Friday, December 03, 2021

Stump the Priest: Dogma

Question: "How do we know whether or not something is dogma if it was not specifically affirmed by an Ecumenical council?"

We have to first consider the question of what we mean by dogma. Usually, in our time, when we speak of dogma we are thinking of formal proclamations of official doctrine, however the word has a wider range of meaning. The word is used by both Philo and Josephus in reference to both philosophical principles and imperial decrees (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 2:231). St. Basil the Great used it with reference to the internal teachings of the Church, in contrast with the public preaching of the Church which was intended for those both inside and outside of the Church. He was in a controversy with a group of people who denied that the Holy Spirit was a distinct person of the Godhead, and had argued that this was taught by the doxology: "Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit." His opponents countered that the doxology was not found in Scripture, and so he responded: 

"Of the dogmas and preachings [kerygmas] kept safely in the Church, we have some from written doctrine, and some from tradition handed down to us by the Apostles we have received in mystery, both of which have the same validity and force as regards the piety (i.e., the religion); accordingly, no one gainsays these, at least no one that has any experience at all in ecclesiastical matters. For if we should undertake to discard the unwritten traditions of customs, on the score that they have no great force, we should unwittingly damage the Gospel in vital parts.... (D. Cummings, trans., The Rudder of the Orthodox Catholic Church: The Compilation of the Holy Canons, Saints Nicodemus and Agapius (West Brookfield, MA: The Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1983), p. 853f [emphasis added]).from Canon 91, which is taken from his treatise On the Holy Spirit, 66-67).

St. Basil goes on to cite as examples of the unwritten tradition, the making of the sign of the Cross, baptism by triple immersion, praying while facing east, and the way that the Liturgy is served as examples of unwritten tradition that even the heretics he was arguing with did not dispute.

So while dogma, in the sense of official ecumenical decrees has the advantage of being clearly binding upon all in the Church, St. Basil says that the internal teachings of the Church, which have not, at least as of yet, been the subject of official decrees are none the less authoritative. For example, rejecting the use of Christian icons was always heretical, long before the Seventh Ecumenical Council weighed in on the matter. The only difference is that someone who disputed this prior to that Council might be less culpable for their errors than they would have been after it. And, as a matter of fact, holding a heretical opinion is not necessarily a grave personal sin, if one does so in ignorance -- but it certainly becomes one, if such a person refuses the correction of the Church.

The Seventh Ecumenical Council, when it pronounced a series of anathemas directed at the Iconoclasts, concluded with one final anathema:

"If anyone rejects any ecclesiastical tradition written or unwritten, let him be anathema!" (Richard Price, trans., The Acts of the Second Council of Nicaea (787), vol. 2 (Liverpool, UK: Liverpool University Press, 2018), p. 660).

Obviously, not all traditions would be included here. One often hears that there are big "T" traditions, and small "t" traditions, and depending on how one applies this distinction, it could be useful, but it certainly has been used to discount legitimate Church tradition. Broadly speaking there are four kinds of traditions in the Church (apart from Scripture itself, which is part of Tradition, even though we usually speak of it as being distinct from traditions preserved outside of Scripture): Apostolic Tradition, Ecclesiastical Tradition, traditions which may or may not be true, and local traditions, which are either local practice or local customs. Apostolic Traditions are without doubt binding and authoritative. The same is true for Ecclesiastical Tradition, when we are speaking of Traditions embraced by the whole Church. 

When we refer to local practices or customs with the word "tradition," we are not talking about either Apostolic or Ecclesiastical Tradition. These may have some authority on the local level, but that is another matter. Also, we sometimes might speak of something being "a tradition" in the sense that this is something that has been handed down, but not in a way that we can attribute a great deal of authority to. For example, there is a tradition that St. Joseph of Arimathea and Christ visited English when Christ was a young man. Such a tradition may or may not be true, but no one is required to believe that this tradition is true.

The Greek word for “tradition” is paradosis – which, though translated differently in some Protestant versions of the Bible, is the same word used when referring negatively to the false teachings of the Pharisees (Mark 7:3, 5, 8), and also when referring positively to authoritative Christian teaching (1 Corinthians 11:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:6). The word itself literally means "what is transmitted" or “what is passed on.” The key difference between the traditions of the Pharisees and that of the Church, is the source. Christ made clear what the source of the traditions of the Pharisees was, when He called them "the traditions of men" (Mark 7:8). St. Paul on the other hand, in reference to Christian Tradition states, "I praise you brethren, that you remember me in all things and hold fast to the traditions [paradoseis] just as I delivered [paredoka, a verbal form of paradosis] them to you" (1 Corinthians 11:2). But where did he get these traditions in the first place? "I received from the Lord that which I delivered [paredoka] to you" (1 Corinthians 11:23). This is what the Orthodox Church refers to when it speaks of the Apostolic Tradition – "the Faith once delivered [paradotheise] unto the saints" (Jude 3). Its source is Christ, it was delivered personally by Him to the Apostles through all that He said and did, which if it were all written down, "the world itself could not contain the books that should be written" (John 21:25). The Apostles delivered this knowledge to the entire Church, and the Church, being the repository of this treasure thus became "the pillar and ground of the Truth" (1 Timothy 3:15).

Ecclesiastical Traditions are rooted in Christ's promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church (Matthew 16:18), that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all Truth (John 16:13), as well as the power Christ gave to the Apostles to bind and to loose (Matthew 18:18) -- and, of course, we do not believe that any of this was limited to the original apostles, but the apostolic ministry of the Church has continued through their successors. Furthermore, St. Paul tells us that the Church is the Body of Christ, and Christ is the head of the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33), and so we believe that it is impossible that the entire Church could fall into error, or affirm anything to be true which is in fact false. This understanding of the Church is not some late development either, but you find clearly expressed in the Ante-Nicene father, St. Cyprian of Carthage, in his Treatise on the Unity of the Church.

So if we are talking about a teaching that the Church has universally affirmed, either in Councils, or simply by universal acceptance, it is binding on all.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Reader Services through the 25th Sunday after Pentecost

This installment covers the Sundays of Old Calendar November, which on the civil Calendar runs from November 14th through December 13th. I intend to keep these texts posted as long as there are states or English-speaking countries that are still under lockdown due to the Coronavirus.

The Eves

For the Eves of the upcoming Sundays and Feasts, you could ideally do the Vigil. The fixed portions can be downloaded here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/reader_vigil.doc

or viewed in HTML, here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil.htm

For the Rubrics, see: http://www.saintjonah.org/rub/

The variable portions of the service can be downloaded here (all of these would be served on the eve of their respective days). The Sunday services require two files, because these combinations do not repeat annually. In addition to the files linked for the Sundays below, you will need to use the appropriate Katavasia, which for this time period is the Katavasia of the Theotokos and then beginning with the feast of the Entry, it is the Katavasia of Nativity -- the respective Rubrics will tell you which. Also, on Sundays, there are some hymns that are appointed according to which Matins Gospel is read. To find out which one is read, you also need to look at the Rubrics. For those texts, you will find them here: http://www.saintjonah.org/services/matinsgospel.doc Those hymns are usually done at the Exapostilaria and then at the Doxasticon at the Praises.

Also, the texts below do not always have the full canon for the Menaion, but you can find that here:

https://www.ponomar.net/maktabah/MenaionLambertsenNovember2000/index.html (you will need to look up the service according to the Old Calendar (o.s.) date).

For the 21st Sunday after Pentecost / Ss. Cosmas and Damian (November 14th n.s. / November 1st o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/11-01_sscosmas&damian.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone4.doc

For the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost /Feast of the Archangel Michael and All the Bodiless Hosts (November 21st n.s. / November 8th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil_archangelmichael_sun.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone5.doc

For the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost / Martyrs Gurias, Samonas, and Abibus (November 28th n.s. / November 15th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/11-15_mmguriassamonas&abibus.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone6.doc

For the Feast of Entry of the Theotokos (December 4th n.s. / November 21st o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil_entry.doc

For the 24th Sunday after Pentecost / Apostle Philemon and those with him / Afterfeast of the Entry (December 5th n.s. / November 22nd o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/11-22_af_entry&ap_philemon.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone7.doc

For the 25th Sunday after Pentecost / Martyr Paramon (December 12th n.s. / November 29th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/11-29_martyrparamon.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone8.doc

However, if doing Vigil is too much for you at present, you could do Small Compline, and take the canon of each of the above days, and read it immediately after the Creed, and then repeat the Kontakion that is appointed after Ode 6th of the canon after the following Trisagion.

Typika

In place of the Liturgies, you would do Typika:

For the 21st Sunday after Pentecost / Ss. Cosmas and Damian (November 14th n.s. / November 1st o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent21.doc

For the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost /Feast of the Archangel Michael and All the Bodiless Hosts (November 21st n.s. / November 8th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent22.doc

For the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost / Martyrs Gurias, Samonas, and Abibus (November 28th n.s. / November 15th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent23.doc

For the Feast of Entry of the Theotokos (December 4th n.s. / November 21st o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_entry.doc

For the 24th Sunday after Pentecost / Apostle Philemon and those with him / Afterfeast of the Entry (December 5th n.s. / November 22nd o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent24.doc

For the 25th Sunday after Pentecost / Martyr Paramon (December 12th n.s. / November 29th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent25.doc

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Stump the Priest: Zapivka

 

Question: "What is the history behind the tradition of the bread and the wine on the table, to eat and drink after the Eucharist?"

The custom of eating some prosphora and drinking some wine mixed with warm water right after taking communion is called "the zapivka" in the Russian Church. "Zapivka" simply means "washing" or "rinsing," which in this case refers to washing down any remaining particles of the Eucharist.

It is not easy to find much written on the history of this custom, most likely because that is not a question that many people have thought worth exploring. There are many simple actions that we do all of the time in the Church, but unless someone objects to it at some point, or some controversy arises in connection to it, usually we just assume that this is how it is supposed to be.

Most Orthodox sources that mention this practice simply describe it briefly, and state when it is done, but not much else.

In the American context, this is a question that comes up, because the Russian practice is different than what you would typically see in a Greek or Antiochian parish. In those parishes, the laity usually only partake of prosphora after communing (though some parishes and monasteries do something similar to the Russian practice, such as distributing prosphora soaked in wine to the laity).

Interestingly, this is not true for the clergy -- especially for bishops. If you are in a parish with only one priest, he has to consume the remaining Gifts in the chalice, and so he does not do this separately from cleansing the chalice. But when clergy are concelebrating, those who are not going to consume the remaining Gifts, often do partake of wine with warm water, and a piece of prosphora -- and I am told that this is always prepared for bishops.

I am not sure why the practice is different for the laity -- it could be that it simply became common to extend this practice to the laity in Russia. However, I found two sources that stated that this custom goes back to St. John Chrysostom: one modern writer, and one far more ancient, though still many centuries after the time of St. John Chrysostom.

Archpriest Andrei Ukhtomsky, who teaches at the Kiev Theological Academy, states:

"The zapivka after Holy Communion was added during the time of St. John Chrysostom, who, due to a stomach ailment, ate a barley pita on the patriarchal throne. Due to the authority of the saint, such a practice spread further" (A Brief Historical Look at the Liturgy, translated by by Matfey Shaheen, October 29th, 2021 <https://orthochristian.com/130097.html>).

Unfortunately, he does not elaborate on where this tradition is recorded. This might also explain why the custom is more universally followed when it comes to bishops.

However, Nikon of the Black Mountain was a Byzantine monk who wrote a monastic text in the 11th century, called the Tacticon, which became very influential on Russian monasticism, and he wrote:

"It should be known that with respect to collation in church only those who take communion may partake of the collation privately at the sacristy, consisting of a little of the water only or of the wine if it is fitting, and a small piece of blessed bread—but the others not at all—just as the divine [St. John] Chrysostom permitted those partaking of the communion to taste a little something for the sake of a rinse. (Quoted from R. Allison, tr. Black Mountain: Regulations of Nikon of the Black Mountain. In: Byzantine Monastic Foundation Documents: A Complete Translation of the Surviving Founders’ Typika and Testaments. Edited by John Thomas and Angela Constantinides Hero with the assistance of Giles Constable. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, p. 405).  

There may be other sources that shed more light on this (though they likely have not yet been translated into English), but so far, this is all I have seen on the subject.

It should be noted that as Nikon points out, the zapivka is only for those who have taken communion. Those who have not, are given prosphora at the end of the Liturgy when they come up to kiss the Cross. And this prosphora is called "antidoron," which means literally "instead of the gifts," because it was originally only given to those who did not receive communion at this time, so that they could at least have some prosphora as a blessing, though in current practice even those who did receive communion also receive a piece of prosphora at this time.


Monday, October 11, 2021

Reader Services though the 20th Sunday after Pentecost

This installment covers the Sundays of Old Calendar October, which on the civil Calendar runs from October 14th through November 13th. I intend to keep these texts posted as long as there are states or English speaking countries that are still under lockdown due to the Coronavirus.

The Eves

For the Eves of the upcoming Sundays and Feasts, you could ideally do the Vigil. The fixed portions can be downloaded here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/reader_vigil.doc

or viewed in HTML, here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil.htm

For the Rubrics, see: http://www.saintjonah.org/rub/

The variable portions of the service can be downloaded here (all of these would be served on the eve of their respective days). The Sunday services require two files, because these combinations do not repeat annually. In addition to the files linked for the Sundays below, you will need to use the appropriate Katavasia, which for this time period is the Katavasia of the Theotokos -- the respective Rubrics will tell you which. Also, on Sundays, there are some hymns that are appointed according to which Matins Gospel is read. To find out which one is read, you also need to look at the Rubrics. For those texts, you will find them here: http://www.saintjonah.org/services/matinsgospel.doc Those hymns are usually done at the Exapostilaria and then at the Doxasticon at the Praises.

Also, the texts below do not always have the full canon for the Menaion, but you can find that here:

https://www.ponomar.net/maktabah/MenaionLambertsenOctober2000/index.html (you will need to look up the service according to the Old Calendar (o.s.) date).

For the Feast of the Protection: (October 14th n.s. / October 1st o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil_protection.doc

For the 17th Sunday after Pentecost / Hieromartyr Hierotheus, Bishop of Athens (October 17th n.s. / October 4th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/10-04_hmhierotheus.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone8.doc

For the Feast of St. Jonah: (October 20th n.s. / October 7th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil_stjonah.doc

For the 18th Sunday after Pentecost / The Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council (October 24th n.s. / October 11th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/10-08+fathers7thcouncil.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone1.doc

For the 19th Sunday after Pentecost / The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke (October 31st n.s. / October 18th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/10-18_ap_luke.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone2.doc

For the 20th Sunday after Pentecost / Martyrs Marcian and Martyrius the notaries of Constantinople (November 7th n.s. / October 25th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/10-25_mm_marcian&martyrius.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone3.doc

However, if doing Vigil is too much for you at present, you could do Small Compline, and take the canon of each of the above days, and read it immediately after the Creed, and then repeat the Kontakion that is appointed after Ode 6th of  the canon after the following Trisagion.

Typika

In place of the Liturgies, you would do Typika:

For the Feast of the Protection: (October 14th n.s. / October 1st o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_protection.doc

For the 17th Sunday after Pentecost / Hieromartyr Hierotheus, Bishop of Athens (October 17th n.s. / October 4th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent17.doc

For the Feast of St. Jonah: (October 20th n.s. / October 7th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_stjonah.doc

For the 18th Sunday after Pentecost / The Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council (October 24th n.s. / October 11th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent18.doc

For the 19th Sunday after Pentecost / The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke (October 31st n.s. / October 18th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent19.doc

For the 20th Sunday after Pentecost / Martyrs Marcian and Martyrius the notaries of Constantinople (November 7th n.s. / October 25th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent20.doc

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Reader Services though the 16th Sunday after Pentecost

 

Icon for the Indiction, September 1st o.s. / September 14th n.s.

This installment covers the Sundays of Old Calendar September, which on the civil Calendar runs from September 14th through October 13th. I intend to keep these texts posted as long as there are states or English speaking countries that are still under lockdown due to the Coronavirus.

The Eves

For the Eves of the upcoming Sundays and Feasts, you could ideally do the Vigil. The fixed portions can be downloaded here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/reader_vigil.doc

or viewed in HTML, here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil.htm

For the Rubrics, see: http://www.saintjonah.org/rub/

The variable portions of the service can be downloaded here (all of these would be served on the eve of their respective days). The Sunday services require two files, because these combinations do not repeat annually. In addition to the files linked for the Sundays below, you will need to use the appropriate Katavasia, which for this time period is either the Katavasia of the Cross, and the more commonly used Katavasia of the Theotokos -- the respective Rubrics will tell you which. Also, on Sundays, there are some hymns that are appointed according to which Matins Gospel is read. To find out which one is read, you also need to look at the Rubrics. For those texts, you will find them here: http://www.saintjonah.org/services/matinsgospel.doc Those hymns are usually done at the Exapostilaria and then at the Doxasticon at the Praises.

Also, the texts below do not always have the full canon for the Menaion, but you can find that here:

https://www.ponomar.net/maktabah/MenaionLambertsenSeptember2000/index.html (you will need to look up the service according to the Old Calendar (o.s.) date).

For the Feast of the Indiction (Church New Year: September 14th n.s. / September 1st o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil_indiction.doc

For the 13th Sunday after Pentecost / Commemoration of the Miracle of St. Michael the Archangel at Colossae: (September 19th n.s. / September 6th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/9-06_archangelmichael_miracle.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone4.doc

For the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos (September 21st n.s. / September 8th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil_nativity_theotokos.doc

For the 14th Sunday after Pentecost / The Dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (September 26th n.s. / September 13th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/9-13_ff_exaltation&dedication.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone5.doc

For the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 27th n.s. / September 14th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil_exaltation.doc

For the 15th Sunday after Pentecost / GM Eustathius / Afterfeast of the Exaltation (October 3rd n.s. / September 20th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/9-20_af_exaltation_gmeustathius.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone6.doc

For the 16th Sunday after Pentecost / Martyr Callistratus and those with him: (October 10th n.s. / September 27th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/9-27_martyr_callistratus.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone7.doc

However, if doing Vigil is too much for you at present, you could do Small Compline, and take the canon of each of the above days, and read it immediately after the Creed, and then repeat the Kontakion that is appointed after Ode 6th of  the canon after the following Trisagion.

Typika

In place of the Liturgies, you would do Typika:

For the Feast of the Indiction (Church New Year: September 14th n.s. / September 1st o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_indiction.doc

For the 13th Sunday after Pentecost / Commemoration of the Miracle of St. Michael the Archangel at Colossae: (September 19th n.s. / September 6th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent13.doc

For the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos (September 21st n.s. / September 8th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_nativity_theotokos.doc

For the 14th Sunday after Pentecost / The Dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (September 26th n.s. / September 13th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent14.doc

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 27th n.s. / September 14th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_exaltation.doc

For the 15th Sunday after Pentecost / GM Eustathius / Afterfeast of the Exaltation (October 3rd n.s. / September 20th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent15.doc

For the 16th Sunday after Pentecost / Martyr Callistratus and those with him: (October 10th n.s. / September 27th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent16.doc

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Reader Services though the 12th Sunday after Pentecost

This installment covers the Sundays of Old Calendar August, which on the civil Calendar runs from August 14th through September 13th. I intend to keep these texts posted as long as there are states or English speaking countries that are still under lockdown due to the Coronavirus.

The Eves

For the Eves of the upcoming Sundays and Feasts, you could ideally do the Vigil. The fixed portions can be downloaded here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/reader_vigil.doc

or viewed in HTML, here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil.htm

For the Rubrics, see: http://www.saintjonah.org/rub/

The variable portions of the service can be downloaded here (all of these would be served on the eve of their respective days). The Sunday services require two files, because these combinations do not repeat annually. In addition to the files linked for the Sundays below, you will need to use the appropriate Katavasia, which for this time period is either the Katavasia of the Cross, Transfiguration, or Dormition -- the respective Rubrics will tell you which. Also, on Sundays, there are some hymns that are appointed according to which Matins Gospel is read. To find out which one is read, you also need to look at the Rubrics. For those texts, you will find them here: http://www.saintjonah.org/services/matinsgospel.doc Those hymns are usually done at the Exapostilaria and then at the Doxasticon at the Praises.

Also, the texts below do not always have the full canon for the Menaion, but you can find that here:

https://www.ponomar.net/maktabah/MenaionLambertsenAugust2000/index.html (you will need to look up the service according to the Old Calendar (o.s.) date).

For the feast of the Procession of the Cross: (August 14th n.s. / August 1st o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/8-01_procession_saturday_t6.doc

For the 8th Sunday after Pentecost / Translation of the Relics of the Holy Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen (August 15th n.s. / August 2nd o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/8-02_transrelics_ststephen.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone7.doc

For  the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (August 19th n.s. / August 6th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil_transfiguration.doc

For the 9th Sunday after Pentecost / Apostle Matthias / Afterfeast of the Transfiguration (August 22nd n.s. / August 9th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/8-09_ap_matthias_af.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone8.doc

For the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos (August 28th n.s. / August 15th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil_dormition.doc

For the 10th Sunday after Pentecost / Afterfeast of the Dormition / Translation of the Icon Not-made-by-hands (August 29th n.s. / August 16th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/8-16_holynapkin_af.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone1.doc

For the 11th Sunday after Pentecost / The Apodosis of the Dormition (September 5th n.s. / August 23rd o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/8-23_apodosis_dormition.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone2.doc

For the feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist (September 11th n.s. / August 29th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil_beheading.doc

For the 12th Sunday after Pentecost / St. Alexander Nevsky (September 12th n.s. / August 30th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/8-30_stalexander_nevsky.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone3.doc

However, if doing Vigil is too much for you at present, you could do Small Compline, and take the canon of each of the above days, and read it immediately after the Creed, and then repeat the Kontakion that is appointed after Ode 6th of  the canon after the following Trisagion.

Typika

In place of the Liturgies, you would do Typika:

For the feast of the Procession of the Cross: (August 14th n.s. / August 1st o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_procession.doc

For the 8th Sunday after Pentecost / Translation of the Relics of the Holy Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen (August 15th n.s. / August 2nd o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent8.doc

For  the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (August 19th n.s. / August 6th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_transfiguration.doc

For the 9th Sunday after Pentecost / Apostle Matthias / Afterfeast of the Transfiguration (August 22nd n.s. / August 9th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent9.doc

For the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos (August 28th n.s. / August 15th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_dormition.doc

For the 10th Sunday after Pentecost / Afterfeast of the Dormition / Translation of the Icon Not-made-by-hands (August 29th n.s. / August 16th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent10.doc

For the 11th Sunday after Pentecost / The Apodosis of the Dormition (September 5th n.s. / August 23rd o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent11.doc

For the feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist (September 11th n.s. / August 29th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_beheading.doc

For the 12th Sunday after Pentecost / St. Alexander Nevsky (September 12th n.s. / August 30th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent12.doc

Thursday, July 08, 2021

Reader Services for through the 7th Sunday After Pentecost

St. Seraphim of Sarov

This installment covers the Sundays of Old Calendar July, which on the civil Calendar runs from July 14th through August 13th. I intend to keep these texts posted as long as there are states or English speaking countries that are still under lockdown due to the Coronavirus.


The Eves

For the Eves of the upcoming Sundays and Feasts, you could ideally do the Vigil. The fixed portions can be downloaded here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/reader_vigil.doc

or viewed in HTML, here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil.htm

For the Rubrics, see: http://www.saintjonah.org/rub/

The variable portions of the service can be downloaded here (all of these would be served on the eve of their respective days). These services require two files, because these combinations do not repeat annually. In addition to the files linked for the Sundays below, you will need to use the appropriate Katavasia, which for this time period is the Katavasia of the Theotokos. Also, there are some hymns that are appointed according to which Matins Gospel is read. To find out which one is read, you need to look at the Rubrics. For those texts, you will find them here: http://www.saintjonah.org/services/matinsgospel.doc Those hymns are usually done at the Exapostilaria and then at the Doxasticon at the Praises.

Also, the texts below do not always have the full canon for the Menaion, but you can find that here:

https://www.ponomar.net/maktabah/MenaionLambertsenJuly2000/index.html (you will need to look up the service according to the Old Calendar (o.s.) date).

For the 4th Sunday after Pentecost / The Holy New Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth (Sunday, July 18th n.s. / July 5th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/7-05_nmelizabeth_sunday.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone3.doc

For the 5th Sunday after Pentecost / Martyrs Proclus and Hilary / St. Michael of Maleinus (July 25th n.s. / July 12th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/7-12_mm_proclus&hilary&stmichael.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone4.doc

For the 6th Sunday after Pentecost / Holy Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils / St. Seraphim of Sarov (August 1st n.s. / July 19th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/7-19_hf6councils_stseraphim.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone5.doc

For the 7th Sunday after Pentecost / Hieromartyr Hermolaus and those with him (August 8th n.s. / July 26th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/7-26_hm_hermolaus.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone6.doc

However, if doing Vigil is too much for you at present, you could do Small Compline, and take the canon of each of the above days, and read it immediately after the Creed, and then repeat the Kontakion that is appointed after Ode 6th of  the canon after the following Trisagion.


Typika

In place of the Liturgies, you would do Typika:

For the 4th Sunday after Pentecost / The Holy New Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth (Sunday, July 18th n.s. / July 5th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent4.doc

For the 5th Sunday after Pentecost / Martyrs Proclus and Hilary / St. Michael of Maleinus (July 25th n.s. / July 12th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent5.doc

For the 6th Sunday after Pentecost / Holy Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils / St. Seraphim of Sarov (August 1st n.s. / July 19th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent6.doc

For the 7th Sunday after Pentecost / Hieromartyr Hermolaus and those with him (August 8th n.s. / July 26th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent7.doc

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Reader Services through the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul

This installment covers the Sundays and Feasts of Old Calendar June, which on the civil Calendar runs from June 14th through July 13th. I intend to keep these texts posted as long as there are states or English speaking countries that are still under lockdown due to the Coronavirus.

The Eves

For the Eves of the upcoming Sundays and Feasts, you could ideally do the Vigil. The fixed portions can be downloaded here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/reader_vigil.doc

or viewed in HTML, here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil.htm

For the Rubrics, see: http://www.saintjonah.org/rub/

The variable portions of the service can be downloaded here (all of these would be served on the eve of their respective days). During this period service variables for the Vigils are all found in one file, with exception of the final Sunday.

For the Sunday of the Pentecost (June 20th n.s. / June 7th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil_pentecost.doc 

For the Sunday of All Saints (June 27th n.s. / June 14th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pent1.doc 

For the Saturday of St. John of Shanghai (July 3rd n.s. / June 20th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/stjohnofshanghai_t8.doc 

For the Sunday of All Saints of Russia (July 4th n.s. / June 21st o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pent2.doc 

For the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (July 7th n.s. / June 24th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil_nativity_forerunner.doc 

For the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost / Translation of the Relics of Ss. Cyrus and John (July 11th n.s. / June 28th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/6-28_sscyrus&john.doc 

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone2.doc

For the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul (July 12th n.s. / June 29th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil_sspeter&paul.doc 

Typika

In place of the Liturgies, you would do Typika:

For the Sunday of the Pentecost (June 20th n.s. / June 7th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pentecost.doc 

For the Sunday of All Saints (June 27th n.s. / June 14th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent1.doc 

For the Saturday of St. John of Shanghai (July 3rd n.s. / June 20th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_stjohnofshanghai_t8.doc 

For the Sunday of All Saints of Russia (July 4th n.s. / June 21st o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent2.doc 

For the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (July 7th n.s. / June 24th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_nativity_forerunner.doc 

For the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost / Translation of the Relics of Ss. Cyrus and John (July 11th n.s. / June 28th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent3.doc 

For the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul (July 12th n.s. / June 29th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_sspeter&paul.doc 

Friday, June 04, 2021

Review: The Eastern Orthodox Bible, New Testament


Over the past couple of years, I have often been asked my opinion about the Eastern Orthodox Bible, published by Newrome Press, and so I purchased a copy of their "portable" edition, and read my way through it. So my comments are about this edition specifically, but while other editions may not have some of the same issues in terms of font size, or typos, my comments about the translation itself would generally apply to all current editions. To better understand the issues involved in translations of the Bible, I would recommend reading my article An Orthodox Look at English Translations of the Bible.

In terms of the quality of the book itself, it is beautifully printed. I personally do not like the zipper on the cover (which is especially a problem with the ribbon markers), but the imitation leather cover is attractive, does not look or feel cheap, and it seems like it should hold up very well over time. The text is gold leafed, and the text itself is beautiful, as is the artwork. The paper is high quality. The font is far too small, in my opinion. The main body of the text is in 7 to 7.5 point font, which is small, but at least legible. The footnotes are in 6 point font, and are very hard to read without a magnifying glass.

Unlike most modern English translations of the New Testament, there is not a problem with the choice of the base text that is behind this translation. The text is translated from the Patriarchal Greek Text, which generally (though not always) coincides with the text behind the King James Version, and the New King James Version (which you would find in the Orthodox Study Bible), and so the base text does adhere to the textual tradition of the Church. 

The translation is generally not in what I would describe as beautiful English, and so I would not recommend it for liturgical use, for that reason alone. However, a contemporary English translation, that is well done and accurate could be very helpful for private study. In its present form, however, this translation has a number of problems, and here are some specific examples: 

In the introduction to the text, there is a section that explains the use of  abbreviations and codes, and this table begins with two kinds of brackets, the first kind is square brackets "[ ]" for words which are not literally found in the Greek, but which are added to the text for clarity. In the King James Version, these kinds of words are put into italics. Then there are curly brackets "{ }" which are used for words that are included for theological clarity -- but it states that these words should not be read aloud in the public reading of Scripture. There are two problems with this. One is that  because the text is so small, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between these two kinds of brackets in the Portable edition. Secondly, most people don't pay close attention to the introduction to a Bible, and so most people will assume that these words are part of the text and intended to be read aloud. And this becomes a particular problem, for example, with John 1:1, which the EOB translates as: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was {what} God {was}." I am not sure why these bracketed words were thought to be useful here, but it would have been far better to have put some comments into a footnote to explain what was going on with the Greek text (and you can see commentary on this translational question in the footnotes the NET Bible provides for John 1:1), because, if the intention here is that when this text is read aloud, that it be read as "and the Word was God,"  that is what the main body of the text should actually read.

Throughout the text, you find certain Old Testament names listed with two forms, for example,  you find "Isaias (Isaiah)," and "Elias (Elijah)," but for some reason they use "Jeremiah" rather than "Jeremias," and "Elisha," rather than "Eliseus." I think it makes the most sense to consistently use the form of a name that is most commonly used in English, and so even though in the New Testament the King James uses  "Isaias," "Elias," "Jeremias" (though it also uses "Jeremy"), and "Eliseus," I think it is far less confusing to use the forms the King James Version uses in the Old Testament, which are clearly the most common forms used today in English for these Old Testament persons (the KJV did this differently in the New Testament because the underlying text in the New Testament is Greek, and so they use a transliteration of the name as it occurs in Greek). But in any case, a translation should pick which form of the name they are going to go with, and then just use that one form. Putting two forms into the text is distracting.

The EOB consistently translates the word "proskyneō (προσκυνέω)" as "express adoration," and "latreuō" (λατρεύω)" as "offer divine service." The translators are trying make a clear distinction between these two words, because proskynesis refers to showing reverence... and literally refers to bowing. This can be in reference to God, but it can also be in reference to people, or icons. Latria literally means "service," and specifically refers to the worship that is due to God alone. The problem with these translations is that they make for clunky translations. For example, you have Christ speaking to the Samaritan woman:
"Woman, believe me, a time is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you express adoration to the Father. You express adoration to what you do not know. We express adoration to what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will express adoration to the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such [people] to express adoration to him. God is a spirit, and those who express adoration to him must express adoration in spirit and truth” (John 4:21-24).
If one was trying to avoid translating proskynesis as "worship," it would generally be better to use the word "bow" or "reverence," but often "worship" is the only thing that really works in English, and this passage is clearly a case in point. In our Protestant culture, it is common today to use the word "worship" exclusively with reference to God, but this is not historically true, and I think it is often better to use the word "worship" and simply educate people better on what the word actually means. For example, in the services we often hear "O come let us worship..." "O come let us us express adoration..." would not do at all.

Furthermore, the word "adoration" has often been used to refer to the worship due only to God, and so this choice of translation is more likely to confuse people, then to illuminate the question. For more on the meaning of the words proskynesis, latria, and the Hebrew word hishtahawa (which has a meaning which closely parallels proskyneo), see The Icon FAQ, and Old Testament Exegesis on the Hebrew Terms for Prostration and Worship).

Another odd quirk in the EOB is that in the Sermon on the Mount, where we find the Lord's prayer, they shift into traditional English, and have it as: 
"Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we also forgive our those who trespass against us [sic]. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. <For thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory, now and unto ages of ages. Amen.>"
Then in a footnote, you find: 
"EOB Translation: "Our Father in heaven, may your name be sanctified. May your Kingdom come. May your will be done on earth as it is [done] in heaven. Give us this day our sustaining bread and forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors. Do not bring us o a period of trial, but deliver us from the evil one. <For yours is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory, now and unto the ages of ages. Amen.>"
This is odd on a number of levels. If the translator makes the decision to go with contemporary English, it is odd to switch back to traditional English simply because this prayer is used Liturgically. There are other parts of the Gospels that we use liturgically (aside from reading the Gospel lectionary readings), and this is not done (e.g. in the Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55). And curiously, when the Lord's Prayer occurs in Luke 11:2-4, contemporary English is used.

The decision to consistently translate the word "presbyteros" as "presbyter," even when it is in reference to Jewish elders, and so you end up with texts like this:
"In the morning, all the chief priests and the presbyters of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death..." (Matthew 27:1).
Since in English, the word "presbyter" is used exclusively in reference to Christian clergy, this choice makes little sense.

Between Matthew 27:31, and Matthew 27:32, there is a section header, which apparently was meant to be in the margin, that somehow found its way into the body of the text.

In the account of the rich young ruler, in Mar 10:21, instead of translating it as: "Then Jesus beholding him loved him," the EOB reads "Jesus look at him and felt love for him." The problem with this translation is that not only is it exceptionally awkward, there is nothing in the Greek that speaks of how Christ "felt." It just says that he loved him, and the word for love that is used here is a verbal form of the word "agape," which is not at all about feelings or emotions.

Rather than the more familiar "...when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" in Luke 18:8, the EOB reads "...when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the land?" In a footnote, "on the earth" is provided as an alternative translation, but it is hard to imagine how finding "faith on the land" was considered to be an improvement. There is no subtly in the Greek that is being brought out here, just a very strange way of expressing the same idea.

Because the translator seems to favor translating "psyche (ψυχή)" as "life," whenever possible, rather than "soul," instead of the familiar words of Christ with regard to those facing persecutions: "In your patience possess ye your souls" (Luke 21:19), the EOB translates it as "By your endurance acquire your lives." This is not only an unnecessary choice, in the context, it is clearly a bad choice, because when facing persecution, preserving your soul and preserving you life are two very different questions, and often one has to be prepared to give up their life, to save their soul.

The big advantage to a new translation over the King James is supposed to be that it is easier to understand, but compare these two translations of 1 Corinthians 2:11, and ask yourself which one is easier to follow:
KJV: "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God."

EOB: "For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? Likewise, no one truly comprehends things of God except the Spirit of God"
And if we look at some other modern literal translations, we see that the KJV has conveyed the sense of the text far better and more clearly than the EOB:
NET: "For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God."

MEV: "For what man knows the things of a man, except the spirit of man which is in him? Likewise, no one knows the things of God, except the Spirit of God."

NASB: "For who among people knows the thoughts of a person except the spirit of the person that is in him? So also the thoughts of God no one knows, except the Spirit of God."

RSV: "For what person knows a man’s thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."
One of the more famous verses in the Bible is St. Paul's statement: 
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).
However,  the EOB translates it as: 
"Now faith is the personal foundation of things hope for, certainty about thing hat cannot be seen." 
So do any other major translations translate this in a similar way? Not one. There are different ways that this could reasonably be translated, but this is not one of them. The Greek word that the King James translates as "substance," and the EOB translates as "personal foundation" is the word "hypostasis (ὑπόστασις)," but I don't think any patristic interpretation of this passage would support this translation, and every other translation either ops for "substance," "confidence," "reality," or "assurance." Though this term obviously acquired a particular meaning in the context of Trinitarian theology, we cannot read that meaning into this text when neither the context, nor the historical use of the word prior to St. Paul's time supports its. 

Many more examples of quirky, idiosyncratic translation choices could be cited, but of course much of the translation is accurate, and there are some cases in which I would say that he EOB does a better job than most translations of accurately conveying the meaning of the original Greek. But there would need to be a thorough revision of the text before I would recommend anyone consider using it as a primary text for personal study, and it would need a lot more work before it would be suitable for liturgical use. Even so, I think it is worth having for comparison, and often the footnotes, as hard as they are to read, are very insightful. I sincerely hope that a revision of this text is done, because clearly a lot of work has been put into the text, and there is a need for a good, accurate translation of the New Testament that matches the Greek texts the Church has actually used, and is done by, and for, Orthodox Christians.

You may also find these two reviews by R. Grant Jones helpful:

This is a review of the original edition of the EOB New Testament:



And this is a review specifically of the EOB New Testament, portable Edition:

Friday, May 21, 2021

Stump the Priest: Baptism with Water and Baptism with the Holy Spirit

Question: "What is the difference between the Baptism in water and the Baptism by the "Holy Spirit and Fire" in Acts 1:5?"

In Acts 1:5, Christ said: "For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence," which is very similar to what St. John the Baptist said himself:

"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire" (Matthew 3:11, cf. Luke 3:16). 

What St. John Chrysostom points out is that Christ did not say that the Apostles would be baptized with water in the upper room, because they had already been baptized with water unto repentance, but that this did not include the gift of the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit was not yet given. Being baptized with the Holy Spirit is the more essential part of baptism:

"...why does Christ say, “Ye shall be baptized,” when in fact there was no water in the upper room? Because the more essential part of Baptism is the Spirit, through Whom indeed the water has its operation; in the same manner our Lord also is said to be anointed, not that He had ever been anointed with oil, but because He had received the Spirit. Besides, we do in fact find them receiving a baptism with water [and a baptism with the Spirit], and these at different moments. In our case both take place under one act, but then they were divided" (Homily 1 on Acts). 

So in Christian baptism, we are baptized both with water, and with the Holy Spirit, which is why in the Orthodox Church we baptize a person in water, and anoint them with Holy Chrism, all in one service. The baptism of John foreshadowed Christian Baptism, and in Christ's baptism, He was both baptized in water, and affirmed by the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove.

This is made even more plain in Acts 19:1-7, where St. Paul encountered a group of people who had only been baptized with the baptism of St. John:

"And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Spirit since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Spirit. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve."

So in the case of these people, who had received only the shadow of Christian baptism, when they were given the reality which had been foreshadowed, they then received the Holy Spirit, which is the baptism of fire St. John the Baptist and Christ spoke of.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Stump the Priest: Tradition?


Question: "What's the working definition of "tradition" as far as the Church is concerned?" 

The English word "tradition" comes from the Latin word "traditio," which corresponds closely with the Greek word we find in the New Testament, "paradosis". The word itself literally means "what is transmitted." It is the same word used when referring negatively to the false teachings of the Pharisees (e.g. Mark 7:3), and also when referring to authoritative Christian teaching (1 Corinthians 11:2, 2 Thessalonians 2:15). So what makes the traditions of the Pharisees false and that of the Church true? The source! Christ made clear what was the source of the traditions of the Pharisees when He called them "the traditions of men" (Mark 7:8). Saint Paul on the other hand, in reference to Christian Tradition states, "I praise you brethren, that you remember me in all things and hold fast to the traditions [paradoseis] just as I delivered [paredoka, a verbal form of paradosis] them to you" (1 Corinthians 11:2), but where did he get these traditions in the first place? "I received from the Lord that which I delivered [paredoka] to you" (1 Corinthians 11:23). This is what the Orthodox Church refers to when it speaks of the Apostolic Tradition — "the Faith once delivered [paradotheise] unto the saints" (Jude 3). Its source is Christ, it was delivered personally by Him to the Apostles through all that He said and did, which if it all were all written down, "the world itself could not contain the books that should be written" (John 21:25). The Apostles delivered this knowledge to the entire Church, and the Church, being the repository of this treasure thus became "the pillar and ground of the Truth" (1 Timothy 3:15).

Within the Church, we use the word "tradition" in a number of senses. Though we often speak of Scripture and Tradition as being two different things, there is a very real sense in Which Scripture is also Tradition. Much of Scripture existed in oral form before it was written down, and in some cases the gaps or hundreds and even thousands of years -- and so prior to being written down, these were oral traditions. Furthermore, Tradition has passed on what should be recognized as Scripture, Tradition has passed on the meaning of Scripture, and Tradition has in fact passed on the very text of the Scripture.

After Scripture, Apostolic Tradition is without doubt the highest form of Scripture, and it is from Apostolic Tradition that we derive the core of our liturgical and canonical practices, and even such things as making the sign of the Cross, facing east at prayer, and baptism by triple immersion, as St. Basil the Great points out in his treatise On the Holy Spirit, Chapter 27.

There are also what we could call Ecclesistical Traditions, which are not directly based on Apostolic Tradition, but which have been affirmed by the universal Church, and so are no less trustworthy. Such Traditions would include the canons and decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, as well as the canons of local councils and Fathers of the Church that have been affirmed by the Ecumenical Councils. This would also include universally received Liturgical Traditions.

Then there are what you could call local traditions -- and here we are getting into traditions that could also be categorized as "customs." For example, in the Russian Church, it is the tradition to kiss the chalice after you receive Holy Communion. In the Greek Church, they do not kiss the chalice. Both of these practices are motivated by a common piety regarding the Eucharist, but are expressed in opposite  ways. Neither custom is superior to the other, but when in Rome, one should do as the Romans do, and in the context in which one custom prevails or the other, one should respect that practice. But clearly, we are not talking about infallible traditions of the universal Church.

There is a popular distinction that is sometimes made between "big T" traditions" and "little t" traditions. I think this distinction is not far off, so long as one is careful about what they label as "big T" or "little t" traditions. I personally don't use this distinction, because I have too often seen people try to dismiss universally received traditions as "little t" traditions. 

Another important distinction that should be understood is that there is a big difference between saying "The Tradition of the Church is..." and "There is a tradition...." For example the Tradition of the Church teaches us that we should baptize by a triple immersion, and that is not something that you can either take or leave. There is a tradition that Christ travelled to England as a boy, which may or may not be true. 

So a tradition can either be a good and binding tradition, a bad and erroneous tradition, or a good local custom, but with a relative authority. The key questions are, what kind of tradition are we speaking about, what is its origins, and how universally received is the tradition in question? But when we are speaking of Apostolic Tradition, or Traditions which have been universally received, these are Traditions that we are to hold fast to, just as St. Paul tells us (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

See Also: Stump the Priest: Are Ecumenical Councils Infallible?

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Reader Services through the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council


This installment covers the Sundays and Feasts of Old Calendar May, which on the civil Calendar runs from May 14th through June 13th. I intend to keep these texts posted as long as there are states or English speaking countries that are still under lockdown due to the Coronavirus.

The Eves

For the Eves of the upcoming Sundays and Feasts, you could ideally do the Vigil. The fixed portions can be downloaded here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/reader_vigil.doc

or viewed in HTML, here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil.htm

For the Rubrics, see: http://www.saintjonah.org/rub/

The variable portions of the service can be downloaded here (all of these would be served on the eve of their respective days). During this period service variables for the Vigils are all found in one file.

For the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearers (May 16th n.s. / May 3rd o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pascha2.doc 

For the Sunday of the Paralytic (May 23rd n.s. / May 10th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pascha3.doc 

For Mid-Pentecost (May 26th n.s. / May 13th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/midpentecost.doc 

For the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman (May 30th n.s. / May 17th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pascha4.doc 

For the Sunday of the Blind Man (June 6th n.s. / May 24th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pascha5.doc 

For the Apodosis of Pascha (June 9th n.s. / May 27th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pascha_apodosis.doc 

For the Ascension of the Lord (June 10th n.s. / May 28th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil_ascension.doc 

For the Sunday of the Holy Fathers (June 13th n.s. / May 31st o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pascha6.doc 


Typika

In place of the Liturgies, you would do Typika:

For the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearers (May 16th n.s. / May 3rd o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pascha2.doc 

For the Sunday of the Paralytic (May 23rd n.s. / May 10th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pascha3.doc 

For Mid-Pentecost (May 26th n.s. / May 13th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_midpentecost.doc 

For the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman (May 30th n.s. / May 17th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pascha4.doc 

For the Sunday of the Blind Man (June 6th n.s. / May 24th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pascha5.doc 

For the Apodosis of Pascha (June 9th n.s. / May 27th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_apodosisofpascha.doc 

For the Ascension of the Lord (June 10th n.s. / May 28th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_ascension.doc 

For the Sunday of the Holy Fathers (June 13th n.s. / May 31st o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pascha6.doc 


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Using the Fear of Epidemics to Shut Down Churches

Having watched how parish churches have been shut down around the world on the basis of the Coronavirus, I had thought prior to reading the following that there must be a bunch of old Soviets kicking themselves that they hadn't thought of it first. But the fact of the matter is, they not only thought of it... they did it. I recently read the book "Red Priests," which is a book about the schismatic "Living Church," and the use that the Soviets made of them to try to undermine the real Russian Church, and I found this quote, which was speaking about various strategies the Soviets were using during the 1930's to try to eradicate the Church:

"Parish churches were often closed when they refused to register clergy or because of the threat of "epidemics," that is, on the pretense of preventing the spread of disease by parishioners who gathered together for worship" (Edward Roslof, "Red Priests: Renovationism, Russian Orthodoxy, and Revolution, 1905-1946 (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2002), p. 186 [Emphasis added].

History may not repeat exactly, but it certainly does rhyme. 

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Reader Services through St. Thomas Sunday

This installment covers the Sundays and Feasts of Old Calendar April, which on the civil Calendar runs from April 14th through May 13th. I intend to keep these texts posted as long as there are states or English speaking countries that are still under lockdown due to the Coronavirus.

The Eves

For the Eves of the upcoming Sundays and Feasts, you could ideally do the Vigil. The fixed portions can be downloaded here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/reader_vigil.doc

or viewed in HTML, here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil.htm

For the Rubrics, see: http://www.saintjonah.org/rub/

The variable portions of the service can be downloaded here (all of these would be served on the eve of their respective days). The Sunday services prior to Pascha require two files, because these combinations do not repeat annually. Beginning with Pascha, all the variable material is included in one file. On Sundays, there are some hymns that are appointed according to which Matins Gospel is read. To find out which one is read, you also need to look at the Rubrics. For those texts, you will find them here: http://www.saintjonah.org/services/matinsgospel.doc Those hymns are usually done at the Exapostilaria and then at the Doxasticon at the Praises.

For  the Great Canon on Thursday, for those who are not use to doing services, I would recommend that you use the text of Small Compline: http://www.saintjonah.org/services/compline.htm and then, right after the Creed, you would do the Great Canon. This text has the text has the text for the Great Canon on the 5th week of Lent, beginning on page 42:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/greatcanon_sts.pdf

For the Fifth Friday of Great Lent, we do the service of the Akathist Hymn. For those not use to doing services, I would recommend using this text, which follows the more simple Greek order of service, but is arranged as a Reader Service:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/smallcompline_akathist.doc

For the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt (April 18th n.s. / April 5th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/lent5.doc 

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone4.doc

Beginning with Lazarus Saturday (April 24th n.s. / April 11th o.s.) through Pascha (May 2nd n.s. / April 19th o.s.), you will find all of the services laid out as reader services here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/holyweek_index_rs.htm

For St. Thomas Sunday (May 9th n.s. / April 26th o.s.)

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pascha1.doc 

Or alternatively, you could do Small Compline with the canon:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/smallcompline_stthomas.doc 


Typika

In place of the Liturgies, you would do Typika:

For the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt (April 18th n.s. / April 5th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_lent5.doc

Beginning with Lazarus Saturday (April 24th n.s. / April 11th o.s.) through Pascha (May 2nd n.s. / April 19th o.s.), you will find all of the services laid out as reader services here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/holyweek_index_rs.htm

For St. Thomas Sunday (May 9th n.s. / April 26th o.s.)

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pascha1.doc 


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

St. Paisios on Fear of Germs and Holy Things

The following conversation that St. Paisios the Athonite had with one of his spiritual children, which is recorded in Elder Paisios of Mount Athos: Spiritual Counsels III: Spiritual Struggle, is of some interest, especially in the times we currently live in.

I remember also at the Coenobium we had a monk who as a layman had been a police captain. They made him a reader because was educated. He had been in the monastery for years yet was still disgusted by many things. He would not even touch a doorknob! He would try to open a door with his foot, or try to turn the knob with his elbow and then clean his sleeve with alcohol. He would even open the door of the Church with his foot. In his old age, God permitted that his feet developed gangrene, especially the one he use to open the door. I was serving as a nursing aide when he first came to the monastery’s hospital with his foot all bandaged up. The nursing orderly told me to untie it while he went to get some bandages. When I untied it, I gasped. It was covered with little worms. “Go down to the sea to wash it and get rid of the worms, and come to have me change the bandages.” I was at a loss seeing the condition of his foot, the degree of his punishment. The nursing orderly asked me, “Do you know the cause of his afflictions?” “Yes, it’s because he opens the door with his foot,” I told him.

-- And Geronda, did he continue to open the door with his foot?

-- Yes with his foot! And he had grown old as a monk.

-- Didn’t he understand in the end?

-- I don’t know. After that, I went to the monastery of Stomion in Konitsa. I don’t know how he died. But there in the Coenobium on Mount Athos some of the younger monks would eat the food left on the plates of the older monks as a blessing. Thy would gather the leftovers because thy had been blessed. Others would kiss the doorknob touched by the Elders, while the monk who was disgusted by everything would barely touch his moustache to the holy icons when he bowed to reverence them. One can only imagine what his poor moustache had to endure with the rubbing alcohol!

-- Geronda, when something like this happens with sacred things, is it not irreverence?

-- Of course; this is how things start, and then move on to further developments. The same monk reached the point of not kissing the icons because he feared that the monks who reverenced them before him had some illness!

-- In other words, if one is to avoid being disgusted, he must not be fussy or pay attention to such things?

-- People do not see what trash is mixed into the food they put in their mouth! Even if one has some phobia about getting sick, Christ will help if one makes the sign of the cross with faith. Many people who have various illnesses come by my Kalyvi*. Some simple folk who come will cross themselves when they pick up the tin cup I have there to drink some water. Others who are afraid do not touch it. Someone who held an important position in a company recently came to see me. He is so afraid of germs that he had bleached his hands white from frequent washings with disinfectant alcohol. He will even rub  the steering wheel of his automobile with alcohol. I felt sorry for him. Do you know what it is like to hold such an important position and to be like that? I gave him some loukoumi**, and he did not take It because I had touched it. But even if it had still been in the box, he would not have taken it because he would be thinking that someone else must have placed it in the box with his hands in the first place. I took the loukoumi and rubbed it on his shoe and ate it. I did a number things like that in order to help him free himself, even a little, from his feeling of disgust.

Today a young woman came here who was a hypochondriac. She would not receive a blessing when she entered because she was afraid of catching germs. And when she was leaving, after all I had said to help her, she still would not receive a blessing. “I won’t kiss your hand, Geronda, because I’m afraid of catching germs,” she told me. What can you say? Such people make themselves miserable (Elder Paisios of Mount Athos: Spiritual Counsels III: Spiritual Struggle (published in Greece in 1999, and in English, in 2016, by the Holy Monastery “Evangelist John the Theologian”, Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece, pp.51-53).

*A little house.
**Also known as "Turkish delight"... but not by Greeks.