Sunday, November 29, 2015

During the Nativity Fast

 The Nativity Fast continues...

The Fast is a time of cleansing the soul and body. It is considered, and quite rightly so, that for a Christian cleansing is necessary not only for its own sake, in general, but also so that one might worthily commune of the Holy Gifts of Christ. Therefore, people are right in saying that the Fast exists so that during the Fast one may become “worthy” to receive Communion. That is true because fasting, abstinence, and asceticism are good means toward repentance. This is something that should be emphasized: fasting is not the goal of religious life, but merely a means [toward it].

However, repentance is something more than a means. If repentance is not the life in Christ itself, it is its actual well-spring, something so involved in [the goal of life in Christ], that it is as it were an integral part [of that life].

Without repentance, there can be no faith in Christ. The Gospel sermon addressed to sinful people begins with the words of the Forerunner and of the Lord Himself: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2). Repentance is the elemental, archetypal religious state that turns us toward Christ.

One who does not perceive the unworthiness, defectiveness, sinfulness and weaknesses with which he satisfies himself…does not see the need for God, and blindly believes that he can get along without Him.

However, one who perceives his own sinfulness, his impotency, his helplessness and limitations, one who is sorrowed by them and wants to be renewed and become the richer for it, one who turns to God and cries out as if from the depths of a pit, “Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord. Lord hear my voice. Hear me, for I am poor and in need!” (Ps. 129:1) – such a person is on a religious path; he is no longer self-contented, but wants to rise up out of himself and turn his attention beyond the bounds of his being. Thus, fasting is beneficial towards evoking in ourselves feelings of repentance. A sense of repentance can also appear in the absence of fasting. An example would be the thief on the cross who turned to Christ and in the blink of an eye, repented. You do not need a lot of time to repent. It is possible to repent in the blink of an eye! There were times when many martyrs would come to Christ without having fasted or made any other “preparation.” It may be possible through means other than fasting to be sanctified and “be made worthy” to commune of the Holy Gifts. But it is impossible to do so without repentance. It is impossible to come to Christ dressed in filthy garments. God said, “Ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:45). The morally unclean should not, and simply cannot, approach God and see Him. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8) Moreover, one cannot prepare for communion of His Holy Gifts without vesting the heart in “wedding” garments. 

Read the rest here.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Christian 'naturism' advocate appointed Bishop of Sherborne

The Church of England has appointed as Bishop of Sherborne a leading advocate of Christian nudism. On 26 Nov 2015 the Prime Minister’s Office announced the The Queen had approved the nomination of the Ven Karen Gorham, the Archdeacon of Buckingham, to the Suffragan See of Sherborne in the diocese of Salisbury in succession to the Rt Rev. Graham Kings.

The new Bishop of Sherborne, who will be consecrated in February at Westminster Abbey, has urged churches to educate their members on naturism, or nudism. “There is need for much education and openness to talk about issues of sexuality, to remove false taboos which we tend to have about our own bodies, and to define the differences between what is impure and what is godly and properly natural to us,” she wrote in “Naturism and Christianity: Are they compatible?”

Read the rest here.

You just can't make this stuff up. I have never heard of a church that swallowed the women's ordination Kool Aid and didn't go into a rapid nose dive. Of course usually the trajectory is already there, but W/O always seems to accelerate the slide into apostasy and ecclesial irrelevance.

Inquiries Stall as White House Puts Leash on U.S. Watchdogs

WASHINGTON — Justice Department watchdogs ran into an unexpected roadblock last year when they began examining the role of federal drug agents in the fatal shootings of unarmed civilians during raids in Honduras.
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The Drug Enforcement Administration balked at turning over emails from senior officials tied to the raids, according to the department’s inspector general. It took nearly a year of wrangling before the D.E.A. was willing to turn over all its records in a case that the inspector general said raised “serious questions” about agents’ use of deadly force.

The continuing Honduran inquiry is one of at least 20 investigations across the government that have been slowed, stymied or sometimes closed because of a long-simmering dispute between the Obama administration and its own watchdogs over the shrinking access of inspectors general to confidential records, according to records and interviews.
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The impasse has hampered investigations into an array of programs and abuse reports — from allegations of sexual assaults in the Peace Corps to the F.B.I.’s terrorism powers, officials said. And it has threatened to roll back more than three decades of policy giving the watchdogs unfettered access to “all records” in their investigations.

“The bottom line is that we’re no longer independent,” Michael E. Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general, said in an interview.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing a blessed feast to you and yours.

Europe's moral and spiritual vacuum invites acts of terrorism

...The decline of Christianity in the West has created a spiritual and moral vacuum of colossal proportions. It is this vacuum that gives Islamism momentum and nourishment.

The West simply no longer understands spirituality and has lost touch with its spiritual foundations by abandoning Christianity, now banished also from the EU Treaty. Several countries have removed Christian and all religious symbols from public spaces. By removing God they have created an empty space for evil to fill. This has been combined with morally bankrupt foreign policies that have accepted the slaughter and beheading of Christians, which is tantamount to a destruction of Europe’s own spiritual foundations to achieve geopolitical gains, the latest of which is regime change in Syria by removing the country’s democratically elected president.

The monster created by the rejection of Christianity is gaining power, as terrorism has grown from a de-christianized culture. Secularism and Islamism are two faces of the same destructive spirituality, two parasites nurturing each other. While justice and mercy combine in the virtues that spring from Christianity, the destructive justice of Islamism becomes glaringly demonic. There is no longer a spiritual counterweight of grace, forgiveness and charity, only a political counterpoint, which is clearly inadequate.

Secularism, relativism of values, materialism and democracy as a new religion (idolatry devoid of a deity) constantly prove their feeble inadequacy when facing Islamism. The post-Christian ideologies possess no core of spiritual strength - surveillance and military hardware is what they offer. It takes more to win a war. It takes moral strength. The West has lost its moral strength, amply evident in its approach to foreign policy by supporting so-called moderate terrorist groups that show little moderation when it comes to beheadings and literally eating the hearts of their victims.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

French Right Wing "National Front" Surges After Attacks

AMIENS, France — After years of shouting from the sidelines of French politics about the dangers of unchecked immigration, open borders and radical Islam, Marine Le Pen had a message this week for the French establishment: I told you so.

“We tried to warn them,” the far-right leader told a crowd of hundreds of cheering supporters in this northern French city, “but we were never heard.”

But after the Nov. 13 attacks that claimed at least 130 lives in Paris and stunned the nation, Le Pen, 47, and her formerly fringe party have found themselves being listened to as never before. Long scorned by the political mainstream as a band of racist xenophobes, the far right in France — and across Europe — is increasingly setting the terms of the post-attack debate.

Read the rest here.

Elite funds prepare for reflation and a bloodbath for bonds

One by one, the giant investment funds are quietly switching out of government bonds, the most overpriced assets on the planet.

Nobody wants to be caught flat-footed if the latest surge in the global money supply finally catches fire and ignites reflation, closing the chapter on our strange Lost Decade of secular stagnation.

The Norwegian Pension Fund, the world's top sovereign wealth fund, is rotating a chunk of its $860bn of assets into property in London, Paris, Berlin, Milan, New York, San Francisco and now Tokyo and East Asia. "Every real estate investment deal we do is funded by sales of government bonds," says Yngve Slyngstad, the chief executive.

It already owns part of the Quadrant 3 building on Regent Street, and bought the Pollen Estate - along with Saville Row - from the Church Commissioners last year. But this is just a nibble. The fund is eyeing a 15pc weighting in property, an inflation-hedge if ever there was one.

The Swiss bank UBS - an even bigger player with $2 trillion under management - has issued its own gentle warning on bonds as the US Federal Reserve prepares to kick off the first global tightening cycle since 2004. UBS expects five rate rises by the end of next year, 60 points more than futures contracts, and enough to rattle debt markets still priced for an Ice Age. 

Read the rest here.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Scientology's Moscow branch to be dissolved

MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian court has ordered the Church of Scientology in Moscow to be dissolved.

The Moscow City Court on Monday accepted arguments from the Justice Ministry that the term Scientology is trademarked and thus cannot be considered a religious organization covered by the constitution's freedom-of-religion clause.

Prosecutors also said the church carried out activities in St. Petersburg, though it was only authorized to operate in Moscow, according to the Tass news agency.

Several books by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard are banned in Russia for "extremist" content.

A church representative said the decision would be appealed, Russian news agencies reported.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald and 50 years of conspiracy nonsense

A Point of View: Has the Catholic Church really changed? (BBC)

...So let's, just for the hell of it, allow our imaginations to run riot. What might a reformed Catholic Church look like? Start with small steps - allowing communion to divorced or co-habiting couples, the Church not judging gay men in loving relationships (both positions Francis himself has espoused). From there we move to a greater acceptance of homosexuality in general, even to same-sex union and families. How long before we hit celibacy and women priests? At which point there are women in the faith who would want to widen the debate, to suggest that it is the whole notion of an elevated priesthood and hierarchy that needs addressing, encouraging more democracy and community as a way to get better shepherds for the flock. 

Enter a religion defined by God's mercy and inclusion, with a strong voice on issues like market excess and climate change and where men and women shared spiritual power. In a world under attack from testosterone-driven fundamentalism - I could have written exactly those same words before the events in Paris, but somehow they mean even more now - that is a religion even I might be tempted to join. Though how many Catholics I would find sitting next to me in the pews is a big question.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

An appeal

I don't usually post solicitations on here, but I am making an exception in this case. Holy Trinity has been struggling for a number of years. So if by chance you have some extra cash, please consider making a donation. Even a small one would help.

Patriarch Younan: IS cannot be defeated with air raids, the West has betrayed Christians

The head of the Syrian Catholic Church, Mar Ignace Youssif III Younan, accuses Western governments of perpetuating an "endless conflict in Syria" out of regional interests. The terrorists who use Islam as an excuse for violence “have already infiltrated Europe, supported by money from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States under the supervision of Western governments." Pope Francis "true defender of justice, is deeply pained by what is happening in Syria and Iraq."

Read the rest here.
HT: A blog reader.

The Missionary Vision of the Martyred Fr. Daniel Sysoev

By all accounts, Fr. Daniel Sysoev was a powerful and effective missionary priest. According to his missionary companion and close friend, Prof. Yuri Maximov (now Priest Giorgy Maximov.—O.C.), Fr. Daniel turned “around 500 Protestants” to Orthodoxy and personally “baptized more than 80 Muslims” in his fourteen years of ordained ministry.1 He built a church community and mission center in an immigrant district in Moscow and had great success reaching persons of various ethnicities, nationalities, religions, and social classes.2 As a direct result of his efforts, and in accordance with his express desire and sense of calling, he crowned his ministry with martyrdom, being shot in the nave of his own church on the night of November 19, 2009...

...Fundamentally, Fr. Daniel’s missionary activity found its most basic principle in an extreme faith in the reality of eternal life and eternal judgment. When viewed from the perspective of an eternal destiny, actions in this present life gain a new significance; temporal life becomes “a school” where the human being is to prepare himself for “true life,” which “begins after the Final Judgment.”5 As such, it behooves every Christian to intentionally live a life that prepares him for eternity and to continually meditate on the transitoriness of earthly life and the inevitability of facing death and judgment.

 While Jesus has “earned paradise for us” by his death on the Cross and Orthodox Christians have “receive[d] salvation as a gift through baptism,” they still need to “assimilate” its reality to themselves by living a Christian life that is characterized by continual repentance, frequent Communion, and the performance of “good deeds”, which fulfill Christ’s commandments.7 If the Christian does not busy himself with repentance and thereby assimilate the salvation of baptism to himself, he runs the risk of his post-baptismal sin becoming a sort of “second nature” which would sever him from Christ and make him “incapable of entering into eternity.”8

Following a common interpretation of the writings of St. Cyprian of Carthage, Fr. Daniel taught that, “outside the Church there is no salvation,” and anyone who does not “come into the Orthodox Church will perish forever.”9 In his view, this included anyone who was outside of the formal boundaries of the Orthodox Church, including Roman Catholics, Protestants, and Old Ritualists.10 (Indeed, so strong was his view on this subject, that he claimed that “heresy” and “schism” were the only sins that a martyric death would not “wash... away.”11)

Read the rest here.

Islam and the Closing of the Secular Mind

The  "enlightened" Western mind can no longer think seriously or coherently about religion.

Given the decidedly strange response of the Obama Administration and much of the Western commentariat to the violence sweeping the Islamic world, one temptation is to view their reaction as simple incomprehension in the face of the severe unreason that leads some people to riot and kill in a religion's name. But while the Administration's response has plenty to do with trying to defend a foreign policy that has plainly gone south, it also reflects something far more problematic: the Western secular mind's increasing inability to think seriously and coherently about religion at all.

This problem manifests itself in several ways. The first is the manner in which many secular thinkers seem to regard all religions as "basically the same." By this, they often mean either equally irrational or as promoting essentially similar values.

A moment's reflection would indicate to even the most militant atheist that this simply isn't true. Islam and Christianity, for instance, have very different understandings of who Jesus Christ is. Christians believe that he is God, the second Person of the Trinity. Muslims do not. Ergo, Islam and Christianity are not effectively the same. At their respective cores are fundamentally irreconcilable theological positions. It's also very difficult to find robust affirmations of free will outside Judaism and Christianity (at least the orthodox varieties of these two faiths).

Likewise, as any informed Muslim will tell you, Islamic theology has no real equivalent of the Christian idea of the church. The Greek word for "church" (ekklesia) literally means to be "called out." That, alongside Christ's words about the limits to Caesar's power, had immense implications for how Christians think about the state and its relationship to religion. Among other things, it means Christianity has always maintained significant distinctions between the temporal and the spiritual realms that are far less perceptible -- again, as any pious Muslim will inform you -- in Islamic theology and history.

All this, however, is a little complicated for those secular intellectuals who simply regard religion as just another lifestyle-choice rather than being essentially about people's natural desire to (1) know the truth about the transcendent and (2) live their lives in accordance with such truths.

That's why the left talks so much today about "freedom of worship" (as if your faith-decisions are akin to choosing which mall you shop at) and are trying to peddle a version of religious liberty that basically confines religious freedom to what happens inside your church, synagogue, mosque or temple on your given holy-day of the week. The notion that religious liberty is all about creating space for people to live out their beliefs consistent with others' freedom to do the same and even permits us to peacefully argue -- gasp! -- about the truth of different religions' claims seems to be beyond their grasp.

Read the rest here.
HT: The Young Fogey
Via; Dr. Tighe

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New Orthodox church in Halifax opens doors at former Saint Matthias Anglican Church

Fifteen years ago, Affaf El-Jakl remembers there was talk of building a new church to accommodate the growing congregation of Saint Antonios Orthodox Church.

And on Sunday, that hope finally became reality.

“We’re in awe,” El-Jakl, president of the parish council said Sunday morning, as hundreds of parishioners filed into the sanctuary, filling it to capacity until there was only standing room and the upper balcony left to sit.

"It's not everyday a new church is built and opened."

The crowd gathered to celebrate the unveiling of the new church with the first of what would be many Sunday masses to follow, sitting in pews that originally belonged to the building when it served as Saint Matthias Anglican Church.

Read the rest here.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Andrew P. Napolitano: The President and the rule of law

Earlier this week, a federal appeals court in New Orleans upheld an injunction issued by a federal district court in Texas against the federal government, thereby preventing it from implementing President Obama’s executive orders on immigration. Critics had argued and two federal courts have now agreed that the orders effectively circumvented federal law and were essentially unconstitutional.

Though the injunction on its face restrains officials in the Department of Homeland Security, it is really a restraint on the president himself. Here is the back story.

Read the rest here.

On the Nativity Fast - the preparation of the soul

A reflection on the role of the Nativity Fast, which might seem the opposite of Christmas joy, in preparing the human heart for the true joy of encountering Christ's incarnation.

The herald of the pending miracle begins. It is the Eve of the Nativity as these words are sung. The transformation of the world, the birth of God, is but hours away, and it is through such words that the faithful are called into attentiveness and anticipation. 'Make ready, O Bethlehem!' We can see the radiant lights of of the feast just beyond the horizon, we can taste the sweetness of the miracle that took place beneath a star; and through the words sung around and within us in the Church, the great eve of the birth of God is made a reality in our present experience. We make ready, and we wait.

But this is not the first moment of preparation for the Feast. For 'forty days', with the usual adjustments to that length for Sabbaths and Sundays causing it to begin on 15 November,{Footnote}According to the Church Calendar; 28th November on the civil calendar.{/footnote} the Church has been setting herself in readiness, drawing her attention to the mystery to come, waiting in expectation. She has made use of the great joy that will arrive on Christmas day as occasion to take up the task considered by so many as opposite to joy: fasting, with all its rigour, its harshness, its discomfort. These are the steps which, for Orthodox Christians throughout the world, lead to the radiant wonder of the Nativity of Christ.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Paris terror attacks an alarm bell for liberal, borderless Europe

The attack on Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket last January proved that Islamic extremists regarded themselves as at war with France. It is now clear to everyone – including some French public figures who have resisted the idea – that, as President Hollande said on Saturday, France is now at war with Islamic extremists.

Because the enemy is already within – and the eight terrorists killed in the attacks in Paris are merely the tip of the iceberg – fighting this war will be unpleasant, difficult and controversial.

The website of Le Figaro, the conservative French newspaper, proclaimed that there was “war in the heart of Paris”. It is a mood widely shared by the French people, whose attitudes have themselves been radicalised by these terrible events...

... The political implications for France will be extensive. Next month the country has regional elections, which were already being regarded as a stiff and perhaps impossible test for the weak and unsuccessful socialist government of François Hollande.

The French press has for months been forecasting that Marine Le Pen’s Front National could win two or possibly even three of the 22 regions in metropolitan France, and warning that such a result would be an electoral earthquake for the country.

Although Mme Le Pen has cleaned up her party from the overtly racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic entity it was under her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen – from whom she is, as a result, estranged – she has been the only high-profile politician to warn consistently of the dangers of the large numbers of Muslims in France, and of their failure to integrate properly into French society.

Read the rest here.

Friday, November 13, 2015

On the coronation and anointing of French monarchs

Titled women of the French nobility (duchesses and countesses) could inherit land and titles from their fathers if they had no surviving male issue to succeed them, but from antiquity the throne and crown of France adhered to Salic Law, which permitted succession to the throne only through the male line and excluded all females. A central theological and ceremonial reason for why the French monarchy did not permit female succession was the highly sacramental nature of the coronation rites, in which the king exercised a quasi-sacerdotal role and held certain sacred instruments which, it was believed, women could not touch. While queens of France were customarily crowned and anointed at their husband’s accession, this was often done in a separate ceremony. While French kings were most often crowned at the Reims Cathedral. French queens were crowned most often at the St Denis Basilica.

Thus, due to the strict enforcement of Salic Law, France has never had a female monarch. Reflecting their crucial importance in dynastic marriages, however, several queens of France were the daughters of previous French kings or reigning provincial dukes whose fathers, lacking any surviving male issue, married them to the men who ultimately succeeded to the French throne as king. Numerous French queen mothers also governed as regents on behalf of their underage sons until they reached their majority.

Three examples of French queens who were themselves the daughters of French kings or powerful dukes were 1) Queen Anne de Bretagne (1477-1514), consort to King Charles VIII from 1491-98 and then after Charles’ death consort to King Louis XII from 1499 to her own death, reigned as Duchess of Brittany in her own right from 1488; Anne’s daughter Queen Claude (1499-1524), consort to Francois I (1515-24) and daughter of King Louis XII, reigned as Duchess of Brittany in her own right after her mother’s death in 1514; and Queen Marguerite (1553-1615), consort to France’s first Bourbon King Henri III de Navarre/ IV de France (1572-1599), sister to French kings Francois II, Charles IX, and Henri III, who was the daughter of King Henri II and (from 1559-89) the powerful Queen Mother and regent Catherine de Medicis.

Read the rest here.

St. Nikolai Velimirovic and St. Justin Popovic on Ecumenism

 St. Nikolai Velimirovic and St Justin Popovic share the position of the entire Orthodox Church on ecumenism. Our dialogue with non-Orthodox is the evangelical responsibility that is specific to the very nature, to the very essence of the Orthodox Church, which is the same Church that the Lord founded on Himself as eternal stone (1 Corinthians 3:11). It is our duty to bear witness to the Risen Lord to the end of the world. This mission was entrusted to the Apostles, and the Orthodox Christians do not have the right today, after two thousand years, to withdraw from it.

However, a profound interest and involvement in the ecumenical movement implies questioning and criticism of it? We should not stand silently by without pointing out the problems that arise within the ecumenical movement when, represented by certain organizations, it begins to meddle in political and national issues while the essential question—the unity of the Christian world—remains in the shadows. How can the Orthodox Church (and indeed other churches) participate in a movement which could ultimately destroy the very foundations of the Christian faith and morals?

As we have concluded that on the one hand, we do not have the right to withdraw from efforts toward ecumenical dialogue, and that on the other, we have ever rising discontent with the development of the broader ecumenical movement, the question is whether it is time to design a new model, a new formula of ecumenism which would allow us to interact with each other and collaborate in a more positive way? This does not mean that we need to, or should, abandon and forget all the important work that has already been done: convergence, better knowledge and understanding of each other impregnated with love, but having in mind and heart to make a step forward. For this new model of dialogue and collaboration we have an inexhaustible source in the works of Nikolai Velimirovic and Justin Popovic, and especially by using their severe criticism of the consideration of ecumenism as an ideology. 

Read the rest here.


I am back on the right coast and settling in. With some luck I will have a regular internet connection and the various other essentials  up and running in a few days.

Monday, November 02, 2015

On the road again

My somewhat nomadic existence continues. After ten years on the left coast, I have finally had enough. For various reasons, including some family issues, I am moving back East and will be on the road within a couple of days. During the move period, which basically begins today (final packing), I won't be online much. Expect little or no posting until sometime late next week.

Kansas City Royals Win the World Series

Very depressing, but I congratulate the Royals. In truth they consistently outplayed the Mets. The better team won.