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, May 19, 2007

Christminster on the move!

I haven't really been pottering around much in the Western Rite blogosphere over the last couple of weeks and so managed to miss the news that the Benedictine monastery of Christ the Saviour in Rhode Island is, after many years of struggling to accommodate its needs in its current situation, to move to more substantial premises in Canada.

Benjamin Johnson has more here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Russian Church Reunification Video

Please see the entry here from 17/05/07 for a video of the events.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Invention of the True Cross

The royal banners forward go;
the Cross shines forth in mystic glow;
where He in flesh, our flesh Who made,
our sentence bore, our ransom paid -
from the Vesperal Office Hymn of the Feast

O Cross, surpassing all the stars in splendour, world renowned, exceeding dear unto the hearts of men, holier than all things: thou only wert counted worthy to uphold the world's ransom. Sweet the wood, sweet the iron, bearing so sweet a burden: bring aid to this congregation, who are here assembled to celebrate thy praises. Alleluia! Alleluia!
The Antiphon on the Magnificat at 1st Vespers of the Feast

Today is the Feast of the Invention (or finding, from the Latin invenire) of the True Cross to which Our Lord ascended to save mankind from death by sharing in it, later to conquer death by His glorious Resurrection.

In the year 326AD, St Helen of Colchester, Equal to the Apostles, mother of Emperor St Constantine, on her mission to gather sacred relics of the Christian Faith, led an excavation at Jerusalem, on the site of a temple of the pagan goddess Venus. Being directed by the Jew Judas, who himself converted to the true Faith of Christ and is hailed at St Cyriacus, St Helen unearthed three crosses, among them, the True Cross of Our Lord. She also prayed for the recovery of the nails, and found them together with the sign which the Gospels record was secured to the Cross at the command of Pilate. These sacred relics had been hidden by the Jews near to the Holy Sepulchre of Christ in a vain attempt to conceal the Truth and diminish the effect of the Passion of the Lord. The pagans had profaned the site with temples to their false gods to add further insult.

In order to determine which of the crosses was the True Cross of the Lord, St Helen, under the direction of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Saint Macarius, took each of the crosses, one by one, to a woman who was extremely sick. The first two had no effect but she was immediately restored to wholeness when they brought the third. In the same manner, a man who had just died and was to be carried away was taken instead to the crosses and, upon being taken to the third, was restored to life. Thus, this third cross was hailed as the True, Precious, and Life-Giving Cross of Christ, and was venerated by Ss Macarius and Helen, and the crowds of the faithful who flocked there upon having heard the news.

The Cross was divided into two portions, one of which was sent to Emperor St Constantine, and the other of which was left in Jerusalem, where much of it remains to this day in the Church of the Resurrection of Christ, (also known as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre).

Over the centuries, fragments of the True Cross have been sent to churches in various parts of the world where they are esconced in altars and venerated in reliquaries by the faithful throughout the world.

We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee, because by Thy holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

Thou alone excellest in stature all the cedars of Lebanon: for on thee the Life of the world was hanged, on thee was Christ victorious, and death over death did for ever triumph. Alleluia!
The Antiphon on the Benedictus

Monday, May 14, 2007

Prayer for the salvation of Russia

The exchange after a recent post reminded me of the history of ROCOR praying for "the Orthodox episcopate of the suffering Church of Russia". The "suffering", of course, would not usually be used but was inserted because of the situation in that land over the last century. There is a piece on this on the ROCOR website.

It doesn't appear in our newer prayer books, but in looking at one of the older prayer books, I found this wonderful prayer. I've seen it before but don't remember having paid it much attention. It is no longer used but it used to be inserted after the Augmented Litany at the Divine Liturgy, where there is provision for petitions for specific needs. I read it aloud just now and began to choke up. I suppose it's because of hearing more about the atrocities that happened to the Russian people. I just thought I'd share it here in the run-up to Thursday.

O Lord Jesus Christ our God: accept from us, Thine unworthy servants, this fervent supplication, and, having forgiven us all our sins, remember all our enemies that hate and wrong us, and render not unto them according to their deeds, but according to Thy great mercy convert them: the unbelieving to true faith and piety, and the believing that they may turn away from evil and do good. By Thine all-powerful might, mercifully deliver all of us and Thy holy Church from every evil circumstance. Free the Russian land from the cruel godless ones and their power; hearken unto the painful cry of Thy faithful servants who cry unto Thee day and night in tribulation and sorrow, O our most merciful God, and lead their life out of corruption. Grant peace and tranquility, love and steadfastness, and swift reconciliation to Thy people, whom Thou hast redeemed by Thy precious Blood. But unto them that have departed from Thee and seek Thee not, be Thou manifest, that not one of them perish, but that all of them be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth; that all in harmonious oneness of mind and unceasing love may glorify Thy most holy Name, O patient-hearted Lord Who art quick to forgive, unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Canonical Communion: Webcast

This is just a quick "heads up" to folk who don't already know that the proceedings in Moscow this Thursday, the Feast of the Ascension, at which full canonically normal relations will be restored in the Russian church, are to be broadcast live on Russia Today. According to the ROCOR website, the first event is to be the ceremonial reception of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, which is scheduled for 9.15a.m. Moscow Time. Presumably the coverage will begin before then.

You may wish to watch depending on your time zone.

Friday, May 11, 2007

His Holiness Patriarch Alexei II is not dead

It would appear that, while news of Patriarch Alexei's death has been spreading rapidly, the Patriarch himself seems to be under the impression that he is, in fact, alive.

That they may be one, as we are One

The day fast approaches. Since my reception into the Orthodox Church last year, I have heard much about the difficult history of the Church since the Russian revolution of the early 20th century, and of the upcoming restoration of normal relations between the Church in Russia and the Russian Church Abroad. I have read and conversed and learnt a fair amount, and have received e-mails telling my why reunion is right, why it is wrong, why now is the right time, why now is the wrong time, which are the "true" and "genuine" Orthodox churces, and which are Orthodox in name only. I have seen people leave my parish and diocese, and seen the tears shed.

Now that is past and gone. Those who, in their heart of hearts, could not see this as anything but bad have now left. We must continue to pray for them and ask them to do the same for us, in charity, and not a sense of smug pride that we are right and they wrong. Many who remain have concerns but also have faith, and they trust our bishops. There is still some sadness. It seems that one of our convents will keep true to its declaration that it would leave us when the day comes. Let us pray that this is the last of the divisions and that both those who have left and those who remain may now get past the upset of the past few years. This seems to be the message of the emotive statement of Fr Pimen Simon.

Deo volente, on Thursday of next week, the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ, when the human nature which He fully possessed, raised from the jaws of death, was raised gloriously into the heavenly state, the Russian church will once again be one. Our cup will be a common cup, we will share in full Eucharistic Communion at the Lord's Banquet. I cannot wait. I was updating our parish schedule of services recently, and saw that we are to take part this year in the pan-Orthodox pilgrimage to St Winefride's well at Holywell. We had Fr Dcn Joseph from the cathedral at Ennismore Gardens in our congregation on Sunday just gone. There is a real sense that we are fast approaching the fullness of relations with our Orthodox brothers and sisters. It is a lovely feeling. I get the sense of the Ascension here, of God bringing that which was fallen into himself and restoring it to wholeness. In the same way as our human nature, He is restoring the unity to the Orthodox Church that it perhaps had not maintained to the best of its ability, through human failings in Russia and a lack of willingness to forgive outside of Russia. The Soviet days are behind us and Christ is making all things new. And what better a place could be found to host this wondrous event than Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow, itself a symbol of the resurgence of Orthodoxy after the attempts of the godless authority to suppress the Faith of Christ?

I'm extremely excited about the whole affair. Please continue to pray for our hierarchs and our people as we enter this joyous feast of Ascension and once again enjoy the fullness of the Catholicity of the Church.

In the tender mercy of our God, whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us, to shine upon those in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

from the Benedictus

There is to be a live webcast of the services on Russia Today. The greeting of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus is to take place at 9.15 a.m. Moscow time. It would be wonderful for as many people as possible to know about this so do spread the word.

O Master all-good, watch over Thy flock and all the children of the Russian Church Abroad, that we may bring about the structuring of our Church in a manner well-pleasing to Thee. Grant us the spirit of wisdom and understanding; instill in our hearts the spirit of the fear of God, the spirit of piety and zeal for the glory of Thy holy Name. Guard us against all temptations, stumbling-blocks and divisions, that, bound together, one to another, by the bond of love for Thee, our Master, we may without hindrance perform the work of our ministry for the edification of the Holy Church as the one Body of Christ. We pray Thee, O greatly Merciful One: hearken and have mercy!

O good Shepherd, Who hast promised to gather Thy scattered sheep into a single flock, put down scandal and division within the Church; all who have strayed from Thy path do Thou lead to repentance and a knowledge of the Truth, and return them to Thy fold; and confirm us all in the Orthodox Faith and the doing of Thy commandments. We pray Thee: hearken and have mercy!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Feast of St George

Cultivated by God, thou hast proved to be a most honoured cultivator of piety, and thou hast gathered for thyself sheaves of virtues; for having sown in tears thou reapest in joy, and having suffered with blood, thou hast received Christ. And by thine intercessions, Saint George, thou grantest unto all forgiveness of sins.

St George! St George for England!
Clear rings the ancient cry;
St George! St George for England!
Who dares to do and die?

The fiery cross has called them
From the lonely Highland glen,
And Cambria's lovely vales resound
To the tramp of marching men.

From Erin's shimmering island
They cry is still "They come!"
And Tara's sacred halls resound
To the music of the drum.

They have left the dead unburied,
And the marriage feast delayed
Till Belgium's wrongs are all avenged,
And the Huns' mad march is stayed.

They come from sunny Devon,
From Derby's vales and rocks;
Left are the pen, the loom, the plough,
Deserted are the flocks.

And St George is fighting for them,
While Heaven's vast Hosts, as one
Shall watch by them, and fight for them,
Till victory is won.
Mary Booth

A happy and blessed feast to all celebrating today, especially those in England or of English descent.

St George, Great Martyr, pray to God for us!

The Dormition of the Mother of God

In giving birth thou didst preserve thy virginity; in thy dormition thou didst not forsake the world, O Theotokos. Thou wast translated unto life, since thou art the Mother of Life; and by thine intercessions dost thou deliver our souls from death.

In the Dormition icon is depicted the Jewish priest Athonius (also rendered Jephonius), who, wishing to dishonour the Mother of God, tried to overturn the bier during her funereal procession procession, only to have the Holy Archangel Michael descend and sever his hands off with his mighty sword. Athonius then repented, prayed immediately to Christ for forgiveness, and had his hands restored to him. He experienced a conversion to the Faith of Christ and openly professed it to his peers. According to St John the Wonderworker in this book of his, the result of this was that the newly-converted Athonius received a Martyr's death. However, I cannot find this element of the story in the account of St John the Divine.

Whence comes he story of Athonius's martyrdom? Is he recognised as a Saint? If so, when is his feast? I can find a number of references to him by googling but only as part of the the story I've recounted here and not with reference to a feast day or a troparion or anything like that.

Many thanks for your help.