Archive for February, 2008

Excommunication, for Orthodoxy, is not expulsion from membership in the Church, merely barring from receiving Communion, usually temporarily, on account of some sin or other offense taken particularly seriously by Holy Tradition or the Canons.  This article is very informative.  In fact, when Latins discuss this kind of excommunication, they state that you’re still required to do all the things Latins are required to do, such as attend Mass under penalty of mortal sin, etc. – just not receive Communion – which comes as a surprise to most folks who believe excommunication is expulsion from the Church.  We Orthodox don’t express it that way, but I would think one temporarily suspended from receiving Communion would be encouraged to avail him/herself of all the other opportunities for Grace in the Orthodox Church nevertheless.  Historically, some excommunications called for in the Canons didn’t apply on one’s deathbed, ie, if you were dying while under such a temporary ban, you could receive anyway.

(NB: At least traditionally, it seems, the Communion of Rome had a number of other kinds of excommunication, which probably color the general view of the subject among Westerners.  As one who spent some time with the Mennonites, I was shocked to learn that the Amish [related to them] didn’t invent shunning, but that it had been part of the Latin tradition!)

The valuable copy of the Priest’s Service Book that used to be available on the site of Sts. Peter and Paul OCA parish in Meriden, Connecticut, seems fully available via the Wayback Machine.

It’s the Russian-oriented translation (into English) by Archbishop DMITRI of Dallas and the South, including directions (rubrics), prayers, and hymns from very many Orthodox Church services.  With my health, I find it useful in following along with the Services on my own at home, although lacking commentary or footnotes (it’s only a translation), it’s a little difficult for my small and Orthodoxly-inexperienced mind to make sense of sometimes.

Other versions of it – not Abp. Dmitri’s – seem available in print for purchase.

…for a possible new home for this blog, to get the word out to more readers. I won’t be adding new posts here for the time being, just at WordPress, but I will still try to respond to Comments here as health permits (which has been a bit difficult since last Spring).

I wish you a profitable Great Fast when it arrives next month!


This site may be the next stage in the life of the blog Eastern Orthodox Christianity. I’m under the impression that WordPress blogs get read more than Blogspot/Blogger ones, so we’ll see. I’ll post only here for a while, but continue to respond to Comments over there too, and won’t import it all just yet.


Leo Peter

19 February 2008 (NS), Holy Apostles Philemon, Archippus, and Apphia of the Seventy

This Washington Post feature story will become unavailable to those of us without the money to sign-up (ironically). But the quoted remark of a museum curator in Russia in favor of Russian tycoons buying-back the nation’s Orthodox Christian religious heritage, including Holy Icons, from abroad, where it had been taken, stolen, or sold after the Bolshevik Revolution, is telling for those of us only used to hearing about oligarchs accumulating rubles there: “It’s a wonderful thing that our businessmen are returning our wealth to the motherland.” Evidence, also, that Russia’s post-Communist return to Faith isn’t restricted to the poor or the boondocks, as some would have us believe. At least one quoted claimed ‘a religious awakening.’

Coincidentally(?), a few days later the Boston Globe did a feature on a Massachusetts tycoon – an American – and his museum of Russian icons. Maybe we Yanks can work something out with the Russians?

Of course, some believe it’s sacrilegious to treat Orthodox holy icons as mere artworks, merely displayed in museums. Prince Charles of the UK (and Her Majesty’s other Realms and Territories), like his father a camp-follower of Orthodoxy (his father, Prince Philip, was born Orthodox, a prince of Denmark and Greece), recently tried to get a museum there to set aside a permanent display of its icons, as an improvement on letting most of them just collect dust in storage. The museum’s disrespectful response to him – which went beyond simply stating that they weren’t an icon museum but a general art museum – briefly became tabloid fodder. Perhaps some wealthy Briton (Your Royal Highness??) – or Russian – could sponsor a wing or even a whole subsidiary museum for those icons?

It’s easy to forget that almsgiving is not only a good idea and helpful to the needy, but also good for the giver, a spiritual discipline, encouraging detachment from things, and a form of union with God’s Energies and activities everywhere – which may be why the Lord said, “It is more blest to give than to receive.” Self-restraint of greed, desire, envy … all things I have some acquaintance with as a not-so-healthy working-class American!

So said the pope of Rome in his Lenten message this week. (Western Lent starts this Wednesday.) The trio of Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving is also traditionally part of Orthodoxy’s Great Fast, which this year begins on Clean Monday, March 10. They’re also part of Orthodoxy throughout the year, though not as emphasized as during Fasts, especially the Great Fast.

I also read somewhere that it’s good to say a prayer for a recipient when writing the check, filling-out the online form, giving it in-person (not necessarily audibly, I suppose, unless you’re a cleric or monastic maybe!), or whatever.