Comparing notes – Pascha (Part 1)

September 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Matthias Grunewald's resurrection (Gothardt Niethart)

Fr. Stephen, who needs no introduction has done it again with this unforgettable piece titled Forgive Everyone for Everything. This paragraph bears much repeating, short as it is

There is a further thought that is of great importance. Forgiveness and unforgiveness are not private matters. As Christ taught the Apostles, “Whosoever sins you loose are loosed, and whosoever sins you retain are retained.” This, of course, has a particular meaning for the Apostolic ministry given to the Church. But it also alludes to another reality. My refusal to forgive is a force for evil in this world – binding both myself and others around me. It may not be an intentional binding – but bind it will. In the same manner, forgiveness is the introduction of Paradise into this world – both for myself and for others around me. Whether I intend it or not, Paradise comes as a fruit of such love.

How easy to forget that we are not the source of anything.

Categories: Apophaticism, Truth

Icons and Truth

August 15, 2011 Leave a comment

In his latest post, Father Stephen tells us that in Orthodoxy, to say something about the divinity of Christ is also to say something about the divinity of mankind. For Christ is (undeniably, even to atheists) an intrinsic part of what mankind is. It is here, principally,  that man comes to first understand and then know the “begotten” persona of God’s Christ, who

“ […] took flesh of the Virgin Mary and was made man.” The womb of the Virgin was not “borrowed space” which God inhabited until His birth. The womb of the Virgin is also that place and that source by which God “took flesh of the Virgin Mary.”

This is quite a departure from the western view of the Incarnation, which attempts to understand it by means of various syllogisms. The Incarnation can only be properly understood in the “apophatic of worship”, so to speak.

Allied to this is the idea of what Christianity is and what it is not. In the words of  Father Stephen ’s Paul Evdokimov it is

The face of Christ (or Christianity, …which…) is the human face of God. The Holy Spirit rests on him and reveals to us absolute Beauty, a divine-human Beauty, that no art can ever properly and fully make visible. Only the icon can suggest such Beauty by means of the taboric light (my italics and paenthesis) .

Let that Light shine where it will.

Categories: Apophaticism, Icons

Divine Liturgy and the Abolition of Death

August 8, 2011 2 comments

There is no greater reminder of the proper sequencing of things than the Feast of the Transfiguration which appears in the Liturgical calendar as a kind of Pascha before Pascha. In the words of Father Stephen, it is

a glimpse, (out of sequence in a place where sequence has no place), of the fullness of Divinity. Christ appears with Elijah and Moses, the living and the dead, the prophets and the law, and speaks with them concerning His Pascha. And this happens in the context of the Divine Light – a brightness that was beyond the disciples’ ability to bear.

The connectivity of certain aspects of the life of Christ stand out especially well.  To know the resurrected Christ is also to know the crucified Christ. What happened to him before cannot be understood apart from what happens to him after.  The Living One may have died, but He is alive forevermore (1 Rev 18).

The Feast of the Transfiguration falls on the 6th August in the Gregorian calendar, and again on the 19th in the old Julian calendar.

Categories: Religion

Being and Communion

August 1, 2011 Leave a comment
Categories: Religion

The book people read

July 31, 2011 Leave a comment

In his latest post Apocalypse Now, Father Stephen points to a line that runs from the “linear” Christ of popular (and perhaps) western imagination. Where that line ends is anybody’s guess.  The scriptures record how Jesus’ contemporaries asked questions and were  given answers. What will be the manner of his coming, we may well ask today?

In the Eastern tradition, the  apocalypsis (uncovering) of all things is consequential to Pascha, that is, to Christ’s Resurrection (not to time). Pascha is the cause of all things: visible, tangible, immanent and fully transcendant

[… and] an inherent part of the Orthodox understanding of worship…. The priest doesn’t say, “Blessed is Thy Kingdom which is to come…” He blesses the Kingdom which is, for when we give thanks to God, we stand within…. In the course of the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, the priest prays and gives thanks in the past tense for the glorious second coming of Christ.

This absence of bipolarity (even the darkness has been transformed into light) is also the source of Churchly authority (though this does not correspond exactly to canonical boundaries).

Glory to God Who has not completely hidden himself from mankind.

Categories: Religion

Cometh the Bridegroom

July 16, 2011 Leave a comment

A delightful recollection of the coming of the Lord, by Archbishop Job of the OCA

Categories: Religion

The Sacred Forests of Church

March 16, 2011 Leave a comment

France 24 has an interesting news report on the role of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church in preserving the biodiversity of the East African country of Ethiopia, “a mostly arid expanse of grassy savannah” whose fertile land has been largely cleared to make way for small holdings.

Interestingly, many of the estimated 35,000 church forests that circle Ethiopia’s Orthodox churches are found in the north of the country, in particular in the area around Lake Tana, where ancient monasteries house the remains of Ethiopian Emperors, and where according to tradition — the Virgin Mary rested on her way back from Egypt.

Lake Tana also supports a viable fishing industry according to the Ethiopian Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, with about 1,500 tonnes of fish landed each year, a figure that is estimated to be only 15% of the sustainable level.

The original report can be found here.

Categories: Africa, Religion