Daily Office 1 – 16 March AD 2104

The Daily Offices for Morning and Evening Prayer in the Rite of St Tikhon. The readings are as assigned by the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate, unofficially supplemented with other devotional material taken from the Breviary and the Psalter. Each MP/EP link will take you to a complete office, needing only the daily Psalter or, for MP, the Martyrology link.

In the year A.D. 2014, the moon is read under the letter C.

  1. Sat Feria (St David of Wales BC) – MPEPMartyrology.
  2. Sunday Quinquagesima (Chad of Lichfield BC) – MPEPMartyrology.
  3. Mon Feria – MPEPMartyrology.
  4. Tue Feria  – MPEPMartyrology.
  5. Ash WednesdayMPEPMartyrology.
  6. Thursday after Ash Wednesday (Perpetua & Felicita VM) – MPEPMartyrology.
  7. Friday after Ash Wednesday – MP EPMartyrology.
  8. Saturday after Ash Wednesday – MPEPMartyrology.
  9. Sunday 1 Lent (Gregory of Nyssa) – MPEPMartyrology.
  10. Monday 1 Lent (Forty Martyrs of Sebast) – MPEPMartyrology.
  11. Tuesday 1 LentMPEPMartyrology.
  12. St Gregory the Great BCD (Ember Wednesday)- MPEPMartyrology.
  13. Thursday 1 LentMPEPMartyrology.
  14. Ember FridayMPEPMartyrology.
  15. Ember SaturdayMPEPMartyrology.
  16. Sunday 2 LentMPEPMartyrology.

Daily Office 15 – 28 February A.D. 2014

The Daily Offices for Morning and Evening Prayer in the Rite of St Tikhon. The readings are as assigned by the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate, unofficially supplemented with other devotional material taken from the Breviary and the Psalter. Each MP/EP link will take you to a complete office, needing only the daily Psalter or, for MP, the Martyrology link.

Beginning this evening with Vespers we enter the season of Septuagesima: vestments turn to purple and we bed “goodbye” to Alleluia in the office. Starting Sunday Morning we sing “Praise be to thee, O Lord, King of eternal glory” in the opening versicles. Vigils are done away with and the days now rank in and of themselves and are commemorated if not observed (as, for example, next Saturday when we have the Feast of the Chair of St Peter at Antioch and commemorate the office of the Saturday as well).

As we turn towards Lent, may this season be of profit to your Salvation.

  1.  BVM Ss Faustinus and Jovita MM – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  2.  Septuagesima Sunday – MPEP – Martyrology.
  3. Monday  FeriaMPEPMartyrology.
  4. Tuesday  Feria (St Simon of Jerusalem BM) – MPEPMartyrology.
  5. Wednesday  FeriaMPEPMartyrology.
  6. Thursday  FeriaMPEPMartyrology.
  7. Friday  FeriaMPEPMartyrology.
  8. Saturday  Chair of St Peter at Antioch MPEPMartyrology.
  9.  Sexagesima Sunday Vigil of St Matthias – MPEPMartyrology.
  10. Monday  St Matthias, Apostle – MPEPMartyrology.
  11. Tuesday  Feria (St. Walburga of Heidenheim, V) – MPEPMartyrology.
  12. Wednesday  FeriaMPEPMartyrology.
  13. Thursday  St Raphael of Brooklyn BC (St Alexander of Alexandria BC, Feria) – MPEPMartyrology.
  14. Friday  FeriaMPEPMartyrology.

An Honest Story Part 2

 (or Part 3, depending on how you count)

So, is the Orthodox Church homophobic? Well, what is Church?  Nothing less or nothing more than the Body of Christ, present on earth, active in the culture, the politics and daily life of the people. If you say, yes, the Church is homophobic than you are saying that Jesus, himself, is. But the Church is an active community of people working out their salvation in fear and trembling.  And some faster than others.  And they are capable of any number of sins as they live and move through their daily life.

What you mean, I think, is either, A) does the church actively inculcate homophobia in her members; or B are the teachings of the Church – especially those on sexual morality – homophobic in their content? These are the same question phrased in two ways: if B is yes, then A is true.  If A is yes, then it must be something about the teachings that does it.

At least officially, we must admit the one answer to both A and B is a resounding “No”. On paper the Orthodox Church’s teaching on sin – all sin – is, essentially, the patristic one: I am the only sinner God reveals to me. For all my faults, my ego, my sins are in the first person.  Everyone else is, to me, as Christ himself: part of my salvation on whom I dare not judge and on whose prayers my very life depends.

On paper, at least that’s how it goes.  But we know that we are all humans and we fail. I have trouble daily judging others and others judge me.  Some who say they love me when I write certain things won’t speak to me when I write others.  I’ve known clergy who described the primary Christian response to people with same-sex attraction as “the Ick Factor” and said that normal people all feel revulsion at the very idea of “it” and that such revulsion would keep gays in check. I’ve known people who acted like “gay” was the biggest sin out there, coming just before genocide and global thermonuclear destruction.  I’ve known clergy who had gay or lesbian couples in their parish and never said a word and others who had such couples but steered them towards celibacy before allowing them to approach the Chalice.  I’ve known clergy who were gay and celibate and I’ve know we have all read of clergy who were sexually active.  Lay people fall across that spectrum as well.

An honest story about being gay in the Orthodox Church must include all those experiences: the uncomfortable, the heterodox and the doctrinally dead on. But it must also include stories of one’s own sinfulness, my own concupiscence, my own judgement of others.  I’ve known grace-filled moments when the chalice seemed to draw me forward and I’ve know moments when I seemed to be running away. When one priest called and asked me, pastorally, what it was like to be gay in the Orthodox Church it changed my life.  When I met the welcome and love of two clergy families in the South that kept me from sliding into sin, that saved me. When I told a confessor I needed to leave for a time and find out (if you love something let it go) he gave me his loving blessing and his holy prayers.  When I came back: everyone was right there with open arms to hug me in again. My experience, over and over, is that the issue wasn’t “being gay” but rather having sex.

In our world we feel that being told “no” is a condemnation: sometimes it is a lifetime of experience speaking, or multiple lifetimes of saints and sages and prophets and elders saying “you know, there is nothing new under the sun and that has never worked.”  No is the most loving answer possible. As we all work out our salvation in the Church, my job is not to whine about how I feel mistreated but rather to forgive and for all of us to grow together in Christ. The way some people feel about sex, I , in fact, feel about almsgiving: the ick factor.  We have a lot of things to work on without judging each other for our faults.

Krsna Slava: St Richard of Wessex

The Serbian Orthodox have a custom of a Family Saint, a guardian, who is feasted every year with an heroic act of Hospitality, the Krsna Slava. I’m not Serbian, of course, and American converts don’t have such customs, but my family, the Richardsons, are not Orthodox. Neither are we related to St Richard of Wessex: but it seems good to have such a feast and to invoke the prayers of the saints for my family, living and departed, so, being the oldest male in this part of the clan, I think I’ll claim one for us.

St Richard, King of Wessex and Confessor, is celebrated on 7 February, the date of his falling asleep in the Lord in AD 722.

More than any other race, the Anglo Saxons are distinguished for the royal patronage bestowed upon the Christian Church, and for the way in which kings and their families have worked in the spreading of the gospel in their own lands and overseas. St. Richard and his family are outstanding examples. He was one of the kings or princes of Wessex, related to the royal house of Kent, and married to Winna, herself a descendant of Cerdic and aunt to Boniface of Crediton.

Richard was brought up as a Christian and his faith was real and firm. When his eldest son Willibald was three years old, the child fell grievously ill, and there seemed to be no hope for his recovery. His father wrapped him in a blanket and, mounting his horse, rode out into the night to a wayside crucifix at a crossroads near to the village where they lived… Richard placed the child at the foot of the cross and knelt in prayer, pleading for his son’s life. Willibald did recover, and two years later he was entrusted to Egbald, the abbot of Warham, near Winchester, to be trained.

When Willibald reached manhood, he returned to his family with a desire to spread the faith abroad, and persuaded his father and brother to accompany him on a pilgrimage to Rome and the Holy Land. 

When Richard had renounced his royal estate, he set sail with his two sons from Hamblehaven near Southampton. They made a leisurely progress through France, spending time at various Christian centres including Rouen, and it seems that at some time during their journey Richard took monastic vows.

Shrine of St Richard in Lucca

They reached Italy and came to Lucca, where the Cathedral had been built by an Irish monk called Frigidian, but known by the local inhabitants as Frediano. Richard, who was growing old and had become infirm during his travels, now succumbed to the heat and died.

When I began researching various saints named Richard who were Orthodox, I’d no idea I’d find one whose feast was so soon (literally the same week I sat down to do it) so here we are: our first Krsna Slava with no party save SF Beer Week Opening Gala (tonight) for which I have long had tickets, so we had Pizza & wings last night.  But next year this will be a party.  And maybe house-blessing weekend.  I’m looking forward to adapting the custom: I think my American Slava Bread would have to be Soda Bread.  We do put a cross on it, after all.

This year I couldn’t book a Panikhida on such short notice, so on the 15th there will be one at 5:30 PM for all the departed in my family (biological and pneumological) at the Cathedral: and I will host a bit of Refreshment after the Vigil that evening. Locals are, of course, invited! Of your charity I ask your prayers for:

Kenneth, Bessie Mae, Walter, Edward, Katherine, James, Gregory, Raymond, Matthew, Mills, Bernard, Timothy, William, Linda, Paul, Brian, Michelle, Edward, Elsa, Raymond, Grace, Sheila-Mary

Indeed, not all of them are Orthodox: only one.  But God can handle that.

An honest story Pt 1

On a new (to me) site called “Spiritual Friendship”, Wesley Hill asks The is Church Homophobic – True or False?? There are a couple of begs there: define “Church” and define “Homophobic”. I’ll venture both of those questions will be just as cantankerous depending on where one stands. What I’m sure of is that if you’re inside the church (gay or not) your definition of both is theological. If you’re outside the church (gay or not) your definition of “church” is “all those Christians” without regard to stripe or denomination. Your definition of “homophobia” is probably some version of “saying that ‘gay is sinful’. If you’re in a more-liberal denomination such as ECUSA, your answer about homophobia may be the same, but your first answer will be “Not my church”. As in, Those churches are homophobic, but mine is not.

For the purposes of this response, I want to suggest that both answers are subjective: not a matter of “your truth but not mine” but, still, based on the person. While acknowledging that Wesley Hill is a Christian, I can not say he is in “the Church” because, as an Orthodox Christian, I believe in visible boundaries to that Church. Beyond them – although the Holy Spirit is ‘everywhere present and filling all things’ including Anglicans – I can only say “that’s God’s world not mine. Roman Catholics would say I belong to the “other lung” of the church, but I would eye them suspiciously were I conservative, and curiously were I a liberal: since Orthodox believe in neither lungs nor branches. At least as far as this world goes, one is in the Church (Orthodox, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic) or one is in God’s hands and maybe that’s all. For me, the visible Church is coterminous with the communion boundaries of Orthodoxy. Everyone else is in God’s grace and no one is saved outside of the Church: in other words, on Judgement day I pray God finds me in the Church and you too.

As “church” is entirely subjective, so, likewise, “homophobia”. There is a definition sited in the comments by Prof. Hill:

I had in mind Gabriel Blanchard’s definition: “I am defining homophobia as injustice against persons who are homosexually attracted, for no reason other than their being homosexually attracted. I propose to take the following for granted: that there are people who are, largely or exclusively, homosexually attracted; that there is such a thing as injustice; and that injustice can be directed towards them for that reason.” See here: http://mudbloodcatholic.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/an-appendix-to-raw-tact-catholic.html

In common usage, it is subjective: I limit that injustice to “you can’t live/work/be here in the public space in the same way as a a straight person because you are same-sex attracted.” You can’t have this job.  You can’t hold hands. You can’t snuggle on the airplane when it’s cold.  You can’t designate your heir. Others label as “homophobia” theological discussions such as “is gay sex sinful?”; or social policy “can gay men adopt children?”

Christian teaching about sex is pretty clear: sex outside of a church-sanctioned, monogamous, heterosexual marriage is sinful.  Doesn’t matter about the plumbing, the choices, the biology, the nature or the nurture involved.  People who are same-sex attracted must follow the same rules for moral sex as people who are opposite-sex attracted is not homophobia in my book. For someone else it really is a horrid hate crime to suggest such a thing.  I’m being homophobic by some lights even to engage the question: it’s called “internalized homophobia”, a phrase that is used whenever any member of the community questions the wisdom of the Elders.

Just short of half-way through the article, the author says.

What we need are three-dimensional stories—stories that highlight the successes and the failures of our churches, without downplaying either one. The culture wars tempt us toward one-sidedness; if we’re on the conservative side, we want to deflect the charge of homophobia, and if we’re on the liberal side, we want to expose the dangers of fundamentalism. But the truest stories rarely lend themselves to such strategies, and defensiveness is never the best, or most effective, apologetic approach.

 And so I think it’s important to write an “honest story” about being gay in the Orthodox Church.  My “I was in Hell” essay was hugely popular for exactly the reasons described above: cultural warriors saw it as a one-sided slam against the other side.  It was a powerful slam, at that, using the words of a man many people consider a 20th Century saint (who also lived with same-sex attraction) and aimed at everyone that was “liberal” and BLT/GQ in the world.  But “Hell Reconsidered” didn’t do so well, even though it was a more-real confession of what was actually going on.

I think that’s where any “honest story” must begin for me: with an honest confession of what is really going on.  So, if this post is “Part 1” then Hell Reconsidered is Part II of this honest story.  (I was in Hell is the crazy convert initial attempt at saying something serious.)  But Part III may take us someplace important.

Old Essays Reissued

I’m pleased to announce that some old essays have been reposted on the new blog.  My essays about dealing with being Gay in the Church, beginning with the much-ballyhooed classic, I was in Hell.  They are linked on the side bar as well.  But I’m doing a bit of soul-searching so it seemed good to me to reprint them. I had a discussion recently about the “beingness” of Transgendered people, and I was surprised to see that ten years ago my POV was the same about gayness. New essays will be added going forward, I suspect.

Growing Up

I had two sets of male role models when I was growing up. Like many a child born in the mid-1960s and starting school in the early 1970s, my surrounding culture, my schools and my TV were filled with young men (and women) that looked like the older teenagers in That Seventies Show. I had bullies that lookst like the curly-haired guy in sunglasses. I had stoners that looked like Ashton Kutcher, I had various friends who looked like all the other folks.  I was younger: only 6 in 1970 – so I could look up to all these folks (like my Uncle Bobby) and say “When I grow up I want to be cool like them.” Perhaps you see where this is going, but by the time I was 18, the 70s were over and the 80s were under way. We had elected Ronald Reagan; Alex P. Keaton was what young men were supposed to turn into.  Apart from a brief moment in HS when I was the Goody-Two-Shoes guy from That Seventies Show it all ended before I got there and when college started, well.. it was kinda boring.

To be honest, by the time I got to College, no one did pot or acid (it was about cocaine and MDMA) and, while there was a lot of sex to be had, AIDS erupted on the scene at the exact same moment that I moved to Greenwich Village.  The party literally stopped just as I walked in the door. Bye bye, Hippes.  One whole set of male role models stopped being valid. I guess I could have changed into the world’s most out-dated College student, but, instead, I just moved along with the culture.  Polo shirts, high tops, jeans and sneakers, knit ties (with flat ends) and feathered hair.  I still had hair…

Something strange happened after that, but we’ll get to that in a minute. First, back to 1964…

The other set of role models in my life had nothing to do with teenagers or college students and very little to do with the 1960s, actually, except for the fact that they were there.  My Childhood was surrounded by what you might call Southern Gentlemen Farmers. Farmers certainly: Mr Gray was as large a peanut farmer as was Mr Carter.  My Grandfather, with quite a respectable Gov’t job, was his friend and so, in our small rural town, we were “respectable.”  They wore hats.  And ties. They dressed like we see in old Black and White TV shows and movies.  And when I grew up, I wanted to be like them – because that’s what adult men looked like: most of the older people in Don Drapers life – including Mr D himself.

So, to recap:  I wanted to get a little older and be a hippie; then, be a man in hats and ties.

Problem was, when the hippies (ie, Baby Boomers) grew up they didn’t, really, grow up. And so their kids – and all of us who followed them – didn’t grow up either. There’s are three (four?) entire generations out there who think “grown up” means earning a lot of money, preferably for not so much work, and wearing jeans and t-shirt all day. Yes, I know, clothes don’t make the man… but anyone who works in the fashion industry (or who watches Bugs Bunny) will tell you: dress different to act different. This is why Mr Rogers used to change into a sweater and sneakers… but keep his tie on: that’s what guys did.

I am, just now, 2 years shy of my Grandfather’s age when I was born.  That’s a bit of an earth-shaking statement.  I don’t feel old, or anything like that: but I also don’t feel like I’m half the man he was: this is not a gay/straight comment.  It’s a baseball cap and blue-jeans comment.  By my age the vast majority of my ancestors (who lived to my age) had raised multiple generations of family, and were resting on well-earned laurels.  Most people my age can’t even care for house plants, let alone children.  Because they still are children.  In fact, I want to turn that around: I think it’s the self-sacrifice and martyrdom of marriage and childbearing that makes children into adults.

Most people I know personally (gay and straight) are trapped in a kind of perpetual adolescence. Our clothing choices make that visible.  Yes, I know cultures change and clothing styles change, but even at a church party, I can see the difference between parents and non-parents. Or, equally, between married and single people.  The latter may age… but we’re all sort of wrapped up in something we can’t get rid of without the help of another.  We may be wearing the same clothes – but why, I wonder, are we all dressed like the kids?

There’s this interesting, on-going discussion about “dressing for dinner” in Downton Abbey, who should, who does and doesn’t, why they don’t.  Mind you: “not dressing for dinner” in Downton is still wearing more layers of clothing than most of us wear in a week worth of office work.  At one point the Dowager Countess refers to “play clothes” while speaking to two adult men in suits with vests, suspenders, white shirts, dress shoes, ties and bowlers!  Not dressing for dinner means wearing a tie instead of a bow tie or wearing a black tie instead of a white tie. There is, however, never any question of jeans and tshirt.

Again, I know cultures change.  But we still know what we’re doing: because when we go to a formal party or to fancy event, or a work party, or a wedding or a funeral, we dress up.  We know that we are spending most of our life dressed down or: dressed like kids, even at work. In those rare occasions when we dress like adults we know we’ve done something extra, something formal. But most of the time we all still dress like we are going out on a play date – even when we’re on a very adult sort of date indeed.  And adulthood starts, really, at the Prom: it should all be clear from there on out, that we’ve “Come of age” and we should dress like it.

A friend of mine pointed out that we don’t get dressed to “be someone” we dress up because we want to honor the people we will be with. You dress up at a funeral out of respect for the dead.  You dress up for a wedding out of respect for the Bride and Groom.  This has always been true: even in the Bible. That’s why the man with the bad clothes gets tossed out of the wedding feast. He’s dissing the family. But we go to church in jeans and Hawaiian shirts.  Look at the President or the most recently Former President with their collars open: feels kinda disappointing really. If if you don’t have enough self respect to dress like the leader of the free world, at least when you meet me you’d better look the part.  It’s insulting otherwise: I’m supposed to call you sir and Mr President, and you can’t even wear adult clothes like an adult? Mr Clinton blows them away in terms of style just because he wears a tie all the time.

I don’t know: would dressing up preclude us asking like children all the time?  Certainly not because people have acted childishly all along – even in Downton. And some of the most childish people I know are wearing bowties these days.  But, can you imagine a world where leaving the house meant looking nice? Not being caught dead in sweats – even at WalMart?  Wearing shoes rather than sneakers unless there was a gym in the forecast, using hats that looked nice rather than dusty? The good folks on Downton are a bit out of my class: some of those tweed suits, even the ones worn by the servants, cost $1,000.  I’m not going to go out and buy one.  But I do wonder what life might be like if we wore hats and vests as a matter of course, if my dressing up was a mark of respect for you; a life where my fedora was daily wear along with a tie and if that didn’t make me look like an oddly eccentric San Franciscan of  Certain Age, but rather an adult among other adults, divided from our juniors by age, experience and clothing. And where my clothes showed a mark of respect to you and where you understood that if I showed up in jeans and a shirt – if we were not cleaning out the garage, that is – I fully meant to say “you’re not worth it to me”.