Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Ecclesiology of the Cross

Father Stephen's post of this name at Glory to God for All Things (link on the side) was another "winner." As I read it, I was reminded of some of my own thinking and my own questions over the years.

It also struck home because I've been listening to the reading of Father Arseny while working in my shop the last several days. I've read both books at least once, but I find that listening to them is particularly poignant and meaningful. (Audio book available at

In my thinking, Father Stephen's essay is "lived" or "in the flesh" in Father Arseny and his life.

"It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me!"

It is one thing to "talk" about the faith -- but it is quite another to live that faith.

Glory to God for all things!

(Thank you, Father Stephen)


A Meme

Anastasia has invited me to play along on this one by tagging me.


Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. (No cheating!)
Find Page 123.
Find the first 5 sentences.
Post the next 3 sentences.
Tag 5 people.

Ahh, how things have changed in my life! The nearest book to this computer is Turning Pens and Pencils by Kip Christiansen and Rex Burningham!

And the three sentences are:

"The skew is generally more difficult to control than the gouge, but, once mastered, will produce the finest of results. We offer four different approaches to using a skew to finish a pen. The first of these, shearing while leading with the heel of the skew, is perhaps the most traditional."

There you have it. Three sentences after the first five on page 123 of the book closest to me when I was tagged! Now, had I been at the computer in the study, the result would have been different.

As to tagging five others -- I think all those that come to mind have already been tagged: so, dear reader, if you want to have a little fun -- follow the rules and see what happens, post it on your blog!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

With Regard to the Holy Mysteries ....

Katherine and I have been reading Short Trip to the Edge by Scott Cairns. It journals his journey to Mt. Athos, and is a very interesting read. On our way to Divine Liturgy, we've been reading his book (Katherine reads, I drive). This passage struck us:

The surreal beauty of the liturgy turned immediately into surreal shock. I saw the priest raise the spoon to the pilgrim's lips and then saw the priest's face go ashen with horror. An then he was shouting something else, not angry this time, but pleading. This time, says Nick, he was begging, "Don't move, hold still."

Immediately, two monks appeared at the pilgrim's sides, gripping his shoulders and hold him absolutely still, as the priest covered the chalice with the scarlet cloth and, without moving his feet, handed the chalice back through the royal doors to the deacon, who returned it to the altar. From the choirs, three other emonks arrived with lit candles, moving in slow motion, inspecting the floor, the pilgrim's clothing, his shoes.

Somehow or other, the Holy Mysteries on the end of that spoon had fallen. And this is what I beheld: for the next half hour--during which time I barely breathed -- the priest picked up every possible bit of the elements that he found on the pilgrims clothes and shoes; he picked up every stray bit of anything he fo0und on the marble floor, be it the Holy Mysteries or candle wax, lin or speck of mud, and placed it in his mouth. The pilgrim was now openly weeping; one of the monks holding him relaxed one hat to pat his shoulder. When the priest was as certain as he could be that nothing remained on the floor, the trembling pilgrim was led through the left-hand deacon's door and back to the area of the table of oblation. Another monk arrived with a glass vessel, from which the priest poured an abundance of thick liquid. He then set a lit taper to the pool, and the entire marble floor before the royal doors cam alive with blue flame. (pp. 66-7)
This respect and veneration of the Holy Mysteries stood out in stark contrast to some of the practices and questions raised in our previous experience in the Lutheran church. In many congregations, the Holy Communion, particularly the Blood of Christ, was given in individual glasses, sometimes plastic and disposable. But, in many places, what remained of the elements were unceremoniously washed down the drain or tossed in the trash. And there were and continue to be great debates as to "how long" and "when" the bread and wine remain the Body and Blood of Christ.

So, it did strike us as we headed for the Divine Liturgy that day. And we gave thanks to God for the ancient Church as we experienced through reading what Scott Cairns experienced on that Day on Mt. Athos.


Worth Remembering ...

Father Stephen Freeman included this in a post a while back. It occurs to me that these words are valuable thoughout life, and especially for those engaged in "religious dialog." In my own life, there have been many times that I have been defined by what I am against, rather than who I am. With the best of intentions, my eyes have often been focused, not on Jesus, author and perfector of faith, but on whatever or whoever was considered "the enemy" at the time. For this, Lord Jesus, forgive me!

Consider these words from "Keeping Your Eyes Open."

A hermit said, “Cover a donkey’s eyes and it will walk in circles around the mill wheel. If you uncover its eyes, it will not continue to walk. The devil obscures our vision and leads us into all kinds of sins. If we keep our eyes open, we will more likely escape.

Keeping your eyes open is perhaps one of the harder spritual feats of our present age. So much of the material of our culture is specifically meant to mislead and deceive. And then again, so much of our culture has a “virtual” existence rather than a real. To a large degree, keeping your eyes open means keeping them focused on what is known to be true:

1. Avoid rumors

2. Avoid gossip

3. If you share something you expect someone else to keep secret, you are doing something you are asking them not to do (confession is obviously exempt from this).

4. Avoid information that is shared in anger

5. Avoid information (or treat sceptically) that is disseminated for profit (which would include almost all media).

6. In religious matters, novelty is not a virtue

7. Do not take delight in the sins of others.

As I read that list, it became very obvious that I had done all of those things at one time or another, in spite of the fact that I have shared almost exactly the same things with others!

I pray that my and our discourse is always "speaking the truth in love" -- and that's what the points quoted describe!

God grant that we keep our eyes open, and that we are slow to speak, eager to listen, and ready at all times to speak the Truth.