Metropolitan Kallistos: For the Peace from Above…

December 15, 2011

For the Peace from Above: the Understanding of Peace in the New Testament and the Orthodox Liturgy. Lecture by  Metropolitan Kallistos Ware from the University of Oxford, given Nov. 14, 2011 at The Academic Forum for Peace, Poland 2011, held by Wrocław University and Institute for the Study of Islam.

St Basil the Great

December 28, 2010

On January 1st, we commemorate St. Basil the Great, who died on January 1, 379 AD:


Pope & Patriarchs: The 1848 Letters of Pope Pius IX and the Orthodox Patriarchs

November 3, 2010

Pope Pius IX about 1865

Shortly after his ascension to the papal throne in 1846, Pope Pius IX wrote the Apostolic Letter In suprema Petri apostoli sede,  “On the Supreme Throne of Peter the Apostle” (6 January 1848). While it was primarily intended for Eastern Catholics of the various Oriental Rites it also addressed Orthodox Christians, calling them back to unity with Rome.

Fr. Aidan Nichols characterizes Pius IX’s letter as

“the first ‘unionist’ encyclical of the modern papacy” and as the first part of  “a papal concern for the Christian East of a depth and urgency not seen since Florence.” “Thousands upon thousands” of this letter were distributed in a Greek translation directly to the Orthodox faithful. (Rome and the Eastern Churches, p. 352).

Despite its historical importance as one of the first texts of the modern era relative to Catholic—Orthodox relations, English translations of Pius IX’s letter have been few and, until now, have not been available online.

Patriarch Anthimos VI of Constantinople

A translation from the French version, published in the journal Irenikon in 1929, has been prepared by Michaël de Verteuil. The French text can be found here at the Internet Archive and was supplied by the Monastery of Chevetogne, publishers of Irenikon.

The reply to Pius IX’s letter, issued by the Orthodox Patriarchs later that year, is better known and is online here and used with permission.

The Orthodox Patriarchs’ reply was signed by Anthimos VI, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, along with Hierotheus, Patriarch of Alexandria, Methodios, Patriarch of Antioch and Cyril, Patriarch of Jerusalem, along with the Holy Synods of each of the Patriarchates.

Click at the link below to download a PDF file of Pope Pius IX’s Apostolic Letter together with the reply of the Orthodox Patriarchs:

Click here to download PDF

Building St. Basil Orthodox Church in Kansas City

October 5, 2010

The story of building the church for St. Basil Orthodox Church in Kansas City, Kansas.

“Do you really think that you are doing nobody injustice by plundering so much?”

August 31, 2010

I have greatly enjoyed reading posts from Macrina Walker’s blog A Vow of Conversation. Here is a recent gem:

H/T: A Vow of Conversation:

Basil’s social doctrine was grounded in the conviction that all people are equal and share the same human nature. The poor, the rich and the emperor are all companions in slavery, that is, they are all dependent on God.[1] Moreover, human beings are social creatures and communal life and interaction with one another require a generosity that can alleviate the needs of the destitute. The scriptural command to “Give to anyone who asks” (Mt 5,42) calls us to a sharing and a mutual love that are characteristic of human nature.[2] The Acts of the Apostles (4,34-35) teaches us how this is to be put into practice. In the first ecclesial community of Jerusalem, the Christians sold their goods and gave the money to apostles to distribute to those who needed it.

St. Basil the Great praying over the gifts

Basil encouraged the faithful Christians of his time to respond to the Gospel injunction: “Sell your possessions and give to those in need,” and “give to the poor” (Lk 12,33; 18,22).[3] Basil had himself long ago responded to this call and had committed himself with all his heart to a life of voluntary poverty. In the Acts of the Apostles, the giving away of one’s possessions is presented as a free choice, and in the Gospel it is seen as a condition of perfection. However, Basil became even more radical and saw it as a rule of life for all Christians. Moved by the extreme social needs of the population, and enlightened by the scriptures, Basil insisted that the produce of the earth was intended for all. While God the Creator had indeed distributed it unevenly, he had done this with the intention that the rich should share with the poor. Basil simply swept aside the usual objections.

“To whom am I unjust when I keep what is mine, asks the rich man. – Tell me, which things are yours? Where did you get them from at the beginning of your life? It is like someone who has a seat in the theatre, and who objects when others also take their places. He claims that he owns what is for the common use of all. So too with the rich. They claim in advance that which is common property and make themselves the owners of it. Moreover, if everyone acquires what they need and leave the excess over for the destitute, then there will be no rich and no poor. Did you not come naked out of your mother’s womb? Are you not going to return naked to the earth? Where did you get your present possessions from? If you say ‘from fate,’ then that makes you an atheist who neither acknowledges your Creator nor gives thanks to your Benefactor. If you acknowledge that they came from God, then tell me the reason why He gave them to you. Is God unjust that He gives the things of life to people unequally? Why are you rich while another is poor? In any case, is it not so that you can receive the reward for good and faithful stewardship, and the other can receive the reward for his patient effort? But you, who grasps at everything in your insatiable greed, do you really think that you are doing nobody injustice by plundering so much? Who is the greedy one? The one who is not satisfied with that which is enough. Who is the plunderer? The one who takes that which belongs to all. Are you greedy? Are you a plunderer? The one who steals clothes off someone’s back is called a thief. Why should we refer to the one who does not clothe the naked, while having the means to do so, as anything else? The bread that you have belongs to the hungry, the clothes that are in your cupboard belong to the naked, the shoes that are rotting in your possession belong to the barefooted, the money that you have buried belongs to the destitute. And so you commit injustice to so many when you could have helped them.”[4]

“Nice words, but money is nicer,” thought the rich in reaction to Basil’s harsh charge. Basil viewed the goods of the earth as a gift of the Creator. God had entrusted their stewardship to a number of people who were intended to share them with others. With this theory of stewardship, Basil went beyond the prevailing and biblically rooted understanding of almsgiving, and laid a new foundation for the Church’s social work. We can see in this a plea for the recognition of what we might call human rights, although Basil also goes further than this. In situating the inequality between rich and poor in God’s ordering of salvation history, so that the former are called to love of their neighbor and the latter to patience, Basil clearly saw that there is no such thing as private ownership in the strict sense. And, there should really be no such categories as rich and poor. This radical approach sounds revolutionary in the face of corruption and excess. But it is an evangelical radicalism that we are meant to strive for nonviolently. This is not so surprising considering that Basil upheld the one same ideal for all Christians. He was realistic enough to realize that not everyone would follow that ideal, but it was lived out among ascetics and in monastic communities. Even Jesus and the scriptures held up certain ideals to which all were invited, but to which not all would respond.[5]

In keeping with the biblical precedent and with the teaching of other Fathers of the Church, Basil emphatically rejected the practice of lending money for interest. He urged the poor not to ask for loans and said that it was better to lose everything than to lose their freedom. While they should obviously try to find a way out of destitution, this should be by their own work, for people are capable of more than ants and bees.[6]

K. Duchatelez, o.praem. Basilius de Grote. Een Evangelische Revolutionair, (Averbode, 1999) 110-112. My translation.

[1] Hom. ‘On detachment…’ (Quod rebus mundanis) 8; Hom. ‘I will pull down my barns’ 4 (PG 31, 556 A and 264 C); Shorter Rule 127 (31, 1168 C) etc. According to Giet (Les idées, pp. 32-33), Basil’s frequent use of the word ‘homodoulos’ characterizes his approach to the equality of persons.

[2] Hom. Ps. 14-a, 6 (PG 29, 261 C – 264 A).

[3] Mor. 47 (PG 31, 768 B).

[4] Hom. ‘I will pull down my barns’ 7 (PG 31, 276 B – 277 A).

[5] With his theory of stewardship, Basil transcended the prevailing understanding of almsgiving and laid a foundation for Christian social concern. See W-H. Hauschild, “Christentum und Eigentum. Zum Problem eines altkirchlichen ‘Sozialismus,’” in Zeitschr. f. Evangel. Ethik 16 (1972) 44; K. Koschorke, Spuren der Alten Liebe. Studien zum Kirchenbegriff des Basilius von Caesarea, (Freiburg, 1991) 81; and Chapter 13, p….

[6] Hom. Ps. 14-b, 1, 2 and 4 (PG 29, 265 AB, 269 AC and 276 AB).

What is the Mark of a Christian?

July 22, 2010

St. Basil the Great

Thus begins a series of questions by St. Basil the Great:

What is the mark of a Christian?

To be born anew through baptism of water and the Spirit.

What is the mark of one born of water?

That he be dead and immovable with regard to all sin, as Christ died once and for all because of sin, as it is written: ‘all we who are baptized in Christ Jesus are baptized in his death. For we are buried together with him by baptism unto death; knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him that the body of sin may be destroyed, to the end that we may serve sin no longer.’ [Rom. 6,3,4,6]

What is the mark of one born of the Spirit?

That he become in the measure granted him that of which he has been born, as it is written: ‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’ [John 3,6]

What is the mark of him who has been born anew?

That he strip off the old man with his deeds and cupidities [excessive desires] and put on the new man, ‘who is renewed unto knowledge, according to the image of him that created him.’[Col. 3,10] as it is written: ‘As many of you as have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ.’[Gal. 3,27]

What is the mark of a Christian?

That he be purified of all defilement of the flesh and of the spirit in the Blood of Christ, perfecting sanctification in the fear of God and the love of Christ, [2 Cor. 7,1] and that he have no blemish nor spot nor any such thing; that he be holy and blameless [Eph. 5,27] and so eat the Body of Christ and drink His Blood; for ‘he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judgment to himself.’ [1 Cor. 11,29]

What is the mark of those who eat the Bread and drink the Cup of Christ?

That they keep in perpetual remembrance Him who died for us and rose again.

What is the mark of those who keep such remembrance?

That they live not for themselves but for Him who died for them and rose again. [2 Cor. 5,15]

What is the mark of a Christian?

That his justice abound in all things more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, according to the rule of the doctrine which has been handed down in the Lord’s Gospel. [Matt. 5,20]

What is the mark of the Christian?

That they love one another as Christ has loved us. [Eph. 5,2]

What is the mark of a Christian?

To set the Lord always in his sight. [Ps.15,8]

What is the mark of a Christian?

To watch daily and hourly and stand prepared in that state of perfection which is pleasing to God, knowing that at what hour he thinks not, the Lord will come. [Luke 12,40]

From Saint Basil the Great, “The Morals,” 80, 22 in Saint Basil. Ascetical Works. Translated by Sister M. Monica Wagner, C.S.C. (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1950), 204-205.

H/T: A Vow of Conversation

Anaphora Prayer of St Basil the Great

March 22, 2010

St. Basil the Great praying over the gifts

In the Orthodox Church, the Liturgy of St Basil the Great replaces the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom on the Sundays of Great Lent. The parts sung by the cantors and people remain the same, but the priest’s prayers are longer and richer. The Anaphora prayer before the consecration of the gifts considers all of salvation history. The text of the first part of the Anaphora is below, taken from the Greek Archdiocese site:


Deacon: Let us stand well. Let us stand in awe. Let us be attentive, that we may present the holy offering in peace.

People: Mercy and peace, a sacrifice of praise.

Priest: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.

People: And with your spirit.

Priest: Let us lift up our hearts.

People: We lift them up to the Lord.

Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord.

People: It is proper and right.

Priest: Master, Lord, God, worshipful Father almighty, it is truly just and right to the majesty of Your holiness to praise You, to hymn You, to bless You, to worship You, to give thanks to You, to glorify You, the only true God, and to offer to You this our spiritual worship with a contrite heart and a humble spirit. For You have given us to know Your truth. Who is worthy to praise Your mighty acts? Or to make known all Your praises? Or tell of all Your wonderful deeds at all times? Master of all things, Lord of heaven and earth, and of every creature visible and invisible, You are seated upon the throne of glory and behold the depths. You are without beginning, invisible, incomprehensible, beyond words, unchangeable. You are the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the great God and Savior of our hope, the image of Your goodness, the true seal of revealing in Himself You, the Father. He is the living Word, the true God, eternal wisdom, life, sanctification, power, and the true light. Through Him the Holy Spirit was manifested, the spirit of truth the gift of Sonship, the pledge of our future inheritance, the first fruits of eternal blessings, the life giving power, the source of sanctification through whom every rational and spiritual creature is made capable of worshiping You and giving You eternal glorification, for all things are subject to You. For You are praised by the angels, archangels, thrones, dominions, principalities, authorities, powers, and the many eyed Cherubim. Round about You stand the Seraphim, one with six wings and the other with six wings; with two they cover their faces; with two they cover their feet; with two they fly, crying out to one another with unceasing voices and everresounding praises:

Priest: Singing the victory hymn, proclaiming, crying out, and saying:

People: Holy, holy, holy, Lord Sabaoth, heaven and earth are filled with Your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna to God in the highest.

Priest: Together with these blessed powers, loving Master we sinners also cry out and say: Truly You are holy and most holy, and there are no bounds to the majesty of Your holiness. You are holy in all Your works, for with righteousness and true judgment You have ordered all things for us. For having made man by taking dust from the earth, and having honored him with Your own image, O God, You placed him in a garden of delight, promising him eternal life and the enjoyment of everlasting blessings in the observance of Your commandments. But when he disobeyed You, the true God who had created him, and was led astray by the deception of the serpent becoming subject to death through his own transgressions, You, O God, in Your righteous judgment, expelled him from paradise into this world, returning him to the earth from which he was taken, yet providing for him the salvation of regeneration in Your Christ. For You did not forever reject Your creature whom You made, O Good One, nor did You forget the work of Your hands, but because of Your tender compassion, You visited him in various ways: You sent forth prophets; You performed mighty works by Your saints who in every generation have pleased You. You spoke to us by the mouth of Your servants the prophets, announcing to us the salvation which was to come; You gave us the law to help us; You appointed angels as guardians. And when the fullness of time had come, You spoke to us through Your Son Himself, through whom You created the ages. He, being the splendor of Your glory and the image of Your being, upholding all things by the word of His power, thought it not robbery to be equal with You, God and Father. But, being God before all ages, He appeared on earth and lived with humankind. Becoming incarnate from a holy Virgin, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, conforming to the body of our lowliness, that He might change us in the likeness of the image of His glory. For, since through man sin came into the world and through sin death, it pleased Your only begotten Son, who is in Your bosom, God and Father, born of a woman, the holy Theotokos and ever virgin Mary; born under the law, to condemn sin in His flesh, so that those who died in Adam may be brought to life in Him, Your Christ. He lived in this world, and gave us precepts of salvation. Releasing us from the delusions of idolatry, He guided us to the sure knowledge of You, the true God and Father. He acquired us for Himself, as His chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. Having cleansed us by water and sanctified us with the Holy Spirit, He gave Himself as ransom to death in which we were held captive, sold under sin. Descending into Hades through the cross, that He might fill all things with Himself, He loosed the bonds of death. He rose on the third day, having opened a path for all flesh to the resurrection from  the dead, since it was not possible that the Author of life would be dominated by corruption. So He became the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep, the first born of the dead, that He might be Himself the first in all things. Ascending into heaven, He sat at the right hand of Your majesty on high and He will come to render to each according to His works. As memorials of His saving passion, He has left us these gifts which we have set forth before You according to His commands. For when He was about to go forth to His voluntary, ever memorable, and life-giving death, on the night on which He was delivered up for the life of the world, He took bread in His holy and pure hands, and presenting it to You, God and Father, and offering thanks, blessing, sanctifying, and breaking it:

Priest: He gave it to His holy disciples and apostles saying: Take, eat, this is my body which is broken for you and for the forgiveness of sins.

People: Amen.

Priest: Likewise, He took the cup of the fruit of vine, and having mingled it, offering thanks, blessing, and sanctifying it.

Priest: He gave it to His holy disciples and apostles saying: Drink of this all of you. This is my blood of the new Covenant, shed for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins.

People: Amen.

Priest: Do this in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this Bread and drink this Cup, you proclaim my death, and you confess my resurrection. Therefore, Master, we also, remembering His saving passion and life giving cross, His three; day burial and resurrection from the dead, His ascension into heaven, and enthronement at Your right hand, God and Father, and His glorious and awesome second coming.

Priest: We offer to You these gifts from Your own gifts in all and for all.

People: We praise You, we bless You, we give thanks to You, and we pray to You, Lord our God.

Priest: Therefore, most holy Master, we also, Your sinful and unworthy servants, whom You have made worthy to serve at Your holy altar, not because of our own righteousness (for we have not done anything good upon the earth), but because of Your mercy and compassion, which You have so richly poured upon us, we dare to approach Your holy altar, and bring forth the symbols of the holy Body and Blood of Your Christ. We pray to You and call upon You, O Holy of Holies, that by the favor of Your goodness, Your Holy Spirit may come upon us and upon the gifts here presented, to bless, sanctify, and make this bread to be the precious Body of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.

(He blesses the holy Bread.)

Deacon: Amen.

Priest: And this cup to be the precious Blood of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.

(He blesses the holy Cup.)

Deacon: Amen.

(He blesses them both.)

Priest: Shed for the life and salvation of the world.

Deacon: Amen. Amen. Amen.

Priest: And unite us all to one another who become partakers of the one Bread and the Cup in the communion of the one Holy Spirit. Grant that none of us may partake of the holy Body and Blood of Your Christ to judgment or condemnation; but, that we may find mercy and grace with all the saints who through the ages have pleased You: forefathers, fathers, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, preachers, evangelists, martyrs, confessors, teachers, and every righteous spirit made perfect in faith.