The holy fire…

Holy Fire

I thought this was a very lovely idea, and it actually brought a tear to my eye. The miraculous holy fire from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is to be taken to Kemerovo, the site of a recent tragic fire in which 64 people died (41 of them children). It reminds me of this quote from an essay Tolkien wrote about Gandalf: “Warm and eager was his spirit (and it was enhanced by the ring Narya), for he was the Enemy of Sauron, opposing the fire that devours and wastes with the fire that kindles, and succours in wanhope and distress.” May the holy Paschal fire be a consolation to those mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters who lost their loved ones in Kemerovo, and kindle their hearts to the consolation that those who die in the faith of Christ will not die forever.

St Patrick…

St Patrick Icon

It’s the feast of my patron to-day, Saint Patrick, Enlightener of Ireland and Equal-to-the-Apostles. With the pressures of work I haven’t really had the time to write a proper post, and it’s a shame that St Patrick’s feast always falls within Lent, but I have my Guinness and I have read passages from his Confessio, and sung his “Breastplate” to the tune I knew as a child, which, I suppose, is more than can be said of most Irish people who have turned the feast into a drunken sham, odious to every Christian principle St Patrick represented in life. In Northern Ireland the Papists have truly turned faith into faction, and St Patrick is there seen, if he is actually thought about at all, as a proto-Provo, or at the very least another Sinner. This is ironic given that Ian Paisley preached sermons about St Patrick, and claimed that he had proselytised an early form of hardline Presbyterianism. For me, as an Orthodox Christian, the legacy of St Patrick is marred and obscured by all this. St Patrick no more preached Calvinism than the symbol of the shamrock meant a false, filioquist God; rather he preached the quick and powerful word of God, with the apostolic authority of an Orthodox bishop.

Read part of his Confessio and see:

And if at any time I managed anything of good for the sake of my God whom I love, I beg of him that he grant it to me to shed my blood for his name with proselytes and captives, even should I be left unburied, or even were my wretched body to be torn limb from limb by dogs or savage beasts, or were it to be devoured by the birds of the air, I think, most surely, were this to have happened to me, I had saved both my soul and my body. For beyond any doubt on that day we shall rise again in the brightness of the sun, that is, in the glory of Christ Jesus our Redeemer, as children of the living God and co-heirs of Christ, made in his image; for we shall reign through him and for him and in him.

For the sun we see rises each day for us at his command, but it will never reign, neither will its splendour last, but all who worship it will come wretchedly to punishment. We, on the other hand, shall not die, who believe in and worship the true sun, Christ, who will never die, no more shall he die who has done Christ’s will, but will abide for ever just as Christ abides for ever, who reigns with God the Father Almighty and with the Holy Ghost before the beginning of time unto endless time and unending ages. Amen.

New Liturgical Movement thread…

Pacelli

On Sunday afternoon a friend of mine alerted me to this thread over on the New Liturgical Movement blog. Once again, it’s the old hypocritical controversy about the times of the Triduum services. Of course, I was barred from commenting on the New Liturgical Movement blog by its present editor four years ago (I wonder if that still stands?) for having seemingly compared Pius XII with Morgoth, so I can’t add anything there, but my own voice is hardly to be proscribed here!

I took exception most of all to the contributions of “Bonifacius,” whose sneering disparagement of traditional praxis seems to have been unchallenged. He writes:

“I don’t see why the ability to start Easter Sunday celebrations half-a-day early, during what should still be Lent, is dispositive. Liturgically, an evening Easter Vigil allows Holy Saturday, the day Christ lay in the tomb, to be observed as . . . the day Christ lay in the tomb, instead of as the beginning of Easter Sunday. Liturgically, an evening Easter Vigil allows the Exsultet and the Easter candles to shine in actual darkness, instead of having the light of morning stream through the windows.”

I can only imagine he came to the same conclusions as Alcuin Reid in his assessment of the reforms of Pius XII. He might also think that, on years in which Julian and Gregorian Pascha coincide, observing an Orthodox and a Roman church, they were celebrating the same mysteries, and the same events, at the same time. Only they don’t. The Byzantine Paschal liturgy on the Holy Night is the equivalent of the Roman Resurrexi Mass of Pascha morning, not the so-called “Easter Vigil” (whence came that name?). By contrast, the vesperal liturgy of St Basil is celebrated on the morning of Holy Saturday, being the equivalent, in content and ethos, of the old Roman morning service (with the Exultet and the prophecies, &c). Paschal Mattins, the focal point in times past of the entire year for most people (you only have to observe the location of prominent benefactor tombs in mediaeval churches), were not reformed or abridged, they were just abolished.

As for the times, it seems hypocritical for people to be so “rational” about the times of the Triduum services when they don’t seem bothered about the abomination of evening mass at other times of the year. And why are they not consistent? Any modern timetable of Triduum services has the principal services at odd times, like 7pm Thursday, 3pm Friday and 10pm Saturday. Where’s the reason in this? As for me, as an Orthodox Christian I feel completely dispassionate about it. I have the Byzantine Rite now, which I am learning every day. The comprehensive reform of the Roman Rite will never be reversed, and the traditionalists are just tolerated. Who knows how long that will last? Even if it lasts a hundred years, the defective worship of these people, having no real spiritual foundation but rather a vicious and reactionary spirit, will just fizzle out anyway. If any good comes of this grotesque, rational experiment at all, it’s that the Orthodox Church looks westward and is warned off any systematic deconstruction and reform of the Byzantine Rite, and it would be unthinkable anyway. Who knows, it may be revealed in God’s eternal time that the immolation of the Roman Rite was for the Church of Rome what fire and brimstone was to Sodom and Gomorrah, in recompense for the hubris of the Papacy and their arrogant, filioquist doctrine.

 

 

Musick…

This may seem out of step with the ascetic spirit of the season but this afternoon I bought a new hi-fi sytstem. My reasons for this unseasonable extravagance are as follows. I’ve had an Apple iPhone, in various models, since February 2010 and during this period I had more or less stopped buying CDs. I had grown accustomed to listening to most music through the medium of iTunes or YouTube and had quite forgotten the pleasure of just listening, as opposed to having music projected in an inferior, sort of “tinny” way, from a small, multi-purpose piece of machinery. Of course, years ago if we wanted music, we either made it ourselves or went to a theatre or opera house. Now popular music, which propels the ideals of the sexual revolution into our lives, is omnipresent; in supermarkets, in restaurants, &c. People go about spellbound by music as they plug those small things into their ears, which probably cause long-term physical damage and undoubtedly render them intolerant to periods of silence. They can’t possibly enjoy it! Some years ago I was with my mother in an Italian restaurant and asked the waiter to turn off the radio and was met with looks of horror and bewilderment by others. Their apparent abhorrence for silence, much more conducive, in my view, to the ambience of conversation, reminded me of man’s present addiction to television. People spend all this money on Sky or Netflix and watch trashy soaps and sitcoms beyond all possible enjoyment. Well, I’m not like that and if my modest investment in a new hi-fi system can mitigate the effects of the boredom and resignation of popular trash, I say money well-spent!

By the way, the theme of this post put me in mind of this reflection on popular music by Roger Scruton.

 

30 to-day…

It’s my 30th birthday to-day. I don’t remember my 20th birthday at all but I remember that I was diagnosed with “Asperger syndrome” that year. I also remember reading Michael Davies in the waiting area of the Maudsley Hospital, and thinking that he was a visionary of unparalleled erudition. Looking back, it’s at once irritating to see how obsessed and naive I was, but also liberating in that the obsession paled away comparatively quickly, with sound company and a healthy thirst for true knowledge, unabridged by ideology, while in others they festered away (and perhaps still do). I suppose that nowadays I am less important to most people. If people remember me at all, it’s as that fiery youth, holding the establishment types to the honesty of what really happened, and how things should be, in the impetuosity of his wrath. How soon that fire smouldered! These days I look aghast at members of the old communion as I would at Jehovah’s Witnesses standing at railway stations, asking what the Bible really teaches (or what the prayer really says!) with that characteristically vacant, yet unflinchingly dogmatic, expression. A bit like Pilgrim looking back at the city of destruction, or the prodigal son at the swine. Would you go back to gnaw at yourself with resentful obsession if you had found the pearl of great price?

This is not esoteric. I am not an intellectual; I am just a neophyte who has nothing more, still less original, to say other than the words of the Fathers and of Scripture. Come and see! Or to-day, the Friday of the fourth week of Great Lent, I am reminded of God’s command to our father Abraham, The LORD had said unto Abraham: Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee.

A pilgrimage from Russia

Fr Andrew sent me this video last night. It came just in time, actually, as I was ruminating over the anti-Russian frenzy in vogue among the British establishment. Russia is an easy target, really. It looks big on the map, has a strange alphabet, it always snows, and everybody remembers the true menace of the Soviet Union and are perhaps unwilling to remember that it actually collapsed under its own inherent deceit and corruption. The corruption is still there, of that I have no doubt, as well as rampant alcoholism and abortion, but as Holy Rus’ is on the increase, these things will go into abeyance in God’s eternal time. Churches are being built all over Russia, bishops, priests and deacons are being ordained, and vocations to the monastic way are on the rise too. As these pilgrims from Russia to the centre of Orthodox England in East Anglia bear witness, deep roots are not touched by the frost. That is just as true in this country, which has suffered more than 950 years of schism and idolatry, as it was in Russia under the atheist regime. I welcome these pilgrims from Russia, and would that they came to live among us.