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Φωνη βοωντος εν τη ερημω: ετοιμασατε την οδον κυριου
intellibear
ursusanglicanus

This is meant as an informal blog.

When it comes to religious items, I would stress that these are my personal opinions, and not those of the Russian Orthodox Church which I belong to.

Most of what I write is 'friends only' (pod zankom). This is because the informal rules governing public questioning of Church positions are considerably tighter in Russia than they are in Western Europe. There is no tradition of 'loyal dissent' as there is in the Anglo-Saxon world. Which is why I am fairly careful before opening the door.

Russian friends: feel free to comment in your own language... I read Russian, but writing is just too difficult...


Для русских гостей -
Вы можете оставлять комментарии на русском языке, избегая слишком сложных и слэнговых оборотов.
Также в ответ на мои комментарии на английском можно отвечать по-русски.



On Catholicism's northern border
intellibear
ursusanglicanus
I was in Mechelen yesterday for Elia's ordination. Of the eight RC seminarians I have taken to Athos over the past five years, and whose ordinations I am later invited to, he is the one Fleming, and the ordination therefore took place in Mechelen, in Flanders, not in Brussels.


Not the best photos, but all I could lay hands on this morning.

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The service was moving, well choreographed (at least for the priests) and well vested.Read more...Collapse )

This was the only priestly ordination in Flanders this year. Read more...Collapse )
I spoke briefly with the Cardinal afterwardsRead more...Collapse )

The fly on the hermit's wall
intellibear
ursusanglicanus
If I were in the cell of a hermit, witness to him or her speaking directly with God, and God speaking to him or her about the current rupture between two significant parts of the Orthodox Church, what would I see and hear? Tears, I suspect foremost, hours of them, prostrate on the ground, with a searing sense of something gone very deeply wrong. Neither the man or woman of God or God Himself will be pointing fingers at particular people, dates or events - they will be taking the long view -, though floating in the background will be the question of how a church should be led and the adequacy of the current key players:  Bartholomew, Kirill, Hilarion, Onufri, Filaret and those supporting them. An awareness, I suspect, of a need for deep prayer, lots and lots of it, without which a church is built on sand and not on rock, and the need for silent waiting on God, including the readiness to hear Him say that structures and forms deemed immutable are inappropriate today and will have to be discarded.

This secret prayer builds up spiritual capital and good things happen – almost certainly such an accumulation of prayer and the sufferings of the Russian church permitted the breaking free in 1988, but is a capital that does not last, and I sense that is right now nearly exhausted, and will need to be rebuilt in a long and silent process.

Much of this prayer is going, I suspect, to be very hidden, often by people with no official labels (‘hermit’) or uniforms or vows. It is they as much as Bartholemew, Kirill, Hilarion, Onufri, Philaret and their successors, who will carry our church for the next several years.

Startsi (Elders)
intellibear
ursusanglicanus
The fact of reading and quoting startsi does not make you a staretz, it just makes you someone who reads and quotes startsi.

A taste of heaven
intellibear
ursusanglicanus
As a spiritual exercise, try thinking hard on what heaven really means for you. Chase all the angels with harps on a cloud into a corner, and try and work out what is really the hope that one longs for, and believes will be realized in the ‘second life’, however one conceives it.  In your own words and your own images. Because if we are unable to express that hope, to sense this promise awaiting us, our spiritual and church world becomes constricted and suffocating, and we die spiritually

A Cry is Heard
intellibear
ursusanglicanus



I have just finished with much pleasure the newly-published book ‘A Cry is heard’[i], the ‘memoir, spiritual autobiography and a call to unity’ of Jean Vanier. JV is Canadian and the founder of L’Arche, which since the 1960s has set up across the world a string of houses where mentally handicapped people live in community along with ‘normal’ assistants. An early book of his, ‘La Communauté, lieu de pardon et lieu de fête’ published in 1979, was partly responsible for my 2-year stint in a monastery in the early 1980s.

It is the story of a deeply Christian man, now aged 89 and counting his days,

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It is a story of

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I very much like his insistence

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[i] Darton, Longman and Todd 2018, original French version: Un cri se fait entendre: Bayard, 2017

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Swansong for an Empire
intellibear
ursusanglicanus
Finally, with the help of a long train journey, I have completed Austrian writer Felix Braun’s long novel ‘Herbst des Reiches’ (Swansong for an Empire). Originally published in 1927 as ‘Agnes Altkirchner’, and set largely in Vienna, it documents, through the lives of a dozen connected characters between 1913 and 1919, the fundamental change in Austrian society brought about by World War I.

It is not an easy read:Read more...Collapse )
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Urban and co.
intellibear
ursusanglicanus
I’m not sure I would like to spend an evening with either Viktor Urban, who has brought Hungary close to expulsion from the EU, for refusing to play ball on migration. Or Marion Le Pen, or the leaders of other Far Right European parties who oppose the type of society the EU establishment seems to want to move us towards.

Their popularity with many, cloaked in Viktor Urban’s case with calls for a ‘Christian Europe’ (= essentially ‘stop migrantion of Muslims, and end gay marriage), points to a fundamental problem in the European mindset that will not – and IMHO cannot go away.

‘Christian’, for Mr Orban and his ilk, is shorthand for something else:
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Macedonian interlude
intellibear
ursusanglicanus

We are just back from a week in the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia (FYROM).  The primary purpose of the trip was to allow Irina to visit a number of churches which boast ancient and high quality frescoes in the Byzantine style.

St Dimitry's church just outside Prilep

In this we were pretty successful:

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Dutch interlude
intellibear
ursusanglicanus

Last Saturday I travelled north into the Netherlands.

In a high speed train you hardly notice the border, except that suddenly there is a lot more water around. In fact you are crossing a major cultural border: from Catholicism to Protestantism. It was these large stretches of water which enabled the Dutch, in the late 16th century, to defend their Protestant faith, in protracted wars against the Spaniards, hated for their despotic and brutally imposed Catholicism, ending up with the recognition of the independent state of the Netherlands 

The local parish church in Rhoon, outside Rotterdam.
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