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, April 30, 2007

New Website

The Diocese of Sourozh has a pretty, new website.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


There's a wonderful video here from St Paul's Church, Houston. I thought I'd share because it is quite moving.

The link is a direct link to a .wmv file and will initiate download.

Monday, April 16, 2007

On Silence

Just some thoughts (PDF) recently added to the parish collection.

Monday, April 09, 2007


May you all have a happy and holy Paschal season, filled with the blessings of God!

Paschal Epistle

Christ is Risen!

Rejoicing in the Risen Christ, the Source and Fulfilment of our faith and salvation, I sincerely greet the Right Reverend Hierarchs, the all-honourable priests-concelebrants, and the God-loving children of the Russian Church Abroad, with the world-saving feast of Holy Pascha!

Paschal joy is first of all the joy of the Church. We each experience the Resurrection of Christ and we know that we must celebrate Pascha in a renewed state of soul in order to feel our own resurrection with the Lover of man, for only in this way is our participation in the feast expressed, as the Apostle Paul writes:

For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
I Cor. 5:7-8

I wish everyone such participation in the celebration of Pascha, with the words of St Gregory the Theologian: 'Let your whole life be renewed, let all of your actions be
renewed: thus a person is renewed in spirit, thus the day of spiritual renewal is honored.'

The Lord creates each person as His friend; and this friendship becomes more close at the time of our baptism, when we enter His Church. Every person is a friend of God, as St Lazarus is called in the Church hymns; and this friend of Christ has lived (been present) in each one of us, at one time or another: he has lived (been present?) through love, through constant prayerful communion and friendship with Him. Sometimes this has happened with people in their childhood, and sometimes later, but at sometime this friend of the Creator has lived in the heart of each of us. Over the course of time this friend in us dies.

Nevertheless, we do not become despondent, and in worshipping now the Resurrection of Christ, we worship hope, for when the Saviour died on the cross, when it seemed that everything was finished and the tomb was sealed, it was then that the Lord resurrected.

Our hope is that there is no end for man, that each of us will resurrect not only in the future life, but also here on earth; that each of us can resurrect from the abyss of sin to a renewed, good, Christian life, for the Lord is stronger than death. He conquered it by His Resurrection and in the miraculous resurrection of Lazarus, and with our desire and active yearning for Him, He can perform this miracle in our heart, in our life.

While exchanging the Paschal kiss with you now, dear fathers, brothers, sisters, and children of the Russian Church Abroad, I prayerfully desire that this friend of Christ might resurrect in the heart of each of us, that we might be renewed and become better and draw near to our Risen Saviour!

I greet all the God-preserved Russian people with a triple kiss, rejoicing that, although “Hell is king over mortal man, it is not for ever,” as we read in the Canon on Holy Saturday. What do these words mean? This means that hell continues to exist, but, glory be to God, it will not reign forever over man, and everyone who actively strives for God, piously communes with Him in the Mysteries of the Church, and struggles with his weaknesses according to his strength, will be delivered from the power of hell thanks to the three-day Resurrection of Christ, will overcome the effects of the Soviet period, will be drawn towards Christ, will return to his historic roots, will be reborn and renewed. May the holy New-Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, who shed their blood which became the seed for the genuine rebirth of all the ends of the Russian Land, be our intercessors before God for this Paschal grace of renewal. To be included in the process of Her gradual rebirth, and to help in it—is our duty before God, the Church, and history. The saints who shone forth in our Russian Land and our pious forefathers, who lived according to the ideals of Holy Russia, summon all of us to this great work by their personal example. The much-suffering Russian people call all of us to this great work. The Risen Lord has called us to this work! May He strengthen all of us before the approaching events, which will serve for our resurrection with Him, and the establishing of peace and unity in the Local Russian Orthodox Church.

I prayerfully desire that all of you may spend these joyful days in health and prosperity, in spiritual joy, experiencing the mighty power of the Perfect Good and Divine Beauty, illumined by the Light of the Resurrection of Christ, Whom the darkness of this world cannot overcome!

Truly Christ is Risen!

With Paschal joy in the Risen Christ and asking your prayers,
+ Metropolitan Laurus
First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad
Pascha, 2007

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


I was having a discussion about monasticism recently with a friend. I was explaining that Orthodox priests are either married or monastic. (There are cases where economy has been applied so that we do have some unmarried priests who are not monks but they are the exception rather than the norm). My friend asked how that works in practice, as surely priests whose parishes are spread far and wide cannot properly serve their parishes if they are all living together in community, miles away.

Of course, I hadn't actually mentioned anything about living in community: I had merely mentioned monasticism, which doesn't of necessity have anything to do with community. Indeed, the English word monastic comes from the Greek monachos, which means solitary one. My friend has seemingly been exposed to the same sort of ideas that I was in my Anglican days.

Monasticism was always explained by those outside the monasteries as living in community, serving God together as part of a community. That was more or less it. Even when objections were raised by some of the more Evangelical Anglicans that this was merely a form of escapism from living in the world, the only rebuttal was that these people find living in community to be beneficial. I can sympathise with those objections if this is the only explanation that is given to those who raise them. There was never any explanation of monasticism in connection with the purpose of the Christian life: theosis. Monastic life is simply a more intense and focussed form of the Christian life, the way of shedding the temptations of the flesh, the world and the devil.

This is a great contrast that I have seen since having become Orthodox. Indeed, it is only since having become Orthodox that I have come to understand what monasticism is properly about. It is about dedicating oneself entirely to one's salvation, and to full union with God, sharing in the divine nature, as St Peter tells us is our aim in this temporal, fleeting life. The cares, pleasures and frivolities of this life are shed by the monastic, in favour of a life of stability, constant conversion to God, prayer & fasting, and the Sacramental life of the Church.

The kalendar of Saints of the British Isles from its Orthodox era is riddled with the names of hermits who adopted this monastic lifestyle, which shows the idea that eremiticism is a purely Eastern understanding of monasticism for the fallacy that it is.

Yes, there is cœnobitic monasticism as well. This is a wonderful thing and is perhaps the form of monasticism with which most unchurched people are familiar. In this form, the monk is still in one sense alone, still striving for his theosis, but is doing so surrounded by others who are striving for the same thing. The temptations that face the hermit are somewhat lessened, as there is a sense of human accountability to and encouragement from, his brother monks, and all under the spiritual direction of the Abbot. The monk still has his cell where he communes with God, but joins his brother monks for prayer and labour. They do indeed live in community, taking their turns in cooking, cleaning, &c. but this is incidental to the purpose of their monasticism.

The equation of monasticism with mere communal living is not healthy for monasticism, in my opinion. This is neither its purpose nor the aim of those who follow that way, and on the day that this mindset infiltrates their way of life, monasticism will have been seriously compromised!

Some words from St Benedict:

It is recognised that there are four kinds of monks.

The first are the Cœnobites: that is, those who live in a monastery under a Rule or an abbot. The second is that of the Anchorites, (or Hermits), who not in the first fervour of conversion, but after long trial in the monastery, and already taught by the example of many others, having learnt to fight against the devil, are well prepared to go forth from the ranks of the brotherhood to the single combat of the desert. They can now, by God's help, safely fight against the vices of their flesh and against evil thoughts singly, with their own hand and arm and without the encouragement of a companion. The third and worst kind of monks is that of the Sarabites, who have not been tried under any Rule nor schooled by an experienced master, as gold is proved in the furnace, but soft as is lead and still in their works cleaving to the world, are known to lie to God by their tonsure.

These in twos or threes, or more frequently singly, are shut up, without a shepherd; not in Our Lord's fold, but in their own. The pleasure of carrying out their particular desires is their law, and whatever they dream of or choose this they call holy; but what they like not, that they account unlawful.

The fourth class of monks is called Gyrovagi (or Wanderers). These move about all their lives through various countries, staying as guests for three or four days at different monasteries. They are always on the move and never settle down, and are slaves to thir own wills and to the enticements of gluttony. In ever way they are worse than the Sarabites, and of their wretched way of life it is better to be silent than to speak.

Leaving these therefore aside, let us by God's help set down a Rule for Cœnobites, who are the best kind of monks.

The Holy Rule of St Benedict, Chapter 1

Monday, April 02, 2007

Crux Fidelis

Faithful Cross! above all other

one and only noble Tree!
None in foliage, none in blossom,
none in fruit thy peer may be;
sweetest wood and sweetest iron!
sweetest weight is hung on thee.

Bend thy boughs, O Tree of Glory,
thy too rigid sinews bend;
for awhile the ancient rigour
that thy birth bestowed, suspend,
and the King of heavenly beauty
on thy bosom gently tend.
Verses from Crux Fidelis

I stumbled across this photograph on the internet and this hymn instantly came to mind. I felt that it was too good not to share. I truly love this time of year.