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Friday, December 31, 2010

New Pictures of Amalfion

Here are some pictures (new to my eyes) of the former Latin rite monastery of Orthodox monks upon the holy mountain Athos (which closed in 1287 due to a dwindling brotherhood). Hat tip: Mystagogy blog.

Holy Venerable Western Fathers, pray to God for us!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Axios! New Priest Ordained for W. Rite

Ad multos annos! Many Years to the newly-ordained priest Irenaios Watson. Father was ordained at St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Millville, NJ, on Dec. 5, 2010. Father will serve in the Western rite portion of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.

left: Bishop Jerome. right: Priest Irenaios Watson

Please pray for Fr. Irenaios, that having toiled with fidelity in the vineyard of Christ's Holy Church, he may receive the high reward of his calling at the eternal Throne of God.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pre-Roman Catholic Vestments of the West

The following illustration of a priest shows the form Western rite vestments had, before they were transformed under the influence of the Roman-catholic church.

Below is a 12th century Western rite alb, from Italy. It is clearly a pre-20th century alb in that the sleeves are narrow. The striking similarity between this garment and the modern day Byzantine sticharion with cuffs is highlighted here not to imply that the Western rite must follow Byzantine precedents, but to show that the gap is not as wide as many imagine it to be. The Western rite, in former days, was comfortable with silk albs of green, red, gold, blue... We can be concerned to keep the gap between ER and WR as wide as possible, as a matter of ritual purism or ethnic pride, but another path is equally available to us--that of emphasising the original harmony between the two rites. Pastoral service should guide these decisions, and rigid lines in the sand should be avoided. For, all too often, we then begin to snipe at those who cross our precious limits.

Friday, December 3, 2010

New Monastery in New Mexico

Fr. Hieromonk Joshua Anna, newly received into the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, is in the process of founding a new Western rite monastery under the oversight of Metr. Hilarion. A donor has given 48 acres of high desert land, located at the foot of the Mazano Mountains (a spur of the Rocky Mountains), east of Belen. From 30,000 to 50,000 cement blocks have been pledged for construction of the monastery, and an accomplished architect has pledged to donate his services.

Fr. Joshua is a founder of SGOMA, the St. George Orthodox Military Association. (This organisation was pointed out to me last Sunday by the wife of a military officer who is attending our Russian Orthodox parish in Austin.) He has also founded the St. Maria the Martyr Hospitality Outreach, to help the needy and homeless.

above: Hieromonk Joshua

Fr. Joshua has the idea of supporting Orthodox missions by making available to them a travelling adobe-brick-making machine (not true adobe, since it's 8% cement for greater strength). The machine could arrive at a place where a mission needs a chapel, the parishioners can be trained how to make the materials to build a simple chapel. Then the apparatus can move on to help the next needy mission.

Our readers are asked to pray and intercede for Fr. Joshua and the new Monastery of St. George, that they may bring forth fruit in their spiritual labours, extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one, and demonstrate to many souls the true path which leads to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Don't forget, the monastic Fathers can be helped in their struggle by your support of them.

Ad multos annos.

above: Novice Vladimir, subdeacon

St. Maria Hospitality Outreach:
Facebook: "Hieromonk Joshua" and "Subdeacon Vladimir"

Saturday, November 13, 2010

New WR Communities Join ROCOR

"Dear Brothers in Christ,

"It is with great pleasure that I announce to you that the Archdiocese of New York of The Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church of America, the Former Exarchate of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria has petitioned The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia to be received into its fold.

"This is the culmination of a long journey, many prayers, and great patience. It will also require the humility of our bishops, priests and deacons to bow their heads for ordination in the Russian Church which we do with great joy for the sake of the unity of the Church. We have accepted the use of the Julian Calendar as we were already on it for the Paschalion and most of us have been greatly disturbed by the commercialization of Christmas. We will also be able to keep our Liturgy which is based on the Dom Augustine Liturgy. We will also be able to continue our practice of gathering each year in the Fall for a Conference/Retreat and now open it up to other Western Rite Clergy. The 2011 Conference will be held at St Mary's Villa, Sloatsburg NY, Tuesday October 25th to Friday October 28th.

"So that we are clear, the parishes being received were non-canonical Orthodox, not Anglican. Most of us come from the Roman Church though some of us have spent time in the Anglican Church, Episcopal, Continuing, or Charismatic Episcopal. We all became Western Rite Orthodox.

"Archbishop Anthony and Bishop Michael will resign the episcopacy and be ordained and elevated to be Archimandrites and His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion has asked former Archbishop Anthony to be Vicar/Dean of his group of Western Rite parishes. The historic significance of this is that the Orthodox Western Rite will have almost ten new parishes and, when all are received about 18 more clergy. We will have an informal group called The Fraternity of St Gregory.

"Those clergy who have already been received into the Russian Church have experienced the warm welcome and generous kindness of Metropolitan Hilarion and Vladyka Jerome who have been paragons of patience in doing all of the required ordinations for us. The Russian clergy surrounding them have been most welcoming to their new Orthodox brothers who will be using the Western Rite.

"Some have commented on the humility that it has taken for me and Bishop Michael to give up the episcopacy. Anyone who knows our history also knows that we did what we had to do to keep our group together and to offer a place for those who wanted to be Orthodox Western Rite as we awaited the time God would appoint for our entrance into the Russian Church.

"Conversations were being held with Moscow through Fr Daniil Sosoyev (RIP) who through his martyric death has accomplish what he could not finish in this life.

"We wish to thank Father James of Christminster who urged us for years constantly to hope and pray, Fr Ambrose (NZ) who continued to fast and pray for us all and who encouraged us, Fr Michael for his encouragement, Fr David (FL) and Fr Ambrose (GOA) for their prayers. We wish also to acknowledge the ongoing novena to St John of Shanghai and San Francisco for the past years and the maternal graces secured for us by the Holy Mother of God.

"Finally, we remember the words of the old Western prayer: "O Lord Jesus Christ, who for the accomplishment of Thy greatest works, has chosen the weak vessel of the world that no flesh may glory in Thy sight...." may we who have been called to the work of bringing the West to Orthodoxy have the strength and grace to perform it by your prayers.

"Archbishop Anthony
"New York"

Very Rev. Fr. Anthony (Bondi)

Regarding this new development, Fr. Hieromonk Ambrose of New Zealand had this to say on Nov. 10, 2010: "Half of the 18 priests and deacons have already been ordained by Metropolitan Hilarion and Bishop Jerome over the last few weeks. It is planned to have the remaining clergy ordained before mid December. This is a glorious thing for the Russian Church, since it gives us 10 viable Western Rite parishes in the States. Here is a photo of one parish church, in Pennsylvania.

Fr. Ambrose also had this to report on Nov. 11: "A major Western Rite monastery complex is being created in the United States by hieromonk Michael of Saint Petroc monastery Tasmania, Australia. Construction will commence in two to three months. The news has been released by the group Forward in Orthodox Faith.

above: Fr. Anthony Bryant of St. Katherine Church, Pelion, South Carolina

To those alarmed that the new communities might practice forms of devotion which originated in the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches, Abp. Anthony wrote the following clarification: "For the record, my church [in Putnam Valley, NY --Ed.] has no organ music, we sing Gregorian Chant, we do not have exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, stations of the cross, sacred heart devotions, pews, or kneelers."

Picture of the clergy, in a meeting prior to their reception into the Russian Church.

We welcome our new brothers and sisters into our midst with love, prayer, and the deepest respect. Please pray for us, and we shall pray for you. May the prayers of the Most Holy and Blameless Mother of God protect you all. - Fr. Hieromonk Aidan+


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Census of Orthodox in the U.S.A.

A fascinating document has been published by Alexei Krindatch of SCOBA. It looks at actual numbers of Christians affiliated with Orthodox Churches in the U.S.

The .pdf report may be perused here.

One would wish that somehow Mr. Krindatch had investigated how many of these Christians are involved with parishes and monasteries that offer Western rite services, as distinct from Eastern rite parishes and monasteries.

It is also apparent that the "grand total" of just over a million Orthodox Christians in the U.S. who are affiliated somehow with an Orthodox church, is an over-estimate in that it includes many Christians whose belief is different than ours (Oriental Christians, whose hierarchy adheres to Monothelite heresy). On the other hand, because the total excludes individual Orthodox Christians isolated from any parish, and many unrecognised jurisdictions (oddly, two and only two were included), it is, to that extent, an under-estimate of the true total of all believers.

This represents a significant advance in accuracy of data, since previous estimates relied directly on totals provided by various jurisdictions. It had come to light previously that these totals were not supported by available data, and now this more-accurate census has been undertaken.

It is good to see that between 2000 and 2010, the Russian Church Abroad experienced an 8% rate of growth as to the number of parishes and monastic communities. Certainly, there has been substantial growth in the Western rite of the Russian Church Abroad, not to mention the foundation of new parishes and missions. The Church Abroad prish in Austin (Holy Protection) appeared in 2001, and has grown since.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Speed Bumps

At times, we encounter "speed bumps" on the roadway of life.

My move to our new church property just outside Austin has been one of those.

Without any internet, it becomes a bit more challenging to respond to emails, blog comments, or Facebook invites.

Living out of boxes (awaiting a final word on which building I will reside in) prevents one having access to such things as bills, records, one's baptismal certificates, silverware, books, etc.

All will be well. But I ask patience from the readers of this blog. May God be with you all.

Fr. Hieromonk Aidan (Keller)
Oremus blog - Roman Rite in the Orthodox Church

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Divine Office: part of a Restored Life

Someone recently commented, regarding the length of Byzantine versus Western Rite services:

> My thinking is that to glorify God is the purpose of these services, whether they're WR or ER, and both do so very well...

Here was my reply:

I would like to expand on these words, starting from the thought that the daily services are for the glorification of God.

People often wonder if it's really the best use of our time, to be in church each day chanting the Hours. This issue is perhaps the most acute for the Byzantine rite, where Matins does take a while, especially on feast days. But it's also acute for the old forms of Western rite, which are undeniably lengthier than the modern. Matins in the Sarum Use of the Roman rite can be managed in an hour and a half (including the Little Office of St. Mary and often the Little Office for the Dead), but only if you are experienced and move briskly (no "What comes next?" or "Where do I flip to, for THAT?").

It really is the best use of our time. By these frequent daily prayers, we glorify our Creator. We also preserve within ourselves a spirit of repentance and vigilance (nepsis), which refines our life in faith and prepares us for death and eternal life. The grace given us by the Holy Mysteries (for prime example, in Holy Communion in the Liturgy on Sunday) is thereby preserved in us across time, so if we do it right, we manage to live in a state of grace day after day. Thus we become bearers of grace, bearers of God, in the world. We turn into human candles which cannot be hidden under a bushel but will shine into the world. Okay, there are other ways in which that can be done, but back to the topic.

When we pray the Hours, heaven and earth are in communion. We know that at the Liturgy angels of God stand there and pray and sing alongside us. Usually you can't see them, but sometimes you can. Well, the exact same thing is true for the Hours. Angels concelebrate them with us, as St. Etheldreda experienced so keenly.

In the Hours (especially, in Western rite, the Matins) Christian instruction is delivered. Holy Fathers comment on Scripture. The lives of Saints are unfolded and impress themselves in our minds, showing us how to implement the Gospel teachings in various circumstances. The theology of the Church is revealed (one advantage of the old Roman rite over the modern forms: higher theological and educational content).

In the Hours, that divine order in which creation rejoiced before the Fall, is renewed and restored. Things proceed by grace and divine order, rather than the randomness and purposelessness of the post-Christian life of alienation. This helps a person order his thoughts and feelings, thus reducing harmful effects of passions and bringing greater spiritual rootedness to one's life.

By imposing a divine order upon our words, thoughts, and bodily motions, the divine office breaks the wheel-rut of our daily grind. Thus the power of worldliness is broken, for a time, and new avenues are opened for the human spirit. (It is necessary, afterwards, to use this corner of freedom to deepen our personal relationship with God in private, inward prayer; if we don't do that, we're getting a momentary blessing but discarding it.)

The divine office prepares us for other spiritual tasks, such as feeding the poor, instructing the ignorant, visiting the sick and those in prison, studying the Holy Bible, obeying our superiors, etc.

The divine office is like a mighty spiritual tool, for it can make us clay in God's artistic hands. Like any tool, it can be misused, misdirected, and does not guarantee healing or salvation for all. Still, the most hardened church-attending sinner can find that a little "Cupid's arrow" of repentance may be shot into his heart, at some moment, from the quiver we call "the divine office." It can perfect saints, and it can lead a thief to cry, "Remember me, O Lord, when Thou comest in Thy kingdom!"

What, we have time enough for two hours of television and over an hour on the computer, but that's too much time to spend in church on God, soul, life, faith, the kingdom, and all the reasons we were put on this earth? That's not realistic.

In our post-Christian age we need powerful tools to overcome the powerful influence of growing darkness and evil. We need a radically re-ordered way of life, maybe more like the rhythm of mediaeval life. Not working a job all the time like the 19th century factories, and not aimless leisure, but the support of community; church- and family-based education; living close to church, within the sound of the bells; going to daily services (full round not required); soup kitchen or a workshop for employing unemployed people; small-scale agriculture / horticulture; and spending more time in carpentry and carving and sewing and learning music and video producing, for God's glory, or minding an Orthodox bookstore, than in other activities which take up too much time (each person knows which those are).

Down with Babel, raise the walls of Jerusalem!

Fr. Aidan+ sinner
Holy Protection Russian Orthodox Church, Austin, Texas

Monday, July 5, 2010

Dom Augustine Whitfield Reposes

Announcement by Dom James Deschene of Christ the Saviour Monastery (Christminster) in Canada:

"We at Christminster received news this morning of the repose last night of Dom Augustine Whitfield, Abbot of Mount Royal. It was he who not merely brought the western-rite monastic community of Mount Royal into the Russian Church, but also -- over many years, and in the face of many difficulties, and often alone -- sustained and maintained that mission and vision, handing it on eventually to Christminster and to Holyrood Hermitage in Florida, under its Abbot Dom David Pierce. Abbot David has been a most faithful and dear son to Dom Augustine for many years and cared for him at the end with the Church's holy Mysteries and prayers. He and we at Christminster are the happy inheritors of Dom Augustine's long and lonely struggle.

"Thus it is with mixed feelings of sadness and joy that we greet his repose: sad because we have lost a long-time friend and mentor, and joy that he can now receive the thanks he so much deserved for his often thankless task. May God greet his homecoming son as we pray he might greet each of us: Well done, thou good and faithful servant! Because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things. Enter into the joy of thy Lord."

"According to his wishes he will be buried privately in a local Orthodox cemetery. There will be a solemn memorial Requiem scheduled for him in early August -- possibly at Christminster -- to enable all those who would honour his life and work to gather and pray for his eternal repose and heavenly reward.

"May his sins lie lightly upon him and may he come to see, face to face, that one Face we all long to see and to adore and praise for all eternity. May this unsung hero of western-rite Orthodoxy and monasticism truly enter into the joy of his Lord.

"A Mass of Requiem will be offered for him tomorrow at Christminster. Further details will follow.

"Dom James M. Deschene
"Abbot of Christminster
"Hamilton, Ontario"

To Paradise may the Angels lead thee. At thy coming, may the Martyrs welcome thee, and lead thee into the holy city of Jerusalem. -- from the Sarum burial services

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Matins lessons for St. Barnabas

A future publication is planned of the Matins lessons (readings) for the Sarum Use of the Roman rite. The following is a draft of this legendary* future publication's entry for June 11, St. Barnabas the apostle (his feast is tomorrow, Thursday, June 11, which on the civil calendar is June 24). It is put from Latin into English by Hieromonk Aidan (Keller) of Austin, Texas.

above: 20th c. Greek icon of St. Barnabas

Lesson 1: Blessed Barnabas, a Cypriot by nationality, received the grace of the Holy Spirit at nearly the same time as the Holy Church, namely, the third year after the Ascension of our Lord, and was chosen together with the apostle Paul (just as Joseph was) for the loftiness of the apostleship and for preaching to the Gentiles. The evangelist Luke brilliantly declareth in the Acts of the Apostles in what manner and how perfectly he toiled in the ministry that had been assigned him by God. But Thou...

Lesson 2: But it was John, whose surname is Mark, disciple of the same Barnabas, who revealed in a faithful account the way in which he came to a crown of glory by the palm of martyrdom. For that same Luke (cleaving always to the blessed apostle Paul in his preaching), was not able to behold the end of St. Barnabas. When, therefore, Barnabas was at Iconium with the blessed apostle Paul, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him in a vision, saying, “Be valiant, Barnabas, believing right faithfully, for thou shalt receive eternal rewards for the holy piety because of which thou hast left behind thee a generation of children, for My name’s sake. But Thou...

Lesson 3: And when he had passed from Iconium to Antioch, the vision of an angel was made to the blest apostle Paul by night, saying, “Swiftly set out for Jerusalem, and make no delay, for the brethren await thy coming eagerly.” When he shared this with blessed Barnabas, blessed Barnabas said, “Inasmuch as it is not expedient to contradict the will of God, let the Lord’s will be done. Only intercede for me with the Lord, I beseech thee, that my struggle may be acceptable in His sight. For I set out for Cyprus now, and after a short while I shall finish the end of my life. The saddest thing is that I am not to see thy face any longer, not in bodily wise.” But Thou...

Lesson 4: Then Barnabas fell down at Paul’s feet, and for a long time he wept bitterly. Paul, having compassion for his sorrow, said, “Do not grieve, brother, for this is not being done without a divine mystery. For this [past] night the Lord appeared to me, saying, “Do not forbid Barnabas to go to Cyprus, for the grace of God is prepared for him to give enlightenment to many, and to achieve a most-holy martyrdom. But thou, travel to Jerusalem, to visit the holy places.” Then they bade one another farewell, praying on their knees, and giving kisses one to the other. And Barnabas, boarding a ship, alighted at Laodicea, resolving to make his way to Cyprus. But Thou...

Lesson 5: And when Barnabas had arrived on Cyprus, he found there Timon and Aristion, servants of the Lord. But Timon was burning with a fever. When blessed Barnabas had laid his hands and the most-holy Gospel upon him, straightway the fever was put to flight by the invocation of our Lord and Saviour. And thenceforward the sick man was made strong, so that he followed the apostle immediately with joy. Now, by the teaching of the apostles, the blessed Barnabas carried with him the Gospel of holy Matthew, and wheresoever he found men sick, he laid it upon them, and they were healed immediately from what disease soever had held them. Having therefore visited his parents and having strengthened them in the faith, blessed Barnabas departed from Cyprus, to pass from thence to Paphos. But Thou...

Lesson 6: When therefore the blessed Barnabas had passed to Paphos from Cyprus, he met up on the way with an impious and maleficent Jew by the name of Bar-Jeu, whom the blessed Paul had previously deprived of sight, since he resisted faith, not permanently but for a time, saying, “Thou shalt be blind until the time.” In his case, it definitely came to pass that at the prayer of the proconsul Sergius (converted by blessed apostle Paul), he received his sight. But apostasising afterwards just like that man Simon Magus, he became a transgressor. When, then, he had recognised blessed Barnabas, moved by malice he forbade him to enter Paphos. Because of this, the apostle, turning back, entered Salamina. But Thou...

Lesson 7: In Salamina the apostle found a synagogue of Jews, and having entered it he began to exhort them to faith, and to introduce the grace of Christ, using the Gospel of holy Matthew. When the aforementioned Bar-Jeu had learned that many of the Jews accepted the preaching of the holy apostle, showing all the malice of his iniquity, having made a sedition against the holy apostle, he had him arrested. And they sought to deliver him to the consul of that same city of Salamina, afflicting him with many punishments and various torments. Now, being exceeding fearful that he would escape from their hands, they dragged him at night, tying a rope around his neck, from the synagogue to the hippodrome, and then outside the gate. But Thou...

Lesson 8: After these things, surrounding him they cruelly burned him with fire. And so the blessed apostle, after many contests and lengthy battles, passed to everlasting joys, being burnt for the name of Christ. But impious Jews, not satisfied with his murder, stirred up with zeal, carried out his very most holy body. And shutting it up in a lead casket, they decided to cast it into the sea. Meanwhile the aforesaid John, his disciple (as also Mark), together with other of the faithful, bore it away secretly by night, and placed it in the crypt which of old had been the dwelling of the Jebusites, on the third of the ides of June, that is, the eleventh day of that month. But Thou...

Lesson 9: Because of this secret placement, therefore, the venerable body lay hidden for the passage of many years, and could not be found by the Christians. But by the grace of God almighty, Who doth not suffer the glory of His Saints to be hid, in the days of emperor Zeno and holy pope Gelasius, by a revelation of that same holy apostle, it was found. And with hymns and praises it was laid to rest in an impressive manner. Therefore, my dearly beloved brethren, let us who are in admiration of the life and devotion of this holy and glorious apostle and martyr Barnabas, and who follow in his footsteps, rejoice with spiritual joy on this festival of his, so that by his intercession we may be found amongst the righteous at the Lord’s judgment, being freed from defilements of sin, and may we be found worthy to partake of eternal life with him. Our Lord Jesus Christ granting it, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, God through all the ages of ages. Amen. But Thou...

(c) 2010 St. John Cassian Press

* in the sense of "heard of, but possibly the stuff of mere myth and legend." The pun proved irresistible (the proper Latin name of the book is the "Legenda").

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

June 16 Sarum Liturgy at Florida Monastery

Public Announcement:

"On Wednesday, June 16, 2010, at 8:30 a.m., Rev. Hieromonk Aidan (Keller) will celebrate the Divine Liturgy in the Western rite. The Liturgy will be held in the Church of St. Moses, which is located upon the grounds of St. Nicholas Monastery, Ft. Myers, Florida. Fr. Aidan is a hieromonk of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, who has been given a blessing by Metropolitan Hilarion to celebrate services in the Western rite.

"The Liturgy will be in honour of Sts. Kevin and Clotilda, whose feast day is June 16). It will be preceded by sung Terce and Sext, and followed by the hour of None. Those attending should, if intending to receive Holy Communion, prepare themselves by fasting, reading the rule for Communion, and going to confession. Confessions will be heard from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. in the church.

"Those desiring to serve in the altar or to chant, should contact Fr. Aidan on his cell at (512) 317-2197, or email him (hieromonachusaidanus at yahoo dot com), so that this can be arranged.

"Mirabilis Deus in sanctis suis!" ("Wondrous is God in His Saints!")

above: Western rite service at the monastery June 2009

Friday, May 28, 2010

Western Saints Icon Project - expanded

The Western Saints Icon Project, a massive collection of icons of various Western Saints, has again been expanded with a new icon of Sts. Hallvard and Sunniva, martyrs of Norway, with hat tip to Aaron Taylor of Oklahoma fame.

The Project gallery also contains many pictures of the reliquaries and holy Relics of the Saints.

The Western Saints Icon Project is located here.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Western Rite News from England

The St. Eanswythe Orthodox Mission has been authorised by our Metropolitan, Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch (bishop) of the Russian Church Abroad, to conduct evangelical activity in Kent, bringing the goodness of the Orthodox Faith to its people. May God crown the labours of the St. Eanswythe faithful with all success in piety.

Fr. Hieromonk Michael (Mansbridge-Wood) has been placed in charge of St. Eanswythe mission by the Metropolitan.

Below is a picture of a pre-Schism church near Folkestone which has been used for Western Rite Orthodox services by the Mission. [It has been Photoshopped to exclude pews and to add icons. - hat tip to Subdeacon Michael Astley]

A meeting of the newly-formed St. Nectan Study Group was held in North Devon at Molton in March; the study group will form part of the overall work of the St. Eanswythe mission.

Ad multos annos!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Christus Surrexit!

Christ is risen!

From the older forms of Roman rite, approved for usage within the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, a summary of services for the day is given below.

above: Western mosaic, Torcello basilica

PASCHA, the Resurrection of Our Lord, called "Easter Day" by the people

Today's collect: "Deus qui hodierna": O God, Who by Thine only-begotten Son didst open wide for us the door to eternal life this day, when death was destructed: the prayers which Thou dost breathe into us, leading us, do Thou also bring to fruition, helping us. Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God through all the ages of ages. Amen.

- Disentombment: early in the morning, before Matins, the clergy assemble in church and all the lights are lit. There is a solemn procession to the holy Tomb, which is censed. After a prostration the Cross is taken out of the Tomb, and as another great classicum peal (all bells at once) breaks out, "Xpistus resurgens" is sung, tone 4, while a procession encircles the church with the Cross. There is a collect, then prostration, then (as the bells begin to joyfully peal for Matins) all venerate the Cross just as on Good Fri. All images in the church are unveiled.

- Matins: Matins is very joyful and rather short, with only 3 lessons (homily on the day's Gospel from Mark by St. Gregory the Great). There is censing at each responsory and at the Te Deum and at the Benedictus. There are no commemorations at Lauds of Matins. [It should be noted that monastic forms of this Matins exist, which have 12 readings and the fullness of a usual Matins.]

- During the Third Hour (or, in later Sarum practice, the Third and Sixth Hours), the blessing of waters is done quietly, at a side altar. Then "Vidi aquam" is sung as the holy water is sprinkled on altar, clergy, and the queue of faithful who approach. Then a great Procession forms, which takes the same route as on Palm Sun. (q.v.), to the bell-pealing and the singing of "Salve, festa dies," and "Sedit angelus." Back in church, the verse is sung in a station before the rood, by clergy atop the roodscreen, turned towards the people. At the entry into the chancel "Xpistus resurgens" is sung again, the collect.

- At the beginning of this Mass, in Old English usage shown in the Winchester and Canterbury Tropers, there are verses, called the "Quem quaeritis." A chanter representing the angel at the Tomb sings in a beautiful melody, "Whom do ye seek in the sepulchre, O worshippers of Christ?" Chanters representing the myrrh-bearing women reply, "Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified, O worshippers from heaven!" Angel: "He is not here, He is risen, as He foretold..." this goes back and forth a few more times, then the officium follows immediately with its trope "Psallite": O chant unto our mighty King, now that the dominion of death is conquered! come and say: I am risen, and I am still with Thee," etc. In this Mass, the singing is very glorious. The Kyrie is sung with verses, the Gloria in Excelsis with beautiful tropes speaking of the Resurrection of Christ. There is but 1 collect, secret, and postcommunion. After the collect, but before the epistle, are sung the Royal Acclamations ("Christus vincit") before the great rood. This part is very beloved by the people, who join in with great joy and triumph. A short epistle is followed by the Graduale, Alleluya (with 2 or 3 verses!), and the glorious Sequence "Fulgens praeclara," which is older then the Sequence "Victimae paschali," and more filled with unbridled joy. The bells peal throughout the Sequence, then the Gospel from Mark is sung. The Offerenda has beautiful tropes beginning, "From the indignation and wrath of the Lord's anger, The earth trembled, yea, and was still. The graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints arose, When the Lord our God arose to judgment. Christ is risen from the dead! O come ye, let us worship, all proclaiming with a single voice: Alleluya, alleluya. These tropes just get more joyful as they go along, from that foreboding beginning. There are beautiful tropes for the Sanctus. The Canon has proper Communicantes and Hanc Igitur. There are beautiful tropes upon the Agnus, and the Communio antiphon. Today all the people commune, the Mass comes quickly to a festive end, all the bells begin again to peal, and after the giving of the blessed bread, the Priest blesses the baskets in a station with the clergy and crucifer. The blessing is of all the foods that were forbidden in Lent: "of meat, cheese, butter, eggs, and meat-pies."

- Ye Greate Picnicke. This is definitely part of today's celebration.

- At Vespers, there is a unique and glorious service: The bells peal, the soft prayers are said, then the rulers of the choir begin "Kyrie eleison." Kyrie VI (q.v. supra) is sung without verses (though, actually, in many places the verses were sung), and (in the older books) a great procession winds around the church, while the Kyrie is sung, pausing briefly at the great rood. Three psalms are sung under the 4-fold alleluya, then the Graduale from the Mass is sung again, then the Alleluya from the Mass is sung again, then the versicle and Magnificat is sung, with censing of altar, clergy, and people. After the collect, a great procession including holy oil and chrism vessels forms as Alleluya, intertwined with Ps. 112, is sung specially. At the fonts (that is, in front of the west doors) there is a station made, a collect, then the procession goes on to the rood, as an Alleluya intertwined with Ps. 113 is sung joyfully. The rood is censed. There is a collect in honour of the Cross, then the beautiful "Alma Redemptoris" is sung with alleluya, as the clergy re-enter the chancel. There is a collect of St. Mary. "Benedicamus" is sung with an alleluya on the end.

- Compline #13 is sung (online Sarum Psalter pp. 191-192), including singing the Graduale from the day's Mass again (but without verse). For Compline, two bells are rung twofold.

above: 12th-c. English icons, St. Michael's Copford

Sometimes Western rite people hesitate about the term "Pascha." It may seem, to them, Byzantine. Eastern. Other. Not Western. But this great and holy day was called in the west of England, by the 1030s already, "Paske." In Welsh it is called "Pasg," and in Irish "Caisc," and in Manx "Yn-chaisht," that is, "The Holy." In most Western European languages the word used is some variant upon "Pascha." So, as odd as it may sound to the ears of an Anglican or a Roman-catholic, the term "Pascha" for Easter is, in its broadest outlines, merely the resurrection of an old Anglo-Saxon tradition, as well as an almost-universal usage of Western Europe. The term "Easter" also has an ancient and Orthodox lineage; there is nothing inherently wrong in the term.

The similarity of the Torcello mosaic to East Roman (Byzantine) iconography underscores the fact that one of the West's primary iconographic styles was essentially indistinguishable from the East Roman style. However, other styles are known as well, and variety is more apparent in manuscript illuminations than in surviving wall paintings of the period.

* Fast free: no restriction of food this whole week, and, by ancient Western custom, from today until Whitsunday (with the sole exception of cheesefare foods upon St. Mark's day and the Rogation days before Ascension).

** Old Sarum Rite Missal, (c) 1998, St. Hilarion Press, due to be re-issued in a scholarly format by St. John Cassian Press, in 2 volumes.

Xpucmoc Bockpece!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

New Western Rite Abbot

I discovered on Tuesday, March 16, 2010, that Fr. Hieromonk David (Pierce) has been confirmed in the rank of Abbot by Metropolitan Hilarion, first hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. Dom David is abbot of the abbey of the Dormition of the Mother of God (of Mt. Royal) in Jacksonville, Florida. Members of the community include the well-known Fr. Augustine (Whitfield) and Br. George. Services are held in the Holyrood (Holy Cross) chapel.

above: Abbot David, at the funeral of Abbot Augustine (Whitfield)

above: Abbot David at time of divine service

Many Years! Ad multos annos, Domne!

P.S. For those who may imagine that "Dormition" is a specifically Eastern term, it is the very word used in the Sarum "Martiloge" (martyrology) to describe the feast of the Assumption on August 15. It can be said, therefore, that Dormition is a good and proper Old-English word.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Which Rite is Right?

Too many people approach Western Rite in the Eastern Orthodox Church as a theoretical exercise. One often hears (pro and con) statements about historical continuity or non-continuity, Frankish-influence issues, minutiae (e.g., what kind of vestments Eastern rite clergy should wear, when attending Western rite services), and so forth.

Oft bypassed by the non-Western-rite observer is that WR Orthodoxy faces more immediate, practical concerns: how to acquire and adorn a chapel; how to get vestments made; how to marshal a choir; and, of course, what to use for liturgical texts.

In the Antiochian Western rite in the U.S., this latter question has been largely decided and is currently settled. It is an essentially dual approach (Tridentine-Roman and traditional Anglican), avoiding pre-Reformation liturgics on the one hand, and the latest modern developments on the other.

In the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, the liturgical question has not been settled definitively. Usages currently blessed include three versions of the Roman rite (Tridentine, Sarum, and Mt.-Royal) and traditional Anglican. None of these has been identified as an exclusively prescribed usage, and there has been no attempt to impose liturgical conformity. That might be a good thing, since it gives the hierarchy time to observe and assess what works and what doesn't.

The Romanian Church has parishes using a theoretical reconstruction of the lost Gallican rite, a usage kept in France in the 1960s under Abp. St. John Maximovitch. This represents yet another strain of liturgical usage. And there is potential for use of the Mozarabic rite of Spain, the Ambrosian rite of Aquileia, as well as liturgies of the Roman-Catholic religious orders.

Speaking of St. John Maximovitch, he blessed for use both Gallican and Roman rites.

It must be admitted that the "Which Rite" question remains unanswered, if one is speaking of the Orthodox Church as a whole.

note: No anonymous commenting allowed.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Western Rite Ship in London Encounters Rocks

From Fr. Hieromonk Michael (Mansbridge-Wood) of Australia, Jan. 16, 2010:

"Well, our celebrations in the cathedral lasted only a few Sundays. Now Archbishop Mark has demanded that our service should finish before the Eastern Rite service in the upper church starts at 10.00 (in order not to "undermine" their service!!). This would mean my getting up at 03.00, driving out my front gate before 04.00 and starting the service in London 100 miles away at 07.30 in order to finish before they start. Our opponents know very well that this is not going to happen. They know very well that London is a very large city indeed and that our congregation is eclectic and that they simply cannot get to the church in Chiswick by 07.30. So, no more services in the cathedral. However, services continue in Southbourne and next Tuesday, we will celebrate the Epiphany in the beautiful Resurrection Chapel in central Bournemouth..."

My response: I wonder if something can still be worked out. For example, could one omit Matins and Litany, and start the eucharistic service at 8:45, make a very short sermon, and finish just before 10:00? Many parishes start at 9:00 a.m.; 8:45 is not too far off from that. I just wonder if there is some possibility yet for a work-around. Are sounds from the service below leaking into the church above? I hope our London brethren and sistren will not lose heart. In many Russian cathedrals that have an all-Slavonic Liturgy at 10:00, there will be an 8:00 a.m. English-language Liturgy (I find 8:00 rather early!) Is there any London "parishioner" whose house could be used? In Austin we meet in a small mobile-home chapel difficult to find, not well heated and cooled, having no restroom, no narthex, no church sign, and yet we have grown tremendously in just a year and are looking to buy a place. But I do admit that having disadvantageous circumstances makes it more difficult to establish more than a minimal attendance.

Our prayers are with you all in England.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax!

I hope that all of our readers enjoyed a blessed Nativity and I wish all of you a joyful and spiritually prosperous New Year.

- Hieromonk Aidan+, a sinner