Dancing with the Cardinals

Dancing Cardinals Meet the Pope
(and other such nonesense)

By: Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick

H/T: Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy (here)

Even if I were somehow able to be convinced of Rome’s unique dogmas, stuff like the above is one of the main reasons I could never become a Roman Catholic. I have been told by Rome’s apologists that these kinds of things are really just “abuses” and that the “true” worship of Rome shouldn’t be like this. But if a major, global-level Catholic event like World Youth Day (this video is from the 2013 WYD) has the Princes of the Church themselves dancing like this for the Pope himself, what exactly is the real, official stuff? This seems pretty official to me.

I’ve known more than one person who converted to Roman Catholicism because of what he read and then later saw this sort of thing (or even just the rather bland form of Lutheran-style liturgics that passes for much of American Catholic worship) and subsequently left. I can understand if someone leaves a religion because of experiencing abuse (even while I would hope they would see past it to the non-abused form of that religion), but it’s hard to argue that the liturgics of Rome that one sees nearly everywhere are abuse, particularly when they are on worldwide display with the official sanction of the Vatican. Rome’s ecclesiology with its emphasis on the papacy makes it all the harder to make that argument convincing. If the Pope says it’s okay, one has a hard time arguing that it’s an abuse.

And one also has a hard time wondering how Rome would ever be able to go back to its ancient tradition of worship, which, as St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco once said, “is far older than any of her heresies.”

One can read more on this theme from Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy contributor Fr. John Whiteford at his post today: Unfortunate Trends in the Roman Catholic Church.

Hit and Get Hit


There was once a monk who happened to slip and sin by himself continually, yet he would always arise at once and do his prayer rule. The demon that kept throwing him into sin lost his patience seeing the courage and hopefulness of this brother. So he visibly appeared to him, and to said to him with vexation:

“Don’t you fear God, you defiled wretch? You have just sinned, so with what face can you now stand before God? Aren’t you afraid that God will burn you?”

But since the brother had a valiant soul, he said to the demon:

“This cell is a forge: you hit and get hit. As God is my witness, Who came to save the world, I will not stop fighting you, falling and getting up, beating and getting beaten, until my final breath – and let’s see who will win: you or Christ!”

When the demon heard this unexpected reply, he said:

“I won’t fight you any more, because if I do, I’ll make you win crowns.”

On Carnal Warfare, “Counsels from the Holy Mountain”, Selected from the letters and homilies of Elder Ephraim


The True Faith of Methodism

H/T: NewsBiscuit (here)

Madonna foreswears celebrity religion; converts to Methodism

Music legend Madonna has turned her back on the controversial Kabbalah sect to embrace ‘the one true worldwide faith of Methodism’. The controversial singer explained the circumstances of her dramatic conversion at a hastily-convened press conference: ‘After the divorce and failed adoption bid I’d hit rock bottom. One night I found a copy of The Methodist Recorder in my hotel room, and I started reading it for solace. Halfway through the first story ‘Connexional working party report urges district chairs to convene ecumenical dialogue over fall in peripatetic lay preaching throughout the Methodist circuit’ I was in tears.’

She then accepted an invitation to a bring-and-share supper at the nearby church hall. ‘Those people had something special that I knew I didn’t have: a sort of gentle serenity, along with an absence of crazed hubris and stratospheric sense of entitlement. By the time we tucked into the lasagne, I knew I had found my spiritual home.’

Ms Ciccione (50) says she now forswears what she calls ‘exotic designer religions that nobody else can understand or afford’: ‘That Kabbalah sect kept droning on about how life was one big mysterious journey into the unknowable. I’m a single mother of three; I haven’t got time for all that ‘unknowable’ s***. To be frank, I’ve had it up to here with those premium rate mystics; give me a decent Wesley hymn and a good solid working party report any day.’

The announcement has led to a mass defection of celebrities to so-called ‘non-elitist’ religions; Richard Gere has abandoned Tibetan Buddhism, and is considering a move to Britain to be closer to his ‘spiritual kin’ in the United Reformed Church, along with fellow converts Chris Martin and Gwynneth Paltrow.

Meanwhile former Scientologist Tom Cruise is taking a sabbatical from his acting career at a Salvation Army training college in Milwaukee. In a prepared statement, he has told fans he is ‘embarking upon a guided but non pre-ordained discourse towards the ineffable Other we commonly refer to as God’ as well as learning the B-flat euphonium.

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Man was created for love


H/T: Notes on Arab Orthodoxy (here)

Metropolitan Ephrem Kyriakos

“And God saw that it was good.” Man was created free for the sake of love. He is the link between the Creator and creation. His feet are on the earth and his thought is directed toward heaven. He is body and spirit, manifest and hidden.

Saint Irenaeus says, “God created man so that He could offer him wondrous gifts.” Creation is an act of love from one side, for the sake of communion, exchange, and affection. This initiative invites acceptance or rejection.

Man was created, then, in order to participate in divine love. Contemporary civilization refuses communion with God because it uses creation without reference to the Creator, which causes contemporary man to reject the other.

Rejecting immortality causes man to search for his happiness through earthly possessions. His sin is that he is mistaken about the goal: this is the source of human tragedy.

When man opens his heart to God, the uncreated divine energies grip him from within and change his being without altering his nature, like iron heated in fire, becoming red-hot and glowing: an image of divinization. Man accepts communion with God without becoming a god by nature.

The Christian East always looked to creation for contemplation and giving praise.

The Christian West preferred to consume it. This is a summary of the history of science.

The West, starting in the second millennium, directed itself towards technological activity that caused it to long for “the created rather instead of the Creator.”

“How great are your works, O Lord. In wisdom You made them all.”

From the start, man possesses not only bodily eyes but also spiritual eyes that help him to understand the meanings of the symbols in God’s creation.

All this does not negate the importance of matter, the material of nature, but it causes us to look at it from a different perspective and to deal with it from this perspective.

God is always present in all creation. “Everywhere present and filling all things.” Contemporary scientists have learned, through the examination of particles, that all things are connected to each other.

Man is a microcosm. He is a bridge between earth and heaven, a message of love. Love alone leads to freedom. If man is united, he is able to unite creation, since he leads creation to its creator. He does this through his giving thanks for the blessings he enjoys. With humility he recognizes the Creator’s generous giving.

If a person enjoys this giving thanks and this humility, he comes to be in the image of Christ, the priest of creation, offering everything to God, including the natural environment. In return, God gives him joy and holiness: “Your own of Your own, we offer to you on behalf of all and for all.”

Large Families

kidsII“God especially loves and provides for large families.  A large family provides children with many opportunities to grow up normally, as long as the parents give them the proper nurturing.  One child helps the other.  The oldest girl helps the mother; the second child takes care of the younger one, and so forth.  There is a sense of giving, and they live in an atmosphere of sacrifice and love.  The younger ones love and respect the older ones; and this is something that comes naturally in a large family.”

From the Teachings of the Blessed Elder Paisios: On Family Life
[provided by Fr. Demetrios Carellas]