Saturday, September 06, 2008

A Byzantine Word About Uber-Byzantines

A word on Convert Fanaticism SyndromeTM from the Orthodox England website:
Then there are the people who have been attracted to the Church through a discovery on holiday. I call these people 'Holiday Orthodox'. Their attraction is often not actually to Christ, but to a foreign and exotic culture - the more exotic the better. Living very humdrum lives, the Orthodox Church gives them something to dream about, usually their next holiday in Crete or wherever....

Then there are the people who come with their own agenda, often 'know it alls', who have read every book under the sun, but still have no idea of the letter A of the Christian ABC. And they come with demands which they wish to impose! 'Yes, I want to join the Orthodox Church, but only on condition that it has first been 'reformed' and 'modernised''! 'Yes, this is good, but I want to add in some Western hymns before the Canon'!, or 'I will only join the Orthodox Church when it has the same Easter as my Aunt Susan who is a Methodist'!, or 'Everything is perfect except that you use too many candles. Take away the candles and I will join the Orthodox Church'. 'I will only be Orthodox if you have an icon of St Francis of Assisi'! 'I will join the Orthodox Church on condition that everybody votes New Labour and goes on holiday to Tuscany'! [Or, "Have you seen the Missal I've put together? It's so much better than the approved Western Rite Orthodox...."- BJ] These are perhaps extreme examples, but they are all real examples. They are all examples of a lack of humility. No priest should receive such people into the Church for the simple reason that they do not love and accept the Church and Her Master Christ...

The attachment to externals can extend to foreign clothes, language, food and folklore. I remember in one Russian church in Belgium, you immediately knew who the converts were; the men had nineteenth-century Russian peasant beards and the women wore dowdy long skirts and seemed to be wearing tablecloths on their heads. You knew who the Russians were because they dressed normally. In a Greek church here, there were two priests, a Greek and a convert. You immediately knew who the convert was because he wore huge wide-sleeved robes and an enormous chimney-pot on his head. The Greek just wore an undercassock.

In another Russian church, the Russians always spoke about singing, Christmas and Easter, but the 'converts' (and that is what they were) spoke about 'chanting' and 'The Nativity' and 'Paskha'...

Some people can be so full of themselves! Some people can be very self-important and very puffed-up. They will first tell you - if you let them - their detailed life-stories and then all the latest gossip about Priest X, Bishop Y, and then Jurisdiction Z. Even though they do not know the ABC of the children's Faith. The thing is though, that Christianity, and that is what we are about, is about none of these things....


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

St. Nikolai (Velimirovich) on Eastern Orthodox Statues: St. Veronica

That story on the ancient Portmahomack monastery in Scotland mentioned sculptures/statues. Here's a tidbit from the Prologue of Ochrid by St. Nikolai of Zhica/South Canaan, which can be found on the website of Archangel Books, a conservative book seller affiliated with ROCOR. It quotes St. Nickolai in this entry:

St. Veronica with Holy Napkin (Russian Silk)

Commemorated on July 12/25

According to Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich in The Prologue from Ohrid:

This is the woman with the issue of blood, whom the Lord healed (Matt. 9:20). In gratitude to the Lord her healer, Veronica caused a statue of the Lord Jesus to be made, before which she prayed to God. By tradition, this statue was preserved up to the time of Julian the Apostate, when it was altered to become a statue of Zeus. This is one of the very rare occasions that a holy statue has been used in the Eastern Church. As is known, this later became a common custom in the Western Churches. St Veronica remained faithful to Christ till death, and entered peacefully into rest.

Veronica / Veroniki literally translates "true image" or "true icon."

You can also see the full day's saints here. You can also skip to any given day in the Prologue through the ROCOR archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand website. Both are according to the Old Calendar. Of course, we've found (and continue to find) that Orthodox statues were not as rare as perhaps he thought.

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