Saturday, August 18, 2012

NB: FFT - Food from the Parents in the Faith

"Religion cannot and should never be a basis for war and conflict, nor should it be used as an instrument of fundamentalism and fanaticism for purely political motives and ends." --- Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I

"The great plan of God the Father is the secret and unknown mystery of the dispensation which the only-begotten Son revealed by fulfilling in the incarnation, thus becoming a messenger of the great plan of God the eternal Father. The one who knows the meaning of the mystery and who is so incessantly lifted up both in work and in word through all things until he or she acquires what is sent down to them is likewise a messenger of the great plan of God." --- St. Maximus the Confessor

"Invocation of the Name of God the Saviour, uttered in the fear of God, together with constant effort to live in accordance with the commandments, little by little leads to a blessed fusion of all our powers. We must never seek to hurry in our ascetic striving. It is essential to discard any idea of achieving the maximum in the shortest possible time. God does not force us but neither can we compel Him to do anything whatsoever. Results obtained by artificial means do not last long and, more importantly, do not unite our spirit with the Spirit of the Living God." --- Archimandrite Sophrony

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Venerating the Verbal Icon

The Eucharistic Mystery of the Orthodox Church lies not in keeping the Anaphora - the Eucharistic Canon containing the account of salvation history (especially in St. Basil's Liturgy), the institution of the Holy Supper and culminating in the change of the elements - something secret, said only by the celebrating priest for himself, but rather in the wholeness of that change of the gifts into the Body and Blood of Christ and our becoming fully intimate communicants in them. Intimacy and communion implies true knowledge of those with whom we are in intimate communion, and the Holy Anaphora imparts to us that knowledge. By hearing it we take it into ourselves, preparing us to bring ourselves into union with God and with each other.

We all have heard icons referred to as "windows into heaven". By seeing them with the physical eyes and contemplating them, we are drawn into communion with Christ and the Saints and the events depicted upon them. How then should it not be the same with the prayers of the Anaphora which are verbal icons, that by hearing them with the physical ears and contemplating them, we enter into communion and participate in God's oikonomia of salvation history which is depicted in words?

Truly, we should no more think of doing the Holy Anaphora silently than we would of covering up icons with a curtain.

Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver publishes his liturgical encyclicals on the Metropolis website. In one of these, dated 2 August 2008, can be found the following, beginning at the top of page 3:

k. In accordance with the decision of the Eparchial Synod, all prayers are designated to be "Recited by the Priest." The distinctions of "Silently," "Quietly," and "In a low voice," have been suppressed. By directing the Priest to "Recite" the prayers, it is understood that he is allowed the pastoral freedom to say them loud enough so that the faithful can hear them if he deems this to be appropriate in his own parish. He may likewise, also for pastoral reasons, recite certain prayers "Inaudibly."

Speaking the Anaphora aloud is one way to help make the Church truly the place where theosis is made possible, human beings going along the journey to becoming gods by grace, doing so by *actively participating* in the iconic theology of hearing the Holy Anaphora aloud and of seeing the actions of the Offering, just as they see the Saints and the Feasts in the painted icons with which we are all very familiar.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

NB: FFT - Food from Parents in the Faith

"We have nothing to fear unless we are afraid of love." --- Fr. Antony Hughes

"Hope, transcending servile fear, binds us to the love of God, since 'hope does not disappoint' (Rom. 5:5), containing as it does the seed of that twofold love on which hang 'the law and the prophets' (Matt. 22:40). And 'love never fails' (I Cor. 13:8), once it has become to the person who shares in it the motive for fulfilling the divine law both in the present life and in the life to be." --- St. Philotheos of Sinai

"The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit." --- Psalms 34:18

"‘But I say to you,’ says the Lord, ‘love your enemies... do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you’ (Matt. 5: 44). Why did He command this? To free you from hatred, irritation, anger and rancour, and to make you worthy of the supreme gift of perfect love. And you cannot attain such love if you do not imitate God and love all men equally. For God loves all men equally and wishes them ‘to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth’ (I Tim. 2: 4)." --- St. Maximos the Confessor

"In the beginning of creation the Creator created humanity in the image of God, while now He has united humanity to God. Then the human race was given authority to rule over the fish and the animals. Now God has raised our new beginning above the heavens. Since the ascended Christ with His holy flesh has become, like the first fruits, the beginning of those who had fallen asleep, He has caused our
entire human race to be blessed through that one flesh and beginning. Before because of sin , nothing was more debased than humanity, while now nothing has become more honored than humanity. Through the resurrected and ascended Christ humanity conquers corruption and acquires incorruption. Humanity conquers death, because death has been entirely defeated and abolished and appears nowhere, while humanity acquires immortality and is deified. Now, indeed, God and humankind have become one race." --- St. John Chrysostom, *On the Ascension*

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Called to be Happy

We hear so much about how happiness is tangential to the Christian life; one eminent Russian Orthodox priest has gone record to say, "It is not correct to say that Our Lord was born to make anyone 'happy.'"

Why ever not??? Certainly He was born to make us happy, something which is part of our theosis, becoming gods by grace. He was born to make us happy and joyful, because that is Who He Is of Whose divine nature we are called to partake... as we sang tonight at the Vesperal Liturgy for the Feast of the Dormition:

"O Joyful Light of the holy glory of the immortal Father, the heavenly, holy,  blessed, O Jesus Christ. Now that we have reached the setting of the sun and behold the evening light, we sing to God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is fitting at all times to praise you with happy voices, O Son of God, the Giver of life. Behold, the world sings your glory."

NB: FFT - Food from the Fathers and Mothers

"The one who receives Communion is made holy and Divinized in soul and body in the same way that water, set over a fire, becomes boiling... Communion works like yeast that has been mixed into dough so that it leavens the whole lump; ...Just as by melting two candles together you get one piece of wax, so, I think, one who receives the Flesh and Blood of Jesus is fused together with Him by this Communion, and the person finds that she or he is in Christ and Christ is in them." --- St. Cyril of Alexandria

"If, therefore, we are lovers of learning, we shall also be learned in many things. For by care and toil and the grace of God the Giver, all things are accomplished. `For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the person who knocks it will be opened' (Lk. 11:10). Wherefore let us knock at that very fair garden of the Scriptures, so fragrant and sweet and blooming... Let us not know carelessly but rather zealously and constantly, lest knocking we grow weary. For in this way it will be opened to us. If we read once or twice and do not understand what we read, let us not grow weary, but let us persist, let us talk much, let us inquire." --- St. John of Damascus

"Let brotherly and sisterly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels." --- Hebrews 13:1-2

"God is glorified not by mere words, but by works of righteousness, which proclaim the majesty of God far more effectively than words." --- St. Maximos the Confessor

"Feed the needy now or be ready to forever feed the fires of hell, because there is no love in you unless you do it." --- St. John Chrysostom

'For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways.' --- Psalm 90:11

"Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy that one. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are." --- 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

"The Inward Temple. There is no need to weep much over the destruction of a church; after all, each of us, according to God's mercy, has or should have his own church—the heart; go in there and pray, as much as you have strength and time. If this church is not well made and is abandoned (without inward prayer), then the visible church will be of little benefit." — Archbishop Barlaam to Abbess M., Russia's Catacomb Saints, p. 281

"Now the voice of the Word is ever a voice of power. At the creation. light shone forth at His command, and again at His order the firmament arose; and similarly all the rest of creation came into being at His creative Word. So too now, when the Word calls a person that has advanced to come unto Him, it is immediately empowered at His command and becomes what the Bridegroom wishes. It is transformed into something divine, and it is transformed from the glory in which it exists to a higher glory by a perfect kind of alteration." --- St. Gregory of Nyssa, *From Glory to Glory*