A Sunday in the Life of a Pharisee

August 2, 2012

By Fr. Vassilios Papavassiliou

 “This church is full of hypocrites. Look at these people! They don’t care about religion. Slackers! Nationalists! Oh look! Here’s another late comer. Why can’t they get their children to shut up? This is a place of prayer! I didn’t come to hear screaming babies! Look at that priest! His heart isn’t in this at all! And that chanter – what a show off! And that man in the corner with the prayer rope constantly crossing himself is really annoying me – showing off his piety. Pharisee! Love that Gospel Reading! Really sums up Pharisaic Christians, like that man in the corner. Weren’t you listening to any of that? It was about you! Thank God I’m not like that! Now look! A woman in a mini-skirt taking Communion – I bet she had breakfast! Too young to be married, but I bet she has sex. Does she have her spiritual father’s permission to take Communion? Bet she doesn’t know what a spiritual father is! Have any of these people gone to Confession or said the prayers before Communion like I have? I’m definitely going to go to a monastery next Sunday. Somewhere where I’ll find real Christians and pious priests and no screaming babies – somewhere where other so-called Christians won’t disturb my prayer”.

This is how Pharisees think. How do I know? Because there is a Pharisee in me too. There is a Pharisee in all of us.

Rite of Consecration of Holy Chrism Video

August 2, 2012

St. Tikhon’s Monastery has just put up a video of the consecration of Holy Chrism held there earlier this year.  This is a rite rarely witnessed by the faithful and it’s a treat to see this preparation done in English. The choir is also magnificent. The video description:

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah celebrated the preparatory rites for the Consecration of Holy Chrism on the morning of Great and Holy Monday, April 9, 2012, at Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery. The Rite will conclude with the actual consecration of the sacred oil during the Vesperal Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great on Great and Holy Thursday, April 12.

The blessing of the ingredients took place before the celebration of the Hours and the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts.

The consecration of Holy Chrism is reserved to autocephalous churches. Parishes receive Holy Chrism for local use from the Primate of their respective autocephalous Church. As such, the distribution of Holy Chrism to parish communities offers a visible sign of unity within the Church.

A more detailed explanation from Orthodoxwiki:

Chrism (Greek χρίσμα, meaning “ointment”) is consecrated oil used during the administration of certain mysteries, particularly those of baptism and anointing of the sick (unction), and other rites of the Orthodox Church. Chrism is sometime referred to as myrrh (from the Greek μύρων), holy oil, or consecrated oil.

The use of an oil in Christian ceremonies is mentioned in many early Christian documents including writings by Theophilus and Tertullian. Cyril of Jerusalem details the practices of using oil or ointment that is “symbolically applied to the forehead, and other organs of sense.” He further notes that the “ointment is the seal of the covenants” of baptism and God’s promises to the believer. He taught that being “anointed with the oil of God” was a sign of a Christian (Christos meaning “anointed”), and a physical representation of receiving the Gift of the Holy Spirit.

In Orthodox Christianity, chrism is a prominent part of the baptismal rite in which, under normal circumstances, the newly enlightened (including infants) is anointed with chrism in the mystery of chrismation. Chrism is used also during the consecration of churches in which the altar table and walls are anointed.

Chrism is a mixture of olive oil and aromatic essences following the pattern of the preparation of anointing oil described in Exodus 30:22-33. Chrism is prepared when needed during Holy Week. The preparation rite begins on Holy Monday and ends with the Divine Liturgy on Holy Thursday when the new chrism is carried in during the Great Entrance and placed upon the altar table. The chrism is prepared by the ruling bishop of each autocephalous church, assisted by members of the Holy Synod. After its preparation the chrism is distributed to the bishops, who in turn pass it to the parishes where it is needed.

In the Patriarchate of Constantinople, for example, Chrism is manufactured roughly every ten years. It is produced from 57 ingredients, including the ash from burnt icons.

“Why Study the History of the Liturgy?” By Sister Vassa

August 1, 2012

A very interesting commentary on the historical development of the Liturgy by Sister Vassa (Larin), given recently at St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral in Washington, DC:

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware on the Jesus Prayer

June 23, 2012

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware spoke tonight at St Mark Coptic Orthodox Church in Fairfax, Virginia on the Jesus Prayer. This followed his attendance at the Orientale Lumen Conference earlier this week. I got to see some of this on the live stream and it’s a wonderful lecture. The first few minutes are Coptic praises and the introduction and lecture begins about 5:45 minutes.

Orthodoxy in Kenya

June 19, 2012

Some recently uploaded videos about Orthodoxy in Kenya. The first shows some pictures from the Orthodox Patriarchal Ecclesiastical School in Nairobi, Kenya. The second shows services in Nairobi, Kenya–a wedding, Divine Liturgy, a Funeral. In the background you can hear chant, Kenyan style.

Bishop Michael on the Sacrament of Chrismation

June 4, 2012

The latest in the excellent series “Lessons in Our Faith” by Bishop Michael. This one is on Chrismation:

A Prayer of Confession by St Symeon the New Theologian

May 22, 2012

I have traveled far, O Lover of mankind,

I have lived in the desert,

hiding from You, my sweet Master.

I have been brought to this state by the night of life’s cares,

where I have suffered many bites and wounds,

where I get up bearing many wounds in my soul

and I cry in my pain and in my suffering of heart:

“Have mercy, show pity on me, the transgressor!”

O Doctor, Lover of souls, the One who only loves mercy.

You are the one who heals gratuitously the sick and wounded

heal my crimes, my wounds.

Let Your oil of grace drop, my God, and pour over my wounds,

stanch my ulcers, cauterize and revigorate

my weakened members and make all the cuts disappear,

O Savior, and give me perfect wholeness as I enjoyed before,

when I was not so stained,

when I was not a criminal,

not enflamed with wound or blemish, O my God,

but then I possessed serenity and joy,

peace and gentleness and holy humility and magnanimity

where there was a fullness of patience and of outstanding works,

an endurance and invincible power towards everything.

Then there was an abundance of consoling tears each day,

there was joyful exuberance in my heart,

which flowed out like a spring, pouring forth inexhaustibly

like a fountain from which poured forth honey, a drink of joy,

to which I ceaselessly returned in the mouth of my spirit.

There was complete health, there purity,

there the extinction of all my passions and vain thoughts,

there impassibility produced in me a face illumined,

and it has always stayed with me, spiritually speaking,

understand me properly, I beg you, read these words,

not interpreting what I say in any stupid, impure image,

but it brought me an ineffable pleasure of union

and an unlimited desire for nuptial union with God.

Receiving this, I also became impassible,

enflamed with pleasure, burning with desire for it

and I participated in the light,

yes, I became light, above every passion, beyond every evil,

for passion does not flower in the light of impassibility

any more than shadow in darkness of light flowers in the sun.

Therefore, having become such and really being such,

I relaxed, O Master, because I had confidence in myself.

I was overcome by the cares of sensible things

and I fell, O wretched one, to the worries of the concerns of life.

And as iron once it has cooled, I became black,

and dragged through the earth, I took on rust.

And this is why I cry out to You again to purify me,

to my first beauty and to let me enjoy again Your light,

now and always and forever and ever. Amen.

Hymn 46 from Hymns of Divine Love by St Symeon the New Theologian.