Friday, March 31, 2017

Fifty Athonite cells cease commemoration of Ecumenical Patriarch

According to the Greek site vimaorthodoxias.gr, more than fifty Athonite monastic kalyves and cells have ceased commemoration of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, as reported by a monk of one of these cells. 

These small monastic dwellings have taken this step in response to the “ecumenical course” of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, especially following last June’s “Great and Holy Council” which gathered representatives of ten of the fifteen autocephalous Local Orthodox Churches, producing documents that several Synods, hierarchs, clergy, theologians, and monastics have taken issue with.

As previously reported, prominent theologian Archpriest Theodore Zisis announced on the Sunday of Orthodoxy that he was ceasing commemoration of his local hierarch of Thessaloniki, as had another priest, Fr. Nicholas Manolis. The same day, four Crete priests made the same move, although one has since resumed commemoration. Bishop Longin (Zhara) of Banchensk of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has taken a similar stand, as have a host of clergy of the Moldovan Church and of the Romanian Orthodox Church

Those who have ceased commemoration have not sought to join another or form their own synod, but rather have decided to practice a “walling off” as a form of protest, without committing the grave sin of schism. These hierarchs, monasteries, and fathers appeal to Canon 15 of the First-Second Council held in Constantinople in 861, presided over by St. Photios the Great, which states that if a bishop clearly preaches a heresy previously condemned by either a council or the holy fathers, priests are allowed to cease commemorating him in the Liturgy, and are to face no canonical penalties. 

Objections following Crete have mainly been focused on the text “Relations of the Orthodox Church With the Rest of the Christian World,” which many feel gives, at best, an imprecise understanding of the Orthodox Church as the one and only true Church of Christ, or at best, contradicts this self-understanding. 

Met. Athanasios of Limassol, who did not sign the controversial text, wrote after the council: 

I maintain that giving the title “Church” to heretical or schismatic communities is entirely incorrect from a theological, dogmatic and canonical perspective because the Church of Christ is one, as also stated in Article 1, and we cannot refer to a heretical or schismatic community or group outside the Orthodox Church as “Church”… I humbly maintain that texts of such importance and prestige as those of the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church must be very carefully formulated with theological and canonical precision in order that these ambiguities or untested theological terms do not also give rise to incorrect expressions which could lead to misconceptions and distortions of the correct attitude of the Orthodox Church.
 
Cells and kalyves on Mt. Athos are smaller monastic dwellings that are dependencies of the ruling monasteries. It is also reported that two of these twenty ruling monasteries on Mt. Athos are also considering ceasing commemoration of the patriarch. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Venezuela is now a leftwing dictatorship

Not that there was much doubt about where things were heading, but it's pretty much official now. The so called Supreme Court (stacked with leftists loyal to Dear Leader Maduro) has declared the national legislature "illegitimate" and announced that it will now make all laws for the country or it will pass the legislative power to another entity. Three guesses who that would be. Things have gotten so bad that even Venezuela's neighbors are openly calling Maduro a dictator amidst talk of expelling the country from the Organization of American States.

Mike Pence doesn’t dine alone with other women...

...and people are flipping out.

Bill introduced into Ukrainian parliament to significantly restrict abortion

People’s Deputy of Ukraine Dimitry Golubov has introduced a bill proposing to ban abortions except in cases where the mother’s health is at risk or the conception was a result of rape into the Verkhovna Rada, reports strana.ua

Bill No. 6239 on amendments to some legislative acts of Ukraine regarding restrictions on the artificial interruption of pregnancy (abortion) was registered in the Ukrainian Parliament on Monday, with the text being released on the Rada’s website on Wednesday, March 27.

The legislator has proposed to eliminate the Ukrainian civil code provision that allows for abortions by desire up to the twelfth week of pregnancy. The new proposal would allow abortions only in certain legal circumstances, up to the twenty-second week of pregnancy. 

If the proposed bill is passed, abortions may be carried out by health facilities if the pregnancy poses a direct threat to the life of the mother, if there is evidence of a serious abnormality in the child, or if the conception occurred due to rape. The bill’s author is a member of the parliamentary Committee on Legal Policy and Justice. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Are we entering a golden age of the conspiracy theory?

“I want you all to know that we are fighting the fake news. It’s fake, phoney, fake. A few days ago, I called the fake news the enemy of the people. And they are. They are the enemy of the people …”

Donald Trump’s assault on “terrible, dishonest” journalists (“the lowest form of life”) has become one of the hallmarks of his fledgling administration. But as many have noted, this posturing echoes developments closer to home. It was Michael Gove, of course, who claimed during the Brexit campaign that “people in this country have had enough of experts”.
 
Scott Pruitt, the new chief of the US Environmental Protection Agency, certainly seems comfortable dismissing scientific consensus: “I believe that measuring, with precision, human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do, and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact. So, no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.”

From a certain perspective, this is knockabout political theatre. And a little scepticism is prudent, for sure. Blithely accepting whatever we’re told is clearly unwise. Information can be unreliable; cover-ups do occur. But if we dismiss everything we hear in the media, if we assume that scientists and scholars are untrustworthy, we leave ourselves vulnerable to manipulation, misinformation, and rumour. This makes us wonder: are we entering a golden age of the conspiracy theory?

Read the rest here.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Russian Church to continue adding Western saints to its calendar

At its March 9 session, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church decided to add St. Patrick, the Enlightener of Ireland, St. Alban the Protomartyr of Britain, St. Genevieve of Paris, and twelve other Western saints from the first millennium, before the West departed into heresy, to its official calendar.

As Interfax-Religion reports, the Russian Orthodox Church intends to continue adding such revered Western Church figures to its calendar for annual celebration. Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk stated on the “Church and the World” television program that “This process is not completed. It has only started.”

According to the bishop, St. Patrick and the others were added to the calendar at the request of Russian dioceses in the diaspora which have already been venerating such saints. “There are other Western saints whom I hope will also soon be included in the calendar of our Church,” His Eminence stated.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Some Notable Anniversaries

Pope Constantine became Pope on this date in AD 708. He was among the last of the so called "Byzantine Popes" and would be the last to visit the imperial capital Constantinople until Paul VI.

In 1917, only days following the abdication of the Czar Martyr Nicholas II, the Georgian Orthodox Church unilaterally proclaimed the restoration of its autocephaly.

The great French Roman Catholic Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre reposed on this date in 1991. Whatever else one may say of him, the traditional Roman Rite of the Mass is alive today almost entirely due to his defiance of the modernists in Rome. Memory eternal.

A Tough Team

A local ball team from Indiana circa 1908

On consideration, I think I'd just let them win. I have a bad feeling about their idea of picking off base runners.View the photo full size here.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Pope Francis to proclaim Fatima visionaries saints during Portugal trip

ROME - Two of the visionaries of the Marian apparitions of Fatima - young shepherds Jacinta and Francisco Marto - will be canonized by Pope Francis when he visits the Portuguese shrine in May.

The Vatican announced the pontiff approved the miracle attributed to their intercession on Thursday, the final step necessary before they could be made saints.
Francis had already been scheduled to be in Fatima for a two-day trip from May 12-13.

Italian media reports say he will canonize them at the Mass already scheduled for May 13, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima and the 100th anniversary of the date when the two children - along with their cousin Lúcia Santos - said the Virgin Mary first appeared to them.

Read the rest here.

Poll: Majority of Russians against revival of monarchy (1 in 3 support)

Two-thirds of Russians oppose the revival of Russian monarchy, believing that its historical time has passed, according to recent research from the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion. At the same time, 28% of Russians are not against reviving monarchy in their country, but say they don’t see a worthy candidate at this time, reports Interfax-Religion.

The overwhelming majority of respondents (82%) believe the current republican form of government is more suitable. Smaller towns and villages approved of the current form slightly more, at 84-86%. In specifically choosing between monarchy and a republic, only 11% inclined towards monarchy.

Were the monarchy to be restored, respondents favored looking to public figures and politicians to fill the role (13%), rather than to a Romanov descendant (6%). 70% say that the revival of the monarchy in Russia at this time would be impossible and incorrect.

According to the poll, among those who oppose the autocracy, most are supporters of the Communist party (74%) and elderly Russians (70%). Electorates of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia are more in favor of the monarchy (36%), and younger, 45-59 year-olds (31%).

The poll was conducted March 9-10, with 1,600 people in 138 locations in 46 regions and republics responding. The margin of error is 3.4%.

Discussion about the possibility of reviving the Russian monarchy has started up again after a March TV broadcast in which the head of Crimea Sergei Aksenov said, “We do not need democracy in this form, as it is presented in the Western media… We have our traditional Orthodox values… In my view, today, Russian needs monarchy.”

Source.

So, on the 100th anniversary of the Revolution somewhere near 1 in 3 Russians want the monarchy back. Times are a changin.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Of possible interest

There are several posts now up at Orthodox Ethos, mainly dealing with the recent controversies in Greece over the Creten Event, that may be of interest to readers. Do take a look.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

St. John of Damascus on the Veneration of the Cross

The word “Cross” is foolishness to those that perish, but to us who are saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:23). For he that is spiritual judges all things, but the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit. For it is foolishness to those who do not receive in faith and who do not consider God's goodness and omnipotence, but search out divine things with human and natural reasonings. For all the things that are of God are above nature and reason and conception. For should any one consider how and for what purpose God brought all things out of nothing and into being, and aim at arriving at that by natural reasonings, he fails to comprehend it. For knowledge of this kind belongs to spirits and demons. But if any one, under the guidance of faith, should consider the divine goodness and omnipotence and truth and wisdom and justice, he will find all things smooth and even, and the way straight. But without faith it is impossible to be saved (Hebrews 11:6). For it is by faith that all things, both human and spiritual, are sustained. For without faith neither does the farmer cut his furrow, nor does the merchant commit his life to the raging waves of the sea on a small piece of wood, nor are marriages contracted nor any other step in life taken. By faith we consider that all things were brought out of nothing into being by God's power. And we direct all things, both divine and human, by faith. Further, faith is assent free from all meddlesome inquisitiveness. 

Every action, therefore, and performance of miracles by Christ are most great and divine and marvelous: but the most marvelous of all is His precious Cross. For no other thing has subdued death, expiated the sin of the first parent, despoiled Hades, bestowed the resurrection, granted the power to us of contemning the present and even death itself, prepared the return to our former blessedness, opened the gates of Paradise, given our nature a seat at the right hand of God, and made us the children and heirs of God, save the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. For by the Cross all things have been made right. So many of us, the apostle says, as were baptized into Christ, were baptized into His death Romans 6:3, and as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. Galatians 3:27 Further, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24). Lo! The death of Christ, that is, the Cross, clothed us with the enhypostatic wisdom and power of God. And the power of God is the Word of the Cross, either because God's might, that is, the victory over death, has been revealed to us by it, or because, just as the four extremities of the Cross are held fast and bound together by the bolt in the middle, so also by God's power the height and the depth, the length and the breadth, that is, every creature visible and invisible, is maintained. 

This was given to us as a sign on our forehead, just as the circumcision was given to Israel: for by it we believers are separated and distinguished from unbelievers. This is the shield and weapon against, and trophy over, the devil. This is the seal that the destroyer may not touch you (Exodus 12:23), as says the Scripture. This is the resurrection of those lying in death, the support of the standing, the staff of the weak, the rod of the flock, the safe conduct of the earnest, the perfection of those that press forwards, the salvation of soul and body, the aversion of all things evil, the patron of all things good, the taking away of sin, the plant of resurrection, the tree of eternal life. 

So, then, this same truly precious and august tree, on which Christ has offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sakes, is to be worshipped as sanctified by contact with His holy body and blood; likewise the nails, the spear, the clothes, His sacred tabernacles which are the manger, the cave, Golgotha, which brings salvation, the tomb which gives life, Sion, the chief stronghold of the churches and the like, are to be worshipped. In the words of David, the father of God, We shall go into His tabernacles, we shall worship at the place where His feet stood. And that it is the Cross that is meant is made clear by what follows, Arise, O Lord, into Your Rest. For the resurrection comes after the Cross. For if of those things which we love, house and couch and garment, are to be longed after, how much the rather should we long after that which belonged to God, our Savior, by means of which we are in truth saved. 

Moreover we worship even the image of the precious and life-giving Cross, although made of another tree, not honoring the tree (God forbid) but the image as a symbol of Christ. For He said to His disciples, admonishing them, Then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven Matthew 24:30, meaning the Cross. And so also the angel of the resurrection said to the woman, You seek Jesus of Nazareth which was crucified (Mark 16:6). And the Apostle said, We preach Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23). For there are many Christs and many Jesuses, but One crucified. He does not say speared but crucified. It behooves us, then, to worship the sign of Christ. For wherever the sign may be, there also will He be. But it does not behoove us to worship the material of which the image of the Cross is composed, even though it be gold or precious stones, after it is destroyed, if that should happen. Everything, therefore, that is dedicated to God we worship, conferring the adoration on Him. 

The tree of life which was planted by God in Paradise pre-figured this precious Cross. For since death was by a tree, it was fitting that life and resurrection should be bestowed by a tree. Jacob, when He worshipped the top of Joseph's staff, was the first to image the Cross, and when he blessed his sons with crossed hands (Hebrews 11:21) he made most clearly the sign of the cross. Likewise also did Moses' rod, when it smote the sea in the figure of the cross and saved Israel, while it overwhelmed Pharaoh in the depths; likewise also the hands stretched out crosswise and routing Amalek; and the bitter water made sweet by a tree, and the rock rent and pouring forth streams of water (Numbers 20), and the rod that meant for Aaron the dignity of the high priesthood (Exodus 4): and the serpent lifted in triumph on a tree as though it were dead, the tree bringing salvation to those who in faith saw their enemy dead, just as Christ was nailed to the tree in the flesh of sin which yet knew no sin. The mighty Moses cried, You will see your life hanging on the tree before your eyes, and Isaiah likewise, I have spread out my hands all the day unto a faithless and rebellious people (Isaiah 65:2). But may we who worship this obtain a part in Christ the crucified. Amen. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Tragic Anniversary


Saint/Czar Nicholas II abdicated 100 years ago today setting in motion events leading to a century of brutal repression by Communists both in Russia and around the globe. In some places such as North Korea and Cuba, that repression continues today. Untold millions (some global estimates put the number at near 100 million when including China) were murdered for a variety of reasons, and in some cases for no reason at all. The number of New Martyrs will never be known with any exactness but in Russia alone it is almost certainly in the millions.

Disturbing News from Greece

Fr. Theodore Zisis, of whom I am a huge fan, has ceased to commemorate his bishop over disputes revolving around the Creten Event.

Update: More detailed report from Pravoslavie...

On March 5, the Sunday of Orthodoxy, well-known theologian Archpriest Theodore Zisis announced from the ambo of his church that he was ceasing commemoration of Metropolitan Athimos of Thessaloniki, reports Credo.ru.

After years of involvement in the ecumenical movement, since the 1980s Fr. Theodore has become one of Greece’s strongest and most-trusted outspoken critics of ecumenism. Most recently he has been a vocal critic of the June 2016 Pan-Orthodox Synod on Crete, both before and after its convocation. Critics of the council have mainly focused on the text “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World,” arguing that when the Church is coming together to give voice to its dogmatic self-understanding, it cannot use the term “church” in reference to any other confessions, but must strictly speak of the one Church confessed by the Nicene Creed.

In November, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew called upon Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens to defend the documents produced at the Crete Council and to quell criticism of them, warning that he would break communion with those individuals who vocally criticized the council, after which Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki instructed Fr. Theodore to cease expressing any criticisms of the council.

After a time of prayer and discernment, Fr. Theodore has decided that his conscience will not allow him to be silent about what he sees as a danger to the Church, and thus he has responded by ceasing commemoration of his ruling bishop, stating, that the metropolitan has shown “bareheaded” his alignment with the heresy of ecumenism through his acceptance of the Crete Council and his push for a Church-wide acceptance of it at the Holy Synod meeting of November 23-26, 2016.

In using the term “bareheaded” Fr. Theodore alluded to Canon 15 of the First-Second Council, held in Constantinople in 861 and attended by 318 holy fathers, including St. Photios, the Patriarch of Constantinople, which allows for a priest to cease commemorating a bishop who is “preaching the heresy publicly, and teaching it barehead in church.” The canon notes that this “walling off” is not an act of schism, but is indeed praiseworthy, done in defense of holy Orthodoxy.

Fr. Theodore also stated that the Crete Council cannot be justified as it was neither holy, nor a synod, nor representative of the mind of the fullness of the Church. Then directly citing Canon 15, Fr. Theodore announced that on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, when the Church proclaims its triumph over all soul-destroying heresies, he would cease commemoration of his bishop, as he is unable to commemorate all the great saints who have battled against heresy, while commemorating a bishop he believes has fallen into heresy.

His announcement was met with cheers and applause from the congregation.

Both Fr. Theodore and another Thessaloniki priest, Fr. Nicholas Manolis, who has also ceased commemoration, have been summoned to a spiritual court and face the possibility of being defrocked from the holy priesthood. In his announcement, Fr. Theodore asked Metropolitan Anthimos to defer to Canon 15 of the First-Second Council and to allow Fr. Theodore to continue his work.

Note that among critics of the Crete Council there is disagreement over how to proceed. In January, Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos), one of the most respected bishops and theologians in the Church today, who has offered several weighty critiques of the council, urged others not to cease commemoration of their hierarchs.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Foul Weather

In my hometown of Binghamton NY they were told to brace for between 8-14 inches of snow between last night and tomorrow morning. My sources inform me that they are currently at about 30" and it's still coming down at 2-4 inches per hour.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Igumen Nektary (Morozov): What Makes a Priest Rejoice at Confession


(Speaking of the great champion of Roman Catholic orthodoxy Fr. Z, see the previous thread, confession is one of his favorite subjects.)

What gives you joy when one person after another lines up to take confession? Not when you hear the confession that many call, “on duty”, but when you become a witness to change that’s happened (perhaps even before your very eyes) in a person; when you have become the witness of his struggle, the result of his work on himself and the action of God’s grace that goes with it. This is always experienced as a marvelous miracle—the most important and most necessary of all miracles, the most unbelievable and most saving.

However, it’s not only the miracle that makes you rejoice, but even the more for the person standing before you. He just now stood far from God, was veritably shrouded in a twilight shadow, and in an amazing way happened this turnaround, this conversion and return to the Father; and he is no longer in that deathly shadow, but in the light that illumines him and you together.

A person can repent of the most terrible sins, the most barbaric evil-doing; his tale may be bitter and worthy of tears. But if an inner change occurs, that very “metanoia”, that is, a change of mind, or more precisely, of the entire human personality, there is no feeling of weariness. To the contrary: the soul becomes so light, like after a thunderstorm when the thunder claps and the lightning strikes, and the water pours down to cleanse and refresh the poor, sinful earth.

Usually when you hear another’s confession or when you yourself confess, you think, “For what does the Lord love us so much?! No, of course He doesn’t love us for something, but in spite of everything…” And here something reveals itself to you... It’s the beauty of the human soul that words cannot express—wondrous, primordial, hidden usually by the deformity of the passions, the wounds of vice, the scabs of sins. It reveals itself—and you understand at last why the Creator loves His creation: As St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov) says, in a drop of dew, in the human soul is reflected the light of the Sun, the light of the Divinity, and you admire it in a moment, giving thanks for this mercy and gift.

And more… you rejoice because you feel that you are not standing there in vain in your priest’s stole before the analogion with the Gospels and Cross; nor is your tiny labor in vain or futile, and there is some benefit from your service, your prayer, your words, or at least from your attention and inner sympathy. You are only a witness, and not the performer (there is only one true Performer!), but how good it is that this witness is not fruitless!

And, of course in order to feel and experience all this it is not necessary to see another Mary of Egypt turning from a harlot into a great saint, or Abba Moses the Ethiopian, a murdering thief who once brought fear to all but later became the humblest of monks. You don’t necessarily have to hear a confession filled with dramatic details, “unusual” or “out of the ordinary”. There may not be anything particular to its content. The main thing is that very feeling of change spoken of above. The main thing is the feeling that the person is truly laboring, and the Lord accepts and blesses that labor. And that painful, by no means swift, modest and yet infinitely glorious—ascent to the heights…

Source.

Fr. Z on the Synodikon of Orthodoxy and the Great Anathemas

For the Orthodox, Sunday 5 March was the Sunday of Orthodoxy.   They had solemn proclamations of “ANATHEMA” against heretics.   It is very festive.  I envy them conviction and this solemn ceremony.  We Latins really should have something like this.

Here is looong video from Holy Trinity Monastery, Ekaterinburg in Russia, yesterday.  Yes, this is 2017, not 1054. Click around in it if you can’t watch/listen to the whole thing. It is grand...

Read the rest here. The comment thread is also quite interesting.  And yes the video of the service is really very good.

Divine Liturgy for the Second Sunday of Great Lent (St. Gregory Palamas)



In Church Slavonic

Friday, March 10, 2017

St. Patrick of Ireland and other Western saints officially added to Russian Orthodox Church calendar

St. Patrick, the great enlightener of Ireland, will be officially celebrated in the Russian Orthodox Church for the first time this year on March 17/30. At its March 9 session, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox, under the chairmanship of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, officially adopted St. Patrick and more than fifteen other pre-schism Western saints into its calendar, according to the report published on the patriarchate’s official site.
The decision was taken after hearing a report from His Eminence Metropolitan Clement of Kaluga and Borovsk, chairman of the commission for the compilation of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Menaion, or calendar of saints, with the proposal to include several ancient saints who labored in western lands before the Great Schism of 1054.

The commission, created on September 18, 2014 by the blessing of His Holiness, had been working on compiling a list of western saints guided by the following criteria: their unblemished confession of the Orthodox faith; the circumstances in which their glorification took place; the absence of their names from polemical works against the Eastern Church and rite; and their present veneration in foreign dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church and other Local Churches.

Also considered were the “Complete Menaion of the East” by Archbishop Sergius (Spassky), the report of St. John Maximovitch to the Holy Synod of the Russian Church Abroad in 1952, the articles of the Orthodox Encyclopedia and the Snaxarion compiled by Hiermonk Macarius of the Athonite monastery of Simenopetra.
The Western saints added into the calendar of the Russian Orthodox Church are:

Hieromartyr Pothinus, bishop of Lyons, and those with him (June 2/15; c. 177)
Martyrs Blandina and Ponticus of Lyons (June 2/15; c. 177)
Martyr Epipodius of Lyons (April 22/May 5; c. 177)
Martyr Alexander of Lyons (April 24/May 7; c. 177)
Hieromartyr Saturninus, first bishop of Toulouse (November 29/December 12; c. 257)
Martyr Victor of Marseilles (July 21/August 3; c. 290)
St. Alban, protomartyr of Britain (June 22/July 5; c. 304)
St. Honoratus, archbishop of Arles and founder of Lerins Monastery (January 16/29; 429)
St. Germanus, bishop of Auxerre (July 31/August 13; 448)
St. Vincent of Lerins (May 24/June 6; c. 450)
St. Patrick, bishop of Armagh, and enlightener of Ireland (March 17/30; 451)
St. Lupus the Confessor, bishop of Troyes (Gaul) (July 29/August 11; 479)
St. Genevieve of Paris (January 3/16; 512)
St. Germanus, bishop of Paris (May 28/June 10; 576)
St. Procopius, abbot of Sazava in Bohemia (September 16/29; 1053)

Also approved and recommended for Church-wide liturgical use was the texts of the service to the Synaxis of Saints of Diveevo, the service to St. Hilarion of Optina, and the troparion and kontakion to St. Adrian of Ondrusov.

Source.

USDA Threatens To Shut Down Farm For Conservative Article In Break Room

Maybe it’s just nostalgia talking, but the slaughtering, processing, packaging, and distribution of animals used to be so much simpler.

For hundreds of years, the meat-packing industry bore the responsibility for transforming Bessie the Cow into carnivores’ favorite source of protein, and more recently the Food Safety and Inspection Service inspectors of the U.S. Department of Agriculture ensured that the finished product was “safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged.”

Not so anymore. Due to agency rules issued during the Obama era, FSIS inspectors enjoy expanded duties, including monitoring facilities for any “disrespectful” or “insult[ing]” communication (no, not among the animals). Should they uncover any such communication, inspectors are empowered to take “corrective action,” even if that involves slicing and dicing fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.

The Fateful Day Don Put an Article in the Break Room

Predictably, unleashing meat inspectors to police the exercise of free speech—with guidelines that provide only vague directional prodding—is the equivalent of releasing a bull in a china shop. At least, it was for Don and Ellen Vander Boon, the owners of West Michigan Beef Company. (To be fair, Mythbusters found that bulls can be surprisingly respectful of grandma’s china. The same cannot be said for the USDA and the First Amendment.)

The USDA threatened to shut down this family-owned company, not because of health concerns, or because short ribs were incorrectly labeled as plate ribs (incidentally, you would not believe the labeling requirements), or because People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals infiltrated their ranks in some sort of hostile takeover bid. Rather, the so-called offense consisted of an article Don placed in the breakroom.

The breakroom at West Michigan Beef includes tables that essentially serve as a repository for newspapers, magazines, articles, and other forms of literature that employees or the owners wish to share with those who care to read them. Think of it as a pre-technological Facebook. Importantly, no one is required to read the materials, any more than I am required to flip through a two-year old copy of People while sitting in my dentist’s lobby, or to read my friend’s Facebook post about replacing smoke detector batteries (true story).

In 2015, following the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that purported to redefine marriage for the entire country, various employees shared articles and information related to the decision. Don participated by sharing an article that expressed the traditional Christian view that God designed marriage as a union between a man and a woman and set forth reasons for that position.

When a USDA public health veterinarian, the on-site inspector, saw the article in the breakroom, well, he had a cow. He removed the article and reported it to his USDA supervisor. The pair stampeded into Don’s office and threatened to remove USDA inspectors—effectively shutting down the facility—if Don returned the article to the breakroom, stating the article was offensive and harassing under expanded agency rules.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Trans Rights

Surely a compassionate society must recognize this individual's right to be recognized as a member of whichever species he self identifies with.

Friday, March 03, 2017

156 Years Ago Today


On the eve of the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln and a civil war that would claim upwards of half a million American lives, Czar Alexander II of Russia issued an imperial decree abolishing slavery (serfdom) with a stroke of a pen.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete for Clean Wednesday


Feds: After wettest winter in at least 20 years drought appears over in California


Hans Kung: End the schism!

...A further pivotal point in the commemoration process will be the main Service of Repentance and Reconciliation that the Council of the Protestant Churches and the Catholic bishops' conference will celebrate together at Hildesheim on March 11, 2017.

We have, however, heard Vatican declarations of intent and suggestions of repentance and reconciliation all too often. We ecumenically committed Christians at long last want to see actions. Unfortunately, the "Common Word" does not mention the deadlock that exists in both church hierarchies on the decisive issues and disregards the fact that in many Protestant and Catholic communities, ecumenism has already been practiced for a long time now. For these communities, mutual recognition of each other's ministries and Eucharistic hospitality are no longer a problem. Church leaders lag far behind them. If the leaders do not take the matter of "overcoming the still remaining obstacles" seriously, they alone will have to bear the responsibility for not doing so before God and the faithful.

In the 2017 Jubilee Year, those responsible should consistently put the results of the ecumenical Dialogue Commissions into practice. The Catholic Church should consider the following issues:
  • Martin Luther's rehabilitation,
  • Lifting all the excommunications that were pronounced in the Reformation era,
  • Recognizing Protestant and Anglican ministries,
  • Mutual Eucharistic hospitality.
Innumerable Christians want to see the Protestant side bring these postulates to the attention of the Catholic Church just as clearly and outspokenly — but naturally not without the necessary self-criticism. Merely celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation without really ending the schism means incurring yet more guilt. May the pressure exerted by theologians, grassroots Christians, Christian communities, and many committed men and women help the church leadership in Rome and elsewhere, which is so often hesitant and afraid, not to miss this historic opportunity but to wake up, otherwise yet more people will turn away from the Church and more communities and groups will take the law into their own hands! In today's globalized, secularized world, Christianity will only come across as credible if it presents itself in truly reconciled diversity.

Read the rest here.

The President's Speech

It was a home run. In all likelihood it was, at least rhetorically, the best speech he has delivered. If you look at the evolution of Trump's public speaking from the early days of the campaign to the primaries, then his generally good but not great speech at the convention and most recently his inaugural, I think we can say with some safety that he is getting better. Trump appears to be a quick study. If this also applies to the job he now holds the next four years could be very interesting times.

For lefties who are feeling a bit blue (pun intended) this morning, take a deep breath. Yes, Trump did much better than most expected last night. He looked and sounded presidential. But... he's Donald Trump. And as far as I know he has not given up his twitter account. So just wait a while. He's bound to do or say something that will get people riled up again.

If/when he gives up Twitter, that will be a sign that it just might be time for the left to panic.