As of December, 2009, this blog is inactive at this location. All posts have been transferred to the new location here. You are very welcome to read and comment.

Monday, May 22, 2006

More photos

I recently received some more photographs in the post. Here they are.

Being Churched: the perambulation

I believe, O Lord, and I confess...

My first Communion

The Church of St Mary Magdalene which houses the relics of St Elisabeth the New Martyr

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Button Moon

We're off to Button Moon.
We'll follow Mister Spoon.
Button Moon! Button Moon!

I'm old. It has finally been confirmed.

I was watching Nick Jr. the other evening (as one does), and saw that a section was dedicated to children's television programmes that I enjoyed as a child. There were things like Thomas the Tank Engine, The Herbs, The Clangers and Button Moon. What worried me was that this segment was called "Nick Jr. Classics". Classics! For goodness' sake! It's as though my flab and the grey that my parish priest's daughter pointed out (very loudly), that I have in my beard don't make me feel old enough.

Still, it was damn good fun to see my childhood "classics" again, especially Button Moon. For those of you not from this isle, or for those not of my generation or without children of my generation with whom you watched, Button Moon was fantastic. It was extremely low-budget. The set was simply a backdrop of velvet - a large, black, velvet blanket with sequins stuck to it. This was supposed to be the night sky with its stars. The moon was a large button which was suspended in front of it.

There were three main characters: Mr Spoon, Mrs Spoon and Tina Teaspoon, their daughter. They were puppets made out of everyday kitchen items like bottle tops and sponges, with tiny spoons for arms. Every day, Mr Spoon, often accompanied by Tina, would fly to Button Moon in his spaceship (a baked bean tin, resting on a salmon tin, with a funnel on top). There they would encounter all manner of interesting characters: strange animals, sponges, bowls, taps, and everyday things, with personas all of their own. The puppetry was amazing. They would solve problems like the kitchen sponge's aversion to water.

At the end of each day, Mr Spoon would fly home and greet his wife, as though he'd been working hard all day, when he had, in fact, just been playing about all day.

There's more about Button Moon here and the closing theme song is here.

Whoever said that nostalgia isn't what it used to be was quite simply wrong.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Concerns about the Western Rite

Something Joe said in a comment on the Britannic Orthodox Church? post got me to thinking.

I have heard a number of objections to the Western Rite from various quarters. Some have been from people from traditionally Orthodox countries where the way they phrase their objections has betrayed an ignorance of the history of Orthodoxy outside of their home countries. Others have been from a reactionary "East good: West bad" mentality that seems to exist among some Orthodox groups, where the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom is viewed as having fallen out of Our Lord's back pocket at the Ascension.

However, other concerns raised about the WRite have been more reasoned than this, and do have some merit. I think that Joe's sentiment falls into this category.

It's either a stilted piece of archeology or a byzantinized form of Anglican or RC praxis. At least that's it in simple terms.

Before I continue, I must admit now that I don't have any direct experience of worshipping within the WRite in an Orthodox context, and so my knowledge comes mainly from discussing with those who do and from examining the rites myself, and discussing with those who have had a part in adapting them.

I'll take the first objection first. The restoration of the WRite is not intended to be an exercise in liturgical archaeology. That would be a grave mistake. Liturgy isn't just about words and ceremonial, but about the Faith, spirituality and piety that these rites sustain and are sustained by. The liturgy is only a part of the greater whole and develops and grows naturally within that context. I, too, would be wary of any effort at re-creating the Use of, say, York, as it was 500 years ago, for use in Orthodoxy today. I must admit that I love these forms of worship, but this is an idiosyncrasy of mine. Even while I was salivating over the text of the Old Sarum Rite Mass, translated and superbly produced by Monk Aidan (Keller), (whose excellent Chant Ordinarium I have), part of me was uncomfortable as I realised that it is something that, sadly, would not be of practical use today. That's the reality of the situation and, while there are a few of us who would be very comfortable in our worship if the Rite of Sarum were in common use, we need to realise that we are a very small minority. It's worth noting, too, (with respect to Monk Aidan, whom I know reads this blog), that no canonical Orthodox jurisdiction has authorised this for use, perhaps for the reasons mentioned above.

Within canonical Orthodoxy, a more organic approach has been taken to this. Instead of resurrecting rites long deceased within the Church, the approach has been to draw into Orthodoxy the liturgucal traditions that are currently used by Western Christians, which have developed and grown as living rites within a community of faith; rites which take one of two main formats: those with their roots in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer and the majority which follow the classical shape of the ancient Gregorian Mass. Of course, the doctrinal defects in these rites have needed to be corrected to restore their suitability for use within Orthodoxy. This has involved changes to the glaringly obvious differences (such as the removal of filioque), and more subtle changes (such as the restoration of the sung propers which largely fell into disuse after the liturgical actions they were intended to cover were either reduced or removed entirely because of protestant objections to them).

RCs, Anglicans, Methodists and others will be familiar with the classical Gregorian shape of the Eucharist, even if they are unaware of the fact. The Novus Ordo Mass and rites based on it (such as the Methodist Worship Book and Common Worship order one) are all developments of this to one degree or another, and while not suitable for Orthodox worship themselves (for other reasons), mean that this is the basic shape that many Western Christians are familiar with, and have been for centuries. Therefore, an updated form of Sarum would be appropriate, IMO, as would the Gregorian Liturgy itself, as it has lived on to some degree in the Tridentine Mass, still used by some RCs today, and by Canterbury & Continuum Anglicans of the English Missal tradition. In fact, the Scottish Episcopal Eucharstic liturgy of 1972 (still in use) allows for a celebration very much along the lines of the Gregorian Mass, with a few canonically-permitted adaptations, and from first-hand experience, I can vouch that it is so used in some Anglican churches in Scotland.

With regard to the byzantinisations that may have crept in during the process of correcting the doctrinal forms, I suppose this all depends on one's experience of the Western rite. With regard to the rites used in the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate, I can't comment much due to having limited experience of them. I'm sure there are others better-placed to comment on those. My knowledge is based on the liturgies of the Russian Church Abroad, where one would be very hard-pressed indeed to find any Byzantine forms. The two main ones are the English Liturgy and the Usus Cascadae.

The thing we need to remember is that the Western Rite has its roots in Orthodoxy, and, despite having been outside of Orthodoxy for centuries until 100 or so years ago, is still proving itself to be a valuable part of the Orthodox tradition by the number of people that are brought, by their spiritual formation in the Western Rite, to the point of knocking on Orthodoxy's door and asking to be let in. For the sake of the salvation of souls, I do feel that we need to open this door up much, much more widely.

Just a few thoughts.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Cabinet re-shuffle

After Mr Blair's tidy-up, I thought I'd do the same with my weblog after a time of silence.

Regulars will notice that I have re-arranged the links in the column at the right-hand side, pruning some that I rarely use and adding many new ones. There is now an entire section on the Western Rite, which is reflective of the new purpose.

Before February of 2005, I had made a few attempts to keep a blog, all of which failed as I had gone about it the wrong way. I wanted to enter the blogosphere but didn't actually have anything to blog about. Then I began to seriously explore Orthodoxy, and sat down one day to put my thoughts together, taking up 6 pages of A4. After having been made reasonably presentable, this became my first blog post here, and I am ever so grateful for the help, support, guidance and laughs that so many people have brought to me here on my journey into Orthodoxy.

Now that stage of the journey has come to an end and a new one has begun - one in which I must settle into and grow in the Orthodox Faith and life, which will be perhaps a more private affair than my initil searching had been. Still, I don't want to lose my blog, and so I think I'll perhaps see how things go if I dedicate it from now on to another issue close to my heart, which is the missionary work of Orthodoxy in the West, more specifically in the British Isles, and the place that the Western Rite has within that. There are, of course, other blogs and sites which do a marvellous job of focusing on this, so I may be redundant here.

Let's see how things go.

Britannic Orthodox Church?

O God, the Father of heaven, have mercy upon us.
O God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy upon us.
O God the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete, have mercy upon us.
O Holy Trinity, Three Persons yet One God, have mercy upon us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of Virgins, pray for us.
Holy Archangel Michael, pray for us.
Holy Archangel Gabriel, pray for us.
Holy Archangel Raphael, pray for us.
All ye holy Angels and Archangels, pray for us.
All ye Holy Orders of Blessed Spirits, pray for us.
Saint Dyfan, pray for us.
Saint Ninian, pray for us.
Saint Patrick, pray for us.
Saint Cuthbert, pray for us.
Saint David, pray for us.
Saint Chad, pray for us.
Saint Petroc, pray for us.
Saint Columba, pray for us.
Saint Alban, pray for us.
Saint Aidan, pray for us.
Saint George, pray for us.
Saint Andrew, pray for us.
Saint David, pray for us.
Saint Edmund, pray for us.
Saint Edward Confessor, pray for us.
Saint Edward Martyr, pray for us.
Saint Bertelin, pray for us.
Saint Werburgh, pray for us.
Saint Milburgh, pray for us.
Saint Hilda, pray for us.
All ye Holy Saints of God, pray for us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world:
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world:
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world:
have mercy upon us.

Almighty everlasting God, Who hast revealed thy glory to all nations in Christ; preserve, we beseech Thee, the works of thine own mercy, that thy Church which is spread throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession on Thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

I would love to see an autocephalous, or at least, autonomous, Orthodox Church of Britain. My vision for this would be a jurisdiction in Great Britain, perhaps also encompassing Eire and the Isle of Man. It would be formed of communities from all of the major jurisdictions which currently have a presence here, and, as is right and fitting for the Orthodox Church in western lands, would be primarily Western Rite, with a sobor of mainly "home-grown" bishops who are able to serve the Western Rite, but with liturgical and spiritual provision being made for those from ERite backgrounds. It would be culturally a church of the British Isles, holding to the traditional Church calendar, and the fulness of Orthodox Faith, and would have a strong missionary, indeed Apostolic, ethos, which would be strnegthened by the unity of the Orthodox presence in this part of the world.

So am I away with the fairies or is this actually possible?

Well, at the moment, the jurisdictions with a presence here are:
-The Patriarchate of Moscow (MP)
-The Oecumenical Patriarchate (OP)
-The Patriarchate of Antioch (AP)
-The Russian Church Abroad (ROCOR)

Assuming that the canonical relationship between ROCOR and the MP is regularised, and ROCOR is granted autocephalous status, the jurisdictional situation is likely to be as follows.

The MP
- In full communion with OP, AP & ROCOR.
- Old Calendar
- WRite authorised.

The OP
- In full communion with MP & AP.
- In impaired communion with ROCOR.
- Will not recognise autocephaly of ROCOR as status not granted by OP.
- New Calendar.
- Im unsure of its approach to the WRite.

The AP
- In full communion with MP & OP.
- In impaired communion with ROCOR.
- New Calendar.
- WRite authorised.

- In full communion with MP.
- In impaired communion with OP & AP.
- Old Calendar.
- WRite authorised.

Presumably, those who use the new calendar would not have a doctrinal objection to switching to the old calendar, so that obstacle shouldn't be insurmountable. So it seems to me that any possibility of unity would be approaches to the ecumenist heresy and how to relate to the non-Orthodox, and canonical recognition by the Oecumenical Patriarchate. It would hardly be ideal to form an autocephalous church which is not actually recognised as autocephalous by many but itself, with a plethora of jursidictions operating in its territory, which, as I understand it, is the case in the USA with OCA.

I'm sure that there are other issues which would come into play. Perhaps others could share their thoughts here.

I'm also aware that I have ignored the presence of the so-called "Celtic Orthodox Church" and the ROCiE presence here. I don't know what the chances would be of the former being regularised as part of a Britannic Orthodox Church but I do know that any attempts at such a venture with the latter would be an exercise in futility.

IV All-Diaspora Council again

Almighty and everlasting God, Who with thy finger writest in the hearts of believers the righteousness of thy law; give unto us the increase of faith, hope and charity; and, that we may obtain that which Thou dost promise, make us to love that which Thou dost command. Through Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, Who with Thee and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The Council, the website of which is linked to above, began yesterday. Please pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that it may be fruitful and the will of God be revealed.