Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Biggest Cover-Up in History

A Protestant friend, who recently watched The Da Vinci Code movie, asked me today:

"Are you sure Mary Magdalene is the wife of Jesus Christ... (long pause) ...and not His mother?"

And we thought all along they knew the Bible better than us!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Gaius Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus

Formally known as...
(Emperor Caesar Flavius Constantine Augustus, the Pious, the Fortunate, the Unconquered)

But better known as...
Emperor Constantine I, Great Sovereign and Equal to the Apostles

The Emperor Constantine has had received considerable bad press in recent years; the most recent being author Dan Brown's allegations that Christ came to be seen as divine only because of Emperor Constantine's politicking at the First Council of Nicaea.

Those unfortunate enough to have come across Jack Chick's tracts may remember a similar fantastic claim about the Emperor Constantine being directly responsible for distorting Christianity by bringing in pagan elements (and effectively creating Roman Catholicism) when he merged it with the cult of Sol Invictus the sun god.

Similar assertions by the Jehovah's Witnesses, Alexander Hislop's The Two Babylons, Rev Bob Jones Sr, Dr Ian Paisley and various anti-Catholic entities have been made. They usually include Constantine being pagan, convening the Council of Nicaea for politcal reasons, being baptised only on his deathbed, wanting to be deified, etc, etc, so on and so forth.

The controversy doesn't have only to do with Constantine's scandalous conduct - murder, treachery, death-bed baptism - but the whole dynamic set in motion by first his Edict of Milan and then his supposed making of Christianity the official religion of the Empire. This decrying of the "Constantinisation" of Christianity has been taken in with Protestants' mother's milk.

A quick search at Wikipedia would reveal the truth almost immediately.

These poor, ill-informed authors of malicious, half-baked claims usually have nothing against the man, though. Emperor Constantine the Great is merely someone point the finger at. It is the Roman Catholic Church with whom they have a vendetta. It is not to be confused with mere disagreement with Roman theology or criticism of the Church's policies. It is clearly a bias agains the Roman Catholic Church.

On this day, let us pause and take another look at his actions.

We admit that when a religion is persecuted, conversions tend to be serious. On the same note, when that very religion is no longer persecuted but even married (so to speak) to the state, its faith becomes less countercultural and morals compromised.

Ask yourselves, would you have lived any different than a Christian during Diocletian's reign? How would you have reacted upon seeing multitudes of fellow believers tortured and executed in the most unimaginable ways? Would you have compromised your beliefs to save the lives of your brothers and sisters?

(no, a colleague disagreeing with you over the Da Vinci Code does not count as persecution)

It was largely through the prayers and witness of Constantine's mother Helena (see picture) that moved him into ending the persecution of Christians. He was not motivated by politics to become Christian (name me one good valid reason that he converted for politics and I'll apologise and recant). Neither was he responsible for making Christianity the state religion. Issuing the Edict of Milan in 313, he merely made Christianity a licit religion of the Roman Empire (i.e. one of many recognised faiths). Christianity became state religion only during the reign of Theodosius the Great (379-395).

Would the Church have enjoyed a golden age in the 4th century if were not due to the end of state persecution? Would works by such spiritual giants like St Athanasius, St John Chrysostom, St Macrina, St Anthony, St John Cassian, St Augustine, St Gregory of Nyssa, St Jerome, St John of Damascus, St Ambrose, St Gregory Nazianzen, St Cyril of Jerusalem, etc have survived till this day? They most certainly would have been lost or destroyed had Constantine not given Christianity the room to flourish.

The First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea which he convened in 325 was no consequence of Emperor Constantine's politicking. It is precisely due to that Council that we have a faith today that connects to the Apostles. More than that, we have a faith that saves.

The First Council of Nicaea

If Arius had accomplished his ends, true Christianity would have completely vanised by the 4th century and we would all be Jehovah's Witnesses or United Pentecostals today. We have to thank the Emperor Constantine, the bishops and clergy of the Church who met at the Council and confirmed the faith of the Apostles.

On this joyous feast day of Ss Constantine and Helena, let us recognise the priveleges we now enjoy because of them.

(originally meant to be posted on May 21st)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Quoting Dante

E'n la sua volontade è nostra pace

(And in His will is our peace)

The Divine Comedy, Paradiso, Canto III, line 85

A Meme

From Norman

A list of things - adds up the total number of things one has done...

1) smoked
2) consumed alcohol
3) slept in the same bed with someone of the opposite sex
4) slept in the same bed with someone of the same sex
5) made out with someone of the opposite sex
6) made out with someone of the same sex
7) had someone in your room of the opposite sex
8) watched porn
9) bought porn
10) done drugs

11) taken pain killers
12) taken someone else's prescription medicine
13) lied to your parents
14) lied to a friend
15) snuck out of the house
16) done something illegal
17) cut yourself
18) hurt someone
19) wished someone to die
20) seen someone die

21) missed curfew
22) stayed out all night
23) eaten a carton of ice cream by yourself
24) been to a therapist
25) been to rehab
26) dyed your hair
27) received a ticket
28) been in a wreck
29) been to a club
30) been to a bar

31) been to a wild party
32) seen the Mardi Gras
34) had a spring break in Florida
35) sniffed anything
36) wore black nail polish
37) wore arm bands
38) wore t-shirts with band names
39) listened to rap
40) own a 50 cent CD

41) dressed gothic
42) dressed prep
43) dressed punk
44) dressed grunge
45) stole something
46) been too drunk to remember anything
47) blacked out
48) fainted
49) had a crush on your neighbor
50) had someone sneak into your room

51) snuck into someone else's room
52) had a crush on someone of the same sex
53) been to a concert
54) dry humped someone
55) been called a slut
56) called someone a slut
57) installed speakers in your car
58) broke a mirror
59) showered at someone of the opposites sex's house
60) brushed your teeth with someone else’s toothbrush

61) consider Mac, Dre, e40 or Mistah Fab your favorite rapper
62) seen an R rated movie in theaters
63) cruised the mall
64) skipped school
65) had an eating disorder
66) had an injury
67) gone to court
68) walked out of a restaurant without paying
69) caught something on fire
70) lied about your age

71) owned an apartment
72) cheated on your boyfriend/girlfriend
73) cheated with someone
74) got in trouble with the police
75) talked to a stranger
76) hugged a stranger
77) kissed a stranger
78) rode in the car with a stranger
79) been sexually harassed
80) been verbally harassed

81) met face to face with someone you met online
82) stayed online for 12 hours straight
83) talked on the phone for more than 6 hours straight
84) watched TV for 12 hours straight
85) been to a fair
86) been called a bad influence
87) cursed
88) prank called someone
89) laid in the bed with someone of the opposite sex
90) cheated on a test

91) cheated on homework
92) held hands with someone of the opposite sex
93) been pushed into a pool
94) played pool
95) watched 5 hours of MTV straight
96) had a crush on someone 10 years older than you
97) had a crush on someone younger than you
98) wear eyeliner
99) skinny dipped
100) laughed at someone who was seriously hurt
TOTAL: 5 - people who know me personally can probably figure out what the 5 are

41/100. Not good. Not good at all...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Orthodox Monk & the Dominican Friar

There's the story of an Orthodox monk who lived next to a scholastic Dominican friar.

One day, after dinner, the friar was examining his fork. In true scholastic fashion, he tried to understand the nature and essence of a fork by stripping it down to bare minimals.

"This has 4 tines... if I remove one, leaving 3, will it still be a fork? YES! It picks up food still!"

"This has 3 tines... if I remove one, will it still be a fork? After all, it still pokes and picks up food..."

Finally, with one tine left, and finding that was the bare minimum he needed, he was excited at his discovery and went next door to the Orthodox monk to share his discovery.

"The essence of a fork is a toothpick; for even a toothpick is able to do what a fork does!"

The Orthodox monk, of course, looks very oddly at the scholastic. He says, "The essence of a fork is that it is here to feed us and sustain us so that we may give glory to God - we're better off glorifying God than to try and pick apart the essence of a fork."

They both went back to their houses thinking, "I don't understand this guy..."

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


I hate to feel like I do
Feeling confused because of you
Something is standing in my way
I can't say what I need to say

I will try to forget you
But it's my heart which won't let me to
I'm thinking of your words
You don't know how much it hurts

do I have to feel this way?
did you take my love away?

You keep tearing me apart
Like you don't have a heart
Our love disappears
My soul kept the falling tears

I want to be with you night and day
But you keep on running away
Love is a pain
It comes and goes, just like the rain

do I have to feel this way?
did you take my love away?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The End!

Слава Богу! Unity! Communion!

The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) has returned into communion with the Moscow Patriarchate after 79 years!

Friday, May 12, 2006

The End...?

Мы, участники IV Всезарубежного Собора, собравшиеся в богоспасаемом граде Сан-Франциско, в благодатном присутствии Одигитрии Русского Зарубежья Курско-Коренной Иконы Божией Матери и святых мощей Святителя Иоанна Шанхайского и Сан-Францисского, в трепетном сознании ответственности, лежащей на нас, в послушании Архипастырю—Христу, во всецелом доверии и любви пастырей и мирян ко своему Первоиерарху, Высокопреосвященнейшему Митрополиту Лавру и Архиерейскому Собору, свидетельствуем, что, как верные чада Святой Церкви, будем преклоняться воле Божией и подчиняться решениям предстоящего Архиерейского Собора.

We, the participants of the IV All-Diaspora Council, having gathered in the God-preserved city of San Francisco, in the blessed presence of the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora, the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, and the holy relics of Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco, in trembling recognition of the duty laid upon us, in obedience to our Archpastor, Christ, with complete trust and love of the pastors and laity to our First Hierarch, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, and the Council of Bishops, attest that as loyal children of the Holy Church, we shall submit to Divine will and obey the decisions of the forthcoming Council of Bishops.

Prayer for Orthodox Unity
O All Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: We Thy faithful children beseech Thee to forgive us the sin of divisiveness, which is rooted in our hearts, our dioceses and land. Implant in our lives the holy vine of unity which only Thou canst bestow on those who have come together in Thy name. Enlighten us with Thy grace so that we may come to the knowledge of Thy truth and move our hearts to respond with trust and total obedience to Thy divine will. Through the intercessions of the God-inspired Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea, who in harmony decreed that there should be but one hierarch in each city serving Thy faithful as a loving father over his children, one shepherd over a united flock, we also praise Thine all holy name, O Father who is without beginning, O Son who is eternal and O Holy Spirit, the life-creator, illuminate the way and guide us all to once again unite Thy Holy Church. Amen.

First Day of the IV All-Diaspora Council

SAN FRANCISCO: May 8th, 2006

The first day of the Council began with Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral, performed by Hieromonk Euthemiy (Logvinov), Prior of St Job Monastery in Munich, along with Deacon Dimitri Temidis of Holy Virgin Protection Church in Nyack, NY. The young and talented PA Fekula, choir director of the Synodal Choir, led the singing.

Eleven ROCOR bishops, headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, were in attendance, as was the honored guest from the Serbian Orthodox Church, His Eminence Metropolitan Amphilohije, and 127 delegates representing the clergy and laity.

Of particular interest are the words of Protopriest Pimen Simon, Rector of the Old Believers' parish of ROCOR in Erie:

My reason for requesting the opportunity to address this conference is because I have constantly noted the ironic parallel between the attempt to accomplish reconciliation between ROCOR and the MP to the attempts to reconcile Old Believers to, how shall I say, 'Niconians.' Every argument I have heard sounds the same as the diatribes between Old Believers and New Ritualists that have gone on now for several centuries. First of all the charges-depending on what side you find yourself:

Old Believers
1. You are heretics
2. You want to absorb and destroy us
3. The Patriarch has no right to claim legitimacy
4. We have retained purity and truth

'New Ritualists'
1. You are schismatics
2. You look for excuses to remain apart
3. Apostolic Succession is intact and personal sin does not destroy Apostolic Succession
4. You have become Pharisaical in your exalted opinion of yourselves

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Who said...

... that reading the Bible without reference to Tradition could get you in trouble?

A man was looking for some guidance from God so he asked God to make his Bible open at the page He wanted him to read. So the man opened his bible randomly and the first verse that his eyes met was 2 Corinthians 13:12, "Greet one another with a holy kiss." A little discouraged he tried again and this time he found himself at 1 Corinthians 14:39 "Do not forbid the use of tongues."

The classic example is the guy who opened to "Judas went out and hanged himself", tried again and found "Go thou and do likewise..."

- from the Holy Whapping Archives

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Degrees of Nutiness: East & West

Upon reflection, it's funny how the clear divisions between strata of 'traditionalists' in East and West are exactly mirrored in their reactions to the Gregorian Calendar (for the Easterns) and the Novus Ordo Mass (for the Westerns). Take the following three strata, where 'X' indicates the Gregorian Calendar or the New Mass, and Y represents the Julian Calendar or the Tridentine Mass;

1) Those who believe the X is equally valid, if perhaps sometimes rather problematic. These people prefer Y over X for historical, cultural and various reasons, but do not see X as heretical.

2) Moderates. These believe X is seriously problematic and has heretical tendecies - Y is the solution to these modern heresies. These believe that while X is not invalid or graceless, they prefer to wall themseleves off, keeping Y and the true uncompromised faith, forming a sort of resistance, hoping for better times.

3) Extremists. These believe X is heretical and invalid and graceless. Those who adopt X have become heretics, outside the True Church, and that grace leaves that jurisdiction. Those who use X may only be saved if they renounce X and join Y, the only place where true believers may be found.

In the West, 1) is represented by the indult traddies, 2) by the SSPX and suchlike vagantes, 3) by the sedevacantists, feenyites, Pius XIIIers, Palmarians.

In the East, 1) is all those on the Old Calendar who maintain communion with Constantinople, 2) is ROCOR and the Cyprianites (Moderate Old Calendarists of Fili) and the Old Calendar jurisdictions of Romania and Bulgaria, 3) by the extreme True Orthodox Church of Greece and suchlike.

Now, isn't that curious? Comments and contributions welcome.

Originally posted by Edward in The Cassock and Cotta

Saturday, May 06, 2006

"The world holds us to be fools; let us hold it to be mad." - St Francis de Sales

The time is coming when people will be seized by manias and will behave like madmen. And if they see anyone acting reasonably, they will rise up against him saying: ‘You are insane’. And they will have accurately said this to him, for he will not be like them.

Abba Antonios

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Love of my Life

Many often ask about my love life. Some believe it to be non-existent, either because of my inability to have one or because I've taken the vow of celibacy (there's some strange connection between piety and celibacy). Yet still others think I'm either gay or bisexual - due of my disgust at pornography and teenaged Singaporean girls in general (though, I really don't see any relation).

I do have a love life. She is old, ancient even. She isn't pretty all the time - but I don't mind, because I love Her; wrinkles, scars and every blemish. She never spurns my advances - in fact, She embraces them with open arms. It is my greatest honour when She invites me to sup with Her at the Royal Banquet, in the presence of the Lamb. She is the Holy Mother Church. May I never cease loving Her.

On a more physical/carnal note, there is indeed a woman whom I love. So filled am I with love for her that her presence alone greatly enamors me. She is one I have took to describing as the 'model Orthodox lady' - and it is only logical that one such as myself would be attracted to her. In addition, she is Slavic, beautiful and has a pretty accent!

Externals aside, she has won both my admiration and respect for the sheer amount of dedication and work she puts into studying and housework. She has a lovely childlike charm that has is sadly lacking in most women of marriageable age today. She is sympathetic and understanding, but can be stern if need be (yes, she has admonished me before). I see in her many qualities that would make a suitable wife and mother, but I do not love her because of these. I love how long-winded she is most of the time, I love how she cuts me off in mid-speech sometimes (bear it mind this is no easy feat), I love the way she is slightly anti-social - yes, these do annoy me at times, but I love her in spite of them.

She is older than I am by a great number of years, but I do not care. Perhaps I have developed an attraction to older women after being repulsed time and time again by girls my age. Perhaps I am a teleiophile. Perhaps I am attracted to maturity - I've long said the most alluring part of a woman is her brain. A beautiful body/face can only last for so long. Whatever the case, Olesya has my love. Should God decide that she reciprocate it, I would be most grateful and honoured.

Message from Trezina Monastery

We also rejoice over the victory of Constantine, or rather the victory of Christ on behalf of Constantine. We greet him in Christ and pray that he never forgets this Pascha, his personal resurrection. This unique day let be the oportunity of new spiritual start for all of us and especially for Constantine. His name has already been written not only in our papers for Holy Proskomidi but also in our hearts.

Archimandrite Spyridon