Daily Office 1 – 15 April AD 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.

  1.  Tuesday after Lent IV MPEP Martyrology.
  2.  Wednesday after Lent IV – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  3.  Thursday after Lent IV – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  4.  Friday after Lent IV (Isidore of Seville, BCD) – MPEPMartyrology.
  5.  Saturday before Passion SundayMPEPMartyrology.
  6.  Passion SundayMPEPMartyrology.
  7.  Monday in Passiontide – MPEPMartyrology.
  8.  St Tikhon of Moscow, BC (Tuesday in Passiontide) – MPEPMartyrology.
  9.  Wednesday in PassiontideMPEPMartyrology.
  10.  Thursday in Passiontide – MPEPMartyrology.
  11.  Friday in Passiontide (Leo the Great, BCD) — MP – EP – Martyrology.
  12.  Saturday in Passiontide – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  13.  Palm Sunday (Hermengild, M) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  14.  Monday in Holy Week (Justin, M) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  15.  Tuesday in Holy Week – MP – EP – Martyrology.

Ontology IV

I see conversations about human sexuality inside American Orthodoxy that are the same ones that happened in Anglicanism. It concerns me when we have conversations about sexuality without questioning our cultural assumptions about Ontology. In thinking about these things, I’ve published a new Essay called Ontology IV.

Evil Imaginations

So, I’m listening to “It’s Fun to Smoke Marijuana” on Freakonomics, a podcast from National Public Radio and I really needed to co to confession.  Not in a little way, mind you, but a big way.  The episode was all about Evil Imaginations. I’ve no idea what it is in Slavonic or Greek, in Russian it’s злые фантазии and it something like злые фантазии that Father Victor (Memory Eternal!) said to me when I confessed that:  I imainge I know what you’re thinking and then I judge for that imagination.  “We have a prayer about that. It’s called “злые фантазии, evil imaginations.”

Every vespers we pray that God will protect us form “Evil Imaginations”.

I’m amazed how often I fall into this: the assumption that I know what you’re thinking, the assumption that I won’t like what you’re thinking.  The NPR story calls bullshit on my pretensions: they are based solely on pride. I assume I’m more important than I really am and there we find the evil one’s intervention.  Our human pride allows us to be tricked into thinking we’re the center of the universe and, as that progresses, the anyone in the second or third person is a threat.

Daily Office 15-31 March AD 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.

  1. Ember SaturdayMPEPMartyrology.
  2. Sunday 2 LentMPEPMartyrology.
  3. Monday 2 Lent (St Patrick, BC, Joseph of Arimathea, C) – MPEPMartyrology.
  4. St Cyril of Jerusalem, BCD (Tuesday 2 Lent, St Edward, KM) – MPEPMartyrology.
  5. St Joseph, Spouse of the BVM (Wednesday 2 Lent) – MPEPMartyrology.
  6. Thursday 2 Lent MPEPMartyrology.
  7. St Benedict, Abbot (Friday 2 Lent) – MPEPMartyrology.
  8. Saturday 2 LentMPEPMartyrology.
  9. Sunday 3 LentMP EPMartyrology.
  10. Monday 3 Lent (St Gabriel the Archangel) MPEPMartyrology.
  11. The Annunciation to the BVM (Tuesday 3 Lent)- MPEPMartyrology.
  12. Wednesday 3 Lent  – MPEPMartyrology.
  13. Thursday 3 Lent (St John Damascene, CD) – MPEPMartyrology.
  14. Friday 3 LentMPEPMartyrology.
  15. Saturday 3 LentMPEPMartyrology.
  16. Sunday 4 LentMPEPMartyrology.
  17. Monday 4 Lent (St Innocent of Alaska, BC) – MPEPMartyrology.

Great and Holy Internecine Incivility

Orthodoxy says she is the Church: her institutional boundaries are the visible boundaries of the Church. There maybe invisible boundaries – but that’s in God’s hands. If you want to see the Church, see Orthodoxy. That’s all there is.

Recently all the heads of the Autocephalous Churches (except the Orthodox Church in America, which autocephaly is in dispute) got together to hash things out in preparation for a Great and Holy Council… which won’t include the OCA officially because her status is in dispute.  But it might.  But then Russia, who granted the Autocephaly seems to have partially recanted when it recently reunited with the ROCOR, who seems to have recanted her own issues with the Moscow Patriarchate all at once and forgotten that Alexi II was a bit of a com-symp and all that… but I digress.

Anyway, there was a meeting.

And many Orthodox Converts in this country – including me – got excited about it. And I may be just a little bit cynical, for which forgive me, but when Jerusalem and Antioch started feuding and the latter refused any further part in the reindeer games and the former went on as if nothing had happened (or did I get that backwards? Maybe?) and then ROCOR announced prior to the meeting that she wasn’t having any real part in the deal because she was only going to serve Russians and she wasn’t convinved of the canonical arguments that she was being uncanonical about that and didn’t want to talk about it if it was on the table and then Russia showed up at the meeting anyway and didn’t say anything about it.  I thought “Business as usual” and “we don’t have organised religion, we have bishops.”

Then someone on the outside seems to have noticed the same things:  Gabriel Sanchez wrote about it at Crisis.

Now, I don’t get the Roman Catholic politics as well as I do the Orthodox ones.  And I think that there may be some “pro-Roman” and “anti-ecumenist” agendas all over the place that I don’t understand.  But, hearing from the outside what I see from the inside only makes it seem worse: our witness isn’t just broken in our eyes, it’s broken in the eyes of others as well.

And that’s pretty embarrassing.

While Gabriel was discussing the American Canonical Assembly, he forgot to note that the Canonical Assembly replaced and disbanded (by surprise) an assembly that had been there before and – to make matters worse – that assembly was already a house divided against itself long before the new one became such.

What’s missing in Orthodoxy is the Big Brother that Rome always was: and Rome may be a bit of a bully at times but having a final authority to resolve issues is very useful.

With no primus it’s just pissing inter pares.

If Orthodoxy is the Church (as she claims and as I believe) what we see is a horribly dysfunctional family that manages to be human more often than not.  I’m ok with her foibles because we’re all human.  But we’re dysfunctional in that we cannot admit we’re broken: this visible Church is sometimes very unable to be the Kingdom because of some very human failures.  It’s not up to us to deny that but to seek forgiveness and healing.

Our first confession is to admit that we can’t admit the problem.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves.

I’m always amused by the way we craft our stories.  The life of St Gregory in the earlier post says,

He rebuked the presumption of John, Patriarch of Constantinople, who had taken to himself the title of Bishop of the Universal Church.

 I found that interesting: since this is 500 years before “The Great Schism” finalized, but I know the politics were in play long before.  So I took a look – you may enjoy it in a Church Geeky way as well:

This life of Patriarch John which is all about his holy teachings – and nothing at all about the politics – as compared to this article about him which says there’s nothing really authentic about any of the writings attributed to him and goes on, rather at length, about the politics of it all. (I rather enjoyed the point that “ecumenical patriarch” might only mean “house priest” in the Imperial Court.)

I’m sure the truth is someplace else, but I hope that both John and Gregory are praying for us and that they’ve both learned to get a long a little better.

The Life of Pope St Gregory the Great

Styled in the East, “the Dialogist”

Tonight at Vespers (the First Vespers of the feast) was read, in the Rite of St Tikhon, the “Legend” or the Life of the Saint. In the Rite of St Gregory, a monastic rite, it will be read later tonight at Matins, for either as follows:

Gregory the Great was a Roman, the son of Gordian the Senator. As a young man he studied philosophy, and afterwards discharged the office of Praetor. After his father’s death he built six monasteries in Sicily, and a seventh in honour of St. Andrew, in his own house at Rome, hard by the Church of Saints John and Paul at the ascent of the hill Scaurus. In this monastery of St. Andrew, he and his masters, Hilarion and Maximian, professed themselves monks, and Gregory was afterwards Abbot. Later on, he was created a Cardinal Deacon, and sent to Constantinople as legate from Pope Pelagius to the Emperor Tiberius Constantine. Before the Emperor he so successfully disputed against the Patriarch Eutychius, who had denied that our bodies shall verily and indeed rise again, that the Prince threw the book of the said Patriarch into the fire. Eutychius himself also soon after fell sick, and when he felt death coming on him, he took hold of the skin of his own hand and said in in the hearing of many that stood by : I acknowledge that we shall all rise again in the flesh. 

Gregory returned to Rome, and, Pelagius being dead of a plague, he was unanimously chosen Pope. This honour he refused as long as he could. He disguised himself and took refuge in a cave, but was betrayed by a fiery pillar. Being discovered and overruled, he was consecrated at the grave of St. Peter. He left behind him many ensamples of doctrine and holiness to them that have followed him in the Popedom. Every day he brought pilgrims to his table, and among them he entertained not an Angel only, but the very Lord of Angels in the guise of a pilgrim. He tenderly cared for the poor, of whom he kept a list, as well without as within the city. He restored the Catholic faith in many places where it had been overthrown. He fought successfully against the Donatists in Africa and the Arians in Spain. He cleansed Alexandria of the Agnoites. He refused to give the Pall to Syagrius, Bishop of Autun, unless he would expel the Neophyte heretics from Gaul. He caused the Goths to abandon the Arian heresy. He sent into Britain Augustine and divers other learned and holy monks, who brought the inhabitants of that island to believe in Jesus Christ. Hence Gregory is justly called by Bede, the Priest of Jarrow, the Apostle of England. He rebuked the presumption of John, Patriarch of Constantinople, who had taken to himself the title of Bishop of the Universal Church, and he dissuaded the Emperor Maurice from forbidding soldiers to become monks. 

Gregory adorned the Church with holy customs and laws. He called together a Synod in the Church of St. Peter, and therein ordained many things ; among others, the ninefold repetition of the words Kyrie eleison in the Mass, the saying of the word Alleluia in the Church service except between Septuagesima inclusive and Easter exclusive, and the addition to the Canon of the Mass of the words : Do thou order all our days in thy peace. He increased the Litanies, the number of the Churches where is held the observance called a Station, and the length of the Church Service. He would that the four Councils of Nice, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon should be honoured like four Gospels. He released the Sicilian Bishop from visiting Rome every three years, willing them to come instead once every five years. He was the author of many books, and Peter the Deacon declareth that he often saw the Holy Ghost on his head in the form of a dove when he was dictating them. It is a marvel how much he spake, did, wrote, and legislated, suffering all the while from a weak and sickly body. He worked many miracles. At last God called him away to be blessed for every in heaven, in the thirteenth year, sixth month, and tenth day of his Pontificate, being the 12th day of March. This day is observed by the Greeks, as well as by the Western Church, as a festival, on account of the eminent wisdom and holiness of this Pope. His body was buried in the Church of St. Peter, hard by the Private Chapel.

Antiphon: O Doctor right excellent, O light of Holy Church, O blessed Gregory, lover of the divine law, entreat for us the Son of God.

V. The Lord guided the righteous in right paths.
R. And shewed him the kingdom of God.

O GOD, who on the soul of thy servant Gregory didst bestow the rewards of everlasting felicity : mercifully grant ; that we, which are sore oppressed by the burden of our sins, may by the succour of his intercession be relieved. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Ghost ever one God, world without end. Amen.

The Heresy of Secularism

Father Alexander of blessed memory, says:

What we have to understand first of all, is that the problem under discussion is complicated by something our well-intentioned “conservatives” do not comprehend, in spite of all their denouncing and condemning of secularism. It is the fact of the very real connection between secularism—its origin and its development—and Christianity. Secularism—we must again and again stress this—is a “stepchild” of Christianity, as are, in the last analysis, all secular ideologies which today dominate the world—not, as is claimed by the Western apostles of a Christian acceptance of secularism, a legitimate child, but a heresy. Heresy, however, is always the distortion, the exaggeration, and therefore the mutilation of something true, the affirmation of one “choice” (aizesis means choice in Greek), one element at the expense of the others, the breaking up of the catholicity of Truth. But then heresy is also always a question addressed to the Church, and which requires, in order to be answered, an effort of Christian thought and conscience. To condemn heresy is relatively easy. What is much more difficult is to detect the question it implies, and to give this question an adequate answer. Such, however, was always the Church’s dealing with “heresies”—they always provoked an effort of creativity within the church so that the condemnation became ultimately a widening and deepening of Christian faith itself. To fight Arianism St. Athanasius advocated the term consubstantial, which earlier, and within a different theological context, was condemned as heretical. Because of this he was violently opposed, not only by Arians but by “conservatives,” who saw in him an innovator and a “modernist.” Ultimately, however, it became clear that it was he who saved Orthodoxy, and that the blind “conservatives” consciously or unconsciously helped the Arians. Thus, if secularism is, as I’m convinced, the great heresy of our own time, it requires from the church not mere anathemas, and certainly not compromises, but above an effort of understanding so it may ultimately be overcome by truth.

From “Worship in a Secular Age,” For the Life of the World, pages 127-128

The Confession of Truth

As the Prophets beheld,
As the Apostles taught,
As the Church received,
As the Teachers dogmatized,
As the Universe agreed,
As Grace illumined,
As the Truth revealed,
As falsehood passed away,
As Wisdom presented,
As Christ awarded,
Thus we declare,
Thus we assert,
Thus we proclaim Christ our true God
and honor His saints,
In words,
In writings,
In thoughts,
In sacrifices,
In churches,
In holy icons.
On the one hand, worshipping and reverencing Christ as God and Lord.
And on the other hand, honoring and venerating His Saints as true servants of the same Lord.
This is the Faith of the Apostles.
This is the Faith of the Fathers.
This is the Faith of the Orthodox.
This is the Faith which has established the Universe.