Meatfare and Judgment

cowshermitageOf all the Sundays of preparation for Great Lent, Meatfare Sunday is the most confusing.

The message of the Publican and the Pharisee is quite clear  and very practical. The image of repentance in the story of the Prodigal Son is very vivid and beautiful. The need to ask for forgiveness before beginning the fasting period is obvious. But why the gospel of the Last Judgment on Meatfare Sunday? One would think there would at least be mention of fasting in that gospel reading.  What’s more, the Epistle reading at liturgy begins:  “…food commends us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.…”.

Nonetheless, I think there is a point and direct connection with fasting. The fast was a little different in the life of Christians in the early church than today. While the dietary rules were the same, stress wasn’t put so much on what you eat but rather how much you eat. According to the instruction of the Church Fathers we are called to eat less and to use the money we’ve saved to feed the poor.

In this light the Gospel of the Last Judgment of Christ calling us to feed the poor, give drink to the thirsty, and so on, makes perfect sense to be read exactly here before we start the Fast.

This is what Great Lent is about. Will it be about that or not eating certain foods is another story and for another post.

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

( 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 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



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.