said Father Dositheos, 38, the Canadian-born abbot of Holy Archangels. The two groups of monks wear similar black robes and have long beards.

Of course, Derek "Fr. Aidan" Keller helped muddy these waters, inviting people to visit his Pseudodox then-monastery, Christ-of-the-Hills in Blanco, and Holy Archangels, referring to the three in the same breath as the "Texan Thebaid." (Yes, despite ROCOR's having disowned Blanco after credible molestation charges had been levied.)
The Star-Express reporter seems to highlight the dangers of vagantes and the benefits of pastoral oversight. (I've added links):
The Blanco monks' only affiliation with any recognized ecclesiastical jurisdiction — the New York-based Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia — lasted from 1991 to 1999...But Holy Archangels is affiliated with the 1.5 million-member Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the largest nationwide Orthodox jurisdiction in the United States. The Greek Orthodox Bishop of Denver, Metropolitan Isaiah, is its regional superior. [That would be "bishop"-BJ.]
The good news is Holy Archangels monastery is growing despite others' obfuscation. Though it has but eight monks at present, it is building a dormitory to house 50. And some might find this tidbit another reason to support it:
The monastery was formerly a Moslem center, with a large mosque and several other buildings. The mosque has been converted into the main church.
Finally, I loved this corker in the story from the monastery's loving archpastor, Met. ISAIAH:
Metropolitan Isaiah said early Greek immigrants in the United States didn't build monasteries because "they expected to make a quick fortune and return to the old country."
Kyrie eleison.


State May Seize Blanco Monastery; Weeping Icon a "Phony"

The State of Texas may classify the "monastery" in Blanco, Texas, "contraband" and declare it state property.

Also of note in the story, a longtime defender of the monks, Anglican priest Fr. Thomas Flower, says the monastery's founder confessed the famous "Weeping Icon" is a fraud:

[Fr. Tom] Flower, an Anglican priest who's long supported [Samuel "Fr. Benedict"]Greene and vouched for the icon's legitimacy, is still reeling from Greene's admission that the icon is fake.

"I confronted him. I said I want to know the truth, were the tears real or phony? And he said they were phony," a dejected Flower said. "I believed it all these years. I really did. I believed it firmly in my heart. I can't tell you how upset I am."

Perhaps one-trillionth as "upset" as the victims, their families, and Jesus?

D.A. Sam Oatman is visiting the Lone Star State's wrath upon the alleged perpetrators, arguing he can confiscate the property because the site was the site of child molestation, fraud, theft, and money laundering. In other words, this Pseudodox "sanctuary" is being treated with all the reverence of a crack house. (As I noted, both the local sheriff and Oatman have said as much.) That's appropriate enough, since according to another source, "In the search warrant, Greene says he seduced the teen with marijuana and porn."

The media have also divulged new details on the second accuser. It is distinctly unedifying:
Another alleged victim, 24-year-old James Wright Jr., also claims he was abused after being sent to the monastery at age 15 for "acting out." He filed a lawsuit this month against Greene, two other monks, and Ecumenical Monks Inc. Wright's suit details alleged abuse, including a "sexual orgy encounter," sodomy, and fondling.

If convicted, the "monks" could face a minimum of five and a maximum of 99-years-to-life in prison. If guilty, that would be the least of their punishment.

May they repent, confess, and atone through an appropriate sentence; may God spare others from the fate of their victim(s); and may genuine Orthodoxy not be judged by the perverse actions they carried out in its name.


One for Ortho-Ethnic Fanatics

Here's my nod to those caught in the dreaded grip of Convert Fanaticism SyndromeTM -- those attempting to change their ethnicity by adopting every cultural practice of the Greeks, Russians, Arabs, etc. , in the misguided hope that this will make them "more Orthodox."
Your Russian Name Is...

Boryenka Aleksi Popov

FWIW, I didn't enter a middle name.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ten Little Orthodox Indians....

No, not the Malankara OO variety. According to the tag, this was on Orthodixie, but someone e-mailed it to me. It's a good principle for churches and churchmen (of both sexes) to live by:

Ten Little Orthodox came to church all the time;
One fell out with the priest, then there were nine.

Nine Little Orthodox stayed up late;
One overslept on Sunday, then there were eight.

Eight Little Orthodox intent on Heaven;
One took the low road, then there were seven.

Seven Little Orthodox, chirping like chicks;
One didn't like the singing, then there were six.

Six Little Orthodox seemed very much alive;
One took a vacation, then there were five.

Five Little Orthodox pulling for Heaven's shore;
One stopped to take a rest, then there were four.

Four Little Orthodox each as busy as a bee;
One had his feelings hurt, and then there were three.

Three Little Orthodox couldn't decide what to do;
One couldn't have his way, then there were two.

Two Little Orthodox each brought one more;
Now don't you see, two plus two equals four.

Four Little Orthodox worked early and late;
Each brought one, now there were eight.

Eight Little Orthodox if they double as before;
In just seven Sundays, we have one thousand twenty four.

In this jingle there is a lesson true;
You belong either to the building up, or to the wrecking crew.


The Fightin' Side of Me

The guy who put this together definitely had an agenda, but....

You Are 85% American

You're as American as red meat and shooting ranges.
Tough and independent, you think big.
You love everything about the U.S., wrong or right.
And anyone who criticizes your home better not do it in front of you!

Now I'm-a gonna go eat some pork gravy and bolled potaters wall ah chew on straw, y'all -- if ah can raise m'knuckles oaf the gray-ownd.


When Men Were Men -- and Loved the Lord

Another must-see photo, posted by our dear Fr. Michael: a phalanx of British policemen marching in lockstep -- "to church in Reigate on a Sunday morning." Naturally, the photo is from 1909. Today, they would be stomping off Friday evening to the Finbury Park Mosque to learn why jihad has nothing to do with true Islam....

Finally, a Reason to Read the Washington Post

WaPo has a nice QuickTime panorama of a traditional Mass on its site today. Click here, then pan around to see -- from what I can tell, just the choir loft. The loft, organ, and ceiling can be viewed in detail. My beef: the altar, stained glass windows, etc., cannot. Also, it's titled "Tridentine Mass," which is, according to Dom James Deschene a misnomer.

The caption reads: "Members of the early music group Chantry and members of Schola Cantorum of Saint Mary Mother of God church listen to the sermon given at the church May 25, during a traditional Tridentine Mass. The church celebrates the Tridentine Mass Sunday mornings and on holy days, including Ascension." So, what's with the guy reading the magazine?

Still, it's well worth a look.