Saturday, 18 September 2010

September 8 Birth of Our Exceedingly Holy Mistress, She who Gave Birth to God

The first major feast of the ecclesiastical year, which begins on September 1, is the Birth of Our Exceedingly Holy Mistress, She who Gave Birth to God.
The most concise explanation of this feast is found in this hymn, attributed to Sergius, chanted in Vespers of the Feast:
Today God who abides in the heavenly thrones has prepared for himself a holy throne upon the earth.  He who in wisdom established the Heavens has in love for mankind created a heaven with a living, rational soul.  For from a barren root he has made to grow for us a life-bearing plant, his Mother.  O God of the wonders and hope of the hopeless, glory to you!
God who abides in the highest order of angels, who gaze on him through the Word of God, has for the sake of his Incarnation prepared for himself a holy throne upon the earth.  God who with wisdom established the Heavens with their multifarious stars and constellations has in love for mankind stooped to create a new heaven upon the earth, a heaven that will contain his Son, the Word of God.  And that new Heaven has a living, rational soul: that new Heaven is a person like us, Mariam, the daughter of sterile Ann and her husband the blessed Joachim.  The daughter of the sterile woman gives birth in virginity to the Word of God made flesh.  O God of wonders and hope of the hopeless, glory to you, who have loved mankind which remained in despair after the fall of Adam and Eve.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Blog Post 250

We noticed both that we were completing our 5th Anniversary as ‘Orthodox Monk’ and that our next post would be No 250.  So we thought we would take the opportunity to make a few brief ‘looking-back’ remarks.

We have written an average of approximately 1 post a week for 5 years.  The number of words in the collected posts is around 300,000.  That’s a lot of words.

Readers come and go.  Some readers ‘sign up’ for a period of time and then drop the blog, evidently moving on to something else.  That is normal.

Many people come to the blog from a Google search on becoming an Orthodox monk or nun, perhaps after having been divorced.  We are rather surprised at the level of interest in becoming an Orthodox monastic.  We have written specific posts on those subjects and those posts show up in the Google searches so there is no need to repeat the links.  We would like to emphasize, however, that the blog was always conceived not as a running forum that discusses the issues of the day and then moves on, but as a place where we set down for permanent reference our considered thoughts on topics with which this blog is concerned.  We therefore encourage all our readers, if our views interest them, to make the effort to go back to the beginning of the blog and read it in ascending chronological order.  An alternative would be for readers to use the search field at the top of the blog to search it on a topic that interests them.  As readers can see, we are not a fan of ‘tags’ and don’t use them.

Would we do anything over again if we could?  Our biggest mistake has been to engage in private email correspondences.  We should have established a policy from the beginning that emails would be answered only on the blog, with full or partial quotation of the email at our discretion.  Of course if someone sends us an email marked ‘not for publication’, we will respect that—but we will not engage in an email correspondence except to send our email policy.  We have put the email policy in the margin of the blog.

Because this is not a forum, it is not automatic that we will want to discuss your email.  We have to think after prayer that there is reason to.  The same applies to comments.  If you just want to argue, there are a lot of blogs and forums that love ‘vigorous discussion’.  This isn’t one of them.  We also like vigorous discussion but the discussion has to be both literate and substantive from the point of view of how we conceive the blog.

Are we literate?  Yes.  Are we holy?  No.  We are sometimes quite sharp with our correspondents, at the risk of wounding their pride.  There is a fine line between using scorn to bring someone to his senses—sometimes only when you are publicly laughed at do you realize you are wrong—and using scorn out of pride and arrogance.  If we do use scorn it is, we hope, as a rhetorical device.  We would like to think that the underlying tone we have established on the blog is one of Christian charity and courtesy.

All our positions are rationally defended.  Is this a sign of the Holy Spirit’s absence?  We do not claim to have the Holy Spirit except by Baptism and Chrismation but we also do not think that the presence of the Holy Spirit is necessarily characterized by incoherence.  Moreover, sometimes there is a problem when we have to stand up for what we think is right and the other guy or gal disagrees.

Let’s see how the future will go.