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Author Topic: A Star Rises In The East!  (Read 2115 times) Average Rating: 0
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Orthodoc
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Those who ignore history tend to repeat it.


« on: May 24, 2004, 10:40:32 AM »

May 22, 2004
The Times, London

Old-time religion

A star rises in the east

by Anthony Gardner

While the Church of England struggles to hold on to its flock, a
newcomer with an ancient pedigree is packing them in -including the
Prince of Wales.

On a Saturday night last month, police were called to control a crowd
in the Knightsbridge area of London. Fifteen hundred people were
attempting to squeeze into a building designed to hold half that
number, and some had started to faint in the crush. Inside, a
policeman
reported, it was "like an oven".

The occasion was not an illegal rave, but the celebration of Easter
Vespers [Midnight Liturgy really] at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral
in Ennismore Gardens. In the past 15 years, the number of Orthodox
worshippers in Britain has increased from 170,000 to more than a
quarter of a million, making them far and away the fastest-growing
Christian denomination. Orthodox churches - and half a dozen
monasteries - can be found from Truro to Dunblane. This is all the
more remarkable since Orthodoxy is not given to evangelism, and is,
in the words of a convert, "absurdly divided, quarrelsome and grudge-
bearing".

A major factor has been the arrival of tens of thousands of
immigrants from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. But while
the number of converts is small by comparison, they have played a
disproportionately important role. The two most influential clergyman
in British Orthodoxy - Bishop Kallistos Ware in the Greek Church, and
Bishop Basil Osborne in the Russian - were both brought up as
Protestants.

There are, moreover, a number of important figures in the British
Establishment who sympathise with the faith without having converted.
A focus for these is the Friends of Mount Athos, which supports the
monasteries on Greece's "Holy Mountain", and whose members include
Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of
Wales.

Prince Philip's involvement is not surprising, given that he was
brought up in the Greek Orthodox Church. Less expected is Prince
Charles's, as the future head of the Church of England. "Spiritually,
he is very moved by Mount Athos," says a member of the society. "He
visits it every year for a week, and he is very much admired there."
The Prince has been influenced by Philip Sherrard, a radical
commentator on Orthodoxy and ecology, who argued that Western
Christianity had devalued the environment by emphasising the division
between the spiritual and the physical.

The Prince is also intrigued by his great-great-aunt Elizabeth, Grand
Duchess of Russia - a victim of the Revolution who was canonised in
1993 - and has commissioned an icon of her from Aidan Hart [a New
Zealander], a former Orthodox monk based in Shropshire. In addition,
he has had a requiem written for her by the most eminent of Orthodox
converts, John Tavener, who has composed many works for the Church,
and created his own icon-filled chapel in Dorset.

To the uninitiated, the Orthodox church is Byzantine in more senses
than one, and unravelling it requires a clear head and a good map of
the Middle East in the first millennium AD. The early Christian
church was organised into five patriarchies, based in Antioch,
Alexandria, Jerusalem, Rome and Constantinople; but the first three
fell to Muslim invaders, and in 1054 the Roman Church broke away in
the Great Schism.  This left Constantinople as "first among equals"
in the Orthodox world, bolstered by the emergence of new churches and
patriarchies in Greece and Eastern Europe. The churches in Britain
are offshoots of these, and all have their headquarters overseas: the
Russian in Moscow, the Greek in Istanbul, and the Antiochian in
Damascus.

The Greek Church has the largest presence here, with 120 parishes.
The Russian musters only 35, but according to the author Victoria
Clarke, an expert on Orthodoxy, "it's trendier and more open to
converts than the Greek. If you go to Ennismore Gardens on a Sunday
morning, you'll find young couples who have nothing to do with
Russia."

What attracts them? The conservatism of Orthodoxy is part of it: as
Anglicans and Catholics agonise over demands to modernise, many find
reassurance in a body which, in the words of Bishop Ware, "has
preserved the tradition and continuity of the ancient church in its
fullness".

This adherence to dogma is complemented by a belief that the Western
church relies too heavily on human reason. Orthodox services, with
their lighting of candles, prostrations and kissing of icons, are
both more physical and more attuned to the emotions. "Our liturgy has
a beauty which appeals to the whole person," says Father John
Hockway, an English-born priest based in Enfield. "The singing, the
incense, the way the church is designed - everything is a
manifestation of God and our participation in His kingdom. It answers
a deep longing in the soul of man."

If the Church is reluctant to proselytise, it is partly because it
believes that the liturgy speaks for itself. In addition, says one
convert, "the Orthodox are very conscious of being guests in Britain,
and worry about damaging their relations with other churches". The
most notable recent conversions have been of about 30 Anglican
clergyman who rejected the ordination of women; but according to one
of them, Father Michael Harper, neither the Greeks nor the Russians
were receptive. "We joined the Antiochian Church simply because they
opened their arms to us and the others didn't."

The fact that Orthodox services are traditionally held in unfamiliar
languages - Church Slavonic, Byzantine Greek, or Arabic - has been an
obstacle to converts. But this is now changing, and many churches
have introduced services which are either partly or wholly in English.

The man most credited with bringing English-speakers to Orthodoxy is
Metropolitan (or Archbishop) Anthony Bloom. A charismatic figure who
died last year, he is considered by many to have been a saint. "I
couldn't believe the number of English people at his funeral," says
Piers Buxton, the former secretary of the Royal Academy, who was
among the mourners.  "They were scrambling over the headstones to try
to get closer." Among those giving orations was the Archbishop of
Canterbury, who has approved the sharing of Anglican churches by
Orthodox congregations.

Inevitably, there are differences of opinion, though not of doctrine,
between the church's different branches. But the most serious
conflicts often take place among those of the same nationality.
Bitterest of all has been that between the "Red" Russians who
accepted the Moscow patriarchy even when it was manipulated by the
Communists, and the "Whites" who have given their allegiance to a
succession of exiled bishops. Relations, however, are thawing. "There
isn't the feeling against the Moscow patriarchy that there used to
be," says one White, "because it's not so riddled with KGB - though
there are still a few of them in there."

In his book The Inner Kingdom, Ware acknowledges these problems, but
argues that it is better to bicker over unimportant things than to
be - as the Anglicans are - "united (for the most part) in outward
organisation, but deeply divided in their beliefs and in their forms
of public worship".   "The Orthodox Church," says one convert, "is
full of petty personal arguments. But at the heart of it remains an
unshakable belief that the world is transformed by the celebration of
the Eucharist. It's quite common to find converts who have just
wandered into a service off the street and thought, 'This is where I
belong. I have come home'."

==========

Orthodoc



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« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2004, 10:55:17 AM »

Thanks for posting this.  Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2004, 11:00:38 AM »

Yes, thank you!
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« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2004, 02:46:05 PM »

This is all the more remarkable since Orthodoxy is not given to evangelism, and is,
in the words of a convert, "absurdly divided, quarrelsome and grudge-bearing".

Huh  Why'd this guy convert, I wonder?

Quote
"The Orthodox Church," says one convert, "is full of petty personal arguments. But at the heart of it remains an unshakable belief that the world is transformed by the celebration of the Eucharist. It's quite common to find converts who have just
wandered into a service off the street and thought, 'This is where I belong. I have come home'."

Mmm.  Maybe this was the same guy.  At least they make this concession.

Great post, Orthodoc; where'd you find it?  The Times' website?
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« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2004, 02:47:27 PM »

Can anyone direct me to a site that lists Orthodox Parishes in the UK with English Liturgy...if such a thing exists?

I correspond with a man in the UK whose wife suffers deblitiating mental illness which is due in no small part to being sexually abused by her own parents and her Roman Catholic parish priest....who abused her himslef when she told him of the abuse she received at home.

My friend is active in the RC Church still but his wife began breaking down shortly after they were married and then all these abuses came to light. He has expressed an interest in Orthodoxy if only so he and his wife could worship together. She has been unable to bring herself to enter a Roman Catholic Church for a number of years now.
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« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2004, 03:26:53 PM »

here's one:  Smiley

http://www.antiochian-orthodox.co.uk/parishes.htm
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« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2004, 03:47:20 PM »

great article Orthodoc! thank you.

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« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2004, 04:04:30 PM »

Manythanks for the link but he lives in S. Yorks...doesn't seem to be a Parish very near there.i
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Orthodoc
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Those who ignore history tend to repeat it.


« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2004, 04:11:49 PM »

[This is all the more remarkable since Orthodoxy is not given to evangelism, and is,
in the words of a convert, "absurdly divided, quarrelsome and grudge-bearing".
 


  Why'd this guy convert, I wonder?]

======

Reply:

Probably because he has a good comprehension of what the word 'faith' really means.  That he understands that one's 'faith' is to be found within in the truth contained in the religious beliefs of a particular religion.  Beliefs that are contained and upheld in the dogma and doctrines of that particular religious belief system.  All the rest is just superficial based on materialistic and political views.  He understands that and that's why he converted.

That's what some western Christians don't seem to comprehend.  They base faith on ritualistic and outward appearance rather than the core beliefs contained in one's 'faith' as identified in the doctrines and beliefs they protect and uphold.  

That's why you have RC's trying to tell us we can retain our 'faith' as long as we accept papal authority.  That, where dogma or doctrine is concerned its no longer important what one believes.  Every place we disagree we can just chalk up to different interpretations of the same thing or classify as  'theologumenia'.

Perfect example regarding the word 'faith' - I recently read an article by Cardinal Husar head of the UGCC where he makes the claim that - 'We share the same faith as our Orthodox brothers and sisters.'  Now when one reads that one has to wonder - 'If that is true, then why was it so necessary for them to turn their backs on Orthodoxy not once, but twice?'

Compare that with what a Byzantine Catholic priest writes in his website listed under 'Who are we?' -

"As Catholics, we eastern and Roman Catholics share the same faith and have the same seven sacraments. The difference is that we, Eastern Catholics, have a different way or rite of expressing our faith in regards to Liturgy and customs."

Kind of a contradiction, wouldn't you say?    Considering that Roman Catholicism and Orthodox Catholicism are no longer the same faith.  Their faith is either of one or the other.  But it cannot be both.

[Great post, Orthodoc; where'd you find it?  The Times' website?]

It was posted on another Orthodox site and sent to me by an Orthodox friend.

Orthodoc


« Last Edit: May 24, 2004, 04:15:50 PM by Orthodoc » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2007, 12:33:54 PM »

"Compare that with what a Byzantine Catholic priest writes in his website listed under 'Who are we?' -

"As Catholics, we eastern and Roman Catholics share the same faith and have the same seven sacraments. The difference is that we, Eastern Catholics, have a different way or rite of expressing our faith in regards to Liturgy and customs."

Kind of a contradiction, wouldn't you say?    Considering that Roman Catholicism and Orthodox Catholicism are no longer the same faith.  Their faith is either of one or the other.  But it cannot be both."

(This is my first attempt at posting on this forum, so I apologize if how I go about this is not what readers are accustomed to.)

My wife and I are actually returning to our former Orthodox parish after having been 5 years in a Byzantine Catholic (Ruthenian) parish here in AZ. My personal experience is that it is possible to live Orthodoxy in the BCC only if the parish priest can support and nurture it. Few are the priests who take "Orientale Lumen", John Paul IIs encyclical, to heart to the point that they are pro-active in this regard. Our old priest retired, and was replaced by a solidly Latin-oriented BCC priest who is redirecting the parish away from Orthodox priorities, so we are gladly returning home. We probably would have returned sooner than now had I not made commitments within the parish to be the main Cantor. As long as Orthodoxy was the priority I could manage staying, but it was not easy even so, because most BCC parishioners are former Roman Catholics or enamoured with the RC Church. For the BCC the RCC is kind of a benevolent 300 pound gorilla next door on which the BCC depends for a sense of community, since it has few connections with the Orthodox churches. If there were ways to encourage more interaction at the grassroots level, it might be possible to change that relationship. Just my thoughts.

 As to how we came to leave an Orthodox parish for the BCC in the first place, it is another long story, and hopefully we will not have to see history repeat itself if we use dispassionate discernment.
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« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2007, 12:46:50 PM »

Welcome to the forum, Jim.
I'm fairly certain your first post will get some attention here.  Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2007, 01:29:04 PM »

For Orthodox parishes in the UK:

http://www.hellenicbookservice.com/Theology/orthodox%20churches.htm
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« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2007, 02:08:36 PM »

Greetings, Joseph-Jim!

We earlier had a poster going bythe name 'Papist' who indicated that a BCC parish in AZ that he volunteered in was a shining example of that dream* of being 'Orthodox in Communion with Rome'. I wonder if you are from that same parish?

Sophie,

Thanks for the information!

* or, more likely, hallucination
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« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2007, 04:14:15 PM »

My BCC parish was St. Thomas in Gilbert, AZ. "Papist" is apparently from Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Albuquerque, NM. I found this board only today.

With the change of pastor, some subtle and some not so subtle changes have occurred that have startled all orientations there in some way, but the overall thrust is to try to move the parish more toward practices that will make RCs more comfortable, which just happens to make the service schedule look more like an RC one- daily liturgies without vespers or matins, except Saturday evening (which will probably eventually change), and no more panachidas.
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« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2007, 05:00:56 PM »

My BCC parish was St. Thomas in Gilbert, AZ. "Papist" is apparently from Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Albuquerque, NM. I found this board only today.

With the change of pastor, some subtle and some not so subtle changes have occurred that have startled all orientations there in some way, but the overall thrust is to try to move the parish more toward practices that will make RCs more comfortable, which just happens to make the service schedule look more like an RC one- daily liturgies without vespers or matins, except Saturday evening (which will probably eventually change), and no more panachidas.

What a small world.  That is the parish (St. Thomas) my old RCC priest tried to get me to attend rather than convert to Orthodoxy.  It didn't work  Wink

Good luck with Orthodox parishes around the valley.
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« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2007, 05:01:24 PM »

Welcome JJ. And more importantly, welcome back! Wink
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