No Serbs allowed

H/T: B92 (here)

Montenegrin restaurant refuses to serve Serbs

The woman, Veselinka Rajković, a resident of Podgorica, was visiting the monastery of Prevlaka with a Serb Orthodox nun – the children’s religion teacher.

Rajković told the daily Vijesti that on the way back they decided to stop for a meal in the village of Njeguši, at the “ethno village” restaurant Kadmi.

But the establishment’s owner Milo Kadija approached their table and told them they would not be served.

“At first we thought he was joking. However, he asked the nun whether she worked for the Serb Church, to which she replied affirmatively. After that Kadija told us there was no food for us in the restaurant, because everything there was Montenegrin,” Rajković recounted the incident.

After that, he asked them to leave the restaurant.

When contacted by the newspaper, Kadija confirmed that he threw out a nun and a mother with her five children. He said he did this because he was “a Montenegrin nationalist”, and added that “Serbs cannot eat in his restaurant”, writes Vijesti.

“Write that I’m a Montenegrin nationalist and that Serbs cannot eat here,” he told the daily’s reporter, and then proceeded to “utter a series of insults aimed at SPC priests”.

Madonna booed in Paris, now in Warsaw….

H/T: here

Poland: Catholic Youth Accuse “Madonna” of Blasphemy

Edit: first she’s booed in Paris and her audience wants their money back.  Now a Polish youth organization is planning a substantial protest against her appearance in Warsaw on August 1st, on the anniversary of the 1944 uprising against the Germans.  Madonna is an invader of a different sort.Student organization “Crusade of the Youth” is accusing Madonna of blasphemy.  45,000 Poles joined up Friday to protest against the concert on the Internet.

Warsaw (kath.net/CBA)  in Poland, there are protests against a concert planned for next Wednesday by pop star Madonna.  As the Polish news agency KAI reports on Friday the Catholic student organization “Crusade of Youth” has asked the Warsaw city council to ban the show.  They accuse Madonna among other things, of blasphemy.  45,000 Poles joined Friday’s protest against the student organization of the concert.

Meanwhile, three Catholic priests called on the faithful to pray for a cancellation of the show. The concert was the main aim of Madonna’s, to mock God and Christianity, according to a joint appeal by the Rev. Andrzej Grefkowicz and Pawel Wiecek Robert Pajak and the Jesuits.[Really?] Previously, the Catholic Association of the Journalists of Poland, Madonna had turned against the appearance of the new National Stadium. The spokesman of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, Jozef Kloch does not wish to take a position in the dispute.

There is also criticism that the concert on the anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising which takes place on 1 August 1944. Every year on this day of some estimated 200,000 Poles are remembered to have been killed by German occupiers during the suppression of the revolt. The organizers of the concert met the critics with the assistance of the City Council. Prior to Madonna’s appearance a two-minute film about the Warsaw uprising will be shown. The Veterans Association of the combatants of the Warsaw uprising, however, will observe a minute’s silence.

(C) 2012 Catholic News Agency KNA Inc. All rights reserved. Photo: (c) Wikipeda / Madonna 1990 / Alan Light

Moments of stress….

Just read a fine commentary on Second Terrace by Fr. Jonathan Tobias (as always) on the meaning of community. How things can go wrong, people get offended, are angered, and so on, and so on.  Actually, the piece is geared more towards clergy and our interaction with one another. The words which particularly caught my attention, referring to our situations, parish drama and moments of stress in general and comparing it to the Titanic: “In a way, friends, the Titanic is always going down, but it never sinks completely. There are always lifeboats but they must be found.”  In life it seems that we’re always searching for these lifeboats. They can, at times, be hard to find, but they’re there. Waiting for us. We find them then go on until life’s next challenge.

Take a few minutes and read the full commentary here.

While I’m on the topic I might as well plug another fellow clergy blogger. Fr. Jonathan mentions an “Orthodox crisis” which reminded me of a series of blogs on Red River Orthodox exploring the insignificance of Orthodoxy for American religion. There are three posts: here, here, and here

The Stubborn Child

There is an article in this week’s New Yorker magazine about Grimms’ Fairy Tales. (The cartoon above, by the way, which has nothing to do with anything,  is hat-tip to this week’s The New Yorker issue). There are two varieties of fairy tales, the article states. “One is the literary fairy tale, the kind written, most famously, by Charles Perrault, E.T.A. Hoffmann, and Hans Christian Anderson. Such tales, which came into being at the end of the seventeenth century, are original literary works – short stories, really – except that they have fanciful subject matter: unhappy ducks, princesses who dance all night, and so on…..The other kind of fairy tale, the ancestor of the literary variety, is the oral tale, whose origins cannot be dated, since they precede recoverable history.” The Grimms insisted that almost all of their material was gathered from these “oral traditions” and are purely German in origin. The stories are a bit grim, to say the least, featuring “mutilation, dismemberment and cannibalism, not to speak of ordinary homicide, often inflicted on children by their parents or guardians.” The brothers themselves nationalists and they hoped to make their young readers “feel and be more German.” Hitler’s government made every German school teach the Grimms’ books and so, understandably, after the war, the Allies banned their books in most cities.

Here is a paragraph long Grimms’ story included in the article entitled The Stubborn Child:

Once upon a time there was a stubborn child who never did what his mother told him to do. The dear Lord, therefore, did not look kindly upon him, and let him become sick. No doctor could cure him and in  a short time he lay on his deathbed. After he was lowered into his grave and covered over with earth, one of his little arms suddenly emerged and reached up into the air. They pushed it back down and covered the earth with fresh earth, but that did not help. The little arm kept popping out. So the child’s mother had to go to the grave herself and smack the little arm with a switch. After she had done that, the arm withdrew, and then, for the first time, the child had peace beneath the earth.

Strange story. The child was on his deathbed but does that mean he actually died? It never says so in the story. In fact, there is more the insinuation that they buried him alive.

New and Old Calendar Saints meet

A priest who piously and regularly serves every single morning and evening made an interesting observation this morning. We’re at our children’s camp and his annual visits and priestly duties here don’t interrupt his daily prayer routine. So this morning, before we had morning prayers with the children, he noted how it’s interesting that on this day when the New Calendar celebrates St. Elijah the Prophet we celebrate on the Old Calendar St. Thomas of Mount Malem. At the Matins service this morning we sang, “O venerable father, thou didst have Elijah the Tishbite piously directing thee to the desert…” (Ode V).

Personally, I found it interesting when he noted that he’s noticed this appearance, this meeting of New Calendar Saints in the Old Calendar  commemoration on different occasions throughout the year.

A happy feast goes to both today.

Peter and Paul, examples of repentance

On the eve of the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul from St. Tikhon’s Monastery here

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Today the Church sets before us the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul: the two mighty pillars of the Church; St. Peter, the Apostle to the Jewish Nation, and St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. When we venerate the icon for this feast, we often see Peter and Paul embracing one another in fraternal (brotherly) love. They both certainly were different people with different temperaments. They both ministered to two mutually opposed groups of people (the Jews and the Gentiles, i.e., the rest of the world.) And they both certainly had their differences, recalling when, to use St. Paul’s words, he (Paul) at one time even “withstood (or opposed) Peter to his face, for he was to be blamed” (Galatians 2:11.)

In spite of this apparent tension, however, we see today within this feast an example of how we are to live with each other in the Church. Certainly, as people from all walks of life, we will have differences. We are all different people with different needs. However, today’s feast shows us that the Church is first and foremost a place where God’s love reigns (as the Lord said, the world will know us by the love we have one for another.) It is this love from God that enables us to overcome our interpersonal difficulties and it is this love that reminds us that with God all things are possible, and hence, when Christ commands us to “love our enemies” it is with the full knowledge that it is His love and grace that will empower us to do so. God doesn’t ask us to “like” our neighbors and enemies, He commands us to “love” our neighbors and our enemies, a task which is far greater and is not predicated on how we feel but it is a choice: it is a conscious decision on our part to will the highest good for everyone we come into contact with. Love is therefore a choice. It is how we choose to act/respond.

The great Saints Peter and Paul exemplify to us that even if we are different and even if we have disagreements, we can still live and work together in the Church and we can find reconciliation one to another through God’s grace and love, that is, if we are willing. Often times the only thing that stands in the way of us being truly reconciled one to another is a conscious choice to be humble and to say with heartfelt meaning to those who offend us the two words that literally BURN the devil: “Forgive me.”

Today’s feast also reminds us that we cannot live our Christian life alone. Peter was one arm of the Body of Christ and Paul the other,  both of which the Lord used to build a foundation which stands rock solid to this very day. They were like the Sun and the Moon, providing the light for the Church day by day, for almost two millennia. Enough can not be said concerning the two greatest Apostles that the Church and the world has ever known. And yet, they both had been exceedingly humbled by circumstances in their lives and thereby also became two great examples of repentance.

St. Peter denied the Lord not once, but three times. The Church has always considered apostasy and denial of our Savior Jesus Christ to be an offense of incalculable magnitude.  However, Peter by his sincere repentance, was re-instated after the Lord’s Resurrection and was empowered with the Holy Spirit. The once fearful disciple became a Light to the world and even died for his faith around the year 67 A.D.

We recall that St. Paul persecuted and even killed Christians before he received His call from on high, when he saw the Lord in the blinding light that darkened his eyes but enlightened his soul. Both of these teachers and luminaries had two essential wings by which they flew to heaven: the first, the life giving repentance for their past sins. And second, the real contact they had with the Savior and Lord Jesus Christ which gave them a life giving faith in His True Divinity.

The great Elder, Fr. Sophrony of Essex, explains to us that real “Life giving faith consists in an unquestioning belief in Christ as God. Only when Christ is accepted as perfect God and perfect Man does the plentitude of spiritual experience described by the Apostles and Fathers become possible. Christ, having linked God and man inseparably in Himself, is the one and only solution of the apparently insoluble conflict [of evil in the world]. He is in truth ‘the Savior of the world’ (John 4.42.) He is the sole way to the Father. He is the sun which illumines the universe. Only in His light can the way be seen.” (His Life is Mine, pg. 50.)

In the Gospel today (Matthew 16), the Lord asks Peter “Whom do you say that I am?” Peter answers Him “Thou art THE Christ, the Son of the Living God.” The Lord then responds to him, “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but rather my Father who is in Heaven.” It is God Himself who must reveal the Truth to us. We can not rationalize our way into the Truth about God. Thinking about the truth will often times result in speculations, each person coming up with varying and different conclusions. (For example, if I have to speculate about what is being said in a conversation in the back of this Church building during this sermon, I have no real way of knowing what is really being said. Someone would have to reveal the truth of the matter to me.) Likewise, heavenly, divine things which the ‘eye has not seen nor the ear ever heard nor have never entered into the heart of man’ (1 Cor. 2) must be revealed by the Holy Spirit Who has always abode in Heaven with the Father and the Son. It cannot be otherwise.

However, it is this life giving faith in the truth of the Gospel message, that the Lord Jesus Christ is God from God, the Eternal Word of God in the flesh, it is this truth that not only brought St. Peter and St. Paul to repentance but also turned them into luminous stars for the universe and teachers for all the nations of the world. It is this faith that Christ is God that has immortalized and engraved their names and lives on the sands of time forever. ‘With what beauties of song then shall we hymn Peter and Paul? They are the wings of divine knowledge who soared above the ends of the earth and were upborne to the heavens, they are the hands of the grace of the Gospel, the rivers of wisdom, the arms of the Cross… they are the dreadful swords of the Spirit, the splendid adornments of Rome, the nurturers of the whole world, the noetic and divinely graven tablets of the new covenant, whom Christ, Who hath great mercy, proclaimed in Sion.’ (Lord I Call Stichera, Vesperal Hymns) ‘We magnify you, O apostles of Christ, who enlightened the whole world with your teachings, and led all the ends of the earth unto Christ.’ (Magnification, Matins.) Wherefore, beseech Him, O Apostles, in our behalf that our souls may find grace and mercy here and in the world to come. Let us therefore all strive to imitate their repentance and also there life giving faith which will enable us to to conquer the world as well. May we see in their relationship our own reconciliation with one another in the Church: knowing that it is always possible through Gods grace to walk hand in hand even if we don’t always see eye to eye, so that united by the love of God, we will be able to proclaim with one voice the Life Giving Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, to Whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

I am God

From a recent interview with Morgan Freeman on Fox411 here:

Fox411: Ok then, let’s move on. Tell me about your series ‘Through the Wormhole.’

MF: It’s a science series. It’s a series that asks a lot of heavy questions about the universe, the solar system. For instance is there a God, if there is did we invent him?

Fox411: Do you think there is a God?

MF: Do I think there’s a God? Um (pause) yeah.

Fox411: You paused.

MF: I paused because I am God.

Fox411: Because every man is created in God’s image.

MF: Yes or God’s created in my image.