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Friday, August 31, 2012

Serge Rachmaninoff + All-Night Vigil



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Serge Rachmaninoff + All-Night Vigil.


Olga Borodina, mezzo-soprano.
Vladimir Mostowoy, tenor.
St. Petersburg Chamber Choir.
Nikolai Korniev.

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The All-Night Vigil (Russian: Всенощное бдение, Vsenoshchnoe bdenie), Opus 37, is an a cappella choral composition by Sergei Rachmaninoff, written and premiered in 1915. It consists of settings of texts taken from the Russian Orthodox All-night vigil ceremony. It has been praised as Rachmaninoff's finest achievement and "the greatest musical achievement of the Russian Orthodox Church". It was one of Rachmaninoff's two favorite compositions along with The Bells, and the composer requested that one of its movements (the fifth) be sung at his funeral. The title of the work is often translated as simply Vespers, which is both literally and conceptually incorrect as applied to the entire work: only the first six of its fifteen movements set texts from the Russian Orthodox canonical hour of Vespers.

Rachmaninoff composed the All-Night Vigil in less than two weeks in January and February 1915. The first performance was given in Moscow on March 10 of that year, partly to benefit the Russian war effort. Nikolai Danilin conducted the all-male Moscow Synodal Choir at the premiere. It was received warmly by critics and audiences alike, and was so successful that it was performed five more times within a month. However the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the rise of the Soviet Union led to a ban on performances of all religious music, and on 22 July 1918 the Synodal Choir was replaced by a nonreligious "People's Choir Academy". It has been written that "no composition represents the end of an era so clearly as this liturgical work"

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1. Приидите, поклонимся

Priidite, Poklonimsya

Come, Let Us Worship

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2. Благослови, душе моя (греческого роспева)

Blagoslovi, Dushe Moya

Praise the Lord, O My Soul (Greek Chant)

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3. Блажен муж

Blazhen Muzh

Blessed is the Man

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4. Свете тихий (киевского роспева)

Svete Tikhyi

O Gentle Light (Kiev Chant)

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5. Ныне отпущаеши (киевского роспева)

Nyne Otpushchayeshi

Lord, Now Lettest Thou (Nunc Dimittis) (Kiev Chant)

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6. Богородице Дево, радуйся

Bogoroditsye Devo, Raduisya

Rejoice, O Virgin (Hail Mary (Ave Maria))

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7. Шестопсалмие

(alternate: Slava V Vyshnikh Bogu)

The Six Psalms (alternate: Glory To God in the Highest)

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8. Хвалите имя Господне (знаменного роспева)

Khvalite Imya Gospodne

Praise the Name of the Lord (Znamenny Chant)

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9. Благословен еси Господи (знаменного роспева)

Blagosloven Yesi, Gospodi

Blessed Art Thou, O Lord (Znamenny Chant)

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10. Воскресение Христово видевше

Voskreseniye Khristovo Videvshe

Having Beheld the Resurrection

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11. Величит душа моя Господа

Velichit Dusha Moya Gospoda

My Soul Doth Magnify the Lord (Magnificat)

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12. Славословие великое (знаменного роспева)

(alternate: Slava V Vyshnikh Bogu)

The Great Doxology (Znamenny Chant) (alternate: Glory to God in the Highest)

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13. Тропарь: Днесь спасение (знаменного роспева)

Dnes Spaseniye Miru Byst

Troparion: Today Salvation is Come (Znamenny Chant)

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14. Тропарь: Воскрес из гроба (знаменного роспева)

Voskres Iz Groba

Troparion: Thou Didst Rise from the Tomb (Znamenny Chant)

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15. Взбранной Воеводе (греческого роспева)

Vzbrannoy Voyevode

O Queen Victorious (Greek Chant)

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DORMITION TROPARION + ROMANIAN ORTHODOX BYZANTINE CHANT

Mount Athos • The Holy Mountain

Monday, July 2, 2012

Polyeleos - Tone 5 - Byzantine Chant (English)



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A Psalm of Thanksgiving
arr. Bishop BASIL (Essey)


http://www.antiochian.org/sites/antiochian.org/files/StGeorge.Psalm_.Thanksgi...



Pskov-Caves Monastery (Псково-Печерская Обитель) English Subtitles

Pskov-Caves Monastery part 1 (Псково-Печерская Обитель) English Subtitles:





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Pskov-Caves Monastery part 2 (Псково-Печерская Обитель) English Subtitles:





St. John of San Francisco: Sermon on Iconography


Iconography began on the day our Lord Jesus Christ pressed a cloth to His face and imprinted His divine-human image thereon. According to tradition, Luke the Evangelist painted the image of the Mother of God and many icons painted by him, still exist today. As an artist, he painted the first icons of the Mother of God, but also those of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and possibly others which have not come down to us.

Thus, iconography began. Then it came to a halt for a time. Christianity was cruelly persecuted: all that was reminiscent of Christ was destroyed and subjected to ridicule. Thus, during the course of the persecutions, iconography did not develop, but Christians attempted to express in symbols what they wished to convey. Christ was portrayed as the Good Shepherd, and also in the guise of various personalities from pagan mythology. He was also depicted in the form of a vine, an image hearkening back to the Lord's words: "I am the true Vine. ... ye are the branches" (Jn. 15:1, 5). It was also accepted practice to depict Christ in the form of a fish, because if one writes in Greek "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior" (Iisus Hristos, Theu Ios, Sotir) and then groups together the first letter of each word, one discovers that one has written the Greek word IHTHIS, "fish." So, Christians depicted a fish, thereby reminding people of these words, which were recognized by all, who believed in the Savior. This also became known to the pagans, and consequently the image of the fish was held suspect.

When, following the victory of Emperor Constantine the Great over Maxentius, freedom was given to Christians. Christianity quickly transformed the Roman Empire and replaced paganism. Then iconography flourished with full force. We see directives concerning iconography at the first ecumenical councils. In some church hymns, which still are frequently used, iconography is mentioned.

Now what are icons? Icons are precisely the union between painting and those symbols and works of art that replaced icons during the time of persecution. The icon is not simply a representation, a portrait. The icon reminds of the spiritual aspect of the Saint depicted.

Christianity is the inspiration of the world. Christ founded His Church in order to inspire, to transfigure the world, to cleanse it from sin and bring it to that state in which it will exist in the ages to come. Christianity was founded upon the earth and operates upon the earth, but it reaches to Heaven in its structure; Christianity is that bridge and ladder whereby men ascend from the earthly Church to the Heavenly. Therefore, a simple representation, which recalls the earthly characteristics of some face, is not an icon. Even an accurate depiction, in the sense of physical build, still signifies nothing. A person may be very beautiful externally, yet at the same time be very evil. On the other hand, he may be ugly, and at the same time a model of righteousness. Thus, we see that an icon must indeed depict that which we see with our eyes, preserving the characteristics of the body's form, for in this world the soul acts through the body; however, at the same time, it must point towards the inner, spiritual essence. The precise task of the iconographer is to render, to the greatest extent possible, those spiritual qualities, whereby the person depicted acquired the Kingdom of Heaven, won the Lord’s imperishable crown as the Church's true significance is the salvation of man's soul. That which is on the earth perishes when we bring the body to the grave; but the soul passes on to another place. When the world comes to an end, consumed by fire, there will be a new earth and a new Heaven, as the Apostle John the Theologian says, With the eyes of his soul, he foresaw the New Jerusalem, so clearly described in his sacred Revelation. The Lord came to prepare the whole world for this spiritual rebirth. To prepare oneself for this new Kingdom, one must uproot from within oneself those seeds of sin which entered mankind with our ancestors' fall into sin, distorting our pristine, grace-endowed nature; and one must plant within oneself those virtues which they lost in the fall. Our icons speak of the Christian's goal is to change and improve daily.


In remembering the saints and their struggles, an icon does not simply represent the saint as he appeared upon the earth. No, the icon depicts his inner spiritual struggle; it portrays how he attained the state where he is now, considered an angel on earth, a heavenly man. This is precisely the manner in which the Mother of God and Jesus Christ are portrayed. Icons should depict that transcendent sanctity which permeated the saints. The Lord Jesus Christ is the union of all that is human and all that is divine; and when depicted in an icon, the Savior must be painted so that we sense that He is a man, a real man, at the same time, something more exalted than any man, that we not simply approach Him as we would approach a visitor or an acquaintance. We should feel that He is One Who is close to us, our Lord, Who is merciful to us, and at the same time an awe-inspiring Judge, Who wants us to follow Him and wishes to lead us to the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, we should not depict only the spiritual aspect of the saint, completely disregarding how he looked while alive on earth. This would also be an extreme. All saints should be depicted so as to convey their individual characteristics as much as possible — soldiers should be portrayed arrayed for battle; holy hierarchies in their Episcopal vestments . . . It is incorrect to depict bishops of the first centuries vested in the sakkos, for at that time, bishops wore the phelonion, not the sakkos. This is not such a great error, for it is far better to make a mistake in what is physical than in what is spiritual, to ignore, the spiritual aspect.

However, it is far worse when everything is correct in the physical, sense, but the saint appears as an ordinary man, photographed, devoid of the spiritual. When this is the case, the depiction cannot be considered an icon. Sometimes undue attention is spent on making the icon beautiful. If this is not detrimental to the spirituality of the icon, it is good, but if the beauty distracts our vision so that we forget what is most important — that one must save one's soul, must raise one's soul to the heights of Heaven — the beauty of the depiction is detrimental. It cannot be considered an icon, but merely a painting. An icon is an image, which leads us to be holy, God-pleasing person, or raises us up to Heaven, or evokes a feeling of repentance, compunction, prayer, a feeling that one must bow down before this image. The value of an icon is that, when we approach it, we want to pray before it with reverence. If the image elicits this feeling, it is an icon.

Our iconographers were zealous about this reverence, as can be seen in those ancient iconographers of the time before Russia’s conversion and our Russian iconographers, too, beginning with the Venerable Alypius of the Kiev Caves, who painted a number of icons of the Mother of God, some of which still survive. These wondrous icons, which continued the Byzantine tradition of the painting of icons which inspire compunction, were not necessarily painted in dark colors; frequently they were done in bright hues; nonetheless, these colors evoked a desire to pray before such icons. An example of this style can be seen in the holy hierarch Peter, a native of Galicia who later became Metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia, painted icons, some of which were until recently to be found in the Cathedral of the Dormition in Moscow. An entire school of iconography was also established in Novgorod under the direction of the holy hierarch Alexis of Novgorod, where a whole series of icons have been preserved. The Venerable Andrew Rublev painted an icon of the Holy Trinity which is now famous not only in the Christian world, but throughout the half-Christian world as well.

Unfortunately, this Orthodox movement started to collapse when Russia began to be infiltrated by Western influence. In certain respects, Russia's acquaintance with the European West was very beneficial. Many technical sciences and other useful knowledge came from the West. We know that Christianity has never had any aversion to knowledge of that which originates outside itself. Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom studied in pagan universities, and many writers, among whom were our spiritual authors and many of the best theologians, were also well acquainted with pagan writers. The Apostle Paul himself even cited quotations from pagan poets in the Holy Scriptures. Nevertheless, not all that was Western was good for Russia. Western ideas also wrought horrible moral damage at that time, because Russians began to accept, along with useful knowledge, that which was alien to our Orthodox way of life, to our Orthodox faith. The educated portion of society soon sundered themselves from the life of the people and from the Orthodox Church, which was regulated by ecclesiastical norms. Later, this alien influence touched iconography as well. Images of the Western type began to appear in icons. Perhaps these icons were beautiful from an artistic point of view, but they were completely lacking in sanctity. They were beautiful in the sense of earthly beauty, but these icons could even be scandalous at times, and devoid of spirituality. These were not icons. They were distortions of icons, exhibiting a lack of comprehension of what an icon actually is.

The first purpose of this article is to promote an understanding of the true icon, and the second is to cultivate a love for the true icon. And therefore, increase our desire to adorn our churches and our homes with genuine icons and not with Western paintings. These paintings tell us nothing about righteousness or sanctity, they are merely pleasant to look upon. Of course, there are icons painted correctly in the iconographic sense, but yet very crudely executed. One can paint quite correctly in the theoretical sense and at the same time quite poorly from a practical standpoint. This does not mean that, from the principle of iconography itself, these icons are bad. On the other hand, it happens that one can paint beautifully, yet completely ignore the rules of iconography. Both such approaches are harmful. One must strive to paint icons well in principle, method and execution. This is why we oppose certain people and their attempts to paint our churches, for they have the wrong approach, the wrong point of view. They may paint well, perhaps; but when the point of view is incorrect, when the direction is wrong, no matter how well the locomotive runs, it nonetheless slips off the track and is derailed. This is precisely what happens to those who execute their work technically and correctly, yet due to an incorrect approach and an incorrect point of view, they travel the wrong path.

--St. John of Shanghai & San Francisco

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

VECHNAJA PAMJAT!!! Orthodox Biblical Scholar Professor Veselin Kesich Reposes In The LORD


June 27, 2012

PORTLAND, MAINE [OCA/SVOTS]
On Tuesday morning, June 26, 2012, Dr. Veselin Kesich, 90, Professor Emeritus of New Testament at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Crestwood, NY, fell asleep in the Lord surrounded by his children Carol and Gregory at his residence here. After suffering from a heart ailment for many years, he passed away while under hospice care.

Professor Kesich was beloved by generations of alumni of SVOTS, not only for his academic expertise but also for the hospitality and love he demonstrated to students, along with his wife, Lydia (+ 2006), over the several decades they lived on the seminary campus. Students still fondly recall the annual traditional Serbian “Slava” celebrated in their home, honoring Professor’s family patron saint.

Professor Kesich celebrated his 90th birthday last year, having been born March 12, 1921. On that occasion, his son, Gregory, a newspaper reporter, wrote a touching tribute to him in The Portland Press Herald, titled “The View from 90 Includes More Than a Few Surprises.” The newspaper piece attests to Professor’s unflagging and deep concern for people — all people (even Lindsay Lohan!) — and his equal concern that they minister to each other and to their communities.

Born in Bosnia, Yugoslavia, Dr. Kesich finished the gymnasium in Banja Luka and started studies at Belgrade University. At the end of the Second World War he lived in a Displaced Persons Camp in Italy until he was selected to study theology at Dorchester College in England. In 1949 he came to New York to continue his studies at Columbia University, Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, and Union Theological Seminary, receiving his Ph.D. from Columbia in 1959.

From 1953–1991 he served on the Faculty of Saint Vladimir’s, focusing on New Testament Studies, and from 1983–1984 he served as Acting Dean. His other academic appointments included: 1966–86, Faculty Member, Comparative Religion, Sarah Lawrence College; 1965–1974, Adjunct Professor, Serbo–Croatian Literature, New York University; 1962–1963, Visiting Associate Professor, Dept. of Slavic Languages, University of California, Berkeley; and 1959–1963, Visiting Faculty, Comparative Religion, Hofstra University. When time permitted, he taught elective courses in Serbian Church History, which resulted in several journal articles and essays in books: “The Martyrdom of the Serbs: The Church in the Ustashe State, 1941–1945,” “The Early Serbian Church as Described in the Earliest Serbian Biography,” “Bosnia: History and Religion,” and “Kosovo in the History of the Serbian Church.”


Seminarians interested in scriptural studies, especially during the popular onset of Liberation Theology, historical reconstruction, and the secular Feminist Movement, appreciated Professor Kesich’s spiritually balanced and incisive critical analysis of these movements and trends. Memorable were his several articles in that regard, which were published in the Saint Vladimir’s Seminary Quarterly (SVSQ, now known as Saint Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly, SVTQ): “The Historical Jesus—A Challenge from Jerusalem,” “St. Paul: Anti-Feminist or Liberator?,” and “Paul—Ambassador for Christ, or Founder of Christianity?”

Always Orthodox in his perspective and a willing witness to his faith, he participated as the Orthodox member of several ecumenical dialogues with Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, and he also served as the President of the Orthodox Theological Society. Additionally, he lectured, participated in panel discussions, and served as a retreat leader to college groups and church gatherings throughout the country. In retirement he had been a guest lecturer at the University of Thessaloniki (1991), at the Summer Institute, Eagle River, Alaska (1997), and in Wells-Next-the-Sea, Norfolk, England (1998).

His most recent book, Formation and Struggles: The Birth of the Church AD 33–200 (2007) fulfilled his desire to re-activate and contribute to The Church in History series published by St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press (SVS Press), a series designed to present church history from the Orthodox Christian scholarly and theological point of view. His other works, all published by SVS Press, include: with Lydia W. Kesich, The Treasures of the Holy Land (1985); The First Day of the New Creation (Crestwood: SVS Press, 1982); The Gospel Image of Christ: The Church and Modern Criticism (1972; second enlarged edition, 1991); and The Passion of Christ (1965; new introduction 2004).


Professor Kesich is still spoken of by SVOTS alumni as their gentle teacher who conveyed the Holy Scriptures to them as the Living Word of God. He most recently lived in Portland, Maine, in a retirement community, where he still enjoyed debating biblical texts with the other residents—especially the also-retired Old Testament professor who lived a few doors down!

Funeral services will be celebrated at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 133 Pleasant Street, Portland, Maine, at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, July 2.

+May Prof. Kesich’s memory be eternal!

http://oca.org/in-memoriam/prof.-veselin-kesich




O Praise the Lord of Heaven! - William Billings



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Fusion videos of 18th century American hymnography and Russian religious art. So, here we pair an anthem by Billings with 19th century Russian religious art. This is not iconography per se, but many of these works are very familiar to a Russian audience. God willing, they shall reach Americans as well.
The anthem is sung by His Majesty's Clerkes under the direction of Paul Hillier.



St. Theophan the Recluse: In the Hands of GOD

Here Bishop Theophan the Recluse counsels a young woman on arranging her life.

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May the mercy of God be upon you.

You are still burdened by worldly cares. Tell me, what is the cause of this? All is well with your life externally; inwardly you have examined and put things in order, and your decision has strengthened all this. So what cause is there to be upset? It is all the devil's work, straight from him. Nothing else.

And what else could it be? Do not think that you can determine the course of your life yourself, by your own strength and wisdom, even in accordance with what has been planned. Think about this, and if there is even a grain of truth in this, make haste to remedy it. With such an attitude there will be no end of confusion.

Let us, if you will, examine or mentally review all that was prescribed and all that you experienced inwardly, and how finally you came to a decision concerning your course of life--and direct this examination in such a way that there will come from it a firm resolve, to give your life over unconditionally into the hands of God. Then pray fervently, crying to the Lord from your heart: "I place myself in Thy hands, O Lord. Direct my life and all that touches upon it as it is pleasing to Thee. From henceforth I am relinquishing all care for myself, having only one concern --always to do what is pleasing in Thy sight." Say it in this way and in very deed commit yourself entirely into God's hands, being anxious for nothing, peacefully accepting all situations--whether pleasant or unpleasant-as being deliberately arranged for you by God. Your only concern must be to act in all situation s according to God's commandments. For you, this is the one thing needful.

As soon as you do this, there will be an end to all your unrest. Now you are concerned about yourself, and every situation you want to arrange and turn around according to your good pleasure. When everything doesn't go just so, you get upset that this isn't right or that's wrong. But when you give everything over to the Lord and accept all as coming from Him for your benefit, then you will be free from all earthly cares. You will look around only to see what lesson the Lord is sending so as to act in accordance with it. The commandments can be brought to bear on any situation. Do this and act in accord with the commandments, striving to please God rather than pushing to satisfy your own self-will. Think well on what I have said and make it your aim to attain such a state.


I pray that the Lord deliver you from that situation which you consider unpleasant-insofar, I would add, as this is in keeping with God's will and for your salvation, And He will deliver you--in His good time, of course. Arm yourself with this faith and have patience. Just looking at the course of events, we see that they are constantly changing; nothing lasts. That which troubles you will likewise change. The days will come when you will breathe freely, and not only breathe, but like a butterfly flit from one flower to another; you need only patiently to await the trouble's end. The housewife puts the pie into the oven and does not remove it from there until she is sure it is properly baked. The Ruler of the world has placed you into the oven--and is holding you there, waiting until you are done. Have patience and wait. As soon as you are baked through, you won't sit there an extra minute. You will be immediately taken out. If you try to break loose yourself, you will be like an underdone pie. Arm yourself with patience. I will add this: according to our faith, he who graciously endures various trials that come his way, accepting them as from the hand of the Lord, such a man partakes of martyrdom.

It is impossible to live without feelings, but to give oneself over to one's feelings is unlawful. They must be controlled and given proper direction. You are very impressionable and your heart rules your head. Act as I have already written you: first determine under what conditions certain feelings are aroused and then proceed by guarding yourself from any agitation of the heart, or by taking a firm hold upon your heart. This requires practice and with practice one can advance to complete control of oneself.


But everything comes from God. And one must run to Him. You write, however, that you don't pray. That's smart! What did you do, enlist with the pagans? How can one not pray? Don't just read from the prayer book --tell Him in your own words what is on your heart, and ask for help: "Lord, you see what is bothering me--this and this... I cannot straighten myself out. Help me, O Merciful One !" And relate all the particulars of your need, asking for help in accordance with all this. This will be the most genuine prayer. You can always pray in your own words, not reading the written prayers, so long as you do not indulge in laziness.

But why do you listen to him who suggests that you stop praying? Or don't you realize that it' s the enemy? It' s obviously the enemy. He whispers into your ear: "Give it up;" and sometimes as though seizing the body itself, he hurriedly drags it into bed. These are all his tricks. But he is doing his business, trying to d i s t r a c t you from what is good. However, we must do our work, not abandoning it until we have finished. In this way I beg you to arm yourself with courage, and don't listen to the enemy, and don't pay any attention to his whisperings. Getting angry at the enemy is even better. He will immediately flee.

From all my heart I pray that you will at last be able to calm down.

May the Lord bless you. ...

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(Excerpt translated from What Is the Spiritual Life and How to Attune Oneself to It; Jordanville, 19 )

http://www.roca.org/OA/46/46c.htm





Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Alleluia - Inter natos mulierum



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Ensemble Discantus

Emmanuelle Gal
Anne Guidet
Claire Jéquier
Lucie Jolivet
Brigitte Le Baron
Brigitte Lesne
Catherine Schroeder
Catherine Sergent

Dir. Brigitte Lesne


Recording: July 1995

Holy Abba Arsenios: True Literacy



Once Abba Arsenios revealed his thoughts to an Egyptian elder and asked him about them. But a certain other Abba saw him and said to him: "Abba Arsenios, you have had so much education in Greek and Latin, yet you ask this man, so unlettered in worldly knowledge, about your thoughts?"

Abba Arsenios said to him: "Indeed, I know Roman and Greek letters well; but I have not yet learned even the alphabet of this simple man."

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Blessed Art THOU O LORD, Teach Me THY Statutes - (Panikhida, Kiev Caves Chant, Slavonic) - Views From Hubble Telescope



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Choir of the Holy Trinity - St. Sergius Lavra and Moscow Polytechnic Academy

From Sacred Treasures III: Choral Masterworks from Russia and Beyond

Images - NASA Hubble Space Telescope
http://hubblesite.org/




Friday, June 22, 2012

Fr. George Metallinos: Orthodox Faith and Natural Science



By Fr. George Metallinos, Dr.Theol., Dr. Phil., f. Dean of the Athens University School of Theology


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1. In Orthodoxy, the antithesis – and the conflict – between faith (or Theology) and science is not something self-evident. It is only a pseudo-problem, because Orthodoxy in its authentic expression and realization is likewise a science, however with a different cognitive subject.

Orthodox Theology is a science and in fact a positive science, because it has a cognitive subject and it also implements a scientific method. In Orthodox tradition, two kinds of cognition or wisdom are discernible (from the Apostle Paul, James the brother to Christ, through to Gregory Palamas and Eugene Boulgaris etc.). There is the cognition of the Uncreated (=God) and the cognition of the created (=the world, as something fashioned or created). The cognition of God (“Theognosy”) is supernatural and is attained through the synergy of man with God. The cognition of the world is natural and is acquired through scientific research. The method for attaining the cognition of the Divine is the “nepsis” (soberness) – “catharsis” (cleansing) of the heart (Psalm, 50:12 and Matthew 5:8). Theology, therefore, is the Gnosiology and the cognition of the Uncreated. Science is the Gnosiology and the cognition of the created. In the science of faith, cognizance is called “theosis” (deification) and is the sole objective of Orthodoxy. All else is only the means to that end.

The two gnosiologies - of the Uncreated and the created - function with different instruments, which is why the boundaries between them are discernible. The instrument used in the science of faith is not the intellect; it is the heart, which is able to accommodate the indwelling of the Uncreated, when the heart is cleansed of passions and is able – as a supernatural instrument of man – to develop its noetic function (=the energy of the “nous” inside the heart). Observation and experiment – both basic parameters of scientific method – also exist in the science of faith.

In the hesychast method of Theognosy, “observation” implies a viewing of the Uncreated Light – the divine uncreated energy – and “experiment” implies the possibility of repeating that experience, which is common to all the scientists of faith – in other words, the Saints. Thus, whatever the telescope or the microscope is to natural scientists, to the scientists of faith it is the “clean heart”, which becomes a kind of “deiscope”. “Theology” as the word that pertains to God – and with that prerequisite – functions as a positive science and not as metaphysics; that is, not as a meditative sort of theologizing. Natural sciences aspire to see the macrocosm and the microcosm. The science of faith aims to “seeing” God as the Uncreated Light – that is, to “Theosis” (deification).

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2. Therefore, with the acknowledged existence of two separate kinds of cognizance by Orthodoxy, there cannot possibly be any conflict between Orthodoxy and Science. Conflict is avoided, because the opus of Science is to acquire a knowledge of the essence and of the operating mechanisms of beings, whereas the opus of Theology is to attain a knowledge of God – their Creator. Natural sciences preoccupy themselves with the “how”, whereas Theology seeks the “who” and the “why” (teleology). Thus, it is quite possible that the Holy Bible and the works of the holy Fathers (i.e. the Saints) are not authoritative in terms of empiricism, when compared to the constantly updated findings of the natural sciences. However, they are theologically authoritative. The “Theumen” (Saint) familiarizes himself with the reasons of beings, the cause of their existence and their dependence on God. However, the study –as we said– of their essence and the way they function is the work of the natural sciences. Thus, it is Theology that acquaints us with God and the world as His creation, not the natural sciences – which are created by man. In the Scripture, God provides the truth about Himself, and not any (scientific) information about the natural world. In the Bible we learn Who God is, so that man is enabled to reciprocate to His love. In view of the above, it should be noted that in scientific matters, a change in opinion is possible, when it is based on new findings; in soteriological matters however, no changes are possible, because the method for salvation-theosis (deification) is perennially unvarying.

When Fathers (i.e., Prophets, Apostles and all the Saints) happen to have also acquired human wisdom (for example, Basil the Great), they will have become well-versed in the scientific theories of their time, which, however, they will have examined through the prism of their Theology, given that their aspiration is not natural scientific knowledge but rather the guidance of their spiritual children towards salvation and their protection against the knowledge that might possibly be an obstacle on their path towards Theognosy. The disposition in this case is not a priori a bellicose and rejective one; it is simply poemantic and protective.

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3. From the above it can be surmised that the natural sciences in all their manifestations and realizations constitute mutually complementary aspects of viewing natural reality. The aspect of Patristic Theology however is different, as proven by the patristic example.


The professor-scientist who has knowledge of the Uncreated is the Spiritual Father (in Orthodoxy he is called a “professor of the desert”), who must have acquired the experience of Theosis (deification). On the basis of this principle functions the Tradition of Orthodoxy, with the Ecumenical Councils as its center. The corpus of the faithful trusts the knowledge of the Theumens, the way that scientists trust the knowledge and the credibility of the specialists in their field. It is in this context that the significance of the dogma becomes apparent. The teaching of the faith (this is the dogma, as the experience of the Saints) is the scientific handbook of the scientist of Theosis and it acts as a guide for others towards Theosis. The Orthodox faith is as dogmatic as science. The dogmas of science with the secular understanding of them are its axioms. In this sense -according to Marc Bloch – scientific research is likewise “prejudiced”, and not just Theology; however, without this “prejudice” on both sides, progress in this double science is not possible.

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4. Thus, sainthood is not an obstacle for scientific knowledge - quite the opposite. Besides, it is admitted in the Old Testament (Wisdom of Sirach 38:6), that God: “gave men skill (science), so that He might be glorified in His wondrous works.” There is nothing that can orthodoxically preclude the possibility for someone to possess both kinds of scientific knowledge – a fact that exists in the major Fathers and Mothers of Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy chants about such a personage, on the 25th of November; it is the great mathematician of the 3rd century, Saint Catherine: “The Martyr since childhood hath received wisdom from God and hath also learned very well every wisdom of the world”. On the contrary, wherever there is a “religionized” or “ideologized” faith (in the various religions of the world), Religion and Science resort to using the same instrument, i.e., intelligence-logic, and thus will inevitably reach the point of conflict, given that after a certain point, logic will be unable to accept the positions of religion, while religion will not be able to accept the findings of science when they contradict the positions of religion or of the “religionized” faith, which are regarded as scientific. What is more, the problem for religion begins with the acknowledgement of sacred scriptures (e.g., the Holy Bible or the Koran) as scientific treatises.

It therefore becomes understandable why in Orthodoxy (when it is Orthodoxy), there can never be an instance like Galileo. The negative stance by orthodox scholars towards the Copernican system in the 18th century was not the result of spirituality, but more a case of western influences (their scholastic trends), “bible bashing” (biblicism), or the anticipation of scientific developments (Eugene Bulgaris). On the contrary, the conflict between Faith and Science is not only feasible; it is also to be expected, whenever the findings of science are judged with metaphysical criteria or when the teachings of the Faith are approached on the basis of the principles and the findings of natural sciences – in other words, with the criteria of another sphere. In such an event, science is theologizing (in which case it is negating itself), while Faith is transformed into a natural science (in which case it is essentially modified). This occurred to a large extent in Western Europe, when Physics and the natural sciences in general had matured and thereafter abandoned the Aristotelian world view and its methodology, whereas the Western Church persisted in them. Extensions of Western-style speculation and consequently confrontations (or rather, disputes) were also noted in the Western-thinking East.

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5. When Theology and Science met, tragic mistakes were made by both sides, which led to absoluteness and isolation on both sides. The Western Church insisted on a verbatim interpretation of the Holy Bible, without any reference to Patristic interpretations thereof. Besides, after the instance of Galileo, conflict was considered a given fact, by both sides. Victims of this perception during the 20th century were Lemaître and his “Big Bang” theory, which was rejected for being a clergyman’s discovery! Furthermore, the different language used quite often led to a conflict. The Bible-bashing of the ecclesiastic side often confronted the rationalism of the natural scientists. The foundations of intellectualism in Europe began with the venerable Augustine (“credo, ut intelligam”) and culminated with Descartes (“cogito, ergo sum”). Priority is given to the intellect, even in the sphere of Faith. God, finally, is understood as being a Gnostic “object”, which is “perceived” with the power of the mind, which is thus elevated, as the supreme component of human existence.

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6. It is nevertheless a fact that science in Western Europe originated from Theology. Not only by the western Fathers, but also by Descartes, Leibniz, Newton, who were also theologians. Faith in God entailed recognition of logicality in Creation, which was thus made accessible to research. Later, however, the “child” revolted against the mother and their ways parted. This however did not occur in the Patristic tradition of the East, in which, not only did science and theology walk hand-in-hand; as a matter of fact, Theology also proved itself to be a reinforcement for the true progress of Science. A few examples from the works of Basil the Great (On the Hexaemeron, PG, 29,3-208) and Saint Gregory of Nyssa (On the creation of Man, PG, 44, 124-256) will suffice.

Basil the Great accepts a beginning to the world and a Creator-God: "If therefore the world has a beginning and was created, then seek out Who gave that beginning and Who the Creator is.” (Εί ούν αρχήν έχει ο κόσμος και πεποίηται, ζήτει τίς ο την αρχήν αυτήν δούς και τις ο ποιητής).

Gregory of Nyssa (PG 44,77D) determines the “beginning”: "Everything was (contained) in God’s first movement regarding Creation, as if a certain seminal power was exerted for the creation of everything, however none of them was yet active.” (Τα πάντα ήν εν τη πρώτη του Θεού περί την κτίσιν ορμή, οιονεί σπερματικής τινος δυνάμεως προς την του παντός γένεσιν καταβληθείσης, ενεργεία δε τα καθ’ έκαστον όυπω ήν). Gregory could well be called the prophet of the “Big Bang Theory”, inasmuch as the “seminal power” can relate to the “hyper-concentrated mass” of the contemporary theory.


Basil the Great (PG 29,36B) accepts an evolving course in Creation, presenting the “primary beginning” as having “labour pains during the genesis of all things, on account of the power deposited in it by the Creator” (ωδίνουσαν μεν την πάντων γένεσιν, δια την εναποτεθείσαν αυτή παρά του δημιουργού δύναμιν) and was awaiting “the appropriate time, so that upon divine command, it would reveal its movements” (τους καθήκοντας χρόνους ινα τω θείω κελεύσματι προαγάγει εαυτής εις φανερόν τα κινήματα).

And this, because – according to Gregory (PG 44, 72b) – "God deposited altogether the causes and the reasons and the powers of all things, instantaneously”. (πάντων των όντων τας αφορμάς και τας αίτίας και τας δυνάμεις συλλήβδην ο Θεός εν ακαρεί κατεβάλλετο).

Besides, the universe - according to Basil the Great (PG 29, 1164) - is alive and pulsates with movement, constantly developing and taking shape within Time. "Having received its beginning from the first command, the progression of nature thereafter passes through all of subsequent Time, up until it reaches the common ending of all things.” (Η της φύσεως ακολουθία εκ του πρώτου προστάγματος την αρχήν δεξαμένη, προς πάντα τον εφεξής διεξέρχεται χρόνον, μέχρις αν προς την κοινήν συντέλειαν του παντός καταντήση).

Gregory (PG 44, 148C) also accepts an evolving course in nature: "As though moving up steps - that is, the characteristics of life - nature ascends from the minutest ones towards perfection”. (Καθάπερ δια βαθμών η φύσις, των της ζωής λέγω ιδιωμάτων, από των μικροτέρων επί το τέλειον ποιείται την άνοδον).


Basil the Great does not expect all the answers to be in the Holy Bible; instead, he considers that scientific research is necessary: "It (the Bible) has withheld many things, thus exercising our mind towards in-depth research, by providing few things as the cause for pondering.” (πολλά απεσιώπησεν (η Γραφή), τον ημέτερον νουν γυμνάζουσα προς εντρέχειαν, εξ ολίγων αφορμήν παρεχομένη επιλογίζεσθαι…) (Hellenic Fathers of the Church, Basil the Great, 4, 72). The Fathers that did have scientific-educational training, dealt with the natural issues on the basis of the scientific knowledge of their time; that is why, although they may differ between them in those matters, they however have no contradictions between them in theological matters. The interpreting of the Scriptures is the work of divinely-inspired interpreters, not scientists. The existing differences between patristic theology and science do not lead to rifts, because true theology waits patiently for science’s progress in order to comprehend the theological aspects. Two examples: Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle helped Physics to approach Theology, as well as its “negativism” (the inability to provide a precise definition). Furthermore, another, American astronomer had stated that physicists are like mountaineers, who, upon reaching the summit, find the theologians waiting for them, seated comfortably in their armchair!

Of course even when we do find coincidences in opportune scientific ponderings between Theology and Science, it only signifies that we have a coincidence in ponderings and not necessarily in their findings also. Non-conflicting views do not always signify a concurrence. But, since the scope of each side is a different one, it stands to reason that Theology does not conflict with the scientific position – as, for example, in the estimation of the appearance of man on earth. What interests Theology is creation by God, and its purpose.

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7. Consequently, as far as Orthodox Theology is concerned - and with Patristic tradition as its prerequisite – it can see the possibility of collaboration between Theology and Natural Sciences, with regard to the updating of Theology and the moralization of Science. It is furthermore a fact, that the clime of conflict of the past has been limited in our time – unless prejudices on both sides continue to exist. Theologians have accepted the freedom of scientific research, and scientists do not involve God in their research. Besides, both faith and science are subject to universal laws, and both of them seek the truth – be it the natural or the supernatural. Michael Polanyi (Personal knowledge, 1969, p.266) accepts faith as the source of every kind of knowledge, since “all our basic beliefs in the scientific sector are improvable”. Besides, all worldviews – even the scientific ones – are connected to the various social models, in whose space they are produced or reproduced. In that way, various subjective ideas and prejudices also penetrate science, under the influence of the social environment. “Vorverstaendnis” also exists in research. No worldview, therefore, can lay claim to the truth in its fullness, as scientifically as it may present it.

The encounter between Theology and Sciences is far more effective, when the Theologian converses with true researchers (that is, independent ones and not those who are also involved elsewhere), and the scientist has discussions with the continuers of Basil the Great and Eugene Bulgaris – not fundamentalists of the western or Islamic kind. I was taken by surprise in a country of the Middle East, when a Dean-Professor of Physics sought backings to his science in the Koran. The tendency for absolutism in science is moderated by the disagreements that have been observed between scientists, while in Theology, by the awareness of the Patristic example. Quantum mechanics has disproved causality, but Einstein disagreed (“God does not throw dice”). On the other hand, the Roman Catholic church is still paying for scholasticism’s crime against Galileo.


The fact that scientific knowledge has its limits renders the scientist more modest.

Quite rightly therefore, Science does not preoccupy itself with “the problem of God”, because that would transform it into metaphysics, thus rejecting itself; it would no longer be a positive science. Science is unable to reject the possibility of God’s existence as the Creator and the Provider of the universe, because it does not possess the necessary instruments in order to capture Him. That is why it cannot accuse Theology as a mythology and superstition. But, neither does Theology have the right to accuse Science as something atheistic – that is, by basing it on its own criteria.

However, for a creative convergence and collaboration between Faith and Science, a common language is required. According to His Eminence the Metropolitan of Pergamon, prof. John (Zizioulas), “we need to reach a cosmology that is common to both Scientists and Theologians, and we must also agree on what “knowledge” and “truth” consist of.” Scientists such as Paul Davies (professor of Theoretical Physics at Newcastle) have indeed reached this common language, by stating: “Science offers a more foolproof path to God than Religion.” But also the equally well-known Wernher Von Braun, when he stated: “Why should they (faith and science) oppose each other? Religion preoccupies itself with the Creator, and Science with Creation.” We also recently read the following with surprise, in an interview with the important Greek anthropologist, Ms. Katherine Harvati: “Science and religion do not clash, because they provide answers to different questions: Science gives answers to the ‘how’, and religion to the ‘who’.”

On the contrary, prospects are opening for a common course and collaboration. Science, with the help of Patristic Theology, (a) discerns its own boundaries, (b) receives significant moral guidance by becoming aware of its philanthropical and ministering character and (c) recognizes man’s worth, given that Theology teaches that “the Sabbath was made for man, not the man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27), or that man is a “deifiable creature” (Gregory of Nyssa), or that man is “called to godhood” (he has within him the commandment to become a god) (Basil the Great).


The mutual supplementing between Faith and Science can exist, mainly in the ecological problem, given that Orthodox Theologians like our Ecumenical Patriarch or Metropolitan John of Pergamon, in their struggle to preserve Nature, never cease to acknowledge that the meaning of Creation is revealed through Science and that Theology prays for – and supports – Science, which struggles to save Creation.

Let us not, therefore, each place boundaries on the other’s Science; rather, let us respect the findings of both sides' research, which is performed with self-respect and humility, because our world does not need the natural sciences only, but also the science of theosis (deification), given that “man cannot live on bread alone” (Matth. 4:4).

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Translation: K.N.

Source: http://www.oodegr.com/english/epistimi/orthodox_faith_natural_sciences.htm




St. Hesychius the Priest: Set Your Soul in Quietness



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Snow can never emit flame.

Water can never issue fire.

A thorn bush can never produce a fig.

Just so, your heart can never be free

from oppressive thoughts, words, and actions

until it has purified itself internally.

Be eager to walk this path.

Watch your heart always.

Constantly say the prayer

"LORD JESUS CHRIST, have mercy on me."

Be humble.

Set your soul in quietness.

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--St. Hesychius the Priest



"My Soul Doth Magnify the LORD" - Sergei Tolstokulakov (Slavonic)



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This is a contemporary setting of "My Soul Doth Magnify the Lord" (the Russian Orthodox version of the "Magnificat") by Sergei Tolstokulakov. It is sung by the Novokuznetsk Spiritual Seminary Choir under the direction of Angelina Tolstokulakova. This video uses the Christian art of the great Peredvizhniki artist Ilya Repin as the backdrop.

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"More honourable than the Cherubim, and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim, Thou who without defilement gavest birth to God the Word, O True Birthgiver of God, Thee do we magnify!"




St. Cyril of Alexandria: The Blessed Virgin Mary is Truly Theotokos, Mother of GOD


Saint Cyril was born in 370 and lived a monastic life. He was ordained a priest and succeeded his uncle as bishop of Alexandria in 412. He had a preeminent role at the ecumenical Council of Ephesus (431); he fought bravely against the doctrines of Nestorius, and wrote many learned works explaining and defending the Catholic and Orthodox Faith. St. Cyril, Patriarch and POPE of Alexandria, Egypt, presided over the 3rd great Ecumenical Council of the Church which met in 431 AD in Ephesus and which proclaimed Mary as the Theotokos ("God-bearer" or "Mother of God"). Cyril died in 444. This statement (Pist. 1: PG 77, 14-18, 27-30) strongly is defending the divine motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Theotokos or GOD-Bearer.

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That anyone could doubt the right of the holy Virgin to be called the Mother of God fills me with astonishment. Surely she must be the Mother of God if our Lord Jesus Christ is God, and she gave birth to Him! Our Lord's disciples may not have used those exact words, but they delivered to us the belief those words enshrine, and this has also been taught us by the holy fathers.


In the third book of his work on the holy and consubstantial Trinity, our father Athanasius, of glorious memory, several times refers to the holy Virgin as "Mother of God." I cannot resist quoting his own words: "As I have often told you, the distinctive mark of Holy Scripture is that it was written to make a twofold declaration concerning our Savior; namely, that He is and has always been God, and that for our sake in these latter days He took flesh from the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and became man."

The divinely inspired Scriptures affirm that the Word of God was made flesh, that is to say, He was united to a human body endowed with a rational soul. He undertook to help the descendents of Abraham, fashioning a body for Himself from a woman and sharing our flesh and blood, to enable us to see in Him not only God, but also, by reason of this union, a man like ourselves.


It is held, therefore, that there are in Emmanuel two entities, divinity and humanity. Yet our Lord Jesus Christ is nonetheless one, the one true Son, both God and man; not a deified man on the same footing as those who share the divine nature by grace, but true God who for our sake appeared in human form. We are assured of this by Saint Paul's declaration: When the fullness of time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law and to enable us to be adopted as sons.

...I see here a joyful company of Christian men met together in ready response to the call of Mary, the holy and ever-virgin Mother of God. The great grief that weighed upon me is changed into joy by your presence, venerable Fathers. Now the beautiful saying of David the psalmist: How good and pleasant it is for brothers to live together in unity (Psalm 133) has come true for us.

Therefore, holy and incomprehensible Trinity, we salute you at whose summons we have come together to this church of Mary, the Theotokos.


Mary, Theotokos, we salute you. Precious vessel, worthy of the whole world’s reverence, you are an ever-shining light, the crown of virginity, the symbol of Orthodoxy, an indestructible temple, the place that held Him whom no place can contain, mother and virgin. Because of you the holy gospels could say: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

We salute you, for in your holy womb was confined him who is beyond all limitation. Because of you the Holy Trinity is glorified and adored; the Cross is called precious and is venerated throughout the world; the heavens exult; the angels and archangels make merry; demons are put to flight; the devil, that tempter, is thrust down from heaven; the fallen race of man is taken up on high; all creatures possessed by the madness of idolatry have attained knowledge of the truth; believers receive holy baptism; the oil of gladness is poured out; the Church is established throughout the world; pagans are brought to repentance.

What more is there to say? Because of you the light of the only-begotten Son of God has shone upon those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death; prophets pronounced the word of God; the apostles preached salvation to the Gentiles; the dead are raised to life, and kings rule by the power of the Holy Trinity.


Who can put Mary’s high honor into words? She is both mother and virgin. I am overwhelmed by the wonder of this miracle. Of course no one could be prevented from living in the house he had built for himself, yet who would invite mockery by asking His own servant to become His mother?

Behold then the joy of the whole universe. Let the union of God and man in the Son of the Virgin Mary fill us with awe and adoration. Let us fear and worship the undivided Trinity as we sing the praise of the ever-virgin Mary, the holy temple of God, and of God Himself, her Son and spotless Bridegroom. To Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

--St. Cyril of Alexandria


Thursday, June 21, 2012

The “Orthodox Option” For Anglicans


To Members of the Church of England (Episcopal Church USA and "Continuing Anglicans" as well as all "Liturgical Protestants" Also) who are Unhappy with the Degradation of their Communion and might consider "the Orthodox Option"

Introduction

A few days ago it was announced that seven Anglican clergymen and 300 of their parishioners are to join the new Ordinariat of the Roman Catholic Church through the local Diocese of Brentwood alone. This follows the ordination of three former Anglican bishops as Roman Catholic priests at Westminster Cathedral a few days before. No doubt many more will follow them into the Roman Catholic option, understandably having been scandalized by the apostasy within Anglicanism. What is the point of view of members of the Orthodox Churches with regard to these events? Indeed, what are the Orthodox Churches?

The Orthodox Churches

The Orthodox Church is a Family or Confederation of fifteen Local Churches, as were the Churches of the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Romans, the Thessalonians, the Corinthians etc, as described in the letters written to them by the holy Apostle Paul 2,000 years ago. Today, however, instead of covering small communities grouped in cities around the Mediterranean, the Orthodox Churches cover countries and different ethnic groups all over the world.


Today, the Orthodox Church worldwide numbers 217 million. She ranges from by far the largest, the Russian Orthodox Church with 164 million members, to the Czech and Slovak Orthodox Church, which is confined to the Czech Lands and Slovakia and has only 110,000 members. On the other hand, the Russian Orthodox Church is spread over 62 different countries, uses nearly as many languages in Her worship and a third of Her members were born and live outside Russia. Just as you do not have to be Roman to be Roman Catholic, so you do not have to be Russian to be Russian Orthodox.

Throughout our history, Orthodox have been persecuted by all sorts of groups, pagan Roman emperors, heretics, intellectuals, Muslims, iconoclasts, Roman Catholic crusaders, Mongols, Ottomans, Communists, freemasons, Nazis, sectarians etc. For example, the largest Orthodox country, Russia, was invaded no fewer than four times between 1812 and 1941, by the French and their allies, then by the French, the British and the Turks, then the Germans and Austro-Hungarians, and finally by the Nazis. This is in accordance with our Lord’s words of warning to His disciples in the Gospel that:

'all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet’ (Matt. 24, 6).

The main thing is that the Orthodox Church is still here, for:

'the gates of hell shall not prevail’ (Matt. 16, 18).

Orthodox Christian Views of Non-Orthodox Christians

For those accustomed to the rather cozy, inward-looking Catholic-Protestant view of the Church, the Orthodox view may come as a shock, a disturbing reminder that there is ‘a third way’. This Orthodox view is that Roman Catholics are lapsed Orthodox. As for Protestants (therefore Anglicans), they are lapsed Roman Catholics. In other words, Catholics and Protestants are two sides of the same lapsed coin. As an outsider to the Catholic-Protestant view of the world, it took me many years to realise that this is why many Anglicans have to become Catholic before they are ready to knock at the door of Orthodoxy. It is a phase that many have to go through. On the one hand, it is true that all that Protestants reject in Catholicism is also rejected by Orthodoxy, because it consists of deformations introduced in the second millennium. However, it is also true that for Orthodox, Protestants threw the baby out with the bath water and we still feel that Catholicism is closer to us than Protestantism.


This is why the Orthodox Churches have a reserved attitude towards those who come to us and ask to be received, simply because they are unhappy with their present situation. Thus, in 1995, when a group of about ten Anglican clergy and some 200 followers asked to be received automatically into the Orthodox Church on account of the Anglican ordination of women and that the clergy be automatically ordained as Orthodox priests, they were refused by both the Russian and Greek Orthodox Churches in this country. Why?

Both Orthodox Churches felt that the reason for wishing to join the Church was negative. For example, their request could have been out of misogyny or clericalism, rather than for Biblical and theological reasons. Certainly many Orthodox found this all strange, when, after all, the doctrine of the Church of England had largely been dictated to it by a woman and the then head of the Church of England was a woman, the namesake of the first, and had been its head for over 40 years at that time. In order to join the Orthodox Church, first you have to love Orthodoxy. And love for Orthodoxy is proved by waiting, being prepared, being trained. And although another Orthodox bishop did later receive those Anglicans as a separate ex-Anglican grouping, the point had been made.

The Grace of God Brings us to the Church


The Church does not come to us. This is a Protestant view, with the superficial emotionalism of ‘outreach’ and contrived, short-term, all too human proselytism. The result? Here today, lapsed tomorrow. Rather, the grace of God brings us to the Church. It is rather like the young man who wants to join a monastery. He may be kept waiting at the monastery gate for many days and weeks to test how serious he is, whether he has come for negative reasons or positive reasons. Why does he want to join, for negative or positive reasons? That is the question.

For example, the young man in question may have had a failed love affair. That is hardly a serious or positive reason to join a monastery. Thus, someone who has never been to Orthodox churches many times and is not familiar with Orthodox worship, values and civilization is hardly prepared to join the Orthodox Church. If someone who comes for negative reasons (disliking the policy of his current communion / ‘a failed love affair’) is allowed to join, he will not stay, because technically joining the Orthodox Church is not at all the same as becoming Orthodox and remaining Orthodox. And it is the latter that interests us.

For if you do not become Orthodox and therefore remain Orthodox, how will salvation be achieved? Certainly, not by lapsing from one communion, then coming to the Church, and lapsing from Her as well. Salvation will not come to us if we are not ready to accept the Church as She is and all we want to do instead is to make the Church in our own image. It is no good diluting Her for the sake of our own comfort and egoism, creating a ‘diet Orthodoxy’, because we cannot stand up for Christ at services or go to confession regularly. If people do not love the Orthodox Church as She is, then they must stay with the Protestant-Catholic world.

Conclusion


It is our belief that most of the understandably distressed people who are moving from the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion to Roman Catholicism are making the right move for themselves [But Orthodoxy is the culmination of this quest and where they will find the True Catholic Church if they continue to search and refuse to settle for more than papal innovations encased in obscurantisms and an "institution" quite spiritually fallen into heresy]. (However, we also believe that their move and the ordination of married men, former Anglican clergy, as Roman Catholic priests will cause great problems for Catholicism itself, given its obligatory celibacy for its priests). For some Anglicans we see this move as a necessary preparation for Orthodoxy. We know full well, from nearly forty years of experience, that some of those who today are undertaking the move to Roman Catholicism will one day come knocking at the doors of the Orthodox Church. And they will have been made ready for that initial step only by the experience which they are setting out on now. [The papal church's errors were the beginning of the process of apostasy in which the Anglican church now finds itself.]

--Father Andrew Phillips (ROCOR - England)


Source: http://journeytoorthodoxy.com/2011/03/01/the-orthodox-option/#axzz1FwGoJGw9



A Saint of our days-Elder Iakovos (Tsalikis) [ Greek with English Subtitles]



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The blessed father Iakovos (Tsalikis) born on November 5 in 1920 Livisi in Asia Minor.
His childhood years were very difficult, as this area is notoriously dominated by the Turks. When he was two years all Livisianoi ordered to leave the area. Approximately 2000 women, children and old men (since all men were led prisoners to forced-together and the father of the late James, Stavros) brought the sad procession. Frightened eyes, legs stagger, dark heart without hope. The little Jacob was holding in her arms the mother. His brothers, George and Tasoula, was only four years and forty days. Without the slightest financial supplies, since the few things they could get their seized the Turks began a harrowing journey that lasted a week or more. Finally arrived in Itea. Head of the family was now the grandmother of James, Mama Despina. Woman with fiery faith, unfailing patience and capacity. Since it took the shining example and taught to love God and people James. Finally in 1925 carried the Livisianous refugees at a site in northern Evia, in the village Farakla.

At 1924,the tormented family of Elder,finally transferred to North Evia, in the village ''Farakla''.



Our Elder,said that in the house, three things were dominated:

Love,fasting and charity.Those 3 things was a basic status in the family.Love was diffuse the house.As for charity, no one passed by the house,that does not take care of his mother-grandma Theodora-as we call her.When even some girls were in marriageable age,she helps as long as possible.Charity was always basic in the whole situation,and it is a fact that most of times was secret-nobody knew.This is why the Elder gave emphasis to those 3 things-love,fasting and charity...

Very importance to the spiritual development of the offspring,has the mental state,and,generally the way of living of their ancestors.

''The root is very important'' often the Elder said.He was fortunate to feel this root as his first and most important educator,in the life of faith and piety,in the face of his mother,Theodora-that she was embellished with virtues of charity,of continence,of fasting of hardworking,and tidiness.


St. Silouan The Athonite: When The Soul Has Come To Know The LORD

All ye peoples of the earth, see how greatly the LORD loves you; how in HIS mercy HE calls you to HIMSELF:

"Come unto ME, and I will give you rest" (S. Mt. XI:28).

"I will give rest both on earth and in heaven, and ye shall behold MY Glory."

"Ye are not able to understand this now, but the HOLY SPIRIT will give you to comprehend MY love toward you."

"Tarry not, come unto ME. I await you with longing, like dear children, and I will give you peace, and ye shall abide in joy, and your joy shall be everlasting."

Dear brethren, I weep as I write these lines.

When the soul has come to know the LORD in the HOLY SPIRIT she stands in ceaseless wonder before GOD's compassion, before HIS majesty and might, and the LORD HIMSELF by HIS grace mercifully teaches the soul good and humble designs -- as a mother teaches a beloved child -- and makes the soul to feel HIS Presence, that HE is near, and the soul in humility contemplates the LORD with pure contemplation. --St. Silouan the Athonite




Blessed Augustine: Confess Your Faults One To Another And Pray One For Another

From the Holy Gospel According to St. John (13:14,15 KJV):

If I then, your LORD and MASTER, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

In washing the feet of disciples who were already washed and clean, the LORD instituted a sign, to the end that, ... we might know that we are not exempt from sin, which HE thereafter washes away by interceding for us. ... What connection, then, can such an understanding of the passage have with that which HE afterwards gave HIMSELF, when HE explained the reason of HIS act in the words, "If I then, your LORD and MASTER, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you"? ... Let us listen to Apostle James, who states this precept with greatest clearness when he says, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another." For of this also the LORD gave us the example. For if HE WHO neither has, nor had, nor will have any sin, prays for our sins, how much more ought we to pray for one another's in turn! And if HE forgives us, WHOM we have nothing to forgive, how much more ought we, who are unable to live here without sin, forgive one another! --Blessed Augustine