09 February 2015

Natural Woman

A few days ago was a feastday I wanted to commemorate in someway, but wasn’t quite sure what to do: Saint Photius the Great, Patriarch of Constantinople. The Eastern Orthodox considered him one of the greatest patriarchs of Constantinople. Right now, perhaps some Roman Catholics are saying, “What is this traitor about to say about the One, Holy, Catholic, and Roman Church! Next he’ll be praising the enemy of unity, Mark of Ephesus!” While at the same time some Eastern Orthodox are saying, “What is that schismatic about to say about the One, Holy, Catholic, and Orthodox Church! Next he’ll be slandering the courageous defender of Orthodoxy, Saint Mark Evgenikos, Archbishop of Ephesus!” Perhaps some Eastern Catholics are saying, “Man! I wish he wouldn’t bring them up. Next he’ll start talking about Saint Gregory Palamas.” You know, this sounds just like a very dysfunctional marriage, doesn’t it?

03 February 2015

Synaxis of Sts. Simeon and Anna

Total emersion into the Eastern Liturgy has been much more enlightening than all my reading and “dabbling” in Eastern Christian spirituality over the last 20+ years. Only once did I reply “в річці Йордані!” to “Христос Рождається!” (“Christ is born! in the Jordan!”) during the octave of Theophany. I got “Слава навіки!” happening pretty good this last summer, so now I’ve got to work on saying “Слава Ісусу Христу!” right off the bat. (I almost tried saying it to some guys on the street speaking what I thought was a slavic language (I later noticed they had Russian flags on their coats), but I chickened out. I think they were part of a hockey team.)

I think today was the first time in 21 years that I didn’t have my throat blessed. There may have been one other day, but I was quite sick that year, so I don’t remember if I was able to celebrate Mass for the Feast of St. Blaise. Rather than St. Blaise, today I celebrated the Synaxis of Sts. Simeon and Anna. The word synaxis (Greek: σύναξις) can mean a few different things, but in this context it is referring to the liturgical celebration of the saints involved in the primary celebration for the major feast on the preceding day. For example, the day after the Nativity of Christ (i.e. Christmas) is the Synaxis of the Theotokos (i.e. the Mother of God). This seems to explain why the West celebrates St. Stephen on December 26th, while the East celebrates him on the 27th. Although, I celebrated St. Stephen on both days this last December plus the Synaxis of the Theotokos. (I also had a lot of fun looking into various aspects of the song Good King Wenceslas after Liturgy on the 27th.) I am trying to cut down on my multiple use of liturgical calendars; thus, I didn’t get my throat blessed today. However, I would like to tell you (particularly any westerners) about something I learned today. But first, I have to give some background to this story.