Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Science Proves: Incense is Good for You

Fr. Barry Jeffries censes the people at a Hierarchical (Western Rite Orthodox, ROCOR) Liturgy in London, 2007.

No visitor to either Eastern nor Western Rite fails to notice the presence of incense in our services, frequently in profuse abundance. Scientists have now confirmed: incense is good for your emotional health. An otherwise sarcastic article on MSN Health entitled "Frankincense and Mirth" reports:

Scientific papers aren’t usually tagged with very exciting titles, but recently I came across a real barn burner: Incensole Acetate, an Incense Component, Elicits Psychoactivity by Activating TRPV3 Channels in the Brain.


Reading between the lines of lab-coat lingo, I realized the report was saying that frankincense—the incense traditionally burned in religious ceremonies—can act on the brain to lower anxiety and diminish depression.

As it turns out: "Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and Hebrew University administered incensole acetate, a component of frankincense, to lab mice and learned that it lit up areas of their little mouse brains that control emotion, including nerve circuits affecting anxiety and depression."

So, breathe deep, relax, and worship the Holy Trinity.

Again, the wisdom of our spiritual Fathers — Eastern, Western, or from the Old Testament Church — shines forth.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

I Hate To Say I Told You So, But....

I'm several days behind, so this may not be news, but I post it because it relates to something I wrote years ago here.

Following the defeat of the "Superbishops" provision for conservative Anglicans, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt. Rev. Andrew Burnham, says he may lead a group of Anglicans into communion with Rome. But the Times shows ever-liberalizing Euro-Catholics are discouraging the prospect:
A spokesman for the Catholic Church of England and Wales said all new members are welcome, but added that each must join individually and parishes could not simply convert en masse.
More than a year ago on this blog (and longer ago than that elsewhere), I wondered why Orthodox never seemed to bother making their presence known to Anglicans:
When conservative Anglicans noised about their will to break away from the left-wing Episcopal Church (TEC), then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) wrote a letter supporting their efforts. Now a major realignment may be underway, in which Anglicans may reunite with the Papacy...

Many of us wondered at the time why Orthodox made no similar attempt to establish closer relations with the more conservative Anglicans. Even a token of goodwill from a high enough source would have made an important statement, and Lord willing, it would have meant teaching them what we require for unity on our own terms. Whether the Anglicans accepted the terms or not is less important than that we had the opportunity to make it, as the Lord requires. None was made....

[W]hy did no one on this side of the Bosphorus understand that having a positive relationship with liturgical Christians with some moral values noisily seeking for another church home might be of some use?
Even at this late stage of apostasy, if there has been any Orthodox contact with the communion's remaining Anglo-Catholics (with the exception of one stouthearted priest), I am unaware of it. Even in official reaction, one finds outrage against the problem but no solution for those trapped with it. Fr. Igor Vyzhanov, secretary of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, called the decision "painful," adding this move "is further alienating the Anglican community from the Apostolic tradition." The move, though, was "predictable because the tendency of total liberalization unfortunately dominates in many Christian Churches, including the Anglican community." Fr. Igor did observe the decision "is worsening a split among the Anglicans," which historically is "the nearest amongst the western Christian Churches." He notes with sadness, "A very serious dialogue was underway with it in a hope that good relations between the Orthodox and Anglicans would have good prospects."

Bp. HILARION, Moscow Patriarchal Bishop of Vienna and Austria, called this move "the Anglican community's next concession to the modern secular standards." He added, "Centuries-old tradition of Christian Church is denied for political correctness once again." Although Canterbury has invited Orthodox observers to the Lambeth Conference, His Grace wondered aloud if "it makes sense for Orthodox observers to participate in a forum of the Church that takes decisions invariably contradicting Orthodox ecclesiology. And to what extent bilateral Orthodox-Anglican is rational in such a situation. I suppose leaders of local Orthodox Churches should consider these questions seriously again."

Why would the remaining Druids care if "reactionaries" from the East turned away? His Grace is right that it does Orthodox no good to "observe" the Anglican Communion's descent into paganism. In fact, all these statements are true as far as they go. But why be reactive instead of pro-active? What if, instead of merely noting the outrage of Canterbury's long-term apostasy and questioning the future of a moribund ecumenical dialogue, these two statements had included a phrase along these lines (I am trying to stay as close to their original wording as possible): "This latest concession to secular trends calls into question the extent to which bilateral relations with Canterbury remain rational. However, we have long recognized the High Church tradition of Anglo-Catholicism as the closest theology to Orthodoxy among the Western churches. We welcome a very serious dialogue with those unable to consent to this liberalization, who cling to this part of Apostolic tradition, and we believe good relations between Orthodox and conservative Anglicans will have good prospects for our eventual unity."

There was, and is, no such statement, not even a letter expressing sympathy for the Anglo-Catholics' unenviable position. As I wrote last year:
The accord is far from a settled reality. But it's much closer than any similar, massive concordat with Orthodoxy, whether Eastern or Western.
There is not a trace of glee whatever in my saying, "I told you so."

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Around the time the Anglican Communion gave the middle finger to its remaining Christians, our friend Ari Adams wrote this about the rejected petition for "Superbishops" (bishops who oversee people outside their geographical dioceses):
Faster than a mass defection.
More powerful than a Jerusalem conference.
Able to leap jurisdictional boundaries in a single bound.

Look! Up in the sky!
It's a bird. It's a plane. It's Superbishop!

Yes, it's Superbishop - strange visitor from another province who came to the diocese with powers and abilities far beyond those of ordinary bishops. Superbishop - who can change the course of traditionalist parties, bend dissatisfaction with his bare hands, and who, disguised as a diocesan bishop, mild mannered vicar for a large provincial see, fights the never ending battle of Attrition, Compromise and the Anglican Way.
It seems the Apostate Anglican Communion found the kryptonite. Ari's post is funny because it's true. And because it's true, it's not funny at all....

Assume the Superbishops sideshow had gone through: those upholding the Church's traditional belief on female ordination would be spared being directly ruled by female bishops. However, some of these Superbishops (like the AMiA body) approve of female priestesses. Above all this, one would still be in communion with all these female priestesses and bishopesses, including "Conjoined Twins" Kate; if they appeared at the communion rail with Gene Robinson and John Spong in tow, you would be forced to commune the lot of them.

There's one word for those fighting this fight.