Friday, August 28, 2009

Dormition and Assumption of the Theotokos (Old Calendar)

Today is August 15 on the Old Calendar, the unrevised Julian Calendar. Those Byzantine Orthodox Churches which follow it today celebrate the Dormition of the Theotokos. From Fr. Jonathan:

"Sleep and Rise, Fair Maiden, Daughter of Your Son"

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Dormition and Assumption of the Theotokos

Today the Apostolic Churches, both East and West (who use the contemporary calendar), celebrate the falling-asleep of the Mother of God, "our most holy, most pure, most glorious and blessed Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary", followed by her assumption, body and soul, into Heaven, the first fruits of the general resurrection.

"And a great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." (Revelation 12:1)

From St. Gregory Palamas: "A Homily on the Dormition"

Friday, August 14, 2009

Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr

In the Roman Church, today commemorates the victory of Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan imprisoned by the Nazis. Fr. Kolbe gave up his life so that another prisoner, a man with a wife and children, could live.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, another martyr of the Nazi yoke, wrote, "When Christ calls a man, he calls him to die."

This theme of the Christian life as necessarily involving self-sacrifice and asketic struggle has come up in several places lately. Here are three:

Second Terrace: "When History Passes You By"

OrthoCuban: "On Wounds Borne For Us"

Anselm's Godblog: "Sacrifice"

and, the struggle on the cosmic level, within the human heart:

Glory to God for all Things: "The Last Battle"

Monday, August 10, 2009

Orthodoxy on the Gridiron: an Interview with Troy Polamalu

(Phiro tip: GetReligion)

Freelance journalist Gina Mazza talks with Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, who is a convert to the Greek Orthodox Church. He and his wife, Theodora, recently became the parents of a son, Paisios.

In answer to Mazza's question, "What is your greatest wish for your child?", Polamalu responds:

"Without a question, my greatest wish would be for him to understand the spiritual struggle and to be a pious Orthodox Christian. That's what I want for myself, as well. Sometimes parents want their children to be what they never were. And that's one thing that I am gracious for Paisios to have: that he's able to grow up in the Orthodox church around monastics and priests that I was never able to experience as a kid - to grasp that, not take it for granted and really culture that."

Polamalu also says that if his son has to choose between becoming a priest and being a star athlete, he hopes that Paisios will choose the former.

Read it all here.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

From Wikipedia (and Fr. Stephen)...

Wikipedia is somewhat controversial. Nevertheless, I have usually found it to be a reliable source of information (a bit of which, on certain topics, I myself have supplied).

My friend and colleague, Mother Charlie, Archabbas of the Order of Celtic Benedictines (see link on the right), called the following to my attention (and no, I contributed nothing to this particular article):

"Eastern Orthodox Christian theology"

I particularly like the lede paragraph:

"Eastern Orthodox Christian theology is the theology particular to the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is characterized by monotheistic Trinitarianism, belief in the Incarnation of the Logos (Son of God), a balancing of cataphatic theology with apophatic theology, a hermeneutic defined by Sacred Tradition, a concrete ecclesiology, a robust theology of the person, and a therapeutic soteriology."

And then, there is this, from Fr. Stephen:

"The Fullness of Faith"

One caveat: in the above, Father goes beyond a "concrete ecclesiology" to a typically Byzantine Orthodox closed ecclesiology which he then conflates with the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. However, it is better to know one place where the concrete Church actually is, even if one finds it only there, than to either, in effect, deny the existence of that real, historical, continuous Church (Evangelicalism), or (as in the case of Mormonism) to find it where it does not exist.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Eli'jah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli'jah." He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Rise, and have no fear." And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, "Tell no one the vision, until the Son of man is raised from the dead." (Matthew 17:1-9, RSV)

"After these words I glanced at his face and there came over me an even greater reverent awe. Imagine in the center of the sun, in the dazzling light of its midday rays, the face of a man talking to you. You see the movement of his lips and the changing expression of his eyes, you hear his voice, you feel someone holding your shoulders; yet you do not see his hands, you do not even see yourself or his figure, but only a blinding light spreading far around for several yards and illumining with its glaring sheen both the snow-blanket which covered the forest glade and the snow-flakes which besprinkled me and the great Elder. You can imagine the state I was in!"
(From "St. Seraphim of Sarov's Conversation With Nicholas Motovilov: A Wonderful Revelation to the World")

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Commemorating St. Jean Vianney

Today is the 150th anniversary of the repose of the simple RC priest known as the Cure d'Ars, St. Jean Marie Vianney. He is the patron of priests in the Roman Church, and he, along with Vladyka John the Wonderworker, Padre Pio, St. Maximillian Kolbe, St. John of Kronstadt, and the Indian Orthodox Prelate, Paulos Mar Gregorios, are among my favorite contemporary or near-contemporary Saints who are priests. In the Kingdom, where they now reign with Christ, I have this impression that they are all close friends.

Joe Heschmeyer, at "Shameless Popery", has written a piece in honor of St. Jean. It is linked below and is well worth your time and attention.

"Happy Feast of St. John Vianney"

May all these Saints intercede before Christ our God for all bishops, priests, and deacons everywhere.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Nota Bene...

(Phiro Tip: St. Mary the Protectress)

From St. Macarius the Great

If a person pushes himself to attain prayer alone, when he has none, in order to attain its grace, without striving earnestly for meekness and humility and charity and all the other commandments of the Lord, neither taking pains nor struggling and battling to succeed in these as far as his choice and free will go, he may at times be given a grace of prayer with some degree of repose and pleasure from the Spirit according as he asks. But he has the same traits he had before. He has no meekness, because he did not seek it with effort and he did not prepare himself beforehand to become meek. He has no humility, since he did not ask for it and did not push himself to have it. He has no charity toward all men, because he was not concerned with it and did not strive for it in his asking for the gift of prayer. And in doing his work, he has no faith or trust in God, since he did not know that he was without it. And he did not take the pains to seek from the Lord for himself to have a firm faith and an authentic trust.

In St. Matthew's Gospel, as part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says:

"Not every one who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, `I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers." (Matthew 7:21-23, RSV)

Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, in the context of the Church: it's a package deal.