Our Lawgiver


Fr. Milos Vesin on the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord (source – here):

“Today is a feast of the law but also of the Lawgiver. The Lord, our Lawgiver, led by His love towards mankind and desire that he come to the knowledge of truth, Himself follows the Law, even though He had no need for it.

Today’s feast has also a social dimension, for it points to the moment when the parents brought the child before the Lord on the fortieth day. The future of the Church of Christ is not in the youth but the future of the youth is the Church. St. Simeon held the Lord in his hands one day, while we partake of the Mysteries of His body and blood and always hold him in our hearts.”

A Hidden Protestant?

Pope Francis

H/T: The Eponymous Flower (here)

Bizarre message from Protestantism by the Protestant bishop of Hamburg

(kath.net) For Hamburg’s evangelical bishop, Kirsten Fehr, Pope Francis is a “hidden Protestant”. Fehrs ventured this at the “Long Night of World Religions” at the Hamburg Thalia Theater, as evangelisch.de reports.

“He seems to me a hidden Protestant.” The reason for this bold statement is evidently the letter “Amoris laetitia” and the interpretation of some bishops who believe that remarried divorced Catholics now only have to appeal to their consciences to receive the Holy Eucharist.

Trans: Tancred vekron99@hitmail.com



dscn3706.jpgYou ever come home after being out of town to find your house filled with little guests?  And by little I mean tiny. That’s what happened to us after Thanksgiving this year.  We had an ant problem. I have no idea where they came from but what worried me more was that they didn’t “come” from anywhere but were there the whole time.

The phrase “come out of the woodwork” comes to mind. An etymological definition says that this saying is based on the idea of insects that suddenly come out from under boards in a house where they have been hidden. In other words, they’re not coming anywhere – they’ve been there the whole time.

That phrase tends to be passed around this time of year.  We’re getting ready for Badnje Vece (Christmas Eve) and if there’s a time of year that people come out of the woodwork it’s Badnje Vece. It’s a unique evening and worship service, particularly in the Serbian tradition, that combines both faith and culture. No one – not even the laziest churchgoer – can imagine not going to this service just as no one would dream of leaving without a piece of the Badnjak.

It’s when people literally come out of the woodwork. With all those great crowds and so many faces I wonder if we ever see any new faces on Badnje Vece? Maybe. For the most part, however, it’s only faces that have slightly changed since the last time we’ve seen them, which in some cases was the year before.

It’s like us when we were out of town and were surprised to find that our house wasn’t empty. Our churches only seem empty. In reality they’re full and over flowing, standing room only.

All they have to do is come out of the woodwork.

An Ordinary Book

41ahavbrl-_sy344_bo1204203200_The people at InterVarsity Press surprised me with a small package in last week’s mail: a copy of Liturgy of the Ordinary, by Tish Harrison Warren. An attractive looking book that didn’t appear to be too complicated to read. What on earth compelled them to send this to me, I thought?  Do I really want to read this? I have so many books by Orthodox writers to read, do I have time to spend reading this?

I came home late that evening – after a church board meeting of all things – and decided to leaf through it. The Foreword by Andy Crouch was good but not too convincing.

I decided to read the first chapter. It was late, but I continued on to the second and then read the first half of chapter three, decided to go to sleep….But then decided to just finish that chapter as well.

What a delightful book!! It’s literally hard to put down. Simple, straightforward; ordinary, for lack of a better word. Her prose is poetic. She reveals the eternal Christian truths in the ordinary things of everyday life. She writes at one place, “If the church doesn’t teach us what are bodies are for, our culture certainly will”. She was talking about how our bodies are “integral to our worship”, how as Christians we “believe in a God who, by becoming human, embraced human embodiment in fullness…”. And all this – and much, much more – started from the simple act of brushing her teeth.

That’s how this book is structured: she wakes up, makes her bed, brushes her teeth, checks her email….etc.etc.  An ordinary day in her life – everyone’s life – and in the most ordinary things she digs deep to discover and reveal to us, the reader,  just how great God is.

This might be one of the rare cases of a book I’d happily gift to fellow Orthodox by a non-Orthodox writer. It’s that good.

Muslim Family Builds Orthodox Church

20161114165612_397711H/T: Here

Before the war in Bosnia and Hercegovina Muslims and Orthodox lived together in the town of Osredak in Cazina. There are no more Orthodox in this town but they have left behind them a church and cemetery which, over time, has deteriorated.

The last year, the church and cemetery have been watched over and renovated by a Muslim family while Serbs from this town that have since fled to other parts of the world assist financially. The Keranovic family is the only family who works at renovating the church since the other citizens are not in favor of this idea. The sons Samir and Mensud are studying building and construction so this gives them an opportunity to show what they know and learn something new. Fatima, the mother, oftentimes helps her husband Mesud when the sons are at school.

Mesud said that he would like most of all if everyone would return to their own place, he is sad about the war and hopes that at least someone will return and they’ll be able to socialize regardless of their faith. Like before.

Do not re-baptize


H/T: Here

Acceptance into the Orthodox Church
Bishop Basil (Rodzianko)

I have been asked: “How do we accept individuals into the Orthodox Faith?” Should we “rebaptize?” Must everyone be “chrismated?” Is it enough “only to hear their confession?” Traditionally the Orthodox Church has three means of accepting someone into Orthodoxy: 1) Baptism, 2) Chrismation, and, 3) Confession. Naturally, in all cases, also Communion.

Generally, people say: “Moslems and Jews should be baptized; Protestants are chrismated; and Roman Catholics and Armenians should confess.” This 19th Century formula is obviously outdated and was even incorrect. The second formula is: “non-baptized are to be baptized; those baptized by priests without apostolic succession should be chrismated; and, those baptized and chrismated by priests with apostolic succession should have confession.” A third formula proclaims: “those who were not fully immersed in water are to be baptized because sprinkling is not baptizing.” Others insist that there are “no sacraments outside of the Orthodox Church.” If the Church accepts without rebaptizing, she accepts just a “form” of a heretical or schismatical baptism and places this “form” in a “content of grace” at the moment when the individual is accepting Orthodoxy. Consequently, one may accept converts by any form — the Sacrament is performed and completed by the very act of admitting into the Church. The extreme position is to “baptize everyone.”

All of these formula and interpretations are in essence far from Orthodoxy. The teaching and practice of the Church is based on the First Rule of Saint Basil the Great and on the original text which has served as reference to this rule: the message of St. Basil the Great to St. Amphilochius of Iconium. In this message, St. Basil outlines the theological reasoning for the practice of not to re-baptize those who were baptized outside the church and expresses it in the following words: “because they exist thanks to the Church” (“ek tis Ekklicias onton”). In other words, the reasoning for such practice of the Church is “ontological.”

The acceptance into the Church should correspond to the reality. What was the individual before? What was his faith and churchly life? Did he consider himself a sinner? Did he believe with his priest and with others in the real transformation of the Holy Gifts? Did he believe in the apostolic laying on of hands? Was and is this laying on of hands, as such, historical? Was the baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity and was water used?

All of this must be determined in detail prior to accepting them into Orthodoxy. A person does not always match this or that “formula,” even if he belongs to a church, which is historically and canonically “unquestionable.” The reverse is also true.

A theological separation of “form” from “content” is foreign to the theology of the Holy Fathers of the East, particularly St. Basil. Such teaching is very dangerous, in spite of the high authorities who might support such definitions — a typical latin nominalism and scholastic aristotelism.

Another extreme is the denial of grace just because of the “form was incorrect” or did not correspond to the teaching or practice of the Orthodox Church. Baptism by immersing in water is the accepted norm because it is the symbol of “being buried with Christ.” However, the Church has always accepted a baptism as being with grace in such cases when an immersion was not possible as in the case of illness or just prior to death. A contact with water in any form was acceptable. Every priest knows of such cases, especially with babies. Some Orthodox Churches, such as the Serbian church do not practice full immersion due to historical reasons. No one ever had the idea to say that all Serbians cannot be considered baptized or that they should all be re-baptized.

The Orthodox Church has a special rule, which concerns all cases in which the condition is not clear. This is a conditional performance of a sacrament. In such cases anyone may be baptized. However, prior to the Sacrament, the priest should say: “If not yet baptized, being baptized nowä “if not chrismated yet, receive the grace of the Holy Spirit now…” etc. This practice is presently widely used in atheistic countries, where frequently there are no reliable information about the baptism of a child. Equally, such a practice is acceptable, if the convert to Orthodoxy is not sure about the legality of his baptism or has any doubts.

In all cases, one should know exactly what the convert really believes and what he thinks about his previous condition, and does his conviction correspond to the facts. Only then should a decision be made concerning what form should be applied: “first rank” — Baptism, “second rank” — Chrismation, or “third rank” — Confession. In questionable cases one should not hesitate to “re-baptize” but it is imperative to apply the formula: “If not yet baptized…”

In case a priest has any difficulties to make a decision with respect to a real condition, he should directly contact his Bishop.

Light of Life. Published quarterly by the Diocese of the West, the Orthodox Church in America, February 1983.