Archive for April, 2006

…are available here.

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The Bright Thursday reading from the Acts of the Apostles included: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in the prayers.” Eucharist, liturgy, and community were part of the Christian experience from the beginning. No solo Christians in the Bible! Come join us!

“Canonical” is a word commonly used to describe some jurisdictions purporting to be part of the Orthodox Church. It’s kind of ironic because it’s totally uncanonical to have overlapping jurisdictions, or even ethnic jurisdictions of any kind. A bishops’ main job is to unite all the faithful of his locality, no matter their ethnicity, language, or political persuasion.

However, at the present time the word canonical is usually used to describe dioceses, archdioceses, metropolises, or metropolitanates affiliated with one of the Churches listed here. What that means is that these Churches mostly recognize each other’s adherents, clergy, bishops, and Mysteries (“sacraments”), anywhere in the world, as part of The Orthodox Church.

The ultimate goal, as I said, is one Bishop in each place, and one Synod in each country or region. The anticipated “Great and Holy Council” of the Orthodox Church, in the works for at least 80 years, is set to take up the matter when it meets – it has yet to be scheduled. In the meantime, maybe we should look at the status quo as Orthodox “economy”…an alternative to considering most Orthodox in the Western world as being in schism from their lawful local Bishop…whoever he may be.

Ta Criost aiseirithe! Aiseirithe go fior!
(That’s Irish!)
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From Ode VII of the Paschal Canon:

We celebrate the death of death, the destruction of hades, the beginning of another life eternal, and leaping for joy, we hymn the Cause, the only blessed and most glorious God of our fathers.

For truly sacred and all-festive is this saving night, and this shining, light-bearing day, the harbinger of the Resurrection, whereon the Timeless Light bodily from the tomb upon all hath shined.

Technically known as the Paschal Troparion (a kind of Byzantine hymn), written by St. John of Damascus (aka Damascene), the shortest of Orthodox hymns, sung over and over between Pascha and Ascension Thursday:

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!

Or in Old Church Slavonic:

Khristos voskrese iz mertvih, smertiu smert poprav, i sushchim vo grobeh zhivot darovav!

Or in Greek (probably Koine, I think):

Christos anesti ek nekron, thanato thanaton patisas, ke tis en tis mnimasi zoin harisamenos!

For many musical settings and many more languages, see here.

The Orthodox paschal greeting par excellence – used from Pascha till Ascension Thursday – is:
Christ is Risen!
To which you respond:
Indeed, He is Risen!

For other languages, see here.

Some Greeks also say Kalo pascha or Kali anastasi for Happy Easter. (Resurrection is Anastasis, which is also the Greek name for the Jerusalem church the West calls the Holy Sepulchre.)

In short, because we always have!

When we were Jews, we called it Peshach or Pesach, Passover. This got translated into Greek as Pascha, and this eventually carried over intact into Latin, Russian, etc. (It persists in the Latin-English adjective paschal, pertaining to Easter.)

Easter is of pagan Germanic origin, whether the name of the season of Spring or of the Spring goddess. English is a Germanic language, so most English-speakers traditionally call Pascha Easter instead of Pascha.

In fact, other Western European languages reflect the Hebrew/Greek/Latin, rather than Germanic, influence: Paques in French, Pascua in Spanish, Pasqua in Italian, Pasg in Welsh (P-Celtic), Caisc in Irish (Q-Celtic, pronouned kawshk; interestingly Passover is called Caisc na nGiudach – Easter of the Jews, so to speak!).

Today in America many cradle Orthodox call it Easter, and many converts call it Pascha!

“The Passion of the Lord” is the subject of this message-board posting temporarily available. Approach it prayerfully, meditatively, if you will.

The hymn being chanted (after you press Play) is the classic patristic and Orthodox approach to the Crucifixion: it keeps the Lord’s Glory in focus throughout, and especially in its conclusion, “Show us also Thy glorious Resurrection!”

PS: Today and tomorrow there are several different services each day and evening. You might catch one in progress LIVE at any time if you go here. Around midnight Saturday night is the main Pascha (Easter) Liturgy, the centerpoint of the Orthodox year.

“God became human so humans could become God.” –St. Athanasius of Alexandria, Egypt

(*-except in Finland!)

This brief article says it’s basically because since Catholics and Protestants adopted the Gregorian calendar, they compute the Spring Equinox differently than we all did previously.

There’s a movement for a common “Easter” among Christians ecumenically, but since God keeps an annual date with the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, I’d oppose any change in the date of (our) Pascha! 🙂

Orthodoxy isn’t in too much of an uproar over this one either. ‘Been there, done that.’ Fr. John Behr, from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary, says the difference between the so-called gnostic gospels and The Gospels is that the latter proclaim Christ “according to the scriptures,” ie, the Old Testament, as St. Paul and the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed say. This quote is from his article “Scripture, the Gospel, and Orthodoxy”:

To help elucidate the relationship between Christ, the Gospel, and Scripture, Irenaeus employs a series of literary or rhetorical terms. One of Irenaeus’ favorite terms is recapitulation. According to Quintilian, a first century Roman rhetorican, “recapitulation” is a literary technique by which a whole case, argument or narrative is summarized as an epitome, so that its overall impression can be much greater or more forceful. It is in this sense that Paul uses the term in Rom 13:9:

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not kill,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself”.

That is, the New Testament is a recapitulation of the Old Testament; it is not itself a new revelation, but an epitome making clear what had previously been obscure. And it is precisely in this way, and in reference to this passage, that Irenaeus explains that the apostles have provided us with a resume or epitome which recapitulates the prolixity of the law, fulfilling what had been spoken of in Isaiah 10:22-3 (quoted in Rom 9:28), “God will complete and cut short His Word in righteousness, for God will make a concise Word in all the world”. For Irenaeus, the recapitulation effected by the Word of God in His incarnation, is effected by God through the apostles and their concise word: what the apostles proclaimed about Christ is, as we have seen, made up of the texture of the Scriptures {ie, the OT}, no longer proclaimed in the obscurity of types and prophecies, but clearly and concisely, in a resume. In the Gospel, the apostolic preaching recapitulating Scripture in an epitome, the incomprehensible and invisible Word has become visible and comprehensible. The “fables” can now be seen as types and prophecies, having been brought to light, retrospectively, by the cross. The prolix word of God is summarized in the Gospel, which recapitulates the whole in a concise Word.

From Timothy Tan, a recent convert from Singapore:

Most of all I am very gratetul to have become an Orthodox Christian. I have “found the true faith” and “seen the true light” and started my long arduous journey of repentance.

(The quoted phrases are from the hymn after Communion in the Orthodox Liturgy.)

A Russian compares Orthodoxy with atheism, other religions, Catholicism and Protestantism here. Fascinating is his comparison between some of the greatest Catholic saints and Orthodox saints.