Arimathea
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Religion
The human animal is the worshipping animal. Toward the divine, we have a need to pray, to sacrifice, to offer up, and to praise. From the spirit dances of primitive animism to the rational contemplation of philosophical paganism, from the ethical code of the rabbis to the theological vision of the scholastics, from the sprinkled blood (the origin of blessing) of temple cults to helping the poor in simple Christian charity, men need to relate the immanent and the transcendent -- they see their particular lives in time and space transfigured and transfused with meaning unbounded by human things. Religion is this aspect of human life where the everyday and worldly intersects with the ultimate and divine. Is this an accident of human evolution, or is it a racial neurosis brought upon us as conscious beings who live in the shadow of our own death? Is it a reflection of the divine order, where creatures naturally orient themselves toward their source? Has God revealed himself to us, as the Christians claim? In this realm, I shall try to delve into such questions as an Orthodox Christian who ever pesters God with "Why?"
Sunday, June 21, A.D. 2009
All Saints of Your Land

Last Sunday, the Orthodox Church celebrated the feast of All Saints. This Sunday, each local Church remembers and celebrates the saints who figured prominently in its land.

Here is an icon of the Orthodox saints from America.

They are (from bottom to top and from left to right):

Herman of Alaska, Valaam monk and missionary to Alaska
John (Maximovitch), Bishop of Shanghai and later Archbishop of San Francisco
Innocent of Alaska, missionary bishop to Alaska and later Metropolitan of Moscow
Tikhon of Moscow, Archbishop of New York and later Patriarch of Moscow

Juvenaly of Alaska, Valaam monk and missionary to Alaska, martyred in Alaska.
Raphael of Brooklyn, Bishop of Brooklyn
Varnava (Nastić), Bishop of Hvosno, born in Gary, Indiana, confessor under the Yugoslavian Communists
Jacob Netsvetov, Russian-Aleut priest in Alaska
Peter the Aleut, protomartyr of America, martyred by the Spanish in California

John Kochurov, priest in America and later martyred under the Bolsheviks
Alexis of Wilkes-Barre, former Uniate who led a mass conversion to Orthodoxy
Nikolai Velimirovic, Bishop of Žiča and later rector of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary
Alexander Hotovitzky, priest in America and later martyred under the Soviets

Posted by Joseph on Sunday, June 21, Anno Domini 2009
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Sunday, June 14, A.D. 2009
All Saints’ Day

I hope that you had a fine All Saints’ Day. Unlike the Western tradition in which the feast of All Saints falls in the autumn, the Eastern tradition places the feast of All Saints on the Sunday following Pentecost. As the priest said today, Pentecost is the feast of the planting and All Saints’ Day is the feast of the harvest.

Next Sunday—the second Sunday after Pentecost—is another feast of all saints, but rather with an emphasis on local saints. Thus, in Serbia, it is a commemoration of all the Serbian saints, while in Greece, it is a commemoration of all the Greek saints. These “local” saints do not have to originate in the land where they are celebrated. In the case of the initial missionaries—the “apostles” to the land who first brought and spread the gospel, they are almost always foreigners, as Patrick was from Roman Britannia, but the Irish claim him as their own. Nina was from Cappadocia, but she is known as the apostle to and enlightener of Georgia. Americans have their local Orthodox saints, as well, though quite limited in number. Return next week to see a localized All Saints’ Day icon.

Posted by Joseph on Sunday, June 14, Anno Domini 2009
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Monday, June 8, A.D. 2009
Day of the Holy Spirit

On this day after Pentecost, Whit Monday in the West, allow me to post one of the most common and, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful short and simple prayers in Christian praxis.

O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, who art everywhere present and fillest all things; treasury of good things, and giver of life—come and dwell in us, and cleanse us of every impurity, and save our souls, o good one.

Yesterday in the Pentecostal sermon, the priest spoke about the Hebrews’ experience with the presence of God—the שכינה, which was limited to certain times, places, and people. After Pentecost, however, the presence of God ought to dwell in every Christian.

We very well do not behave as if our own person were the Holy of Holies. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians obviously comes to mind, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

Posted by Joseph on Monday, June 8, Anno Domini 2009
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Sunday, June 7, A.D. 2009
Pentecost

Happy Pentecost and Trinity Sunday!

The image link and the Greek Archdiocese both have a brief explanation of the feast’s icon.

Troparion:

Blessed art Thou, Christ our God,
Who didst make the fishermen wise by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit,
And through them didst draw the world into Thy net.
Lover of men, glory to Thee.

Kontakion:

When the Most High came down and confused the tongues,
He divided the nations,
But when He distributed the tongues of fire,
He called all to unity.
And with one accord we glorify the All-Holy Spirit.

Posted by Joseph on Sunday, June 7, Anno Domini 2009
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