Papist Orthodoxy

December 4, 2009

St. Sabbas the Sanctified (5 Dec – Byzantine Calendars)

Filed under: History, Liturgy — Tags: , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 6:51 pm

From OrthodoxWiki.

ST. SABBAS THE SANCTIFIED

The Venerable Sabbas the Sanctified was a Palestinian monastic who is credited with composing the first monastic rule of church services, the so-called “Jerusalem Typikon”. He was a staunch opponent of the heretical Monophysites and Origenist movements. His feast day is on December 5.

He was born in Mutalaska, near Caesarea in Cappadocia of pious Christian parents, John and Sophia, during the year 439. His father was a military commander. Traveling to Alexandria on military matters, his wife went with him, but they left their five-year-old son in the care of an uncle. When the boy reached eight years of age, he entered the monastery of St. Flavian located nearby. The gifted child quickly learned to read and became an expert on the Holy Scriptures. In vain did his parents urge St. Sabbas to return to the world and enter into marriage.

When he was seventeen years old he received monastic tonsure, and attained such perfection in fasting and prayer that he was given the gift of wonderworking. In 456, after spending ten years at the monastery of St. Flavian, he traveled to Jerusalem, and from there to the monastery of St. Euthymius the Great (January 20). But St. Euthymius sent St. Sabbas to Abba Theoctistus, the head of a nearby monastery that practiced a strict cenobitic rule. St. Sabbas lived in obedience at this monastery until the age of thirty.

After the death of the Elder Theoctistus, his successor blessed St. Sabbas to seclude himself in a cave. On Saturdays, however, he left his hermitage and came to the monastery, where he participated in divine services and ate with the brethren. After a certain time St. Sabbas received permission not to leave his hermitage at all, and he struggled in the cave for five years.

St. Euthymius attentively directed the life of the young monk, and seeing his spiritual maturity, he began to take him to the Rouba wilderness with him. They set out on January 14, and remained there until Palm Sunday. St. Euthymius called St. Sabbas a child-elder, and encouraged him to grow in the monastic virtues.

When St. Euthymius fell asleep in the Lord (+473), St Sabbas withdrew from the Lavra and moved to a cave near the monastery of St. Gerasimus of Jordan (March 4). In 478, he moved to a cave on the cliffs of the Kedron Gorge southeast of Jerusalem. His hermitage formed the foundation of the monastery later named after him (Lavra Mar Saba) and known in ancient sources as the Great Lavra. After several years, disciples began to gather around St. Sabbas, seeking the monastic life. As the number of monks increased, the lavra came into being. When a pillar of fire appeared before St. Sabbas as he was walking, he found a spacious cave in the form of a church.

In 491, Patriarch Salustius of Jerusalem ordained him a priest. In 494, the patriarch named St. Sabbas the archimandrite of all the monasteries in Palestine.

St. Sabbas founded several other monasteries. Many miracles took place through the prayers of St. Sabbas: at the Lavra: a spring of water welled up, during a time of drought, there was abundant rain, and there were also healings of the sick and the demoniacs. St. Sabbas composed the first monastic Rule of church services, the so-called “Jerusalem Typikon”, that became accepted by all the Palestine monasteries. St. Sabbas died in his lavra on December 5, 532 and is buried in a tomb in the courtyard between two ancient churches in the midst of the remnant of the great Lavra Mar Saba monastery. His relics had been taken to Italy in the twelfth century by Crusaders, but were returned to the monastery by Pope Paul VI in 1965 in a goodwill gesture toward the Orthodox.

St. Sabbas championed the Orthodox cause against the monophysite and Origenist movements of his day, personally calling upon the Roman emperors in Constantinople, Anastasius in 511 and Justinian in 531, to influence them in opposing the heretical movements.

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November 3, 2009

A Transfigured Faith?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 12:22 am

In the late summer of this year, I made a retreat at the Melkite monastic foundation of Our Lady of Solitude Cloister & Retreat in Warren Center, PA. At the end of the retreat, Rev. Hieromonk Angelus, superior of the foundation, asked me to compose an article for the Melkite Eparchy of Newton’s journal, Sophia, touching upon my retreat and the feast with which it coincided: the Transfiguration of the Lord. I did as he requested and the results are here: the article was published this month and a copy of it can be read on-line. If you are so interested, you  can find the article HERE. The piece is entitled, “A Transfigured Faith?” and can be found on page 18. If you like it or are edified by it, then praise be to God. If not, all I can do is apologize.

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Festal Icon for the Transfiguration of the Lord

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Chapel and Festal Icon

The Retreatant's Chapel (Left) and the Festal Icon (Right)

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The Retreatant's Cabin

October 29, 2009

Art & Architecture: A New Blog

I have found a new blog dedicated to beauty and order in the architectural arts. He (the owner of the blog) is a talented architect of enthusiasm and passion. I am happy to be able to call him “friend”. His name is Mr. Erik Bootsma, and I encourage all to look at his blog (beatusest.blogspot.com) which shows some samples of his fine work.

You can find the link to his site in the “blogroll” in the sidebar of this blog, or click on the image below to go to his blog. Enjoy.

October 22, 2009

Bulgarian Orthodox Leader Affirms Desire for Unity

Filed under: Ecumenism — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 7:41 pm

Croatian Politician Invites Pope to Visit

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- A Bulgarian Orthodox prelate told Benedict XVI of his desire for unity, and his commitment to accelerate communion with the Catholic Church.

At the end of Wednesday’s general audience, Bishop Tichon, head of the diocese for Central and Western Europe of the Patriarchate of Bulgaria, stated to the Pope, “We must find unity as soon as possible and finally celebrate together,” L’Osservatore Romano reported.

“People don’t understand our divisions and our discussions,” the bishop stated. He affirmed that he will “not spare any efforts” to work for the quick restoration of “communion between Catholics and Orthodox.”

Bishop Tichon said that “the theological dialogue that is going forward in these days in Cyprus is certainly important, but we should not be afraid to say that we must find as soon as possible the way to celebrate together.”

“A Catholic will not become an Orthodox and vice versa, but we must approach the altar together,” he added.

The prelate told the Pontiff that “this aspiration is a feeling that arose from the works of the assembly” of his diocese, held in Rome, in which all the priests and two delegates from every Bulgarian Orthodox parish took part.

“We have come to the Pope to express our desire for unity and also because he is the Bishop of Rome, the city that hosted our assembly,” he stated.

Initiatives

After the bishop, Luka Bebic, speaker of the Croatian Parliament, addressed the Holy Father, inviting the Pontiff to visit his homeland and thanking him “for the support the Holy See has given our people since independence, during the war back then and now in the process that will lead Croatia to enter the European Union.”

Benedict XVI next greeted members of the Association Rondine Cittadella della Pace [Citadel of Peace], which promotes dialogue and peace by bringing together students from conflict areas to live and study in community.

They shared with the Pope a concrete proposal titled “14 Points for Peace in the Caucasus” that was developed at an international congress the association organized in May.

The proposal was also distributed to the ambassadors of the Caucasus countries and to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Young people of all the ethnic and religious groups of the Caucasus were also present at the audience.

Members of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Cardinal Sancha, whose founder, Cardinal Ciriaco María Sancha y Hervas, was beatified Sunday in Toledo, Spain, also greeted the Pontiff. Headed by their superior, Sister Maria del Carmen Dominguez, the religious expressed to the Holy Father their commitment to be faithful to their original charism “of service to the poor, orphans and the elderly.”

September 22, 2009

“Twelve Differences”

This comes to us from Vivificat! via Orrologion via Eirenikon. — Antiochian-Thomist

Fr. Alvin Kimel publishes on the blog, Pontifications.

Fr. Alvin Kimel on the “Twelve Differences”

Originally posted by Irenaeus.

Orrologion has posted the original text of the “Twelve Differences between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches” by Teófilo de Jesús along with excellent responses to each of the twelve points from Fr Alvin Kimel, of Pontifications* fame, who in his extended period of discernment after leaving the Episcopal Church studied the claims of both Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy in great depth.

Some excerpts:

On Primacy. Is it true that the Orthodox Church rejects totally any understanding of ecclesial headship? What about the bishop of a diocese? Does he not wield and embody a divine authority given to him by Christ Jesus? Is he not the head of his community, which precisely is the Church? And when Catholics speak of the Pope as the earthly head of the Church, are they in any way denying that Christ alone is properly head of the Church? When Catholics speak of the primacy of the Pope, are they exalting the Pope above the Episcopate, as if their power and authority derived from him? And are Orthodox theologians incapable of entertaining an authentic primacy within the episcopal college for the bishop of Rome? …

On Conciliarity. The Catholic Church understands the Church precisely as a communion of particular Churches and local dioceses; moreover, the Church as the universal Church is not to be understood as simply the sum or collection of all particular Churches: each diocese is itself a truly catholic body … Catholic ecclesiology is so much more complex and diverse than is sometimes appreciated …

On Original Sin. I’m sure there are differences between Catholic construals of anthropology and Orthodox construals of anthropology (please note the plural); but I do not believe that this is because the Catholic Church authoritatively teaches a forensic imputation of original sin and the Orthodox Church does not. Why do I say this? Because it is not at all clear to me that the Catholic Church authoritatively teaches the *forensic* imputation of Adam’s guilt to humanity. I know that some (many?) Catholic theologians have sometimes taught something like this over the centuries, but the Catholic Church has strained over recent decades to clarify the meaning of Original Sin not as the forensic transfer of Adam’s guilt but as the inheritance of the Adamic condition of real alienation from God–i.e., the absence of sanctifying grace … Important differences on the nature of original exist between St Augustine and magisterial Catholic teaching …

You can follow the rest of this article at Eirenikon or Orrologion.

Will “Third Rome” Reunite with “First Rome”?

Filed under: Doctrine, Papacy & Patriarchy — Tags: , , , , , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 5:43 pm

Might be a bit over-zealous. Nonetheless, there is reason to hope.  — Antiochian-Thomist

From Zenit.org.

Recent Meeting Could Mark Turning Point

By Robert Moynihan

WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPT. 21, 2009 (Zenit.org)- Sometimes there are no fireworks. Turning points can pass in silence, almost unobserved.

It may be that way with the “Great Schism,” the most serious division in the history of the Church. The end of the schism may come more quickly and more unexpectedly than most imagine.

On Sept. 18, inside Castel Gandolfo, the Pope’s summer palace about 30 miles outside Rome, a Russian Orthodox Archbishop named Hilarion Alfeyev, 43 (a scholar, theologian, expert on the liturgy, composer and lover of music), met with Benedict XVI, 82 (also a scholar, theologian, expert on the liturgy and lover of music), for almost two hours, according to informed sources. (There are as yet no “official” sources about this meeting — the Holy See has still not released an official communiqué about the meeting.)

The silence suggests that what transpired was important — perhaps so important that the Holy See thinks it isn’t yet prudent to reveal publicly what was discussed.

But there are numerous “signs” that the meeting was remarkably harmonious.

If so, this Sept. 18 meeting may have marked a turning point in relations between the “Third Rome” (Moscow) and the “First Rome” (Rome) — divided since 1054.

Archbishop Hilarion was in Rome for five days last week as the representative of the new Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow.

One key person Archbishop Hilarion met with was Cardinal Walter Kasper. On Sept. 17, the cardinal told Vatican Radio that he and Archbishop Hilarion had a “very calm conversation.”

Cardinal Kasper also revealed something astonishing: that he had suggested to the archbishop that the Orthodox Churches form some kind of “bishops’ conference at the European level” that would constitute a “direct partner of cooperation” in future meetings.

This would be a revolutionary step in the organization of the Orthodox Churches.

Papal-Patriarch encounter?

Cardinal Kasper said a Pope-Patriarch meeting was not on the immediate agenda, and would probably not take place in Moscow or Rome, but in some “neutral” place (Hungary, Austria and Belarus are possibilities).

Archbishop Hilarion himself revealed much about how his Rome visit was proceeding when he met on the evening of Sept. 17 (before his meeting with the Pope) with the Community of Sant’Egidio, an Italian Catholic group known for its work with the poor in Rome.

“We live in a de-Christianized world, in a time that some define — mistakenly — as post-Christian,” Archbishop Hilarion said. “Contemporary society, with its practical materialism and moral relativism, is a challenge to us all. The future of humanity depends on our response… More than ever before, we Christians must stand together.”

A report from Interfax, the news service of the Moscow Patriarchate, on Sept. 18 revealed that Archbishop Hilarion spoke to the Pope about “cooperation between the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches in the area of moral values and of culture” — in particular during the “Days of Russian Spiritual Culture,” a type of exhibit with lectures scheduled for spring 2010 in Rome. (One might imagine that the Pope himself could attend such an exhibition).

In memory of the visit, Archbishop Hilarion gave the Pope a pectoral cross, made in workshops of Russian Orthodox Church, the report said, Interfax reported.

Today, an Interfax report supplied details of Hilarion’s remarks this morning in the catacombs of St. Callixtus.

“Denied by the world, far from human eyes, deep under ground in caves, the first Roman Christians performed the feat of prayer,” Hilarion said. “Their life brought the fruit of holiness and martyr heroism. The Holy Church was built on their blood shed for Christ.”

Then the Church came out of the catacombs, but Christian unity was lost, the archbishop said.

Archbishop Hilarion said that human sin is the cause of all divisions, while Christian unity can be restored only in the way of sanctity.

“Each of us, conscientiously fulfilling a task the Church has given him or her, is called to personally contribute to the treasury of Christian sanctity and work to achieve God-commanded Christian unity,” the archbishop said.

A second Interfax report today added further information about the meeting with the Pope.

Growing influence

“During a talk with Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk pointed out the status of Orthodox believers in Western Ukraine where three Orthodox dioceses had been almost eliminated as a result of coercive actions of Greek Catholics in late 1980s and early 1990s,” Interfax reported.

Archbishop Hilarion “stated the need to take practical steps to improve the situation in Western Ukraine,” within the territories of Lvov, Ternopol and Invano-Frankovsk Dioceses, the report said.

Meanwhile, in Russia itself, the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church, headed by Patriarch Kirill, seems to be growing, though not without opposition.

The rise in Russia of Kirill and his increasing influence in legislative matters seems to be arousing opposition from the “siloviki,” forces connected with the old KGB.

In an article in the current issue of Argumenty Nedeli, Andrey Uglanov says that Kirill’s extraordinary activity has attracted attention from some who do not like to have their positions questioned, let alone challenged. And that has become Kirill’s “big problem.”

These “siloviki,” Uglanov says, have been offended by Kirill’s “anti-Stalinist and anti-Bolshevik actions,” including his appearance at the Solovetsky stone in Moscow’s Lubyanka Square on the very Day of the Memory of the Victims of Political Repression.

In this context, Hilarion’s visit to Rome takes on even more importance.

The Russian Orthodox Church is a power in Russia, but it faces opposition and needs allies.

What is occurring in Hilarion’s visit to Rome, then, may have ramifications not only for the overcoming of the “Great Schism,” but also for the cultural, religious and political future of Russia, and of Europe as a whole.

It is especially significant, in this context, that Hilarion, Kirill’s “Foreign Minister,” has some of the same deep interests as Benedict XVI: the liturgy, and music.

“As a 15-year-old boy I first entered the sanctuary of the Lord, the Holy of Holies of the Orthodox Church,” Hilarion once wrote about the Orthodox liturgy. “But it was only after my entrance into the altar that the ‘theourgia,’ the mystery, and ‘feast of faith’ began, which continues to this very day.

“After my ordination, I saw my destiny and main calling in serving the Divine Liturgy. Indeed, everything else, such as sermons, pastoral care and theological scholarship were centered around the main focal point of my life — the liturgy.”

Liturgy

These words seem to echo the feelings and experiences of Benedict XVI, who has written that the liturgies of Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday in Bavaria when he was a child were formative for his entire being, and that his writing on the liturgy (one of his books is entitled “Feast of Faith”) is the most important to him of all his scholarly endeavors.

“Orthodox divine services are a priceless treasure that we must carefully guard,” Hilarion has written. “I have had the opportunity to be present at both Protestant and Catholic services, which were, with rare exceptions, quite disappointing… Since the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, services in some Catholic churches have become little different from Protestant ones.”

Again, these words of Hilarion seem to echo Benedict XVI’s own concerns. The Pope has made it clear that he wishes to reform the Catholic Church’s liturgy, and preserve what was contained in the old liturgy and now risks being lost.

Hilarion has cited the Orthodox St. John of Kronstadt approvingly. St. John of Kronstadt wrote: “The Church and its divine services are an embodiment and realization of everything in Christianity… It is the divine wisdom, accessible to simple, loving hearts.”

These words echo words written by Cardinal Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, who often said that the liturgy is a “school” for the simple Christian, imparting the deep truths of the faith even to the unlearned through its prayers, gestures and hymns.

Hilarion in recent years has become known for his musical compositions, especially for Christmas and for Good Friday, celebrating the birth and the Passion of Jesus Christ. These works have been performed in Moscow and in the West, in Rome in March 2007 and in Washington DC in December 2007.

Closer relations between Rome and Moscow, then, could have profound implications also for the cultural and liturgical life of the Church in the West. There could be a renewal of Christian art and culture, as well as of faith.

All of this was at stake in the quiet meeting between Archbishop Hilarion and Benedict XVI on Friday afternoon, in the castle overlooking Lake Albano.

Palamas: Dormition of the Theotokos

Filed under: Doctrine, Liturgy, Sacred Scripture and Theology — Tags: , , , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 12:23 am

A Homily on the Dormition of Our Supremely Pure

Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary


by St. Gregory Palamas


Both love and duty today fashion my homily for your charity. It is not only that I wish, because of my love for you, and because I am obliged by the sacred canons, to bring to your God-loving ears a saving word and thus to nourish your souls, but if there be any among those things that bind by obligation and love and can be narrated with praise for the Church, it is the great deed of the Ever-Virgin Mother of God. The desire is double, not single, since it induces me, entreats and persuades me, whereas the inexorable duty constrains me, though speech cannot attain to what surpasses it, just as the eye is unable to look fixedly upon the sun. One cannot utter things which surpass speech, yet it is within our power by the love for mankind of those hymned, to compose a song of praise and all at once both to leave untouched intangible things, to satisfy the debt with words and to offer up the first fruits of our love for the Mother of God in hymns composed according to our abilities.

If, then, “death of the righteous man is honorable” (cf. Ps. 115:6) and the “memory of the just man is celebrated with songs of praise” (Prov. 10:7). How much more ought we to honor with great praises the memory of the holiest of the saints, she by whom all holiness is afforded to the saints, I mean the Ever-Virgin. Mother of God! Even so we celebrate today her holy dormition or translation to another life, whereby, while being “a little lower than angels” (Ps. 8:6), by her proximity to the God of all, and in the wondrous deeds which from the beginning of time were written down and accomplished with respect to her, she has ascended incomparably higher than the angels and the archangels and all the super-celestial hosts that are found beyond them. For her sake the God-possessed prophets pronounce prophecies, miracles are wrought to foreshow that future Marvel of the whole world, the Ever-Virgin Mother of God. The flow of generations and circumstances journeys to the destination of that new mystery wrought in her; the statutes of the Spirit provide beforehand types of the future truth. The end, or rather the beginning and root, of those divine wonders and deeds is the annunciation to the supremely virtuous Joachim and Anna of what was to be accomplished: namely, that they who were barren from youth would beget in deep old age her that would bring forth without seed Him that was timelessly begotten of God the Father before the ages. A vow was given by those who marvelously begot her to return her that was given to the Giver; so accordingly the Mother of God strangely changed her dwelling from the house of her father to the house of God while still an infant . She passed not a few years in the Holy of Holies itself, wherein under the care of an angel she enjoyed ineffable nourishment such as even Adam did not succeed in tasting; for indeed if he had, like this immaculate one, he would not have fallen away from life, even though it was because of Adam and so that she might prove to be his daughter, that she yielded a little to nature, as did her Son, Who has now ascended from earth into heaven.

Find the rest of the homily here.