Posts Tagged 'Patriarch Bartholomew I'

Metro Athens: “We are ascertaining the presence of a common tradition”

From Metro Athens, 6 July 2009, p. 9: (text originally in Greek, translation mine)

Word of unity from the Phanar

The Patriarch of Moscow and of All Russians Kyrill characterized as the most meaningful event of his visit to the Phanar the concelebration yesterday of a Divine Liturgy with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Church of St. George.

“This peaceful visit is the first of a series of visits to the sister local Orthodox Churches,” said Patriarch Kyrill, and stressed that “the visits will comprise a good beginning for the renewal of the brotherly relations in Christ between two great Orthodox Patriarchates of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ.”

One Orthodox Church

The Patriarch of Moscow and of All Russians made a particular reference to the processes which began at the initiative of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in 2008 for dealing with the problems of the Orthodox Churches. “From all our soul we are supporting the call which Your Holiness issued from here last year to the local Orthodox Churches, that we should be conscious of ourselves and function as one Church. This, our interpretation, comprises even our own sincere conviction,” said Patriarch Kyrill, speaking to Patriarch Bartholomew.

“A coordinating organ”

Patriarch Bartholomew on his side reiterated how “the structure of our Church according to Patriarchates and Autocephalous Churches in no wa signifies that we comprise Churches and not a Church.

“The Orthodox Church certainly does not employ primacy of power, but also it does not lack a coordinating organ, not compelling but expressing the unanimity of the local churches. This martyr’s Throne humbly exercises the ministry from the ages and sacred tradition in absolute fidelity to the imperatives of Orthodox Ecclesiology,” he added.

Strong ties

Patriarch Kyrill referred in detail to the great ties of the Church of Moscow with Constantinople. “We are ascertaining the presence of a common tradition, which unbreakably connects the Church of Constantinople with her former daughter, today the sister Church, equal in rank, of Russia,” he noted, and added, “Our common tradition comprises the firm foundation of our common witness to the modern world.”

PULL QUOTE NOT IN BODY OF TEXT: Kyrill: “Despite historical cataclysms, the name of Christ continues to be hallowed in this city.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Warm embrace of two hierarchs

Asia News: Journey begins toward convening of grand pan-Orthodox synod

Perhaps this could be the topic of my West European Studies Masters thesis. From Asia News:

The invitation letters have gone out for the two preparatory meetings that will be held in June and December. Ten topics of discussion. The ecumenical patriarchate has been trying to hold a synod of Orthodox Churches since 1901.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) – With the sending of letters of invitation to all the heads of the Orthodox Churches for the two preparatory meetings for the grand pan-Orthodox synod, scheduled for June and December of this year, Bartholomew has set in motion the decisions made at the recent pan-Orthodox meeting in October, held in Constantinople, and attended by deceased patriarch of Moscow Alexy as his last act in life.

Bartholomew has stepped up the pace for the convening of the grand synod, which has the objective of responding to all of the problems that have built up over the course of centuries, and continue to plague relations among the Orthodox Churches, with extensive repercussions for the dialogue between Orthodox and Catholics as well. The schism of 1054, with all of its grave consequences for the universal Church, also deprived the Orthodox Church of the necessary impetus and ability to be constantly present in the course of history.

In the recent past, a first initiative for the convening of a pan-Orthodox synod was undertaken by Patriarch Ioakim III in 1901. He wanted to smooth over the tensions among the autocephalous Orthodox Churches, in the conviction that only an Orthodox Church engaged in a constant and constructive inner dialogue could face the challenges of the contemporary world and act with one voice and one heart. This initiative did not succeed, in part because the Orthodox Churches, which had recently emerged from
Ottoman rule, were seeking their identity in an exaggerated identification with the nation, and the full breadth of the Christian message was not instilled in their clergy.

After various mishaps, in 1961 a pan-Orthodox conference was convened in Rhodes, with significant pressure from patriarch Athenagoras, for the purpose of preparing an Orthodox synod. This conference was also followed by numerous obstacles, because as theologian Giorgos Tetsetis observes, the local Churches did not have a clear idea of what they wanted from the Synod.

Now, the letters sent for the two preparatory meetings to be held in June, in Cyprus, and in December, in a place to be determined, present the following topics:

  1. The Orthodox diaspora, where the jurisdiction over the Orthodox flock beyond national borders will be defined. According to the canons now in effect, before the growth in the phenomenon of emigration the faithful outside of their home country belong to the ecumenical patriarchate.
  2. The manner of recognizing the status of autocephalous Church.
  3. The manner of recognizing the status of Church autonomy.
  4. Dypticha, meaning the rules of mutual canonical recognition among the Orthodox Churches.
  5. Establishing a common calendar for feasts. For example, some Churches celebrate the Nativity on December 25, others 10 (sic) days later.
  6. Impediments and canonicity of the sacrament of matrimony.
  7. The question of fasting in the contemporary world.
  8. Relationships with the other Christian confessions.
  9. The ecumenical movement.
  10. The contribution of the Orthodox in affirming the Christian ideals of peace, fraternity, and freedom.

The first four questions were the cause of friction in 1993 and 1999 with the patriarch of Moscow, because of participation in the work of the autonomous Estonian Church, with Moscow does not recognize.

“It is time,” says Fr. Tetsetis, a theologian for the ecumenical patriarchate, “that our Church finally realize that it is doing poorly as a whole. The Church needs an open and sincere dialogue. Because it is only then, with its rich tradition as a compass, that it will be able to emerge from its blind alley and together face its existential problems, which are becoming increasingly severe and complicated. It is only then that the importance of the Ecumenical Patriarch’s initiative can be understood.” According to the journalist Aris Viketos, the letter from Bartholomew is being well received in the Orthodox world.

Well, the misunderstanding about the difference between calendars aside, isn’t that interesting. Oh, to be a lay observer in the planning meetings…

Poking my head back up…

…at least for a moment. The thing about blogging is, when you’re doing it, you’re able to do it. When you’re not doing it, it’s hard to get back into it because you feel like you’ve got so much catching up to do.

In brief, I was deliberately keeping blogging on the downlow the first half of April or so while a couple of situations finished playing themselves out, and they did, and everything turned out okay, but then it was Holy Week, and my mom was here, and then it was Finals Week, and then I’ve also been adjusting to a new job, and, and, and…

The other thing is that my new job is significantly less stressful than my old one. By metric tons, even, and for every imaginable reason. Between that and having a break from classes, the decompression rate is astounding. One of the things this has underscored for me is the sheer amount of stress with which I’ve lived for about the last year and a quarter — it’s been a pressure cooker, and not entirely for great, rewarding reasons. There are details on which I’m not going to elaborate here, so let’s just say for the moment that when somebody stops communicating with you, or intentionally communicates poorly, but still makes you responsible for what you would have known had they been communicating with you, and makes that standard operating procedure, there is no longer any reason to stick around — that person has already decided you don’t belong there. You’re not going to win, nor are you going to be able to fix anything.

Anyway, the point is, in decompressing, I have found myself picking up threads of particular projects that have lay fallow for much of the last year. This has been a good and productive thing — although the main one is not something I’m yet ready to discuss here — but it’s also taken time from other things I might have done more readily a month ago. Like blogging.

But here I am now, nonetheless.

I’m in the midst of reading Sunday Matins in the Byzantine Cathedral Rite, the doctoral dissertation of Dr. Alexander Lingas, the founding Artistic Director of Cappella Romana. I don’t have a lot of specific commentary on it just yet because I’m only about a quarter of the way through it, but one thing I will say is that I’m somewhat bemused by the fact that I’m having to read it in the form of a copy ordered from Proquest rather than an actual published book. Amazon.com lists it as having a publication date of 28 June 2008, but it is not yet available for pre-order; on the other hand, it is available for pre-order on Amazon.co.uk. However, if you go to the publisher’s website, it isn’t listed anywhere — neither as a forthcoming release nor anything else. Thing of it is, this has happened before; two years ago it had a publication date listed on Amazon of June 2006, and then right around May the date was yanked. An e-mail to Ashgate generated a reply that publication had been rescheduled to 2008, and here we are, but there’s nothing from Ashgate right now to suggest this is in fact happening. And, so far as I can tell, this has been going on with this particular work, with more than one publisher, for about ten years.

Gotta love academic publishing. I mean, it’s going to be approximately a $100 book, and I suspect that a thousand copies is a fairly optimistic estimate of the print run for this specific of a project, so I’m sure that whoever the publisher ultimately is, they’re not going to pull the trigger until the numbers make the most sense possible, and everything I hear about academic publishing says that, frankly, the numbers suck more often than not.

I’m also reading Bp. Hilarion Alfeyev’s The Spiritual World of St. Isaac the Syrian, and that’s another fascinating case with regard to publishing. It is readily available from its publisher, Cistercian Publications; however, for whatever inexplicable reason, it is not available through Amazon. That’s not all; the current edition really looks like it needed an editor. Capitalizations are extremely inconsistent, for example; a sample sentence tells us that “[t]he christological position ofthe Council of Ephesus was purely alexandrian: it took no account of the antiochene position, and it was precisely the antiochene (and not ‘nestorian’) Christology that was the Christology of the Church of the East” (p22, entire quote sic). Bp. Hilarion is a native Russian speaker, I believe, not a native English speaker, so perhaps that explains it, but one might expect that a native English-speaking editor would normalize these things.

In terms of my own adventures with academic publishing, I submitted my “Sensory Experience and the Women Martyrs of Najran” paper to a particular journal that had a call for papers that seemed appropriate. I got the response on Monday, and it was a bit curious. It wasn’t a “yes,” but it was a “no” that I wasn’t totally sure what to do with, since it wasn’t a form letter rejection (I’m very used to those). Basically they said, “This is really interesting, but in its current form it’s not appropriate for us. If you wanted to make it appropriate for us, here’s what our reviewers suggest.” The letter specifically says, “While we are not asking you to revise and resubmit, we would be happy to look at the paper again, provided you address all of our reviewer comments.”

So, what does this mean? Is this how journals try to let people down easily (“You’ve got a really great personality”), or does this mean it might be worth my time to make the revisions they suggest? If the latter, I’m going to need some help deciphering the editor-ese, so I’ll make dinner for whoever might be interested on that front.

Humorous note: The salutation of the letter was, “Dear Prof. Barrett”. Heh. Uh, no, to say the least.

I will eventually have pictures and a more detailed report regarding Lazarus Saturday’s baptisms and chrismations, but there is a related matter I wish to mention regarding a couple of the people involved, and it’s not completely public knowledge yet. Watch this space.

In other matters… in case you were wondering, no, as it happens, melted wax from a beeswax candle does not improve the functionality of a laptop keyboard. My wife felt compelled to perform this experiment this last Friday, so please don’t think that you need to determine this for yourself. Now, thankfully, Dell laptop keyboards appear to be designed to have things spilled on them and are incredibly easy and inexpensive to replace with no further trouble; Triangle Laptops was a terrific source, and I have no complaints about their pricing or their service. Should this happen to you, that’s the first place I’d look.

There is an effort at All Saints underway to explore ways of “greening the church”; without wishing to get into an argument here and now about whether or not this is a concept with which Orthodox need concern themselves, I’ll pass along that there were a few ideas which immediate came to mind for me:

  1. Commit to burning only olive oil and beeswax (excluding incense) — no paraffin, in other words. Olive oil and beeswax are, first and foremost, the traditional materials to use for candles and lamps in the church, and they have the added benefit of being clean-burning. St. Gregory Palamas Monastery in Ohio, I believe, does this.
  2. Start an herb garden. Given the various liturgical uses of basil, at least, this strikes me as a no-brainer. No reason to spend tons of money on fresh basil for Holy Saturday and house blessings and so on when, for a small fraction of that cost, a church could grow its own. Grow enough and there might be a reason to have a regular presence at the local farmer’s market, which could itself be a form of outreach.
  3. On a completely basic, practical level–have a rain barrel, or two, or three, or however many would be useful to have.

Anybody have any other thoughts?

I will wrap this up for the moment with a plug for the book The Oldways Table. If you’re a Michael Pollan or a Rod Dreher person, you may very well find that this book helps to suggest practical ways that some of their ideas might be put into practice. I’ll have more to say about it later once I’ve tried a few more of its ideas (and more importantly, adapted them into some of my own).

(And yes, I did in fact finish the Patriarch’s book on Lazarus Saturday; I’ve got plenty to say about it, but it can wait. Suffice it to say, for the moment, that I believe his intended audience for the book is not comprised of the Orthodox faithful, but that this does not in and of itself have to mean that the Orthodox faithful are justified in viewing what he says uncharitably.)

Buying books of Bartholomew’s while browsing at Borders

A hearty Christ is risen! to my readers who are on the Gregorian calendar.

Just out of curiosity, yesterday I decided to check out how available Encountering the Mystery might be in a typical bricks-and-mortar chain store. I figured, it’s the day before Western Easter so Christian books will probably be prominently displayed, plus it’s the first Saturday since the book was released. If there was a day they would have it set out for the masses, it would have been yesterday.

Well, John Shelby Spong’s Jesus for the Non-Religious was set out with the books for Easter at my local Borders. The Patriarch of Constantinople got no such love, there being no copies set out in the front half of the store, either among the Christian books for Easter or in the display of new non-fiction. There were, nonetheless, two copies on the shelf back in the “Christianity: Catholic and Orthodox” section. And, actually, the Orthodox pickings were slim, but not totally absent. The following were also in stock:

And then a couple of not specifically Orthodox books but church history books by Orthodox authors, such as The Christian Tradition: The Development of Christian Doctrine, Volume 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600), by Jaroslav Pelikan (and yes, I know he was Lutheran, not Orthodox when he wrote it).

All in all — it’s not anywhere close to the equivalent of a well-stocked parish bookstore, but it could be a lot worse. Like, say, nothing. (No copies of the Orthodox Study Bible, however. It is listed as “on the way” in the digital customer service kiosks. Given you still have to pre-order it on Amazon, my guess is that copies have not yet actually gone out to distributors who are not named Conciliar Press.)

I’m still irked that Spong was out with the Easter books (a real irony, if you think about it) and the Patriarch wasn’t. I guess, if one uses as one’s thesis that part of the point of the Patriarch’s book is to raise awareness (well, generate awareness — you can’t raise what isn’t there) of the Patriarchate’s existence in the West, then this makes the point pretty clear. When an atheist who just happens to have a collar is able to get better display space among the Christian books than the Patriarch of Constantinople, that says something.

I’m two and a half chapters into the Patriarch’s book. I don’t have anything to say quite yet — I want to finish it first. All in good time. I will say only for now that I do not believe the average American who is already Orthodox is his intended audience for the book (although I think there is good that such a person can take from reading it), that it needs to be read through that lens, and therefore, with charity if he doesn’t put everything exactly in the language we would want him to use. But more on that later.

While today was not Easter for my little Orthodox parish, it was nonetheless a special weekend, as our bishop, His Grace Bishop MARK, was with us. More on that later as well.

His All-Holiness’ book

217qkj0zbl_aa180_.jpg Patriarch Bartholomew’s book, Encountering the Mystery: Understanding Orthodox Christianity Today arrived yesterday. Metropolitan Dumbledore… er, Kallistos provides the Foreword; Dr. Dn. John Chryssavgis contributes a rather lengthy biographical essay. I am through the Foreword and will work my way through Dr. Dn. Chryssavigis’ material this evening. Likely this book will serve as my Lenten reading in capacity, probably in conjunction with Oliver Clément’s Conversations with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, which UPS’ website tells me was delivered today.

(Funny story about the Clément book: I saw it at the St. George bookstore after the Triumph of Orthodoxy Vespers on Sunday. It was $15, and noting a fairly substantial — if not downright questionable — markup on a couple of other items, opted to not get it. Upon getting home, I checked the St. Vlad’s Press website, and found that the book was on sale for $3 — $9 after shipping, but still well worth resisting the impulse purchase.)

The first thing that jumps out at me in the Foreword is liberal use of words to which I try to avoid, like “dialogue.” However, the Patriarch of Constantinople using the word “dialogue” somehow seems more appropriate to me than, well, me using it. I will therefore reserve judgment.patriarch_bartholomew.jpg

The second thing that is crystal clear is that part of the point of this book, even if it isn’t the prophetic witness regarding the situation in Turkey that some would have preferred, is to give Americans a reason to care that the Patriarch exists.

I’ll have more to say as I go on, but for now — I am at the very least respectfully intrigued.

(And yes, I think the same can be said of the Patriarch’s appearance that can be said of Met. Kallistos’. Check how I’ve tagged this post, then click on the tag, if you don’t understand what I mean.)


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