Monday, April 30, 2007

The Holy Fire: The Fathers of the Eastern Church

Our Sunday night group just finished this book last night with the last chapter painting St. Gregory Palamas. The text is an incredible series of earthy, raw, and inspiring vignettes treating the Fathers from Clement to Palamas. The author, Robert Payne, an Anglican churchmen and adept master of word and pen, concludes the book thusly:

So they pass before us, the gentle Clement, the stern Origen, the steel-hard Athanasius, the three great Cappadocian Fathers somehow combining into a single figure, fulfilling one another, then the golden stream pouring from the mouth of Chrysostom, and afterward the dark cell where Dionysius the Areopagite stands before the beckoning light; dark-faced John Damascene in his eagle's eyrie; Gregory Palamas striding across the marble floors of the palaces of Constantinople, then vanishing to Mount Athos, the eternal repetition of the Name of Jesus and the ceaseless vigil before the Light of the Transfiguration; and as we watch them, all of them seem to be bathed in the blinding light that shone on Mount Tabor.

To these Fathers is due a portion of the glory in raising the habitations of God; and to them we owe, more than we can guess or ever repay, the strength of our faith.

Though you may not be able to fully see it in the text that has been quoted, the wonder of this book is Payne's gift of making their humanness more human while clarifying for the reader who may be asking, "What exactly does a holy life look like?" Make no mistake, they each lived their lives on an unimaginable scale, but Payne is still able to coax out the individual from the midst of such unfathomable times and places. For me, my affection for the Fathers has grown tremendously, to the point that seeing and venerating them in icons is much more akin to kissing my priest or bishop's right hand. A real love has been kindled for them in my heart.

Sadly, the text is now out of print, though there are copies to found in the used section. It was first printed in 1957 and has seen many subsequent pressings. St. Vlad's did a printing or two with an invaluable introduction from Fr. Thomas Hopko. For reference or cover to cover reading, this book is worth the small effort involved in obtaining a copy.

(4) comments

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Deeply Embedded

Wednesday morning was the funeral for former Russian President Boris Yeltsin. That morning, as I drove in my car from a philosophy class to work, I listened to the usual fare on NPR, bombings, economy, Gonzales. However, the monotony would only last so long as the next thing I knew my zombie like commute was interrupted with that rare bird named hope. Before I knew what I was experiencing exactly, my fingers, clasped together in three, were tracing the sign of the cross over my body as my heart awakened and beat thankfulness and hope into my twisted world. You see, the sound bite NPR had chosen from Mr. Yeltsin's funeral was the epistle reading, chanted of course in Slavonic. Having been to very few services in Slavonic, my
synapses fired, desperately searching for the cause of my inspired religious activity. It was simply wonderful to have such an experience where the head has to catch up to a runaway heart and body, and your motivation is the Gospel itself.

Not sure if any of that made sense, but I wanted to share it anyway.

(3) comments

Thursday, April 19, 2007

D.I.D. Strikes Again!

The Scrivener has one of his characteristically piercing ponderings up. He is careful and purposeful in drawing back his bow and taking aim, but by the end you will see, his aim is true and your heart is pierced.

The Fabulous Imposter


(3) comments

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Restoring the Senses (click here)

Paradise raised me up as I perceived it,
it enriched me as I meditated upon it;

I forgot my poor estate,
for it made me drunk with its fragrance.

I became as no longer my old self,
for it renewed me with all its

varied nature. …

In its fair beauty I beheld
those who are far more beautiful than it,

and I reflected:
if Paradise be so glorious,

how much more glorious should Adam be,
who is in the image of its Planter,

and how much fairer the Cross,
upon which the Son of its Lord rode.

St. Ephrem, Hymns on Paradise, 6:4, 5

The current show on Speaking of Faith is mind blowing. It features Vigen Guroian, an Armenian Orthodox theologian, who does a tremendous job at explaining the role of the senses when applied to faith in general, and Orthodox Christianity in particular. The program left a huge smile on my face and a deep joy in my heart. The show is available for download, streaming, and podcast, and I must add has a production quality unsurpassed. I've already burned several copies to disc for friends and family.

While you're over there check out the archive for The Need for Creeds with Jaroslav Pelikan.

Feedback please!

(5) comments

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Christ is Risen!

Well, here we are fresh off of the launch ramp of the Pentacostarion! Sara and I are still recovering from Holy Week's bombardment, Pascha, and the unfortunate collision, calendrically speaking, with Easter.

Allow me a little stream of consciousness therapy as I reflect on what has just happened. The unknown, unknowable, has become known and knowable; he lived amongst us, as one of us, connecting the Divine nature with our own; suffering a humiliating death, conquering death by death, rising victorious; as He promised the mocker and the skeptic.

We adore thy third day resurrection!

(1) comments

Monday, April 02, 2007

So it begins...

“But those who seek to destroy my life shall go down into the depths of the earth; they shall be given over to the power of the sword, they shall be prey for jackals. But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by Him shall glory; for the mouths of liars will be stopped.” - Bridegroom Service of Holy Week, Psalm 63

Taken from OCA.org

(0) comments

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?