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Archive for April, 2011

Nostalgia for the Yet To Be

There are moments in time in which our hearts are at once captured by the intensity of yearning and the delight of satisfaction, moments when our hearts are penetrated by the new which seems yet so ever familiar and true. New vistas of heart and soul open before us, and yet we know this is our place. These still points of the turning world both cast us out into the light and bring us home.

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CBS 60 Minutes Mt Athos Special

The entire segment and behind the scenes video can be viewed at the following links:

Part I:

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7363712n

Part II:

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7363715n

Behind the scenes:

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504803_162-20056220-10391709.html

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resurrection1.jpg

The Paschal Hymn
Christ is risen from the dead,
trampling down death by death,
and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

The Paschal Hymn of the Theotokos
The Angel cried aloud to her who was full of grace: Rejoice, O pure Maiden, and again I say, Rejoice; thy Son hath risen the third day from the tomb. Shine, shine, thou new Jerusalem: for the glory of the Lord hath risen upon thee! Rejoice in the dance and exult, O Sion! And do thou, O Mother of God, most pure, delight in the Rising of thy Child!

Kontakion
Though thou didst go down into the grace, O Immortal One, yet thou didst put down the power of Hades and didst rise a Conqueror, O Christ our God: thou spakest clear to the myrrh-bearing women, Rejoice; thou didst bestow peace upon thin apostles and to the fallen hast thou brought resurrection.

Thy Resurrection, O Christ our Savior, the angels in heaven sing,
enable us here on earth to glorify Thee in purity of heart.

It is the Day of Resurrection, let us be radiant, O ye people; Pascha, the Lord’s Pascha: for from death to life, and from earth to heaven, Christ God hath brought us, as we sing the hymn of victory.

Let us purify our senses, and we shall behold Christ, radiant with the unapproachable light of the Resurrection, and we shall hear Him say, “Rejoice!” as we sing the hymn of victory.

Let the heavens be glad as is meet, and let the earth rejoice, and let the whole world both visible and invisible, keep festival: for Christ is risen, O gladness eternal.

Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus, the only Sinless One. We worship Thy Cross, O Christ, and Thy holy Resurrection we hymn and glorify; for Thou art our God, and we know none other beside Thee, we call upon Thy name. O come all ye faithful, let us worship Christ’s holy Resurrection, for behold, through the Cross joy hath come to all the world. Ever blessing the Lord, we hymn His Resurrection; for, having endured the Cross, He hath destroyed death by death.

Jesus, having risen from the grave as He foretold, hath given us life eternal and great mercy.

The Paschal Homily of Our Father Among the Saints St. John Chrysostom:

Whosoever is pious and loves God, let him enjoy this good and cheerful festival. Whosoever is a grateful servant, let him rejoice and enter into the joy of the Lord. Whosoever is weary of fasting, let him now receive his earnings. Whosoever has laboured from the first hour, let him today accept his just reward. Whosoever has come after the third hour, let him with thanksgiving take part in the celebration. Whosoever has arrived after the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings, for he too shall suffer no loss. Whosoever has delayed until the ninth hour, let him approach without hesitation. Whosoever has arrived only at the eleventh hour, let him not fear the delay, for the Master is gracious: He receives the last even as the first; He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, as well as to him that has laboured from the first; and to him that delayed He gives mercy, and the first He restores to health; to the one He gives, to the other He bestows. And He accepts the works, and embraces the contemplation; the deed He honours, and the intention He commends.

Therefore let everyone enter into the joy of the Lord. The first and the last, receive your wages. Rich and poor, dance with each other. The temperate and the slothful, honour this day. Ye who have fasted and ye who have not, rejoice this day. The table is fully laden; all of you delight in it. The calf is plenteous, let no one depart hungry. Let everyone enjoy this banquet of faith. Let everyone take pleasure in the wealth of goodness. Let no one lament his poverty, for the universal kingdom has appeared. Let no one bewail for his transgressions, for forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has set us free. He who was held by death, eradicated death. He plundered Hades when He descended into Hades. He embittered it, when it tasted of His flesh, and this being foretold by Isaiah when he cried: Hades said it was embittered, when it encountered Thee below. Embittered, for it was abolished. Embittered, for it was ridiculed. Embittered, for it was put to death. Embittered, for it was dethroned. Embittered, for it was made captive. It received a body and by chance came face to face with God. It received earth and encountered heaven. It received that which it could see, and was overthrown by Him whom he could not see. Where, O death, is your sting? Where, O Hades is your victory? Christ is risen, and thou art cast down. Christ is risen, and the demons have fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life is liberated. Christ is risen, and no one remains dead in a tomb. For Christ having risen from the dead, has become the first-fruits of those that have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and power, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Easter Poem of Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus:

The seasons blush varied with the flowery, fair weather, and the gate of the pole lies open with greater light. His path in the heaven raises the fire-breathing sun higher, who goes forth on his course, and enters the waters of the ocean.Armed with rays traversing the liquid elements, in this brief night he stretches out the day in a circle. The brilliant firmament puts forth its clear countenance, and the bright stars show their joy. The fruitful earth pours forth its gifts with varied increase, when the year has well returned I its vernal riches. Soft beds of violets paint the purple plain; the meadows are green with plants, and the plant shines with its leaves. By degrees gleaming brightness of the flowers comes forth; all the herbs smile with their blossoms. The seed being deposited, the corn springs up far and wide in the fields, promising to be able to overcome the hunger of the husbandman. Having deserted its stem, the vine-shoot bewails its joys; the vine gives water only from the source from which it is wont to give wine. The swelling bud, rising with tender down from the back of its mother, prepares its bosom for bringing forth. Its foliage having been torn off in the wintry season, the verdant grove now renews its leafy shelter. Mingled together, the willow, the fir, the hazel, the osier, the elm, the maple, the walnut, each tree applauds, delightful with its leaves. Hence the bee, about to construct its comb, leaving the hive, humming over the flowers, carries off honey with its leg. The bird which, having closed its song, was dumb, sluggish with the wintry cold, returns to its strains. Hence Philomela attunes her notes with her own instruments, and the air becomes sweeter with the re-echoed melody. Behold, the favour of the reviving world bears witness that all gifts have returned together with its Lord. For in honour of Christ rising triumphant after His descent to the gloomy Tartarus, the grove on every side with its leaves expresses approval, the plants with their flowers express approval. The light, the heaven, the fields, and the sea duly praise the God ascending above the stars, having crushed the laws of hell. Behold, He who was crucified reigns as God over all things, and all created objects offer prayer to their Creator. Hail, festive day, to be reverenced throughout the world, on which God has conquered hell, and gains the stars! The changes of the year and of the months, the bounteous light of the days, the splendour of the hours, all things with voice applaud. Hence, in honour of you, the wood with its foliage applauds; hence the vine, with its silent shoot, gives thanks. Hence the thickets now resound with the whisper of birds; amidst these the sparrow sings with exuberant love. O Christ, Thou Saviour of the world, merciful Creator and Redeemer, the only offspring from the Godhead of the Father, flowing in an indescribable manner from the heart of Thy Parent, Thou self-existing Word, and powerful from the mouth of Thy Father, equal to Him, of one mind with Him, His fellow, coeval with the Father, from whom at first the world derived its origin! Thou dost suspend the firmament, Thou heapest together the soil, Thou dost pour forth the seas, by whose government all things which are fixed in their places flourish. Who seeing that the human race was plunged in the depth of misery, that Thou mightest rescue man, didst Thyself also become man: nor wert Thou willing only to be born with a body, but Thou becamest flesh, which endured to be born and to die. Thou dost undergo funeral obsequies, Thyself the author of life and framer of the world, Thou dost enter the path of death, in giving the aid of salvation. The gloomy chains of the infernal law yielded, and chaos feared to be pressed by the presence of the light. Darkness perishes, put to flight by the brightness of Christ; the think pall of eternal night falls. But restore the promised pledge, I pray Thee, O power benign! The third day has returned; arise, my buried One; it is not becoming that Thy limbs should lie in the lowly sepulchre, nor that worthless stones should press that which is the ransom of the world. It is unworthy that a stone should shut in with a confining rock, and cover Him in whose fist all things are enclosed. Take away the linen clothes, I pray; leave the napkins in the tomb: Thou art sufficient for us, and without Thee there is nothing. Release the chained shades of the infernal prison, and recall to the upper regions whatever sinks to the lowest depths. Give back Thy face, that the world may see the light; give back the day which flees from us at Thy death. But returning, O holy conqueror! Thou didst altogether fill the heaven! Tartarus lies depressed, nor retains its rights. The ruler of the lower regions, insatiably opening his hollow jaws, who has always been a spoiler, becomes a prey to Thee. Thou rescuest an innumerable people from the prison of death, and they follow in freedom to the place whither their leader approaches. The fierce monster in alarm vomits forth the multitude whom he had swallowed up, and the Lamb withdraws the sheep from the jaw of the wolf. Hence re-seeking the tomb from the lower regions, having resumed Thy flesh, as a warrior Thou carriest back ample trophies to the heavens. Those whom chaos held in punishment he has now restored; and those whom death might seek, a new life holds, Oh, sacred King, behold a great part of Thy triumph shines forth, when the sacred layer blesses pure souls! A host, clad in white, come forth from the bright waves, and cleanse their old fault in a new stream. The white garment also designates bright souls, and the shepherd has enjoyments from the snow-white flock. The priest Felix is added sharing in this reward, who wishes to give double talents to his Lord. Drawing those who wander in Gentile error to better things, that a beast of prey may not carry them away, He guards the fold of God. Those whom guilty Eve had before infected, He now restores, fed with abundant milk at the bosom of the Church. By cultivating rustic hearts with mild conversations, a crop is produced from a briar by the bounty of Felix. The Saxon, a fierce nation, living as it were after the manner of wild beasts, when you, 0 sacred One! apply a remedy, the beast of prey resembles the sheep. About to remain with you through an age with the return of a hundred-fold, you fill the barns with the produce of an abundant harvest. May this people, free from stain, be strengthened in your arms, and may you bear to the stars a pure pledge to God. May one crown be bestowed on you from on high gained from yourself, may another flourish gained from your people.

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Christian Philosophy? X

First a personal note:

This is not the longest series of posts I’ve done on any one particular set of reflections, and due to both the limitations of this format I must really draw this to a close. Clearly more could be said. Tighter and more rigorous arguments could be made. Nor is this my final word on the matter.

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[For the previous eight posts in this series of reflections, see here.]

It has been more than a year since I last posted in this series—an eternity in the blogosphere. It might be helpful to pause and recapitulate some of the pathmarkers.

My project here has been to “think out loud” on this blog in terms of the relationship between Christianity and philosophy. While I am attempting to construct something like an argument, I have not engaged in rigorous syllogistic. I have, indeed, rather, sometimes engaged in wordplay. Whether or not a more rigorous rational argument can be made of these thoughts, will likely have to be seen at the conclusion of these posts. But perhaps these tracings may be helpful.

We began with my initial dissatisfaction with making Christian philosophy an infusion of Christian data into philosophical activities and paradigms. I then asserted that the proper way to understand philosophy was to take the classical sense of it as a way of living. Christianity, too, was understood, is understood, as a way of living. We next looked at what we meant by the reason and intellect, affirming that ancient viewpoint of a more full and robust understanding of the intellect’s activities than that of discursive and scientific reasoning. We also engaged the concept of truth, tracing the differences between truth as an intellective object versus truth as a Person. We also cast an eye on faith and the role such plays both in the use of reason and the intellect and in trust in Christ, affirming that though distinctive both sorts of faith are in part a reaching out of the soul towards knowledge.

Let us see, then, what sort of coherence we can make of such thoughts and whether we can draw closer to a conclusion regarding the interrelation of Christianity and philosophy.

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More is More

I spoke briefly with our building’s handy-woman yesterday, and somehow the conversation meandered into Holy Week services. As I explained how many services we have at our parish (which are not all the services that can be done), and their length, I got that look that was a mixture of curiosity and disbelief. It happens every year. At least I could tell her that at our parish the services are all in English. I had just come from services at another parish which were half in Greek. The idea of a bunch of services half in another language would have made her eyes glaze over. But that’s how it goes. In the Orthodox Church, more is more.

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What must it have been like for Peter, the Chief of the Apostles, on that night Christ was betrayed? As Mark presents it, Jesus had recently, extravagantly, been anointed for his burial. Then, in Mark’s presentation, Judas agrees to betray Jesus. Peter, seemingly, walks through this unaware.

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St Thomas

Can you bear the weight of this, my soul
All the voices down all the years
Tallying up all the failures
Accumulated at your dirty feet
Which all your striving, all your deeds
Cannot make tip the scales
And what do you do
When you’ve run out of all you can do
The consequences piling up around you
Left with all the fear and every slightest doubt
Knowing you haven’t suffered yet enough
The last farthing is gone and you’ve nothing
To clean the mess you’ve made

The unbelief chases belief chases unbelief
The fading light of that mountain’s glory
Trailing out behind
No matter the effort and the strain
Hope comes hard to you, my soul
One more failure for the pile
Mouthing the words, pasting on the face
Playing the part put on you
Knowing all the while the fraud
“Come let us go and die with him”
Are you afraid, my soul, to be a saint
To open the grasping hands with down-turned palms
To relinquish even the hope of hope

And do you dare to touch deathless hands and feet
Or, shrinking, fail even this
Or can you call out and beg the raised god
To take the impotent hand
And shove it in that immortal side
And if you will not dare even this
Will you whisper his name
The single word encompassing everything
Even your faithless heart
And can you bear the weight of it, my soul?

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Kansas Men

Only a man can show a boy how to be a man. No woman can do it. This is a hard but necessary truth, and inescapable. There are as many ways to demonstrate this as there are men. It is not a matter of one’s occupation or social status, though these, to be sure, shape and culture this manhood. It is, rather, that such a thing comes from the man himself. And the hard thing of it is that every man can only show a manhood imperfect and flawed. This is the way of it, and it is best to front it as best one can.

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