Archive for May, 2006

…specifically, between Greek and Russian liturgical traditions. (The article is long but rewarding.)

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From Fr. Deacon John Chryssavgis, “Repentance and Confession“:

It involves, that is, not mere regret of past evil but a recognition by man of a darkened vision of his own condition, in which sin, by separating him from God, has reduced him to a divided, autonomous existence, depriving him of both his natural glory and freedom.

Most commonly Foillan of Fosses, Belgium, his mother in Inchiquin, Ireland called him Faelan, the same given name as an ancestor of mine who ruled County Waterford and vicinity a few centuries later, and gave his name to my Irish sept (“clan”), the O Faolain’s, or as I spell it, O’Filon.

I’m not related to French Filon’s/Filion’s, but their name appears to be derived directly from this same Holy Hieromartyr Foillan, in a patronal sort of way. Some of them settled in Quebec, Canada, in the 1600s, and gave their name to the Montreal suburb of Bois-des-Filion (The Filions’ Grove).

Another French spelling of Faelan/Foillan is Feuillien…and St. Feuillien’s is a fine beer, especially the Brune (brown), rather chocolatey! (There’s a slight mistranslation in the History essay at the first link in that sentence: the monastery of St. Foillan didn’t become THE Abbey of Premontres, merely AN abbey of Premontres, affiliated with it so to speak. Here’s a little more detail, with color pictures! It’s in French, but machine translations mostly do it justice. The “Monastery of Bubbles” is Nivelles!)

Feast day: October 31 with three companions in martyrdom. Enlightener of Brabant. Son of King Fintan of Munster Province in the southwest of Ireland; brother of two other Saints, Ultan and Fursey; kin of St. Brendan the Navigator, Discoverer of America.

Generally speaking, we consider Western Christendom to have been Orthodox until the usual cut-off date of 1054. Some Orthodox question the Orthodoxy of some Westerners even prior to this date, and others argue that certain Western persons or places can be considered Orthodox even some relatively short amount of time after this date.

That said, here are some actual icons of Western (mostly-) Orthodox Saints. (FYI, the folks behind that website are not generally considered “canonical,” but not all that bad either.)

This British Antiochian page has info on a few English and Irish Orthodox Saints.

Here are claimed 10,000(!) “Latin Saints of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Rome,” from a ROCOR site in Britain. (Linked is the intro page; it’s long and political; the listings are linked alphabetically at the top of the page.)

My parish is actually named for 4 Roman martyrs….

Among my own Irish kin are some of the Orthodox Saints mentioned here (and one episcopocide!), alongside Brigid of Kildare, not to mention the great David of Wales and at least one of the Three Holy Families of (Celtic) Britain (OK, not Irish, but Deise-descended!).

More to come!

If you’re within a day of Scranton, Pennsylvania, I recommend the annual Memorial Day Weekend Pilgrimage to St. Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery (OCA) in South Canaan, Pa.* Here’s the schedule. It mentions something about St. Tikhon’s relics being there, too. The big day is Monday, Memorial Day itself, with Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with many Bishops at midmorning, lunch available for purchase, and an Anointing Service afterward. I was last able to make it in 2002, when they had the Wonderworking Icon Our Lady of Pochaev, Ukraine, on hand…and I experienced a small miracle…and I wasn’t even Orthodox yet! (A lovely tile mosaic of the Pochaev icon may be seen in Fr. Naum’s Hut just off the Monastery Church. I pray there whenever I visit the Monastery.)

(NB–The Anointing offered is a Mystery [sacrament] of the Church, so I think you have to be Orthodox to receive it. I didn’t hang around 4 years ago to find out for sure because by that hour I’d already had a very long day, and many miles yet before I slept!)

(*–Their printed directions include Cortez Road, which I find long and very hairy driving, and I’m a really patient driver. If you prefer, you can also get there by taking I-81 to US Route 6 east to the light in Waymart, Pa. Turn right onto Pa. Rte. 296 South, and proceed about 5.5 miles to the intersection with Cortez Rd./St. Tikhon’s Rd. There’s no stop sign, and it’s visually tricky [Is nothing easy?!!], but you’ll see a defunct gas station ahead on your right. Turn left onto St. Tikhon’s Rd. and proceed a couple minutes until you see signs for the Seminary and the Monastery on both sides of the road. During the Pilgrimage they may have you park anywhere, but if you’re disabled tell them and they may put you someplace better. Godspeed, John Glenn!)

The Latin teaching of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (that’s Theotokos to you!! 😉 came up in an online discussion I was just part of, and I came across this really neat explanation of why Orthodox oppose it:

…the Orthodox understanding is conveyed concisely in St Athanasius’ treatise On the Incarnation (318 AD). When man (in the persons of Adam and Eve from whom we all derive our human nature) first sinned, he became separated from God. This separation from God is what Orthodox understand to be original sin and it has two consequences: First, separated from the source of all good, man becomes morally corrupt, with an innate tendency to sin; secondly, separated from the source of all Being, man begins to return to his original state, the nothing from which God created him. Corruption and death come into the world.

In other words, original sin in the Orthodox understanding is not a “stain” but an absence. And there is no need to figure out how Christ failed to inherit it along with His human nature from His mother, because the Incarnation itself is the end of the separation. In Himself, from the moment of Incarnation, Christ was both God and Man and therefore His Human Nature never experienced the separation from God which all other humans suffer since the sin in the Garden and which is original sin. Christ does not give us life and righteousness as things apart from Himself; Christ Himself is our life and righteousness.

As I understand it (having neither read the book nor seen the movie), The DaVinci Code posits a Christ Who didn’t really die on the Cross, but survived the Crucifixion and went on to marry and have at least one child with St. Mary Magdalene. The importance to most Christians of the fact that Christ did die and rise from the dead is pointed to in this text of St. Paul (1 Corinthians 15:3-4):

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures….

By turning this very old false teaching (as most Christians understand it) into entertainment, even if “merely fiction” – we know it is in more ways than one! – this book and movie insult o/Orthodox Christianity, even pose a threat to those Christians whose faith may be weak.

In most Catholic and Protestant countries, of course, you’re legally allowed to insult Christianity. In most Protestant countries (including the USA) there’s a long tradition of insulting Christianity. And of course, the Latin Church is skewered in DaVinci Code. But should you? Do you have to?

It doesn’t help that, according to most sources, Tom Hanks is Orthodox. Except maybe to show that we don’t enforce marching in lock-step like conservative Catholics want to have happen in their Church (again).

Some Christians feel persecuted by Western modernity. Some want the kind of sensitivity most of the West showed Muslims during the Cartoon Controversy; they don’t realize that part of Western modernity is its adolescent(!) rebellion against the historical power wielded in the West by Christianity, and still wielded in many parts of the West.

Me? At first I thought I’d see the movie just to see what all the press was about. But then I felt I didn’t want to support heresy with my money. And then my therapist, a fan of murder mysteries, said the book was disappointing as a mystery. Then the critics really slammed the movie! So I’ll do something else.

The DaVinci Code’s unacknowledged premise is that there can’t possibly be a community of people continuous through history that remembers that the Lord died on the Cross, rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and didn’t marry St. Mary Magdalen, Apostle to the Apostles. Between a Christ placed in a remote, unreachable past, and “us,” are merely fragmentary scrolls whose meaning “we” can’t agree on.

I call this the Caveman Hypothesis of Western Christian Historiography (with apologies to the guys in the Geico ad!).

Maybe it’s because of the trauma of the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West and the spread of illiteracy there, or the Christian legalism that developed there in place of Orthodoxy, or the “hermeneutical critique” of the Protestant Reformation, or even recent Western man’s infatuation with himself and his “progress.” But Western man is used to thinking of the Apostles and the Early Church as little more than cavemen, and that “we” now know so much better than they.

But is it really so difficult to believe that the literate Early Church in a literate Hellenistic world knew something of what it was talking about? Westerners accept Plato and Aristotle and Co., and they were 500 years earlier! Why this “suspicion” of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul? and of the Orthodox Church that directly descends from them – the Church of Jerusalem, the Churches of Antioch and Alexandria, the Churches of Greece and Cyprus, are all in the Bible!

The Western Church may be agnostic on many points of Early Church history, or legitimately questionable. But we Orthodox remember!

“In the beginning there was nothing. God said, ‘Let there be light!’ And there was light. There was still nothing, but you could see it a whole lot better.” —Ellen DeGeneres

A brief treatment of words and phrases repeated so often!

Here’s a direct link to a good source of materials for North Americans looking into Orthodoxy, especially but not limited to Protestants. They’re the publishers of the Orthodox Study Bible linked in the margin.

Well, in America, anyway. Here’s the big picture.