Saturday, November 24, 2012

Holy Great Martyr St. Katherine of Alexandria

Today and tomorrow, we celebrate the feast day of my daughter's patron saint, Katherine of Alexandria.

Troparion (Tone 5)
Let us praise the all-lauded and noble bride of Christ,the godly Catherine, the guardian of Sinai and its defense, who is also our support and succour and our help; for with the Holy Spirit's sword she hath silenced brilliantly the clever among the godless; and being crowned as a martyr, she now doth ask great mercy for us all.
Saint Katherine, pray for us.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

More Photos from the Heirarchical Divine Liturgy

Bishop Antoun serving
Tonsuring and elevating Subdeacon Matthew
Vesting Subdeacon Matthew
My first reading
Bishop Antoun with the parish youth

Many thanks to Bridget Akins and Cindy Ralston for the photographs.

St. Matthew the Evangelist

Troparion (Tone 3) 
With zeal, you followed Christ the Master,
who in His goodness, appeared on earth to mankind.
Summoning you from the custom house,
He revealed you as a chosen apostle:
the proclaimer of the Gospel to the whole world!
Therefore, divinely eloquent Matthew,
we honor your precious memory!
Entreat merciful God that He may grant our souls remission of transgressions.

Kontakion (Tone 4) 
Casting aside the bonds of the custom house for the yoke of justice,
you were revealed as an excellent merchant, rich in wisdom from on high.
You proclaimed the word of truth
and roused the souls of the slothful
by writing of the hour of Judgment.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fr. Thomas Hopko Homily At Divine Liturgy - The 17th All American Council of the Orthodox Church in America - Ancient Faith Radio

This homily is outstanding.

Fr. Thomas Hopko Homily At Divine Liturgy - The 17th All American Council of the Orthodox Church in America - Ancient Faith Radio

Chivalry is dead and so are we....

There is an interesting discussion going on at a Lutheran message board I occasionally visit regarding the Koinonia Project in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.  It has spilled over into a discussion of the ordination of women and the subordination of women to men in general.

This is a topic that has always been of some interest to me, because I think most Christians get it wrong in one direction or another.  Some assume that the Biblical statements of St. Paul about the roles of men and women, both in the Church and in the family, are archaic and should be set aside as relics of a bygone era.  Some even consider St. Paul's words to be misogynist.  Others assume that the same Biblical teachings describe a subordination that is one-sided.  The latter can most often be ascribed to men reading St. Paul's words to wives rather than reading what he has to say to husbands, and women reading St. Paul's words to wives without reading what he has to say to husbands.

I am not going to discuss the greater topic of ordination of women, since the Orthodox Church's position on the matter is very clear and I have no quarrel with it.  However, in the discussion of men having authority over women, my friend Pastor William Weedon made this comment:

[T]hink of how a properly brought up man treats a woman (who is not his wife) - well, at least in years gone by in our culture. Does he remain seated on the subway or rise to give her his seat? Why? Does he open the door for her? Why? Does he help her carry up her groceries? Why? What I'm trying to get at is that there was a time in our culture when men were taught to render a special honor to women simply as women that they did not similarly render to their fellow men (though they were taught to also honor the elderly, male or female). The little things were intended in a sense to be training for the harder moments. That the men remained on the Titanic and the women and the children were given the life-boats. That in times of violence, the men did not shelter behind the women, but were taught to rather shelter the women. It's bigger than a husband toward a wife, though that is always the grounding and the first. But it is precisely this non-reciprocal relationship which runs with "under the authority of" - maybe better stated as "under the protection of"? God intended women to have such a shelter, such a protection. Her father, her brother, her husband, even her neighbor. It's a gift built into the created order. I think our society is in so many ways the poorer for having lost it. It wasn't about putting women down; it was about honoring them. And not just those women who happen to be wives. We've all but lost that. 
I find this to be a very profound observation.  Most people I know, regardless of their position on women and men and traditional ordering in the family, still appreciate chivalry.  Why?  Because it is, as Pastor Weedon notes, honorific.  The idea of treating women as treasures is scoffed at by some. Ignored by others. Unfortunately, as Pastor Weedon also notes, we are in large measure losing this practice in our culture.  Not entirely, of course.  But in large measure.  I cannot do much about that since I have 3 girls.  But I intend to do what I can, starting with saving the quote from Pastor Weedon above and showing it to my daughters when they are older, so they will know what their father expects of their future husbands.

I may even be obnoxious enough to show it to whomever my dear girls agree to marry.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Apostle Philip

Troparion (Tone 3) 
Holy Apostle Philip,
entreat the merciful God
to grant our souls forgiveness of transgressions.
Kontakion (Tone 8)
Your disciple, friend and imitator of Your passion,
the God-preaching Philip, proclaimed You to the universe!
By his prayers deliver Your Church from her enemies;
through the Theotokos protect every city, most merciful Christ!

Saint John Chrysostom

Troparion (Tone 8)
Grace shining forth from your lips like a beacon has enlightened the universe.
It has shown to the world the riches of riches poverty;
it has revealed to us the heights of humility.
Teaching us by your words, O Father John Chrysostom,
intercede before the Word, Christ our God, to save our souls!
Kontakion (Tone 6)
Having received divine grace from heaven,
with your mouth you teach all men to worship the Triune God.
All-blest and venerable John Chrysostom,
we worthily praise you, for you are our teacher, revealing things divine!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Heirarchical Divine Liturgy and Tonsure

My family and I were delighted this past weekend to witness our first Heirarchical Divine Liturgy.  Bishop Antoun visited our parish, and it was a joy to have him in our midst and to get to know him better.  As we pray in the Liturgy every week "for our Metropolitan Philip, our Bishop Antoun," this Sunday we had the special distinction of having the bishop in front of us as we sang "many years, Master." Standing in front of the iconostasis in the photo above, from left to right, are myself and Subdeacon Matthew (both awaiting tonsure), Deacon Tikhon, Bishop Antoun, Deacon Ray and Father Andrew. 

Bishop Antoun also met with various parishioners for breakfast and lunch Saturday, with the college students Saturday afternoon, with the children in Sunday School Sunday morning, and with the entire parish for dinner Saturday evening and lunch Sunday afternoon.  It was very kind of him to fill up his weekend with so many activities.  It was of particular interest to me to hear him tell the story at the men's breakfast of the Evangelical Orthodox Church being brought into the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese in the 1980s.  Our parish was formed in 1987 and was a part of this wave of former evangelicals who joined the Orthodox Church.  I was a junior in high school at the time, and a Baptist then, but I have since become aware of the history, having read "Becoming Orthodox" as well as a number of the various testimonials available online.  However, hearing these events from Bishop Antoun, from the perspective of the Church, gave a rather unique facet to the story.  Also of particular interest to me was Bishop Antoun's perspective on the current sociopolitical climate in his home country of Syria.  Bishop Antoun grew up in Damascus, and hearing his thoughts on the situation there, especially as contrasted against what we hear in the American media, was eye opening.  He is a very interesting man, with a very interesting perspective on both the Church and the world.  This is made more interesting still when one considers that this man, an Arabic immigrant to this country, was as he pointed out to us "a United States citizen before most of you were born." 

I was also blessed by His Grace to become a reader in the Church.  Readers hold a clerical, but not liturgical, office in the Church (we do not receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders), and while in the past, their function was more practical (in that many laymen in the early Church could not read, and so their only exposure to the Scriptures were when they were read in Church), in modern times the readers typically chant the prayer offices and read the appointed readings for the day during those offices.  It is the lowest of the minor orders, below subdeacon.  You may read more about Orthodox readers here:

Prayers (and, in the case of our members and clergy, patience) are much appreciated, as I still have much to learn.

Bishop Antoun also blessed our new subdeacon this weekend.  Axios, Subdeacon Matthew! 

All in all, a wonderful weekend.  I am blessed and humbled to be a part of this parish, this Archdiocese, and this Church.