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.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Pride, Dependence and Employment


Many of you will be aware that I haven't worked for over a year because of problems with depression and anxiety, which, at its worst, meant that I had difficulty even getting on a bus, answering the phone, or going to the shops at any time other than opening time when it would be quiet.

Well the year has passed, and with the support of good friends, the prayers of many other friends (including many here) and hefty doses of Citalopram, I've come through the worst of it. Most recently, my feelings have been linked, not to the initial cause of all this, or to the unpleasant revelations surrounding my mother just this September gone, but rather the fact that I felt that my independence had been taken from me.

The father of a good friend of mine recently had an operation and was told to rest, but was eager to get back to work. At first, I rather judgmentally dismissed this as foolish pride but now I realise that I was quite wrong. When a person finds much of his identity and feelings of self-worth in his independence, in his ability to provide for himself and take care of those he loves, it can be very destructive to suddenly be robbed of that and then to be dependent on others for help, whether it be financial or in terms of physical care.

So on Monday of last week, I bit the bullet and made a talephone call, booking a telephone interview for the following day. I passed that and was invited to an assessment on Saturday morning just gone, at which we applicants were told that, if successful, we would hear from them within 48 hours and that if we didn't, we should assume the worst.

Well, 48 hours came and 48 hours went, and on Monday lunchtime the phone rang. I answered and it was them. Only, they had phoned me to conduct a telephone interview, seemingly not realising that I had done that bit the previous week. Apparently, they had duplicated my records, and so apologised for having raised my hopes. I then sulked (because I'm good at that), until the next evening when, over 24 hours late, they phoned to offer me the job, which I gladly accepted. I'm so pleased.

It's just a call centre customer service job but I'm glad for that because it's the sort of job I've done before and the familiarity should help me move back into the world of work. After all, I have been removed from that sort of environment, and indeed normal day-to-day interactions with people, for over a year now. I have a friend who started working there this week and so that should be a help as well. It also pays significantly more than muy last, similar, job, which is something at which I'm not about to turn up my nose.

I'm so pleased that life is returning to some semblance of normalcy and I'm grateful to everybody for their encouragement, support and prayers, and most of all to God for his grace and mercy in getting me through the quagmire into the present.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Computers and Stuff

My faithful readers may remember that at about this time last year, my housemate and I were burgled and my laptop was stolen. In the intervening period, my housemate and exceptionally good friend has permitted me to use his laptop for my general internet and other computer usage and I am eternally grateful. We moved house in July of this year and my godfather gave me a computer as he was replacing his. It is an exceptionally good machine with the most up-to-date versions of most things and a very decent amount of memory. I have been so well treated, especially as I haven't been in a position over the past year or so to purchase a new one.

Well we've now gone wireless with our internet connexion and here I am, posting from my bedroom, surrounded by my books (which are my weakness) and Hilda (my swiss cheese plant), with AFR playing in the background. By the grace of God and the assistance of good friends (and citalopram ;-) ), things are getting much better for me and I'm so pleased with the positive turn that things have taken.

I just want to give my thanks to all who have remembered me in prayer over the past year and before. Your effectual prayers have been very much appreciated.

Ancient Faith Radio

I was directed to this a few weeks back and have now really got into the habit of having it playing softly in the background whenever I'm online. What a wonderful thing! An Orthodox radio station! The music is so very moving. It is truly inspiring to hear the Faith sung like this, and to hear the quotes from the Saints as well. I also love the fact that, even on Sundays when I'm unable to get to the Liturgy or when there isn't one, I'm able to listen to one online. I've just shared the link with my godfather and he's truly enthralled by it.

Thanks are certainly in order for the providers of this service.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Christ the Saviour Cathedral

Not long after the beginning of my entrance to the blogosphere, I posted a link to some video clips showing the desecration and demolition of Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow, the use of the site during the intervening years and the rebuilding of the cathedral. There were also videos of the 5+hour service of reconsecration of the cathedral and the glorification of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia. The link to the original post is in the title of this one.

They were extremely moving videos. I shed a tear at the scene of the icons burning and was filled with excitement when I saw the bishops building the new altar.

Sadly, the videos no longer seem to work. I would very much like to download them but I don't know how to contact the administrators of the website, especially as the main site is actually in Russian. Does anybody know how I might contact them or where else I may be able to get my hands on the videos? If so, and you would let me know, I should be very grateful.

Thank you.

An Altar Server's Guide to the Liturgies

Samuel ministered unto the Lord
girded with a linen ephod.

I don't know whether anybody else has come across this. I have found this to be quite useful. It gives all of the rubrics for servers alongside the text of the Divine Liturgy so the user knows where he is up to without the priest having to point and whisper all the time. The only problem is that the text is the people's text and not the priest's text. Really, one has to use it alongside the priest's rubrics in order to for it to be fully useful, as the server needs to know what he is doing in relation to the priest - not the people - for it is the priest whom he is assisting.

That said, I suppose I can understand that the compilers didn't want to cause confusion by cluttering the margin with too many rubrics but by so doing, they have compromised the usefulness of the book. Perhaps it's something to bear in mind for a second edition. The glossary of terms at the back is also a good thing, especially for somebody like me, accustomed only to the terminology of the western tradition.

Overall, I would say that this is a worthy attempt at supplying guidance for new servers, and I commend the effort, especially as there is a notable absence of this sort of thing. Certainly, in my searching, I was unable to find anything else. I hope that many others may find it useful.

Bishop Basil of Sergievo

My joy of what has been going on between ROCOR and the MP has been somewhat overshadowed by recent events to do with the aforementioned retired bishop of the Patriarchate of Moscow. I was so looking forward to the positive effect that a reunited Russian Orthodox presence here in Britain could have had on missionary activity. Yet, at the same time this was seeming more like a reality, Bishop Basil has done this thing, with the aid of the Oecumenical Patriarch, no less.

I know very little about the current situation. It is my understanding that the Moscow Patriarchate's investigation is still ongoing and that they wish to hear Bishop Basil's testimony before taking further action, yet he refuses to submit to the authority of his Patriarch and the Holy Synod, considering himself to be under the jurisdiction of the Oecumenical Patriarchate and now calling himself the Bishop of Amphipolis. I usually don't go in for grapevine politics but I understand that he has been summoned for a third time to appear.

Does anybody know more about this? When is this to take place? If he doesn't turn up, (which is most likely to be the case), how is this likely to affect already strained relations between Moscow and Constantinople? I know that a large part of the reason that talks of union between ROCOR and the Holy Synod of Milan were thwarted because of the latter's refusal to conform to the canonical norms in light of the fact that they had previously accepted a deposed (defrocked?) priest of ROCOR and consecrated him as a "bishop". Is this a similar situation? Should Moscow accept the reality that Bishop basil has already set up his exarchate under Patriarch Batolomeos or would this set an unhealthy and dangerous precedent for DIY religion in Orthodoxy, with no regard for the canons and decency of Church order? Should Constantinople rescind its acceptance of Bishop Basil, at least temporarily, pending a decision from Moscow? Is this whole affair just another in a long line of examples of Constantinople's power-grabbing in light of the grim reality that Orthodoxy is almost non-existent on his own geographical territory?

I'd love to know more. As for the outcome, I suppose we can only wait and see, all the while praying that we don't see a complete severing of communion between Constantinople and Moscow.

ROCOR & Moscow

Blessed be God! This is finally taking shape. It seems now that everything is in place for the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion, which means that by this time next year, Deo volente, we should have normal canonical relations with Moscow and, by extension, the other local churches.

Here is the Act, with the place and dates left blank, as they are still to be decided.

We, the humble Alexy II, by God's mercy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, jointly with the Eminent Members of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, having gathered at a meeting of the Holy Synod (date) in the God-preserved city of Moscow; and the humble Laurus, Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, jointly with the Eminent Bishops, members of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, having gathered (time, place);

Being guided by the effort towards reestablishing blessed peace, Divinely-decreed love, and brotherly unity in the common work in the harvest-fields of God within the Fullness of the Russian Orthodox Church and her faithful in the Fatherland and abroad, taking into consideration the ecclesiastical life of the Russian diaspora outside the canonical borders of the Moscow Patriarchate, as dictated by history;

Taking into account that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia performs its service on the territories of many nations;

By this Act declare:

1. That the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, conducting its salvific service in the dioceses, parishes, monasteries, brotherhoods, and other ecclesiastical bodies that were formed through history, remains an indissoluble part of the Local Russian Orthodox Church.

2. That the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is independent in pastoral, educational, administrative, management, property, and civil matters, existing at the same time in canonical unity with the Fullness of the Russian Orthodox Church.

3. The supreme ecclesiastical, legislative, administrative, judicial and controlling authority in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is her Council of Bishops, convened by her Primate (First Hierarch), in accordance with the Regulations [ Polozheniye ] of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

4. The First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is elected by her Council of Bishops. This election is confirmed, in accordance with the norms of Canon Law, by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.

5. The name of the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church and the name of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia are commemorated during divine services in all churches of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia before the name of the ruling bishop in the prescribed order.

6. Decisions on the establishment or liquidation of dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia are made by her Council of Bishops in agreement with the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.

7. The bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia are elected by her Council of Bishops or, in cases foreseen by the Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, by the Synod of Bishops. Such elections are confirmed in accordance with canonical norms by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.

8. The bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia are members of the Local Council [ Pomestny Sobor ] and Council of Bishops [ Arkhiereiskij Sobor ] of the Russian Orthodox Church and also participate in the meetings of the Holy Synod in the prescribed order. Representatives of the clergy and laity of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia participate in the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church in the established manner.

9. The supreme instances of ecclesiastical authority for the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia are the Local Council and the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church.

10. Decisions of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church extend to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia with consideration of the particularities described by the present Act, by the Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and by the legislation of the nations in which she performs her ministry.

11. Appeals on decisions of the supreme ecclesiastical court of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia are directed to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

12. Amendments to the Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia by her supreme legislative authority are subject to the confirmation of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in such case as these changes bear a canonical character.

13. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia receives her holy myrrh from the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

By this Act, canonical communion within the Local Russian Orthodox Church is hereby restored.

Acts issued previously which preclude the fullness of canonical communion are hereby deemed invalid or obsolete.

The reestablishment of canonical communion will serve, God willing, towards the strengthening of the unity of the Church of Christ, of her witness in the contemporary world, promoting the fulfillment of the will of the Lord to “gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad” (John 11:52).

Let us bring thanks to All-Merciful God, Who through His omnipotent hand directed us to the path of healing the wounds of division and led us to the desired unity of the Russian Church in the homeland and abroad, to the glory of His Holy Name and to the good of His Holy Church and Her faithful flock. Through the prayers of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, may the Lord grant His blessing to the One Russian Church and Her flock both in the fatherland and in the diaspora.

Apart from the completely superfluous By this Act - for surely that's what hereby means - I enthusiastically welcome this definitive step along the journey.

There was an address given by Fr Alexander Lebedeff at the All-Diaspora Council in May of this year which went unpublished on the Council website precisely because of its explicit reference to the Act, which had not yet been made public. Now that the Act, along with its supporting documents, has been published, the text of Fr Alexander's address has been posted to the ROCOR website and it does indeed make for harrowing reading. He really brings home the gravity of the present situation, especially by placing it within the wider canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church and by suggesting the likely outcome of not proceeding with restoration of canonical relations with the rest of Orthodoxy. Despite the exciting things that are going on, I'm not sure that I could have stayed in ROCOR had we decided not to go ahead with this, and so I thank our Synod for approving the Act, and I look forward with eagerness to its signing, which I hope will be available at least via webcast.

There have been speculations that this may be overshadowed by other events in the Orthodox world but I'll post more about my questions over that.