Archbishop & Trump

london_fog-mistH/T: Washington Post

Archbishop of Canterbury baffled by Christians backing Trump

LONDON — The Archbishop of Canterbury says he doesn’t understand why so many Christians in the U.S. support President Donald Trump.

Justin Welby told ITV’s Preston on Sunday program that he “really genuinely” can’t comprehend why fundamentalists have provided such a strong base for Trump.

Welby did say he would be willing to attend a state dinner in Trump’s honor if the president comes to Britain on an official visit.

He said part of his job is to meet with people he disagrees with “and to testify with the love of Christ to them and to seek to draw them in a different way.”

Trump has accepted an invitation for a state visit to Britain, but no date has been set.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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The Little and Great Pascha

MysticalSupper flyerH/T: here

Part two of our republishing of ‘The Contemporary Protestant Seder: Anachronistic Revisionism?’ by the Rev. Dr. Dcn. Timothy J. Wilkinson. 

The Early Church, the Seder and the Eucharist

What kind of meal was the Last Supper? At first blush it appears to be a Passover meal imbued with new meaning. In Matthew and Mark, Jesus specifically mentions the desire to eat the Passover meal with His disciples:

Now on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover? And He said,  “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples (Matthew 26:17-18).

…“Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples.” So His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found it just as He had said to them; and they prepared the Passover (Mark 14:14, 16).

The Gospel of Luke provides additional detail, using the word “Passover” in five of the nine verses from Luke 22:7-15. Clearly, the Synoptic gospels unambiguously identify the Last Supper with the Passover meal. Zeitlin states:

“The description of the Last Supper given in the gospels is undoubtedly a record of the Seder of the first night of Passover. The bread which Jesus ate was unleavened bread and the wine was that used by the Jews on the first night of Passover. The hymn sung by Jesus and the Apostles after the meal was the Hallel, which is still sung by the Jews on that night.”xii

At the same time Zeitlin points out that the Synoptics do not actually portray Jesus eating the Paschal lamb because He Himself

“was the paschal lamb that was to be sacrificed to redeem men.”xiii

By their identification of the supper shared with Jesus as the Passover, the synoptics appear to indicate that the Passover took place before the crucifixion, whereas the Gospel of John specifies Friday it as the “Preparation Day”, which would be the eve of the Passover. In this case the meal was not a Seder, but a common meal. John identifies Christ Himself as the Passover sacrifice and places the time of the supper before the Passover:

“Now before the Feast of the Passover…” (John 13:1).

John locates the sacrifice of Christ at the traditional time that the Passover lambs were sacrificed:

“Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour…” (John19:14)

and

“Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day…” (John 19:31).

Christ is then crucified at

“about the sixth hour” (19:14),

which is when the lambs were sacrificed in the Temple.xiv

Patristic writers have also varied in their explanations of the whether or not the Lord’s Supper was a Passover meal. Clement of Alexandria (third century), Hippolytus (third c.), Eutyches (fourth-fifth c.) and Eusebius (fourth c.) argued that the supper was a Passover meal eaten early, before the actual Passover was to take place. In contrast, Irenaeus (second-third c.), Origen (third c.), and John of Damascus (eighth c.) believed that Jesus and his disciples ate the actual Passover meal.xv The chronological issue is important because it addresses the question of what type of meal that Jesus shared with His disciples as described in John 13:1-30.

However, as can be seen from the quotations above, the Father did not express a unanimous opinion on this question. Patristic writers were uniform in seeing a linkage between the Passover and the Passion and Person of Christ. Justin, using the typological exegesis common in the Early Church, compared the blood of Christ to the blood that delivered Israel in Egypt:

The mystery, then of the lamb which God enjoined to be sacrificed as the Passover, was a type of Christ; with whose blood, in proportion to their faith in Him, they anoint their houses, i.e., themselves, who believe on Him. … God does not permit the lamb of the Passover to be sacrificed in any other place than where His name was named; knowing that the days will come, after the suffering of Christ, when even the place in Jerusalem shall be given over to your enemies, and all of the offerings, in short, shall cease. … and that lamb which was commanded to be wholly roasted was a symbol of the suffering of the cross which Christ would undergo. For the lamb, which is roasted is roasted and dressed up in the form of the cross.xvi

In his dialogue with Trypho, he further stated:

For the Passover was Christ, who was afterwards sacrificed, as also Isaiah said, ‘He was led as a sheep to the slaughter.’ And it is written, that on the day of the Passover you seized Him, and that also during the Passover you crucified Him. And as the blood of the Passover saved those who were in Egypt, so also the blood of Christ will deliver from death those who have believed.xvii

In the mid-fourth century Ephrem wrote,

“Our Lord ate the Little Pascha (Passover) and became himself the great Pascha.”

Origen, noting John the Baptist’s declaration –

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

– stated,

“Here you see the true lamb, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”,

and noting 1 Cor. 7:7 –

“Christ our Paschal lamb has been sacrificed,”

– added,

“Let the Jews eat the flesh of the lamb in a carnal way, but let us eat the flesh of the Word of God.’’xviii

As can be seen from these quotations, while the Church Fathers touched upon the question of whether or not the Last Supper was a Passover meal, they were much more interested in how the Lord in His death fulfilled the type of the paschal lamb.xix

In modern times arguments have been made attempting to reconcile the different Passover accounts, including the proposition that the discrepancy is due to the use of different calendars by Palestinian and Diaspora Jews.xx Scholar Bo Reicke posits that the meal eaten at the Last Supper was a quiddush, a “meal of consecration,” while C.C Torrey argues that the word “Passover” could refer to the Passover supper itself, the feast of unleavened bread, or to the entire week of Passover.xxi Perhaps the simplest and most likely explanation of John’s timeline is offered by Jerome Kodell, who argues convincingly that

“It was not a Passover meal as such but had Passover motifs because of the proximity of the feast; as today, a family Christmas meal may take place during the season rather than on the day itself.”xxii

Writing along similar lines, Jonathan Klawans argues

“that Christians celebrated the Eucharist on a daily or weekly basis (see Acts 2:46-47) underscores the fact that it was not viewed exclusively in a Passover context (otherwise, it would have been performed, like the Passover meal, on an annual basis).”

This perspective is supported by chapters 9 and 10 of the Didache, which includes eucharistic prayers that approximate the kind of prayers that would be said at any Jewish meal, including the Seder.xxiii
Perhaps the most satisfying explanation is offered by F.F. Bruce, who points out that the Last Supper took place at least 24 hours before the official celebration of Friday’s Passover. The fact that this would mean that the meal would occur without a Passover lamb, was not without precedent. All Passover meals, except for those in Jerusalem, were fashioned this way because the lambs had to be sacrificed in the vicinity of the Temple at the prescribed time on Friday. In this scenario, the meal celebrated by the disciples was a Passover meal but without the lamb, just like the meal celebrated by Jews in all places except in Jerusalem. This is a satisfying explanation considering the time-frame of John’s Gospel and given the lack of reference to an actual eating of the lamb in the Synoptics. Bruce’s explanation is simple,

“It may be that Jesus and his disciples celebrated the Passover according to another calendar than the official one; it may be that Jesus, knowing that he would be no longer alive on Friday evening, the official time for celebrating it, deliberately arranged to eat it with his disciples earlier in the week.”xxiv

The view of Orthodox theologians generally is that the meal shared by Jesus and the disciples in the upper room was decidedly not a Seder supper of the Passover. While allowing that it was a supper in a Passover context which included the breaking of bread and the drinking of the cup, the fact that it ostensibly took place on Thursday evening disallows it from being a Passover Seder. More importantly, unlike the Seder, the Eucharist transcends space and time. xxv Orthodox theologian Paul Evdokimov states:

“All the holy suppers of the Church are nothing else than one eternal and unique Supper, that of Christ in the Upper Room. The same divine act both takes place at a specific moment in history, and is offered always in the sacrament.”xxvi

Alexander Schmemann points out that Christian worship, specifically the synaxis or the Liturgy of the Catechumens, originated in the cultic ritual of the Hebrews. Far from rejecting the traditional worship of the Jews, Jesus and the disciples were regular participants in the services of the Temple and the Synagogue. The Book of Acts records that involvement by the Jerusalem Christians in the Hebrew Cult continued throughout the period of persecution by the leaders of Judaism, persisting up until the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. Schmemann states,

“…considering the hostility expressed toward them by the official leaders of Judaism, it is remarkable that there is no mention in the charges brought against them of their infringement of the cultic law.”xxvii

He is making the point that the early Church did not make a clean break with Judaism and that it did not reject the liturgical form of worship practiced by the Jews.

Despite the faithfulness of the early Jewish Christians to their roots, the coming of Jesus the Messiah created a new relationship between His followers and the old traditional cult. Jesus had condemned the legalistic, external and ritualistic interpretation of the Haggadah, criticizing the rabbis for turning traditional ritual into an end-in-itself rather than a means through which people might be able to recognize Him as the Christ. While both Baptism and the Eucharist had their origins in the Jewish tradition, the content was completely new in that the liturgical acts pictured in the old cult were now exclusively and completely connected to his death and resurrection. In speaking of the Passover supper Schmemann states:

There can be no doubt that the new cult has its historical foundation in that “private” cult which united Christ and the little group of disciples whom He had chosen, in the prayer, the meal and the communion which He had with them. But precisely because Jesus was not just one of many teachers or prophets, but the Messiah Himself, this private cult becomes the cult of the messianic community, its central and so to speak “constitutive” act. In addition, because Christ Himself instituted this cult as a remembrance of Himself – “Do this in remembrance of me” – it has no content other than Himself, His coming, the work which he accomplished. xxviii

Schmemann further states that outside of faith in Christ, the communion meal that Christ instituted has no meaning whatsoever. Moreover, it is within the context of the Lord’s Supper that the Church becomes itself;

“There can be no eucharistic gather where there is no Church and there can be no Church without the Eucharist.”xxix

The Jewish ritual meal was transformed because it was given new meaning by Jesus as He celebrated it with His disciples. Evidence indicates that it was not viewed by the early Christians as a memorial meal for the dead founder of the Christian Church. Rather, the Eucharist was seen as a foretaste of the Heavenly Kingdom in which Jesus is both the celebrant and the sacrifice,xxx offered to, and received by God outside of time. Clearly, the Eucharist of the Church has Passover themes and is purposefully connected through Christ’s actions in the Upper Room to a Seder-like meal. To say that the Seder is fulfilled in the Eucharist is a gross understatement. Rather, the Seder meal shared by Jews and others at Passover today can only be viewed by Christians as a shadow or “type” of the Eucharistic Body and Blood that Christ shares with his followers for

“remission of sins and unto life everlasting.”xxxi

To conclude, the Passover – and the Seder meal associated with it – is a type of the saving work of Christ, in which Christ becomes the Passover. This is made clear in the Paschal hymn, which states,

“Today a sacred Pascha is revealed to us, a new and holy Pascha, a mystical Pascha, a Pascha worthy of veneration, a Pascha which is Christ the Redeemer.”xxxii

Pascha is the Greek word for Passover, making this connection self-evident in most languages; the most obvious exception being the English designation of “Easter”.

Given the centrality of the Eucharist in the early Church and the lack of interest in the Seder meal throughout most of Christian history, the embrace of the Seder by evangelicals can be understood only outside of the context of historic, biblical, and traditional Christianity.

More on the Proskomedia

proskomedia

 H/T: Here

The Spirituality of the Proskomedia

Though most of the laity is not present at the proskomedia, nonetheless the spirituality of this preparatory service involves you in a clear if unseen way.

Special breads called “prosphora” must be baked for use at the Divine Liturgy.  Prayer accompanies their preparation.  Five large loaves are made, in two parts to signify the human and divine natures of Christ in one person, and the top portion of four of them is stamped with a seal in the form of a cross with the letters

IC XC
NI KA

the abbreviation for the Greek words for Jesus Christ Conquers (i.e., through the cross and resurrection; see e.g. Colossians 1:15, 2:15ff; I Cor. 15:54, 57; Revelation 12:11, 17:14).  One may be sealed with an image of the Theotokos.  In addition, smaller breads are baked and the faithful purchase these to commemorate their relatives or friends living and departed.  The red wine was also locally produced and made as an offering to the church.  Often monasteries became bakeries and/or wineries for this purpose.

The origin of this service is a simple need: how shall we prepare the bread we bring in order that it might be used at the Divine Liturgy?  We consecrate it at the altar after the great entrance through the anaphora (Eucharistic prayer), although in Orthodoxy we tend to think of the entire Divine Liturgy as the work of the Holy Spirit in setting aside these gifts for us.  But how shall we prepare it, manually and physically, in order to put it to this use?

In the early church people brought many offerings to church other than money; they brought fruit, produce, bread, wine.  Most of this was eaten at dinners called Agape meals and/or distributed to the poor of the parish.  Some of the bread and wine would be reverently set aside (the meaning of the word “consecration,” by the way) for use at the Divine Liturgy.  Hence our service.

The proskomedia originally consisted of short prayers said over the host prior to the Anaphora.  When the skeuophylakion (a separate building outside the NE arc of the Apse) was developed, the service moved to that space; in this pattern people brought their gifts to the separate building.  In the 8th century the ceremony became elaborate, probably under impetus from interpretations by St Germanos, Archbishop of Constantinople, whose meditations on the Divine Liturgy were very influential.

At the table of preparation, a priest takes one of the four loaves and signs it with the spear in a cruciform manner with the words, “In Remembrance of Our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ” three times.  As he cuts out the center portion (called the Lamb), he repeats the words of Isaiah 53, “As a sheep led to the slaughter….” The lamb is cut crosswise on the bottom to just below the seal, and then pierced with the spear as it is set upright on the paten, to symbolize the sacrifice of Christ.  At this time, also, the wine is poured into the chalice with a smaller portion of water added to it.

The second Prosphora is the one sealed with an image of the Theotokos.  She is commemorated as the priest cuts out a particle “in honor and memory” of our Lady Theotokos, and we beseech her prayers also that this may be a worthy liturgy.  The particle is placed on the paten to the left of the Lamb with the words “The queen stood at thy right side.”

With the third prosphora we commemorate the nine ranks of holy ones:

  1. The Archangels Michael and Gabriel and all the angels,
  2. John the Forerunner and Baptist and the other Prophets,
  3. The Apostles (especially Peter and Paul),
  4. The fathers among the saints, esp. the three great hierarchs,
  5. The martyr-saints, both men and women, esp. Stephen and George,
  6. The venerable God-bearing fathers and mothers,
  7. The unmercenary saints (physicians who healed without pay),
  8. The ancestors of God and the saints of the day and special saints to the jurisdiction and/or local church, and lastly
  9. St John Chrysostom or St Basil of Caesarea (depending on whose liturgy is being celebrated).

These nine particles are set on the paten to the right of the Lamb in three rows. In some rites of the proskomedia, the Archangels are not commemorated and John the Baptist is then first, separate from the rest of the prophets.

The fourth prosphora is used to commemorate the living members of the church, including bishops, priests, deacons and monastics of the jurisdiction.  These particles are placed just below the Lamb toward the front of the paten.

The fifth prosphora is used to commemorate the departed, and those particles are placed below the row of the living.

Lastly, particles are taken from the prosphora given by members of the parish for commemoration at that liturgy.

After all this preparation, the star and veils and large veil are censed with words from the Psalms and, lastly, the prepared and veiled gifts are censed and we pray that God will graciously “remember those who offered it and those for whom is was offered, for you are good and love mankind.”

Particles may be cut from the small prosphora until just before the Great Entrance.  Hence altar boys may come out several times to get more prosphora as people set them aside for their commemorations.

The particles are brought with the Lamb to the altar during the Great Entrance, and there they remain until the conclusion of the liturgy.  When the priest and deacons and servers return to the altar after communing the faithful, the particles are swept into the chalice with the words,

“Wash away, O Lord, the sins of all those here commemorated, by your precious blood; through the prayers of your saints.”

We see that, over the centuries, the proskomedia developed not only into an elaborate ritual but also into one that has poignant and precise relation to our active spiritual life.  Who of us would not want to do more to remember our friends and relatives in time of need and at prayer?

St Germanos likened the proskomedia to the hidden years of Jesus, when he was at prayer and pondering the form his ministry would take, and when he was in constant communion with the Father and the Spirit.  We, along with Christ, emerge from this preparatory liturgy into the fullness of the Divine Liturgy, our public affirmation and witness to the faith.

Fr Gabriel

The wealth of the Holy Spirit

84_sv_stefan_decanski_vI’ve been reading Michael Lewis’, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt with the hopes of getting a better understanding of the financial world. It’s not working. It’s an enjoyable read about high frequency trading with many colorful characters, some of whom were as ignorant of Wall Street trading as I am. Ronan Ryan is an example. Lewis writes, “he didn’t pretend to know what happened on a trading floor. ‘He had questions that were unbelievably rudimentary….he didn’t know what ‘bid’ and ‘offer’ was. He didn’t know what it meant to ‘cross the spread’.” But it’s also the story of these guys who recognize that the whole stock market is rigged.

It’s a completely different, fast-paced world all in the pursuit of money and power.  We commemorate today in the church’s calendar St. Stephan of Dechani, a saint who was also a ruler, a king – one who had both money and power. He is one of many Saints from Serbian history that left the power of the earthly throne to dedicate themselves to God.

In a homily Bishop Fotije of Dalmatia once said, “Today the word “rich” (“bogat” in Serbian; “Bog” means God) is understood in the completely materialistic sense of the word, and is exclusively connected with those who have many material goods, but it’s true meaning is is different and much deeper. As etymology teaches us, richness is , in fact, our union with God and rich is the man who has the Lord. In contrast, richness understood from the ordinary, worldly perspective usually distances the person who is rich from God, for it entices him with the apparent sparkle and the feeling of power. In order to avoid such temptations we must nurture our communion with the Lord, and we will achieve this in the best way through prayer and holy communion. Throughout history, and in our day, there were people who did not possess much or anything, but they reached a level of spiritual cleanliness through which they received the wealth of the Holy Spirit. “

Prosphora, particles, etc.

186059.bH/T: pravoslavie.ru via here

About the Particles Taken out During the Proskomedia

“And there will be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16).

Since ancient Apostolic times the Liturgy was served with one Bread (and one Chalice) following Christ’s example. This tradition remained in the West. In the East, according to Archimandrite Cyprian (Kern), “The Byzantine Empire weaved a lot of theological and mystical patterns in the liturgical cloth”. In particular, the best bread was chosen as the lamb, while small particles were taken out from all the other breads and placed on the diskos near the lamb in memory of those who had brought those breads (such liturgical tradition exists since 11th century; before that time all the other breads were just raised with pronunciation of the names of people who brought them).

These small particles symbolize our gifts and sacrifices to God, and first of all the sacrifices of the holy martyrs, who fully sacrificed themselves to Christ. These particles are next to the most perfect Sacrifice and thus they become blessed, just like the sacrifices of saints are blessed by Christ, although they do not become the Body of Christ. The thing is, the saints’ sacrifices are not equal to the Sacrifice of Christ and are imperfect in comparison with His Sacrifice. Even the service of the Most Holy Theotokos, Who is more honorable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, cannot be compared with the sacrifice of Christ. Only Christ died willingly (and this is why His death is redemptive for us), while the Mother of God and the saints and martyrs died because of their nature. And the saints are glorified not because of their essence, but due to God’s grace. In fact, Christ is the only One, Who is God by His essence. This is why it is forbidden to partake of the Holy Communion with the particles taken out in honor of saints, because they are not equal to the Body of Christ. The rite reflects dogmatics and it has always been this way.

An opposite statement saying that these particles turn into the Body of Christ is officially confessed by the uniates since 1720. However, it is nothing more than the reflection of the catholic dogmatics, which denies the uncreated nature of the Divine energies, in accordance with Barlaam of Seminara, a scholar and academic. According to the catholic teachings, the saints united with God through the flesh, which means that no direct union with God occurs. Consequently, no salvation occurs as well. Otherwise, it is necessary to accept that the saints unite with God by their nature, which is an example of pagan polytheism. Paradoxically, however, the impossibility of direct union with God and the union with God by nature are the same things from the philosophical viewpoint. In fact, platonism, with its radical division between material and spirit (dualism) and their eternity, and neoplatonism combined with aristotelianism and its emanation of deity, are equal and accept the same substance of being. This substance is deity-cosmos-body, beginning with the thin heavenly level and ending with heavy terrestrial level (this leads to dissolving the border between the Creator and the creation, to depersonalization of God and to denying the fact of creation out of nothing).

Thus, there is only one choice: either to accept that these particles do not receive any blessing at all (why are they needed then? – actually, there are none in the Latin rite), or to accept that all these particles turn into the Body of Christ. Ancient pagan platonism – that is what is behind the unjust belief in transubstantiation of the proskomedia particles.

We partake of the Holy Communion from the single Sacrifice of Christ, not from the sacrifices of saints. We become of one blood and body with Christ and then we become one body – the Church of Christ, which is built on the blood of the holy martyrs, which emulates the Golgotha Sacrifice. Nevertheless, there is only one foundation, which is Jesus Christ Himself (Ref. 1 Corinthians 3:11). We cannot partake of the Holy Communion from the blood of saints. We can only ask them to pray for us before God. This is what the dogmatic teaching of the Church says about the communion with saints. The particles become blessed but they do not transubstantiate into the Body of Christ. It symbolizes that the sheep partake of the Holy Communion from the One Shepherd, but not from each other. “For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:17).

To provide an example we can mention the raising of prosphora blessed in the name of the Mother of God during the rite of Panhagia. The prosphora is blessed, but it does not transubstantiate neither into the Body of Christ, nor into the body of the Mother of God. Those who partake of it receive blessing by the prayers of the Mother of God, but of course this is not considered to be the Holy Communion.

So, the particles taken out during the proskomedia for all the members of the Church are placed on the diskos and are blessed during the Liturgy. Because of the power of the foretype, this blessing spreads on us all too, because the diskos and the particles on it are nothing else but the image of the whole Church. “But let us see, how can we see Jesus Christ Himself and His Holy Church in this Divine image and the actions of the holy proskomedia. He is in the center under the guise of bread. The Mother of God is at the light hand of Christ under the guise of a particle. The saints and angels are at His left hand. All the pious believers who have faith in Christ are placed below. There is a great mystery: God among people and God among gods, which received their divinity from God, Who incarnated by their nature for their sake. Here we can also see the Kingdom and how eternal life is organized: God is near us and He lets us be a part of Him…”

Not only the particles are blessed, but also the prosphoras from which these particles have been taken out. This is done so that faithful people partake of them and receive blessing as well. In ancient times, antidoron was taken by those people, who did not partake of the Holy Communion during the Divine Liturgy.

The whole Divine Liturgy is full of deep theological symbolism and includes all the mysteries of the Divine economy of our salvation, so that the children of the Church receive the Divine knowledge in following Christ’s commandment to do this in remembrance of Him (Luke 22:19).

An article by Archpriest Igor Belov

 

Translated from: http://www.pravoslavie.ru/73659.html